Jo’s Monday walk

Jo’s Monday walk : Arbeia Roman Fort

Meeting friends for coffee in South Shields, nothing was further from my mind than a Roman Fort.  Remember Crossing the Tyne when I took you inside the National Centre for the Written Word?  It has a nice little cafe with a view (and strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake), and this particular day there were Monsters in the exhibition space.

It’s a good starting point for an amble south of the river and, once outside, my eyes lit up when I read on a signpost ‘Arbeia Roman Fort – 1 mile’.  Now that’s a destination you won’t find every day!  Farewells were bid.  I was on a mission.

The area was once a hive of industry, rich in pubs for slaking a good thirst.  A well placed mural brings it all back to life.

The Metro now runs across the High Street, a straggle of shops, pubs and restaurants with a few allusions to the past.

I almost missed the clue, but a left turn took me in the direction of the river, and a few minutes later I was staring at the reconstruction of the West Gate of a Roman fort.  Slightly incongruous, but impressive, in the midst of a South Shields housing estate.

Arbeia Roman Fort, standing above the entrance to the River Tyne, guarded the main route by sea to Hadrian’s Wall and was thus of great strategic importance to the Romans.  It was a key garrison and military supply base to other forts along the Wall.  It  surprised me to find that this reconstruction, on the exact site of the original fort of AD160, was recreated 30 years ago.

There are numerous information boards around the site and, within the West Gate, models of how the fort once looked and an Armoury.  You can climb to the turrets of the gate to look down upon the ruins, and north to the Tyne and Wallsend. (Segedunum in Roman times)

In addition to the West Gate there is a Commanding Officer’s house, partially rebuilt using some of the original floor and foundations.  It includes a palisade and summer dining room, with lovely frescoes on the walls.  The Barrack Block was built using traditional Roman techniques from the 3rd century.  Soldiers usually lived here, 8 to an apartment.

I was very lucky to get inside.  It was still pre-season, but a school party were paying a visit.  Excavations have been ongoing at the fort since the 1870s, with significant finds enabling us to piece together the life of a Roman soldier.  The website gives details of opening hours and how to get there.   It was a lovely afternoon as I headed down through the park to the mouth of the Tyne.  On the far shore, Tynemouth Priory and, looking south, far along the coast, distant Souter Lighthouse.  The day had not turned out at all as I expected.  Extraordinary, in fact.

I hope you enjoyed accompanying me along the Tyne.  Our heritage is fascinating, isn’t it?

Lots more walks to share this week, so pop the kettle on and have a good read.  Many thanks to all of you for keeping this going.  Join me any time.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.


How’s morning where you are?  Come and sit harbourside with me and Drake!

Idyllic maltese mornings

You really wouldn’t want to hurry if you could spend time in Bhutan, like Ann Christine :

Walking Home – Slow Contemplation

My mother always loved lupins and Lisa’s are in a lovely location :

Return to Lupin Hill

Marsha takes some rather odd walks, don’t you think?

What you Should Know about Alligators : Instructions at Gatorland

Kathrin’s post epitomises sunny California.  Spot the ‘hidden’ beach!

Point Lobos State Reserve

Let Dippy-Dotty Girl brighten your day.  I can promise you a smile :

A Day in Lund

Never a dull moment with Jesh, either.  Anyone identify the flowers?

Enjoying The Park

I may be giving away secrets, but I hope Emma won’t mind :

Walking the Gower Coast : Pwll Du and Hunts Bay

You’ll be ready for food after all that walking.  Where else but Jackie’s place?

Luscious Lemons

Save some for the ducks and swans, with Lady Lee :

Swan Lake

Time spent with Pauline and Jack is always interesting.  Check out their sketches :

Time in Tenterfield : Road trip day 3

And day 4 takes us adventuring with boulders :

Into the Mountains : Day 4 of the road trip

When a photographer finds me, I have to reciprocate.  Meet Avirup at Walk of Life :

Photowalk at Territy Bazar – Kolkata

A sad little place?  Take a stroll with Irene :

Never Ending Trail

Now, for something completely different, a walk with my favourite beaver.  And Carol, of course!

