Charting a couple's move from London to Portugal, tales, adventures and moving advice

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Portugal vs. England! 6

Posted on July 10, 2014 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

(Ben) As you undoubtedly know if you’ve followed the blog for a while, it’s been a rather long time since I posted an update from Portugal.

I won’t apologise, as adjusting to having a new baby at home leaves us with little time, and I now plan to type quite a long update to make up for it.

Last week, I took a little trip to London. My mother had a major operation earlier in the year and I’d wanted to visit sooner, but the NHS decided to schedule the operation to coincide with Louise’s due date.

Going back to the UK always provides me with plenty of inspiration for the blog, because after so long in the Algarve I cannot help but make contrasts between my old life (and home) and my new one.

A taste of my old life

A taste of my old life

Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s best not to take to the keyboard and rant on the day of my arrival in London for fear of offending those who still live in the big city. However, it’s proof that I’m living in the right place that I usually spend my first 24 hours in the UK feeling unsettled, stressed and annoyed.

It always begins with the simple things: Why do I always have to wait nearly an hour for my luggage at Gatwick despite already having waited in an immigration queue for ages? HOW MUCH is my train ticket into London? Why are there SO MANY people here? Why don’t they TALK to one another instead of gazing at their iPhones? You probably get the picture.

This trip back was particularly gruelling as I arrived in London during the evening rush hour on the hottest day of the year. I got to my London-bound train just as the doors were closing, and was surprised that I managed to squeeze my suitcase into the vestibule. I was even more surprised when at least eight other people squeezed on behind me into the same vestibule, complete with eight more suitcases and a bike. As I gasped for air and tried to contort my arms enough to remove the antibacterial hand gel from my bag, I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth I managed to put up with London commuting for over a decade.

By the time I arrived at my destination I was hot and bothered and experiencing what could only be described as sensory overload. I stood outside the train station feeling truly overwhelmed by the number of people, and genuinely surprised that I felt like such a fish out of water in a place I’d lived for so long.

Clapham Junction - A Blast from the Past

Clapham Junction – A Blast from the Past

After a quick and easy hotel check-in, I popped in the bar for a bottle of beer, which I drained in minutes due to the heat. I then found myself wondering how much longer it would be until someone came and asked if I wanted another one. Then I remembered that it doesn’t work that way in England, and that I’d have to go and get it myself. I then calculated that (based on current exchange rates) two beers in the hotel bar would cost as much as 10.2 bottles of Sagres in my local at home, and decided to give the second one a miss.

The next morning, I truly was a visitor in my old life, as I had to set off first thing to do a job on a client site. By now I was beginning to enjoy the change of scenery rather more, but still couldn’t help but notice things, such as how miserable everybody looked despite the sunshine, and the fact that there must have been around £4000 worth of smartphones and tablets contained within every three metres of train space.

With my work complete, I went off to meet my mum, and it was at that point that I began to enjoy London life. We went to the theatre in the evening, something always certain to give me a reason to miss the easy access to culture that I used to benefit from. People spotting in Soho was lots of fun too, but most of all it was wonderful to see my mum after so long, and to see her looking so much better than she did last time I saw her. Indulging in various foods I’ve missed for months was pretty damn good too.

Gourmet burgers in London

Gourmet burgers in London

Thanks to the wonders of free hotel Wi-Fi and FaceTime, I was able to maintain regular contact with home, and I checked in with Louise and our baby at least a few times each day. I have a lovely screenshot of him smiling at me on the camera, although I think the fact that daddy had turned into an iPad may have spun his little head a bit.

The rest of my few days flew by, and before I knew it I was back in Faro, complete with lots of little presents for the family and a selection of bargains from the 99p shop, all of which will save us many Euros over the coming weeks.

So, all in all it was a good trip, but one that only went to reinforce the fact that Portugal is now my true home—something emphasised by the fact that it took me 48 hours to stop speaking Portuguese in shops by mistake.

