Sunday, 11 February 2018

Colourfoul miner's paintings

Picture (Tom Lamb- Testing for Gas) from the book Shifts of Light - Mining Art in the Great Northern Coalfield (Robert McManners & Gillian Wales

"From the early nineteenth century coal mining was to dominate the North East of England for one hundred and fifty years. It provided employment, determined townscapes and population distribution, created hardships, dominated skylines but above all spawned communities. These tightly-knit mining fraternities provided the miner with all his basic needs. Historically the miner has always felt the need to express himself both politically and creatively. (...) This took many forms - a pride in the size of a leek, the speed of a whippet, the flight of a pigeon, the beauty of a chrysanthemum, the sound of a brass band, the recitation of a verse, the writing of a play or latterly the painting of a picture. The resulting body of art produced in the Great Northern Coalfield is as fascinating as it is diverse."

The Art Mining Gallery in Bishop Auckland explores working life in the coalmines through original artefacts and artwork from prominent mining artists. It is very well worth a visit.

Purple "Our moon" in the lumiere

In November 2017 the light festival (Lumiere Durham) came to Durham again. Artists from around the world illuminated the city with a series of light installations. It was interesting to see all the different installations but slightly disappointing that the crowds had to follow the designated paths and had to behave like  sheep in a herd. Therefore, the most pleasant time was spent in the church of Our Lady of Mercy and St Godric's, which offered tea and cake for free, talking with two old ladies from Durham.

"Our moon" (Hannah Fox) - Using motion capture techniques similar to a Hollywood Blockbuster, 80 Durham residents’ unique facial expressions were digitally captured and transferred over to drive the drawn animation of Our Moon. Four Moons were created from the residents of Durham; childhood, youth, maturity, wisdom. Each evening of Lumiere Durham 2017 a different moon watched over the city and its people.

Transparent ice cores at the British Antarctica Survey

"Ice cores are cylinders of ice drilled out of an ice sheet or glacier. Most ice core records come from Antarctica and Greenland, and the longest ice cores extend to 3km in depth. The oldest continuous ice core records to date extend 123,000 years in Greenland and 800,000 years in Antarctica. Ice cores contain information about past temperature, and about many other aspects of the environment. Crucially, the ice encloses small bubbles of air that contain a sample of the atmosphere – from these it is possible to measure directly the past concentration of gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) in the atmosphere. Direct and continuous measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere extend back only to the 1950s. Ice core measurements allow us to extend this way back into the past. In an Antarctic core (Law Dome) with a very high snowfall rate, it has been possible to measure concentrations in air from as recently as the 1980s that is already enclosed in bubbles within the ice. Antarctic ice cores show us that the concentration of CO2 was stable over the last millennium until the early 19th century. It then started to rise, and its concentration is now nearly 40% higher than it was before the industrial revolution." (British Antarctica Survey, 2014).  

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Dez, diez, ten, dix

Ten years blogging!!!!!!

Red shirt of Portuguese National Team (CR7)

Cambelas had a Norwegian summer this year. Not only because the weather in July and August was bad, but also because the village, was invaded by Norwegians! A family of five plus other members of their family and some of their friends came to enjoy this precious corner of Portugal. After spending almost a month in Cambelas my friends hybridised in Norskcambelenses. They blended with the spirit of the village and became loved by all my neighbours. And CR7 played his part too in the daily dressing and undressing of two little Norwegian boys. You will be always welcome here!

And my Portuguese friend who lives in Bergen and his Norwegian girlfriend who came later on too!

