A Lope to The Cave for Janh

Janh challenged me recently to post some photographs from around The Cave so, with some ambivalence and apologies for the amateur photography, please join me on a lope from civilisation up the hill to OZ’s lair.

Beyond cyberworld, The Cave really is located on top of a hill in deepest Portugal, some 1,500 feet above sea level and more than a mile from the nearest road.  There is only one way in and out, an unmade track of rock and stones and dust or mud depending on season

with drops of 300 feet or more on the “interesting” side – enough to make even the most experienced Portuguese delivery driver  clenched and sweating by the time they hit the tarmac again.  I feel particularly for poor old Basílio, the gas man who has to deliver those shoulder-high canisters of butane up here every couple of months or so.  If he went over the edge in his lorry they’d hear the resulting explosion in Lisbon.

It is in the spring that these hills are an absolute joy to behold.   The riot of colour starts early on with the delicate almond blossom and its gentle tale of how a Moorish prince first planted almond trees in Portugal to remind his homesick Scandinavian bride of the snows of her homeland.

Yet only three or four weeks later the blossom is gone and the scenery changes spectacularly.  The first gum roses appear and before long their nodding heads are dotting whole hillsides.  Unfortunately, violent storms are still common at this time of year and the poor cistus often takes a battering, but in their untouched glory they are a remarkable sight.

Further up the hill and another few weeks later the track sides come alive with a rich variety of wild flowers.  I can recognise a type of gorse

and sheets of wild lavender

but most of the plants are a mystery, at least to me.

But what the hell.  Who needs classification in the midst of all that natual beauty?  Nature mixes species and colours to provide a patchwork of complimentary colours and scents to assault the senses.  Not only that, but the hills provide a vibrant habitat for all kinds of lunch, er, warm furry things from wild boar to “wabts” (rabbits, for those not fluent in Hemmett-speak),voles and shrews, not to mention eagles and other raptors, genets, salamanders, and even chameleons.   The variety is astonishing.

As we climb towards the top of the hill one can look down into the valley and be thankful we’re not driving a lorry full of butane.

Anyway, at the end of our lope we come to the last climb on the hill, beyond which lies The Cave.  Thank you for your company, gentle traveller, and boa viagem.


Author: O Zangado

Just loping around. Extremely fond of roast boar in particular, meat in general and cooking on the barbie. Fish is good too.

32 thoughts on “A Lope to The Cave for Janh”

  1. How fantastically beautiful, OZ. I have a cistus with flowers like that in my garden.

  2. Thank you for the pictures, OZ. AS you say, who needs to classify plants to see that they are beautiful? 🙂

  3. Ah, what a beautiful setting for the Cave.

    OK, Eff is dashing out now to buy a ticket; what’s it worth to hide these piccies? 😉

  4. Tocino – I tend to take it for granted now, but The Cave has 360º views of the surrounding hills and is truly wild.

    Jaime – O Zangado in Portuguese is “The angry one”.

    Pseu – I didn’t know cistus would grow successfully so far north, but glad there is a connection.

    Boadicea and Bearsy – Think the Blue Mountains and you’ll get the picture. We would have come stright back to QLD, but the grandcubs had little grappling hooks in them and it was too far for A Zangada. Portugal was a nearer, and very acceptable compromise.

    Araminta – Waddya mean, Eff’s out buying a ticket???? Have you and Bilby lost the bloody key again?

    Bilby – Lots of space for small furry mammals.

    Claire – A bit of a change for an urban Scouse wolf, eh?


  5. Oooo. Thanks for this OZ. Prime mountainbiking territory!

    How on earth did you first find your lair? I can’t imagine you were up there and passed the “For Sale” sign! 😀

    Yes almond blossom is by far the prettiest. Sounds beautiful. Those cistus are called sun roses here. I used to have them – pink ones – in the front garden – huge papery blooms.

    Lavender, gorse – I can see the images clearly now, so thanks!

    It all sounds and looks fabulous OZ. Unspoiled and wild. You really have chameleons?!! I am so jealous. I could turn into Gerald Durrell in a place like that. It’s a kind of paradise. What kind of eagles?

    Oh it was all over too soon. But a lovely tour. Thanks OZ. I never guessed your place was quite so isolated and wonderful.

