Sunday, September 30, 2012

Favourite Spots

Favourite Spot is Jake's suggestion for this week's Sunday Post but I couldn't choose just one favourite spot, so here are three:

My favourite corner of the garden

I love having breakfast or tea with this view before me or lying on a sun lounger under the orange tree.

 My favourite beach

This is a great spot to swim and sunbathe or to go for a relaxing walk at low tide.

The Aveiro Lagoon

This is the view from the coffee shop I like to stop at when I'm up north. I have to confess that I have better photos of the lagoon but I can't find them at the moment. This one was taken around Easter on a cloudy day.

To join in the challenge or see other bloggers' entries,  visit Jake's Sunday Post.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Before... and after... pics

No, I'm not going to post pictures of me/a celeb before and after my/our diet/liposuction/facelift or whatever. You know me better than that!

It's about structures which were part of the landscape in northern Portugal at a time when many families worked in agriculture.

Now you usually see them in ruins but before farmers used them to store and let the corn/maize cobs dry, safely out of the reach of rodents. Both sets of my grandparents had one and in their area they are known as "canastros". They fell into disrepair because now no one grows maize in my family. Fortunately my cousin decided to restore the one he inherited and here are the pics.


... and after...

I think it looks fantastic, don't you?

Sunday, September 23, 2012


Medieval Journey 2012 pauper
Playing a pauper

For those of a sensitive nature, let me reassure you - this guy's sores aren't real. It's all make-up and he's an "actor" playing a beggar at the Medieval Journey.

He looks so much like the real thing that a visitor stopped to have a chat and congratulate him.

This is my response to Jake's Sunday post challenge: People.

You'll find lots more entries if you click on the Water Dragon below.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Activities galore at the Medieval Journey

As I said in a previous post, there were many activities for visitors in 20 different areas: at the castle, along the way to the castle, at the bottom of the hill, by the stream and along some of the city streets. 

Here are some photos to give you an idea of some of the things you could do.

  • You could watch strange contraptions go by...


  •  You could go for rides...

  • You could see the exhibits...

  • You could visit the many stalls...

   Below is the Moroccan 
   section (always crowded).

  • You could try you hand at making paper in the old-fashioned way at the "Paper Museum".


  • You could try to hit the target using a bow and arrow.


  • You could try scaling the castle walls.


  • You could try using this bridge (children)...


     ...or this one (adults).

Hunger and thirst would be sure to hit everyone at some time, so there was an enormous food "court"...

Suggestive, isn't it?

  • You could also visit the many cafes along the streets...

  • You could dress up as king or queen and have your picture taken on a "royal set".


  • And you could even have your palm read by "gypsies" at the "Pond of Spells"!
I really recommend you visit the official site (it's in Portuguese, Spanish and English) because it is fantastic - it has so much that I haven't even mentioned!

Related posts:
Medieval Journey - Procession

Top Medieval Journey in Portugal - to the castle!

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Celorico de Basto garden

Autumn is the theme for Jake's Sunday post challenge. Although it's mid-September and I live in the northern hemisphere, in the Algarve people are still enjoying magnificent beach weather. The only sign that autumn is on its way is that the sun is setting earlier.

The photos I found for this post were taken about fifteen years ago at the beginning of September when I visited Celorico de Basto in northern Portugal.

Celorico de Basto garden walkway

Now it's time to visit all the other blogs that have joined Jake's challenge. Won't you come along, too?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - September

I wasn't planning to post today, but then I discovered May Dreams Gardens blog after reading a post on Hurtled to 60...

On May Dreams Gardens there was the question "How's your garden blooming on this mid-September day?" and the invitation: "We would love to have you join in for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day and tell us all about what is blooming in your garden. It’s easy to participate and all are invited!"

Although I don't profess to be a Garden Blogger, I am accepting the invitation and here is my entry for September.

I live in the Algarve region of Portugal and we're having a heat wave this week. Looking around my smallish garden I see that I still have some colour, mainly from flowering shrubs.

Pink oleander flowers
My pink oleander is still in bloom.

Shocking pink bouganvillea
My small bougainvillea did very well this year.
This shrub flowers from Spring through Autumn.

The Hibiscus are rewarding me for my having upped the watering frequency.
Yellow hibiscus

And finally, my Belladonna lilies are in full bloom.
Belladonna lilies

The dry, hot summer has not been kind on the roses. Usually I have enough blooms to decorate the garden and fill vases in the house, but not this time. Maybe next year...

Now I'm off to link to May Dreams Gardens.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Medieval Journey - Procession

The Medieval Journey at Santa Maria da Feira lasted 10 days!

On the last day I was there for the procession, which took place in the afternoon. I have made a slideshow of some of the many photos I took. I hope you like the result.

This was a first for me as I had never uploaded anything onto YouTube before. Thanks to my blogging, I have learnt something new. (I hope I got everything working properly.)

If you'd like to know something about the activities visitors could participate in, please come back next week.

Related post: Top Medieval Journey in Portugal - to the Castle

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Lazy summer mornings are my favourites - breakfast on the veranda, under my orange tree, enjoying my garden.

Morning is the theme for today's Sunday post.

At 8.30 a.m. the sun is already quite high in the sky.

