Eastern Algarve

Six word Saturday

Viva Mãe Soberana!  Viva  Mãe Soberana!

An emotional day in Loulé, last Sunday, celebrating the festival of Mae Soberana. 

For 15 years I’ve wanted to be a part of this ceremony.  The captions tell part of the story, but it’s a memory I hope will stay with me forever.

Impossible to share in Six Words, but I tried.  Viva Mãe Soberana!  Wishing you all a peaceful weekend.

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Jo’s Monday walk : Back lane beauty

Captivating?  He was very cute.  Desperately eager to get through the fence to us but, when he did, a little shy.  On a warm and cloudy afternoon, a couple of weeks ago, we decided to leave the car at home and explore our back lanes.

We live on the northern edge of Tavira, and beyond us the countryside sweeps gently away to the Algarve hills.  It’s about half an hour’s walk to a rather nice pottery and garden centre, with an exceedingly nice café.  This was our destination, but by a rather more roundabout route.  You wouldn’t want to get to the cake too quickly, now would you?

Such a moody sky!  Almost a collector’s item with the boundless blue we have experienced lately.  Capelinha!  That’s the name of the area, and a rather lovely farmhouse still bears the name.  We turn down a path edged by stone walls and the journey of discovery begins.

The almond blossom is long gone, but firm pods of almond are ripening everywhere.  We puzzle over a creeper with unusual blooms, the leaves well-chewed in places.  Did you spot the culprit?  Vibrant loquats vie for our attention, while the Hottentot fig escapes gracefully over a garden wall.

Rows of orange trees march off into the distance, trailing fragrance behind them.  We cross a river bed and find, among the dry bamboo shoots, lilies glowing like pallid candles.  A young man and his lady, pushing their bikes up the hill, pause for breath and smile.

A meadow opens out before us, a sweet symphony in green, orchestrated with notes of pink and lemon.  A butterfly flits ecstatically from one to another and I wait, and wait, for that moment when the wings are still enough to capture.  I almost make it!

I could have played all afternoon with that butterfly, but there were other distractions.  A soft haze of pink, with a tiny snail.  A zing of cornflower blue.  More orange trees- mature this time.  I have to restrain myself from reaching out for a handful of luscious figs, temptingly close.

The leaves are such interesting shapes.  Then a dense orange flower, heralding pomegranates in the autumn, and a ladybird astride a wall.

A cluster of houses, and a bike or two.  A potato vine, prettier than its name would suggest.  And a flamboyant blossom.  Pretty rural scenes.

In such agricultural country a paddock full of horses and a donkey is no surprise.  Nor is the tinkling of bells and the sheepdog herding his flock home.  But one sight did make me look twice.  What a fierce-looking captain!

Tina talks this week about what constitutes Harmony.  Nature provides it effortlessly, don’t you think?  Perhaps someone should tell Mr. Billy Goat!

Doing my best to restore harmony.  Well, everyone likes cake, don’t they?  Feel free to indulge because I won’t be around to walk with you next week.  I have some lovely friends arriving from Newcastle.  I suspect we’ll be eating lots of cake!

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Meantime, please do read and share!  And thanks to all of you for your continued support.  It wouldn’t be Jo’s Monday walk without you!

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Jackie managed to be first this week, and so, of course, …

It’s Coffee Time

A choice of 3 from Natalie- and all beautiful!

3 Walks to take in Slovenia

I absolutely love these windows, so thanks, Debs!

Rambling around another Rabat

Serious, full-on walking with George!  I could only gaze in admiration.  Don’t miss it!

A Big Day in the North

Janet enriched my life with a little ‘forest bathing’ this week :

Monday walk…on the wild side

It sounds a bit like a sitcom, but you will be charmed.  Thanks, Susanne :

The Ducklings of Clark Lake

And there are few sights more beautiful than this!  Thanks for sharing, Sandra!

Tiptoeing through the Tulips – #MtVernon, WA 

Although Jude is offering lots of temptation this week.  And we’re not talking cake!

The turn of the rhodies

And funnily enough, so is Rupali, though they are many miles apart :

Weekend 77: Rhododendron

More Camino with Cathy, though she’s actually in Tuscany right now.  Lucky girl!

