Convento de Cristo: Tomar, Portugal

Built between the 12th and 13th Centuries, The Rotunda of the Convento de Cristo rivals all other monuments of Templar architecture. It has eight sides on it’s central ‘drum’ and sixteen on the outer walls; influenced by the Holy Sepulchre or indeed the Mosque of Omar given the Templars varied exposure of the time. From the outside of the building, there is little indication of the wonders awaiting within. However, this is one of Portugal’s most important buildings for good reason.

Built as a fortified citadel with a ‘keep’, it has Norman inspired round towers (novel at the time in Portugal) which are better suited to defence than square ones.

The Convent has eight cloisters, built some 3-400 years later.

The building underwent restoration in the latter part of the 20th Century, but remarkably the inner Rotunda stucco-work showed no particular problems after eight hundred years, with most of the colour schemes still discernible (modern builders take note!)

All in all, this is the best value 6 Euros you will ever spend, and be prepared to set aside a few hours for the privilege.



Evora is a UNESCO world heritage site. And it’s lovely too! From the Água de Prata Aqueduct, to the Roman Diana Temple. 1-P1000459 1-P1000482From the Royal Palace to the luxurious Pousada there’s little to dislike in this small city voted second most desirable place to stay in Portugal. With a history dating back over two millennia it’s gone through Roman conquest, Moorish invasion and then reconquest relatively unscathed. The friendly people make this a traveller’s dream, and it is easy to get by on broken Portuguese and English. No one seems awfully keen on Spanish, which is a pity. For me anyway! Hey ho, when in Evora…….


1-P1000516 1-P1000500 1-P1000519







Ok, No.

I haven’t voted at all since 1992. Never. Not once. The polling station near our house is my old school, and I had such a dreadful time there that I vowed never to darken its doors again. And I never have (if that’s proper English).

Last year the council decided to knock it down and build a new school. I was gutted that my offer to the demolition company of £100 to press the button was knocked back on health and safety grounds. However I digress, as is my way. This leaves me with a fresh page, a clean slate of political history ready to sully this year, and by coincidence it’s Scottish referendum year.

Now it’s not often individuals are asked specific questions, and usually they are of little consequence. Well it remains to be seen if this question justifies the cost, time and jingoism; there were perhaps more pressing solutions required to other problems. Hey ho, it is what it is. But how to decide?

In this particular Scottish debate, the swift retreat to cultural memes and stereotypes is horrifyingly locked somewhere in the 1930s. Though I suspect ‘memes’ were not the ‘bon mot’ of the time! Separatists chide any one voting ‘No’ as ‘Fearties’, ‘Unpatriotic’ on so on. All good playground fodder. Well it would be if it didn’t seem to be orchestrated almost malevolently, by The Man. Stereotypes, indeed,  are good cognitive short cuts, useful in information processing in short term behavioural function. They aren’t really useful to denigrate individuals for their voting viewpoints. But this seems to have happened on a number of occasions when business leaders break cover and assert their intentions. This type of slightly sinister behaviour has been consistently unilateral.  I don’t do sinister, or bullying.

And the big questions? Well no one has heard any answers really. Milk and honey, or the status quo? And that’s your lot. We’re going to need one helluva dairy and a shitload of (probably immigrant) bees to furnish the former. So the latter seems to make scientific sense, at least.

Science, anti-bullying, reasoned, sorted. I gonna stick it to ‘The Man’ with a ‘No’.


Roman Merida. The Roman Theatre

The Estremaduran city of Merida has more Roman monuments and ruins than any other Spanish city. That’s quite an assertion, but happens to be fact. 1-P1000537And they are stunningly beautiful. This post features images of one of them; The Roman Theatre begun in the 2nd Century.1-P10005341-P1000536



Monasterio de Moreruela

Thirty miles north of Zamora off the N630 is the medieval Monasterio de Moruela.


It now exists as a poppy strewn ruin inhabited by storks.

1-IMG_0061 1-IMG_0062 1-IMG_0065

It remains an oasis of peace and tranquillity, and worth the small detour from the main road.






Lisbon Street Art. Enjoy!

Street art in Lisbon is big business. Literally. Guided tours take tourists round the sights, and the local authorities allow artists areas to experiment and display their art pretty well uncensored. Totally enjoyable and a world away from tawdry-tags!

1-P1010238 1-P1010240 1-P1010241 1-P1010244 1-P1010245

Fatima-Ourem: a Pousada in Three Images

Location, location, location. This Pousada has it in spades. For access to Fatima, the beautiful Convent of Christ in Tomar or relaxing in the hotel, this is the ideal base to explore the area. Comfortable surroundings married to exceptional staff and a fantastic restaurant make this a dream retreat. I want to go back!