Week 64: Greasy pole

Our well ran dry, so we got two lots of 5,000 litres delivered by tanker; the water comes from the Bishop’s Font (Fonte da Bispo), and the skill of the tractor driver in manoeuvring the tanker in the small space at the front of our house was a joy to see

Our well ran dry, so we got two lots of 5,000 litres delivered by tanker; the water comes from the Bishop’s Font (Fonte da Bispo), and the skill of the tractor driver in manoeuvring the tanker in the small space at the front of our house was great to see

Sourdough ferments very quickly in the August heat

Sourdough ferments very quickly in the August heat

Woodchat shrike, a newcomer to our garden

Woodchat shrike, a newcomer to our garden

Whimbrel, seen in the mudflats at Santa Luzia

Whimbrel, seen in the mudflats at Santa Luzia

 

It’s getting ever harder to ignore the fact of August. If we go into town the roads are full and it’s difficult to park. Many of the new road-users are hire cars who, naturally, don’t always know where they are going; others are expensive cars driven in from richer places, who are inclined to think that small cars – such as my dear Rolie – don’t have quite the same road rights as they do. We do not let it get to us, because we live here and we will have it all back to ourselves soon. Besides which, the valley in which we live remains absolutely peaceful.

Among the good things about high summer are the non-stop festas and events, and the restaurants and shops that have miraculously appeared from behind wooden doors and dull facades, absorbing the excess population and adding new life to the towns.

We went to the Festa dos Pescadores at Santa Luzia to see the boat race and got unexpectedly caught up in the contest that preceded it, the pau de sebo, or the greasy pole. Not caught up to the extent of taking part (maybe next year . . .) but we were enthusiastic spectators. It’s surprisingly entertaining to watch willing participants attempt to traverse a lard-smothered pole suspended from a fishing boat over the water. The object is to grab a flag from the end of the pole. You are going to land in the water whatever you do, but if you take the flag with you, you’re a winner.

Santa Luzia: the boat with the pau de sebo

Santa Luzia: the boat with the pau de sebo

A great effort, but he didn't make it

A great effort, but he didn’t make it; in the background you can see the old tuna-fishing village of Barril, now a beach resort

Another loser

Another good loser

A winner

A winner

 

Best of all was seeing Os Cavalinhos, the restored fishing boat I wrote about last week. Here is the beautiful boat, tuning up and getting ready for the race:

And here is the team with an unassailable lead, soon to cross the finishing line in first place:

O regresso do guerreiro: the return of the warrior. Almost too good to be true, huh?

‘O regresso do guerreiro: the return of the warrior.’ The renovation was completed only the day before, and in the race the boat came in first. The story is almost too good to be true. (But true it is.)

This dog was so thrilled to be at the water's edge he couldn't stay silent or still for a minute

This dog was so thrilled to be at the water’s edge he couldn’t stay silent or still for a minute

Nightjar

Another of the pleasures of the summer has been the starlit film showings in the cloisters in Tavira. We returned home this week after one such film, a two-hour one, in the early hours of the velvet night. Along the dirt track to our home, Rolie’s headlights picked out a bird in flight, which at first we thought was an owl. The bird came to the ground and we stopped the car. It sat in the dirt like a tiny, slightly rusty boat. It was a red-necked nightjar. We watched for a while, then turned off our lights so as not to alarm the bird any more than we already had. The night became very still.

After a while we faced up to the inevitable. We had to get ourselves, and our vehicle, home. We turned the engine on again, and pulled forward slowly to creep around the nightjar. Not waiting for us to go by, it took off, lifting and turning its long wings, their bright white patches like broderie anglaise, scooping and beating away the air until it had disappeared.

8 Comments

  1. Becky

    Wow it is a dry August if wells running dry.
    The August mayhem is one of the reasons we don’t stay in the summer but then when I read lovely posts like yours I am tempted to risk it! As you say quiet places can be found and having followed your blog for a while now your valley sounds amazing.

    Reply
    1. Edith (Post author)

      Hello Becky, thanks for reading the blog. Always a nice surprise when someone I don’t know comes across it!

      Reply
  2. Hazel

    All these birds! So lovely not to be so distracted by Life that you’ve no time to find out what they are. It must be one of the advantages of the pace of life in the valley. If you decide to do the greasy pole next year, we’ll be there to cheer you on . . . Our neighbours have permission to build their Wormwood Scrubs-style wall between our home and theirs. Am sure that couldn’t happen in your valley. We’re starting to look for a valley of our own. xx

    Reply
    1. Edith (Post author)

      Oh, bad news about the Wall. Come and see us again soon. xx

      Reply
  3. Patricia Roberts

    The refurbished boat looked wonderful,and it actually won.I can see your interest in it,the pesky summer visitors will soon be gone and give you back your lovely home.love to you both.

    Reply
  4. Johanna Bradley

    I love all the festivals too. I’m hoping there will still be a few going when we come back at the end of this month. I know the Medieval Fair will be on at Castro Marim.

    Reply
    1. Edith (Post author)

      Hi Johanna, thanks for visiting the blog. I hope we make it to the Medieval Fair at Castro Marim too.

      Reply
  5. fatma

    Great blog again this week. Full of such interesting detail. Love all the new feathered friends that are seemingly discovered every week now. There seems to be an innocence, or is just a simplicity?, about the kind of events on offer in places where the sun shines long, bright, and hot. Wasn’t there a scarecrow type of festival as Spring began? And now contestants slithering along a greasy pole to retrieve a flag??!! Mad! Glad to see it was possible to excel in this pursuit! Good pics showing the full agony and ecstasy of this event! And the story of ‘Os Cavalinhos’ – how very wonderful and fitting.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: