Portugal

Blowing in the wind

I have a soft spot for this little balcony. I always look up when I walk past, whether it’s wash day or not. It seems like all of Tavira have their washing out today. It must be Monday? The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind….

The answer is blowing in the wind…. I wish I had the answer to Andrew’s peg message, but I don’t!

Monday Washing Lines

You bet your life we are!

‘Monday is washing day, Tuesday’s soup, Wednesday’s roast beef, Thursday is shepherd’s pie, Friday’s fish, Saturday is pay day, Sunday is church, Is everybody happy?’ …. Your turn! ‘ You bet your life we are!’ 🙂 🙂

A mingling of Algarve washing, with a splash of happy yellow. Are you joining Andrew at Monday Washing Lines? You’ll have to peg neatly!

Jo’s Monday walk : Santiago do Cacém

‘Where shall we go for our anniversary, hon?’  Greeted with the usual shrug and ‘anywhere you want’.  After 31 years I know he doesn’t mean this literally, and current circumstances are such that even I hesitated to suggest anywhere too exciting.  Chicago, Japan and the Isles of Scilly passed fleetingly through my mind, before I settled on a more practical choice, the Alentejo.  Not too far, in driving terms, from our Algarve home, and much of it, for us, still uncharted territory.

The Troia peninsula, just south of Setúbal, holds great appeal, but it’s high summer and the beach hotels are expensive and likely too busy.  So, pointing my nose in that general direction, I settled on slightly obscure but potentially interesting, Santiago do Cacém.  A castle and a church, perched high on a hill.  What could be better….?  Yes, that was the spouse’s reaction when he saw the height of the hill in question.  But we started slowly, chancing upon the TI, beautifully located in gardens, and with an adjoining café.

I freely admit that I had little idea of what else there might be to see, but the gentleman in the TI was very helpful.  We had already passed signs for the Roman ruins of Miróbriga, on the outskirts of town. Time to start a gentle ascent to the castle.  There’s nothing I like better than a meander through quirky streets of crumbling houses, shored up by their smart neighbours, and with a smattering of compelling street art.

A towering pink fire station, dangling laundry, a neglected church with chorus of cherubs and Manueline doorway, a square with pelourinho (or pillory) and magnificently rusted door handles.  Not a bad haul for a couple of streets.  And the tiny courtyard with the shrine to a beloved pet.

So many distractions, I had scarcely noticed the gradient of our climb but finally we reached the Castelo de Santiago do Cacém, built by the Moors.

Originally the castle had 10 square towers and semi-cylindrical turrets, externally defended by a barbican, some of which have survived.  The ancient church of Santiago is integrated into the south east wall.  I had forgotten that the castle, abandoned in the 1700s, had become the town’s cemetery in the 19th century.  Glancing through the archway I saw the tombs and hesitated, not wanting to be disrespectful.  The palace and gardens of the Condes de Avillez adjoin the castle, and for a while I wandered in their atmospheric shade.

Then realisation dawned, and we entered the grounds of the ruined castle.

Rarely have I been in a more serene and lovely place.  I wandered among the tombstones, marveling at the details, and then climbed to the castle walls.  A solitary caretaker was busy removing and tidying, and gave us a cheery wave.

Reluctantly I made my way back through the stone archway, but there was another treat to come.  The door to the Santiago Church was ajar, and I stepped quietly inside.  A lovely young woman beamed at me and gestured that I should come in and enjoy the beautiful surrounds.

The gilded wood carvings told of hours of craftsmanship.  We exchanged smiles again, behind our masks, complicit in our appreciation.  Heading downhill, there was still a colourful surprise in store.  An art gallery, maybe?  I wasn’t sure.

I hope you enjoyed today’s wander.  We had the best view from a hotel room that I can remember in quite some time, and we made it to the top of the hill.  Next week I’ll take you to Miróbriga and the Roman ruins.

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Thanks again everyone, for the appreciation and for keeping me company on my rambles.  Not too many walks to share this week, so please find time to visit.  And if you have a walk you’d like to share, feel free!

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Gentle humour and a beautiful landscape, with a flurry of facts.  Thank you, Margaret!

In Search of a Druid or a Trout – Revisited

Do you know Lisa?  These photos are simply stunning!

Sunsets after work

It looks like life goes on as normal on Lîle de Ré, and very lovely it looks, too.  Thanks, Drake!

