Visa appointment at Manchester consulate for Portugal

After several long months we now have all our ‘ducks in a row’ ready for our Portuguese D7 visa, but am unable to get an appointment using the VFS booking system at Manchester consulate.
The system simply says no appointments available. When i contacted them via email i was told all Sept and Oct appointments are gone and they ‘should’ release November dates mid October which im guessing will be as difficult as getting tickets to the Wonka factory!!!
We are doing this ourselves without a solicitor, and i have a sneeky suspicion solicitors have a different system to obtain appointments???
Has anyone tried doing this without a solicitor and what has been your experience of getting an appointment at the Manchester consulate??
I have had costs from solicitors which was around €1750 which i think is ridiculous since we have done all the leg work but happy for any companies to contact me with a reasonable price if they can obtain an appointment soone?

I think its just a popular visa. And there are no words for “efficient”, “fast”, “expediency”, etc in the Portuguese language.

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