A festival of damp leaves

My Virginia Creeper- clinging on!

My Virginia Creeper- clinging on!

I’m being a little bit naughty this morning, but hey, it’s Sunday!  I’m allowed?  I just have time to squeeze in two challenges before I go walking again tomorrow.  The forecast is wet so I’ll have to take the sunshine with me.

An abandoned leaf- but it's still green!

An abandoned leaf- but it’s still green!

This one's properly 'washed out'

This one’s properly ‘washed out’

And this one- a brittle brown

And this one- a brittle brown

But I do find colour hard to resist

But I do find colour hard to resist

Do you have a favourite?  Or some leaves to share?

I’m contributing to Festival of leaves- week 3 and also squeezing in a last minute entry to 1 Day 1 World Project 9:00 to 10:00.  I should just get away with the latter because Lisa is all the way over in Seattle so way behind the UK in hours. I’ve been meaning to rejoin her challenge for weeks and time is just slipping away.  I took these yesterday morning, on my way to zumba, in the rain.

If you can squeeze some time, please join in with either or both of these challenges.  They’re so worthwhile.  Happy weekend!

Six word Saturday

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Didn’t we have a lovely time…

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The White Rabbit Teahouse, in Nottingham, was just one of the many places I visited with my daughter last weekend.  We did, indeed, have a lovely time…  Click on the gallery to see it in detail.

Hope you have a nice weekend planned.  Don’t forget to share it on Six word Saturday.  Cate at Show My Face will show you how it’s done.

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Festival of leaves- week 2

Solitary on an Algarve bench

Solitary on an Algarve bench

Or an Algarve beach

Or even on an Algarve beach

Have you seen any lovely leaves lately?  This is an Autumn challenge I discovered just last week. Rather nice, isn’t it?  Just click on the link to start those leaves falling.  I was out kicking the English leaves about today.  Just as beautiful!  Join me next week and see.

Tavira House Hotel

The lounge with its extraordinary ceiling

The ballroom, with its extraordinary ceiling

Having a home in Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, I don’t normally devote space to local hotel reviews.  But there’s always an exception, isn’t there, and this is it.

I was leafing through the East Algarve Magazine when an article on Tavira House Hotel caught my eye.  I didn’t recollect seeing it and no address was supplied, but it was stated to be within the old castle walls of the town.  It looked very beautiful and my curiosity was piqued.  A stroll through Tavira is never a hardship, especially one with a purpose, and the hotel wasn’t too very difficult to find.

The front door was closed and I stood gazing up at the balcony, trying to get some impression of the inside.  Rather taking me by surprise, a young man appeared at the window.  “Would you like to come up?” he enquired.  I couldn’t have been more delighted!

The reality was beautiful

The reality was beautiful

And the gilded swans, a complete masterpiece

And the gilded swans, a complete masterpiece

Casa Alice, as the house was originally called, was built in 1860 for a high-ranking Portuguese army officer.  It was a maze of corridors and false walls, allegedly for hiding his many mistresses. When it was purchased by the present owner it had been uninhabited for 20 years and was in a poor state of repair.  By 2006 permission had been obtained to renovate this listed and protected building.  The work, over 8 years, was laborious but the finished result is a triumph.

Nuno Reis, the young hotel manager, was extremely pleasant and happy for me to look around and take photos.  The only exception was the bedrooms, because the hotel was fully occupied, but an offer was extended for me to come and view one the following week.  The Mediterranean Diet Fair was in full swing in the town, and the 9 bedrooms were all needed.

The folk troupe, in 'full swing'

The folk troupe, in ‘full swing’!

Being fully engaged in the fair, I never managed a return, but the website gives a very good impression of the bedrooms, and I’m sure they’ll be of a standard with the rest of this immaculate building.  They are named for flowers that grow locally and range from a small double, accented in gold, the Mimosa, to the Geranium suite at the top of the house.  Beamed ceilings and a view over the rooftops of Tavira makes the latter rather special.

Spend a little time on the website.  It will tell you about the preservation of the Algarvian arched walls and the painstaking reconstruction of the unique ballroom ceiling.  In the ‘Explore Tavira’ section, there’s also a link to an engaging Daily Telegraph article about the town.  You don’t just have to take my word for it- it’s a beautiful place!  And I would be more than happy to stay at Tavira House Hotel.