Into the Blue

And here’s Carol, all alone (well, not really because Glen will be about too) :

Taking a Break

Still on the beautiful Australian coast, a walk with Karen rounds us off :

La Perouse Headland Walk

No complaints this week.  The amelanchier is blooming beautifully in our garden, and any chance I get, I’m out there.  Wishing you a week full of sunshine and blossom.

Jo’s Monday walk : Interrupted, in Knaresborough

It was Mother’s Day back in the UK, and I was fancying a treat.  Somewhere I hadn’t been in a while definitely appealed, and Knaresborough fit the bill very nicely.  This North Yorkshire market town lies on the River Nidd, and an iconic railway viaduct carries passengers into town, high above the river.  Even on a rather murky English day, it’s a splendid sight.

We parked just off the A59, on the edge of town, and strolled towards the centre.  Almost immediately we become aware of one of the quirkier aspects of Knaresborough, the painted trompe l’oeuil windows that adorn many of the buildings.

Town Windows illustrate characters and events from the town’s long history, and you can download the guide to find them all.  Many of the Georgian buildings were designed with blank windows, to avoid paying window tax.  The town has no shortage of interesting characters, two of them sitting side by side on benches in Market Square.  Sculptures, of course!  Ursula Southeil, a medieval seer, was known as Mother Shipton, and was said to have been born in a cave south of the town.  ‘Blind Jack’, or John Metcalf, lost his sight following smallpox in childhood, but that did not prevent him going on to become an accomplished violin player, and later a pioneering road builder.

I followed my nose into Green Dragon Yard, in search of tearooms, but was immediately distracted by the artwork.  ‘Art in the Mill’ is a contemporary gallery situated in a former flax mill.  The manufacture of linen was a cottage industry in Knaresborough, and flax was combed by hand in the mill, which dates from 1808.

Castle ruins with a mighty history next.  Built in 1100 by a Norman baron, Hugh de Moreville sought refuge there in the 1170s, after assassinating Thomas Becket.  In 1205 King John invested considerable money strengthening the castle, to use as a hunting base for Knaresborough Forest.  It was here that the first Royal Maundy took place, on 5th April, 1210, with the giving of alms to 13 poor men.  Extensions and rebuilding, including the Keep, were completed by the King Edwards.  The castle survived intact until 1648.  It was taken by Parliamentarian troops in 1644, during the Civil War, and was largely destroyed by them, as a Royalist stronghold, by decree of Parliament.  Admission details here.

It’s in a wonderful situation, looking down onto the viaduct and the weir.  Most of the town is at this upper level, steps leading down through gardens to the riverside, far below. Our intention was to follow the river beneath the overhanging cliffs, find the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, and then to cross over to the far shore.  As it happened the chapel wasn’t open, but it’s a pleasant wander, with the river meandering below.

There was a house or two that might have suited, though probably not the fortified House in the Rock.

A text message disrupted further progress.  Might we be heading to Leeds, half an hour away, where our son was happy to be included in the Mother’s Day celebrations?  What else do you do when your grown up offspring has time to spend with you?  The other bank of the river would certainly keep for another day.  But first, a scone for sustenance.  Honey Bees at Hannah’s, on Castlegate- simply scrumptious!

And a few more murals.  They’re great, aren’t they?  I hope to get back to Knaresbrough in the Summer, and show you Mother Shipton’s Cave.  For now, we’ll pop the kettle on and settle in for a good read.

Please find a little time to visit these, especially if it’s somebody you don’t know.  Many thanks to all you lovely contributors and patient readers.  Anyone can join in.  Just see my Jo’s Monday walk page for details.


Drake to start us off again this week, with a hint of North African sunshine :

Glimpse of Tozeur

It takes more than a bit of Scottish weather to put Anabel off a lovely jaunt out!

