The price of a unique home

Thatched cottage 3Santana on Madeira has some of the cutest homes I ever saw.  Beautifully maintained, I found it a little sad that I had to queue up for a look inside and to purchase a thimbleful of liqueur, when once such hospitality might have been offered freely.  Still, I suppose it’s a small price to pay to preserve these unique homes, with their triangular roofs, thatched in straw.  Once they were occupied by local farmers.  Now they are a mainstay of tourism in this rugged northern part of the island.

Thatched cottage-oval

Thatched cottageThey’re a little different from Jake’s chosen home this week, but equally unique.  Pay him a visit? It won’t cost you!  Just click on the logo.


Flowers for Jake!

Flowers in bread oven

Flowers in bread oven

You have to smile, don’t you?  Whenever I’ve done one of Jake’s challenges, I’ve always sang along to myself as I selected the images.  Don’t ask me why, but it’s become a habit.  I didn’t spot this challenge till late in the week so even by my standards it’s a bit late for a Sunday Post.

What am I singing?  Well, I was humming away to an old tune “Where have all the flowers gone? Long time passing”…  I don’t know if you know it, but when I got to the line “gone to graveyards everyone” I realised what a very sad song of war it is.  And that just won’t do.  So, determined to make you smile, I’m singing the Move’s “Flowers in the rain”.  Far more appropriate for many of us, I’m sure you’ll agree?

Yes, it rains in the Algarve, but it's still beautiful!

Yes, it rains in the Algarve, but it’s still beautiful!

I think I may have seen these in England, too

I think I may have seen these in England, too

It's always amazing what you can find in the hedgerows

It’s always amazing what you can find in the hedgerows

Just growing completely wild and beautiful

Just growing completely wild and beautiful

Or tamed in the landscape

Or tamed in the landscape
I found this pretty fellow shining in some bushes

I found this pretty fellow shining in some bushes

But I always love a "pop" of colour

But I always love a “pop” of colour

So we'll end in the rain. This might be the guy for me!

So we’ll end in the rain. This might just be the guy for me!

As ever, I hope you enjoyed my singing.  You’re quite lucky not to be sitting here in the front room, with me! Please give Jake a little of your time and attention.  His graphics are totally inspiring (unlike my singing).



Boring here without the backgammon!

Anybody seen the backgammon set?

You might have noticed I’ve got my “Greek head” on at the minute.  Something to do with sunshine, or lack of.  The above photo is one that was destined for my post A tale or two : Rhodes, but it escaped.  I rather think it must have been holding back for Ailsa’s challenge this week.

The challenges can be a lot of fun, can’t they?  With Ailsa’s permission I’m going to use this post to ask whether anyone has heard anything of Jake of Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post lately?  We all pass each other by and dash to the next challenge, but Jake has been strangely absent since his Entrance post.  He has left no hint on there of his whereabouts, and hasn’t been commenting on posts as he normally would.  Maybe he’s just busy, but I would like to be reassured if any of you know anything more?

Sorry, Ailsa, to use your post like this, but it’s been “nibbling” at me all week.  Hope you don’t mind?  There are some great bench shots over there so don’t forget to check them out.  Thanks everybody.

Sunday Post : Goals


Jakesprinter’s subject for this week’s Sunday Post is Goals.  Not my favourite topic, but let’s play with it!

Estadio de Luz, Benfica

Estadio de Luz, Benfica

Estadio do Algarve

Estadio do Algarve

Both my husband and son are huge football fans, and can’t wait to check out the local stadium whenever we travel.  Which leaves me free to look at more interesting things.  And I do!

The former palacio at Estoi, now a hotel

Like the former palacio at Estoi, now a pousada, or hotel

An exotic plant (don't ask me which one)

Or these exotic plants (please don’t ask their name!)

Looking over Lisbon rooftops to the River Tejo

The view of the River Tejo in Lisbon was very pretty

But Tavira's riverbank by night is lovely too

But Tavira’s riverbank by night is lovely too

Admire a restaurant sign

I could admire a restaurant sign or two

Or take a wild ride at the funfair

Or take a wild ride at the funfair

But most likely, I'll linger by that bridge again!

