Archive for May, 2010

Bill is…

Posted in Wildlife on May 23, 2010 by maidofmettle

The Bae office did their research and decided that Bill must be a…

Fire Salamander.  Thanks for the information, though I must admit I worry about the amount of work that gets done in your office 😉 !

 A quick google search revealed a similar looking Bill-type creature. 

One of Bill's cousins...probably

As for where he came from, it could have been anywhere.  For those of you who are interested in exciting Wikipedia-type information the following is a short snippet (with some additions) about the Fire Salamander

“Fire Salamanders live in forests in the hilly parts of southern and central Europe. They prefer deciduous forests, as they like to hide in the fallen leaves, but also at mossy tree trunks….Whether on land or in water, fire salamanders are inconspicuous. (m.o.m: yes we obviously didn’t spot him for quite a while) They spend much of their time hidden beneath stones, wood or other objects. (m.o.m: Obviously Bill preferred the luxurious life of the sail)

Fire Salamanders are active in the evening and the night, but on rainy days they are active in daytime as well. Their diet consists of various insects, spiders, earthworms and slugs, but they also occasionally eat small vertebrates like newts and young frogs. (m.o.m: Goodness knows what he ate on the boat…the only edible things in the cockpit were us…) Small prey will be caught within the range of the vomerine teeth or by the posterior half of the tongue, which adheres the prey….”

It is possible that the name of the species derives from old tales of these amphibians: the salamanders hide within holes and crevasses in damp wood and tree trunks. When humans cut down wood to use for heating, the salamanders often remained hidden within. When a fire was lit, the heat forced the animals to leave the wood and crawl to safety, because of this they appear as though they were “crawling from within the flames”. Wikipedia 2010

At least we never had one living in the paraffin cooker.  It might be badly behaved sometimes but despite the big flame that sometimes comes out, there has not been a creature accompanying it so far. 

Pete has the luxury of having the whole boat to himself for a few weeks and has decided to travel back up the river for a bit before heading back down to Vila Real for a painting event in the main square at the weekend.  Otherwise his plan is to do “occasional
sailing, walking, lazing around and odd jobs” though in what proportions it is not clear…


Posted in Photographs, Walking, Wildlife with tags on May 14, 2010 by maidofmettle

I can’t exactly remember when we wrapped up a mouldy sail in bin-liners and left it outside because we were scared of it.  In fact we were a bit concerned about even brushing it with our nice clothes and making them mouldy as sea water has a habit of staying damp even when it’s dry, if that makes any sense.  This lack of drying makes the perfect conditions for mould and makes it virtually impossible to irradicate totally.   

Chris reckons it was probably way back in Port-de Bouc and none of us have got round to cleaning it in the infamous and long-standing ‘War Against Mould’, so it has sat outside on the boat tied down since I left it there.  Thankfully with the warmth the war has become a little easier of late. 

Anyway, it seems that despite the fact that we didn’t want to touch it, someone decided to make a home in-between the bin liners and sail.  Bill, (a black and orange lizard) was recently found in there!  


Bill was released into the Guadiana after some debate as to where he should be put.  The decision was made difficult due to his lack of webbed feet so the obvious question was “how did he get there?”  In the end it was decided that he probably couldn’t swim and must have stowed away at some point from a marina pontoon so he should be re-homed somewhere on land but close enough to the water that he could go there if he could swim.

The boat has been almost as far up the river as is possible before depth navigation gets too tricky and Chris and Pete have been lucky enough to see turtles (or terrapins) in the upper stretch.  


another turtle

The boys will make their way back towards Ayamonte before Chris flies back to visit England briefly 🙂  Fingers crossed the ash that has been threatening Portugese air space will be well behaved and he will be able to fly from Faro on Wednesday. 


Meanwhile, I wonder if anyone has any comments about boat interior and exterior upgrades I’ve been researching…

ooh lovely fluff!

excessive exterior decoration anyone?

So long and thanks for all the fish

Posted in Fun, Photographs with tags on May 4, 2010 by maidofmettle

The boys went to a Sardine Festival in a town up the river Guadiana.  Actually it turns out it was some kind of May Day celebration in Alcoutim (on the Portugese side) with a fishy theme!

Chris said, “The fish festival was fun… there was some quite amusing dancing (including the penguin dance!), and some quite impressive flamenco dancing and folk music”  As with all celebrations, food featured highly.  Traditional English festival favourites (tea and cake) were replaced with huge plates of BBQ’ed sardines, which were apparently “a bit strange eating bones and all, but quite nice.”

I had a May Day of my own to attend in Yateley with Mum, Dad, Mark and Clare down on the Green…I think I prefer tea and cake over sardines (I don’t really do fish unless its battered or tuna) and there was of course the infamous Dog show, car-boot sale and crazy motor-cyclists to keep everyone amused.  We also had an excellent weekend of food; making the most of British cuisine at its best…Chinese, Roast Dinner and a fry up!  However I’m told the Portugese do good donuts…mmm, I wonder if they saved me any?

Back on the river Dave and Taryna who we first met in Gibraltar came up the river to stay for a while before deciding to head back out to Gibraltar and then into the Med again!  They’d had a pretty rough time getting to the River Guadiana but even with Chris’ warnings that they probably didn’t want to go back that way, their rose tints seem to be firmly on and they will leave soon to meet friends somewhere.  I don’t envy them, having eventually fought our way out of the Straits of Gibraltar…I wouldn’t want to do it again in a hurry.

We have recently discovered the wonders of Skype calling.  Portugal has a fabulous amount of free WIFI access so it is quite easy to call people through the internet from there.  All it requires is a bit of solar charging beforehand and then a bit of rowing from the boat to a place onshore.  Apart from a few hiccups the connection to the pay as you go skype calling seems pretty good as long as the internet is ok and it’s a lot cheaper than calling from a mobile.  I have enjoyed taking calls in England that I know are only being charged at 2p per minute instead of 50!  Chris has enjoyed making calls whilst sitting under a tree…

I will be in England for a little while as I have another wedding to attend at the end of May.  I feel like I only scratched the surface of Portugal and am looking forward to exploring some of the area on my return.  It seemed to make sense to make a long visit given the weddings and the fact that we were unsure what we were going to do next.  Speaking of which, the current plan now is to head to the Canary Islands when we’re all back on board and possibly go via Madeira if it looks ok waves-wise.