Dancing Wasp – The Wonder of Nature

wasp

Okay, a little diversion from Portugal but I had to share it with you.  I could watch this over and over again it’s so funny!  Who says insects don’t have personalities?

Click on the video link below to see nature up close.

A real wasp on a car window with no special effects.  Starts off dancing then sticks with the car for the journey and does a spot of car surfing!

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The wasp is actually driving through Offord Darcy in Cambridgeshire.

We should give him a name – any ideas??!

wasp

 

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Let’s Visit Caldas Da Rainha

Caldas da Rainha, places to visit, property for sale Silver Coast, boutiques, travel portugal

 

If you’re visiting the Silver Coast this summer don’t miss out on the town of Caldas da Rainha.  If you’re thinking of locating it’s also a great place to live, with plenty of art galleries, museums, great sports facilities including a world class tennis centre and hey, even a boating lake in the park.

This is an old spa town with a tradition of ceramics.  There are museums dedicated to ceramics, cycling, a hospital museum and of course art and sculpture plus a large cultural centre hosting regular events.  If museums aren’t your thing, there are a couple of large, indoor shopping centres too.

Wander around the old part, stroll through the centre with a range of individual shops or visit the daily fruit and vegetable market.  Then when you’re done have a galao (coffee in a glass) at the cafe in the park or in one of the many side streets off the main square.

Caldas da Rainha, Silver Coast, Sight seeing, Places to visit, church, Portugal, tourism Portugal

 

Trekking with Llamas

Llama

Hurray – we’ve finally found an animal that likes eating brambles!  Llamas.  I’ve been told they eat anything spikey and just to prove it they munched and nibbled hawthorn in abundance when we went for a short llama trek.

That’s just one of the interesting facts we found out on our recent visit to National Forest Llamas treks.  I know, the National Forest isn’t in Portugal, (actually in Leicestershire, UK) but as we’ve found there don’t seem to be any llamas to trek with in Portugal.  I hope someone reading this blog will prove me wrong but apart from Quinta Pedagogica, and Aljezur Alpacas on the Algarve which of course only have alpacas, we can’t find a single llama farm. Which is a shame because we would really like to have some Portuguese llamas.

children with llamas

Not just to eat up the prickly plants at Quinta Blackberry, with its over abundance of brambles for which I am finding all sorts of uses, but to run our hands through their thick woolly coats, hug them, walk with them, talk with them and watch them.  Use them to keep foxes and wild dogs at bay for our planned ducks which they are particularly good at and maybe, you never know, get some wool from their gorgeous, woolly coats. Indeed, I see myself in a natty llama capelet as styled by the casting on couch.

Domestic llamas, llama farm

My current dream, apart from finishing the two houses we are renovating, writing children’s books and expounding the many virtues of Portugal, revolves around trekking through the countryside with a wonderful view of the Montejunto hills, llama in one hand, picnic in the other and the dog at our heels.  Trekking with llamas would be fabulous.  If only we could find some.

Available on Amazon £4.99 or less.

Available on Amazon £4.86/£1.86 Kindle edition

Coming soon from Alicia Sunday, ‘Alfie!’ and ‘Angel Super Sleuth’.

 

 

 

 

The Firefly Sessions; The Deans play live in Portugal

The Deans

The Deans

I love nothing better than sitting in a barn with a glass of wine, lovely food, a buzzy atmosphere and live music. I know.  Not the sort of thing I was expecting to find in Portugal.  Rural France maybe, deepest Somerset.  Well aren’t I lucky because in the same village we have Casal Garcia which along with unique holiday accommodation have turned their large barn and courtyard into a music venue, showcasing some incredibly talented musicians as part of the Firefly Sessions.

The Deans

The Deans

Headlining this weekend are The Deans, a rock trio from Southern Ireland who won the prestigious “Unsigned Only song competition” in the U.S. in 2013 and are currently touring Spain.

Early this month I was privileged to attend the first Firefly Session, and after the fabulous buffet by the resident chef, Gee, there was time to stroll around and enjoy the surroundings before the bands came on at 9.30pm.  I wallowed in the warmth of these beautiful voices heralding from Portugal, Ireland and Switzerland and headlined by Nicole McGuire, culminating in a special homage to the memory of Taidhg Burke, original instigator of these special evenings.

