Six word Saturday

My last few Carnival Spiky Squares!

You can have too much of a good thing, but I couldn’t leave Loulé out of my Carnaval spikes.  No more- I promise!  But you’ll find plenty of Spiky Squares over at Becky’s place, and some excellent advice on Debbie’s Six Word Saturday.  Have a great weekend, everyone!


Jo’s Monday walk : A very traditional village

In the past few years I’ve watched Carnaval parades in many different Algarve towns and villages.  They all share a sense of fun, exuberance and a zest for life that is infectious.  High in the hills, nowhere is more traditional than Alte.  I couldn’t wait to see how they celebrated.

Approaching the quiet village, the empty dragonboat’s hopeful gaze was the first sign that all was not quite normal.  A horde of Norsemen, carousing outside the café, helmets under the table, was the second.  I climbed the steep streets to the church, in search of more evidence.

Paper flowers wreathed the church, gaudy competition for the real ones.  Respected elders sat patiently in a little leafy shade, recalling the parades of their youth, while the young cavorted excitedly below. Plenty of time to inspect the assembled floats before selecting a good vantage point.  No-one seriously believed that the procession would start promptly at three.

It’s a pretty village at any time, but the skillfully decorated floats brought gaiety to the scene. Gradually the noise level built as the cast of characters swelled gently into position.  Bill the Flowerpot Man weaved in and out, genial host with a friendly welcome for anyone who crossed his path.

The decibels increased to deafening level and they were off!  Windy Miller amused me greatly by turning the sails of his windmill by hand, as they swayed around the narrow, cobbled streets, his bakery assistants tending the buns in the glowing oven.

Indians with sweet faces, a fierce-looking biker lady, astronauts who seemed to be auditioning for a role in Star Wars, dinosaurs who kept escaping from their cage, only to be pursued,  captured and returned, only to escape again … Mafia hoods, a float of ‘doces’- not real, unfortunately- two wacky old gents doing a shuffle dance… all slightly barmy but very endearing.  And finally, the Vikings had donned their helmets.

No serious walking this week, but a whole lot of fun.  If you get the chance to visit Alte for Carnaval, I can highly recommend it.

walking logo

Thanks to everybody who has contributed this week.  And to all you armchair readers.  That’s what blogs are for- right?  Join me next time, here on Jo’s Monday walk.  You can share a walk, if you like, or simply read.


Gotta love Sue!  Mother Theresa or Dark Lord? (now don’t take that personally, Sue  🙂  )  I’ll let you all judge :

A very short walk off Brick Lane

Many years ago I witnessed ‘June Gloom’ in La Jolla.  It looks much prettier through Rupali’s eyes :

La Jolla Cove

Dog looks so very intelligent!  I guess he’s seen a lot of life, Geoff?

Walking While Pondering #dunwich #suffolk

Did you know about oyster shell recycling?  Nor did I till I asked Alice :

Camelia Garden Walk

Something I’ve missed this year, but they seem abundant in Wales :

The Snowdrop Walk at Chirk Castle

Oh, my!  You’ve not seen cherry doughnuts like these!  Thanks, Janet!

Fougerolles cherry festival

And one of Jackie’s Mojitos might be nice, too!

Happy Hour

If you’re really trying to make me happy, a veranda would be wonderful.  Rocking chair ready, Karen?

Stratford Walk 2: history and houses

Meanwhile Jude is treating us all to a feast of Spring, complete with lurching rhododendrons!

An Early Spring Walk

I suspect she’d like to join Margaret for this one, too  🙂

Botany and a bus ride

Becky’s back in the UK for a short while, but not without leaving a flavour of the Algarve behind :

A glorious walk in the ‘Serra do Caldeirao’

While Georgina crosses the Guadiana to take a closer look at our hillside flora :

Asphodels in Alcoutim

In the Canaries, meanwhile, all is peaceful :

Time for a Siesta

The Vikings were not the most peaceful of folk, but Amanda has found us a beautiful, ancient church :

Vaernes Church, Norway c 1085

How about an indoor forest?  That’s what Sandra has in store this week :

#Spheres -#Saturday Snapshot and #Monday Walk 

And Drake?  A few tubs of luscious dates  🙂

Marketplace mood

Walking in heat, and running out of water!  I can relate to that one, Cathy!

