A sad story?

Up a flight of cobbled steps, on the corner of a tiny square, stands one of the most bedraggled, unloved houses in Tavira.  In a town where every other street has a ‘do-er upper’ – part of it’s charm – this one is nothing uncommon.  Often I look at a ruin and think, ‘that would make a great little home’, and pass right on by.  But this lost soul always stops me in my tracks.

I first saw it a dozen years ago, when I’d been puffing up and down hills, exploring Tavira’s delightful back streets.  It looked the perfect size.  And maybe I could have a tiny roof terrace where I could closet myself away, and peer down at the occasional passer by.  And then, one Christmas time, I saw the little square decked in all its finery.  What wonderful neighbours I could have!

But the years have rolled by, and I haven’t claimed it as mine.  Time hasn’t been kind and now I can see inside to the wooden ceiling.  Weeds sprout from the roof and gutters.  And still I’m tempted!  Why hasn’t it been snapped up?  Did I mention the steep, cobbled steps?  How would I ever get the shopping home as I get older and dothery?

It’s not as though there aren’t plenty of others to feel sorry for.  Spare a kind thought for these.

Why am I sharing these today?  Well, I thought I’d cheer up my old buddy, Sue.  She loves nothing more than a good ruin.  And Paula’s back with Pick a Word in another engaging Thursday’s Special.  I chose Remains and Non-Human to illustrate.

Jo’s Monday walk : Mealha and surrounds

You might remember that one day last year I took you to some burial tombs, high in the hills of the Algarve.  Not without difficulty, I might add.  The Masmorra Trail was a bit of a challenge.  A couple of my walking friends are hugely enthusiastic about archaeology and history, so we were all delighted when a recent Striders walk included the dolmens of Antas das Pedras Altas.

The trouble is, when I’m walking with the Striders I’m often too busy chatting to pay much attention to the route.  There’s a tendency to ‘switch off’ when walking with a leader, but at least it takes the pressure off the other half.  The start point for this walk was in exactly the same place, a crossroads on the edge of the village of Mealha.  A modest 8.5km circular, with a steep uphill beginning.

We passed by more of the palheiros- the round huts once used by shepherds- and began our climb.  The rewards were almost immediate.  First a grove or two of umbrella pines.  Notice how very dry everything is.  It’s been a long hot Summer.

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There are 12 of these standing stones, aligned with the sun rising in the east.  Astonishing to think that they have held these positions since 4th century BC, protecting the burial chamber.  I have to confess to prattling on a bit at this point, or should I say exchanging information?  Sharper eyes than mine spotted the well, and there wasn’t time for a closer look.

Soon we were dropping down through eucalyptus trees, fresh and green in this light, but a serious hazard should forest fires break out.  This year the Algarve has been spared, but lives were lost further north.  On this walk we had been encouraged to bring a picnic, due to the absence of a suitable restaurant.  At a pleasantly shady spot with benches I munched a healthy apple, confident that we’d find somewhere later.

The walk continued through the dry riverbed of Ribeira de Foupana and back full circle to Mealha.  It was still relatively early, the sun bright in the sky.  The group were heading back to the coast, and stopping off for coffee before separating.  Curiosity impelled me to check out the nearby village of Martim Longo, where I’d seen advertised Feria de Perdiz– a partridge festival.  This area of the Algarve is known for the hunting and shooting of birds, a controversial subject these days.  Seldom have I found a more sleepy place, but there was a bonus- the church was open.

You know when plans go awry?  Seems to happen to me all too often.  We wandered through the somnolent streets.  Where was everybody?  A burst of laughter issued from a bar and we exchanged a hopeful glance.  I stopped to take photos of an interesting old building just as a truck drew up and an overalled worker climbed out.  He looked at me bemusedly as I gestured to his home, then smiled and went inside to lunch.

