Carnaval

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!

6wsButton

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!

Seriously?

Seriously?

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!

IMG_7187

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

404322_287595227969825_100001580503329_842365_806400363_n

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

sunday-post-logo-2013-180-x-138

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

IMG_5354

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.