Tag Archives: Portugal

A mystical sunset in Portugal – was it a sign?

I was searching through my photographs when I came upon this mystical sunset. The cross was evanescent, fading just as quickly as it had appeared.

A mystical sunset in Portugal - was it a sign?

An evanescent sunset in Portugal – was it a sign?

I still wonder if there was some spiritual significance.

Portuguese Heritage – Fado

The theme for this week’s WordPress photo challenge is Heritage. Thinking of the words ‘heritage’ and ‘Portugal’ in the same sentence the first thing that comes to mind is Fado.

We were fortunate to see the highly acclaimed Fado singer Mariza in concert in 2010. It is one of those treasured memories that will always stay with me.

Mariza in concert - Lagos 2010

Mariza in concert – Lagos 2010

Dating back to the early 1900’s Fado (destiny/fate) is traditional Portuguese music with its roots in Lisbon. From my experience of listening to Fado I can only describe it as the voice of a soul in torment. The fadista (singer) usually sings about the harsh realities of daily life and is extremely melancholy. Expression also plays an important part of the performance with anguish not only portrayed in the voice but also in the facial expressions.

Mariza in concert 2010

Mariza in concert 2010

The fadista can be male or female and is often accompanied by guitars including a Portuguese guitar

The Challenge

This week, share a photo of something that says “heritage” to you. It can be from your own family or culture — a library, a work of public art, a place of worship, an object passed down to you from previous generations. Or, like me, you can choose to focus on a tradition to which you don’t belong, but to which you’ve been exposed whether through travel, moving, or the people in your life.

Related posts: Fado is like Marmite (or should that be Veggiemite?)
Useful websites:
https://portugal.com
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fado

Piglet’s Plot: Problems With My Onions

Onion Blight

Onion Blight

You name it, my fruit and vegetables probably have caught/will catch it. I was a sickly child and my fruit and veg seem to be following in the family tradition. With this in mind I literally love my plants to death, or so I’ve been told.

In December I added rotted horse manure to the plot, so I was anticipating bumper crops of the usual suspects such as onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, peppers and beans to name a few.

The  baby onion plugs bought from the local market and planted in February were looking good and we’d already enjoyed several feeds of Spring onions. I always plant more than required then thin the rows and leave the remaining onions to develop. Well, that was the plan until disaster struck!

Last week I went to talk to my onions, as you do, and was horrified to discover they had developed, according to Mr. Google who dug up no-dig-vegetablegarden.com to help solve the mystery, a virus: Botrytis (I think).  This is a fungus species which affects onions and as there are three different types.

  • Botrytis squamosa (leaf blight)
  • Botrytis cinerea (leaf fleck)
  • Botrytis allii (neck rot)

I decided the problem was leaf blight (Botrytis squamosa) which spreads rapidly or Downy Mildew. (Downy Mildew is fungal and can be treated with a weekly application of organic fungicide)

onion blight

onion blight

I don’t know what caused this other than high humidity.

After deliberating for several hours I decided not to take any chances and dig up the crop and salvage what I could – some for immediate use and dry the smaller onions ready for pickling.

The leaves were disposed of so as to avoid cross-contamination to other plants.

I will not attempt to plant further onions this year but will focus my energy (and water) on the remaining crop of tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber, radish, peppers and rocket.

Strawberry Quest

 August Strawberries in Portugal

August Strawberries in Portugal

I’ve been meaning to set myself this challenge for some time so after reading the theme for this week’s photo challenge is  ‘Quest’.

and according to Merriam

Simple Definition of quest
: a journey made in search of something
: a long and difficult effort to find or do something

I think a ‘quest’ to pick strawberries for nine months out of twelve for the next year is ‘long and difficult. So this will be my quest.

Growing Strawberries containers
stawberry-quest

Palácio de Mateus Reflections

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is all about reflections.

Palacio de Mateus2

Palacio de Mateus

Palacio de Mateus

One of the least memorable trips on our Douro river cruise was a visit to Palácio de Mateus, near Vila Real. Please don’t ask why but I was expecting to visit a vineyard for the Mateus Rose wine. Yep, the devil is always in the detail and I failed to connect the dots.

