Albufeira for Christmas

So we decided to come back to Camping Albufeira for Christmas. It was great last year and, whilst big sites don’t normally float our boat, it ticks a lot of boxes over the festive period. It has a couple of lively bars, one with a log fire and a restaurant. There’s a bit of music on most nights and sometimes live bands on late afternoon. A very loud but not bad one on today!! The Steak on a Stone evenings held on Fridays are usually good. They have karaoke which I love and there’s a spa on site. What’s not to like?!

As we were parking up Kev and Annie our mates from last year came strolling along. It’s really good to see them again and catch up. Prad and Cat are also here as are Fay and Ben and many other familiar faces we’ve met along the way. We’re happy to be back. An hour or so later, the van is tinselled to within an inch of its life, the twinkly lights are strung in the trees and the tree is up. Let’s start the festivities!!

Albufeira itself isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. I wouldn’t dream of coming here in the Summer season. The old town in Winter however is pleasant enough. The beach is lovely and clean and there are lots of nice places to eat. You have to turn a blinkered eye to the tat shops and big screen football bars. The steep, cobbled streets leading from the old square are quite lovely.

If you fancy a bit of crazy, you can head to ‘The Strip’. It’s nuts. Definitely not my bag but has to be seen, just like Benidorm does.

If you walk far enough along the left of the beach, there are some interesting blow holes in the cliffs. Make sure you check the tide though as you can get cut off down that end and the cliffs are difficult to scramble up. To the right is a small harbour. On New Years Eve a huge stage is erected on the fishermen’s beach and thousands of people flock to see the rather spectacular live acts and firework display. We did it last year it was amazing. That’s our plan again although we have also booked the 7 course dinner dance on site as a back up plan.

There’s a Christmassy vibe down in the town. They’ve built a ‘snow land’ for the kids with a little ice rink. It’s fab. We even find Santa!!

We grab a late lunch at our favourite restaurant in the old town, Casa da Fonte. It’s a super little place with great food and excellent service. They remembered us from last year and looked after us well which was nice. The wine is better than most places. Do try the Cataplana!

I’ve been doing quite a bit of cooking while we’ve been here. Got fed up of looking for Indian breads in the Supermarkets. You can’t get them so I had a bash at making my own chapatis. My makeshift rolling pin was a wine bottle of course!! They turned out ok and were so easy. 450g of wholemeal flour, 250ml of cold water and a teaspoon of Seasalt. Mix half the flour with the salt and water. Add a splash of olive oil. Knead until you reach an elastic dough then work in the rest of the flour on your hands and rolling board to shape them. Divide into 8 or 6 if you prefer them bigger. Roll them thinly. Fry in a smoking hot flat pan with a minimal spray of oil for a couple of minutes either side. Bingo!

I had a major disaster last week when my flipping Remoska packed up. Very disappointing when I’ve done so much plugging of this appliance. I contacted Lakeland back in UK as from what I am told they have a lifetime guarantee. They could only help if I could produce either a receipt or confirm the exact amount I spent in store on the specific date it was purchased along with the card number. As if I’d have that info 3 years down the line! So, a lesson learned. Quite an expensive mistake too at £149.00 a time for the smallest one. Anyway, I can’t live without this particular piece of kit so, on the advice of my Motorhoming friend, Kev, I ordered one from Amazon Germany. They buy direct from Hungary where they originate from. €107 with an €8 charge for express delivery. It arrived at the campsite by courier, just 2 days later. Fabulous service. Bear in mind it has a 2 pin plug so an adapter is required. I ordered that too for a couple of quid. They are more sturdy than the ones you buy back home. Approximately £40 saved. Happy with that. Shiny new Remoska now in situ. Thou shalt have perfect Yorkshire puds on Christmas Day!!

I’m making a mango and chicken curry to eat with my chapatis now. Here’s the recipe. You’ll need (to serve two):-

Two chicken breasts, 1 onion, 1 large mango, the riper they are the sweeter your curry, 1 red pepper, 3 cloves of garlic, 2 tablespoons of grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of curry paste, a tablespoon of crushed raisins, a handful of cherry or plum tomatoes chopped and de-seeded, chopped fresh chillies according to taste, fresh coriander and a tin of full fat coconut milk. For the rice, a cupful of cooked basmati or pilau per person, two tablespoons of toasted flaked almonds, a tablespoon of sultanas and a tablespoon of desiccated coconut.

Chop and fry off the onion and red pepper. Stir in the garlic, ginger, curry paste, crushed raisins, cumin and tomatoes and cook through until toms soften. Stir in the chopped mango and coconut milk. You might need to discard some of the coconut milk, particularly if the watery part has separated as it can be a bit too runny. Mix well then set aside and blend when cool. You can either cube the chicken or keep the breast whole, fry it on a low heat, it shouldn’t be allowed to brown. Add the chopped chillies. Reintroduce the blitzed sauce and stir continuously until it is bubbling and the chicken is cooked through. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander. The basmati or pilau (the good quality sachets or little pots of pre cooked are great for Motorhome use as you avoid the condensation) should be cooked and drained then warmed through with the almonds, sultanas and coconut. Season to taste, I add a bit of oil and garlic too. You’re ready to serve with your chapatis and a piece of lime. Yummy! Margaret and Kim and Amanda Shaw, this works well with Tofu or Quorn chicken!! Enjoy!

We’re off on the hunt for turkey and sprouts this morning. Turkey or Peru as it is known here is excellent quality and very cheap to buy. Pingo Doce Supermarket has an excellent butcher. Once the Christmas shop is done it’s time for a Tia Maria and coffee! We call in at reception and are chuffed to find a parcel and Christmas cards from our lovely family back home. What an amazing surprise!

That has really lifted our spirits Whilst we know we are lucky to be living the dream out here, we miss our friends and family very much, especially at Christmas. I always have a bit of a wobble at this time of year. Particularly as this trip we won’t be seeing Matt. He is off with Lucy having his own adventure. He just phoned from Sri Lanka after a hard day’s surfing. Glad he is seeing a bit of the world. He seems to have developed our wanderlust!

The restaurant on site is doing Christmas lunch for those who prefer not to cook. It’s €35. There is live music then a disco later. How good is that! We’ll have a wander up Christmas night if we are not too stuffed. I like to cook my own dinner and I shall be trying somehow to get the Queens speech. If she mentions Brexit I’ll put a brick through the telly!!

Right my festive friends, I have to go and get myself scrubbed up. I’ve been so busy chatting, cooking and shopping, it’s come around to Christmas Eve!! It’s a big day! We’re off to meet our old pal Albert for morning coffee. The Christmas tunes are on in the van. I discovered I can play CDs through the Avtex so there’s no stopping me!! We have a party tonight, I need to find a bit of bling in my wardrobe!!

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas. Hope it’s a good one for everyone and Santa is generous (don’t forget to come to Portugal big fella!!).

Wishing you all much love and plenty of cheer. Will be raising a glass and toasting those who are no longer with us. Sure you’ll all be doing likewise.

Bye for now folks. Feliz Natal ❤️🎄

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