Forwards and backwards

Perle de l’Atlantique

Hooked on

Maybe even more serene and beautiful, Ulli shows us :

Sunny Stechlin – On the Trails of Theodor Fontane

Anabel is always hot on the trail, unless it’s raining, of course :

East Dunbartonshire: Trails + Tales

Susan is taking very mindful steps these days :

Walking small

While Rupali takes a hike, under the sun :

Weekend 102: Hiking again

Another week gone.  Halfway through an Algarve summer, where I sometimes feel the need to escape the heat.  Santiago do Cacém was rather a lovely place to do it.  Have a good week and see you next time!

Jo’s Monday walk : From Bay to Beautiful Bay

You’ll be happy to know that I was properly shod for this little expedition.  Relatively speaking, of course!  But then, I wasn’t going to The end of the world.  It’s amazing how far you can actually see, round this wonderful coastline.  The cliffs seem to roll on and on.  Here I’m standing, in the fresh wind I’d been longing for, looking down on Praia do Tonel.  Ahead lies the Sagres promontory.  Behind me, a modest little pottery shop.

The commanding fortress looks out to sea in all directions.  Built in the time of Prince Henry the Navigator, its most distinctive feature is the compass rose, a giant pebble compass, 43 metres in diameter.  Within the fortress, Nossa Senhora de Graca dates from 1579, replacing the original chapel built for Henry in 1459.  He spent much of his later life here, dying in 1460.

The sea sucks greedily at the cliffs, battering its way in on the calmest of days.  It’s a place to be in awe of nature, yet fishermen cast their rods with the nonchalance of familiarity, from the most precarious nooks and crannies in the rock face.

From the solid entrance to the fortress, Rua da Fortaleza gradually dwindles into Sagres, the cobbles culminating in a timeless square, the heart of the community.  My visit coincides with an easing of restrictions related to lockdown and Covid-19.  Caution is in the air and people are sparse, yet there’s a peace and calm to this sun-soaked spot.  It’s not hard to linger here, sheltered from the wind, and indulge and daydream a little.

Reluctantly I move on.  Curving round the cliff tops, views sweep down to Praia da Mareta and across the bay.  The sun is gaining strength as I follow the road past an old school, converted to a café, and a straggle of surf shops, eating establishments and a tiny post office.  The signs are leading me to Praia da Baleeira and the old port.

From here the lookout is to distant Praia do Martinhal.  The bay is protected by the four islets lined up on the horizon.  It’s a bustling port area, temporarily becalmed.  The small cove has tempted just a few to frolic on the sands.

I’m pleasantly tired now, and climb back up the steep cliff, passing the pretty tasca with the incomparable view, to a more modest eatery, where the locals happily pass the time of day.  I try to catch a few scraps of gossip while gazing out across the bay.

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I hope you enjoyed a wander across Sagres.  Even in high summer it’s a place where you need a warm jacket early morning, and certainly when the mist creeps in on an evening.  I’d love to see it with the sea raging and storming those cliffs.  For now I’m content to share a few walks.  Many thanks to all of you who keep them coming.

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Carol has shared some truly spectacular scenery from Australia :

Rain in the Rainforest

Cloud Shapes

A Walk in the Forest

While Marion treads carefully on limestone pavement in Yorkshire :

Malham Cove

And speaking of limestone, Drake introduces us to a rather special one :

Some answers blow in the wind

While, just across the water, we are…

Surrounded by horizons

An early start and a bit of a climb certainly didn’t daunt Albert :

Jerrabomberra Mountain Reserve-Summit Walk

Nor is there any reason to stay at home with local views like this!

A Walk in the Woods – or beating those stay-cation blues!

Walking doesn’t have to be restricted to Mondays.  Whatever suits you, Colline  🙂

A Sunday Stroll

Rupali enjoys taking us out for the day and exploring her beautiful world :

Weekend 101 -Hiking

Finding sanctuary in nature

While Susan finds delight in the simplest of pleasures :

Walking the urban forest

Natalie always manages to keep herself busy, no matter where :

Summer Week 4 :Trillium Park

It’s a long while since I’ve been to Morecambe Bay, and I’m happy to do it in Eunice’s company :

Morecambe promenade – south to north

How about this for a grand finale?  A fabulous post from Sheetal :

The Ultimate Guide to Florence

Rather a lot of shares this week.  Please visit where you can, and apologies for anyone I’ve missed.  I’m temporarily becalmed myself, after a wonderful family visit.  Take care all, and have a good week.