Nina's beautiful voice

Nina’s beautiful voice

Apart from having to physically carry the neighbour’s dog, Dakota, home halfway through the evening because she’d followed us there in the hope of an extra meal it was a fabulous evening and I’m looking forward to more of the Firefly Sessions throughout the summer.
Casal Garcia is based near Cadaval with a superb view of the Montejunto hillside.  Tickets include a meal by resident chef Gee.  For more information and bookings contact Sandie at lightrailproductions@gmail.com.

Beware! Wild Animals at Obidos Chocolate Festival

 

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A Chocolate Festival!  What a brilliant idea!  All my Christmases have come at once.  Off we hopped to the Obidos Chocolate Festival on the Silver Coast last week.  Just after Christmas we had visited the Vila Natal and attempted to see the fabulous light display, so we had an idea of what to expect – plenty of entertainment and attractions for all age groups.  Plus there was always the chance they’d replaced the skating rink that was there at Christmas with a big, chocolate filled swimming pool.

Part of the exhibition at the Escola de Hotelaria

Part of the exhibition at the Escola de Hotelaria

The theme this year is wild animals.  Amazing chocolate sculptures of gorillas, giraffes, snakes and other exotic creatures.  Fantastic cake displays. Once you’ve wandered up the main cobbled street, lined with artisan shops, museums, cafes and restaurants and of course stalls selling chocolate themed items, you turn left at the top of the hill where you can pay to enter the main event.  This is choc full (sorry irresistible pun) of displays and events including chocolate workshops and tastings.

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However we found enough to keep us occupied for an hour or two strolling up the main street.  We meandered along drinking ginja liqueur in a chocolate cup while the children ate strawberries dipped in chocolate fondue bought from a shop selling artisan food, organic vegetables and second hand books.  What more could a girl want?  (Okay, you can probably think of something).

chocolate fondue

Along that line, my son asked if he could go back and get ‘the reindeer lollypop’.  Now I’m not sure what he thought it was but it wasn’t a reindeer lollipop.  I headed over to where he was pointing which I thought was some sort of round edged sword. I had seen these round edged swords on quite a few stalls. Must be something to do with the Knights Templar and castle maybe.  As I stood pointing and discussing whether to spend the 2.50 euros on the lollipop my husband dragged me away saying it wasn’t appropriate for my son to have that because anyone could see it was actually a chocolate lollipop in the shape of male private parts.  Upon further scrutiny (of the lollipop) I realised he was right.  Oops.  I couldn’t see any hen parties or indeed anyone enjoying one in the spring sunshine so I’m not sure they did a roaring trade in those.  Indeed they may have sold more chocolate reindeer.  Well, they would have sold at least one.

Yep.  Its a cake!

The chocolate festival runs this year from 14th March to 6th April, so just one weekend left.  Let’s hope for more spring sunshine.  For further insight into the chocolate festival visit ‘Julie Dawn Fox in Portugal’ who did a brilliant round up of last year’s festival.

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The cake decorating exhibition was amazing!

The Firefly Sessions, Good Food, Awesome Music!

Nicole Maguire

Nicole Maguire

Can’t wait for St Patrick’s Day in Central Portugal when our neighbours Sandie and Gee will be launching the Firefly Sessions at Casal Garcia, near Cadaval, an hour’s drive from Lisbon.

It’s going to be an unforgettable experience, an opportunity to hear a range of fabulous live Irish music from several musicians throughout the evening, eat gorgeous food, make new friends and honour the  memory of Taidgh Burke, with whom these sessions were conceived, from the awesome Irish band ‘The Calvinists’.

The Calvinists

The Calvinists

You don’t have to be Irish (I’m not) to appreciate this evening, just have a love of good music, good food and unique surroundings set in the gorgeous countryside close by the Serra de Montejunto, a protected landscape with glorious views.

