Sometimes words tumble around in your head, eager to evade the paper. I’ve been following Cathy’s latest venture over at Wanderessence with interest, as she evokes a stream of memories. Some of you may already know that I plan to move to the Algarve, in Portugal, this year. Estate agents are almost at my door, the spur I need to start sorting through almost 30 years of squirreling stuff away. What can I not bear to part with?
Sifting through a pile of photos, mostly of Dad and my Polish family, I pull out a couple of battered exercise books. Evidence that I had tried to learn both Polish and Portuguese, unsuccessfully, I might add. Several of the pages were loose, and came away in my hand. I began to read…. not grammar at all, but the story of my early days in the Algarve. It all came flooding back.
What is it that draws you to a place, asks Cathy? She suggests that you keep a detailed diary to help you reminisce. The pages I had stumbled upon took me back to 2004. Our immaculate navy blue and white, new bathroom had plumbing problems and had to be bashed about to resolve them. The whole street seemed to shudder and shake as our bathroom was ‘mended’. It was an agony to listen, so we escaped while sanity was restored.
The previous October we had taken a one week holiday in Vilamoura and done a little scouting around. I’d never been to Portugal before, but had liked the sound of Tavira. A ruined castle overlooking the river, and a ferry to take you out to the beach. Could it be as nice as it sounded? Autumn that year was a little mischievous, but the patches of blue in the sky made up for the puddles of rain in the streets. I lost my heart, right there and then.
February 2004 saw us return for a couple of days, to finalise a sale and rush around buying a few basics. A bed and some yellow canvas deck chairs came first, I recall. The plates, we brought with us from England, that April, our first proper visit to our home. The excitement of first outings and purchases! A trip to Faro to buy an acoustic guitar, regarded as an ‘essential’ by our son. The soft magic of the ilha. And later, in July, a blow-up dinghy which gave such pleasure, as he and a mate paddled across there. My heart was often in my mouth as a ferry chugged a little close, but they would emerge spluttering and teasing each other. A repair kit seldom fixed the leaks for long.
The memories crowd in, one tripping over the next. The joy of Summer fairs, paper flowers bedecking the bandstand. Our first drive into the Algarve countryside, enthralled by the greenery and the rolling hills. Balmy evenings by the riverside. Azulejos, of course! The pride in showing visitors all of our wonderful discoveries. That never ending blue sky and sea. Sunsets on the roof.
Fourteen years later, many things have changed, but our love for Tavira remains undiminished. Neighbours have come and gone. Our favourite cafe, Anazu, is now just a memory. The garden we started so optimistically has fallen victim to the weather. It’s time to move out there and give it the nurturing it deserves. I hope I’ve given you a sense of the place, and what draws me back. Many thanks to Cathy and her legion of ideas on how to enhance the travel experience. Please pay her a visit.