Posted on Friday 21st August, 2020

Hello – From across the world

So from all the way from Portual we have a hello from Catherine and Paul Watmough….Enjoy!!!

We are hoping, like all Victorians, that the current restrictions have the desired outcome and that as Spring arrives, you will all be much safer and have more freedom.

Portugal is managing the virus really well.  There was recently a surge in cases mainly in parts of Lisbon however, local lockdowns seem to work here. Cascais is about 29 Km from Lisbon along the Tagus River and into The Atlantic. There are few restrictions here now other than night clubs and large public venues being closed. Groups are supposed to be fewer than 10. I think schools return in September however, there are mixed feelings re that, as there are everywhere !!  We are required to wear masks in all indoor facilities and entering and leaving restaurants, even if seated outside. Masks are also compulsory on public transport and in taxis/ Ubers. More and more people wear them waking around the streets as social distancing just does not happen, especially when there are groups of teens or young adults crowding the beaches, streets, waterfront promenades etc.  

We are well. It is hard to believe we left Australia almost 10 months ago. If we were sticking to our original plan, we would now be preparing for our return. Instead, mainly due to the various restrictions caused by Covid 19, plus because we are enjoying life here in Portugal so much , we are extending the “Gap Year for 70 Year Olds” by a further 12 months and now plan to return to Melbourne in October 2021. Our apartment owner  is keen for us to stay longer and we are hoping that we will be able to explore more of Portugal and nearby countries if we can safely do so.

It is mid-summer here . There are some tourists around, mostly from Spain, France, Germany The Netherlands and Belgium.  Far fewer of course than most summers and the tourist based stores/restaurants/ tourist activities/ hotels and holiday lets are really suffering. Cascais, like all of Portugal’s seaside areas would normally be absolutely inundated with tourists from UK, China, USA , and other European countries. We like the less crowed feeling, as do other expats we know, but are aware how much many locals are struggling and are really quite desperate.

It is quite hot here, most days sunny with high 20s to low 30s. and very high UV.  The sea is not warm . Not surprising as we are on The Atlantic Coast.  Water temperature mostly 17.5 to 19 degrees here in Cascais. Much warmer down on The Algarve beaches in Southern Portugal . Also for the past 3 months most days bring strong Northerly winds that make the sea choppy and push any warm water out into deep sea trenches to be replaced by COLD water. I try and swim several times weekly, today was about 3.5 Km. There are not many swimmers, other than people in the shallows” taking the water”  and any I do see, wear full wet suits. The Portugese President, a man of my age , lives here in Cascais and apparently swims, or at least has a dip here, most days of the year.  I almost swam into him recently however after a quick ‘hello/ bom dia” , his bodyguard waved me on. Neither were wearing a wet suit by the way.       

The two pools I frequent re-opened in mid-June and have now closed again for their annual August maintenance  One, a 50 metre public pool is not allowing over 65’s to swim anyway. The other is a 25 metre pool in a private sporting club and where my Masters Club, Alges, is located. The Masters have been allowed to train there 3 times weekly in 2 hour blocks.  Masks are worn onto pool deck and of course pool shoes  (in my case thongs) which are changed into at reception. There are no showers available , we just change pool side. Ladies can nip into the toilets to change. The swimming year in Portugal commences in September and ends late July. All pools including municipal ones, require an annual membership, even for those who just wish to “ free swim” i.e. train on one’s own.  I am well and truly “over” training on my own and soooo looking forward to being back in a squad with a coach. My coaches at Surrey Park and Fitzroy will probably be delighted as I will never again give them a hard time!

All Masters events have been cancelled since March.  The summer Nationals were to be held in northern Portugal in July. I will enter the 2021 Nationals next July.   Only 5 individual swims, plus relays allowed over the 3 days. The  3 day Winter Nationals  which attracted 800 swimmers in January this year will be held again next January but over 2 days only and no swims longer than 100 metres!!!!

Paul is loving life here, possibly even more than me. He continues to ride several times weekly however the recent winds have made his job so much harder as he rides about 50 Km along the coast. He is tanned, really enjoying life in Cascais and loving the food and wines here.

We are flying to Germany next week for a fortnight. One of our sons lives in Leipzig so we plan to explore his part of East Germany. We are hiring a car and visiting Dresden, Nuremburg, Rottenburg and Wurzburg amongst other places. Of course, our plans could change suddenly if virus cases surge and borders are closed or new quarantine’s imposed. The 2.5 hour plane trip will no doubt be a little anxiety provoking!.       

Anyway,  take care and  I hope that  all swimming venues will again be open to Victorians very soon  and that anyone who wishes to,  can travel to the sea for an invigorating swim!!



And don’t they look well…
The scene behind them is Cascais Bay Beach, which is a street away from their apartment.