Walk down any street in the old part of Tavira and you’re bound to meet with a few azulejos. These beautiful tiles have a purpose in life, as well as looking highly decorative. Their function is to maintain temperature inside a building, very useful in keeping houses cool in summer heat and not too cold in the winter. I’ve never lived inside a building clad in azulejos, more’s the pity, so I can’t verify how well they work, but I’d be happy to give it a try. Trouble is, I’d want to be on the outside to admire them. You have to admit, they’re worth a second look.
Translating from the Arabic as ‘small polished stone’, the majority of azulejos are blue and white, and the shapes are a geometric representation of flowers and leaves. When you come upon a burst of colour, often edging a door or a window, it’s a thing of joy.
Wander with me through a street or two. Don’t for a moment imagine that the tiles will all be pristine and immaculate. These homes have seen life, though some are sadly neglected and still others are unoccupied.
Glazed tiles were originally invented in Egypt, but Portugal has a long history of decorating houses in this way. If you’re ever in Lisbon, the Tile Museum is a wonderful place to spend a few hours. More locally you simply have to look around you.
Modern houses often adopt a tile panel in deference to this lovely style. They are a beautiful way to enhance an outdoor space or terrace.
Let’s face it- I simply love showing off my town, even when the images are less than perfect, like this church. Not only is it a particular favourite, but it’s my Last on the Card for the month of March, for Brian. In fact, I’m going overboard on the challenges today. You might have noticed that there are many BrightSquares for Becky, and I’m sure that Ann-Christine won’t mind if I add this to her Lens-Artists selection of delights, You Pick It!
It’s been a difficult Easter for me, in more ways than one, but I’m adopting a spirit of ‘the show must go on’, and I have some lovely walks to share. Join me any time here on Jo’s Monday walk. I’ll try and make you welcome.
Sarah’s walk is pure nostalgia for me, and very beautiful :
Almost every morning I climb the stairs to my roof terrace. I look out over the roof tops and salt marshes to the far horizon and catch my breath. Not from exertion, but the sunlight, glinting on the water, pierces my eyes and my heart. It dazzles me each and every time. There’s something about the quality of the light here. It illuminates my world, casting a spell, and I’m drawn to seek out the heavens, reflected in the water.
Somewhere that I can lose myself for a little while, hiding from a reality I’m powerless to change. Where sky meets sea is my escape. A lightening of heart, even when the spirit is low. The light changes with the hour, brilliant at midday and softer as the afternoon fades.
Some of these places are denied to me right now, but I know that they’re there, quietly waiting.
You may remember last fortnight I had a mild flirtation with the trees here in the Algarve. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I might get a little closer to the ground this week. Across northern Europe, Spring is beginning to bloom. Here it is already well established. Shall we dance?
Life may have its limits for us humans right now, but nature doesn’t seem to have noticed. Colourful blooms burst forth with exuberance, and we can only try and replicate the joy of their dance. Remember Terry Wogan’s terrible Floral Dance? He was never without a smile.
Bees buzz and twirl in partnership with the wild flowers that carpet the land. Yellow seems to predominate in amongst the luxuriant green, with here and there a spike of deep lilac or a smudge of blue. The dance can lead us up to the hills or out towards the sea, dipping to stroke and admire, filling our senses. The white broom shivers seductively in the hint of breeze, its days already numbered.
Filled with the serenity the sea can always bring me, I turn my steps inland. Here the cistus are flirting with the hills, dancing in wild abandon.
Much water has flowed down these hills this winter, and the gurgle of a stream we sometimes cross has become a clamouring torrent.
Time to turn our steps for home, but the dance is not yet done. Almost on my doorstep, the blooms still court my attention.
The softness of an Algarve Spring is all around me. A world full of softness and abundance. I hope that Ann-Christine approves.
Walks proliferate this week. I noted in my Reader this morning that there are a couple of others and I’ll include them next time. Please try and visit each other. I’ll be back in two weeks. Join me next time on Jo’s Monday walk.
A volcanic lagoon seems like a great destination to me. Thanks, Graham!
Funny how an idea can spark from an innocent remark. ‘Have you done a walk featuring the personalities of trees?’ asked Frank, on my last walk. ‘Well, no-o…but?’ Frank likes walking on beaches, but his interests range far and wide. I like walking on beaches too, but they’re denied to me at present. So the idea of taking a twirl with a tree or two was born.
I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars, but they never hear me…
They surround me. Olive trees, ancient and new. Oranges and lemons, side by side, their fruit a dangling temptation. Figs and pomegranates are bare branches now, but their turn will come. This is the time of the almonds, bitter with dark pink blossoms, sweet, much paler. Both delicate.