A walk on Great Cumbrae

Candy shares beautiful images of nature in the north of Portugal.  And there’s cake!

The NIS PR3 walk at Velada

It’s that gal with the long post titles again!  Cheers, Marsha :

Why you don’t want to overlook the Boggy Creek Airboat Ride

How to open a pomegranate!  You never know when you might need this.  Thanks, Jackie!

Let’s do Lunch

And to wash down all that food, Lady Lee has a solution :

Sunday at the Beer Garden

You know what I’d really like to do?  Join Irene in the desert :

Morning Walk

Or I know Elaine would make excellent company, in sunny California :

A flower power walk

I don’t know about where you are, but me and Shazza have seen a lot of this lately :

The Tolkein Trail on a Rainy Day

And I know Eunice has had her share!  Wellies at the ready :

Exploring on the doorstep

Emma combines history and art with the beautiful Welsh coastline (and a bit of sunshine  🙂  ) :

Walking the Gower Coast : Caswell Bay & Brandy Cove

I love it when a plan comes together!  Denzil finds a guardian angel :

GR571 Stage 6: Gouvy to Verleumont

Truly exotic and stunningly beautiful photography- don’t miss Aarti!

A Walking Tour of La Paz

While Pauline finds somewhere that does a little good in the world :

Road Trip Flashback…

And, still in Oz, Carol watches another lovely evening fade :

Down to the Sea

I know there are rather a lot this week, but they’re great reading!  I may have to take my laptop into the garden, if the weather matches up to the forecast.  Hooray!  Make the most of it!


Jo’s Monday walk : Furnazinhas

This isn’t a walk so much as an amble into the sunny Portuguese countryside, but with the potential for a great deal more.  Furnazinhas is a small village, sometimes used for an overnight stay, at the eastern end of the Via Algarviana.  The whole walk runs from Alcoutim on the River Guadiana, the border with Spain, all the way to Cabo S. Vicente on the west coast.  You can break it down into stages, whilst taking in some of the Algarve’s most picturesque scenery.  Furnazinhas is a tranquil and lovely place to stay.  There’s a sense that time has passed the place right by.

It’s a small village and, arriving by car, we passed swiftly through it, then parked alongside the narrow roadside and walked back in.  It was one of those days that wasn’t going to plan.  I had tried and failed to join an exercise class in Tavira that morning, and plans to join Becky and Robert for lunch had fallen through.  The sun was shining brightly, so I tucked my pet lip away, and we headed for the hills.  My husband was convinced that the village would be a disappointment too, so I was wearing flip flops and intending to go to the beach afterwards.  For once, he was totally wrong.

Some places just speak to you immediately, don’t they?  As we strolled into the village, absorbing the silence, this sleepy little place was already getting under our skin.  Almost our first sighting was the signpost pointing out the PR10.  A stone slabbed lane led off through the village towards the hills beyond.  The realisation dawned that I needed my hiking boots to do this place justice.  Or at the very least, trainers.

We stopped to examine a map, and realised that we could have had two choices.  The PR9 was a circular 7.7km route, with a variety of ups and downs, while PR10 was a linear and flatter 7.8km, and a part of the Via Algarviana.  Unable to sensibly follow either, I determined to explore as much as I could of the village.  An elderly gentleman, seeing our interest, seemed happy to chat.  Before much longer he was leading us across the road, to his father’s former stables.

What a lovely surprise!  First he showed us the house where he and his wife live, when they don’t have guests for the Summer.  Then he unlocked the door of the smaller house opposite.  Steps lead down into a beautiful dining room, with a bedroom sleeping 4 above.  The old stone walls and ceilings of wood and bamboo give the place wonderful character, while spanking new bathrooms wouldn’t be out of place in a glossy magazine.  A small kitchen sits at the rear of the property, with barbecue looking onto an expanse of garden.  It had so much charm, I couldn’t stop smiling.

