If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you will know the nightmare we had this year renewing my daughter’s 10 year British passport. Long story short, the passport office didn’t renew Teanna’s passport in time for her booked flight out here on the 5th July so she missed her 2 week holiday. We applied 9 weeks in advance and at the 10 week stage we were able to expedite her application and she physically travelled to Newport to collect it. Teanna had another flight booked for September to house/pet sit for us when I had my planned private surgery so I amended her outbound flight and paid extra money so she could fly out at the end of August, 2 weeks prior, so we could enjoy a fortnight of family fun to compensate for the 2 weeks she missed. It didn’t go to plan! Her flight was cancelled 48 hours before her departure and there were no other flights from Bristol to Porto for several days which just so happened to be the flight that I had originally booked. I was so mad, frustrated and totally pissed off! It appeared that the baggage handler strike at Porto airport affected flights not just baggage, she only had a carry on bag! I literally knew this was going to happen. I’m psychic Mystic Meg. It was a super crazy ass stressful time trying to change her flight and get her out from Gatwick London and the flights were going like hot cakes and were also ridiculously early times like 5am and Bristol to Gatwick is 3 hrs 20 min by coach, no train at that time. I literally very nearly had a melt down. In the end I managed to change it to Sunday flying from Gatwick but she had to catch a 5am National Express coach and sit on it for over 3 hours at an extra cost of £38 as they now charge £8 for a tiny suitcase. Welcome to my drama, the life of Helen, chaos unfolded in the Casa Valhal household! It’s a rare occurrence as my life is usually a serene sea of calm and tranquillity.

Afterwards I was more than a little upset and I needed to have a middle aged menopausal high-pitched scream in the garden then a lie down in a dark room, consume 6 shots of military vodka (down the hatch in under 2 minutes straight) and some chicken and caffeine therapy, not necessarily in that order and chicken pet therapy not KFC chicken in a bucket therapy (ha ha). I was traumatised beyond repair and I’m sure the experience has knocked 10 years off my life span with the stress. I still don’t really get it as the strike with baggage handling staff at Porto airport shouldn’t affect a flight unless Easyjet staff had to multitask and sort customers baggage. A simple solution, just take a carry on small bag, who needs clothes when your young, 19 and gorgeous, Teanna can explore with me naked and get even more stares from people than we usually get for being 2 white folk with a mixed race daughter (ha ha). I think I need to design a T.Shirt saying: “Yes she is mine” “No I didn’t adopt her” on the front and “Blended families Rock!” on the back. Just when I thought the airport chaos was over, the next day we received a live alert from Easyjet confirming that due to the strike her flight could not arrive at Porto airport and was diverting to an airport in Spain! It’s a good job she speaks fluent Spanish (ha ha). The F joy keeps coming! It was now arriving at a random airport that I’ve never heard of and they provided transport to take passengers onto Porto airport. Someone, somewhere is proper F’ ing with me BIG time! As if I wasn’t emotionally damaged enough with the drama from the day before and amending the flight. The funny part is when I phoned Teanna, she had no clue and she was on her way to Turtle Bay in Bristol for a bottomless cocktail brunch whereas I headed out to the garden for another very loud SCREAM. It’s a good job I don’t have any immediate neighbours. The main negative was she had to get up at 4am and was travelling since 5am and it took her best part of a day to get here. I don’t think my ex Carlos (her dad) was too pleased about having to wake up in the middle of the night to drop her at Bristol bus station but that’s karma my friend. What comes around goes around. I’m just kidding, actually we have an O.K amicable/friendly relationship for our daughters sake.

If you know me, you will also know that I am the princess of planning. I plan with military precision thanks to my OCD and all or nothing attitude. After much thought, I decided to take Teanna to a few of our favourite places: Monsanto, Sortelha, Aguedá, Poço Azul and Poço Negro as well as other picturesque wonders. As I have already written blog posts on all of these awesome day trips, I decided to just share a brief explanation and photo gallery from our family time together. We had a total blast and such a laugh. Hubby and Teanna have an amazing special Stepdad and Stepdaughter bond, it’s magical to watch. I can’t wait for Teanna to graduate from university next year. She can come and stay with us for a lengthy period and not just a few weeks although I know she has plans of going on a gap year. Well it’s not really a gap year as Covid sucked up that joy it’s more of an end of university year long adventure touring different countries because she hasn’t a clue what she wants to do with her life, join the club (ha ha). The world is her oyster! My plan is to marry her off to a Portuguese man so she lives here permanently so I can see her daily and watch my grandkids grow up (ha ha). If your hot, kind, single and Portuguese, send a photo and resume (just kidding), I need your bank balance too as afro hair is costly and high maintenance (ha ha).

