|Alex and the boys enjoy our little stopover in Faro, before flying home|
So, as you are all well aware, back in December we had been in Alvor for a fair old while and were getting rather restless and eager to move on. However, repeatedly checking the forecast did nothing to improve it for us and it was looking like we would be spending Christmas and the New Year on the Algarve. Of course, there are far worse places to be, but I started casually checking flight prices back to the UK, just to see if we might be able to afford a trip home. I was pleasantly surprised with finding flights for around £50 return each from Faro to Gatwick, provided we travelled before December 24th and after January 2nd. I ran my idea past Alex and, happily, he was very keen on it. We began to think about how much fun it would be to keep our families in the dark about our plans, letting them know at the very last moment by turning up on their doorstep.
|We enjoy a picnic with Fran and Tim, from Springtide, |
before heading back to England
And so it was; on Wednesday 18th December we got a lift ashore from Firebird with Tim (from the boat Springtide), so that we didn't have to leave our dinghy on the pontoon for the next fortnight. Tim kindly let us row ourselves ashore in his wooden tender, which was great fun although we could do with some more practice... our coordination left a little to be desired. We certainly won't be winning any boat races any time soon! We headed off to Faro to spend the night in a lovely little bed and breakfast, costing only €15 for the night, including free WiFi, unlimited coffee from the machine in the kitchen and fresh rolls for breakfast. But, most importantly, a long hot shower. Bliss. We had a lovely relaxing evening before our early morning flight back to the UK.
|Firebird, looking very secure on Teade's mooring buoy in Alvor|
|We visited a few friends whilst back, including Tim and Amy, with |
whom we thoroughly enjoyed playing "The London Game"
|Alex standing on the walkway at Marine Lake, Weston-super-Mare|
Surprising our families was the highlight of the trip. First, we surprised Alex's sister Lucy by turning up on her doorstep and ringing the bell. Unbeknownst to us, she was in the shower getting ready for a dinner party and so was a little flustered at having to jump out and answer the door, believing that perhaps it was some guests arriving far too early! Her face was a picture; one that you will soon be able to see, as we filmed all of the surprises and they will be appearing on the YouTube channel once Alex has finished editing them.
|We got to meet Alex's mum's adorable|
new Border terrier pup - Bertie!
From Lucy's, we headed around the corner to spring the same surprise on the original Mr and Mrs Mitchell. Alex called his dad for a chat and ascertained that they were both at home, before simultaneously ringing the doorbell to add to the confusion. Alex's mum came to answer the door and, upon opening it, did a sterling impromptu job of containing her surprise so that Ian didn't hear! We burst into the kitchen and announced that we were crashing Christmas - he was gobsmacked and they were very happy to see us, as we were them.
|The Mitchells had a lovely New Year's Eve meal, |
before going to watch the London fireworks
Next on the list was my brother. Lucy had been invited to a Christmas party at Ben's apartment on the Saturday evening, so we hatched a plan that involved us turning up with her, unannounced. She rang the buzzer on arrival and was let into the building, at which point Alex and I took the lead up the stairs, filming, of course. Ben's face was an absolute corker - his jaw just dropped open with surprise, which neither myself nor Alex have ever seen before! It was so great to see him, and we enjoyed the rest of the evening socialising and eating lots of Christmas party food.
|Me and Ben with our Spanish cousins, John and Kelly, |
at a Christmas family gathering in Bristol
The following day, Ben and I got the train from Paddington to Weston-super-Mare, where Mum and Dad were to be collecting Ben from the station. When they arrived, Ben went to the car first acting completely casual and, after a few seconds, I jumped out from my hiding place and ran up to show my face! Just as Ben and I had predicted, Mum started crying, bless her! Dad looked thoroughly bewildered, too - it took a good half an hour for it to sink in properly, I think. Many more surprises followed; my nan, my sister Trace, cousins, friends, extended family... we never tired of seeing people's reactions!
|Alex gets a lift back to Firebird|
On the 4th January, we flew back to Faro and headed back to Firebird. It was really great to back on board, after getting a lift with a local chap who happened to be heading out with a friend in a little boat. We stayed for one more week in our anchorage, before finally seeing a weather window that we thought would get us safely to the Canaries. It was a very enjoyable final week, and I'm pretty certain that it won't be the last time we see Alvor. All in all, we had a fantastic stay in Portugal and feel really lucky that our delayed departure from there gave us the chance to return to England and spend some quality time with those we love.
|Our friend Pedro, from Alvor, took us ashore and taught us to catch|
razor clams on our last week in Alvor. It was such fun, and we caught eight!