Saturday, 6 September 2014

Time for friends

Dear friends.  Summer is still with us here.  Hot days , but cooler evenings.  
I am taking a break for a couple of weeks.   Friend from England coming, tomorrow.  I am spending 4 days in Lisbon.   Just doesnt seem to be enough time in the day to get through things that have to be done. and keeping up with friends and family.     A couple of photos here of the Odivelas dam about 45 min from me.  I was there with friends last week.   
Hoping that you all enjoy the rest of this summer.   Looking forward to catching up with you all soon.


Monday, 1 September 2014

Travels through Blogland.


1st  September 2014

Dear Blogging friends . My dear friend Judy of 
"Gold Country Cottage" - invited me to join in a journey through blogland.      I gladly accepted. 
 Its a way to get to know more about each other.    Judy and I became blogging friends a couple of years ago.  
I always enjoy going over to her blog, and Judy is always so generous with her comments on mine. 

She writes about her beautiful Victorian Cottage-  that her and her husband bought, and have restored  through the years. Keeping its original Victorian appeal .   It's simply beautiful.    She also writes about her family and her travels and visits to different towns and locations.  Her blogs are full of beautiful photography. And so well written and presented. 
Judy lives in California.
Here is a photo of " Gold Country Cottage 's front porch door.      Always decorated with different arrangements during the turning of the seasons.  
 I invite you all to Gold Country Cottage.- Knock  and  Judy with her big smile and kindness of heart.. will open the door.  You can then enter and she will show you her  beautiful home that she lovingly shares with us all.  You can follow her on her travels, and her stunning decorations within. 
Please take time to visit.  She will make you most welcome.  I have enjoyed my visits to " Gold Country Cottage."   I know you will too.
"Gold Country Cottage "- Front door porch
I  will be be answering- 4 questions, that have been presented , I hope that you will learn a little more about me, and my life , and living here in Portugal.

1) ---                                 WHAT    AM     I      WORKING      ON.

 At the moment, I am dedicating and spending more time to my art.    I started painting porcelain reproductions over  20 years ago.  A most fascinating hobby, and totally different than painting with oils. It did however ease my way into using oil as my preferred method.
   After moving full time to the country, I did not continue with  the porcelain painting.   Who knows, I might do that again at some later date.  I have painted some beautiful re productions.. and they hang on my wall.

One day, I bought a canvas, and painted in oils.   I painted my first painting. Ever so chuffed with myself.
    Never ever having had lessons.  I bought myself a starters  pack.. and took sheer delight in the process of painting with oils.     The enjoyment  of seeing what I had painted, and the smiles and well wishes from my family, encouraged me to paint more.
 I now have been painting for about 25 years.    I have canvases unfinished and others to start.
 Somehow, life gets in the way- and there is not always time to persue our desires.    So .. for the next few months I will be at my easel as much as I can .. hoping to produce a few new paintings for my cottages.  I enjoy art, the history of art.. and above all painting , and the thrill of hanging them on the wall.
                                   Hanging on my studio wall. One of my handpainted plates. I have a kiln. but not been used for so long now.   Porcelain painting on china is a very different process from just painting on with ordinary folk art paint.  It takes a lot of time and effort , using special oils from Brazil.... Its a delicate precise art.   Sometimes taking two or three firings  needed in the kiln.... This is a sweet little bouquet of flowers.  Some day maybe I might have a bash again.!
                  This painting of  abstract tulips  I painted over 10 years ago.  is hanging in my bedroom wall.        Now its time after many years, to hang a new one.  Work in progress.!
2. -                                     HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE.

I   like to think, that my blog has something different to offer my blogging friends.  That they get pleasure in reading my posts and take away from it something they like too.!
    Following other blogging friends.   I think that all blogs differ in some way.!  Thats the beauty of blogging. It would be dull, if we all wrote about the same things.
  Eventually we find more or less a  genre close to our own.    And the process begins.   I never thought i would blog.  
I just started to look at blogs and what people wrote about.   Thought of a name for my blog and with trepidation went into blogging not really knowing what it was all about.  And here i am with "Vals Alentejo."    Blogging can be a pain sometimes.. but with perseverance we get there.. with help from good friends.. we persist .

     Writing about what we like  and sharing, and knowing that we can  all take something away from each and every one of our posts is a sociable way of getting to know each other.