(Camino: day 7) Muruzabal to Lorca & ruminations (week one)

Because she really is an inspiration, I’m submitting this walk for Cathy’s Photography Invitation.  Let her show you wonderfully scenic Ouray, Colorado.  Have a great week, and see you next time!



Six word Saturday

It may not be the biggest…

….or oldest, but Carnaval, Altura style, is still a whole lot of fun.  At this coastal village in the Eastern Algarve, the audience, and especially the children, are every bit as much a part of the show as the cast of characters, both on and off the floats.  The enthusiasm is hugely infectious.

I found it equally impossible to resist the boisterous charms of Carnaval at Loule, the big one, but I have shared most of my photos on my Restlessjo Facebook page.  I was invited along on a photographic walk with Dave Sheldrake, a successful Algarve photographer and a very nice chap.  If you want to see how the professionals do it, have a look on his wife Alyson’s Algarve blog.

Meantime, have a great weekend,  and don’t forget your six words for Debbie.  I’ll be back with a walk on Monday.

All set to Shimmy!



It’s not every year that Valentine’s Day coincides with Carnaval, but there was definitely something in the air at Loule this year.  As the band ratcheted up the volume, toes tapped, hips swayed and a full-blooded shimmy was just a heartbeat away.

It was my second visit to the Algarve’s biggest Carnaval event, so I had a good idea what to expect.  The Portuguese have a healthy disrespect for politicians and celebrities, and this year’s theme of Sport poked gentle fun at heroes and villains alike. The floats are beautifully constructed labours of love, and there’s an infectious atmosphere of gaiety and excitement. The children have their own mini Carnaval in the schools, and often wear their costumes to the grand parade.  Here are just a few of the scenes that made me smile.

Let the show begin!

Let the show begin!

Recognise anyone?

Recognise anyone?

Most sports were represented

Most sports were represented

It's all downhill for some!

It’s all downhill for some!

For others it's one big smile

For others it’s one big smile

And a hat full of feathers

And a head full of feathers!

Costume malfunction?

Costume malfunction?

There’s a delightful whimsicality to it all, but what really stands out for me is the pure artistry of the paper flowers.  Just look at these!


Nobody is left out, from the largest to the smallest.  The oversized sunshine men reach down to the crowd, then touch foreheads together in a slow smooch.  A stern looking lady, with a splendid costume, ‘high fives’ youngsters at the roadside, between shimmies.  The littlest ones can bounce along on the back of a caterpillar or a panda. Everyone is intended to have the time of their lives, and if they don’t, they’re really not trying!

"Dance with me"

“Dance with me”

"High five!"

“High five!”

The skirt!

The skirt!

Nobody is left out!

“Bounce with me!”

Where's Mum gone?

“Where’s Mum gone?”

And the spectators are part of the show

And the spectators are part of the show

Isn’t he adorable?  The littlest Yoda!  Me and Michael were at one point on opposite sides of the parade.  A brief cloud burst had crowds and performers alike scattering for cover, and when they resumed we were grinning across at each other. He took this wonderful shot.  Mine was ‘side on’ to the little fellow and not nearly so good.

I have so many photos and I feel quite guilty leaving anyone out.  But I shall end with the ‘dancing girls’.  If anyone can shimmy, it’s them!

It goes like this!

It goes like this!

What more can I say?  If you’re ever in the Algarve at Carnaval time, you’re in for a treat.  I’m off to practise my shimmy, in celebration of my 500th post.