But most likely, I’ll linger by that bridge again!

And next morning wake in my lovely Tavira home

And, next morning, wake in my lovely Tavira home

I don’t really have my goals for 2013 clearly defined yet.  I surely plan to spend more time in Tavira, and to do some travelling around Portugal.  I usually try to tie that in to a festival or event.  Jerez and Cadiz have been beckoning me for a while, and I’m mildly curious about Gibraltar.

I absolutely must do something about my wilting language skills, particularly because I hope to visit Polish family again this Spring.  A new self-hosted website, a photo book?  Those decisions still haven’t been taken.  Live my life as fully as I can, without hurting those around me.  I guess that has to be my main goal.  And if I could do a little good along the way, that would be magnificent.  I’ll let you know how I do.

I’m sure there are some cracking goals on Jake’s page, so let’s hit the flying dragon logo link and go check him out, shall we?  It’s always a pleasure.

Sunday Post : Wonderful

Jake’s back, and how wonderful that is!  In case you’re “wonder”-ing, yes, I did go to the fireworks last night.  The tide was coming in as I walked along the promenade, and there was a delicious whoosh as the sea met the shore.  The white caps in the darkness were beautiful- just one of the many wonderful sights that make up this world of ours.

I’ve never witnessed any of the spectacular world-renowned sights that fill our world with wonder- the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall of China, Macchu Pichu…  I’m going to start small, with the things that are wonderful to me.

Lisa, on the beach at Scarborough

My wonderful firstborn child.  I make no apologies for the quality of the photo, which is 38 years old.  What you can’t see from this shot is the absolute fear which gripped me that day, as I thought I’d lost her, there on the beach.  Or the relief when she was returned to me, wailing, as I frantically combed the beach.  Or the wonder that she is now a fullgrown and beautiful woman.

James, by the lakeshore at Fuschl, in Austria

Nineteen years behind his sister, James brought his own wonder.  Here, I think he’s wondering which piece to move next?

When it comes to family, it doesn’t get more wonderful than the reunion that brought my Dad together with his brothers and sisters in Poland, after 64 years of separation.

Together, at last, in Poland

So that’s the sentimental part.  For me, it’s always wonderful to wake to the sun, rising in the sky.  The sky and the cloud formations are endlessly fascinating as the sun climbs up through them. 

An Algarve sky has a different quality.  The view from my Tavira rooftop is wonderful to me.

And the sky so often ends up purest blue, reflected in the sparkling sea.

Just now and then, I can capture some clouds.

Often they build towards the end of the day, then it’s over, as wonderfully as it began.

What do you find wonderful in the world?  There is so much to celebrate, and Jakesprinter works hard every week to share with us his talent.  He would love you to share your world too.  Don’t worry- he’s always kind.  Follow the flying dragon or the links to join us.

No song this week?  My friend Madhu says “What a wonderful World”, but I was singing that old Jimmy Ruffin song.

Sunday Post : Morning

I’m humming away to myself this morning.  But then I’m a morning person, especially if that sun comes peaking over the rooftops, calling to me.  I mean, how can it be a hardship to get up and start a brand new day?

Jakesprinter’s theme for the Sunday Post this week is Morning.  I walk through a park very like yours on Saturdays, Jake.  I don’t have time to linger on a bench, but I always smile at the swans on the peaceful lake, the dog walkers, and sometimes an early morning toddler, kicking a ball with his dad.  Very often I’ll be singing Cat Stevens’ “Morning has broken”…  that most gentle celebration of the new day.

More prosaicly, my day always starts with a cup of coffee, and a book (though these days , the laptop sometimes wins).

Sparkling grapefruit?  A bit of toast, and I’m good to go.

That doesn’t vary much, even when I’m in the Algarve, but the scenery’s a whole lot different.  Often I sit up on the rooftop, gazing out over the salt marshes to the sea.  Sometimes I do a little t’ai chi, before it gets too hot.  Then maybe a stroll down to the bakery for fresh rolls.  I can seldom resist that early morning wander through the town.  Coming along?

