Travel

Jo’s Monday walk : Monte Clerigo

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.

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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.

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Come and have a look around Melbourne, with Teresa :

Going Around the City

Munsiyari- what does that mean to you? For me it’s a very beautiful place :

A Morning’s walk

And there’s no doubt that Rupali knows beauty when she sees it :

A walk in the garden: chasing colours – blue and green

Woodland, canal, a chirpy robin… Drake has it all, but those cows are watching you!

If not, so be happy

If it’s adventure you’re wanting, Sarah’s your girl!

A walk on Sausage Island: It’s all about the Elephants

As Mel points out, many Australian place names are unappealing, but never let that stop you walking with her :

Dawdling, Daydreaming and Dillydallying at The Drip, Mudgee

A simple walk, in lovely company! Join Manja and Bestia :

New trail

Marsha has been a source of inspiration, and not a little fun, since the day I met her!

#WQWWC #26: Hope we can make it up Thumb Butte Trail

And Rosemay has been a constant friend. Join her in this adventure :

Exploring Denali National Park – Part 1 (Looking out for Bears, Wolves and Lynxes)

Last, but not least, Carol brings you sensational views :

San Francisco 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’.

Six word Saturday

A New Life in the Algarve

So what was I doing in Aljezur last weekend, apart from not losing a flip-flop? I was collecting my copy of a book. A book in which I have a very humble part to play. When I was asked by Alyson if I would like to write a chapter for the anthology she was considering, I had no idea who my companion authors might be. I only knew that they were people who had chosen to live here, in the Algarve. I composed my chapter, revised it a time or three, and off it went. Months later, here I am, avidly turning the pages.

The stories are many and various, and I find myself in awe of the achievements of some. Debby Burton is the formidable organiser of the charity Alerta. Almost every summer wildfires break out in our tinder dry hills, and are fought by brave teams of poorly funded men and women. Fear and dread almost paralyse me at the thought, but Debby has coordinated the most amazing network of volunteers. They do everything from raising funds for essentials to manning a production line to ensure that the firefighters are fed and hydrated for their mammoth task. Ten percent of the revenue from sales of this book will go to Alerta, which make it a worthwhile read in itself, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Another charity that Alyson, and photographer husband Dave, have supported throughout their years in the Algarve is Madrugada. Life-threatening health issues were the basis for John Hough and his partner to seek help from, and then become involved in the running of, Madrugada. It provides care and support for people affected by life limiting illness and bereavement. But this is no sob story and the popping of champagne corks and extravagant wedding plans are all part of the saga. 22 chapters, including one from Alyson herself, tell tales of artists and sculptors, wine makers, cooks and caterers, a couple who run a yurt, an ayurvedic therapist, publishers of a high profile magazine… the list goes on. Our common bond is our love for this land which has adopted us, and given us all A New Life. I think you’ll find it an entertaining read.

Huge thanks to Aly for her sterling work on our behalf. This link will take you to the photos to accompany the book.

Now that I’ve pushed my six words to the limit, I’d like to add that this Monday will be my last Jo’s Monday walk for a while. Cheers, Debbie! Wishing everyone a great Bank Holiday!

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Just one more person from around the world!

It’s a very common sight on Algarve beaches, as the tide turns, for people to gather on the beach, digging a heel into the wet sand in a sort of shuffle dance. A lot of scuffling often produces enough molluscs to fill a plastic bottle for a lunch time snack, but there are guys for whom this is a serious business. They stand in the water, often waist deep, in whatever the weather gods throw at them. Treading backwards, they drag the net, hour on hour, for an often paltry reward of shellfish. I’m told it pays well, but I can think of easier ways to make a living. That certainly applies to Cady’s Just One Person from Around the World this week. She tells of an awesome level of commitment.