Back to paradise

Back to paradise

Hopefully I’ve managed to be as balanced as possible in my account of my trip, and stopped short of offending my London associates. However, I must have a few little mini-rants before I step away from the keyboard:

  1. How does anyone cope with the dreadful mobile data network in the London area without smashing their smartphone in frustration? Perhaps it’s the sheer number of people, but I’ve not had such problems with connectivity anywhere else in the world.
  1. How is it that the UK media blame the EU for excessive rules and regulations when there are seemingly more of them IN the UK then anywhere else in Europe? “No glass bottles outside!” “No smoking on this section of pavement!” “No flip-flops in the bar!” “No cash payments on the bus!” Come on! Just let people live their lives.
  1. £4.80 for a 330ml bottle of beer? Seriously?!

Fancy a change from UK life? Read about how you can do it in our book: Moving to Portugal

Readers in the USA will find it here.

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Moving Abroad – Quality of Life 0

Posted on January 21, 2013 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Moving abroad is something that everyone does for their own personal reasons. For us, quality of life and better weather were two key reasons behind our decision to move to Portugal (it’s Lou here, by the way).

While sunshine and high temperatures aren’t guaranteed in Portugal in the winter, it’s fair to say that overall the weather here is a vast improvement on that in England. We’ve had a wonderful December, full of bright, sunny days, albeit turning cold the moment the sun goes down. January has been more of a mixed bag, with rain showers and cloudy days reminding us that it is still winter after all. This weekend, high winds have deterred us from venturing too far, so we’ve made the most of relaxing and appreciating the quiet life of the Algarve.

Moving abroad - where will your journey lead you?

Moving abroad – where will your journey lead you?

After a wonderful meal of fresh fish at Vela 2 in Santa Margarida on Friday night, we battened down the hatches and spent the weekend indoors, hiding from the wind. Although some chores did intrude on our relaxation (our oven is now sparklingly clean!) I was able to indulge in some Portuguese cooking, finish knitting two scarves that I started before Christmas and bake banana bread with a chocolate spread centre.

One of the things that I love about the Algarve in winter – and the reason I can relax so thoroughly when the weather is bad – is that there simply isn’t that much to do here when it’s not sunny. In our local area, poor weather means that our choices are limited to the cinema or shopping. Although there are occasions when we do yearn for a little more, it generally means that we can spend the winter months hibernating and relaxing, saving up our energy for the frenetic life of Portuguese summertime.

Moving abroad - a new dawn

Moving abroad – a new dawn

Of course winter doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work. Come rain or shine, my working day begins at 8.30 am. On days like today, when I have a huge ‘to do’ list, the day began even earlier. I got up and opened the shutters to see what the day was like, only to realise that it was still dark. It came as quite a surprise – my lack of a commute to work means that those weeks on end of getting up while it’s still dark (and getting home while it’s dark) during the English winter are a thing of the past. It’s something that I have almost, after more than three years in Portugal, come to take for granted.

This morning served as a wonderful reminder of how much our quality of life has improved, in subtle ways as well as obvious ones. We still have to deal with the pressures of work and the endless chores and trips to the supermarket, but we’re more relaxed while we’re doing it now. Instead of a hellish commute to work through London traffic in the dark, I drank my tea this morning while typing and watching the sun come up over our balcony. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer start to the week – it reminded me all over again how lucky we are to be living in Portugal and how much our life has improved since moving abroad.

Want to hear more about how our life has changed since moving abroad? Moving to Portugal: How a young couple started a new life in the sun – and how you could do the same reveals it all.

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Flying to Portugal 4

Posted on July 05, 2011 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

As I type this I am 30-odd thousand feet above Portugal or Spain on my journey back to the Algarve, after a quick week working and socialising in London.

We are very much looking forward to re-establishing a routine after our recent residency nightmares, which were exacerbated by three weeks of toothache, which thankfully has abated since a trip to the dentist in London.

