30th January – Sagres

1 02 2012

Although we had planned to visit the beaches at Manta Rota, Altura and a few other spots when we left the campsite at Tavira we found ourselves bypassing these places and heading straight back to Silves. I think that maybe we had had our ‘quiet’ time and subconsciously decided that we wanted to get back with the crowd at our favourite place. It was much busier when we arrived compared to when we left so we were lucky to get a parking spot fairly close to our friends, luckily someone moved the next day so we managed to move into the vacant space and be right back on ‘Park Avenue’ the affectionate name given a particular section of the car park. After virtually a full week of late morning rises, pleasant walks, afternoons spent playing boules and general relaxation we arranged to go up to the local barragem for a weekend with Marion and Dave, just a change of scene more than anything.

We have a small problem with the motorhome at the moment in that the heating isn’t working. Hot water is fine so the boiler itself isn’t at fault, more likely the fan that circulates the hot air isn’t functioning correctly, either that or the thermostat has given up. In an attempt to get it looked at I contacted a mobile motorhome servicing company that had been recommended but they failed to get back in touch after two phone calls to them so I have, for the moment, decided to leave it be. The daytime temperatures are currently anything from 22° to 28° so there is no worry there but the nighttime temperatures are dropping close to freezing so, for the moment, extra blankets required until the problem is sorted.

My apologies for the constant change of tense.

We had our weekend up at the barragem with Marion and Dave which was most pleasant, hot sun, long daytime walks and lots of barbecued food followed by evening campfires to keep us warm. That was until our second night there when another person in a motorhome came over just as we turned the barbecue into a campfire and told us that open air fires were now banned in Portugal because of the dry conditions and increased fire risk. That put a bit of a dampener on our evening but we still managed to stay up relatively late and have a good night up there, and a very nice weekend. Back at Silves the following afternoon after more walking in the beautiful countryside we soon settled back into the swing of things with no particular plans to move on anytime soon.

Lorna had been talking about doing some Yoga and meditation for a while and we had both searched the internet for retreats in the Algarve without any success. By chance, Lorna got chatting to a German lady we had seen a few times and she gave her the number of a girl that ran retreats just south of Aljezur in a small place close to Alfambras. After a few phone calls and emails a course and price were agreed and Lorna was all booked in and ready for a three day retreat where she would be shown both Yoga and meditation and although the landlord of the property where it was held didn’t like to accommodate motorhomes, a special request was made and all was well. On Wednesday 25th January we made our way up to the retreat and, after a bit of a bumpy ride up a dirt track we arrived in a heavenly little place right in the middle of nowhere, the only noise being the ‘whooshing’ of the blades of the wind turbines that were about 2km walk from the house. The lack of light pollution at night here really allowed the sky to light up with stars, so many, quite a sight.

Kaya, the girl that runs the courses made us both very welcome and, in the hours that she spent with Lorna over the next three days, helped her enormously. I’m not a big one for ‘all that sort of thing’ but it’s certainly true that Lorna got a great deal out of it, clearly much more relaxed in general. In my own way I got a lot out of it too, in more ways than one. Firstly the location was stunning, we walked one afternoon for nigh on two hours and didn’t see a single soul, just so very peaceful and tranquil and a wonderful place to be, on one of my walks I saw a wild boar, Jack saw it too and was most confused. Secondly, Lorna had mentioned to Kaya that I liked photography so I was soon enlisted to take some photographs for her website. Kaya said that she wanted something that showed the tranquil location but were also dynamic images so I set about taking a few photos for her.

Kaya

Meditation

Pleased with the initial results from photos at the retreat, we arranged to meet up at the local beach at Vale Figueira and take some more shots the following day so, there I was, jeans rolled up over my knees, in the sea taking more photos of Kaya as she bent her way into various positions on a rock looking out to sea, a stunning location.

Yoga

Yoga

We parted ways with Kaya and, as we had stocked up on food and water before we arrived, we went down to the beach at Bordeira for the next two nights. The only thing dictating our time on the beach was the limitations of two toilet cassettes, one already full, so we thought we may as well spend as much time as we could there before heading to Sagres to empty out when we had to. This part of the west coast of Portugal is simply stunning, huge cliffs on which fishermen find the most precarious places to stand, beautiful wide beaches and a sea that is so blue it defies logic. On one of our long walks we happened upon a small restaurant that was absolutely jam packed so we decided that we should have a Sunday afternoon treat and eat out there. Jack walked and back in the motorhome, we had a lovely few hours sat outside the restaurant, in the sun. Lorna had a craving for fish but as soon as she saw lamb on the menu she opted for that and was served up a huge plate of roast lamb with really nice roast spuds. I had fish which was also very nice, although not up to the standard of the Ponte Romana in Silves I have to say.

