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.

walking logo

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


Still wandering happily in Dublin, with Eunice :

Another day in Dublin – Part 2

Lady Lee takes one last look at Japan :


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.

An interview with Alyson Sheldrake

Alyson Sheldrake was one of my first contacts in the world of blogging.  A very generous lady,she extended the hand of friendship to me when she realised I was struggling with some technical issues, despite running two blogs of her own and creating wonderful art.

Her Algarve blog caught my eye initially.  Packed with interesting and highly informative articles on the Algarve, we developed a gentle rivalry over where we’d been and what we’d seen en route.  Then I discovered that she was also responsible for The Thought Palette, a bit more thought provoking and covering everything from philosophy to art.  Six word Saturday drew me in, and then of course the personal A-Z challenge.  Though this was Julie Dawn Fox’s brainchild, Alyson committed herself wholeheartedly to developing the challenge and giving help wherever it’s needed.

She has boundless energy and enthusiasm, not to mention talent.  Evidence of this, if any were needed, is the coming Art and Photography exhibition, from 14-18th April at the Holiday Inn in Armacao de Pera.  Understandably Alyson is very excited about this- her first ever exhibition.  When Alyson asked me whether I would like to take part in a series of interviews for her blog I was flattered.  While thinking up my own answers, I thought it might be a good idea to turn the tables on her, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the results.

1 Why did you start to write your blog?

My Algarve Blog http://algarveblog.net/ was inspired by Ben at his Moving to Portugal blog as I found this such a useful resource as we planned our own move to live here in the Algarve – it was great to find someone who had already ‘been there and done it’ and it inspired me to start my own blog. I cannot believe that my Algarve blog has been running for a year now and even won an international award!

I also started my second blog The Thought Palette http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/  a few months later as I wanted to have a blog that gave me a wider remit to be able to write about all sorts of things that inspired or challenged me.

2 Why did you choose Portugal to live?

We fell in love with the sleepy fishing village of Ferragudo about eight years ago after a last-minute unplanned holiday to the area; and five years ago we managed to finalise our plans to sell up in the UK and buy our house out here. It then took over four years of planning and plotting to actually move out here.

Ferragudo beach

3 What do you love most about where you live?

I love the people, our neighbours are all Portuguese and so friendly, helpful and gentle. The weather, obviously, but also the peace, slower pace of life, fantastic light for photography and painting, and the great simple food. I also love being able to sit outdoors in the sunshine and enjoy a leisurely lunch, listening to the birds in the trees and feeling the warm sun on my face!

4 Tell me about your art and paintings

I am like a small child skipping down on Christmas morning to open her presents every day that I can go downstairs and open the door to my very own studio! I have always painted but had been struggling to find any time at all to commit to this with a full time job – so being able to devote all of my time to this now is very special to me. I have spent the last few months painting virtually every day; and I have found my own ‘style’ has started to develop very naturally.

I love painting with acrylics, on a finely prepared gesso surfaced board – I really dislike canvas! I like to portray light and colour, with a mixture of detailed ‘realistic’ painting sections combined with more simple colour and shape – lots of people have seen my work and cannot ‘label’ it – I like that!

My husband Dave has been busy with his camera too and I am so proud of the quality of his photographs and enthusiasm for his work. We still have much to learn and develop further and the journey so far has been wonderful.

I am also so excited that we are about to have our first ‘solo’ exhibition here in the Algarve – you can find out more about our work and the exhibition here A3 Art website (link) http://www.a3art.co.uk/section596752.html

Breakwater-Lighthouse in acrylic by Alyson Sheldrake

5 Quick choice:

  • Mac or PC?
  • PC – I love the sleek design of a Mac but have not been tempted yet!
  • Starter or dessert?
  • Dessert every time!
  • Early morning or late night?
  • Erm, neither! I’m so not a morning person, but I also like going to bed and reading too!
  • Air con or log fire?
  • We don’t have either here – but a log fire would win for me – crackling and welcoming


6 What book(s) are you reading now?

I’ve just enjoyed both Pentecost and Prophecy by Joanna (J F) Penn; and I am currently reading ‘Three Thousand Miles for a Wish: the true story of a young woman’s quest to find happiness’ by Safiya Hussain – this is a really well written story of a young girl as she embarks on the Hajj and enters the world of ancient Islamic practice and devotion. I’ve also just discovered Brenda Youngerman – so there’s lots more on my Kindle to read!

7 Do you have a role model or someone who has inspired you?

I have started a new blog series – My Personal A to Z of Art – (link) http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/my-personal-a-z-challenge/my-a-to-z-of-art/

For each letter of the alphabet I will be sharing the artists that inspire me – with some surprises along the way!

8 What blogs and web-sites do you read regularly?

I am enjoying so many of the A to Z Challenges; and also Six Word Saturday has introduced me to so many new blogs – I have now set up my WordPress account so that I don’t receive any emails for new blog posts anymore – there are too many! I prefer to go to ‘my blogs’ and have a more leisurely read over a cup of tea in the morning!