‘L’ is for Loule


The market town of Loule

The peaceful market town of Loule

Loule to me means just one thing.  Carnaval!  This quiet inland market town in the Algarve is no Rio de Janeiro, but it knows how to party. For over 100 years they have celebrated the beginning of Lent with Carnaval, Portuguese style.  No shortage of dancing girls either, though they often have to dance hard to keep warm.

Bring on the dancing girls!

Bring on the dancing girls!

Carnaval 2012 was a classic, and I made a surprising guest appearance!  Fortunately I was very easily overlooked in the crowd. Numerous photos of the Carnaval floats, of a distinctly political but humorous nature, appear in my post ‘C is for Carnaval’, so I won’t reproduce them all here.  The town’s main street, Avenida Jose de Costa Mealha, is closed for the event and there is a small charge. Don’t miss it if you are in the neighbourhood!

Normally Loule (pronounced Loo-lay, incidentally) is rather more sedate.  One of the most distinctive features of the town is the Arab style market, pictured in my first photograph.  Smaller shops surround the market stalls and it is a treat for both eyes and nose.  On Saturday mornings an open air market takes over the outdoor space too.  Parking becomes no easy matter.

On my first visit to Loule I remember having to search for the remaining fragment of the town walls and the 13th century castle, but I liked what I found. Entrance to the walls is through a small museum, which traces the town’s history back through Roman to medieval times.  It has the vaulted brick ceilings that I love.

The older part of town is fairly compact , and the narrow cobbled streets reveal artisan workshops and some lovely craft shops. Following the twists and turns you will come to a small square containing the town’s main church, Igreja de S. Clemente, and a tiny garden, Jardim dos Amuados, an ancient Arab cemetery.

Loule’s main landmark is visible from the A22 motorway when driving past the town.  Nossa Senhora da Piedade is a dome shaped modern church which sits on a hill to the west of town.  At Easter there is a huge procession in honour of the Sovereign Mother. This must be one of the few things I haven’t yet managed to see in the Algarve.

Nossa Senhora da Piedade- courtesy of Wikipedia

Nossa Senhora da Piedade- courtesy of Wikipedia

The procession to the church at Easter

The procession to the church at Easter

Loule is well worth a look when you’ve tired of the beaches and need a little historical detail, or a shopping bonanza.  A few  parking hints and a lot of photos are available in C is for Carnaval.

For now I’ll simply thank Frizz for his inspiring A-Z series.  With Tagged L this week he is just about managing to keep me on track. Grateful thanks are also due to Julie Dawn Fox, who started the Personal A-Z Challenge a long time ago!  Some day I’ll manage to complete it for both countries.  Join me in the challenges if you can. banner4

Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post : Unforgettable


Unforgettable, one of my all time favourite songs.  Isn’t it yours?  I don’t even have to mention Nat King Cole and it’s smouldering away in your head.  He certainly had that “unforgettable” quality.

Some of you know that I have just experienced one of the most unforgettable weekends of my life- the wedding of my daughter Lisa to Leonardo.  The honeymoon alone is worth a post, and I wasn’t even there!  But I will tell you that they had snow in Venice- a magical thought.  It swirled around the lagoon like a giant snowdome.  And the claxons sounded for Aqua Alta whilst they were at a masked ball.  The water rose and rose to the first floor of the hostess’ home in Ca D’Oro, and they had to remain till 4.30 in the morning when the level had dropped sufficiently to escape.  Never mind- the band and the opera singers played on, and the food was good.  I think that definitely comes in the category of “unforgettable”, but the memory isn’t mine to cherish.

Click on any of the photos to view them gallery style.

I’m pretty sure most of you will have unforgettable moments in your life, and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.  Click on the lucky snake logo or the link to visit Jakesprinter with me.  Thanks Jake for being unforgettable yourself.

To the Manor born


Thrumpton Hall, just south of Nottingham, returned to it’s glory days last weekend, when my daughter Lisa married Leonardo Lopez Wain.  I should have known that there was a Byron connection.  A more romantic setting it would be hard to imagine.  And indeed, a former owner of the Hall, Frederick the 10th Baron Byron, was married to Lady Anna Fitzroy, sister of the 10th Duke of Grafton, and a direct descendant of King Charles II.

