Living the dream… 6 months on

Half a year in, I’ve gone from hopping about to keep warm, to melting slowly.  32C at the end of May.  Definitely warmer than average!  But not every day, and even on the hot ones it’s possible to catch a breeze at the beach.  The season hasn’t yet started, and I’m still able to claim a wide expanse of sand, all to myself.   But not for much longer.  The other day I watched in fascination as the beach umbrellas were assembled.  Heavy, circular woven mats, hefted up onto poles, creating small pools of shade.  And beyond it, endlessly blue sea, swaying to its own rhythm, mesmerising.  Like the wild flowers in the fields.

This isn’t as easy a post to write as I’d thought.  I keep wandering back to the comments on Living the dream… 3 months on.  You were all so very kind, and I obviously touched a chord with a lot of people.  So, where are we now?  A landmark for us.  A first visit from a couple of old friends from the UK, who had never been to Portugal before.  We waited anxiously to see how it would be received.  Would they shake their heads and wonder why we’d left good old England?  Perhaps if I tell you that they both love cake you’ll know that this place brought enormous smiles to their faces.  And it wasn’t just the cake!

And in the meantime?  As you wisely forecast, good days and minor hiccups.  Small triumphs in language. (very small- I’m thinking recognised words here, not flowing sentences)  A succession of goodbyes.  Many people come to the Algarve in the winter months and leave again as the temperatures begin to rise.  This is another adjustment I will need to make.  But I know that many of the friends I have made will return.  We share a love for this place and, once the bond is made, threads of our lives mingle, across the globe.  Still, I’m quick to feel alienation.  I court a warm response, but always hold something of myself back.  Some lessons are harder to learn than language.  Maybe that’s why I’m a wanderer, dipping safely in and out, without commitment.

I’m on the verge of a long awaited adventure in the Azores, though some might wonder why I need a holiday.  By the time you read this the packing and angst should be done.  If I don’t publish now I know this will be swamped by my impressions of an archipelago of islands.  I’m off to catch a breeze!



  1. It is hard. We returned from our quick trip to Cabanas and I felt a sense of alienation in Spain. Didn’t help walking into a bar and there was a bullfight on the TV! I struggle with the flow of the language but we have made good friends too. I know most people we know leave Portugal as the busy and hot season arrives. We will be in UK for my daughter’s wedding. There’s always something!
    Look forward to seeing your posts on the Azores.

    1. I’m being rained on in the botanic gardens in Faial. You could say it’s just like the UK, but very different. And we will be in Leeds child minding for 3 weeks in August 😍🌂🍰💕

      1. Oh, we just got clouds! Always rain! Enjoy Leeds too but can’t say for sure now whether it will be a break from the heat. Off to UK now, hence early!

  2. Lovely post Jo – so evocative, as always you manage to convey feelings through words so eloquently. As someone who has moved around and has a home (and family) on one continent but most of the extended family on another I can empathise. Hellos and goodbyes are never easy and you seem to do a lot of it when you choose a life in another land. At some point we hope to come and see Portugal for ourselves. Mlle finds southern Europe a good place to escape the bustle and noise of London for some R and R. She’s booked to come again for a week in August – this time she’s going to a little fishing village an hour south of Lisbon where she’ll do a surfing course with daily yoga classes too. She’s always said that Portugal is the closest place in Europe to Perth (well the climate, the west coast with sea breezes and the relaxed lifestyle, the architecture and history are of course different!). Hope you’ve had a lovely holiday in the Azores! 🙂 🙂

    1. Hi Rosemay 😊. It’s a beautiful country and these Azore islands are no exception. We ferry today from Sao Jorge to Faial. The weather has turned a bit unsettled but we’ve managed some great walks and are looking forward to more wonderful sights. Thanks darlin. Almost breakfast time 😍☕💕

      1. It’s looking lovely from your photos Jo! I’ve spent a few days packing up the kitchen and laundry as our renovations start tomorrow (well Monsieur has done a lot of it as I managed to sprain my wrist packing up all our glassware!). No idea we had so much stuff – a large box has gone off to a friend who collects for a women’s refuge. Just hoping the pets don’t get too disturbed by things, they do like their routines! Not sure if you’re back home yet or not but hope the rest of the trip has gone well xx

  3. RJo – You knew yourself well when you took on the ‘restless’ name;) When we moved here to our little coastal paradise, I told myself I was making five-year plans. Five years was something I could commit to, I thought. It’s been seven. (and, yes, I am a little bit restless) I think being restless is just another way to be enthusiastic about what this world offers. Cheers – Susan

    1. I’m still as enthusiastic as ever, to my husband’s despair. He wants to know when we slow down. 🙂 🙂 Sao Jorge is absolutely stunning, even though we have pea soup fog this morning for our ferry ride to Faial. Hugs, darlin!