Crazy Brits playing Crazy Mini Golf in Foz do Douro

Whenever we do an airport drop-off/pick-up, hubby always books the day off work so we can enjoy a full day in Porto as it’s such an amazing vibrant city with so much to see and do. We usually start with a wander along the river bank in the beautiful Vila Nova de Gaia then some rare retail therapy and it always ends with an Ikea trip, hot dog, cinnamon bun and ice cream with coffee. This time I wanted to experience something completely different away from the crowds and for once I didn’t actually need anything in Ikea so I found the glorious Foz do Douro which just happened to not only have a gorgeous fort and lighthouse but a fun crazy mini golf course in a picturesque park and the most wonderful coastline with beautiful beaches and posh beachside bars, coffee houses and the prettiest pergola I have ever laid eyes upon. We had so much fun here that we decided to bring Teanna back on her last day. There are 2 golf courses and we had to play the red one because it was a Sunday and there was a tournament on the other course. I thought mini golf was just for 5 year olds but these guys were serious as hell! They even had matching 80’s shell suit outfits with their team name on their backs which made me laugh a lot. I lost the mini golf game but guess what? I won the lottery of life!

Caffeine & Sugar Fix

After the glorious delights of Foz do Douro we headed to the mall near the airport to wait for Teanna’s message and enjoyed some tasty cake and coffee. Both espresso are for me as I need double caffeine for my daughter’s arrival as she is double trouble like her momma (ha ha).

The Funny Airport Sign – My Gorgeous Nata Girl

There will always be a funny airport sign because I’m that embarrassing mum! I really wanted to write “Welcome home from Nudist Camp” but thought that was a bit of a creepy weird sign from a mum and stepdad (ha ha). After much debate I ended up with: “Welcome Home Nata Girl” because her addiction to the famous Portuguese custard tart is fierce (ha ha). Any addiction is wrong unless it’s an addiction to Pastel de Nata’s, then it just makes perfect sense. I also took with me a pack of 6 natas to the airport, because I promissed the Nata Queen that I would and quite frankly, why the hell not! Finally I cut a huge photo of Teanna’s head and one of her pet bunny Milo’s head and stuck them on BBQ skewers because I couldn’t be bothered to make masks or could find any elastic in the house unless I dismantled and unpicked the waistband and leg holes of my granny knickers. I think masks would have been funnier but I can’t imagine wearing a mask with eye holes in 30 degree heat and my minimal make-up would melt all over it and make a shitty mess. I must of looked like a right crazy idiot at the airport with my dodgy handmade poster, faces on sticks and a tray of nata’s in my hand. Hubby was ever so slightly embarrassed to stand next to me, I have no idea why (ha ha). The worst part was I couldn’t even roll it up and carry it discreetly as I used mini pegs on the design so it would just fall apart so I had to walk from the car carrying it like a right plonker! I took some photos at home before we left for Porto as I knew I was going to cry like a baby when I saw my Nata Girl.

Teanna LOVED my airport sign this year. My gorgeous “Nata Girl”. The terrible trio are reunited! It was an absolute nightmare getting her out here with the traumatic passport drama, 2 missed flights, 1 cancelled flight and an airport strike which resulted in her arriving at a Spanish airport instead of Portugal. The fiasco certainly tested my patience to the max but she made it home to Portugal and I got to hug her after a year and a bit apart. Let the mother and daughter fun commence!

2 Faced Hubby – Fantastic Faces

Airport Action & Reaction

The sign didn’t have the same ambience as she arrived by bus from a Spanish airport so instead of standing at arrivals with the sign we just randomly stood in the middle of the airport staring at every lift door and elevator, waiting for her to descend. It was still very funny and a Portuguese guy thought it was hilarious so I’m glad I put in the effort and I made random people smile. Teanna was so embarrassed she was mortified but secretly, deep down, I know she loved it. God only knows what I’m going to design for next year. I have to up my game and make it bigger and better each year. I may have to go in fancy dress, I have a whole year to brain storm and make it epic!

