Portugal

Jo’s Monday walk : Ribeira de Algibre

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The first place you would think to look for a captivating mural is a sleepy Algarvean village in Portugal, isn’t it?  No- me neither!  But it was one of the highlights of a recent walk in Ribeira de Algibre.  Situated north west of Loule and not far from the village of Boliqueime, this is walk no. 17 in Julie Statham’s book, “Let’s Walk Algarve”.

The chief criteria for this walk was that it was level, and not too long, the other half having sustained a limp.  I could, of course, have left him with his feet up, reading a book, but he insisted on being gallant.  There’d be ample time to read later.  Out past the quarry we went, left through the village of Parragil, then left again.  We parked, as instructed in the book, just past the bridge, and slap bang next to the most amazing wall.

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The owner of Vila Dias must have an artistic nature, and a sense of humour.  Reluctantly I turned my back on it to follow the trail, just before the bridge.  We are in an area of olive groves and vineyards, with lofty bamboo screening off the narrow river.

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The path twists and turns, revealing shallow riverbed on one side and regimented rows of vines on the other.  I pounce with glee on a small clump of white flowers- early narcissi, cushioned in luxuriant green, and guarded by ancient olives.  1000 years of age is not uncommon for these gnarled beauties, weatherbent by the sharp winds.

The soil is it’s usual, rich red and deep puddles occasionally surprise.  Neither of us can remember any rain.   All is still and calm when, out of nowhere, the carefree sound of pop music on a radio.  We exchange smiles and hum along, peering to see where the sound is coming from. Around each bend we gaze expectantly, but there is no sign of the music maker, and gradually the sound fades into the distance.

One of the advantages of this walk is that it is split into two halves, circles that begin and end in the village.  Each takes only about 45 minutes, and there is a cafe where you might linger before starting the second half.  Except that, of course, Cafe Ribeira is closed.  Perhaps later in the year?  Not a soul is stirring, though a horse gives us a good long look.

I consult the other half, who has limped gamely along.  We might as well do the other half, he says, and so we do.  The path leads behind a house, on the other side of the road, and the book directs us to look for an abandoned mill.

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The trail continues, partly by the river and then into more woodland.  Deep in a thicket of olives we spot a herd of goats and I try to edge nearer without giving the alarm.  Not entirely successful, but I manage a couple of shots.

All is tranquillity.  We are passed, twice, by the same cyclist, obviously doing his morning rounds.  In the vineyards we see 3 or 4 people working, clearing and burning dead branches. It’s a wonderful, pastoral scene.

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As we approach the river again, suddenly the sound of the transistor radio fills the air.  We gaze all around expectantly, but still, no-one is to be seen.  A shy picnicker, perhaps?  Smiling we return to the village.  The sun has changed position and I’m drawn again into the world of the mural.

Even the bus shelter was pretty!  That’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed walking with me.  Let’s get the kettle on and enjoy that cuppa now. And for you sympathetic souls, let me reassure you that ‘the limp’ was much better next day.

Thanks everybody, for keeping me company again, and for your generous support and contributions.  Anyone can join in with a walk of their own, long or short.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  You’ll be more than welcome.

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A place with a whole heap of history.  Let Lady Lee show you around :

A week in Malta

You’ve all got time for this one!  Thanks, Eunice :

A quick afternoon walk

Woolly has progressed to Amsterdam and windmills :

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Something you do with a Silver Cross pram, Anabel?

Perambulations in Perth

Jackie’s determined to walk me into the ground this week!

San Antonio, Texas

Lisa has some interesting graffiti for you, in Tel Aviv :

Florentin

Kate takes on a scary climbing challenge in Scotland :

Munro Bagging in the Arrochar Alps

Not so much a walk as a series of reminiscences from Geoff :

A Time in Africa- part one

Drake knows I have a weakness for Samso.  It’s so easy to see why :

Return for a walk

Yvette has a fascinating art challenge going on so I’m chuffed she could make time for me!