I am not a student of architecture so the building while providing an impressive photo oppotunity on our arrival failed to stir much interest within. Even Wiki only has a page stub.

The official website is www.casademateus.com

Why does my Aloe Arborescens have black leaves?

Is there a cure?

About a year ago I noticed my Aloe Arborescens were covered in dappled black marks, and after a few months the leaves turned black, shriveled and died.

 Aloe Arborescen - black marks on leaves

Aloe Arborescens – black marks on leaves

There is an old adage: Don’t put off till tomorrow what you should do today.

Unfortunately, I never acted immediately and when I did seek advice I was told it was a virus and there was basically nothing I could do to  cure it. I was then advised to remove all the affected leaves so only the new growth remained. I tried, but after spending many back-breaking hours pulling off the dead leaves I decided the plant was too far gone and we cut it back to ground level.

Apparently Aloe’s are rarely affected by pests although the root and dry rot can be a problem. I was about to give up on my mission to discover the cause of the black marks when someone suggested it could be a fungus due to humidity. Ah ha! After an extensive search of the web looking for clues I discovered:

Insects such as aphids and snout beetles sometimes attack aloes, and they occasionally fall prey to fungal diseases, such as rust, especially if they are growing close together. Spray the plants with a systemic insecticide to stop the sucking insects in their tracks.
Make sure that the poison runs into the growth points between the leaves as well. A fungicide with a copper base can help to control diseases such as rust, which are a nuisance in humid climates.

Credit: An article published on The Gardener

I am on a mission to find a fungicide with a copper base to save my one remaining Aloe Arborescen growing in another part of the garden. Can anyone recommend a product which I can buy here in Portugal or from the net?

Aloe Arborescen with black marks on leaves

Aloe Arborescen with black marks on leaves

All the plants pictured above have since been cut down to ground level in the hope they will regrow and I will get a second chance.

Fingers crossed!

Does anyone have any other suggestions or advice, please?

Other useful websites:
TipsPlants.com
PlantsAfrica.com

Narrow: Locks, Dams And The Douro River, Portugal

The theme for this week’s photo challenge is narrow. When I was reviewing my photographs for this challenge I was reminded of a weeks cruise with Croisi Europe along the Douro river in Portugal. The river cruise was a seven-day leisurely return trip from Porto, in northern Portugal, to Vega de Terron on the Spanish border. We navigated several locks which was a first for me. I thought they were AMAZING!

Narrow entrance to a lock

Narrow entrance to a lock

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Approaching the lock

Approaching the lock

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A long way up

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It's a long way up!

It’s a long way up!

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Finally at the next level

Finally at the next level

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Crestuma-Lever Dam, Douro River, Portugal

Crestuma-Lever Dam, Douro River, Portugal

Useful websites:

Eco Tours Portugal

Croisi Europe River Cruises

One final picture to tempt you to visit the Douro!

View of Douro River in Portugal

View of Douro River in Portugal

Opposites: Remain or Leave?

The theme for this week’s WordPress challenge is ‘Opposites’. Contemplating the differences in opinion for Brexit: ‘Remain’ or ‘Leave’, how could I express the extremes behind the vote and the wisdom of the ‘Leave’ result in terms of a photograph?

In the end it will boil down to money. Some think the UK will be better off leaving the EU while others disagree. Some people will benefit financially while others won’t. There are always winners and losers so let’s just hope the UK ‘leavers’ with their ‘island’ mentality eat their words and count the money (or not).

So for my ‘Opposites’ contribution I present a photograph of money: coins and notes. Both of value yet represented by different properties.

Counting the cost of Brexit

Counting the cost of Brexit

Six Unusual Holiday Activities In The Algarve

The Algarve, is not only blessed with over sixty blue flag beaches, numerous golf courses, vibrant nightlife, glorious weather but also a host of other activities visitors to the area may not always be aware of. When booking hotels and flights for your trip to the Algarve, there are several helpful websites, such as First Choice. It couldn’t be easier!

