WELCOME TO Val's Alentejo -I write about my region of Alentejo. My art ,painting, my cottages, Family life, my animals -Travels And my love for Roses- and rural country life.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

On the way home

 I thought that I would drive home out of the back way from my village.  I love this view of the church and all the little white houses.
Vila Nova is a quiet village.  A little more movement and activities during the summer.
Today was like a spring day.   The sun was out and when not in the shade it was a little warmer.
We have not passed the cold spell, but hopefully soon.

I decided to stop and take a few photos .. Photos below  are the  village washing tanks, they are a little walk out of town.    Open in the summer for the ladies of the village.  
When I first saw them many many years ago.  The ladies washing and singing around the tanks.. the children playing with the water and laughing with joy on a hot summers day, what joy to see them. These ladies are not involved in the every day politics of the outside world.  They are in their own world . Some went to school together, and their mothers were friends. A close knit community.

I somehow felt a little guilty all those years ago.  I must admit I was 'ignorant' for want of a better word, as to how the village ladies lived.     I went home and thought.  Gosh, those poor women, working all day at home or in the fields looking after the children , having to wash by hand.

Of course, how wrong I was and  I found out quick enough, that is not the case at all.
The women of the village, not all of course, go to the tanks to chat and exchange gossip and bring themselves up to date with the daily happenings of the village. They have fun.  (most have washing machines at home) ): Its a passtime a way of life.
Here in Vila Nova.. The church bell tolls  , when someone dies.  Word of who that person might be, soon spreads around.. and the tanks is where lots of stories are told, and the news gets around..also in the little taverns.
Whenever I pass the tanks during the warm balmy months of summer.. the ladies are there until dusk, with their short sleeves on waiting ,putting their washing in their baskets. Waiting for the cooler evening breeze to arrive and give us all some respite, as they carry the baskets home on their heads.

The water in the tanks are kept pristine and clean.   
The village is a close knit community and the men also take pride in keeping the tanks and water fountains clean. The water in the fountains filters through from the higher hills about 3 or 4 kilometers  distance away from the village.

 You will often see the horses drinking from this tank.  My son Filipe and friends, always stop off to give the horses a little water here. He has friends on the other side of the village.

 No! its not snow.. at the moment the fields are thick with the tiniest of little white daisies and some deep red leaf plant that grows inbetween.. The sheep and horses at the moment have their 'bellies' full.  These beautiful fields never cease to fill my heart with joy.

All over the village are seating places for the elderly or who ever wants to sit out and get a little sun.  You can see one of the water fonts here

More water fonts.. The one above is next to our station. The  one  below is on the way out of the village..  but its always kept clean and painted. 

I received my driving license renewal today.  The years go by quickly. From now on, I have to renew it every 2 years.  I think that a good thing. It should be compulsory for some of the younger drivers too. ! Many drive far too fast for these country roads.

I arrived home from my shopping .  Put the kettle on . I was so ready for a cup of tea.  Changed into my house clothes.. much more relaxing
put my slippers on ,my feet up .. a few 'bikkies' and a hot cup of tea,   I then settled in and  started to read .
I have not finished ' Island Beneath the sea'.. so I am going between these two books at the moment. I often have two books on the go.  Keeps the mind active.!
'Call the midwife' was given to me while on my workshop.
The series has just started here on our TV.  So I am rushing through the pages.
One of my very old friends in South Africa.. was a midwife in London and the areas spoken about in the books during the 60's.. The series has not yet arrived there.  She is so looking forward to seeing it.

lots of hugs to you all 
Wishing you some good days ahead.



  1. What a wonderful post! I love reading about your life in Portugal. I try to do the same with my blog. I want to share the life I live in Texas.

    1. Thanks Meggie,
      Its great when we can share about where we live and what live is like.
      thanks for coming over..

  2. wow - the the women in the village still go to the tanks to wash clothes is remarkable! i think it is neat that the socialization continues in such an old-fashioned way.

    1. Hi Tex.
      Not all the women of the village. But many go. It is their way of socializing..
      One of the reasons I live here is , that in a way we are years behind.
      I love that part of living here.

  3. Dear Val, thank you for this story about your village. I love the idea that all the women go to the washing tanks for a natter and I'm sure they put the world to rights too and I did laugh when you said they probably had their own washing machines at home! Enjoy your reading and have a good week.
    Patricia x

    1. Hi Patricia,
      yes, most of the women have washing machines.. there are a few poor families. Its the gossip they like and the socializing... indeed they let of steam and put rights to right..

  4. Val,
    This little village is so nice, and it sounds like they are all very close to one another. I miss that. When I was growing up, everybody knew everyone, but now the town has gotten so large that you don't know anyone that passes your way. It must be a chore to keep the water tanks and fountains clean, that is good of them. The daisies are so pretty, and are a favorite of mine for sure. Have a happy day, Val.
    ~Sheri at Red Rose Alley

    1. Thank you Sheri,
      I do like my little village. I live just far enough away in the country not to be too involved . The municipality give jobs to the people with lesser education.. they do a fine job of clearing our roadsides and keeping the village clean..and the washing tanks.

