Saturday, February 25, 2012

C is for Chimneys, Algarve style

Ever since I moved to the Algarve, I have been fascinated by its architecture, which is quite different from that of northern Portugal. 

I love the predominant colour - white, the facades of the older buildings and, above all, the huge variety of ornate chimneys.

Lately I have been taking my camera on my walks. I get some odd looks from the locals but so far nobody has called the GNR!

Only one old lady spoke out when I was pointing my camera at her neighbour's rooftop. And she invited me to take a picture of her orange tree! She thought it would be more interesting than the roof! When I gracefully declined and explained that I was only interested in the chimney, she just laughed. 
Would you really prefer a photo of an orange tree here?
Only on two occasions have I felt the need to ask people whether they minded if I took a photo of their chimney. "Of course not!" was the answer on both occasions.

Still in working order!
  The owner of this one told me where I could find a very unusual one down the road. I'm so glad I acted on her info.
This is very rare!

The other, an elderly lady, told me proudly that her chimney had been built in her grandparents' time, before she was even born.

Circa 1900

Chimneys everywhere are built to serve a practical purpose but around here they are a status symbol, too. 

Passers-by take note - 2 ornate chimneys = very rich person's house

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Storks and the city

As I was parking my car early on Friday morning I heard a flapping sound nearby, looked over the wall of a delapidated factory and found myself staring at about six white storks and their nests, right in the middle of the Silves town centre! 

 The sighting of these birds reminded me fondly of when I was a child growing up in a suburb of Salisbury (now Harare).
Storks (black storks, I think) were frequent visitors to the grassy plots next to our house, but they disappeared when those plots were built up. 
Did you know that in 2000 a stork's nest got tangled in power lines and caused a blackout all over Lisbon and southern Portugal? No? Well I didn't either, I was living in the north of the country then!
Now protected and off the endangered list, they continue to make their enormous nests in high places - on the top of electricity pylons and even on chimneys and palm trees in the centre of this Algarve town.
How could I have been going into Silves quite often for almost 3 years and have only seen them now?
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