Here are my six hot tips.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Stand UP Paddle Boarding is a cross between surfing and canoeing. The SUP board is similar to a standard surfboard and the paddle, similar to that of a canoe. You can paddle board on flat waters, such as Alvor lagoon, or in open water and surfing the waves.

Paddle Boarding with Lagos SUP

Paddle Boarding with Lagos SUP

When I contacted Lagos SUP School for more information, my first question was: Is there an age limit?

“As to age, there is no age limit. Two weeks ago I went to the Bravura dam with a magnificent group of four girls, some close to 60 years.”

Paddle Boarding with Lagos SUP School

Paddle Boarding with Lagos SUP School

Beginners are advised to start in a quiet place without waves such as Alvor lagoon. SUP is easy and great fun, why not try it?

SUP - Alvor lagoon

SUP – Alvor lagoon

Grotto Trips: € 30 per person
Lessons: € 30 per student
Private coaching: € 35 per student
Dam trip & Alvor Lagoon trip € 30 per person

Lagos SUP School
Website: lagos-sup-school.com
Facebook: lagos.sup.school
Telephone: 960199612

RIVER TRIPS TO SILVES AND THE COASTAL CAVES

Looking for something different – why not take a boat trip up the Arcade river from Portimão to Silves?

River Trip to Silves

River Trip to Silves

There are currently three trips available:

Full Day Trip:
Visit magnificant caves along the local coastline. Navigate the Arcade River from Portimão and stop for lunch at a cosy riverside restaurant before returning to Portimao
Caves Tour:
Visit the caves along the local coastline – Trip Duration 1.5 hrs
Portimão to Silves

Sail up the Arcade river from Portimão to the ancient town of Silves where you can explore for 1.5 hrs before returning to Portimão

Please note: the trip to Silves is tide dependent, so do telephone first to check the time of departure.

Website: rivertriptosilves.co.uk
Email: rivertriptosilves@gmail.com
Mobile: +351 914 983 967

‘Write Now’ Creative Writing Workshop (Holiday Inn, Armação de Pêra

If you are looking for a ‘something different’, then I suggest you look no further than a  creative writing weekend organised by award winning author, Anne Aylor. The two day workshop is held at The Holiday Inn, a beautiful hotel in a stunning location right on the beach.

Creative Writing - Holiday Inn, Armação de Pêra

Creative Writing – Holiday Inn, Armação de Pêra

Regardless of whether you are a complete beginner or a published author, the workshop is great fun and almost a retreat as you ‘connect’ with your creative side.

Creative Writing Weekend with Anne Ayler at the Holiday Inn

Creative Writing Weekend with Anne Aylor at the Holiday Inn

I have now attended two of Anne’s workshops at the Holiday Inn, and have thoroughly enjoyed them!

For more information about this workshop, and others held in London and Spain check out Anne’s website: anneaylor.co.uk

Related articles: Creative Writing Course “Write Now!” and Creative Writing Course in the Algarve

Monchique Sausage Fair

(Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais de Serra de Monchique)

The sausage fair is held on the first weekend of March in the mountain town of Monchique. Situated in the Serra de Monchique the area is not only famous for it’s locally produced products, but also for the thermal spas at Caldas de Monchique. The area was also put under the spotlight when Prime Minister David Cameron enjoyed his two week family holiday in 2013.

The fair, a two-day event, is a great opportunity to sample the famous Monchique sausage, cured hams, locally produced medronho (fire water), fig liqueur, and delicious homemade cakes! There is also live music and other entertainment throughout the day and late into the night.

There are plenty of local restaurants serving traditional Portuguese food, so before visiting the fair you might even want to continue your journey up the mountain to take in the panoramic views from Foia which is 902metres above sea level. On a clear day, the panoramic views from Faro in the east to Cape Vincent in the west are fantastic!

Delicious Monchique  Sausage Festival!