I choose a path between fields lush with Bermuda buttercups. Over a stone wall, a new plantation of water-guzzling avocados. A flitter and a fluttering as a lime and lemon butterfly dances past, alighting for a few precious moments. I hope for the wings to still to display their full beauty. Bubbles of vibrant mimosa echo the lemon.
And then, the definitive old gnarled tree trunk. A home for bugs, birds and even small rodents. The perfect hiding place for acorns. With a peephole or two for that watchful eye. So full of character!
So many forms, and all part of my world right now. The boundaries are meaningless to you, but a beautiful straitjacket for me. I hope you enjoyed A glimpse of my world as it is at the moment. Thanks to Sheetal. A myriad of sights to gladden the heart.
As does sharing your walks. Find time for a browse?
Margaret did make me smile with this! You see, anyone can go for a walk… anywhere!
‘Tis the season, and it wouldn’t be Christmas for me without the lights. Family, friends… we’re all scattered and in the wrong places this year. The UK are locking down ever tighter, and friends who made it back there are not sure how or when they will be able to return. For me, I’m still sad not to be with family. But moping won’t help anyone, so let me lead you through the back streets of Loulé. We’re in search of a waterfall.
‘A waterfall?’ I hear you say. ‘In the back streets of Loulé?’ Well, why not? If you believe in Santa… We just need to twist and turn a bit, head down this paved drive, a sharp left into a narrow alleyway and look! Steps lead steeply down. You can hear the sound of tumbling water. And there it is! Complete with stepping stones, maybe a touch precarious. We’ll just look, from here.
Who would have suspected, so close to these apartments? What a surprising view they must have from their balcony. A private garden with a small orchard and a waterwheel. Let’s follow the fonte to see where it goes.
Ponte dos Álamos, the Bridge of Poplars, was built on a secondary Roman road that connected the now ruins at Milreu, north of Faro, with Loulé. Made unstable by the action of the water, the bridge was reconstructed and widened to permit traffic in 2011. It feels strange to be so close to the town and yet on the edge of open countryside. Curiosity satisfied, and vowing to follow the stream on our next visit, it’s time to head back to the centre. The sun is going down and soon the Christmas lights will come on. Look! There’s Santa flying past the castle.
I think I’d prefer a sleigh. The huskies look keen but I’m not sure that those bears are friendly. Now here come the stars…
Loulé has a very attractive pedestrian shopping area and a market that resembles something from the Arabian Nights, especially when lit by fairy lights. Ceramic tiles, hand-beaten copper lamps and beautiful handwoven rugs are just some of the things you can purchase.
This year we have to find the magic of Christmas wherever we can. Come on, Santa- let’s rock!
Hope you enjoyed my Christmas story, and can find a little bit of magic this Christmas time, and a whole lot of love. That’s what it’s all about!
Not sure that this is the best of times to be posting walks, when not everyone can get out to take them, but it’s nice to have something to look forward to, don’t you think? Merry Christmas, everybody!
Looking at this beautiful post, it’s not hard to understand why Jude lives in Cornwall :
A sleepy little village, and a gentle stroll down to the Guadiana and back. A bright blue sky, sun climbing steadily into warmth. A couple of friends for good company. What could possibly go wrong?
Nothing was further from our minds as we left Azinhal, nodding good morning through our masks to a couple of villagers and being careful to maintain a safe distance. Relaxed and happy, we removed the masks and breathed in the wonderful clear air. The trail led out past the church to the fields of crops beyond, hazy mist lining the valley below.
Aware of heavy rains in the previous days, we chose our path carefully, but the gritty surface appeared to have absorbed much of the wet. The oranges positively sparkled in their green surrounds. The old mill had lost its sails, but on the far horizon you could just make out a wind farm, propellers churning through Spanish air. Our nimblest walker climbed the trig point to play lookout.
From yon side of a flimsy rope fence we were eyed uncertainly by a herd of young bullocks. Avoiding eye contact we strode by, into the next valley, where a more pastoral scene met our eyes. A flock of sheep bleated warnings to their young. Gambolling legs had strayed from mother’s side.
We were back at ground level, the Guadiana sparkling beside us, and the smell of newly cut eucalyptus filling the air. An idyllic scene, with fisherman midstream, tending to his nets. Little did we know that all was soon to go horribly wrong. The path alongside the river was a bit muddy and wet, and within a short distance we came upon a rope preventing access to the next section of the walk. Our choices were to concede defeat and retrace our steps, or climb over the rope and chance going ahead. You know what we did, don’t you?
