A postcard from Lagos

We’ve just had the midterm holidays and last week, we packed up the car and headed off to Portugal, Lagos to be precise. We’ve been to this part of the world a couple of times before but stayed closer to Portimão, this time we fancied a change of scenery and headed further west to Lagos.

We stayed in a lovely apartment on the western edge of Lagos. Sadly it was too nippy to make use of the outdoor pool (well for the softy grown-ups at least!). Can you see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance? It was a lovely spot.

Lagos has a rather pretty old town which is surrounded by city walls.

The archetypal Portuguese tiles are in abundance here.

Even the pavements are artistic…

And there are some gorgeous front doors too…

At the start of our visit to the city there was a craft fair going on in town. Housed in an old building which used to be a munitions store, it was the home for stalls selling needlework, jewelry, fused glass and cork items.

I was in my element and bought a few bits and bobs which will come in handy for Christmas presents.

Among the stalls was a marvelous collection of yarns and woven items.

The lady who runs this stall hand dyes all her yarns and weaves them into beautiful scarves and bags. She also sold balls of yarn…

She dyes the yarn using seeds, vegetables, bark (for the deep purple) and insects for the pink and red tones. I bought this gorgeous yarn which was coloured using tree roots.

If you would like to see more of her work, you can check out her Facebook page.

Another craft emporium had this fabulous window display;

It was run by a German couple who between them wrote books and poetry and whittled beautiful wooden jewelry. They had been living in Lagos for 20+ years and raised their children here. I bought some earrings made by the wife and a book of folk lore stories written and illustrated by the husband.

Zoo Lagos

One morning we took a drive out to Lagos Zoo. I’m uncomfortable with the whole ‘zoo’ thing but at this one, the animals seemed well cared for.

It was a perfect small zoo for young children. In some areas there were no fences at all, and some of the creatures just wandered around at will.

These pelicans caused quite a stir as they just ambled along the path amongst the visitors. We even got to see them being fed a little while later…

There were plenty of primates, many of whom lived on this primate island. The noise of the calls and booming cries could be heard a good distance away in the car park!

This bird had a really funky hairdo…

I’m told that this Pygmy hippo bore a more than passing resemblance to me…

I loved the flying foxes, they were fascinating to see up close.

My absolute favorites had to be the rainbow coloured parrots (macaws to be precise) and this angora nanny goat!

Lagos fort

At the western edge of Lagos seafront/riverfront stands an old fort-like building. Rectangular in shape, with lookout towers at each corner and with a drawbridge on the land side, it caught my eye the first time I saw it.

On our first trip into Lagos, we had tried to get in, but it was closed for lunch sadly. I made it my mission to be back in town one day while it was open to have a mosey inside.

Over the drawbridge and through the old wooden doors we went to buy our entrance tickets.

The Forte da Ponta da Bandeira is a restored 17th Century maritime fortress. On the ground floor are a series of small rooms which were being used as galleries displaying a photographic exhibition.

There was also a very small chapel, dedicated to Santa Barbara. It may be small, but there was such a calming, yet powerful atmosphere in there, and as you can see it was totally covered with traditional Portuguese tiles.

Up the ramp, to the upper floor…

… and the many wind sculptures…

They were so striking.

In each corner of the fort, as I mentioned, there is a little lookout turret, and we were able to go into three of them.

The narrow slit windows perfectly framed the views they looked out on…

…. both inland….

….and out to sea.

It was such a lovely spot.

Back downstairs, we found another small gallery featuring more work from the artist who had created the sculptures on the roof…

José Maria Silva Pereira is the artist who created these installations and the sculptures on the roof are called Caminhos do Vento (which I think translates of Paths of Wind). They were specially designed to be moved by the north wind which is common in Lagos during the summer months.

And that, is just about it for this postcard from the Algarve. We had a lovely few days, and mainly good weather, if you’re ever in this neck of the woods I’d definitely recommend a visit.

