March 12th – Cleaners

We came across a flock of vultures on our travels today, riding the thermals, and obviously waiting to devour something.

These creatures aren’t the prettiest bird in the world but they do a fantastic job of cleaning up our world. Imagine the smell of rotting carcasses, and the bacteria that goes along with death. These birds are nature’s clean up squad, for which we should all be grateful.

In fact, anything or anyone that ‘works’ in the cleaning industry are so often looked down upon, but they do an invaluable job.

Human beings are generating so much waste these days with ‘must have now’ and disposable culture that has developed over the last few decades.

Many years ago, when working in manufacturing, I always kept on the good side of the cleaners, mainly because they were really nice people, and kept the place nice. Although, they were Subcontractors so didn’t work for our organisation, they’re human beings like the rest of us with a thankless job. By treating them with dignity and respect, you’d be surprised what little snippets of information was passed my way in return.

Next time you see someone emptying bins, or sweeping the street, why not just say ‘thank you’ to them.

March 11th – Ella

Today’s post is a very happy story for one young pup, not so for her siblings. Ella is about 5 weeks old and was found a few weeks back in a rubbish bag with all of her brothers and sisters who had unfortunately already died.

Ella is a Rafiero do Alentejo, also known as a Alentejo Mastiff, originally breed to protect livestock with Alentejo being the area of origin in South Central Portugal. She has a lot of growing to do…. Her paws are massive. Not a breed I’m familiar with, but Ella is very cute.

Anyway, Ella has been incredibly fortunate as she has been adopted by Robert and Joop, who are 2 very nice guys who run the campsite we have been staying at (see yesterdays post and click the campsite link to find out more).

As an animal lover, I can’t understand why people who own ‘pets’ or working animals do not get them neutered if they do not intend to breed from them? Yes, it costs money, but it saves a lot of heart ache, and complications should an unwanted pregnancy occur.

Ella – welcome to the world and I’m sure your Dad’s will spoil you x

March 10th – The simple life

One of the reasons I love travelling is to get back to basics. We found a great little campsite that we stayed at last night in rural Portugal.

What makes it great I hear you ask? Has it got an amazing pool? Brilliant WiFi? Entertainment? Bars?

No…… It is basic, run by really nice, helpful people that understand service, nothing is too much trouble and everything is clean and tidy. Hot water in the showers, Chickens running around providing eggs for you should you require, and there are some fantastic walks from the site.

We were up early enough to catch the local baker that comes around in his van each morning selling the fresh bread and the largest croissants we’ve ever seen. I appreciate this isn’t everyone’s idea of a great site but we love it.

Breakfast arriving ….

March 9th – Volunteers

Today’s post and photo of the day is to celebrate those in our communities that selflessly put themselves out, and sometimes endanger their own lives by helping others.

The statue in today’s picture is stunning, and sits on a roundabout outside of Reguengos Monsaraz in Portugal. Well done to the artist, and council for putting such a lovely piece in a prominent position, but more importantly well done to those that volunteer for services like fire, RNLI, search and rescue, etc etc.

Hopefully we’ll never need them but it’s great to know that they are there.

March 8th – Senses

Yes, I have spelt it right ….

Photography is one of my favourite pastimes and so what I will say in the post may surprise a few.

Today’s image is OK, but it only captures and uses one of our senses, that of sight. You can’t feel the warm breeze, you can’t smell the scent of the eucalyptus, or feel the rough ground under your feet, that I experienced when this image was taken.

And yet in today’s digital world our visionary sense has been elevated to dangerous levels. Some people are so worried about what they look like, and how others will judge them by appearance alone that it causes major stress in their lives.

I was working online a few days ago with a young person who was really anxious about their weight. Digging a little deeper this person had been a little large in the past and had been bullied through it. They had lost the weight, but were now consumed in anxiety, scared they would regain weight.

The tact I took was to ask a few simple questions: 1. Who do you really admire in your life? (answer: their teacher). 2. Why is this teacher so special? (answer – They’re funny, clever, smiley and interested in their pupils).

My next statement brought it home – “You didn’t mention how they look….. “. The young person, got it, and later fed back that they felt much better (a very brief summary of a complex conversation).

Although I love my hobby, and looking at beautiful things around us in the world, I sometimes think that the world would be a kinder, happier place if we had spells in our lives where we had no vision, and had to rely on our other senses.

Never judge a book by it’s cover, and don’t ignore those other senses. xx

March 7th – Water

Another fabulous day in Portugal, really warm and still only early March, our 4 legged, furry children are glad we’re not here in summer, camped by a fabulous reservoir.