He explained that he’d worked in Faro until his retirement, but now he liked the peace and quiet of the countryside.  Who could blame him?  He said with a smile that he could always pop back to the city if he needed a bit more ‘life’.  Meanwhile Casa do Lavrador, the conversion of his Dad’s place, seemed to provide him with contentment and a living.

Having walked as far as I could through the village, I crossed over to explore the back streets of the opposite side.  An old lad, on a disability scooter, looked rather incongruous as he performed circuits, nodding at us as he passed.  A couple, deep in conversation on a doorstep, looked up, but scarcely paused to draw breath.  I was starting to feel hungry.  In the garden of a house set back from the street, a couple of gents were busy tucking in.  I could see no sign to indicate a restaurant, but it might well have been.

Like most Portuguese villages, there were signs of abandonment.  The young have to leave home to find work, and not everyone wants to return.  Terraces of crops and trees lined the fields behind the village.  Somebody had been hard at work.

I expect you’ve guessed that I’ll be going back, equipped with water and some proper shoes.  We may even rent the cottage and relish the peaceful life for a few days.  If that’s something you’d like to do, Casa do Lavrador is a Turismo Rural, and the phone number is +351 281 495 748.

The Via Algarviana stretches for 300km across the Algarve.  The website includes details of the trail, places to stay and a very seductive video.

Something to think about for the future?  I hope you’ll join me next time.

Many thanks to all you lovely people who follow me, and especially if you’ve shared a walk.  Please find time to read and share.  You can put the kettle on first, if you like.  I’ll wait.


Join Drake in the desert?  He always makes such excellent company :

Sand excursion

Or simply gaze at the still, calm water with Irene :

Mirror Reflections

Emma has a good grumble in Mumbles.  Justified, I think :

Walking the Gower Coast; Limeslade and Langland Bays

What has Marsha been up to lately, you might be asking yourself?

Thrill of a Lifetime: How Novice Kayakers Navigate the Mangrove Tunnel of Doom

Feeling intrepid?  Sue leads the way.  Even on holiday, that girl can’t rest!

10 Tips Before Hiking Camelback Mountain, Phoenix

Treat yourself to the sweet scent of rosemary and lavender.  Becky had a wonderful Easter Sunday :

The ‘carpet strollers’ of São Brás de Alportel

A blockbuster of a share next, from Denzil :

The ‘In Bruges’ movie walking tour

No Jude this week, but Victoria does a stirling job on the Cornish coast :

4 Stunning Walks on the North Coast of Cornwall

Let’s finish with a flourish (and an icecream) and go hunting Eastern Water Dragons and penguins, with Karen :

Spit Bridge to Manly Wharf

That’s it for another week.  I think I’ll be back to sharing an English walk next Monday.  My Jo’s Monday walk page will tell you how to join in.  Please do!

Jo’s Monday walk : A soggy ending, in an Alcazar

“Is the weather always like this?”, I asked the smiling receptionist, as I shook the drips from my hood.  “Never!”, she replied, with an adamant shake of the head.  My lucky day, then.  But there was no other option, as I was determined to see the Alcazar of Jerez, and soon we would be homeward bound.  The video playing in the background displayed wall to wall sunshine.  Salt in the wounds, but it was a magnificent sight.  ‘Alcazar’ derives from the Arab word al-qasr, meaning a group of buildings, surrounded by walls, used both as a fortress and a palace.  Built in the 12th century, this was the seat of political and military power ruling the city.

A sprint across the courtyard brought me to the shelter of the mosque, or mesquita, the only one still to exist from the 18 of the Islamic city.  Dating from 12th century, it has all the usual elements- the minaret, for calling the faithful to prayer, and an ablutions courtyard with central fountain for purification before entering the prayer room, itself presided over by the Mihrab, a small niche in the wall facing Mecca.

Tucked within the walls, the biggest olive press I ever saw.  The oil mill was added in the 18th century, when growing olive trees was of great commercial importance to Jerez and the surrounding countryside.

Swiftly crossing the Parade Ground, where military formations were once assembled and reviewed, I beheld the sorry sight of the drowning garden.

