Jo’s Monday walk : Boa viagem!

Everywhere has memories, doesn’t it? I still remember the very first time I laid eyes on Cacela Velha, and the wonder I felt. So when I was thinking of a good walk to say goodbye to some lovely friends, this one came immediately to mind. Walks are memorable for different reasons, and I have to confess that for most of this one my camera stayed idle. I was too busy chatting!

Hilary and Mel have been part of the fabric of our life in Tavira for the longest time. Back in the Striders days, Mel’s long legs would carry him effortlessly up hills, while Hilary strode determinedly alongside. They scorned the Strollers level walks! Call that exercise? But still, friendships flourished between the two groups, and we all were agreed that some distant day we might become Strollers too. In their search for the Algarve idyll, Hilary and Mel moved out of Tavira to the village of Santo Estêvão. Hilary always had vision and enjoyed a project, while Mel was the practical guy with the willing hands to make it happen. ‘He likes to be kept busy’, Hilary would often declare, though Mel wasn’t always so sure. Between them they turned a rather ramshackle cottage into a dream home, weathering all the ups and downs that came along. They are kind hearted people, always quick to lend a hand if one is needed, and famously generous with their hospitality. An invitation to Hilary’s guarantees good company and wonderful food. The lady can cook!

What happened next came as a bit of a surprise. Despite loving peace and quiet in her life- aside from Mel’s hammering in his man cave- Hilary loves the bright lights of Lisbon and Porto, and they are regular concert goers. Couple that with an inability to tolerate the heat of Algarve summers, and it wasn’t long after their home was complete that Hilary started to look elsewhere. The west coast appealed and, after several exploratory journeys north, they settled on the area around Óbidos. With cooling summer breezes, and within striking distance of both Lisbon and Porto, it sits above a beautiful lagoon which, for me, is reminiscent of Cacela Velha. It just remained to find the right property, at an affordable price. Partly we were elated for them when this finally happened. Partly we were sad. But friendships are not so easily broken. We are assured that 3 hours of driving will take us to their new doorstep. And when it’s too chilly up there, they’ll be visiting us!

And so, to the walk! Our start point was the village of Conceição, just off the E125, in the Eastern Algarve. Threading between a few villas, we took a back lane out of the village and headed east. The lane runs parallel with the busy E125 but, for most of its length, feels like a different world. A pretty farmhouse advertises honey for sale and the surrounding fields overflow with orange trees. Purple columbine twines through the hedges and, in January, the almond blossom is already starting to bloom.

Over a level crossing, we continued on gravelled path, with ample shade from the trees. After a while a golf course is visible between them, and before long we are sandwiched between two, both with big ‘keep out’ fences. Not being welcomed in didn’t make them a less pleasant backdrop, but soon we turned right, towards the tiny village of Fábrica. Past a couple of substantial villas, a rough track leads towards the sea, sparkling on the horizon. A steep bank winds down between the houses, into the western end of the village, and the lagoon opens out before you. Conversation forgotten, out comes the camera.

A kiosk sits behind the low stone wall, and often we have nursed a coffee, or a small plastic glass of wine as we gaze across the water. At most times of year a ferry putters across the lagoon to the beach. In high season 2 or 3 compete for custom. Between times the ferrymen mull over the latest news with the kiosk owner. We were disappointed to find him closed on this quiet day, but the empty benches beckoned and a short rest was warranted. The day was warm and still, and natural beauty filled our vision.

Breaking the spell, we left the village, walking along the shoreline. The tide was on the turn, but it’s only a short distance along the water’s edge to the steps that lead up to Cacela Velha. A huge flock of gulls were wheeling around over the boats, moored in the shallow water. We stopped and stared, never having seen so many take to the skies at once.

But then, there was no avoiding those steps. Up and up they go. More often we would do this part of the walk in reverse, so that we descend, but that still leaves a hill to climb. The lanterna is a soft and pretty mix of pink and yellow, climbing beside us. Later in the year, the crimson oleander will outshine it. And it’s always worth the climb.

The Ria Formosa is spread out before you, as far as the eye can see. In the near distance Fábrica juts gently into the water.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve looked down on this scene, but I’m never disappointed. A quick look at the church and the well, still decorated in its Christmas finery, and then we turned right, out of the village, and headed back in the direction of Conceição. I had an urgent appointment with a chunk of cake.

