Week 18 - Back on track?

Monday 16th February 2015

We moved today from Tarifa to El Rocio fetching up at a site we have visited a couple of times before La Aldea. It’s a good site with well kept facilities and large pitches but, although totally unique, we have visited this area twice before and seen and done everything there is to offer. I have rehashed the photos we took on our first visit as, for those that don’t know it El Rocio is not only in the centre of the Donana National Park (the only place in Europe that still boasts a population of wild Lynx) but is a town dedicated to religious “Lodges” whose Romeria del Rocio is outed as the largest festival in all of Spain.

IMG 3123 edited-1

There are no tarmac roads in El Rocio as the entire town is dedicated to the horse so all roads are sand, better for hoofs. Every house, shop, bar and restaurant has a hitching rail outside. The church on the main square is huge out of all proportion to the size of the town and it is no longer permitted to light candles within the main church. This is now done in a large purpose built building with extractor fans and fire watch operatives so many are the candles that are lit. It is from this church that the Romeria del Rocio sets out when around a million people crowd into this small town The romeros (travellers) come in various modes of transport with the preferred method being the carreta, or oxen-drawn carts and wagons…sort of covered wagons, but with lace bonnets.  No motorised transport is allowed for true pilgrims.

Wednesday 18th February 2015

The first really sunny day for a couple of weeks so today was washing day and that included three of my new shirts which it seems have survived the ordeal in fine form.

Thursday 19th February 2015

We spoke to Auntie Brenda and Uncle David this morning they are looking at diaries and flight schedules with a view to coming out for a visit in the next month or so and we have mapped a route across Spain via places we have not visited before to visit our Dutch friend Dirkje

Moving day. We plan to run into Portugal to Camping Olhão where we can retrieve our goods and chattels from R & F’s home where they are stored, sort out the stuff we definitely will not need and ship that back to UK and we will then be free to move where and when we choose again.

We arrived at Camping Olhão at lunchtime and were told by reception there were very few pitches available so we should look around choose one that suited and then return to reception to register. It didn’t take very long to decide we didn’t want any of the pitches on offer so reversed out and back onto the street where we made our way to Tavira and found a pitch on the “police” site the Parque de Campismo da PSP. It is a strange site apparently owned and used by Portugal’s police services during the summer months and open to the public the remainder of the year. There is a camping area but many people (including us) simply set up on one of the site roads and plug into the nearest electric point. We stayed here for a couple of weeks in 2012 and find the site has been extensively upgraded, the facilities block we are using has been totally upgraded and refurbished although other campers have said that the showers are a lottery as to whether they are warm (never hot) or cold, time will tell.

Friday 20th February 2015

Well we’ve been back to R & F’s and picked up our kit, sorted everything into two piles one to keep and one to have freighted back to UK but unfortunately were not quick enough to get it to the freight company today so we are here till Monday afternoon or more probably Tuesday morning before we can head off to pastures new.

Saturday 21st February 2015

Walked into Tavira market this morning, but was a little disappointed. It is a once a month affair and we were told huge, in fact most of the market square was empty with plenty of clothes, plant and tool stalls but only two or three fruit and veg stalls. Still we bought 2kg of super strawberries for just €2.50 (£1.85) or in UK terms around 20p a punnet, yummy.

Walking back from the market we encountered a cycle race. All the traffic was stopped and after a while a group of motorcycles with pillion passenger cameramen rushed past followed by a huge number of police cars and motorcycles that rushed through all with “blues and twos” blaring fit to burst, then more motorbikes with cameramen then finally a group of a dozen or so racing cyclists who arrived on the wrong side of the road and who all went the wrong way round the roundabout disappearing in a few seconds followed by a few sponsor cars with spare bikes strapped to the roofs. No-one moved and some minutes later more camera bikes, more police bikes and more police cars rushed through followed by the main pack of a hundred or so racing cyclists who rushed through all on the wrong side of the road and going the wrong way round the roundabout bar one lone racer who tried to pick up a few places by going, all on his lonesome, the right way round the roundabout. Wether he succeeded we will never know.

This afternoon we packed up the kit that is going to be shipped back to UK and was amazed at the volume and weight. The car has sighed a huge sigh of relief.

Bought our first bag of oranges this year today, 5kg for €2.00 thats 11lb for £1.48 in real money and they are sweet and very juicy.

Sunday 22 February 2015

A very windy night with the caravan rocking and rolling in a most disconcerting fashion for the later part of the night, not helped by our position at the top of a steep hill with the front of the caravan touching the road and the rear sticking up in the air on blocks. Even then the front is not as low as we would need to make the van level.

IMG 3145

We had a very pleasant wander over the Barril Bridge and along the Praia do Barril this afternoon. The Barril Bridge is a narrow footbridge giving access to the Ria Formosa island we call Barril, there are no vehicles on the island although there is a small diesel train that runs for around a mile from the bridge to as good a beach as I have ever seen. There are a couple of cafes by the little train stop but otherwise nothing but miles of unspoiled, un-commercialised beach with nothing other than shells littering it.

Some weeks ago we mentioned having Caldeirada (Fish Stew) and that although we did not have the recipe how hard could it be? We found out a week or two later when having bought a Portuguese cookery book we had a go at making it and finished up with a totally tasteless dinner. We had another go this evening using fish stock instead of water and making a few other tweaks so confident were we (not) that we had another dinner available in case. It turned out to be delicious, just like the one we had in the restaurant - we will certainly do that again and if it works a second time will add the recipe to the food page.

Last updated Sunday 21st June 2015                                                                                © S W Ghost 2015