38:40.6N 9:18.76W Oeiras Marina England and Sintra

Tue 8 Sep 2015 16:41
After a day of a wind at walking speed up our tail we were pleased to see some of the palaces of the Sintra area, passing Cabo da Roca, where the granite mountain range meets the ocean at the furthest most point of mainland Europe. As we rounded Cabo Raso towards Cascais the wind picked up and we had the treat of seeing the JClass Endeavour under full sail coming our way. She was built to challenge the Americans in the Americas’ Cup just as Rainbow we saw in Vigo was built by the Americans to challenge us at the same time in history.
We arrived at Oeiras Marina mid afternoon and immediately fuelled up. The first word of the lady in the marina was “welcome”. A few weeks back we had booked a top secret visit back to England to surprise Rob’s sister Sue at her 60th birthday party. Well we couldn’t think of what to buy her.  We also looked forward to seeing our lovely family and friends again and walk Toby, the dog, with Tracey and his new friends, Missie, Poppy, Bailey and Jim. After some discussion we agreed a mid term fee of 352 Euros for 10 days stay which included free gate pass, complimentary drinks at a local, well priced restaurant and early morning delivery of fresh bread rolls. We also arranged for the marina courtesy car to take us to the airport at 3.30am on the Friday at half the cost of a taxi. The memories of our happy stay in the marina last year came flooding back as we strolled along the promenade past a rocky shoreline full of dinosaur footprints visible at low tide, and cruise liners making their way up river for their brief stay.
The marina was busy, no room for decaying boats here, just people enjoying themselves coming and going. We met Mike and Susie again from the Moody, Toy Buoy and had a good chat about life’s experiences while enjoying our free drinks at Entye Vinhos.
28th August. Broadstone, Dorset. Grandson Henry saw us arrive from the back garden through the living room windows. “Its Granny and Grandad!” How good it felt to sit in the garden while Henry and Ruby played on their fort and swinging rope, while catching up on the news. The next day we re-visited Corfe Castle, a fine ruin of a once magnificent castle and danced at an Elizabethan re-enactment of village life. Our host made a surprisingly effective flute out of a straw from Hell’s Kitchen, of Scottish clan fame.
Early next morning Ruby and I met on the landing, “You’re not going yet are you granny?” When I reassured her we would have breakfast together she spun around, her blond curls in a whirl, and returned to her bedroom to wait until the sun shone on her bedside clock face to tell her she could get up.
“You Rat Bag”, Sue yelled as we appeared around the side of her house at her party. Husband Bernard had cottoned on quickly when Rob phoned him while we hid behind the garage. He handed Sue the phone, so she thought we were calling from Portugal. Shrieks, hugs and tears followed – mission accomplished, Sue was very surprised. We heard all about Charly and Tom’s wedding plans, which will mark our next trip home in May 2016. Rob’s mum, Rosemary, was well and made us very welcome at her home as per always. Rob’s shop, Fords of Oakham, is thriving under Richard and Julianna’s leadership and Jonty was looking forward to four years more study at Oxford University, where he has been invited to do a PHd in (building and groundworks) engineering.
On a routine follow up visit to our doc, when asked where we were and Rob replied “ Lisbon”, Dr Bietz replied “Haven’t got far then!” And relatively speaking he was quite right.
4th September To Sintra. A short train ride took us to the end of the line station of Cascais where we boarded the 217 bus for Sintra. The ride aboard the narrow tourist bus took a precarious hairpin ride up past the moorish hill top fort to the pastel painted Pena Palace. Previously home of a succession of Portuguese Monarchs this Disneylike castle reminded me of Port Meiron in Wales as it captured the essence of Romanticism. We whizzed around the northern ramparts as a chilly wind blasted from that direction. The inside rooms were still furnished and gave a good impression of the life of the royals. The estate comprised heavily wooded hunting grounds and gardens full with trees and plants from all around the world.
The village itself clings to steep gradients of granite with pretty cobbled streets and beautiful views to the north. After the republic was established in 1910 local and visiting artists and writers including Lord Byron made Sintra their home and wealthy merchants bought huge estates and built their own palaces. One such was the Palace of Montserrate, lived in by successive English merchants, the first of whom, Gerard de Visme,  held the concession to import Brazilian teak into Portugal. The Palace was rebuilt by Francis Cook, a textile millionaire, in its present romantic style as a summer palace for his family. We watched a young bride enjoying the atmosphere of the surroundings on her special day.
Even after two visits there is so much more to see and as the chill wind spurred between my tows at the bus stop, we vowed to return one day, with family, to this beautiful place on the hills.