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.

Thursday, 22 October 2015


I took the back road to the big supermarket yesterday In our next village 6k away from the Quinta.
  On my way out, I took my camera with me.  Like we all say, "Just in case"..

It was the most beautiful Autumn morning, just as it is today. The sun was shining, I had a cardigan on that I had to take off, as it became warm with the sun beaming through the car window. I felt good and happy and thankful for all the lovely things around us, that go to making a perfect day.
  Knowing i was going the back road, I thought I might just see something interesting, i kept the camera on the passenger seat next to me.. for quick access.
I always take the same route once in the village.. its the next village to mine. It has two larger super markets, where I go every once in a while .

By now, those of you who follow me, know that  I live in a rural agricultural area. With farms that have  vast hectares of land. Old little villages, with their winding cobbled  streets and houses painted diligently every spring with snow white  'Cal'- lime wash. Its the Ladies of the village that paint their outside facade of their village homes.. an age old tradition.  Its always at the beginning of Spring.  Passing by, you can see the smiles and hear their chit chat , exchanging how each one paints and does her very best.

 Every time I drive that route.. I say to myself " that wasn't there before"- yet its been there for hundreds of years.
That's the beauty of living in the country.  Our eyes catch a glimpse of something new.
 I stopped here yesterday, at the street entrance short cut I take to the supermarket.   How this old little street could tell a thousand tales.  Families who have lived here , grandparents , mother ,father ,children and grandchildren, great grandchildren.  When visiting the cemetery , you can see some of their names that go back over the years.
I finished my shopping, having said hello to some of the girls, that I had not seen for months. Country folk are always happy.    I took the same back road home again. Stopping along the way seeing different trees and little houses that i had not seen before.  Isnt that amazing...after all these years.!

 Old Cork Oak trees, that can tell us many stories too, standing like statues in the newly ploughed fields.

  Old Olive trees that had twisted into strange shapes over the years .. maybe god's way of giving a little cover to the wild animals of the night.
                              Old   walls.. what can they tell us.

                                                     The old milestone still used as reference, although we have nice new ones on the main roads.. its nice to see these old ones .. takes you back to the time of when we used to read a map to find out if we were on the right road.. now its new technology.. who would have known a hundred years ago, what GPS meant. Probably even today, the old villagers don't know what it is.
 The story here of this photo.. This is the ' Wolfman's home'- ( lobeshomem)  Yes, he does exist.  When I first heard the story years ago.. I thought the village people were playing a hoax.  He only comes out.. No ! not when the moon is out.! but maybe once a month.  He truly looks like a wolf.  You can hardly see his eyes for his eyebrows have grown over them. His hair is thick long and grey. He is a loner and wishes to remain that way.  He rides his bike into the village and rides back.  He lives up on this hill all alone.
                                              What memories does this old home hold.. its over a hundred years old.
                                  Old gate entrances.. leading up to hidden farm houses within the Olive and Cork fields.. I stopped here, and wondered who it was that lived up here.!
               You will find these little 'Cantoneira' houses all over Portugal.  They are not much in use any more.  Its for the men who used to clear the bermas..(ditches) a well respected man back many years ago.. for he kept the ditches free of leaves , dead animals and the sorts. Working on a rotation system.. weeks at a time. This is where they would sleep, until the next man came.  The municipality and the folk around keep them neatly painted. They still belong to the government.  Now maybe for tools and so on.  This one is up the road from me.
 Look carefully- high upon the hill is an old ruin.  Its called the haunted house.  I found out some time ago, that it was called haunted, because the lovers would go up there.. so their parents wouldn't find out.. they were sure not to go there as it was haunted.. 50 years ago, a girl could not be alone without a chaperone ..What tales can this old place tell.!!

We all need a sense of belonging.  I left my hometown with my parents at a very early age of 8.. and travelled to darkest Africa. Travelled here and travelled, there. Sailed here and sailed there.
But, its here in these beautiful Alentejo surroundings , that I have found my sense of belonging.
As I type, the horses are neighing ,the dogs are barking at the birds twittering about the garden, the sun is shining, the flowers blooming.   I am home.

                          VAL *****


  1. That ability to find new views in a well-known and well-loved landscape is a gift. Your photos and words were a treat this morning and I felt as though I'd been along for the ride.

  2. Val, this is the most wonderful post. I love the way you wrote in depth here, and your beautiful photos. You make me long to visit Portugal.

  3. Dear Val, I'm sorry glad you took the camera to share these lovely pictures and thoughts. You instantly transported me back to our holiday In Portugal, If only those ancient building could talk. Sarah x

  4. Val, this was such a beautiful post.Heartwarming and expressive. It is a gift to take the time and really see what is around you and then, to really feel it at the same time. You do live in a beautiful part of the world and I just love to hear the tales about your villagers..Happy Thursday..Judy

  5. lovely old places seen along your drive. happy home life.

  6. Oh Val what a lovely post. I loved hearing about your local life and the villages surrounding your beautiful home. Have a good weekend dear friend. {hugs} and happy days. P x 💐

  7. I love to see the historic villages in your area, Val. The tradition of white-washing is lovely, all painted at the same time, looking fresh and white! The little municipal building is very cute, and well-maintained too. The old olive and cork trees seem so romantic to me, quite dreamy! A lovely post, Val. x

  8. Your serenity in location and place is discernible - what a lovely glimpse of the area you now love and call home Val.
    The old people in your village, and here too, must be the only ones left who carry on living in a world that is unconnected to the worldwide web. I know that it's becoming an increasing problem for our Government as so many things today are done online, and soon everyone will have to use the computer to pay their taxes!!!
    As Pondside said, I feel as if I took the ride with you - take care Val.

  9. Thank you dear Rosemary,
    When I go to Lisbon, and am there for a couple of days. I am glad to get back to the serenity of home and the fields.
    In one way internet is a great tool . I feel for the old folk.. as all these new rules baffle them. They have to get their grandchildren to help.
    Glad you enjoyed my backroad drive.

  10. Val, I really liked this post of yours today because it talks of old homes and old buildings, which is so interesting to me. It's part of history, and it sounds like your area is rich in history. I love the picture of the old tree. If only trees could talk, right? They would tell us some amazing stories. I am always fascinated at how they get the strange shapes they do over the years.

    I'm so glad that you found your sense of belonging, right there, on the Alentejo, Val. Have a terrific weekend, enjoying and relaxing.

    love, ~Sheri

  11. Dear Val
    You have taken some lovely photos of the area where you live . As you described the surroundings I felt as though I was there with you.

  12. Val,

    This is a beautiful narrative of your day in the country. I felt like I was there with you traveling through the village. It reminds me of visiting Europe (probably because it is!), and although California country has some similarities to what you describe, this is uniquely European. It sounds like you live in a peaceful and beautiful place.

    To answer your question (sorry about the delay!), I will be getting married near my parents' and where I grew up about 3 hours away from where I live now. I'll be getting married next August 6th, so I have almost a year of planning ahead of me! Have a lovely week ahead.


  13. Dear Val, I am so pleased for you that you have found this special place that you call home. I always enjoy your little sojourns into your surrounding countryside. Now that you have had several days of rain it must be rewarding to see your parched earth come to life once again.
    Thank you for always taking us along.


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