Travel

Jo’s Monday walk : Rock cistus and water

If there’s anything that fills me with delight, it’s the sight of a hillside covered with wild, rock cistus.  Back in January, I took you to Furnazinhas in the Algarve hills, and we walked south of there to the reservoir of Odeleite.  The cistus were just beginning to open, and I hoped that when I returned to do a second walk from the village they would be more advanced.  As we drove north from Castro Marim, cistus lined the road.

We left the village following the sign PR10 for Barrancos, though as Becky will tell you, nothing is guaranteed when following Portuguese trails.  We were forewarned that this might not be straightforward but, with a bit of perseverance, managed to find a way through the overgrown path to confront our first water crossing.  A wobble or two and I was across the stones, and feeling triumphant.

To be fair, we were lucky, because there has been just one solid, downpouring day in the last couple of months, so following the course of the Beco da Maria Galega was not as tricky as it might have been.  In fact, we were surprised at how green and fresh everything looked, with new growth everywhere.  We even spotted green lavender!  The rockbed was equally fascinating, as Becky describes.

I loved the variety of this walk.  As I followed the stream, a cottage with a small farmstead peeped through the trees.  Down at my feet, flowers cavorted nimbly in the grass and tiny pink stars winked up at me.  A frog played lazy hide and seek with the shade.

Rounding a bend, I heard the gentle chuckle of water.  A waterfall had formed in a deep cleft in the rocks, and I peered into its clear green depths.  On the stiller waters nearby, tiny white starlets floated.

We had Crocs and a towel with us but, as always happens when you come prepared, we had no need of them.  Although we did cross and recross the water any number of times, mostly a hop, skip or even just a stride was more than adequate.  Spring was all around us.

As we continued through the valley, two deeply-voiced birds startled us into silence as they called loudly to each other.  I’m no birder and didn’t recognise their cry at all, but my husband thought they might be corncrakes.  I happened to mention this on Hanna‘s blog, and she very kindly tried to help me identify the bird voices, as you’ll see in her Comments.

The trail was easy to follow, but a moment’s indecision arose around 7km.  Follow the road, or an interesting path that felt like you were on private property?  Hoping not to fall foul of any stray dogs, we chose the second.  Tiptoeing around what looked like newly tilled soil, I caught a flicker of pink and white in the long, damp grass.  Could they be early wild orchids?  The photos are, unfortunately, too blurred to tell.

A last flurry of cistus, thankfully no dogs, and we were back in the village where, once again, the cafe was closed.  But you’ve been a patient audience so I shall still reward you with cake.  It’s only right to celebrate your 1000th post, isn’t it?

Water is my element so I loved this walk.  I hope you did too.

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Lots to share again this week.  Thank you for your company.  It wouldn’t be half so much fun without you.  Please visit as many as you can, and join me here next time on Jo’s Monday walk?

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Lovely Debbie has spotted me a room with a great view this week, as she gallops around the world :

Ambling around Arachova

And Margaret has a nerve-tingling treat in store :

The foothills of the Sierra Nevada

You have to admire grit and determination, and the gurgle of water!  And Suzanne :

Hiking Mt Eliza Mine Loop

Janet finds some graves with a serene view :

Monday walk… a view to die for

And Alice goes looking for a piece of American Heritage :

Step into the Center of a Village dating back to 1135AD

While Susanne concentrates on a capital city :

A Capitol Tour of the Other Washington

I always enjoy a garden festival, don’t you?  Check this one out, with Sandra:

#Northwest Flower & Garden Festival (Post #2)

Heaven’s, Irene!  Will this lass ever be free of snow?

Reaching for the Goal

Drake must have chilly feet (but a warm heart  🙂  )

Streets of snow

And for any of you still missing ice and snow, Sartenada would love to take you walking in Finland :

Winter walk

How about a spot of sunny fishing with Jackie?

Pesca

Tea Bee mostly hikes in the English Lake District, but sometimes in warm, exotic places :

Visite du Jardin de Balata et la Route de la Trace, Martinique

Talking of exotic, how about this from Natalie?

Postcard from Guatemala City

Or better yet, stroll down Memory Lane with Susan :

Walking Otavalo, Ecuador

Cathy’s got us all looking up this week!