Overall the walk is about 12km. We had a table booked with Rosalia, in Conceição, for our celebration. She always does us proud and I wasn’t slow to put my hand up for the Chantilly cake. It just remains to wish Mel and Hilary all the luck in the world in their new home. I admire them for making the move. Boa viagem- safe travels! – until we meet again.

To Mel and Hilary!
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Drake has a fondness for Aarhus, from his student days :

Crossing the old trail

I enjoyed Emma’s thoughtful comments on rewilding, as well as her walk :

Knepp Castle loop from Shipley Windmill : 11.3miles or 18km

Love the light in this one from Denzil :

The Royal Walk in the Geographical Arboretum

Teresa loves to share family and friends, always with a smile :

Roadtrip

Nothing wrong with doing simple things

While Rupali makes snow look very beautiful indeed :

Weekend 128: A winter walk (Pre-covid)

And Terri walks us through all the seasons of the year :

Sunday Stills: 2021 In the Rear-View Mirror, Nothing like the Present, the Future is Ours

Like Janet, I absolutely adore Chihuly. Easy to see why!

Monday walk….in a forest of beauty

Sarah shares more of the culture of Kerala, and some wonderful insights :

A walk In Fort Kochi, Kerala

But I can’t resist a canal walk with Ali. Even in the rain!

London Canal Walks – Limehouse Cut

A very different concept, from Lindy :

Walking with Eagles

And finally, don’t miss the glorious colours in this hike with Strafari :

A day trip from Strasbourg: hiking in Le Hohwald

Yesterday we managed another walk with Faro a Andar. Good to support a community based enterprise. I’ll be sharing it with you in 2 weeks time. Take good care, and enjoy life, till then.

Having a giggle

I was walking by the Guadiana with friends a few weeks ago and chanced upon this work in progress. I loved it, but there was no time to ask questions. By the end of our walk, the artists had gone to lunch and I was left staring at the notations and squiggles, which obviously meant a great deal to somebody. So that’s how it’s done? I really must go back to see the finished work.

Walking today, but not in that direction. Have a great weekend, everyone! See you on Monday.

Days at the beach

Goodbye, old year! Hello, new! No two days the same, but always the same opportunity, to live life to the full. To cast aside judgements and embrace life. This is very much a blue sky blog, but there are darker days too. All are beautiful.

Yesterday I went to my least favourite place here in the Algarve, Monte Gordo. The sky was brightest blue but a sharp wind niggled the bones and I wished for a warmer jacket. Still, I was in a forgiving mood. Hard not to be with this glorious beach, stretching off towards the Spanish border. Seagulls wheeled in the air, shrieking at each other and fighting over the latest catch. A number of small rays seemed to have been washed up on the tide, a feast for the bounty hunters.

Just a few days earlier, and a few kilometres further west, I joined the new boardwalk at Altura to admire the drama of the skies and the deserted beach. Sombre though it looks, there was no rain, and the clouds retained the warmth of previous days.

Always there are ripples of shells to explore, harbouring each other in a companionable way.

We all of us prefer blue sky days and the warmth of the sun on your back. Life’s not meant to be perfect, is it? Tomorrow the sun will shimmer on that water again. Maybe, even today?

For those of you expecting a Monday walk, I’m trying to keep them fortnightly, so I’ll be here next week. Take care till then!

Nativity in miniature – Epiphany

It’s long been put to bed in many households, but Christmas is finally over here in Portugal on 6th January, the Day of Kings, or ‘Dia de Reis’. I reluctantly take down my tree and dismantle the crib in the fireplace for another year, and remind myself of the connection to the kings. Epiphany is the 12th day of Christmas, and the day when we celebrate the arrival of the three kings in Bethlehem, bearing gifts for the infant Jesus. Traditionally in Portugal it’s a day for families to eat together after work, and perhaps share small gifts. It’s almost certain that ‘Bolo Rei’ will make an appearance. This cake is in the shape of a crown, decorated with candied peel ‘jewels’ and containing a bean. If you’re the lucky person with the bean in your portion, it’s your turn to buy the cake next year.

Nice traditions, aren’t they? And so I’m taking you back to a very traditional village, here in the Algarve. You might remember the decorations in the streets of joyful Santa Rita? We returned a day or two later to visit their display of Nativity scenes.

Inside the simple community centre we were greeted warmly, then left to look around. Russian dolls, amazingly intricate arrangements of abalone and finely worked and sculpted shells, lovingly constructed tableaux and displays carved from wood, all sat side by side on table tops and boxes. Some of the figures were tiny, some taller. Some serious, some smiling. Some were woven from rafia, wrapped around with linen cloaks. Some inhabited a book, or a log of wood. Astoundingly, some were even made of paper, folded and coiled, round and round. There seemed no end to the ingenuity in telling the Christmas story.