Jo’s Monday walk : gliding high!

Hello-o-o, up there!

Hello-o-o, up there!

You’re probably thinking that lack of sunshine has gone to my head!  No, I’m not planning a sky walk this week.  What I would like to do is to take you up Sutton Bank, on the Yorkshire Moors, to the glider school.  I actually took this walk a couple of weeks ago when I was out searching for purple heather on the moors.  A road diversion had us approaching from the wrong direction, and by a very roundabout route, so that I was in despair of finding any blooming heather.  What I did find, though, was gliders!  I guess it’s an ok substitute.

The heather has already bloomed and waned, but the gliders still fly high.  You won’t need to do any climbing to see them.  I hope you’re game to come with me?

Oh, really?

Oh, really?

We parked at the Visitor Centre on Sutton Bank, properly known as Roulston Scar.  When I spotted a sign- ‘The finest view in England’- my expectations were pretty high.  At the viewing platform binoculars were clasped in several hands, but the day was heavily overcast.  I admit, I was a little disappointed.  Still, you couldn’t fault the other half’s enterprise in bringing me here. Perhaps the clouds would lift?

Promising, but not spectacular?

Promising, but not spectacular?

Not destined to be my favourite

Not destined to be my favourite view

But there was a choice on the signposts

But there was a choice on the signposts

And so, the White Horse it was to be.  Sound more promising to you?  The trouble is, The White Horse is better seen from afar.  Never mind.  I’ll do my best!  In the meantime, I was approaching the glider station.  Surely there wouldn’t be much to see from up there on a day like today?

The sign is full of promise

The sign looks full of promise

And there was a glider at the ready

And there was a glider at the ready

Control tower ready?

Control tower also ready?

The sky was starting to clear a little

The sky was even beginning to clear a little

And the beauty revealed

Revealing the beauty of the countryside

The path is level and it’s just as well because you’re constantly stopping and gazing skyward. There’s a low drone as the plane tows the glider past you and in seconds they’re airborne. Soaring out over the cliffs, it’s a heart stopping moment as the plane leads the glider ever higher and then releases into a thermal or rising air current.

The plane whizzes past, towing the glider

The plane whizzes past, towing the glider

Clinging on, in search of a thermal

Clinging on, in search of a thermal

Freedom!  And a patch of blue

Then freedom! And a patch of blue sky!

Back at ground level, the path continues on.  The White Horse of Kilburn is not far away.  I’m not sure what kind of view of it I will have, as it lies on the cliff face below me.

This is an aerial view

The sign shows an aerial view

As half expected, it's easier to get a wild flower shot

As half expected, it’s easier to get a wild flower shot

Steps lead down the cliff to a car park far below.  I look back at my husband, who shrugs and turns to walk away.  I start down the steps in search of a better view.

This is the best I can do!

This is the best I can do!

There's a bench, thanks to Fred Banks

Or this bench, thanks to Fred Banks

And a lovely patch of heather

And a lovely patch of heather

Unless you want a long descent down the steps, and then an aching clamber back up, this will have to do for now.  You could, of course, be enterprising and drive to the car park below.  I’m sorry to tell you that we didn’t.  The clouds closed in again- that’s the nature of the moors- and it was time for a hasty retreat from a squall of rain.

But at least I'd had a glimpse of 'England's finest view'

But at least I’d had a glimpse of ‘England’s finest view’

And a little moorland heather

And a little moorland heather

I hope you enjoyed our walk?  This link to Wikipedia will give you a few more details of the whereabouts and geology of the horse, and the village of Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe, where I remember a rather nice pub.

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I won’t be home till teatime today, but I’m hoping you will still have received this walk, which I scheduled.  Early or late, I’ll definitely be there. Once again, I have some wonderful shares for you. Many thanks to all of you who take part.

My first walk this week is very fittingly titled but, more importantly, it’s full of wonderful photos. Thank you so much, Meg.  This is beautiful!

