2018 2 1

(Welcome to Portugal)

So it’s the week before my workshop in Lisboa and I thought it might be sensible to create some blog posts so I am doing some overtime to cover myself for the duration of the workshop. I have been wondering what to write because I have already written everything that happens (or that comes into my head) each day and posted it in that day’s blog, so there’s nothing left. But then I remembered…

2018 1 1

(Lunch. Isn’t that an adorable box?)

I didn’t blog much last year and I missed it. So before we left this year I decided I would write regularly, definitely weekly. Then I got kinda excited about the idea of writing every day but I didn’t think that would be possible… turns out it was. And now this week I’ll be writing twice a day. I’m doubly excited and doubly worried… but I’ve written previously about my plan to notice my thoughts and that plan doesn’t allow much space for worrying. So here goes…

2018 2

(Make mosaics)

One of the lessons we are learning as we travel is that when you see an opportunity that you want, you really need to go for it. Right when you see it. Don’t wait. Although there’s every reason to believe it will come around again… after a little discomfort. When we see a public toilet as we have a coffee or as we visit a tourist attraction, we use it (ok not every single one).

2018 7 1

(Fill up your gas bottle when ever you get a chance)

If we arrive at an aire and there’s water we top up and we empty our old water. If it’s possible to empty the toilet cassette, we empty it… usually. Last week we didn’t, I might have been distracted. We were in the grand aire by the flooding river. They had all the services but as we were leaving it started to rain, heavily… sure we’re on our way to a campsite, all campsites have cassette empty services. Turns out not all campsites have cassette empty services. There was a little discomfort. I won’t go into it but we will not be making that mistake again….

2018 1

(Travel to warmer countries!)

Going for opportunities is how we came to be living this way, travelling for months each year. It seemed to be possible so we went for it. Going for it can be harder than it seems. It might seem crazy but I find it difficult to leave home and travel. I haven’t shared that truth with many people. It seems ungrateful and a little insane, when so many people wish they could do this and can’t and I can. Or is that normal?

2018 2 1

(Walk in the leaves)

I suppose I’m saying opportunities come with down sides, like the rain falling as you empty your cassette or having to say goodbye to your sister when she’s only just got home. But opportunities also come with up sides and unless you go for it you’ll never know what those up sides are.

From virtual me, (while real me is having a great time at the workshop!) Mairead.

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Only one more sleep

2018 1

(View over the rooftops, Ericeira)

We’re in Lisboa, at a different campsite. I’m almost set to participate in the workshop tomorrow and, the sun is shining! We did all the washing in Ericeira and now Ruby is as squeaky clean as the clothes. I’ve packed my bags with all the required supplies and set out what I will wear. I have my bus timetable, my travel card and my phone is charged. It’s like a first day at school. I’d ask Denis to take a picture of me on my way but it’ll be a bit too early. Might try a selfie…

2018 2

(More narrow roads)

This experience has reminded me that I can only prepare so much, I have to turn up and trust that I will be flexible enough to cope with whatever crops up. Stuff happens… maybe the bus will be late, maybe I’ll miss the stop to get off, maybe there’ll be a strike, maybe I’ll get lost. I was wondering, isn’t this a kind of creativity?

2018 3

(Lace made of marble)

I know when I make something, especially in mixed media, I have no idea what it’s going to be when it’s finished. I also don’t know how to finish it when I’m half way through it. I call it Not There Yet, it’s between the Hopeful Beginning and Triumphant Finished where I think, this isn’t going to work, no it’s not any good, oh no it’s actually terrible! When I let go and flow from Not Working Yet to Breathlessly Waiting and hang out there a little while… I’ll soon hear myself saying, oh hang on I see it now!

2018 20

(This is the library at Palace of Mafra. They have over 30,000 books!)

Not Working Yet is a scary place, I don’t like it much. I love Hopeful Beginning, Breathlessly Waiting and Triumphant Finished. Maybe Not Working Yet knows I don’t like it… What if I made friends with Not Working Yet? In the situation of preparing for tomorrow’s journey to Lisboa, I haven’t practiced a trial run of the public transport route from this campsite. Not Working Yet is: I don’t know what the bus stop will look like, I don’t know where to go when I get off the bus, I don’t know where to go when I get off the metro. I will be depending on the kindness of strangers and my google map app. Actually, when I think of it that way, I am a bit excited, because this country is full of kind strangers.

