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Dancing on the square in the sun: this was how the climate march on 29 November began in Tavira

Dancing on the square in the sun: this was how the climate march on 29 November began in Tavira

Our local version of the march was focused on the protest against the oil companies who’ve been given fracking rights in the district of Tavira

Our local version of the march was focused on the protest against oil companies who’ve been given fracking rights here

No Oil in the Algarve

No Oil in the Algarve

I’m very happy to be writing the blog again. Technical problems caused a two-week break in transmission. (No help from the site hosts, who in fact made the problem worse. Resolved in the end by a family member. Thanks, Simon!) Being forcibly offline taught me something: that I can’t relinquish this blog easily. By coincidence, the technical problem arose at exactly the time when I would have stopped writing if I had stuck to my second promise: to keep it up only for a full Algarve year. Our first anniversary of living here was on 21 November. It is not given to us individually to know when our days on earth will end, and I have realised that nor is it given to me to know when this blog will end. It has a life of its own.

Also, I’m stopping counting the weeks. I only started that because of the first promise, when I began the blog in London, which was to write once a week for a year and cover the whole process of selling up and moving and settling in to a new place. (I got to Week 52 and found I couldn’t give up then.)

So, to catch up. A couple of weeks ago we drove north into the Alentejo plains. It’s an extraordinary place of big skies and dazzling light. You feel like you are standing on a giant upturned bowl inside a blue glass dome. It was an appropriate setting for the big birds we saw there: Cranes and Great Bustards. (Around a week later we would be at the other end of the Crane migration route in eastern Germany, as part of a trip to see friends and family.) And it was home to big, fat, jazzily striped spiders like this one, which it turns out is very common hereabouts.

Argiope bruennichi

Argiope bruennichi. The abdomen is about the size of a thumbnail

Another view of Mrs Argiope and her dinner

Another Mrs Argiope, and her dinner

We visited Mértola on the way back to the Algarve. Like Tavira, our beautiful local city, and many other Portuguese towns, it dates from long before the founding of the nation of Portugal in 1143. Despite being some distance inland, Mértola was a trading port used by Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, Knights of the Order of Santiago and on into recent times by copper traders, thanks to the navigability of the Guadiana river. A typical Portuguese city layout is of narrow winding streets and many small squares, with commercial activities on the riverside and administration and authority (be it religious or other) on the hill: Mértola fits this model, and so does Tavira.

I’m in the process of exploring and learning everything I can about Tavira for reasons I will explain in a future blog. It was largely as a ploy to get inside one of Tavira’s many churches – the big wooden doors usually remain resolutely shut – that on Saturday 14 November I went to see a Fado singer at the Igreja de São Francisco on Zacarias Guerreiro square.

It was the day after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Husband didn’t feel up to the sadness of Fado, though as Portuguese writer and poet Pessoa explained in a magazine article he wrote in 1929: ‘Fado is neither happy nor sad … [it] is the weariness of the strong soul.’ And, like I said, I was mostly just keen to see inside the church. The concert was part of the Música nas Igrejas (Music in Churches) cycle of Tavira’s music academy.

What a joy it was. The fadista, Sara Gonçalves, filled the crumbling, neglected Baroque interior with her fine voice. A couple of songs even had sing-along choruses. It was a truly uplifting experience.

Fado in the church

Fado in the church

Sara G1

The music of a strong soul


Solar power

The solar panels were installed on the hillside a good few weeks ago, and the battery of batteries, converters and transformers arranged in the control shed soon after, and ever since I’ve been quiet on the subject. That’s because it didn’t work at first. We would run the house on solar power and as soon as one of the big electrical beasts came into operation, like the dishwasher or the oven, the whole system would trip and we’d be powerless, lightless, waterless and phoneless. Get it back on and it would trip again. It seems that to begin with, the distribution around the various circuits wasn’t set up optimally. It took another couple of visits from the two experts, a lot of head-scratching and a fair amount of cussing, but now, finally, it works. We’re on solar power! It’s a really good feeling.


  1. Louise Cattrell

    I am glad that it was just a technical hitch that stopped it. I have so enjoyed your blog throughout it’s presence. Have you ever been to the beach where the island Anixa sits a swim away?Arrabida.
    Seasons Greetings

  2. Edith (Post author)

    Thank you, Louise. No, we’ve never been to Arrabida. Setúbal, isn’t it? We have so much still to explore.

  3. Hazel

    Welcome home to Blogland! I jolly well missed the weekly oases of sanity, your missives, in my occasionally nightmarish working life! We saw a Corey’s Bustard when we were in Tanzania (more than one actually, quite a few) — probably a close relly of your Bustard as mentioned above. xx

  4. Edith (Post author)

    It’s nice to be back, H! xx

  5. Becky

    Wow Cranes and Great Bustards – two birds we definitely want to see. Will be asking you later where exactly you saw them as we like exploring around Mertola

  6. Edith (Post author)

    Hi Becky, will bring a leaflet. The place to see them is further north into Alentejo, at Castro Verde; there’s a reserve ( of mixed steppe and farmland.

  7. fatma

    Good to have you back Mrs Rabbit! And yes, we are blessed indeed to have the time given us on this earth. Re the climate march, it’s amazing how many people still glibly deny any intervention by Man has affected climate warming and the consequential effects of same, putting it down instead to the natural cycle of things – we used to have an ice age, after all, didn’t we! Roll on solar power!

  8. Chris Bosworth

    Hi Edith! Great to have you back, I really look forward to reading your blogs. How appropriate that you are fully solar powered, just as the powerful men of the world meet in Paris to address the Global Warming issues. You are ahead of the game!! Well done!!

  9. Janet M

    It’s interesting that the blogs have taken on a life of their own. I love reading about your adventures, I keep thinking that Portugal is a lot like New Mexico.

  10. Patricia Roberts

    Hi Mab just testing.

  11. Patricia Roberts

    Not working properly yet ,solar panels working how good is that,Lshall try once more great blog.


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