So, that’s pretty much up to date. We are currently sat on a parking area in Sagres, looking right out to sea as the sun is slowly setting casting a lovely light on the cliffs. We have some more shopping in so I shall be alright for crisps for the next day or two at least and then we plan to head back to Silves for the weekend where the annual visit to the country and western afternoon is on the cards. On our way back for that we shall hopefully be going to Lagos for a couple of nights at the new aire there which will give us the opportunity to have a look around the town which we have not seen before. This country and western afternoon has come around much quicker than we thought and it bought home just how soon it will be that we will have to start planning our journey back to the UK to start work again on March 26th.

For the moment though, this is the view that we are waking up to each morning.

Sagres

Time flies when you are having fun!





24th February 2011 – Monchique

25 02 2011

It’s always the same, as soon as I finish writing a blog post and publish it something else happens that is ‘blog worthy’ and I have to wait to include it in the next days ramblings.

Preparing for our meal last night I needed to bring in our table from outside as we decided that we would eat in. The table was cleared off and the legs folded back in and was then carried into the motorhome, where I proceeded to unfold the legs. Unfortunately, my index finger was on the part of the leg that snaps into place when the leg is extended and so became trapped. It hurt. I freed my finger and went into the bathroom to see blood pouring from the wound, I initially thought that I might have lost the very end of my finger but luckily, when the blood cleared a little I could see that it was just the top part of the nail that had been severed and forcibly removed. Lorna and I managed to stem the blood flow a little before dressing it with a bandage and plaster. Throb, throb, throb for the rest of the night. Before I went to bed I took some co-codomol which helped with the pain and put me to sleep very quickly.

Taken 2 days after the initial accident.

I stopped in bed for a long time today, mainly due to another couple of co-codomol at 6.45am, but also due to the fact that I was feeling sorry for myself. It was a searingly hot day, reaching 32.5° at one point so I elected to spend most of my day in the motorhome messing on the internet, using Skype to speak to family, processing another of my photos from the other night and generally taking it easy. I did have a couple of walks in the sun but, for both of us it was a little too warm.

The extra photo I processed from the other day is possibly my favorite from the trip so far.

Monchique

I just love the light.

The afternoon and evening was spent hanging around and having some lovey chicken for our dinner. With it we had the remains of our 5ltr box of red wine and then watched ‘Acidhouse’ which is possibly the wierdest film I have seen for a long time, good but wierd!





23rd February – Monchique

23 02 2011

Well, how nice is this place?! a far cry from the hectic lifestyle of the car park in Silves. Very relaxed indeed.

We are having a most peaceful time, the weather is scorching hot and there are a number of nice walks around the area which we intend to investigate further over the next few days. Today has been mainly spent walking with Jack through the woods, investigating various paths and then, when it got too warm,  we returned to the motorhome for a spot of lunch, consisting of chilli from last night, salad, a cheese course (we picked up some more lovely cheese from the market in Silves on Sunday before we came here) and of course a few glasses of red wine. We bought a 5ltr box with us and seem to be running out too quickly.

Being in this relaxed and uninterrupted atmosphere I have had some time to actually go out and take some photos as well as having the time to edit them properly. Two from today at completely different times. The first was taken on the walk earlier today when I saw this old tree surrounded by pretty yellow flowers, there was a nice contrast between the old and the new I thought but I don’t particularly think it comes through in the photo, maybe it’s a little oversaturated.

Old Tree

The second from today was taken just as the sun was starting to set. On another walk earlier I had seen this outcrop of trees and could see that as the sun set it would light up this particular part of the landscape. I wandered off just as the sun starting to lower in the sky and took numerous shots of this one part of the view. Whilst up on my viewpoint I managed to get bitten more than several times so I think I shall be itching for a while now but worth it I think, nice sky, a bit of recession in the landscape and a nice bit of light in the foreground.

Monchique

For today that’s about it. Will probably have some dinner now and then watch a film before an early night I think.





27th January 2011 – Algarve International Autodrome to Tavira

27 01 2011

Damn this weather.

It was raining early morning and with that I decided that I would wait a while before going into the circuit to watch the testing. After it let up for a short while Lorna and I took Jack for a short walk and I purchased my ticket to get in. Paul, our friend was with us and there was some misunderstanding about the ticket prices, the poster said €3 for a stand ticket and €5 for a paddock pass so we were both expecting to pay just €5 but it seems that you had to buy a stand pass as well as a paddock pass to get into the paddock area making the cost of entry €8. Paul protested heavily but the pretty girl behind the counter stuck to her guns and quoted the ‘company policy’ thing. I wanted to get in whatever so I paid the extra and was issued with my pass, Paul decided not to go in, the same as Lorna.