And also blue sky at the Tatras mountains

I did almost everything the guidebook I had borrowed about the Tatras mountains advised me to do. I bought a good map, I bought water and lots of food and I left my next in kin's contact and expected locations at the reception of the hotel I stayed in Zacopane. The only advice I did not follow was to walk with a partner and so I was on my own. Well, I thought I was going to walk on my own, but as soon as I arrived at the bottom of the mountain I found out I was not going to walk on my own. Being one of the main summer destinations for the almost 40 million Polish, the Tatras walking routes were packed with people. Even nuns I saw scrambling the most difficult bits. The views are breath-taking and I would definitely go back. But maybe in another time of the year or visiting the Slovakian Tatras instead. At least Slovaks are only 5.5 million!

Blue sky at the Scafell

 "Scafell is the second highest mountain in England and its two main crags provide the focal point of Lake District climbing. Throughout the past hundred years these crags have been a forcing ground for standards, and many of the routes are rich in history and legend. The only drawback of these crags is their position, high on the mountain, and therefore subject to the worst conditions that the weather can produce. When it is dry and warm, there is no finer place to climb in England." In Lake District Rock, FRCC guide.

It was indeed high up in the mountain. Thus, there was a walk of more than two hours (with about 7kg of gear on the back) involved. But even loaded I managed to be always ahead of a group of young boys and girls (perhaps university students). This view is from the Pikes Crag which we climbed all the way up to the top.  

Orange sunset in the Lakes

This is another sunset captured in the Lake district. Just before, a group of men and women dressed up in some strange outfits, showed up and started to dance the "Morris dances" in a relaxed way and inviting people to join them. The Morris dances are English folk dances in which dancers perform some choreographies wearing bell pads on their shins and using sticks, swords and handkerchiefs. It seems to have been originated by the Morisk dances (Moorish dances). This makes sense because it resembles somehow the Portuguese folk dances performed by the "Pauliteiros de Miranda" - also danced by men with sticks, at the sound of the bagpipes.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Green waters at the Lilly ponds, Pembrokeshire

Bosherton is a small village in the south side of Pembrokeshire. It was incredibly sunny there in July, different from what I imagined Wales weather to be. Apart from the Olde Worlde Café, which deserves a visit with enough time to enjoy seating "al fresco", and the climbable rocky cliffs around St Govan's chapel, there are the beautiful Lilly Ponds. The vegetation is luxurious and several birds can be watched here. Although a touristic spot, it was very quiet when I walk around it. One of the paths leads to a big sandy beach, but the cold water did not invite for a swim.  

Colourful summer evenings in San Sebastian

San Sebastian in June is packed with tourists. This pleasant town in the Basque Country (Spain) has been a touristic corner for many years but mainly for the rich Spanish families who would come to the Cantabrian coast in search of good health. But this tradition is now surpassed by people looking for the beach (Playa de la Concha), culture (e.g. Film Festival of San Sebastian and the Jazz Festival) nightlife and, for summer courses. The food in the Basque Country is the best of the best: delicious jamon (chorizo), tasty cheese and beautiful wine. The food specialities are the "pintxos" which are small snacks of this and that, served in the pubs with beer, cider or wine. These appetisers have become so famous that the pubs are now full of non-Spanish and the prices have gone up. I thought it would be impossible to find a truly authentic place selling "pintxos". But I found it is not if we have the right contacts! And my contact was a professor from the University of San Sebastian. I was very sceptical about the place he described as "an authentic tavern selling the best "pintxos" to the Basque people" until I set my feet inside. And that was another world! Basques were there indeed, having their wine and eating their "pintxos". The old barman was very grumpy but with me he was great, suggesting the specialities of the house. And the one I still have my mouth watering for is a "spinach croquette" which came straight from the frying pan to my plate! Of course, as I am so bad at remembering names of places as I cannot recall the name of this pub anymore, but it is better like this, because I would like to keep it almost secret. I give a clue at least: The photo was taken in the street where the pub is located. If you find it, I hope you leave some "spinach croquettes" for me! 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

This climber dresses in blue :-)

Not far from the road, nice views over Loch Duntelchaig, close to Inverness, severe and hard severe routes and a very cold, skinny and scared dog around!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

