When I was younger and my grandfather came to visit he use to give me the empty end of an ice cream cone. I never knew the reason why, and asking my mother she does not know why either? My wife and I were eating at this very good Gelato place in Possanco, Comporta called Gulato, and I was reminded of my grandfather’s gifts as I bit down towards the end of my cone.

By the way, I can’t say enough good things about Gulato. It is a bit off the beaten track but still not far away from everything else in the area. Hunt it down. Lovely staff, the owner trained in making Gelato in Italy. Delicious gelato all made on the property. A beautiful location.

A hand holding the empty end of an ice cream cone. The hand rests on a table on which is a napkin holder potted plant and a pair of glasses. Blurry in the distance can be made out vegetation and a road.

Some friends in Alcácer very kindly arranged a sunset boat ride for us along the Sado River yesterday evening. This was completely unexpected and a lovely gift. The boat was solar powered and so there was no noise of an engine or exhaust fumes. There was just the sound of water lapping against the boat as we sailed forward along the river, of fish jumping, of the wind blowing through the grasses at the river’s edge. This made for a very relaxing trip.

Drinks and snacks were provided for the ride. The boat’s captain, Manual, shared with us the history of the Sado River, once a busy trade route through the Alentejo area of Portugal and further afield. Earlier that day a new Alcácer acquaintance shared the trade that use to take place between Alcácer do Sal and Cornwall, England. Cornwall had tin and this was used for making steel in Portugal. With the history of human settlement in the Alcácer do Sal area going back 40,000 years, the river has been an important trade route for a long time.

Chatting, eating, drinking, watching, listening, laughing.

If you find yourself in Alcácer do Sal, look up Sunrice boat trips. A good host, great company. We had a wonderful evening.

A composite of photos from a sunset boat ride along the Sado River. Including a table of food on the boat, the sun setting, buildings beside the river, grasses beside the river.
Views along the Sado River at sunset.

We revisited Alcácer do Sal’s Railway Station today, and this time got to go inside as a goods train rumbled by.

A collection of five images of the railway station at Alcácer do Sal. Photos of a goods train passing by, a curvy stair case, a key holder, a mesh ticket window and the entrance room with tiled floor and wooden counter.

Anyone would think that someone at Apple is making some announcements right now, going by the content of my timeline! #WWDC

Heavy skies over the beach at Carvalhal yesterday while we were out walking. That said it was warm when the sun broke through, and some people were I the water. The threatening clouds came to nothing.

Dark stormy looking clouds over a large expanse of beach with the Atlantic Ocean reflecting the dark colour.

Anger and The Nun - or don't judge the book by the cover

This story share by Robert Rackley on his blog Canned Dragons reminded me of a story that I heard about a Tibetan Buddhist nun.

A friend of mine, herself a Buddhist nun at the time, was studying at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamsala in Northern India. I’ll call my friend Ani-la, meaning nun in Tibetan. A friend came to visit Ani-la. Ani-la took her friend on a walk around the Institute and Dharamsala, showing her North Indian home. During their walk, they came across a Tibetan nun who in that moment was very angry. Ani-la’s friend commented that someone so angry should not be wearing monastic robes. Ani-la replied that her friend should have seen the nun five years ago.

The nun’s Buddhist practice might not have turned her into a saint (or maybe it did, who am I to judge that?!), but it was bearing fruit, even if it was not the fruit that the friend was expecting to see.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others. Monuments have lives woven into them.”

~ Pericles

Pine trees to distant rice fields.

Looking through a thin group of Pine trees, yellow scrub beneath, to distant light green rice fields. A small White House is on the right.

Images of the Road

I have long loved rail travel. Sitting in a carriage, watching life go by. Gratefully allowing others to take the strain of the transportation logistics. Perhaps striking up conversation with a fellow traveler, or more likely than not sitting quietly reading, writing, watching, sleeping.

When I got older and threw a backpack on my back railway stations took on another significance for me. That of unknown adventure. Yes, I might have had a ticket in my hand stating an intended destination, but as I looked out at the train tracks disappearing into the distance from the station platform I had a sense of unknown adventure ahead. I really don’t know what would happen next?

