The Church of São Francisco

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Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, has a reputation for restoring her many churches.  In the years I have been visiting I have marvelled at some of the changes wrought.  Still it is a thrill to turn a corner and find another, ripe for renovation.  If you look closely at the gallery below, you will see what I mean.  Exposed bare plaster scars the walls and alcoves.

Previously I had only been into the gardens, the church being always locked.  Just occasionally the gardens would be padlocked too, and I’d feel a sense of deprivation.  A quiet bench, the overgrown trees dappling patterns onto ruined walls, somehow they provide a warm and soothing space.

Still, it was a revelation to venture inside this church.  First appearances can be deceptive.  A curtain veiled the entrance to a side chapel.  Stepping through a little cautiously, I was utterly unprepared for the figures that greeted me there.

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The Church of São Francisco has met with it’s share of disasters.  Since construction in 1272 it has suffered 2 earthquakes (in 1722 and 1755), a landslide in 1843 and a fire in 1881.  Perhaps it’s time it had a little luck.  Should you find yourself in Tavira and the church happens to be open, please deposit a few coins in the collection box.  It may help speed the recovery.

This might not be what Paula had in mind for Traces of the Past this week, but it’s an opportunity to share with you Thursday’s Special.

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Enchanting Castro Marim

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The period just after Christmas can be an enchanting time to be in the Algarve.  Especially if you are lucky and the skies are awash with blue.  Each of the towns and villages have their own Presepio de Natal or Nativity scene, and these vary from life size models to much simpler displays in a church, or a shop window.  I hope to share a few of these with you, but today we’re taking a short walk to find a rather special one.

You may remember Castro Marim as the scene of a remarkable Medieval Fair each August.  The town lies right at the border with Spain, looking out over the River Guadiana.  Alongside the river lie a series of centuries old salt pans.  A high quality salt is harvested here and, for the first time ever, 3 tons of it have formed the basis of the local Nativity scene.  It is a startling and beautiful sight.

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The detail is extraordinary.  The trees are delicately crafted from wisps of plants, and every conceivable craft is depicted in amongst them.  Did you notice the pumpkin patch, and the birds protecting their eggs up on the rooftop? And the storks aloft upon the chimney?  You probably need to click on the gallery for a closer look.  If you like, you can throw a few coins, in appreciation.

The Presepio de Natal is very conveniently and easily signed from the main parking area in Castro Marim, and takes place on Rua 25 de Abril. Maybe a date for next year’s diary?  But as we are here in the centre of town I’m sure you’d like a look around.  Any potential kings among you?

Climb the steps to the Igreja Matriz and you have sweeping views of the town and its surrounds. You can peep through the grills of the church at the regal azulejo panel, and spy on the locals hanging out their washing.

A little meandering will bring you within sight of the gardens of Revelim de St. Antonio.  You cannot miss them because they are crowned by a windmill.  But first I have to warn you, there’s a bit of a climb.

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I was delighted to find that the restaurant at the summit was open.  Can you imagine a nicer spot to linger over a coffee laced with cream?

It made the climbing a few steps entirely worthwhile.  I hope you enjoyed this gentle saunter. I’m saving the strenuous stuff for later.

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Thank you all for your patience.  I have tried to pop in on a few of you but, if I’ve missed you, please accept my apologies.  I’m travelling back to the UK today so my responses won’t be immediate but I’ll get there as soon as I can.  Meantime, pop that kettle on!  You have some fine walks to enjoy.

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Nothing beats a canalside stroll in my book.  Thanks for being so patient, Anabel :

Glasgow canal walks

Jackie’s been out and about chasing a bit of magic :

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

And Woolly had a grand time ‘In Brugge’.  There are some beautiful images!

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It gets pretty cold in Bavaria but it’s so beautiful!  Thanks for sharing, Lady Lee :

Freezing in Freising 

Much warmer where lovely Becky was.  We managed to meet up again in the Algarve :

It maybe midwinter but it doesn’t feel like it

I thought I’d lost Susan, but fortunately she has kept right on walking :

Walking with Vultures

And Violet Sky’s been busy looking for bargains at Honest Ed’s :

Honestly

What would a walk be without Drake for company?

Hjem til Aarhus

And the ‘other’ Susan has some lovely ideas for strolling in New York City :

Take a Stroll with Me Through Rockefeller Park

Isn’t it kind when people remember you when you’re far away?  Thanks, Elaine :

Glen Finglas Reservoir

Hope the new year is progressing well for you.  See you soon with more walks and reminiscences.