Sunday Sevens #161 4.11.18

Well it’s been a lovely half term week, we escaped to Portugal for a few days, and it was fab. Here’s this week’s Portuguese Sunday Sevens (well actually it’s Sunday Eights this week):

Hello Lagos

We woke up on Sunday morning to bright blue skies in Lagos, in the eastern Algarve. It’s a lovely seaside town which we visited for the day on our Portuguese holiday in summer 2017 and fancied seeing a bit more. There are a few pictures here in Sunday Sevens but a longer post will be coming your way soon…

And relax…

We did a few things while we were away, but it was overwhelmingly a holiday for doing nothing and it was delightful. I felt so relaxed and recharged, just what the doctor ordered!

Lagos Zoo

We took the Little Postcards to Lagos Zoo and were very surprised to see this pair of pelicans waddling towards us down the footpath! Where possible, there were no railings or fences, and it was great to see the animals up close.

Bad weather

While Gibraltar was being drenched with very heavy rainstorms midweek, we had bad weather too, but thankfully not quite as much rain as Gib.

Homeward bound

Our lovely time away came to an end and we hit the highway to head home. It’s always lovely to see the Rock come into view, so we know we’re nearly there.

Med steps and blue skies

It was gloriously beautiful day yesterday, I simply had to make the most of it and head up the Med Steps. It was like spring, and there were even narcissi out in bloom..

Instead of heading straight home as I usually do, I took a detour towards the Skywalk as it was such a beautiful day. I happened across a levitating ape!

That’s it for this week’s Sunday Sevens, back to normal from tomorrow as school restarts and we get back into a routine again. As always I’m linking with Natalie from Threads and Bobbins for this weekly blog series.

Summer Craft Challenge 2017 (week 5)

Another week done, I really can’t believe how quickly this summer is whizzing by! I set myself a summer craft challenge to do something crafty throughout July and August in order to save my sanity throughout the long school summer holidays; here’s installment number 5 of my weekly updates for my summer craft challenge this year.

Day 29 : Saturday 29th July

We had a bit of a road trip last Saturday, 5 and a half hours to be precise, from Gibraltar to Southern Portugal. We packed up the car and headed off for a wonderful week in the Algarve. A bit of passenger seat hooky helped pass the time as we traveled across Andalusia. This photo was taken as we were crossing the Reina Sofia bridge in Seville.

Day 30 : Sunday 30th July

At last my holiday meant there was time for me to be able to concentrate on one of my medium term WIPs (works in progress), my Blue Sky Hug scarf from Little Box of Crochet. I have been working in this off and on for a couple of months now, but the pattern requires a decent amount of concentration and I have had to rip a good few mistakes out and start large sections again several times. It was put back in its little box until I was in the right frame of mind.

Peace on holiday (well briefly 😉), meant I had the brain capacity to have another go at unraveling mistakes and figuring out where I was up to with the pattern.

Day 31 : Monday 31st July

Clear blue skies overhead were the perfect conditions to push on with my Blue Skies Hug scarf!

Day 32 : Tuesday 1st August

Arghhh, oh no! I’ve done it again… another mistake! It looks ok, but I’ve actually got an extra two stitches on two rows. Time to out it away again after giving it a stern talking to.

Day 33 : Wednesday 2nd August

I’m in a huff with the blue scarf, so enjoyed a few rows of mindless trebles between a trip to the beach and dinner… Oh I do like holidays!

Day 34 : Thursday 3rd August

Alfresco coffee and crochet by the River estuary in pretty Alvor… A perfect morning break.

Day 35 : Friday 4th August

You’ll never believe it, but I actually finished my Blue Sky Hug Scarf! It hasn’t been blocked yet (as you can probably tell) but in my eagerness to photograph it against the backdrop of the brilliant blue skies we were enjoying yesterday I am sharing it with you already..

