Jo’s Monday walk : Milreu, a walk back in time

With travel once more a possibility, the floodgates were open for a stream of visitors. We love to flaunt the best of the Algarve, tailored of course, to the individual. Our best man and life long friend, Chris, made his first ever visit here. In a few short days he marvelled at beaches and Fiddler crabs, scurrying around their salt marsh homes, and admired both landscape and architecture. A history buff, his favourite place was the Roman ruins at Milreu. I thought you might like to walk through them with us.

For a full history of Milreu, follow the link. My simplified version is that the site was originally a farmhouse, built in the 1st century, in open countryside north of Faro but close to the village of Estoi. At the end of the 3rd century, it was substantially redeveloped around a large central peristyle, with columns surrounding an open courtyard and thermal baths. Enhancements continued, including gardens and tiled mosaics with a maritime theme, a temple devoted to a water deity, a winery and oil processing mills.

After the 6th century the building was transformed into a Christian church, and the courtyard used as a cemetery during the Muslim occupation. The area was abandoned during the 10th century, until a rural house, now the interpretation centre, was added in the 16th century. In 1877 a Portuguese archaeologist, Estacio da Veiga, discovered the ruins and excavations followed, eventually leading to classification as a National Monument.

I had never been inside the interpretation centre before and found it an atmospheric addition to the development. Outside again, we spent some time trying to picture how it once must have been. The setting is tranquil and lovely.

A small museum completed our understanding of the site, which was once thought to be the ruins of the Roman city of Ossonoba, today known as Faro. It proved rather to be an extremely luxurious villa and temple.

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I’m still happy to share walks that come my way. Please feel free to join me, whenever it suits.

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Sarah’s been to some fabulous places and seen some wonderful sights :

Periyar’s monkeys, elephants, bison and more

While Teresa found this gem on a European tour :

Amboise

A saunter around Savannah, with Alice, would be a lovely way to spend a day :

Forsyth Park in October

Then again, Marlborough seems to have a lot going for it. Thanks, Helen!

Wiltshire Walks : Exploring Marlborough

And you really can’t get more English than this! A historical tour with Mari :

Eton – More than a College

Followed by a hop, skip and a jump with Margaret, in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales :

A Castle fit for a Captive Queen Revisited

‘Known’ this lovely man for a long time, so it’s good to bring him here with me :

Alamo and Riverwalk 2021 Adventures

Every year I say I’ll join Robin in Walktober. Guess what? This year I have!

Walktober begins today

It’s been a wonderful couple of weeks here, full of friends and visitors. My daughter and husband left on Saturday, and my son arrives this Friday. As somebody remarked ‘my cup runneth over’. Wishing the same for you.

Hindsight

Is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? I was so gung ho to be setting up a new blog and a new learning experience that I completely overlooked an aspect of my history. It came back to me with a vengeance when my Uncle Jakub died. 15 years younger than my Dad, the two had never met until Dad returned to Poland at the age of 79. Estranged from his country by the events of World War II, it took 64 years before Dad could be reunited with his family.

Emotional doesn’t do it justice. One of the remarkable things was that Jakub and Dad were like kindred spirits. Both loved to puff away at the demon nicotine, a ‘piwo’ to hand, but more importantly a set of dominos and the book in which Jakub meticulously kept score. Occasionally I joined them, and was gently chided when I laid the dominos in a pattern deemed incorrect. Despite my protestations, my dominos were relegated to their ‘proper’ place and I rarely won. Simple, happy times! I almost didn’t need language, which was just as well. After Dad died I returned to Poland one more time. We communicated in hugs, and dominos.

Uncle Jakub, at home with his kids

In August Jakub died, suddenly, of a heart attack. Messages reached me simultaneously from different family members. And then, a few weeks later, a grandson contacted me. He was overwhelmed by Dad’s story, and wanted to collect data to piece everything together. Could I help? He referred to a TV news item that featured Dad’s return to Poland. I had a CD of the event. I played it again, and it made me cry. Dad’s Teesside accent, acquired over many years, and the very warmth of the man.

I was winding up Restlessjo. An interval in my life which I had thoroughly enjoyed, but felt I had outgrown. What I had overlooked was the Polish connection. When Jakub’s grandson was searching the ‘Net he found Exploring the Polish Connection, and it brought him here to me. Just this week I realised that I had jettisoned my whole Polish saga with the old blog. That can’t be right, can it?

“This little girl is me” campaign

Passion is inspiring, isn’t it? Especially the quiet kind of passion shared by AggieSoon on Saturday. Her post touched me and I wanted to find out more about this campaign. Time I got involved.

