Portugal

Living the dream… 6 months on

Half a year in, I’ve gone from hopping about to keep warm, to melting slowly.  32C at the end of May.  Definitely warmer than average!  But not every day, and even on the hot ones it’s possible to catch a breeze at the beach.  The season hasn’t yet started, and I’m still able to claim a wide expanse of sand, all to myself.   But not for much longer.  The other day I watched in fascination as the beach umbrellas were assembled.  Heavy, circular woven mats, hefted up onto poles, creating small pools of shade.  And beyond it, endlessly blue sea, swaying to its own rhythm, mesmerising.  Like the wild flowers in the fields.

This isn’t as easy a post to write as I’d thought.  I keep wandering back to the comments on Living the dream… 3 months on.  You were all so very kind, and I obviously touched a chord with a lot of people.  So, where are we now?  A landmark for us.  A first visit from a couple of old friends from the UK, who had never been to Portugal before.  We waited anxiously to see how it would be received.  Would they shake their heads and wonder why we’d left good old England?  Perhaps if I tell you that they both love cake you’ll know that this place brought enormous smiles to their faces.  And it wasn’t just the cake!

And in the meantime?  As you wisely forecast, good days and minor hiccups.  Small triumphs in language. (very small- I’m thinking recognised words here, not flowing sentences)  A succession of goodbyes.  Many people come to the Algarve in the winter months and leave again as the temperatures begin to rise.  This is another adjustment I will need to make.  But I know that many of the friends I have made will return.  We share a love for this place and, once the bond is made, threads of our lives mingle, across the globe.  Still, I’m quick to feel alienation.  I court a warm response, but always hold something of myself back.  Some lessons are harder to learn than language.  Maybe that’s why I’m a wanderer, dipping safely in and out, without commitment.

I’m on the verge of a long awaited adventure in the Azores, though some might wonder why I need a holiday.  By the time you read this the packing and angst should be done.  If I don’t publish now I know this will be swamped by my impressions of an archipelago of islands.  I’m off to catch a breeze!

 

Six word Saturday

Sharing a few memories with friends

It was a great week, in excellent company.  ‘We’ve been so many places, I can’t remember the names!’  The first was Fuseta.  Click on the photos for a clue.  And then pop over to Debbie with six words.  She loves photos!  Happy Saturday everybody…

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Six word Saturday

Viva Mãe Soberana!  Viva  Mãe Soberana!

An emotional day in Loulé, last Sunday, celebrating the festival of Mae Soberana. 

For 15 years I’ve wanted to be a part of this ceremony.  The captions tell part of the story, but it’s a memory I hope will stay with me forever.

Impossible to share in Six Words, but I tried.  Viva Mãe Soberana!  Wishing you all a peaceful weekend.

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Six word Saturday

Yes, I do have tranquil moments!

I don’t spend all of my life zipping about the place, though it may sometimes seem that way.  Thanks for your interest in the flash mob.  It was a wonderful experience and we hope to have a video on YouTube, after editing.  Now I’m going for a cuppa with Debbie on Six Word Saturday.  Have a great weekend!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Street art in Silves

Silves, as one of the loveliest towns in the Algarve and its former capital, is one I seldom fail to take visitors to.  Last weekend, while strolling the streets on my way to a Mediterranean Garden Fair, I was much taken with some distinctive and amusing street art.  Boxes housing electricity cables are seldom an attractive feature, so an initiative to transform them must surely be a good thing.

‘Stencilpes’ is described as an urban intervention project to encourage young people’s interest in art, using images from history, architecture and nature.  I could find little information about the individual artists, but I thoroughly enjoyed spotting the artworks.

Whimsical creatures rub shoulders with cork oaks and olives, grapes and strawberries, birds and butterflies.  On the riverfront, these pieces of modern art pay tribute to Silves’ Moorish past.

High on the hill, the red brick fortress looks down on peaceful streets.  The morning market supplies restaurants and locals alike, but then the town seems to sleep, leaving just the storks to keep watch from their lofty perch.

Great, aren’t they?  No need for me to say much!  A nice change for you.

I found myself wandering into an area I didn’t really know, in pursuit of the boxes.  On the corner of Rua Dom Afonso III stands a pretty little church, Igreja Nossa Senhora dos Martires, and a statue of the martyrs, which looks like it’s seen better days.

I don’t know about you, but I was starting to feel the need for some refreshment.  You’ve been very patient this week, so I’ll give you a choice.