    I enjoy sharing my life and happenings with you all .   Maybe more so now, in the Autumn of my life.    Living once again in the country.  I write about life here  and around my 5 hectare Olive grove. Passionate about  family . My travels, my animals, horses, my 4 wonderful dogs,  my roses and sometimes something different.
    Blogging has added  a new vision and perspective to my world.
   Through reading other peoples blogs.. I have  learnt so much.    I hope that I can continue to post for a long time to come, and make them as interesting as possible.  

White wedding roses in my garden. The little boy statue behind the bush, my mother bought for me over 25 years ago.  

 3-                                 WHY     DO      I     CREATE      WHAT     I     DO

I  have always enjoyed creativity and creating something new. As a child, I used to love to get my friends together and make plays.. I always made up their characters, we used to dress up and make some sort of play..  It was fun.

When I am out in my garden, or around the local villages ,or taking a trip to Lisbon .. My camera goes with me .
The photos and what I have seen or the happenings of that day .  Usually gets me into a creative mood.
  Then choosing the photos I like, I start to create my post.   It is a creative process.  Getting the photos you like, setting them aside. checking out this and that.   Then putting it all together.  Click and its posted.

  If one is active and enjoy what we are doing, no matter what. If you do it with love and passion.. that is creation in itself.
My thought process has always been at its best, when I get into a motivating  mood .  I can be active for a few days .. Then I take a rest again, then I will be on the move again.   Even going shopping or visits to our local historic sights.  Its all inspiring.

There is always something that comes to mind., something nice to create and think about, and share.


 This question is pretty similar to my creative side.  Writing to me, is creative.     I have no particular method.   I like to write about what  I see around me.   Some of my experiences.
I have always written in my diary.   I write my post, check it over.. sit on it for a while, then post.. I write my posts to keep . One day, hopefully my grandchildren would enjoy reading them.

  Traveling through Blogland!.. We are asked to name three friends.   The three friends that I chose were on holiday or traveling ..
      I  then thought , I  have such lovely blogging friends that are all worthy to be named   .  I  ask you all to take a peep at my sidebar and take a little time to  read some of the  amazing blogs I follow.
  I  and hope that you enjoy reading their blogs as much as I do.           I consider myself lucky to have such super followers and to be able to follow them.   Thank you one and all.  So far, its been a good ride.. great experience, lots of getting to know each other.

Thank you once again to Judy for choosing me.

I now have a couple of newcomers to my blog, that came over from "Gold Country Cottage".     September, will be the month to catch up on you all and read about all your happenings.

   I am me ---------      I write from the heart.

Happy blogging.

Friday, 29 August 2014


The 7 single  rose images below, and the two rose  bushes after them, are  growing in areas of my garden. 

Those of you who follow me, know that I have 5 hectares here of olive grove.
When moving here to my little cottage and re building .. I decided to make , what I call " My inner garden".. I fenced off an area , so it would be private , and just for my garden and pool.   Also so that  the horses cannot get in.

 My love for roses started, when I lived in South Africa..   I loved buying  large  bunches of roses for  myself and my mother usually on a friday, from our local corner store.  I remember saying to myself.  One day I will grow them.   At that time, I was well into growing hydrangeas .. feeding them to see how large they could grow.. they too are a lovely plant.  They dont do well here in our Alentejo climate.

Here now was my chance ,never  having grown roses before.    I decided that I would give it a try. 

   I now have one  area with 15 bushes.  - Another area with 10 bushes , and  another area with  11 bushes.  All mixed.   I have no idea of their names.  They are just so lovely to look at and I am lucky I can pick my own and have them around the house.

I never though, that I would enjoy growing them and tending them so much.  
Some of you will remember, that earlier in the summer.   Many of my bushes were burnt with the extreme onset of high temperatures in our weather.

Giving them a good pruning and plenty of fertilizer.  I worked on them for over a week. Then the next week feeding them again.   Roses like us, love to be fed.     It's now the end of August and I am getting a nice show again.  Its an on going job.  Deadheading, clipping, and spraying.  

This is a trellis design a friend in S.A sent me.  I rather like it.  Would love to have one in my garden. 

                                                 Zoom in , and here are a few tips on how to prepare the soil.

I have shown you this Rose book before.  Its like my bible.   Its well written, has mostly everything one needs to know about roses in it.    I take it from my shelf regularly to read up. Always something new to discover when growing roses.

