Thursday, 10 May 2018

Days like the wind

Never failing, becoming more than expected (that's a half-poetic musing!)
It's getting boring to comment on the creaking mooring ropes and the chilling wind.
We have fine outings despite the unfriendly weather.
Wonderful expeditions to the Parque Serralves, which surrounds an excellent museum of contemporary art.
Our family of five departed, leaving the boat full of happy memories, and Samir and Souaad replaced them, and the boat's language became predominantly French.
Here I am saving Samir from falling into the water (joke!) not pushing him in, which is rather what it looks like...
Time to make lunch now, for David who is toiling in the sun and wind, painting the mast on the shore. Picture coming...

Friday, 4 May 2018

Visit to Porto

Time to go into the centre of Porto on a sunny day ... lots of tourists from all over the place, mainly Europe, but also from the Far East.
We went into the Se, with its unadorned Norman arches, and subdued statues, and stood for a few minutes, gazing upwards to where the pillars high above rounded beneath the roof.
then lots of walking down the hilly streets to where the river Douro glistened in the sunlight.
Found a wonderful Portuguese restaurant. Heard some beautiful fado from Coimbra (three black-robed students, one singer, two guitarists), o vento qui passa...
crossed the large square in front of the former Stock Market building (now a museum) where children were turning cartwheels...
And back on a double-decker bus, along the sea road (to the delight of Helene, aged six, who confided to me that she had never before been on a double-decker).
Below: view from the bus
Here we are enjoying our excellent Portuguese lunch (spot the sardines!)
And then home to another glorious sunset across the sea.


And above you see Helene's brilliant depiction of David on the boat!

Friday, 27 April 2018

More journeys...

Oh, packing again... I am growing a real expert ... got everything in neatly, only to realize that I couldn't locate my nifty box of pills (labelled, one for each day of the week). So unpacked the whole caboodle, but no luck. Then Helenita made the brilliant suggestion that I might have rolled it up by mistake in the eiderdown; I shook, and out rolled the box.
The temperature is a delightful 24 degrees (Celsius) and a sweet wind blows. If only it were like this every day. With some clouds drifting high and the leaves rustling and shining in the light.

It proves too full of bounce on the train to write. So no poem, not even a capture of the impressions of multitudinous greens and golds flashing by outside, only a photo taken by friendly Portuguese lady of me in the station at Setubal. But my icloud uploading or perhaps downloading system has got hiccups so the pix are still on my iPhone and I can't download them onto my laptop.
How happy is he born and taught that serveth not the whims of this internet, is not ordered how to spell by a smart phone that assumes it knows best, and so forth...
So here are two pix of Setubal, in front of the station. Sun shining.
This one is politically interesting. The sign in red means "Higher Salaries". Literally, More Salary.







We had many long discussions about the economic situation in Portugal, Europe, and the world. And considered the disastrous impact on Spain and Portugal of the "discovery" of gold and silver in the New World. And jumped forward to the global scene today and I resolved to read Pikerty's book on Capital which sits upon one of the bookshelves in our boat.
On the other hand: after such knowledge, what forgiveness? to fling in a quote from T.S. Eliot. Not entirely appropriate, but rephrased I might say, after such knowledge, so what? Not in a cynical way, but more despairing at all one knows of the continuous onward crunching  (generations have trod, have trod, have trod (G/M.Hopkins)) and dimming of the light. Or the Light.
Thoughts for a meditative moment. Maybe look at this Saint John? We saw him too in Setubal.
After six hours travel, back in sunny Matosinhos, and supper in our favourite Bar do Oscar, watching a sundown and a kite-surfer.



Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Setubal, south of Lisbon

Quite a journey from the marina at Leca da Palmeira. A couple of changes of train and much practising of Portuguese. Arrived in the grey evening light and also met on the train from Lisboa Oriente two young ladies just arriving in Setubal; so we made friendly noises. And arranged to meet ere long.
Helenita and Jose-Carlos live on the tenth floor of an apartment block close to the station. Splendid view across greenery and coloured rooftops to the mouth of the river. I can see the spot where we anchored Stroemhella last year with Roberta and Walter (who alas cannot join us this year).
Setubal, like many Portuguese ports, has ancient roots. We wandered round the windy cobbled streets and walked down to the riverside.
Not many tourists here. Maybe too early in the year.
High point was a visit to the Municipal Museum, where a retabel, formerly in a local monastery, has been rescued from damp and decay, cleaned and hung upon the walls. A glorious sight, paintings of rich detail and wondrous intricacy. And the most cuddly baby Jesus I have ever seen. A real baby.

The weather turned into summer, almost too hot for me, and encouraged me to buy a pair of cotton shorts, so here I am comfortable and cool (in all senses of the word).

