‘L’ is for Loule

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The market town of Loule

The peaceful market town of Loule

Loule to me means just one thing.  Carnaval!  This quiet inland market town in the Algarve is no Rio de Janeiro, but it knows how to party. For over 100 years they have celebrated the beginning of Lent with Carnaval, Portuguese style.  No shortage of dancing girls either, though they often have to dance hard to keep warm.

Bring on the dancing girls!

Bring on the dancing girls!

Carnaval 2012 was a classic, and I made a surprising guest appearance!  Fortunately I was very easily overlooked in the crowd. Numerous photos of the Carnaval floats, of a distinctly political but humorous nature, appear in my post ‘C is for Carnaval’, so I won’t reproduce them all here.  The town’s main street, Avenida Jose de Costa Mealha, is closed for the event and there is a small charge. Don’t miss it if you are in the neighbourhood!

Normally Loule (pronounced Loo-lay, incidentally) is rather more sedate.  One of the most distinctive features of the town is the Arab style market, pictured in my first photograph.  Smaller shops surround the market stalls and it is a treat for both eyes and nose.  On Saturday mornings an open air market takes over the outdoor space too.  Parking becomes no easy matter.

On my first visit to Loule I remember having to search for the remaining fragment of the town walls and the 13th century castle, but I liked what I found. Entrance to the walls is through a small museum, which traces the town’s history back through Roman to medieval times.  It has the vaulted brick ceilings that I love.

The older part of town is fairly compact , and the narrow cobbled streets reveal artisan workshops and some lovely craft shops. Following the twists and turns you will come to a small square containing the town’s main church, Igreja de S. Clemente, and a tiny garden, Jardim dos Amuados, an ancient Arab cemetery.

Loule’s main landmark is visible from the A22 motorway when driving past the town.  Nossa Senhora da Piedade is a dome shaped modern church which sits on a hill to the west of town.  At Easter there is a huge procession in honour of the Sovereign Mother. This must be one of the few things I haven’t yet managed to see in the Algarve.

Nossa Senhora da Piedade- courtesy of Wikipedia

Nossa Senhora da Piedade- courtesy of Wikipedia

The procession to the church at Easter

The procession to the church at Easter

Loule is well worth a look when you’ve tired of the beaches and need a little historical detail, or a shopping bonanza.  A few  parking hints and a lot of photos are available in C is for Carnaval.

For now I’ll simply thank Frizz for his inspiring A-Z series.  With Tagged L this week he is just about managing to keep me on track. Grateful thanks are also due to Julie Dawn Fox, who started the Personal A-Z Challenge a long time ago!  Some day I’ll manage to complete it for both countries.  Join me in the challenges if you can. banner4

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Jo’s Monday Walk: Beaver Creek

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Isn’t Amy the sweetest lady? (as well as being a great photographer) Come on- walk with us!

Originally posted on The World Is a Book...:

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Beaver Creek used to be one of our favorite ski places when we were living in Boulder, Colorado. Now it’s been a perfect place for us to escape Texas summer heat.

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This is such a beautiful village for hiking, biking, and scenery-gazing during summer. Last time, when hubby attended a week-long retreat here, I enjoyed my daily walked/hiked along the trails.

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The lovely town of Vail is only a few miles away from Beaver Creek. But, both Vail and Beaver Creek have been commercialized and overbuilt, lots of shops, art galleries, condos, and restaurants, besides luxurious accommodations. It does make you wonder where have all the trees gone…

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Thanks to Jo for her inspiring Monday WalkHope you will join us and share your walk, thoughts, stories, and/or photos :)

Have a great week!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Crimdon beach

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First of all I need to say a huge ‘thank you’ to all of the people who joined in on my Monday walk last week.  I was so happy with the response I got that I really can’t wait to do it again.  Let’s take the walk first, shall we, and I’ll explain a little more later.

Crimdon Beach

This is another local walk, and probably comes in the ‘ugly’ category.  I can’t just show you pretty pictures can I?  It wouldn’t be truthful, or fair to the area.  Crimdon lies just north of Hartlepool, on the north east coast of England.  It is one of my childhood beaches.  A day trip to Crimdon was exciting in those days!  To this day, a caravan park sits atop the beach, and you can wander through it playing the ‘I’d like this one’ game.  Front facing the sea, naturally.