An engraving of Thrumpton Hall by Wencelas Hollar in the 1600s

An engraving of Thrumpton Hall by Wencelas Hollar, 1600s (Creative Commons)

The Cavaliers would have felt quite at home at last Saturday’s reception.  My daughter loves period costume and the wedding guests were invited to indulge in the same.  Many of her friends are role players and were delighted to partake.  As one of the guests remarked to me “I just love dressing up, don’t you?”  I had to confess that it was my first time, but that, yes, it did feel good.

I had already survived the drama of arriving at the wrong church just 15 minutes before the ceremony was due to begin, and a panic stricken scurry through country lanes to collapse into my seat a bare 5 minutes before the bride.  My reading from Song of Solomon was delivered with an impassioned throb in my voice and knocking knees as I struggled to find my place in the bible.  After that, everything felt good.

The Hall was magnificent.  We gathered in the library, around an open fire.  The books and the furniture were from a bygone age.  The reception rooms were lavish, and the Jacobean cantilevered staircase, carved in wood from the estate, an object of real beauty.  The guests mingled as good guests should.  The atmosphere was as warm as the fire.

All too soon it was over, and Lisa and Leo stepped briefly out of character to fly BA to their honeymoon in Venice.  Costumes donned again, they were off to Carnaval and a masked ball.  May they always be as happy as they are today.

To see the dress and bouquet in more detail, please visit my Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post : On going.  You can click on any of these individual photos to see them in gallery form.  Happy Valentine’s Day everybody.

Sunday Post : People

“People.  People who need people, are the luckiest people in the world…”  I love this Barbara Streisand song.  Here I go again.  It’s sing-along-a-Jo Sunday and I’m taking part in Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post, while gently humming People to myself.

The funny thing is that though I consider myself a “people person”, when I saw Jake’s theme for this week I immediately thought “oh,no!” – I don’t have any people photos.  I’m one of those who waits patiently for someone to turn the corner or move out of range before I take my shot.  I don’t photograph well myself.  The smile never looks natural.  And when it comes to capturing someone on camera, I simply don’t have what it takes to draw out the best of them.  A beach or a tree don’t scowl at you, do they?  So I’m quite envious when I see shots full of character and personality.

Well- you didn’t think you were going to get out of it that easily, did you?  I suddenly remembered when it is that I’m more than happy to point my camera at people : the many occasions when people are lost in celebrations and abandon themselves quite happily to the moment.  Here are just a few:

Crowds line the streets, and even the rooftops, for the Festa dos Tabuleiros at Tomar.

Not an empty balcony or window frame in sight.

Impossible to take this shot without people in it! The flower-filled streets of Tomar.

Drummers at the Medieval Fair in Obidos

See what I mean? He was definitely scowling at me!

Come to think of it, they weren’t so happy either.

Lots of smiley faces on this Carnaval float at Paderne, though.

Not sure if these guys at Loule Carnaval come into the category of “people”?

Or these!

But they certainly know how to have a good time at Alte’s Folk Festival

I even slipped over the border into Spain to watch people having fun there.

So maybe I do take a few photographs of people, after all.  Many thanks to Jake for reminding me.

I won’t be able to join in with the challenge for the next couple of weeks because I’ll be pointing the camera at bridges in Porto and vineyards in the Douro valley.  I’m sure you’ll all keep Jake company, and I’ll find time to see what you’ve been up to when I get home.

Wonder what I’ll be singing next Sunday morning?  I won’t have Jake to prompt me.  I’ll leave you with some lovely entries from this week’s challenge.  View the others on the links or the flying dragon logo.

C is for Carnaval

I fought long and hard to resist writing this, and then capitulated.  A bit like my husband when the dancing girls stopped in front of us and took each of us by the hand, to my expression of delight and his of abject dismay.  Happily for him, it was over in a flash and we were back in the crowd, minus my jester’s hat.  Shame!

