Christmas and New Year in The Algarve – 2019

Hey! It’s a whole new decade my lovelies! Feliz Ano Novo, Happy New Year, hope you all enjoyed the festivities wherever you are on this glorious planet.

I actually can’t believe it’s all over, well not quite for us as we are on the border with Spain and they celebrate The Three Kings on the 6th of January so it’s still a bit bonkers. They give and receive their gifts on the 6th/7th. Just debating whether to hop over the river to Ayamonte for a couple of days and watch the parade.

Anyway. how are you all out there? Well I hope. The Algarve has enjoyed some fabulous weather over Christmas. We sent some sunshine over to UK by special delivery, hope you received it!

There were some cracking markets around here during December. We visited Olhao, Tavira and Villa Real de Santo António. They go on all year of course but around Christmas, they are even more colourful, vibrant and lively with lots of music and amazing food. I was so giddy when I found sprouts and parsnips! Our lovely Butcher Erik here in Manta prepared us an incredible turkey crown, Portuguese style with all the herbs etc. It lasted for 3 days, I can honestly say it was better than any turkey I’ve ever bought in England. I used to pay about forty quid from Marks and Sparks, this was €16!! My Waitrose Christmas Pud was perfectly well preserved. Not quite Cousin Ann quality (nowhere near as much alcohol content 😉 Miss Farrar), but delicious nonetheless. I had made and frozen pork and chestnut stuffing before we left the house back in October. Thinking on my feet see! It has to be a traditional lunch on the 25th here at Casa Wadsworth even when we’re on the road! There was a fabulous Mercado Natal up in the historic old town of Cacela Velha. All local handicrafts and produce. It was very special. The sky was so perfectly blue. It’s such a pretty place anyway so location wise it would have taken some beating. We picked up some homemade chilli jam and a little Poinsettia plant for the van. We’re all trimmed up now. Tinselled to within an inch of our lives!! The tree outside the van is covered in glittery baubles and flashy lights. It has to be done. It’s a fab vibe on site. Lots of outdoor group feasting going on. A parcel from our family back home brought a tear. Bet the kids are really excited! I miss the little monkeys. Matt and Lucy have decided they can’t fit Portugal in this year. We’re disappointed I won’t lie but glad they’re going back to Derbyshire to do the family thing and fly the flag for us. They’re such good kids. They are off to Bali for 6 weeks on New Years Day. Good for them, they certainly have the travel bug.

We were asked out for a pre-Christmas boozy lunch by some friends we met here 3 years ago so a group of us went up to a traditional restaurant in town, The Argentinian, which was a great start to the festivities in good company. We were invited to do a few things on Christmas Eve, people are so kind and sociable here in Manta Rota. We decided to do our own thing however. I’d bought loads of fresh produce to make a big Paella. We cooked it up outside on the Cadac then took it to the beach at sunset with some fizz. It was just perfect. We lit a fire and sat watching the big red ball sink into the sea. Blessed.

Christmas Day was just great! Santa had been overnight, no idea how he managed it without a chimney!! We had a traditional glass of sherry as we unwrapped with White Christmas dvd playing on the telly. Bacon and Egg butties for breakfast, , another Waddy tradition then a walk on the beach. The locals hit the beach on Christmas morning, it’s bring your own booze and toast the ocean, it is after all a great provider. We stopped off for Gin and Tonics at one of the beach bars then wandered up to Benjie’s Bar where we’d arranged to meet some English friends who now live out here. It was all a jolly happening. Thank goodness I’d prepped the lunch beforehand and stuck the meat in the slow cooker, I was ever so slightly sozzled by the time we got back!! Aside from my Yorkshire Puds not rising to perfection, everything was delicious. The whole day flew by. It gets dark around 6pm here so after eating, we watched Christmassy films and ate lots of chocolate until bedtime! Proper Chrimbo !

The weather was near on perfect between Christmas and New Year. It was hard to focus on anything other than long beachy walks, eating, drinking and generally lazing around. What could be better?! We needed to make a decision about New Years Eve. Our Scottish friends who are resident here had asked if we wanted to join them and a group of others at a local restaurant for a Hogmanay supper. Tempting and they are good fun but I wanted to see fireworks. It was a toss up between Vila Real, Monte Gordo or Tavira. They all had live music on. We opted for Tavira. It’s a handsome town with some good eateries. We booked the Punjab Palace which came highly recommended. Jane and Richard were going to join us for food. We got there on the morning of the 31st and parked up with loads of other vans on the market place. It was traffic mayhem as they had closed off part of the road bridge over the river whilst they set up the fireworks. A huge stage had been erected in the town square. The Portuguese really know how to do New Years Eve!!! The bands start at 10.30. At midnight the countdown and fireworks take place then there’s a DJ on stage until 4am. They’re having a laugh right? I’m usually in bed at 9!! I seriously have to go back to the van at lunchtime, pull down the blinds, don my eye mask and take a nap!! Anyhoo, we were fully blinged up and out again for 7pm. Aside from a slight error with the bill, (sure the little man said €15 a head when I booked not €50 – oopsie 🤣🙄 my bad!), the meal was great. We hadn’t realised it was all inclusive!! We ordered a round of brandies and then another once that became apparent. I have to say, the live entertainment and fireworks were pretty damned amazeballs. The bands were top quality. We wandered back around 2am, still dancing! Fabulous! Thank you Portugal.

After a bit of a lie in, we got up needing food to soak up the alcohol. We had a few hours strolling. Tavira is a beautiful town, it really is. We didn’t go back to base until late afternoon. We finished our day with a sunset beach walk, then sat around the fire pit and cooked up some huge prawn kebabs. Happy times indeed. The kids are up in the air now and on their way to Bali. We raise a glass of our favourite Saumur Champagne to the people we love and miss back home and those we lost in 2019. We love you all dearly. Couldn’t fit you all in the pic though!! Here’s to the next decade. Make every day count. Be at peace with yourselves. Be kind. Small changes make a big difference.

Wishing you all, all the very best for 2020. Take care of you and yours.

❤️❤️❤️

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