(Camino day 15) Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Villamayor del Rio

Nice to welcome Lady Lee back :

Bremerhaven

May will be very low key on the blog while I have company but I should be walking with you again on 20th.  At the end of the month I’m off to the Azores- a long held dream- and I most definitely will not be around.  Take good care till then!

Six word Saturday

Yes, I do have tranquil moments!

I don’t spend all of my life zipping about the place, though it may sometimes seem that way.  Thanks for your interest in the flash mob.  It was a wonderful experience and we hope to have a video on YouTube, after editing.  Now I’m going for a cuppa with Debbie on Six Word Saturday.  Have a great weekend!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Gorjões

Back to the countryside today, after all the excitement of Easter and that family visit that now seems so long ago.  This little treasure was almost hiding its light under a bushel but, once I found one, then of course it had companions.

We’re up in the hills again.  Look to the far horizon, where you can see that distant deepening of blue that is the sea.  I’m standing in the grounds of an abandoned building project, wondering why someone would go to so much trouble to build their house on a hill, and then desert it.  There’s a story here, but one I’ll likely never know.  For now, I take in the views and the infinity pool that never was.

I’m in the area known as Gorjões, barely a 10 minute drive to the busy market town of Loulé, but seeming a world away.  The hills are speckled with villas and beautiful homes, each clinging to their privacy.  The lanes are edged with abundant wild lavender, and I trail my fingertips in their delicate perfume.  Climbing higher still, I come upon the remnants of a mill.

The path levels out and I peep over an inviting stone wall.  A crossroads reveals a heap of rocks with names… Casa Clara… Casa da Bisavo…  Aids for the postman, I think, only to be scoffed at by a local.  ‘We don’t get post up here!  You have to go to the village to collect it’.

I have company, but it’s a slow-paced walk where we stop to point out treasures to each other.  Like the magnificent blue beauty, and its smaller companions, nestled beneath a tree.  Impossible to miss the pure flamboyance of the poppy at this time of year.

Tiny yellow flowers decorate any open stretch of grass.  I stop to admire a grandiose villa, envious of the lovely pool, but I could not live so far from shore.  In amongst the rocks the cistus continue to flourish, nodding cheerfully at the least hint of breeze.

And then we’re dropping down again, spying one last jewel, shy in the sun, and a rock whose message we struggle to read.

I am surprised to read, later, that the flatter of the surrounding lands had long ago been used to cultivate tobacco.  A connection with ancestors in Brazil.  There are many stories in these hills, but for now it’s time to go in search of sustenance.

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I hope you enjoyed my company this week, as much as I enjoyed yours.  Please do find time to read these, and maybe, another time, share a walk of your own?  Details, as always, on Jo’s Monday walk.

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There’s dedication and determination… and then there’s Heather!  She’s an inspiration :

Walking The Walk

A lighthouse on an island… a sight I never tire of.  Thanks, Debs!

Sauntering the sands at Yellowcraig

In case you didn’t get your share of treats at Easter, Jackie has plenty to spare :

New Treats

You know, it can be miserable when it rains.  But it all depends on your point of view :

Rain

Not much rain in Savannah!  Let Alice be your guide :

Starland

Margaret has been revisiting some of her older posts.  Doesn’t this look beautiful?

On the path of Cathar shepherds – revisited

Closer to my former home, Sharon is always out, finding places to explore with her dog :

Entwistle Reservoir

Not a lot of walking, but a whole lot of eating!  Thanks, Sandra!

LaConner Crab Cruise -#Photos

Sharing tranquility and daisies with Susanne is never a bad thing :

Flaming Geyser State Park, a Missing Flame, and Steelhead in Training

Anyone seen Liesbet lately?  She’s been surfing ‘The Wave’!

Catching ‘The Wave’ means winning the Lottery

I love to be surrounded by water, so this place looks pretty perfect to me, Carol :

Island Life

The endless roads, with Cathy, lifted by the beauty of the churches along the way :

(Camino day 14) Azofra to Santo Domingo de la Calzada & ruminations (week two)

Another good week, wasn’t it?  Well, it always is if we’re still here.  Thanks for your company, and see you next time!

