Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post : Arrangement


An Arrangement naturally speaks to me of flowers.  For many years I have been captivated (wasn’t that last week’s theme?) by the artistry of the Chelsea Flower Show.  Each year I think, maybe this year?  Well, it might be, but in the meantime let me show you some of the most striking arrangements of flowers that I have ever witnessed.

Once every 4 years Tomar in Central Portugal comes alive with the Festa dos Tabuleiros.  When you see the number of paper flowers involved I think you will know why it only takes place 4 yearly.

Chelsea it’s not, but every bit as special in it’s own way.  Click on the first photo to start the slide show rolling.  This link will take you to my original post on the Festa dos Tabuleiros.  What a day that was!

What else does arrangement signify?   Arranged marriages came to mind, probably because I’m reading a historical novel at present.  Check out Jakesprinter’s page to see other interpretations.  Just click on the lucky snake logo or the link.

Sunday Post : People

“People.  People who need people, are the luckiest people in the world…”  I love this Barbara Streisand song.  Here I go again.  It’s sing-along-a-Jo Sunday and I’m taking part in Jakesprinter’s Sunday Post, while gently humming People to myself.

The funny thing is that though I consider myself a “people person”, when I saw Jake’s theme for this week I immediately thought “oh,no!” – I don’t have any people photos.  I’m one of those who waits patiently for someone to turn the corner or move out of range before I take my shot.  I don’t photograph well myself.  The smile never looks natural.  And when it comes to capturing someone on camera, I simply don’t have what it takes to draw out the best of them.  A beach or a tree don’t scowl at you, do they?  So I’m quite envious when I see shots full of character and personality.

Well- you didn’t think you were going to get out of it that easily, did you?  I suddenly remembered when it is that I’m more than happy to point my camera at people : the many occasions when people are lost in celebrations and abandon themselves quite happily to the moment.  Here are just a few:

Crowds line the streets, and even the rooftops, for the Festa dos Tabuleiros at Tomar.

Not an empty balcony or window frame in sight.

Impossible to take this shot without people in it! The flower-filled streets of Tomar.

Drummers at the Medieval Fair in Obidos

See what I mean? He was definitely scowling at me!

Come to think of it, they weren’t so happy either.

Lots of smiley faces on this Carnaval float at Paderne, though.

Not sure if these guys at Loule Carnaval come into the category of “people”?

Or these!

But they certainly know how to have a good time at Alte’s Folk Festival

I even slipped over the border into Spain to watch people having fun there.

So maybe I do take a few photographs of people, after all.  Many thanks to Jake for reminding me.

I won’t be able to join in with the challenge for the next couple of weeks because I’ll be pointing the camera at bridges in Porto and vineyards in the Douro valley.  I’m sure you’ll all keep Jake company, and I’ll find time to see what you’ve been up to when I get home.

Wonder what I’ll be singing next Sunday morning?  I won’t have Jake to prompt me.  I’ll leave you with some lovely entries from this week’s challenge.  View the others on the links or the flying dragon logo.

Capture the Colour

Colour is so much a part of our world.  The challenge to capture it in a memorable way has been set by, and a formidable array of talented bloggers have already joined in.  Amongst them, Kathryn, of Travel with Kat, who has very kindly nominated me.  Many thanks, Kat.  I’ll do my best.

The challenge requires that you submit a blog post with an image for each of 5 colours- red, white, blue, green and yellow.  Full details are to be found on the Travelsupermarket website. The top prize, £2000 to spend on travel, is definitely worth a little effort.


The Marquess of Londonderry, encapsulated in a snowdome- Durham “Lumiere” 2011

I’m starting near to home with a photo that cost me a black eye.  So captivated was I by the light installations at Durham City’s “Lumiere 2011” that I forgot to look where I was going and went head over heels over a concrete block- ouch!  I shall exercise more caution when I return to Durham for “Lumiere” 2013, but return I most certainly will.  The illumination of Durham’s historic buildings was simply spectacular.  I loved the blue of the Snowdome, but equally beautiful were “The Waterfall”, and the Lindisfarne Gospels projected onto Durham Cathedral.


