Algarve

Living the dream… a year on!

Who’d have thought the 70th year of my life would turn out like this?  I sat on the roof terrace with my daughter recently, and we talked our way back through time.  Her memories are so much more vivid than mine.  I was just happy to have her sitting beside me, sharing the view of sky, sea and salt marsh that brings me so much pleasure.

Living the dream… 6 months on had me on the verge of an adventure that makes me smile whenever I think about it.  The Azores, a true love affair that reunited me with clouds and refreshing rain.  That made me want to dance in the puddles like a child.  On my return to the Algarve, more doubts set in.  Was I really suited to this energy sapping heat?  I like to live my life at pace, keeping age at bay you might say.  I was assured that this was a cool summer, by Algarve standards, but still it was a relief to return to the UK for most of August.  A delight too, to share time with my family, made more precious by their distance from my new life.  However hard I try to bridge the gap, with texts and phone calls and Skype, there is no substitute for a hug.

Back in the Algarve, both me and my husband were a little down and disorientated.  Though my son’s beaming smile when he announced his engagement was a moment to savour.  We tried to find ourselves again.  The continuing heat necessitated almost daily trips to the beach, me desperate for a breeze, him happy to laze with the waves lapping his toes.  I had ‘discovered’ croquet and a new circle of friends, while he joined a tennis club.  We were a little at odds and grumpy with each other, uncertain who to blame for the fading dream.  I planned a couple of trips on the water, always guaranteed to make me happy.  September drifted past, and gradually mutual friends returned from their summer sojourn.  The life we had loved was about to resume… but first, a frenzied October.

We had issued numerous invitations to family and friends on our UK departure.  All had given us space to settle in, but October proved to be the tipping point.  We welcomed a succession of guests, all of whom seemed to be as dazzled by our Algarve home as we had been.  Michael donned his chauffeur cap and I assumed my role as planner and tour guide.  All of it very enjoyable, for they were an appreciative audience, and lovely people.  At the same time, we were enrolling for a new term of Portuguese lessons (oh dear!) and trying to maintain our social life.  I didn’t feel well and slept poorly.  But the warmth of responses around me couldn’t be ignored.  People were so kind and caring.  How could I not respond?

A kaleidoscope of events since then!  Walks aplenty, two meetups with lovely blogging friends (in the same week!), entertaining at home (which always makes me nervous, but I needn’t have worried), birthday celebrations, a fantastic light show in Faro.  Do I still have regrets?  Of course!  I wish facility with the language came a little easier.  Overheard snippets of conversation that you can’t understand are no fun at all.  I’m still trying.  The big loss, of course, is the ability to zip down the road to family.  I’m not alone in that.  But I can honestly say, a year down the line, that this place feels like home, and continues to put a smile on my face.  You can’t ask for more, can you?  Even for a restless soul.

Just a few lines, to close…

I thought I’d put together a celebration of Algarve lines before Becky calls time on the Lines and Squares challenge this month.  I found the above in a craft shop in Alte and was half-tempted to take it home.  And I love the faded mosaic patterns on the stone tables beside Fonte Pequena.

Not strictly Algarve lines, because we nipped across the border.  Fred was very taken with this tiny door in a wall in the sleepy, Spanish village of Sanlucar de Guadiana.  He couldn’t get in though.  Maybe some of Alice’s cake?  ‘Eat me!’

Back on this side of the border, I can never wander in Santa Luzia without finding something my camera likes.

And finally, a little razzamatazz in Loulé on market day.  Overkill, or what?  I’m traveling today but will try and keep up with you.  Meanwhile, for Becky, it’s a rosy End of the Line.  Many thanks to our wonderful hostess for keeping us distracted throughout October.

Jo’s Monday walk : Morgado do Quintáo

You might know, I spent time with my daughter last week.  Last year we managed to celebrate my birthday together, culminating in a rather lovely wine tour.  Happy to repeat the experience, if not the exact event, I searched for somewhere to wander through a vine or two.  Morgado do Quintáo, not far from Silves, provided the very place.

Following Google Maps, we thought we had the vineyard nicely pinned, but entry was not quite so simple.  Eventually we decided on some blue gates at the rear of the property, and a friendly voice over the intercom told us we were in the right place.  We followed a rough trail round to the farmhouse, and were delighted to find that we had company for the sampling.  An Irish couple and 2 young folk from Norway were waiting beneath the 2,000 year old olive tree.  Moments later our hostess joined us, and the tasting began.

