Six word Saturday


There is a season,

Turn, turn….


In Faro old town, in the Algarve, it was mating season for storks.  Everywhere you looked, they were swooping through the sky, calling and shrieking to each other.  The cacophony had everyone riveted to the spot, staring upwards.  Try as I might, I couldn’t capture a good photo of these magnificent creatures in flight.  I was always a wing beat, if not two, behind them.



Fortunately, the architecture almost compensates.  Have you noticed the seasons changing?  The Weekly Photo Challenge would love you to share. Me, I’ll probably be singing ‘that song’ all day!

And popping in to see Cate at Six Word Saturday, of course.  Enjoy your weekend!  Hope to see you on Monday, for a walk.


Jo’s Monday walk : Amendoeira (Almond) Trail


True sign of Spring, and a sight to gladden the heart- almond blossom.  This is what the Algarve in February means to me, though the sky may not always be so blue. (but that’s next week’s walk)  Again I’m taking you up into the hills, and you’ll need a map to follow. Our start point is the village of Cruz de Alta Mora, inland from the River Guadiana.  The road dips and sways through unheard of villages.  There are occasional bus stops along the way, but nary a person waiting.  Does this look like an inviting place to start a walk?


I rather thought so.  The sign pointed towards the village of Soalheira, and a trail led off through the welcoming carpet of false yellowhead.


You might have noticed a tendency I have to find walks with hills in them?  The walking guide I was using gives an indication of the ‘ups and downs’, and I always look to see how strenuous it might become. (but then often do the walk anyway, if it’s not too long)  In this case the steepest incline comes right at the end of the walk.  One of the signboards in the village of Alta Mora described the trail as the way of the cabra Algarvia– the Algarvean Goat- so I shouldn’t have been at all surprised to come upon a pen full of them.

Did you spot the ruined windmill on the top of the hill?  Or the ginger cat in that sparse grass? ( you can click on the photo to make it easier)  I was headed upwards, but initially it wasn’t too steep.  If you wanted the view from the top, that comes at a cost…




And then it’s far behind you, and you can see the next village ahead.  Looking back at my photos I can see I got a little carried away on this walk, but it was quite hard not to.  Aside from the blossom, I am enamoured of the wild cistus.  I find this countryside almost impossible not to love.




After Caldeirao, the trail idles through the greenest of valleys, then rises somewhat surprisingly to a tarmac road.  There, nestled in the landscape and unmentioned in the guide, a tiny cafe awaits.  This is the point at which all thoughts of walking might well disappear out of the window.  Or, more appropriately, off the enticing balcony.  Laundry dangles over the valley below.  The scene is only despoiled by a cacophony of compounded dogs.  A puppy in the cafe garden twitches its nose at visitors, while Mum snoozes determinedly in the sun.

I know that many of you will be disappointed at the non-appearance of cake.  I will humbly make amends in my next walk.  For now, I need to head on to the idyllic, though partially abandoned, villages of Funchosa em Cima and de Baixo. (upper and lower)



It’s a steep climb back out of the valley and then roll down into the next, Ribeira do Beliche.  I spot a donkey in a courtyard, his back firmly turned to me.  I edge closer, but pause when my husband reminds me they do a wicked back kick.  A shot under cover of planters will have to do!


There are river crossings to be made.  A few uneven stones straddle the water, and I end up with one wet foot.  No matter- it’s a warm day. Crouched by the side of the water, I spot some tiny delicate orchids.  Funny how similar they are to some I’ve seen on the cliffs at home.  Alas, my shots are horribly blurred, so I’ll simply tell you that next week I have a different orchid, which I found very exciting.

I cross the stream a second time, a little more successfully, and then begins that last, long slog up the hill, which leads, eventually, back to our start point.   Not for the feint hearted!  You don’t want to watch me, so I’ll end with a delicacy of blossom.  Is it ever possible to have too much?


Phew!  I have to say I’m rather tired after all that, and just have the energy to point you towards Walking Trails in the Algarve, where this walk appears, right near the end, at p. 144.   Full details of how to get there are given in the guide.  And now, the kettle on, I think! 

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Thank you all for your tolerance while I was away.  I tried to keep up as best I could, but managed to miss a few of you.  Amends made here, I hope. Once again I have some wonderful contributions.  If you possibly can, please find the time to read them.  And maybe even join me on a walk next week?  Shorter, I promise!  Details on Jo’s Monday walk page or the logo above.


