Jo’s Monday walk : Santa Barbara de Nexe

The second of our walks with Faro a Andar was not quite so strenuous, but we knew that it involved windmills, and where are they always sited? At the top of a hill, of course! But the sky was blue and smiles broad as we congregated by the village church, in Santa Barbara de Nexe. The size of the group was much reduced and there were no children this time. Was that a bad sign? We hoped not.

Looking around us with interest, for this was not a village we knew much of, we headed away from the church and almost immediately turned right and began to head uphill. A path led out of the village, beside a stone wall. Beyond this we could see Monte Figo rising, whilst in the nearest field a couple were harvesting olives.

There followed an interlude without much chatting. Better to save breath for the climb ahead. Can you see the windmill on the hilltop?

To be fair, the views were beautiful, gentle clouds gliding across the sky and the windmills growing progressively closer. The coast was a distant glitter, and below us even Santa Barbara was beginning to look small. I paused to admire some scarlet flowers and try to peer at the villa hiding behind them, before continuing upwards.

Eventually we reached the windmill of the stars. I imagine it would be beautiful up here on a night. Now, if I was a shepherd or goatherd… Can you see that grey windmill in the distance of the last photo? We expected that we would carry on to that point, but the walk leaders opted to turn back, after a short talk about our surrounds. Perhaps the track was too rough. We might try it ourselves sometime. But we were happy enough to follow an easy route back down the hill, a procession of trees accompanying us. Gurning, mangled olives, full of character and holes. Almond trees, wispily waiting to bloom. A cottage, complete with alfarroba.

And then we were back at the church, passing a house I had serious designs upon. What do you think? Behind a lovely flowering hedge it had a veranda facing out to the far distant sea. Mistakenly I thought it was single storey and very manageable, but approached from the side it was on two levels and the garden was huge. Absolutely not in my price league, and ever practical Michael declared that you’d have to be very fond of church bells.

We had spotted a couple of cafes and thought that we might have a drink together before going our separate ways. Sadly, one was full to the brim and the others closed. No cake today! Instead a look around this quiet but well-heeled village, making notes for a return.

Ending by the cemetery. Wikipedia tells me that the impressive church was constructed over a 12th century chapel, but that human settlement in the area goes back over 30,000 years. I wasn’t able to see inside the church, but found a video celebrating the local Saint’s Day on 4th December, 2019. Unfortunately this year’s concert was cancelled again due to Covid.

In January, Charolas are performed locally to celebrate the new year, by groups of singers accompanied by simple instruments- accordion, castanets, tambourines and triangles. I have to wonder if these will be allowed next year. No New Year fireworks will take place in Faro, or on the bridge at Tavira.

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Saying a very beautiful goodbye to Autumn with Drake :

Just around the corner

While Teresa takes us on a whistlestop museum tour :

Edinburgh to Glasgow and back

A little bit of magic with Alethea, remembering lovely Sue :

A Magical Walk with a dragon, a coyote and a blackbird

A more down to earth kind of magic in the streets of Triana, with Sarah :

A walk in Seville’s picturesque Triana district

Not so far away, Rupali continues a love affair with Barcelona :

The astounding interior of Gaudi’s building

Marsha always finds so much joy in life. It’s quite simply infectious :

FOTD, Fan Of, Monday Walks, Changing Seasons: Remembering Fall

You could do worse than these show-stopping views from Janet!

Monday walk…Mt. Lemmon

The next Faro a Andar walk is scheduled for 19th December, but currently I have no idea whether it will take place. I hope you enjoyed this one. Have fun with your Christmas preparations, and take good care.

Jo’s Monday walk : Levadas da Ilha do Rosario

Hark back to my birthday weekend in Silves. Remember it? I found a levada, and lost the amethyst from my engagement ring. Not much of a swap, really. I’m still waiting for the stone to be replaced, but hopefully it soon will be. On that bright morning I had no idea that disaster might befall. Many years previously we had followed a route just outside Silves, which we thought to be this levada walk. With no clear signage and not a whole lot of levada, we were never quite sure if we’d got it right. Here was our chance to try again, but with the benefit of Wikilocs and Google maps.