  6. Well I’ve shown you mine, Janh – now let’s see yours, to coin a phrase. Out here there are thousands of miles of caminhos (mountain tracks) to explore. Just leave the silly helmets and the lycra at home, eh, and bring plenty of gears and water instead?

    One of the best things about The Cave, especially on a moonless, cloudless night such as this, is that you can walk outside and look up to the very edge of our galaxy and beyond because there is no light pollution.


  7. Yup, Zangado, grumpy also. The question is why? Given the beauty of your lair.

  8. Bilby – Yes, we really have chameleons. My friend down at The Bar, him of the jet-black cat named “Snowy” and a bit of a nature lover to boot, confiscated one last year from some youngsters who had caught it in a nearby orchard. For the rest of the evening the chamekeon sat on my friend’s balding and ruddy head turning slowly redder as his beer intake increased. That night the chamekeon stayed on his bedpost, much to the consternation of my friend’s wife, turning mahogony in the process. The next day it was released onto his land, far from any further human interference.

    Nighty night.


  9. Yeah well I’d walk to ANY bar if there was some guy getting legless wearing a chameleon on his head, CB, wouldn’t you?

    🙂 Silly helmet though, O ? (apologies but my keyboard suddenly won’t do ‘ed, which is difficult to explain as i can’t get the character at the front of ‘ebra)? My helmet is my insurance policy!! But I don’t wear much lyrca anyway so that’s ok and i have loads of gears – freshly-tweaked, actually.

    Will look out my Portugal pics. Later, then. They will be terrible anti-climax tho, i warn you.

  10. CB – Of course I walk down to The Bar. Who wouldn’t with scenery like wot I have got?

    Janh – Sorry, there was supposed to be a smiley after the helmet and lycra dig. Mountain biking is very popular here and even the laid-back Portuguese have taken to wearing a lid.

    In these rural areas, though, ‘elf ‘n’ safety often takes a back seat. One regularly sees old boys weaving back from town on an ancient scooter with their pudding-basin bone domes perched on top of the unbquitous cloth cap holding the unfastened chin strap in their teeth with a bag of groceries in one hand and a half-smoked ciggie in the other. Farmers drive their tractors to the village with Mrs. Farmer sitting precariously on a wheel arch or atop a heap of carobs in the hopper on the back. Three generations of countryfolk ride a 50cc motorbike to market – all at the same time!

    Every few months or so a little bloke turns up at The Bar carrying one of those big rectangular wickerwork baskets in which a 1950s British breadman would have put Hovis loaves. Our friend’s basket doen’t contain loaves, but rather a selection of home-made and wickedly sharp knives which he lays out for sale on a vacant table. There are cleavers, filleting knives, carving knives, paring knives and even special double edged knives for killing a pig. Can you imagine that happening on a Saturday night down at the Ferret and Firkin?


  11. G’morgen, OZ, it’s dull but warmer at last! Just about done with our planting now – except some root vegs. and tomatoes. The scenery has never been greener here – but the blossom is about 4 weeks behind! Have a good un!

  12. I enjoyed the chameleon story, OZ. 🙂 Lucky your friend is balding otherwise he may have ended up with a mite infestation. Most unpleasant.

  13. Worry not, OZ. (oh joy. My Z has returned) Cracks about helmets and lycra go whooshing past my ears like deadlines.

    Love the descriptions of the old boys and casual rural transport. My pal V’s idea of a good holiday is to get chatting to the locals, who are almost always ancient and whiling away the afternoon int the shade of a bus shelter or a handy bench. 🙂

    Set out a stall like that in the Ferret and Firkin and you’d have the riot squad surrounding the place, OZ!

  14. Valzone – I’ll take the Freudian slip in your #25

    Sheona – De nada 😀

    Bilby – Never knew chameleons had mites. However, they would have slid straight off his head. No grip!

    Janh – There are several pairs of Bonelli eagles nesting not ten miles from here and honey buzzards are regular visitors.

    Never miss a chance to sit down and chat with an old boy (or girl). Someone once wrote that when they go, it’s like a library burns down – all those memories and experiences are gone.


  15. That’s true, OZ.

    Don’t think I’ve ever seen a Bonelli eagle but honey buzzards have the longer-than-average tail feathers, possibly. Saw a mystery bird of prey at Sagres. Something like a buzzard but not quite – thought it might have been an immature eagle. Couldn’t get close enough and didn’t have good enough lens back then to take a decent pic.

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