A sparkling white carriage makes its stately way around Rynek Glowny in Krakow

My first sight of Rynek Główny in Kraków was charged with emotion.  I had the arm of my Aunt Anna tucked into mine.  We had met, for the first time, just days before.  She and Dad were separated when he was only 15, and reunited 64 years later, with grateful thanks to the internet.  The Market Square with its medieval Cloth Hall (Sukiennice) will always be special to me.  The horse and carriages are a little cliched, but perfect for my white photo, from my K is for Krakow post.


One of 400 breadbaskets carried aloft at the Festa dos Tabuleiros, Tomar

My red photo transports me immediately to July 2011.  The Festa dos Tabuleiros takes place just once every 4 years in Tomar, Central Portugal.  The streets dazzle in swathes of multi-hued paper flowers and the 4 feet high breadbaskets are paraded on the heads of 400 or more dainty ladies.  Crisply dressed young escorts slip an arm around each of the waists and help to balance the weight.  It’s a sight I will never forget.


Such a mix of ancient and modern, the architecture of Wroclaw

I loved the subtlety of the old gold of this building in Wrocław’s colourful Rynek.  Polish architecture is an intriguing mix, much of it reconstructed following the wholescale devastation of World War 2.  It’s my offering for yellow.


The Queen of Hearts on the village green in Elwick

I’m coming home again for my green choice.  National pride was strong in my local village, Elwick, when they gave their annual Scarecrow Festival a Jubilee theme.  It was so much fun and the sight of the characters from Alice in Wonderland playing croquet on a traditional village green brought many a smile.

Travelsupermarket request that we pass this challenge on to 5 more bloggers, so I’m very happy to nominate:

Marcia of La Chica Writes

Andrew of Have Bag, Will Travel

Richard of A Bit of Culture

Robin of Bringing Europe Home

Zoe of Zoetic Epics

 Good luck everybody!

Sunday Post : Solid

It needs to be quick thinking for Jakesprinter’s challenge this week, because, like the dragon, I’m up and gone tomorrow.  Solid is my subject matter, and as I hightailed it along the road to zumba class, I couldn’t stop the song, singing in my head.  You’ve guessed it!  “Solid as a rock”. (Ashford and Simpson, 1984)

Not even a song I particularly like, but it’s from my era, and it irresistibly draws me back to my Valuable post, completed for Jake’s challenge two weeks ago.  “Solid as a rock” describes how we would all like our partnerships to be.

This is my husband’s definition of an artistic shot?

Taken by him on the beach at Robin Hood’s Bay.

And this is mine. Spot the difference?

Where am I?  Madeira’s north coast, and that’s a pretty solid hunk of rock.

My brain makes strange connections sometimes, and as I marched on down the road, I found myself singing “The churches one foundation is Jesus Christ, Our Lord”.  Quietly, of course.  I’m not given to hymn singing, at full blast, in the street, though there are many worse things to do.

The foundation stone of many of our lives- can anything be more solid?

Igreja de Sao Joao Batista, Tomar

Monastery at Alcobaca

Convento do Christo, Tomar

Carmo Church, Tavira, at one of its many celebrations

Many thanks, as ever, to Jake, for giving us this opportunity to share our lives.  Please do join in the challenge.  Follow the link or click on the flying dragon for full details.  See you next time?

Festa dos Tabuleiros- a hot one!

The pretty Portuguese town of Tomar is transformed once in every 4 years by the Festa dos Tabuleiros.  Festival of what, you may ask?  Well, if I said trays or breadbaskets, you might get a clue.  I doubt, though, if you could imagine this spectacular feast of bread and flowers.  It’s a sight you need to see to understand why it only takes place every 4 years.

Melting in the heat of the crowded street, I began to seriously wonder if this was going to be worthwhile.  Down in the Algarve the gentle breezes had made 35C seem desirable, even pleasurable.  Here, in Central Portugal in July, a breeze was an unknown quantity.  Scrunched into a minute patch of shade, with still an hour to go till the promised spectacle, young and elderly alike were bonded together in a peculiarly Portuguese version of the game of Sardines.

Early on a glorious morning, we had been diverted by well-meaning policemen again and again around the outskirts of Tomar– a city we knew only by reputation.  A smile glued in place, I reassured my driving husband that all would be well.  Sceptical would barely do justice to his look in response.  Yet he gamely abandoned the car, with dozens of others, in an unknown field, and set off to limp in the downhill direction pursued by those in the know (we hoped!)

