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Monday, 23 May 2011


This is the view that Prince Henry the Navigator looked out upon when he stood at the end of the world. He and many other "Navigators" wondered what was beyond the horizon. Most feared that they would be sucked over the edge into an abyss or even hell and it took a great deal of courage to venture out into the Atlantic Ocean in a small wooden boat, relying on the moving stars to tell you where you might be.

The cliffs at the south western edge of Portugal are massive and the view stretched further than it would have done if you had stood on the beach. Perhaps the fact that you still couldn't see the dreaded edge from up high fed the imagination and encouraged the early Portuguese explorers.

On the way to Sagres and these cliffs we passed through Lagos where storks were nesting on the tops of large chimneys. These are birds I have never seen before in the wild and they brought back memories of childhood stories in books showing storks nesting on the chimneys in Europe. Our tour guide was less than impressed and nearly spat at the thought that they might be an attraction. "Many more later in Silves", she said. "You can take pictures there!"

So I did. I found them nesting in the top of an old palm tree in the park beside the river.

I took pics with the zoom so they are a bit fuzzy but if you look carefully you can see the chick's head.

And this lovely fellow was taking the air along the banks, deftly helping himself to a slow sardine or two.

Back in Albufeira, my favourite bird was this cheerful cocky.

As you can see, he is obviously a close relative of my own Cocky, bought in a job lot at Watsons Auction Rooms and jealously covetted by visitors and particularly by DJ. These Cockies sport attire from the same outfitters! They have the same stance and they have the same vocation in life.

The fairly posh hotel where we stayed had a fairly posh pool, but once the sun had gone in as well as all but the hardiest of guests, the seagulls came for their daily dip. Portugal does big seagulls. These were easily the size of a large duck. They seemed to prefer the deeper blue of the tiles in our pool and eschewed paler pools in other hotels. I eschew all pools and didn't even put a toe in so they were welcome to their daily ablutions as far as I was concerned.
The rest of the hotel was spotless and the food was fresh and tasty, the sun shone all the time except for one morning and we loved the town, the bustle and lifestyle.

But just for one week!!! It's lovely to be home. I start getting homesick after about three days.

Cheers Gillian

Thursday, 12 May 2011


It has been a very busy time of late but at last the new snug is finished. I spent a couple of days being very tired. When I woke in the mornings it took a few moments to realise that we didn't have to get up in time for the tradesmen and builders.

But we did get up and have been out and about visiting interesting things and places. The old pumping station at Ryhope near Sunderland was open and in the grounds was a classic car show. DJ's favourite was this old Rover. I liked them all.

A couple of weeks later we went to Locomotion, the overflow of the National Railway museum in York which is full, and rode on one of the old replicas of The Rocket. Lots of old engines were out and about being polished and stoked up. Black smoke and steam everywhere and "blokes-who-love-steamtrains" were in heaven.

The first load of carpet for the snug was flawed and had to go back. The next load was too short. My fault. I had omitted the doorway when I measured up. Fortunately the carpet layer was very adept with a piece of oak trim and it all looks lovely. we moved the furniture back in the next day and have sat in it ever since. Tigger has spent some time in here with us but is still treating her bed which is on the settee in the sitting room as her default bed. She is in there now, probably wondering where we are.

Not far away from us, is Washington Hall. It is the old home of the family from whom George Washington was directly descended. It is now a museum with wonderful gardens. This is the most amazing hedge I have ever seen and is in their front garden.

The kitchen is laid out with everything there would have been in earlier times!

The house looks over some wonderful gardens, orchards, apiary, kitchen gardens and ponds.

The tadpoles abounded but the bees had all died and the hives were empty. They died of malnutrition because the harsh winter reduced their food supply drastically. Some new Italian ones have been ordered.

Another outing took us to Whorlton. A small, attractive village on the banks of the Tees which has a suspension bridge. There was a walk along the banks which had been outlined in the local paper but the midges were bad and so we shall return another day.

The fine spring has been very dry in this area and the river levels are low. But the Tees still has enough water to keep the waterfalls spilling over in places.

While all this has been going on, my computer has been sick and has been behaving in irrational and irritating ways. I was unable to blog because it was so disobedient. The local computer techie took it away to work on. It needed a new battery in a place that had been glued down! and other events such as a power surge may have upset it and its timing and desire to perform.

It's back. Quite a few quid later but worthy of a gold medal for performance. Photos which I thought I had lost are back where I expected to find them and stuff like that.

The comfort of having the laptop on my knees in front of me as I watch some cooking programme on TV and smell some real cooking happening in the kitchen is wonderful. DJ has set up the new TV and it gets everything in super sight and sound.

Time to sit back and relax for a while.

Cheers Gillian.