A day with Flat Ruthie in Portugal and Spain

Who better than Flat Ruthie, with her keen observational skills, to accompany me on a short foray across the border?  For a number of years the snow white village of Sanlucar de Guadiana has been calling to me, across the still waters of the Guadiana.  The village of Alcoutim, on the Portuguese side, is blessedly peaceful, but I always wanted to look back at it.  Mission accomplished!  With a little help.

Alcoutim, with a little help from a friend

Just minutes later the breeze caught her and she’d fallen out of a tree!  She was gallantly rescued from the rocks by my husband, looking daggers at me.  It’s a good job a Flat doesn’t bruise easily.  Maybe a beach umbrella would be a better option?  Softer landings, anyway.

Johanna, am I quite safe here? And by the way, it prickles!

Into my pocket she went, just for a little while, so we could have a proper look around, without her blowing away.

Such a delightfully pretty place

Can I be in this one, Jo please? I just love castles.

Just a minute- what’s happening here?

Ah, now I understand. It’s a festival!

We chatted to a lovely local lady who explained that the village of Sanlucar and the village higher up the hill. El Granado, compete in a yearly festival.  The procession would be lead up the hill by the mayor, with a floral cross and a donkey, to a meeting place, where the fun would begin.  What luck!  I hadn’t known anything about it.

In all their finery.

Such a patient donkey! And such lovely little boys.

Side saddle and very elegant


Take me with you!

And then they were gone, and our lovely villager was heading off to get changed to join in the fun herself.  The village was effectively closed to business.  We waved to the ferryman and crossed back to Alcoutim, where we sat with a drink and watched as the procession slowly mounted the hill.

The riverside cafe at Alcoutim

Of course, Flat Ruthie wanted to see another castle and flirt with the fountains a little, but that was fine by me.

New fountains at Alcoutim

Castro Marim main square with church and castle

The orange blossom is choking me!

A drink before we climb those steps? Is my foot stuck?

But it wasn’t!  The funny thing was that we had gone to Castro Marim expecting a festival to be taking place, and with the promise of an Algarvian goat contest.  The place was quiet as can be.  Reading the leaflet later, my husband pointed out that the festivities were actually taking place in a village called Azinhal, “near to” Castro Marim.  Ah well- something for another trip.  All’s well that ends well.

Many thanks Big Ruth for loaning me your little gal, and for your wonderful idea.  To join in and read Flat Ruthie’s other adventures, you should contact Cardboard Me Travels.  She even ventures to Hartlepool marina you know.


  1. oh this is lovely . . . .I was just checking to see if you had ever written anything on Azinhal, and came across this lovely post in your archives. So do love Alcoutim, and Flat Ruthie is wonderful 🙂
    Hope all is well back in Blighty, got a cold wind here today but gorgeous blue skies and sunshine x


    1. We didn’t get up that way this trip Becky. I did love Flat Ruthie! She sits on a shelf in the study these days, in retirement. Don’t think I ever featured the Azinhal walk. Grey here you won’t be surprised to find but not too cold. Just done tai chi and watched some tennis. Have a lovely time xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a beautiful post! Flat Ruthie looks like a great traveling companion – she doesn’t take up much space and probably doesn’t bring too many suitcases!


  3. What a charming little town. The container gardens in front of that house is making me rethink how I’ve been arranging my plant pots, haha.

    Oh, how lucky for you to chance upon the start of a (polka-dotted) caravan!
    Thanks for another daytrip, Ms. Jo. 🙂


    1. A Flat Ana would be very nice. I’d take her along too. The big bonus is how little room they take up in the hand baggage. (cruel, I know)
      You’re home at the moment? Have fun


  4. Ruth has such good luck.. and you too! It would be something to see the donkey pulling the cross up the hill. I love the white of the buildings.. so pretty in your photographs!


    1. Thanks Julie. Yes, I got it all back to front but it worked out for the best. Found myself eyeing up properties in Sanlucar- I really loved the place. Not about to defect yet though.
      Did you have a good time in the Algarve?


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