Beyond it the Royal Pavilion, designed for reclining beside the pool, and the Octagonal Tower.    Part of the original Islamic fortress, situated at its highest point, it makes a superb watchtower.  And you know that, weather or no, I was going up there.

Happily I’m not the only one with a careless disregard for the weather.  Climbing the tower behind me, a Frenchman declares that all is simply ‘magnifique’.  We agree that in bright sunshine we’d have to share it with many others.  From the tower you can see the scale of the Alcazar, the walls originally 4 kilometres long.  An area under excavation dates back to the 10th century.  It includes a pottery kiln , water wheel and reservoir.

However exhilarating the views, rain dripping off your nose can become tiresome, and I was not sorry to scurry back across the courtyard to the palace.  In 1664 Lorenzo Fernandez de Villavicencio inherited the Alcazar.  He undertook much restoration work, including this beautiful piece of baroque, over the ruins of the old Islamic palace.

A dark wood staircase and superbly carved doorway dominate the space.  Lofty rooms filled with beautiful pieces.  And the ‘piece de resistance’, a remarkable pharmacy, with carved original wooden shelving, flasks and jars.

A Camera Obscura on the top floor of the palace seemed like a bad idea in such murky weather.  The Hammam, or Arab Baths, might have been a better experience.  In the event, I slipped back out, past the still smiling receptionist.

That concludes my couple of days in Jerez.  This Andalusian city has neither the grandeur of Granada nor the unique beauty of Cordoba, but it has a charm and character all of its own.  I enjoyed it very much, and I hope that you did too.

With Easter behind us, I hope you’ll take time to read the walks I’m sharing this week.  Many thanks to all my contributors and to those who just enjoy a bit of a ramble.  Please join me at any time with a walk of your own.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Kettle on, and let’s go!


Spectacular scenery from Pauline to start us off this week :

Waterfall walk

It’s not everybody who can take a walk without talking.  Enjoy the peace, with lovely Meg!

Wordless walk: 1080 to Tilba Headland

And if you want to share some knowledge too… :

Never the same place twice : Pooles to 1080

Naughty George and adorable Flora accompany Gilly along the canal.  Watch out, ducks!

Beside the Grand Western

Suzanne is a housesitter who likes to get about a bit.  Join her in Turkey :

Neighbourhood Walks – Iztuzu Beach & more

Fabulous falls in a gush of swirling water, from Drake.  Must be all that rain!

Falling water

Sunshine after the rain.  Thanks, Irene!

Ended in Sunshine

And just a reminder, in case you needed it.  Magical snow in NYC, with Susan :

The Magic of New York City : Central Park in the Snow

Not actually a walk but it’s walk related.  Thanks for sharing, Denzil :

23 Ways Hiking Makes you Healthier

And a gentleman hiker I discovered at Denzil’s place.  Meet Guidowke with an interesting look at Belgium :

GR5AZ Rupelmonde – Branst

Or travel through history with David in a beautifully peaceful French village :

Village of Azincourt

What will I do when Jude runs out of Garden Portraits?  Give up blogging, I suspect :

Garden Portrait : Dunster Secret Garden

We drove home from Jerez in tumultuous rain, crashing against the windscreen, that old adage ‘the rain in Spain…’ drumming in our ears.  And now, on an English Bank Holiday Monday, it’s much the same.  Stay dry, and cheerful, this week, won’t you?

Jo’s Monday walk : Among the fisherfolk

I was all set to take you castanet rattling in Jerez today, but we had a strenuous week last week, didn’t we?  I thought a gentle amble round the latest addition to Olhão’s street art might be a better option.  Truth be told, I could easily have missed these, if it hadn’t been for Becky.  What would I do without her?  A mine of information, she saves me hours of research.  Murals with memories of the city gives details of the artists and how they came to work on this very engaging project.