Heading home to Portugal

Heading home to Portugal

All in all, June was probably our most unsettled month since moving to Portugal, so I am relishing the thought of something approaching normality, or as least as close to normality as we can get as the real holiday season beings in the Algarve. This means strategic planning is required when visiting shops, beaches and restaurants, to avoid the worst of the hordes.

Montegordo Beach - in quieter times

Montegordo Beach - in quieter times

Tomorrow should be a rather exciting day, as we are finally picking up our own car after 18 months of supporting the local car hire companies. Car hire has proved so affordable throughout the winter that if we could get those rates year round, we would be tempted to just keep renting ad infinitum. The trouble is that in the summer, we can end up paying the same to hire a car for a week as we usually pay per month off-season…..and that is if one is available.

Shortly after finally getting our residency, we were approved for car finance on something nearly new–quite a feat when our income all comes from the UK. I apologise to the environment for the trees that must have been felled to produce all the paperwork that was required! If anyone wants information on what we did and what was required, let me know, but I won´t bore everyone reading the blog with the details here.

I don´t have a lot more to say, having been away from Portugal for a week. Once we arrive back, I look forward to embracing life in the sun, which I have been unable to do fully with residency stress as well as toothache!

All is good right now, but I imagine within a week or two I´ll be complaining about the tourists….there are certainly plenty of them on this plane ;-)

QUICK UPDATE: After typing this on Friday on the plane, I didn’t get round to posting it until Tuesday. We are now back, the sun is shining….and…….we have our car! It was a quick and easy process, but at some point soon we really ought to attempt to translate all the bits of paper we mindlessly signed when we collected it. Oh, and my wife is already complaining about traffic and “dawdling tourists.” All much as predicted then really!

Image Credits: Deanster1983 Bert Kaufmann

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Culture Shock Abroad 8

Posted on February 15, 2011 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

The start of the month saw us once again boarding an Easyjet Airbus and setting off to London for a short work trip.

You would think that after over a year of doing this it would become somewhat routine, and in some ways it has. We still spend the week preceding our trip with feelings split between looking forward to seeing friends and dreading having to re-join the rat-race. Otherwise though, the “culture shock abroad” experience changes every time.

Despite having lived in London for well over a decade before moving to Portugal, the place feels more alien and unfriendly every time we visit. The times we spend with friends and in our old local bar are “just like old times,” but the rest of the time we feel increasingly lost and culture-shocked.

From London to Portugal - the old commute

From London to Portugal - the old commute

Regular walks on Algarve beaches, accompanied by frequent “Bom Dia” greetings and smiles from strangers, have now become our “norm.” This means tube commuting is now a time of bemusement, despite the fact that I was once one of those people hustling along, eyes down, earphones in, staring at a smartphone as if profound answers were contained within.

Although I used to be a Londoner, I now spend the first 48 hours in London getting funny looks from people when I catch their eye and smile – it takes me two days to put my guards back up and build up the requisite amount of background anger and resentment to fit in on the 0830 to Waterloo!

The hardest thing about all of this is that it’s very hard to express these feelings to friends without coming across as a born-again expat hippie, and giving the impression that my view is as simplistic as “London’s crap and Portugal’s great.” That’s not it at all. It’s just that our lives are so much different now.

Culture shock abroad? Out most frequently used train in Portugal

Culture shock abroad? Out most frequently used train in Portugal

I often don’t charge my mobile phone for days after the battery has run out. I always have time to cook healthy food, exercise and, to quote the Center Parcs marketing team, “stand and stare.” Those things have enhanced my day to day existence more than any increase in salary and status ever could have done. So when I notice people on the London commute, looking thoroughly miserable despite their designer clothes and shiny cutting-edge gadgets, I feel nothing but bewilderment.

