A Tale of Two Castles
We have had a re-think and are planning to spend the summer here on the Guadiana River. Lots of reasons:-
- it’s free to anchor so helps keep our costs down if we are not in marinas
- people are friendly and welcoming
- peaceful (most of the time)
- Neil will spend the time writing without distractions of passage planning
everything we need is here:-
- food shops
- library & book swop
- bars & restaurants
and I love it
- nowhere to buy fuel but as we are not using much, only in the dinghy, we are OK for now.
- Neil is suffering with hay fever when the wind blows down the valley, must be bringing a particular pollen with it.
I have however booked a 2 week visit back to the UK in a couple of weeks; leaving Neil on the boat. Initially I had hoped Mum and Bry were coming here. I was disappointed when Mum said that they wouldn’t be out until February next year. Neil asked why I didn’t go home for a visit and I said I was worried about missing the summer. Yup, I actually said that. Neil pointed out that this is Portugal, The Algarve in fact and that summer is longer than the week we usually get in the UK. “Summer will still be here when you get back” he said. He’s right (mmmm). So flights and spare room at Mum’s booked. We now just need to work on getting to/from Faro airport without paying more than my flights cost. The transfer company I used in Lagos, which was both reliable and reasonable, will cost €165 to here. Although still technically the Algarve, it’s way way from the main resorts so would be a private transfer. Neil has suggested that we could sail back up to Alvor as the transfers will be cheaper. I think I’d rather pay than sail “backwards” all that way. It took 12 hours to get to the mouth of the river and another 3.5hours up river and that is if the winds/tides are doing what you need them to – not very likely in my experience. We would motor more than sail thereby using fuel. We would probably have to start planning to leave this week as you can’t rely on the weather to be compliant with your timetable. We’ll find a way from here and check out car hire prices too.
Weather update: after skorchio days of 35º plus today is windy and mostly cloudy although the pod thermometer is still reading 28º. The wind started yesterday and although it is a warm wind, it is very gusty. I’m glad Neil has anchored us at the stern as well as it means we don’t pull over our anchor chain which makes a horrible grinding sound and probably causes damage on the hull. It does mean that our view doesn’t change though and we chose to look up river towards the towns.
I’ve been busy making stuff. Last week I read about “Twiddlemuffs”. A Twiddlemuff is a double thickness hand muff with bits and bobs attached inside and out. It is designed to provide a stimulation activity for restless hands for patients suffering from dementia. I could only find a knitted pattern so had a go at making one in crochet for my Dad. After a few attempts, I created this:-
I’m pleased with it although I’m now making one for my Nan and I’m making that with stripes of different colour, which I think I should of done for Dads. I ended up putting the yellow and blue on Dads as crochet on top of crochet, which I guess adds texture. The one I’m doing for Nan I’m also doing in DK yarn not chunky and I’m going to do in one piece (as per the knitted pattern) not in two pieces crocheted together. We’ll see how it turns out in comparison. The nice thing now is that I can deliver them in person to both Dad and Nan. Having never heard of Twiddlemuffs before, I’m seeing them all over. Facebook posts, knitting magazine, Twitter. There are charities in the UK that request them for dementia patients. I did a short video of me showing and explaining the Twiddlemuff for both my own Facebook page and a Crochet Facebook group that I joined. I didn’t really think much about me when doing the video. I had just finished the muff and wanted to share what it was and how it worked. After posting the video, I realised that I should of at least brushed my hair! The Crochet Group has over 8,000 members. What was great though was I had quite a few comments from people who had heard of them and seen them in use and said what a benefit people with dementia found them. That was good to hear as I didn’t know if they really were beneficial.
I also spent a day and a half of the very hot days sewing up sun shades from an old sheet to protect us from the sun that I was shaded from whilst sat below decks sewing the shades – if you get what I mean. Anyway, we definitely needed them otherwise we would not of been able to sit on deck after about noon. Even the setting sun was really hot. It was so warm on Wednesday I spent the day on deck in my swimsuit. This is my beach swimsuit with matching skirt/sarong that I bought back when we were still in Devon on the Tamar River. It didn’t get any use in the Tamar River nor last year but can see it being out often this year. It was so hot that even I went into the river. Not fully in as the tides are really strong but like Neil, I lowered the ramp and sat on the bottom with my bum and feet in the water. Unlike Neil though I did not spend much time with my shoulders under. It was a nice relief from the heat and didn’t feel icy cold to get in but it is murky and there is a massive amount of bamboo and branches flowing with the tide. I meant to go in at slack water but I didn’t get in until the tide was coming in. A couple of times I had to bat away sticks coming at me and due to the sand in the water, causing the murk, I was wary about what I could not see. Not a river for swimming but we will head up to the river beach one day as the water in the tributary is clearer and they have created a beach with imported sand.
I guess I should get to the Two Castles bit of the title. There are castles both in Alcoutim and Sanlucar, both very different. Sanlucar looks like has whitewashed plastered walls and Alcoutim more traditional blocks of stone. We walked up to the castle on the Sanlucar side on a very sunny and warm Sunday morning. I did say I wasn’t going to do it because it is up a very big hill but to be fair it was a good path that wound around the hill which wasn’t too bad and the view from the top is spectacular. Being a Sunday, it was closed. Wouldn’t happen in the UK, an attraction like that would be open for the Sunday rambly types. I would tell you all about it but all the visitor information panels were in Spanish – you can google it if you are really interested. Hope you have more luck finding any detailed information than I did.
The next day we went to the castle, Town Castle, in Alcoutim (for information is open 7 days a week in the season) which is in the town, as the name indicates. For €2.50 each we had access to the castle grounds, museum and special exhibition of “Timeless Games”, a collection of ancient stone board games found locally. Information leaflets on both the castle and the special exhibition were available in English, the museum had an English explanation booklet to describe all the exhibits and the entrance fee gave access for 7 days – bargain.
For two tiny towns/villages there seems to be plenty happening. Last weekend a music event in Alcoutim – still pumping out music at 3am. Sanlucar some kind of bikers convention on Sunday and a kids day on the water on Thursday. Last night, children’s voices singing from Alcoutim. Boats of all types are almost continually on the move and with fairly regular visits from the party boat and what would seem a fortnightly visit from the River Cruise boat, there is always something to watch.
Hope you are all enjoying your summer or other season wherever you are.
PS: I’ve found a fab site where you can create your own personal planners. Choose your cover (make your own from photos), what month the planner starts, the layout of the days, notes, weather, to-do lists, colouring pages, maps, lined paper… Oh its endless. I love it. I have had one made up in the shopping basket for a few months. I keep going in and tweeking it and now I’m going back to the UK I’m tempted to order one. I do keep a daily diary so I will use it – for those of you who are thinking what the heck has she got to put in a diary! Anyway, for those stationery/notebook/journal lovers have a look at www.personal-planner.com Fab, Fab, Fab.