Walk with Jo : Mom’s Siam Carytown (Day 54 0f 365 Days of Art)

Fancy another challenge yourself? Jaspa has all the details :

Sam’s Ses Challenge #5 : Mountain

I’ve done this one before, but not the right way around.  Typical!  Thanks, Becky :

Remembering Gilda amongst the Almond Blossom

Jude delights me with a walk in her neck of the woods.  Could this be the year I get to Cornwall?

A Winter Walk

Have a great week!  Here in the UK there’s just a chance that Spring is in the air.  Wherever you are, try to get out and enjoy it.

Jo’s Monday walk : Lagoão Trail

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I do like to have a bit of fun on a walk, and for me that invariably means water.  When the guide book says that the river might not be fordable after heavy rainfall, I picture great torrents.  But this is, after all, the Algarve, and the prospect of being swept away downstream is not huge.  The only way to find out is to follow the trail and see.

So it was that we parked up, between the football ground and the fire station, in the wonderfully somnolent village of São Marcos da Serra.  Our destination that day was the hilltop village of Alferce, site of yet another magnificent Presepio de Natal, this one with life-sized figures.  The Lagoão Trail was almost en route, so it was decided to ‘make a day of it’.

This is a nicely level, circular 10km walk, initially following the river.  Much of the scenery has a soft Autumn tinge to it on this January day.  A great billow of smoke announces a farmer, burning off dead wood and shrubs.  The delicate pink of a rose bush delights my eye.

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Before too long we approach the ford, which I’m happy to say is fordable.  Mick goes first, in his sturdy boots.  While I’m fiddling about taking my shoes off, a car splashes through, catching me completely by surprise.

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I linger to gaze into the swirling waters, lapping clear and cool at my bare toes.  The river is moving quite swiftly, creating gurgly pools in its midst. Satisfied with my brief plodge, I follow the trail, admiring the wispy fronds of toffee-coloured tamarisk.

Soon a junction is reached.  Consulting the map it’s obvious that the walk can be shortened, but the reservoir beautifully reflects the umbrella pines and it’s too tempting to continue to walk beside it.

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The trail winds away from the reservoir and past a couple of tired-looking farms.  A posse of cats try to outstare me, in that way that cats do. Distracted by them, and trying to photograph a heap of drying cork, I fail to notice the dog till it’s leaping and snarling at my side.  My protector has his toe boot at the ready, and fortunately it backs off.

Hurrying on around the bend, I catch the tinkling of a bell.  I anticipate goats, but it is in fact another dog.  A much more laidback character, this sheepdog scarcely looks in my direction, but he has an ear cocked for his charges.  They watch me with curiosity, from the other side of the wall.

The final stretch of the walk turns back beside the river.  I’m quite surprised to find a railway track ahead but, checking my map, it appears the line runs north to Beja in the Alentejo.

As often happens, the road back into the village involves a bit of uphill, but there are gleaming white chimney pots to distract, and even an iris, peeping out of foliage.  A couple of villagers sit on the steps of their houses, in the sleepy warmth.  In the main square a few benches are occupied, next to the pretty little church.  I peer into a shop window at a Nativity scene made entirely of cork. Not easy to photograph!  A sign at the community centre indicates a main display inside, but it won’t open until 3.00, and I’ll be gone.

A glint of sunlight draws me towards the Christmas tree.  It’s made from recycled plastics. A brilliant idea, and one we could all copy.

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The only restaurant appears to be closed, but there’s a tiny cafe where a tumbler of wine and a cake costs very little.  Duly fortified, it’s down through the village and back across the river.  The empty car park is now overflowing and it appears it’s ‘match day’.  Young, fit bodies mill about and it’s time to reluctantly move on.

This walk features at page 100 of the Walking Trails in the Algarve, where you will find a map and details.  Time to put the kettle on?

Many thanks to you all for continuing to share your walks with me, no matter what the weather. Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page, and everyone’s welcome!