“How’s Portugal?” is becoming an increasingly difficult question to answer, now that everyone we know is already well versed in the superficialities of the weather, food and drink. We’ve now lived an utterly different culture for long enough that it’s difficult to answer the question without risking causing offence by making honest comparisons. We love it here in Portugal and we would hate to have to go back…..and it’s very hard to say that without it sounding like a condemnation of the lifestyle we left behind.

It’s important for us to remember that WE are the people who moved and, as a result, the people who are going to change as the cynical, hard skin of city life falls away. As time goes on, we are going to have to be careful to ensure that the happiness our new life has brought us doesn’t come across as self-satisfaction, even if it not intended as such.

“How’s Portugal?” Fine thanks.

Photo credits, charbel.akhras Tony Castillo Quero

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Flying Home for Christmas 3

Posted on December 14, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

What a difference a 2.5 hour flight makes. This time last week I was shivering my way around a -3C London and now I’m back in Portugal it’s 19C outside and bright enough to give me a migraine!

Our trip back to England was the usual mix of good, bad and ugly. The good = Christmas meals and drinks with family and friends. The bad = coping with city crowds and being sneezed over by those with colds and bugs. The ugly = negotiating weather delays and engineering works on public transport.

After a fantastic start to our UK trip, when we visited family in the country, our first 24 hours in London provoked in us the kind of strong feelings of anger and frustration that we

A Snowy Arrival in England

A Snowy Arrival in England

moved to Portugal to get away from. In retrospect I’m glad that I resisted the temptation to post on the blog to relieve my annoyance last Sunday evening, as I fear I may have offended everyone I know who lives in England’s capital!

After the initial anger subsided, which was primarily caused by a public transport journey of epically crap proportions, we relaxed into London life for a few days, and, as always, had some good and memorable times with friends. We also destroyed the majority of the good work our Weightwatchers stint had achieved by tucking into vast quantities of fish and chips, cider and curry, along with a plethora of pastry-based products.

After a rather expensive check-in back at Gatwick airport, thanks to Easyjet’s kind decision to massively reduce the weight limit for our suitcase, we boarded our plane back to Faro, and spent a bumpy couple of hours being entertained / annoyed by a gaggle of hen party visitors, before arriving back in Portugal.

As we have to return to the UK at regular intervals, the moment we arrive back from one visit is always fantastic, as it means there’s plenty of time before we have to think about doing it all again, and our travel plans this time round meant we arrived back with a weekend ahead of us.

After a Saturday of unpacking and settling, my Outlook calendar bleeped and reminded me of a Christmas market in the beautiful hamlet of Cacela Velha taking place the next day—a reminder I had set a long time ago when I heard about it on one of the expat forums.

We gathered the family on Sunday morning and spent a wonderful morning browsing stalls of local handicrafts, cakes, jams, plants and wine. We left having indulged in artisan quiche and honey pastries, not to mention a couple of freebie glasses of local wine, and by then had a few carrier bags between us containing treats which may well appear on the Christmas table or in certain family Christmas stockings…..

After the market we took the family to show them the town of Vila Real de Santo Antonio, right on the Spanish border. We are fans of this very likeable town, which, unusually for the area, is built on a grid system, just like downtown Lisbon.

Christmas Model Village in Vila Real de Santo Antonio

Christmas Model Village in Vila Real de Santo Antonio

The town boasts a number of individual shops which are great for a browse, including kitchen stores, large linen emporiums, and even a large shop dedicated to Christmas decorations. We alternated wanders around the shops with sit-downs and rest stops at a couple of cafes – a fantastic way to spend a Sunday.

An extra treat was coming across a huge model village that had been constructed specially for Christmas. This free-to-enter exhibit was truly impressive with a breathtakingly intricate level of detail. I heartily recommend that anyone in the East Algarve area go and take a look.

Our relaxed weekend was the perfect antidote to the frenetic pace of our time in the UK, and served as a perfect reminder of why we moved to Portugal. Later that evening, as I sprinkled lemon thyme over our roasted vegetables, procured cheaply from the market that morning, I felt ever so happy. Home sweet home.