Drake’s timing was simply wonderful!

Hit the road

Tobias always makes such good use of his ‘props’  :

Walk on Beach

Debbie just can’t resist a shot or two on the way to work!  Or anywhere, really…

Misty Walk Along the Thames

Fancy making your own Tequila?  You just need blue agave plants!  Cheers, Jackie!

Monday Walk : Tequila, Mexico

Amy takes us back to visit the exotic Ringling home.  What a beauty!

Monday Walk : Ca’ d’Zan

The national parks in the States look larger than life, don’t they?  I’d love to visit!

Arches National Park, Utah

Somewhere else I wouldn’t mind to try- Hawaii!  Have a wander with Carol :

A Walk Along Front Street

Waking to snow is not my idea of fun, but in the Rockies you’d expect it, and Anabel looks pleased :

Canadian Rockies : Num-ti-jah Lodge

My daughter spent her birthday and 3rd wedding anniversary in Edinburgh, and fully endorses Smidge’s recommendations :

Edinburgh ‘must do’ : Edinburgh Castle

Gilly would like my goats, wouldn’t she?  Her dogs might not be so keen :

Walking the Goat to the Bowling Green

And Jill just scraped in, in the early hours of this morning.  I haven’t even had time to read it yet, but I will!

Biking the shores of Inle

I woke to snow this morning, looking oh, so pretty, outside my window.  I haven’t had time to ‘enjoy’ it yet, but hopefully?  Once again, my thanks to all.  For those of you I saw on Saturday, Vincent and Flavia were fabulous!  Have a great week, and see you soon.




Six word Saturday


Carnival, for old and young alike

As always happens, I came back from Tavira with far too many photos and far too much to do!  But I couldn’t let Six word Saturday pass without a wave from the kids at this year’s Carnival.  I was a little greedy this year because we were there throughout the Carnival period, which starts with a children’s parade, on the Friday before Shrove Tuesday, in most of the towns and villages.

The main event in the Algarve takes place in Loule, where this year 110 years of Carnival were celebrated.  I managed to go there on the Saturday and happily rain kept away for the day.  Sunday in the small town of Sao Bras de Alportel was fine and sunny.  On Shrove Tuesday the weather was less kind, but I managed to catch a few shots over the tops of the umbrellas in the village of Moncarapacho. We’d been walking that morning but I was still in the mood for some samba.

No one is left out-  young, old or disabled, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve money to spend or not.  Long may it continue!

I have some shots of the fabulous Carnival floats, but no time to post them here.  I’m off to zumba and, later today, some real excitement!  I have a ticket to see Vincent Sirmione and Flavia dancing in their Last Tango show.  Fans of ‘Strictly’ will know how happy that makes me.

I hope you have a great weekend and can find time to join me for a Monday walk, when I’ll be taking you to see some beautiful almond blossom.   


Jo’s Monday walk : Salt marshes at Fuseta


It’s that ‘betwixt and between’, Christmas time and the New Year.  The weather has been atrocious in so many places and some people will be spending it mopping up and repairing their homes.  I haven’t managed too much walking lately myself, but I do still have some happy memories to share.  Shall we take a little salt marsh stroll in the Eastern Algarve?  Nothing too strenuous!  At day’s end, we can even linger by the beach awhile.

The sky is blue, and that’s a good start!  I’ve taken you to Fuseta before.  It’s a little off the beaten track, but beloved by campers for the beachfront camp site.  New development unkindly overshadows the distinctive fishermen’s homes.  Prime location is key, after all, but the fishermen pursue their livelihood as they always did.  The settlement dates back to 1572, and the fishing boats still cluster together in the mouth of the Rio Tronoco.

Approximately 10km east of Olhão, you turn off the E125 and follow the narrow road, over the railway tracks and down past the river mouth to the shore.  Except in high Summer you will find ample parking beside the camp site.  With the sea on your left, walk between the fishermen’s houses and the new apartment blocks facing the sea.  The salt marshes open out where the road ends.





It’s a distinctive landscape, and habitat for all kinds of birds.  I’ve grown to love it’s oft times, unkempt appearance when the tide is low. Spears of sunlight glinting on high water will reward my patience later.  Coots bob gently on the surface, while their longer-legged friends peck, and choose.





Paths lead between the salt pans but you would be ill advised to follow any that are not obviously well trodden.  Cyclists zip past, some with a smile and a wave.  Looking back, houses randomly dot the marsh borders, and in the distance the new builds gleam, whitely.




