Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year 2013

This is the last Sunday post of 2012 and I have to add that I have thoroughly enjoyed blogging with Jake.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Lights

Those Christmas lights light up the street
Down where the sea and city meet  
May all your troubles soon be gone  
Oh, Christmas lights, keep shinin' on

These lines from Coldplay's song "Christmas Lights" are perfect for this post.

My photos today are of the Christmas lights in the town of Espinho (a seaside town, packed in summer with beach-goers, year-round thriving commercial centre, where many shops have closed or are struggling under the effects of the crippling recession in Portugal. 

Espinho Xmas lights 2012

Espinho Casino
Lighting up the Casino

Espinho Xmas lights 2012
23rd Street
Espinho Xmas lights 2012
Also on 23rd Street

Espinho Xmas lights 2012

Espinho Xmas lights 2012
19th Street - main shopping area (bad photo)

Espinho Xmas lights 2012
My favourite

Those Christmas lights light up the streets
Down where the sea and small town meet  
May all our troubles soon be gone  
Oh, Christmas lights, keep shinin' on

Sunday, December 23, 2012


I wish one and all a Very Happy Christmas!


In my family we have a tradition - every year we buy something Christmassy to add to our collection, whether it be another flower for the flower arrangement, another Santa, another snowman or some more baubles for the tree (you get the drift). As a result I have ornaments that are over 40 years old and some that hardy ever see the light of Christmas day!

Nativity scene

This is a nativity scene I got for my first Christmas in the Algarve. I bought it at the "Feira da Serra" in Loulé, at an arts and crafts stall.

Nativity scene - Ferreiras

And here is a nativity scene set up this year in the middle of an Algarve roundabout.

These Santas drove past my house yesterday. They gave the reindeer a rest before the big day and tried some modern transportation instead! (None of these are part of my collection :-)

Biker Santas

Quad Santa

Biker Santa

This post is for Jake's  Sunday post challenge.

Grab a lift with one of those Santas and check out Jake's blog for Christmas posts from all over the world.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - December 2012

Christmas is just around the corner!
A student gave me this beautiful poinsettia ('Estrela de Natal' in Portuguese).
In the Algarve we've had a lot of rain over the past month and the temperatures are still allowing things to grow, so the garden got out of control. I usually cut the grass myself but when I had free time it was raining and when I didn't, which has been most of the time, grass and weeds just kept on growing!

So I had to make a choice - either I called in a professional gardener or the overgrowth would make me miserable. The gardener came and did a lot of cutting, pruning and clearing. This is the result - looking a bit bare now!
Aloe arborescens nearly in flower.
But the aloe arborescens flower is about to open.
There are lots of oranges and tangerines (my lemon bush hasn't been very productive, though).

Small lemon bush
Only three small lemons on my lemon bush at the back (the grasshoppers had a go at it before I terminated their stay).

Algarve orange tree
My orange tree dominates the front garden.       
Tangerines and geranium
At the back there's a tangerine bush and some bright red geranium blooms.
A pink geranium.

This is really the last of the bougainvillea blooms.

Here is the path to the back patio:

Creeper, strawberry plants and other potted plants.
Flowers of the creeper above.
I love this creeper (anyone know what it's called?) because it doesn't lose its leaves in winter and it flowers all year round.

  The lavenders are still flowering.

I've taken some cuttings and hope to have some reasonably sized plants to give to friends in the spring.

If the snails don't get them first, I hope to have some yellow and red orchids next month. This is what I love about gardening - there is always something to look forward to!

Cuphea, santolina, lantana (leaves turned purple) in a planter and some orchids in pots.

Thank you to Carol for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day at May Dream Gardens.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The concept of time

Here I am in a very untidy room, piles of unwelcome paperwork everywhere (yes, my profile does mention I hate paperwork) because it's end of term time and I have almost a hundred tests to finish correcting and grades to decide. Everything must be sorted and fed into the data base (something new we didn't have last year) before the end of the week!

There are simply not enough hours in the day and lately I have had to neglect anything that isn't urgent in favour of school work. I hate when that happens and swallows up my weekends! My poor dogs have not had a decent walk for ages and cannot count on mealtimes at the normal time anymore.

