Travel

What gives you satisfaction?

Ah, but that’s an easy question!  For me, it’s wandering the streets of Tavira in the Eastern Algarve, and discovering another of its many treasures. Poking around in the side streets, where I might find an entrancing azulejo panel.  Turning a corner to find a church unexpectedly open, laying bare its lovely contents.  Observing beautiful shadows against a crisp white wall, and night time dramatics in a dimly lit square.

Or it’s finding exciting new ventures, like Bau de Barro.  Local artist Vanessa Goncalves has retained the original structure of this former grocery store, and crammed it full of original artwork and sculptures made in Portugal.  It’s easy to find, right by the old mercado on the riverside.

While just across Ponte Romana, Violeta designs and makes original clothes in a tiny shop on Rua 5 de Outubro.  Cor de Violeta (the colour violet) also has hand painted wooden jewellery by locally born artist Beluska and a lovely range of shoes.

I’ve never seen a more satisfied expression than when my husband has cleared his plate of pavlova in Bica’s restaurant.  Satisfaction takes on a whole new meaning! (and just occasionally he’ll let me share)  Me, I’m happy with a few paper flowers.

Over to you!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Whitburn through the Looking Glass

Are you wondering at my title this week?  The village of Whitburn in north east England has a Lewis Carroll connection.  It’s generally accepted that he wrote “The Walrus and the Carpenter” while staying at his cousin’s home in Whitburn.

Charles Dodgson, whose pen name was Carroll, of “Alice in Wonderland” fame, regularly visited his cousin Margaret Wilcox, the wife of a Customs officer in Sunderland.  For entertainment on an evening they would make up verses.  ‘Twas brillig and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe’ started life here, and was published as ‘Jabberwocky’ in 1872.   I had no such rhymes in my head on the seafront at Seaburn.  The sun was shining warmly and I planned to head up the coast.

Looking good, don’t you think, and I’m not surprised that Carroll enjoyed strolling on this stretch of cliff top that leads north to Souter Lighthouse. I’m easily distracted sometimes and a wooden sculpture by the edge of the road beckoned me to take a closer look.

Welcome to Whitburn, the sign said.  Well, why not?  A path led invitingly past a swathe of vibrant wildflowers and I found myself in Cornthwaite Park.  There I found the legend writ large, ‘Whitburn through the Looking Glass’.

I love the reputation of this peaceful, rural location as a haven for shipwreckers. Following the attack of the Spanish Armada in 1588, the defeated Spanish fleet fled up the north east coast of England.  Two galleons ran aground in rough seas on Whitburn Rocks and the locals were not slow to utilise wreckage.  Two oak beams in the village smithy were said to have come from the wreck, and a bell used to call the Spanish crews to prayer was mounted in the parish church.

Leaving the park, imposing gates and a double letter box drew my eye to the most stylish and sumptuous of buildings.

Whitburn Hall originally belonged to the Carr family, but was bought in 1719 by the Williamsons, who remained in residence for 200 years.  During that time, Sir Hedworth Williamson trained racehorses on Whitburn Sands, producing a couple of famous Derby winners.  Horses are still a common sight, exercising on the beach.

Lewis Carroll would have been a regular visitor to the Hall.  Lady Hedworth Williamson was second cousin to Alice Liddell, to whom the ‘Alice’ books are dedicated.  Remember my Llandudno post?

Church Lane leads to Whitburn Church, and beyond that an expansive village green.  Set back from the road, a row of cottages with an idyllic location.  An elderly gentleman passed the time of day and acknowledged his good fortune at living there.

The cottages look up to strikingly decorative Whitburn House.  Thomas Barnes, the owner of a brickworks, tried to fence off the common ground in front of it, but in 1873 the courts decided that ‘the Bank’ and the village green should remain free for the use of all villagers.

Did you notice the Tradesman’s entrance?  ‘Know your place!’, as it was in those days.  A window cleaner was tackling the vast frontage and I didn’t envy him.  From Whitburn House I turned right off Front Street into Sandy Chare.  I vaguely remembered a village pond from a previous visit.

Serene as it looks, it has a bit of a tumultuous history.  Formerly known as the Horse Pool, the pond was used to wash coaches and the white building behind once housed stables.  In 1824 the first village school was built, beside the pond.  When a larger school was built in Sandy Chare, in 1852, the building became the Infant School.  In seriously wet weather the pool was prone to overflowing, and one villager recalls having to sit on his desk amidst rising water.  The headmaster gives a graphic account of the situation after the great storm of 1900. (you can read it if you magnify the panel above)

The sea was calling me back, and a return to the rough headland of the Bents.  My husband had food in mind, though we paused to admire the antics of a family of cormorants out on the rocks. ‘Latimers’ of Whitburn does a mean plate of food, with a sea view to boot.

