Santa Maria do Castelo

Such a gentle expression

Such a gentle invitation

Tavira, in Portugal’s Algarve, has so many churches that I often walk by without a backward glance. Taking our customary first day stroll back in April, I spotted a sign outside the Church of Santa Maria do Castelo.  An invitation to a temporary exhibition of Sacred Art.  My curiosity piqued, nothing for it but to step inside.

Photos were not allowed within the exhibition space, so I contented myself with absorbing the atmosphere of the empty church.

Peaceful in prayer

Peaceful in her alcove

The Church of Santa Maria do Castelo is a 13th century building, rebuilt after the earthquake of 1755.  Believed to be on the site of a former mosque, as the name suggests, it is perched up on the hill beside the castle.  All that remains of the castle are a few walls and an evocative garden.

Within the church lies the tomb of the seven knights of Santiago who, according to legend, were killed defending the town from an ambush by the Moors.  The wood carving is exquisite.

The wood carving is  outstanding

The wood carving is outstanding

One of more than 30 churches in and around Tavira, this link will give you a brief introduction, if you are at all interested.  Until the end of August, 12 of the towns churches will be open during the week, so now is a good opportunity to take a look.

The azulejo panels are also incredibly beautiful

The azulejo panels are also incredibly beautiful

Some of the artwork is overly decorative and not to everyone’s taste but it is set in a serene and beautiful white space, and the ceilings are wonderful.

As I slipped out of the door I paused to capture an angelic wood carving, and incurred the wrath of the curator.  I had forgotten to take the flash off my camera.  Be warned!


I left feeling very guilty, but I hope that, if you’re in the neighbourhood, you’ll stop by.

Jo’s Monday walk : Just boats!

A sea of boats at Santa Luzia

A sea of boats, at Santa Luzia

Today’s walk is going to be pure self indulgence, so I apologise in advance if you’re not a lover of boats.  I’ve taken you to the Algarve’s Santa Luzia before, and we’ve loitered in the tiled bliss of the back streets.  One of the walks I did with my Stroller friends this past holiday was in territory very familiar to me.  We started at a cafe (of course) in Santa Luzia, and walked across to Barril (remember the Anchor Graveyard?) on Tavira Island.

I was busy chatting and ‘catching up’ with people, so I forgot to wield the camera until we began to walk back.  We headed through the holiday village Pedras d’el Rei and turned right, down a path I didn’t know, and suddenly I began to take notice.

Walking with the group doesn’t really work well for photographs, especially once they get the bit between their teeth and are headed for lunch.  We emerged on a back lane in Santa Luzia and bundled into the restaurant “Moura”. Plentiful food and wine was consumed, but then I was eager to get back into the sunshine.  I deposited my husband on a bench, gazing at the salt marshes through half closed eyes, and I was off, camera in hand.

Mick's view!

Mick’s view!

Not a bad place to sit, is it?  But I prefer to wander.


I’m content to amble up and down the gangways, admiring the boats from every angle.  Nobody seems to mind, and the few people not lazing after lunch simply nod and smile.  The fishermen are too busy discussing the day’s catch to care, and I am careful to step over the coils of rope.




Are your eyes beginning to glaze over?  I should have warned you that I can look at boats for hours.  I expect Mick’s asleep on his bench by now.  Not too many more and then I’ll head back.



Thank you so much for your patience.  I enjoyed the indulgence.  It was easy to sit in my armchair and turn the clock back.  I hope you didn’t mind ambling in the sunshine.  Or you could join me in the back streets of Santa Luzia?

Can you believe it’s a whole year since I started sharing walks? It all started here.  I’ve led you on a merry dance since then and can only be grateful that so many of you have stayed with me.

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Thank you again for all the lovely shares this week.  If any of you have a walk you’d like to share, the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo or the link.  All comers welcome!  And now I really must put that kettle on.  Coffee, anyone?


Now, what have I got for you this week?

Drake first!  Don’t miss his incredibly spooky photo in an abandoned orphanage!

The World in one City 

Debbie’s on a mission to bring us canals.  And she does it in style!

Milan’s Grand Canal

Who would have thought a Tokyo suburb would be so interesting?  In like-minded company, of course.

Calling all Travellers 

Geoff takes us back to his old London haunts and a host of memories :

My Kinda Town 

Join Esther in the clouds.  You know you want to!

