Looking for last minute inspiration for your Christmas holidays? Or do you already have a holiday home in Portugal or Spain? If you’re used to a traditional English Christmas then the way they do things in Portugal couldn’t be more different. So if you’re looking for a way to experience the holidays from a fresh perspective, why not book a mobile home in Portugal and experience Christmas with a difference?
It’s all about Christmas Eve
Like other countries in Europe including France and Italy, the big celebration takes place on Christmas Eve. That’s when Portuguese families gather around the tree and the traditional creche to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
A strongly Catholic country, Portugal puts Jesus firmly at the heart of the celebrations and children believe he delivers their presents – though they’re delivered by Pai Natal (Father Christmas) and left in shoes rather than stockings. Everyone goes to the Midnight Mass and you may find there’s a huge bonfire around which to gather and wish your neighbours “Feliz Natal”.
Enjoy the Consoada
When you’re tucking into your turkey in the UK, the Portuguese will already have feasted on their Christmas dinner. The traditional dish is salt cod boiled with potatoes and cabbage, but many families follow this with delicacies like shellfish and game.
Then it’s time for dessert! Like the famous Provencal tradition of the 13 desserts, the Portuguese love to lay a table with dried fruit and nuts, Bolo-rei or King Cake, similar to an Italian Panettone; Filhoses, a deep fried sweet pastry sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, and the most popular of all, Rabanadas, a delicious type of French toast.
But just like in the UK, the day after the feast is all about the leftovers. In Portugal they’re known as roupas velhas or old clothes, but the dish of salt cod, potato and greens is far more tasty than it sounds.
Of course, this stunning Iberian country is wonderful at all times of year, but at Christmas, it has a special sparkle. Everywhere there are nativities – in fact, the town of São Paio de Oleiros held the largest mobile nativity scene in the world, thus entering the Guinness Book of Records in 2012. You can follow the Route of the Nativities right down the coast and enjoy the efforts of thousands of volunteers. Why not buy a nativity as a souvenir and introduce it as part of your Christmas festivities in the UK or your holiday home?
Create new traditions
The Portuguese love to create the same sparkle and glitter as we do in the UK with festive light displays. Christmas carols are also extremely popular. But if you want to create some new traditions, a holiday home in the sun could be just the place to put a sunny spin on the festivities.
There’s so much to explore, and with winter temperatures rarely dropping below 10 degrees, why not join the Portuguese locals on the beaches of Nazare or Peniche where the surf is some of the best in the world? There are plenty of sites for caravans and mobile homes from which to explore the beauties of Portugal – perhaps a Boxing Day trip to Porto to taste its classic fortified wines will become your new Christmas tradition?
If you think you’ve been to Italy, think again. Whether you’re popping across the border from your mobile home in France or looking for a holiday home in this beautiful country, Italy never disappoints. But there’s so much more to see than the big hitting tourist hotspots like Rome, Venice and Florence.
Head for hidden Puglia
Right down in the heel of the country, this stunning region has so much to explore. Gothic cathedrals sit side by side with neolithic tombs, and the coastline is breathtaking. Architectural gems like Ostuni, the White City, and Lecce, with its brilliant baroque architecture, plus Alberobello with its circular houses known as trulli, are all well worth a visit. Head for Puglia in the spring or autumn to avoid the intense heat of summer, and don’t miss gorgeous port towns like Otranto and Gallipoli.
Feast in Emilia-Romagna
All foodies will want to make a beeline for Bologna, the capital of the region that is a food lover’s dream. From the delicious hams of Parma to the balsamic vinegar of Modena, by way of outstanding wines, Parmesan cheese and iconic pasta dishes, Emilia-Romagna has it all. There are plenty of food festivals celebrating everything this region has to offer, but don’t miss Bologna – the oldest university city in Italy, with its buzzing nightlife and a cool vibe – and the Sentiero Delle Foreste Sacre in the Apennines, where St Francis would walk and meditate.
Explore the great outdoors in the Majella National Park
Europe’s largest protected natural wilderness is a place of stunning wildflowers, breathtaking mountain landscapes and endless hospitality. The cuisine is as big-hearted as the welcome, but there are 500 km of walking trails to exercise it off. Rich in ancient history and alive with flora and fauna, this is the ideal place to escape from the crowds and relax.
Strike out for the islands
From volcanic mud baths in the Aeolian islands to mountain biking in Sardinia, Italy’s islands should be high on your must-visit list. From the show-stopping sight of active volcano Stromboli to the ancient Roman roads and unspoiled landscapes of cork and ilex forests, there’s plenty to enjoy when you go offshore.