Taken in a railway station. Train tracks disappear into the distance from a covered platform. On the far side is a grass bank. In the distance some silos, maybe rice silos.
Alcácer do Sal Railway Station

Yesterday my wife and I went to meet someone at Alcácer do Sal Railway Station. Sadly trains no longer stop there. Although a decision made many years ago, I still hold hope that that conclusion will be reversed.

The person who we were due to meet was not there - it turned out that he was on a train heading south. This did not matter to me. The railway station is a beautiful old building, even if it is becoming covered in graffiti. Standing on the platform looking out at the tracks fading into the distance took me back to life on the road. Images of myself waiting for my train seated on station seat, seated on my backpack, looking for a bite to eat, or simply standing. What lay ahead? I knew and I didn’t. A known destination, but unknown experiences. Just the journey to the next port of call became an adventure. And with that there came a sense of freedom. A letting go into what lay ahead.

This was the closest to me ever living a homeless life. I was far from homeless - I could always find myself somewhere to stay at night, and a ticket home as a last resort would have always been an option (though I never considered it) - but in that moment of being on the road, just me and what I had on my back, I was at the whim of what I encountered. And with that came a release, a sense of stepping into the unknown and letting the unknown be the journey.

I gained the same sense, perhaps even more so, when I was standing by the road hitchhiking. As with the train travel the destination was known, but this time even the ride was an unknown entity - who would pick me up, how far would they take me, would I reach my destination that day, the next day or find myself heading off somewhere unknown to me in that moment?

I miss those journeys though cherish their memories, and at times I sense that that is also my life now. I have plans now for the days, weeks, months ahead, but with what degree of certainty do I really know what will happen in the next moment? Am I always standing on station platform?

A stork with nest on top of large concrete structure on the edge of Alcácer do Sal.

A tall, cylindrical concrete structure with a bird’s nest on top. A stork is standing in the nest. A metal ladder runs along the side of the structure. The background is overcast, with a smaller brick building and green vegetation nearby.

⛈️ Well the weather has finally broken this time. At long last. I just heard the longest roll of thunder that I have ever heard - a couple of minutes?

🌧️ The air was getting heavier and heavier. It was feeling thick to walk through. Above the clouds were building. Dark clouds. Finally, just now, the impasse broke and there was a brief shower. Short, but enough to lighten the air and to allow us to breathe again.

Shall I, shan’t I? …. I did.

I walked past this gentleman a handful of times as l was running errands in Lisbon. He appeared totally engrossed in reading his newspaper. Something I rarely see these days. Phones yes, I’m on mine now, newspapers no.

As unobtrusively as possible, I took the shot.

A man sits on a small wall reading his newspaper. He is wearing a red t-shirt which covers a bulging belly. He wears glasses,has a mustache, blue denim shorts and sandals. Beside him is a fruit stand.

These two donkeys lived in the hotel grounds that we stayed in while down in the Algarve over the weekend. They were not always in their corral, but sometimes were wandering the grounds. On our return one afternoon, the older one greeted us with some loud braying as we got out of the car and walked towards him.

Two donkeys stick their heads through a corral that they are housed in

I finished reading: In Love with the World by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche. This book felt like a gift that I am very grateful for. I took my time with it. An account of a young Buddhist monk setting off on a wandering retreat who then becomes severely ill and almost dies. What made this book special for me was the intimacy of his story. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, a Tibetan Master, shares his Buddhist approach to the struggles that setting off on the retreat brings to him. Then as illness strikes he offers rare insight, from my perspective, into the Tibetan view on mind, consciousness and dying. 📚

Fresh fruit. Young grapes on the vine growing above us, and providing shade from the sun.

Fresh grapes growing on the vine, the vine acting as a shade above from the sun

🛣️ Portugal, the home of straight roads. Seriously, I have never seen so many straight roads, even out in the countryside. They are a joy to drive, because you just point the car in one direction and go. Maybe a few ups and downs, but few turns. At least that has been my experience so far, and my kilometers are building up.

Shadows in the night.

A dark sky. In the foreground a waterwell lit from the inside, a wooden arch above it. In the background lights in the bushes.

The ground was moving with these little crabs everywhere. By the Canal de Travia, Luz.

Ciao!

A green neon sign spelling out CIAO hanging on a white wall. Below is a simple chair with a green back and green seat.