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The Weather Outside is Frightful 4

Posted on December 02, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Tomorrow, all being well, we’re off to England for some pre-Christmas family festivities (yay,) and some work appointments (boo!)

For once we are looking forward to the trip back a little bit, helped by the fact the first thing we will be doing on arrival is shopping for and cooking a full traditional English Christmas dinner.

We are also really looking forward to seeing some of the snow everyone is talking about. We’re not bothered about seeing a lot (too much of it may mean the airport is closed,) but we really hope to see some, as there is almost zero chance of ever seeing any in the Algarve (though I’m sure I have read somewhere that snow has once fallen on the Algarve’s beaches – maybe someone could clarify?)

London in the Snow

London in the Snow

I’m not sure how prepared I am for the cold. Now we have acclimatised to the weather in Portugal, anything under 18C seems distinctly chilly, and we are surprised that after just a year, we have, as we wondered we might, joined the native Portuguese people in wearing jumpers and jeans as soon as the mercury goes below 20C, and looking in bemusement at tourists in shorts and flip-flops. We were those people just a year ago—it turns out just one year in a warmer climate is all it takes to lose that hardy British resilience to meteorological hardship!

So, for this visit to the UK we have already been packed for two days, needing to make sure we could fit thick coats and jumpers into our meagre Easyjet baggage allowance along with the family Christmas gifts.

Now all we have to do is head off tomorrow and hope the airports are open, and also keep fingers firmly crossed that we don’t catch any of the myriad colds and bugs that everyone seems to have in the UK at the moment – lots of vitamin C on the menu today…

So…..England again–these trips come around so/too fast. As ever I am excited to see people, but at the same time can’t wait to be back here in Portugal—home for Christmas.

Seasons greetings :-)

Photo credit: John Curnow

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Portugal – A Review of the Year 1

Posted on November 12, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

To conclude my retrospective look at our first exciting year in Portugal, here, as promised in my last posts are our high points and respective low points of our first year in the Algarve.

THE HIGHS

1. Sharing our new home with friends and family - some of our happiest times here to date have been those we have shared with our visitors. A big thank you, in no particular order, to Richard, Pam, Kat, Rob, Rick, Bill, Mike, Tom, Amy, Hannah, Ben, Dionne, Jacob, Emma, Steve and Nat, and all the other people coming to see us soon.

2. Enjoying all the scenery the Algarve has to offer – and soaking in water from the cold (lake under the waterfall at Pego Do Inferno,) to the warm (Montegordo in August.)

Portugal - eating out in the Algarve

Portugal - eating out in the Algarve

3. Eating and cooking – from fish feasts at the cheap and wonderful Vela 2 in Tavira, to barbecues on the terrace, and tapas over the border in Seville. The gastronomic wonders of this part of the world have lived up to all of our expectations.

4. Meeting people - Portugal has made us very welcome. Various people spring to mind: friendly neighbours in Tavira who put up with our slow Portuguese, a certain bar owner who offered us advice and encouragement during the wobbliest of our early days (you know who you are,) and all the lovely people who provide advice on the forums and here on this blog. There are some very good people in this part of the world. I must also give a special mention to the surly young shop assistant in our local mini mercado, who now greets us with a smile and saves her visible disdain for the tourists ;-)

5. Small victories: Finally getting our residency, finally getting our broadband and cable TV, successfully building on our limited Portuguese, and finally getting a smile from the girl in the shop (see above.)

THE LOWS

1. Winter 2009. Finding out first hand, by enduring the wettest winter since 1870, that Portugal is a cold country with hot sun, and NOT a tropical paradise. Our first four months in the mouldy disaster that was our house in Tavira are not a period of my life I would be keen to repeat.

2. High Summer. Realising that the Algarve just gets TOO busy in July and August.

Mouldy memories - Portugal 2009

Mouldy memories - Portugal 2009

3. Trips to England. A means to an end, but it would be great to have less of them – they really mess with your routine.

4. Red Tape. Although when you finally get the piece of paper you need it feels like a triumph, getting there can be hellish – and you do end up having a sense of foreboding with regard to your next encounter with officialdom.

