Up and Down the Algarve and Silves

Good Morning lovely readers and Bom Dia to you all. I am waking up this morning to a fabulous pinky-golden sunrise lighting up the red stone walls of the castle in front of the van here at Silves. It looks pretty amazing as I sit here in my bed drinking tea. All I can hear is the clattering of beaks from the nesting storks. Their huge, messy nests sit on every rooftop and chimney here. They are very endearing. My new favourite bird!

We reluctantly left Galé as we needed to test our new batteries ie come off electric hook up. We didn’t want to venture too far in case we had issues and needed to call for help from Nigel at Algarve Motorhome Services. Back to Armação de Pêra then and our lovely beachy wild camping spot by the sea. You actually pay €4 for parking here and get water and loo dump. They are very strict and insist on absolutely NO camping behaviour though. No levellers, satellite dishes, mats out etc. or you will get a knock from GNR and a fat fine. Just play by the rules! It’s only about 4 miles away.

That night, we are joined by our pals Nic and Stuart who have driven all the way from Spain. We haven’t seen them since they visited us on site in The New Forest in Summer so it’s good to catch up. We think their sat nav must be related to ours as they have been on a right old goose chase up in the mountains and Nic is badly in need of gin. Poor love has a very sore ankle after an accident on the Motorhome step. Tony and Marion also turn up and we all decide to go for just one drink at 5pm to watch the sunset. Fatal! We have a lovely jug of pink sangria filled with fruit, all very civilised. A couple more glasses of vino and the usual silliness takes over and we roll in after midnight as drunk as monkeys. Oh what a (nother) night!! We apparently ate something between bars, my memory is very fuzzy! Stu has video evidence of me demonstrating my baton twirling skills with Nicola’s walking stick. Who knew I could even do that! Poor old Nic got locked in the toilet with no lights, there was much hilarity. Love this lot, they are such fun. Next day when the wine fog wears off Nic is in agony with her very swollen foot and has to go to Portimao in search of an A and E for an X-ray.

Our son, Matt and girlfriend Lucy are still having their own big adventure and have now travelled from Thailand to Cambodia. They are doing loads of cookery courses along the way, Matt has a very keen interest in food, well, he is a Chef after all. He is cascading his recipes down to me. We’ve made a few fab, unusual dishes while he’s been travelling. I’ll share this one as it’s very easy to make, even in a Motorhome. It’s Thai Yellow Curry. It can easily be adapted to a vegan dish if you are that way inclined. I like it best with king prawns but chicken or pork (flattened with a rolling pin or bottle of wine in my case, between sheets of clingfilm and chopped), or tofu work just as well.

THAI YELLOW CURRY

4 x full heads of garlic topped and tailed

4 x large skinned shallots

1 x 6 inch piece of ginger peeled and sliced

1 x teaspoon of seasalt

1 x tablespoon of soft brown sugar

1 x tin coconut milk

Bunch of fresh coriander

Dried or fresh Thai chillies (according to taste)

2 x tablespoons of turmeric

2 x tablespoons of curry powder

2 teaspoons of ground coriander seeds

3 x tablespoons of finely chopped lemongrass or paste if unavailable

Thinly sliced red pepper

Spiralled courgette, chopped into about 4″ pieces

Ok so to the method:

Drizzle the topped and tailed garlic heads with oil, wrap tightly in foil, same with the shallots, separately and again with the sliced ginger spreading the slices flat in the foil. Roast for 15 mins, remove the ginger and continue roasting shallots and garlic for 30 mins. Remoska is ideal for this. If using dried chillies, soak them in boiling water before chopping. Squeeze the garlic out of paper skin and blend together the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, ground coriander, fresh coriander (reserve a small amount to garnish), curry powder, salt and chillies. Bring the coconut milk to the boil, stir in half the paste and the brown sugar, simmer through to thicken up then add chicken, prawns or Tofu. The chicken or pork should be flattened out as stated above between sheets of cling film and then chopped. Cook through, being careful not to over cook. Stir in the pepper and courgette. It needs to remain al dente. Serve with Thai Jasmin rice mixed with chopped spring onion fried in a little sesame oil.Press the rice into small bowls to mould. Sprinkle the finished curry with crushed unsalted peanuts and the remaining chopped coriander and add a piece of lime to squeeze over. This makes ample amount for two. Freeze the rest of the paste. If cooking for 4 or more, you would need 2 tins of coconut milk and 2 x tablespoons of brown sugar.

There you go. It’s really aromatic and yummy!