White clouds in the Lake District

Climbing in the Lake District is becoming more and more frequent. This time, while belaying, I took a picture of an unknown climber who was doing the route parallel to mine. It is a fine photo and here am I to share it. The rock was very soft and the view was great: more mountains, the valley (Langdale) and some lakes. The evening was  spent in the pub near the campsite in Dunnerdale: the curious Newfield Inn.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Blue Isle of Mull

Maybe I complain too much about the weather in Scotland. Because sometimes it is sunny and when it is sunny it is like paradise. And because the sunny days are rare, then these days are special. Because if it was sunny everyday, Scotland would be full of tourists. Maybe annoying tourists like those that go to the south of Spain and Portugal. With so few and precious sunny days, we can have paradise all for us. And it was paradise in May in Mull.

Pulses of all colours and shapes

Five ways pulses impact our world

1. Nutrition
Pulses are some of the most nutritious crops on the planet.

2. Health
They offer one of the best investments in your heart and overall health.

3. Climate Change
Their cultivation helps reduce greenhouse gases and provides increased carbon sequestration which is good for the planet.

4. Biodiversity
Pulses improve soil fertility and nourish crops planted alongside them.

5. Food security
They are a low-cost crop for farmers, they flourish in arid lands and have a long shelf life.

(in "Pulses. Nutritious seeds for a sustainable future, FAO, 2016)

Spring in Portugal!

In May, in Cambelas and surroundings, the agricultural fields are all full of flowers - poppies and daisies are the most common. A bike ride with the camera in the bag is the best way of capturing a great number of colourful fields which wait for the hay harvest period. 


Ah! quem nos dera que isto, como outrora,
Inda nos comovesse! Ah! quem nos dera
Que inda juntos pudéssemos agora
Ver o desabrochar da primavera!

Saíamos com os pássaros e a aurora.
E, no chão, sobre os troncos cheios de hera,
Sentavas-te sorrindo, de hora em hora:
"Beijemo-nos! amemo-nos! espera!"

E esse corpo de rosa recendia,
E aos meus beijos de fogo palpitava,
Alquebrado de amor e de cansaço.

A alma da terra gorjeava e ria...
Nascia a primavera... E eu te levava,
Primavera de carne, pelo braço!

(Olavo Bilac, in "Poesias")

White and green Granita

So I don't forget: this is Granita Siciliana, a semi-frozen dessert eaten with brioche. Delicious!

Red, black, white, blue - Mount Etna

Climbing Mount Etna alone is officially not allowed. People need to be accompanied by an accredited guide that ensure their safety and direction. This happens because Mount Etna is an active volcano and in March lava was coming out from its entrails. The lava was so hot and the surroundings so cold that it felt like being close to a fireplace in the cold winter nights of Scotland. I went up with two students from Catania University as one of them was starting his activity as a guide. In the way up with met one of their friends that just had been hit by a stone from a lava explosion the week before. English tourists are usually taken up by 4x4 buses and some of them go on flip flops. Mount Etna is at 3,350m height and the closest city is Catania. The volcano slopes are very fertile and vineyards are popular, giving origin to the best (probably) wines of Italy. There are some myths associated with Mount Etna and this one is my favourite one:

"Persephone liked to gather flowers on the lower slopes of Etna and to dance with the nymphs on the plain of Etna. When Hades abducted her, he opened a crevice in Mount Etna as an entrance to the Underworld."