The Saint Louis Gateway Arch

It’s Carnaval week here in the Algarve and celebration is in the air.  I hope to bring a little singing and dancing your way.  Take care till then!

Six word Saturday

Join me for soothing t’ai chi?

This is the setting for my Saturday morning t’ai chi, but before we start I’d like to say an enormous thank you to all of you who commented on my previous post.  It’s not the first time that I’ve experienced the warmth of this community, but it was a powerful reminder of how lovely you all are, and I’m very grateful.  And feeling fine!  🙂

Meanwhile, Becky is feeling Spiky this month.  Don’t forget to join in, and remember, it’s a Square challenge. (but you can stretch it a bit…  🙂  )  I thought I’d join in with some very gentle spikes.  The butterfly had very ragged, spiky wings but they’re fluttering so happily that I’m afraid you can’t tell.  The flowers are definitely spiky though.  And beautiful, too.

Apologies to Debbie for exceeding my Six again.  She’s at fabulous Venice Carnival.  Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

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Living the dream… 3 months on

It was quite easy to leave England.  Or so I thought!  I had a home in the Algarve, and a ready made life, carefully nurtured over 15 years.  A variety of friends awaited, and activities to engage in.  I loved the place I was moving to.  You’ve seen the photos.  How could I not?  And yet… was the honeymoon over?

There was a certain euphoria in making the dream a reality.  Even saying goodbye to lifelong friends was done with gaiety, each one a celebration of our shared lives.  They could visit, couldn’t they?  And the same for my family, though not without a pang or two.  Everyone was excited and pleased for me.  The move went smoothly.  Fragments of my old life, packed in cardboard boxes, made its way overland to join me.  But when it arrived I was filled with dismay.  Much of it seemed irrelevant to my new life, here in the Algarve, squeezing our comfortable space till it felt cramped.  I closed the door on the second bedroom.  Avoiding it all.

I didn’t miss my old home in the UK, as I thought I might, but I did miss its warmth.  I had moved to a land of sunshine and blue skies, but the house was cold.  Designed to keep out heat in the summer, in the winter they are not so easy to keep warm.  Tiled floors, though beautiful, don’t help.  Out and about and busy in the daytime, I was happy enough, but returning home meant putting on extra layers of clothing.  The house is air-conditioned and individual rooms can be heated, but moving between them was uncomfortable, even with plug-in heaters.  I was miserable, and cross with myself besides.  Why was I not happy?  Everyone knew I was living the dream.

Language is so important to me.  I hide behind photographs, but I deal in words.  Somehow it hadn’t mattered when we came to our holiday home but, proudly obtaining residency, I felt inadequate and frustrated by my inability to converse freely with locals.  I still do, but I’m trying!

So much gloom!  Did you know?  Could you tell?  My life in pictures continued to shine forth at intervals.  I reinstated my Monday walks, reflecting the joy I still found in the amazing outdoors, but on a personal level I couldn’t quite find the idyll.  People here are kind, and my disorientation was noted.  We discussed heating issues, and others, and I was assured that the first year could be difficult.  The weight of expectation, perhaps?

Gradually I am getting there.  Most of the boxes are unpacked, and painting done.  With new settees and carpet our home feels comfortable and welcoming.  But I’m not flexible and adaptable.  Why didn’t I know that about me?  My husband has made the adjustment far better, and retained his much needed sense of humour.  And he can still make me smile.  How lucky am I?  Living in ‘almost paradise’.

Linking to Cathy’s Prose invitation, over on Wander.essence.

Jo’s Monday walk : Boa Vista

Clouds seldom make an appearance on here.  I’m a sunny sort of lass!  But they can be very beautiful.  Slogging up a hill called Boa Vista, I didn’t mind too much that the sun wasn’t beating down on my head.  The shafts of light piercing the water held my gaze captive for at least as long as it took for my breathing to return to normal.

Leaving Tavira by the N270, towards Sao Bras de Alportel, you very soon come upon a sign for Hortas, on the right.  This walk is vaguely in that direction, taking in a tiny bit of PR11.  I did look back at my diary for that day, but the notes are very non specific, so the photos will have to tell the story.  With a bit of prompting from me, of course.

As these things often do, we started with a bit of a hill climb, out of the village.  Always best to put a hill behind you at the start of a walk, if you can.  As you can see, the clouds are hovering already, but not yet threatening.

