Thursday, 12 December 2013

A cloudy day in Ourique

In a "shock, horror" storyline, we were actually awoken this morning by a faint pitter patter of rain on Bailey's roof!

Dave walking the river Mira
on a sunnier day
I think this is only the second day we've had rain since we left Britain and it was only very light, so we carried on with our day's plans undeterred. First off was a visit to a little market in the village of Santana da Serra, about a ten minute drive away. Around two dozen stalls were set up selling a variety of fruits and vegetables, clothes, pottery, live chicks, plastic containers and tools. The clothes stalls were interesting in that they only had quite formal items including skirts, trousers and thick woollen cardigans. It's easy to spot the tourists in southern Portugal at this time of year - we're the ones in shorts and t-shirts while the locals sport scarves, gloves, hats and coats! Unfortunately we were too early to spot many of said locals. Unlike British markets which generally start at the crack of dawn, we learned that Portuguese ones don't really get going until closer to lunchtime.

After lunch, with the rain gone but the sky still overcast, we chose to set off on what was intended to be a short 'getting out of the house' stroll but which turned into a lovely two hour walk and explore along the river. We were musing on a our good fortune, sat on a large rock at the turn-around point and trying to think what we would have been doing had we been back home. Apart from my needing to be at work, it being a Thursday, we realised that even had it been a weekend, we probably wouldn't have ventured outdoors and certainly not set off across the South Downs. We can both be discouraged by grey cloudy weather and generally choose to remain indoors on such days at home, whereas here we feel 'outdoors' already, mainly I believe due to the fantastic surface area of our Bailey Orion given over to windows. Plus, of course, it's considerably warmer here. The blustery breeze of the past couple of days has faded completely and I don't think Bailey's heater even turned itself on last night. I'm not sure how we will adapt to this loss of activity once we get home again. Obviously a complete lifestyle-change would be the perfect answer, but financial considerations don't make that an easy decision on any level.

Sinterklaas gifts! 
On a completely different and less philosophical note, Dave kindly pointed out, yesterday perhaps, that there are only two weeks left before Christmas. Neither of us are feeling particularly seasonal - even less than we usually do! However, Albertje has put up decorations in the bar at Serro da Bica and we joined in the 5th December Dutch tradition of Sinterklaas last week. (The link goes to Wikipedia if you want to read more about the tradition and its history.) For us here, the day meant we got to try small spiced biscuits (I initially thought they were pepernoten but kruidnoten are more likely) which Albertje had baked together with slices of a spiced cake with a almond-paste layer in the centre. We also got given the pictured pottery bowl presents - apparently all children get presents on 5th December! The smaller of the two has made a perfect ring dish and they are cute mementoes of our time here. Perhaps when we move on, we should fill them with the profuse prickly seed pods that get attached to our clothes every time we walk along the river?

A sad note to finish as I report the sad demise of our slow cooker which chose to give up the ghost on Sunday, part-way through the cooking of Dave's not-famous-enough Rogan Josh curry. Fortunately, we already had our new Clatronic EKP 3405 Hotplate  so the curry was saved and Herman very kindly took the cooker surround apart the next day to see if he could repair it in his workshop here but to no avail. We've googled up and down the Algarve, searching out a replacement and have come to the conclusion that Portuguese people don't use slow cookers. There are a few pressure cooker-like devices but we're a bit wary of them, Dave having witnessed a pressure-cooker accident some years ago. Therefore, as I finally get to the point, if anyone is coming out this way in the near future (and doesn't have a baggage weight limit!), could they put this Crock-Pot Slow Cooker  in their luggage?!

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