You can follow the cycle track all the way to Olhao if you wish, but I did promise you a shorter walk, so I’m meandering back, on the main path across the marshes.  I know of a good bench or three, where you can watch the locals play boules and still keep an eye on the sea.IMG_1198



You’ll be wanting a stop at the beach cafe, but I might just tempt you to a stroll along the river mouth first?  You know I like a boat or two!

IMG_3787 IMG_3781

It’s a little ragged around the edges, but Fuseta is a real and honest place, with a working population.  I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on my stroll.  Shall we head back to that cafe now?  I hear there’s cake!

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I’ve had a great time walking with you all this year.  Thank you for the support.  It has been amazing!  I worry sometimes that the formula is growing stale.  I know that I will carry on walking and sharing, because I love it, but I would hate for you to be bored.  You can say so, politely, in the comments, if you wish.  I promise not to take offense.  For now, I’m going to put that kettle on.


Not many shares this week, as you’ve all been busy with Christmas!  Hopefully you’ll find time to read just a few excellent ones.  Many thanks to my contributors!  My Jo’s Monday walk page gives details of how to join in.

Drake’s post was wonderfully Christmassy!  Happy New Year to you, sir!


Over at Junkboat Travels they were making a proper holiday of it :

Mazatlan, Mexico

Why not visit Jaspa’s favourite city?  You may be in for a surprise :

Secret Itineraries Tour, Doge’s Palace, Venice

One of my joys on Christmas morning was this precious gift from Meg.  Please don’t miss it!

Eurobodalla beaches : Wasp Head 

And my lovely friend Gilly proves that murky weather doesn’t have to make you miserable :

A Boxing Day stroll

Please do join me on Jo’s Monday walk next week, when I’ll be celebrating the launch of Jude’s new Garden Photography Challenge.  I have a rather nice English garden to share.  But first,  I’d like to wish you a very happy and healthy New Year, and lots of walking!

Six word Saturday


In Tavira, it goes like this…


Down at the beach bar we have Santa and a lady friend, and a cute little tree.

Aside from the main town square, not a lot of money is spent on decoration, and Christmas is no worse for that.  A simple crib scene adorns a few street corners.  There is little money to spare, and food banks were operating in the supermarkets in late December.


The council are keen to attract further tourism to Tavira, and they are spending money on infrastructure.  The natural assets and the sunshine are there for all to see, but down at Quatro Aguas major improvements are underway.  Jude might enjoy these brand new Benches.




Maybe she’ll get to sit on them one day.  The view’s not bad….

Meantime, it’s Saturday and I hope you’re not too full of Christmas pudding to take a little stroll with me.  I’m not sure if Cate is playing Six Word Saturday this week.  It’s Boxing Day and that’s confusing, isn’t it?  Hope to see you all on Monday!


Jo’s Monday walk : Vaqueiros


A dilemma this week!  Whether to take you back to those blue Algarve skies, or stay with reality, here in the UK?  Ever the escapist, I’ve opted to leave reality on hold, just a little while longer.  Vaqueiros is another of those pretty hill villages in the Eastern Algarve.  A quirky little walk, this time I had the company of my walking friends, so no need to worry about angry dogs.

Again, the drive up into the hills from Tavira was a test for the driver, but pure delight for the passenger.  Before coming to the Algarve I would never have expected to find hairpin bends and smoke coloured hills.  Every twist and turn looks down across another tiny village, or out across a lovely panorama.  With each bend I want to shout ‘stop the car’, and leap out with my camera.  But, of course, that isn’t a practical option, and the dedicated walkers in our group would have been less than impressed.  Coffee stops, however, are mandatory, and we congregate outside a miniscule cafe in Vaqueiros.  I’m eye to eye with a languid grey cat, sitting comfortably atop a heap of beer crates.  Raising my camera appears to be the signal for a sprint start.  Another wasted photo opportunity!  Nothing for it but to start walking.

Vaqueiros is one of the villages along the Via Algarviana, a 300km walking and biking trail which crosses the Algarve.  The walk today is a circular route of just 13km.  In late November the sun is shining brightly but walkers are scarce.  The olive trees are laden with fruits, soon to be harvested. Our route takes us out of the village, joining a gently rising track.  Gnarled olive trees and umbrella pines are our chief companions.