On Front St. I had noticed a sign for Bede’s Heritage Trail and, looking it up when I got home, discovered that Whitburn is part of a 12 mile walk dedicated to the saint.  On June 29th each year there is an annual pilgrimage.  More food for thought, and certainly an outing for another day.  Here is the map.  I had unwittingly completed parts of section 4 and 5.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Many thanks to all of you for wandering with me, and for this wonderful selection of walks.  I hope you’ll find time to put the kettle on and sit back for a good read.  Join me if you can.  The details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Not quite a Beatles classic, Drake gives us Scandinavia with a smile this week :

Southern Norwegian mood

While Debbie does an easy snippet of the Fife Coastal path :

Inverkeithing to North Queensferry

And Lady Lee, a fierce-looking castle in Malta :

Traces of the Past- Citadel/Cittadella

Jackie is on hand with coffee and cake :

Smell the coffee

Which Tish could do with, after a hard day’s gardening.  A privilege for me to have her here :

Butterflies in the Buddleia, Bees in the Teasels and all’s well at the allotment

Join Vanessa and family in a gentle introduction to walking in Japan.  If you have the stamina you can climb Mount Fuji too :

Fujiyoshida/ Hiking the Tokai Nature Trail through rural Japan

Meantime, Meg goes bouldering, with due care and diligence :

Granite country

Got your parasols ready for twirling?  Rosemay has a lovely summery walk for us :

Promenade by the lake

And by contrast, Lynn flirts with an avalanche.  I kid you not!

A little snow on the mountain

Woolly explores the sad loss of Newfoundlanders on the Western Front :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk29_Beaumont-Hamel-Pt-1

Last September it was surely warmer and sunnier than now.  Or was it just having Jude’s lovely company?

Garden Portrait : Edinburgh Botanic Garden

Meanwhile Denzil’s pulled out all the stops to impress with his canal boats :

GR121 Stage 3 : Nivelles to Braines-le-Comte

Something for everybody, I’m sure you’ll agree.  It’s a miserable wet Monday here in the north east.  Maybe I’ll stop at home and do a little research. Have a great week everybody!

 

 

Six word Saturday

Could you entertain yourselves today, please?

I shall be busy helping my son to move home, so I thought I could leave you with a bit of fun from the Brass Band Festival in Durham last weekend. The atmosphere was great and we had a smashing time, despite drizzly, miserable weather.  It’s not the same as being there but I have videos of my favourite two bands, Back Chat Brass and Xaral’s Dixie (all the way from Portugal- small world!)

Sharing six words with Debbie will keep you out of mischief.  Go on- you know you want to!  Happy weekend!

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!

Jo’s Monday walk : Mallyan Spout revisited

The village of Goathland, in North Yorkshire, has any number of attractions, just one of which is the waterfall, Mallyan Spout.  At the bottom of a ravine, with a 70 foot drop, in full spate it is a beautiful sight.

The start point of my walk is beside the hotel of the same name, highly rated on Trip Advisor, for those of you who pay attention to such things.  I pass through the gate adjoining the coffee shop with scarcely a glance, eager to set eyes on the waterfall.  Almost immediately the path starts to drop downwards, and down some more, and then down again.  I’m not even thinking about the inevitable climb back up when my eyes alight on a perfect cluster of palest pink, wild orchids.

I listen hard for the telltale chuckle of water as I descend still further.  Finally I can hear it and, a few moments later, there it is.

Now I can’t pretend to anybody that this is an easy walk but, in not too damp conditions, it is perfectly possible to negotiate the stepped path down to the waterfall.  Turning left at the bottom, you need only follow the beck for a matter of yards to be within sight and sound.  It’s up to you how close you want to go.  To get a good look, a bit of scrambling over rocks will be needed, but there were families with quite young children making the trip.  Watch out for the ‘coin’ trees, shown above, set deep into the rocks.

How can you not love being in this leafy dell?  When you have gazed your fill, you have a choice to make.  You can retrace your steps to the bottom of the path that led downwards, and then continue to the right, alongside the beck.  This will take you on a 3 mile circular walk, via Beck Hole, as detailed in the link at the start.  Or you can be a bit more adventurous.

The walk I was following crosses the waterfall and continues along a ‘sometimes difficult’ footpath, and over two footbridges, according to my guidebook.  Sound challenging?  It only had a medium level of difficulty.  I thought that passing the waterfall might prove tricky, but the rocks weren’t too slippy and with the help of a steadying hand I managed it.  Balance is not my strong point.

There was a sense that the valley bottom had shifted, leaving behind the pedestal on which the first footbridge rested.  The second had a gentle curve, the pedestal still loosely attached.  Tree roots and boulders didn’t make for an easy walk, but it was the dampness underfoot that was my undoing.  Just beyond the footbridges a sign pointed upwards to Goathland, half a mile away, up a stepped incline.  It didn’t seem too bad an idea to me, but my companion was scathing.  Half a mile?  That’s not a walk!