How about this one? A few tubs on the deck and it would be perfect!

How about this one? A few tubs on the deck and it would be perfect!

But I’m getting away from the subject.  This is a circular walk which includes the beach and Crimdon Dene.  Our start point is the cliff top car park.

Here you have it!

Here you have it!

As you can see, it’s part of the Durham Coastal footpath, very easily accessible and with some excellent cliff top walking.  Hartlepool was once a part of Durham County, but that is history.

But I cannot always offer you the blue skies!

First drop down the stepped boardwalk and onto the beach

Today a watery sun glints in the rockpools

Today there’s a watery sun, glinting in the rock pools
You'll maybe recognise this view from a previous post?

You might just recognise this view from a previous post where I got wet!

There go the walkers, striding up the beach!

There go the walkers, striding up the beach!

In places the sea is trapped at low tide

In places, the sea gets trapped at low tide
The patterns formed in the dune a mystery

The patterns formed in the dune, a mystery

And looking back, some walkers in outline, at the top

And looking back, tiny walkers in outline, near the top

With the tide out, you can walk right along this beach to Hartlepool.  In the distance you can still see the disused pier that is all that is left of a former magnesium works.  In Summer you might observe protective fencing along the dunes, where a nesting colony of Little Terns make their home for 4 months every year.  They spend Winter in West Africa, lucky things!

But today we are going into Crimdon Dene.  A wooded valley cutting through cliffs of magnesium limestone, it forms the boundary with County Durham.  The Dene’s dominant landmark is the lofty railway viaduct, completed in 1905, over which the north coast railway service periodically rattles.  I remember being hugely excited by it when I was small.

Hartlepool Headland just visible in the distance

Hartlepool Headland just visible in the distance

Safeguard the Little Terns

Safeguarding the Little Terns

Crimdon or Hartlepool?

Crimdon or Hartlepool?

Underneath the arches of Crimdon railway viaduct

Underneath the arches of Crimdon railway viaduct

Leaving the Dene from beneath the viaduct

Leaving the Dene from beneath the viaduct

A steepish climb will bring you back up to the cliff top car park.  The distance is little more than 2 miles but you can extend it as far along the beach as you wish.  There are no facilities as the club house on the caravan park is ‘members only’.  Hard to believe that back in the 50s this was a thriving resort.  A Six word Saturday post from about this time last year will show you the area from a slightly different (and sunnier) aspect.

And now it’s your turn!  Last week I suggested that I would love to hear about walks in your area. I can never cover as much ground as I’d like to, so I would really appreciate sitting back in my armchair for a virtual walk around your neighbourhood.  If you have a post about a favourite walk that you’d like to share, please leave a link in my comments box.  You can do this any day of the week, and it can be a full walk or just a few photos- I’ll be delighted either way.

In return I will tweet or post it on Facebook for those of you who use social media.  I usually share when I like a post anyway, but sometimes I forget.  Age, you know!  I don’t know if you’ve found my Restlessjo page on Facebook, but I’d love to see you there.  Happy walking!

Six word Saturday

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This is my last Awards post.

Why, you might ask?  I may never receive another and then the problem won’t arise.  But the fact is that I write a travel blog, and truly love doing it. When I began my blogging adventure, the concept of Awards was an amazement to me.  Then it did what it was supposed to do and introduced me to some wonderful people.  LOTS of wonderful people.

It is a point of pride with me that I respond to and visit every single person who places a like or a comment on my blog.   I will always do this.  And it will lead me to more wonderful people. Trouble is, it has a kind of snowball effect, though I hate to mention that word after the winter some of us have had! So I will wear my Awards with pride, and I will maintain an Awards page to thank those lovely people who have heaped honours on me.  Thank you all so much.  But I won’t be posting any awards acceptance posts after today.

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Got to end with killer shoes!  This Seven Awards in One was passed on to me by Sherri Matthews. Talk about go out with a bang!  Sherri is a lovely lady who stays positive and full of warmth despite the difficulties presented by her daughter’s Asperger’s Syndrome.  I’ve learned a lot and laughed a lot alongside Sherri.  She is a pleasure to know.