5. Meeting people. Figured I would put this in both sections. Most people we have encountered in this past year have been great, but as ever there have been a few exceptions. Cliquey, gossipy types, jobsworths, people who push you out the way in Easyjet’s speedy boarding queue and people from HM Revenue and Customs who can’t read forms properly have all made my shit list over the past twelve months!

So what advice would we offer to those considering chasing their own dream to Portugal or another sunny location?

Do your research, make sure you are sure, then save some money and do it – and when you are going through the hugely stressful last six months before the big move, always remember to soak up every minute of the adventure – you may come to miss the non-stop raw, emotional, scary excitement of changing your life. I’d certainly do it all again :-)

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Moving to Portugal – A Year On 2

Posted on November 09, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

It is now just over a year since we waved goodbye to Old London Town, and got on the plane to Portugal, leaving our old life behind.

Needless to say, the year has been one of the most eventful of our lives, and I’m finding it surprisingly difficult to work out how to summarise our first year in a blog post.

When you move abroad, especially to somewhere you have fallen in love with on holidays, it is surprising when, after a few months, you realise that you haven’t at any point felt that

Boats at Olhao - Moving to Portugal

Boats at Olhao - Moving to Portugal

undiluted happy holiday feeling.

If holidaying somewhere you adore could be likened to the electric, lustful feelings of the start of a relationship, going to live there is rather more akin to the deep rooted contentment gained through a happy marriage.

This is no bad thing, and there have been plenty of wonderful moments along the way that have lived up our initial hopes.

One day a couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were both frantically busy with work and within seconds of closing our laptops were both leaning over the kitchen sink – I was shelling prawns while she scaled sardines, ready for some guests coming over for a midweek dinner. We were both stressed. It wasn’t until I remembered we were preparing cheap and fresh seafood within seconds of finishing work, rather than fighting through the crowds on the way to a tube station, that it occurred to me that we were in fact living the dream we waited for.

This does go some way to illustrating my point. When you go to live somewhere, real life moves there with you. When you are on holiday, real life is put into a state of suspended animation until you get home and pick up the big pile of bills on the doormat. We ARE living our dream, but those bills still arrive on a daily basis, and wherever you live you can have weeks that suck and leave you thinking you need a HOLIDAY – even if the beach is ten minutes away.

Our one year Portugal anniversary has caused us to look back at the last year, and we do feel we have made substantial progress in integrating here, even if sometimes this progress happens so slowly you don’t notice it at the time.

Speaking Portuguese is an example of this. Now when we go into shops, restaurants, garages, we speak Portuguese without it occurring to us that we ARE speaking Portuguese. We didn’t actually realise this until some relatives pointed it out after observing us in a supermarket, and it was a very rewarding feeling. Even more pleasing was when I picked up a Portuguese cooking magazine the other day and realised that there were entire paragraphs I could understand. Compared to my wife I thought I had been decidedly slack when it came to learning the language, so I am encouraged by how much does seem to go in without you noticing.

Sunset over the Algarve near Barrill Beach

Sunset over the Algarve near Barrill Beach

Another pleasing change which started to occur after about six months was that we stopped having those wobbly days or weeks when we questioned our decision to move. These are now few and far between and affirm our decision.

I figured the best way to look retrospectively over our first year would be to list five of the year’s high points, and five corresponding lows…stay tuned for my review of the first year, coming on Friday.

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From Portugal to….Southampton?! 3

Posted on October 12, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Does absence truly make the heart grow fonder?

On my first few visits back to the UK from Portugal I couldn’t find a single thing to be happy about – I just sulkily longed to be back in the Algarve. Now the visits have become more routine, I am finding a few (just a few!) reasons to not completely hate the time I spend back here. (The usual disclaimer with regard to it being great to catch up with friends and family applies!)

