Jo’s Monday walk : Paderne Medieval Fair

It seemed a strange time of year to have a Medieval Fair, and curiosity drew me to Paderne.  It’s another of those small Algarve villages that punches above its weight when it comes to the grand occasion.  It was a lovely day for a drive out into the countryside, so off we went, arriving unfashionably early.  Later we were glad that we had done, as parking became extremely fraught.  As it was, we had the streets almost to ourselves as we browsed the stalls, smiling and exclaiming at the range of goods.  Who to buy a hobby horse for, or maybe a many-legged puppet?

I was so busy looking that I scarcely noticed the beating of drums until the procession was almost upon me.  A curtsey may well have been in order, for I was swept contemptuously aside by an imperious lord.  Amends were made when a handsome knight stooped to kiss my hand, covering me with confusion.  Suitably embarrassed, I stepped back to watch the parade.

Drums beat and pipes skirled as they swayed towards me.  A lady with an enigmatic smile carried an unblinking owl, and another conjured with a crystal ball.  In a small square a stage had been set up, and here the entertainment began.  His Lordship welcomed the assembled crowd, many of whom were busy feasting at trestle tables.  The aroma of roasting meat filled the air, as dancing girls twirled voluptuously and masked drummers kept up the steady beat.  An accomplished violinist expertly filled any gaps.

The “village lasses” laughed and teased each other, flirting outrageously to the disgust of their “elders and betters”, who tried to shoo them away.

Next the turn of the pipe band, who blew up a storm before leading the procession off to another venue, by the church steps.  We followed, in search of refreshment, and were surprised to find camera crews setting up, and a young lady conducting interviews.  Time to move on.

The streets were colourfully attired, both for Christmas and the Fair, with traditional nuts, seeds and dried fruits stacked high on stalls.

In a quiet moment we slipped inside the church, where a simple crib scene had been set up in front of the altar.

A naive Presépio (Nativity scene) presided in a tiny hall opposite the church, and around the corner a donkey waited patiently in his stable.

There was little pause in the revelry and, wherever you lingered, you’d find your toes tapping to a constant rhythm.  No-one had been left out, with games and ‘medieval’ rides for the children and armed combat for their seniors.

Not forgetting the sinuously swaying lady with the veil.  All eyes were drawn to her swivelling hips and dainty feet, up on the stage.

Reluctantly we made our way out of the village for, soon after three in the afternoon, crowds were beginning to gather.  A main stage outside of the Medieval Fair provided boisterous entertainment with a more modern flavour.  I know which I preferred.

I’d like to add this post to Cathy’s beautiful Photography Invitation.  My intention was to capture the atmosphere of the fair in photos.

  walking logo

No cake but we’ve over-indulged lately, wouldn’t you say?  And dried fruit must be a healthier option.  Many thanks to you all for wandering along with me.  Please find a little time to visit the good folk below.  And join me next time, here on Jo’s Monday walk?


How about this for a brilliant idea?  Debbie knows I can only draw Stick Men  😦

An artistic walk in Milan

A distant deer is better than no deer, isn’t it, Janet?

Monday walk…waiting for sunrise

Street art!  Sandra wonders how you feel about it :

#Portugal Graffiti

Drake acknowledges that life isn’t always pretty :

Dark side of humanity

Take a step or two back in time with Anne :

Clevedon- A Broadchurch walk

Enjoy an unusually balmy January day with Irene :

A Chicago Adventure

Or an autumnal birthday jaunt, with Cathy :

Celebrating a birthday at Mary’s Rock

And lastly, a nice young man I’d like you to meet :

Trails to Trudge: Red Rock Canyon State Park

That’s it for another week.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Take care, and I’ll see you soon!

C is for Carnaval

I fought long and hard to resist writing this, and then capitulated.  A bit like my husband when the dancing girls stopped in front of us and took each of us by the hand, to my expression of delight and his of abject dismay.  Happily for him, it was over in a flash and we were back in the crowd, minus my jester’s hat.  Shame!