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I rarely turn down a good scone.  I guess Anabel knows that :

A stroll in the grounds of Scone Palace

Say hello to Eunice, please?  A Meccano bridge and Mandarin duck make a pleasing combination :

A New Year canal walk

A familiar theme- Capability Brown- from Lady Lee :

Stowe House

Going prospecting with Liesbet!

Things to see in the Northern Gold Country

Jackie explores an inspiring garden :

Albin Polasek Sculpture Gardens

A boat, a beach hut and a lighthouse with Stephanie in Puget Sound :

A Walk through Point No Point County Park

I really enjoyed looking at Brugge with Woolly.  Have you missed any of his posts?

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Just a tiny bit jealous of Becky, who’s back in the Algarve, walking, on my behalf!

More than a glimpse of the Guadiana

It won’t be so warm in this country!  Play a game with Biti?

Guess what country?

London Wlogger is doing a grand job of hosting walks around our capital, including part of my old stomping ground :

Mile End Park to London Fields : Exploring Parks of the 19th and 21st Century

And are you familiar with When in my Journeys?  This is a lovely walk!

A walk on the streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Sometimes photography can be pure poetry.  Paula is surely mistress of the art form :

Braving the Elements with Grace

We’ve had some ferocious weather this month.  Drake examines the debris around the Baltic :

Day after a hard stormy day 

Denzil tells a sorry tale, but all’s well that ends well :

Sint-Agatha-Rode and the patron saint of breast cancer 

And Carol finds something really rather mysterious in Cornwall :

A Secret Place

Not so much a walk as a seal fan club, with beautiful photos.  Thanks, Susan!

Seal Walk

That’s it for another week.  I hope you enjoyed sharing.  Take good care of yourselves!

Six word Saturday

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Just one last ‘Presepio de Natal’

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In the hilltop village of Alferce, in Portugal’s Algarve, a gathering is taking place on the streets.

Wise men, shepherds and curious onlookers, they have come to see the Nativity scene at the heart of the village.  And who can blame them?

Isn’t it beautiful?  If graceful can be said to be “full of grace”, I think this qualifies for the Weekly Photo Challenge.  Don’t you agree?

Pop in and see Cate if you have six words to share, too.

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The Church of São Francisco

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Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, has a reputation for restoring her many churches.  In the years I have been visiting I have marvelled at some of the changes wrought.  Still it is a thrill to turn a corner and find another, ripe for renovation.  If you look closely at the gallery below, you will see what I mean.  Exposed bare plaster scars the walls and alcoves.

Previously I had only been into the gardens, the church being always locked.  Just occasionally the gardens would be padlocked too, and I’d feel a sense of deprivation.  A quiet bench, the overgrown trees dappling patterns onto ruined walls, somehow they provide a warm and soothing space.

Still, it was a revelation to venture inside this church.  First appearances can be deceptive.  A curtain veiled the entrance to a side chapel.  Stepping through a little cautiously, I was utterly unprepared for the figures that greeted me there.

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The Church of São Francisco has met with it’s share of disasters.  Since construction in 1272 it has suffered 2 earthquakes (in 1722 and 1755), a landslide in 1843 and a fire in 1881.  Perhaps it’s time it had a little luck.  Should you find yourself in Tavira and the church happens to be open, please deposit a few coins in the collection box.  It may help speed the recovery.

This might not be what Paula had in mind for Traces of the Past this week, but it’s an opportunity to share with you Thursday’s Special.

 

My little town

I know!  I know!  I’m not supposed to be blogging but by the time I come back it will be too late to share this with you.  The 5th January is traditionally the last day for Christmas decorations and soon I’ll be off to watch the parade of Kings in Vila Real de S. Antonio.  Meantime I’ve found some lovely crib scenes here in Tavira… my little town.  Where else does the fire station contribute in such style?

That’s all I’ve time for!  Click on the gallery for a closer look.  Blue skies beckon.