Sao Bras de Alportel

Jo’s Monday walk : Calçadinha de São Brás de Alportel

Well, the sleigh’s empty and Santa’s gone. Nothing for it but to put on the walking shoes again. We’re in the area of the Algarve known as Barrocal. São Brás de Alportel is a charismatic little town surrounded by beautiful countryside, and we’ve come to see something of a curiosity. Calçadinha, the remnants of a Roman road, which once linked Ossonoba (Faro) with Bejá, to the north in the Alentejo.

Although you could in theory follow a trail to the Roman ruins of Milreu, on the edge of Estoi, it’s a 10km walk, and of course 10km back again. As you can see, some of it’s rough going, and we’d just had lunch in São Brás with a couple of friends. They were happy to follow us some of the way, but when the going gets tough… we turn back. Another day perhaps, because Milreu is well worth seeing.

The trail starts just behind the Bishop’s Palace in São Brás and leads you down a cobbled path, away from the town. This is signposted as Calçadinha A, and takes you beneath the E270 road to Loulé. Numerous times we’ve driven by without a thought, but today we are teetering along a path that Romans might have trod, in their sturdy sandals.

Yes, it is a bit of an ankle turner in places. I can feel some of you wincing. But if you take it slow and stop to examine the patterns in the stones… it really is a fascinating experience. Listen hard and you might hear the sound of chariot wheels.

And before you know it you’re in open countryside, and can retrace your steps… or carry on. But that’s more than enough exertion for the first week of the New Year, isn’t it? There must be a cake reward somewhere abouts!

It’s less than 2 km in distance and there is more information to be had on this link.

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Not many shares this week, but then, you’ve all been busy with Christmas. I hope to post a walk fortnightly, if I can fit one in between challenges. Join me on Jo’s Monday walk, any time you like.


A few Christmas leftovers from Drake :

Ups and downs

And a treat or two from Tricia :

Hiking to Georgia’s Gergeti Trinity Church

While Rosemay left me kwite breathless 🙂

Happy New Year from Perth

Ending with some good advice from Denzil :

The benefits of a daily evening walk

Back to work for some, ‘normal’ life for others. However you spend it, make the most of your week.

Jo’s Monday walk : Street art spotting in Sáo Brás

Leaving the sea behind for a little while, one of my favourite roads in the Algarve is the N270.  It winds steadily up into the hills, a series of twists and turns, with glimpses of small villages in the valleys below.  As the road levels out you come to the market town of Sáo Brás de Alportel.  It’s a nice peaceful spot for a wander.  Come with me and we’ll see what we can find.

As with most traditional towns in Portugal, the streets are mainly cobbled.  Claiming a convenient patch of shade, a snowy white cat regards me solemnly with its one green and one blue eye.  Is it my imagination or does that lady on the wall look more anxious as I look back at her?

Around the corner, the entrance to the episcopal palace gardens, beyond which sparkles the municipal pool.  This lovely outdoor facility was renovated last year and I expected to see it busy on this warm summer day.  Another casualty of Covid-19, I suspect.

Much of Sáo Brás is a little dog-eared and worn, but resourceful locals have done their best to brighten the shabbiest walls.  The local tourist information office and art gallery was open and I popped in to examine current trends.  An interesting perspective on a corn field?

The town has a lovely church, the scene of devout and colourful celebrations at Easter.  The streets are decorated with a multitude of flower heads and floral torches are paraded through them to a chant of ‘Hallelujah’.  Not this year, of course, but at least they can’t take away the beautiful view.

Somebody must have had a job lot of paper swallows, because they appear on several of the artworks.  How many swallows make a summer?

But the town is not short of more conventional beauty.  The azulejos are as fine as any you will see.  This cheerful scooter picks out the lemon of the background tile rather nicely, don’t you think?

The central square had a makeover a couple of years ago, and has become home to several modern art pieces.  I was happy to find this metal family in a nearby street.  Very appropriately, wearing their masks.

Perhaps you’d like to see the town in happier times, Celebrating life at Easter.  We have to believe they’ll come again.

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Meanwhile, just a few walks to share this week, which inclines me to think I could make Jo’s Monday walk a fortnightly feature, and confuse everyone!  Today I’m going to join Sami, who shares street art every week on Monday Mural.