Welcome Message – From Milo to Mummy with LOVE

Food Glorious Food

After we collected Teanna we had plans of spending the evening at Vila Nova de Gaia and visiting a posh restaurant but she was exhausted and just wanted to pop to the mall to eat and enjoy some retail therapy then head home to sleep, I don’t blame her. We made a quick pit stop at the mall for food then took the long drive home and abolished the shopping as we were all shattered and ready for our beds. In all fairness the mall do great Portuguese food and it’s all served on china plates with proper cutlery, none of this plastic malarkey where your fork slips and before you know if you’ve pinged multiple rice and beans at the little old lady sitting on the next table. Apologies if you have ever had the luxury of being seated next to me whilst I eat (ha ha).

The Shit Hit the Fan – Unforeseen Circumstances

A month before Teanna arrived, I had my lower left impacted wisdom tooth extracted and assumed I would be fine and dandy for her visit and my major surgery. More shit hit the fan and things have not gone to plan. Ever since my tooth extraction I have been in pain and it’s just got worse. I have revisited the dentist multiple times and even ended up in A & E Hospital in chronic agony. It turns out that I had an infection spread to the jaw bone. The pain is insane and much worse than giving birth to a 10lb baby as a teenager with just gas and air! Unfortunately my planned surgery had to be cancelled just 8 days before my operation date and I am still devastated and pretty emotional about it all. I have waited a long time for this surgery and paid for a private consultation, had my pre-op blood tests as well as buying all my hospital bag stuff so it’s a crazy roller-coaster of emotions. On a positive note, at least I had my gorgeous daughter here to hug. Things happen in life and there is no way I can have surgery with an on-going infection and tooth drama. Currently I have returned to the Dentist for 8 emergency visits and had one useless visit to A & E Hospital. I developed chronic painful bone spurs which needed to be chiselled off and stitched up on 3 separate occasions! I’ve had a little cry, plenty of hugs and my main priority now is to get better and restore my health to some kind of “Normal” whatever the F that is! As soon as they cut the bone spur off it grows back at lightening speed! It’s like a never ending nightmare. On a positive note it meant instead of 2 weeks with my daughter, the surgery cancellation resulted in a whopping 4 weeks and 4 days of FAMILY FUN. Please excuse how I look on most of my photos. You need to take into account I am smiling through severe agony and I am drugged up to my eyeballs on Tramadol, Steroids and Antibiotics. The anitibiotics gave me thrush so not only did my whole mouth and head hurt, my fanny was on fire too! Despite the pain I persevered on, put a smile on my face and was a brave soldier for Teanna’s sake. All I can do now is hope and pray for a speedy recovery, wish me luck!

Pre-Birthday Bunny Themed Brunch

After the trauma of getting Teanna here, it actually worked out quite well in the end as she got to celebrate her 20th Birthday with us. My baby girl is no longer a teenager! Seeing as I thought I only had a fortnight to cherish my daughter, I planned an awesome tight scheduled itinerary to make the most of every second of every day. Previously her last 2 summer visits have been much longer between 6-8 weeks but she has other commitments this year so was unable to visit for so long. We spent a lot of time SUP Boarding and purchased Teanna her very own SUP Board for her birthday gift which she loves. We played a little trick on her and gifted her a tiny gift bag which looked like jewellery but actually contained a tiny paddle board, paddle and a miniature bunny Milo that my creative and crafty hubby made out of modelling clay. I’m shit at art and don’t have a creative bone in my body, I have awesome ideas but I just make a shitty mess. She thought this was her only gift then we surprised her with the SUP board. I’m not very good at keeping secrets but this was one of my finest moments. Teanna was confused at first but then we gave her the huge box with her brand new Mistral board. We got her the pink one because it’s so pretty in pink (just like her) and different to our blue boards. She was over the moon with her gift and it meant we didn’t have to share a board so could venture on longer journeys and eat as much delicious Portuguese cake as we wanted without worrying about maximum board weight restrictions (ha ha). Now time for some SUP, SUN & FUN! Gifts are great but what really matters is spending these precious special moments together. You can’t put a price tag on family time.

Gifts Galore

Pretty in Pink – Teanna’s New SUP Board

How gorgeous is her new pink SUP board? We took it for a test drive prior to her visit to make sure everything was fine. I didn’t SUP on the board as I wanted Teanna to christen it herself, we just inflated it and submerged it in the water to make sure there were no leaks or surprises. She now needs to come up with a name for her board. Ours are called Nemo and Dory.