Shelley at Living with Shadows was kind enough to bestow the Dragons Loyalty Award on me too. Nothing like a bit of fire on a winter’s morning, or even a chilly Spring one.  Shelley has her own health issues, but escapes into fantasy when she can.  If you can find the time, and haven’t met them, please go and say hello.

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I couldn’t leave without a few Spring flowers by way of apology.  Enjoy your weekend, and don’t forget to share six words with Cate at Show My Face. My word count says 340.  I must have gone wrong somewhere!

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A place to relax

I 'heart' this view!

I ‘heart’ this view!

My habitual perch

My perch in the sun!

This week, Jake was wondering if I have a place to relax.  Well, for me that can only mean one thing.  My roof terrace in the Algarve.  I’m always in the mood for a swing.

There's simple Shell Beach

And if I get tired of swinging, there’s laid back Shell Beach
Nestle down by the anchors at Barril

Or I can laze by the anchors at Barril

Or chill at the beach bar

Or maybe chill in the shade of the beach bar.

Or you can fight for beach space on Armona

I could even fight for beach space on Armona!

Abandon your kite

I’d abandon the kite

But I do get better as we approach the lovely village of Santa Luzia

And take to the water

Then it's back to the terrace for sunset

Till it’s time for sunset on the terrace

Step forward a pace and you get a "free" umbrella

Evening’s are nice and easy on the river bank.
How restful is this?

Truly, what could be more relaxing than this?

I only have to look through the albums and it’s calling me back again.  But for now I’m sharing my memories with you and Jake.

Do you have a place you go to when you need to relax, even if it’s only in your mind?

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‘K’ is for Kings (three, or more?)

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Hip hooray and happy day!  An opportunity has arisen for me to fill a gap in my much neglected Personal A-Z of Portugal.  You’d forgotten I was doing one, hadn’t you?  Me too, almost!  So today I have Frizz to thank for getting around to ‘K’ in his A- Z challenge.

A collection of kings

A confusion of kings- courtesy of Mike Bradley

First, a question for you.  How many kings do you see?  Three, or more?

I had arrived in the Algarve just after the New Year but in time for Epiphany, and was curious to see what kind of celebrations, if any, this might entail. I knew that in Spain the 6th January was dedicated to the Three Kings, and was hopeful that this might spill over the border into Portugal. I thought there was every chance, especially in my eastern corner of the Algarve.  The shops were full of Bolos Reisthe cake of kings- with their extravagant and colourful toppings.

The tradition of this cake dates back to Roman times, when a King was chosen at Roman feasts if he got the piece of cake containing a fava bean.  I rather like the legend about the Three Kings of the Orient disputing who should be the first to give baby Jesus his gift.  The decision was finally made in the same way- with a cake inside which the local baker had hidden a bean.

I was very happy to discover that there was to be a procession in Vila Real de S. Antonio, a small town on the very edge of the Algarve, with its toes in the River Guadiana.  Better still, the kings were to ferry across the Guadiana to Ayamonte, in neighbouring Spain.

Sure enough, a carnival atmosphere prevailed in Vila Real on Sunday, 6th January.  A Christmas market and ice rink were set up in the main square, Marques de Pombal, with jars of honey and every variety of cake adorning the stalls.  Trying to avert my eyes, I made my way to the Cultural Centre, where I knew there was a Nativity display.  It was enchanting.  As I emerged I was delighted to hear the ‘oompah’ sounds of a band.

Ambling along the street, with caskets of bonbons and flashing smiles, came a procession of kings.  Cordially they distributed sweets and paused to chat or have their photo taken.  It was all very casual and laidback, rather than kingly, but no less charming for that. A dais was set up awaiting them in the square, and soon they were enthroned, hurling the last of their sweets to the cheering crowd.

Beat a retreat?

Beat a retreat?

Thinking that I might manage two processions ‘for the price of one’, and wondering how it would be on the Spanish side of the border, I craftily caught the 12.30 ferry across to Ayamonte.  In January there is a 2 hour time difference between the two countries, so my arrival, 10 minutes later, was at 14.40.  A time at which all self respecting Spaniards are eating.  There was no sign of an impending celebration so, after a leisurely stroll and a delicious ‘biscuit’ flavoured icecream, I returned to the ferry terminal.

