Blog Posts

Sunday, December 8, 2019, 17:29 | No Comments »

Smoke rises from the village of Esmorigo as people clear up after the harvest.

The year is almost over and the land in the Minho is being cleared of the detritus of last year's harvest. Whippy strands of grape vine, bereft of leaves, are being swept into piles and set alight. This evening, in the hamlet of Esmorigo, I counted seven spires of smoke coming from fields and gardens. Most of the time, the air being still, the smoke rose straight to the sky, looking like sacrifices made by Abel. In this picture, one or two fires seem to have been set by Cain!

To see more of my thoughts as I walked past Calheiros and Esmorigo, click here.

Thursday, November 28, 2019, 20:32 | No Comments »

The Radium Hotel built below the crest of a hillThe Radium Hotel from afar
Though the ruin is large, I almost missed it because I was looking for the wrong shape in the wrong place. I had been told that it could be mistaken for a castle, which seemed quite likely as Portugal boasts hundreds of ruined ones atop outcrops with a good view of the surrounding countryside.

The ruin I was searching for, however, turned out to lie well below the crest of a granite hill and to look more like one of the abandoned mills of my native Yorkshire than a castle.

To find out more about this ruin and its curious history, click here.

Monday, November 4, 2019, 04:49 | No Comments »

Posters campaigning against lithium mining in the Serra d'Arga

Between our house and the sea there's a long, rounded mountain ridge. Though its lower slopes are clothed with eucalyptus and pine, it's a bald mountain, the bare granite crown enlivened with just a little scrub in between the boulders. It looks inhospitable, as though no one would choose to live there, yet as we drive through the foothills and start to climb, we see a homemade sign: "Em Cabração, Lítio não." Translated, that reads as, "No Lithium in Cabração."

Cabração is one of several villages that subsist in the Serra D'Arga, villages which though modernised in many ways, still cling tenaciously to tradition. And none of them is happy about the idea of mining on their mountain.

To read more of the Serra and one of the villages which are fighting a threat to mine lithium, click here.

Sunday, October 20, 2019, 21:36 | No Comments »

A tall umbrella fungus with a white cap and brown central point

Now we've passed the equinox the year has definitely turned. Autumn is here. The leaves are turning colour. Chestnuts are everywhere; in the markets and the shops.... and in the plastic bag of produce handed over the fence by our generous neighbours. Now there is cloud and much needed rain. Yet even in the rain I found treasure in the mountain behind our house. I've been into the woodland up the road and look what I found!

To see more of autumn in the woods, click here.

Sunday, October 13, 2019, 15:07 | No Comments »
Friend L treading black grapes in a huge vat

Living the dream: it's what most of us plan to do at some time in our lives, isn't it? That is, we tell ourselves we'll do it when we retire or if and when we can afford it without disadvantaging the family or... well you get the drift. Actually putting the theory into practice, though, takes real dedication and lots of us chicken out. We make excuses about being too old – "My knees are not what they were..."; no longer having the energy- "Just look at those young folk! How I envy them their get up and go!" Or just needing to be sure we can access healthcare.... and so on.

Above you can see someone who, along with her husband, has had the courage of her convictions and taken the plunge. To see more of L and R's adventure and to investigate what the locals do during the grape harvest in the Minho, click here.

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