Once inside I had a wander around the paddocks looking for the best place to take photographs and the choice wasn’t that great. I spied some photographers in an excellent place but when I tried to get there I discovered that I didn’t have the right pass. I was most put out. It wasn’t busy at all and there were so few people about I really thought that I might have been able to get where I wanted, but no. So, I was stuck with trying to get photographs from inside the paddock area, through wire fences which isn’t ideal really as I then had to keep the aperture wider to produce the depth of field to blur out the wires. This is fine but it not only reduces the depth of field on the subject it also means that shutter speeds are higher which can mean that the blur on the wheels spinning is lost giving a very static feeling to the shot. It’s a complicated set of equations.

Portimao Circuit

Portimao Circuit

I managed to find a decent spot to take some photos from in the end, inside the track, looking down toward the first corner from a higher vantage point than I would have liked. Ideally I would have been set up looking across the apex of a corner where I would have been able to get the kind of shots that I wanted, but as with yesterday, you make the best of what you have. In the end I think that I got better shots than yesterday so all in all i’m fairly happy despite them all being a bit similar.

Portimao Circuit

Portimao Circuit

The program said that the Supersport testing was finishing at 12.30 and then the Superbikes would be coming out. Typically, as soon as 12.25 came the heavens opened and the rain started. I waited for a while, getting wet but then realised that the teams were probably changing tyres etc. and would maybe wait for the rain to stop so I decided that I really would be better just going back to the motorhome and drying off. We decided that lunch would be a good idea so we went along to one of the cafes at the circuit and had chicken and chips with Paul before heading off to the campsite in Tavira where we will be having a clear out, washing and generally getting ready for our visitor on Sunday.

The campsite is great but it has its flaws, mainly that when they are busy there is very limited space to park. When we arrived, the place that we had last time had been taken so we drove around for a while to find an alternative, one close to an electricity point is all we needed, level was a bonus. We finally decided to park near the entrance and once we managed to get the motorhome fairly level I started to run the cable to the electricity box, it wouldn’t reach so we had to find an alternative. We both decided on another place but as we were outide discussing it sone French folk came along and suggested another place, then spent ages with us getting us level, connecting us up and generally being really helpful. All set up and sorted we had a quiet night taking advantage of the free wi-fi and electricty.





26th January 2011 – Silves to Algarve International Autodrome

26 01 2011

It was a slightly sunnier affair today but the rain was threatening to come back so we hung around at Silves for a while before heading off to the motor racing circuit at around 11.30am. Before we got there we had a short trip to the local Lidl to get some chicken for the nights dinner, and some water as we were running low.

We have a problem. We have a safe in the motorhome. This safe has an electronic keypad to operate it. The battery has gone. We can’t find (or even remember having) the key to manually open it. The safe is staying locked. Our passports are inside. Hmmmmmmm

The journey to the circuit wasn’t that long and when we arrived we had a mooch around before deciding to actually pay to go in to the circuit, we could hear the bikes thundering past from outside and Lorna was quite excited to have a look. The entrance fee was either €3 to get into the stands only or €5 to get into the paddock area, as it was early afternoon we decided that a quick look in the stands would do us and so we paid our monies and headed in to the huge stand.

The stands were completely empty which was a bit of a strange experience and the bikes that were testing, the supersport class, were all out, whizzing past us down the straight at ridiculous speeds, probably touching 180mph and making a lovely sound. I had my camera with me and, on my first attempt at motorsport photography I struggled with the panning. I had frame after frame of back wheels, front wheels and blurred riders but eventually I got to grips with it and managed to get a couple of decent photos. These are cropped to hell as I was using a 200mm lens on a full frame camera, not the best combination for this type of photography but you have to make do with what you have in these situations.

Racer

Racer

If I were going to do more of this type of stuff I would definitely need a longer lens!

When we’d had a good look around we headed back to the motorhome and I cooked our dinner of chicken jalfrezi. After this, as the skies got darker I went out again and took some more photos of the buildings surrounding the racetrack.

Roofline

Five Restaurant





A Morning Out

16 11 2009

I finally managed tyo get out for a bit of photography this morning with a friend who I used to work with, one of those people that you really should see more of but for some reason you never seem to be able to tie up with, but today we managed it.

We had a drive down to Ironbridge, parked up and then realised that we had no change for the parking meter, we had two fivers between us. The nearest shop was a short walk away but we got chatting to a couple who very kindly gave us the £1 to park. There are some lovely people about.

A walk along the river  produced a couple of shots but our time was mainly concentrated on faffing about with flash, the light was fairly flat but occasionally the sun burst through giving some lovely light.

This was taken from the path looking toward the houses on the hills overlooking Ironbridge with Marks 70-200 f/2.8 L just at the point where the sun was hitting the houses full on.