March into le Marche
If you’ve ‘done’ Tuscany but love the vibe, head for the undiscovered le Marche, one of Italy’s great secrets. Feast on the local speciality of strozzapreti – priest strangler – noodles, washed down with fragrant white wine, and explore the UNESCO world heritage site of Urbino. This magnificent hill top walled city is the match of anywhere in the country. Head to the tiny village of Acqualagna in October for the truffle fair, and taste the peerless white truffles on everything from pasta to risotto.
Whether you want to spoil yourself with a short break or you’re looking for your dream holiday home, Italy is the ideal destination. Luxury caravans are the affordable way to enjoy more of the unspoiled countryside of Italy, Spain or Portugal because you’re in the heart of the country, where hotel-based holidaymakers rarely venture. So whether you want to trek the fearsome iron ways across the Dolomites, enjoy the tranquil splendour of the Italian lakes or chill out on some of the most gorgeous beaches in the world, your mobile home makes the ideal base.
One of the great pleasures of owning a caravan in Tuscany is the opportunity to enjoy some of Italy’s best food. These unmissable dishes are top of any foodie’s must eat wishlist. And while some of them might make you squirm – cow’s stomach sandwich, anyone? – most of them will leave you coming back for more.
Go on a truffle hunt
Every visitor to Tuscany has the enchanting village of San Miniato on their To Do List. But the advantage of visiting a region out of season is getting to do the things the locals do – and in October, that means truffle hunting. Shave nuggets of this culinary marvel over pasta or an omelette – and don’t miss the annual truffle hunting festival.
Enjoy an aperitivi in Florence
The Italians love the ritual of pre-dinner drinks, so don’t miss the evening passeggeri at 7pm in the heart of Florence’s old city. Enjoy an appetiser buffet of Tuscan classics like Crostini Toscani with chicken liver pate and panzanella, a bread, tomato and onion salad dressed with good olive oil.
Then for dinner, try the iconic bistecca alla fiorentina – a chargrilled T-bone steak from the local Chianina cattle. Each thick steak weighs in at around 2 kgs and comes cooked black and blue – don’t ask for it well done or you’ll be turned out of the restaurant!
Feast on local pasta
The Tuscans have a way of conjuring flavour from just about anything. Soups like pomodoro (tomatoes, bread and basil) and vegetable-packed ribollita with its beans and cabbage are classics, while the region has a wide range of different and unique pasta dishes.
Owning a caravan in Tuscany means dining out on specialities like pappardelle al cinghiale, thick cut noodles with a luscious wild boar sauce, or pici from Siena, a hand-rolled pasta made simply from flour and water. This ancient form of pasta dates back to the Etruscans and is most often served with cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) or all’aglione, with tomatoes, olive oil and garlic.
The sweet stuff
Tuscany has its fair share of sweet stuff and you shouldn’t leave Siena without sampling a slice of panforte, a rich and delicious confection of honey, candied peel, dried fruit and nuts spiced with black pepper. Tuscany is also known for its cantucci, hard almond biscuits served with a glass of the luscious Tuscan dessert wine known as Vin Santo.
Also unmissable is a slice of castagnaccio, a naturally gluten-free cake made from chestnut flour, olive oil, pine nuts and rosemary. Delicious warm or cold, it’s also beautifully partnered by a glass of golden Vin Santo.
A rich glass of red
Owning a caravan in Tuscany means you can explore the local specialities without having to venture too far from home – which makes a nice glass of Chianti all the more welcoming. This rich ruby red wine is like the lifeblood of Tuscany. Look out for Brunello, one of Italy’s truly great wines, as well as the celebrated Montepulciano.
The food and wine of Tuscany have shaped its landscape and heritage in a way that can only be truly appreciated by spending quality time there. Owning a caravan in Tuscany lets you appreciate everything this rich and delicious cuisine has to offer.
We are happy to announce that the winner, chosen at random by a member of our team to win the 5-night stay in superior accommodation in Tuscany is Bernadette!
We have now contacted the winner to receive her prize in which she can bring along 5 other people to enjoy this fantastic prize with. Enter Novembers Competition for your chance to win a 5 night stay in Toscana! View the full info here: https://goo.gl/Tfn2NY
Download the free App on Google Play or Apple Store
>> Click on the envelope at the bottom or CONTACT US and select make an enquiry
>> Send the word TOSCANA using the form with your name and email address.
The winner will be drawn on the 30th November.
>> Google Play Store: https://goo.gl/7NocNB
>> Apple App Store: https://goo.gl/muNn3U
Do you want to focus on your lifestyle and not home maintenance? Or become part of a lively community and live each day to the full? Then why not consider buying a mobile home? This inexpensive way of getting a toehold in France allows you to experience the lifestyle and enjoy your time abroad, without the commitments of a holiday cottage.
