Last summer we took a family holiday on the Western coast of Portugal. It was not the type of trip most people think of when Portugal is mentioned. We weren’t interested in the beach, we wanted rural. Our ideal was a place far enough from Lagos to be away from the crowds of tourists, and with views of Monchique. What we got was a villa with a clear view of the mountain valleys from the perfectly situated garden furniture that had been supplied by the villa’s owners. It was a chance to reconnect with our children without the diversions a city or beach break could present.
Now I must confess that while we had expected to enjoy our stay, I don’t believe any of us thought we would return home with ideas on how to improve our own lifestyle. But, this did turn out to be just such an occasion. We found ourselves on the outskirts of a one traffic light village, with no chain supermarkets or restaurants in sight. Therefore, we stocked up on fresh fruits and vegetables being sold in a roadside booth by the very people who farmed them. The fish and meat we travelled farther to obtain at a lovely traditional market. Again, we were probably in the presence of those who had caught or raised the product. Sure, we can do something similar at home, but trying to negotiate a price with someone with only a Portuguese phrase book makes it feel auspicious.
Once back at the accommodation, which was situated on three acres of beautifully landscaped property, we found ourselves at a loss for what to do next. Nowhere really to go, we decided to make full use of the handmade brick barbecue and table set under the pergola. It took some time to settle our minds, and wind down from all of the stimulation we are accustomed to back home. Still it did happen, and we agreed that inhaling the scent of the beautiful wildflowers all during the day, and feasting on barbecue at night was divine.
After a full week of nothing but board games, picnics and sing-a-longs, we were ready to reunite with our former way of life. Still, we promised ourselves that we would make a few changes once back at our cottage. My list included the following, getting a great barbecue for our garden, as we liked the experience of eating out under the stars a great deal. However, a more modern version would be our preference, as we would like to have more control over the way the bbq cooks. Also, we are going to craft our own pergola and then install our outdoor table and chairs underneath. Eventually, we hope to have Clematis growing up the wood of the pergola, which will remind us even more of the valued time we spent together. It is such a nice thing to be able to come back to reality with a few ways to make everyday life a wee bit more magical.