Travel

Jo’s Monday walk : a fishy tale!

I like a fishy story.  Don’t you?  Truth to tell this one isn’t much of a story at all, and it’s not what I had intended to post.  But if you can’t be spontaneous in your own space… well, it’s a poor show!  It all started with a seahorse…

‘Let’s go to Olhão!’, I said.  ‘There’s a new seahorse sculpture and some net things up in the streets’.  What more of an invitation do you need?  The Ria Formosa, just offshore from Olhão, is known for its seahorses, and you can take a very delightful trip over to the sandbars to hunt for them.  Stuff of dreams?  A little less exciting, the sculpture, looking out to sea.

But Olhão is one of those ‘love it, hate it’ places.  Full of character, if you want to be polite.  Desperately shabby in the back streets, but in the process of acquiring a shiny new waterfront for the visitors.  The marina is always a treat, as you watch the boats to and fro-ing to the islands, but the riverside gardens are currently being torn up and replaced.  Hopefully they will retain some of their character, and the wonderful azulejo benches.  So uncomfortable to sit on, but beautiful to behold.  But we’ve not come to sit, invitingly though the icecream van flutters its eyelids at the tables beside the water.  The Arab quarter is always beguiling, so long as you don’t mind getting a little lost in the narrow tumble of streets.  Spot the whale on the roof?  No, I didn’t see it either at first.

I’m heading for the pedestrianised shopping area- not to shop, but this is where I think I might catch a fish or two.  And certainly some street art!

Olhão has a fair claim to being the street art capital of the Algarve.  The work depicting the fishing industry is among my favourites anywhere.  But finally I find what I’m looking for, and yet it still comes as a surprise.  Fish cavort above my head, darting through nets and flipping their tails.  ‘Linda‘ says the sign over the shop- beautiful- and I have to agree.

I wander along, snapping and exclaiming, until I come to the main church square, where an exhibition catches my eye.  I read the text and take a pic or two, and then I notice that the other half is staring skywards.  He’s spotted the storks.  Attention completely diverted.

I circle around the building, happy to find so many at home.  Did you notice the time on the clock?  I did, simply because at 3 on a Saturday afternoon I usually attend a Zoom meeting with some lovely ladies.  Some of you will know that Becky spends most winters here in the Algarve, and that Olhão is her home of choice.  I wondered if she might like to share the moment.

Back we wandered to a favourite café, with a ringside view of the leaping life above our heads.  All was quiet in the heat of the afternoon.  At weekends in summer the Portuguese go to the beach, leaving the towns strangely empty.  Though empty in these days is not so strange!  We settle at a table, with a refreshing wine, and I make the call.  ‘Would you like to come for a walk?’  And so I retrace my steps, waving my phone at the sky in the hope that they might see the fish, and maybe a stork or two.

I did promise you a fishy story.  I hope you weren’t disappointed?

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And now some shares!  A lucky dip into my ‘likes’ introduced me to Helen.  Please stop by and say hello?

Quarantine Walks: The Bulford Kiwi

 

Drake has his own individual take on life, and he always makes me smile :

Away from home

As times go by

I always like to share stunning photos, and these from Mercedes are beautiful :

Hiking in green Appenzell

Rupali shows us the beauty of her world :

Daily Walk

Weekend 98: Moments from the Wilderness

And Indra takes me to a city I’ve always wanted to visit :

Hong Kong… An Eclectic Mix

Anabel is rightly proud of her heritage, despite ‘dreich’ weather :

Port Glasgow Heritage Walk

A daunder round Dundee

While Margaret juggles with words :

Six Words?  Twelve Words?  All nonsense

And Natalie joins in with my fishy theme :

Life and Fish-Themed Art

Becky and I share a love for the same places :

Where the Douro flows into the Atlantic

A bit of an aberration with the print in the shares!  Made me rather late publishing today.  Apologies if I’ve missed anybody.  It’s not so easy keeping track right now.  Too many distractions.  I won’t be walking with you next week.  It’s seriously hot!  Enjoy your summer/winter/life!  See you soon.

Six word Saturday

No doubt about it- shade needed!

A stroll around Loulé, enjoying the shade.  Into the 30s this weekend, so we’ll definitely need it.  Meanwhile Debbie has been having fun on Six Word Saturday.  And if you look closely I think I’ve made a few Weekend Reflections too?  Have a good one, and see you on Monday for a walk.

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Simple fare

Funny how different we are!  My husband loves these little pinwheels coated in white chocolate, or a Kitkat.  Me, I’m happy with a digestive.  I can dunk it, or eat it covered in crumbly cheese.  I really don’t mind.  The one immutable is coffee, when I first get out of bed.

Don’t you love the tiny Portuguese cups?  Ideal size for a bica, but seldom used in my home.  If we have a tradesman at the house I always hesitantly offer coffee.  Often the response is a rueful head shake.  Sometimes a polite request for water.  Leaving me in no doubt that my coffee making skills are far below par.  How do they know?  My reputation appears to have traveled.

