Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cee's Fun Foto challenge: Red

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

I'm trying to catch up. Last week our challenge was to show off a few photographs in red, white or red and white together.

I love red cars. This was the first car I ever bought - red, of course.

Red Fiat Uno
My first red car

This is a house in the village of Alte.

Red house at Alte, Algarve
Un unusual colour for a house!

Now for some nature - a bird from Cape Town.
Red bird
World of Birds, Cape Town. Anyone know the bird's name?

More nature - flowers from my garden.

Red hibiscus
Sun-kissed hibiscus

Lilies - their fragrance is quite overwhelming.

For many other entries in this challenge, pop over to Cee's.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


If I didn't have a phobia of flying, I probably wouldn't be writing this blog from the Algarve. Why? Because when I decided to put in for a transfer, my first choice was the island of Madeira where I had spent a memorable holiday.

Funchal Garden, Madeira
Garden in downtown Funchal, Madeira
The impracticality of moving lock, stock and barrel to the island soon became clear, however. Would I really enjoy living on an island? Some friends and colleagues who had lived there, kept mentioning a feeling of being trapped or claustrophobia. Logistics and expenses had to be considered - sell my house or not? I already had three dogs and they would be going with me of course, but how? Sell my car or take it and go by sea? Would I get to stay in Funchal or some remote community? Could I visit my family on mainland Portugal without my phobia getting out of control?

All these considerations led me to give up my original dream. Determined to move to a sunnier climate, I visited the Algarve for the first time and very reluctantly decided that the south of Portugal was second best but eminently more practical.

But, and it is a huge BUT, I will never forget how I fell in love with the island of Madeira as soon as my plane landed there in 2003. (Teachers still had a week's break during carnival week then ... sigh...)

Madeira's Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden, Funchal
I loved every minute of my holiday!

Funchal, Madeira
Funchal, seen from the seafront
There was so much natural beauty crammed onto a relatively small island!

Typical houses at Santana, Madeira
Santana and its funny little houses
I couldn't believe that a friend had told me that 4 days were enough time to see everything there was to see - I could have spent that time at each of the towns we visited on the guided tours! So much of the flora reminded me of Africa! I think my friend got tired of my blurting out the names of so many trees and flowers! 

The weather was marvellous. We knew that we should take light clothes but we weren't prepared for how hot it got in the middle of the day in the beginning of March and our clothes weren't light enough. I could boil during the day or buy new clothes - I bought two new tops and felt much better.

The food was delicious, too. I became a fan of garlic bread and tuna steaks. All too soon it was time to leave but the memories of that holiday linger on. It was unforgettable!

Unforgettable is the theme for this weeks' Sunday post (Oops, am I way behind, or what?) For more unforgettable posts, visit Jake.

You may also like my post "City"

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day: Feb 2013

It has been a funny February - rain, wind, lowish temperatures - not good weather to venture out and get the garden ready for spring! Result: the garden is a mess. Today the gardener was supposed to come and prune the orange tree to let more light into its centre, but he didn't show.

Unkempt garden
In need of some TLC!

Yet, there are some signs of spring.

The orange tree, which still has lots of ripe oranges, is already preparing to bloom. And the bulbs I planted in autumn are at various stages. Tulip foliage is popping up, and the narcissuses and freesias are beginning to show their flowers. The crocuses seem a bit shy, though.

Narcissus and freesia
Hopefully this planter will be full of colour soon.
Weather-beaten narcissus.

Succulent and freesia
These unlikely companions seem happy together.

Hmm, I know I planted more than one iris bulb here!

Some lovely rosemary scent by the garden gate.

And finally, my beautiful orchids:
Large yellow orchid

Large yellow orchids
I love orchids!
Some time soon, I'll have red and pink orchid blooms, too.

To see what is happening in gardens all over the world, pop over to May Dream Gardens' blog hop.

Cee's Fun Foto challenge: Black and White

This week our challenge is to show off a few Black and White or Sepia toned photographs.