We are both itching to try somewhere new now for a change. The batteries seem fine. It’s difficult to drag yourself away from the beautiful beach here when the weather is so glorious. It’s been up in the 20s and cloudless blue skies. It really is so gorgeous at Armação. We decide to travel slightly inland to see the town of Silves. We’ve heard good things. There is a castle. It’s the home of piri piri chicken and there’s a great place for live music, that’s as much as we know. It’s an easy run. Around 15 miles away. We are aiming for the Parque do Rio Motorhome Park recommended by Pam and Andy West whom we met last year. When you cross the bridge over the river, turn immediately left and follow the road until you see the Motorhomes on your left. It’s very popular this Aire and unfortunately it was full on this occasion with 5 people queuing. Bugger. Plan B then. We went back towards the bridge and headed to our next choice, Parque do Castelo which as the name suggests is opposite the castle. We get on this one and it’s a good little spot with great views. I have to say that I don’t fall in love with Silves on sight. It somehow doesn’t have the same immediate charm as other places we have visited BUT after a short walk around, you get the vibe. It grows on you. As I said, I am always reluctant to move away from the sea so maybe I am being too judgemental.

There are numerous pretty cobbled side streets up near the cathedral and castle and lots of street cafes and other eateries tucked away. The orange and lemon trees everywhere are bursting with fruit, the scent hangs in the air especially at dusk. It’s just beautiful. On the front along the river are the barbecue chicken and fish restaurants. They are always packed full. For €25 for two, we had starters, just the usual Portuguese bread, olives, cheese and sardine paste, half a chicken, fries, salad, a basic dessert, coffee and liquor. Excellent value. We are going to try the fish one next door on Sunday. Further along is Art’aska, a quirky cafe bar where you view the work of local Artists and listen to live music, mostly at weekends. We ended up in there on Friday night watching a very tall Dutch guy playing his own blues stuff. It was excellent. He was a very nice chap, we loved it!

Saturday is market day in Silves. The cheapest one so far for fruit and veg. There is a popular stand selling suckling pig (Leitao) inside the market hall. It’s absolutely delicious!

I think you need to spend a view days exploring Silves properly before you can appreciate its subtle charm. It’s very Portuguese although many other nationalities seem to have settled here.

Sundays at Art’aska are supposed to be really good. It’s an open jamming session from around 6pm so we’re planning to eat at lunchtime and go out early evening. Hoping Nic and Stuart are coming to join us later. Maybe we can persuade Team Hennessy too. That would definitely write off Monday!!

Well we tried the other barbecue place. U Monchequiro it’s called. In our opinion it was better than the first one. This time I had the shrimp kebab. A plumptious stick full of huge prawns cooked over coal. Delish. The coconut ice cream afterwards was to die for. With 3 courses, coffee a beer and a litre of wine it cost €30 for two of us. Again, excellent value.

If you prefer something a little more upmarket, there is a super, atmospheric little bistro next door called Taberna Almedina. Our friends really rate it. We haven’t eaten here yet but we’ve been for a peek. It’s lovely inside and the food looks good, very well presented. They do a mean cocktail too.

When we get back to the van, Nic and Stu are in residence parked opposite. Tony and Marion can’t be tempted away from the beach. After a quick snooze we tog up and head back out to Art’aska. There are two or three acts on tonight. Get there early if you want a table. The musicians are seriously good quality (apart from the first half hour of cheesy lounge music!! ). We have a very enjoyable evening with Team Blackledge. Managed to drink them out of Rose wine. Oops!

Well, we are supposed to be leaving this morning but the other half and designated driver appears to be in a coma. A move is looking decidedly unlikely. The best laid plans of mice and men and all that. A sharp slap with my extendable fly swatter reveals that he is still in the land of the living. Bonus. I remind him where the kettle is but he just grunts and turns over. How rude! Guess I’m making my own tea this morning. Oh well. Lazy Monday it is then. What’s the rush?!

I’m going to take myself off grocery shopping while himself comes round a bit!! Silves has a smart new Lidl and a large Mini Preco. Both have bakeries in store and Ive spotted a good little butcher in town. Off I shall tootle with my basket.

I’ve managed to find an English hairdresser too so I’ve sorted an appointment for a cut and colour. A lady called TJ, Talking Heads Salon at Praia de Rocha Portimao is apparently brilliant. I’ve booked in. Just need to find a parking spot nearby. There’s also a good one at Luz which comes highly recommended. Kate at Kutting Room Salon. I would brave one of the Portuguese Salons here but at every one I’ve been in, the stylist either looks like Don King or Edward Scissorhands so Ive legged it before they could tie me to a chair.

So I’ll draw this post to a close folks. Don’t think I need to talk you through the aisles at Lidl! Hope you get the chance to visit Silves. Their annual Orange Festival is coming up which is supposed to be a must see. Don’t expect to love it immediately though. Give it a couple of days and you will.

Sending love to all the folks back home and wishing our fellow travellers a safe journey.

Do join us next time (if I ever get Wadders out of bed that is). Cheerio for now ❤️

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