A Family Summer Holiday In Portugal

18 October 2014

It feels like our family holiday to Portugal in September was just days ago but in actual fact we've been home for a good month now (where does the time go, seriously?) and so I thought it best that I get my behind into gear and write about our fortnight of sea, sun and sand. We'd never been to Portugal before - apparently Nando's doesn't count - but we all loved the country and to be able to spend quality family time together was truly lovely.


We stayed in a beautiful private villa in the Algarve which perfectly accommodated all of our needs, and I was really grateful to have our own abode as opposed to a hotel. It meant that if I needed to rest - which I did, lots - I wasn't stuck in a hotel room away from everyone else, and could cater to the needs of my evil chronic illness without getting too lonely. Our villa was surrounded by vast vineyards that stretched for miles which made it incredibly peaceful, and we used a hire car to travel to and from the gorgeous nearby beach towns. 

With nine of us in total and some real personalities in the mix - my cousins Faye and Lorraine can make me laugh no matter what and our fabulous grandma Queen Jean is the most hilarious woman on this planet - there was never a dull moment and as I've only ever been on family holidays with my parents and brother before, it was such a fun change to jet off with a bigger crowd of our clan. You can't choose your family, but I'd pick these.


If you've read my blog before you'll know that I'm a big believer in making the most of a bad situation and I strive to not let my illness come in the way of my enjoyment. However, often it's impossible to just 'get on with it' and have fun as you're physically not well enough to and no amount of positive thinking can change the fact that you've got a chronic illness that affects every bodily function, every second of the day. I don't want to detract from what a lovely holiday we had but I also think it's important to address it - I really wasn't very well whilst we were there. There wasn't a single day where I felt well enough to get up and my well-practiced brave face, sadly, came in extremely handy. 

Being in a different setting hit me pretty hard and whilst I tried to look on the bright side and think, "even though I'm inside on the sofa, I've got a gorgeous view" but I was so gutted to be trapped in a body that doesn't work properly that I got stuck in a "this isn't fair" rut and found it hard to get out. Every ME sufferer has times when they feel emotionally down and unfortunately, mine came whilst we were in Portugal. I struggled with feelings of huge disappointment and frustration that on most days, I had to lie in a room with no windows, in bed by myself, whilst there was a world of palm trees, summer breeze, sunsets and laughter outside. It's rare that I can't pull myself out of a negative frame of mind, but I wanted more than anything to enjoy it and a disease that I've got no control over stopping me really hurt. With the bad bits explained, let's get back to the best bits.

One of my favourite evenings was when we drove up to a restaurant, so high in the mountains that we could see Spain, and had a night of great food and red wine accompanied by an English expat who sang us Johnny Cash and Elvis songs whilst Queen Jean shook her stuff. As soon as we got home Faye took charge of the iPod, Lorraine took charge of the Long Island iced teas and we relived our childhood with Britney, Ashanti, Blue and every other 90s artist that you can possibly think of. I think at some point Paul Weller came on and Mum jumped in the pool too, which is always a sign of a good night.





We visited the stunning city of Tavira where I fell in love with the beautiful architecture and most importantly, the gelato. All cobbled streets, rivers and al fresco dining, I could've strolled around all day and would love to come back with Will in the future. My first trip to Tavira started with high pain and fatigue levels and ended in tears and an urgent departure which didn't do much to lift my spirits, but we were able to come back the next night for our last evening of the holiday and I was so, so happy. I soaked in all of the prettiness, took some lovely photos, enjoyed our final supper as a family and had one more gelato. Bliss.


Sometimes it takes a step back and a little bit of perspective to snap you out of an "ME is ruining my life" funk and now that we're home, I've been able to appreciate that I even made it onto the plane considering I'd just been on a trip to Centre Parcs with Will and his family - read about that here - and had a busy few weeks prior to that, also. I can't help it that I experienced lows whilst we were there but I'm pleased to say that I'm experiencing highs looking back on our holiday and all of the fun we had - besides, in an average week at home I don't leave the house, so the fact that I can count on one hand how many times I left the villa shouldn't make me feel bitter or sad, it should make me feel proud and glad. I did more than I've done in years and got through it, with plenty of happy memories in tow.

