Eastern Algarve

Jo’s Monday walk : Porto Carvalhoso

Some of you have already met Medronho, the Strawberry Tree. It lines the Algarve hillside at this time of year, when early mornings and evenings can have a nip in the air. I’m sure that many a nip of the firewater distilled from the Medronho fruit has been imbibed here in these hills, to ward off the winter chills.

It was on just such a morning that I clambered up the steep hill above the village of Porto Carvalhoso, with a few like-minded friends. I didn’t notice anyone with a hip flask but coloured water bottles are the perfect disguise. Many of the cork oaks had been stripped, vulnerable in their nakedness.

Up and over the hill we went. After the initial scramble the trail leveled out and there was time to enjoy our surrounds. A striking, stone house had good views down the valley, while the tumbledown next door was clearly marked with the initials that denote the boundary of someone’s property. We were following a route on an App called Wikiloc, from which we’ve had mixed results. Anyone who subscribes can add a walk, so if they get a little lost and have to retrace their steps… well, you usually end up doing the same.

On this particular occasion we were gazing down the valley trying to fathom which way next. The route appeared to drop down a slippery slope, with no obvious way to descend. Fortunately a brave volunteer decided to test it out and, reassured, we followed on. The trods were completely overgrown. Happily no twisted ankles resulted, and soon the path became visible again. A rich tapestry of soft greens and beige surrounded us. In the distance a small cluster of houses invited. On our approach the sound of sawing filled the air, a sizeable logpile for the winter nights.

A stream runs through the bottom of the valley, the mill race watching in silence as the water gurgles. We wonder if there will be a water crossing, but thankfully not this time. It’s getting deep after recent rains. Instead we start the gentle climb back to the village, where our car awaits.

I remember this day as a light-hearted one. Part of a glorious weekend. Time with friends is precious. For now, they are my family. Porto Carvalhoso is a tiny village, just off the N270 which runs north from Tavira.

walking logo

I had to share a walk today, because a backlog of shares is building up. Please find some time to visit the following walks. You might well find a friend. And maybe join me next time, here on Jo’s Monday walk? You’ll be very welcome.

………………………………………………..

Isn’t Autumn beautiful? Meg’s happy to share :

Autumn Scenery

And the photos in this one are stunning! Thanks, Denzil and Herman :

The Millennium Tower and La Fange de l’Abime

Natalie managed Walktober. One of these days I’ll get there!

Fun Ride/My Walktober

Eunice enjoyed a pretty part of the Yorkshire Dales :

Kirby Lonsdale – exploring somewhere new

And if you should one day be in need of a periwig, Marion knows just the place!

A walk around Abergavenny

Meanwhile, Margaret asks a very fair kwestion :

What’s the point of walking?

I’m always affected by the way Drake sees the world :

Unaffected, the affected way

Lack of noise

How about a gentle stroll with Albert?

Shoreline Walk – Return via Western Foreshores

Or a little soft mist, with Rupali :

Weekend 110: A walk in the mist

I never can resist a waterfall, and Aiva is the perfect guide :

A fantastic walk of the weekend : Exploring Ireland’s Highest Waterfall

Why not take a visual stroll with Flavia?

Vico Equense – Ceramics (Part 1)

While Carol takes us Skywalking in Queensland :

I Spy

And Kelly gets even higher in beautiful Bali!

Atop Gunung Agung

This week I will have been a resident of the Algarve for two years. I expected to write an update on Living the Dream, but right now I’m feeling sad. Hopefully I’ll give myself a shake and ‘crack on’!

A house for Jude

Often enough we go wandering in the hills. Sometimes we follow a trail. Sometimes one of us has trod that way before. One of us is looking for a home with a beautiful view. It might be modern, or a more traditional Portuguese style. But we all stop, look and offer an opinion. It matters not, of course, for the house is seldom on the market and, if it were, would be way beyond our budget. But it’s a harmless pursuit.

