We are currently on holiday in southern Portugal. I think you may have gathered this by now. If you read either of my other two entries- Surfing and Brother Mine, Sister Mine.
On our first day here the weather was decidedly cool. In fact we did start to panic gently. I am not sure the temperature got much above 24 degrees, which even the good old unreliable British Summer can often achieve. Well certainly in my south eastern corner. I know those of you reading this that hail from the west of our isle or the north or, heaven forbid, Scotland struggle to attain such balmy heights. But hey I am sure there are compensations. Deep fried Mars bars for instance.
The local ‘Guest Relations’ manager, who clearly hailed herself from the wet and often disappointingly cool climes of Ireland was quick to assuage our concerns and assert that the sun would be back. I took that with a pinch of salt. I bet she didn’t see much sun in her childhood. So I was dubious on her definition.
Anyway we awoke on the Sunday to much brighter skies. I was relieved. It would have been a shame to fly for two and a half hours and subject ourselves to passport control and 5 different modes of transport in a day to spend two weeks with weather that was available at home. The trees were bending ominously though.
We had read somewhere that this area of Portugal was windy. And when I say somewhere I mean on Trip Advisor, which my husband had been pouring over daily since he booked the holiday last year, giving me regular updates on the reviews left by other tourists of our destination hotel. To be honest it got a little wearing during the depths of February. He had a chronic and classic case of ‘bookers regret’. That feeling one has when one has reserved a holiday in an unknown place on a bit of a whim hoping it will be worth the considerable dough. Apparently the only way to deal with the worries is to read endless reviews. And hope they are all good.
We hadn’t really booked this holiday on a ‘whim’though. We had fancied Portugal for a while. Because I had been there before; pre children, in fact pre husband. And really enjoyed the sardines and beaches and friendly locals, many of whom were tanned and fit and of the male persuasion. And we picked this hotel because it has three room villas and all the pools are heated. This may seem irrelevant when the air temperatures regularly hit the high twenties to early thirties. But it really isn’t. Middlest cannot do cold water. We went to a Greek island three years ago and he would last literally ten minutes in the unheated pool before emerging blue lipped and shivering. Despite it being in the low 40’s air temperature wise. I got sick of playing rummy with him.
The next time we went to Greece we ensured there was a heated pool. We didn’t see him all day. Perfect.
Anyway where was I? Oh yes Trip Advisor. Wind. This part of Portugal (the south western tip where Atlantic meets Med) was apparently windy.
I had stood over my suitcase for a while when packing. I had had to sacrifice my usual middle sized suitcase for the emergency Mickey Mouse case in order to fit in wet suits, sun tent and flippers. The Mickey Mouse case is only an emergency case in the sense that I had to buy it in the States in an emergency to house all the extra purchases that we had made in Disney World. It is actually a fairly well made and laid out case and usually my one of choice. Despite it being adorned with a large silver picture of the mouse himself. It screams tourist. And not really in a very subtle way. But it is not my case of choice when faced with two weeks of packing.
The middle sized case which is usually mine was full of things to enjoy on the sea and to combat the wind. And all the sun cream and toiletries which wouldn’t make a mess of anything that wasn’t already covered in sand from Devon if they exploded in the cargo hold. Middlest and Youngest were sharing one of the two large suitcases, Eldest had the other middle sized one (he is now as big as me and was insisting on such bulky items as pre ripped jeans which his hormones considered essential and my hormones had no wish to fight over) and husband needed the other large case to allow room for the forty eight t shirts he requires on a fortnight’s holiday. It is a standing joke, his over packing. Well when I say joke…
I had packed my thin, flouncy cardigans that I only ever wear on Greek islands or to posh dinner dances. But I was trying to decide on whether to take a hoodie. Because of Trip Advisor. And that oft mentioned wind. The question was what I was going to sacrifice out of my groaning suitcase that already had its extension zip fully unzipped to make way for it. Mickey’s face was already looking distorted as it strained against my clothing. I decided I could take out a pair of linen trousers but was loath to do so.
In the end I decided to wear it en route. Airplane air conditioning can be over zealous and I could always tie it attractively round my waist in extremis.
My god that was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is up there with going to university, having children, moving to my south eastern corner of England.
I have worn it at least daily since we got here. I need it in the morning to get to breakfast and in the evening to walk to dinner. It also best when swimming in those heated pools to not raise your shoulders above the water level. For fear of goose bumps. And that run from pool to towel is… bracing.
For although the sun may shine here a lot no one was lieing about the wind. In fact wind is really under stating it. Gale is more appropriate. The prevailing wind, moreover, is north westerly. And that means it has a ‘nip’. In the evening it is down right cold. There is nothing balmy about an evening spent here. I had a stand up row with Youngest before we left as she wanted to squeeze a pair of jeans into that shared suitcase. And I refused. What an arse I look now as she wears her trackie bottoms to dinner for the umpteenth time. No pretty dresses here.
Eating al fresco doesn’t really work. It is too cold and anyway condiments and serviettes cannot withstand the breeze for long.
It has its compensations. Waves for instance. I am struggling to think of another. Well it is cooling when it is hot. I guess.
Yesterday the wind shifted direction and came from the south. That was warmer. I didn’t need my hoodie at breakfast anyway. It is moving again today. It seems to be easterly now. Still warmer than before but getting a bit of that ‘nip’ back.
According to the kids’ kayak instructor they only have 50 days a year without wind.
So upon my return I will be adding to the cacophony of voices mentioning ‘breeze’. I thought on the first day that people were staring in disdain at me and my family in our matching England Rugby World Cup 2015 hoodies. But after a week I realise it is actually envy.
They should have paid more attention to Trip Advisor.