Sunday, January 27, 2013

Focused attention

Have you noticed that our pets do not multi-task. Unlike us humans, they concentrate all their attention on the task at hand. It's fascinating to watch.
dog sitting alert
"Intruders beware, I'm here!"

You can see another shot of her alert and ready to scare the living daylights out of any intruder here.

smiling dog
"OK, I got it, I'll smile for the camera."

She is so willing to please!

sweet little dog
"Hmm... interesting smell here."

You should see her homing in on a gecko!

dog in the garden
"Hmm...I knew it - that cat was here again."

cat taking refuge in a lemon tree
"Hey there, human! Get those dogs away from me!

I promise no animal or human was harmed in the production of this post!

This is my entry for Jake's Sunday Post challenge - Focused attention. You can check out the other entries here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cee's Fun Foto challenge: Wood

Wood/Spring: Wind, Moisture, Air, Minerals, Ink, Mind, Rubber, Paper, Plants, Poison, Wax, Dissolve, Carbon, Clouds, Health, Space... all part of the challenge this week.

Well, I've been hibernating for a whole week now, so I had a look at my stash of photos and came up with these shots:

Salgados beach, Algarve
Boardwalk to Salgados beach and spring flowers on the dunes.

Old tree stump
I wonder what the original tree looked like.

Old tree stump
Same tree trunk/stump, different angle, different month.

Boardwalk at Alvor beach under a a pale-blue sky full of fluffy clouds.

You will find many more interpretations at Cee's.

Thank you for stopping by!

9th November 2013 - updated Cee's link.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Red roses


Pondering simplicity

I found this little gem on Goodreads:

 “A rose lay open in full bloom
and, looking from my garden room,
I watched the sun-baked flower fill with rain.
It seemed so fragile,
resting there,
and such a silence filled the air,
the beauty of the moment caused me pain.
"What more?" I thought. "There must be more."
As if in answer then, I saw
one weighty drop that caused my rose to fall.
It trembled, then cascaded down
to earth just staining gentle brown
and, since then, I've felt different.
That's all.”

― Julie Andrews, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years

Why is it that you spend so much time expecting more instead of focusing on the simple things in life that make you happy?

This post was inspired by Jake's Sunday Post challenge: Simplicity.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge - Water

Water, winter, sea, ice, storms, rain, steam, sound, mist, acid. salt, time, pressure, moon, mirror, snow, frost, sugar... hmm, so much to work with - where to start?

OK, I love water and the sea so I've got lots of photos of these two subjects.
Silves and the Arade river
The Arade River passing through Silves

Torreira - Aveiro Lagoon
The Aveiro Lagoon at Torreira

A winter sea view - Torreira beach
A winter sea view at Torreira beach, Aveiro

Now, when it comes to winter, I have to tell you it is my least favourite season of the year but it does make for some spectacular shots of snow and ice. In Portugal we don't have much of that so I have to settle for grey, misty mornings.

Aveiro Lagoon
Very grey and misty - another part of the Aveiro Lagoon

The Arade River - Silves (again)

And now something on a much smaller scale - my godson's pond:

The fish were in hiding!

To visit more entries for this challenge, click on the image.

Cee's new blog url updated on 7th November 2013.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - Jan. 2013

It's the 15th of the month again. One of the  reasons I like the Garden bloggers' bloom day challenge so much is that it has made me more aware of exactly what blooms when. My aim is have flowers in winter in every corner of my garden. After all, this is the Algarve and even on a grey winter's day like today, the temperatures are expected to range between 6 and 14 degrees Celsius.

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens does very well in this region. Mine is in a pot (not the best place for it) and has produced a flower. The close-up was taken 4 days' ago.

Aloe arborescens close-up

The grass (in the background) has a common weed for company but I won't panic as I did before because my friendly gardener told me not to worry about it: "The frost and spring weather will make it wither," he said. The grass needs mowing but it's cold (at least I think it is) and unpleasantly windy and I'm ill.


The orchids haven't flowered yet but this yellow one looks promising. As I was taking photos this morning, guess what I discovered on my more fragile red orchid - a couple of locusts - yuck - I didn't invite them!

Locusts on orchid
Locusts enjoying the morning sun

 Still blooming

Yellow hibiscus

Red hibiscus

I am amazed that the hibiscus still have some blooms - not looking their best but who can blame them.

Pink geranium

This geranium seems to like living by the wall.

"You can count on me" section


This lavender flowers all year round!


These lavenders are looking good. One is starting to bloom now and the one behind it has beautiful grey foliage.

Rosemary and lamb's ear

Some more "shades of grey" - groundcovering rosemary and lamb's ear.

Blue potato bush

I've discovered the name of this dependable bush - it's a blue potato bush (Lycianthes rantonnetii). 