Walk in the Clouds

Amy and egrets!  A winning combination if ever I saw one :

Monday walk : A Race

And finally, please welcome Susan.  Beaches are always a hit with me :

Walkin’ Wednesday

It just remains to wish you all a happy week, and I hope it’s full of pleasant walks.

Jo’s Monday walk : Farms of Cacela

  An Algarve windmill

Phew!  Back to colour again!  For a person who hates grey skies, monochrome is very hard work. Fortunately for me, my recent visit to the Algarve had its fair share of blue sky.

We’re leaving the beach behind and heading inland a little way today, to Vila Nova da Cacela.  It’s quite an ordinary sort of place but I was inordinately pleased to be doing this walk.  It was a case of third time lucky, because twice before I’d attempted to find the start point for the walk, unsuccessfully!

Let me explain.  Often my Algarve walks are in the company of a group of walkers.  The meeting point is always a neighbourhood cafe, designated by email.  After all, who starts walking without a good cup of coffee first?  Vila Nova da Cacela is one of those small towns in the Eastern Algarve that you’d have to detour to visit.  The busy (by Algarve standards) E125 runs past it and many times I’ve whistled by without a care.  Except, of course, when trying to find the designated cafe.

The town is not big, but just big enough that you might have doubts.  The first time I and my husband tried to join the walk, ‘opposite the mercado’ seemed like clear instructions.  But there was no sign of the walkers that day.  I believe we gave up and went to the beach!  The second time was a different cafe, and once again, with time in hand, we combed the streets of Vila Nova but could not find the walkers.  It felt like some kind of conspiracy!  We set off to explore the neighbourhood, sure that we’d bump into them round some corner, but it was not to be.

When we arrived on the third occasion (nobody can call us ‘quitters’) we were dumbfounded to find a traffic diversion bang smack in the centre of town.  The directions we were carefully following were no longer valid, and worse, behind us were 2 cars containing walkers we recognised , following us with the conviction that we knew where we were going!  Well, all’s well that ends well and we had at least found some walkers and, eventually, the cafe.  I bet you need another cup of coffee before we set off, don’t you?  I know I do!


As we left the town, the fields were a-tumble with yellow flowers, and an old well sat placidly looking on.  A left turn brought us onto a track and soon we were approaching a lofty windmill, it’s sails still intact- quite rare these days.


The view from the top of the steps

The view from the top of the steps

Wild flowers growing carelessly by

Wild flowers growing carelessly by

The windmill up close

The windmill up close

The walk is nothing special.  Just a meander around the country lanes surrounding Vila Nova da Cacela.  Even Wikipedia has next to nothing to say about the town.  Still, it’s a pleasant place to be on a sunny February day, with the blossom tickling the trees.

A gentle tickle of blossom

A gentle flourish of blossom

I was sad to learn, from one of the walkers, that almond production is no longer profitable in the Algarve.  Few new almond trees are being planted and the nuts are now widely imported.  This in a country where sweet almond treats appear in the tiniest and humblest of cafes and on market stalls everywhere.  I find it hard to understand.

Another 'find' in the hedgerows

Another ‘find’ in the hedgerows

We pass a few houses and a cafe or two, then we’re heading back into town.  Little separates town from country, a flock of nosy sheep reminding us of that.

It's goodbye to the orange trees

It’s goodbye to the orange trees

And hello to an inquisitive sheep

And hello to an inquisitive sheep

We’re heading back to ‘Cacela Mar’, our meeting place this morning.  Tables are set out on the grass and for just 11 euros we enjoy a 3 course meal with wine.  Our attention is caught by the glimmer of fungi in the grass. The waiter is quick to assure us that they’re not edible.

A gold-topped fungi

A gold-topped fungi

But I expect you'd rather have cake!

But I expect you’d rather have cake!

The walk took a couple of hours at a steady pace (and with a coffee stop thrown in).  It wasn’t at all taxing but I felt a huge sense of achievement afterwards.  I’d finally walked the ‘Farms of Cacela’!  Triumph!  I hope you enjoyed it too.

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Next, it’s time to thank everybody for their kind contributions and to share this week’s walks.  If you’d like to join in, the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page, or you can just click on the logo above.  More coffee, before we start?


Jesh is first this week, with what sounds like my ideal wander.  Come and join us!

Tea Garden San Francisco

While Debbie has me California dreaming…

Walking the Grand Canal, California style

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go… to Esther!

