Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Shades of grey

Have I mentioned I miss the tropics at this time of year?

Seafront just south of Porto
The view from my car window this morning (just south of Porto)
 It won't come as a surprise to you that grey is not exactly my favourite colour...
Winter seas - Praia da Granja
The view from my favourite cafe, at lunchtime (Praia da Granja)
Cosy cafe and winter seas - Praia da Granja
This was as blue as it got!

If I had to attribute a colour to the year I am leaving behind, it would definitely be grey.

Here's hoping 2014 will turn out more bright and colourful in every way.

I am going to use a word that special blogger, Carol, uses often (hope she doesn't mind):
I wish all my visitors and fellow bloggers enough of the good things in life in the New Year! Happy 2014!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Do they know it's Christmas?

Nativity scene with pots

I wish you a Happy, Peaceful Christmastime!

Personally, I'm not ready for Christmas. This afternoon I thought I'd just pop in to the nearest shopping mall for a few things but after seeing the queues, I drove in and out of the underground parking area in less than 5 minutes!

You see, instead of shopping yesterday, I drove all the way to Lagos to visit a dog shelter. Instead of resting or shopping or putting up the Christmas decorations, I lost my head and adopted another dog, a female that has spent her entire life in the shelter (nearly 2 years), and looking back at all the others that were left behind, it occurred to me, "Do they know it's Christmas?"

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

All roads led to Africa today

"African" Nativity scene

Watching the news reminded me that everyone who is anyone on the world's political stage had to be in Africa today.

It seems fitting to post a Nativity scene with an African feel, too.

Friday, December 6, 2013

"To be free..."

It is unfortunate for Africa that other freedom fighters have not kept this in mind:-

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

                                 Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

Rest in Peace.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Blue Christmas

Nativity scene in blue

In complete contrast to the previous one, here's a modern Nativity scene in my favourite colour!

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's looking a lot like Christmas...

Nativity scene 1
A traditional Nativity scene

It's December and it's looking a lot like Christmas. However, I can't stand the "buy, buy, buy" aspect of the season so I've decided to focus on Nativity scenes until the 25th. The first one reminds me of the ones my cousin used to lay out in a corner of my grandmother's living room, after an outing into the woods to gather moss.

Most or all of the photos will be from an exhibition I happened upon unexpectedly in January of this year. Many of the materials used to create these Nativity scenes are recycled, as you will see.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The hill-eating monster, 4 months later

Huge new building in Algoz, November 2013

This is how it looks now. Remember what I had to say about it back in July?

Building something huge in Algoz, July 2013

Local restaurants, cafés and people with houses for rent have been doing brisk business as a result of the influx of construction workers. What will happen when that work ends?

Along this Guia-Algoz road increased traffic and zero maintenance have resulted in more potholes and uneven surfaces, which are specially dangerous where large trucks, and there are more of those, speed along the narrower bends and don't necessarily keep strictly to their side of the road!

If you travel on this road, please take care!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - Nov. 2013

It's the 15th of the month again and time to welcome you to my Algarve garden (hardiness zone 10). After some long-awaited rain a few weeks' ago and temperatures high enough for sunbathing at the beach, my flowering plants are very happy.
Announcing autumn
 Some bulbs have produced autumn colour, as expected,
Yellow lilies
These lilies are lovely but I'm actually quite pissed off disappointed with the seller at Espinho market. She sold me four different types of gorgeous lilies (I even wrote down their exotic names) but I  ended up with 1 unknown dead, 2 pink and 5 yellow instead!

Dominating the garden at the moment, I have the lavenders and the roses.
My first lavender
This is the bush I was considering taking out of the corner, where it fights for space with the red oleander. It was butchered cut back in August and look at it! I just haven't the heart to remove it now. I guess I'll have to cut the oleander so that they can share the space more peacefully.

Another lavender  
This young lavender is looking great.

Feathery lavender
And this, even younger, feathery-leafed lavender has finally adapted to its allotted space. I think it's so elegant! I've taken cuttings and, if I'm successful, next year I'll be planting one between each rose bush along the front wall.

And talking of roses, these are still in bloom:
Red roses

Pink'n white roses

Peachy rose

Yellow rose

I'm also pleased to report that there are lots of pale blue blooms on the creeping rosemary ...
Geranium, rosemary and lavender
 ... flowers on the yellow hibiscus, and on the red one, too ...
Yellow hibiscus
... and the cuttings of this ground covering plant, from a friend's garden, have taken, settled right in and rewarded me with pretty little pink blooms after just a few months.
Groundcover plant

You might have noticed that I haven't shown you any grass - well it's just grass, very green and needing mowing, which I can't do because I'm recovering from the flu.

Oh, remember this?
Lobster flower
It shares the enormous planter where my small lemon tree lives. A reader asked me what it was when I posted a picture in June. Well, it took a while, but I've discovered what it's called. It's Plectanthrus neochilus, also known as the lobster flower.

November has been good to my garden, so far. Temperatures are set to drop by about 10 degrees Celsius during the coming week, so next month may be more about foliage than blooms. See you then!

Have you visited May Dreams Gardens yet? That's where Carol hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge: One

Cee changed web host or whatever-you-call-it, I lost her posts for a while and today I discovered my links to her challenges were no longer working!

I've just tracked her down again, so here's my entry for the current theme:

Stork on palm trunk
The weevil turned a palm tree into a perfect look-out post but there's just room for one!

Animal rock
And doesn't this rock look like a lone prehistoric animal to you?