Skyspace  

The Cardinal took us to Petra in Jordan, for the sunniest of smiles  :

Street Portrait

Paula knows us Scorpios don’t mind water, or even occasionally…

Getting Wet 

If you haven’t seen any of Amy’s photography lately, you’re missing a treat.  Goodbye Summer!  :

It’s last Beauty

Drake was back on Samsoe this week, with some Norwegian love  :

Vikings, potatoes and Norwegian love

Hands up those of you who’ve been to Odessa?  No- I thought not!  Jouena has a lovely share  :

Mosaic in Odessa

You can share a walk with me any day of the week.  The details are all in my logo.  Have a great week and happy walking!

Six word Saturday

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Remember the lady with orange hair?

And her husband

And her husband

Yes, that IS an octopus fascinator and she calls him Ishmael.  I will be in Loughborough at a coffee morning for the Macmillan Nurses when you’re reading this.  Leo’s Dad died of cancer last year and his Mum is bravely hosting at her home.  I foresee a little fun in my weekend, though I won’t be wearing an octopus any time soon.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to respond to any comments today but I hope you’ll all still be playing Six word Saturday.  Cate at Show My Face hopes so too.  I’m scheduling this post because I’m away all weekend.  Catch up with you next week!  Take care!

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Thursday could be special

I love this tranquil time of day

An evening’s reflection

I love a bit of drama, and I rather think Paula does too, so I thought I’d post a couple of night time/evening shots from my recent Algarve visit. Every day is special in its own way, isn’t it?

Can you feel the warmth?

Can you feel the warmth?

Almost gone

Of the setting sun

Capturing those last rays of light

Gently captured in the windows

I love the patterns on the wall

Or the patterns on the wall

And the boats, stranded on the shore

While the boats lie stranded on the river bed

I hope your Thursday is special too.  You have the power to make it so.  Paula thinks every Thursday’s Special.  Visit her to see why.

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Jo’s Monday walk : Santa Luzia

The patron saint of the village

The patron saint of the village

I could wander around Santa Luzia all day and every day.  So many of the houses are clothed in beautiful azulejo tiles.  Just 2 km west of Tavira, this fishing village has an identity all of its own. Modern housing has been added, and a new seafront promenade since my first visit, more than 10 years ago.  Yet somehow this village is timeless and defies outsiders to change its true nature. Would you like to share it with me?  We’ll take just a slow walk today.  There’s plenty of time.

The waterfront is where I usually start

The waterfront is where I usually start

It's an easy place to spend time

It’s an easy place to spend time

The palm trees don’t provide much shade, but there are plenty of cafes lining the waterfront.  It’s a place where you could idle away many an hour, just watching and wondering.  Avenida Duarte Pacheco is the village’s main street and behind it there are only a handful of others. Getting lost really isn’t an option, but you’re welcome to try.

A typical house on Duarte Pacheco, next to a cafe

A typical house on Duarte Pacheco, next to a cafe

 

Isn't this just beautiful?

Isn’t this just beautiful?

I’m going to be a very lazy tour guide today and simply let you wander.  The details that appeal to each of us are different, aren’t they?  I think you should have time to choose where to linger.

The whole seems to me to blend together.  The locals go about their business, paying little heed to the tourists.  I always venture a smile and ‘Bom dia’ and without fail there is a response.

I’m going to be just a little naughty now.  You remember my fondness for boats?  For just 3 or 4 months in Summer a ferry runs from Santa Luzia across to the ilha, Tavira Island.  It’s only a 10 minute crossing, so just about time to get comfortable.  One of the nice things, though, is the opportunity it gives you to observe Santa Luzia from the water.  Would you like to see?  And if you’re full of energy, you can have a swift stride down the beach.  I’ll be right with you!

Not so bad, was it?  Just one last look at Santa Luzia and you’ll want to eat.  Casa do Polvo, at the eastern end of the front, is great if you’re an octopus fan.  On some evenings you can listen to fado there too, and even join in and sing a little if the fancy takes you.  Away from the front there are a number of small restaurants.  Most will feed you well.  It’s just a matter of taste.

I’m hoping you enjoyed this week’s walk.  Not too strenuous, was it?  And the Eastern Algarve is easy on the eye, I always think?