The abduction of Persephone by Hades (Homeric Hymns):

I sing now of the great Demeter
Of the beautiful hair,
And of her daughter Persephone
Of the lovely feet,
Whom Zeus let Hades tear away
From her mother's harvests
And friends and flowers—
Especially the Narcissus,
Grown by Gaia to entice the girl
As a favor to Hades, the gloomy one.
This was the flower that
Left all amazed,
Whose hundred buds made
The sky itself smile.
When the maiden reached out
To pluck such beauty,
The earth opened up
And out burst Hades …
The son of Kronos,
Who took her by force
On his chariot of gold,
To the place where so many
Long not to go.
Persephone screamed,
She called to her father,
All-powerful and high, …
But Zeus had allowed this.
He sat in a temple
Hearing nothing at all,
Receiving the sacrifices of
Supplicating men.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Purple heather for the heather ale

Heather Ale

From the bonny bells of heather
They brewed a drink long-syne,
Was sweeter far than honey,
Was stronger far than wine.
They brewed and they drank it,
And lay in a blessed swound
For days and days together
In their dwellings underground

But now in vain is the torture,
Fire shall never avail
Here dies in my bosom
The secret of heather ale

excerpts from the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson 

Green water in the river at Armathwaite

This little corner of Cumberland has an interesting corner for climbing. One of the routes even start from the river, in the water. Canoeists who were passing by offered a lift to other rocks but there was no need for that! There is also an old bridge crossing the river Eden. The writer William Mounsey (1808-1877) traced the course of river Eden from the Solway Firth to its source in Mallerstang. One of William Mounsey's enigmatic carvings in the banks of river Eden, dated 1852 AD, is:

To meet the Atlantic's boundless time,
See Old Ituna's waters glide,
As rolls the river to the sea
So time unto eternity.

Many colourful books in Wigtown

Wigtown is a small town in the region of Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. It has loads of bookshops and cafes where books are sold. It is impossible not to browse for books in these shops and even more impossible to leave any of them without buying any book. Even when we think there is nothing there for us, the next minute prove us wrong and we find something worth taking home!

Golden sunset in Whitby

Whitby's story probably goes back to a Roman signal station and certainly dates to 657 when St Hilda founded the abbey for King Oswy of Northumbria in thanks for his victory over the heathen Penda of Mercia. The Synod of Whitby of 664 committed the English Church to the Roman instead of the Celtic rite. Both men and women lived in the early monastery, a renowned centre of learning. This is where the herdsman Caedmon was inspired to sing of Creation. The abbey was destroyed by the Danes in 867 and not refounded until 1078 by the Benedictines. It flourished then until its surrender in 1539. 

In The Shell Guide to England, edited by John Hadfield.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Fog bow in a background blue sky

I have learnt this is called a fog bow. I caught it in Cross Fell, the highest mountain in the Pennines Hills.  

Orange sunset at Blencathra

Climbing Blencathra in November revealed a challenge as there was plenty of snow and the normal route up could not be taken. Walking and scrambling through the rocky ridge caused me a panic attack. After the brain reacted and decided that to be stuck in the middle of the ridge at 3pm was not a good idea, the body moved and I reached the top before 4pm. What came next was a spectacular sunset and sun reflection in the snow.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

The white needles of the Isle of Wight

The needles are a tourism attraction in the Isle of Wight, located in Alum Bay. Apparently the name of these rocks made of white chalk was originated from a fourth rock with a needle shape called Lot's wife and which collapsed in a storm in the 18th century. Getting a 24 hour bus ticket to visit the island is a good way of reaching most attractions without having to rent a car. It takes ages but it is worthwhile.

Grey sky in Belmonte

Together with Monsanto and Sortelha, Belmonte is one of the historical towns of Portugal. It was the cradle of Pedro Alvares Cabral, the first European navigator to set feet in Brazil and because of that the village hosts the Museum of the Discoveries. But the most curious and interesting fact is that Belmonte is home of an important community of Sephardi Jews who established here in the XVth century to freely express their faith, after a law implemented by king D. Manuel enforcing the Jews to become Christians. While walking around the town the Jews coming from other parts of the world (probably Israel) to visit Belmonte (perhaps their relatives or to find more about their roots?) were noticed. It was also possible to hear the songs in a celebration at the Mosque. Judging from the number of beautiful stone house available for sale, it seemed that many of them wanted to depart, following the call of Israel.