To say that I'm grateful for my family would be a huge understatement and I can't thank them enough for taking such good care of me and ensuring that we all had the best possible holiday, ME or no ME. They're my favourite bunch and am so lucky to have them.

Did you go on holiday this year? Have you ever been to Portugal?

Meg

31 comments:

  1. Love your bracelet in that last pic Lady! Over the moon for you that you made it and managed as much as you did. Massive love for the mixed emotions you must have been feeling throughout. You're a trooper.

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    1. Thank you, I bought it from a little boutique in Tavira - so cute! It's nice to have a little reminder of the holiday. You're a super trooper too A to the J, hope this week has been kind to you x

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  2. Oh meggy, how I wish I could be as brave as you. Despite everything, it really sounds that it was worth it, and you should feel SO ridiculously proud that you carried on regardless.
    I know that pain of being in amazing place and feeling like the 'party pooper' and beating yourself up mentally all too well. I first realised that my ME had relapsed (after 2 years of being healthy-ish) 2 days into being @ DisneyWorld in 2011 and I was heartbroken. But you sound like you overcame that mental block and got through it and did all you could to enjoy it, we both did, and that is an incredible achievement!
    I honestly wish I could have given you poorly company whilst you were there (plus I love Portugal so that's a bonus).

    All my love and take your time gaining some spoons back xxx

    eleanorpoppyfield.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. You are SO brave Pops, don't doubt it for a second! It was 100% worth it, there was bound to be some bad days but we're experts in dealing with those. It's a shame that I didn't feel very well emotionally either, but with everything taken into account I think I did okay and we've got some lovely memories to look back on, too. Oh god, that would be awful! So happy to hear that you were still able to enjoy Disney World as best you could regardless, you're a true gem. I wish I could give you some poorly company too, I'm sure we'd all be the best of friends if we knew each other in 'offline life', it's so helpful knowing people who 'get' what you're dealing with every day. All my love and spare spoons to you! x

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  3. Aw I think you did really well! It's tough when you have weeks after each other with no down time in between, so at least you got to enjoy some of it. I went to Lisbon earlier in the year and really enjoyed it! x

    Jasmin Charlotte | UK Lifestyle Blog

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    1. Thanks Jasmin, that's so kind of you to say! Definitely, I feel like life has been quite hectic (for a poorly person!) recently and I haven't had time to rest properly in between each thing, which is probably why it's all catching up with me now. So glad to hear that, I've never been to Lisbon before but I'd love to go one day! Well done for managing it all and not letting the old illness get in the way, you're one brave lady x

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  4. How more of us aren't sobbing messes more is beyond me? And your low time just happened to come whilst on holiday. Which kudos to it is not the best time but at the same time when you think about it why wouldn't you feel bad about being so ill when if things were as they should be you'd be out having fun. Well actually you would be sat in a lecture hall ;-).
    But you did it. You have great memories. And more importantly a family that sounds pure gold.

    Sian xx

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    1. Exactly, we do bloody well and should give ourselves a pat on the back for it! It's totally normal to have those moments of self-doubt or disappointment, it is a shame that I felt a bit blue on holiday but I think that may have been because I was in a different setting - at home, getting lots of rest and having bed days doesn't faze me whereas when I was in a gorgeous, sunny place all I wanted to do was to be healthy and normal so that we could all enjoy it together. As the saying goes, however - it's not about how many times you fall down, it's the getting up that counts! Or something, haha. They are gold, pure gold! Lots of love x

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    2. Getting up or something is an apt phrase for us. It's what makes so many of our spoonie sisters pretty fantastic people. X

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    3. Agreed! Not that I'm biased or anything though ;) x

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  5. 'Apparently Nando's doesn't count' made me giggle! Haha :) & that meal looks AMAZING!

    You sound like one of the bravest and strongest girls, and I feel lucky that I have the honour of reading your blog and having a little glimpse into your life that sometimes sounds heartbreakingly difficult, but yet still filled with your pretty little smile like in the above photos!