Next week will be an English walk and very different.  I’m going to my daughter’s in Nottingham next weekend and will be travelling back on the Monday.  I’m going to attempt to schedule a walk.  I’ve never done that before but am hoping it’s easy.  If all else fails, I will be home by teatime and will post the walk then.  Wish me luck!

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Wow!  What a week!  So many fantastic entries.  You’re definitely going to need a cuppa, or even two, to read your way through.  I’m off to put the kettle back on.  Thank you so much, everybody, for joining Jo’s Monday walk.  The details are in my logo.

I simply love Drake’s Beatles walk!  :

Let it be

The Botanical Garden in Zagreb is beautiful!  Thanks for sharing, Paula  :

Monday Walk in the Botanical Garden

And, in case you missed it, atmospheric castle ruins near Bratislava, also in Paula’s delightful company  :

A walk around Devin Castle 

Meg tackled a tricky one this week.  All in a good cause!  :

On Nerrigundah Ridge

My lovable friend Cathy is finding her way around Nanning in China.  Go and say ‘hi’ please?  :

A Monday morning walk on Campus

A water lily from Israel!  And incredibly beautiful, thanks, Cardinal  :

Water Lily Porn

Gardens!  Gardens!  And more lovely gardens!  Thanks, Jude  :

Garden Portrait : Westonbury Mill Water Gardens

Garden Portrait : Sezincote

Fabulous, aren’t they?  And wait till you see Amy’s playful walk beside the river!  :

Walking along the river

A town with less than 1000 residents but lots of history is Yvette’s contribution  :

A walk in Scotsville, VA

And from California, please give a warm welcome to Elena  :

Big Bear Lake

With a destination that keeps getting higher on my ‘must see’ list, Debbie’s sharing a real beauty! Treat yourself- say ‘hello’  :

Walking on Top of the World in Marseille

And in this topsy turvy world of ours, Pauline is  beautifully immersed in Spring.  Don’t miss it!

Totally immersed in the splendour of Spring

That’s it for now, folks.  Have a very splendid week and happy walking!

Six word Saturday

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 The tents were up- show time!

The row of white tents transform the riverside

The row of white tents transform the riverside

Whenever there’s a fair or an event, a sea of little white tents mushroom along the riverside at Tavira.  Usually it’s confined to one bank of the river, alongside the gardens.  When I saw tents lining both river banks, I knew something big was happening.  The second Mediterranean Diet Fair had come to town!

Time to eat healthy!

Time to eat healthy!

Some of the products on display didn’t quite fit with my idea of healthy eating, but it’s all about selling as much as you can of locally produced goods.  You’ll see what I mean.

With a sweet thing or two

Anyone got a sweet tooth?

As the sun goes down the atmosphere builds

As the sun goes down the atmosphere builds

It’s not just food.  There are all kinds of things to buy.  Owls, for instance!

Anyone have a weakness for owls?

Anyone have a weakness for owls?

The cork was used for larger products too

The cork was used for larger products too

And some strange things!

And there were some rather strange things!

The local shopkeepers are not always so keen on these events.  They take away precious customers.  But most people are happy to browse a little.

Casa das Portas is ever popular

Casa das Portas is ever popular

 

I hope you enjoyed your Saturday browse round the shops and stalls.  The fair was accompanied by entertainment every evening too.  What a treat!  The Eastern Algarve usually is, I find.

Don’t forget to play Six word Saturday will you?  Cate at Show My Face is our hostess and will tell you the ‘rules’.  Have a happy weekend!

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Fun with the Monkeys

No guesses where?

No guesses where?

Have you ever been clouted around the head by a monkey?  No?  I hadn’t either, until last week on Gibraltar.  It wasn’t a deliberate act on the monkey’s part. At least, I don’t think so!  I had read the advice on not interacting with them and just letting them get on with their lives.  We’re the intruders, after all.  I was happy to just take a couple of shots and move on.