Ducks and dragonflies… I’m smitten, Janet :

Monday walk…Sweetwater Wetlands

He’s home again!  Not such a terrible place to be, Drake :

Back in town

Is anything more splendid than this?  A Cornish garden, much loved by Jude :

Herbaceous borders

While Albert goes in search of another splendid view :

Sherwood Homestead (Former) Walk via Mountain Creek Road (Plus)

Ending with Janaline in exotic Shanghai :

Monday Walk in Century Park

Wishing you all a good week, though I know life is difficult right now in many places.  Take care till next time!

Jo’s Monday walk : Sáo Brás de Alportel, then and now

One Monday morning, earlier this year, I was wandering in the sleepy back streets of Sáo Brás de Alportel.  In a ruin mostly used for car parking I stopped to examine the remnants of old photos pasted onto the walls.   This is a town rich in tradition, where paper flowers are liberally used to decorate the streets at Easter time.  The scenes feature a quiet nearby street, the bombeiros or fire brigade, a local dance, and a lorry load of cork.  A museum in the town is dedicated to the cork industry, and piles of cork can often be seen drying in the surrounding hills.  The use of Monochrome can make a scene look ancient, but in Sáo Brás the past never seems very far away.

Until the council decided a change of image was needed.  New fountains on slick marble squares, and metal animal sculptures now grace the centre of town.  It’s surprising what a game changer this is.  The whole mood of the place is altered.

In the same way, replacing the colour in a photo with monochrome creates a change of mood.

It’s a gentle palette in Sáo Bras.  Washing adorns the wall as it must always have done.  Azulejo panels softly crown each doorway, predominately blue and white.  Modern art blends with old and crumbling buildings.  And in the countryside, bleached fields patiently await a turn in the season.

But it will take more than a few sculptures to separate Sáo Brás from its claim to antiquity.  You can follow a Roman road through the back streets of town.  And where better to savour that most traditional of Portuguese tarts?

My walk today isn’t at all what I intended, but I was having far too much fun on Saturday and left my camera and phone at a party.  I hadn’t downloaded my photos from last week’s adventure in Seville, so that will have to wait.  Not half so famous and a fraction of its size, but I think this little town in the Algarve hills has its own brand of charm.  I hope Patti will accept my contribution to the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week.

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Not too many shares this week, so please take the time to visit if you can.  Many thanks to all who participate.  Contributions are always welcome here on Jo’s Monday walk. Have a great week everybody!


I love a leafy hollow in the woods.  Drake takes us speeding through :

Life beyond forestry

Natalie takes us through some very different woods to a beach :

Hiking the Tonquin Trail

Lots of leaves about this week.  Good to share a smile with Lady Lee :

The Weekly Smile for October

And linger a while with Irene :

Autumn on the Trail

A healthy splash of colour from Eunice this week :

Dublin street art

And a city I’d love to revisit.  West coast with Alice :

San Diego Waterfront- Seaport Village

How much do you know about Waterloo?  Denzil takes us through some of the history :

Walking the Battlefield of Waterloo

While Cathy is still on the Camino, but the end is in sight :

(Camino day 41) Triacastela to Sarria

Who doesn’t like to end on a high?  Thanks so much, Gilly  🙂

A glorious November day

I’m easing off this week after a slightly manic time.  Many thanks to all of you for following along and for your good wishes.

Celebrating life at Easter!

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Easter than to attend the enormous street party that is Festas das Tochas Floridas, in São Brás de Alportel.  At around 5 in the morning the process begins of laying more than 3 tons of petals and flowers in a winding carpet through the centre of town.  More than a kilometre in length, by 9.30am the streets are ready to be opened to an excited public.  Yet another year in which this small town in the Eastern Algarve opens its arms to the world, to join in a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

Nobody is left out!  From tots to teenagers, young adults to us older generation, all are welcome to come and participate.  I join the earlybirds in the streets, marveling at the patience and imagination, the pure creativity that has gone into making this a joyful day.

The Easter Day service takes place at 10.00 in Igreja Matriz in Largo São Sebastião, and while this is happening the streets begin to fill.  Faithful and simply curious, no-one is turned away.  I wander, camera in hand, along with many others.  Most, but not all, are respectful of the flowers and the occasion.  Needing 10 minutes peace before the procession begins, I retire to a back street for coffee.  There I observe a mini procession, of the young men from all over town, bringing their flower torches to assemble at the church.  Full of smiles, they are happy to pose.

