Finally, after what felt like a year, I arrived at my “villa”. I use the term loosely as Casa do Bosque was really a half-converted cottage in what was then the sleepy village of Santa Eulalia, on the east side of Albufeira. There was no main road from Albufeira to the east and so after a hazardous last ten minutes down bumpy lanes and almost unmade tracks I finally made it.

The next challenge was finding the key. It was by now pitch dark and I had been told the key would be under the front door mat. It wasn’t. I wasn’t well travelled and it hadn’t occurred to me to take a torch, so I sat down on the step wondering what on earth to do next. I fumbled around in the dark and checked under every plant pot and stone I could find. I almost jumped out of my skin when I disturbed a sleeping gecko who scurried off in the direction of the house – I expect he got inside before I did!

All these years later I can remember vividly the sinking feeling and the beginning of panic; no mobile phones in those days, just little old (well young) me, a locked villa and a gecko. I would have to break in, that was the only thing for it. I could see a glass panel in the front door. Looking back, I am not entirely sure what I thought I would do – I don’t think I was ever cut out to be a house breaker! Happily, we were all a little less security conscious back then and the villa manager had obligingly – or forgetfully – left the key in the lock. Oh the relief. I had been travelling for such a long time I decided I would simply fall into bed and worry about unpacking and showering in the morning. I just needed a good nights’ sleep. I groped for the light switch in the hall and a weak, bare bulb quivered into life. Making my way into the kitchen I saw a note propped up by a candle and a box of matches on the table and reaching for the light switch decided I would read that first. As I touched the switch there was an almighty bang and I was plunged into darkness. Fumbling for the table I found the candle and matches and after several failed attempts had a rather pathetic light. Peering myopically at the note I read the first instruction ‘DO NOT TURN ON THE KITCHEN LIGHT YOU WILL BLOW THE ELECTRICS’.


And so to bed!


To be continued.