Potato vine and jasmine

My potato vine flowers all year long, too. Pushing through is some jasminum polyanthum that is ready to bloom and scent the air next month.

Now for some firsts:

Natural mosquito repellant

This is supposed to keep away mosquitoes. I can't remember its name but I am used to seeing it flower in summer. Well, it's decided to flower now, which is a nice surprise.

Orange blossom

These are the first orange blossoms and there are lots of oranges still on the tree!

White crocus

This is my first crocus flower this year!


Indoors, my poinsettias are still looking quite good. I can't believe that they even survived being left alone in the cold house while I travelled north. I don't usually have luck with them so the fact they are still looking OK after spending a month in my home is indeed a pleasant surprise.

Now I'm off to May Dream Gardens, where Carol hosts this challenge, to visit some wonderful gardens. Why don't you join me?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

E is for Elephant

Young elephants in Zimbabwe
Young African elephants - aren't they cute?

African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth.

Facts you may not have known:

  • African elephants have large ears that look a bit like the map of the continent.
  • Asian elephants are smaller and have smaller, rounded ears.
  • Their ears radiate heat and keep them cooler.
  • Elephants like spraying themselves with water and a coating of dust.
  • Their trunks contain over 100 thousand muscles and are used for smelling, breathing, trumpeting, drinking and picking up things.
  • African elephants have two "fingerlike features on the end of their trunks" that help them grasp things. Asian elephants have only one of these features.
  • They use their tusks to dig for food and water, strip bark from trees and fight (the males).
  • Many elephants are still being killed for their ivory tusks, even though the ivory trade has been illegal for years.
  • Elephants are herbivorous and consume massive amounts of food daily.
  • The male elephant is called a bull and the female is called a cow.
  • Male elephants can grow to be 4 metres tall and weigh 7 thousand kilos!
  • An elephant pregnancy is around 22 months and the baby elephant will weigh about 100 kg at birth!
  • Elephants are intelligent animals. They are one of the few species to use tools and seem to "show empathy for dying or dead individuals of their kind".
  • Many elephants have died recently in Zimbabwe due to droughts and consequent water shortage.

For more information, the National Geographic is a great site to visit.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge: Metal

From the traditional ...

Portimão band stand
Wrought iron band stand, Portimão
Gate in Silves
Wrought iron gate to a former factory, Silves
Bridge over the Sado River
Bridge, Alcácer do Sal

Dom Luis I Bridge, Porto
Looking up at the structure of the Dom Luis Bridge, Porto

Old bridge over the Arade river
Recently painted bridge over the Arade River, Portimão

... to the modern...

Pavilhão do Arade
Metal-roofed congress centre/concert hall blending into the landscape
Cee's new blog url updated on 9th November 2013.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I'm not one for making New Year resolutions. That may be because when I do, I usually break at least one of them before the first week of the new year is up. Does anyone out there have the same problem?
Having said that, I have achieved some courageous goals in the past. I decided to change career just before the age of thirty. It involved getting a university degree, so I did, while working full-time, with the encouragement of a colleague and the understanding of my boss and my family, of course.

Then, a few years ago, while visiting the island of Madeira, I realized that having grown up in the tropics, I was never going to get used to the cold, grey, wet winters in the north of Portugal. I set out to get a transfer to a better climate and here I am, in the sunny Algarve!
One of the first pics I took with my mobile phone in the Algarve
Now I have a simple goal: to lose the kilos I put on during 2012. Wish me luck!
When setting goals for myself, I like to keep in mind a quote by Theodore Roosevelt:
Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.”

Goals is the theme set by Jake this weekend. Check out fellow bloggers' goals here.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cee's Fun Foto Challenge: 2012 people, animals, outdoors and nature

I am joining Cee's challenge for the first time and starting off with a combination post:

People and Animals

Beach seller

Walking back and forth all day in the summer months, selling his wares cannot be easy, yet he always has a smile for anyone he meets along the way.

Algoz market
Locals at the monthly market in Algoz - shopping and catching up on the gossip.

Human statue at a fair
This guy had the good sense to choose a sitting position!

Medieval fair - playing a pauper
I have used this photo of a participant in the street animation at a medieval fair before on a post for Jake's Sunday post challenge.

Dogs enjoying the garden
I can't resist introducing my 4 dogs. There are quite a few posts about them on my blog. Here are 2 in the garden.

Dogs enjoying the beach
Here are my other 2 on an outing to the beach.

Outdoors and Nature

Algarve - carob tree
A carob tree, common in the Algarve landscape.

Algarve - almond tree in bloom
An almond tree in bloom, also common in the Algarve in January/February.

Aveiro lagoon
A cloudy morning at the Aveiro lagoon.

Click on the image below to visit Cee and learn more about her challenge.

Cee's new blog url updated on 9th November 2013.

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