Only one more sleep, Mairead.

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The view is blue…

2018 7

(The view from the bedroom, blue sea, blue sky, blue bunting)

Every stitch of clothing had been washed and the sun came out so we went for a walk down town. When we arrived yesterday it was too wet to venture very far, we just got the groceries and did a load of washing. Going over and back to the machines I passed our view looking out to sea but it was too misty to see anything.

2018 3

(See the sea in the gap?)

It was a great surprise this morning when the mist lifted and we could see our view. We are on the edge of the town of Ericeira. We had never heard of it… possibly because we’re not surfers… yet.

2018 4

(The fishing boats on the land and the little dots in the sea are surfers, the ones in the sky are seagulls)

Our walk took us downhill all the way to the sea and the fishing port. I’m glad we were walking because these streets are the narrowest yet. There were surfers in the water and fishing boats on the shore and people gathered in groups talking and laughing and drinking coffee and eating amazing looking pastries.

2018 5

(Close up of a flying surfer)

The rain held off and the waves entertained the watchers and the surfers. Heading home was, as you’d expect, uphill all the way but the photo opportunities gave us an excuse to stop and catch our breath which was fortunate.

2018 6

(I liked the name on this building – Ericeira Business Factory)

We’ll be heading to Lisboa tomorrow morning but first we’ll be washing the van and pumping the tyres and filling up with diesel and water (including the windscreen washer) and groceries. We’ll be sorting out the other waters too. It looks like the weather might be changing for the better here so that’d be nice.

I’m ready to tidy away the umbrella and rain coats, Mairead.

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Happy St Patrick’s Day

2018 1

(Here’s the King’s balcony from the outside)

We finally left Mafra and set off for Sintra and although we did arrive just outside Sintra we didn’t arrive in Sintra. It was very busy and very narrow and it wasn’t clear that we were welcome in the car parks. So we pushed it to next week because there are loads of trains that deliver you comfortably to Sintra from Lisboa.

2018 4

(The King’s private window into the Basilica)

Now we are in a very well serviced supermarket car park… there are camper places, water dumping and loading facilities, toilets, a cafe and… laundry machines! Yes it’s that time again. I have been a little concerned that my wardrobe (or repeat wearing of it…) might be a problem in company. As in, I might not be as sweet-smelling as one would hope. But that’s all ok now, clothes are clean and have nice smells.

2018 5

(You might be able to make out three of the church organs in this picture)

Yesterday I went back to see the Basilica part of the Palace of Mafra. It’s not part of the paid visit, it’s free. I don’t think I mentioned that on the opposite side of the corridor to the King’s balcony, there are three windows that look into the Basilica. So the king and the other royals could look in on the ceremonies or listen to the music without having to officially attend. And there was a lot of music to listen to as King João VI had decided he wanted six church organs. He then commissioned collections of music to be played only on those organs, nowhere else. He probably really liked music.

2018 4

(No shamrock so instead here’s another look at the Portuguese cork tree with green lichen from the Parque Biologico de Gaia… Cork and Green that’s almost shamrock, right?)

We had stayed our 48 hours in Mafra and had to leave our parking spot. As it’s on a height we kept seeing the Palace as we drove on making us say every single time, in unison, ad nauseam, wasn’t Mafra lovely?  It made us laugh, we are easily amused. 

We’ll be back, Mairead.

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We’re in Clover

2018 7

(The neighbours)

We stayed in Mafra again last night but this time at the aire beside the Palace. We didn’t notice it on the way in but here it is and here we are. As we hadn’t had electricity for two days and the drive from Mafra suburb to the Palace wasn’t enough to charge the battery we were running dangerously low on power.

2018 6

(Beautiful sky over Mafra)

When I got back from visiting the palace I uploaded photos with only 20% battery and by the time I sent the blog post to WordPress I had only 6%. There are some electrical connections at this aire but they were all in use. We talked to the couple next to us from Italy (getting away from the snow there…) who said they were leaving today so if we could just hobble through overnight then we could use theirs and we’d be in clover.

2018 2 1

(Window at the Palace)

Ten minutes later the battery alarm light went off… that never happened before. Unplug everything. There was only the wifi router so I unplugged it, soon we would have no wifi…. how would we know what the weather was like…? We made plans for the move in the morning but there were very few aires within 50km of Lisbon with electricity. Time for a walk.