This post is part of a weekly feature that is hosted by Jake, who provides a word of inspiration and participants post their interpretations.

To conclude, I'd like to share this poem by Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879):

Summer Morning   

How beautiful the morning,
When summer days are long;
O, we will rise betimes and hear
The wild-bird's happy song.
For when the sun pours down his ray
The bird will cease to sing;
She'll seek the cool and silent shade,
And sit with folded wing.

Up in the morning early
'Tis Nature's gayest hour!
There's pearls of dew upon the grass
And fragrance on the flower.
Up in the morning early,
And we will bound abroad,
And fill our hearts with melody,
And raise our songs to God.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Top Medieval Journey in Portugal - to the castle

Several towns in Portugal organise medieval fairs, mainly between March and December. These fairs usually portray historical events, daily life, and arts and crafts of people in the Middle Ages. I am going to tell you about the last afternoon of the Medieval Journey organised by the town of Santa da Maria da Feira, in the district of Aveiro. Please note that the locals don't call it a medieval fair. I was immediately corrected when I was discussing it as such with friends. (Oops!) Remember, this one is a Medieval Journey, and what a journey it is!

There are many activities for visitors in 20 different areas: at the castle, along the way to the castle, at the bottom of the hill, by the stream and along some of the city streets. The ticket that covered all the days of the Journey cost 3€ or you could spend 2€ for a day ticket but you would miss much of the fun. I was only in the area on the last day so I missed most of the programme!

At the end of the procession (on the last day), the crowds were getting to me (I'm not a fan of crowds). I hadn't been to the castle, so I thought I'd go there hoping the crowds wouldn't be so "bad" later. (How wrong I was!)

Crowds at Feira's medieval fair
View from the church steps
Santa Maria da Feira Church
Santa Maria da Feira's church
I took the photo below from the church steps. The procession had just ended.
street in Santa Maria da Feira
It had come from that narrow street on the right. Then it had taken the winding cobbled road up to the castle.
road to Santa Maria da Feira Castle
Up and up along the winding road... Along the way there is a garden where wedding parties like to have photos taken by this large pond called "Lago dos Feitiços" (Pond of Spells).
Pond of Spells, in Feira, Portugal
On my way up to the castle, I came across many of the participants in the procession, as they came back down from the castle and dispersed.
knights in medieval procession

king and queen in medieval procession

 My first view of the castle:
Santa Maria da Feira Castle walls
Here is a close-up of someone trying to scale the castle walls.
scaling Santa Maria da Feira Castle walls

Added to the castle in the 17th century, this white building is the Baroque chapel and its annex.
Baroque chapel at Santa Maria da Feira Castle

According to Wikipedia, the castle's "plan is irregular oval, with protected entranceway, guarded by a barbican with moat and four addorsed rectangular watchtowers. On its southeastern corner are portions of a minor bastion, while opposite it, in the northwest is the hexagonal Baroque chapel. The walls, with small battlements, are circled by a parapet of large stone, with cruciform battlements and embrasures."
Santa Maria da Feira Castle

You can see what makes it different from other castles in Portugal - the 4 watchtowers. 
Santa Maria da Feira Castle 2012

The sun was going down by this time and I had to find my way back to where I had parked the car. The crowds had not diminished - they were getting ready for the evening's entertainment!

Next, you may like to read about the actual Medieval Procession. That will be in next week's post, if my internet connection doesn't let me down.

For a different view of the castle, have a look at "From a Distance"

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Reflection of an image

When I was walking around taking photos for the Sunday post theme "Vehicle", I almost deleted this shot before I noticed the birds - live, painted and reflected.

"Reflection" is the theme for today's Sunday Post and here it is:

Reflection - careful thought about a particular subject

Having been a blogger for just over six months now, I have been reflecting on the reasons I started taking photos and writing posts, and on how much fun and enriching the experience has been. 

I have had more than 5 thousand page views, which may seem a drop in the ocean to some, but to me it feels rather awesome. I have discovered many fantastic blogs, learnt how to do stuff I didn't know existed and made many new friends in the blogosphere. This wouldn't have been possible without you, welcome visitors to my blog, and especially to those who have left comments. Thank you!

To join in the challenge and see other bloggers' takes on the theme, don't forget to visit Jake's blog.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The good, the bad, and the ugly!

The Good

It seems the state school system has reconsidered and decided to take me off the list of teachers for whom there would be no timetable next year. I should feel very lucky, but somehow I don't, because I was made to apply for a transfer and that application was ignored.

The Bad

It's a pity that I and over ten thousand other teachers had to go through uncertainty and anxiety until the lists were published yesterday. We were all forced to apply for transfers, knowing they were few and far between. July was stressful and August should have been a relaxing holiday but the worry about possible unemployment was always there in the back of our minds.

The Ugly

The state decided that teachers will all work more (have another two periods with students on the timetable) and have more students per class (30 students), I have no idea how it is that they found a timetable for many of us, all of a sudden. For all I know, I could be teaching subjects other than English at several different schools (with no transport allowance).

The new decisions have horrific consequences for teacher unemployment. Over 50 thousand teachers applied for teaching posts - nearly 40 thousand will be visiting the job centres around the country next week. Such is the life of a teacher in Portugal.

Related post: Time Out 

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