Sitting on board, gazing at the river, I became aware of a party of excited children boarding the ferry.  As we left the shore, the adults in the party proceeded to dish out sizeable portions of bolo rei, oozing with cream.  I had high hopes, but was obviously too tall to be regarded as one of their charges.  Nearing the Portuguese shore, I realised just what was happening.  The Kings, minus their band (who had presumably gone to lunch at Portuguese time), were strolling to the terminal, to meet the ferry. As the gangway came down, whistles and cheers and waving of flags greeted the sovereigns. Smiling amiably, they were destined for Spain, their caskets newly filled.

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I never did fathom out who were the genuine kings and who were the ‘imposters’, but they were a handsome bunch, don’t you think?  I hope you enjoyed my entry for ‘K’.

Many thanks to Frizz for hosting his A-Z challenge, and to Julie Dawn Fox, whose idea the personal A-Z series was.  Please click on the links or logos for more information.

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Jo’s Monday walk : Greatham Creek

The spy holes in the hide

The spy holes in the hide, Greatham Creek

First, a word of explanation.  For quite some time I’ve been including walks in my posts, and most of you seem to enjoy taking a stroll with me.  It occurred to me the other day (when I was out walking, of course) that I could make this a regular feature, and invite people to join in and share, if they want to.  Lots of you will have favourite walks, and I would love to hear about them.

So, let’s start with Greatham Creek.  Now, unless you’re a local, I know you will be reading this as Great Ham, but the pronunciation is, in fact, Gree Tham.  Funny old language, isn’t it?  Not long since, I took you on a wander through the snowdrops in Greatham Village.  That could well be the start point for this walk, but I am choosing to do it differently today.

Instead, we're starting at the bird hide on the Seal Sands road

Instead, we’re starting at the bird hide on the Seal Sands road

See the peep holes? Now what are they looking at?

See the peep holes? Now, what are they looking at?

This fellow, and his friends

This fellow, and his friends

You did notice that I called it Seal Sands road, didn’t you?  The area is highly industrialised, with smoke belching from chimneys on the skyline, but for a number of years this has been home to a colony of seals.  So much so that, passing by on the bus to Middlesbrough with my nose stuck in a book, I sometimes even forget to notice them.  Not today, though.

Clear and bright with just a little nip to the air, it was perfect for socialising with seals.

Now a seal might like a little privacy, and rightly so

Now a seal might like a little privacy, and rightly so

So there are opportunities to hide yourself

So there are opportunities to ‘hide’ yourself

And still get a decent view of the seals (and the industry!)

While still getting a decent view of the seals (and the industry)

There is a car park on the Seal Sands road (the A189), right by the hide.  When you’ve had enough of playing hide and seek, cross over the creek on the road bridge and follow the public footpath off to your left.  Work is currently in progress to extend the footpath on the other side of the bridge, which will lead to another hide.

Crossing the creek

Crossing the creek

Which spreads out, inland

Which spreads out, inland

And the seals carry on doing what seals do

Passing the seals, who carry on doing what seals do
As does the industry!

As does the industry!

The creek is tidal, so the water level is variable.  The number of seals basking on the sands varies too.  To be truthful, it isn’t always the weather for basking.  When the skies are leaden the whole area is very depressing.

But whenever they can, they're there

But nobody seems to have told the seals!

The patterns carved by the creek vary too

The patterns carved by the creek vary, too

Unravelling like knitting yarn

Winding off like unravelling yarn

The footpath winds around the creek

The footpath follows the creek, with occasional steps up and down

Then it veers off to the right, heading towards Greatham Village.  The fields were still a little flooded in places, after the heavy rain, but passable, with care.  I didn’t have proper walking shoes on and opted to turn back.

There is a way around, honest!

There is a way around, honestly!

The walk continues, passing the derelict Cerebos site and over the railway tracks into Greatham. The “Hope and Anchor” on the High Street is an old favourite of mine, if you need a food or drink stop.  Or you can simply retrace your steps at any point.  I was only out walking for about an hour, having come with the sole purpose of seeing the seals.