Colourful houses in Covilha

Covilha is the city to see the snow in the winter in Portugal, taste the famous Queijo da Serra (mountain sheep cheese), manufacture textiles and learn at the University da Beira Interior. The lack of public transport on Sundays and no maps of Serra da Estrela on sale can be semi-compensated by great street art spread around the city.

Orange sunset in Viseu

In Viseu I could write about the cathedral which started to be built during the rein of the first king of Portugal D. Afonso Henriques, or about the Grao Vasco museum, built in homage to the Portuguese XVth century painter of the same name. However, this sunset with the hills on the background and appreciated from the cathedral square, deserves to be the focus of this post.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Green Serra da Estrela and its glacial valley

Travelling in Portugal with a rucksack on my back was something I have been longing for a while. There is a variety of landscapes and interesting cities to visit and diverse food to try. There is also under inhabited regions to explore and mountain trails mainly travelled by shepherds and their sheep. One of these places is Serra da Estrela and its glacial valley. The walk started at around 11am with a shining sun. We went through Covao da Ametade, a badly drained depression in the glacial valley. We started climbing up in Cantaro Magro, and then we walked and walked, we passed by Lagoa dos Cantaros and we started to speed up after missed the turn of the trail (it did not help to have only half of the map with us). We arrived at 7pm down in the valley, having another hour to walk through it and to find a way out to the car park. We left the valley to the main road at 8pm when it started raining the first rains after 4 months of summer. We felt we underestimated the power and difficulty of this mountain but the sensation of having survived was good. - Next time with a full map.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Red night with Ana Moura

And Ana Moura is wornderful too! After attending her concert in Portugal in 2015, I was so lucky to be in London the same day she was performing at the Barbican and I did not miss the concert! Her new album (Moura) is marvellous and I cannot stop listening to it. Every time I find something new, a word, a chord, a sound...Songlines wrote the following about Ana Moura:

"Prior to Desfado, it was already clear Moura was not your average fado singer. She sang to a different beat and she welcomed unexpected collaborations, but if felt like she was allowed a couple of extravagances as long as she kept within a largely traditional setting. And she pulled off in such a powerful and amazing way, she was fast becoming a local fado star, quickly following Mariza's steps on the international runway and casting her own spell on the Rolling Stones and Prince."

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Blue nights with Carminho

Carminho is wornderful! She is a Portuguese fado singer of the new wage of younger fado singers and together with her musicians she is always full of innovative surprises. This was the second time I have seen her live, being the first in Paris. And it only gets better! In this concert in Portugal she sang one song from a Brazilian band which does not exist anymore, but whose singer Ney Mattogrosso, is one of my favourite musicians. Carminho did a great job at singing "O vira" in a Portuguese modern fado style.  Originally, the "vira" is a genre of music that is part of the Portuguese folklore and etnography.

Pink Theather in Manaus

The Amazonas Theatre (Teatro Amazonas) is possibly one of the most beautiful theatres I ever been. It opened its doors in the 31st December 1896. It was built at the peak of the rubber exploitation and trade in Manaus. I had the pleasure to listen to talented Brazilian musicians not yet known in Portugal. And by chance I sat next to a singer who told me about her work and interpretations. Curiously, I have been practicing "The Dance of the hours" on the piano which is a song from the first opera performed in the theatre: "La Gioconda" from Amilcare Ponchielli.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The meeting of the balckwater and the whitewater

The meeting of the Black River (Rio Negro) and the Amazon River (or Rio Solimoes) results in this phenomenon of two distinctive coloured water that meet but do not mix. The reason why these waters do not mix is their specific characteristics: different temperature, density and speed. The Rio Negro starts in Colombia, flows for 2,250 km and has its mouth in the Amazon River in Brazil. The River Amazon starts in Peru and ends in the Atlantic Ocean, 6,992 km far from its source. It is the largest river in South America. The famous geographer Alexander van Humboldt was the first westerner to establish the existence of the Casiquiare canal which communicates the River Amazon with another big river: the Orinoco.  