Patterned bedspreads flutter from open windows as the excitement builds.  In front of the church a little jostling for position begins, and television interviews are held.  This is São Brás’ big day!  A last few stragglers with flower torches make their way through the crowd, the congregation leave the church and try to find a vantage point, and suddenly it all comes together and the procession begins.

Led by the priest and clergy, they wend their way slowly into the streets.  Everyone cranes to get a good view, but only the hard of hearing could miss the choruses of ‘Hallelujah’.  Every few yards they pause, the flower torches are brandished high in the air, and accompanied by a rousing chant.

I watch, spellbound, as it moves past me, hardly aware of what I might have captured on camera.  But there are ample opportunities for photographs on this day.  It takes around 2 hours for the entire circuit of the old town to take place, and I join and rejoin the procession at different intervals throughout the streets.

There are so many wonderful moments!  The small child hoisted on Dad’s shoulders, just a little tired and bored for the ‘selfie’; fathers, sons and friends embracing and beaming at their shared memory; and that young man in the band with the shy smile, who reminds me so much of a Polish nephew.  I love it all!  And it’s been a privilege to relive it with you.

A nicer person you will not meet in the blogging world than Ann-Christine, or Leya, as her blog is known.  Why that name, I often wonder?  The only one I know of is a princess in the Star Wars movies.  Not only does she find time to co-host the Lens-Artist’s Photo Challenge, but she also goes out of her way to congratulate me on being featured in Discover.  I might not otherwise have realised, despite the hike in my stats, so thanks, hon, and many thanks to WordPress too.

I hope you enjoyed sharing Creativity with me.

Jo’s Monday walk : Easter in Tavira

I’m taking you back to Palm Sunday in Tavira for this week’s walk, and an evening heady with emotion.  It’s some years since I spent Easter in the Algarve, but I vividly remembered some of the treats in store.  And I’m not just talking about sweet Folar cake, though that’s good too.

At 5pm people were still strolling nonchalantly towards the Carmo Church.  The ceremony was about to begin but urgency is almost unheard of in these parts.  Eventually a priest left the church and unhurriedly mounted the low stage to address the crowd.  Children fidgeted and skipped about, the smallest ones being hoisted high on shoulders.  The scent of lavender hung in the air, a crushed carpet beneath our feet.  The band were roughly assembled, waiting for their moment.  But first the priest must intone his lengthy benedictions.

Then came the moment.  At a signal from their leader, the band struck up, and began a slow-stepping march.  With varying degrees of enthusiasm, they were joined by members of the congregation, who spilled slowly from the church, banners aloft.  Parents watched anxiously as the cubs shuffled past, shy in the spotlight of so many strangers.  Teenagers, with more assurance, grinned at friends in the crowd.

Cameras began to flash as the floats made their way from the church, gravity and the weight of their years etched on the faces of the bearers.

Against a mackerel sky, on this warm evening, the floats began to sway past us, plaintive music their accompaniment.  A substantial crowd had gathered, the lucky ones sitting up on balconies or gazing through open windows, the rest of us hushed in awe.  The floral decorations were a triumph in themselves.  Never have I seen Birds of Paradise and lilies displayed so eloquently.

Slowly the drama unfurled, as float after float was lofted by, stopping to adjust the weight on shoulders and to negotiate the corner.  Gently, gently down a perilous incline, the crowd following respectfully.

The numbers swelled as we gathered momentum, though the streets are too narrow for speed.  A slow march brought us eventually to the Ponte Romana bridge, decorated with sentinel palms for the occasion.  A few of the cubs carried them too.

On through the main square, some taking the occasion very seriously, others happy just to enjoy the spectacle.  No judgement.  No harsh words.

Such a human affair, you couldn’t help but be moved.  The faith and dedication, the hard work to bring it all together, witnessed by so many in a glorious coming together.  The military, caught smiling in a moment of relaxation.  The band bringing up a valiant rear!

And then the crowds disperse and wander off home, or out to supper, as we did, leaving the day to end, peacefully.

Why this particular procession?  I’ve witnessed a few this past week, including the atmospheric night time lament on Good Friday.  And the joyful ‘Hosannah’s of the Festa das Tochas Floridas in São Brás de Alportel.  But this was my first Easter in my new home town, and my first ever Palm Sunday from my local church.  I hope you enjoyed it with me, and that you, too, shared peace and love this Easter.