We start in the village. A rather ramshackle window is firmly shuttered, inviting no buyers. An uphill cobbled track leads to a country lane, and the most exquisitely gnarled olive tree trunk. I stop to admire.

A feature of this part of the world, great boulders are stacked one upon another. They interlock, braced against the sky. Has some idle giant been playing at jigsaws, then strode off into the clouds? The textures absorb the sunlight.

The land opens out, with a scattering of almond trees. How beautiful will they look in spring, laden with armfuls of white blossom? A narrow lane leads to a quirky little bungalow. Perhaps I could live here, but it’s much too far from shore.

The views are far reaching and lovely, and I can picture the smoke-coloured evening hills. Still, the valley can never surpass the sea for me.

But maybe for Jude? I’d better ask her!

2020 Photo Challenge #46

A birthday treat

I’m going to be a little bit naughty today. You see, Su’s invited me to a tea party and, as usual, I’m totally unprepared. So what I thought I’d do is share with you my birthday treat last Thursday. Raspberry cheesecake with a chocolate base, anybody?

Let me set the scene. Heavy rain is threatened and a warning in place for electrical storms. I know I’m lucky to be able to go out to celebrate the day, but I did have such plans. A nice little spot overlooking a dam. Serene and beautiful. Sunset on the water, and a sunrise full of misty promise. But when the rain drifts in, visibility nil. Go to plan B. A restaurant I’ve been curious about for some time. Cha Cha Cha, in Olháo.

Initially we think, hop a train. A leisurely afternoon with fine wine. But the storm threatens and we jump in the car. Into a head wind on the waterfront. Will we make it before the storm hits?

Barely just! We have the place almost to ourselves. Heavy wooden doors bolt us in. A tiny outlook to a bougainvillea clad wall. Swiftly and firmly closed and the plum velvet curtains swished shut. The sound of drumming rain and the growls of thunder prowling the rooftops. We don’t mind. Secure and warm. And there’s cake! An atypical Algarve birthday, in an atypical year.

Now come on over to Su’s place for sumptuous food and a bit of a gossip.

Virtual afternoon tea, November 2020

Sunshine after the rain

I’ve had the song running through my head since I read Ana’s post on Saturday. The sun will come out tomorrow is almost guaranteed in my present home in the Algarve. But it wasn’t always so. Back in the north east of England there were as many grey days as blue. I’m one of the lucky ones, who’ve managed to turn the dream into reality, and I try to be grateful for that every day.

Rain, here, is something to be cherished, though I didn’t actually tap-dance, Gene Kelly style, when the heavens opened last week. I did watch, awe-struck, as the lightning rolled and the thunder clapped. And marvelled afterwards at the fresh green beauty of my world.

I find the salt pans almost as lovely under leaden skies, but there is no denying the joy I feel when sunlight glints on the water. The world sparkles with a magic all its own. It fills me with hope for a brighter and better future. If only we can make it happen.

Jo’s Monday walk : Idling through the lanes

We’re back in the lanes again this week. Not so much a walk as a collection of reminiscences. In these past few weeks we’ve walked, in 2s and 4s, and once, daringly, in an 8. Our horizons were broadened and then, like the slamming of a door, curtailed.

In common with much of Europe. Patience is required. Not something that comes naturally, to me, at least. And yet, I’m surrounded by beauty.

It is the time of year to return to the hills. Slowly, for there is no hurry. Savouring the subtle aroma of orange blossom. A day’s worth of rain brings life and colour to the fields. Gentle sunshine breathes warmth over ripened vines and olives. The grape harvest now complete, nets are spread hopefully beneath gnarled trees to catch the olives. Pomegranates blaze a dark red promise of the luscious jewels to come.

As we ramble, snippets of information are exchanged. Our own grapevine of survival. Stories that make us smile. Some that make us sad. Linking us to one another. I stop to peer at a chequered fork, lying on the cobbles. Fallen from a bike’s panier after a picnic, perhaps? A quirky find. Softly coloured houses, one with a spreading vine, one trailing delicate green fronds over a wall. Its shadow dances at any hint of breeze.