Looking furtively around – there was no-one in sight other than the boatman, and some far distant workers – we lowered the rope and stepped over it. There was no obvious reason or explanation for it being there but, as the ground became increasingly squelchy and oozy, we began to have our suspicions. Feet slithered in the mud and we teetered precariously for a few yards. It sucked at our boots, clinging on and making balance difficult. Looking for an alternative, my husband climbed up onto the spongy grass alongside our path and, with blind faith, we followed. The Guadiana was flowing swiftly along, a few feet below, and definitely focused the mind. Sunny and warm though it was, no way did I fancy swimming practise. For what seemed like hours we tottered along, trying to find a firm foothold. Looking back the rope seemed impossibly distant, and the thought of slithering back the way we’d come a most unwelcome one. Whose bright idea, you catch yourself wondering.
The path stretched ahead and round a curve, looking equally muddy for as far as we could see. Legs were getting tired and a decision needed to be made. Far across the fields we knew there was a much drier path, but the terrain approaching it was very boggy. And somewhere within that area the young bullocks were roaming freely. There wasn’t really a choice so, reluctantly we ducked beneath another rope and set off across the field, choosing our steps with care. The land was saturated and many times a leap for dry ground was needed. But, eventually, we gained the far side and firmer ground, and heaved a collective sigh of relief. I broke out some sticky lollies in a moment of wild celebration. They’d been bought for Halloween and had sat patiently, waiting for trick or treaters, ever since. As we climbed steadily back towards the village we caught sight of a few bullocks. Happily the lush green pasture was more appealing to them than our lollies.
And us? As always we found a cake to suit the occasion. There is a café in the village which sells very delicious cakes, but it was closed. When the need arises, we can be resourceful! Almond cake, in case you were wondering. And so, with Azinhal and almonds, I’m joining Patti’s challenge.
My posts have become a little erratic lately, but I’m sure you’ll have noticed that this isn’t a Monday. It’s been a difficult week and the unexpected death of my stepbrother, Tony, on Sunday left me adrift. He was a kind and gentle man, who will be sorely missed. Two days later the life support of a friend here in the Algarve was switched off. Neither deserved to die so young. Finishing writing my walk has been a good distraction. I hope to have one more Jo’s Monday walk before Christmas. I can almost guarantee it will be on a Monday.
Tina’s inviting us to choose our own subject this week, and I’m going with water. My star sign is Scorpio and, though I’ve never really seen the connection between that curly-tailed creature and water, I have to admit that I have a strong attraction to it. I’m never happier than when I’m on the beach, examining shells and listening to the sound of the waves. But if I’m not near the ocean, a river will do, flowing gently but with determination towards the sea. Or I can be calm and happy by the still waters of a lake.
In my Algarve home, in the south of Portugal, nothing lies between me and Africa but water. The sandbar islands that I love sit serenely offshore, lapped by the tide, each a world in miniature. The water flows out into the lagoon and beyond them to the ocean.
It’s no coincidence that I chose Tavira as my home. It’s supremely placed to take advantage of the water that laps its shores and runs through it. From across the water the offshore island beckons. It cast a spell on me from the very first time I saw it. The Rio Giláo flows softly out to meet it.
It’s a wonderful coastline, with plenty of places to play. I hope you enjoyed sharing it with me. Thank you, Tina, for giving me a choice.
Ponta Delgada isn’t especially grand, as capital cities go. In fact, my initial impression was that it was rather shabby. But it is the gateway to an archipelago that captured my imagination long ago. The Azores for me were the fulfilment of a dream.
Sitting in mid-Atlantic, this group of 9 volcanic islands seemed to me a world apart, and yet so much of their architecture felt familiar. They are, after all, Portuguese islands. Ponta Delgada, situated on the largest island, Sáo Miguel, is their administrative capital. Funnily enough (history is a strange thing) the religious capital of the islands is Angra on Terceira, and the legislative process operates from Horta on Faial.
It was pure coincidence that we arrived on the island in the midst of their greatest religious festival, in May. Ponta Delgada is the traditional centre of Festa de Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, and the Campo de Sáo Francisco and surrounding streets were decked in all their finery.
The Convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperanca is extraordinary both inside and out, especially by night when the whole square radiates light. From its origins as a small fishing village to the cosmopolitan city that it now is, Ponta Delgada retains something of the charm of these magical islands.
It takes a special person to induce me to delve into my archives. Viveka is making a guest appearance hostessing Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week. Few people are more well-traveled than my lovely and generous friend, but I don’t think she has been to this particular Capital. Thanks for taking me back, darlin’. I enjoyed every second!
Maybe a little of each? Amy invited us to explore Layers in this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I certainly did my best during my daughter’s visit. This photo is an October Square, so I think I can count a line or two for Becky, and Debbie is always generous with her Six Words. It just remains to wish you all a happy weekend. See you on Monday!