Sunday, 12 February 2017

More blue sky in Glencoe

It seems that when the weather is like this in Glencoe everyone in Scotland go there. This time the climb was in Aonach Dubh and the route Nirvana Wall (Severe **). What I did not like here much was having to walk straight up the mountain with a rucksack full of gear. What I loved here was to come down and go for a swim in the cold water of the rock pools next to the path.

Blue Lochan na h-Earba

We parked the car and cycled up the hill to Lochan na h-Earba. We locked the bikes and walked up to the climbing routes in Binnein Shuas where we climbed Kubla Khan (110m HS ***). "Binnen Shuas is the relatively small(746m) but impressively steep sided and craggy hill that lies on the opposite side of Loch Laggan from the monster winter playground of Creag Meagaidh." (Highland Outcrops South). Climbing with such a view is a privilege, especially in a hot day and with a dive in the lake to finish off. Cycling back was equally pleasant and because it was all down hill I missed the turn to the bridge and the car park and ended up in Loch Laggan, in the middle of a men's campsite :O.

Orange sunset in Sanna Bay

It is impossible to resist posting this beautiful sunset in Sanna Bay from June last year (yes, I am this late with updating Colours of Scotland). I went for a walk in Sanna and just around the corner to where this picture was taken, I saw an eagle. Which specie I am not completely sure, maybe a Golden eagle. It was huge and it took off just 2 meters from where I showed up and it flew away.

Blue sky and warm weather in Sanna

Ardnamurchan peninsula is a great place to explore when the weather is warm and the sky is blue in the West Coast of Scotland. We can visit the Ardnamurchan Point which is the most westerly point of the UK mainland, and also Sanna Bay a white sandy and green waters beach. Not far from the beach there is a ring of gabbro rocks originated by past volcanic activity in which there are several climbing routes. We climbed Leac Glas, Leac Louise and Plocaig Walk in one day and Pash, Mickey, Ludo and Felix in the following day. To reach the climbing routes walked for about an hour from the car park, between roaming sheep or ruins of what was one day highlanders' houses. The climbing routes were easy (severe and very difficult) and enjoyable and the view at the top was fantastic as it looks West across the Atlantic ocean.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Son "El Grito" (Yo soy puro Guatemalteco)

Yo soy puro guatemalteco
y me gusta bailar el son,
con las notas de la Marimba
también baila mi corazón.

Cuando bailo con mi María
hasta un grito me sale así...
que rechulas son las inditas
cuando las veo bailar el son,
con sus faldas levantaditas
van taconeando con suave rumor.

Para bailar...
indita mía yo voy palmeando alrededor,
para gritar...
con una mano tomo el sombrero y lo hago así.

Yo ya me voy...
me voy cantando
me voy gritando lejos de aquí,
te canto a ti...

mi Guatemala tierra querida donde nací.

Son: El Grito
Letra: José Ernesto Monzón
Música: Everardo De León

Tortillas blancas en el comal

Maize was first encountered by Europeans in Central America. There are some theories of how the Indians domesticated this cereal but it seems its origin are still involved in mystery. Europeans brought maize back to Europe and since then it has been consumed almost everywhere. In Guatemala, one of the main staple foods are tortillas, a flat bread made of maize. In the countryside, the tortillas are still prepared manually through a process called nixtamalisation. This process includes soaking and cooking the maize grains in limewater, and after, hulling, washing, and grinding the grains into the dough, that will be shaped into flat circles. These become tortillas after being cooked in the "comal". The process of nixtamalisation eliminates the toxins while improving the flavour and nutritional value of the grains. These tortillas were white but they can be different colours depending on the colours of the maize grains they are made of. Tortillas can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Black and White picture of Amadeo