The problem arose when I leaned over the wall, holding tight to my camera, to take a shot of a mother and youngster just below me.  Mum was busy with her fruit and the youngster desperate to get in on the act.  As he squirmed about, I tried to get a good shot.  Suddenly- smack!  Two medium sized monkeys had galloped along the wall and straight over my head.  Serves me right for leaving it in such a vulnerable place!  The good news is that I didn’t drop the camera down the face of the Rock.  Now that would have been a disaster!  Here’s the shot I was striving for.

Not so great, is it?

Not so great, is it?

So, that’s me and monkeys!  Shall I tell you about the rest of the trip?  It was a pre-dawn start and a four and a half hour bus ride from the Eastern Algarve.  Some foolish folks at Lagos, in the western end, had boarded at 4.20am!  I’m fine once I’m on board and rolling.  A new panorama unfolding outside my window is always a buzz for me.  I watched the sun coming up through the umbrella pines in perfect contentment.

Over the Spanish border and just past Lepe, sudden thick fog descended and I had a moment of panic.  I had left the Algarve sunshine for this? Somewhere south of Seville it began to clear and my nose was then pressed hard against the window.  I hadn’t been prepared for the lovely lakeside scenery around Los Barrios, when finally, there it was, up ahead- the unmistakable shape of The Rock.

It was midday and melting hot.  Pedro, our affable tour guide, had arranged for minibuses to whisk us up to the heights.  Truth be known, there wasn’t much whisking going on!  Traffic in Gibraltar was gridlocked due to some power failure or whim of its own.  It’s that kind of place!  A very smiley Moroccan eventually manoeuvered us onto his minibus and we set off.  Some of the Brits on the bus were very offended by the German audio commentary.  I just dissolved into giggles!  A comedy of errors it definitely was.  It was a relief to be free of the traffic and allowed off the bus at Europa Point.

Trinity Lighthouse.  Isn't it a good-looker?

Trinity Lighthouse. Isn’t it a good-looker?

 

But the best bit was Morocco, beyond the shimmering sea

But the best part was the sight of Morocco, lying in a shimmering haze

Normally I research a destination to death before I set foot in it, but I hadn’t been sure that Gibraltar would be an option, so I arrived equipped only with a few preconceptions.  Back on the minibus, I was in for a very pleasant surprise.  Have you heard of St. Michael’s Cave?  A natural grotto, it was apparently used during World War II as a hospital.  Currently it stages a beautiful light show.  There is an auditorium too for private events.

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I’m not fond of caves but it had me entranced for a little while.  The views from the top of The Rock were pretty impressive too.  I would have loved to whizz down on the cable car but the minibus returned us to shore level.  With not a lot of time to spare, I headed for the Tourist Information Office in Casements Square to pick up a map.

Looking out from The Rock

Looking out from The Rock

A tree with style but not many leaves!

A tree with style but not many leaves!

I might have liked a wander through the town, but the main sights had been pointed out on our way down and my next priority had to be boats. There are two marinas, one of which (Queensway) seemed to include a rather nice bathing area.  No time for that, so I headed to Ocean Village, which was also in the direction of the border where I had been dropped off. Yes, it was a little glitzy and fake, but I am a complete sucker for any kind of marina.  The bars and restaurants were full of happy, smiling faces- endless cocktail hour, apparently.  And boats!

Just a small one- please!

Just a small one- please!

Boat heaven!

Boat heaven!

There was just time to linger for a wrap and a glass of wine, while the misters on the corners of the umbrellas sprayed us, and the food, at regular intervals!  Pedro had warned us to allow plenty of time to return from the town and pass through the border controls.  There was a no.5 bus but it seemed far more adventurous to walk back across the airport runway.  I had hoped to see a plane landing and I was in luck.  Barely had I crossed the runway than sirens sounded and the barriers came down.  Such an air of anticipation!  I shuffled my feet and gazed expectantly with the rest of the crowd.  Ten or fifteen minutes passed.  I awaited the heavy drone of engines and a rush of wings.

Eventually there was a tiny humming sound.  My vision is not the very best and I had to peer quite hard to see the incoming flight.  I barely just caught it on camera.

Can you spot it?

Can you spot it?

I’m sure that I missed lots, but I got a flavour of the place, which is all that a visit like this can give.  Was it what I expected?  Mostly, yes.  A little crazy, but with a certain charm.