I have chosen one very old, black and white snap of a family outing to the beach. I have no idea who took it - it was probably one of those photographers you used to find at strategic spots hoping that visitors would agree to having a picture taken.

Family outing to Espinho beach, 1960

The reason I have chosen this snap is that the very special person who sent it out to my mother when we were living in Zimbabwe passed away this Monday.

In loving memory of my very special aunt, now in her eighties, a wonderful wife and mother, a woman with a fantastic sense of humour. RIP.

For many other entries in this challenge, pop over to Cee's.

7th November - updated Cee's link.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cee's fun foto challenge: Earth

This is the last week for our Chinese 5 element challenges:

Earth/Harvest: Clay, Rock, Dust, Sand, Mud, Crystal, Powder, Shadow, Space, Darkness, Gravity, Bone, Silicon

Black Rock, Praia da Luz Beach
Black Rock at Praia da Luz Beach
Galé Beach, "rocky window"
Rocky "window to the sea" at Galé Beach
Low tide at Galé beach exposes more sand and interesting rocks.

Parched earth
Parched earth, before the rains came.
Typical "calçada" pavement and one of the many stone carvings by the Arade River, Portimão.

As I am still more or less hibernating and my camera batteries, which are rechargeable, keep dying on me at the most inconvenient moments, I have given up on trying to add to this short selection of photos.

Visit Cee's for many more entries

7th November 2013 - updated Cee's link.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Ongoing is...
  • my struggle with the winter blues, or should that be the winter greys? Spring cannot come soon enough for me!
  • my disgust at proposals to eliminate 50 thousand jobs in state education in Portugal - that's teachers and other employees.
Those who can, teach!

For more upbeat takes on Jake's theme Ongoing, click on his new Sunday Post button below.


Sunday, February 3, 2013


I don't read much poetry, but I do enjoy Emily Dickinson's work. This is one of my favourites and came immediately to mind when I read Jake's prompt:

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

                                    Emily Dickinson

For more Sunday post interpretations on Hope, pop over to Jake's blog. 

First Blogoversary

One year ago today I published my first post and became a blogger.
Image by Ciara (public domain)

One year and over 100 posts later, I can say that it has been a marvellous experience. I feel very lucky to have had so many visitors and received supportive comments from experienced bloggers from all over the world. 

I was honoured to get the Sunshine Blogger Award from lovely, funny Marcia at Menopausal Mother and especially honoured to be mentioned as deserving Jo Bryant's awards at Chronicles of Illusions. Jo's blog is in a class of its own so being considered worthy of an award by her is really special. Thank you, Marcia and Jo, from the bottom of my heart. Perhaps I should reconsider and get more into the award thing as it does bring in a lot of traffic... hmm... I don't know.

I was very surprised to get an invitation from Polly Allen @holidays.easyjet.com to enter a competition. I nearly didn't even open her email, thinking it was spam/scam, so I ended up doing the Insider Tips post just before the deadline and it was only yesterday, while I was googling for something quite unrelated that I discovered that I had been included as a "top blogger" and "Algarve expert" on EasyJet's Insider Tips from Top Bloggers. Wow, that brought a smile to my face!

Thank you to all those who visit and especially to those who leave comments. I will try to keep you coming back.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cee's Fun Foto challenge: Fire

This week our challenge is to show off a few photos of the Chinese element of Fire.

Fire/Summer: Heat, Light, Lava, Radiation, Sparks, Plasma, Explosions, Burn, Blaze, Oil, Ash, Smoke, Glass, Napalm, Sun, Matter

Alte barbecue
Alte, Algarve

Wood-fired oven
Oven, Medieval fair, Feira, Aveiro

Medieval spectacle
Smokey stage, Medieval fair, Castro Marim

Summer flowers
Sun-kissed summer flowers

Fiery gazanias
Fiery gazanias

For more entries, visit Cee's.

9th November 2013 - updated Cee's link.

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