Hosts Sandi and Gee always create a lovely, warm atmosphere and it’s no surprise that Casal Garcia itself is already booked out with guests flying over from Ireland for the event.  Aer Lingus probably can’t believe their luck!

Nicole Maguire

Nicole Maguire

So who’s kicking off the evening’s entertainment at the first Firefly session?  That’ll be Cork’s much loved singer/songwriter Nicole Maguire.  Taken under the wing of Grammy Award Texan singer Nancy Griffiths and Ireland’s preeminent live performer Damien Dampsey early in her career, this is the buzz:

“Her voice is serenely beautiful and carries her intricate flowing sublime melodies effortlessly. She has an eagle’s eye for detail and her lyrics transport you to places, with great stories. She is a great communicator and can always win over a tough crowd that isn’t her own and all her hard work is now paying off. Definitely a star in the ascendency.” Damien Dempsey.

Nicole Maguire

Nicole Maguire

“Nicole’s singing and playing convey a real purity of sound and emotion. There’s no artifice with her – Nicole’s absolutely the real thing.” Mitchell Froom, music producer.

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Come and join us in the beautiful Montejunto countryside.

The Firefly sessions will continue throughout the summer with The Deans dropping by for the April Firefly Session, so if you can’t make this Monday, 17 March 2014, I’ll keep you posted about further events or you can check yourself for information through the Facebook page of Casal Garcia.  Tickets are £25.00 and include a meal by resident chef Gee.  For bookings contact Sandie at lightrailproductions@gmail.com.

The Album 'What You Really Mean'.

The Album ‘What You Really Mean’.

What Can Go Wrong with a Spring Carnival Parade?

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A little butterfly sat on the steps crying.  A sweet ‘mariposa’.  My seven year old daughter was having her initiation into carnival when we lived in Spain a few years ago, parading round the narrow cobbled streets as a butterfly to celebrate the beginning of spring.  Sweets were thrown out of windows.  There was a mad scramble.  Spanish children have been clearly trained from toddlers to dive in and pick them up unharmed while my own little butterfly simply got crushed until I found her, one wing hanging off, in the middle of a group of school friends.

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Winding forward to one February day last year when I dropped my son off at his Portuguese school in fancy dress.  I’d grabbed a mask at the last minute when he mentioned that morning that he was supposed to turn up in a costume.  I waved goodbye as he stood among Snow Whites, Jedi and an assortment of costumes recycled from Halloween, and returned home.  When I picked him up in the afternoon he clutched a bag of sweets he’d been handed.  “Good party?” I asked him.

“Yes but we walked around the streets in a parade and where were you?”

“Ah, well no-one told me that’s what you were doing.  Sorry.”  Feeling of inadequate parenting and visions of son being traumatised for life because I hadn’t been there to watch.

Okay I’d missed my son’s first parade but at least he wasn’t crushed in any mad sweet scramble scuffle.

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This year I dropped him off at school in full knight’s outfit and watched the other children happily sporting zorro costumes, pirate outfits and flamenco dresses amid a sea of satin princesses. Ready for the parade they stepped out the school yard.  Then came the rain.  As it came tumbling down the teacher hurried them back inside.  I went home.  Another parade missed.

That was Thursday.  On Friday it was time for the carnival parade to take place in the  main town with all the schools attending. I dropped him off at school then headed into town. I sipped coffee with a friend as I waited in a café, unsure of the exact time, guessing the route. This time nothing would go wrong.  Surely.

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Suddenly groups of people started sauntering down the road.  I grabbed my camera and joined them.  The parade approached, teachers were dressed up too, one in a particularly fine bunny rabbit outfit.  A police car headed up the front of the parade while other police stopped traffic.  The children from my son’s school were dressed as snowmen  They looked fabulous.  Indeed all the schools did with each one having a different theme.  Some were nurses, others scarecrows with straw poking out the bottom of sleeves instead of hands, there were tiny tots dressed as lady birds, a group of spring flowers, Robin Hoods and many others all looking spectacular and well, there’s no getting away from it, just cute.  No-one threw sweets. It didn’t rain.

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I’m happy to say it was a perfect parade.  All hail the onset of spring and sunshine!