Port and patterns

in a great demonstration of dithering and procrastination, today I’m sharing photos from a trip to Portugal. But not our most recent trip there, from just the other month, but from our trip there in 2017. Partly because I’m struggling to believe it has been two years since we visited the Douro Valley, but also because it delays editing the photos from our recent trip!

So today we’re off to Quinta da Bomfim on the outskirts of Pinhao in the Douro Valley. We took a taxi there as the day before we’d done a bit of a recce and only made it part-way up the drive before realising we might have bitten off more than we could chew, especially in the temperatures which were freakishly high for October.

A view over the vineyards at Quinta da Bomfim in the Douro valley

But when we got there on our second attempt, it was well worth the views.

A pretty place to sit and enjoy the harvest of their labours

The views over the vineyards, of the terrace and the products, if you know what I mean.

port tasting

And with views like this it was hard to motivate ourselves for the long walk back.

a good way to enjoy the day

But eventually we did, and of course not before a visit to the Ladies, which, as I’ve said before, wasn’t quite what I expected for such a traditional surrounding.

diamonds, circles and red shoes of course

For a pattern lover, it was a blast though.

Tiled walls, tiled floors and panelled doors

It was the sort of place where you weren’t quite sure where the floor ended and where the wall started, though of course you’d quickly discover that if you walked a bit too far.

The way out

You can see how pleased I am with this loo discovery, or actually it could be down to the port sampling.

splashbacks, sinks, doors and me

And now this post is out of the way, who knows maybe I’ll even get around to editing some of those more recent photos…

Reflecting on my week #89

Thankfully the weather has improved since last week, though I’m still carrying my umbrella in my handbag just in case. There’s thunderstorms threatened and some more rain, but somehow in London we’ve got to that stage where a thunderstorm to clear the air would be welcomed, as it’s already got to the “too hot” stage for some. I could do with less muggy-ness, but I’m pleased it’s warming up.

There’s been a sudden burst of fruit activity in our garden and we’re regularly picking - and eating - handfuls of strawberries. I love it when plants just carry on producing when left to their own devices, it’s the best type of home grown veg. Short on effort, but long on flavour.

Strawberries from our garden

It’s been a funny week in Greenwich. There’s been a couple of big events at the Old Royal Naval College, where a tremendous amount of fantastic flowers have been brought in to make a stunning place look even better. Then on Friday some cattle arrived and took up residency in a large gilt picture frame as part of the Greenwich and Docklands International Festival.

cows at the old royal naval college

They were hefty old cattle and while I was keen to have a peek I stayed firmly on the outside of the picture frame and did my best not to make eye contact. There was an electric fence, but let’s face it this city girl wasn’t going to put that to the test. It was quite an attraction though, and without the cattle I’d have happily tried the picture frame seat for size.

On Sunday we realised why people have those collapsible fold-up chairs for picnics and such like. We headed over to Greenwich Park for one of the first Bandstand concerts of the year. Sunday wasn’t as nice as Saturday, but armed with a picnic blanket and an impromptu picnic which mostly contained cheese, which was perfectly fine by me. It’s been a few years since we’ve been to a concert in the park, and in those years it seems the ground has got a lot harder, and a lot more uncomfortable!

The bandstand concerts in Greenwich Park
cheese - an impromptu picnic

There’s plenty more bandstand concerts to come throughout the summer, and we’re hoping to go along to more where we can. Each weekend there’s a different ‘flavour’ to the music, this week was country. The one I’m hoping to get along to sounds as if it might be more Cuban, with a band name of Here to Havana, i think there’s a fair chance, don’t you?

The other thing we’ve been picking from the garden over the past week, while enjoying the heady jasmine smells, is cherries. We’ve bowlfuls of them - the pigeons have stripped the top of the tree, but seem reluctant so far to strip the tree bare. So we’re making the most of it, and of my photo editing software as you’ll see below.

editing fun with just one of the bowl of cherries we've picked

I’d been wondering how we could use them, as while some are sweet enough to eat as they are, I prefer them cooked. Today, while having a bit of a browse of the Craft Gin Club site I spotted a recipe for a boozy gin and cherry trifle. Yes, i know, I wasn’t really looking for this, but once I’d found it I knew it would be useful. While we could make our own swiss roll and custard, I’ve opted for some specially made for us by Marks & Sparks, so we can concentrate on the main event, i’ll let you know how we get on!

Sleepers two ways

For today’s ‘flowers on Friday’ post we’re back in the pavilion at the 2018 Chelsea Flower Show making a short stop at the Daisy Roots display. The flowers are in full bloom as you’d expect, but look more closely and you’ll see that the sleepers and their versatility that also shine.

The first is the less common way of using sleepers in gardens, but one that’s effective nonetheless. Standing them on end to form a retaining wall was our original intention for where we eventually ended up placing our gabion seating area. Our change of plan wasn’t because we didn’t like the look, but more because of the amount of work, and digging out, that would be needed. And for us it was the right decision, especially as we now know how many tree roots we’d likely encounter.

upright sleepers holding back the flowers

I think it’s a good look, and an effective way of creating a retaining wall, but I think I’d go for a more level top so that it could more easily double up as an impromptu place to perch. In fact it was the challenge of cutting the sleepers that also put us off, research told us that cutting sleepers wouldn’t be an easy feat. When we installed sleepers in our garden a couple of years ago, where we bought them from also cut them to our measurements for a small fee, which was well worth it.

You’ll remember that it quickly became a favourite spot for a cuppa. And it seems I’m not the only one, as there’s a cup and a book on sleeper bench in the photo below, so now it seems this post really should be titled ‘sleepers three ways!’

sunken sleepers, gravel and calming planting

The second - or perhaps third - way of using sleepers on this stand was as sunken ‘stepping stones’ in this gravel garden. I like the look, but it’s not a way that ever occurred to us for our garden. But it’s a great way to get up close to the flowers isn’t it?