Two cities

Output from Husband's Pica-pão bakery

Recent output from Husband’s Pica-pão bakery

Peak almond has been reached. The petals are falling, and new trees will step into the blossom breach

Peak almond has been reached. The petals are falling, and new trees will step into the blossom breach

 

I had no idea when we moved here that I would love it quite so much. It was a gamble, and an adventure. We chose to live in a place that was remote. It couldn’t have been more of a change from living in the heart of London. You can’t nip out to buy something you forgot. You can nip out to see what bird is calling, though. Serins are now filling the air with their glass-beads-breaking songs. Husband, who seems to have distance hearing – while not always hearing what I have said when standing next to him – says he has heard both cuckoos and orioles in the valley this week. Frogs have started up their rattling noises. The pervasive Bermuda Buttercup is starting to share its realm with more, and more interesting, flowers.

We went to Lisbon for the weekend. Lisbon was a small place to my London eyes, but now it has grown. We arrived by train, travelling over the Twenty-fifth of April bridge across the river Tejo. Beyond the industrial riverside, you see the coloured frontages of the old buildings stacked one on top of the other. The big city!

The Torre de Belém, half a millennium old (I confess I didn't go inside; even out of season there was a queue)

The Torre de Belém, half a millennium old (I confess I didn’t go inside; even out of season there was a queue)

The rose window of Lisbon Sé

The rose window of Lisbon Sé

Lisbon tiles

Building in Campo de Santa Clara. Tiles by Luis Ferreira, aka Ferreira das Tabuletas

Old commercial tiling

Old commercial tiling

Old tram route 28: a favourite for tourists, including me

Old tram route 28: a favourite for tourists, including me

Old Lisbon tram

Old Lisbon tram

Lisbon theatre lobby floor

Lisbon theatre lobby floor

I slot back into city life very easily. City modes make sense to me. I have city clothes, which need an outing. I have a city outlook. I put on my city goggles and wonder if it made sense to leave city life. Then after four days we came back home late in the evening to a black sky glittering with stars. I gulped lungfuls of clean air and remembered all over again why we live here.

No blog next week because I shall be in England, and I’m keeping this one short because last week I wrote way over my self-imposed limit. I was, and remain, very exercised about the possibility of fossil-fuel zombies moving into the Algarve. Living close to nature forces you to cherish it; you cannot put on city goggles here among the trees and the birds. The zombies haven’t gone away. An oil-rig spotted off the coast of Tavira caused a lot of anxiety but it seems to have been a rig being transported to another area – not that that makes it better, but it does make it a zombie out of reach of our own wooden stakes. We can’t kill them all; I’m not sure if we can kill any. One political party, part of the governing coalition, has come out saying that it is in favour of cancelling the existing oil contracts; will it happen? Please god let it happen. The ENMC (the fossil-fuel authority) still don’t ask the question why they exist, only how they can keep doing what they do. Cars are a problem. My own beloved Rolie will be redundant one day, and that day shouldn’t be too far away. Car-ownership is expensive in Portugal because of high duties – a golden opportunity to bring in electrical cars at lower duties and enhance their take-up? Who knows.

11 Comments

  1. Hazel

    Photos reminded me delightfully of a five-day Lisbon/Cascais idyll a few years back, travelling on trams in the rush-hour, standing up, able to see only the tarmac speeding past below the window! A tiny restaurant outside, under a flight of steps, bread, soft cheese, beer and tomatoes (it was lunchtime). . . Warmth. We’re frosted here this morning. Tsk. Pshaw. xx

    Reply
  2. Patricia Roberts

    Such a lot of.lnformation,love the way you stand.up for the good health of our planet, it is so lovely to hear you are happy in your new home,bless you Mab love Ma.

    Reply
  3. Fiona MacDonald

    Lisbon looks beautiful.

    I haven’t heard a cuckoo for years, they have become rare in the UK. I did see a nuthatch in my garden the other day, scurrying up the elder’s trunk. I was also very excited to get a close up view of a firecrest.

    Reply
  4. Janet M

    Portugal looks lovely and warm from snowy Colorado.

    Reply
  5. Madeleine

    Simply loved this week’s! The photos are beautiful and I love the contrast between your lovely country life and your trip to the big city!

    Will miss next week’s. If you’re in London at all and have any time, let me know x

    Reply
    1. Edith (Post author)

      Hello M: we won’t be visiting the big, big city of London this time. But see you soon over here.

      Reply
  6. Becky

    Lisbon looks stunning, can’t wait for our adventure there in March. Enjoy catching jup with family this week, and hope that the weather isn’t too bad!

    Reply
    1. Becky

      Apologies for that j, not sure where it sneaked in from!

      Reply
  7. fatma

    Ahhh, a tale of two cities indeed. I understand the opposites very well. I am late coming to your last week blog as I am experiencing something of your life but in reverse: enjoying London all over again as I sight see a friend visiting from the North: St Pauls from the vantage point of the members room of Tate Modern; Epping Forest and Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge; underground, overground and on the busues – and I did, really enjoy and appreciate the offerings of this tireless city. Now,I am travelled Up North myself to stay with friends where there is an uncommon sequence of rather fine days which are being taken full advantage of. On foot, no overground, underground: Up in the hills, the sunlight glinting off the tops and on the reservoirs. The satisfying texture of the uneven grassy expanses and bird flight above in the gorgeous blue sky. I immediately felt a sense of wellbeing. Very different to town satisfaction, which is one of excitement, and a different kind of wonder. Hills, or city? Hills or city? A constant dilemma of my life!

    Reply
  8. Johanna Bradley

    Becky mentioned you in conversation over lunch last week (O Emigrante in Tavira) and I’ve just remembered to look you up. 🙂 I’ve been to Lisbon a couple of times but nothing recent. I have a small love affair going on with Porto and the Douro region and hope to get back up there this year. Whereabouts are you situated? I expect I’ll find it somewhere.

    Reply
  9. Edith (Post author)

    Hi Jo, nice to see you here. I look forward to the day when I go to Porto – that is a treat that awaits me. Mostly, however, we are just happy to stay in our home in the eastern Algarve.

    Reply

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