Friday, March 30, 2012

It never rains, but it pours...

Not looking good for walkies!

The Met Office had been telling us it was going to rain. Don't we all complain about the times they've been wrong?

On Monday afternoon, the sea was looking menacing. Well it's been like this before and then - nothing.

On Tuesday I was taking photos in my sunny garden:
Orange blossom- I wish you could smell it!

Yesterday I walked the dogs and it was overcast - but no rain. 

Then last night it finally rained! Yay! The Algarve sure needs some rain after a very dry winter.

And today? 
First it was grey and overcast, then it was sunny, then it was grey again. I took the dogs and an umbrella for a walk but it didn't rain. 

So I thought: that's all the rain we're going to get. Then I decided to take out the trash - that means wheeling the wheelie bin down the road to the big bin. I picked up the umbrella again, just in case, and off I went. 

I was just beginning my way back to the house when suddenly the heavens opened up. I had to pin myself against a wall, open my umbrella and wait. I couldn't make a run for it. Well, not against the wind and rain and hale and pulling along a wheelie bin!

Oops! It could get worse and it did! 
I discovered I was too near the raging river road and cars were driving by. The only thing between my getting completely drenched by the splashes the cars made was the wheelie bin.

It was all over in less than 5 minutes!
I rushed home to change out of my wet clothes and soggy shoes to be greeted by drenched dogs! 
The silly things hadn't been smart enough to take shelter under the carport! Arrgh!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A is for Aloes

This my first post on my personal A-Z of Zimbabwe.

Aloes will do nicely for the letter "A".
Aloe arborescens in flower
Aloe arborescens in flower
Aloes are native to Africa and the Aloe arborescens, also known as the Krantz Aloe, is endemic in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi and Mozambique. 

You can see it growing naturally in mountainous areas, rocky outcrops and exposed ridges, hence the common name Krantz Aloe as "krantz" means "rocky cliff" in Africaans (a language I learnt at school ages ago but quickly forgot). 

Gardeners love to plant these aloes in rockeries because they tolerate difficult conditions and liven up the garden in winter with their vibrant red/orange flowers.

Aloe arborescens have blue-tinted leaves
Close-up of the same group of plant
Taken from another angle, this photo reveals the bluish tint of the succulent green leaves. 

I love aloes. 

My high school had a beautiful rock garden (I think it was modelled on the Great Zimbabwe ruins) where the art teacher once took us to sketch. I did a pencil drawing of an aloe. It turned out to be the only artwork of mine that ever made it into the school's open day art exhibition. I was so proud! 

The following year we had to choose our "O" level subjects and one of the choices was Geography or Art. What kind of a choice was that?!


Sunday, March 25, 2012


This week's Sunday Post theme over at Jake's blog is LIGHT.

The deliberate application of light in theatre, cinema and musical performances is called stage lighting. It sets the scene, creates an ambiance and draws you in to another world.

Here we were drawn into a surreal vision of life in medieval times.

This "stage" was outdoors, in front of Castro Marim castle ruins, Southern Portugal. 

Skillful lighting operators kept the special effects coming and the audience wide-eyed and riveted to the last minute. 

It was an awesome finale to the Castro Marim Medieval Fair!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring is here

My favourite season began officially on Tuesday.

A special friend from Cape Town asked for pictures of flowers, so here they are.
This winter has been very dry but these plants seem to tolerate the drought.

I don't remember seeing so many of these last year when my neighbours took me walking along beautiful routes that I didn't know existed so near to home.

A close up.

 Colourful fields

Fig trees sprouting leaves and fruit!

Bees happily visiting blooms.

 Mimosa tree high on a hill

 Lavender in my garden

Soon my enormous orange tree will smell heavenly, covered in orange blossom. Can't wait!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Prawn and papaya salad with lime dressing. Yummy!
Every time I get invited for a meal at H. and Miro's house I just know that the food will be delicious and that it will probably include ingredients that I cannot quite identify, so I usually learn something new as well.

I have to confess that I am a mediocre cook so I'm always in awe of people who can conjure up magnificent meals. When I saw the theme for this week's Sunday Post over at Jake's blog I knew I needed help and the first friend who came to mind was Miro. And he kindly agreed to share a recipe with me and my blog.

If you happen to visit the Albufeira area of the Algarve, Portugal, you can taste some of his other dishes at Restaurante Jompra. He's a chef there.

Meanwhile, here is a recipe in English and Portuguese:

Prawn and papaya salad, with lime dressing (starter - serves 8)

750 g prawns 18/20 in their shell but headless
2 large papayas, diced
1 small red onion, julienned
2 celery stalks, thinly  sliced
2 tablespoons fresh mint roughly shredded

For the dressing:
125ml extra virgin olive oil
60 ml lime juice
Lime zest, q.b.
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt, q.b.
Black pepper, freshly ground, q.b.

Remove the shells from the prawns and de-vein. Boil in salted water for 2 minutes over low heat and leave to cool in the water, before draining.
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing  and season with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, gently blend all the salad ingredients and the dressing.
Serve this salad at room temperature.
You can garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
To serve as shown in the picture, put individual servings of the salad inside a molding ring, press very gently and then remove the molding ring carefully.

Try it! You won't be disappointed.

