We had a great time in London over the winter, making the most of being in the capital, visiting museums and catching up with friends (apologies to those we didn’t manage to see). Jane completed the first part of her ‘Designing with Plants’ open learning course and after 6 weeks of intensive swotting, she also took the RHS Horticulture Level 2 exam in mid-February (results not due till May or June) so it was quite a busy few months.
We flew back out to Portugal on 3 March after spending a couple of nights with Jane’s Mum & Dad. It’s exciting being back on Whimbrel and we’re looking forward to continuing our adventures. We’ll stay in Portimao for a week or so and then plan to head east towards the Med.
We seemed to have left Whimbrel in a bit of a mess so there was a lot of sorting out to do, finding homes for everything again and checking what stores we had – Captain Nolan was very pleased to find a stash of snickers bars!
Thankfully the boat wasn’t nearly as dirty as we had thought she would be after four months in the boatyard/marina and everything was dry – we had someone running a de-humidifier every so often and it probably also helped that this winter was one of the driest for a long time in Portugal. In fact, they desperately need rain.
It’s lovely and warm during the day – 17o or 18o C when the sun shines – but the air is still cold and it is very cold at night (down to 10oC last night and we don’t have any heating, just lots of duvets & blankets!). We’ve been for a few walks, cycled to Alvor which is a pretty town on a nearby river estuary and yesterday took the bus to Silves, a town about 15km from Portimao with a Moorish castle and old cathedral.
Despite the drought there are signs of spring - the countryside around Silves was full of white-flowered cistus shrubs, lavender and some unusual plants we think are orchids. It’s interesting to see our garden plants growing wild in their natural habitat. In Portimao, there are white storks nesting on top of a number of disused chimneys in the town. They make quite a clattering sound with their bills during courtship.