So how did it all start? We asked Nick Robinson to take us back to the very beginning of his life here in the Algarve, and his move into a new career

I’m Nick. 30 years old and working a great corporate job in Cape Town. It’s hard work, rewarding but mentally taxing. I’m lusting for adventure, for a break and for something completely different! I realise that South Africa is not where it’s at for many reasons, so I decide to take up my cousin on his offer of a job in the Algarve.

I felt a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Scratch that, I was 30-years-old, all I remember is positive excitement! I remember going down to the local travel agency and picking up a brochure. I took it home and pored over the beautiful images of these glorious cliffs, golden coves highlighting the setting sun and little fishing boats meandering through the bays. A few short weeks later, I was considering my €600 per month, which was nothing compared to the money I earned in South Africa. Had I really done the right thing?

I bought a bicycle and set out on a voyage of discovery, cruising the cliffs and marveling at the natural beauty. I embraced my solitude and I delved deep into the new career move I was planning. I studied hard into the night after my work shift was over. I created free websites for whoever I could and learned the art and science of web design. During the day I roamed the coast, explored the villages and relaxed on the beaches. I learned to embrace solitude and found strength in my own company. It felt good.

I met a wonderful girl but sadly she was only over for the week from the UK. We explored together, heading down to Praia Paraíso just west of Carvoeiro and Praia de Marinha just east of Carvoeiro. It was a magical time, but she had to return to London and her job. I had to go back to my solo routine in paradise.

I befriended the chef at my cousin’s restaurant and he opened up his heart and his family to me and invited me over for lunch. It was a fantastic day, experiencing a true Portuguese family. They taught me the importance of fresh food and we headed over to the Lagoa market on our day off, picking up tons of fish. It felt like a proper family festival with granny, mommy and daughters all there as I helped my friend the chef to polish off beer after beer before rows of plump sardines came off the barbecue. The old granny must have had at least 15 sardines and I clearly recall being amazed at her capacity. Jugs of wines flowed.

Through the local website I started meeting expats and struck up a few friendships which we solidified by heading out to the local jazz club on Monday nights. I was starting to build a community of friends and it really made me feel at home. However, the end of this glorious summer was looming.

The nights were drawing in and my contract was only for six months. The last thing I wanted was to return to South Africa and corporate life, but the honeymoon was ending. I had a foothold in Europe and I was determined to make it work, so I canvassed my new network of expat friends. Cheryl was one who came through for me in a big way. She drove me out to the orange groves of Algoz. She had organized a meeting with the owner of Krazy World as he was looking for a person to build him a website. He had some staff apartments on the property and I jumped at the chance. It wasn’t a lot of money but it was an opportunity to perfect my new skills in web designing and development. I was now on my new path and I realised that true fulfillment lies in embracing change, immersing oneself in new environments, and forging connections with both people and nature

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