I took this image from one of the pages.. I like to think, that I am getting close to growing that perfect rose. Maybe one day. !

When my friend sent me the cuttings from the magazine.. she wrote."Val, all you need now is this outfit..Rose blouse and rose slacks.    );- I laughed .. will have to look for a pair!!!

                                          Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.  Whatever you are doing.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

47 years ago today. Blog for my son Manuel.

It was around 8 pm ,as I can recall on a wednesday  .   Calling  to Manuel.-  "Lets be off, Ohh Ohh, my  contractions have started".  Hospital bag was ready.  Off we drove to  "Mother's Hospital" about 20 min away, in Durban City. -  
Manuel jnr. was born at 10.30pm that same night. (arrived just in time)
What joy it was to be told- " its was a boy"- Manuel snr, as you can imagine, was beaming from here to there. 
  In those days.   We never asked what sex it was.  Maybe the modern day machines were not out then.!  It was a normal delivery . Very quick . Manel  was born 9 and 3quarter pounds.. yes..!!! He was a big   Was kept in the incubator overnight.. and was presented to me early the next morning.  I remember, just holding him in my arms, as the tears ran down my cheeks. Another blessed gift from our dear Lord. 
I remember the midwife, used to listen to my tummy to hear if baby was still ok and heart beating , checking me over . The midwives did everything in those days.    Using  a long device she would  put  her ear to my tummy .   I am sure many of you will remember this.!  
  Mother's hospital, was run by the Salvation Army.  It was a wonderful small , but well run maternity hospital.  
 Sadly, on my last visit to S.A   5 years ago.. I found out that a big new building was erected where Mothers used to be.  I can tell you, it brought a few tears again to my eye.  Two of my children had been born there.  I went along to see it to take some photos. Sad in a way. 

47 years ago today.. My eldest son. Manuel Francisco was born.      We named him after  great grandfather-grandfather  and father Manuel.
They light up my life.
Manel 's career has taken him on many a journey through the years.   Traveling the world.
He holds a high position  within his working world.
He smiles all the time- generosity goes without saying. As my eldest son.. he has been my right arm, and still is.
I love them all. 

                                                     The sun made a shadow.. Manuel with his son Max, at 2 or 3 months old.  Now he is bringing up his own children-  That in itself is a joy to see. A loving doting father and husband.
                                                                   I love this photo of Manel.  - ( Here I must tell you all , that Manuel in Portuguese, is usually shortened to Manel.)  So Manuel jnr.. is Manel.
                                                     Manel and Heleen- taken a couple of years ago.     Happily married for 23 years.    Today, Manel will be celebrating with Heleen, his brothers and his three children.. Audrey Marie, Thomas Alexander and Max Stanley.   I can imagine what they will all be up too.. ):-
A rose for you my Manel. Thank you for always being there for me. 
             Manel, has led an extraordinary life.    Learning to sail with his father at the tender age of 8.. by age 9, he managed the helm like a true helmsman -   He has skippered for friends in the Adriatic, and Ionian seas.   Sailed the mediterranean sea many times.      Sailed the seven seas with us all.. on our beloved " Scally"- he learnt all he knew from his father.   Manuel was a 1st class seaman having been in the Portuguese war Navy.  He too sailed the world.

He is probably sailing now today... somewhere way up high.    (he is missed)

Manel has   sailed the coast of Spain and Portugal up and down, during his teen years.  He has never stopped sailing, when time allows he  will be sailing.
     In February of this year- He sailed his beloved "phenix" to Tobago. in the Caribbean islands.
   Starting from  Lisbon to the Canaries-    Then from the  Canaries to Cabo Verde Islands.     From Cabo  Verde Islands  - direct crossing to Trinidad and Tobago.   -  "Pheonix" is now moored in Tobago.

My son in Law Paul,  my son Filipe and my grandson Thomas were crew.  So much to share with us on his return, what a great time they all had together.
  His departure was delayed.. due to the sudden death his father, who was going along with them.    
 We thought that maybe he wouldn't sail.. but it was his father Manuel's  wish , that he sailed.

    As a family, we have had and still lead a life so full, full of love and generosity, of  tales and  adventure .    A full life indeed.

"S/Y Phenix" 76 ´ft  Bermudan sloop.  Boy does she fly.  photo of her anchored  in the med.
Wishing you all a very happy Wednesday.  
Thank you for all your kind comments on my last post.