The Volta á Portugal, 2014


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A couple of weeks after the Volta á Portugal do Futuro passes through Oiã and Carris, the big race, the Volta á Portugal, starts. Normally, the smaller race takes the same route as the main race, which means that we get two national races passing by within a couple of weeks, and few can say that.

This year I wanted to get the more classical front view of the racers, so I picked a spot with a straight piece of road. after the lead cars and the police cyclists had gone by, I waited a couple of minutes and the cyclists were there – and gone! As the race started in Oliveira do Bairro this year, the racers were all clustered together, which meant for 10 minutes of waiting and 30 seconds of excitement.


Desfile de Caminhões 2014


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Last year I waited for nearly two hours in the baking sun for the convoy of lorries from the show in Ilhavo to pass. Unfortunately, that year they had decided to take a different route, so I was left staring forlornly down the road, dreaming of what might have been. This year I was ready: I had the garden door unlocked, just in case they decided to use their old route, and my ears cocked in case I heard the lorries’ horns. Sure enough, this year the convoy came through Oiã and Carris…

Volta á Portugal do Futuro 2014


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Every year the Volta á Portugal, the Portuguese equivalent of the Tour de France, passes our house in the stage that starts or finishes at Oliveira do Bairro. A couple of weeks earlier, the Volta a´Portugal do Futuro, for new racing cyclists, passes on the same route. This afternoon, we were delighted to see the race go by. Each year I try to find a new place to record the race from, so this year I headed to the bridge over the A1 motorway to see what the vantage would be like.

It was a great spot. After waiting for 10 minutes or so, I heard the sirens from the police motorcycles that accompanied the riders. Soon the first of the riders went past, leading the main pack by 2-3 minutes, at least. This was followed soon after by a smaller bunch of rides and then the main pack. I was so close to the action that I could feel the breeze from the riders as they passed me by. After the racers came the team cars, decked out with their colours and logos, and drawing up the rear an ambulance, just in case there were any injuries.

Once the ambulance had gone by, I thought that was the end of the race, and headed home. On approaching the roundabout near the office, I noticed that the policeman holding up the traffic to allow the riders to go through was still there, listening intently on his radio. I thought there were more riders to come, and sure enough a few stragglers came along. Once the policeman moved away from the roundabout I new that for me, the race was over. Next up, on the 5th August, is the big race, the Volta á Portugal. I’ll be there for that one, too.

You can see the full gallery here.

Interlude: A visitor to the garden


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Last year we had a cricket, I think it was a cricket, that was hurt and spent weeks in the rose bush in our garden. This morning I found another, who I followed around the garden, from the house wall to the same rosebush. For a brief time, s/he also found a little friend, before flying off to better things…


The full gallery of images can be found here

A busy couple of weeks…


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These last two weeks have been pleasantly busy. First of all we were approached by the local council, the Junta da Freguesia de Oiã, to provide images for an exhibition about the area, then there was the festivities themselves.

So we were covering musicians, unveiling ceremonies, Zumba sessions, a fashion show and an Oiã version of ‘It’s a Knockout!’ for kids. It was great fun, though, and everyone had a great time. Below are a few examples…




My first exhibition in Portugal


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We were delighted to be asked by the local council to provide images for an exhibition celebrating the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the local council for Oiã. We have exhibited individual photographs before, the last was for the 25th anniversary of ViveArte, a local medieval reenactment company, but this was the first time it would have been only my images.

After several days travelling around the area, photographing each of the areas making up the locality, we presented our photographs to the council and they selected twenty they were interested in. The prints, beautifully made, were delivered yesterday, and this morning we mounted them in the gallery in the council chambers:

Tough times at the Praia da Barra


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The last few months have been difficult for the Praia da Barra. Late last year the Salinas Bar was destroyed in an arson attack, and this was followed soon after by heavy storms that swept away most of the beach, including most of the bar/restaurant Casa Demar. We lost a third bar, the Offshore Bar, but this was demolished by the owner and is presently being rebuilt.


The sea was extremely rough, and washed away much of the dunes. All through the winter months a little more of the beach was lost with each incoming tide. The walkway along the dunes, which had only been renovated the previous summer, was partially destroyed, leaving wreckage along the beach and huge gaps in the wooden structure.


A depth of almost 10m (30 feet) of dune was washed away by the sea, leaving a sandy cliff that revealed old wooden walkways that hadn’t been seen since the 1980s:


It was sad to see, and such weather was unknown in the area. In the spring the waves died down, and life on the beach started to return to normal. But the destruction was plain to see.

Late in May the local council started to do something about it. Fences went up and huge lorries were seen transporting sand onto the beach. The volume of sand being moved was incredible and the surfers struggled to get to the waves:


Eventually the whole of the beach was fenced off, frustrating for surfers and sunbathers alike as there was only a small section of beach available. The work is continuing and hopefully in a couple of months the beach will be open for everyone again. But it’s certainly sad to see the beach in such a condition, and the fear is that if the sea is the same this coming winter then there may be no resolution in sight.


You can see more images of the Praia da Barra on the following galleries:

On the Streets of Portugal


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One of the oddities of Portugal is the mixture of buildings you find in most towns and cities. Alongside a modern villa you’ll find an old house, or alongside an apartment block will be a patch of unused land, and there are half-built structures all over the countryside. Partly a comment on the current state of the economy and partly seemingly that sometimes the owners just run out of the means to complete the buildings.

But the most unusual thing that I find about Portugal is the sudden sight of a completely derelict building in the middle of a town. It doesn’t matter where you go, there’ll always be a ruin. This particular example is in Aguas Boas, the next village over from Carris.