So, that’s my walk for today.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Now I’m rather hoping that I might tempt a few of you into sharing walks with me?  You can include as much or as little detail as you like.  A full walk would be great but if you want to show me just a photo or two from a walk you know, I’d be happy with that too.  My walks will mostly be in the north east of England, because that’s home, but now and then I might just stray.

If you decide to participate, please leave a link to your walk in the comments box below.  Let’s see how far we can get, shall we?  I’m really looking forward to it.

Six word Saturday

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Still chasing romance in the moonlight!

St. Mary's Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

St. Mary’s Lighthouse, in the dark

I often accompany my garden designer husband if he’s working somewhere interesting so, when he took on a job at Whitley Bay, I thought it would be an ideal opportunity for me to see St. Mary’s Lighthouse.  I remembered it, from a school trip with my son many years ago, as a particularly scenic spot.  Perched on tiny Bait Island, and reached over a short causeway at low tide, I envisaged taking photos of the lighthouse with a backdrop of rock pools in the sweeping bay. The reality was somewhat different.

When the design was complete, Michael asked me if I’d like to come with him.  Unfortunately the appointment was for 7.00 in the evening and, as you can see from the above, a little dark for rock pools.  It was just about possible to navigate my way across the causeway in the glimmering moonlight. Very romantic, I think you’ll agree.

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I guess I'll have to go back in daylight

I’ll just have to return in daylight another time.

If you’re wondering where my six words came from, maybe you missed my romantic Six word Saturday last week.

Do you have six words (or more) you want to share?  Cate at Show My Face will tell you how it’s done.  Just click on the link or the logos.

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A Lingering look through glass factory windows

Looking out of the National Glass Centre, Sunderland

Looking out from the National Glass Centre, in Sunderland

In my Monday post A promenade to Roker we took a walk through Sunderland’s ship building past.  Though ships are no longer built here, a thriving cargo trade has developed on the River Wear today.  The National Glass Centre occupies the former site of J. L. Thompson and Sons shipyard, on the north bank of the river, and is witness to most of the comings and goings.

Glass making was introduced to Britain from France in 674, specifically for the windows of the Monkwearmouth-Jarrow Priory, which stood not far from here. The industry thrived on cheap local coal in the 18th century, and Sunderland gradually established a name for glass.  The Pyrex factory was based here until its closure in 2007.

The construction of the National Glass Centre in 1998 was a bold move, part of a regeneration scheme in a declining area.  Today the centre is free to visit, with daily guided tours.

Keep an eye on the boats while you admire the glassware

You can keep an eye on the boats while you admire the glassware

I know someone who loves owls!

I know someone who loves owls!

Part of the fascination is watching the glass workers ply their trade.

Behind glass, of course!

Behind glass, of course!

There's bound to be an element of danger

There’s bound to be an element of danger, isn’t there?

The building itself is quite interesting, and there’s a restaurant looking out onto the riverside.

Just a few more reflections

And in the vestibule, possibly my favourite thing- this suspended glass sculpture.

Let's raise a glass!

Let’s raise a glass!

The National Glass Centre website gives full details of opening times, events and free tours.

I really enjoyed putting this post together for Dawn’s weekly Lingering Look at Windows challenge.  Hope you like it too.

Transport

The simple kind

The simple kind

Ready to go!

Ready to go

As far as you can take me

As far as they can take me!

Edited by Viveka Gustafson

Or maybe something grander?  (Edited by Viveka Gustafson)

With a little more style

With a bit more style
And panache!

And oozing panache!

Some elegant wood carving

Perhaps some elegant wood carving

And a figurehead to charm the world

And a figurehead fit to face the world!

Jake has asked the question this week- how do you like to travel?  You might have noticed that I’m very partial to boats- all shapes and sizes.  How about you? The last five shots were taken when the Tall Ships Race came to Hartlepool in 2010.  My lovely friend Viveka admired them but it wasn’t a bright day and one of them needed a hint of brightening up.  She was kind enough to do it for me, unasked.  Isn’t that what friends are for? I think my husband may have taken some of the Tall Ships.  My memory’s not so good these days! But I do remember to join Jake in his Sunday Post challenge whenever I can.  The subject this week is Transport.  Come take a look!

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