La Belle France
Whereas with bricks and mortar holiday home, your budget may limit you to certain areas, with a budget of just £30,000, you can afford a getaway on the Cote d’Azur. The advantage of the southern regions is that your chosen park is likely to stay open all year round, but do consider other factors like park facilities and transport links before you shortlist. You may prefer to be closer to the Channel ports in Brittany, so you can get away most weekends.
A bespoke Pied à Terre
Who wants to spend their precious holiday time labouring to get their holiday home in shape? One of the great benefits of buying a mobile home is the level of customisation that’s possible. Buy from new and you’ll soon find yourself unable to choose between all the great options.
If you intend to use your mobile home year round, then double glazing is something to look out for. If your mobile home is going to be used by a family, then make sure you have your own washing machine. But try not to get bogged down in the specifications, as you’ll spend most of your time outside enjoying the park pool or visiting the tourist attractions, markets and historic buildings in the area.
A lively social life
For many of us, taking the plunge to buy property in another country can seem intimidating, thanks to the language barrier. A park home can be a great way to enjoy a full social life and create strong friendships while allowing you to experience the French lifestyle in nearby towns and markets.
The flexibility of the low maintenance lifestyle means you’ll have plenty of time to fully explore the surrounding region, rather than spending your time in DIY stores.
Easy to budget
If you buy from a British company, you’ll enjoy another benefit of mobile home ownership – the ability to pay for your lodge and your ground rent in sterling rather than Euros. That means you won’t have to follow the currency markets but can deal in a familiar currency, giving you full control over your budget.
Many parks will also rent mobile homes on the owner’s behalf, to offset your running costs, or you can organise rentals with family and friends. The important thing to remember is that you’ll pay no French taxes and you don’t have to pay the high fees involved in bricks and mortar transaction, so there are no nasty surprises.
Safe and secure
There’s always a worry when you lock the door of your holiday home. With a mobile home, you’ll have complete peace of mind, knowing that your home is being well looked after by the park management. Better yet, the next time you manage a break, you know your home will still be immaculate – ready for you to pour a glass of wine and relax!
Spain is packed with undiscovered pleasures, not least its food and drink. Holiday homes at the Saydo Park resort near Antequera put you in the hot seat for discovering everything that the heart of Andalucia has to offer – not least its delicious food culture.
Small plates, big flavour
The current trend for small plates borrows a lot from Spanish food culture. With over 100 cafes, restaurants and bars in Antequera – not to mention about a dozen pubs – this is a great place to try the tapas for which Spain is famous.
You can also order raciones – a plate size serving of ham, chorizo or cheese amongst other choices – washed down with a bottle of one of the local red, white or rose wines. For around 10 euros for a plate and a bottle of wine, it makes a delicious light meal. Opt for a medio ración – literally half rations – if you just need a snack.
What’s on the menu in Antequera?
Anquetera is just a stone’s throw away from the luxury mobile homes and caravans at Saydo Park, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to experience all the local delicacies of Andalusia.
One such delicacy is the traditional Porra, an Andalusian take on gazpacho. This delicious blend of juicy tomatoes and sweet red peppers flavoured with onions and garlic is thickened with cream and breadcrumbs, then topped with local ham and boiled egg. Cool, soothing and absolutely delicious, you can try versions flavoured with local oranges or served with tuna.
The food in Antequera shows the influence of thousands of years of history. The local bread, mollete, was thought to be brought to Spain by the Moors and is laced with the local spicy olive oil, making it utterly addictive. The perfect breakfast is enjoyed with more of that rich and delicious olive oil, some local ham and of course, some luscious tomatoes!
To finish a typical meal, try some of the rich almond desserts that are so typical of the region, washed down with a glass of the sweet wines for which the area is famous. Bienmesabe is traditionally made and sold by the local nuns from almonds and cinnamon, while almojábana is a delicious medieval cheesecake.
Holiday homes, dining out
No one wants to cook when they’re on holiday, which is why mobile homes at Saydo Park are such a smart investment. With all the culinary treasures of Andalusia right on the doorstep, dining out is unmissable.
Most restaurants offer the menú del día, a three-course meal with wine and bread for a low price, often as cheap as 8 euros. In the evening, enjoy your tapas at the bar. If you want to sit down to eat, ask for the carta or menu and the lista de vinos or wine list. Enjoy breathtaking views over the mountains and the famous Lover’s Rock from any of the al-fresco dining terraces in town.
An explosion of flavours
Andalucia is just bursting with flavour. Try Arte de Cozina, one of Antequera’s oldest restaurants and the home of the Gastroarte movement, for the best the region has to offer. And what better base to enjoy all those culinary riches than from one of the luxury mobile homes at the Saydo Park resort?
Antequera lies right at the heart of the stunning region of Andalucia, yet this ancient city sits quietly off the tourist track. One of the advantages of holiday homes at the Saydo Park resort is the ease with which you can explore everything this fascinating region has to offer.
