Meeting a Catbird


Cathy in Alte

Never having met one before, I wasn’t at all sure if meeting a Catbird would be scarey.  You can tell from the smile on Cathy’s face that it was anything but.  In fact, from the second we met, we were nattering away like old pals, and by the time we’d dragged her humungous purple suitcase to the car, we were well into our life stories.

Cathy’s is convoluted, and mine not as straightforward as you might think, so it all took some time to unravel.  We each had remembered snippets about the other, but needed to explore the detail.  And what fun that was.

For any of you not familiar, a little background.  Cathy Dutchak, an American lady, has been working in the Gulf State of Oman for the past eighteen months, and before that in Korea.  Intriguing, yes?  When I came across A native in the Land of Niswa I just had to know more.  I followed Cathy through the ups and downs of life in the rich Arab world and marvelled at the beauties her photography revealed.

Then Cathy announced that her time over there was up and, before returning to the USA, she was spending a month touring Spain and Portugal.  It coincided with a visit I was making to Tavira, so how could I not offer a little hospitality? (but a touch nervously, still not too sure what kind of creature a Catbird might be)  How glad I am that I did.

Time went all too quickly.  We discovered a love of boats in common and, as the temperatures were into the 30s, an expedition onto the water seemed a good idea.  The birdwatching and historical tour of the Ria Formosa was perfect (but not before a visit to the Post Office to try to dispose of some of Cathy’s rapidly accumulating luggage- more of that later!)

Off we chugged from the quayside at Tavira

Off we chugged from the quayside at Tavira

Wasn't there a "Tilted" challenge out there somewhere?

Isn’t there a “Tilted” challenge out there somewhere? Good candidate!

I hope you'rte not expecting great bird photography? He's out there- look closely!

I hope you’re not expecting great bird photography? Look very closely!

But I do get better as we approach the lovely village of Santa Luzia

But I do get better as we approach the lovely village of Santa Luzia

Our skipper was concentrating- don't want to ram a fishing boat

Our skipper was concentrating- don’t want to ram a fishing boat

And there were lots

And there were lots

And lots

And lots

And a catamaran

And a catamaran

And the Santa Luzia ferry

The Santa Luzia ferry

And more boats

And more fishing boats

More?  Enough, I think!

More?  Enough, I think!

Then we headed down the channel to the sea, to look back at Tavira Island

Then we headed down the channel to the sea, to look back at Tavira Island

Then back to shore, past the twin lighthouses

And returned to shore, passing the twin lighthouses.

Back on dry land there was much to see, and we leaped into the car and off to the hills and the village of Alte.  It’s a favourite of mine and I’ve written about it and been there many times.  Today was about finding a cool spot beside the fontes, or springs, and a cafe extraordinaire for refreshments.

I think the cat succeeded

I think the cat succeeded

Who says the Algarve isn't green?

Who says the Algarve isn’t green?

Our cafe is also a shop crammed full of ceramics like these.

Our cafe is also a shop crammed full of ceramics like these.

Cathy very much likes ceramic tiles and the Moorish connection, so it was on through cork and eucalyptus country to Silves, with its mighty fortress.  I was there in May this year, resulting in S is for Silves, but a few more photos had to be taken.  I was pleased to find the Igreja da Misericordia open for an art exhibition, a reward in itself.

We were warm and tired when we made it home, but after a brief “feet up” we were out again, in search of food.  At some point I’m sure you’ll read Cathy’s version of this, so all I’m going to say is that she provided enormous entertainment for Luis and Philippe, the owner and the waiter in “A Taska”.  The food was delicious, as usual, but while I simply nodded and smiled my approval, Cathy went into full blogger mode.

Charm turned up full (with maybe a little extra confidence from the port), she proceeded to photograph the decor, the menu, the food, and of course, Luis and Phillipe.  “She’s funny” said the latter, rolling his dark eyes and minding not a bit.  Then it was onto the streets, and straight into the nearest shop.  Did I mention that Cathy likes to shop?  “Casa das Portas” is a very beautiful place to do it, but for once restraint was exercised.