Delicious Monchique Sausage Festival!

The fair is held in the Heliporto Municipal, Monchique. There is onstreet parking and easy access.

For more information check the local website, which incidentally does translate well if you use the ‘Google translate option’. If not, your resort Tourist Information Office should be able to access the information for you.

Website: cm-monchique.pt

Related articles:
Fair of Traditional Sausages ~ Feira dos Enchidos Tradicionais de Serra de Monchique and David Cameron visits the sleepy town of Aljezur

Silves Medieval Fair

For anyone on holiday during the second week of August, the Silves Medieval Fair should be included in your itinerary. The ancient, and winding streets of the Moorish town of Silves are lined with stalls selling tempting food, crafts and other interesting sundries. Tips: Don’t eat before you go because there are numerous stalls where you can buy food and then sit on straw bales to soak in the ambience. When you order Sangria, it is served in a rustic terracotta mug. You are charged for the mug but then it is yours to keep and replenish with Sangria at the various stalls as you wander round the streets.

Silves Medieval Fair

Silves Medieval Fair

There are street entertainers, music and even a jousting event which is well worth a visit, especially if your feet ache and you need to recharge your batteries!

Silves Medieval Fair

Silves Medieval Fair

If you really want to sample the ‘Medieval Experience’, you can hire costumes. Adults €3.00 and Children €2.00. Although from personal experience the temperature in Silves often exceeds 30C so take this into consideration before hiring. It’s hot!

I also recommend good non-slip footwear as the cobbled streets are VERY slippery.

Silves Medieval Fair

Silves Medieval Fair

Duration of fair: 10 days
Opening hours: 18.00-01.00
Entrance fee to the fair is only €2.00. No charge for children under 1.3 metres.

There is some disabled parking but you will need to arrive early (17.30).

Website: cm-silves.pt
Facebook: Feira Medieval de Silves

Related Articles: 
Silves Medieval Fair 2010
Silves Medieval Fair 2011
Silves Medieval Fair 2012

Festival da Batata Doce (Sweet Potato Festival)

If you are on holiday during the last weekend of November and looking for a day out away from the beaten tourist track of the Algarve, why not venture up to the Moorish town of Aljezur to experience the Sweet Potato Festival? The event is held in the Espaço Multiuso de Aljezur and is well signposted.

Sweet Potato Festival - Aljezur

Sweet Potato Festival – Aljezur

Check out the local crafts

Craft Stall - Sweet Potato Fesitival

Craft Stall – Sweet Potato Fesitival

Sample the local liqueurs – they are delicious! I can highly recommend fig and almond. Did you know you can even buy liquors made from sweet potatoes? No neither did I!

Sample some Liquors

Sample some Liquors

Better still, try some sweet potato cakes!

Delicious Sweet Potato Cakes

Delicious Sweet Potato Cakes

Opens 12.00hm until 24.00h

Website: cm-aljezur.pt or your local resort tourist information should have the details.

Related Articles:
Sweet Potato Festival – Festival da Batata-Doce de Aljezur.

Photo Credits
Paddle Boarding:h Lagos SUP School
Creative Writing: Anne Aylor
Silves River Trips

No Peaches for Piglet

A couple of years ago I bought a peach tree. I planted the baby tree in a large pot, talked to it daily and it thrived. This year it flowered and the flowers, to my delight, turned to peaches.

Piglet's Homegrown Peaches

Piglet’s Homegrown Peaches

After months of waiting for the peaches to grow and then ripen, I decided today was the day…

However, as I picked the peaches I realised something was wrong. The tiny brown spots, which I assumed were just spots, turned out to be holes the size of pinpricks. Out of the holes ran miniscule brown insects. When I cut into the peaches I could have cried.

Maggots in peaches

Maggots in peaches

The inside of the peaches were brown and a writhing mass of maggots. I now need to consult Mr. Google to see what preventive measures I can take to ensure I don’t experience the same problem next year.

You win some and lose some…

Any suggestions to prevent further infestation next year would be appreciated.