  5. Hi Val, I love to see photos of life in Portugal and these are so special. The tanks and fountains are beautiful, and what a delightful thing that they are still used for washing, and for the horses to drink. It is all absolutely charming. Daisies are always so happy and cheerful! (PS I am a little worried my parcel to you has not arrived - I do hope Australia Post has not messed up, and that it arrives very soon)
    love Patricia XXXX

    1. It's old world here Patricia.
      I too am hoping that your parcel comes this week.
      I will go again to post office.. I have of course been away.

  6. These are very special photo's of your village., charming. It's so nice to get an impression of your life in Portugal. groetjes, Gerda

  7. Dear Val, Loved the washerwomen story. Thank you for sharing your every day life with us. It is so interesting to read about customs and habits of other cultures and peoples. I'ts almost like being there. xo, Gina

    1. Thank you Gina .. I am pleased you enjoyed my little post about some of the daily life here in my little village away from the outside world.x

  8. I love it when you post pictures and tell about your life, it's a country I'll most likely never see in person and you make it so interesting. Every town should be like this one. I remember as a child how people use to be so friendly and were close, not these days and it is so sad. Keep posting, I'll be reading.

    1. Thank you Sylvia,
      My little village is a very interesting place.. always something going on.. pretty much like most villages all over the world.
      We are away from the big big world

  9. Hi Val, beautiful pictures. It's like traveling to Portugal while staying in California. I like that!

    1. Thanks Olga..
      Pleased you enjoy visiting my village.
      best wishes to you there in California..

  10. Good Morning Val. I have been so behind in my visiting that I've never even asked how your trip to England was. Please accept my apologies. I bet it was wonderful. This is such a great post. I can just see and hear the women and children while they go about their tasks. The water certainly does look clean and the village is so romantic and beautiful and charming. Do you ever wonder about that saying, there but for the grace of God go I?. Why are we where we are and they are there. It is fascinating to me. It seems that they are living the life of times gone by and, isn't it a shame that it can't be that way everywhere. I loved this and the fields are just beautiful..Happy Wednesday..Judy

    1. Hi Judy,
      I did write a post about my trip and workshop in england..
      I enjoyed it all.
      Our village always has something interesting going on. Its not a rich village, but its great to see the people pull together at times of festas and happenings.
      I am here partly by destiny and partly choice. I do often wonder !
      Thanks Judy for passing by.. always nice to see you

  11. I loved your walk around your village and the stories of the ladies around the washing tanks. It will be a sad day when this tradition dies out. The fields look amazing with all those pretty flowers. I don't know how you can read two books at once. I can only concentrate at one book at a time.
    Sarah x

    1. So nice to read your comments Sarah,
      The little village is away from the big city lights and everyone is close knit.
      I live outside the village.. but I get to find out some of the news that goes on.
      I have nearly always read two books at the same time.
      I have two stories to think about.. its not always so.. but often. If its a history book , I will have a classic novel at the side ..

  12. Dear Val - I love the way you have captured the essence of the older population, particularly the women, in the small towns and villages of Portugal. They are the bedrock of family life for their communities. That lifestyle must be coming to a close, the young all have their mobile phones, text on another, watch TV and have computers, I cannot imagine that the tradition will carry on - the dawn of a new age. However, I wonder how much will be lost in the transition from the friendships and communion shared by the present older generation.

  13. Most of the Alentejo villages are becoming ghost villages Rosemary.
    Our village still has a relatively young population. This is due to the fact, that there are two professional schools in our area. The students receive a 3 year diploma ..in various areas of their choice.. Many opt for this system , to get a quicker chance to get into the work place. They also enjoy being involved in the old country ways. The old people, do not want to know about mobile phones, they dont understand it. Some have only just put themselves onto cable tv. its like a revelation of some kind for them.
    The traditions will carry on for some time longer i believe. Traditions are hard to just let fall away. In Lisbon , Porto ,Faro and some of the bigger towns.. the new age is definately here.
    You have been here to Portugal. The Portuguese people, have something very special.. they hold their elders in high regard. Mother and Father are the centre of their home and life.. even if when the children leave home. Children are allowed everywhere and welcomed.
    Its obvious to see a gap.. but it is not spoken about, while with their parents or grandparents.. Its amazing how the younger generation, are actually proud of what their grandparents did..
    Working in the fields, keep the old men and women young, that's what they tell us.):

  14. Dear Val, lovely tour of this village !! Here , at the old villages we have these kind of "washing machines "but they don't use any more !It seems that you had a lovely day !Thank you that you saw us a part of your country !


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