Funny what catches your eye!  This rose trailed, almost sadly, against a grey wall, seeking to capture all the brightness it could from the day.  The best days of the almond blossom are over, but here and there a lovely reminder lingers.

Up hill and down dale, never knowing what surprises the next corner might bring.  Floor tile industry, in this case.  In the open air, with just a tarpaulin for cover.  It looks to be a slow and painstaking process.  Hard at work, he pauses, momentarily, with a grudging smile.  At the farmhouse next door, an enormous turkey cock preens, in expectation of applause.

The hamlets are sparse around here, a few fine villas intermingled with ruins.  Former life looks out through sagging windows and doors, and neglected blooms straggle, without purpose but clinging hopefully.

Another climb and we’re cresting a hill, the sea a distant glimmer.  Bright bobbles of acid yellow acacia light the occasional tree, while at ground level agave and prickly pear intermingle, peacefully. (thanks, Jude, for the correction  🙂  )

The clouds have been steadily thickening and I know that we’ve seen the best of the day.  Down on the valley floor, I catch sight of my favourite lanterna, still sparkling brightly.

There was a cloud over all of us that day.  We had heard that a very special walking friend had died suddenly, and far too young.  I would like to dedicate this post to Bobby, who loved this place as much as I do.  We will always remember her, walking in these hills.

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Quite an array of walks this week, and some real beauties!  Please do try to visit as many as you can, and especially any from a blog you don’t know.  And join me next time, here on Jo’s Monday walk if you’d like?

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Going Dutch with Debbie this week :

A wander around Utrecht

Nicole is a keen hiker who knows and loves the Tucson area.  Why not take her advice?

Best Hikes in Tucson: Hiking the Ventana Canyon Trailhead to Maiden Pools

And while you’re there, how about a little street art?

Monday Murals : Hotel McCoy, Tucson, Arizona

Everyone knows how beautiful the Banff area is, but Rosemay reminds us to keep a good lookout for bears :

Hiking Trails near Banff – Lake Johnson

South Carolina looks like a place I could settle.  I believe Alice is in real estate :

Cross the Cooper River in Charleston

The drinks are on Jackie this week :

Drinks, Anyone?

But I think Janet can help out if we run a little short?

Monday walk… Fougerolles distillery

Natalie has some fabulous ice sculptures to share :

Wellness Post #2 : Icefest 2019

And it’s distinctly chilly where Drake is too :

Out in the inside nature

Irene has finally found a little warmth :

Progression of Spring

But Timeless Lady shares some disturbing information :

Phascination – Mantis Pods/Yes or No?

Some day I hope to check out Indra’s statement :

Goa… is still there

When a lady offers to show you her home town, what can you say but ‘thank you, Susanne’ :

A Walk through Seattle’s Chinatown

It’s a while since we joined lovely Miriam, Down Under, isn’t it?

Twelve hours in the Yarra Valley

Is this a better thing to do with your day than eat chocolate?  Just a morsel, please, Jude!

A Valentine’s Day Walk

I expect she’d enjoy sharing a garden experience with Sandra  :

#Northwest Flower & Garden Festival – Saturday Snapshot

Enjoy a step back in time with Amanda!  A privileged look at a Norwegian mining village :

Living History at Roros

And what a beauty this is!  One not to miss!

Summer Palace, Beijing Part 3

And finally, my world traveling friend, Cathy, completes another stage of the Camino :

(Camino: day 6) Pamplona to Muruzabal

That’s it for another week!  Hope you enjoyed it.  See you all next time!

Six word Saturday

What the heck? Three zero one!

Following on from 300… widely known as the Chameleon Trail, these pine woods east of Monte Gordo are luxuriant in Bridal Bloom this year.  A less well defined shot appears in my Instagram account.  I much prefer this one.  Debbie, meanwhile, is following the trail of history.  In Six Words, of course!  Have a happy Saturday!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Chocolate time in Loulé

I’m feeling a bit naughty this week.  You’re always encouraging me to eat cake, so I thought I’d take you along with me to the annual, Algarve Chocolate Fair, in Loulé.  Any volunteers to help with the tasting?  I bet I can guess whose hand went up!

