Tuesday, November 21, 2006


"Cintra's Glorious Eden" (Byron)

I understand why Byron was so impressed by Sintra. It's a truly amazing place. I first went there more than two years ago in the company of several Portuguese writers, including João Barreiros, but we didn't get further than the first restaurant in the village. Last Sunday I went with Safaa and we explored rather more of the surroundings. The following day I returned yet again and this time I climbed up to the Castelo dos Mouros and the Palacio da Pena, two of the most extraordinary buildings I have ever seen. The views were amazing, far up the Atlantic Coast as far as the Islas Berlengas.

My Portuguese trip is over far too soon. But I have some good memories to take home with me, including an origami lesson in which I learned how to make a crane (the bird, not the lifting apparatus) from a piece of paper. I plan to return to Portugal next year, maybe in April or May, and I'm already looking forward to that voyage. But first I have to fly back to London and then catch the bus back to Wales!

I apologize for the terrible lesson!
I've sent the schematics to Safaa, she should forward it back to you.
With them and what you've already done, you should be able to get along. :)
Never mind the above, Here is a link for the schematics.
Paper cranes are one of the seven things that make me happy, so you can expect to be pressed into paper folding service on your return.

We kept Wales dank and moist for you, just the way you like it.
You whinging bastard!! The buildings look amazing as do the views. I'll need to tamper with your medication upon your return, and lead you on a forced march across Penlan and Portmead wearing nothing but Portuguese national costume. You havent seen me..right!
Boa tarde, Escalla! Tudo bem? No, the lesson was great. When I have mastered cranes, you'll have to teach me the fish, and then the frog! I also want to learn how to make a parrot, if that's possible!

Stuart: yes I noticed the rain. Thanks a lot! Let's meet up soon, and let's include Huw in that meeting... Why? God only knows!
Did you visit the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra? If not, you must!

Of all the fantastic places in Sintra and Lisbon, this was my absolute favourite. This folly is full of dark holes to explore – grottos, crypts, ruins in the gardens – and, at least when I visited in 2004, completely unsafe. Many places were barely or not lit (we used cigarette lighters and mobile phones to light our way through underground passages and rooms we probably weren’t meant to go in) and there were gaps to huge drops not roped off. Excellent - I hate being molly-coddled as a tourist.

I spent hours running around here like a five year old! It's a miracle I'm still alive...

Unfortunately all my photos are still in paper format, but check it out here:
Hi Zoe! Or should I say hyvää päivää! kuinka voitte? What's Helsinki like at this time of year? Cold I bet!

I missed the Quinta da Regaleira this time round, I'm afraid! Maybe next year! It sounds amazing and you've given me yet another excuse to go back! In the meantime, if you scan in your photos I'll look at them! :-)
Scanning my old photos is one of my ongoing projects that keeps falling at the first hurdle: no scanner.

No, Helsinki is unseasonably warm! (I call 7°C at this time warm anyway.) Winter came to visit, but then left in a huff when we criticised its flakes: hah! I found two the same, slacker. Now Autumn is back and grumpy at the overtime. It’s grey and drizzly and no one knows which coat to wear! It could be England. We’re all going slowly mad…
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