We continued our circuit of the small village.  Some bakery tiles, scything implements and a couple of water wheels, but almost no people.  They must have been eating, of course, and we were peckish too.  With very little choice, we made a poor selection.  An elderly lady pulled herself to her feet, her companion nodding bom dia, and lumbered behind the counter.  White wine?  They only had tinto, which she proceeded to remove from the chiller.  Seeing her struggling, with arthritic wrists, to remove the cork, the other half took the corkscrew from her to complete the job.  Two large tumblers of red were poured.  Peering hard at the ‘menu’ on the back wall, he then asked for a ham sandwich.  She shook her head.  No food!  Just the prepackaged sweet biscuits on display, and a meagre selection of crisps.  Not quite the lunch we had envisaged.  When I expressed interest in the partridge festival, a beer drinking old lad indicated that there was much fun and dancing in the village.  A little hard to imagine right then, but he went to great pains to produce a magazine (hidden away in the glass fronted, unlit stove!) showing last year’s event.  We should come back?

Maybe not.  A strange little place, but my curiosity was satisfied.

Salt in the wounds- when we talked to our walking friends later it transpired that they’d gone to a nice little restaurant by a pebble beach.  We’d passed it on our way up the valley!  If you’re tempted to follow my walk, there’s a map here.

Thanks for keeping me company this week.  I’m more or less acclimatised to the UK again but I suspect I’ll be bombarding you with Portugal for a while yet.  If you’d like to join me with a walk, long or short, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  I look forward to it.  Meantime, pop the kettle on and let’s settle in for a good read.

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Chocolate and blue skies… now there’s a winning combination!  Please say hello to my new contributor, Maria :

Baroque & Chocolate… This is Modica, Sicily

Debbie managed to find some blue on the sunny south coast too :

Sidford to Sidmouth

Just Jude, doing what she does so well :

Garden Portrait : under an autumn sky

I’m not sure how much walking took place, but Andrew is always welcome here :

Portugal, A Walking Tour of Ovar

Jackie’s whizzing about again!

Salty

Drake’s getting us all in Christmas mode!  Never too early for good feelings :

Arrival of the good feeling

Busy time of year and not so many walks this week.  Many thanks to all of you!  It’s much appreciated.  Wishing you a great week.

Six word Saturday

Bedazzled by butterflies in Vila Real

Strolling one Sunday through the riverside market in Vila Real de S. Antonio, I was so distracted by butterflies I almost forgot to make a purchase.  

You never know what you’re going to find, do you?  I had a wonderful time in the Algarve, but it’s good to be back with Debbie and six words.  She’s paddling this week.  Go and see!

Wishing you all a great weekend.

Forte de São Luís de Almádena

Forte de São Luís de Almádena sits on a rocky promontory, midway between the villages of Burgau and Saleema, in the western Algarve.  The fort was built in 1632, by order of King João III, in order to protect the local tuna fishing community from raids by corsairs and pirates.  It was finally abandoned in 1849, after sustaining considerable damage in the earthquake of 1755.  The ruins include 2 ramparts, a moat, gates and a barracks.

I considered myself very fortunate to discover these ruins.  We’d been strolling on the golden beach at Burgau, and as we left the village a sign pointed along the coast towards them.  A slight change of plan and 5 minutes later we were there.  In golden silence we surveyed the coast in all directions.  As I shielded my eyes from the glare of the sun, I was sure I spotted the masts of a pirate ship.

You’ll realise, of course, that it’s a Thursday and we’re all waiting for Paula to come back and be Special, as she always is.

Jo’s Monday walk : Loving Lagos

It’s not often that I venture to the western end of the Algarve but, when I do, the city of Lagos is a particular favourite of mine. I knew that my daughter loved it too, from a fleeting visit about 10 years ago.  What better excuse did I need for a bit of footloose and fancy free?

The old side of town is a warren of twisting and turning switchback streets, with fleeting glimpses of interest as you whizz around a harepin bend.  Lisa commented that she was glad not to be in the driving seat, but we put our faith in my valiant other half, and eventually we found parking, way up beyond the castle walls.  I had not realised that they were so extensive.  Following our noses led us to an interesting wall or two of graffiti.

Truth be known, these days some of Lagos is a little bit tacky with touristy shops and restaurants- a victim of its own success and having some of the Algarve’s most inviting beaches.  But I can overlook a street or two that resembles Albufeira because this is a very engaging place.  It has history and beautiful churches, and it has character in spades, if you go looking.