You can find Cee's Fun Foto Challenge HERE now.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The secret is out

Image courtesy of audfriday13, freedigitalphotos.net

My secret is out!

Initially, I only told a few friends and one member of my family about my blogs. Only one of the people in the know actually comments on posts once in a while.

At first I kept my blogging activity secret because I wasn't very confident and had no idea if I would keep it going. Then I began to get more and more readers and made some virtual blogger friends and just didn't feel the need to tell everyone about my blogs.

But it's a small world.

Portugal is very small!

And the Algarve is a "tiny" region!

So it just happened that at that gardening fair I told you about recently I recognised a Portuguese blogger I follow. Being a shy, cautious person, I didn't just start a conversation with a stranger. I could have asked, "Aren't you ....?" but I didn't. I noticed that he seemed to be an acquaintance/friend of a colleague of mine who, as coincidence would have it, was at that fair, too.

Having confirmed later with my colleague that the other guy really was the blogger, I ended up letting the cat out of the bag!

Yip, today I was asked, "Don't you have a blog, too?" ...
This was in the staff room. And I think other people heard our conversation!

So, this blogger is feeling exposed. Now I'm wondering if this is good, bad or indifferent? 

It definitely changes one thing - ranting about my job is a no-no.

What do you think? Is it a good idea to let everyone around you know about your blog?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - October 2013

Iceberg roses and yellow hibiscus

It's lovely to welcome you back again to my Algarve garden. 
I know it's almost the end of the month but I was too busy and sad to take photos on the 15th. I finally took these shots on the 20th. The nights and mornings are cooler and it has rained quite a lot. You can see the earth is a darker brown where I have been removing grass to make my beds wider. 
In the photo above the iceberg roses are thriving next to the yellow hibiscus. We put Mimosa's grave in front of the hibiscus. That dog loved this garden!

Red oleander and hibiscus blooms
Moving along the same wall, here we have the red oleander (the only one with blooms at the moment) and the red hibiscus.

Here is another shot that shows how much grass is coming out for wider beds, by the front gate. It's still very much a work in progress. I try to work on this project after rainy days because digging dry Algarve soil is a very unsuitable job for a woman. In this area I have been trying the smothering method but it is taking sooo long! I might have to move that lavender...

Fragrant rose
The rain has done wonders for the roses. This one bloomed again after a few months' pause.
Fragrant red roses
There are some red blooms near the gate.

White rose
Here is a bloom from my other white rose and you can see the orange tree in the background, heavy with fruit.

Yellow roses
These roses are from cuttings a neighbour gave me a couple of years ago. The wetter weather brought some undesirable pests to the roses, unfortunately. Ecological solutions didn't get rid of them. In the end I had to resort to chemicals.

Finally, this shrub, called "Dama da Noite" in Portuguese, bloomed again, releasing it's sweet scent into the cooler nights. Does anyone know its English or Latin name?

Looking back over my blog I've just realized that I joined Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in September last year. How time flies!

I'm off now to link to Carol's May Dreams Gardens. Do visit my garden again soon!

Mediterranean Garden Fair, Faro

I stumbled upon the Mediterranean Gardening Society's site while googling something or other a few weeks ago. I didn't even know a Portuguese Branch existed!

As the site mentioned an upcoming garden fair in Estoi, near Faro, I decided to check it out. I'm glad I did!

Mediterranean Garden Fair 2013-1
   MGS nerve centre

Mediterranean Garden Fair 2013-2
Plants for sale

Mediterranean Garden Fair 2013-3
More plants for sale

Mediterranean Garden Fair 2013-4
Masterclass on making more plants, by John Vellam

Mediterranean Garden Fair 2013-5
Masterclass on pests and diseases, by Rosie Peddle

I'm afraid I missed the first masterclass. The two I attended were brilliant! Of course, I came away with more than very useful and practical information - I just couldn't resist buying some of the plants on sale and I wasn't the only one. Business was brisk. The weather was great. I'd say this event was a great success!

I'll be looking forward to future events organised by the Mediterranean Garden Society.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mimosa (2000 - 2013)

She came to me at the end of September 2000. She had been rescued in Espinho and I was lucky enough to adopt her.

I come to your house and have to wear this ridiculous thing for how long?!

In 2005, already in the Algarve, and sharing my attentions with three more rescue dogs.

Do you like this pose? I'm doing my best to look fierce!
This summer
What am I supposed to do while you cut the grass?

Last photo taken on 15th September

Don't you ever get tired of taking photos of the flowers?

I had to have my best, most loyal and oldest four-legged friend put to sleep on the 14th of October.

She was my shadow for over 13 years - wherever I went, she had to follow. If I left the room for a few minutes, she'd come looking for me, even when we visited the vet for the last time.

I miss my sweet Mimosa so much!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge: Candid Shots

Updated to fix the link to Cee's new blog url.

Friday was Animal Day so this is going to be all about animals.

Exploring Galé beach, Algarve
I just love walks on the beach!

Dogs in synchronized waiting
If we do synchronized lying down for you, will we get the leftovers?

Dog with itchy back
Wait a minute, I'm scratching my itch.

Taking photos on a country walk
Stopping for some photos on an Algarve country walk.

Visit Cee's for more candid shots!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge: Brown and Sepia

Updated to fix the link to Cee's new blog url.

Bark from around my rose bushes:
Pine bark

 A beautiful door in a nearby town:

 One of the many horses at the Santa Maria da Feira medieval fair last year:
brown horse

Enjoy other takes on brown and sepia at Cee's.

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