It just goes so well with the colours of the sea and sky don’t you think?

I’m really pleased with it now it’s finished.. I’m not ashamed to admit that I fell out with it a few times while I was in the process of making it though!

That’s all for this week’s Summer Craft Challenge, I was supposed to post this yesterday, but painfully slow internet and then none at all meant I decided to wait until we were back in Gibraltar, which we are now. It’s bright and sunny and thankfully not as hot here as the 41.5 C temperatures we ‘enjoyed’ on the drive back!

Do you fancy joining in with your own summer craft challenge? Just tag your photos #summercraftchallenge2017 on Instagram and we can all craft together!

Review of 2015 … well half of it!

 

2015 was the year I took the plunge and decided to have a go at blogging. For several years I have followed blogs including Attic24, The Patchwork Heart, Bunny Mummy and  Just Pootling and I have admired the beautiful photography, their ways with words and their beautiful crafts. A couple of years ago I decided I had a long way to go before attempting my own blog but set myself the challenge of taking a photo each day and writing a bit about it. Obviously on some days (like holidays, trips out & special occasions) it’s incredibly easy to snap away and you’re spoiled for choice, on others you are forced to think hard and be a bit creative about what the daily photo might be. This turned out to be good practice for  my blog posts, especially Sunday Sevens.

  Convent Garden, Gibraltar June 2015

Since I gave up (paid) work on the arrival of my first child, I have struggled to find something to entertain my brain, I’ve dabbled in crafts & craft fairs, done a bit of voluntary work and tried and failed to get a job which can work around my main job as a Mum.   

July 2015 (Manchester, Cheshire, Berkshire)

Recently, I guess my friends have picked up on my need to stimulate my brain and a few have independently suggested I try blogging (I hadn’t told them that I had previously considered and discounted it). I guess the planets came into alignment as when the most recent suggestion was made, I thought ‘why not?’ and set off on my Postcard from Gibraltar journey. In order to protect my boys from future ridicule, I decided to keep my blog anonymous for now.

August 2015 (Algarve & Gibraltar)

And so my Postcard from Gibraltar adventure began in June, hence the review of only half a year! We are very fortunate to live in a vibrant and interesting place, so there is never a shortage of things for me to write about, I also now have an outlet to talk about my various crafty fascinations of crochet, watercolour and sewing (friends and family heave a huge sigh of relief).

  September 2015 (Gibraltar)

I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far, I am thrilled when I look back at my old posts and see photos of things we have done and seen as a family, it’s almost like an online journal or photo album (both are things I have started many times but failed to complete).

  October 2015 (Gibraltar)

I have met some really supportive and kind people through the magic of the blogosphere and found inspiration for future projects and positive criticism for my own crafty endeavours. I used to think I was just a frustrated crafter who never had the time to create the things I want. While I admit I still get a bit frustrated at times as there are so many ideas in my head of what I want to do, but looking back at the makes I have documented I can see that I do churn out quite a bit as it is!

  November 2015 (crafts) 

Away from the world of the internet, blogging has also helped me build some networks in real life here in Gibraltar. There are some very talented people residing on this great Rock and I am pleased to have met some more of them during the past six months.

  November 2015 (Gibraltar & Marbella)

I won’t ramble on any more, but will leave you with my thanks for taking the time to stop by and read my blog, I’ve had a great time with it so far and very much look forward to what 2016 holds. Happy New Year!

  December 2015 (Gibraltar)

A final postcard from Portugal 

  
Today’s the day we wave goodbye to Portugal and head back home to Gibraltar. We have had a brilliant week and were  lucky enough to meet up with friends which meant the children had buddies to play with on the beach and in the pool. 

  
We have had mixed weather for our stay, some days scorchingly hot, on a couple of others we’ve even had rain but that hasn’t affected our enjoyment of this beautiful stretch of Atlantic coastline.

