A Walk Through 2018

Out with the old and in with the new, 2018 has been a year of transition settling into a new home and country, a new way of working as a freelance writer, broadcaster and trainer whilst continuing to enjoy international travel (this year I racked up seven countries) and producing food features for radio. All in all, there is so much to reflect on and feel thankful for but one of the things I enjoy the most, the simplest of things, is walking and here in the Serra de Monchique, I can walk the hills and valleys daily. Walking, sometimes walking and talking has allowed ideas to flow, new friendships to be forged and most importantly the exercise has allowed my body and mind to breathe.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

5 Reasons I love walking

  1. Walking and breathing in the air clears my mind
  2. I find walking is a simple way to de-stress, so instead of staying in my chair glued to the computer screen searching for answers to problems or somehow thinking that the longer I sit, the more efficient I will become.  Instead, I step out and start walking and very quickly everything feels better and I when I return to the screen I am usually more productive.
  3. Walking awakens my senses and puts colour in the cheeks!
  4. I’m building stamina both physically and mentally walking up hills and sometimes mountains!
  5. Sleep is easier and more satisfying after a good walk.

2018 seen through my walks around Monchique.

Winter

Pine cones
You know winter is here in the Algarve when the pine cones are on the ground. Ideal natural fire lighters for the wood burner of an evening.
Funghi
I’m fascinated by mushrooms and you can find many varieties of forest fungi on the mountain from October through to March/April. Never pick and eat them of course, they can be extremely toxic. Looking at http://www.first-nature.com I think these mushrooms are Russula Aurea or according to English botanist William Withering, Agaricus auratus which is what he names them back in 1801.
Thursday Walking Group
Human’s need humans no matter how much one might like seclusion. We are social creatures and I enjoy Thursdays walking with a group who have become friends exploring the mountains, rivers, valleys and flora and fauna.
Katie & Shakespeare
And if not in the company of humans I have my dog and cat (Shakespeare & Katie) who love a hike in the mountains!

Spring

mountain life
My friend Tan showed me a beautiful circular walk just below Foia (the highest point of the Algarve at 902m). I love this photo with my friend Penny talking and looking out over the mountain range to the west coast.
Waterfall
Having been through a drought it was wonderful to have lots of rainfall and to hear water flowing through the mountain again into the rivers. Lisa and Leo enjoying the Cascata de Chilrao.
Bee Hives in Serra De Monchique
A large part of my year has been about honey. Writing for http://www.honeyexplorer.com and UAE based Balqees has been a pleasure and I have learned so much about bees and the production of honey taking me to Australia and South Africa. All the sweeter living in the hills of the Algarve is that bees and honey play a large part in the local community. I came across these hives on one of my walks, it’s a common occurrence.
Hanging around
Walking through the hills I pass houses and small holdings getting a snapshot of people’s everyday life.
Wild flowers
By May the mountain is a sea of wildflowers and grasses including daisies, lavender, violets, orchids and snapdragons sprinkled across the grasslands and hedgerows bringing even more life and colour to the eye.

Early summer

Man and his Lemons
Orange and lemon trees dominate the area and on one of our Thursday group walks we came across this gentleman near Alferce. He was happy for us to take photos. Proud of his harvest of lemons.

Summer

Fires above Monchique
Sadly with the wettest July, one of the hottest Augusts followed with strong winds and wildfires raged through the area devastating 270,000 hectares of land destroying peoples small holdings, fruit trees, homes, livestock and wildlife.

 Autumn

Naked Ladies in Bloom
Regrowth and healing after the fires and very quickly shoots of green and ferns start to appear though it will take years for the mountain to recover. It was a delight to see ‘Naked Ladies’ making an appearance, Amaryllis belladonna or bordao de Sao Jose – St. Joseph’s staff as the Portuguese call it, truly marking the end of summer. Thank you to Joyce for the pic.
Wood pile
Another common sight at this time of year is the wood piles waiting for collection going to many uses. Respect to the trees.
Goats
The goat man always friendly and happy to chat (NY resolution, to learn Portuguese). The local goat’s cheese is amazing!
Sunset over Chilrao
And there it is as the sun goes down over the house and 2018 comes to a close. I have loved the walks and all I have gained and looking forward to more walks, talks and insights in 2019.

Why not include walking every day in your goals for 2019? No matter where you are if its 10 minutes or two hours open your senses, breathe deep and explore the environment around you. I recently took up swimming so I will be adding that to my list of healthy pastimes for 2019 so watch this space for updates, no pictures 😊.

Whatever your choices in 2019, I hope they bring health and happiness and that you enjoy the journey along the way.

Happy New Year!

Suzanne.x

4 Replies to “A Walk Through 2018”

  1. Thanks Suzanne for the link.
    Really interesting. It has certainly been a year of highs and lows but the fellowship of our little group has certainly helped me through the darker times.

    Keep on walking! 👞

    Best wishes for 2019. Paul

    Liked by 1 person

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