I returned last night exhausted from a day in Lisbon. After a late dinner I could barely keep my eyes on and ended up turning in early, falling asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I have not been so tired for a long time, and this morning was thinking back over the day. I think that it was my hayfever that tired me out. Although I took some medicine to help myself through the day, at best they dial down the symptoms a smidgen.

I think that my exhaustion came from my body having to deal with this constant attack from unseen elements - the seasonal pollen and dust in the air. All the while I’m also trying to function normally in the world.

I’m fortunate living in Maui in that hayfever is not an issue. I don’t get it there. Visiting Northern American towns or Europe in the summer reminds me that it is not far away.

The Beauty is a Choice - A Lisbon Art Exhibition

My wife and I were in Lisbon yesterday and met up with an old Portland friend who had been living Portugal for eight years. After lunch she took us to an art exhibition at the Estrela Basilica, by a young Ukrainian artist, Veronika Blizniuchenko.

Looking up at the dome of the Estrela Basilica in Lisbon, from a gardened cloister below

It is not an easily found exhibition, situated as it is in the former convent behind the Basilica. While visiting the Basilica, Bluzniuchenko noticed the convent from its rooftop gallery. She approached the Basilicaโ€™s authorities and asked if she could use it as a studio and exhibition space. To her surprise, they agreed. If you are in Lisbon, I recommend hunting down the exhibition. You enter via a side door to the Basilicaโ€™s right and then following a maze of corridors to the convent.

The exhibition is called, โ€œThe Beauty is a Choice.โ€ When we visited, no one else was there and the former convent offered a lovely refuge from the heat and bustle of Lisbon. Bluzniuchenko walked around her considerable exhibition with us, answering any and all questions and explaining what inspired her. She is a lovely person.

A cloister in the Estrela Basilica showing arches, part of the garden and some paintings from an exhibition

Her generosity of time was even more of note, as when we showed up she shared with us that her home town in the Ukraine had been the object of a new Russian offensive. That was very much on her mind as she painted and spent time with us.

Through her work Bluzniuchenko is also helping to raise money for the restoration of the convent and may, with the help of our Portland friend and again subject to the authorities agreement, do some work on the gardens there.

This painting Bluzniuchenko is gifting to the Basilica.

A view through an open window, outside looking in, with yellow potted roses on either side of the window, the left one flowering, and a large painting inside.

We found this very hidden Gelato shop today. What a gem it is. The owner trained in Italy and now makes his own. Delicious. Repeat visit assured.

A black and white photo of the sign on a Gelato Store. The word Gulato with two clouds all on a white wall

Highways in the sky.

Parallel Contrails against blue sky with the edge of roof tops on both sides of the image

One thing that I forgot to mention in my last post about running is the amount of walking that I have been doing since setting off to Europe over a month ago. I have done a lot of walking. For one the built environment makes it easier to just walk where we need to go. Second, I like exploring on foot. I believe that I get to know a place better by pounding the streets.

So while I might not have kept the running up, Iโ€™d like to think that I have been keeping the exercise going. …At least thatโ€™s the story that I am telling myself!

I haven’t written an update on my progress with the Watch to 5K program for over a month now. After being bitten by exhaustion from pushing too hard on Week 4, I had not felt like continuing. Or maybe I should say that I wanted to continue, but the motivation had taken a bruising. Knowing that I was headed back to Britain at the beginning of April for my mother’s 90th birthday, I thought that being abroad might spur enthusiasm, especially as my mother has a huge park on her doorstep.

No such luck.

I now find myself in Portugal. My wife was starting with a fitness coach here on Tuesday and I decided to use that happening to put my running shoes back on. I went back to the start of Week 3 of the program. Not a complete restart, but I also did not want to dive back into that difficult Week 4.

Running felt easier here. I don’t know why? Had I learnt from my earlier lessons? Was it running in less familiar surroundings, and not feeling as though I had to prove anything? Certainly before I had been working on the unstated rule that each run had to be a faster and/or further run. I was racing against myself. This time I did not push myself. I just ran at what felt like a smooth, consistent pace.

The result of that?

I felt better at the end. I was not exhausted, but felt as though I had got some running practice in. The distance that I covered was less than when I was running back home, but I was good with that. I am trying to telling myself quality over quantity.

The challenge now?

To keep this up with the hay fever season upon us. Time outside can quickly turn difficult at best, managing itchy eyes and tickling nose. If I am running this can be over quickly, or if I’m lucky, little happens.

I’ll be watching this space!

Church bell towers at dusk, complete with nesting storks.

Two illuminated church bell towers at dusk with the silhouette of two storks on a nest on one of the towers.

๐Ÿคง Hayfever is no fun, even if I do try and put on a brave face when the attacks come.

We have just been to the supermarket and I was considering moving in permanently. The air conditioning filtered everything irritable out of the air, and for a few minutes I felt as though I was back to my normal self.

โšฝ I think that the local, favourite football (soccer) team won last night? Just as I was about to go to sleep, normally a very quiet time here, car horns and fireworks started going off.

Over the rooftops.

A rooftop scene in Lisbon

Taken in Sintra about a week ago. In the grounds of Biester Palace, a gem to visit to escape the crowds.

Steps coming down to the photographer, trees and shrubs all around, sunlight flickering through the trees

๐Ÿ˜ฎโ€๐Ÿ’จ Iโ€™m exhausted and am not entirely sure why? There was a lot of walking around Lisbon over the last couple of days for sure, and I slept well last night.

Yes, but that was sleeping off yesterdayโ€™s walking. Tonight will be an early night.

๐Ÿšถโ€โ™‚๏ธ It was as a joy walking through the streets of Lisbon early this morning as the world woke up. Few people around. A new day starting.

Late afternoon Lisbon light.

Sunlight coming in through an open door, with pink and red flowers outside, and rooftops of a pink building behind that.

April Photoblogging Challenge, Bonus Day 2: Unputdownable suggested by @jimmitchell

A black and brindle French Bulldog pulling on a frisbee being held by a human

An old church near to Comporta, Portugal.

A black and white photograph of the end of an old church, with a bell on top and a stalk’s nest on top of that.

โ˜” Where did that come from? Itโ€™s raining. The sun was out a few minutes ago.

Keeping an eye on you…or not.

A small street drawing showing three faces intertwined with some eyes closed and some shut

We watched The Deliquents last night on Apple TV. A three hour Argentinian film about a bank employee who steals from his bank and enrolls the help of a fellow employee in his plans. The film explores the narrow thinking of the two men and how they handle the unfolding situations that they create.

I found it compelling enough to watch it all, but am unsure where to place it? One reviewer said that he felt that it would become a cult classic. An art film is another category that I would place it in. Perhaps watch it if you are interested in budding cult classics, or are simply curious? ๐Ÿฟ