The notice explained the ancient tradition of building a small altar in the home for baby Jesus, decorated with oranges and other fruits, and offerings of bread for the prosperity of the family. Outside again, we paused to admire the village one last time.

If it wasn’t such a long walk to the sea, I could live there! Happy Epiphany, everybody!

Some reminders of Christmas past :

Castro Marim

Vila Real de S. Antonio – K is for Kings

Six Word Saturday

Jo’s Monday walk : would you believe it?

Happy New Year all! I’m back in the Algarve after an action-packed few days in Leeds, culminating in sitting on the plane waiting for the de-icer to arrive and gazing out at overnight snow. It arrived to bid us farewell! Christmas Day with the family was completely wonderful, but it was still rather nice to come back to sunshine.

One sunny day, before our UK Christmas adventures, a few of us had gone up into the hills near the Odeleite dam. Our plan was to walk the circular PR4 trail, which starts from the village of Odeleite. Just days before that, we had been to the village for a Christmas fair that never actually happened. Preparations had been abandoned midway when restrictions on gatherings were imposed. Imagine our surprise to find that the Nativity scene was now complete, and apparently waiting for us. Presepios appear throughout Portugal in the run up to Christmas, and usually remain until 6th January, the traditional Day of Kings. This one, I think, is a bit special.

The cats seemed fond of it too! There was a whole tribe of creamy coloured ones, regarding me with deep suspicion. So I took the hint and moved along. A steep hill leads down through the village, bypassing the church, until you arrive at the river.

A bridge carries you across, and a rough path leads to the start of the trail. Two trails in fact, as you have the choice of joining the GR15, a long distance route between Alcoutim to the north and Vila Real de S. Antonio in the south, and the much shorter, and circular, PR4. The GR15 runs for a total of 65km, so you should choose wisely.

The path climbs steadily away from the village till you reach a point where you can look back across the valley. We were pleasantly surprised to find water in one of the dips as there had been little rain and the reservoir was low. The trail is easy to follow, though a bit steep in places, and marked by red and yellow stripes on convenient boulders or signposts. Cistus, the rock rose, were already starting to bloom on the hillsides. Few people live in these hills, but the odd characterful residence catches your eye.

Most of the farms have guard dogs but, thankfully, most are chained or behind gates. There’s always a moment of uncertainty when a strange dog comes toward you, barking loudly but wagging its tail. We were untroubled on this particular day, and soon had lovely vistas through a sea of umbrella pines. The sky was full of interesting squiggles, and we were at peace with the world.

When the trail eventually flattened out again we were in a wide plain with a bewildering number of sheep. Light and dark, old and young, mingled unconcernedly together. The little ones were mildly curious, their seniors totally focused on food.

It wasn’t long before we rejoined the river, and followed it along to the weir and a former mill. An ideal picnic spot, we felt.

There are few things I like more than following a river, especially one with sinuous twists and curves. Standing stock still and staring hard into the shadows. Might a kingfisher dart past? Is that a heron amongst the tall reeds? Certainly there are fish, blowing bubbles.

But like all lovely walks, eventually it comes to an end, and we haul ourselves back up the hill, into the village. We have the choice of three restaurants, unusual in such a small place, and all at the top of the hill. We opt for the one we haven’t tried before, O Campones. (Peasants) The indoor space is crowded but a large sun terrace looks out to the reservoir. A couple of tables of workmen scarcely look up from demolishing their platefuls. We ogle the menu greedily. We’ve made a great choice.

The tragedy? The restaurant was closing for the holidays the following day and had sold the last of their desserts. Those dreamy chocolate profiteroles! Something tells me we’ll be back. It’s well worth a 10.4km walk!

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A choice of trails with Maggie and Richard in this wonderful, watery landscape :

Cape Breton & The Cabot Trail

And for those of you who love a snowy adventure, why not join Drake?

Walking and still standing

Sarah does a stunning job of walking us through these palace gardens :

A walk in the gardens of Seville’s Real Alcazar

I’m not the only one who made it to a light show this winter. Follow Jude to the Eden Project for a beautiful spectacle :

Eden Lights

And who should I find in my Reader this morning? Cady’s back, with a bit of sunshine!