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Another Jo’s Monday walk, and time for a different kind of share.  Please do visit and enjoy!  And many thanks to all of you.


Debbie always makes me smile, then amazes me with her beautiful photography :

Chomping at the bit for Chihuly

Natalie kindly takes me to Mostar this week – a place I wished I’d visited from Dubrovnik, many years ago :

Day Trip to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I’m always being assured how beautiful New Zealand is.  Another lovely ‘stroll’ with Suzanne!

The Tuahu Kauri and Sentinel Rock Trail

Now come and join me and Gilly, and Becky, in Topsham.  You won’t be sorry!

Last Thursday

Jude leads me down the garden path, again.  🙂  A very beautiful one  :

Trelissick Woodland Walk

Trelissick Garden in Spring

A little bit of initiative in the garden goes a long way :

Quick Tip – Yard Walkabout/Storm Repair

Two introductions next!  First, Suburban Tracks :

Stroll through Wild Street- Colors

Then a beautiful landscape, in Rajasthan :

The Wild Wet

And someone you know well- thanks Rupali!

The streets of Malaga

Geoff, meanwhile, shares his love of walking and of books, while Dog stays at home :

Walking With Rosie #bookreview #therosieresult

It’s not every day you see a couple of Penny Farthing’s rolling down the street.  Thanks, Irene!

Back in Time

Speaking of time, doesn’t this forest look primeval to you, Sandra?

Grand Ridge # Hike in Springtime

And stepping back in time, I’ve walked this landscape and loved it.  Thanks, Nadine!

Day 13 on the Pennine Way: Greenhead to Bellingham, 21.5miles

Anyone been to Luxembourg?  Looks nice, Drake!

Grand Duchy

Another day with Cathy, a sea of vineyards and reflections on life :

(Camino day 13) Ventosa to Azofra

No cake, you’ll have noticed!  I over-indulged you on Saturday  🙂  I’m sure there will have been a few chocolates.  Wishing you all a great week!  I will be back with coverage of the Tochas Floridas.  It was sensational this year.


Jo’s Monday walk : Blossom and chimney pots

Feeling a little fragile as I write this- too much dancing, wine and excitement!- so please excuse me if I just stroll gently with you in the Algarve sunshine.  São Bras de Alportel makes an excellent base for walking, surrounded as it is by softly rolling countryside.  Allow me to indulge my current obsession with chimney pots…. and blossom, of course.

Starting from the former pousada, with grand views to the hills, you can follow a couple of simple trails.  Notice boards will advise what you need to be watchful for, or you can simply enjoy being there, drenched in the soft colours of Spring.

At a crossroads the sign points towards the ‘miradouro das castanhas’, the viewing point of the chestnuts.  Curiosity would have me look, but the group I’m walking with turn in the other direction.  I make a mental note to return, and patiently follow.  Minutes later we pause at a fonte- one of many underground springs in the Algarve.  A poem enhances the old stone and one of our group attempts a translation.  A squeal of laughter interrupts.  Another of the ladies has twirled the handle of the ‘nora’ (well) with a little too much energy, and is treated to a swift gush of water.

There was very little water and a lot of dry riverbeds when I walked in this area, but since then a day or three of torrential rain has brought the countryside alive again.  Flipflops or sandals and a towel may be needed.  Better still a sense of balance or a walking stick.

Rounding a hill it’s often possible to come upon a herd of sheep, with their faint air of apprehension and surprise.  Washing flutters appealingly on a line, while lemons ripen and flowers I don’t recognise make patterns on a wall.

This is cork territory and some of the trails lead beneath these gnarled beauties.  Someone has a sense of humour, but I’m not sure that I approve.  The ‘knight’, on the other hand, can only be greeted with a smile.  But I did promise you chimney pots, I remember.

Every village has it’s own variations, some crumbly with age, some new.  The village of São Romão has a lovely church and a deep sense of serenity.

It also has a a restaurant that we favour very often.  I’ll leave you with a little something sour and a sweet treat, to enjoy with your cuppa.

Excuse me for rambling this week.  I’m so looking forward to the frigid air of the north east tomorrow evening.  Please read and share the following walks, and join me with one of your own, if you’d like.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

Jude does take us to some beautiful places!  And did you spot a few circles in a square?