The sturdy tray was decoupaged for me by my daughter, as a useful gift to carry my cuppa all the way up to the roof terrace.  I am a bit prone to get two thirds of the way up, a cup in one hand, plate in the other and a book or two under my arm, and trip….  Ribbon cascades of coffee down white walls… not a good look!

So what’s new in the Algarve right now?  Su started Teatime in the blogosphere to nourish and cheer us all up in gloomy times.  I’m happy to say that gradually the gloom is rolling back, here.  With caution.  Our restaurants and cafés have been open for a couple of weeks, and we are becoming more relaxed about meeting in small groups.  Masks are still mandatory in enclosed spaces.  And still no touching, though I find it hard not to lay a sympathetic hand on an arm.  Full blown hugs feel a long way off.  Cake isn’t really a consolation for that, but it’s all I can offer, for now.

Do help yourself!  I hope things are getting better in your part of the world?

Monday murals

Strolling through Faro the other day admiring the storks I came upon these two, and thought at once of my friend Sami’s Monday Murals.  For those of you wondering where I’ve hidden my Monday walks, I’m in laidback mode for the summer.  I will be doing a round up of walks next Monday.  Nothing too strenuous!  Take care till then.

Jo’s Monday walk : Beyond the River

‘Why Tavira?’ is a question I’m asked all the time when I talk about the place where I live.  Although I love the peace of the Algarve countryside, I could never willingly live in a little hillside cottage.  I would forever be gazing at the horizon, imagining the lap of the waves at my feet and the sound of the ocean in my ears.  Here in Tavira the river brings the sea to me, and it’s one of my greatest pleasures to board a ferry and ride out there to meet it.  This week the town ferry reopened.  There was no queue at the kiosk, nor in fact any other passengers aboard than me and my husband.  And a crew of five, some of whom were youngsters, learning the trade.  Prosperity will come again, and they need to be prepared.  For now, the instructions are to wear a mask on all forms of public transport, and so, bizarre though it felt on the open deck of a boat, we did.

We pulled out of the quayside, where the work of building a new bridge continues apace, and soon were chugging out through the marshes.  Lilac heather lines the riverbank, but my gaze was directed far beyond, counting the flamingos.  The day was full of billowing clouds, which could have explained the emptiness of the ferry.   After all these years, still I find the views from the landing stage compelling.

We followed the path across the Ilha towards the beach.  The main seafood restaurant was being industriously cleaned and rearranged, in readiness for hoped for customers.  The adjacent campsite is to remain closed this summer, and the object of our affections, The Sunshine Bar, had yet to open, but the recycled fish at O Xiri has a new lease of life.

With no particular objective in mind, we set off along the deserted beach, walking into a boisterous breeze.  As we paused to regain our breath, a tiny figure appeared on the horizon.  We watched as the quad bike drew near, and then passed us by.  The maritime police with a pleasant occupation.  Nothing but a few gulls to keep us company.  In vain I tried to capture them in flight.  Better to focus on the jewellery of the beach!

We had reached the area known as Terra Estreita.  Another ferry and a boardwalk connects this beach with Santa Luzia on the mainland.  Beach umbrellas in residence, but not a soul to be seen.  Just the tyre tracks of the young policeman.

Turn back, or carry on?  The legs were starting to feel a bit leaden in the soft sand, but we knew that the Beach Bar at Barril was open.  A fair incentive for another half hour or so’s walking.  Maybe even cake?

The clouds were starting to amass and the wind to bluster, but I was intrigued by the clumps of greenery and plants I had never before seen growing on this beach.  Nature rearranging herself in the absence of humans.  We had already noticed that the shoreline was different in places.  The action of wind and waves.  Soon I was in the mesmerising presence of the anchors at Barril.

I defy anyone to walk past without taking at least one or two photos of them.  Possibly after refreshments.  The sky was miraculously clearing again by the time we were ready to return, and the wind gentling us along from behind.  More found treasure!

Finally the lighthouse at the river mouth came into view.  It’s not a bad life being a beach attendant right now.

Almost ready to board, but I can’t leave you without a bit of biscuit cake, can I?  A treat, because it’s been a sobering week, in many ways.

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Janet led the way, last week, in being too upset to walk.  Many of us knew just how she felt :

Today I can’t walk

But Margaret will cheer you up :

A Tale of Three Birds: Chapter Two- The Curlew

And Anabel has beautiful rock formations in Berwickshire :

Cove to Siccar Point

Trees, sky, tiny flowers… just a few of the things in Susan’s new world :

Walking around a lockdown

Drake demonstrates how beautiful green can be :

Most of all greenish

While Rita celebrates the blossom trees in Toronto :

Feeling high at High Park

Doesn’t matter what day it is, Rupali can find beauty :

Wordless Wednesday Walk 3

And Sheetal can get excited about Florence :

Date with David

Irene contents herself with the simple things in life :

Along the Trail

I’ve never hiked Dartmouth… but I’d like to.  Please meet Zara!