Vigeland, the Sculptor’s Park

Hope you all had a great Christmas, and didn’t over indulge at New Year. Alas, I’m a bad example! See you soon!

Temple Newsam : I love it when a plan comes together

It so very nearly didn’t! I wanted so much to weave some magic on Christmas Eve. I love a light show, and when I saw this one advertised, on the outskirts of Leeds… well, it was worth a try! We had been to Temple Newsam a time or two. Broad, open spaces… good trees for climbing… a lake, and a petting farm. A good place for kids!

We had to run the gamut of testing, and be pronounced fit to enter the UK. Not a problem! Staying fit enough to return to Portugal, from Leeds City Centre, was more of an issue. But there was no doubt in my mind that it was worth the risk, to see our son and family this Christmas. If the effectiveness of the vaccine was to be tested, so be it! And so we arrived on 23rd December, took the PCR test, and checked into our hotel. We already had a negative lateral flow test, taken in the Algarve on 22nd. Come the evening, a phone call from our son. “Someone in the youngster’s school class has tested positive. Quarantine until the result of his PCR comes through, hopefully within 72 hours, but it’s Christmas so who knows? He’s coughing a bit, but he’s mildly asthmatic so that’s normal at this time of year. He’s tested negative on 2 lateral flows and we’ll test him again in the morning.”

Waiting with baited breath, we also had our own issues. It seemed that yet another test was needed, to enable our return to Portugal. Though valid for the 72 hours of our stay, the PCR was purely for the UK government’s statistics, and didn’t provide a certificate as evidence of the negative test, required by the Portuguese government. More money in the coffers to be misspent, it seems. But the youngster’s health was of far greater concern to us. We took a further test Christmas Eve morning, also negative, but were still waiting to hear how he was. The verdict? “A third negative test, no temperature or coughing, but no PCR result yet.” Should we risk the light show? Of one thing I was sure. I was going to see the family, whether or no I courted Covid. Call me irresponsible, if you like! And so we bundled up warm, and set out into the drizzly night, with one super-excited youngster.

I said drizzly night, but in fact it didn’t feel very wet. Perhaps it was that Christmas magic I was looking for, because if you looked up at the lights you could see the fine droplets of water dancing in the air, but our clothes didn’t appear to be getting very wet. The shimmer of the damp snowflake on the path ahead made us all smile.

Of course, we were a little anxious. The car park had been almost full and we worried about the volume of people, but we were outdoors and masked and took care to maintain space. The youngster’s obvious enjoyment, and our own, soon made any misgivings fade. We passed swiftly through the arch of lights at the entrance. I hung behind to take just one shot.

Maybe we were a little reckless, but it was so nice to be a part of Christmas celebrations. The atmosphere was warm, despite the rain!

The field of balls glowed from red into violet and shades of blue, then faded to soft pastels as we watched.

Beyond the field, shadows made ghostly patterns on the trees. Turning a corner the air was pierced by laser beams, sparkling green through a fine mist. On the path, a Celtic knot glowed. At just this moment an email arrived. His PCR test was negative.

I won’t pretend that we weren’t greatly relieved. With light hearts we carried on, around the lake with its beautifully illuminated boats. Happiness was complete when we came upon a stall selling marshmallows, for toasting over a charcoal fire.

I hope you managed to find a little Christmas magic, and that the year to come will be kind to all of us.

Wishing you all good health and happiness as we sail forward into a new year.

Jo’s Monday walk : Tavira at Christmas

Last week’s post in Santa Rita was a hard act to follow. For me it embodied all the joy of an Algarve Christmas, but it doesn’t seem right to say goodbye to an old, dog-eared year without first taking you for a stroll around Tavira, in all her sparkly finery.

From our house, it’s a short walk into town, passing the Fonte Salgada roundabout. Most years this is lit quite simply with a ‘Boas Festas’ sign- ‘good parties!’ The crib scene was a nice surprise. Over the level crossing I vary my route, seeking out lighted windows, balconies draped with fairy lights and Christmas window displays. I think the wedding gown might need a warm bolero!

Across the river all eyes are drawn to the tree, standing proud in Praca da Liberdade. As we watch, a ripple of colour spreads upwards and the tree changes from electric blue, through turquoise, green and red. Behind the arches of the council buildings, solemn, slightly spooky kings carry their presents to the holy infant. I play hide and seek with the kings, watching the light sparkle on the fountains.

We wait for our turn and then take a twirl inside the tree, looking up as the colours flow all around us. Christmas magic!