Images of the sea always appeal to me, but the detail and realism of these bring them alive.  They were taken from a set of photos of life as it was in the canning and fishing industry in Olhão, giving them authenticity and vibrance.  While he was working, a lady asked to have a photo taken with the artist Pedro ‘Mistik’.  Her mother was featured in his painting and she had the original photograph at home.  I wonder if she was one of these?

The serious lady, or the one with the lively face?  Might she stand out in a crowd, or perhaps, be a supervisor?

What a source of pride the murals must be for the older inhabitants of Olhão!  The women, and their menfolk.  And their dogs, of course!

And then there’s the iconic fish market, where the catch is sold.  Close by, the lads still mend their nets.

But the days of the cannery are forever changed, wonderfully portrayed in all these capsules of time.

Four artists combined to create the work, bringing a new lease of life to these derelict buildings in Largo and Rua de Fábrica Velha.  The faces are so full of character, telling their individual stories.  They enthrall me.

It’s highly appropriate that the murals are close to Becky’s favourite fish restaurant in Olhão, Vai e Volta.  We haven’t really done enough walking to merit a meal, but they are only open for lunch, so we’d better pop in now and stroll a little later.   And no, that’s not my cake.  Blame Robert today!

I defy you not to be full when you come out.  And then a wander through Olhão’s atmospheric back streets just might reveal a March Square or two?

Five, I counted.  Thanks so much, Becky, for providing fun and hospitality, as well as all those facts.

As the lights go down on Olhão, I have heaps of walks to share this week.   Please find time to visit, especially if it’s someone you don’t know.  You’ll find some great reads.  I hope you’ve got that kettle on for a cuppa?

Pride of place, as promised, and a delight for you all!  Thanks, Jude!

Garden Portrait : Powis Castle

Closely followed in the happiness stakes by Drake :

Procession of Joy

And this one from Emma, just because I like it.  We share fond memories of Tenby :

Waiting for the Tide

Robin has a nice touch too.  Not too far from my doorstep :

The Cross

Back to basics, with Jackie :

What’s cooking?

Never heard of this place, but Lady Lee is very well-traveled :

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Less exotic, but very nicely presented by Anabel :

A stroll round Lanark

And here’s Shazza, on the hunt for Spring.  I do hope she finds it soon!

Searching for signs of Spring

But fairies would do very nicely.  Lots of rich detail in this, from Theresa :

Following a river to a Fairy Glen

Can you believe I’ve never been to Rome?  Never mind- Jaspa can show us the ropes :

Wandering Rome, The Eternal City, at Night

Not so far away, Cathy has one last romp on ‘In search of a thousand cafes’ :

Our last day in Prague : old town & the Jewish Quarter

And Denzil finds much to give pleasure in the city of Antwerp.  Check out the escalators!

How to spend a day in Antwerps’s historic centre

Meanwhile, Pauline does a fabulous job of capturing the wild waves :

Cyclone Linda whips up the waves

And Becky does a fair job on remembering the names of flowers.  Much better than me!

The art of flowers

I’ve joined Candy on her explorations before.  You should enjoy this one :

Castelo Branco

Recently featured in Inntravel’s ‘Slow Lane’, meet Luke and Nell, in this part of the world that I love :

Rota Vicentina/2/Finding the Fisherman’s Way

And finally, Carol takes us caving.  There are some beautiful shots here!

Hidden Beneath

That’s it from the wintry north east of England.  Hope you enjoyed it and many thanks to those of you who took part.  Join me any time on Jo’s Monday walks.  You’ll be very welcome.  Have a great week!

Jo’s Monday walk : Hunting camelias in Monchique

I had always thought of Monchique as rather a drab little town, despite the approach to it through beautiful countryside.  An astounding number of storks spectated from their nests along the roadside, and frolicked in the fields and orange groves.  Leaving them behind, the road climbs into the hills known as the Serra de Monchique, with their highest point 902 metres, at Foia.  Further down the slopes, I had been lured to the market town of Monchique with the promise of a Camelia Fair.