Dartmoor Hiking Trails: Princetown to Fox Tor

So far I’ve been documenting and diarying my life here in the Algarve, in this exceptional period.  I think you can see, it’s a beautiful place.  I don’t intend to stick to a schedule from now on, so if you share a walk with me I’ll be delighted, but I can’t be sure when I’ll share it here.  Wishing you all a peaceful and healthy transition to a better world.  It’s ours to make the best of, isn’t it?  Stay safe!  And eat cake?

Six word Saturday

They choose the most majestic homes!

There were more storks than people in Faro the other day.  I looked hard for babies but it wasn’t easy to tell with all the bobbing heads.  Today Debbie is seeing triple on Six Word Saturday.  Why not join her?  Have a nice day!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Barragem de Beliche

A lingering rock cistus highlights the banks of the reservoir.  A couple of weeks ago I ventured up to Beliche, in part to check the water levels, but also because it’s a largely uninhabited area.  Or so I thought!  The car parking area alongside the dam surprised me.  Leathers and helmet clad bikers were thronging the space.  But they kept to themselves, and we duly distanced ourselves too.  As they pulled away we got a thumbs up and a cheery wave.  Life has to move forward, but you can choose your own pace.

Around here, you can imagine, it’s pretty slow.  April and early May saw a lot of rainfall.  A Godsend, because the reservoirs were dangerously low.  And also because the Portuguese really don’t like the rain, and were very happy to stay home and avoid it.  Fique em casa!  Stay at home.  Job done!

There were no tourists, so nobody to get upset but a handful of disgruntled expats who’ve chosen to live here.  Blue skies are theirs by right, aren’t they?  And eventually were restored, the timing being almost perfect, as beaches and beautiful countryside again became available.  With enormous gratitude for what we have, and not a little trepidation, we set out.

If anything could dispel doubt, it was the sparkling blue waters of the Beliche dam.  Such a relief to see water levels being restored, for summers here can be long and hot.  Bypassing the fearsome machinery, we climbed the hill to gaze back down at the dam.

I freely admit, not the most exciting walk we have ever undertaken, but just then it felt like giant steps into the unknown.  I delighted in the freshness of the air, and the soft sprinkling of lemon and lilac flowers dusting the hillside.

A cloud passed overhead, just as I was pausing to admire another solitary cistus.  And then drifted away to join its brothers, dreaming in the sky.

This circular walk is a little more than 6kms, sufficient in the mounting heat, and before long we were below the IC27, which runs north towards the Alentejo.  There are a couple of farms in the valley, and a donkey, who gave me rather a disdainful look.

Experience has taught me to be more wary of beehives!  And their aggressive inhabitants.

The map indicated a river flowing towards the dam, but it must long since have dried up.  The telltale reminder, an overgrown measure of depth, was just visible through the shrubs.  A gentle climb brought us back to the car park.  I’d love to share the lemon drizzle cake made by one of my companions, to celebrate our first visit since the onset of the virus.  But I devoured 2 pieces, and never even gave it a thought!  Next time…

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However, I’m more than willing to share some great walks.  Here we go!

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Always good to meet another Algarve blogger, and Tracy is also a published authoress :

Montes Mourinhos – Pera circular

Wouldn’t you just love to meet Sheetal here?  I know I would!

Dinner in Trastevere, Rome

Indra shares her memories of the natural beauty of Canada :

Summer of 2019: Waterton, Canada

While Janet improves my vocabulary, amidst the natural surroundings of Arizona :

The Riparian Preserve

Sharon is surrounded by some beautiful countryside too :

Caton Riverside Walk

And Susanne is simply happy to be outdoors again :

Back for a Walk at Coulon Park

An easy, unhurried style of life, with Drake :

Some even forget the mobile

And a poignant and personal post from Alice :

One Last Song

A poetic lady I know as ‘Heart to Heart’ (Dil se Dil tak… )  Such a lovely name for a blog, Rita :

The woods are lovely dark and deep…

There must be a history to this village name, Jonno?  Always smiling, these two!

Our Favourite Devon Walk to Heanton Punchardon

You can admire a little beauty with Rupali any time :

Wordless Wednesday Walk 2

While Anabel knows the way to my heart.  Via a drystone roundhouse is especially good :

Edin’s Hall Broch

Calling Becky, Debbie, Sue and Margaret- Ulli has found us some more goats!

Hidden Gem Downtown

That’s it for this week!  I’m going to put the brakes on for a little while.  It’s getting too hot to walk on a regular basis, though I did another 6kms yesterday to check out the larger dam at Odeleite.  Not looking too bad at present, but there’s a long way to go.  Take care all, and I’ll see you soon.

Six Word Saturday

A eulogy to rack and ruin

Vila Real de Santo António has the most magnificent location, at the mouth of the River Guadiana, and directly across the border from Spain.  Sadly, scenes like this are still commonplace, even on the waterfront, but there’s a lot of hammering and renewal going on.  Hopefully one day the town will realise its true potential.  Meantime, let’s play Six Word Saturday.  Have a great weekend!

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Backlit Tavira


I’m not very good at following Jude’s directives, but as I wandered back into town from an evening stroll up the river, I had to pause to admire the sun’s fading light.  I love the way it radiates across the sky.  So peaceful!  Join in at 2020 Photo Challenge #21.