Garden Portrait: Stourhead

And quite often, Drake excels himself too :

Symph in green ‘n white

For those of you craving warmth, why not join Elaine in the desert?

In Search of an Oasis

Jackie always likes a large one of these!

Slice of Life

And just look what Irene’s found for us this week!

Sunny Lakefront

But this one from Ting simply has to be my walk of the week.  Don’t miss it!

Walking with Elephants

That’s it for now.  Not too many to read.  Hope you have a great week, wherever you are.

Cork or costume, in São Brás de Alportel?


The Museu do Traje, or Costume Museum, in São Brás de Alportel is quite a fascinating place. Housed in a beautiful nineteenth century palace, I was aware of it’s existence but had never before managed to be in the right place at exactly the right time.  A cool, but sunny, Sunday afternoon proved just perfect.  At 2.15pm a cheerful gentleman wielding a huge metal key unlocked the graceful gates and the voyage of discovery began.

Elaborate high ceilings and chandeliers stop me in my tracks.  I’m not sure what I was expecting but the style and shape of the doorways pins an instant smile to my face.  In the first small foyer an exhibition, ‘The Wheels of Time’, sets the scene.  Beyond this I step into the fashion plates of an old world magazine.  I know that my daughter would be in her element here, and try to capture some of the details for her.



In a darkened alcove I find two stunning Art Nouveau pieces.  A corridor leads from here to a kitchen, laid out with local produce for sale.

But for me the detail that I most enjoy is the way that the shutters fold open over the delicate glass panels above the doors.  The sunlight through the windows makes those shadows sing. And don’t miss the keyhole, will you?


Just when I think that I’ve seen all the delights available and am about to step outside, the curator beckons me in some agitation.  I have missed something crucial.  You see, this isn’t only a costume museum.  It is also the home of cork.

I’m led out of a side door and across to a large barn.  A screen is suspended in the centre and at the push of a button a film begins.  It demonstrates the whole process of cork production, from the growth of the oaks, the periodic cutting of the bark, the boiling to kill tanins and the pressing and cutting into the final products.  It is an incredible tribute to man’s ingenuity. Within the barn are a variety of displays.  A huge press presides over a selection of harnesses and carriages.  Outside, a pleasant garden offers more.

A modern auditorium has been added to the grounds and Sunday evenings host a programme of concerts.  A jazz musician is setting up as I depart. In addition there are lessons in everything from making bobbin lace to bridge classes and choir throughout the week.  It’s good to see the local community getting behind the upkeep of this lovely property.  I hope you’ve enjoyed looking around with me and, for those who might be interested, I’ve enclosed a video telling a little more about the life of cork.

P.S If you’d like to know a little more about the history of the building take a look at Becky’s post.  She managed some great research.

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!



Jo’s Monday walk : São Brás circular

Fancy living in a windmill?

Fancy living in a windmill?

Enough of nostalgia!  I think we’ll do one last Algarve walk before I get stuck into a British winter. This one’s a country walk, led for me by Georgie, a lovely lady who lives in the inland village of São Brás de Alportel.  If you’re ever in the Algarve at Easter, this village hosts a beautiful parade through lavender strewn, cobbled streets.  It’s a treat for all the senses.

It was a glorious morning when we set out, but I was informed there was a 40% chance of rain! We had driven up above the village to the site of the former pousada, with wonderful, wide-ranging views all around.

Looking out to the surrounding hills

Looking out to the surrounding hills

It was soon obvious we were heading for a windmill

It was soon obvious we were heading to a windmill

This tree seems to have a sense of humour!

This tree seems to have a sense of humour!

We had already discussed the fact that on breezy days, the wind whistles around the hilltops. Someone who had once stayed in the pousada recollected that the shutters had banged and rattled ferociously throughout the night.  No sign or sound of that today, but weather up in the hills can change frequently.

A windmill conversion should not have been surprising

A windmill conversion, ready to occupy

Starting at so high a point, it was fairly obvious that we would be going down and then, at some future point, back up again.  Georgie assured us that, taking your time, it wasn’t especially taxing.  The cobbled path gave way to a rough track, and we paused frequently to take notice of our surrounds.  Soon we came to a fonte or spring, used for laundry purposes in former times.

The trail follows a stream and reed beds before climbing up into the hills.  In Spring these would be carpeted with cistus and wild flowers.