We drove out of Silves on the N124 and parked by the Mira Rio restaurant, just 5km out of town. A lightbulb moment- we’ve been here before! We decided to do the walk in the reverse direction of our previous attempt, and this would at least guarantee us a stretch of the Rio Arade to walk beside. Triumph! Not only did we find the levada and the magnificent tidal river, but we managed to follow it for quite some distance.

With the sun glittering on the water it’s hard not to relax and savour the unspoilt countryside that surrounds you. Gentle hills rise from the river banks, but the walk is level, following the sinuous curves of the levada. After a hot summer there was little water to be seen, but the deep channels testify to the years of patient irrigation that keep this valley green.

It came as a bit of a surprise to cross a narrow road where, hidden among the trees, stood a rather grand building with a turret. Hardly a humble levada keeper’s abode. Back on the path, the valley spreads out before you, tall grasses tantalising in the whispered breeze.

Tucked into yet another curve of the river, a tiny marina dozes, with Silves sitting serenely on the horizon. At this point the levada parts company with the river and heads inland. We marvel at a muster of storks, circling above the river, before we too turn inland. We pass a few homesteads, alerting a dog or two. At one the owner comes out and gives us a nod, but mostly we are disregarded. Of no relevance in this wide landscape.

We follow a gravel path and then, to our alarm, a gate appears before us, firmly closed. We look at each other, dismayed. Where did we go wrong? Without a great deal of conviction I turn the knob. A satisfying click and the latch opens. It’s never fun to have to retrace your steps. We step through and close the gate behind us, and continue up the lane unhindered.

Soon we have the choice to continue on to the N124 and follow it back to the car, or mount a hill for views over the valley and back down the other side. It’s a no brainer, isn’t it? Sure enough we are rewarded with the high rise of Portimao in the far distance, while below us the river flows. At a cluster of houses a lady smiles softly at us, and we gesture and exclaim at how beautiful it all is. And descend slowly to rejoin the levada at our start point. Where, surely it’s time for cake?

The total walk is a little over 7 kilometers. I found this very tranquil video of the walk, with rather more water in the levadas, orange after recent rains, matching the ochre soil here. Thanks for keeping me company.

A good friend plans to take this walk next Spring, so I’m leaving her a link to Wikilocs here. Exactly which walk we did long ago remains a mystery, but we started and ended at the same point, this time with a great feeling of satisfaction.

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Aggie made me want to share her post, written from the heart :

A walk to remember

And I simply had to share these glorious views from Italy!

Liguria: A Fabulous Hike to Monte Grande Mountain Top

Denzil demonstrates what a beautiful place Belgium is for walking :

Gendron-Furfooz-Celles 18km Hike

And Drake wanders in Pere-Lachaise cemetery :

At the end

While Margaret takes me back ‘home’ :

A morning walk with the rangers at Studley Royal

And Teresa treats me to a fabulous tour of the Scottish Highlands :

The Scottish Highlands

Sarah is delighted to be traveling again. Seville was a good place to start :

The bliss of returning to the air

And Rupali takes up the theme in Oslo’s pretty Christmas streets, and beyond :

Blissful Travel – Getting back to Normal – Part1

Blissful Travel – Part 2 – Barcelona

Always a delight to wander with Jude. These gardens are simply fabulous!

Garden Portrait: The Bishop’s Palace Gardens, Wells

I seem to be back in the Jo’s Monday walk groove, but there are no guarantees. Join me whenever you like. Take care till then!