My Very Own Saint modelling his New Orleans Saints Shirt

Teanna came baring gifts, she bought hubby (her stepdad) a retro American Footie shirt of his favourite team. She randomly found it in a vintage sale in Nottingham. He wore it as a lucky charm during her visit and his team won the game! Apparently they are not doing too good currently so he had better wear his shirt for every single match to bring good luck. I also got gifts, I would usually ask for 6 packs of curly wurly’s but with my tooth drama I requested 2 tubes of Bonjela (ha ha). At least she didn’t have the embarrassement of shopping this time, previously I asked for nipple tassels for my garden titty project and I don’t think she wanted to be caught in a sex shop by anyone she knows. The last time I ventured into an adult shop my intention was to have a little browse and buy crotchless undies but I accidently bought a pair of panties with a hole for the anus instead! (ha ha).

Photo Gallery – The Goal is to die with Memories not Dreams

Here are some of the awesome FAMILY FUN day trips we managed to embark on and some eventful evening celebrations and local festivals. I am persevering through the pain on many! I am only sharing the highlights as there were a few trips to local river beaches and lazy reading afternoons with our books and family card games at beautiful leisure zones where I left my phone at home so took no photos as I had a break from technology. I think Teanna was relieved as I know I take too many photos, I just can’t resist as I only see her once per year. What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce. Also my memory is pants so when I’m having a low day I can look back at photos of our family fun together and it instantly transports me back to the precious time which makes me smile. In all fairness I didn’t actually take as many photos as I usually do as I am suffering from chronic on-going tooth pain from an impacted wisdom tooth extraction which has resulted in multiple bone spurs. So for a majority of my daughters trip I was in severe agony and doped up on prescription medication so I felt and looked like a bag of shit. I have also already shared blog posts on most of these places so my main aim was to capture photos of Teanna at these places and precious mother and daughter photos together. I think I suceeded in my motherly mission.

Swimming Success – Sink or Swim

I was utterly shocked to find out that Teanna can now swim. I still make her wear her life jacket/vest whilst she SUP boards because there is always a risk of falling off and hitting a random rock so safety first but it was a lovely and totally unexpected surprise. I did let her whip her jacket off for a few minutes on her birthday for some photos. What literally blows my mind is the fact that she learnt to swim just 2 weeks before she flew out to Portugal. Teanna enjoyed a holiday to Croatia with her old school friends and she participated in a wet and wild inflatable event in deep waters! Apparently she fell in the deep end a lot and this is how she learnt to swim. I’m not sure I feel her Sink or Swim technique was a good idea as it could have gone horribly wrong but she obviously had some basic swimming skills from the lessons I got her as a child. Let the fun of mother and daughter wild swimming in Portugal commence! I am beyond proud of my gorgeous girl for her swimming success.

One rainy day during Teanna’s visit we decided to visit the local Arganil Municipal indoor swimming pool. I emailed prior to ask if we needed to wear a swimming hat and for timings. We rocked up and were forbidden admittance due to the fact that we only had bikinis and not a one piece swimsuit. We had swimming caps and flip flops which were also required but we don’t own a one piece bathing costume. I tried to explain to the lady that my bikini is age appropriate and has the hugest granny knickers on the market with no thong or whale tail but she was having none of it. She marched us to a poster with a diagram and photos of what type of swimwear is acceptable. I am still confused as I get that the hat and flip flops are a health and safety measure but I have no clue as to why a bikini is unacceptable when the men can wear tight speedos. There is no way my saggy aging ass is going to distract any young lifeguard (ha ha). It’s still a mystery to me but to be honest not a huge loss as she also wanted us to complete a lengthy disclaimer form before entry. It was all a bit full on, we just wanted a quick dip not to sign up for the army and in hindsight I have no clue how Teanna was going to fit the tiny swim hat which resembled a condom over her huge afro, I would have paid good money to see that image (ha ha).

Sensational SUP & Paddling Memories:

20th Birthday SUP (Vale do Rossim)

Occasionally the waters can be too choppy to SUP, you can’t predict nature or control the weather but during Teanna’s whole trip we never experienced a windy day on the water. We were able to SUP at all the places we ventured to. I think Teanna is our lucky mascot, we are very blessed indeed. It was a perfect day to celebrate her birthday. We made a pit stop at the Bread Museum to buy their awesome chocolate bread and ate it next to the lagoon then enjoyed a delicious lunch at the resturant. The water was glistening and sparkling, it was a super fun family day celebrating Teanna’s 20th Birthday.