Financial crisis hits Loule Carnival

It was our first experience of the Loule Carnaval procession and it fully lived up to our expectations.  Loule is an interesting market town, 16km north of Faro in the Algarve.  The remains of the castle date back to the 12th century and the almedina, the old quarter, is a maze of streets lined with artisan shops and cafes.  The Arab style market hall on Praca da Republica is a focal point, and there’s a lively street market on Saturday mornings.

Fountain and the Arabian market, Loule

Much of Loule is a modern sprawl and we were uncertain about access to this, the Algarve’s biggest Carnaval celebration.  For once, it turned out well.  We approached the town on the N270 from Sao Bras de Alportel and at lunchtime traffic was minimal.  There was the distinct impression that the townsfolk were conserving their energy to party later.  Establishing where the barriers were on the main street, Avenida Jose da Costa Mealha, we parked a little way out on Rua Alfonso de Albuquerque and strolled back into town in pleasant sunshine.

A pavement coffee and pastry to watch the excitement build was a good choice.  The 15 floats were towed gently into place and there was plenty of time to wander between them to admire and take photographs without the crowd.  Loudspeakers announced a 3pm start and it was time to seek out that good spot, having first paid your 2 euros at the kiosk.  It was entertainment in its highest form just watching the locals arriving, many of the children in costume and jiggling with excitement.  This year costume shops and stalls had been set up to encourage people to get into the spirit of Carnaval and shake off the doom and gloom.

The Portuguese are very happy to poke fun at their leaders and celebrities and the Carnaval has a political theme.  Many of the floats produced wry smiles if not outright chuckles.

Just a bit more shuffling of feet and the parade was assembled and off.  It was everything you could have hoped for and more- strange characters on stilts, who bent down to engage with the children, dancers by the score, trick cyclists, pierrots, and of course the “Samba” ladies in their provocative outfits.  As each float pulled to a standstill hoards of paper streamers and tiny keepsakes were flung into the crowd.  As the sun sank behind the buildings I had to jiggle harder to the music to keep warm.  It took over an hour for all of the floats to pass by- 2 euros very well spent.

Our dancing ladies were just feet away when Michael decided that enough was enough- he wasn’t going to be involved in another round of embarrassment.

My all too brief moment of fame, then I had to give the hat back!

We really did have a great time, but it was in fact our second experience of Carnaval, Algarve-style.  The event runs for three days, culminating on Shrove Tuesday, and on the previous Sunday we had gone to a far more low key and traditional style of parade at Paderne, a small inland village.  We were familiar with the village having spent time there seeking out an exquisite art gallery, Corte Real, and on another occasion following a trail to Paderne Castle.

The church at Paderne

Paderne regularly fools us and this time was no different.  Apart from some streamers overhead there was little sign of life in the village so, assuming we’d got it wrong, we set off for a stroll in the sunshine, down to the Fonte, a rather intriguing spring.  Half an hour later the village had mobilised into action and suddenly we were in the thick of the preparations.  The excitement was tangible.  Mystified we retired to a tiny café where a captivating toddler, dressed as a fluffy yellow chicken, was passed around its adoring family.  When we poked our noses back out again the parade was about to begin.

Although much smaller than its Loule counterpart, the procession was no less fun.  The setting was intimate, within just a few village streets, locals looking down from bedroom windows.  The lords and ladies mounted the floats and as they moved off four shimmering Chinese dragons manoeuvred into position.  I was delighted to observe that their scales had been constructed painstakingly from cartons.  The theme was Chinese business and a flutter of parasols and coolie hats took to the streets.

With enormous energy they paraded around and around, and as we made for home there were still queues at the kiosk.  We were left in no doubt that the Algarveans know how to party.

I’m entering this in the word a week photography challenge on celebrations as it just seems to fit so well.