Portugal

Time and tide…

It’s one of those sights that has always gladdened my heart, since I first started coming to the Algarve- the pontoon bridge at Barril that links Tavira Island to the mainland.  With the tide low, the gangplank descended steeply, but by the time you had walked to the beach, loitered a while, and walked back again, the current would be sweeping in, and have raised the bridge to level.  It never ceased to amaze me.

Every visit to Tavira has always resulted in at least one crossing, there and back, and I suppose I had started to notice the signs of wear and tear.

But no more than one notices the wrinkles on an old friend.  I have lingered by that bridge to watch the sun glinting off the water, and set, in a glory of colour, at the end of many a day.

I suppose change is inevitable.  I don’t always accept it with a good grace.  In July this year I arrived at the bridge and gazed in admiration, tinged with horror.  My bridge had gone, to be replaced by a shiny new model, with no ups and downs, or rusty bits.

More practical?  Certainly!  Still beautiful?  I think so.  But oh, how I shall miss my old friend. Past meets Present, Becky.  What do you think?

I’m going to chance my arm, and say that my bridge was Unusual too, though maybe not in the class of this week’s challenge from Draco .

Jo’s Monday walk : Illuminating Lagoa

If you’re a regular visitor to the Algarve, chances are that you will have bypassed Lagoa numerous times.  Sitting just off the busy E125 road, it’s not somewhere that you would necessarily make a beeline for.  So my husband looked at me askance when I asked if we might visit the town for Mercado de Culturas… A Luz das Velas – the ‘market of cultures… by candlelight’.  I had never heard of the festival before, but it was apparently in its 4th year.  This year’s theme, Rota de Seda -Silk Road, sounded inviting to me.

After a lazy beach day, we headed along on a sultry Sunday, for the last evening of this 4 day event, not entirely sure what to expect. Looking for parking, our first encounter was a bit of a surprise.  Strong sunshine created deep shadows, even at 8 in the evening.

A small park with a war memorial leads to an imposing church.  Few people are about and you begin to wonder if you are in the right place.

And then, turning a corner, the atmosphere changes discernibly and we have the first hint that something special might be about to happen.  Rose coloured paving with white spots cannot disguise the fact that the area is shabby.  On a raised platform there is a display of bonsai.

And, close by, the first of the unlit candle arrangements, laid out on boards on the floor, in a Chinese theme.

It wouldn’t start to get dark for another hour, so plenty of time to explore the narrow streets, and have a bite to eat.  We wandered into the impressive Convento de São José, founded around 1710 by Carmelite nuns, who fostered and educated abandoned girls.  There are beautiful cloisters and the surrounding rooms have been turned into a museum and exhibition space.

Street stalls offered an array of tempting food and artisans worked quietly beside their wares.  A clattering of drums announced the arrival of two Chinese dragons, who cavorted and rolled winsomely at the feet of the laughing onlookers.

As dusk gathered there was a frisson of excitement.  The first of the 12,000 candles were being lit.  It would take quite some time, and a whole lot of effort, till all were burning brightly together.

Following the trail of candles, we come to a large square, with restaurants and a church whose interior glowed invitingly.  Stepping inside to admire the white wood panelled ceiling and the medieval painting behind the altar, we are met with a ‘brother’.  His face lights up as he tells us the history of his church, Igreja da Misericórdia, and the processions that celebrate Easter.  We reassure him that we have a church of the same name in Tavira, and have enjoyed those same processions, and we part good friends.  

The lights flicker on, ahead of us and behind.  Watchful candle lighters step forward to replace guttered candles and the whole world glows.

Music ripples in the air and, as it grows darker, a Persian dancer twines her body in graceful poses and the night casts its spell.  A small crowd are gathered in the doorway of a chapel, lit in a rosy hue.  Serenely a lady plucks the strings of a lute.

I know that the merriment will continue till long after midnight on this warm evening, and find it hard to tear myself away.  But we have a long journey home ahead, and I am thankful to have witnessed this wonderful celebration of light.  I hope you enjoyed it too.  Perhaps, if you should be in the Algarve next July, it’s one to look out for.

Thank you for your patience and support, especially those of you who have posted walks for me. I returned home late on Thursday and am still trying to find my UK groove.  Time to put the kettle on and enjoy some great company.  If you’d like to join me any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

Are you a fan of trees?  Let Geoff poetically show you one or two :

The Book of Trees#dulwich#trees#villagelife#poetry

Canada Day was a big one this year.  This is how Jackie (and the big duck) celebrated :

Let’s Celebrate!