Jo’s Monday walk : Step back in time in Aljezur

I thought I’d told you about Aljezur? It’s a place that’s indelibly printed on my memory because on my last visit, albeit a good few years ago, my left flipflop disintegrated as I trod the narrow winding streets up to the castle. Now you might say this was my own silly fault for wearing inadequate footwear. To be fair we were heading for a beach, but I never can resist a castle on a hilltop. I’d persuaded my husband to drive up the cobbled hairpin bends so we could have a swift look. He wasn’t best pleased, but there’s a limit to how far you can limp over rough ground. Our visit was curtailed in search of a flipflop shop, so my memories of Aljezur are fleeting. Let’s just say it didn’t make a huge impression.

Roll the clock forward a few years and I’m back. Not going to the castle. Been there, done that! But I can’t help noting a few changes. A new pedestrian bridge over the river, so you no longer have to put your faith in haphazard motorists, and an updated square. But still an overwhelming feeling of stepping back in time. Where else are you going to see a mule pulling a plough, on the very edge of town?

It was hard not to stand and stare at this anachronism, but we crossed over the river on the new bridge. An entwined sculpture looked back at my favourite building, an inviting bottle green and white construction, side by side with the mercaria (market). Now, where to eat? The café Mioto had a trendy vibe, but a very inviting terrace, overlooking the river and the fields beyond. And very nice food too.

Deciding to defer cake till later, we set off on a gentle explore. I had hoped to follow the river out to the sea, but in the heart of town it meandered serenely under the bridges. I gazed a while at the ducks as they disappeared beneath a bridge and popped out again on the other side. They can play this game all day long.

Even here, street art has a role to play, the modern football stadium in stark contrast with the azulejo panel, depicting the town as it once was.

Show me the small Portuguese boy who doesn’t like to kick a football. The older ones love to ride their bikes noisily through town, tooting and waving as they go. Modern day pirates, for back in time their Moroccan ancestors may well have descended on the town, leaving their corsairs anchored in a nearby cove. A little looting and rounding up of villagers to be sold in the slave markets in Algiers. Who would think in so peaceful a place? Yet that castle was built to defend the town from just such events.

Aljezur was badly impacted by the earthquake of 1755, and the Church of Nossa Senhora de Alva was built a little way out of town to form the nucleus of a new population centre. I found that Aljezur had grown on me since that last unfortunate visit. It’s a place I might well come back to, not least because of the nearness of the stunning west coast beaches. But more of that next time.

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I keep meaning to take a break from the blog, but walks keep coming in, and I do have at least one more lovely one to share with you. So, for now, please enjoy these, and I’ll keep you posted.

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Idyllic Dales scenery and sheep! That’s Margaret’s offering :

Another day in the Dales… revisited

Or there’s a fascinating walk with Sarah :

A village built on shells

Who wouldn’t want to walk with Suzanne? She’ll tell you a story or two :

Weekend Walk – The Strand Reserve – Tauranga

Got to love Drake’s sense of humour :

Dusty field

The dry side of the coastline

While Marsha takes us to some beautiful Dutch gardens that aren’t even in Holland :

#LAPC#147: Bellagio Gardens in Las Vegas

Purple Butterflies in the Bellagio Gardens

And Susan joins us with a little poetry, and a variety of cats and dogs :

Hiking Haibun and Haiku

A Stroll in the park with Luce

A scenic walk with Ollie, the Cavalier, Children’s Garden, geese and baby ducklings

Here’s a challenge for you! Zara takes us on a few ups and downs :

South West Coast Path: Minehead to Porlock Weir Coastal Walk

Lady Lee likes to keep busy :

Gardening and cycling

All you could want to know about oaks and pines in Binsar National Park :

A walk in an oak forest

If there’s anything I love it’s a rose garden. You can always find beauty with Rupali :

Rose gardens

Spring is in the air

Anabel finds plenty of interest close to home :

A church walk

And Carol has some wonderful street art to share :

Telling Stories in Pictures

An old friend walks the streets of London (I know, Geoff- not so much of the old! 🙂 )

St. Pancras to Westminster

Not the Troggs, but natural beauty from Irene :

Wild Thing

And Teresa shows us how beautiful black and white can be :

A Walk in Emerald Lake Park

Tiptoeing through the bluebells with Jude seems a good way to end :

A Bluebell Walk

Hope the sun’s shining where you are. That west coast breeze was freezing! Have a great week everyone!