SUP (Praia Fluvial de Santa Luzia)

My favourite local SUP spot, an added bonus, the delightful cafe was still open so ice cream all round.

Dirtbag Teenager to a Cultured Lady

Not much changes with my gorgeous Teanna so this year she totally surprised us both! I’m not sure if it is because she is no longer a teenager and has turned 20 or maybe it’s because she has been living independently at university for the past couple of years but my girl is so different and has made multiple positive changes to her lifestyle. I love the fact that Teanna has found the love of reading books. My son was always a crazy book reader from an early age and I could not entice her as a child to be a regular reader. I tried everything, even bribery and hard cash! It may have took 20 years but I now have a “Little Miss Book Worm.” Today a reader, tomorrow a leader! I think my child has morphed into a proper eloquent lady now she is no longer a teenager. She can swim, she reads books, she even drinks coffee (iced coffee) but it’s still coffee. Previously she has only ever consumed water, lemonade and juices. She hates coke and has never drunk tea or coffee. This trip she enjoyed multiple iced teas (peach and mango are her favourites) and iced coffees. I’ve never tried an ice coffee until I had my wisdom tooth extracted and I couldn’t drink coffee for a while. Eventually I tried an iced coffee but I didn’t like it. It’s espresso or black coffee for me and the occasional cappuccino. I can’t drink tea anymore, it looks like dishwater and tastes like feet dipped in camel piss (ha ha).

SUP Mangualde/Barragem de Fagilde

Another local SUP spot, I LOVE that this place is usually deserted so you get the whole place to yourself. On this occasion we had to share with a fisherman and his friendly doggie who became our new best friend. We met so many friendly dogs during Teanna’s visit. It makes a change as dogs usually just like to chase me when I jog. I even considered carrying a sausage or two in my pocket. Never underestimate the power of a Portuguese sausage (ha ha).

SUP, Sushi & Retail Therapy Coimbra

It was fantastic to bring Teanna back to the river Mondego and Parque Verde in Coimbra as this is where it all started for us. The terrible trio had our very first SUP lesson here and we all fell in love with the sport and bought our own SUP boards. Then the crazy adventures began and we haven’t looked back. We adore SUP and it’s our favourite hobby. It is such a beautiful activity that our whole family can enjoy. It’s the perfect pastime for us, I think I was a mermaid in my previous life (ha ha).

20th Birthday Garden Party Celebration

After a full day of SUP and a birthday lunch at the restaurant we celebrated Teanna’s 20th Birthday in our beautiful little garden with plenty of yummy food and cocktails. Hubby is the best ever cocktail maker and waiter. Don’t get me wrong he is no substitute for the real deal and butlers in the buff but he makes a mean cocktail (ha ha). Our favourite cocktail of the night was raspberry mojito. It was lovely getting ready with Teanna in her bedroom and spending cherished time together. Perfecting prettiness is difficult when I’m nearly 50 (ha ha). I’m aiming for “Nifty at Fifty” but I am more “Old and Haggard”. I wore my dress that resembles a tablecloth (ha ha).

Fur-Ever Friends – Pet Therapy & Beni the Beautiful Bunny

During my daughters stay we pet sat for this gorgeous bunny boy for a few days. I very nearly kidnapped Beni and didn’t want to return him to his momma as he is just adorable and much friendlier than Milo, sorry Milo, the truth hurts (ha ha). 2 bunnies = Double fluffy bunny loving.

Águeda Umbrella Sky Project & Urban Art

The stunning brightly coloured Águeda and Umbrella Sky Project, Urban Street Art and a tranquil pretty park. We introduced Teanna to our favourite cafe on coloured rain street with probably the largest cachorro (hot dog) one can consume. We followed up with traditional Portuguese cakes in the park and tasty ice cream in the glorious sun. A magical perfect day despite a horrendous toothache from hell! I also got to show Teanna a few pieces of amazing art work by my all time favourite Portuguese artist: Bordalo II.

Montemor-O-Velho Castle & Figueira da Foz

The wonderful Castelo de Montemor-O-Velho and Pirate Festival beach trip. We had the whole castle to ourselves! Then we shared one of favourite spots with Teanna, a pretty quaint bandstand in a local park with a gorgeous serene backdrop of the castle. We ate traditional Portuguese cakes in the bandstand and played cards games. Finally a short drive onto the coast for some ocean therapy. Another stunning day with my family.