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I’ve made many friends throughout the world via my blogs – and met a fair few of them too – like Jo from Katikati in New Zealand and Cathy from America, but this time we were off “up north” (well, within Spain, at least) to meet up with the undisputed “Queen of Jams” – Sue Sharpe and her partner, Phil.  

I’d been lucky enough to meet Sue during the summer when she was visiting near to where we live and, along with a sourdough “cake-starter”, she brought us enough of her delicious home-made jam to keep us supplied at breakfast-time for the next six months!

We were driving to Porto in northern Portugal for the start of a ten day trip, and as Sue and Phil live about halfway between our house and Porto, in the lovely non-touristy village of Alange, Extremadura, they kindly invited us to stay with them (and their greyhound, Alan) to break our 1,000 kilometre journey.

To say we all got on like a house-on-fire was certainly an understatement!

After a huge lunch in the village, we wandered around their garden, examining the various fruits that Sue uses in her jam-making, peeking at the chickens and admiring the view across to the reservoir towards Alange.  What a delightful spot.

(Click on any of the photographs to see a larger version).

As the light faded into a glorious sunset, Sue who is a keen photographer kindly let me use her camera to capture my first “craters-on-the-moon shot“!  After mooning on their terrace, I’m inspired to upgrade my own camera now 🙂

We sat up late into the night, chatting like old friends, putting the world to rights and drinking some rather excellent red wine.

If you’d like to read about Sue’s life in Extremadura, you can read her blog HERE ….. or you could get Phil’s take on it, HERE.

Bright and early next morning, we were off on the next 500 kilometres of our journey, through the beautiful Extremaduran countryside, past Roman ruins to the border with Portugal.

Once we crossed the border, we were directed to a toll machine where we were invited to insert our credit card in order to electronically pay for the tolls throughout Portugal.    We duly complied and all went well, until we came across a different and additional system of toll collection (Via Verde) – paying cash!  We would end up paying about 50 euros in total, during our ten day trip.