The limp had been acquired the previous day, and was wholely inappropriate to a day I had been anticipating for 6 years, and which was to be spent largely…you’ve guessed it…on foot!  I’d like to say he thrives on adversity, but that wouldn’t be strictly true.  On this occasion though, like so many others, he didn’t let me down.

In fact, the foot was almost forgotten, as we absorbed the splendour that is Tomar during the Festa dos Tabuleiros.

I had a plan– of course I did, though they regularly unravel on me.  Even for me it was simple enough to find the Tourist Information Office, on Avenida Dr. Candido Madureira, though Portuguese street names are rarely simple.  In this case it was the first main street we came to.  A bright and smiling young lady issued me with some historical details, together with a map of the route for the procession, in the most beautiful old TI building.

Already wilting in the heat, we were dismayed to find that said procession was not till 4pm.  Dismay soon turned to delight, and then astonished wonderment, as we stepped into the riot of paper flowers festooning the streets of the old town.  I was no stranger to paper flowers, liberally used at small local festivals in the Algarve.  Still I found myself enchanted by the depth and variety of colour, and the imagination that had transformed these narrow streets.  Our cameras clicked, clicked and clicked again.




Floral pictures decorated most of the shops and balconies as we headed for the bridge over the River Nabao to the green shade of the Parque do Mouchao.  Needless to say we were not alone, and we collapsed onto the first available bench, clutching beer and water, to get our bearings.  It would have been an idyllic spot on most sunny days, with bright canoes moored by a tumbling weir.

Temporarily refreshed, we resumed our exploration of the old town, exclaiming and pointing as we made our way beneath petals, softly fluttering on the occasional blessed breeze.  Rua da Serpa Pinto is the main, pedestrianized shopping street, with views to the lofty Knights Templar castle. This is dominated by the 16-sided Convento do Cristo.  We had gazed in awe the previous afternoon at the elaborate Charola where the Templars had arrogantly attended mass on horseback.

Praca da Republica is the main square, a vast open space currently decked out with seating for town officials to watch the parade.  It’s overlooked by Igreja da Sao Joao Batista; cool and serene inside with a huge wedding cake of an altar.  We saunter down adjacent Rua de Sao Joao, and Michael spots a tiny sandwich bar.  We sit beneath the white and yellow flowers, with much needed water and substantial baguettes for just a few euros, watching the lady owner patiently threading fresh flowers into the door grill.



Time to find a good viewing point along the route.  We look at and discard many options- some in full sun, some too busy.  My ever practical husband thinks we should be in a position to make a quick getaway.  It all becomes too much, so we retreat into a bar for shade.

We finally decide on a spot. Elderly ladies perch on folding stools and smile wearily at me as they edge up to make room.  The endless but good natured wait begins.  I try to make light hearted conversation in my sparse Portuguese.  As the heat builds and the press of people increases, helicopters buzz overhead and ambulance sirens wail.

At last we hear the drums and trumpets heralding the approach, and finally see the tabuleiros rounding the corner.  A small miracle of endurance, 400 couples or more parade the streets.  The lady carries the 4ft high bread basket, adorned with flowers, on her head, while her partner keeps a watchful eye.  Endlessly they stream past us, the crowd quick to praise and sometimes recognise their own.

And then, it’s all over.  A quick getaway?  No, you thought not!  The intention was there, but our way was barred by cars parked end to end on the main thoroughfare.  So we joined the collective shuffling, back uphill, in the direction of our lonely field.

Was it all worthwhile?  Undoubtedly!  But maybe we’d do it differently another time.  We had opted to stay in the nearby village of Constancia, a quiet and lovely place at the junction of two rivers.  My first choice of hotel, Estalagem de Santa Iria in Tomar, had been fully booked.  It might have been better staying in Tomar, for the fireworks and night time atmosphere, and to look more closely at the Tabuleiros.  But then we would have missed meeting our genial and hard-working host at Casa Joao Chagas, and the lovely American lady we talked to at breakfast.  Not forgetting my delicious quejinhos do ceu, almond confectionry special to the area.


Maybe we’ll go back someday.  Tomar is beautiful in its own right.  But we’ll certainly never, ever forget the Festa dos Tabuleiros.