  4. You’ve done well in 6 months Joanne. Enjoy the Azores! My husband was born in Ponta Delgada, and still has close family there, so we go there whenever we can.

  5. It sounds as if things are slowly settling. What a beautiful place you live in, but being an expat myself I do understand the yearning for home that comes up. It’s in our blood I think. I do envy you living in a hot climate by the sea!

  6. dear Jo you write so beautifully of the ups and downs of re location along with some gorgeous pictures that take one right there with you … yes .. living the dream and you both will continue to do so I’m SO sure 🙂
    Really looking forward to your impressions of the Azores ! We visited a couple of years ago and found it to be fascinating all round . An awful lot of Atlantic/Cornish Lol type of weather for photography in April time but we all enjoyed it very much …
    Where have those feet of yours found to wander I wonder ????
    Apart form anything else …we had great laughs when we saw black and white cows grazing on some rather steep hillsides,not a terribly common sight here .They really looked quite comical 😀
    Enjoy !

    1. Currently on Sao Jorge, with a happy capitano singing in the background. Ponta Delgada was grey so we were delighted to arrive here to sunshine. The capricious island life. I love it 😍🐳 🐚🐠🚣💕

  7. I’ve shared many of the same feelings you describe so well before and after many of the moves I’ve made in my life. I suspect we might have a drop or two of gypsy blood. Or something like that. You’ve certainly picked a marvelous place to land. I could probably stand to live there… except for that heat you mentioned. That would certainly do me in.

  8. “Good days and minor hiccups”, your adjustment to your new life seems to be progressing in a good way. When you feel more comfortable with your language skills, I think life will be a little easier. Enjoy your lovely holiday in the Azores, I know your two will have a wonderful visit.

  9. Just had a thought – you have timed this holiday badly haven’t you? With Roland-Garros on at the moment? I shall have to back Rafa on your behalf.

    1. Absolutely distraught! Saw his first match yesterday and that’s it! I was focused on when the hydrangeas are in bloom. Silly me! Shout loud for him Jude. I haven’t even got it recorded 😞

  10. Have a fab holiday! I think you are very lucky to be living your dream and you seem to be settling nicely. I’m not sure that you ever stop missing elements of the UK, I am sure I didn’t even after several years, but Portugal is not so far away that you can’t come back for a short visit. I would struggle with the summer hear and humidity, but I know I’d love the Algarve in the early spring months. You and Becky showcase it beautifully. I shall look forwards to learning all about the Azores on your return 😀

    1. Summer is going to be a trial but we do have 3 and a bit weeks in the UK and I’m thinking of dragging Mick up to Aveiro for his birthday in July. We’ll see how it goes. At Lisbon now, hopping planes 😍✈🚣💕

  11. 6 months already!!! Unbelievable you have done so much in that time. I can understand the heat and humidity being difficult, but, like you say, there is always a sea breeze. We have had a glorious autumn and as you approach summer winter is tip toeing in over here with cooler nights and an extra blanket on the bed. I am not blogging much at the moment, but love popping in to see what my favourite blogging buddies are doing. Enjoy your holiday and I look forward to the photos.

    1. Hiya darlin! More blogging in the winter months I suspect? So long as you are enjoying life 😊. Made it to the airport and bags checked. Unusual for us as we normally just need hand luggage. Flight to Lisbon in an hour then onwards to Ponta Delgada. Arrive 2.30 as they’re an hour ahead. Another flight tomorrow and we’re in the midst of the islands. Exciting stuff! Take care and love to Jack 😍✈🚣💕

  12. Hi, Jo. It is an adjustment, I’m sure. You’re probably torn–missing your life back in the UK while facing the challenge of adjusting to a new life in the Algarve. After a few months in Italy, we are very much in the process of acquiring the language and feeling on the “fringes” of society. It takes time. My teacher here says you need a full year to be fluent. I think acquiring the language is a big part of adjusting. Needless to say, it’s NOT easy.

    1. Funnily enough I don’t miss the UK life, Patti. I guess I lived it for many years. People, of course! And the occasional lust after cool and green. Oh and tulips and cherry blossom but they’ve gone now 😕. I should have my fill of green in the Azores. Got the umbrella ☔. Should be able to practise a bit of Portuguese though. At the airport now 😚✈🚣💕

  13. I’m so glad you love it as much as I knew you would, I think you left the UK just in time 🙂 .I imagine you’re at Faro airport now, or perhaps you’ve already landed in your dream destination. Have a wonderful time darling and take lots of photos. xx

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