A drive to somewhere in the mountains


Somewhere? Can’t you be more specific? Well no, right now I’m drinking tea and eating roasted chestnuts just out of the wood burner oven, so looking a map seems like a multi-task too far for me. Also, I have a throat infection and I really couldn’t be bothered! Anyway it wasn’t a drive to anywhere in specific, it was just a meandering drive to check out some new scenery. Sorry about the lack of photos, hands on wheel at all times.

Looking somewhere northish probably the 2km high Serra da Estrela off in the distance.



Some village by a river. Probably unnaturally wide due to damming down river.



In some other village where we stopped for lunch. This village like many in the mountains, features a glorious praia fluvial (river beach). Most have a grassed area for lounging about, safe walls with steps, a flat paved river bed, toilets and wheelchair access to the water. This one also has picnic benches, covered kiddie playing equipment and outdoor exercise machines. A real social focal point for the village, even out of season when the water is not to be touched if you are sane.

To top it all off, another example of complimentary yet completely opposite architecture that the Portuguese are so good at. This is the entrance to the praia fluvial, including a central walkway with toilets and changing off to each side. That orange is so outrageous and the pure geometry in this village setting just shouldn’t make sense. But look at it! Happy place.


Somebody’s mother pretending to have a shower. Or is that a public teleport zone?



Return to an old favourite


This post was meant to be yesterday and before Porto, but due to operator malfunction, you’re only seeing it now.

It’s raining, the fire is going and a spicy hot chocolate has just been polished off. Warm and content. I could go and clean the wreck of what’s left of the kitchen after I made this morning’s traditional Sunday fried breakfast or I could get distracted! After a long two second think, distracted was the chosen path.

Some photos of various doings over the summer with visiting family. One of the many fantastic places within easy reach of us is an old favourite, Alcobaça Monastery. We hadn’t been there since we were traveling through Portugal and it was nice to see the old girl has had a bit of a tart-up! Most of the stone work has been cleaned back to its original blinding white and it looks glorious. Lucky I had sun glasses or it might have been the last thing I saw.




The tombs of Inês and Pedro. The story of this couple is a fascinating part of Portugal’s history. A throne, power struggle, family turmoil, epic love and horrific gore. Sounds remarkably Game of Thrones doesn’t it? Only this isn’t an HBO production so it doesn’t feature boobs liberally distributed throughout. If you don’t like the sound of hearts being ripped out, decapitation or kissing exhumed corpses then I suggest you read no further! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In%C3%AAs_de_Castro



Some lovely old typography which I have translated for you. No ballius gamesium in the cloisters. The managmentium.


An extractor fan hood to end all before it. The kitchen is entirely covered in glazed tiles and features mod-cons like fresh water from the re-routed stream.


Ummmm? Well let’s just say I don’t want to stand under that little cherub when it rains!


A taste of Porto



Well almost everyone else has been there, so it was time to visit Portugal’s second city. And what a fantastic city it is! Calling it second is underselling the place. Let’s call it Portugal’s northern capital.

There are so many interesting streets to wander and I was having such a good time, I suffered a bit of photographer’s block. We were there for only a couple of unusually scorching days (for up north), so just a little taste of Port-o this time. Definitely a place to return to and explore in greater depth. Sarah has some very interesting old family history in Porto which she might tell you about one day if she’s in the mood. And you’re nice.





There’s a little bit of China in many parts of Portugal and the centre of Porto is no exception. Yet again I’m left pondering who influenced who, especially when you look back at the city from the southern bank of the Douro (first photo). A bit crumbly in places and remarkably with the influx of tourists in the last 20 years, still has “real life” going on. Tucked down the dark and cool alleys you’ll find little cheap and basic looking cafés with fluorescent lighting, tiny grocery stores, ironmongers and other useful shops for everyday living. Along the narrow promenade you might be jostling for a position for the perfect photo like any large tourist destination, but you will also see doors occasionally left open with bikes in the hall and fishing nets being repaired on the wall outside.



The Majestic Café. Famous, heaving full of people and elegant without a hint of snobbery in the air. Ladies taking tea and short wearing riff-raff like us rub shoulders happily here. It was 30 something degrees, the extravagant Art Nouveau doors were wide open front and back and the very old-school formal looking waiters swooshed left and right effortlessly through the tiny gaps between tables. Coffee and a little bit of forehead sweat followed by a cooling plate of three sorbets. I wish this was our local!



Porto, we will see you again.

Close encounter


Next in our exciting new series ‘Things to make my mum wish we weren’t here’ – a scorpion in the bedroom!


I was getting ready for bed so had already taken my contact lenses out. I walked into the dark bedroom (bare feet of course, it’s still hot here), down one side of the bed to turn the bedside light on, down the other side to turn that light on, put some dirty washing in the laundry basket. Then I saw a leaf on the floor on my side of the bed (the side of the bed I had just walked down in the dark in bare feet) so bent down to take a closer look before picking it up – fortunately, as the leaf turned out to be a scorpion. And not teeny tiny one either – this one was about 7cm long. I sat on the bed quite quickly and called out to David who hates scorpions more than just about anything else. He came and looked at it, swore quite a bit, stomped around a bit trying to decide the best way to catch it and swore quite a bit more. In the end, scooping it up in a dustpan then trapping it under a glass jar was deemed to be the best way and was pretty successful. We then took it across the road and flung it into the land of the abandoned house opposite us.

Apparently this little chap is Buthus ibericus and not uncommon in Portugal. While the sting is said to be extremely painful, it shouldn’t do any real harm to a normal, healthy adult. We look forward to never seeing one again.