Toast Master

Miriam has enjoyed every step of her Aussie adventure :

Stepping into a Magical Outback

Summer Solstice is always a bit special, isn’t it? Share a bonfire with Lady Lee :

Summer Solstice

I’m almost ashamed of myself not to have walked this.  Debbie has (and Becky too!) :

Water on High

Woolly continues his visits to the sadness of the war graves :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk27_Serre-Rd_No-2_Cemetery

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk27_Serre Rd_No-2 Cemetery-Pt2

Lisa cheered me up with a return to her roots, and some cliff tops, not too very far from me :

Hull – Part II

And Jude’s usually cheerful (though occasionally grumpy).  A bit more of Queen Mum’s old place?

Garden Portrait: Glamis Castle Italian Garden

It wouldn’t be a Monday walk without Drake, would it?  Two more for you this week!

Surrounded by architecture

Under the arches

And speaking of architecture, look where Indra’s been!

Travelscapes -Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick

While, even further away, my lovely Meg dabbles her toes :

Wordless walk : Shelly Beach

And in the stunning scenery of the Banf National Park, there’s another adventure with Sheri :

Hiking Wind Ridge

Tobias always comes up with something a little different :

Documenting locations

I thought Amanda was taking her dog for a walk.  Wrong again!

Walking on Straddie with Maddie

And who better to give you a tip or two than our intrepid Sue?

10 Tips Before Hiking Table Mountain, Capetown

Welcome back to Denzil, with some practical advice on walking in Belgium :

GR121 Stage 2 : La Roche (Brabant) to Nivelles

And to Susan, with her lyrical West Coast writing :

Walking Harmony Headlands

I know there are loads.  That’s what happens when I take a break.  Please find time to visit, especially anybody you don’t already know.  I’m off to enjoy that rare commodity in the north east- a sunny day!  Take care till next time.

 

Six word Saturday

The life of a floral display

In Summer there are countless celebrations across the Algarve, but it’s always a delight to arrive and find the streets decked with paper flowers. Last Friday in Tavira all was splendour, but after the weekend came the slow process of deflowering.  What better way to share than a Collage?

It’s Saturday and yet again Debbie has six words to make you smile.  Do go and join in! And have a great weekend!

Restless by name, restless by nature

Restless?  Who me?  You could say that.  I don’t know quite when or where it all began, nor do I know when it will end, but I hope to enjoy it while I can.  It’s not as though I don’t have beautiful places to wander to.

It’s sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.  How is it that some people never have the urge to roam? (my husband being one of them)  I only have to see a boat moored up to be champing at the bit.  Take me with you!

Debbie set the theme Restless on her One Word Sunday challenge this week.  How could I possibly not join in?

 

Looking east in the Algarve

Branching wistfully

eastwards.  Tortured by the breeze.

Always in motion

I did say I was leaving my Algarve behind, but you can probably see why it’s hard to do so.  For Paula’s Pick a word in June  I am illustrating Branching and Continual.  For Gilly, a little haiku, because I miss her.  Thursday’s Special, isn’t it?

Six word Saturday

Light fades on another lovely memory.

It’s more than 6 weeks since I got back from Tavira, in my lovely Algarve.  Time to round up a few of those photos I never got around to sharing, and move on.   A new roof top bar provides a great overview of this beautiful place.

Up on the castle walls

Until next time…

Don’t forget to share your six words on Debbie’s little bit of fun, and have a great weekend.  I’ll be back on Monday with a very English walk.

Jo’s Monday walk : Sitio das Fontes

Time to return to the Algarve for this week’s walk, on the estuary of the Rio Arade.  It’s a good distance from my normal stomping ground, but I had reason to be curious about Sitio das Fontes.  Earlier this year, Dave Sheldrake began to conduct photography walks, for a donation to charity.  I haven’t managed to go on one yet, but my interest was piqued when he went to this particular site.  I had to take a look for myself.

Sitio das Fontes is an area of wild parkland formed around natural springs (or fontes).  Sitting in tidal salt marshes, it’s a wonderful place to explore the diversity of nature.  The tidal mill overlooks a wide stretch of nature in the raw, with birds and bees aplenty.

Captivated by the tiny frogs, I’m getting ahead of myself.  The parkland lies just north of the village of Estombar, and on a sunny weekday in early March I had the place almost to myself. An old waterwheel lethargically guards the entrance to the park.