Jo’s Monday walk : Bemposta

The weeks are flying by, and walking season is well and truly here. If you followed Restlessjo you might remember a local ‘walking for health’ initiative, Todos a Caminhar– Let’s all walk! I enjoyed the sense of camaraderie with these Sunday morning walks, but understandably they have been a victim of Covid. Now, what could be healthier than striding off into the fresh morning air of the hills? The council at Faro obviously feel the same way, for they have begun to host a monthly walk, Faro a Andar. Just a toe in the water at first? Always curious about new walking territory, 4 of us brave warriors went along one Sunday a few weeks ago.

Not entirely new territory, as the starting point for this walk was in the village of Estoi, not very far away. The direction, we knew to be up into the hills. With a huge sense of anticipation, we gathered in the town square- a mixed group, many Portuguese, some French, a few Italians, and us. Maintaining respectful distances, of course. The presence of a number of children in the group reassured us that the walk would not be too difficult. Quite wrong, for they were like young mountain goats!

Our walk leaders, on the steps of Estoi Mother Church

After a brief introduction and a warm up, off we went, threading out of the village in an orderly fashion. I admired one or two handsome homes, but then we were onto the trail proper and beginning a steady ascent. Those young goats easily overtook us. Still, there was no pressure to go at pace, and the walk leaders kept a watchful eye when someone appeared to be flagging. Stopping to drink water and admire the view is always a good ploy.

The trees were speckled with gold and amber coloured medronho berries, used to make the local firewater, and a little cautious sampling went on along the way. I preferred to capture the beautiful acorns. Up and up we went, puffing and panting a little, but eventually we reached the summit and gathered around to listen to a brief history of the area and the landscape. More water was imbibed, with a few photo opportunities at the shrine, before our cheerful descent began.

We were quite relieved that they way down mostly followed an easy curve of quiet road, as the effort of descending on rough paths is often harder than the climb up. Plenty of time to admire the pomegranates and bougainvillea in the bright morning sunshine.

Back in the village of Estoi, I paused to take a few shots before joining the ‘cool down’ and collecting my free orange. The walk leaders were friendly and encouraging and we gladly accepted a copy of the programme for the coming months.

Do you ever have that feeling of running to keep up? Yesterday we took part in our second walk, from the village of Santa Barbara de Nexe. Another beauty! And I decided I needed to post this walk before I fall far behind. The Faro a Andar walks take place on the third Sunday of the month and everyone is made very welcome.

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Such a fabulous selection of Autumn colour from Terri!

Sunday Stills:#Leaves have Fallen from the #Trees

And Sarah’s take on the challenge :

Ruislip Woods: ancient woodland in suburbia

Pit is definitely up for a challenge. This isn’t at all how I picture Texas!

Lost Maples State Natural Area October 2021: My hike on the East Trail

Jo and Jonno are pretty intrepid walkers. This is a nice selection :

Towpath Trails

Eunice doesn’t have to go very far to find an interesting walk. Love the stone stairways!

An autumn walk round Rivington Gardens

While Drake remains triumphant in Paris :

Walk in triumph

And Jude shows us more garden splendour :

Garden Portrait: The Chalice Well and Gardens

An almighty thunderstorm at the weekend was followed by clear blue skies. With cooler temperatures, walking season is truly upon us. Hope I can keep up! Take care till the next time.

Jo’s Monday walk : Praia de Faro

Now that summer’s over, it’s the perfect time to incorporate a beach into a walk, and I know just the one. Praia de Faro sits right alongside the airport, and as you land and taxi down the runway you will already have glimpsed this stretch of golden sand. Not much of a recommendation, I expect you’re thinking. But Praia de Faro has a laidback charm all its own. You reach it via a narrow causeway, on which traffic lights operate. Beware you don’t get stuck there! I recall an infamous afternoon on which we were collecting our daughter from the airport. We seemed to have lots of time in hand and I suggested a stroll on the beach first. Alas, I wasn’t the only one to have this thought. On Sunday teatime you are almost guaranteed to queue, and there is no easy escape route. By the time we made it onto the island we had to about face and join the queue to come back. My highly exasperated husband was unamused, and I was merely thankful we made it to the airport in time…just!