Pause for breath?  Please excuse the overload, but it was planned as a Valentine’s Day treat.  We’d better walk slowly now, while you nibble your chocolate.  (I did succumb to a very delicious dark chocolate bar, nibbed with crispy almonds, but I’m keeping that one to myself)

Loulé makes for very easy wandering, unless you happen to time it for Carnaval.  The main street was already being festooned with garlands, in readiness for the event in two weeks time.  We’ve been on numerous occasions, and my husband loves the political satire and the sparingly clothed dancing girls.  Me, not so much!  But it’s good fun and the youngsters love to get dressed up and join in.

I’m more interested in the beautiful, tiny church, tucked around the corner from the castle, Ermida de Nossa Senhora de Conceição.  The kind lady inside happily points out the main features of the azulejos, telling the story of Mary and Joseph and their special baby.  Just within the doorway, remnants of the town walls gaze dimly upwards, through a clear glass panel.

Downhill, past the castle and around silent Igreja Matriz, a small park looks out onto battered rooftops, and across town to the futuristic dome of Nossa Senhora da Piedade.  An elderly chap gazes quietly into space from his bench, while above a small boy gleefully climbs an ancient olive.

We’ve loitered in Loulé often before.  A gate through the old town wall leads out to a busy back street, rumbling with traffic.  Beside the gateway scowls an ancient pump, the surrounding streets an enigma of beautiful tilework, graffiti and skilled craftsmanship.  Ceramics and cork shops flourish and, from an open doorway, the sound of mallet tapping brass rings out.  I stop to admire a gleaming, burnished lampshade.

I was a little disappointed to find that no art was on display in the former Convento de Santo Antonio.   Hopefully restoration will continue and a further exhibition be set up for summer.  One last port of call.  I rarely visit Loulé without ascending to the heights, but this time we drove up the hill to Nossa Senhora da Piedade.  I hope to be there to see her carried from her sanctuary this Easter.

It’s a strange church, but I was quite taken with my last image- a reflection of the Sanctuarium on the window of the House of Candles.

The walks keep rolling in, so thanks to all who’ve contributed, and to those of you who take the time to read them.  Join me, whenever you can, here on Jo’s Monday walk.  I try to keep it lighthearted!

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Did you think we’d lost Meg?  Can’t keep a good woman down!  Showcasing a hodge podge of Australian architecture, in her own inimitable style :

Warwick heritage walk

‘My’ bit of the Coast to Coast walk, with Geoff and his Dad.  Great memories, beautifully written :

Walking With The Wind At My Back: Part Five #coasttocoast #walking

Natalie continues her adventures in Central America :

Boat trip on Lake Atitlan and Santiago Village

Pure delight for the eyes, this one from Susan :

Winter Walk Around Bodnant Garden in Wales

A quick zap of colour from Jackie this week :

Monday Mural

‘Sunshine, food and medicine for the soul’.  Irresistible, don’t you think?

Flower of the Day – Hellebores

A casual day out, enjoying the warmth, with Alice :

Skidaway Island Nature Trail

Irene is determined to make me shiver!

A Snowy Walk

While Elaine has captured the most beautiful dragonfly shot, despite very murky weather :

A dragonfly and a fish out of water

Architecturally beautiful, and sunny!  Debbie’s post couldn’t be more different :

Wandering in Vilafranca

Ever been to Queens, New York City?  Let Lisa show you around :

Jo’s Monday Walk

Iceland is on most people’s wish list, isn’t it?  You might know Drake had made it!

Reykjavik, up north

The Algarve, not so much, but it certainly suits me and Becky :

A meander through Faro

Carol shares a wonderfully atmospheric snippet of Toronto’s history :

Sensing the Past

While Jude revives a memory or two of her own, in Ludlow :

A Ludlow Walkabout

And Eunice takes us back through Bolton’s history, in 3 parts.  Know about the elephant connection?

Visiting the museum (1) – Elephants & Egypt

Finally, Cathy shares a garden that Jude would just love to be let loose in!  And I’d love to join her :

A stroll around Moab

Worn out, again?  Must be all that chocolate.  It was good fun though, wasn’t it?  Have a great week and see you next time!

Six word Saturday

Is it ok to spoon here?

Spoonbills seem to love this patch of the Algarve, rich in algae as it is.  I do too, and the interesting Shadows it creates.

Some of us have seen better days!  This is my 300th Six word Saturday.  Maybe time to retire gracefully?

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