All this has made me consider, however fleetingly, our concept of time and whether dogs understand this concept the way we humans do.

Clerigos Tower clock

I found this interesting piece by Colline Cancio - Do dogs understand the concept of time?

This is my entry in response to Jake's theme for the Sunday post. I'm sure there are lots more interesting concepts in his comments' section.

That's all folks! 
Gotta get back to the job in hand (Grrrh)

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Armaçao de Pera Beach

Peaceful scenes...
Expanses of sand,
Aquamarine skies,
Calm cerulean seas
Embracing the sunshine.
Friends smiling,
Unhurried, carefree,
Lingering in quiet gardens

Small Armaçao de Pera garden

This is my Sunday Post. Hop over to Jake's blog, where the inspiration begins.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

D is for Doors, in traditional Algarve style

Since I did a post on this subject for Jake's Sunday Post back in May, I have taken a few more photos. I hope you like them.

And finally, here is a close-up of the "mãos de Fátima" knockers that most of these doors have.

Unusual, aren't they?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Natural Resources

Cork oaks, Alentejo
Alentejo landscape on a wintery day

In Portugal, the cork oak is part of the landscape in the Alentejo region. From the outer bark of this tree come the cork stoppers we find in every good bottle of wine.

In this photo, you can see where the outer bark has been removed.

Photo by Joergsam (Wikipedia), available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

And here you can see a ceramic tile panel depicting workers removing that bark.

Portugal produces around 50% of the cork harvested annually worldwide, with Corticeira Amorim being the leading company in the industry, transforming the outer bark of the cork oak into cork stoppers and many, many other products.

This is my entry for Jake's Sunday Post challenge. Check out Jacksprinter to find links to other posts on this theme.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Who took my nest?

or The Last Thing the Algarve Needed!

These could be the thoughts running through this forlorn stork's mind one week after part of Silves' centre was ravaged by a tornado. 

Stork on Silves' rooftop

On Friday, 17th November, the Algarve got first-hand experience of that rare weather phenomenon we know is not at all rare in North America - it ripped through Alvor, Carvoeiro, Lagoa and Silves, causing terrible damage. Three people were seriously injured and, having seen the videos and photos, I'm surprised there were no fatalities!

If you have read my posts about motor-home owners spending winter in the park by the river you will remember that area was still full in February. This is how tranquil the full park looked then.

Silves - park by the river

By the end of October many motor-home owners had returned, in time to get the fright of their lives. Winds reaching 260 km/hr picked some of their homes like they were little toys and "played" with them.

Now some have left but many have just moved to the other side of the municipal swimming pool while clean-up is taking place. This is how the same area looks now, one week after the unfortunate event.

Silves park after the tornado
One week after the tornado

Over the weekend municipal workers and around a thousand volunteers removed the debris and cleaned up as much as they could. They did a wonderful job! The town looks almost normal.

Parts of the walls of the stadium came down and you can still see a large metal structure all twisted and leaning on the building next door.

Tornado damage to Silves' football stadium

The municipal swimming pool lost roof and windows. The Town Hall and many other rooftops lost their tiles.

Tornado damage to Silves' rooftop
Abandoned factory rooftop

Huge trees were uprooted.

Tornado damage to Silves' trees
On the main road near the bridge.
Clean-up at the Al Mouatamid Ibn Abbad Square

And the clean-up continues ...

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been affected by the tornado, specially to those who were injured.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


For this theme I have chosen examples from different regions of Portugal.

From north to south...

In Arouca, granite is a common building material.
Granite-walled house in Arouca
Traditional house in Arouca, district of Aveiro
Stately house in Arouca
Granite again - Arouca

In the fishing town of Torreira, stripes and colour are traditional.
Ria de Aveiro house
Fishing village of Torreira, district of Aveiro

In the posh town of Praia da Granja, these pretty houses are set amongst ornate mansions of the early 20th century.
Early 20th century houses
Some of the smaller houses of Praia de Granja

And in the Algarve, ceramic tiles and ornate trimmings are common in older houses. 
Tiled Algarve house
Tiled house in Castro Marim
Ornate trimmings, Algoz

Which do you prefer?

Visit Jake's challenge for many more takes on architecture.

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