July this year saw us take an amazing family trip to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday. We all wanted to be by the beach - the sun. sand and a subtle tan. Our morning flight meant a
not-so-bright wake up at 3am and flight at 6 in the morning. An hour on the plane and a hat-draped snooze later, we arrived in sunny Portugal. First on the agenda was a hearty
breakfast, followed by a dip in the sea and a sand manicure. Ah, the beach. A knee-deep lounge in the water, sitting in the doughnut float. The simple and calming joys of a sea soak.
We stayed at the Jupiter Algarve, which had comfortable rooms and friendly staff. I would recommend it for sure, especially as it was a stone's throw from the beach. The view from our
room balcony overlooked the twinkling sea and the majestic building above, where every morning felt that extra bit zen. You can see it all unfold on sis's video here. We were based in
Portimão, which had a family-friendly feel and pleasant buzz about the place. The sunshine and sand always helps. On our second day, we decided to venture into Lagos for the day,
A colourful carousel in town added to the backdrop of pastel buildings. Shop fronts in the lanes featured an array of souvenirs, from shell-adorned boxes to rows of magnets. As well as
cork art. More on that in a mo. A gallery window exhibited rock-inspired art, with vibrant hues smeared skillfully on a canvas. Which reminds me, I have to experiment more with
impasto paint in the coming year. I've dabbled slightly, yet haven't got around to creating an entire piece with the medium. It tends to get a bit messy, particularly having to clean the
brushes with turpentine. The end result is worth it though. The art has a tactile, raised surface, which adds to the impact.
A local artist beautifully captured the rocky vista, at what appears to be golden hour. I love the use of such vivid colours to capture the striking subject on canvas. I knew I couldn't be
the only person in awe of the landscape. I took many a picture of the stony cliffs, which I'll be sharing in the coming Portu posts. A well-layered stippled palette - a good sign the paint
and ideas have been flowing, This year, I experimented more with shapes and contrasting colours. The Abstraction series features clashing and complementary patterns.
'Hey, shall we hit up the cork factory?' Anyone? Cork was a big thing in Portugal. Tourist spots and vendors sold cork bags, sandals, purses and art-adorned slabs. There was a small
purse with colourful flecks in the cork; I remember thinking, if they had made that in a larger size, possibly circular and satchel style, I would have snapped it up. 'So, cork factory?' No
takers. Well, should you find yourself in Portugal with time on your hands, you know where to go. Cork as a canvas. I do like an unconventional canvas. I am joking a little and
by no means obsessed with the material. It does seem an interesting medium to work with, maybe even craft with... a bag? Not just good for preserving your favourite tipple, ya know.
Detailed tiles lined many a wall. I thought it'd be fun to try my hand at different crafts, so earlier this year I bought some mini tiles and and a pair of tile-cutters, to create mosaics on
paper. Grouting and walls we'll save for another day. Speaking of tile work, I came across the craft of Caroline Jariwala of Mango Mosaics, when I was watching Kirstie's Handmade
Christmas. Pieces spring to life in vibrant florals and lunar panels, where crockery is also creatively re-purposed in her designs. Many a different element forming the final picture.
Once we arrived in Lagos, we stopped in the main city for lunch and then set on our way to the crazy golf venue. Walking though the rustic town, colourful alleyways and repetitive
arrangements entertained visually. Such vibrancy to the city. This year I also combined abstract motifs with fashion illustrations on paper. I remember touching on the thought of
letting the paintbrush flow without overthinking results, at the end of this post, This led to brushstrokes which worked and other segments which had scope for development. Seeing
as we're by the coast, here's 'Shoal'. I went back to three of the designs in the series a few months later to add finishing strokes. The maroon segment at one point appeared quite
dense, so I later added the shimmering scales coursing through it. Sometimes, having that time in between allows for the reflection needed.
Best believe plant spotting takes place wherever I am. Long lengths of sansevieria cast shadows on the windows, forming the backdrop of sprawling greenery. The patterned lengths
mirrored the marbled surroundings. There's plant inspiration everywhere. I mentioned in this post how plants waken many a vessel - there, notably a life-size boat filled with them. We
finally arrived at our destination, where I wasn't expecting buoyant ladies pirouetting away. What a sculptural surprise. The putting park was empty when we arrived - time to play!
Funky plant forms were embedded in the surrounding rock beds. Giant acorn-like structures and fronds with perforated edges lined our game. Alike the rockeries built in my own
garden, the different heights and layers gracefully draw the eye throughout. On a much larger scale in this case. I'm considering adding more ferns to my garden...maybe a collection
which has a similar texture to the lengthy leaves below. Orby hedges wrapped around the expressive silhouettes and the dancers themselves added a light-heartedness.
