Thursday, January 30, 2014


Welcome! If you are visiting from the Grow Your Blog Party, you'll find my post HERE.

White Almond blossom
Jake suggested FLOWERS for our Sunday post and I thought "Almond blossom" for t'is the season here in the Algarve.
I took these photos today on the way between my school and home. The blossoms vary from white to almost shocking pink. The first photo is of the white blossom variety from the tree below.
Old almond tree in bloom

Nearby I found a tree of the almost shocking pink variety.
Pink almond tree

Pink almond blossom

Almond trees are nothing special most of the year but when they bloom they really liven up the winter landscape.

According to some, they also announce it's time to prune the roses!

For more posts on the FLOWERS theme, visit our host Jake.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Grow Your Blog 2014

I'm joining the party this year.

Let me tell you a little about myself and my personal blog, just in case you are a Grow Your Blog partyer or a first time visitor.

Africa is where my life story began (Zimbabwe, to be more precise) and the Algarve region of Portugal is where I live now. My parents were Portuguese, from a town to the south of Porto, but it was too cold for someone like me who is literally allergic to the cold! I decided to call my blog Africa to Algarve because I wanted to share with you everything that makes me miss Africa so much and all the things that remind me that moving to the Algarve was a great decision.

I started an A-Z of Zimbabwe and the Algarve, then I joined in Jake's Sunday post challenge, then I discovered Carol's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day monthly meme and Cee's Fun Foto challenge... and here I am, nearly two years later. I even started another blog in Portuguese. Rather surprisingly, I have found that lately that blog is getting more page views than this one.
Aloe arborescens
A-Z Zimbabwe - Aloes
Algarve chimney
A-Z Algarve - Chimneys
My smallest dog
Sunday post - Captivating
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
Arade River, Silves
Cee's Fun Foto challenge - Water
My job keeps me very busy. I'm a English teacher in a state school. In the past 2 years the financial crisis has taken its toll on most people in Portugal and I am no exception. I'm working longer hours for less than I earned 5 years ago and the fear of redundancy is ever present after almost two decades in a secure position! Posting may not be like clockwork because, quite frankly, I do it for the fun of it and when I can or when something inspires me. My A-Z sections are a work in very slow progress. When the weather is good and here it is a lot of the time, I have to be in my garden or out walking my dogs.

I hope you will stay a while, read a post or two and find something you like. I have found many interesting blogs and made friends with many gifted bloggers since I started my blogging adventure.

If you like getting postcards from different parts of the world, leave me a comment with your email and you may be one of the 3 people I will be sending a postcard to on the 15th February. I'd love for you to follow my blog on Google Friend Connect or Google+, but it is not a requirement for getting a postcard.

Thank you for reading and thank you to Vicki at 2 Bags Full for organizing this blog party.

Best regards,
Mara Paz

Edited to add:

Today I am taking Pandora for her first obedience training session. I may take a while to reply to comments but I promise I will answer each one and visit each blog asap.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Abstract  painting on ceramic tiles

This ceramic panel is my choice for the interpretation of FANTASY, Jake's Sunday post prompt for today. Click on the horse and you'll be transported on a FANTASY tour.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - Jan. 2014

It was a grey, drizzly day today. My Algarve garden in hardiness zone 10a needs sprucing up - shrubs need cutting back and the grass, overrun with common yellow oxalis, needs cutting. I only prune the roses in February or March. If I do that job now, the frost may damage the new growth. Some are still flowering.

The lone bloom on the aloe I showed you in December looks like this now.

My little lemon tree is still sharing the same planter as the lobster flowers and cheering up the back patio.

The creeping rosemary continues to produce its little pale blue flowers.

Then there is the lavender, my favourite plant of 2013!
This one has been flowering for ages but now it is begging to be cut back. In recent months it has attracted more wildlife than any other plant in my garden.

This one is in a corner of the garden. It was cut back drastically in August and is looking fantastic now.
This one is in full bloom.

This is the newest addition to my "collection". I am planning to have more in the rose bed if my cuttings take.

Next month I hope to have yellow orchid blooms, among other things.

I guess the garden looks very similar in December and January. In southern Portugal it is surprisingly easy to have blooms every month of the year! I have learnt a lot from reading garden blogs and I hope to make the colder months even more colourful next year.

Now I'm off to May Dreams Gardens where Carol hosts GBBD. Why don't you join me?

Sunday, January 12, 2014


In the early 60s this was my reality.

My mom was beginning the daunting task of turning a bare plot in the suburbs of Salisbury into a garden. That must be where I get the passion for gardening from.

This is my first Sunday post of 2014 for Jake's challenge. Click on the horse and see how others have interpreted REALITY.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - Dec. 2013 - long overdue!

Foliage adding interest
There were very few blooms to photograph on the 15th of December, but the foliage at the gate looked quite interesting. There were some pale blue flowers on the creeping rosemary.

December was a difficult month for me. It was cold, wet and windy and I had a virus and then a bad, persistent cough. I couldn't do anything in the garden. The grass was looking bad and the beds were full of weeds, common yellow oxalis mainly. Fortunately, I had some help from a gardener who came on the 14th to cut the grass and remove some weeds. I was so relieved! Finally I could relax knowing that the garden would no longer look abandoned at Christmas.

There were some roses and lavender.

Again, a rose and lavender.  Lavender was, in fact, my favourite plant of 2013. It just keeps on blooming.

Aloe in bloom
If I had a big garden, this aloe would be in the ground and I'd allow it to spread. As it is, I can count on one glorious bloom a year.

Madeira orchid

A few years ago a friend and colleague who was teaching music on the Island of Madeira brought me three plants. The only one that survived was this orchid. But it wouldn't flower! Now, finally, it has! Why only now? I have no idea!

In a few days it will be time for another GBBD post. Until then, I'm sure you'll find a way to enjoy your garden.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Meet Pandora

Rescue dog - undefined breed
Two days after I got her from the shelter - doesn´t she have the face of an angel?
I love her, she loves me but it turns out that she is suffering from separation anxiety, which is quite common in dogs from shelters, apparently. She gets really stressed and is stressing out her canine and human companions. As a result, I have been reading up on the problem in an attempt to turn the situation around while at the same time trying to limit the damage she can do around the house when left on her own.

If you have ever had to deal with a similar problem and have any suggestions, please share them with me. We need all the help we can get.

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