  
The aforementioned friends have been coming to this part of the world for many years and were able to introduce us to some lovely things like the red berry laden, white sangria above. It’s made with a fizzy white wine, spirits and strawberries, cranberries & raspberries and is divine. It also requires the drinker to have an afternoon nap!

We were also introduced to these beauties:   

They are local sweets made with marzipan and filled with egg custard. They looked fab and tasted delicious, from someone who doesn’t normally like marzipan that’s a BIG deal.

We’ve had great meals out, like the one in this atmospheric taberna in Portimão. I was ever so brave and ate clams and baby octopus (another BIG deal for me).   

There has also been plenty of time to be crafty and I’ve been making great progress on one of my cross stitch WIPs. The stitching session below was powered by the most gorgeous homemade strawberry smoothie made by Mr Postcard and ably assisted by the smaller members of the family.

 
On one of our drives to explore the local area we witnessed the sight of a shepherd striding out into the road, bringing the traffic to a standstill. He had a few goats among his sheep as well as a couple of weary looking sheepdogs.

   
My floral appreciation has continued in the Algarve. I have been very disciplined and only chosen a couple of the many pictures I’ve taken for fear of boring you!

 
 

I thought this plasterwork on the side of this building looked stunning.

  
   
Goodbye Portugal, thank you for having us to stay. We’ve had a wonderful time and hope to see you again one day!

 
Thank you so much for stopping by. Until the next time…

A trip to Alvor

  
We are already halfway through our family holiday to the Algarve. We have been lucky enough to enjoy gloriously hot days interspersed with cloudy, cooler days giving us a respite from the heat. There have been lazy days on the beach and by the pool, but today we took a short drive west along the coast to the nearby fishing village of Alvor.

  
The sleepy village is situated on the estuary of the Alvor River and although it’s not particularly ‘touristy’ it had a fair few overseas visitors today. On our wander through the village, we stumbled upon the Church of the Divine Saviour. The beautiful egg yolk yellow and white of the paintwork looked lovely, it’s a shame I couldn’t photograph it against a brilliant blue sky. I’m not complaining though, it was nice and cool today!

  
  
Unfortunately we didn’t make it inside the 16th Century church this time, but we are hoping to return to Alvor before we leave the Algarve. Perhaps I’ll get another chance to explore inside.

  
The narrow streets are very picturesque with a mix of modern and older architecture. The photo below is of the municipal library.

  
The streets head downhill towards the waterfront and are lined with restaurants predominantly selling seafood (naturally!).

  
Outside each restaurant is a barbecue grill where the fish and meat is cooked.

  
We took our pick from the riverfront restaurants to find a suitable place to eat lunch. While we waited for our main courses to arrive, we munched our way through a basket of bread and this platter of octopus salad, carrots and olives in garlic and a small dish of tuna mayonnaise.

  
I followed that with a very tasty shrimp kebab – yum!

  
After a lovely lunch, I was ready for a nap, a bit like this dog! (I couldn’t resist taking a photo!)

  
The most bizarre sight of the day was this Portuguese cow on a surf board (yes cow, check out the udders!!!):

  
It was standing outside a shop selling gear relating to the Portugal national football team. I have no idea what the relevance is of the cow to the national football team, if you do, please let me know!

That’s all from me for now, thanks for stopping by, I’ll leave you with a view of the beautiful Alvor River estuary. I’ll be back soon with a final Postcard from Portugal.

  

“Are we there yet?” Road trip to Portugal.

  
On Saturday we got up early and set off on a road trip. That’s something VERY unusual for us these days. When we lived in England we had regular trips up to the Scottish Highlands (which we love) and across England to visit friends & family. Since moving to Gibraltar almost 6 years ago though, the longest road trip we’ve taken as a family is around 2 hours up the road to Cadiz. When we planned the trip, we did it thinking ‘what the heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained’ (I shall preface this statement with the fact that 5-10 minute car journeys with my family are rarely quiet, event-free occurrences). Even the prospect of sitting in a border queue to go 5 minutes up the road to Decathlon for some school PE trainers is a big deal for us. 