We were sampling 3 wines, cultivated from ancient vines of Crato Branco and Negra Mole.  The vineyard was being brought to life, after years of neglect, with careful nurturing.  A wonderful spread of petiscos (nibbles) accompanied our wines, including bread, meats, local cheese, honey and delicious plum chutney.  The small businesses help each other out, more than happy to share their fine produce.  We chatted amongst ourselves, sharing our stories with each sip of wine, alongside the history of the grape.  An affectionate retriever made eyes at my daughter, when the owner wasn’t looking.  Just a morsel of meat? So hard to resist.

The wind was a little chill beneath the olive tree and I took myself off to play around with the flamingos bobbing on the pool, until it was time for the vineyard tour.  I love the russets of the vines at this time of year, the harvest safely stored.

It’s not a large enterprise, but they are hopeful that the business will grow.  If enthusiasm reaps rewards, they should do well.  The old farmhouse hides a wealth of antique machinery, and a wardrobe that seems to invite entry, for surely Narnia must be beyond those doors?

I gleefully acquired the last jar of plum chutney in the low key sales pitch afterwards.  Next year they will host their first wedding.  Already there is guest accommodation on site.  So easy to relax here with a good glass of wine.  I hope you enjoyed the experience.

Not too much walking this week, but I can always offer you great company.  As we drove off, the retriever lolloped alongside of us, his tail a golden plume in the setting sun.  I think we made a friend.

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Many thanks to all of you who stroll with me on a Monday, or any other day.  Feel free to join me here with a walk of your own, or simply enjoy the walks I share.  Details are over on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Let’s start with a very special walk with my Australian friend, Miriam.  Please do read and share :

Light the Night

Janet is back from a break.  Guess where?

Monday walk… in a French forest (again)

There are some good-looking cities around, and Lady Lee has enjoyed many :

Dusseldorf

Candy shares a less well-known but beautiful city, too :

Parks, walls and squares in Leon

Can you have too much of a good thing?  Jackie has her own view :

Thankful Abundance

Meanwhile, Drake can always make something out of nothing.  It’s a skillset!

Haphazardly around the corner

If you want to walk in the Lake District, Tea Bee will be your willing guide :

Hike to Haystacks, Lake District, Cumbria

And if you’re thinking of doing the Camino, Cathy has very many experiences to share :

(Camino day 39) Trabadelo to O’Cebreiro 

(Camino day 40) O’Cebreiro to Triacastela

A man after my own heart, Andrew- not to mention his lovely wife :

Travels in Portugal, A Wild River and a Cliff Top Walk in Odeceixa

And what can I say about Meg- my perfect companion :

Walks around home : October (Part 1)

Or Margaret, busy squirreling away for the winter :

(Almost) all is safely gathered in….

There are some places that simply weave a spell.  Share one with Ann Christine :

Thursday Thoughts – Tbilisi, A Feast for the Eye

That’s all for another week.  I hope you have a good one.  P.S No cakes today!  They’re all here.

Six word Saturday

They  will never hold the rain!

Not that there’s much need for them round here, but they do work well for Becky’s Lines and Squares.  She’s playing with Pooh Bear today, and Debbie’s riding around on a bus, in Six Words, of course.  Why not join them?  And have a great Saturday!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Ferragudo

An artist could rarely want for inspiration in Ferragudo.  Nestled in the mouth of the River Arade, blinking sleepily across at booming Portimáo, the village almost restores your faith in the Algarve that was.  I had come for a very special boat trip, but first I need to set the scene.

A more painterly sky I have never seen, gossamer white clouds drifting lazily out to sea.  As you wander into town, it’s hard to avoid the evidence of artists at work.  The fisherfolk cast their nets, fore and aft, and count their catch.

A tidy tangle of lobster pots adorn the quayside, as lobster pots ought.  Cobbled and petal carpeted streets creep upwards from the bombeiros, the fire brigade rarely essential in such a watery realm.

A castle on a beach!  Who’d have thought it?  A romantic image juxtaposed with modern marina on the far shore.  Newly laid stone walls, protecting the villas of today with remnants of yesterday.

Slow steps leading upwards to the church and a sublime outlook.  Narrow alleys to follow, back down to shore and sea.

Lying in wait on the harbourside, more industry.  A little gossip.  A snooze.  A shy maiden.

Azulejos tell life as it was, and never will be again, but life goes steadily on here in Ferragudo.  Gently, thoughtfully, without haste.

Back on the quayside all is calm, but fisherfolk are always busy.