The food here, especially Helenita's superb Brazilian cooking, is extremely delicious, and as you can see, contributing to an expansion of me! So the sooner I get back to practising Pilates, the better. Of course, I could always climb the ten stories of flights of stairs, but somehow I always find myself moving towards the lift (elevator).
We invited Priscilla and Charlotte, the young ladies we met on the train, to join us for supper. Sampling of muscatel de Setubol.

Today is a Portuguese national holiday commemorating a revolution but I still need to get the details straight. It's called the Carnation Revolution, of 1974.

When the midday heat diminishes we'll go out for a walk and see what's what. Last night the festive day was ushered in with a firework display down by the riverside.

Here a few pix of the river before the sun arrived.







In the above picture Helenita (with blue bag and reddish jacket) is walking at the edge of the river.




The photo on the right shows the view looking upstream towards the dockyard.






And here is a small reminder that the Vizigoths were here too!




This is the label from a packet of pastries...

Portugal is a country filled with historic memories.

I still need to find out about this revolution...


Thursday, 19 April 2018

The never-ceasing waves

Here's our evening view from a beach restaurant at Leca da Palmeira.
Tomorrow I go to Setubal for a few days.



Certainly time for another poem...

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Walk along the banks of the upper Douro

Here is the poem, composed as David and I walked down a little hill from our house in Foz do Sabor, towards the flooded river banks. Dedicated to Yves, written on his 35th birthday.
Poem for Yves's birthday

We walk, palm against palm
our footsteps muted by the jubilant birdsong
bursting from trees and bushes
luxuriantly fringing the road,
and are delighted by
the bright wild flowers
showering the verges
red poppies, blue forget-me-nots and golden dandelions.
Quiet in our souls?
Something like that.
We look and listen; no need for words.
Crunch crunch soft over the gravel
This road need never end

(At Foz do Sabor, Upper Douro, April 2018)
And this is what we saw:

In the picture below you see the house where we stayed (red walls and roof, overlooking the water)
And here another view of the floods, and me walking down the road with beside me a flowering hawthorn tree.

 As you see, the sky is still somewhat sombre, but it grew progressively brighter and became a sun-stroked afternoon. We reached Pinhao and shed coats and capes... Up the hill to the same house as where David and I had stayed a year ago, commanding a stunning view of a bend in the Douro. That evening we circled around a log fire in the livingroom, drank our excellent red wine (vinho tinto) from the slopes of the Sabor, and indulged in philosophical discussions of a nihilistic nature (ha ha that was just for the irresistible alliterations!!). There was a couple from South Africa there, our age, very chatty. Much jolliness. In the morning the Three Young Ones set off down the hill to Pinhao, while David made me a (perfect!) boiled egg for breakfast, before we followed down. That was steep. Thank goodness for the Pilates practice. We made it in half an hour (David gallantly carrying my rucksack for me, muito obrigada!) and met our family having brunch in a cafe opposite the lovely Pinhao station with its many azulejos. See last year...
And back to Porto.
On our walk back from the Matosinhos tram stop where we got off, David and I found a Tea Salon close to our marina. And yes: fresh baked scones were on offer. What a delight...
So we didn't need any supper. Our Three found a Vegan place in town and returned after sundown.
The following day: Ecco la Primavera! Oh joy. We walk along the seafront. We dance and sing!
Here is the beach just beside our marina... sun-drenched. It is mid April, after all.

 The sun seems to have returned, finalmente, and we can at last shake out our cotton clothes.
Evening, watching across the still bristling waves... Tomorrow will be fine.





Monday, 16 April 2018

Yes, finally Primavera...

Off the boat we climbed, adieu to the bouncing and rolling, and in the chug-chug train along the banks of the winding river Douro, up to the joys of the craggy vertical rocksides and the flooded
grassy banks where last September we swam in the warm waters...
Our most northerly point was Foz do Sabor, the mouth of the river Sabor where ti joins the Douro.
David had already stayed in a b+b and enthusiastically recommended it to us ... and with good reason. It was little short of idyllic. Overlooking a bend in the Douro, set on a hilly slope where vines and orange trees flourish, and the most perfectly appointed house providing a breakfast unsurpassed by any I have ever been offered (oh, with the exception of a thee-star hotel in Jerusalem...).
We could have stayed there a long time...
In the morning we all went for a fresh and hilly walk. David and I wandered down to the banks of the river and later visited the ancient restaurant where last September we enjoyed an unforgettable fish lunch with Ati and Harry. This time we drank Sagres beer and talked to a delightful family fro Lisboa (partly in Portuguese...)
Here some pix.







Aspects of the floods, making the passage up the Douro by boat a tricky matter...
I also wrote a poem, will post tomorrow.
Now it's shopping time, for our final Vegan feast before the family departs (tomorrow afternoon).