Six word Saturday

Those white tents are up again!

I can’t say it hasn’t been a busy week!  Celebrating life at Easter was full of magical moments.  And this weekend, Mostra da Primavera, a show celebrating Spring, with music, dance and good food.  Last night we experienced spectacular Fado, by the riverside in the Mercado.

Today?  Well, it’s World T’ai Chi Day, and at 10.00 this morning I will be taking part in a Flash Mob in Tavira town centre.  Wish me luck!  Sorry, Debbie- I couldn’t say all that in six words.  I’m not ‘up to scratch’.  🙂  Happy Saturday, one and all!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Easter in Tavira

I’m taking you back to Palm Sunday in Tavira for this week’s walk, and an evening heady with emotion.  It’s some years since I spent Easter in the Algarve, but I vividly remembered some of the treats in store.  And I’m not just talking about sweet Folar cake, though that’s good too.

At 5pm people were still strolling nonchalantly towards the Carmo Church.  The ceremony was about to begin but urgency is almost unheard of in these parts.  Eventually a priest left the church and unhurriedly mounted the low stage to address the crowd.  Children fidgeted and skipped about, the smallest ones being hoisted high on shoulders.  The scent of lavender hung in the air, a crushed carpet beneath our feet.  The band were roughly assembled, waiting for their moment.  But first the priest must intone his lengthy benedictions.

Then came the moment.  At a signal from their leader, the band struck up, and began a slow-stepping march.  With varying degrees of enthusiasm, they were joined by members of the congregation, who spilled slowly from the church, banners aloft.  Parents watched anxiously as the cubs shuffled past, shy in the spotlight of so many strangers.  Teenagers, with more assurance, grinned at friends in the crowd.

Cameras began to flash as the floats made their way from the church, gravity and the weight of their years etched on the faces of the bearers.

Against a mackerel sky, on this warm evening, the floats began to sway past us, plaintive music their accompaniment.  A substantial crowd had gathered, the lucky ones sitting up on balconies or gazing through open windows, the rest of us hushed in awe.  The floral decorations were a triumph in themselves.  Never have I seen Birds of Paradise and lilies displayed so eloquently.

Slowly the drama unfurled, as float after float was lofted by, stopping to adjust the weight on shoulders and to negotiate the corner.  Gently, gently down a perilous incline, the crowd following respectfully.

The numbers swelled as we gathered momentum, though the streets are too narrow for speed.  A slow march brought us eventually to the Ponte Romana bridge, decorated with sentinel palms for the occasion.  A few of the cubs carried them too.

On through the main square, some taking the occasion very seriously, others happy just to enjoy the spectacle.  No judgement.  No harsh words.

Such a human affair, you couldn’t help but be moved.  The faith and dedication, the hard work to bring it all together, witnessed by so many in a glorious coming together.  The military, caught smiling in a moment of relaxation.  The band bringing up a valiant rear!

And then the crowds disperse and wander off home, or out to supper, as we did, leaving the day to end, peacefully.

Why this particular procession?  I’ve witnessed a few this past week, including the atmospheric night time lament on Good Friday.  And the joyful ‘Hosannah’s of the Festa das Tochas Floridas in São Brás de Alportel.  But this was my first Easter in my new home town, and my first ever Palm Sunday from my local church.  I hope you enjoyed it with me, and that you, too, shared peace and love this Easter.

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Another Jo’s Monday walk, and time for a different kind of share.  Please do visit and enjoy!  And many thanks to all of you.

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Debbie always makes me smile, then amazes me with her beautiful photography :

Chomping at the bit for Chihuly

Natalie kindly takes me to Mostar this week – a place I wished I’d visited from Dubrovnik, many years ago :

Day Trip to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I’m always being assured how beautiful New Zealand is.  Another lovely ‘stroll’ with Suzanne!

The Tuahu Kauri and Sentinel Rock Trail

Now come and join me and Gilly, and Becky, in Topsham.  You won’t be sorry!