Bright memories – 13

I think I might have saved the best for last. The memories go on and on, but for now I’m ending this series, on beautiful Capri. On another scorching day, in what was apparently the hottest May for 20 years, we caught the morning ferry from Sorrento. Not the high speed hovercraft, but the journey was short. Shimmering in a heat haze, from the second we disembarked on Capri the only way was up. Avoiding the queues for the funicular, we crammed onto a bus and strap hung as we zigzagged up and up to Anacapri. I don’t think I’ve ever been higher without flying! Can there be a lovelier place to stop and eat? Ravioli Caprese, with Tiberio white wine, at La Terrazze.

It all went a bit wrong from there. You can blame the wine if you like, but we started to descend by a series of steps and didn’t stop till we reached the harbour at the bottom, completely bypassing Capri town. I was soundly berated by the husband. Not that he wanted to see Capri town, but he definitely didn’t want those endless steps in the heat. It did no good for me to point out the glorious landscape. Appeasement had to come in the form of chocolate and almond cake and reviving Spumante. I left them to it while I raced back to the cliff lift. I couldn’t possibly miss out on the Piazetta and those iconic Faraglioni Islands. I’m sure I wore an exhausted but beatific smile on the ferry journey home.

I wish I had more photos from those golden days. Islands always call to me and we just had time to squeeze in Ischia on our second last day. I’d glimpsed pictures of hot springs and thermal baths in an idyllic setting, but had no idea where to find them. In a spirit of optimism we boarded the round the island bus, sure to come upon them! We got off at the terminus and looked bemused, until the kindly driver of an endearing little taxi-bus, with open sides and stripey seats, took pity on us. He took us to the booking office for the Aphrodite Thermal Park in Sant’ Angelo, and from there we were whisked by water-taxi across the harbour to paradise. Time flew in those fabulous gardens, and soon it was time to find the bus back to the port, and one last coffee in the harbour beneath that Aragonese castle.

Enough reminiscing. He’s 31 now, and about to buy his first home. I wish him a bright and happy future. Thank you all for traveling with us.

Reluctant purple

What does purple look like to you? I’ve been somewhat demented in the last couple of weeks, even though Jude supplied me with a palette to help matters. I thought purple was purple, not that plummy, damson colour, and it seems I have a distinct fondness for violet, at the bluer end of the spectrum. Oh, what the heck? It’s only a challenge, isn’t it? And the point is to take photos you like and that are interesting. Don’t you think?

(You do need to open the gallery to see the photos in full. Block editor loves to chop them off!)

When is purple, pink? Or violet? Don’t ask me! I’m just an innocent bystander. Happy Monday everyone!

Life in Colour

CMMC – May Color – Purple

Six word Saturday

The ephemeral nature of my garden

It’s not a garden, but a simple patio to play and entertain in, and it gives me lots of joy. Many thanks to Amy for prompting me to share it, and to long suffering Debbie for letting Six Words flourish. And a happy weekend to you all!

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Bright memories – 12

All the way down

748 steps to be precise! Early in our Italian adventure I’d dragged James away from the pool (he’d have ended up bright pink and wrinkly if I’d left him to it 🙂 ) and onto a blue SITA bus. Groans! But not so far this time. Destination Positano, the picture postcard perfection that had swum in my imagination ever since I’d booked the trip. And did it disappoint? What do you think? Just look at that view! But I do remember a bit of confusion about where to get off the bus, and it being seriously hot. Which was all very well going down those steps, nicely distracted by shady shops and pressing your nose up against a window or peering through an open door.

Down on the beach it was even hotter and not a place to linger, though the colourful boats and beach huts made a pretty sight. To be honest, the beach itself fell well short of our usual standards, but who comes to Positano to lie on a beach? Maybe to sit in a harbourside bar and observe the stylish comings and goings. But then, no way but up- 748 steps! And a hunt for a bus stop. Upwards again to the village of Montepertuso, where legend has it that the hole in the mountain was created by the Virgin’s finger. The scenery sublime.

