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.

walking logo

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.

walking logo

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!

Living the dream… 3 years on

Can you believe, it’s three years this week since we sold our UK home and moved to the Algarve? Would I do it all over again? I honestly don’t know. When I walk down the stairs on a morning, to put the kettle on, it all feels quite normal and natural. And when I open the door onto my roof terrace I still beam at the sight that greets me. Pegging the washing out is interspersed with glances at the glittering sea on the horizon. It dazzles my eyes. Most days I walk through Tavira with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. I go to t’ai chi, or hop a train to nearby Cabanas to play croquet. And when I’m not doing that I’m almost invariably meeting friends, to walk and lunch together. The sun shines most days and I luxuriate in the warmth. Isn’t this the dream? The life I aspired to? I’d have to say yes – though the croquet did come as a surprise.

Can you feel a ‘but’ coming? I still find myself referring to England as ‘home’. Not so easy to shake off all those years. I liked stair carpet under my bare feet, and that comforting sound when the central heating clicked on. Temperature control is still an issue in a Portuguese house in the cooler months. And I’ve failed miserably to gain confidence in speaking the language. A simple task like booking a taxi fills me with dread. Fortunately, I rarely need one. Michael knows that part of his job description is chauffeur. I have a very nice French friend at t’ai chi, but our conversations are a muddle of misunderstanding. Switching between French and Portuguese is beyond me, and I stutter and stammer like an idiot. And then just smile hopelessly. I’m perfecting the Gallic shrug.

The chief regret, of course, is distance from family. I never tried to fool myself that this would be easy, but perhaps I was deluded into thinking that the benefits to my lifestyle would make it worthwhile. The past 2 years have tested that to the limit, and I was never so glad as when we could be together again this summer. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but it also hurts. We have a fleeting visit to Leeds planned for Christmas, but already government restrictions are in place for next month. Who knows what might happen to jeopardise things? Friends here have a transient lifestyle, returning often to the UK, and that is unsettling in itself. We live for the day, as we should, for none of us are young. Each separation could be the last. I don’t want to be maudlin, but I try to be honest. We have a friend who is planning to make a permanent move out here next year. What should I tell her? I wish I knew.

I read back through Living the Dream before I posted this morning. What a saga of ups and downs! Memories trigger memories, don’t they? As I’m writing this I remember all the good times. Wave upon wave of hugs and smiles. No use to dwell on the lost 18 months. I have to move forward with hope. There is no other way.

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.

walking logo

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.

walking logo

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.

Precious moments

How do you hold on to happiness? I look back at the photos and remember…

An afternoon, wandering, carefree in Faro. A photographic exhibition of nebulous sea creatures. The octopus always her favourite. Graceful architecture, crumbling facades, fading street art, smoked salmon and white sangria. Giggling on the train.

For him, a morning browsing the market in Loule for presents, culminating in smiles on stepping stones and the delighted discovery of terrapins in the shallows. Hiking with us, into the hills and loving the solitude. Craft beer and tapas at the Nano brewery in Fuseta.

Holding on, till the next time.

Silves : storks galore, and other stories!

So, how was the birthday? A day of sunshine and smiles. Silves was as beautiful by night as I had anticipated. Earlier that day I had gone walking with friends, in the hills high above the Guadiana at the Spanish border. After a toastie and glass of wine down by the river, we said our farewells and drove to Silves, an hour and a half away. In total contrast, this town is situated in a tidal plain, on the River Arade. Our hotel was chosen because it looked directly across at the lovely red castle on the hill.

Scarcely had we left the hotel car park than we were admiring storks, perched precarioulsy in none too sturdy trees. With complete abandon, these creatures build their nests wherever they choose, and return to them year on year. We had seen few of late, in and around Tavira, and were happy to find them congregating here.

As we walked around the town, stretching our legs, we found more and more of them. The family high on the metal canisters seemed determined to stay, despite the best efforts of a bulldozer clearing the building site below. ‘Derelict is best’ must be the motto of one pair, whose pals seemed to have abandoned nests and hope, for another, better year?

But proudly, in the centre of town, a longstanding chimney plays the genial host. Having exerted ourselves in the morning we felt due a rest, and had arranged to talk to our son, who is slowly recovering from Covid. Whose idea was it to walk to the windmill on the outskirts of town? Don’t look at me! Restless doesn’t always have to be taken literally.

It was quite decrepit too, when we got there, but along the way we managed to talk to James. Cooped up, but coping. I felt much better for talking to him. By the time we’d made the ascent evening was starting to fall. Wearily back in town, we sat a while, admiring the rosy hues glinting off the pink tiled building. Time to make our way through the dusk, to our hotel and the pleasures of evening.

Which included a wonderful tiramisu. Next day dawned bright and beautiful and after breakfast we completed a levada walk before returning to Silves, just to sit in the sun. It wouldn’t be Silves without a bit more street art, would it?

All in all a highly satisfactory weekend, until we came to sit for one last glass of wine before heading home. As my gaze fell on my ring finger I realised that the amethyst in the middle of my engagement ring was no longer there. A gaping hole looked back at me. Of course, I retraced my steps as far as I was able, but without much hope.

I guess a trip to the jeweller’s is on the cards this week. Thank you for all your good wishes, and for always being such good company. See you again soon!

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!

walking logo

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

The day is past

No challenges, I told myself. But there are always exceptions, aren’t there? Earlier this week I was walking along the revamped promenade at Olhão and wondering what Becky would make of it on her return. Sunset on water is so beguiling, isn’t it? This one came at the end of a packed day, in which we’d walked high in the hills above Tavira, lunched on toasties on the waterfront at Santa Luzia, driven to Faro for a little present shopping, and were heading wearily home when I suggested stopping for supper in Olhão. My son James hadn’t been there for many years, and approved the changes. He also enjoyed the Mexican food.

It’s raining softly this morning but it’s welcome rain, and I’m sure it won’t deter her on arrival. Welcome back, hon!

Past Squares

An idyllic day

One of those days when it all comes together. A daughter by your side, the sun in the sky, a sparkle on the water and everyone feeling good. ‘Where shall we go?’ I have a favourite place or two. Quiet, sleepy places in the main. The madding crowd seldom venture this way. East towards the River Guadiana and the Spanish border. Late morning and the heat is rising.

Hardly a soul on the streets of Castro Marim, we just have time to inspect the castle before it closes for lunch. The views from the walls are mighty. Past the salt pans and over the bridge, all the way to Spain.

Beyond the rusty gate a surprise awaits. The perfect setting for a Crusader knight and his lady, they indulge in a little courtship, while the cameraman looks on. We hover, in case they need extras, but no. The knight has won his lady and filming is complete.

Below us, the imposing mother church, Igreja Matriz, with candles still flickering in their sconces, and the innovative sculpture of Carlos de Oliveira Correia. Chain metal links reinforce his message all across the Algarve.

We find a corner cafe and linger a while over toasties, as the local school children spill outdoors for their lunch hour. Skips and whoops and best friends. Finally we stir ourselves to carry on, up the river in search of more castles.

Alcoutim is almost as quiet, the restaurants busy with lunch in a desultory way. It’s hot but we need to stretch our legs, and follow the trail to the river beach. Shade invites a longer gaze at our surroundings. Equally mighty, the twin castles here, but we are content to gaze up at them, and then take up a familiar perch, in a cafe high above the river. And yes, there’s cake!

My daughter has gone, but I’m still full of excitement. My son has reached the airport and it’s his turn now. My responses may be a little haphazard for a day or two. Take care till then!