Follow the path round to the tidal mill, or dally by the spring.  There are plenty of good sized rocks to sit on and contemplate nature, or simply daydream a while.  A new-looking bridge crosses the spring and you can take the long view or gaze deep into the clear waters.

The map at the entrance to the park wasn’t very clear, or maybe I hadn’t been paying enough attention.  It didn’t seem to matter in the stillness of the lovely morning, the snail suspended somnolently on his stilts, and bee on blossom.

Beyond the tidal mill, a path leads off around the estuary.  The water was very low, exposing vast tracts of salt marsh and sludge, but still it was a pleasure to follow.  Shrubs and all manner of plant line the path, so progress is slow as you stoop to identify or smile in admiration.

Incredible to find two different types of bee orchid within feet of each other!  The path ends on the edge of the Arade.   Looking across the estuary I wasn’t sure if it might be possible to cross over the mud flats with the water so low.  Good sense prevailed.  I didn’t really want to end up floundering, but I was curious about the ruins on the far shore.  No great hardship to retrace my steps.

A less obvious path runs along this shoreline, but with the bonus of more orchids, some tiny iris, not yet open to morning, and a large cricket who made me jump.  Beyond the ruins the path begins to ascend quite steeply.  I climb high enough to appreciate the view.

But it’s not apparent where the path might lead.  It’s getting warm, the insects are buzzing and it feels like a good time to head back.  There are picnic tables, a children’s playground and a visitor centre, still closed at the time.  Best of all, the tranquil and lovely spring.

How very different from the thermal springs in Bath, that I wrote about last week.  Yet all part of our strange and wonderful natural world.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s walk.  Details of how to get there are contained in the links, and of how to join me, on my Jo’s Monday walk page . Now for some sharing.  You’ll have your work cut out, because I have heaps of walks!  Please make sure to visit anyone that you don’t know. Many thanks to all my contributors, and to you folk in the armchairs, it’s time to put the kettle on.

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You might like to compare Alison’s walk from a couple of years ago?  Your secret’s well and truly out now, Aly!

Our secret Sitio das Fontes

The most beautiful rainbow and frescoes from Drake this week :

Cruise through idyllic city

AND the bonus of a trip to Monmartre :

On the edge

Lots of garden shots and a cute little bug from Lady Lee :

How does your garden grow?

Sunny California, sunny Jackie!

Day 7 So Cal Bakersfield CA to Las Vegas

Becky always knows the way to my heart, and to some lovely places too.  This one’s in the Alentejo :

A short stroll around the beautiful city of Serpa

This, much closer to ‘home’ :

Thank goodness, a cloudy day

Did you ‘walk’ with Vanessa last week?  This one’s not for the faint-hearted, but shows off Majorca’s true beauty :

Soller, Mallorca, Spain/The ‘Sa Costera’ Hike along the remote and picturesque coastline…

Sue, meanwhile, is tootling gently down Memory Lane.  I hope you’re well now, hon?

Postcards from my Past/3- Cornwall’s Old Mines

Cathy is still busy making memories.  This is fabulous!

Sankei-en Garden & the Shanghai Yokohama Friendship Garden

While Mari shows us how to live a long and happy life in a little known but beautiful part of Andalusia :

Walking in the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Park, Spain

Exquisite prose and the nostalgia of the end of Spring, from Susan :

Park Ridge Trail, Morro Bay State Park

And an English version, with lambs and wild garlic.  Please visit!  This lady is new to me :

Late spring hike in the Manifold Valley

Miriam triumphs in adversity!  You can, too!

Toolangi Trails

And Paula proudly shows off some of her lovely heritage.  Go on- take a look!

Istrian Heritage

Jaspa seems to like our English heritage.  What’s more British than Tower Bridge?

Sam’s Ses Challenge #18: Bridge 

And I bet Woolly is a fan of those famous Austrian tortes.  Double rations this week :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk20_ Vienna

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk21_Vienna-2

Andrew has been striding out in Valencia.  Not like him at all!

Travels in Spain, Valencia City of Arts and Sciences and a 12 Mile Walk

You might wonder what the natural world looks like in Israel.  Take a walk with Lisa to find out :

Nahal HaShofet

That’s it for another week!  It’s a Bank Holiday in the UK next Monday but I’ll still be walking.  I hope you’ll join me.  Take care till then!