Can you see Michael, in the deep shade, at the rear of the group of walkers?  They are quite fit and walk at a decent pace.  I’m always hanging back, looking for an interesting shot.  Unless I get engrossed in conversation, which can sometimes happen.  I try to maintain a balance between enjoying my companions and the landscape.

Red and yellow markers indicate that we are still following a trail, but we mostly rely on our group leader.  An Algarve resident, he has been walking these hills for many years.  His well-muscled legs handle the ups and downs with ease.  Some of us are not so lucky! Along the route we come upon a couple of fords, but water levels are notoriously low this year. The rain came all in one week and everywhere is tinder dry.




A cluster of hens are happy in the shade.

I mentioned at the beginning that this is a quirky walk.  Up in these hills you unexpectedly come upon the remains of a theme park. ‘Parque Mineiro’ was a misguided idea which never actually came to fruition.  Copper was once mined in this area and was presumably the inspiration behind the theme park.  I wasn’t at all prepared for the sight of a little yellow train, and yet there it was, intact and still sitting on the rails.

I’m sorry to disappoint, but there isn’t a cake stop on this walk.  Groans all round!  The village doesn’t have one and in fact we took a picnic with us. We ended up back at Vaqueiros, outside the same little cafe.  The lads helped to empty those beer crates while my tumbler of red cost but 40 cents!


It’s a lovely part of the world.  This promotional video of the Via Algarviana is a nice introduction.  There is a board near the cafe which shows way-marked trails, should you ever get that far.

And that’s my walking done till after Christmas, so may I take this opportunity to wish all of you a happy and healthy Christmas (yes, you are allowed cake!  You can walk it off afterwards).  Time to put that kettle on!

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A last round-up before Christmas.  Huge thanks to all of you who’ve followed along, up hill and down dale.  I’ve enjoyed your company so much, and thank you for helping to keep me trim.  Join me any time you like.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.


Quick off the mark last week, Drake was in thoughtful mood :

Space for reflection

Lovely to have Debbie back in our midst again!

A Winter Stroll on Beach Street

Lots of you seem to know my weaknesses now!  Many thanks, Elaine :

A canalside walk

It’s round up time with Amy.  Pick a favourite?

A Walk through my Monday Walks

I shall make it to Water of Leith one day- trust me, Anabel!

Edinburgh- everything is going to be alright 

Still walking in circles with Geoff!

The Capital Ring : Richmond to Greenford, via Osterley

Violet shows us how beautiful Christmas in small town Ontario can be :

River of lights

Then we can hop across the water to cosmopolitan Toronto :

Toronto…. waterscape walks

You might have missed this one last week?  I did!  Apologies!

Metal and Wood Trail

Jaspa takes us to South America again.  Such a beautiful cathedral!

Trujillo’s Colonial Heart, Peru 

Walk homewards with Ruth?  You won’t regret it :

Stroll home

And isn’t it always a pleasure to spend time with Pauline and Jack?

Farm walk

Gilly lives in a lovely part of the world.  She’s lovely too!

The Otter in August

Hope to see some of you next week, if you’re not too busy entertaining and having fun.  I’ll be looking forward to a bit of fresh air in that gap between Christmas and New Year.  Off I go, to wrap presents.  I still have some to buy!  Take good care till I see you again, and have a wonderful time with your loved ones.



Jo’s Monday walk : Barranco das Lajes


My walk through Portugal’s Barranco das Lajes definitely comes in the category of ‘tales with a happy ending’, but for a while I wasn’t so sure.

Let me set the scene.  The skies were the clearest of blues.  I’d been in the Algarve for long enough to take this completely for granted (a week!). I’d ambled on beaches, and been out with my walker friends.  I’d even met up with a lovely blogger and her husband for coffee. (Hi Becky!)  I was in as relaxed a state as I ever achieve.  But those smoke blue hills on the horizon were calling me.  Much earlier in the year I’d been there and resolved to come back for a walk.

Out came the guide to Walking Trails in the Algarve , which you might remember from my walk on the cliff tops at Carrapateira.  This walk has a very different location.  From my eastern Algarve home in Tavira it is a lovely drive along the N270 to São Brás de Alportel. As Becky points out in her most recent walk, directions in this guide are a little vague.  Fortunately my husband has a good memory for roads.  North we went, through the villages of Alportel, Cova da Muda, Javali, Parises, and Cabeca do Velho, climbing higher and higher into the hills.  When it seemed we couldn’t go any higher, and my ears were popping, we reached the minute village of Cabanas- the start of the trail.


