Wednesday, 18 December 2013

We saw an otter!

A welcome sight at the end of a long walk 

We nearly didn't go for a walk today because, apart from a half hour of sunshine this morning, the sky has been overcast most of the day. The weather here has changed over the past week from practically guaranteed sunshine to anything between full sun and brief heavy rain showers. The two photos that accompany this post were taken only a day or so apart. It's still much, much warmer here than for the poor souls we left back in the UK though, so mustn't grumble!

Back to today. We set off for a little stroll about half past three and achieved an hour-and-a-half walk which took in tricky narrow goat trails high above the river Mira, rocky river banks, the edges of ploughed fields, and dusty tracks. I love how the scenery here can change with seemingly every corner. As we passed the abandoned watermill near our campsite, Dave stopped suddenly as he had spotted a ripple in the water. His immediate thought was turtle, but the animal soon turned out to be an otter. We were both delighted - neither of us is a particularly quiet walker so I think we often scare off potential wildlife sightings. I have never seen a wild otter before, only rescued captive ones in enclosures. We watched for probably five minutes as the otter dived and swam around, seemingly oblivious to us on the bank. Then, later in the walk, a second ripple resolved into a turtle who had slid back into the river at our approach but then took its time about swimming away under grasses.

I guess we're not going walking today 

Other walking 'triumphs' this week include discovering a new place to ford the river by improvising rock stepping stones. It was a bit scary at the time and I think we both felt euphoric afterwards! Yesterday's four-hour picnic walk enabled us to eat our bread and cheese lunch on the bank of a gorgeous babbling brook. This was all the more surprising as most of the route had been fenced-in dusty tracks, but just as we got to about half-past one, turning a corner revealed the perfect picturesque spot. I've improvised a way to attach our Picnic Rug to my candy-striped Picnic Set Rucksack - like the one linked, but PINK! (It's still that one you got from The Pier, Adrienne, do you remember?) So we can have perfect picnics with our gingham-edged plates and tartan rug.

And we went out for Sunday lunch this week too. Together with Herman and Albertje, and Fritzhof who at the time was the only other guest here, we visited the Cafe Central da Alcaria in the nearby village of Aldeia. There is a little bar area inside and terrace space at the side of the road, but once you walk through the bar, it is like stepping inside someone's home. Which is pretty much what we were doing! A back room is whitewashed and has large tables to seat maybe three groups of up to about six people each. The menu comprises of 'meat' or 'fish' and you need to both place your order the day before and specify what time you will arrive. Our table chose 'meat' and one pm. Fatima, the owner, had created a tasty kale soup for starters, followed by delicious slow cooked pork with chips, rice and salad. Dessert was a selection of fruits, fresh from the garden, and also a slice of Buterkoek (recipe to follow once I've made it myself) which Albertje had baked and taken as a gift but which Fatima insisted on serving some of too. We then sat out in the sun for coffee and I spent the rest of day dozing in my sun lounger with an audio book. Bliss!

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