Known as the Florence of Andalusia, there’s been a settlement here since the Bronze Age. Now the city is famed for the opulence of its Spanish Baroque style architecture and it’s an amazing place to explore from the comfort of the mobile homes and caravans located at Saydo Park. Why not go exploring to discover the best Antequera has to offer?
The municipal museum in Antequera
It’s estimated that 65% of the artistic treasures of the region can be found in Antequera. The municipal museum is an incredible timeline of the city’s evolution from as far back as the first century AD. Everything about this exceptional museum is highly instagrammable, from the ornate building itself with its beautiful courtyard to its most famous exhibit.
The Efebo de Antequera – depicting a young Greek man – was discovered by a farmer in the 1950s. It’s the greatest example of Roman sculpture found in the whole of Spain and the museum is worth a visit just to see the Efebo alone.
Real Colegiata de Santa Maria
Antequera is home to an astonishing 30 churches, but if you can only visit one, make it the Real Colegiata de Santa Maria. The impressive facade is a Renaissance jewel and the interior has an almost Italianate feel, thanks to the beautifully beamed ceiling, elegant columns and huge windows. Nowadays, Santa Maria plays host to a wide range of cultural events, including classical music and exhibitions.
This Moorish palace overlooks the town and is approached through the hugely impressive archway known as the Arch of the Giants. Once the home of the Moorish Emirs, the fortress has a fascinating history and offers breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside towards Peñon de los Enamorados or Lovers’ Rock, that resembles a human face turned towards the sky.
The Dolmens of Antequera
Just a stone’s throw from the caravans at Saydo Park lie the famous Bronze Age megaliths. Considered to be the finest in Europe, they became a Unesco World Heritage site in 2016.
An astonishing feat of engineering, the Spanish Stonehenge consists of dozens of stone slabs that were transported from the nearby mountains. The oldest of the three burial chambers marked by the dolmen dates from 2500 BC and a visit to the site, especially at Midsummer, is unforgettable.
El Torcal National Park
Finally, for nature lovers, a trip to the El Torcal national park is an unmissable treat. Not only are the flora and fauna exceptional – there are 30 different species of orchid alone – but there are some extraordinary panoramic views of Malaga and the African coast.
But El Torcal is world famous for its limestone rock formations that resemble towers made from stacks of stones. Carved by the sea over 100 million years ago, the entire area was thrust skywards to a height of some 1,300 metres above sea level. It’s this unique geology that has created the fabulous landscape – we promise you’ll never have seen anything like it!
Installing a porch for your mobile home is a great way to extend your living space. Creating outside room for the summer months makes a beautiful entertaining or relaxing space and can add value to your home.
Once you get the go-ahead to construct your porch, you need to start making some clear design decisions. Pinterest is a great place to start searching for inspiration – you don’t need to be an architect to plan a deck, but you do need to know what you want!
Open to the elements?
The first thing to decide is whether you want to keep your deck open to the elements or whether you want to go one step further and add a roof or even some lightweight glazing.
Adding a roof has several advantages, especially if your mobile home is in a country with a sunny climate. It’s an instant way to add shade and can provide a sheltered place to take your boots off in miserable weather. You could even go all the way and glaze the sides to create a conservatory look and feel. But beware, this type of structure can get extremely hot when the sun beats down.
If you love the idea of a roof but don’t want to create a permanent structure, consider a contemporary pergola or an awning that can be packed away during the winter.
Whether you have small children charging around or you’re an older couple, there are a few safety considerations you’ll need to take into account. Because your porch will be raised to the level of your front door, you’ll need access either from steps or a ramp – your mobility needs or those of friends and family will dictate the decision you make.
Next, you’ll need sturdy grab rails supported by equally sturdy posts. With children and animals, you might consider adding a knee-high wall or cross rails and putting a gate at the top of any access points. Whether you choose paving or decking, use a material that is non-slip in the wet, particularly if you aren’t adding a roof.
Budget for materials
Your porch will need to be built on a solid concrete foundation, at least 12 inches thick. This is especially true if you’re adding a roof. Hardwood decking is more expensive than softwood like pine, but it’s much more durable. Wood has a unique beauty, but more and more people are opting for low maintenance, long lasting composite decks – however, these are the most expensive option.
Always budget for the best quality you can afford, and don’t forget to add in the cost of fixings and treatments to keep your deck looking its best.
The finishing touches
This is where you can really personalise your deck and give it character. Consider extending a roof so you create a carport or building your deck so that you can create storage below your porch. Even if you don’t opt for a roof, consider screening each end for privacy and think about built-in features like a barbecue or fire pit.
Plan for low energy LED or solar powered lighting, so you can lounge on the deck during those long warm evenings, then add loungers, sofas or a dining table to complete the look.