Peeping between the narrow streets, the spires of several churches catch the eye.  I knew Santo Antonio by reputation, but was a little disappointed not to be able to share the astounding architecture and elaborately gilded wood with you.  Photographs were forbidden, but I did manage to find a link.  On the main square, Santa Maria was much less elaborate, but still beautiful.

Lagos has a history stretching back over 2000 years.  Originally a Celtic settlement, it was colonised by the Romans (as Lacobriga), valuable to them for its fine harbour.  When the Moors arrived in the 8th century, they added fortifications of castle and walls, and established trading with North Africa.  Henry the Navigator made Lagos the centre of Portuguese maritime explorations in the 15th century, the caravels venturing further and further south along the west coast of Africa, hoping to find a route to India.  In 1434 Gil Eanes succeeded in rounding the cape but sadly, within 10 years, the slave trade was established.  Lagos has the dubious distinction of having Europe’s first slave market.  Prince Henry received one fifth of the selling price of each slave, helping him to fund further expeditions.

With the death of Henry, Lagos continued to receive shipments of goods and slaves but its role was gradually eclipsed by the rising star of Lisbon.  A string of forts was constructed along the coast to defend from pirates and neighbouring Spain.  Among them, Ponta da Bandeira Fort, which sits so picturesquely on the headland.  From 1576 to 1755, Lagos was capital of the Algarve, but the earthquake of 1755 destroyed much of the old town.  Some of the castle walls remain but many of the current buildings date from 17th century.

Knowing my tendency to linger by the sea, I was allowed only the merest glimpse of the fort before being whisked away to lunch.  The lure of white sangria just about did the trick.  Over lunch we discussed ‘where next’ and Lisa made it a mission to find for me the landmark ‘green building’ which appears in many images of Lagos.  We were, of course, permitted to dawdle by the odd shop.  Ingenious use is being made of cork these days- everything from tiny purses to sandals, with jewellery and even clever fans.  Eye catching balustrades and tumbles of flowers were duly noted.

Lisa was following Google maps (isn’t technology a wonderful thing?) in a haphazard sort of way.  There were simply too many distractions.  Crossing Praça Gil Eanes I could see just a snippet of Ribeira Bensafrim, the river that pours out into the ocean.  We climbed gently and found ourselves in a square looking at a very colourful building, which proved to be the living science centre. ( Centro Ciência Viva de Lagos)

A restaurant terrace looked out onto the marina and busy river.  No sign of the desired ‘green building’ but, as we retraced our steps downhill, there it was in all its glory.  How had we missed it?  ‘Azulejos e postais‘- Tiles and postcards, as it is now known, on Praça de Luis Camoes.

Close up the tiles were very beautiful, and the owner was delighted to discuss the restoration of his building.  Mission accomplished, it remained to find our way back uphill to where we left the car.  I hope you loved Lagos too, and enjoyed our ramble together.

I’m back in the UK now, so hopefully ‘normal’ service will resume, but I may be a while catching up.  Thanks so much for your loyalty, and for staying with me.  Once again I have a bumper bundle of walks to share, so do please find time to visit these lovely folk.  And if you’d like to share a walk with me, just follow the logo.  Many thanks!

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Everybody should see this place once in their lifetime, so thanks, Lady Lee :

Santorini

While nobody does spectacular better than Debbie :

Slow and exposed walk along the Thames

Drake treated me to the warm glow of Autumn in a place that I love :

Colorful Autumn

And Elaine took me to her pretty home patch, too :

Early November walk by the canal

While Jill took me to a place that I’ve long wanted to visit :

Come explore Cadiz with me

And Cadyluck Leedy took me to an area that I don’t know at all!

Jo’s Monday Walk : Dinan, France

Liesbet has some spectacular photos, taken between house sits :

Southern Utah’s National Parks

And Violet takes me waterfalling

Inglis Falls

I did think Silly Back Lane an odd place name, but then I looked again.  Cheers, Jude!

Siblyback Lake

But then Woolly made me sad all over again :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk43_Gibraltar-Bunker

There’s something so distinctive about French windows and shutters.  And about Tobias; style :

Beynac, Part One

Beynac, Part Two

I’m really enjoying  Carol’s ‘close to home’ series, with their wonderful details.  Just look at these trees!

