The Next Chapter
We have arrived in Portugal and I have only now found the time to sit and write about the first four weeks of our new life! For some reason I am able to find time to look at facebook, twitter etc but don’t seem to have the time to actually write much or write back to anyone! So as not to write an entire book I’ll just try to summarise our new life so far…
We left on the ferry from Plymouth just over four weeks ago, after moving out of our property in the UK we stayed with my in-laws for a few days, this was lovely and we had a wonderful meal with all of the clan before we left. The day of the ferry was tough, fighting back the tears when saying goodbye to my fantastic mum-in-law, John – Craig’s step dad and Granno was hard – and more than a little surreal, they had followed us down to the ferry port for a final goodbye.
Our car was jam packed to the roof with our belongings, two kids in the back with Duplo the dog sat between them and our incredible friends in a car behind us with the rest of our life inside (also jam packed to their roof!). I had only traveled on small ferries before so was a little unsure as to what to expect from the journey we were about to take, but thankfully I can say it was a breeze!
After boarding, we took Duplo up to the top deck and found her designated kennel, she wasn’t overly keen but at least she had somewhere safe to stop for the journey. Then we grabbed the monsters and overnight bag and headed off to find our cabin. Oh wow… it was well worth upgrading! Our cabin was lovely and no sooner than opening the door did the kids fly in and jump straight into their beds with excitement.
After settling in we met back up with our friends and went off to dinner together. We’d booked a table in the ‘posher’ restaurant on board the ship and to say the food was adventurous was perhaps an understatement! But thankfully the kids were all well behaved and we even had a couple of strangers come to our table and tell us how impressed with them they were, with 5 monsters in total it was pleasant to hear (even if we ourselves didn’t think they were being very good!)
A few visits up to see that Duplo was okay and then it was time for bed, the sleep wasn’t too bad although I remember waking up at one point and noticing a pretty strong swaying motion and being concerned that Oscar might fall out of his bed, but there was no need, both he and Ava slept like babies the entire night.
After docking in Santander, it was time to turn on the sat-nav and make a start on our 7 or so hour drive to our new home, we stopped on quite a few occasions, mostly for loo brakes and to top on munchies. The drive itself wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had thought, the roads were quiet and the scenery was relaxing and ever changing.
Eventually we rolled up at our gorgeous new place and the excitement was almost too much to contain! The car doors opened and Duplo went crazy running around the grounds in a mad frenzy, she literally looked like a blur she was running around so fast! We greeted the rest of my family with massive hugs who came over after seeing that we had arrived and showed our friends our place and then to the guest house. No too soon after arriving we thought it would be nice to take our friends to sample some local cuisine and so headed over the bridge to the Carocha, the restaurant on the other side of the river.
After an exhausting day it was time for bed, our friends left the next day to make a mini holiday out of their journey home, stopping through France along the way.
The rest of the week was both busy and surreal, the weather was fantastic and if I didn’t know what month we were in you could have swarn it was the height of summer.
We found a local gym to use at the rugby club and signed Oscar up to try out rugby with the juniors. Unfortunately Oscar didn’t get on as well as we hoped and hasn’t wanted to go back since. Not only this but the gym wasn’t really suitable for us either, so we have since moved to Nelson’s gym in Coimbra, which is in the city. It’s mostly used my students but everyone seems very friendly and Craig looks like a monster compared to the rest of the guys, and to be honest I feel pretty big there too! But the equipment is great and atmosphere isn’t too bad either, although not even close to the atmosphere of our old gym at Cores.
Oscar started school almost two weeks ago and my main concern was that he’d find it incredibly difficult to settle but touch wood he’s only had one day of tears so far and now loves it. The teachers are wonderful and Oscar clearly loves them all already. The days are long, 9:00 – 5:30, (at the moment Oscar comes home at 4:30) but all their food is freshly cooked throughout the day and yesterday we were even invited to watch a play that they performed and listened to them sing songs, Oscar had even taught his classmates and teachers his favourite song ‘Wind the bobbin up!’ Not only were parents invited but residents from one of the care homes also came along to watch and have dinner all together.
He has comes home happy every day since starting and is learning new words in Portuguese all the time. The lifestyle is so different over here, the teachers blow kisses to the children and there’s no fear to give cuddles or attention to them either, I’ve never experienced such a relaxed and loving community, this is the way life should be.
Ava’s come out of her shell quite a bit too – strangers often come over to see her when we’re shopping and give her a pat on the head, a little cuddle or blow her kisses and although she pretends to be shy you can see her secretly loving all the extra attention!
I am very fortunate to have more than enough freelance work on at current and Craig works on the house during the week as there is still an awful lot to be done yet. Although Ava is a great distraction and found that playing hide and seek with Daddy through the window was a fantastic game!
We’re now experiencing the opposite end of the weather to when we first arrived and have torrential rain forecast for the next few days but we have wellly boots now which makes like a lot easier, especially when it comes trudging through the mud to collect fire wood and to put the chickens and ducks away for the night! We’ve lost power a couple of times and being detached from the internet had worried me slightly, especially as all my work is internet based, but it hasn’t taken long to get us back up and running again.
All in all the past few weeks have been more exhausting than I had initially realised and these past couple of days I’ve been a bit of an emotional wreck… thankfully though Craig’s been his ever straight talking self and has helped snap me out of my funk… but as this has turned into quite a monster post I’ll elaborate more on this another time.
It’s so good to be close to my family again, it’s not until I’m here with them seeing them daily that I realised how much I’ve missed them all and how grateful we are for them having us here. We can’t thank our friends enough either, Nat, Richie, Chloe, Freddie and Teddy – what you have done for us is beyond words, we hope someday we’ll be able to repay you but until then we hope you know how grateful we are for all your help!