Monday, 29 August 2016


A quick trip down to see the sea, eat fresh, fresh fish and enjoy the special Algarve light.

Visited Alvor and Lagos. Amazed at the teeming night life in Alvor, I really do remember it when it was a simple fishing village and it still reverts to that in the early morning with fishing boats returning. I love the sculpture by Joao Cutileiro, homage to the fisherman.
Lovely time with Lucy and Ivani.

Thursday, 25 August 2016


Ara Malikian at Montanchez Castle last night........superb dynamic performance by the whole band but particularly Ara, all so beautifully rehearsed to look and sound spontaneous, full of surprises, a joy! So lucky to have this world class performance at our local village, part of the annual summer fiestas in August and September.   

Saturday, 6 August 2016


These summer mornings are exquisite for riding or walking in the sierra, has to be early before the heat of the summer sun, but what a pleasure to be off in the cool shadow of the mountain.

Thursday, 9 June 2016


The beginning of June and it's getting hot; the landscape has changed, from the glories of spring wild flowers and myriad shades of green to a golden tawny background with evergreen oaks and olive trees creating the essence of an Extremadura summer, the nightingales still sing but they are accompanied by cicadas and the deep hoot of eagle owls.
We crave shade and have been busy erecting the various shade sails and parasols around the finca, especially by the pool.
So looking forward to our summer mode; cool mornings for walking and some chores, relaxed lunch on the terrace and then a delicious siesta in a cool shadowed room behind thick shutters, later on a swim and reading, possibly artistic projects if any (none at moment but something is bubbling gently and will hopefully result in something fit to be seen)
Evenings are long and sultry, late light tapas and cool wine, candles and star gazing and of course a good chat. If the moon is between waxing gibbous and full it's light enough to walk around, a magical experience to take a short walk in bright moonlight, everything transformed.
 In between all these precious lazy days there are busy busy days of organizing the houses, welcoming new clients and saying hello again to all the people who have stayed before. Summer!

Friday, 27 May 2016


How many times have I done this walk? Maybe 20 or 30 times over 12 years  but it's still very special, not least because of the solitude, usually never meet another person.
Today was extra special with the sound of running water crashing down the mountain and accompanied by nightingales along the way. Because the walk is so secluded with many different natural habitats the bird life and botany are really impressive.

The walk starts in Montanchez and winds its way through 7 kms of the sierra on an ancient path down to Arroyomolinos.
First passing by vineyards and olive groves, through the mossy bosky chestnut wood now in deep cool shade and then out onto the wilder mountainside still smothered in exquisite wild flowers.

The path gets steeper as it approaches the gorge of Arroyomolinos passing by many natural springs on the way and with far distant views of terraced mountainside and way down to the hills beyond the gorge.
At the start of the gorge the first mill building appears, it has been renovated and used as an idyllic retreat, just below there is a torrent of water gushing back down to the main stream.

The path is steep but secure and follows the stream all the way down the gorge. The vegetation is wild and rampant, the ruins of many water mills emerge from the green tangle. A marvelous and unique collection of  mills cascading down the hillside, fascinating and romantic.

The design of the mills is ancient and features a tall stone tower with an acquaduct connecting the tower to a millpond, the mill is powered by the water of the mill pond being guided along the acquaduct and then crashing down the tall tower onto the paddles which turn the millstones, the water then flows back to the main stream and the next mill.

The base of the gorge  widens into meadows and olive groves on the outskirts of Arroyomolinos where there is a wooded path along the lower slope of the sierra all the way back to Finca al-manzil, about another 2kms on level ground

Monday, 23 May 2016


This sofa is a very old friend, has been going strong in the family for several generations.
Has been through many avatars in my memory alone but now in its latest reincarnation it's ORANGE.....well a subtle shade but still rather vibrant, has been re-upholstered too so now super comfy with no springs poking through.
We have a brilliant upholsterer in Montanchez called  Reis, he performs miracles on all our old relics which I can't bear to part with. After 12 years some pieces are on the 2nd visit to the workshop.


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