Ironbridge Light

We then walked up to the Church that overlooks the Ironbridge and shot a few scenes there. This is my portrait of Mark, taken with the leading lines of the tall brick wall behind him to add effect. It worked better in mono than in colour.

Mark

After this we decided to go to the fields just outside of Much Wenlock, the scene of some of my favorite photos. The sunlight was raking across the landscape throwing long shadows from the trees that inhabit the area. Coupled with the rolling hills it really is a sight to see. I hope I did it justice with this shot.

Trees and Light

And this one taken in the adjacent field, borrowing Marks 70-200mm lens again as I had left mine at home.

Trees and Light





Not the usual Flickr meet!

17 08 2009

Yesterday saw some of the members of the Shropshire Community Flickr group attend the August meet at Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Village in Cheshire. This was probably the furthest I had travelled to attend one of these meets but having not attended the last couple I thought it about time that I actually went along, after all, I am one of the administrators of the group.

The property is a National Trust place and looks very impressive from the outside as you walk down the steps from the car park, this a view of the rear of the building with its many windows.

View of the back of the main mill building

View of the back of the main mill building

Being a National Trust property, photography is prohibited inside the building itself. To me this seems absolutely crazy as of the 16 people that attended there was at least half of us that decided not to go into any of the properties and instead stick to walking around the estate, this was free, so they missed out on a fair amount of entrance money by enforcing a silly rule about no photography. I’m convinced that with the plethora of photo sharing websites about these days, allowing photography inside would give them a much wider exposure, more paying customers and lots of free publicity, some may disagree?

The grounds themselves surrounded the property and ran along the River Bollin and included the Styal Estate and an old church. After we had decided that we were not going to pay to enter the property we asked at the reception if they had maps of the walks that we could take away as they informed us that they were not signposted…….maps were not available, hardly ideal. So off we set on our walk around the grounds using a map printed off by one of the members of the group.

Try and navigate properly with this map!

Try and navigate properly with this map!

Those that were interested in fungi and plants had a good time here as there were many sights to see and photograph, personally though that kind of ‘Natural History’ photography doesn’t really float my boat so my shutter count didn’t really go above two or three shots, none of which I have processed or posted. After a short break for lunch (packed) during which we were constantly harassed by wasps, six of us decided to have a walk in the opposite direction to which we originally set off. We walked all along the river until we hit a road and so decided to cross the river and follow a path back along the opposite side of the water. Unfortunately the signs quickly disappeared and after crossing over the grounds of a local rugby club we found what we thought was a path……..it had been walked on and that was good enough for us. It soon became clear that we had ventured a bit too far off the track and were soon attempting to navigate our way through shoulder high foliage, muddy streams, steep banks and fallen trees. This went on for around 45 minutes and in the humidity the sweat was certainly building up.

Well, I had to photograph something!

Well, I had to photograph something!

After a while we managed to be in a position where we could see the path that we needed to be on……..on the opposite side of the river. We had a choice, walk over a field which would have meant climbing over an electric fence, retracing our steps (no chance of this as there were more men than women and you know what men are like for turning back…….it just doesn’t happen!) or, making our way over a tree which had fallen over the river. Unfortunately the tree and river were at the bottom of a steep, maybe 50 degree,  bank but we decided after much protestation from the ladies in the group, that this would be the best way forward. So, sliding down the bank toward the roots of the fallen tree presented the first problem, the second problem was the gap in between the bank and the tree itself which required a small but brave jump, the third problem was the seemingly high instance of balance problems and height fear amongst the group. Combine this with a tree trunk that had loose bark, the value of camera equipment that needed to be carried across and of course the watery end that would meet any small slip and you end up with a situation that is both hilarious and slightly concerning. As it happened, three of the group managed to get across without incident, simply walking across the log and emerging through the undergrowth on the other side unscathed. The other three fared slightly less well, deciding that walking across was just too difficult and electing to straddle the thick trunk and shuffling their way across on their backsides, all very well until the trunk split into two and various acrobatic moves were required traverse the water without getting wet. Of course the people that managed to get across first spent all their efforts encouraging the rest of the group across by way of creasing over in fits of laughter and photographing the unfortunate positions they got themselves into. Of course, I was one of the ‘walk over it and take no notice’ people and in a completely selfless act, spent more time on the trunk helping others across, trying not to fall off from the laughter!

All safely over we decided that enough was enough and made our way back to the car park after a swift refreshment break and proceeded to sit in traffic for over an hour on the way home. Still, a quick visit to a local pub just before dropping others off seemed to be the perfect end to a very enjoyable and memorable day.

The next Shropshire Community Flickr meet is at the hill climb at Loton Park, hopefully that will be as enjoyable but with less chance of injury!








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