A further sign, pointing out that erosion had affected the footpath ahead, did nothing to reassure.  A deep breath and on we went, slithering a bit in muddy patches and clambering around rocks and endless tree roots.  I was grateful for any handhold I could get and clung fiercely to ferns, roots, boulders, anything that would give me purchase.  Inevitably it happened. Stepping forward onto ‘firm’ ground, suddenly my foot had slid from beneath me and I dangled over the edge, in a less than comfortable version of the sideways splits.

I hauled myself up, with a little help, and stood there shaking for a minute or two.  The way back was just as fraught as the way ahead might be.  We looked at each other, recognising the folly of our situation.  As I limped forward, I was astounded to hear the sound of voices behind us.  Another foolhardy couple had disregarded the warning.  How reassuring, their presence. We exchanged a few words together, and then we carried on, leaving them resting beside the water.

The way ahead was no easier, sometimes promising to climb back out of the valley, only to drop you back down to the water’s edge.  I decided that the other couple must have turned back as there was no further sight nor sound of them.  My legs were growing weary when finally we stepped out of the undergrowth, and onto a narrow road.  An old stone bridge spanned the stream and we slumped against it.  A few minutes later, who should emerge from the woods but our couple, grinning triumphantly.

I have few photos of that latter part of the walk.  I was too busy hanging on, and hoping.  We stood chatting companionably to our fellow walkers for quite some time, relief in our laughter. They were from Dorset, on a first visit to Yorkshire, and traveling in a campervan.  We discussed good places to visit, and consulted each of our maps before agreeing to take slightly different routes back to Goathland.  Theirs appeared longer and we joked that whoever was back first should buy the beers.

Our route climbed gently through a forest of ferns, until at last we crested the hill.  Just the faintest hint of sunshine lit the rolling expanse ahead. Still we had to toil upwards, and upwards some more, but it no longer mattered.  We were free of the canyon.

Up above the woods it looked a long way down to the valley floor.  At the top of the stepped incline we had chosen not to climb, there was a map.  If you look closely you will see that there are two paths marked.  The one we followed, beside the beck, and an alternative ‘permissive’ path, a little higher up.  With hindsight….

Almost back to the village, something a little unusual caught our eye, through a gap in the stone wall.  Can you see what they are?

Alpaca!  I was prepared for moorland sheep, but this was a bit of a surprise.  The sheep were busy munching, and kept themselves to themselves.

Arriving at the long village green, we spotted, far ahead of us, our couple who had taken the ‘longer’ route.  No hurry to catch them up.  St. Mary’s Church was open, inviting a quick look inside.  Simple, but beautiful.  The stained glass, beacons of light.

I was wrong, of course.  There was a hurry!  We arrived at the pub at 2.40pm, only to find that they stopped serving food at 2.30pm.  The menu, tantalising, but out of bounds.  If you’re thinking that this walk was a disaster, start to finish, well, I might be tempted to agree with you. But that wouldn’t be true.  It was taxing, no doubt, but it gave me a perspective that I wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed.

You know, from the title of this post, that I’ve been here a time or two before.  For a look at Goathland itself, and details of the Rail Trail, take a look back at Steam’s up in North Yorkshire. I think I’ve earned a week off now, don’t you?

I’m away to the Algarve on Thursday, so that gives me plenty of time to catch up with everybody before I go.  I won’t be posting a walk next Monday, because I don’t have Wifi in Tavira.  I suspect it will be too warm to think about walking far.  I’ll be back the following week, though, and more than happy to have your company.  Details, as always, on my Jo’s Monday walk page. Many thanks to all of you who follow along so loyally, and to my lovely contributors, who make this all possible.  And now, enough of me- let’s put the kettle on!

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We start with sunny September memories from Jude.  A swathe of beauty, fit for a queen :

Garden Portrait : Glamis Castle Walled Garden

And a walk to improve your photographic skills, with lovely Debbie :

A walk around quirky Bordeaux

Swirling mists in the Pyrenees, accompany Drake :

Like an upstair jungle

What mischief is Jackie up to, back in Toronto?

Hot Plate

Lady Lee makes Malta look irresistible again!

Our Malta experience 2

More beautiful memories from Becky!  She knows all too well that I love this place :

An evening stroll in Mertola

Agness hails originally from Poland, but she likes to keep on the move!

Mapping Melbourne- a Walking Tour around the City Sights

Cheryl conquers her fear of heights for some magnificent views.  Braver than me!

Hiking Inwangsan in Summer

And Woolly?  He’s lingering with the war graves :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk26

I couldn’t choose a better traveling companion than Gilly.  Let her show you her home turf :

Views of Dartmouth

And for a jaunty Irish stroll, wouldn’t you just like to be beside Ann Christine?

Early Morning Kilkenny 

Let’s finish with another garden.  A classic beauty from Cady Luck Leedy :

Jo’s Monday walk : A Visit to Sissinghurst

That’s it for a little while.  Enjoy Summer, if you’re here in the UK.  I’ll be eating strawberries and trying to keep up with Wimbledon.  Take good care, all of you!  I’ll try to bring back some cake.