Salada de gambas e papaia, com molho de lima. Uma delícia!
Salada de gambas e papaia, com molho de lima (entrada, para 8 pessoas)
750 g camarão 18/20 com a casca, sem cabeça
2 papaias grandes cortadas em cubos
1 cebola vermelha pequena, em juliana
2 talos de rama de aipo cortado em rodelas finas
2 colheres sopa de hortelã fresca esfarrapada

125 ml azeite virgem extra
60 ml sumo de lima
raspa de lima q.b.
2 colheres chá gengibre, fresco raspado
1 colheres chá açucar
sal q.b.
pimenta preta do moinho q.b.

Descasque o camarão e retire a tripa. Coza em água com sal durante 2 minutos em lume brando e deixar arrefecer na água.
Misture os ingredientes para o molho com uma vara de arames e tempere com sal e pimenta.
Numa tigela envolva cuidadosamente os ingredientes para a salada com o molho.
Sirva a salada à temperatura ambiente.
Pode guarnecer com um raminho de hortelã fresca.
Para empratar como na fotografia, utilize um aro de cozinha, colocando os ingredientes dentro, pressione um pouco e retire o aro com cuidado.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

All meshed up!

 I guess little birds loved this beautiful chimney, too.
Algoz, Central Algarve

Chicken mesh is very useful to keep out small birds and other critters. 

Don't get me wrong, I love birds, I just don't like them waking me up in the morning before I'm ready to get up or making a nest inside the extractor fan duct. 

When the extractor fan stopped working I had a hard time cleaning it out and the solution was - chicken mesh. 

I think I've also solved the problem of the early bird stopping by my bedroom window.

I promise no animals were harmed!

Can you guess how I did it?

Sunday, March 11, 2012


This is the Eastgate Centre! (It's the building with lots of chimneys on top.)
What makes it truly remarkable is that this "green" building is ventilated and cooled by natural means, inspired by the self-cooling termite mounds of Africa!
 Eastgate Centre, Harare, Zimbabwe -  image by David Brazier,

  (CC BY-SA license)
 source: this Wikipedia article
Opened in1996 in central Harare, it is a mid-rise shopping centre and office block which has over 5 000 m2 of retail space, 26 000 m2 of office space and parking for over 400 cars.

Inside, a comfortable temperature is achieved without conventional air-conditioning and heating so it consumes less than 10% of the energy that other buildings of the same size require. Isn't that fantastic?

The architect, Mick Pearce, specialises in eco-friendly buildings that are low cost and low maintenance, using resources that are available locally. Unsurprisingly, he has won several awards for his designs.

and here.

For more info on this Sunday Post Challenge visit Jake's blog.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

All wrapped up!

Some people like bird watching, some like plane or train spotting, I like chimney spotting in the Algarve!

Here are a few more from my collection:

All wrapped up! 

The plastic wrap may be useful to keep out the elements and small birds, too.

Alcantarilha - built in 1953

Unfortunately this means you can't have a working chimney or see what is behind the mask.

Armação de Pêra beach front

Keeping out the rain and salty sea air? 
Armação de Pêra beach front

Sunday, March 4, 2012


A stroll on the beach,

M. catches up

Barefoot, at low-tide,

C. gets her paws wet

Greeting fellow strollers,

M. makes a new friend

And generally goofing around,

N. and J. play with Husky-cross friend
Simple pleasures!

For more info on this Sunday Post Challenge visit

Saturday, March 3, 2012


As anyone can see from my blogroll, I follow pigletinportugal's blog and have decided to take her suggestion on board. 

"Landscape" was the week’s photo theme for the “SUNDAY POST” over at Jake’s blog and although mine is not a wordpress blog I am joining in this challenge.

These photos were taken during a very pleasant walk in April 2011.

After a wet month of February, Spring arrived triumphant and brought with it an abundance of wild flowers to this hilly part of Central Algarve. 

In a flatter area not far away, we came across a field where crops are no longer grown but the water reservoir can still be seen. 

Not very long ago everyone relied on their own wells and built reservoirs to collect rain water during the rainy season so that they could have water in the dry season.

And this was the old road leading into the village.

In days gone by a bustling road on market days, now overgrown and only used by occasional walkers.

If I close my eyes I can just imagine the noise of the ox carts, heavy with produce from nearby fields, moving slowly on the uneven stone road.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I'm African and proud of it!

Well, I've started my first blog and named it "Africa to Algarve" so I guess it's about time I added a post about Africa.

Where to start?

I had a life in Africa. It was a good life. 

The capital, Salisbury (Harare) had many tree-lined streets and my love of trees began there.

Blakiston Street - Harare, 1975 (from wikipedia - photo by Graham Bould)
One of my favourites was the Flamboyant Tree with its large flame-coloured flowers - a breathtaking sight in summer.

In 1970 my mother and I spent a few months in Portugal with my Portuguese granny and extended family. The only things I remember liking were the many shades of green of the Portuguese countryside and summer days that only ended after 9p.m. due to Daylight Saving Time. I was so overjoyed when my dad sent us our return tickets that one of my cousins felt offended!

Then in 1977 my parents decided that it would be safer to up sticks and return to Portugal. Angola and Mozambique were seriously messed up by then and bombs were going off in shops in the centre of Salisbury. 

We left before Rhodesia turned into Zimbabwe and civil war and dictatorship ruined my beautiful, prosperous country. 

I hate to end a post on such a sad note but devastated is how I feel after reading that life expectancy in Zimbabwe is now one of the lowest in the world!
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