Eventually we tear ourselves away and walk through the riverside gardens to the twinkling bandstand. I wonder if the terrapins who live there mind the unaccustomed night light. A very low key Christmas market is being set up and, for the first time ever, a small ice skating rink. Santa sits in a riverside cabin, bemused at being ignored by the tots, who laboriously push a penguin and a polar bear across the ice. I can’t help but think that padded suits might be more use. It’s a good thing that little ones bounce!

Inside the old market, a more traditional scene, with camels and traders, occupies one corner. Back on the quayside, we walk towards the shiny bow outside the new market. The lights of home beckon, from across the water.

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Can you see the conflict? Homespun or manufactured? Heartfelt or adopted? Traditional or modern? None of it really matters. The important thing is to give and receive love, and to make this a time of peace in our turbulent, worrisome world.

‘Imagine all the people living life in peace, You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…’ I’m singing along with Lennon again.

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Sharing the Christmas theme, here’s what Melbourne has to offer. Thanks, Teresa!

I Chose to Visit the City last Weekend

And from the warmth of her beloved Philippines :

Laguna

A bit strenuous for me these days, but what a terrific reward! Christie could certainly lead me here :

White River suspension bridge Trail – Pukaskwa National Park

And by way of complete contrast, stroll with Rupali :

Gaudi’s Work: Nature, Religion and Geometry

The word Fashion always has me thinking of Bowie. Sing along, Drake!

Fashion and fascinating

Sarah takes us to Plovdiv, to see some wonderful street art :

Gallery: a walk in colourful Kapana

And just to round it all off, Jude is sharing another garden with me. One day, in real life, hon?

Garden Portrait: Barrington Court Garden

And so I see out a year in which I’ve changed blogs, but not really left the old Restlessjo behind. I’m doing a quick sprint to the UK for Christmas, and won’t be posting a Monday walk next week. Wish me luck! Much love to you all. I’m so happy to share our world.

Santa Rita – the most joyful village!

You might remember my failed mission to Odeleite, and the Christmas fair that wasn’t? Life sometimes has a way of compensating, doesn’t it? On Monday I took you walking in Parque de Lazer. The road there passes through the small village of Santa Rita, a little off the beaten track. As we passed by we were thrilled to see the villagers setting up stalls for a Christmas market. There wasn’t time to stop just then, but I was keen to see the festivities so we popped back later. Too late for the fair itself, but what a treat awaited us.

It was late afternoon and we had the place almost to ourselves. A couple of older ladies were chatting on the doorstep, and they smiled and waved when they saw us admiring the decorations. It felt like Christmas should. Simple, homemade ornaments, arranged with love. A modern tree sparkled beside an imaginative crib scene and, down the street, lights twinkled in the windows.

The light was fading as we wandered the back streets of the village, entranced by some of the pieces, amused by others. Much thought and care had gone into the creation of this small celebration of Christmas, and I was sure that the village children must have had fun helping with the decorating. The grown ups, too!

I especially liked the paintings, and wondered which talented artist had been responsible. The sense of whimsy made me smile. Cute faces etched on stone, and painted on wood. The shawled, anxious family against the chipped tiled wall. Ornate cherubs, divorced from reality. Tinselled ladders propped, willy nilly, against walls. I loved it all!

And so this is Christmas, I hope you have fun, The near and the dear one, The old and the young…. in the words of John Lennon.

Merry Christmas, one and all! Join me in Tavira next week, if you can find time. The lights are beautiful.

Jo’s Monday walk : A tale of regeneration

We’ve done a lot of walking lately, and it’s almost become a tradition to say farewell to friends returning to the UK with a walk, and a relaxed, happy meal together. Nothing too taxing this time, for one had recently pulled a hamstring moving furniture! There are miles of boardwalk along the Algarve and, as we all love to be beside the sea, this was the obvious choice. I had already booked the restaurant and arranged our meeting place when the other half came up with a different suggestion. The Parque de Lazer is close by, he said. You could collect those pine cones you’ve been wanting for ages!

Did anyone mind the last minute change of itinerary? There were no dissenters but I had my suspicions. So, armed with a bag for the cones, off we went! As you can see, another idyllic, blue sky, Algarve day.

It proved more interesting than we might have expected. How could I have forgotten already those fires that swept across the Algarve in the summer? We were back in the UK, but worried for friends who lived very close to the conflagration. A change in the direction of the wind and they would have been in grave danger. These woods have a high percentage of eucalyptus trees, which burst into flames and blaze with wild abandon. A very scary sight, and not one you would wish to be too close to.

