Volunteering in The Algarve, Portugal

Once again we’ve been volunteering to extend our travels as its a cheap way to explore new areas. This time we’ve based ourselves in a Quinta (small farm) in The Algarve, Portugal. We work about 25 hours a week and get free food and accommodation, and this place was a great find with our own granny flat and delicious food!

We live with 5 amazing rescue dogs, and what a group they are; 3 amazing Irish/Red Setters. The youngest is Seamus who’s probably the most handsome dog I’ve ever laid eyes on, with huge hazel coloured eyes and model style poses. He literally sits like a stone statue, the sort that would be placed at the entrance to a grand estate, but of course he’s not made of stone and has the most incredible long red hair just like an Orangutan. Gunner keeps himself to himself, but adores cuddles and will frantically tap you with his paw and bear-like claws for more strokes. Then there’s Tinto who’s an adorable old boy that wags his tail if you just so much as look at him, and if you stroke him he’ll attempt to sit his bum on you by any means possible. There’s also a little long haired dog called Buster who’s a clever boy – well, partially so, he actually notified a neighbour that his previous owner was having a heart attack, but then he got hit by a car and had to have a leg amputated (hence the name Buster – he busted a leg). The only girl of the house is tiny Tina, who looks like a real life teddy bear. She’s a cocker spaniel and the best pre-dishwasher you’ve ever seen. She’s very old and has a bad heart and wheezy cough but still loves life and her favourite pastime is waiting for a precious crumb or being a neck pillow for anyone on the sofa. So when things get exciting in the house Buster will run along with his three legs (quickest three legged dog we’ve ever seen) Tina will have a coughing fit, Gunner will observe the situation from a distance, Tinto will wag his tail like mad and Seamus will sit like a statue while doing his best blue-steal impression. It’s so nice being surrounded by dogs all the time, and it gets even better because the lovely owners here also run a free roaming dog kennel so sometimes there’s up to 15 dogs here and it’s like dog-heaven.

While here our main job has been gardening. We’ve spent our days de-weeding, chainsawing, laying matting down, gravelling flower beds and strimming. Craigs loved the opportunity to drive a quad around the grounds and taught me how to ride it too, it’s very simple, I’m just a bit of a retard when it comes to driving. I’ve also been painting parts of the building and helping in the cattery – I literally had no idea how smelly cat shit was until I did that job.

On our time off we’ve been relaxing by the pool and playing with the dogs. We also discovered that some second hand bean-bags picked up beside the road float in the pool so we’ve had fun launching onto them like its a water park. Our host Di has two horses so she’s taken us on a couple of lovely horse rides in the countryside. The Setters all come along for the ride too which is so sweet. Most of the rides have been a gentle walk with a couple of exciting gallops which I just love. Although I definitely haven’t mastered the canter and it’s highly embarrassing when a car passes and Di’s ahead lifting her body at the correct time to each canter while I’m getting frantically bounced around like a dead body tied to a bucking bull in a rodeo.

Our hosts have been very kind and allowed us to use their Land Rover on our days off to explore the local area so I’ll be adding posts about the amazing hidden beaches, coastal walks and camping weekends we’ve experienced while in Portugal.

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