 

My little town

I know!  I know!  I’m not supposed to be blogging but by the time I come back it will be too late to share this with you.  The 5th January is traditionally the last day for Christmas decorations and soon I’ll be off to watch the parade of Kings in Vila Real de S. Antonio.  Meantime I’ve found some lovely crib scenes here in Tavira… my little town.  Where else does the fire station contribute in such style?

That’s all I’ve time for!  Click on the gallery for a closer look.  Blue skies beckon.

Six word Saturday

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With love, from me to you!

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It’s here and gone again, and it’s nearly time to whizz the decorations away.  I did love having my hearth flicker in candlelight, and those rosy dawns, sitting beside my Christmas tree. Usually I hang on to till twelfth night, reluctant to shed the sparkle for cold, dark mornings.  But this year I’m heading south, hoping for a little early warmth, so my tree will have to come down tomorrow.

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It was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?  But here I am, saying goodbye to the good with the bad. Wishing, as we always do, for the peace that eludes our world.  Can’t say it better than the Beatles- “With love, from me to you”.  Want to share six words?

Happy New Year!  Feel free to go walking without me on Monday.  God bless!

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A walking retrospective

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You probably think you’re seeing double!  This is the opening photo for my most recent walk, Boxing Day Blues.  It’s hard to select favourites but my criteria is often that a photo takes you back to a moment in time. For me this was a clear, bright, quite unparalleled December day.

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Would you believe that this one was taken in August, but how could I leave out such a winning smile? Gargrave in the rain was one of the most joyful moments of my past year.  A wedding anniversary weekend!

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By contrast, Autumn this year was a riot of colour, and I can still feel that warm November sun on my back as I stood in the churchyard, surveying the magnificent ruins of Flamboyant Autumn at Easby Abbey.

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October was a time of great sadness for me.  I never could have guessed that, as I looked up at this church in Alternative Ayamonte, my Dad had only hours to live.  I was abroad in my beautiful Algarve, but my heart really wasn’t in it.

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How could it only have been a couple of weeks before that I was so joyfully walking the Water of Leith, excited to meet for the first time with my lovely friend Jude?  A landmark event!

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Can’t help but share a moment of north eastern pride with the celebrated Tall Ships Regatta at Blyth in August.  How proud Dad would have been of the Polish ships taking part.  He was always a patriot.

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Which transports me back to July, when I met a lady with a fabulous smile in the City of Birmingham.  It was my first time in the city and I loved it. Thanks, Gilly!  I know I made a friend for life.

It was a water lily Summer.  They were everywhere!  I visited many beautiful gardens, such as Newby Hall, in June.  Funny how so many of you were more interested in the cake than the flowers!

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I spent two wonderful weeks in Poland to coincide with the May Bank Holiday.  My cousin Adam is a baker but always manages a few days off that weekend for his birthday.  It was Dad’s favourite time to go, and I was so happy that I got to spend this precious time with him.  Naughtily though, I did manage to escape, into the arms of another friend for life- Meeting Meg!

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In that early part of the year I was leading a charmed life.  My visit to Poland was sandwiched with trips to the Algarve and many walking excursions. A day at Mertola in the Alentejo was particularly memorable.

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April, always the time for lambs, I threw one little chap into total panic as I held a gate open for him. Lambkins and Bikes– a winning combination?

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I was delighted to have my lovely daughter home for Easter, in March.  The highlight of that weekend was the Butterfly Trail in nearby Preston Park. They are incredible creatures, and almost as exotic as my daughter.

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February in the Algarve is synonymous with Amendoeira– Almond Blossom.  And, of course, Carnival, but that’s an entirely different story.

IMG_2245 And so we find ourselves in January, and Saltburn in Winter.  It’s a lovely seaside town on the North Yorkshire coast, a place I like to stroll at any time of year.

What a year of highs and lows it’s been.  I have Paula to thank for leading me back through the months. Thursday’s Special this week is Retrospective.  Don’t miss it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Boxing Day Blues

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I just know you’re ready for some fresh air and exercise this morning, and you’ve come to exactly the right place.  Grab a scarf and some gloves and we’ll go and dust off those Boxing Day blues.  Nothing finer than a vigorous walk along the north east coast of England.