Walk Downtown

Here’s Amy, talking to ducks again (smile)


Drake is hoping they’ll soon be singing ‘We are the Champions’ :

Never walk alone!

Somebody else who doesn’t like to walk alone!  Thanks, Geoff :

You’ll never walk alone, part 3 

Gilly doesn’t mind a bit of solitude, especially if the surrounds are beautiful :

A Warren Walk

But if you visit Minou, you could indulge in some clog dancing!

Marken- a world away in 40 minutes

Finally, Jill sets the scene for a serene and mystical experience :

Tak Bat in Luang Prabang

Superb, weren’t they?  You can have a fine walk and never leave your armchair.  Many thanks for joining me.  I wish you a happy week, and some good walking.


“Fado com História”

The venue

The venue

As I was meandering around the cobbled streets of Tavira, I spotted, several times, a leaflet in a shop window.  Always interested in a new venture, I went to find out more.  ” Fado com História” is situated in the heart of the old quarter, just beside the Misericordia Church and below the castle walls.  What I found delighted me.  If you’ve never experienced Fado, or think that it might not be for you, I can recommend you to this introduction.

Fado originated in Lisbon, and the show begins with a video featuring some of Portugal’s most famous Fado singers, so that you get a feel for the sound.  Most prominent among these was Amalia Rodrigues(1920-1999).  She said that “Fado has to be felt.  Fado isn’t sung, but just happens.  You feel it, you don’t understand it, nor can it be explained.”  Such passion did she arouse that, when she died, Portugal held 3 days of national mourning.

A wonderful live performance

A wonderful live performance

Nowadays Fado can be heard throughout Portugal, usually in an atmospheric bar or restaurant. “Fado com História” is a small venue, featuring a trio of live artists.  They include Virgilio Lanca, who plays guitar and makes most of the explanations in a soft voice.  He describes fado as “a song that gives you goosebumps”.  Miguel Drago plays Portuguese guitar, which has 12 metallic strings in groups of 2.  You could hear a pin drop as the two begin a guitarrada, demonstrating the ebb and flow of their art.

They are joined by a fadista, Teresa Viola, a lovely young woman with a beautiful voice.  She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, and leans into the performance.  Accompanied by the guitarists she sings 4 or 5 fados, explaining the stories behind them.  The backdrop is a wall-sized photograph of a 1942 performance at Cafe Luso, in Lisbon, featuring the great Amalia.

The passion of the performers for their project is clearly evident, and at the end of the show they are happy to talk about it.  They are working in conjunction with the Fado Museum in Lisbon but have found a different way to present fado, and the live performances are key.

The museum is open from 10am to 5pm every day except Sundays, and a new show begins each hour.  Details are at http://www.fadocomhistoria.wix.com/fado .  I can only suggest that if you have the opportunity at any time you should go along.  You will be warmly welcomed.  This video is in Portuguese but is quite easy to follow.

Jo’s Monday walk : as promised, Portimão

The fishing community of Portimao revere the Virgin

The fishing community of Portimao are mostly religious

Portimão is that intriguing mix of shabby and chique that, for me, typifies the Algarve.  Always assuming you can find it, that is!  Portimão is a big city by Algarve standards, but still I struggled to locate it. Fortunately for me, my driver has a much better sense of direction.

Heading for the city centre, we managed to end up at the beach, at neighbouring Praia da Rocha. That was fine and produced a highly enjoyable Monday walk last week.  In theory, we then just needed to follow the mouth of the River Arade inland till we came to the waterfront at Portimão. ‘Oops- I think it’s back that way’ sound familiar to you?  I think my advice to strangers would be to catch the bus!  The bus station is, conveniently, right alongside the waterfront.  But if you do manage to find it by car, there’s a generous parking area.

Deep in thought!

Deep in thought!

So what will you find, and does it repay the effort?  Well, boats, of course, and fish (Portimão boasts an impressive selection of fish restaurants).  Come stroll with me along the Manuel Bivar gardens at the waterfront.  Then we can delve a little into the history of this town.

Did somebody mention boats?

Did somebody mention boats?

Aside from the fishing industry the city hosts numerous sailing events, and the Portuguese Gran Prix of the Sea, for those who like noisy powerboats.  In Summer you can catch a boat all the way up the river to beautiful Silves.  At this time of year, the waterfront is peaceful, peopled simply with a series of sculptures.