Financial crisis hits Loule Carnival

It was our first experience of the Loule Carnaval procession and it fully lived up to our expectations.  Loule is an interesting market town, 16km north of Faro in the Algarve.  The remains of the castle date back to the 12th century and the almedina, the old quarter, is a maze of streets lined with artisan shops and cafes.  The Arab style market hall on Praca da Republica is a focal point, and there’s a lively street market on Saturday mornings.

Fountain and the Arabian market, Loule

Much of Loule is a modern sprawl and we were uncertain about access to this, the Algarve’s biggest Carnaval celebration.  For once, it turned out well.  We approached the town on the N270 from Sao Bras de Alportel and at lunchtime traffic was minimal.  There was the distinct impression that the townsfolk were conserving their energy to party later.  Establishing where the barriers were on the main street, Avenida Jose da Costa Mealha, we parked a little way out on Rua Alfonso de Albuquerque and strolled back into town in pleasant sunshine.

A pavement coffee and pastry to watch the excitement build was a good choice.  The 15 floats were towed gently into place and there was plenty of time to wander between them to admire and take photographs without the crowd.  Loudspeakers announced a 3pm start and it was time to seek out that good spot, having first paid your 2 euros at the kiosk.  It was entertainment in its highest form just watching the locals arriving, many of the children in costume and jiggling with excitement.  This year costume shops and stalls had been set up to encourage people to get into the spirit of Carnaval and shake off the doom and gloom.

The Portuguese are very happy to poke fun at their leaders and celebrities and the Carnaval has a political theme.  Many of the floats produced wry smiles if not outright chuckles.

Just a bit more shuffling of feet and the parade was assembled and off.  It was everything you could have hoped for and more- strange characters on stilts, who bent down to engage with the children, dancers by the score, trick cyclists, pierrots, and of course the “Samba” ladies in their provocative outfits.  As each float pulled to a standstill hoards of paper streamers and tiny keepsakes were flung into the crowd.  As the sun sank behind the buildings I had to jiggle harder to the music to keep warm.  It took over an hour for all of the floats to pass by- 2 euros very well spent.

Our dancing ladies were just feet away when Michael decided that enough was enough- he wasn’t going to be involved in another round of embarrassment.

My all too brief moment of fame, then I had to give the hat back!

We really did have a great time, but it was in fact our second experience of Carnaval, Algarve-style.  The event runs for three days, culminating on Shrove Tuesday, and on the previous Sunday we had gone to a far more low key and traditional style of parade at Paderne, a small inland village.  We were familiar with the village having spent time there seeking out an exquisite art gallery, Corte Real, and on another occasion following a trail to Paderne Castle.

The church at Paderne

Paderne regularly fools us and this time was no different.  Apart from some streamers overhead there was little sign of life in the village so, assuming we’d got it wrong, we set off for a stroll in the sunshine, down to the Fonte, a rather intriguing spring.  Half an hour later the village had mobilised into action and suddenly we were in the thick of the preparations.  The excitement was tangible.  Mystified we retired to a tiny café where a captivating toddler, dressed as a fluffy yellow chicken, was passed around its adoring family.  When we poked our noses back out again the parade was about to begin.

Although much smaller than its Loule counterpart, the procession was no less fun.  The setting was intimate, within just a few village streets, locals looking down from bedroom windows.  The lords and ladies mounted the floats and as they moved off four shimmering Chinese dragons manoeuvred into position.  I was delighted to observe that their scales had been constructed painstakingly from cartons.  The theme was Chinese business and a flutter of parasols and coolie hats took to the streets.

With enormous energy they paraded around and around, and as we made for home there were still queues at the kiosk.  We were left in no doubt that the Algarveans know how to party.

I’m entering this in the word a week photography challenge on celebrations as it just seems to fit so well.