A more peaceful spot you could not hope to find…. until!  Over a farm wall hopped two dogs, the leader barking ferociously and heading straight for me.  Barking dogs are a pretty common factor on any walk in the Algarve countryside.  Most farmers have an animal or two to protect their property.  Usually they are on a leash, or behind a sturdy gate.  In such an isolated spot, the farmer obviously did not expect company.  He shouted at the dogs, but not before the leader had reached me and leapt at the back of my knee. Ouch!  I have to admit I was shaken and not a little worried that it had broken the skin, but I was ‘lucky’.

The walk follows the asphalt road a very short distance through the village of Lajes, before turning down a trail.  I limped along feeling a little sorry for myself, and wishing I’d had a walking pole handy for defence.  But it was such a beautiful day, and my surroundings so serene, it really was hard to stay grumpy.


The trail descended quite gently, but it soon became clear that I had made the wrong choice of footwear.  My grazed toes did help to take my mind off my sore leg.  Grateful for small mercies!  A pause for a little discreet padding.  Can you believe that I really was enjoying myself?  But I sincerely hope that you will learn from my bad example.  Meanwhile the trail passed through olive and fig groves, beneath numerous cork and holm oaks and down to a watercourse, with rustling bamboo.


Climbing back out of the valley, I marveled at the early flowering fruit trees.  I couldn’t decide whether these were the famous Strawberry trees (known for their powerful liqueur, Medronho) or Loquats.  In Spring these valleys will sing with with wild flowers- the rose and white faces of Cistus, lavenders in lilac and green- but for now the predominant colour is green.

Another intriguing plant draped itself rather seductively through a Eucalyptus tree- a white variety of the bottle brush?


Almost at the end of the 5.5km walk, there is an optional loop up to Cerro da Ursa- a bit of a climb to a panoramic view.  The good news is that having reached the summit you are then back at the level of the road.  Even better, the car was merely yards away.


After all that trauma I’m sure you can guess what I did next?  A whizz back down the hills takes us to the lovely little cafe, Tesouros da Serra, on the outskirts of São Brás.  Fig and carob cake was exactly what I needed!  Sore bits quite forgotten.

Should you be feeling energetic, details and a map can be found on the link to the Walking Trails guide.  As estimated, the walk took around 2 hours, but we didn’t hurry.  It was too beautiful.

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I do hope you’ll read some of these great contributions, and I have to apologise for keeping some of them waiting rather a long time. I’m very grateful for your company and the lovely walks we share.  Please join us if you have a walk, long or short- I really don’t mind which.  Details can be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page, or just click on the logo above.


Now, how did Esther know I loved John Denver?

Walk Down Country Roads

Aah, the memories!  A small boy I knew loved trains!  Thanks so much, Jackie…

Train of Thought

And this week, some beautiful gardens in Toronto :

Allan Gardens

It’s always a pleasure to accompany Drake, almost anywhere!

This way please..

An idyllic landscape next from Pauline (and a few cows) :

The Rural Heart of New Zealand

Elena took such delight in Rotterdam, it’s totally infectious!

Rotterdam in a Day (part 3)

I always love to welcome a newcomer to my walks, especially if we can meet for coffee:

New York- Coffee in Central Park

Or better yet, a beach!

Coolangatta- Classic Cars by the Beach

And if that won’t do, there’s treasure!  Please say hello to Lee Anne at ‘Just me please’ :

Eagles Nest- A abundance of treasure

Don’t you love Yvette’s new look?  And the way she looks at life too!

Walk with Jo (street photos)

Gilly took such a beautiful stroll in my absence.  Hope you didn’t miss it?

A field of brassica

And then when I got home she had this waiting :

A City Stroll at Christmas

You never know what you’re going to get with Tobias, but there’s sure to be an eye pleaser :


Meantime, Jaspa takes us back to the days of slavery :

Bulow Plantation Ruins State Park, Florida

I can confirm what Becky says, but it was still warm.  I’m missing my Algarve already!

Not every day is a sunny day

It’s great to be able to close with another special lady.  I met Cathy, once upon a time :

A November rock scramble on Billy Goat trail

That’s all for now.  I’ll probably be on my way to Nottingham when you read this and I’m sure that you understand that time with my daughter is precious.  However, I hope to be able to reply to some of you whilst in transit and I’m an early bird so I can sneak some computer time in the mornings.  I’ll catch up with the remainder on my return on Thursday, and join you for another walk next week. Take care till then!