But where?  Arriving in the town around midday, all was quiet.  The Tourist Information Office was closed, and a large billboard advertised the advent of the Sausage Festival, next weekend.  Expectations lowered, but still with a glimmer of hope, for it was a day to enjoy.

Who would have anticipated the large open air pool?  What a place that must be to splash about in the Summer!  Steps led upwards, an open invitation, with the tip of a bell tower just visible, spurring me on.  Built in 16th century, the Igreja Matriz, or Mother Church, is dedicated to Nossa Senhora da Conceição, Our Lady of Conception.

The doorways are in the Manueline style, depicting images from the sea and from nature.  I step into the hushed interior, where strong pillars support the wooden ceiling.  Soft blue and gold adorns walls and alcoves.  I linger to admire the Capela do Santissimo (Chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament), the azulejos reaching high into the dome. (a lovely ‘square’ for Becky)

No sign yet of camelias but there are other distractions.  A shop offers homemade chocolates, cork products and Happy Donkey walks.  All three appeal.  The direction is definitely upwards, a discreet sign pointing to O Convento.  Escadhinas da Boa Vista promise fine views.

Around about here I get my first hint of camelias, growing nonchalantly in a tub.  And then a second pair, nodding in a ruffle of breeze.

By now I have the bit between my teeth and am in hot pursuit, but there’s that convent to explore.  Upwards I go, dangling washing lines and delectably old houses doing their best to delay me.  Already I’m high above the Igreja Matriz.  A forlorn icon looks down on me, sadly.

Little prepares me for what I will find at the top of the hill.  A small homestead adjoins the most ramshackle ruined convent you ever set foot in.  I’m beckoned forward with an eager nod from the homesteader and, very gingerly, I step up and into the ruin.  My eyes adjust to the gloom and I stare into the central courtyard.  A chicken run occupies one corner, and the small creatures scurry about, pecking busily.

The old lad waves me onward and I gaze in wonder.  Never have I stood inside a more tortured shell of a building, and yet, its spirit shines forth.

Convento de Nossa Senhora do Desterro (Our Lady of Exile), a former Franciscan convent, was founded in 1631 by Pêro da Silva, later to become a Vice-Roy of India.  According to legend he brought a small image of Our Lady, in ivory, back with him from India.  After his death it was venerated as a relic, and now resides in the hermitage of S. Sebastião down in the town.  Da Silva is thought to have been buried at the convent, and the enormous camelia that almost fills the centre of the courtyard is believed to have journeyed from India with him.

The camelias are lush and profuse, even crumpled at my feet.  As I turn to leave, the chap waves his arms to indicate that I’m not yet finished.  An adjoining room, once a refectory, has on its crumbling walls the remnants of a panel of tiles reproducing Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, The Last Supper.  Beside this, what must once have been an exquisite half tiled wall.  A solitary, poignant cross represents the Via Sacra, or Sacred Way.

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The earthquake of 1755 was largely responsible for the destruction of the convent.  Astounding to me that such treasures should languish unprotected, but access is undoubtedly an issue.  There is no charge to visit the convent, but a small contribution produced an orange and a smile from the old lad, and then it was back down the hill, more easily than the ascent.

I still hadn’t completely given up hope that there might be a camelia show somewhere, but when I finally came upon the deserted showground I had to face reality.  Maybe a piece of delicious almond tart would compensate?  But you know how strange life can be sometimes.  Strolling back to the central square, what should I find?  A whole row of planted camelia!

Many of the blooms were brown and withered at the edges, and it seems likely that the show was cancelled for this reason.  A cold spell early in the year may have caused the damage.  A pleasant sit in the sunlit square would round off my day nicely.  It’s a good vantage point for some of the expressive statuary celebrating local surgeon Dr. Humberto Messi, by sculptor Jorge Melicio.

Refreshed, it was time to drive back down the valley, stopping for a short stroll around the lovely thermal spa at Caldas de Monchique.  I think I’ll save that for another day.  I expect your feet are tired.  Pop that kettle on now and we’ll share some virtual walks.

