Week 52: Horse, dogs and a new cycle

Male sparrow waiting in the pomegranate tree to deliver food

Male sparrow waiting in the pomegranate tree to deliver food (all animal photos this week by Fatma)

Extreme feeding - look away now

Extreme feeding – look away now

Miss Big, beautiful, boisterous animal, and friend of Horse

Miss Big, beautiful, boisterous animal, and friend of Horse

Mr Angry and  Miss Big: from this angle, the small dog looks relatively larger

Mr Angry and Miss Big: from this angle, the small dog looks relatively larger


Thank you to everyone who commented on the blog last week, and to all those who have commented in the past. I have been encouraged in many ways to continue this blog, but it’s less about the support from outside and more about this writing need I have discovered inside. The blog will write itself in some corner of my consciousness whether I want it to or not. Plus, I want to record a full year of living here, through every season. There is so much still to discover, experience and describe, from the strange hot winds of earlier this week, to whatever the outcome will be of the documents handed into Tavira town hall today – the size and heft of a fashion magazine – in pursuit of permission to build a swimming pool.


Reunited with Horse

Reunited with Horse

I met up with Horse again. I pieced together where he must be, then a friend and I went for a walk in that direction. We found him, in his stable, with his nose in the trough. He wasn’t disposed to be polite while he had food to get through, so we let him be and had a cup of tea with the owner, and also met the other four-legged inhabitants: six dogs. Well, five; a black one was missing. The dogs all demanded petting, though a little one – Mr Angry, I called him – didn’t stop the discontented rumbling in his throat even while he was being stroked.

Then we went back out to Horse, and solved the mystery of the black dog: there she was, with her friend. Horse was attentive now, especially since I had apples on me. ‘He definitely remembers you,’ said the owner. ‘They do, you know.’ Dear old Horse. I’m happy now I know where he lives.

Leaving the place, however, meant getting out of the front gate without a contingent of dogs at our heels. We failed. Little Mr Angry squeezed through the tiny gap before we could close the gate fully, and Miss Big, the lovely black one, just leapt over. They accompanied us all the way home, passing the house where some estrangeiros have a number of aggressive dogs. Miss Big was silently disdainful of their racket, and leapt up and down a few steep slopes in the vicinity to mock their captivity.

We walked along the riverbed. Surely the dogs would soon turn round and go back. After all, they didn’t know we were back at home. So while they frolicked around here and there, we quietly crept away and let ourselves into the house.

It wasn’t long before we saw the beautiful brown eyes of Miss Big at the kitchen window at the rear of the house, her paws on the sill. Meanwhile at the front, a bad move on our part – opening the door a crack just to see – let Mr Angry in, who sat down immediately and refused to budge. I had to push him back out on his furry rear end, his front legs scrabbling for purchase on the tiles. For growly Mr Angry, we were suddenly the best thing since bacon butties.

We gave them water but otherwise we had no choice but to ignore them. It was quite late in the day now. Some barking was heard in the night – Mr Angry – and by the morning they were nowhere to be seen. They’d finally gone home.

After all, they aren’t our dogs . . .


The sparrows have gone too. There was never much chance of seeing them fly the nest. With parents as attentive as theirs, so attuned to our presence or absence, the youngsters were sure to be ushered out when we weren’t around. Husband and I went to a brunch party on Sunday and when we got back, they’d gone. I miss the demanding song of the babies. I also miss the heavy whirr of wings that accompanied my every opening of the front door as the parents took sudden flight, only to venture back when it felt safe. They even seemed to know when I was looking at them. How can that be? If I watched the nest, they became anxious. If I stayed put but turned my head away, they went on with their lives, feeding the youngsters within earshot – but not eyeshot – of the human. They still haven’t given up the nest. Mr Sparrow was in there cleaning it up, bringing white chalky leavings to the tunnel entrance and dropping them on to our front terrace. He also spent a bit of time in the nest just looking out: reminiscing, or recovering his breath? I wonder if they are preparing for a second clutch.

Our apricots are ready for eating

Our apricots are ready for eating

More fantastic bread

More fantastic bread


  1. Louise Cattrell

    Wednesday mornings would not be the same without a window from Portugal. Thank You.

  2. fatma

    I can’t believe the sparrows have flown the coup! How very wondrous and lovely to have borne witness to the feeding. I do hope a second clutch will be in the making at some point. For the moment however, I think mummy and daddy sparrow have earned their rest. Good news re more tales from the Algarve. Can’t wait!

    ps. Love the photos!!

  3. Hazel

    Apricots!!! My favourite!!! When the live-in greyhound here does rumbling in his throat, it indicates deep contentment. Could that have been the case with Mr Angry? Love all the birds you’re reporting on — wish that our suitcase was going to be big enough to bring our big bins with us . . . xx

  4. JerryG

    Hurrah for the return of horse to the saga! I feel like I’m in your fairy-tale. Will there be unicorns?

  5. Sue

    Mari am very, very glad that you have discovered a need to write. Thank you for continuing to share your thoughts and experiences so eloquently x


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