Jo’s Monday walk : Frolics at the Fair

Back in the Algarve, the round of Summer festivals was still in full swing on my return.  Even though I’ve been many times before, the Medieval Fair at Castro Marim is quite irresistible.  The village, with its mighty twin castles, comes alive to a skirl of pipes and rhythmic, marching feet.  Every conceivable vantage point is occupied for the parade- some of them quite precarious.  I was one of the hypnotised audience.

But first, a wander through the streets and stalls to see what’s new.  I don’t seem to be able to escape colourful electricity boxes these days.  In Castro Marim the eyes follow you everywhere.  It’s just a little disconcerting.

But once you’ve paid your couple of euros admission to the festival you can leave them behind.  I disdained a cardboard crown.  It didn’t offer the same protection from the fierce rays of the sun as my wide-brimmed hat.  I did foolishly buy earthenware mugs to sup from.  What to do with them when your hands are full?  Balance them on a wall, and hope.  A lesson learned for next time- don’t buy, or bring a bigger bag!

Of course, there are plenty of craft stalls and you might just spot that purchase you really need.  Or you can sit awhile, under a canopy, and absorb the sounds and smells and watch folk drift by.  Someone is sure to offer you a bite to eat, and distractions are plentiful.

It feels like the whole village joins in, from the smallest girls, proudly paraded by parents, to mature gents and their ladies, delighted to don costumes and smile graciously at the watching crowds.  Promptly at 3, banners and band turn the corner and the entertainment begins.

Interaction with the crowd is part of the fun, and stilt walkers stride menacingly around, while tumblers joke and totter through the streets, two of them frolicking with a large green ball.  There is a menagerie of animals, from carefully controlled hawks to an endearing goose girl, from goats tugging at their leash to grouchy camels.  You can’t help but be drawn in by the atmosphere.

But let’s tear ourselves away for a while!  The parade will continue on and up around the castle, pausing for a little showmanship, and to rest the legs from the wearying cobbles.  Many entertainments later there will be a banquet within the castle walls, but for now I’m needing a quiet place.

I did mention that there are two castles at Castro Marim.  The fortress of Sáo Sebastiáo is rarely open to the public, and broods over the town in silence.  A former stronghold of the Knights Templar, it is used for demonstrations of combat during the festival, in a very low key way.  The ruins are treacherous underfoot in places, and a steep climb up from the village, and this tends to keep the crowds away.  If you’re looking for a breathing space, coupled with wonderful views, this is the one.  Just take it slowly.

High on the walls you have views of the salt pans and, far beyond, to neighbouring Spain, across the River Guadiana.  You can well imagine how all conquering it must have felt, looking down on your enemies from here.

Did you notice the pile of saIt in front of the bridge?  It’s harvest time for the salt in summer, and everywhere mounds have been raked into the sun to dry. Castro Marim uses this asset uniquely in the winter.  A beautiful nativity scene graces the village hall, the bed of salt crystals on which it lies looking for all the world like snow.

You can spend as much, or as little, time as you want at the Medieval Fair, and of course there are cake stalls.  I’m not going to indulge you this week, but the fair runs for 4 days in late August, and I can highly recommend being there, if you can.

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Time to introduce a few more walks.  Many thanks to my regular contributors, and to those of you who’re just passing by.  Join me any time here on Jo’s Monday walk.  I’ll try to make you welcome.

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I do love a good cascade, especially in Debbie’s company :

A lakeside locomotion in Chisinau

Alice takes us to a windswept beach :

Georgia’s Peach of a Beach

A free walking tour, with Mel, that I know you’re going to love :

A Winter Wander in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney

Lady Lee shares another gem from her tour of Japan :

Sensó-ji and Meiji Jingu

And you know there’s always time for food at Jackie’s place :

Street Food

I can rely on Drake for humour and good company, in some of the most beautiful settings :

Old but still with attitude

But you will seldom see a more beautiful walk on here than this share from Ann-Christine :

Thursday Thoughts – Centre of the Earth

It never ceases to amaze me, the beauty on our doorsteps.  I’ve borrowed this, Lynn.  Hope you don’t mind?

Local Walks: Tofoni at Larrabee

I end, as so often, counting the footsteps with Cathy :

(Camino day 35) Rabanal del Camino to El Acebo & ruminations (week 5)

That’s it for another week.  Hope things are good in your part of the world.  Take care till next time.

107 comments

  1. Jo, I’m sure it was by design, but this post is absolutely awash with color. Every frame is an enticement for the eye. Well done!

    And I love the colorful utility boxes. The artists have changed dull, boring boxes into pleasant diversions. I wonder why more cities don’t encourage this type of project … but then I answer my own question: some consider it vandalism. Umm. You’ve convinced me the Algarve is the place to be in August. ~James

    1. So long as you don’t mind heat, James. I was in the UK for 3 weeks and I was crawling round looking for shade when I got back. Luckily you do adjust. It’s still high 20s and glorious at the moment. Come on over! You’ll love it 🤗🏖️💕

    1. It has quietened down a little now, hon, but any given weekend in the summer, from June to August, you can probably find a festival. Not all are on this scale though. Tavira, my home town, has 2 major ones and there are outdoor entertainments many evenings throughout the summer. Just getting my breath back 🙂 🙂

  2. Just catching up again after a much-needed holiday in Ireland. Great photos as always, I love the goose girl and the views. I thought about you recently too, spent a couple of days wandering round Dublin seeking out and photographing various quirky things – found lots of street art and quite a few painted electricity boxes 🙂 My first Dublin walk can be found here https://mousehouselife.wordpress.com/2019/09/23/a-day-in-dublin-1/ if you want to add it next week, and I’ll try my hardest to visit everyone else’s 🙂

    1. No problems with adding it, Eunice, thanks, and I’m sure people understand when you work and have a busy life that you can’t always manage the visits. It often takes me several days to return a visit to all the comments on my walks. By the time I’ve done it, it’s time to think about the next Monday walk 🙂 🙂

  3. Looks great fun and I loved some of the costumes. I’m a sucker for craft fairs and even though I’m constantly filling bags up for charity, I still manage to buy things i don’t need at craft fairs. I’ve just returned from the New Forest, proud of myself that I didn’t buy any mugs, paper, pencils etc (but I did succumb to a local gin because that won’t be around for long). The lack of purchases though, was mainly because it rained solidly for my 3 days there – even the ponies were not in evidence, hiding under the trees in the woods as they were.

    1. I had heard that it’s a bit damp at ‘home’, Mari. Hopefully there’ll be a beautiful colourful Autumn to follow. 🙂 🙂 I’m not much of a shopper and Mick is even less so, but we did put our mugs to good use, and he had a very nice-looking sweet crepe 🙂

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