BYO Birdseed

Becky’s cheating a little bit with this one :

Glass, iron and steel at Kew

But on Friday morning I was sitting right here, waiting for the ferry to the Ilha.  Sunny memories :

A short stroll at Quatro Aguas

I have a gazillion photos to sort, including those from Lumiere in Durham last night.  Amazing stuff!  It’s forecast a damp week so it looks like I’ll have time to spare.  Whatever you get up to, I hope it’s a good week for you.  Take care!

 

 

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Martinhal to Baleeira

Embracing the sea again this week, I’m in the far west of the Algarve, just before you reach the mighty cliffs of Sagres.  This somewhat lunar landscape is not at all what I’m accustomed to. (Is it just me or does the rock below bear a passing resemblance to a Storm Trooper?)

Yes, I thought so!  His smile’s a bit crooked and evil.  It’s a beautiful bay, reached from a turn off on the N125, signposted Praia do Martinhal.  A smart looking resort overlooks the beach, but nestled below is an agreeably casual restaurant.  Portuguese families have brought the children to Sunday lunch, and are chattering away like magpies.  

A small girl sits on the sand while Dad tussles with a kite, strongwilled in the offshore breeze.  Two fit-looking youngsters carry paddleboards down to the water’s edge, launch them smoothly and paddle away.  Out in the bay windsurfers zip to and fro, with varying degrees of accomplishment.  I simply watch.  The only activity I’m any good at is walking.

The other half has found a comfortable spot, sheltered from the wind, and I’m off round the headland to see what I can find.  A generous sweep of beach ends in more rocks, with a tempting path mounting to the cliff top.

I’m picking my way fairly carefully when I hear music and laughter.  A cautious peep over the cliff edge reveals a group of young folk setting up a barbecue on a slab of rock.  Someone has been very busy with a brush and a pot or two of paint.

Across the bay the towering cliffs of Sagres loom closer, and below them the fishing port of Baleeira.  There’s a small strip of beach at Baleeira which is also walkable from Sagres town.  A stiff breeze keeps the windsurfers scudding swiftly.  I look back to check how far I’ve come.  Not too far but it’s time to return and collect the husband.

Now, where did I leave him?

It’s not a long walk but, if you like to feel the breeze in your hair and you’re not afraid of heights, you might enjoy it.  This was a small part of my birthday celebrations and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I should be back to ‘normal’ next week.  I apologise if my visits to you are spasmodic.  I’m struggling with a poor Internet connection and I intend to enjoy the last few days of my Algarve time with my daughter.  Time together is very precious.  Meantime I have some great walks to share, so thank you everybody.

Tish seems to have found her very own path to paradise :

On the Path to Harakopio ~ Peroulia Dreaming 13

As strange titles go, I give full credit to Ellen for this one :

Going for a Crazy Cabbagetown Walk in Atlanta, Georgia- Pt 1

And Cathy’s is a bit of a tongue teaser too :

Budapest : The Great Synagogue & a stroll down Vaci Utca in Belvaros

Mari’s walk is a little more sombre, but no less beautiful :

A Walk on the Ramparts of Ypres

And Woolly commemorates the Australian deceased from World War II :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk42_Windmill-Site

Roll up!  Roll up!  Step right this way to see Violet’s pink elephant :

A circus treat

I share some wonderful memories of Lucca with Jesh (and Gilly!)

TIME- Where did it go?

You can usually rely on Jackie for a…

Flourish!

I don’t have any grandkids to play with like Sandra, but I did borrow one recently :

Walk

Indra is sharing spectacular scenery in this week’s walk :

Bay of Fundy…. Magic on the Rocks

Kathrin loves to hike in the mountains.  This one sounds like a song!

Hike up Mount Umunhum

My lovely friend, Pauline, has been rambling in the Australian outback.  You’ll love her findings!

Kings Canyon, time to sketch…

And here’s some artwork from Susan that I know she’ll love too :

Hunting a City-wide Art Installation : Ai Weiwei’s Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

Have a great week everyone, and I’ll be back in England next weekend.  Once again, apologies if I miss anyone.