My parents separated when I was 5. It had not been a happy household, but both parents continued to love me and provide whatever support they could, both emotional and physical. Still, I was a shy, awkward child, never easy in my own skin and most often with my nose in a book. Secretly I had my dreams. I loved to sing, and imagined that one day I might be able to hold an audience in the palm of my hand. I had neither the confidence nor the ability. As the years wore on that dream faded, but life was kind. My travel writing fulfilled some of my dreams. This world is made for sharing.

If I could say one thing to this little girl it would be this :

Don’t let anybody steal your dreams. There is a world full of possibilities out there, and one of them is for you.

Inspire the next generation of girls by sharing your photo and your story for International Day of the Girl 2021.

#ThisLittleGirlIsMe

Street art suburbia, Leeds

What are the odds? For some time my son has been trying to find an affordable property to buy in Chapel Allerton, Leeds. The search has proven fruitless so far but, determined to remain upbeat, he took us for a look round the neighbourhood. And what should I find but those self same electricity boxes I was smitten with in parts of the Algarve. We have tried to dissuade him. There are cheaper, less desirable places, but you can’t blame a lad for trying, can you? And I have to say, I liked it too!

Now, does anyone have a house to sell in the area? It’s worth a try, don’t you think? Happy weekend, all!

Jo’s Monday walk : Cow and Calf, Ilkley

One thing I was desperate to do in England this summer- aside from hugging people – was to feast my eyes on heather in full bloom. For me there is no more glorious sight than rolling moorland, crowned in shades of lilac and pink. I didn’t really mind where I found this phenomenon, but when my son suggested that he fancied a look around Ilkley I knew at once that we’d be able to climb the Cow and Calf. I had only ever seen it at a distance so this was tremendous excitement for me.

Our starting point was the car park at Darwin Gardens and Millennium Green, south of this small, pretty town.

Towering over us, the boulders that form the Cow and Calf brace themselves against the skyline, as well they might. Over millenia the millstone grit of which they are formed has been eroded, leaving chunks of rock scattered down the hillside. There’s always a colourful legend to explain nature, and it’s said that the Calf was split from the Cow when the giant Rombald was fleeing an enemy and stamped on the rock as he leaped across the valley.

On Ilkley Moor baht tat, without a hat, could be a bleak place to be, but I was enjoying a rare moment in this wild and beautiful place in the company of my son, and my smile was wide.

A fine moist drizzle was sweeping towards us and the moors are no place to be when the weather sets in. Reluctantly I turned away, but a cheery welcome in the hotel of the same name put a sparkle back in my eyes. Truth be told, it could have bounced with hailstones and I would have been happy that day. An exhilarating landscape with my son by my side was more than enough for me.

The rain did not persist and we had sufficient time for a look around the town. Enough to convince me that I’d come back. There are a number of trails around the Cow and Calf and ancient sites to be inspected. It’s become a favourite place for James too- a great day out with a picnic after a clamber to the very top.

Who’d be a sheep? Baa-aa! Still collecting walks if you’ve time for a stroll?

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Another vibrant and beautiful city seen through the eyes of Teresa :

Bordeaux

Sarah is obviously smitten with Paris, and it’s very easy to see why :

A sunny Sunday walk in Belleville

Water, water everywhere could well be the title of I.J.’s offering :

Rite/rite of Passage

Denzil takes a lot of trouble to put his posts together. This one is beautiful :

Leuven Street Art Walk

I’ve shared Lynn’s posts before. This is another lovely one :

Further Afield: Into the Mountains

Hard to resist a beautifully photographed garden walk :

Walk around in Strasbourg: Botanical Garden

While Terri welcomes Autumn with a flurry of activity :

Sunday Stiils: Sports and Hobbies

This will probably be my last English episode for a while. Time to return to real life here in the Algarve, though my daughter will be joining me next week, so not quite real life. Have a great week and I’ll catch up with you soon.

Jo’s Monday walk : Valley Gardens to Harlow Carr

Most of my time in England was spent in the city of Leeds, but I did manage a few side trips to see friends. Harrogate was an easy 45 minute bus ride away, and the RHS gardens at Harlow Carr an old favourite, so when my lovely friend Ann suggested that we could walk there from the town centre I was delighted. She and husband Bill drove down from the north east. First stop, coffee and a catch up, and a cheese scone for me. I had always been curious about the Royal Baths in Harrogate, and this proved the perfect opportunity to visit the Royal Pump Room Museum, while the very British weather made up its mind.

Situated on the corner of Valley Gardens, the museum offers an insight into local life in Victorian times, if you were of a certain social standing. The agenda included ‘afternoon tea in the gardens, listening to the band’. Our weather was as good as it was going to get, so it was time to stride out into Valley Gardens, where the RHS show used to be held. It became too popular for this lovely place, and expanded to a less charismatic showground elsewhere.