Living the Dream- in the Algarve, Portugal

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Sounds familiar? A dream that many share but, though we chose the same country, my story and that of Alyson are very different. I was excited, and very nervous, to meet Aly not long after I started blogging, by invitation to their wonderful home in Ferragudo. I had been following Algarve Blog and comparing notes and experiences, because she and husband Dave lived almost at the opposite end of the Algarve from Tavira. They were lovely hosts and Alyson showed me her artist’s studio with great pride. It was to become key to their new lifestyle, and the development of Alyson’s own very individual style of painting. Me and Michael were plied with banana bread, and regaled with stories of how ‘living the dream’ became a reality for them. Some funny, some more of a warning for what we might face in our own pursuit of the dream.

Little did I know then that I was getting a foretaste of the book she was to write. What we share is an enormous enthusiasm for the Portuguese way of life. Its kind and generous people, who welcome us into their homeland, and tolerate our wilful ways, with little more than an occasional roll of the eyes and a gentle shrug. Alyson has done her best to integrate into the community, and she and Dave give back wherever they can, fund raising for the bombeiros, the crucial fire fighting service here, and Madrugada, for those who need a helping hand. I know from personal experience of Alyson’s generosity with her time and expertise. I struggled mightily with the technical aspects of running a blog at the outset, and she would often offer help. Her artistic flair was never in doubt, and I take great pride in the logos she designed for me, which I still use on Six Word Saturday.

I don’t really need to say more, do I? The book is a wealth of experience for anyone considering the move to a new country. It’s also a travel guide with many enticing recommendations. And it’s a darn good read! I’ll leave you with an early example of Alyson’s art work. I hope she won’t mind.

Jo’s Monday walk : Beyond the River

‘Why Tavira?’ is a question I’m asked all the time when I talk about the place where I live.  Although I love the peace of the Algarve countryside, I could never willingly live in a little hillside cottage.  I would forever be gazing at the horizon, imagining the lap of the waves at my feet and the sound of the ocean in my ears.  Here in Tavira the river brings the sea to me, and it’s one of my greatest pleasures to board a ferry and ride out there to meet it.  This week the town ferry reopened.  There was no queue at the kiosk, nor in fact any other passengers aboard than me and my husband.  And a crew of five, some of whom were youngsters, learning the trade.  Prosperity will come again, and they need to be prepared.  For now, the instructions are to wear a mask on all forms of public transport, and so, bizarre though it felt on the open deck of a boat, we did.

We pulled out of the quayside, where the work of building a new bridge continues apace, and soon were chugging out through the marshes.  Lilac heather lines the riverbank, but my gaze was directed far beyond, counting the flamingos.  The day was full of billowing clouds, which could have explained the emptiness of the ferry.   After all these years, still I find the views from the landing stage compelling.

We followed the path across the Ilha towards the beach.  The main seafood restaurant was being industriously cleaned and rearranged, in readiness for hoped for customers.  The adjacent campsite is to remain closed this summer, and the object of our affections, The Sunshine Bar, had yet to open, but the recycled fish at O Xiri has a new lease of life.

With no particular objective in mind, we set off along the deserted beach, walking into a boisterous breeze.  As we paused to regain our breath, a tiny figure appeared on the horizon.  We watched as the quad bike drew near, and then passed us by.  The maritime police with a pleasant occupation.  Nothing but a few gulls to keep us company.  In vain I tried to capture them in flight.  Better to focus on the jewellery of the beach!

We had reached the area known as Terra Estreita.  Another ferry and a boardwalk connects this beach with Santa Luzia on the mainland.  Beach umbrellas in residence, but not a soul to be seen.  Just the tyre tracks of the young policeman.

Turn back, or carry on?  The legs were starting to feel a bit leaden in the soft sand, but we knew that the Beach Bar at Barril was open.  A fair incentive for another half hour or so’s walking.  Maybe even cake?

The clouds were starting to amass and the wind to bluster, but I was intrigued by the clumps of greenery and plants I had never before seen growing on this beach.  Nature rearranging herself in the absence of humans.  We had already noticed that the shoreline was different in places.  The action of wind and waves.  Soon I was in the mesmerising presence of the anchors at Barril.

I defy anyone to walk past without taking at least one or two photos of them.  Possibly after refreshments.  The sky was miraculously clearing again by the time we were ready to return, and the wind gentling us along from behind.  More found treasure!