But I do like this sad face

I rather like this mournful face

The promenade continues to Largo de Barca, the home of many of the simple fish restaurants. Sizzling sardines are the staple diet in these parts.  A bridge spans the enormous width of the river at this point.  On the far shore, pretty Ferragudo.  For many years access was by ferry only.

With its excellent situation, in the natural shelter of the River Arade, Portimão began to develop into an important trading centre from the time of the Phoenicians. In 1435 it was awarded town status and walls were constructed to protect growing prosperity, and prevent pirate raids.  Two forts were built at the river mouth- Santa Catarina, featured in last week’s Praia da Rocha walk and, across the river in Ferragudo, the picturesque Castelo de São João. The earthquake of 1755 did major damage to the town walls.  Santa Catarina fort was damaged too, but was later reconstructed.

Turn in on Rua Professore Jose Buisel, from Largo de Barco, and you are in a neighbourhood of slightly down-at-heel fishermen’s homes.  Many still have original azulejo tiles, with religious images above the door.  The road leads toward the pedestrianised shopping area.  The spire of the mother church, Igreja Matriz, provides a good landmark in its elevated position above Praca da Republica.  A huge Jesuit college dominates the Praca.  You are very welcome to look inside.

From the Praca, turn right down Rua Diogo Tome and you are heading back towards the river. The shops in this area are smart, so it comes as a bit of a surprise to come upon some wall art.

Fishermen, of course, plying their trade

Fishermen, of course, plying their trade

Plying their trade

And a gull or two

I was heading towards Largo 1st de Dezembro because I’d read about some azulejo tiled benches there.  If you saw my Six word Saturday this week you’ll know that I’ve been collecting bench photos lately.  The benches commemorate famous dates in Portuguese history.



The benches are a little shabby these days, and slightly incongruous in a busy city square, but you can still admire the artistry.  I imagine on a fine day in Summer that the benches would all be taken with office workers on their lunch break. I stole a longing look at the most elegant of cake shops, but it was time to return to the waterfront, just ahead of me. I reflected as I did how foolish that I had been unable to find this vast river in a city which orients itself totally to the sea.

Returning to the river

Main square at the riverfront

Had it been worth it?  I think so.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Portimão a little better.  I hope you did too.  If you prefer to see it bustling with people, a huge market wraps around Largo de Barco at the beginning of each month.

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Lots of walks to share this week!  You’ll need plenty of stamina.  And a cuppa or two!  If you’re new to my walks just click on the logo to find out how to join in.  To everybody else, thank you for your fantastic contributions and for making Jo’s Monday walk a success.


As always, Drake is here, waiting, to make me smile.  Isn’t he the nicest guy?

Step on Stones

Paula always has something beautiful to share, and this week is no exception  :

Summer Bloom 

Tobias is in the woods this week.  My favourite is number two.  How about you?

A Walk in the Forest 

If anyone you know can have fun with symmetry, it has to be Yvette!


Anabel takes us walking by Loch Lomond.  The islands are beautiful!

Balmaha and Conic Hill

Jude’s taking us to sunny Australia.  Form an orderly line, please!

The Manly Eastern Hill Heritage Trail

Please welcome newcomer (to my blog) Geoff!  As the song goes…

You’ll never walk alone!

Or you could venture into the Polish capital, with Meg.  Please do!  She’d love your company  :

Walking through the heart of Warsaw 

And there’s the cutest squirrel in this one!

A walk in Lazienki

Esther charmingly rhymes as she walks  :

Walk on the Beach

Elizabeth revives some beautiful memories  :

Walking in the Mountains above Interlaken

And Minou takes us canal rambling in Holland (or you could grab a bike!)

Following the footsteps of pilgrims in Leiden

And then climbing the most beautiful windmill.  You can just watch if you’re tired.

Climbing Leiden’s Windmill

Pauline is posting a storm warning.  By the time you read this it will have passed over, with not too much damage, I very much hope.

Storm Warning 

If temple ruins in Laos appeal, this is the post for you!

Vat Phou, the Angkor-style temple in Laos 

So many fantastic places to visit in this world, aren’t there?  Thanks again everybody.  Have a happy week, and keep walking!


Six word Saturday


Home again, with just my memories!