The flowerbeds were a blaze of carefully tended glory, coleus and begonia vying for attention. Dahlias and chrysanths, pom-poms and spikes, a swathe of colour so breathtaking that I no longer noticed the drab skies. These Grade II listed gardens were originally a footpath beside a stream, from the Royal Pump Room to Bogs Field with its 36 different mineral wells. The gardens were opened in 1887 and the Magnesia Well Pump Room served mineral water from the adjacent well. Passing the Cherub Fountain we continued through Pinewoods, along the footpath to Harlow Carr.

First, to the Alpine House and a little warmth, we then set to, following our noses and the paths at will. No better way to explore a garden. When we lived in the north east my husband was a member of the RHS and we were semi-regular visitors to Harlow Carr. The Spring Show was a highlight of the year but for us the Summer Show became too big, selling lots of things we neither wanted nor could afford. But the flowers were always stunning. A wander in these gardens in Autumn could satisfy all the senses.

There was a four seasons theme running through the garden, with cleverly constructed characters representing each of the seasons. Probably best not to meet them on a dark night.

By this stage of things the legs were tiring and there was still the walk back to the town centre. Being advised that there was an hour’s wait for Betty’s restaurant, the only sit down option in the gardens, we decided to leave. A good choice because we found a beautiful country house, The Pinemarten, just round the corner. If you look closely you’ll find me in the mirror behind Ann’s lovely smile.

Details for Harlow Carr, including a virtual tour, can be found on the website.

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First to link up with me, Sarah indulges a love of Paris in a favourite area of mine :

Gallery: a walk around Montmartre

Kelly caught my eye with this interesting walk :

Tablelands- a walk on the earth’s mantle

Rosemay and I go back a long way, and it’s always a pleasure to share :

Mokare Heritage Trail Denmark

Mel loves to intrepidly go where many of us can’t :

Be careful how you say it… Walking to Shot Hole Canyon in Cape Range National Park, Western Australia

And, just this morning, Aggie sent me this very moving piece. Thanks, hon!

All the beds I have slept in

Many thanks to all of you. I’m not sure if I’m reaching everybody I want to, or if this is the best way to do it. Life accelerates here in the Algarve and I have visitors coming. Already I have things happening here that I want to write about and still a pocketful of UK memories. But the evenings grow shorter and I’ll try to keep up. Take good care of yourselves meanwhile.

Harewood House, West Yorkshire

Like all such national treasures, and there are many, Harewood House in West Yorkshire has to earn its keep. The list of events and things to see and do has multiplied since I was there last. Craftmaking workshops and demonstrations are now part of the experience. You can practise calligraphy, learn to weave willow, or make wreaths with dried flowers., Rounded off nicely with afternoon tea, but none of this compulsory. You can still have a great day with just the basics. I wish I’d paused to visit the exhibition Harewood on Film because the house and extensive grounds have taken a starring role in many a drama. My chief purpose in being there, however, was to entertain an 8 year old. You can imagine that the adventure playground and petting zoo had prior claims on our attention.

Nevertheless, it was hard not to admire the beautiful gardens, though some of the statuary caused rolled eyes. The times were very different. The finest craftsmen of the day were employed when Edwin Lascelles started building his new home in 1759. Locally born architect John Carr, popular interior designer Robert Adam, renowned furniture maker Thomas Chippendale, and landscape gardener extraordinaire, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, all combined their expertise to magnificent effect in creating Harewood.

After scrambling and tumbling in the playground, we set off to explore the grounds, following the edge of the lake to the Himalayan Garden. The plants were waist high and above. Huge gunnera rippled in waves down to the stream, which you could cross by means of stepping stones. The garden must be stunning in May-June, when the rhododendrons are in bloom. Stopping to pay homage to the Stupa, we climbed back to the top of the gorge, and spent a happy 10 minutes sending leaves plummeting down the cascades to join the stream, far below. Simple pleasures.

Some of the trees were amazing in girth. One or two were home to fairies. And another, potentially good for climbing. We arrived at the Walled Garden ready for a hot drink. Not the warmest of days and we were consigned to outdoor picnic tables, but the cheese and ham panini hit the spot for the youngster and my cherry bakewell slice was divine. There wasn’t even a crumb left to photograph! Healthy looking plants marched across the lawns in an orderly fashion while the borders harboured some beautiful specimens. We were a bit disappointed to find that the promised boat ride across the lake wasn’t operating, but he’s young and fit and we were back round the lake in no time.

Flamingos stood to attention on one leg, while the aviary showcased birds of every size and description. The penguin pool wasn’t so easy to capture on camera, but I did manage a kookaburra and a snowy owl. And a shaggy goat story! The house was open by this time, and I was anxious for a bit of warmth. And we certainly received a warm reception. The staff were knowledgeable and happy to chat, and I couldn’t help but be impressed by the opulence and sheer wealth on display. Ill gotten gains, and definitely over the top by today’s standards, but beautiful.