2018 1 1

(I love the windows at the Palace)

And that’s when we noticed the empty space. All the camper van spaces had been taken except one which we took when we arrived and when I got back from the Palace they were still occupied. But now a few hours later there was one… and it was beside an electricity connection!

2018 15

(The view of Mafra from the King’s balcony at the Palace)

We looked at each other and then ran back to the van (who am I kidding, we walked back to the van) and even faster than the night of the flooding river we had moved to the spot with the electricity. We have electricity! The electricity is free! We plugged in the wifi and the laptops and went for our walk. The rain stopped.

We really are in clover, Mairead.

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I like an apple…

2018 7

(The National Palace of Mafra. That’s the Basilica in the middle with the bell towers)

Contrary to expectations, there was sun this morning so there are lots of photos. We are in Mafra about 30km north of Lisbon. It’s situated on a high plateau and very windy at times. It’s home to the National Palace of Mafra which was commissioned in 1717 by King João V. He had promised to build a monastery if he and his wife could have children.

2018 8

(See the M’s for Mafra on the light pole? And the blue sky?)

It’s a huge building and comprises a Basilica, a Royal Palace, a convent (which might be the monastery) and hunting grounds which are a bit outside the town. The royal family only came here for holidays and the hunting.

2018 17

(There’s a balcony outside this window looking out onto the town for the king to address his people)

I went for a walk around it this morning. I’d say it’s lovely and cool in the summer but I was glad to be well wrapped up today because they have gale force winds coming through their very beautiful not double glazed windows. Actually the light coming through the beautiful windows was particularly lovely today. Nice contrast to recent dark skies.I might have taken a picture of every window on the first floor…

2018 18

(Can you see them too…? That’s the lady with the furry stole)

While I was walking around there were very few visitors but some of the museum curators were dressed in period costumes. I was drawn to one lady’s furry stole… looked very warm. The guys dressed up as monks might not have been dressed up, they may have been actual monks. They were chatting with the dressed up ladies so maybe they were just dressed up too.

2018 13

(And old pot in the pharmacy section of the palace)

That’s something I’m noticing each time I visit a museum, the curators go around in twos and chat all the time. They have seriously lots to say to each other. This adds to my assumption that the Portuguese are a very sociable people and the groups of people working at the Palace are a very good example. Each time I passed they smiled at me and then went back to their conversation. I’d love to know what they’re saying. In fact I’ve started learning Portuguese… I can say, Eu gosta uma maçã, it means I like an apple. Not as useful as, can you tell me what you’re talking about, please? but at least I’ve made a start.

2018 14

(Anyone need a high-sided bed?)

Part of the monastery was set aside as a small hospital with a pharmacy and curtained off beds. One of the explanatory signs pointed to a high sided bed as being for people with high fever or “mad monks”… well, we’ve all been there and I for one felt encouraged to think there might be a bed for me here if the rain keeps up.

From our Palace in Mafra, Mairead.

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Beware – food pictures!

2018 3

(Denis can hardly wait to get inside the door of TimeOut Market, Mercado de Ribeira)

Forgot to tell you – yesterday was a beautiful day! A little bit of sunshine and no rain! We woke this morning, surprisingly surprised to hear rain on the roof. We had forgotten that we chose yesterday to go to Lisbon because the Weather app promised cloudy with sun! It promised rain today.

2018 1 1

(My favourite stall)

We have moved to a beautiful place but it’s way too windy and wet to have a look so we are parked in a free aire, five minutes drive from the town and two minutes from a nice supermarket. I really want to bring you pictures of the town tomorrow because it looked amazing through the windscreen. Maybe I should check the weather app. Ok I checked the weather app… might have to take pictures through the windscreen.

IMG 3116

(I choose steak in a cream sauce and spinach in a cream sauce… It was very good but I wish I’d chosen Denis’ meal)

Fortunately I do have some food pictures from yesterday in Lisboa. Denis knew almost immediately what he wanted to eat and he even had a suggestion for me. But I wanted to look for myself so I wandered round and round and got more and more confused. Eventually I saw a picture of the meal I thought looked good and choose that.. without noticing the price.

IMG 3117

(Denis choose pork crackling with special pickle sandwich – it was amazing, he shared. Those crisps were hot and tasted like potatoes…)

When we compared receipts mine was double the price of his… so top tip if you go here (and I recommend you do) check out the prices as well as the nice pictures.

My mouth is watering, Mairead.

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