Over the years, we have become very Gibraltar-centric. The prospect of a long and arduous wait in a border queue across to Spain and back home again with our offspring in the back of the car doesn’t fill either of us with joy. As a consequence, we rarely venture over to Spain without a good reason like a party, to take visiting relatives over or to go on holiday. We have had a number of quick half-term breaks on the Costa del Sol since we arrived here (around an hour’s drive from home), and we have looked longingly at friends’ Facebook photos of skiing trips to Sierra Nevada and sunny get-always to the Algarve but we’re never brave enough to attempt it. That was until now. 

This year we decided it was time to bite the bullet and head off further afield. Armed with a packed lunch, wet wipes and a couple of movies downloaded onto the iPad we set off. An early start paid dividends as we sailed through the border with Spain. So taken aback was I at the lack of a queue I almost flashed our passports at the man selling Gibraltar Chronicles just before we crossed over! (Not my proudest moment and it didn’t go unnoticed nor without comment from Mr P). We zoomed past our favourite retail outlets at Los Barrios and out into the beautiful Andalusian countryside.

  
As you will notice from the photo, it was a bit cloudy and not at all Andalusian-like in the weather stakes but it didn’t matter. The roads were quiet, the only hold ups being a caravan with a puncture and a toll booth near Jerez where, as you can see, it got rather wet.

  
WET??? In southern Spain IN AUGUST??? It was more like driving on the A1 (in England) than the E5 heading towards Seville!

Having listened to friends talk of downloading movies to iPad to entertain children on long car journeys, I thought that may be the solution to potential boredom problems. As a childhood sufferer of car sickness, I should have known better. We held off on the movie for at least half an hour while we could still get good reception of BFBS Radio 2 and the BBC Radio 4 news from the mast in Gibraltar. When the crackle became unbearable it was time for the big treat; ‘Paddington’. Two out of three of the boys had not previously seen the film so I thought it was a perfect choice. It was, for about 20 minutes until the first cry of “I’ve got a tummy ache!”. We lasted another 10 minutes before a second child complained of feeling queasy. That’s when the iPad went away – permanently. How could I not have realised there would have been a problem with watching a film in a moving car? I certainly couldn’t do it even now. A plane or train is one thing (well alright 2 things), but a car? Hey-ho, I won’t attempt that again!

In just under 2 hours we were further from home than we have ever been before as a motoring family of 5. We crossed the impressive road bridge over the Guadalquivir River at Seville  (or Sevilla as it’s called in these parts).

 
 At Seville, we turned left off the motorway which required crossing 3 lanes of traffic to sit in the fast lane (a bit hairy at times) and wait for the turn off to Huelva and…

  
… the first road sign for Portugal! On we drove, (stopping only for an emergency toilet break), and just 3 1/2 hours after setting off we saw this wondrous sight:

  
… the bridge over the Guadiano river marking the border between Spain and Portugal. It seems a bizarre thing to say but you could tell you were in a different country immediately (apart from the language on the road signs!) the vegetation at the side of the road was different and the farms, etc seemed to be on a much smaller scale than the more industrialised developments we’d left behind. Just over an hour later, we were at our destination close to the fishing town of Portimão. 

  
I’m amazed at how relatively painless the journey was, I don’t think we were asked “are we there yet?” until we were close to Seville, which to my mind is pretty good going. Mind you, we must have been asked it close to 100 times between Seville and Portimão but hey, who’s counting? In the process of undertaking the journey, we exorcised our fear of driving relatively long distances with 3 kids in the car and were rewarded with blue skies and sunshine at the end of the day. Oh, and a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean!

É tudo por agora (that’s all for now) from the Algarve, thanks for stopping by! Please call back soon and I’ll be sharing some of our Portuguese experiences. 🙂