Tina’s inviting us to choose our own subject this week, and I’m going with water. My star sign is Scorpio and, though I’ve never really seen the connection between that curly-tailed creature and water, I have to admit that I have a strong attraction to it. I’m never happier than when I’m on the beach, examining shells and listening to the sound of the waves. But if I’m not near the ocean, a river will do, flowing gently but with determination towards the sea. Or I can be calm and happy by the still waters of a lake.
In my Algarve home, in the south of Portugal, nothing lies between me and Africa but water. The sandbar islands that I love sit serenely offshore, lapped by the tide, each a world in miniature. The water flows out into the lagoon and beyond them to the ocean.
It’s no coincidence that I chose Tavira as my home. It’s supremely placed to take advantage of the water that laps its shores and runs through it. From across the water the offshore island beckons. It cast a spell on me from the very first time I saw it. The Rio Giláo flows softly out to meet it.
It’s a wonderful coastline, with plenty of places to play. I hope you enjoyed sharing it with me. Thank you, Tina, for giving me a choice.
Some of you have already met Medronho, the Strawberry Tree. It lines the Algarve hillside at this time of year, when early mornings and evenings can have a nip in the air. I’m sure that many a nip of the firewater distilled from the Medronho fruit has been imbibed here in these hills, to ward off the winter chills.
It was on just such a morning that I clambered up the steep hill above the village of Porto Carvalhoso, with a few like-minded friends. I didn’t notice anyone with a hip flask but coloured water bottles are the perfect disguise. Many of the cork oaks had been stripped, vulnerable in their nakedness.
Up and over the hill we went. After the initial scramble the trail leveled out and there was time to enjoy our surrounds. A striking, stone house had good views down the valley, while the tumbledown next door was clearly marked with the initials that denote the boundary of someone’s property. We were following a route on an App called Wikiloc, from which we’ve had mixed results. Anyone who subscribes can add a walk, so if they get a little lost and have to retrace their steps… well, you usually end up doing the same.
On this particular occasion we were gazing down the valley trying to fathom which way next. The route appeared to drop down a slippery slope, with no obvious way to descend. Fortunately a brave volunteer decided to test it out and, reassured, we followed on. The trods were completely overgrown. Happily no twisted ankles resulted, and soon the path became visible again. A rich tapestry of soft greens and beige surrounded us. In the distance a small cluster of houses invited. On our approach the sound of sawing filled the air, a sizeable logpile for the winter nights.
A stream runs through the bottom of the valley, the mill race watching in silence as the water gurgles. We wonder if there will be a water crossing, but thankfully not this time. It’s getting deep after recent rains. Instead we start the gentle climb back to the village, where our car awaits.
I remember this day as a light-hearted one. Part of a glorious weekend. Time with friends is precious. For now, they are my family. Porto Carvalhoso is a tiny village, just off the N270 which runs north from Tavira.
I had to share a walk today, because a backlog of shares is building up. Please find some time to visit the following walks. You might well find a friend. And maybe join me next time, here on Jo’s Monday walk? You’ll be very welcome.
Often enough we go wandering in the hills. Sometimes we follow a trail. Sometimes one of us has trod that way before. One of us is looking for a home with a beautiful view. It might be modern, or a more traditional Portuguese style. But we all stop, look and offer an opinion. It matters not, of course, for the house is seldom on the market and, if it were, would be way beyond our budget. But it’s a harmless pursuit.
We start in the village. A rather ramshackle window is firmly shuttered, inviting no buyers. An uphill cobbled track leads to a country lane, and the most exquisitely gnarled olive tree trunk. I stop to admire.
A feature of this part of the world, great boulders are stacked one upon another. They interlock, braced against the sky. Has some idle giant been playing at jigsaws, then strode off into the clouds? The textures absorb the sunlight.
The land opens out, with a scattering of almond trees. How beautiful will they look in spring, laden with armfuls of white blossom? A narrow lane leads to a quirky little bungalow. Perhaps I could live here, but it’s much too far from shore.
The views are far reaching and lovely, and I can picture the smoke-coloured evening hills. Still, the valley can never surpass the sea for me.
Playing around sometimes ends in tears. The Chameleon Trail, through pine forest from Vila Real de Santo Antonio to Monte Gordo, is currently out of bounds to Tavira. Not exactly locked down, we can’t go beyond the bounds of our municipality at present. But that still gives us a bit of scope. And you can play with the slider- hot chameleon, cool chameleon?
Pop over and share a Monday Mural with Sami. Have a good week!
I’m going to be a little bit naughty today. You see, Su’s invited me to a tea party and, as usual, I’m totally unprepared. So what I thought I’d do is share with you my birthday treat last Thursday. Raspberry cheesecake with a chocolate base, anybody?
Let me set the scene. Heavy rain is threatened and a warning in place for electrical storms. I know I’m lucky to be able to go out to celebrate the day, but I did have such plans. A nice little spot overlooking a dam. Serene and beautiful. Sunset on the water, and a sunrise full of misty promise. But when the rain drifts in, visibility nil. Go to plan B. A restaurant I’ve been curious about for some time. Cha Cha Cha, in Olháo.
Initially we think, hop a train. A leisurely afternoon with fine wine. But the storm threatens and we jump in the car. Into a head wind on the waterfront. Will we make it before the storm hits?
Barely just! We have the place almost to ourselves. Heavy wooden doors bolt us in. A tiny outlook to a bougainvillea clad wall. Swiftly and firmly closed and the plum velvet curtains swished shut. The sound of drumming rain and the growls of thunder prowling the rooftops. We don’t mind. Secure and warm. And there’s cake! An atypical Algarve birthday, in an atypical year.
Now come on over to Su’s place for sumptuous food and a bit of a gossip.