Great emphasis is laid here on clearing the ground around your house, if you are a country dweller. It pays very great dividends in creating a fire break. As we strolled through the woods we marvelled at the devastation around us, and yet, there was no doubt that nature was fighting back. With a little help, perhaps. A logger was busy disposing of yet another fallen eucalypt.

The more observant of you may have noticed something? A distinct lack of pines! I had been deluded in thinking I was coming here to collect pine cones. It had been that kind of week! But still, the sun was warm and there were many beautiful patterns on the surviving eucalyptus trees, twisted, mangled and blackened though they were.

Impossible to be out of sorts on such a day. Bands of cloud drifted overhead, tangling in the trees. We chatted about the months to come, and when and where we might meet again. Some are moving house. Some have already moved. There are several choices of trail through the park, which is just off the E125, beyond the village of Santa Rita. We followed one that was just a little more than 7 km.

And in no time we were back at the car park, appetite at the ready for lunch. This time I struggled womanfully with the two slices of almond cake that arrived for my dessert. I really could have used a little help, or opted for something a bit lighter. As it was, we had the best of both worlds for we decided a little after dinner stroll on the boardwalk would be a good idea. Lots of smiling, happy faces.

And to add to my happiness, one of our group has since brought me a bag of pine cones. He won’t need them in his new home.

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Pretty lights are good for the soul. If I were in Belgium I wouldn’t miss this show. Thanks for sharing Denzil!

Enjoy a winter walk in Bokrijk

And what a pleasure it would be to join Drake in the Vosges :

Illuminated darkness

Or celebrate with Indra’s grand daughter :

Celebrations

Rupali cooks with love, and some other wonderful ingredients :

Random 51: Celebrating Culture – A Culinary Walk

Teresa does a little reminiscing this week :

Back in Cebu

Memories don’t come more magnificent than these from Sarah. Or wet!

Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders

Vines can look really beautiful in the autumn :

A day trip from Strasbourg: Mittelbergheim

The countdown to Christmas is on, isn’t it? I hope to be walking next week. Take good care of yourselves till then.

Where is everybody?

I do like a laugh, don’t you? Even when it’s at my own expense. Last Sunday, with huge enthusiasm, I persuaded a small group of friends to join me at the Christmas market in Odeleite, a beautiful village in the Algarve hills. I had seen it advertised in the monthly programme of events and was keen to go. Two years previously I’d enjoyed a morning up there, amid market stalls, crafts, carollers and cake! Metal sculptures lined the steep road down into the valley, and music and laughter drifted up, along with some tempting aromas.

This year was to be a little different. We arrived in two cars, and surveyed the empty car park with disbelief. No jubilant sounds reached our ears. Instead, curious gazes followed us as we started our descent into the village. ‘Bom dia’, we politely greeted them. As we turned the corner, just for a moment, I anticipated a flurry of activity. But no! A sad sight met our eyes. Preparations had obviously been underway for the planned fair, but had been abandoned.

The bullock rusted quietly in the empty stable. Last time he had been accompanied by a live donkey and a small pony as well as the traditional crib scene. Sheep had bleated from the hillside. I felt as perplexed as the new reindeer. Fortunately my companions found it highly amusing that I had brought them to a non-existent fair. I had even remembered my purse- a most uncommon event! But, oh, they did bemoan the lack of pork bifanas and cake. We wandered the village, looking for signs of life and formulating a plan.

It’s an attractive village and we whiled away half an hour, admiring the artworks, before venturing further. I was, of course, shod for a shopping expedition rather than a hike on rough paths, but I gave it a go. Until destiny, in the form of 2 hunters with guns, persuaded us that a better option might be to return to the village cafe. Sundays and Thursdays are fair game for hunters and we had no desire to be quarry. There’s usually a bright side, if you look for it, and we shared a couple of sweet mince pastries along with our coffee.

He’s just rootling! You know how pigs are. We adjourned to the restaurant, where there’s a great view down over the village.

And the moral of the story? Make sure the event hasn’t been cancelled before you set off. Portugal has recently declared a State of Calamity, which sounds so much worse than it is, but it does mean that some events won’t take place. Happily, just a few days later, we passed through a village where Christmas celebrations were in full swing. More of that later.

You want to know about the dessert? A sticky almond and coconut confection. I couldn’t even finish it! No pastry next time!