A slight gradient follows, and a climb into the hills. Overhead the clouds soar and bubble away to the horizon. We look back to the coast, glistening in the distance, and point out our homes. The rock formations crumble on either side of us, raw nature reminding us that the earth has survived many ages. And, with or without our help, will continue to do so. Unlike some of the abandoned hill villages in the Algarve.

Dark clouds swoop, a portent of further life-giving rain, and a nudge back down the hill in time for lunch. I’m sure we can find cake somewhere? After all, it’s Monday!

walking logo

Hopefully I’ve rounded you all up from my last Monday walk. Apologies to anyone I’ve missed. I’m intending to make Jo’s Monday walk a monthly feature at present, so feel free to drop by with a walk at any time. I’ll always try to make you welcome.

………………………………………………

Janet has discovered a whole new and wonderful world in Arizona :

Jo’s Monday walk…diversity

Is it Autumn where you are? Rupali trails colours in her wake :

Weekend 106 : Autumn walk

While Margaret takes note of each step and stone :

Trusty’s Hill and Rutherford’s Monument

Carol shows off her native Australia :

Small but beautiful Part 1

Small but beautiful Part 2

Wonderful autumnal scenes and an ‘almost selfie’ from Drake :

Doing it the own way

Next path at the right

Way back in time, LadyLee had a holiday!

Kranzbach holiday

And Marion explored a beautiful English town :

Ross-on-Wye, Hertfordshire

Have you ever been to Armenia? No, nor me! Interesting, though…

Armenia: The Beauty of Not Hiking Mont Azhdahak

I’m always a sucker for enthusiasm. Where better than Tuscany?

San Gimignano, the turreted village

While Frank muses on the shoreline :

4 – Shells – Beach Walk Reflections

Please do visit the above. They’re all lovely people and you might make a new friend. Meanwhile, have a great month!

Of its kind

The message last Monday was much stronger, but still, I love the lighthouse at Vila Real de Santo Antonio and, living where I do, so close to the salt marsh habitat of the Ria Formosa, I always have a soft spot for a flamingo. Croquet with the Queen of Hearts, anyone?

KindaSquare

Monday Mural

Seascapes

Cacela Velha

What’s a person to do? Not enough days in the week to fit in all the challenges. I can’t deny Jude a Seascape, can I, and I don’t want to square these.

So Becky will have to wait till tomorrow. Sorry, hon! Back to play soon.

2020 Photo Challenge #40

Thursday’s Special : Estival

I’ve always meant to tell the story of Flor de Sal, so much a part of summer here in the Algarve.  A walk through the salt marshes is one of the joys of summer, though you do have to pick your days as it can be unbearably hot.  A hint of breeze can make all the difference.

The pink colouration, from crill, especially transfixes the eye.  The fusion of sunshine and salt water creates the salt crystals, which need high temperature and strong sunshine with only gentle winds.  This year conditions have been perfect and it’s a very good harvest.

The process starts around April, when the tanks are prepared.  Mud and clay has hardened over the years and a first channel of salt water is fed in with the tide, to a good depth.  The system of tanks or reservoirs are connected with locks and channels, and gradually the saltwater is transferred to increasingly shallow tanks, warming the water in the process.  Finally it reaches the crystallisation tanks where, from June to August, ‘flor de sal’ is formed.  The fragile crystals form on the saltwater surface.  Harvesting is done by hand, the ‘marnotos’ being highly skilful in collecting the crystals, which must never touch the bottom of the pans.  They are raked gently off and left to dry in the hot sun for 7 days, where they become more crunchy, and identifiable as the ‘flor de sal’ which is sold in the markets.  Their appearance through a microscope is like a flower.  Just one more miracle of summer.

Many thanks to Paula, at Thursday’s Special, for the inspiration.