Flying into Faro

Flying into Faro

Can it be 3 weeks since I took this shot?  I love flying in, across the offshore islands, and looking out for landmarks. Planning what we’re going to do with all that time!  The friends we’ll meet, the walks we’ll take, nice meals and restaurants to enjoy…  Then, all too quickly, it’s gone, and I’m home again.  But at least I have the blog to share a few of my memories.

First day there, I always stroll around Tavira, looking for changes and familiarising myself with ‘old friends’.  This year I found myself fixated on benches!  They were everywhere I looked.  Jude has a lot to answer for!

The perfect place to look at my favourite bridge

The perfect place to look at my favourite bridge

Did I hear you cry ‘enough benches!’  You have to be joking.  Loads still to come.  But for the sake of variety, I did spot a few other things, en route.

I always like to check out any new shops, too.  Casa da Bli on Rua da Liberdade was full of goodies- toiletries, wine and lots of pretty things.

I always check out new shops too

Aren’t these lovely?

And just across the street, this handsome fellow

And just across the street, this handsome fellow

We listened to some excellent Fado too, at newly opened Fado com Historia.  A post will follow.

A wonderful performance, given daily

A wonderful performance, at Fado com Historia

Naturally, we got out and about walking in the beautiful countryside, and I hope to entertain you with some of that in my Monday walks.  But I can’t resist a snippet or two, while I’m daydreaming.

And how about this for a view?

And how about this for a view?

And a place to just sit and stare!

And a place to just sit and stare!

Of course, what Jude really wanted to see this month was black and white benches, so I have no choice but to conform.  But not before I share a sunset seat.

But not before I share a sunset seat, for lovers

For lovers

Will this do, Jude?

Will this do, Jude?

For those of you not familiar with the Bench Challenge, please follow my link and all will be explained.  Please conform a little more than me though.  I don’t want to make Jude cross.

Meantime, have a lovely weekend.  It’s a glorious Spring day here in the north east of England so it’s not so bad to be home.  Please do find time to visit Cate at Show My Face and share your six words, won’t you?


All set to Shimmy!



It’s not every year that Valentine’s Day coincides with Carnaval, but there was definitely something in the air at Loule this year.  As the band ratcheted up the volume, toes tapped, hips swayed and a full-blooded shimmy was just a heartbeat away.

It was my second visit to the Algarve’s biggest Carnaval event, so I had a good idea what to expect.  The Portuguese have a healthy disrespect for politicians and celebrities, and this year’s theme of Sport poked gentle fun at heroes and villains alike. The floats are beautifully constructed labours of love, and there’s an infectious atmosphere of gaiety and excitement. The children have their own mini Carnaval in the schools, and often wear their costumes to the grand parade.  Here are just a few of the scenes that made me smile.

Let the show begin!

Let the show begin!

Recognise anyone?

Recognise anyone?

Most sports were represented

Most sports were represented

It's all downhill for some!

It’s all downhill for some!

For others it's one big smile

For others it’s one big smile

And a hat full of feathers

And a head full of feathers!

Costume malfunction?

Costume malfunction?

There’s a delightful whimsicality to it all, but what really stands out for me is the pure artistry of the paper flowers.  Just look at these!


Nobody is left out, from the largest to the smallest.  The oversized sunshine men reach down to the crowd, then touch foreheads together in a slow smooch.  A stern looking lady, with a splendid costume, ‘high fives’ youngsters at the roadside, between shimmies.  The littlest ones can bounce along on the back of a caterpillar or a panda. Everyone is intended to have the time of their lives, and if they don’t, they’re really not trying!

"Dance with me"

“Dance with me”

"High five!"

“High five!”

The skirt!

The skirt!

Nobody is left out!

“Bounce with me!”

Where's Mum gone?

“Where’s Mum gone?”

And the spectators are part of the show

And the spectators are part of the show

Isn’t he adorable?  The littlest Yoda!  Me and Michael were at one point on opposite sides of the parade.  A brief cloud burst had crowds and performers alike scattering for cover, and when they resumed we were grinning across at each other. He took this wonderful shot.  Mine was ‘side on’ to the little fellow and not nearly so good.

I have so many photos and I feel quite guilty leaving anyone out.  But I shall end with the ‘dancing girls’.  If anyone can shimmy, it’s them!

It goes like this!

It goes like this!

What more can I say?  If you’re ever in the Algarve at Carnaval time, you’re in for a treat.  I’m off to practise my shimmy, in celebration of my 500th post.