There’s always a church spire, whichever way you look, in Tavira.

Irresistibly I’m drawn to the river, the boats tethered securely against the tide

It’s high tide beneath the Ponte Romana

The riverside houses need a touch of paint, but no less beautiful for that.

Looking back you can almost see Anazu, our favourite cafe, just out of shot.

If I’m feeling very energetic, then maybe a climb up to the castle walls

More often it’s a stroll through the riverside gardens

Especially if the bandstand’s festooned for one of the many local festivals

In the side streets you encounter many of Tavira’s exquisite town houses

Admire the prettiest church facade in Tavira

Or loiter in the shady chapel gardens

Just time to play on the stepping stones when nobody’s looking

Then off to the bakery before they sell out! Just one quick look back.

I’m going again in a few weeks, so thank you Jake for reminding me what I’m missing.  Apologies to those of you who’ve seen some of these images already in Talking about Tavira.  I hope it’s worth a second look?

This started as a morning post and it’s teatime already!  The evening will be spent checking out the other entries in Jakesprinter’s brilliant challenge.  Click on the flying dragon logo or the links to come with me.

Sunday Post : Reflection

I love glass, don’t you?  Especially stained glass, with its jewel drop colours.  Maybe it started with my mother’s glass-fronted china cabinet.  You could look, but you’d better not touch.  There was my reflection, looking back as I coveted the Japanese ladies with their elaborate hairstyles, and the Chinese dragons and porcelain. Her husband, Joe, brought back many of the items from his days in the Merchant Navy.  Then there was the collection of bells- china and etched glass, ethereal in their beauty.

Jake’s theme for his Sunday Post this week is Reflection, and here I am, reflecting on my past.  How I longed to sing, like Diana Ross, “Reflections of the way life used to be…”

I realised the reflective qualities of glass from an early age, but I seem to forget when it comes to photography!  A pleasing window display will catch my attention, with disastrous results.

Yes, there I am, on the platform, looking in!

I did a bit better in York, but still managed to capture the odd passer-by.

If only the sun hadn’t been shining on that window.

I’m no quitter! I know how to keep repeating my mistakes.

I was better indoors, at the Greenwich Fan Museum, in London.  No sun there to get in the way.  Still a bit of reflecting going on, but beautiful fans.

Glorious fans, and a little reflection

It’s obvious I’m not good at this, and should turn my attention to other things: the reflective qualities of water, for instance.

A model boat on our park pond, with some pretty Spring blossom.

More recently I was in Whitburn village, on the north east coast, and an unusual building caught my eye.  It was once the village school and the information board recorded that the pond sometimes flooded, causing the pupils to have to sit on their desks and await rescue.  Ah, the good old days!

Reflections in Whitburn village pond

Jake didn’t stipulate that you had to submit good photos for his challenge, but he leads by example and his graphics are outstanding.  Click on the flying dragon or the links to Jakesprinter to see what everybody else made of this week’s challenge.  Me, well I could do with a little advice…

Have a look at the work of these talented bloggers:







Sunday Post : From a Distance

How did Jakesprinter know that this was to be my 100th post, and that I hoped it would be a bit special?  I’m not at all sure, but he’s right on target with this week’s Sunday Post theme, From a Distance.

I’m starting with the words of Bette Midler :

From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
Its the voice of hope
Its the voice of peace
Its the voice of every man.

The Ria Formosa from Cacela Velha

This photo speaks to me of harmony and peace.

In writing this, I’m far distant from the Eastern Algarve shoreline that I love so much. Of course, Jake is talking about distance as in perspective and long range photography, and I will try to select my photos accordingly.  Still I can’t help but yearn for faraway things.  It’s part of my “restlessjo” nature.  I sometimes wonder if the Algarve would be so dearly loved if it were everyday and familiar.  Someday I hope to retire there, and then I’ll find out.

