Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Boadmayne and Portugal

When setting up this Blog I opted for it not to be visible to Google searchers because I felt that only those who knew the Blog address were the people I wanted to see it. However many of my friends appear routinely to access Intenrtet URLs via Google so I altered my options but without any apparent effect. Perhaps with a new posting you may be able to access this Blog via Google. Otherwise it means putting in the Blog address at the top of the screen.

I have not posted since returning from Australia in March, 2009. Life in Dorset and the occasional visit to London seemed hardly to merit it an account, agreeable though it may all have been. Some exciting things have happened. The little apple tree I moved from the shrubbery next to the big Cedar tree looks like producing a nice little crop of a dozen Charles Ross apples. The first is the little apple tree and the second the big tree

More excitingly though I have just been to Oporto in Portugal for a week to visit my friend John Stevenson who has moved there to live round the corner a short walk from his son and family. I do not give an account of my week but rather pick out a few highlights about the city. The only personal happening of note was that the washing machine jammed with my clothese inside and it was 36 hours before i got them back, clean but very creased. Happily I had takeing plenty. I pass over London Heathrow airport, this time not too bad but as always crammed with people of every kind and shape. Why can't they all stay at home? But on to Portugal.

Porto as the Portuguese call it ( “O Porto” means “The Port” ) is a city – I paused to look up the population and realised you might as well have the whole Wikipedia description:

Porto (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpoɾtu]), is Portugal's second city and capital of the Norte NUTS II region. The city is located in the estuary of the Douro river in northern Portugal. The largest city in the region, Porto is considered the economic and cultural heart of the entire region. The city, which had an estimated population of about 220,000 (est.2008), lies at the centre of the political Greater Metropolitan Area of Porto, with a population of slightly more than 1.7 million (est. 2008),[1] and is the main agglomeration of northern Portugal.[2]
The city of Porto comprises 15 civil parishes. The historic centre of Porto was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
One of Portugal's most internationally famous products, Port wine, is named after the city because it is produced in, and shipped from the area.[3] or, more precisely, from Vila Nova de Gaia, a city just across the river which belongs to the same conurbation.
The country was also named after the Latin name of Porto, Portus Cale[4]
Porto district is one of the most industrialised districts in Portugal, and Maia, one of Porto's satellite cities, has the largest industrial park in Portugal.

So there you are. The city itself is picturesque and extends down the steep banks of the Douro river with six bridges. Here is the view from the car of the Funicala as it begins its alarming descent towards the river.

Here is the same bridge from the boat in which we had a trip up the river under the six bridges.

Not all is picturesque. While waitingon the quay for this cruise boat to arrive we watched urbulence innthe river where a black stream evidently of sewage was discharge from the bank. Suddenly the flow increased in volume and we saw hundreds of black fish active among the black effluent. Not far away,happily upstream of this particular source of pollution, boys were swimming in the river.

We saw the finish of the annual race of the Port-carrying boats. These boats used to carry the wine down the river fro the vineyards to be matured in the warehouses and cellars lining the river.

Here is Taylor’s warehouse where the wine is still stored to mature in the great barrels. When matured it is bottled and sent off, still quite a lot to Britain. At one time many of the Port exporters were in fact briish - Taylor,Dow, Sandeman etc as you may see in the picure above on the sails of the Port boats in the annual race.

My posting would not be complete without a picture of me in a restaurant. Heere am I in a restaurant on the quay across the river lunching with my friend John Stevenson and his daughter-in-law Natalia. Her son Paulo took the photograph.

I ate excellent sardines and a very good goat and cow ixed cheese was put on the table with bread to start. Wine is remarkably cheap. in the supermarkets it is around €1 a bottle - rather less than £1 though one can pay as much as €3. The wine is Portuguese and very drinkable.

Porto is preparting to celebrate in 2010 the 200th Anniversary of the expulsion of the French invaders in 1810 in what the British call the Peninsula War. A splendid monument commemorates this. The picture – taken at a distance – shows the British Lion trampling the French Eagle.

Other parts of the monument portray battle scenes. Many sculptures show proud horses but this one has a dead horse amid the debris of battle in bronze. My photograph regrettably is not very good:

Extravagant sculpture in bronze seems characteristic of 19th century Porto. The twentieth century seems though largely to have passed Porto by in terms of architecture. The twenty-first has seen a burst of construction of every kind, apartments, toads and a splendid Metro on which we travelled frequently.

I found that I had reciprocal rights of access to the Club Portuense a fine 19th Century establishment on the lines of Victorian London clubs. Here are some pictures. They come from their web site so I am not breaching confidentiality in showing the images. Here is the Ball Room.

More pertinently, the Dining Room where we enjoyed an excellent dinner elegantly served.

As a contrast here is the market in a nearby seaside town we visited - Espina if I recall correctly.

The assorted poultry bundled together await their destination.

Finally here is a picture of the River Douro from one of the bridges taken in the evening.

So once again we say "Farewell to Oporto, city of river and bridges - and Port Wine".

John Bound.