    Also, Tavira looks absolutely beautiful! xxx

    Laura | elelibee

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    1. Haha, aww good! It was indeed, all of the food was incredible. That's the kindest message ever, thank you SO much - you've made my day! It's so lovely to hear that people enjoy reading my blog and I really hope that you continue to. Tons of love heading your way, pretty lady! x

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  6. Looks like such a beautiful place! You did such a brilliant job writing about it xxxxx

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    1. Tavira in particular was stunning, I'd love to go back one day! Thanks Chloe, you're so lovely x

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  7. It's amazing to see you face all your obstacles with positivity, and that you are making the most of your spoons! I haven't been to Portugal but it does look beautiful - as do you ;)

    Lauren x
    Britton Loves | Lifestyle Food Fashion Beauty - www.brittonloves.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. You've always got the most lovely words to say, thanks so much pal! I didn't feel very positive whilst we were away but I'm feeling all sunshine-y now that we're home - definitely back to my old self. Aww you charmer, you! It was gorgeous x

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  8. It looks like you went to a really beautiful place! I'm so sorry that the low spell came when you were on holiday Meg- those 'its not fair' moments are the worst. You're a brave lady- well done you for making the most of what you could while you were there. Sending lots of love.
    Faye
    freckles&all

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    1. It truly was, it made me wish that I had a proper camera and a bit more energy so that I could share more of it with you all! Awful aren't they, sometimes there's nothing you can do to cheer yourself up as you're just feeling a bit miserable and want to wallow for a while, but it's the way we bounce back from those tough moments that matter. You're a brave lady too, all ma spoonie sisters are! Thanks Faye, hope all is well with the new abode, lots of love to you too x

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  9. I'm proud to say I've been to Portugal 11 times. A family friend owns a villa there and at one point I was visiting twice a year. I just love the Algarve. Your pictures of the food makes me want to return even more. I went to Italy this year as I fancied a change to Portugal. :P

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    1. I don't blame you at all, it was so gorgeous! I've never been to Italy but it's on my bucket list :) hope you had a lovely holiday x

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  10. Sorry to hear you felt so poorly whilst you was there, ME does pick it's times doesn't it! Looks beautiful where you stayed:-) although I bet it can't have been nice to not be as well as you hoped I bet it was nice to spend quality time with your family! Lots of love x

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    1. It does indeed! Thanks, beautiful :) absolutely, looking back I'm really happy that I went as otherwise I would've been feeling like I missed out - swings and roundabouts! Lots of love to you, too x

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  11. So sorry to hear you didn't feel well while you were away! Looks like a lovely place though, I've never been to Portugal x

    www.hello-freckles.com

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    1. Thanks Tasha, that's so kind of you! x

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  12. I've never been to portugal but it looks lovely from your photos! It's such a shame that you were feeling down for so much of your holiday, but you sound really strong and like you made the most of the good times! :) It's so lovely to make those memories with family! :) I went on a family holiday to Mexico this year, and it was so nice to have that time together as i'd moved out 3 years ago and it was lovely to just spend 2 solid weeks together with everyone! :)

    Love Amylou x
    www.amylous.co.uk

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    1. This was the first time I'd been, too! Thank you, I really appreciate that :) we definitely made the most of it! We've been to Mexico a few times, it's so lovely there! Glad to hear that you had a great family holiday - I agree, my mum is always worried about our 'last family holiday' but we always love spending time together so I'm sure we'll go for years to come. Thank you! x

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  13. This made for a lovely read Meg. I'm so glad that you managed to have some quality time with your family in such a beautiful destination despite feeling poorly. It looks as if you all made memories that you'll treasure for years to come xox

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  14. I love Portugal, I went in Lisboa and I miss that city!
    Also I love your blog, one of the best I ever seen.

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  15. Thanks Rach, I really appreciate it! We did indeed, looking back I think that we definitely made the most of it all :) x

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  16. Portugal is beautiful isn't it, I'd love to go back to Tavira one day! Lisboa looks stunning. Wow, what a compliment! Thank you so much :) x

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  17. I really want to go there. Seems like a nice country :o

    http://youcancallmes.blogspot.com/

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