Did I mention changeable weather?

Did I mention changeable weather?

The blue is rapidly disappearing from the sky!

The blue is rapidly disappearing from the sky!

A couple of years ago forest fires ravaged the gullies around here, and evidence of the burnt out trees was starkly visible.  Nature is quick to regenerate and we were more concerned with the clouds that seemed to have zipped in from nowhere.  A few spits and spots of rain were laughed off as we hastened towards our coffee stop.

What a treat this little place was!  Tesouros da Serra means ‘treasures of the sierra’. Nobody was arguing! The produce on display looked delicious, but we knew that in a short while we would have a lunch stop.  We settled for sharing some alfarroba biscuits, but made a mental note to come back another day.

One of the really delightful things about this cafe, in an out of the way spot at the back of São Brás, was its garden. Not widely accessible to the public, when Georgie asked if we might see the olive tree, claimed to be 2000 years old, we were assured that we could go in.

The sun was shining brightly again and we turned right along a path that led us through a forest of cork oaks.  Huge gnarled creatures, standing their ground as they had for generations. Cradled beneath them lay extraordinary fungi.

Coming out of the woods, we were back on the trail up to the pousada, which didn’t seem anything like as steep as expected.  Maybe it was the prospect of lunch!  I’ll give you a little peek in our restaurant, shall I?  ‘O Marques’ is in Gralheira, on the back road from São Brás to Loule.

I haven’t fully captured the beauty of this area.  Georgie assured me that in Spring it is quite magical, and I have no cause to disagree.  There are signboards along the way, giving details of the flora and fauna, and if you look at my links you will find more.  To find the pousada, take the N2 signed Alportel from the village and head to the top of the hill.  The cobbled path is off on your right, just after a bend in the road.  The distance covered was around 6 miles and took us 3 hours, including our half hour coffee stop.

I owe huge thanks to Georgie for guiding this walk and for being such good company.

walking logo

Time to draw breath, put that kettle on, and see where our walkers have got to this week.  As always, I’m really thrilled with all the contributions.  For details of how to join me, click on the logo above.  Many thanks to you all!

First up, Violet Sky treats us to some fascinating family history in a village in Fife  :


Drake has a bit of a theme going on with his Monday walks.  Have you noticed?

Do you wanna dance?

Join Amy in a watery green world in Texas.  You may be surprised at the scenery.  I was!

Cibolo Nature Centre

Rarely, if ever, have I seen anywhere more beautiful than the beaches Noe shares in South Sulawesi  :

West Coast of Gusung Island

But just to prove that English beaches can hold their own, Suzanne’s been to St. Ives  :

St. Ives, Cornwall- beaches, boats and the Old Green Door

Such a treat I have for you next!  A magic carpet ride  🙂  If you don’t know Lisa, you must!

Magic Carpet Airlines Special- for Subscribers only

Stay on the carpet and we’ll fly to the Antipodes to join Meg!  :

The River Road 9- grandeur and a  river crossing

And Pauline is ‘stamping about’, just down the road!  :

Rediscovering my stamping ground

Tobias is here with some lovely Hamburg curves and woods.  Say hello, won’t you?  :

Downtown strolls

Home Range

And in a last mad scramble, Shan has made it!

New York State Museum

Fantastic times, all round!  I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy the sharing.  Happy walking!

Sunday post : door

Sunday, May 27th : this week I’m joining Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post challenge, and the theme is “Door”.

My chosen door is in the Portuguese village of Sao Bras de Alportel, in the Algarve.  It features the traditional Moorish door handles seen frequently in the Algarve and known as “Maos de Fatima” – hands of Fatima.  It is believed they ward off the evil eye.  Fatima was the daughter of the prophet Mohammed.

Pretty enough in its own right, the day this photo was taken the door was decorated with pink and white flower heads, for the occasion of the Festa das Torches at Easter.  The narrow streets of the old town were carpeted with floral patterns, including lavender.  When the procession walked over them they released a wonderful aroma.

My apologies that the photo is slightly “squint”.  I had very little time to capture it before the procession was upon me.

I’m hoping this meets with the requirements of Jakesprinter’s challenge?  You’ll have to excuse me if I haven’t got it quite right.  I hope to be more accomplished next week.  Jake’s logo will give you full details of how to participate.