"Casa das Portas" with some of its iconic door paintings

“Casa das Portas” with some of its iconic door paintings

The case was rather full, and I ended up bringing a good amount of her clothing back to the UK in my hand luggage.  She had already shipped some home from Barcelona and I did not want to waste more of the holiday queuing at our post office. It is speeding its way to the USA right now.  Goodness knows what purchases she might have made in Lisbon, but the Spanish skirts I saw were extremely nice.

We wandered the warm Tavira night, in search of a promised fig and almond icecream, which sadly we never found.  I was sorry to disappoint.  But one thing for sure, Cathy did not disappoint me.  I learnt a lot, and I laughed a lot, and I think we will be lifelong friends.

Me and Cathy, having fun.

Me and Cathy, having fun.


  1. Hi Jo,
    Much obliged for alerting me to come see this post. I follow both you and Cathy so I’m not surprised you enjoyed your meeting 😀 I love the photo of the two of you…

    6 degrees of separation! I follow so many other bloggers who’ve left comments above – and I’ve been fortunate to meet one of them ie Debra of Three Well Beings.

  2. You and Cathy were having a lot of fun. And you were an excellent host!!! Thank you for the heads up.
    In 2008 sixteen of us blogger folks had a Blogstock ’08 at a Nebraska farm belonging to a family and blogging friend and in a small town there. It was during the July 4 holiday (Independence Day) and we entered a float in the celebration parade. I have it linked in my sidebar towards the top.

  3. How wonderful! I love reading about blogger meetings and yours sure sounds like it was great fun! How could it not be when it involved two amazing people like Cathy and you??? Makes me want to plan a ‘meeting’ too 😀

  4. such a fun exciting treat for you both jo! how marvellous to meet up and adventure together … your photos and story are super, you have really let us in on the atmosphere, and i do love fishing boats … never too many!

  5. What fun you and Cathy had. Your photos are wonderful. I’m really envious. Now I think I need to meet up with you when I’m in England next month for my MiL’s 100th. We’ll probably be travelling up to the Liverpool area to see relatives. Are you somewhere close by?

    1. We’re on the opposite coast, Ad. It’s about 2 n a half hours drive away. It rather depends on dates because I’m going to my daughter in Nottingham mid August and my Dad is nagging to go and see the Polish family in Norfolk sometime soon. (I’m resisting as that’s a 4-5 hour drive and his driving is not great, but don’t tell him 🙂 ) Let me know where you are when and I’ll see if we could work something out. 🙂

  6. What an extraordinary story about new-found friendship, Jo! I have a feeling it the beginning of a beautiful lifelong friendship! (I’ve also made many friends this way) … I’ve always adored your posts, which explains why I’ve been “visiting you” since I started blogging 1.5 years ago … but this is one particular post really resonates! … Please don’t tell me NOW the fig & almond ice cream in Tavira is a myth?!?!?! 😉

    1. No, it’s for real, Zoe. It’s just a tiny kiosk in the riverside gardens and they alternate the flavours. You’ll be spoilt for choice but figos e amendoes is my favourite. (I think!) 🙂

  7. It’s great to meet up with people from the Blogosphere! I think us bloggers are good communicators and like to connect so we’re all fairly like-minded. I couldn’t imagine it not working out! 🙂

    1. I guess you’re right, Suze, but I’d still be nervous, even meeting you, and I KNOW you’re lovely. 🙂
      Wedding/honeymoon plans going well? (did you see that Lucy’s planning several? Honeymoons, that is! So strange that you two are getting married around the same time)

  8. Enchanting post Johanna. Meeting your Catbird was just like reading a short story of Wharton, in a modern version and a different style of course, but you reminds me of this cosmopolite wonderful writer. Well I’m not so surprise that a woman with such a background of traveller wasn’t a disappointment. There’s still hope in this earth. Smiles !

    Thanks for this share and and hope to see you on saturday.


    1. Yes, we “pushed the boat out”, Dianne. Sorry! 🙂
      Cathy’ll be in bed now (should be, if she’s not still packing) ready for a very early start back to the U.S tomorrow.

  9. What a great gesture Jo, so pleased that everything worked out for you both. I think that the last photo sums up how you both enjoyed each others company.

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