 

 

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Culatra- an easy amble

I’m going to be a bit lazy for my first walk back with you.  After all, I’m still in the Algarve, nominally on holiday, but in fact testing out a new lifestyle to see if it suits me.  Many of you won’t be surprised to find that it does.  I have taken you to Ilha da Culatra before, but my Stroller friends were going there recently and I just had to tag along.  I’m sure you’ll see the attraction.

Culatra is an island of fisherfolk, but it doesn’t spurn the attention of tourists or beach worshippers who make the effort to cross over from the mainland.  I regularly promote Enjoy the Algarve, a monthly online magazine full of fascinating events and details.  Culatra features briefly this month and I thought you might like to see a little more.

Embarkation from Olhão is an easy affair.  Ida e volta will get you a return ticket.  We chose to disembark at Farol, the second port of call on this long, barrier island, guarded by a strut of a lighthouse with a red cap.

Weaving between a few cottages and a restaurant, almost immediately you reach the beach.

I couldn’t decide quite what the waves were jumping so playfully over, but they held me captive so that I had to scoot to catch up with the others.  Of course, you can linger at the beach for as long as you like, but the walkers are single-minded folk and food was a top priority.  A boardwalk turns inland, leading back to the village of Culatra, the first port of call.

To escape the heat of the sun there are several restaurants.  As usual I was more interested in my surroundings than food, so I grabbed a quick bite and set off again with my camera.

It’s a very basic lifestyle.  Sand and sea rule and necessities have to be shipped from the shore.  As I’m writing this a thunderstorm is rattling overhead and I know that the islands are in the frontline for inclement weather.  Hard to imagine on a day like this, but I’ve heard this ocean roar.

There’s an element of scruffiness that doesn’t suit everybody.  No manicured greens to tee off on here.  But I was highly amused to find, right by the water’s edge, a miniature football pitch.  Evidence of another Portuguese passion!

And then it’s time to make for the ferry, wending back past ochre houses, idle bikes and always a twist or two of flowers.

The still calm waters of Olhão await, Becky.  No changes yet!

I hope you’ve enjoyed being back in the Algarve with me.  I still have another week or so to go.  My daughter joins me on Sunday so I expect to be quite distracted but I’ll try to post another walk next week, and keep up with comments on this one.  Take good care till then!

Please find time to check out these walks, if you haven’t already done so.  Many thanks to all of you for your loyalty and support, even while I’ve been absent.  Special thanks to Meg and to Jude for lovely birthday surprises for me.

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I am a huge admirer of this lady’s work, so thank you very much for joining me, Debbie :

Street art galore

Another lady who always produces beautiful work.  Take yourself strolling with Susan :

A Saturday Stroll at Wave Hill

A Leisurely Sunday Stroll through Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery

I wonder what Jackie might have cooked up this week?

Home cookin’

There’s nothing like good company on a walk.  Tobias has a style all his own, and I love it :

Perigueux

Les Jardins d’Eau

Candy takes me to parts of Brittany I didn’t even know existed :

Pilgrim Route and Chapels

There’s much more to Birmingham than meets the eye, and you can rely on Becky to find it :

Dragons, Rags and Shiny Things

What’s Woolly been up to?  Keeping very busy!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk39_Le-Hamel_Australian-Memorial

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk40_Le-Hamel_Australian-Memorial-2

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk41_Tank-Monument

Carol explores her own backyard, but Australia’s a big country :

Staying Up, Looking Out

I do love a garden, and Cadyluck Leedy has a really fine one to share :

Jo’s Monday Walk : Sandhills Horticultural Gardens

And a place I’ve always wanted to visit :

Jo’s Monday Walk : Mont Saint Michel, France

Why not try it Marsha’s way?  The scenery is beautiful, even if the company is grumpy :

Why We Didn’t Take the Train to the Grand Canyon from Sedona

How to Get Someone Out of a Grouchy Mood Even if you’re at the Grand Canyon

I wouldn’t have expected to miss fog, but Jude’s walk on misty Bodmin is hauntingly lovely :

The Cheesewring

And finally, Kaz gladdens the heart with a gazillion, glorious jacaranda!

Jacarandas of Woolloomooloo 

Much love to you all from my sunny Algarve home.  See you soon!