Travelling in a motor-home, especially off grid, does make you consider water usage a lot more than we do at home. We can carry 100 litres of fresh water, and our waste tank is also 100 litres, which means we need to be much more considerate about how we use it.

We have a shower on board, but rather than letting it flow all the time, we rinse ourselves, switch the water off, apply shower gel, and then rinse off the soap, not something we’d consider at home.

With more and more people on our planet, fresh water will become more and more valuable, and demand for this finite resource will increase. I will certainly be more conscious of how much water I use after this trip.

March 6th – One of those days

Let’s face it, we all have them now and again and today it was our turn. It started off with Alfie being sick in the van, he’d obviously munched something whilst out walking that disagreed with him. Will he learn from it? – Doubtful.

So we sorted that out, and headed up the coast, looking for somewhere to walk the dogs as where we stayed last night had no dogs on beach signs everywhere. We managed a little walk, and set off again but the route we choose, although pretty, didn’t give many stopping opportunities.

Time marched on and we found a campsite online that looked promising so we headed off there and took a look. The site was fine, but there was no where to walk the woofers.

We then headed for another area, which was much better, and took the dogs out again. I took the camera, which had developed a fault, and can only be used in auto-mode (I normally shoot in manual).

We get back to Dizzy, only to discover that the camera memory card wasn’t in the camera, and it took some finding….. Thanks Denise x

Anyway – First world problems. I am a firm believer that issues are sent to test us, and also help us appreciate life when they go well. Alfie is better, the camera can be sorted when I get home and I have a work around , the sun is shining, the BBQ is lit, it’s beer o’clock and tomorrow is a new day. Stay positive folks x.

March 5th – Beaches

We have come across some wonderful beaches on our travels and today was no exception. But today’s image has a sad edge to it, because in the photo you’ll see one of our bags filled with plastic collected in a short 20 minute walk.

It is also sadly ironic that where we are stopping tonight has another wonderful beach yet dogs are not supposed to go on it.

We are responsible dog owners who care for our planet, always pick up if the dog happens to mess, and as mentioned done a beach clean picking up rubbish deposited by humans, not dogs.

Should we not ban humans from the beaches as they seem to do more damage than our canine friends – Rant over…..

Next time you go to the beach take a bag and do a little collecting of plastic. It needn’t take long, you’ll be exercise the tummy muscles and back by bending over, you’ll be protecting our seas and the aquatic creatures that live in it, and you’ll appreciate just how polluted our planet is becoming.

I know this is addressing the symptom, and not root cause (people not thinking about rubbish) but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

If you already do this – THANK YOU!!!

Help keep our seas clean….

March 4th – Cork…..

No, not that wonderful town in Eire, I’m talking about the material we remove from our wine bottles (and other products).

We were travelling through some wonderful countryside in Portugal earlier today and were trying to work out why some of the trees had 1.5 – 2 meters of their bark stripped (see image).

Thanks to our great friend Google, we got our answer…. These were Cork Oak Trees. The hyper link gives a few more details about these trees, but it would appear that harvesting the bark (cork) from the trees does them no harm and it re-grows.

The trees can live up to 250 years and cork is harvested every 10 years or so (starting when the tree is 25 years old).

Portugal produces 50% of the worlds cork (still harvested by hand), and are protected from being cut down (unless the tree is dead or diseased).

As normal, my head was full of weird questions like, who the hell first thought of stripping bark from a tree and using it to seal a bottle of wine? That thought would not have crossed my mind…….

I’m wasn’t sure how the cork is processed but again google can provide the answer if your interested (or click here).

Another interesting fact is that harvested cork trees are estimated to absorb 3 to 5 times more carbon than unharvested trees (Source)

There was me feeling sorry for the good old Cork Oak as I do enjoy the odd bottle or 2, but I can now justify my wine consumption as I’m helping the planet deal with Carbon emissions – I’ll drink to that x

Cork tree that has been harvested

March 3rd – People

We took the 4 legged children on quite a hike today, and the scenery was stunning, but today’s photo is about life in rural Portugal. We passed by a sacred Font in the local village of Santa Clara and local women were sweeping up, and chatting away.

Something we seldom see these days, with people so busy and wrapped up in their own lives, technology and everything else that goes on in our lives. It probably took them 20 minutes to tidy up but in that time they clearly spent quality time together whilst making their little font spotlessly clean.

They are probably the village mental health experts, helping each other through community actions and being good listeners. I am sure a few opinions were being thrown around as well but unfortunately listening in Portuguese is not a strength of mine.

Community spirit