But never fear, the hotel pool was there and waiting, and never looked so inviting as at the end of that day.

And all the way back up again!

Jo’s Monday walk : Moinho do Bengado

Just occasionally a walk throws up a delightful surprise. We’d done the walk around Mesquita a time or two before. Often enough to know of the well, hidden among the long grasses, and of the windmills at the summit of the hill. It was a beautiful day and we took our time, chatting and catching up with each other’s lives as we went along.

The Moinho do Bengado stands proudly on the top of the hill, catching the breeze, as windmills do. No sooner had we reached it than a jeep pulled into the open space behind us. We hadn’t expected company, but were happy to share the beautiful old windmill. We were even happier when we realised that the newcomer had a key, and had come to show us the workings of the mill. Raymond Hilbers was a miller by trade in his native Holland. With an enduring interest in all things mechanical, he built a home in the Algarve 20 years ago, close by the windmill. In the interim years he became involved in the restoration of the mill and, with justifiable pride, he explained its workings to us.

Built in stone, in 1850, the windmill is of the Mediterranean type. It’s a halter mill, the oldest form of traction system, using rope and millstones to rotate the roof. I really hadn’t given much thought to how these things work, but was genuinely interested in the explanations. I won’t spoil it for you by giving away too many of the details. You might just find yourself there one day? The mill now opens to visitors twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Access is from the EN270, 4 km south of São Brás de Alportel, and arrangements can be made via the tourist office on camara@cm-sbras.pt. There’s a downloadable map, here.

Mr. Hilbers is a very charming man, and was happy to spend time with us. A former sailor amongst us remarked on the new addition of sails to the mill, since our last visit (pictured above). The millstone is currently lodged in one position and must be freed to enable the sails to one day turn. What a wonderful sight that will be! Just one thing I should add. Space inside the mill is obviously confined, and there are narrow circular steps to the upper level. Not suited to everyone, but please don’t let that put you off a visit to this beautiful old mill.

We continued on our way, back down the hill, and up several more, in the way of walkers. The area around São Brás is cork oak territory and there were many lovely specimens on view. Beautiful villas grace these hills too, which would account for the large school, with its reminder of the times we live in. And I’m always smitten by poppies.

 

I really can’t leave a miller without at least one image of cake, now can I? This chocolate cheesecake was very delicious. Maybe one day there’ll be a little shop/cum café to sell the produce from the mill.

 

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I realise my walk posts are a little erratic at present, but I really couldn’t wait to share this one. I hope you enjoyed it. Please find time to visit my fellow walkers this week. Happy to share on Jo’s Monday walk.

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There are people you could just hug, aren’t there? Well, if it was allowed I would, Jude :

Another Monday Spring Walk

Meg has found signs of Spring too :

A Walk in May

Anyone know Sleningford? Margaret does!

A window on our local country houses

What else would you expect from Janet?

Monday walk… elegance

Might as well finish that walk with Mel. Wish the titles were shorter, though 🙂

Exploring the Sydney Coastline – Bondi to Manly Path – Stage 7, Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf

Sarah has some snappy friends waiting for us on this week’s walk. Fabulous wildlife!

A walk on Palm Island : Hippos, hogs and crocs

Happy to have Terri join me from her new neighbourhood :

Sunday Stills: #Water in the Details

But there are some places you don’t mind being taken back to. Thanks, Drake!

All over again

There’s always something beautiful to see when Jesh is around :

Enjoying the view

And Lady Lee just likes to have fun :

The Cosmic Photo Challenge – My green world

Just because we can, let’s go bluebell hopping, with Emma :

Littlehaven Bluebell ‘loop’: 9.95m/16km

And finally, lovely Teresa shares her Mother’s Day with us :

An Afternoon Walk on Mother’s Day

Thanks for your company, everyone. Have a great week! And I’m adding my miller to Just One Person from around the World.