While I was eating, a clattering noise overhead caused me to look up.  What a magical sight met my eyes!  A stork was descending to his waiting mate, on their nest above.  I averted my eyes, politely, from their noisy love making.

The garden fair wasn’t the highlight of my afternoon, but I did buy a couple of plants and a terracotta pot.  I wandered back to the riverside parking, a big smile on my face.  And spotted another couple of boxes!

I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but maybe next time?  I hope you enjoyed them too.  S is for Silves will give you a little background on the city.

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Thanks so much for your company on my little jaunt!  Join me any time you can, here on Jo’s Monday walk. You’ll always get a warm welcome.

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Debbie posts some amazing sights, as she whizzes around the world :

Burrowing into Baku

A rainy day in Paris?  Don’t despair- just follow Jude’s lead!

Walking the Right Bank Passages in Paris

It’s all a bit weird and wonderful at Drake’s place this week!

Third degree street parade

There are options for healthy eating with Irene :

Through the Edible Garden

Then you could have coffee with Jackie :

Espresso

Natalie is someone who sets herself health goals and walks for fitness :

Wellness Post #3 : Ice Breakers 2019

It’s a little grey at the beach with Sandra, but there’s beauty aplenty in those Spheres :

#Alki Beach, #Seattle

#Amazon #Spheres – Saturday Snapshot and Jo’s Monday walk

Eek!  That white stuff is still to be found!  But Rupali is happy with blue skies :

Tour day!

Susanne has found plenty of sunshine in her neck of the woods :

A Walk at Coulon Park on the Last Day of Winter

Lisa too, but still a little cool, I understand :

Jo’s Monday Walk

I don’t think they have winter in Alice’s part of the world :

Step Forward or a Peek into the Past

Follow Ulli to Germany- it’s beautiful too!

Enchanted Forest

Janet knows I love a glass or two of wine :

Monday walk…Vinas De Garza

Covering up the weariness with a smile; you must be following Cathy’s epic journey?

(Camino day 9) Villamayor de Monjardin to Torres del Rio

There’s a regular Monday meetup over at Sami’s Colourful World for all those of you who love street art.  Have a great week, and see you next time!

Living the dream… 3 months on

It was quite easy to leave England.  Or so I thought!  I had a home in the Algarve, and a ready made life, carefully nurtured over 15 years.  A variety of friends awaited, and activities to engage in.  I loved the place I was moving to.  You’ve seen the photos.  How could I not?  And yet… was the honeymoon over?

There was a certain euphoria in making the dream a reality.  Even saying goodbye to lifelong friends was done with gaiety, each one a celebration of our shared lives.  They could visit, couldn’t they?  And the same for my family, though not without a pang or two.  Everyone was excited and pleased for me.  The move went smoothly.  Fragments of my old life, packed in cardboard boxes, made its way overland to join me.  But when it arrived I was filled with dismay.  Much of it seemed irrelevant to my new life, here in the Algarve, squeezing our comfortable space till it felt cramped.  I closed the door on the second bedroom.  Avoiding it all.

I didn’t miss my old home in the UK, as I thought I might, but I did miss its warmth.  I had moved to a land of sunshine and blue skies, but the house was cold.  Designed to keep out heat in the summer, in the winter they are not so easy to keep warm.  Tiled floors, though beautiful, don’t help.  Out and about and busy in the daytime, I was happy enough, but returning home meant putting on extra layers of clothing.  The house is air-conditioned and individual rooms can be heated, but moving between them was uncomfortable, even with plug-in heaters.  I was miserable, and cross with myself besides.  Why was I not happy?  Everyone knew I was living the dream.

Language is so important to me.  I hide behind photographs, but I deal in words.  Somehow it hadn’t mattered when we came to our holiday home but, proudly obtaining residency, I felt inadequate and frustrated by my inability to converse freely with locals.  I still do, but I’m trying!

So much gloom!  Did you know?  Could you tell?  My life in pictures continued to shine forth at intervals.  I reinstated my Monday walks, reflecting the joy I still found in the amazing outdoors, but on a personal level I couldn’t quite find the idyll.  People here are kind, and my disorientation was noted.  We discussed heating issues, and others, and I was assured that the first year could be difficult.  The weight of expectation, perhaps?

Gradually I am getting there.  Most of the boxes are unpacked, and painting done.  With new settees and carpet our home feels comfortable and welcoming.  But I’m not flexible and adaptable.  Why didn’t I know that about me?  My husband has made the adjustment far better, and retained his much needed sense of humour.  And he can still make me smile.  How lucky am I?  Living in ‘almost paradise’.

