‘Why Tavira?’ is a question I’m asked all the time when I talk about the place where I live. Although I love the peace of the Algarve countryside, I could never willingly live in a little hillside cottage. I would forever be gazing at the horizon, imagining the lap of the waves at my feet and the sound of the ocean in my ears. Here in Tavira the river brings the sea to me, and it’s one of my greatest pleasures to board a ferry and ride out there to meet it. This week the town ferry reopened. There was no queue at the kiosk, nor in fact any other passengers aboard than me and my husband. And a crew of five, some of whom were youngsters, learning the trade. Prosperity will come again, and they need to be prepared. For now, the instructions are to wear a mask on all forms of public transport, and so, bizarre though it felt on the open deck of a boat, we did.
We pulled out of the quayside, where the work of building a new bridge continues apace, and soon were chugging out through the marshes. Lilac heather lines the riverbank, but my gaze was directed far beyond, counting the flamingos. The day was full of billowing clouds, which could have explained the emptiness of the ferry. After all these years, still I find the views from the landing stage compelling.
We followed the path across the Ilha towards the beach. The main seafood restaurant was being industriously cleaned and rearranged, in readiness for hoped for customers. The adjacent campsite is to remain closed this summer, and the object of our affections, The Sunshine Bar, had yet to open, but the recycled fish at O Xiri has a new lease of life.
With no particular objective in mind, we set off along the deserted beach, walking into a boisterous breeze. As we paused to regain our breath, a tiny figure appeared on the horizon. We watched as the quad bike drew near, and then passed us by. The maritime police with a pleasant occupation. Nothing but a few gulls to keep us company. In vain I tried to capture them in flight. Better to focus on the jewellery of the beach!
We had reached the area known as Terra Estreita. Another ferry and a boardwalk connects this beach with Santa Luzia on the mainland. Beach umbrellas in residence, but not a soul to be seen. Just the tyre tracks of the young policeman.
Turn back, or carry on? The legs were starting to feel a bit leaden in the soft sand, but we knew that the Beach Bar at Barril was open. A fair incentive for another half hour or so’s walking. Maybe even cake?
The clouds were starting to amass and the wind to bluster, but I was intrigued by the clumps of greenery and plants I had never before seen growing on this beach. Nature rearranging herself in the absence of humans. We had already noticed that the shoreline was different in places. The action of wind and waves. Soon I was in the mesmerising presence of the anchors at Barril.
I defy anyone to walk past without taking at least one or two photos of them. Possibly after refreshments. The sky was miraculously clearing again by the time we were ready to return, and the wind gentling us along from behind. More found treasure!
Finally the lighthouse at the river mouth came into view. It’s not a bad life being a beach attendant right now.
Almost ready to board, but I can’t leave you without a bit of biscuit cake, can I? A treat, because it’s been a sobering week, in many ways.
Janet led the way, last week, in being too upset to walk. Many of us knew just how she felt :
But Margaret will cheer you up :
And Anabel has beautiful rock formations in Berwickshire :
Trees, sky, tiny flowers… just a few of the things in Susan’s new world :
Drake demonstrates how beautiful green can be :
While Rita celebrates the blossom trees in Toronto :
Doesn’t matter what day it is, Rupali can find beauty :
And Sheetal can get excited about Florence :
Irene contents herself with the simple things in life :
I’ve never hiked Dartmouth… but I’d like to. Please meet Zara!
So far I’ve been documenting and diarying my life here in the Algarve, in this exceptional period. I think you can see, it’s a beautiful place. I don’t intend to stick to a schedule from now on, so if you share a walk with me I’ll be delighted, but I can’t be sure when I’ll share it here. Wishing you all a peaceful and healthy transition to a better world. It’s ours to make the best of, isn’t it? Stay safe! And eat cake?