But don’t let this put you off. The walk I’m suggesting doesn’t require you to drive across the causeway. There is a car park before you approach the causeway, and opposite this a walking and cycle path which takes you through the salt marshes.

Proximity to the airport does, of course, mean that you can count aircraft along the way. The particular Monday on which I did this walk was in the half term holiday, soon after flight restrictions to the UK had eased. The resulting air traffic was considerable.

But it didn’t seem to perturb the waders in the least. Their focus was solely directed at the food content of the saline waters. I couldn’t help but think that the smart new bird hide was wasted effort, but it obviously complimented the extensive new boardwalk.

I had to smile at the bird keeping lookout atop the post, and his companion chameleon, but the signboards gave useful pointers as to which birds you might expect to see. In the background, the footbridge which crosses the lagoon, to access the beach.

For the moment we’ll ignore it, but if you wanted a shorter walk then this is the route to take. The footpath continues on past the golf course, bypassing the exclusive Vale de Lobo resort with its private lake and imported beach.

There is no restriction, however, on the surrounding beauty and you can pause here for as long as you like to observe the pecking and poking of the waterfowl. The path continues on for some distance around the coast, but we chose to turn inland through the landscaped gardens and unaffordable villas to rejoin the footpath and return to the bridge. Time to investigate the beach.

You can, in fact, walk the length of the beach until you find a restaurant that appeals, or spread a towel and watch the Atlantic pound to shore. It’s more boisterous here than the sheltered eastern shoreline. The damp, compacted sand is easy enough to walk on but the beach slopes away and can become hard work. The boardwalk will lead you into the heart of the community. Simple shacks with wellies by the door, each with a barbecue and many with a scooter. It’s a long ‘island’ and errands are frequently conducted this way, a bag of buns balanced on the handlebars. As the sea sparkles beneath the blue sky you can see the idyll, but the reality is much harsher. Making a living from the sea is seldom easy. Meanwhile, aircraft lower their wheels for landing as small boats zip across the water.

My fondest memory of Praia de Faro is sitting at that beachfront restaurant, while my son smiled lazily back at me. It was his last day here and I was happy to be able to grant his wish to sit beside the sea, beer in hand, and ‘chill’. But we must return to the start of our walk, crossing over the causeway on foot and along the boardwalk to our car.

The airport bus, from Faro, can also bring you out to the beach, or you can spend a pleasant afternoon ‘birding’ by the shore.

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Also in seaside mode, Sarah shares a birthday jaunt to Lyme Regis :

Gallery : not just any day!

While freedom beckons Teresa, at long last! Don’t miss walking that ‘extra’ mile with her :

Last Sunday

Walking the Royal Mile

Drake has a long-standing love affair with Paris :

Autumn the Parisian way

Self-selling neighbourhood

Nothing beats a good garden, and there’s nobody better to show you around than Jude :

Garden Portrait: Hestercombe Landscape Garden Walk

You will be blown away by this one. I was! Thanks, darlin’ :

Garden Portrait: Hestercombe Edwardian Formal Garden

Take a look at the Thames Barrier with Margaret? And a ‘not quite’ sunrise :

Just one day along the Thames

A walk in the grey dawn

What does Verona mean to you? For me it’s Dire Straits ‘Romeo and Juliet’, played hauntingly as we walked the streets :

Italy: Bella Verona

Say a wistful farewell to Autumn with Ann-Christine

Thursday Thoughts – The last forest beauty

Or wander the canal paths with Helen :

Wiltshire Walks: Pewsey Wharf

Thanks for all your kind wishes. The family are almost back to good health. Time to start making plans? Apologies for my somewhat haphazard approach to blogging these days. The walks are fortnightly and anything else happens when I can squeeze it in. I do, though, visit you all frequently. Take good care till the next time.