This time round, our works brings us to Southampton, somewhere I have never been before. It was quite exciting to put the TV on in the hotel yesterday just at the point when the

The new Cunard Queen Elizabeth cruise ship

The new Cunard Queen Elizabeth cruise ship

queen smashed the bottle on the new Cunard Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, down the road.

Other that the obvious satisfaction in knowing that the queen herself made an appearance during our very own maiden voyage to Southampton, I have actually found this city to be quite agreeable, with a relaxed student vibe.

As with most places in the UK nowadays, Southampton does also seem to have its share of “got a spare fag mate?” chavs and troops of young single mums with hoop earrings sufficiently large for dolphins to use them for tricks, but the trendy students seem to dilute them down to the level of minor irritation rather than major annoyance.

Once again, being back in England is making me notice new differences—both comparisons between here and Portugal and differences in how I am, now I live such a vastly different life.

I walk a lot slower nowadays. I have already got used to London seeming faster on previous visits, but if Southampton feels like a fast-lane to me now, I must have really slowed down to a Portuguese pace!

A lot seems unnecessarily complicated and illogical around these parts too. How on earth a tourist is supposed to select the correct train ticket from the vast array of choices at the Gatwick ticket machines is beyond me—and I lived here nearly all my life.

A few more days and we’ll be back in Portugal again, until then, time to do some work at UK pace and enjoy a few things we have been looking forward to – Thai food and fish and chips being the priorities.

So, I’ll be back when I am back in the hopefully sunny Algarve, by which time I am sure to have found some reasons to moan about England again!

Have a good week.

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Ten Life Lessons 5

Posted on June 08, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

It has been a hectic couple of weeks with yet another trip back to the UK due to another wedding. We are now settling back in to life in the Algarve, and it is now, thankfully, two whole months before I have to go anywhere again.

Our residency nightmare is on-going, and I’m not going to detail the complete and sometimes humorous debacle at this point, as I am going to save it all for a detailed post as and when the process is complete. Regular readers will, however, probably be able to fill in a few gaps from some of the points in my list below.

SO: here are ten “life lessons” I have learned since my last post:

1. However long you wait and however hard you try to get hold of a Portuguese residencia certificate, once you finally get your hands on it, it is unrealistic to expect it to be valid for the correct amount of time or feature your correct residential address. Sad but true.

2. It is best to avoid leaving your wallet in a seat-back pocket on a plane, and unrealistic to expect anyone to hand it in.

London Stansted - Unpleasant

London Stansted - Unpleasant

3. Even if you use a “wine bottle irrigation system*” several of your plants WILL DIE if you leave them on your terrace for five days away in 30 degree heat.

4. Do not fly out of London Stansted – it is FAR too small for the number of people who use it.

5. Do not expect the young ladies at WH Smith in Stansted to pause their inane conversation about who they kissed on their night out, no matter how many miles long the queue is.

6. Never expect the boarding process on an Easyjet aircraft to be anything other than a hideous experience that highlights the ugliest parts of human-nature.

7. Expats should never convince themselves that it is possible to do ANY trip back to the UK without spending a small fortune.

8. The ability of Ebay buyers to collect items they have purchased at the agreed time has not improved in the last six months.

9. Café Nero sells half-decent espresso, Premier Inn does not.

10. When it comes to the World Cup, I will always be an England fan, however long I live in Portugal.

*A wine bottle irrigation system involves filling an empty wine bottle with water and upending it in the soil in a plant container. The plant takes the water it needs gradually and some kind of vacuum effect keeps the rest in the bottle. It is very effective, but unfortunately in this climate the plants need litres per day. Perhaps I need to start buying wine in five litre bottles ?!

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      Easter Break in Portugal

      As I type today, I'm looking back on a very enjoyable four day weekend in Portugal. When I started work this morning, I paged back through my calendar out of… Read More »
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