Who’d have thought the 70th year of my life would turn out like this? I sat on the roof terrace with my daughter recently, and we talked our way back through time. Her memories are so much more vivid than mine. I was just happy to have her sitting beside me, sharing the view of sky, sea and salt marsh that brings me so much pleasure.
Living the dream… 6 months on had me on the verge of an adventure that makes me smile whenever I think about it. The Azores, a true love affair that reunited me with clouds and refreshing rain. That made me want to dance in the puddles like a child. On my return to the Algarve, more doubts set in. Was I really suited to this energy sapping heat? I like to live my life at pace, keeping age at bay you might say. I was assured that this was a cool summer, by Algarve standards, but still it was a relief to return to the UK for most of August. A delight too, to share time with my family, made more precious by their distance from my new life. However hard I try to bridge the gap, with texts and phone calls and Skype, there is no substitute for a hug.
Back in the Algarve, both me and my husband were a little down and disorientated. Though my son’s beaming smile when he announced his engagement was a moment to savour. We tried to find ourselves again. The continuing heat necessitated almost daily trips to the beach, me desperate for a breeze, him happy to laze with the waves lapping his toes. I had ‘discovered’ croquet and a new circle of friends, while he joined a tennis club. We were a little at odds and grumpy with each other, uncertain who to blame for the fading dream. I planned a couple of trips on the water, always guaranteed to make me happy. September drifted past, and gradually mutual friends returned from their summer sojourn. The life we had loved was about to resume… but first, a frenzied October.
We had issued numerous invitations to family and friends on our UK departure. All had given us space to settle in, but October proved to be the tipping point. We welcomed a succession of guests, all of whom seemed to be as dazzled by our Algarve home as we had been. Michael donned his chauffeur cap and I assumed my role as planner and tour guide. All of it very enjoyable, for they were an appreciative audience, and lovely people. At the same time, we were enrolling for a new term of Portuguese lessons (oh dear!) and trying to maintain our social life. I didn’t feel well and slept poorly. But the warmth of responses around me couldn’t be ignored. People were so kind and caring. How could I not respond?
A kaleidoscope of events since then! Walks aplenty, two meetups with lovely blogging friends (in the same week!), entertaining at home (which always makes me nervous, but I needn’t have worried), birthday celebrations, a fantastic light show in Faro. Do I still have regrets? Of course! I wish facility with the language came a little easier. Overheard snippets of conversation that you can’t understand are no fun at all. I’m still trying. The big loss, of course, is the ability to zip down the road to family. I’m not alone in that. But I can honestly say, a year down the line, that this place feels like home, and continues to put a smile on my face. You can’t ask for more, can you? Even for a restless soul.