Last Thursday

Jude leads me down the garden path, again.  🙂  A very beautiful one  :

Trelissick Woodland Walk

Trelissick Garden in Spring

A little bit of initiative in the garden goes a long way :

Quick Tip – Yard Walkabout/Storm Repair

Two introductions next!  First, Suburban Tracks :

Stroll through Wild Street- Colors

Then a beautiful landscape, in Rajasthan :

The Wild Wet

And someone you know well- thanks Rupali!

The streets of Malaga

Geoff, meanwhile, shares his love of walking and of books, while Dog stays at home :

Walking With Rosie #bookreview #therosieresult

It’s not every day you see a couple of Penny Farthing’s rolling down the street.  Thanks, Irene!

Back in Time

Speaking of time, doesn’t this forest look primeval to you, Sandra?

Grand Ridge # Hike in Springtime

And stepping back in time, I’ve walked this landscape and loved it.  Thanks, Nadine!

Day 13 on the Pennine Way: Greenhead to Bellingham, 21.5miles

Anyone been to Luxembourg?  Looks nice, Drake!

Grand Duchy

Another day with Cathy, a sea of vineyards and reflections on life :

(Camino day 13) Ventosa to Azofra

No cake, you’ll have noticed!  I over-indulged you on Saturday  🙂  I’m sure there will have been a few chocolates.  Wishing you all a great week!  I will be back with coverage of the Tochas Floridas.  It was sensational this year.

 

Walking on water

I’ve done and seen some wonderful things down the years, but I never had any thought that I could walk on water!  For one thing, I’ve never worn a halo.  Water wings would be more useful.  Nevertheless, last Saturday I found myself joining a queue to walk across the River Guadiana- a distance of approximately 720 metres- from Alcoutim, on the Portuguese side, to Sanlucar de Guadiana, in Spain.

Alcoutim is normally a sleepy little place and, over on the far shore, the enticing white village of Sanlucar is even quieter. If you have any desire to cross the river, you first have to summon a ferryman, who may or may not be located somewhere near his craft, but will always greet you with a friendly smile.  Not so on this occasion.  The ‘Festival do Contrabando’ was in full swing and, even as I walked down towards the river, I could hear the hubbub of the crowd.

Entertainment was in full swing, with a feisty matador swinging his cape at a ‘burro’ as the band played on, and the crowd cheered as clay pots were hurled through the air and skilfully caught.

This was not the Alcoutim I knew!  I eased through the crowd to the ‘ticket office’, where I purchased the mandatory bandana, for my admission fee of 1 euro.  I joined the queue to cross the river, wondering at what rakish angle I should wear it, and why some were wearing red ones when the vast majority were blue, like mine.  Just then the washer ladies arrived, and I was scolded gently and treated to a rub with scented soap.  I obviously wasn’t clean enough to join the party.

Slowly the queue shuffled forward, controlled by customs officers, of course.  The red bandana folk caught the ferry.  Maybe they had a pressing engagement in Spain.  I followed the washerwomen, laughing and calling out to each other as they flounced ahead.  The moment finally arrived and I stepped out onto the pontoon, trying not to look concerned as it wobbled.  What a bizarre sensation!  The river lapped gently all around me and I rolled slowly with its motion.  Gasps and giggles came from my partners in crime, as we staggered towards the middle of the river, not quite believing in what was happening.

Fortunately it was a calm day.  I think I might have felt a little seasick otherwise.  As it was I had assumed the rolling gait of the mariner by the time I reached dry land.  And a huge smile split my face.  I had walked on water!

Over in Sanlucar de Guadiana the antics continued.  Flamenco, involving the crowd and a very attractive ram.  A good time for all was guaranteed.  I wended my way past wondrous craft stalls to a quiet corner where I could survey the scene.

A mooch among the stalls and it was time to join the ever growing queue to return to the other side.  A few clouds had rolled in and there was talk of storms brewing, but fortunately the weather stayed clear and dry all weekend.  One last look back, and I’m home.

For a fuller account, including the story of the ‘last smuggler’, all of 97 years old, read Becky’s An unusual walk into Spain.  That’s it from me, as my son arrives tonight.  I’ll be back with a walk on Monday, 15th April.  Take good care till then!