One of those irresistible Algarve beaches, wandering off into the distance

Looking out from the town walls of Elvas on the endless plains of the Alentejo

The far distant Silver Coast, seen from Sintra’s Pena Palace

Nearer to home, but still a view from afar, I spent a great few days in the company of my lady friends, in riot torn London in August 2011.  Looking at this peaceful shot, who’d have thought it?

The Royal Naval College at Greenwich with Canary Wharf on the horizon

The peace and serenity that accompanies me when I’m out walking is precious.  My restlessness is soothed in wide open spaces.

Ambling downhill towards Robin Hood’s Bay

Distinctive landscape and a far off lake in Upper Teesdale

The pier at Whitby and a group of walkers, from a distance

I’ll finish with Bette :

From a distance
You look like my friend
Even though we are at war
From a distance
I just cannot comprehend
What all this fightings for
From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
And its the hope of hopes
Its the love of loves
Its the heart of every man

It’s one of those songs that leaves a lump in my throat, so I hope that Jake doesn’t mind me sharing it in this post today.  Jake and Sundays.  They’re a winning combination.

To join in with Jake’s challenge and see what everybody else has made of it, click on the flying dragon logo or any of the links.  I’ve enjoyed post 100, and all of those that went before.  I’m hoping that you have too.  Thank you for reading.

Enjoying all the other posts reminded me that distance always seems to play a part in my relationship with my daughter, Lisa.  I love her dearly.  Many thanks to Gemma at First and Fabulous for this.

Six word Saturday

This week I learned to play

You might have seen my entry for Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post this week.  Now I love Jake’s challenges, but the subject was Black & White and I had no idea what I was going to post if it wasn’t old wedding photos.

The current tendency to edit photos has completely passed me by, aside from a little judicial cropping.  I usually like my photos to look the way I see them through the camera.  So I had little idea what could be achieved, until I opened up Photo Express.  “Tint” provided the perfect solution for Jake’s challenge, but there was a whole box of tricks that I’d never even noticed before.

Exit boring old stick-in-the-mud Jo, enter Jo at the cutting edge (I always did like to exaggerate). And I learned to play.



Then I got a bit more adventurous.




Fabric effect, you see?  I quite liked that.

So I tried another


So then I went a little wild, and


Bubbles chasing along the beach.  Kind of cute?

Now don’t laugh at me.  I know I’m not very accomplished.  But I AM learning, be it ever so slowly.  There were lots of effects I didn’t really like, and others I didn’t quite know how to use.  I doubt my little bit of learning is going to radically change the look of my posts, but you never know.

By the way, does anybody know if you can turn black and white photos into coloured?

So that’s my 6WS for this week and I have Cate at Show My Face to thank for being so tolerant.  If you’d like to join in, the link or the banner will take you to Cate’s page for more details.  Or you can have a look back at my efforts to entertain.

Sunday Post : Black & White

The best thing about challenges is when you think to yourself, “I can’t do that”.  And then you discover that you can!  I owe big thanks to Jake of Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post this week for his theme of Black & White.

Now you know I like to hum along, and black and white to me immediately conjurs up those lovely old Fred and Ging movies.  In the wink of an eye I was singing “Heaven, I’m in heaven”….  Even worse, I was twirling around the kitchen!

Yes, I know- but what about the challenge?  I was thinking that I might share some “cheek to cheek” wedding photos, as they’re the only thing I have in black and white.  But I’ve already written that post and wanted to be more original.  Nothing else for it but to “gingerly” embrace technology.  And I was amazed!

Looking down on Funchal from the castle

Porto Moniz

Punta de Sao Lourenco

Monte Palace gardens

The photos are of Madeira because I felt they had that slightly decadent, “of another era” air to them.  I could just picture Fred and Ginger tapping their way through those gardens.  Couldn’t you?

These are the product of an afternoon’s playing with Photo Express and I love it!  I had no idea this was possible, but Jake motivated me to try.  So thanks Jake, for your time and your patience, and all the encouragement.  Click on the dragon logo, or the links, to fly away with Jake, and all will be explained.