Linking to Cathy’s Prose invitation, over on Wander.essence.

Jo’s Monday walk : Chocolate time in Loulé

I’m feeling a bit naughty this week.  You’re always encouraging me to eat cake, so I thought I’d take you along with me to the annual, Algarve Chocolate Fair, in Loulé.  Any volunteers to help with the tasting?  I bet I can guess whose hand went up!

Pause for breath?  Please excuse the overload, but it was planned as a Valentine’s Day treat.  We’d better walk slowly now, while you nibble your chocolate.  (I did succumb to a very delicious dark chocolate bar, nibbed with crispy almonds, but I’m keeping that one to myself)

Loulé makes for very easy wandering, unless you happen to time it for Carnaval.  The main street was already being festooned with garlands, in readiness for the event in two weeks time.  We’ve been on numerous occasions, and my husband loves the political satire and the sparingly clothed dancing girls.  Me, not so much!  But it’s good fun and the youngsters love to get dressed up and join in.

I’m more interested in the beautiful, tiny church, tucked around the corner from the castle, Ermida de Nossa Senhora de Conceição.  The kind lady inside happily points out the main features of the azulejos, telling the story of Mary and Joseph and their special baby.  Just within the doorway, remnants of the town walls gaze dimly upwards, through a clear glass panel.

Downhill, past the castle and around silent Igreja Matriz, a small park looks out onto battered rooftops, and across town to the futuristic dome of Nossa Senhora da Piedade.  An elderly chap gazes quietly into space from his bench, while above a small boy gleefully climbs an ancient olive.

We’ve loitered in Loulé often before.  A gate through the old town wall leads out to a busy back street, rumbling with traffic.  Beside the gateway scowls an ancient pump, the surrounding streets an enigma of beautiful tilework, graffiti and skilled craftsmanship.  Ceramics and cork shops flourish and, from an open doorway, the sound of mallet tapping brass rings out.  I stop to admire a gleaming, burnished lampshade.

I was a little disappointed to find that no art was on display in the former Convento de Santo Antonio.   Hopefully restoration will continue and a further exhibition be set up for summer.  One last port of call.  I rarely visit Loulé without ascending to the heights, but this time we drove up the hill to Nossa Senhora da Piedade.  I hope to be there to see her carried from her sanctuary this Easter.

It’s a strange church, but I was quite taken with my last image- a reflection of the Sanctuarium on the window of the House of Candles.

The walks keep rolling in, so thanks to all who’ve contributed, and to those of you who take the time to read them.  Join me, whenever you can, here on Jo’s Monday walk.  I try to keep it lighthearted!

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Did you think we’d lost Meg?  Can’t keep a good woman down!  Showcasing a hodge podge of Australian architecture, in her own inimitable style :

Warwick heritage walk

‘My’ bit of the Coast to Coast walk, with Geoff and his Dad.  Great memories, beautifully written :

Walking With The Wind At My Back: Part Five #coasttocoast #walking

Natalie continues her adventures in Central America :

Boat trip on Lake Atitlan and Santiago Village

Pure delight for the eyes, this one from Susan :

Winter Walk Around Bodnant Garden in Wales

A quick zap of colour from Jackie this week :

Monday Mural

‘Sunshine, food and medicine for the soul’.  Irresistible, don’t you think?

Flower of the Day – Hellebores

A casual day out, enjoying the warmth, with Alice :

Skidaway Island Nature Trail

Irene is determined to make me shiver!

A Snowy Walk

While Elaine has captured the most beautiful dragonfly shot, despite very murky weather :

A dragonfly and a fish out of water

Architecturally beautiful, and sunny!  Debbie’s post couldn’t be more different :

Wandering in Vilafranca

Ever been to Queens, New York City?  Let Lisa show you around :

Jo’s Monday Walk

Iceland is on most people’s wish list, isn’t it?  You might know Drake had made it!

Reykjavik, up north

The Algarve, not so much, but it certainly suits me and Becky :

A meander through Faro

Carol shares a wonderfully atmospheric snippet of Toronto’s history :

Sensing the Past

While Jude revives a memory or two of her own, in Ludlow :

A Ludlow Walkabout

And Eunice takes us back through Bolton’s history, in 3 parts.  Know about the elephant connection?

Visiting the museum (1) – Elephants & Egypt

Finally, Cathy shares a garden that Jude would just love to be let loose in!  And I’d love to join her :

A stroll around Moab

Worn out, again?  Must be all that chocolate.  It was good fun though, wasn’t it?  Have a great week and see you next time!