Jo’s Monday walk : street art and a little wine

Isn’t this the most striking image? And absolutely not where I expected to find it. When my youngsters visit, I always try to find something a bit special to do. So it was that we were walking through Silves, en route to a wine tasting. It’s a favourite town of mine and I do enjoy a stroll through the narrow streets, looking out for any painted electricity box that I might have missed. I found a few!

It’s a beautiful setting, with fountains below and dramatic castle perched up high. And my daughter was heard to say ‘Ooh, look! This blue building matches my hair’. She wasn’t wrong!

We had decided that it was a good idea to have a substantial meal before embarking upon a wine tasting, and I had found just the place. O Porco Goloso, or The Pig Gourmet, almost shouted at us as we drove past it into town, and my daughter was highly amused by the name. It proved a great choice, both for the food and the welcome. So much so that I’m going back there for my birthday, on Friday. But that’s another story! And so, to the wine tasting….

We had been to the area tasting wine previously, and knew that the terroir produced good wines. Looking for something a little different, I chanced upon Convento do Paraiso. Boating up the Rio Arade a couple of years ago, we had gazed at the surrounding vineyards and wondered who lived behind the walls of the gated properties. We were about to find out.

That’s Silves in the background

Not sure if we could walk up the lane to the vineyard, we collected the car and crossed over Ponte Romana, turning right and staying close to the river. When we reached the forbidding gates there was no obvious means of entry, so we carried on around the side of the property. Newer gates didn’t encourage entry either, so I gave up and phoned for help. Vanessa answered cheerfully and within minutes drove up and let us in. The tour began, right there among the vines. It was a hot day for October, with just a trace of breeze. The harvest had been completed back in August, but Vanessa encouraged us to trawl the vines, looking for tasty specimens. With a little effort we found, tasted and pronounced our verdict. And then back into the car to escape the heat, down at the wine cellar.

The current owners of Quinta de Mata-Mouros, as the farm was known, are Vasco Pereira Coutinho and his family. The building was formerly a convent, dating from the 12th century, and there would have been some vines there even in those times. However, in 2012, Coutinho joined forces with the Soares family and they set about developing fine wines, using traditional processes but combining them with modern technology. The results are very fine indeed.

We tasted both the still fermenting wine and a selection from the red, white and rose available. The surroundings were beautiful, and our young hostess couldn’t have been kinder. We chatted for quite some time, and established that she was new to the wine trade but keen to learn, and enjoying every moment. That much was very evident. There are already plans for accommodation in the grounds, and in time this will be a wedding venue. I’ll be back to see how it develops. Meanwhile, I really can’t leave you again without cake.

How did he describe it? A kind of zabaglione cake? Anyway, it was delicious. And my husband always likes a good apple pie.

That’s it till next time! Have a great week!

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Always nice to be introduced to someone who appreciates our beautiful world. Please say hello to Malcolm :

Mousehole

Whoever said ‘Paris is always a good idea’ wasn’t wrong. Let’s share it with Teresa :

A Day in Paris

Sarah turns up another interesting place to wander. Not what you might think!

A stroll around Las Vegas

And somewhere you might be more familiar with?

Gallery: a walk along Brighton’s prom and pier

Who doesn’t enjoy a nose around a food market? Certainly not I. J., but it was hot!

The municipal food market in Bhuj

I didn’t mind puffing and panting up the hillside after Suzanne. Love the views :

A Stroll – Maungawhau/Mt Eden

But it was restful in the gardens with Ju-Lyn, and the sound of tumbling water :

Beautiful rocks

A problem for Rupali, even though her surrounds are beautiful :

Getting back to routine after vacation

Meanwhile Drake is always in search of adventure :

Downstairs

Some parts of Australia are incredibly beautiful, don’t you think? Thanks, Rosemay!

Greens Pool and Elephant Rocks- William Bay National Park, Denmark

No more visitors on the horizon, but life is still very busy. I’m planning to post a fortnightly walk, and still have lots of stories to share. Take good care of yourselves till then!

Monday Mural

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.

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.

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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