There and back with Lisa makes this a terrific stroll :

Walkway over the Hudson

Susan’s not been around for a while, but she always makes walking a pleasure :

Walking with the Skyview

Warm this week, with Irene :

Living Desert

But Suzan reminds us of what some of us missed :

Photos with Finesse

I do try not to be envious, but Carol’s trip to the Blue Mountains is turning me green.  Twice!

From the Top to the Bottom


Amanda, meanwhile, takes us to a far less well known part of Australia :

Moore Meanderings at Linville

Jesh likes to look at the world in an arty way (and I spotted a few squares and circles in there too!)

The Movement of The City

Jackie’s having fun again, down Mexico way.  Her posts always make me so hungry :

Comida del Dia

And you really can’t beat living the good life, with Lady Lee :

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Or with my good friend Cathy, and her boundless energy.  Watch out for her new blog soon!

Prague: A day of wandering through Nove Mesto & Vinohrady

Drake needs lots of energy too.  He’s always busy!

Business as usual

And Eunice finally discovers a lovely piece of local history on her doorstep :

A local discovery walk

Hope you weren’t disappointed in this week’s walk.  If you’d like to join me, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Many thanks to all my lovely contributors.  Here’s wishing you a great week!


Jo’s Monday walk : Blossom and chimney pots

Feeling a little fragile as I write this- too much dancing, wine and excitement!- so please excuse me if I just stroll gently with you in the Algarve sunshine.  São Bras de Alportel makes an excellent base for walking, surrounded as it is by softly rolling countryside.  Allow me to indulge my current obsession with chimney pots…. and blossom, of course.

Starting from the former pousada, with grand views to the hills, you can follow a couple of simple trails.  Notice boards will advise what you need to be watchful for, or you can simply enjoy being there, drenched in the soft colours of Spring.

At a crossroads the sign points towards the ‘miradouro das castanhas’, the viewing point of the chestnuts.  Curiosity would have me look, but the group I’m walking with turn in the other direction.  I make a mental note to return, and patiently follow.  Minutes later we pause at a fonte- one of many underground springs in the Algarve.  A poem enhances the old stone and one of our group attempts a translation.  A squeal of laughter interrupts.  Another of the ladies has twirled the handle of the ‘nora’ (well) with a little too much energy, and is treated to a swift gush of water.

There was very little water and a lot of dry riverbeds when I walked in this area, but since then a day or three of torrential rain has brought the countryside alive again.  Flipflops or sandals and a towel may be needed.  Better still a sense of balance or a walking stick.

Rounding a hill it’s often possible to come upon a herd of sheep, with their faint air of apprehension and surprise.  Washing flutters appealingly on a line, while lemons ripen and flowers I don’t recognise make patterns on a wall.

This is cork territory and some of the trails lead beneath these gnarled beauties.  Someone has a sense of humour, but I’m not sure that I approve.  The ‘knight’, on the other hand, can only be greeted with a smile.  But I did promise you chimney pots, I remember.

Every village has it’s own variations, some crumbly with age, some new.  The village of São Romão has a lovely church and a deep sense of serenity.

It also has a a restaurant that we favour very often.  I’ll leave you with a little something sour and a sweet treat, to enjoy with your cuppa.

Excuse me for rambling this week.  I’m so looking forward to the frigid air of the north east tomorrow evening.  Please read and share the following walks, and join me with one of your own, if you’d like.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

Jude does take us to some beautiful places!  And did you spot a few circles in a square?

Garden Portrait: Stourhead

And quite often, Drake excels himself too :

Symph in green ‘n white

For those of you craving warmth, why not join Elaine in the desert?

In Search of an Oasis

Jackie always likes a large one of these!

Slice of Life

And just look what Irene’s found for us this week!

Sunny Lakefront

But this one from Ting simply has to be my walk of the week.  Don’t miss it!

Walking with Elephants

That’s it for now.  Not too many to read.  Hope you have a great week, wherever you are.