If you saw my last post you’ll know that I spent the previous weekend in Aljezur. Wild, west coast beauty, and quite unlike my own gentle Algarve shoreline. An untamed ocean pounding the cliffs. It can take your breath away- literally, sometimes, as the force of the wind hits you. I could never persuade my husband to live here. For him, warmth trumps beauty. But if I can spend time on these cliffs and beaches I’m in a world of my own. Come with me to the windswept beach of Monte Clerigo….
The weekend hadn’t gone entirely to plan, but then, mine seldom do. Part of life’s rich tapestry, you might say. Because we had just one night available I had selected a hotel close to the beaches, and offering breakfast. The night before departure an email advised me that, thanks to Covid-19, breakfasts were not available in May. A quick look at the map assured me that we would find somewhere to eat not too far away, so off we went! In Tavira the temperatures were hovering around 27C. Not so on the refreshing west coast! Pulling my cotton shirt tight around me, I rounded the corner of the hotel to observe the pretty swimming pool. Waves were rolling across the water, in the icy blast! No idling by the pool with that book, for sure. Supper at the local Mexican restaurant was to have been a spicy compensation. The heat of the jalapenos almost lifted me from my seat, but the burrito, sadly, was cold. Outside people huddled in padded jackets, trying to escape the howling wind. And the last straw? The only dessert available was a chocolate banoffee, and I can’t abide mushy banana. Are you feeling sorry for me yet?
We checked out of the hotel early next morning, under a clear blue sky. The small beachside village of Monte Clerigo was a 5 minute drive, and the day began to look up. The wind still battered us, but I gaped in delight at the expanse of beach that went on, and on… Even I wasn’t foolhardy enough to sit on the outside deck of the beachfront restaurant, but my eyes stayed riveted to the view.
Before too long I was dancing along that beach! Well, more truthfully, heading for shelter, bent double, beneath the cliffs. But with the wind behind me, striding back was a joy. Look at that village, nestled into the hillside! The next task, to climb high above it, to the cliff top.
Steep, uneven steps lead up from the beach, around the back of the pretty village houses, and join with a gravel track. Cars and campervans can drive this stretch and there is even limited off road parking, but after a few minutes you reach the cliff path.
The views sweep away, up and down the coast, breathtaking in their beauty. For a moment you forget the breeze, and then it sucks at your clothing and you fight for balance. Far below, the waves crash. The path is sandy, making your legs feel heavy, sinking unsteadily.
The path twists and turns along the cliff, with every now and then a blue and green striped marker, just to ensure you are still on course. Pockets of tiny blue flowers gaze heavenwards, and a mass of yellow something huddles together, hunkered down against the wind. The fleshy roots of Livingstone daisies beam scarlet against the sand.
The rugged bays stretch ahead and behind, and in places there are strips of boardwalk. Erosion is a constant problem on these cliffs. An old watchtower or abandoned dwelling crumbles silently towards the shore.
We had intended to walk as far as Arrifana Beach, but the buffeting winds and our weary legs brought us to a halt a little short of there, for we still had the return journey to make. Every bit as enticing, the low growing shrubs rolling ahead of us.
But still, I was happy to see the end of the trail, and to collapse into the car, warm from our exertions. Homeward bound, we did stop off at Arrifana, just for a swift peak. A surfer’s bay, it was busy, and the hand rails lined with boards and wet suits. A Sunday lunch spot.
I’d like to dedicate this post to my lovely friend, Marie. She was no walker, but she loved the sight and the sound of the sea. I have to smile, or rather wince, at the memory of one stroll we took together, to catch a breath of sea air. I clumsily jammed a finger in her car door, and the stroll became a sit on the boardwalk, head between my knees. A permanent reminder of Marie, as if I needed one. We spent hours together, watching Rafa pull off yet another French Open, and during lockdown a Saturday night Chinese takeaway at hers was a rare treat. She was a kind and gentle soul, with a strong core. Which she needed for these last weeks have been harrowing. Yesterday evening the call came. Suffering is no more, but a very lovely lady is no longer here to share the laughter and tears.
Marie Teresa Brannan – 3.8.54 – 30.5.21 R.I.P. You will be sorely missed. My love and thoughts are with your family.
This was a hard post to finish, but thank you all for sharing it with me. As previously announced, I will be taking a break from blogging. It’s long overdue, and the hot summer days will often find me beside a beach. One last share before I go.
Come and have a look around Melbourne, with Teresa :
Munsiyari- what does that mean to you? For me it’s a very beautiful place :
And there’s no doubt that Rupali knows beauty when she sees it :
Woodland, canal, a chirpy robin… Drake has it all, but those cows are watching you!
If it’s adventure you’re wanting, Sarah’s your girl!
As Mel points out, many Australian place names are unappealing, but never let that stop you walking with her :
A simple walk, in lovely company! Join Manja and Bestia :
Marsha has been a source of inspiration, and not a little fun, since the day I met her!
And Rosemay has been a constant friend. Join her in this adventure :
Last, but not least, Carol brings you sensational views :
Take care of each other, and get out walking when you can. This morning I will be walking with friends, who all knew Marie. Part of the walk will be on the beach, and afterwards we’ll lunch at a restaurant she loved, and raise a glass. As her son said to me last night, ‘remember the good times’.