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The Portugal Adventure.....

[See link below for further photos]

On Thursday 28 September eight Burpham club members tagged onto Stoke Park club's bowls tour of the Algarve.

We, Graham Lily, Margaret Baigent, Alan and Glenda Mogg, Vince and Barbara Hopkins and and Wendy and Geoff Sheldon are currently esconced in the comfortable hotel Vila Gale in Albufeira having now played all of our scheduled four matches against ex-pat clubs here.

The trip has not been without incident. Most of the party assembled at Fairlands to catch a 6am coach for our 9:35am Monarch Air flight from Gatwick. (Yes, the same Monarch Air that's now no more!). Unfortunately the coach driver must have been unaware of the fact that the M23 had been closed for the previous 5 hours because of an accident. So delays and diversions resulted in a heart-in-the-mouth last minute arrival at South Terminal. On the plus side Wendy and I had travelled to Gatwick independently in a taxi with a driver who was aware of the traffic problem and thru his brilliant knowledge of alternative routes delivered us to our destination just 10 minutes later than planned. Following our leisurely breakfast, interrupted only occasionally by mobile calls from worried coach passengers, we could only imagine the line of aged, panicked bowlers scurrying through the terminal to Gate 10 like a scene from a Benny Hill chase sketch.

Anyway long story short our departure was only half an hour delayed. We were met at Faro airport by our rep as planned and delivered to our hotel.

No rest for the wicked tho' and at 9am the following day we were back on a coach to Floresta Bowls Club 45 minutes up the coast. There we played 8 rinks matches on a very quick artificial surface. Needless to say we lost but an enjoyable game in warm sunshine with most hospitable hosts.

Day 2 saw some of us on an excursion to the small town of Tavira. This is the home city of our rep Daniel, and one of it's excellent fish restaurants featured in a Rick Stein cookery TV programme. Unfortunately I couldn't remember which one but we had a very nice fish lunch in any case.

Saturday was also Margaret Baigent's birthday. The select group of Burpham members gathered on the Baigent/Liley balcony. Later Margaret was presented with a surprise bouquet and birthday cake courtesy of the hotel and arranged by our rep Daniel.

Sunday saw us playing the Alvor Bowls Club near Portimoura on a natural grass surface. We lost again. Modesty forbids me to mention but some of us haven't been on a losing team yet.

Today we also learnt that our airline, Monarch, had gone bust. Margaret was convinced that a squadron of military helicopters would be despatched to bring us home. But good old man at CAA has come through and is arranging alternative flights home.

Monday saw some of us on an excursion to Faro. Plenty of Ryanair flights in evidence overhead. There we had a very enjoyable boat trip in the nature reserve which is the mouth of the river Formosa. Lots of wild life and no-one fell in (Barry!).

Tuesday 3rd October saw us playing the members of the Valverde Bowls club. This was located on a golfing area and was probably the hottest day. Our overall performance was beter, but we still lost. Refreshments included a bowl of 27degrees! Graham Liley was Captain of the day.

Wednesday a free day so our next, and final game, was against Pedras da Rainha bowls club near Tavira to which we'd had an excursion the previous Saturday. Another natural grass rink and sunny and warm again. But another loss...and another bowl of soup......for the touring side I'm afraid. Yours truly's record was played 4, won 3, lost 1 so quietly pretty smug!

We now put the bowls away and look forward to a week of relaxing in the sunshine.

Have to add that we visited Alvor beach to walk along the boardwalk there. It is a glorious beach and we were lucky to stumble upon a beach side restaurant where we enjoyed our best fish meal of the holiday at a ridiculously cheap price.

For further photos click here

And finally yes, we all got home in spire of Monarch airway's best efforts. I'm flying CAA every time from now on!!

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