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Birthdays & Holidays


June meant I entered my mid-30s with great reluctance. To soften the blow on the day, I was lucky enough to be in Estoi in Portugal sipping Cava by the pool at 9.30am. The day was made even more perfect when I opened my present from John: a two-day BAKING COURSE! The man sure knows how to keep me happy.

We rented a small villa with a pool and had a much needed rest. Having never been to Portugal, I was ambivalent as to what we were going to find in the Algarve. The reputation it holds for being overrun by ‘Brits Abroad’ was filling me with fear. I needn’t have worried, it was wonderful. The parts of Faro we visited were filled with history and were incredibly picturesque. White cobbled streets and alleyways, gorgeous churches, beautiful buildings, orange trees and small cafés (in which we had a splendid spinach quiche) all made for a very pleasant stroll round the town. In fact it reminded me of Seville which happens to be about 200km away.

IMG_1594We also drove (for what seemed like an eternity) down to Sagres, the most south western point of Portugal and visited the fort there. We then drove up the coast and took in the amazing and dramatic cliffs overlooking the sea. The flora in that area is quite fascinating, arid with plenty of pine trees and unusually shaped bushes. I was quite mesmerised by its almost otherworldly aspect.

Our only beach trip was a long haul affair. We drove to Olhão and from there we got a ferry to Ilha do Farol. Everyone else had been sensible and come with a parasol. Not us. Having arrived at our destination, we had to walk a good 10 minutes to the beach… it was worth it, it was not overrun with holiday makers which was a nice surprise. It was mainly populated by Portuguese families out enjoying their day off on the beach. John managed to burn the soles of his feet by walking across the hot sand and concrete… Oh very dear.



Fish The rest of the holiday was spent lying in the sun, swimming in the pool and reading. At meal times, we made salads and grilled fish outside. The tomatoes were heavenly, all they needed was a drizzle of olive and the bursts of taste that hit your tongue were out of this world. We also discovered Vinho Verde, which literally translates as ‘Green Wine’ – not because of its colour but because it is so young. The grapes are picked late and the Portuguese wine is drunk very young. It was delicious, zingy and fresh.

All in all a wonderful holiday. I would thoroughly recommend going to Portugal in June – it’s not as busy and the weather, although hot, is bearable. Renting a small villa and hiring a car for a week was the perfect way to enjoy some much needed down time and discover the area.

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