Last April I was so lucky to be in Paris at the same time the exhibition about the work of the Portuguese painter Amadeo Souza Cardoso was being displayed at the Grand Palais. Amadeo's work is so great, across so many currents and so vivid that it was an immense pleasure to walk the galleries and absorb every detail of his paintings. Had he not died in 1918 at the age of 30 and he would have been remembered as Picasso, Dali or Modigliani (whom he befriended). The paintings have to be appreciated of course but as they can all be found in the internet I rather leave here a photo of him, confident, futuristic, someone who shocked the narrow minded Portuguese society of the time. When I came across this photo and  sentence: "Je ne fais partie d'aucune ecole" meaning "I am not part of any current", I straight away empathised with it and smiled inside.   

Green Ethiopia

When I was a teenager I had this idea that I wanted to live and work in Africa. I have not managed so far but the idea is still in my head. Africa, is of course, a huge, hugely diverse, continent. In Ethiopia  I loved the people, the spicy food, the landscape and the heritage. On the other hand, I have talked to young people that, even though had a smile in their faces, were disillusioned by what the future could bring. When I was little I remember once going to the church in the evening with my grandma to watch a slide show facilitated by missionary nuns about the hunger crisis in Ethiopia. After travelling around and seeing so much farming land I found difficult to believe I was in the same country where this  happened. I noticed signs of prosperity and development but another food crisis is an hovering threat. Frail political stability, increased droughts, population pressure - the stressors are adding up...

Green grass surrounds the ruins of Quinta d'Areia

Last April I met Mr Goncalo and his wife who guided me to Quinta d'Areia, nearby Praia Azul in the municipality of Torres Vedras, Portugal. He is a descendant of the nobles who owned this house and the land around it more than fifty years ago. The legend says that once upon a time, a mermaid and her daughter were hungry and went to pick some green peas in the farms belonging to the owner of Quinta d'Areia. The men who were working in the fields spot them and caught the daughter mermaid killing her even after her mother's plea. Because of this, the older mermaid threw a spell of bad luck to the owner and his estate. Since then, it has been sold several times and the big house is been in ruins until nowadays. When I was a kid, I remember listening my great grandmother telling me she used to listen to the mermaids singing near Quinta d'Areia. And when I was in Orkney last year, I bought a book about the Tales of Orkney and in there I found similar legends to this one. Everything seems to come together at some point of our lives!

Blue sea and the Tragedy of the Commons

If I remember well, the first time I came across the concept of the tragedy of the commons was during my Game Theory classes when undertaking my MSc in Economics. The tragedy of the commons describes the situation where individuals act according to their self interest and deplete the resources through their collective action. In this case, the "common resource" were mussels and the individuals were people who, compelled by the tradition of going "fishing" on Good Friday, came from everywhere to Praia Azul and caught as many kg of mussels as they could only in a few hours. As the weather was reasonably good, this meant hundreds of people on the rocks and hundreds of kg of mussels caught. Although the amount and size allowed per person have been finally regulated in 2014 (3kg per person per day and >5cm), with absolutely no control from the authorities, the tragedy happened. The excessive capture of mussels in a single day damages its population and also the food web, endangering other sea species that are dependent on this resource to survive.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Dark enegies at New College, Oxford

Curiously, New College is one of Oxford's oldest colleges. It was founded by William of Wykeham in 1379 for the education of priests. A visit to the chapel and cloister at night was a supernatural experience. According to a colleague, there was some invisible people walking up and down the corridors. Spooky!

