Peniche

25/11/17

Peniche is a town on a small headland that sticks out from the west coast of Portugal just north of Lisbon. It’s known for it’s great surf, and because it has coast facing in many directions it’s usually possible to surf here regardless of wind direction. Not that this was why we were here, but there were plenty of surfers around and also a lot of Portuguese motorhomes here for the weekend.

We drove along the north side of the peninsular, stopping at Intermarche for a quick restock and taking note of the motorhome facilities in their car park, then taking a look at a few parking spots. The one we had liked the look of on google turned out to have no motorhome/campervan signs all over it so we drove on out to Cabo Carvoeiro lighthouse.

We decided to take a walk around the headland, following tracks around the south coast until we got to the Fortazela and harbour area where we wandered through narrow streets of tiled houses and apartments, lived in and busy. Restaurants lined the harbours edge and were full of people out for their Saturday lunch.

Peniche Fortezela – closed for lunch when we walked by

From the harbour we followed an inlet north, this cuts across the middle of the peninsular making it almost an island, the town walls hug the western edge of the water and an industrial estate is on the less picturesque east side. We crossed the main road to the northern coast where we stopped to watch surfers before following the cliffs back to Bertie. Along the way we noticed that fishing spots were marked with yellow fish symbols on white posts, these fishing spots often clung precariously to the side of the cliffs, down steps onto small platforms that looked like they might have been built by the fishermen. Some were already slipping down the cliff or undercut by the sea.

A marker post for one of the many fishing spots along the cliffs
Collapsing steps down to what was once a fishing spot

The rock of the peninsular is heavily weathered limestone forming odd and beautiful karst formations with limestone pavements, deep crevices and sea stacks.

Limestone pavement, looking towards the chapel of Igreja de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios
Eroded and undercut, the cliffs of the south coast

This was a nice place to spend the day and set the tone for the next few days as we followed the coast, the fishermen, and the surfers, south. 

What Happened to My Christmas Spirit?

 

Sitting here in Bertie, waiting for my curry to finish cooking I’m wondering what happened to my Christmas Spirit.

Christmas is an odd time of year, but I love it. I don’t have a particular affinity for the day itself, it’s too soon over and done, but the whole season is magical.

I love the build up, the way that nights draw in and the lights slowly go up in homes and across towns. I relish the cold weather, forcing us to bundle up and wear chunky knitwear, thick socks and boots. I love the generally positive vibe, making people more optimistic, giving and thoughtful about others. I enjoy the entry to the party season, knowing that everyone is looking for an opportunity to turn their everyday into an event with sparkles and glitter.  

Then there is time. Time off work and time to do things. It’s an easy time (in my line of work anyway) to have a long break, with so many bank holidays one week’s allowance turns into two weeks of holiday. And it’s not a holiday where I go away to forget about it all, but a holiday where I focus on home and hearth. This is when my oven gets cleaned (an annual event – sorry Nan). This is when I have time to entertain friends and family. This is when I cook dishes that take hours to prepare. This is when I get to see the people I have not managed to cross paths with for the rest of the year.    

So what’s happened this year? We’re sitting here and thinking about our friends in Exmouth who are enjoying the annual Christmas meal and Secret Santa; we’re not there and can only vicariously enjoy the photos and comments. I’m trying to motivate myself to purchase presents online for niece and nephews that I wont see opened. I want to buy decorations for Bertie but cant bring myself to do it. I’m just not feeling Christmassy

I put it down it the following things:

  1. People. We’re too far away from the people that matter to us, the people we’re used to spending Christmas with. It doesn’t feel the same without friends and family.
  2. Weather. I’m swimming in the sea and walking and cycling and enjoying sunshine and finding it all very surreal. Where is the icy cold, the rain, wind and (ok it rarely happens, but there’s always the possibility) snow?
  3. Lack of preparation. I don’t know why, but I didn’t pack any Christmas decorations for Bertie. Christmas seemed so far away when we left and I think I might have been in denial.

So, I cannot sit here and complain about it (after this post anyway), I have decided that I will have to do something to invoke my Christmas spirit, I will conjure it up with the singing of carols and Christmas tunes. I will festoon Bertie with decorations. I will make plans for a Christmas dinner. I might even clean Bertie’s oven, just to get in the mood.  

Hopefully in a few days you will see some evidence that the Christmas spirit has finally be summoned to Bertie.