The sun sets as they scull homewards, one last gaze sweeping the bay, ensuring all is well.

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I hope you enjoyed sharing Ferragudo and the Arade estuary with me.  I do believe it’s a special place.  And now it’s time to share some of your walks.  Many thanks for keeping me company here on Jo’s Monday walk

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Still wandering happily in Dublin, with Eunice :

Another day in Dublin – Part 2

Lady Lee takes one last look at Japan :

Dotonbori

What’s Jackie got for us this week?

Food stand

Oops, missed Joe last week!

Jo’s Monday Walk – I call it the Super Walk

Street art is best when it makes you think, like this from Ulli :

Artbase Festival 2019 – Murals in Rural Ruins

Drake rarely abandons me :

Abandoned stories

And I try to keep track of Denzil, whenever I can :

16km hike around Orp-Jauche

While Cathy Caminos on :

(Camino day 37) Ponferrada to Cacabelos

And Carol explores a little of Western Australia.  Pop in for scones, why don’t you?

Outback History

That’s it from me for now.  Life continues to be hectic, in a good way.  More visitors arrived last night so we’ll be exploring the Algarve together.  I’ll catch up with you all when I can.  Stay well and be happy!

Rio Arade, A special place

Relaxed and comfortable at the helm of his small fishing vessel, Luis has found his special place in the world.  All of his working life, a fisherman, he was saddened at the sight of an elderly friend’s boat, abandoned by the water in Ferragudo, because he could no longer sail it.  With great reluctance the friend sold his boat to Luis, assured that it would be far better to see her proud on the water than slowly decaying.  She was lovingly restored and refurbished, so that Luis could sail her on these waters he so loves, and share with us his delight in this special place.

Many times I have crossed over the waters of the Arade estuary, either on the motorway or, more excitingly, over the gracefully arched bridge that spans it, low to the water.  When the tide is out bare mud flats stretch all around, but when the tide swells and surges up the river, it is pure joy to be carried along with it.

Leaving the harbour, Luis takes us across to the other side of the estuary and begins to share the history of the local fishing industry.  We look up at the baskets on the quay, where fisherman used to haul the catch by hand.  The chimneys dotted around the landscape are remnants of sardine factories long since abandoned.  We pass by Portimáo’s proud waterfront and head for a sequence of bridges.  Luis takes great care when sailing beneath them not to catch the lines of the fishermen above, and then we are racing across the water towards the next bridge.

I look upwards, excited to finally sail beneath this beauty.  And then we are beyond the bridges, gently bobbing on calm waters as we round a curve into open countryside.  Luis stills the boat beneath a rocky crag where wives used to gather, gazing seawards to pray for the safe return of their fishermen.  The spot was consecrated as a chapel in the rocks by a bishop.  In winter these waters are not so benevolent.

And then Luis gently steers the boat to where the waters divide, and we enter the channel which will take us to our destination, Silves.

Slowly we approach the city, former capital of the Algarve, and visible from afar across this flat stretch of countryside.  When the tide is out the water here is very low and it’s a paradise for birdlife.  We watch, spellbound, for heron, soaring off across the water and storks circling overhead.  One day we must return to hike the riverside trail.  For now we are hugely entertained by Luis and his knowledge and humour.  He waves gaily to passing craft, seeming to be on first name terms with all who sail here, from solar powered boat to the owners of a tiny marina/restaurant.

The clouds have gathered and I’m grateful for a brief respite from the sun as we glide towards Silves.  A shower was forecast, but we seem to have dodged it.  Two large Viking style boats are moored at the quay, leaving little space for Luis, but he good-naturedly nudges his boat alongside.

We step ashore with an hour and a half to stretch our legs.  Time enough for a stroll through the riverside park and across the river to look back on this magnificent, ancient city.  Coffee and cake, perhaps?

Back on board, we retrace our journey, pausing to examine a tidal mill and the caves beyond, and a former sardine factory, now a smart hotel.

The sun is low in the sky as we reach the bridges, again carefully avoiding fisher folk suspended above.  Luis explains that the arched bridge is designed to look like a fish, the eyes glowing brightly when floodlit at night.

Soon we are approaching Luis’ beloved home, riding high above the water.  I’ve grown to love this place too.  The beauty of this stretch of water, with its many moods and tidal changes speaks to me.  You can only sail this route when the tide is right, but there are other trips you can take with Ferragudo Boat Trips.

So, when Tina asked me to Pick a place, special to me, I had no hesitation.  Join me on Monday and we’ll do a walking tour of Ferragudo.