It's been a while since the last Blog but we have been busy with visitors, our eldest grandson Peter with his partner Amy came out and stayed for a week and three days later our son Jak with Dee and the two youngest grandchildren arrived from Canada, had a two day layover  before we all set off for Tomar which is about halfway up Portugal to the east of Lisbon. Our Canadians had left for the Airport in Seattle in a snowstorm hoping to get there.

                              Jak and Dee had rented a Villa in the village of Venda overlooking a huge Barragem                               (reservoir) in the hills to the east of Tomar. The nearest place for shopping was a larger                               village called Serra and according to the blurb about the Villa only ten minutes from Venda,                               as we thought by foot. Kit and I found out this was not what was meant when she said let's                               walk to Serra, which may I say is uphill all the way and we discovered after forty minutes of                               walking definitely not a ten minute walk and just to add to the experience it started to rain                               which dampened our intentions even more. An about turn and the return journey was of                               course downhill and a lot less huffing and puffing, thankfully the Cafe in Venda was open for                               a coffee revival.

The trip to Serra from Espiche, family went by car and we used the campervan, an epic in

itself as we could not find the village on the map and even the GPS had a problem finding it

but after twisting and turning  uphill and downdale in the Sierras, finding ourselves with the

campervan in a queue of vehicles to cross a bridge half of which was closed off and had a

height restriction which the van just scraped under, (no warnings), then finally finding

ourselves on a very rough, part tarmac road which led us to Serra. A superb full width well

tarmac'd road led from Serra to Venda where it stopped on the outskirts of the village and

changed into a rough track a vehicle and a bit wide winding through Venda and eventually by

turning left at the green Eco bin (I joke not, that was part of the instructions, there are

thousands of these in Portugal) we eventually arrived at our home for the week. A word

of warning if you visit Portugal once off the main roads signage can be hit or miss if there

is any at all.

The Villa is very nice though in true Portuguese style it is not completely finished but very

comfortable once we found out how to work the heating system, it is a lot cooler up north

than on the Algarve and unfortunately for the youngsters the outside pool unlike ours has

no cover so really never heats up and to be honest it was b****y freezing but our Canadian

grandchildren are a lot tougher than us and actually used the pool.


                                  The view from  the Villa is absolutely splendid and to just sit out on

                                 the terrace was a pleasure though we noticed a decided lack of

                                 bird life and nobody seemed to use the Barragem the time we were  

                                 there but many waterside premises had boats of one type or another tied up.


                                  A large garden full of Orange, Lemon and Tangerine trees stretched down to the                                   waterside and we were encouraged to help ourselves to the fruit as most of it would        

                                  eventually drop from the trees and rot on the ground, not an uncommon sight on the

                                 Algarve as well. Needless to say we came back with some of all the fruit mentioned                                   including a whole bag of small Tangerines for our next door neighbour's handicapped son                                   who has trouble peeling Oranges and difficulty with the pips. The Tangerines are thin                                   skinned, have no pips and very sweet.

A couple of days later saw us off to Obidos some 100kms to the west,  a medieval village

survives inside the walls of the Castle whilst the rest of the place sprawls out around it.

Kit and I had been there about 5 years ago with the Motorhome but that was just after

Christmas so we knew our way about. Now Elfin Safety is not someone who is well known in

                            Portugal so when it was decided to walk the Castle walls, reached by well

                            used steep stone steps, you discover the rampart is barely four feet wide

                            with at least a twenty foot drop and sometimes more on the right side

                            with the stone wall battlements on your left there being no guard rail to

                            stop you falling off. Our lively six year old Grandaughter kept a tight hold

                            of my hand whilst Kit kept close to the battlements.

                            In the UK the whole place would be closed down on safety grounds especially

                            when we reached the end of the walk to find it boarded off and we had to

                            negotiate a rough cut flight of steps once again without any safety hand rail

, trust me when I say you really do not want to do the walk if you are not good with heights.

Obidos is 'a must see' tourist spot for visitors to Portugal and as we were making our way back

to the car park the obligatory bus load of Japanese were making their way into the village.

One thing about the Portuguese is they love children and both our fair haired Grandchildren

were a hit with older Portuguese women.

                                    Kit and I had a trip into Tomar the site of a Templar Knight's Castle and with a Convent                                     attached, both of course now empty and as I had no Metal detector with me no chance                                     to search for the Templar's treasure. The place is really worth a visit as well as the                                     interior the outside carvings on the buildings are superb. We gave the Castle a miss                                     because we visited it about 6 years ago and this time explored Tomar

                                    itself finding the National  Foros (Match) Museum originally the

                                    collection of one man but given to Portugal, this is the largest collection

                                    of matchboxes we have ever seen. The place was not opened when we

                                    arrived but a lady from a nearby Pottery invited us in to see their

                                   wares and as we watched tiles were being hand painted  as well as other

                                   items, these people are real Craftswomen. I fell for a beautiful Horse

                                   head on a tile signed by the lady who had painted it and really need to

                                   find a special piece of wood to mount it. €15.00 for a work of art which

                                   in the UK would be at least double.

The week soon passed and back in Espiche in the warm sunshine the kids were into the pool which on one day heated up to a 28C a lot warmer than that experienced at the Villa. We invested in a pool cover about two years ago when the grandchildren first came out to visit us from the safety aspect but the added bonus is that the pool cover allows the sun to heat the water up and keeps it warm and also helps to keep out leaves, creepy crawly/flying bugs and general detrious. Like ourselves our son and daughter-in-law like to visit castles and other  places with a history to them as well as allowing time to go to the beach, all in all a very successful visit. Fortunately on this visit to us the sun shone almost all of the time the family were with us unlike two years ago when it rained continuously for their three week stay.

Grandson came back from a trip out carrying two clear plastic water bottles and a

couple of pieces of bamboo and said he wanted to make an Aquaduct so it was a case

of up stairs to the workshop for the two of us and though the result was not exactly

correct when we finished we had a project that worked and gave him a deal of

satisfaction. Here for your edification is a photo of our effort.


Unfortunately about 6 weeks ago Kit and I ended up with some sort of virus which has taken a lot of shaking off and has left us with a tickly cough even now though we really cannot complain as it is about five years since either of us have had an illness with such an effect. The same or similar virus swept through the Algarve and affected a lot of people especially on campsites.

It is that time of year when we consider getting ready for the trip back to the UK so I have started to ready the Campervan for the journey. The sun out here often affects the lacquer that protects the paint on vehicles and it is not unusual to see vehicles old and fairly new looking like tourists with sunburned peeling skin and that is what has happened to the bonnet of the Campervan so the last couple of days have seen me rubbing down paintwork in preparation to respray the offending part. I will remove the bonnet, take it up stairs onto the top terrace on a very hot sunny day and get the job done, it is just like having a car paint baking oven because as the paint lands on the bonnet it dries within a couple of minutes and the same will apply to the lacquer.

BCNU ...Jack n Kit.

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