Finally the lighthouse at the river mouth came into view.  It’s not a bad life being a beach attendant right now.

Almost ready to board, but I can’t leave you without a bit of biscuit cake, can I?  A treat, because it’s been a sobering week, in many ways.

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Janet led the way, last week, in being too upset to walk.  Many of us knew just how she felt :

Today I can’t walk

But Margaret will cheer you up :

A Tale of Three Birds: Chapter Two- The Curlew

And Anabel has beautiful rock formations in Berwickshire :

Cove to Siccar Point

Trees, sky, tiny flowers… just a few of the things in Susan’s new world :

Walking around a lockdown

Drake demonstrates how beautiful green can be :

Most of all greenish

While Rita celebrates the blossom trees in Toronto :

Feeling high at High Park

Doesn’t matter what day it is, Rupali can find beauty :

Wordless Wednesday Walk 3

And Sheetal can get excited about Florence :

Date with David

Irene contents herself with the simple things in life :

Along the Trail

I’ve never hiked Dartmouth… but I’d like to.  Please meet Zara!

Dartmoor Hiking Trails: Princetown to Fox Tor

So far I’ve been documenting and diarying my life here in the Algarve, in this exceptional period.  I think you can see, it’s a beautiful place.  I don’t intend to stick to a schedule from now on, so if you share a walk with me I’ll be delighted, but I can’t be sure when I’ll share it here.  Wishing you all a peaceful and healthy transition to a better world.  It’s ours to make the best of, isn’t it?  Stay safe!  And eat cake?

When ‘living the dream’ goes pear-shaped

Pear-shaped is exactly how it feels, some days.  A sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.  A sadness that won’t be pushed away.  No matter how many times I might repeat ‘get a grip!’  Get a grip!  It’s 18 months since we sold our UK home and renounced life in England, in pursuit of ‘the dream‘.  And yes, we found it.  A world of sunlight and smiling faces.  But often now, I wonder, at what cost?

Of course, we discussed the ‘what ifs’ before we made the move.  What if we’re seriously ill over there, or worse, the youngsters are?  Easily dismissed!  Portugal has a health care system.  Flights are cheap and easy.  Stop right there.  You can see the flaw in the argument now, can’t you?  Why didn’t we?  Hindsight, such a wonderful thing.  It does no good to say, as both children have, ‘but you’re safer there’.  It may well be true.  There is far less density of population here, and steps were taken in good time to help prevent the spread of infection.  But I didn’t come here for safety.  Far from it!  And I definitely didn’t come here to isolate myself from my family.  The dream included happy times shared with them, in this lovely place.  Was I greedy?  Wanting too much?  You can’t have it all, never was truer.

The clock ticks on and there is no real comfort in sight.  Flights can be, have been, booked, but there is no certainty that they will operate.  And what of the quarantine measures that may be applied?  Which employer is going to say ‘go, have a good time, and take an extra 2 weeks when you come back to self isolate’?  If there is still a job available.

The pragmatic view.  All things must pass?  But in the meantime I feel like I have betrayed my children.  Deliberately distanced myself when help, both physical and emotional, might be needed.  Hoodwinked, both them and me.  Overreacting?  Maybe so, but that expression ‘a heavy heart’- I know just how it feels.  Gradually things are starting to normalise here, and I can’t deny spontaneous joy at walking on beaches again, and meeting with friends.  But the future feels precarious, in a way it never did, ‘before’.

Life at the Top

From a wreck to a palace!  A quick hop back in time to my visit to Aveiro last year.  A place I’d always wanted to visit for its canals, but I had no idea that this fabulous Art Deco Museum existed.  Room at the Top?  Yes, please!  The views would be stunning.

Trading views with Becky this morning at #SquareTops.

Views of COVID 19 – Chile, England, Finland and Portugal

Taking time out today to look at the darker side of life.  Sue Slaught is compiling a series on the effect of COVID 19 around our world, and I was honoured to be asked to participate.  The full text is here :

Views of COVID 19 – Chile, England, Finland and Portugal

Hoping you are enjoying the peace of this very different Easter, and that no-one you love has been affected by this frightening illness.  God bless!

My Top View of Tavira

A little tenuous, this one, but it’s a view I love.  Church ‘on top’ of a hill.  The Ponte Romana, ‘atop’ the River Giláo.

It’s a good follow up to yesterday, and I’m hoping Becky will like it.  It’s all getting a little crazy over at her #SquareTops.