White snow at the top of Ben Vrackie

Ben Vrackie is a Corbett located next to Pitlochry in the Cairngorms. The name comes from Gaelic Breac which means speckled (covered or marked with a large number of small spots or patches of colour). The walk started from Moulin and passed by a frozen lake named Loch a' Choire. The clouds did not allow to see much further than this, but according to Adam Watson (The Cairngorms), Ben Vrackie "commands a magnificent view up Tummel and across to Moor of Rannoch". At the top of the mountain there was an old man who asked us to take a photo of him in his new boots which had been a present from someone. This episode is as a good reminder that hill walking is a an activity that keeps fit the young and the old.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Umbada (the colour can be blue as Jorge Fernando's 80's suit)

Sometimes when writing papers I need more than classic music to inspire me. Recently while browsing for Vasco Palmeirim satiric songs to listen to, I found the movement "Umbada Never Forget" which tried to resurrect a pearl of the 80's Portuguese music Umbada. I decided to make my own piano version, and thus also pay my homage to Jorge Fernando, a Portuguese Fado composer and singer I like a lot. Of course, I still need to tune it properly, but here it is my first attempt!

É umbadá, umbadeó-umbadá
É umbadá, umbadeó-umbadá
É umbadá, umbadeó-umbadá
É umbadá, umbadeó-umbadá
É umbadá, umbadeó-umbadá 

Original is here: Umbada 

Newlands valley (Lake distrcit) and its Scottish colours

The Scottish people have to forgive me but the truth is that, I think there is a bit of Scotland in England. From thinking that England was a boring place for mountain walking, I am now almost convinced that it can have also spectacular views and quiet places (without or with few people around) to walk. This is the Newlands valley in the Lake District and if before what I encountered in this region of England was loads of tourists surrounded by beautiful landscapes, this time what I found, in a 7 hour walk, was great mountains, colours and nice people that occasionally stopped me for a little chat. Ok, I am definitely ready to explore more of the natural landscapes England has to offer!

Greenish sea in New Aberlour

In the winter, when the weather is not good for the mountains we have the sea. This is what it means to leave in Scotland. There is always a choice. New Aberlour in the north coast is an example of a great place for a coastal walk with its secluded beaches, rock pools and caves. Sometimes dolphins swim in the horizon and even whales. Yes, I have seen already a whale jumping in the water just in front of me. And that is just an amazing sight. If the whales decide to be shy, beach combing is another possible activity.


This is Aberdeen FC playing Celtic Glasgow at Pittodrie Stadium in January. And this was a game who got us, a bunch of foreigners, screaming, singing and supporting Aberdeen FC. The energy felt in a football field is just amazing and able of shadowing any worries. Aberdeen FC was never again a team at the international level since Sir Alex Ferguson left to Manchester United in 1986. But this game was special, as Aberdeen FC was second in the Scottish league after Celtic. As the score was 2-0 until minute 91' we all sang: to Celtic's manager "We're going to be sacked in the morning".

Many flags, many colours

This sculpture placed at the James D. Wolfensohn Atrium is a "call for attention" about a disease that affects several people in Africa. It is called river blindness and it is caused by the bites of infected black flies that breed in fast-flowing rivers. According to the World Health Organization, 99% of the infected people live in 31 African countries. The World Bank, in partnership with WHO, African governments and pharmaceutical firms is contributing to protect millions of people from river blindness.

The World Bank is a cooperative founded in 1944 with 188 member countries. The WB claims poverty reduction as the overarching goal of their work.

After the storm the good weather: blue sky and white snow

If the previous big snowstorm in Washington DC was called Snowmaggedon this one received the name of Snowzilla. The consequences of such storms were big, so the economists said: thousands of flights cancelled, closed shops, no traffic circulation, accidents...But the economists forgot to give a value to the amusement that people were having: from snowball fighting, to sledge races, to simply enjoying walking in the middle of the empty roads. And, the value of extra holidays, which for US citizens, should not definitely be  dismissed.  

BUT, it is a pity the storm description took over my post because there was so much to say about DC's history: the civil rights movement and the 14th street and Shaw neighbourhood, the "Revolution should not be televised" and Scott-Heron, the organic food supermarkets, the blueberry pancakes for breakfast, Georgetown and the Waterfront, the interesting books at the WB bookshop and more and more...