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Travelling Spain with Two Dogs & a Parrot

With a good internet connection, I can work remotely from anywhere, so my husband Rob & I took advantage of this & are travelling Spain with our pets & everything we own packed into an estate car with roof-box.

Last Days in the Yellow House
30 November 2018 @ 08:51

For a week, the plumber came each day.

He installed a new (bigger) water tank, but still the water barely heated to tepid.  Half-way through the week, he identified a leak so the water was draining straight out of the tank & not remaining in there long enough to heat up.  By keeping the valve closed at the bottom of the tank, the water heated up.  We just had to open it when we needed to use hot water, then close it to ensure the water heated.

Not ideal but OK for a few days.  Eventually, a week after we'd arrived, after moving a log store outside & drilling into the wall, the plumber fixed the leak & we had hot water.

In addition to clothes, I'd brought the basics of bed linen, towels & fleece blankets with us in the event that these were not provided. I suspended a couple of my large fleeces from the banisters to block-off the open stairs in an attempt to stop heat disappearing.  It definitely wasn't pretty, but it did cut out some draughts.  The small wall-mounted electric radiators in most rooms didn't kick out much heat, just enough to almost remove the chill in the air.  When we spotted a halogen heater in a shop window, on impulse, we bought it.  It was so bright we need sunglasses if sitting near or facing it!  We also became used to layering-up with clothes, thick socks & fingerless gloves, feeling like the Mitchelin Man, but still having cold extremities.

When it was sunny during the day, which was actually most of the time, it was warmer outside, but due to the garden being enclosed by high walls & gates, the sun only reached small areas inside.  I bet it's a beautiful place in the Summer.

As the house was half a mile down a single lane track & we didn't yet have a battery charger, we took the car out for a run every couple of days. It was also great to warm-up with the car heaters on!

Honestly, we had to go a drive in the car to truly feel warm...

At the beginning of December, I returned to the UK for my daughter's birthday & the three days I was away in freezing Manchester, Northern Portugal was battered by storms with high winds & torrential rain.  Poor Rob was more-or-less house-bound & had a total power cut for a few hours.  We cannot light candles as they are poisonous to parrots & with no gas at the property & everything, including the cooker hob all being electric, he couldn't do anything, not even make a hot cuppa.

It was a miserable time.

When he drove back up the lane, part of the retaining wall for the field at the side had collapsed & he had to roll away boulders to get the car past.  They were all large & heavy so he couldn't move them far & it was a tight squeeze to get past with the car. I'd previously spotted a worrying bulge in the wall, but it wasn't this that fell, but another part of the wall a short distance away.  We were understandably concerned that it wasn't an ideal long-term home for the Winter.

When booking the house, I'd paid the landlord a one-off €35 to upgrade to faster wifi as without a good internet connection, I cannot do my work. Due to the location of the house, we had a mobile connection which had been pretty good. However, as the weeks went by, the signal deteriorated & kept disconnecting which was frustrating. Added to the cold (the house was barely warmed though after nearly a month), we knew we had to get out.

Searching Air B&B, we found an available pretty blue & white house in the Algarve at a reasonable price. Though we'd intended to stay another month in the North, then slowly work our way South through Portugal in stages, stopping off to stay somewhere central for a few weeks, the thought of Christmas in the Algarve was certainly appealing.

We were determined to explore & one evening we headed off to Amarante to see the Christmas lights & pop into the supermarket. We'd Googled options so followed directions around some narrow one-way back roads to get to the Continente so we weren't sure of the best route out. Exiting the car park & heading down a very narrow cobbled (of course) one-way street, it ended in a T-junction at another equally narrow cobbled street, both with no pavement & tall houses on either side.

Our Honda estate was a long car & often it's only Rob's advanced driving skills which get us through. Even he had a challenge that time. With a car close behind us & another approaching from the right, this was at least a six point-turn & part-way through, I almost believed we were stuck! Thanks to Rob, there wasn't a scratch on the car as we continued down the steep road.

I didn't want to miss out on a trip to Porto see the vineyards descending the Douro river valley, seen in every brochure for the area, so on our last weekend, we took a riverside road into the city. Parking at the Estádio do Dragão, we took the metro into Porto & had a lovely afternoon.

However, there were no vinyards to see, so the following day we went upriver instead.  As it was Winter, there were a few brown leaves on the vines showing the brown earth of the terraces below, so not the green rows I'd imagined.  It was a good day though & we enjoyed the drive to Peso da Régua & through the fields to Vila Real.

Like 2


anthomo16 said:
01 December 2018 @ 08:41

I am in Marbella area and we too have been battered by storms with more rain than is usual for this area. It is cold and damp at night and you do need to layer up with clothing unless of course you can afford to have the hot air con on. I have a radiator in the hall of my open plan apartment, non perfumed candles on the coffee table and a pretend flickering fire (Idon't put the bars on) and I am OK with that. You need three changes of clothes during the day a cardi in the morning then a tshirt until dark then layering - but I don't think I could ever live permanently in the UK again. I am enjoying reading about your adventures and looking forward to the next one. Thank you

nancybenn said:
01 December 2018 @ 19:45

I find that, by layering-up, my body keeps warm, but the air is cold on extremeties. It's certainly warmer outside during the day, than in the house

Alan Mackay said:
03 December 2018 @ 19:59

We empathised with your problems on the Iberian Peninsula during the winter as, after our retirement, we wanted to spend the winters away from Scotland in a warmer climate. However, we soon found that our large end-terrace House on the Mar Menor in Murcia was pretty cold and uncomfortable during January and February and we could never heat it sufficiently to feel comfortable at any time. What we now do is restrict our time in Spain to mid-March to mid-June and then mid-September to mid-November. Doing that, we can avoid the worst of both the summer heat and the winter cold. The other point about the Iberian peninsula is that the popular holiday resorts on the coast virtually close down by the end of October and don't come back to life until Easter the following year. So, you need to be quite hardy and self-sufficient to survive a Spanish winter !

nancybenn said:
03 December 2018 @ 20:27

Hi Alan - so you're back in Scotland at the moment? The houses are setup to be cold in summer, but not to be comfortably warm in the winter! I've been sitting outside to work as it's warmer than the house, then sometimes light a fire in the evening. After a winter out of season, with lots of places closed down as you mention, we looked forward to the summer. then it was too hot & busy to want to go out! It's all an adventure & we're loving the experience

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