Back in the fresh air a glimmer of sunshine persuaded us to take the North Park walk to All Saints Church. An exhibition of stained glassware by Chris Day referenced the slave trade, which contributed to Lascelles enormous wealth.

Exiting through a secret tunnel brought us to a maze filled with willow creatures in a woodland play area, and the adventure was over. A good day’s entertainment, I thought, and only a bus ride from Leeds City Centre.

I haven’t yet finalised my Christmas plans, but I could be tempted by Upon a Christmas Wish. I might even wish for a little snow to enhance the experience. But not yet awhile!

Jo’s Monday walk – the canal beat

Probably the area of Leeds with which I’m most familiar, the Leeds-Liverpool canal dawdles through the city centre in a timeless meander. The growl of background traffic, and hammering from new buildings, creeping skyward, hasn’t succeeded in destroying this peaceful haven though, to hapless walkers, bicycles and skateboards are an ever present threat. Still, it’s the area of Leeds that I’m most at home with. Whenever I’ve an hour or two to idle, waiting for my son and partner to finish work, or keeping the youngster entertained, I gravitate here. To absorb the changes since my last visit.

Just behind the railway station lies a beautiful canal basin, with locks where you can watch the narrowboats test their navigation skills. Trains constantly rumble by. The canals were once the transport hub, and the means by which coal and cargo from the woollen mills was carried through the city, on the 127 mile journey to Liverpool. These days the narrowboats are mostly for leisure. A family of swans have made their home in this exact same spot for the last several years, and I’m not the only one who’s happy to see them.

The lily pads too are thriving. Canal people must be amongst the friendliest in the world, always happy to return a wave as they drift past. A couple sit chatting by the waterside, a retriever blissfully stretched out between them. ‘Is the kettle on?’ I ask. They nod and smile, waving me to a stool if I want to join them.

Apartments reach for the sky, echoing the mill chimneys but without their style and grace. Graffiti finds a natural home in the tunnels and under bridges. From the city centre out to Kirkstall Abbey is about 4 miles along the towpath, and can be broken around the halfway mark with a visit to Leeds Industrial Museum.

Peep through the ornate railings at the River Aire, flowing smoothly alongside the canal to join it in the city centre. You have to weave in and out behind the buildings, butting up against canal history, modern architecture and fast trains.

Free entertainment is on hand at the Royal Armouries. A Samurai demonstration, wild west gunfighters and a display of mounted tournament skills are among the events on offer as we pass by. Or you can hop on a river taxi to observe life at water level.

In the opposite direction the footpath passes an eco housing development, beyond which lies an industrial estate. Old mills with their shabby walls provide ample opportunity for more grafitti. I tease small boy, who has never heard of ET! A gap in his education perhaps, or a sign of age in me.

Something rather wonderful happens to us along this stretch of the river. The bikes and boarders still hustle past but, in a quiet moment, a young woman tells us ‘Look over there! There’s something for you on that fence’. Bemused, the youngster looks, and finds a small see-through bag, looped around a fence post. Inside it, a blue crochet worm with a winsome expression. A small piece of paper tells us that this is Winifred, the Worry Worm, donated by Random Acts of Crochet Kindness. We look back and the lady waves, and continues on her way. Wreathed in smiles, so do we.

I hope you enjoyed wandering the canal banks with me. I’m back home in the Algarve now, but these next several weeks will be full of memories from my summer visit to Leeds. I enjoyed every second because it’s 2 years since I was last there. I am reinstating Jo’s Monday walk on my new blog, but there’s no compunction to join in. I simply enjoy showing you my world.

Have a good week, and see you next time!

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Starting Over

Why ditch a perfectly good blog to start all over again? I’m not sure that I have the answer.

When I first started blogging, it was an adventure. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it. That I could attract an audience, entertain them, and handle the technical aspects of creating a blog.

I loved sharing my world and making connections with others. Not quite a diary, it almost felt like a practise run for that book I might one day write. A blog is a fantastic platform for a foray into the world, and it’s wonderful to watch your readership grow. But, for me, it came at a price, and after a while I began to feel constrained. Manipulated, almost. So why start again?

I still find myself checking the Reader most days. I love that feeling of being taken out of myself and delving head first into someone else’s world. Sharing someone else’s discoveries. Being taken on a flight of fancy. It’s akin to reading a good book, yet wholely different. I never know what I’m going to find, but so often it illuminates and enhances my day. I’ve always loved to tell a story, in words and in photos. It’s powerful, the feeling of carrying people along with me, in pursuit of a good yarn. Pure fantasy I’ve never been able to write, but I’ve been known to embroider the truth a little, now and then.

Small steps, beginning with Jo’s Monday walk. Join me next week? And who knows where we’ll go from there?