When we left the security blanket of our British shores nearly two years ago, to run arts holidays in Portugal on the Silver Coast, our main concern was that we weren’t going to survive financially. We are still not sure sometimes how to survive more than ‘nostrils above water’.
We’ve learnt a few things about the little things that please our guests…and a few that don’t…so here I rate them personally by popularity, either going down, not so important… and going up, proving to be popular with our guests.
Going Down…Providing Copious TV channels
Most people we have encountered holidaying here in Portugal are very active and don’t watch the TV. Buying a huge satellite dish in order to offer your guests 100’s of TV stations may well be a waste of time and money, it was for us. With the added difficulty of receiving BBC in Spain and Portugal, TV watching in our estimation seems to have gone down. In any case, there are fairly good alternatives like Netflix and iPlayer options to view tv and film through the PC.
Going Up… Chickens and hens (free range)
Chickens and hens seem to draw the crowd, recently we have acquired two new additions, Gregory Peck and Audrey. We are still not sure if Greg is a male or female bird species but at the moment it walks happily around the garden for most of the day chirping quietly. Audrey has happily settled in to her new house, she’s a very large white hen. She has already laid two eggs within a few days of returning from Santana market. She also likes to sit close to Gregory…
Going Down…Swimming pools
Anyone who has a pool that I speak to never seems to use it, or complains about it? I would love a pool myself as I am a keen swimmer, but I hear that either the pool is occupied by the guests/needs lots of work and attention/breaks down/can’t be used etc. Swimming in the Atlantic is really a great option if you are close by, it’s free and the sea water in August/September is not that cold…well not if you were brought up in the 60s/70s when school pools were never heated and you were told to get in or else…
Going Up… Home made bread A French volunteer who stayed with us recently introduced us to the art of making bread. Very simple, straight forward, enjoyable, cheap and delicious. The circling motion of rolling the dough around the bowl is extremely good for your hips too!
Going Down – Tied up dogs Portuguese style: Not one of our guests likes dogs barking late at night for hours, dogs tethered by a rope, dogs that look like they will devour your ankle given half a chance and dogs that foam at the mouth the minute you cross their path… it quite puts you off your morning constitution and I am sorry to say that most of these dogs have Portuguese owners.
Going Up… Cats. Although a few guests are not keen on cats, most seem to respond favourably to our resident cat Georgie, she is a most lovely example of a Siamese cross a white cat with blue eyes and the brown tips ( a snow shoe I believe). She’s an excellent catcher of rodents , shrews and crickets. (Particularly popular with the children)
Going Up…Towels, I now provide three tea towels to our guests plus 1 bath towel and 1 hand towel. Additionally, we provide copious toilet rolls (do they get eaten?) and plenty of kitchen roll. In the early days, I made a dreadful error of only offering 1 teatowel, but was reprimanded, so now I have learnt not to be stingy on the towels, kitchen roll and toilet rolls.
Going down… the long haul tourist coach trip. Long trips or tours in hot and crowded buses/coaches to far flung places.. might be agreeable to some but not my cup of tea. Keep things simple and local. The great thing about the Silver coast is there are a handful of amazing places to visit all within 40 mins of each other and plenty of festivals to join in throughout June to September.
And finally Going up… cooking home grown food…making whistles from bamboo canes…picking blackberries on a walk, watching the sunset, wine tasting, trying to speak Portuguese and walking tours
Enjoy the rest of the Portuguese Summer…!