We’re at Roker, just north of Sunderland, and smiles abound this gem of a morning.  Let’s start by the tall white lighthouse that studs the green.  In Summer this is the focal point for the Sunderland Air Show and breathing space is scarce.  Right now, we can stroll as far as the eye can see.

I’m heading south, but you can choose.  Not too many clouds in the sky this morning, but they can gang up on you when you’re  least expecting. Let’s hop down on the beach and see what we can find.

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The stories a pebble could tell!  I look back along the beach, and then ahead, into shadow.

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That’s Roker Pier you can see straight ahead.  It looks far distant but it’s no more than a good stride.

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The clouds are making the most enchanting reflections on the damp sand.

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Just around the corner, a rather strange ‘gateway’ to Roker Park.

Don’t let it put you off.  It’s rather a nice little park, especially when the Roker Lights come to town in September.

In no time at all we’re back on the sea front, and there ahead of us stands proudly curvaceous Roker Pier.

img_5490 Remember I mentioned those sneaky clouds?  Well, just for a few seconds…

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…a drop or two of rain plops on the sand.  But it’s gone in a whisper, making me doubt it was even there.  I stroll back in the direction from which I’ve come, smiling at a dog walker, and a lone maiden on a rock.

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For a moment I fancy she might just be a mermaid.  That’s what happens when you watch ‘Splash’, the movie, on Christmas TV.  Heading north again, did you spot the selfie on the beach?

There’s a good incentive to carry on around this bay.  On the edge of Whitburn, Latimer’s deli and fish restaurant is a great little spot, looking out to sea.  On a summer day you’ll be fighting to sit out on the sun terrace. Today it’s just that little bit cool, and squeezing inside is more desirable.

The lobster salad was such a good price, and looked delicious.  I modestly settled for a lovely fish chowder. Maybe next time?  I hope you’ll join me.

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Thanks everyone for spending time with me today, and the whole of the year.  I’ve loved having your company.  I’m going to be missing for a few weeks because next Monday I’ll be on my way to the Algarve.  I have 2 weeks to enjoy, and recharge my batteries.  I don’t blog while I’m away, so the next walk will be posted on 23rd January.  That seems a long way off.  You might have forgotten me by then.  If not, I’ll be open for walks as usual. Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

Let’s enjoy some great walks now, shall we?  I’ll pop the kettle on first.

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You can always rely on Anabel for a bite to eat along the way :

A walk round Overtoun Estate

Indra’s in British Columbia, and very beautiful it looks too :

Kelowna…. Nature’s Playground

Sunshine in your eyes?  And the ‘white stuff’, with Drake :

Snow in the eyes

Beautiful architecture as Jude follows in my footsteps, along the river bank :

Norwich Part III : Wensum riverside walk

I know she’d love the fruit and flowers in Lady Lee’s Philippines :

Sonya’s Garden – Urban floral displays

Jackie found lots of ice in Florida.  An unusual, if expensive, treat :

Charlie Brown’s Christmas

Not so chilly at the beach, with Geoff and Dog :

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And where’s Woolly this week?  Dodging snakes it seems!

Jo’s Monday-Walk-06 Geelong Botanic Gardens 

Denzil always enjoys a breath of fresh air and a stretch of the legs :

Walking around Wonck

I’m quite jealous that Sophie managed to get onto these walls :

The walk on the wall of Pisa

And I’m determined to get to Cornwall next year for these scones.  Thanks, Carol!

The End

Have you come across the London Wlogger?  The lady features very informative London walks :

King’s Cross to Hampstead Heath : Unlocking London’s beauty

Finishing with a little piece of leftover Christmas magic from Drake :

Dreaming about so much

And closer to home- you’ll like this, Jude!- Jaspa shares some Cornish lights :

Mousehole Harbour Christmas Lights

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  I’ll be around till the New Year, walking of course, if the opportunity arises.  Make the most of your relaxed time, before we dive into 2017.

Six word Saturday

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Could there be a more obvious six words for today?  I sit beside my twinkly tree, shopping done and presents wrapped.  The absence of one present troubles me.  He’s not here to share, and his place at the Christmas table can’t be filled.

Treasure your loved ones and the time spent together.  For most of us that is what Christmas is all about. I’ll eat and I’ll drink and I’ll try to be merry, and yet not burn the sprouts.  And I’ll raise a toast to you, my WordPress friends.  We’ve come a long way together.  Wishing you all a joyful Christmas, and for 2017… all you wish yourself!

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