Some of my ‘classic’ blogs include:

Jeff Goins – http://goinswriter.com/ – Mr Inspiring!

Tamara Out Loud – http://tamaraoutloud.com/ I love her quirky take on life

Robert Brault – http://www.robertbrault.com/ I love his quotes!

9 For people new to your blogs, where should they start?

Just dive in there and see what catches your eye – and maybe check out the About Us page too. I’ve tried to create some more pages now which collate interesting posts together – so try My A to Z of Portugal http://algarveblog.net/my-a-z-of-portugal/ or Places to Go http://algarveblog.net/places-to-go/ on Algarve Blog; and My A to Z of Art http://thethoughtpalette.co.uk/my-personal-a-z-challenge/my-a-to-z-of-art/ on The Thought Palette.


10 What is your favourite meal to order in a restaurant?

I’d have to travel for this one, I’d have Salada do Polvo (octopus salad) for a starter from the little restaurant near the beach in Burgau; rabbit stew from a little restaurant we love in Odeceixe, and then mousse de caramel from Toc Toc’s in Ferragudo… with a nice glass of red wine (Monte Velho is good!)

11 What were your best subjects at school, and do they relate to your work now?

P.E. English and Art – So I took a degree in sport, a teaching qualification PGCE in PE and English, and then joined the Police, working my way out and into senior education roles, including working as a Director of Education for the Church of England! Finally I am now able to concentrate on my painting and art, and I am loving every minute.

12 Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about starting their own blog?

Go for it – but have a ‘theme’ and a purpose – and consider something like WordPress as an easy way of hosting and designing a site. But beware it has limitations if you want to expand or have more control over what you want to do with your blog in the longer term.

And definitely think about joining the A to Z Challenge – website link http://myatozchallenge.com/ – I’ve found this a brilliant way of giving your blog a purpose and ‘theme’ to follow. You will also meet a lovely community of other supportive bloggers!

13 Where else can we find you on the web or in print – any books, articles, Facebook or Twitter account?

You can see our art and photography on our web-site http://www.a3art.co.uk and you can find us on Facebook A3-Art. I’m also starting to draft out my first book – but it will take a while I am sure! I’m also thinking of expanding my current writing commitments and would be open to any suitable suggestions!

Prainha beach

14 Can you share one thing about yourself that we would never know about you from reading your blog?

I’m still a huge fan of John Barrowman! I met him once and it took me about a week to recover!

15 For people considering a move to live abroad, what would you recommend they do first?

Visit the place lots of times first – at different times of the year, not just during the ‘holiday times’ – i.e. see what it’s like in winter! Ask lots of people lots of questions, and maybe plan to rent first, if you can, to see if you like it enough to want to live there.

16 Can you name three favourite places you would recommend people visit if they are on holiday here in the Algarve?

Ferragudo, Silves and the West Coast.

West coast

17 What would be your favourite way to spend a weekend that you had all to yourself?

I’d have a lie in of course! Then decide where I am going to eat out (Toc Toc’s in the village will probably win for me!) as I am rubbish at cooking! Then download a new book to read, walk to the beach and settle down to enjoy the sunshine! Probably a chick-flick on the Sunday night after another meal out and walk with my camera… and maybe no internet for the whole weekend for a change!

That’s the reality – the fantasy would be front row seats at a John Mayer concert followed by dinner with John Barrowman (hee hee I can dream right?!)

18 Can you speak any other languages and what would you recommend for people wanting to learn a new language?

Oh I wish it was better! We are not frightened to ‘have a go’ now and we have found the Portuguese are very friendly and will always try to help you – usually by speaking English which doesn’t help us learn the language! We have found the Michel Thomas CDs very good as a starting point.

19 What is your favourite:

  • Film?
  • ‘What Dreams May Come’ – a little known Robin Williams film; or Shakespeare in Love
  • Book?
  • ‘Wind in the Willows’ – Kenneth Grahame
  • Album/Music?
  • Sugarland, John Mayer, Katie Melua, Norah Jones, Tricia Yearwood – there’s a long list and a very eclectic playlist on my iPod!
  • Gadget?
  • Before I left my last job I was a real gadget girl with all the latest toys, but now I would have to say it is my camera.

20 And finally, where do you think you will be in five years’ time, and what will you be doing?

Hopefully still living here in the Algarve; working as a professional artist, with regular exhibitions shared jointly with Dave and his photographs; and with the same relaxed enjoyable lifestyle we enjoy now. And still writing and enjoying my blogs too!

Sunset on Prainha

Hope you all enjoyed the interview as much as I did.  Thank you Alyson for taking time to supply the answers and the lovely photos (big hug for Dave).  I’m sure everyone will join me in wishing you every success for the future.  Hope the exhibition knocks their socks off!

You can read also Alyson’s interview with me http://algarveblog.net/2012/03/08/interviewing-restless-jo/  My photos are North east coast so not so sunny!