We enjoyed making our way around the course, at a relaxed and fun pace. I found there was a shot to make atop a mini hill, which I was able to putt in quite easily and some other
holes to make were a little trickier. The score sheet balanced out again - no embellishing the scores here. It was looking fairly level pegging throughout, A continuing and curving shot
was to be taken, where dad smoothly putt the ball in one go. I took a moment for composure on my chance, to find the ball gracefully plipip in too. Yay! Mini celebration all around.
The pink figure must convey how you feel once you've hit a hole-in-one. Speaking of the dancing ladies, a mini placard told us more about them. Their enthusiasm was the brainchild
of artist Karl Heinz Stock, where he wanted to convey the attributes of 'lightness, elegance and grace' through his organic sculptures. Made from polystyrene and a protective layer of
fibreglass, they added a carefree touch throughout the park. Their bold colours stood out against the lush shades of green. Strike a pose.
So, squirty frogs were dotted throughout the course. Boom! A jet beam of water came straight for you when you least expected it. They must've been sensor activated. It wasn't even
subtle: a splashing with a straight up super-soaker pistol . After one encounter, hopping over rock barriers to make a water-free journey was the drier option. You could stay light on
your feet and sprint through, which I did on a few occasions, Midpoint, the boat-pulley-system seemed the only way for us to make our way to the next shot. We emerged on the other
side unscathed and couldn't stop laughing on the way. The prospect of being at froggy's mercy was too much. We later realised there was the option to circumnavigate the route by
walking, but where would've been the fun in that? Our last shot saw the balls vanish into the structure and dad did very well to clinch the win in the end.
I thought I'd have to hop a flight to Hawaii to see such hibiscus. The exotics come to mind. We made our way back to the main town, taking the scenic route past the beach. There's
always time to stop and smell the flowers. Some of these fleurs may not be the scent-emitting type, yet still have an allure about them. The dried floral arrangements combined shells
with materials such as metal and paper. There's no end to the combination of styling blooms, be it a rose in a frosty cube or a cascading coral-esque collaboration.
Palm trees stood breezily along the path, shooting firecracker-like fronds. It'd probably be a stretch to have one in the yard at home. A miniature version would be perfect, especially to
work harmoniously in size with other greenery. If I did plant all the fascinating tree species that caught my eye, I don't think there'd be any walking space in the garden. The fiery yellow
one spotted at Coton Manor would also make an appearance. The texture of this palm's layered bark resembled stacked shells. It looked as if it you could play a melodious scale,
running a xylophone stick across the surface. This tactility is something I want to add in the new shrubs I plant for summer.
We came to the end of the road, to a vista of sails. All things water were happening on the coastal edge: canoe lessons, fishing, boating and general glee from taking a dip. Eye-
catching lighthouses stood strong and striped, irrespective of the weather having had an influence on them. Nothing quite like horizon gazing into the distance, which was the case
with our day in Rutland Water too. Talk about tranquil. Glancing down, mosaic cobbling nodded to the nautical feel surrounding us.
A giant anchor sat ashore, where I'm assuming Poseidon lobbed it far from his underwater haven to land here. It did have a trident quality about it. There's a whole new realm of a world
in the watery depths and you never know what lays just beneath the surface. Elements underneath can also have a stunning impact at a visible level, such as Colombia's rainbow
river. The macarenia clavigera plant is responsible for the hues, with lime green and fuchsia appearing in ever-changing patches. This would be other-worldly to see in person.
As we strolled along, I said 'wait a moment, I'm just going to take a clear shot of the allium.' Sis, of course, felt Homer-Simpsoning into the shot was necessary. Here's the beautiful
result. Stepping in and out of the photo as I tried to capture the flowers. Straight out of the shot as soon as it was taken. I do like this photo, where I made her a 2018 Christmas card with
a photo compilation featuring this one, of course. Can't wait for Spring to make an appearance again, to see an abundance of petals...and maybe another little photo appearance.
Rich orange gladioli danced with the tall palms, where you can never go wrong with blooms in this tone. We continued exploring the town, to come across a lively music and beer
festival. A few dessert stands joined the line-up too. It was time for a strawberry and Nutella crepe and some live music. I wouldn't say no, at any point in my life to either. You can see
the tribute to Elvis and our sweet treat endeavour at the 7 mins 48 mark on sis's vlog. We then ventured back to Portimão for dinner and the hotel for a game of pool with dad.
It's not very often I can step out of the door to find myself at the beach, so I wanted to make the most of it. In the evening, I strolled towards the sandy path, towards the calm waters. I
was accompanied by a hazy lilac sky and delicate swishing heather. The sand resembled multiple mini dunes, ready to mould beneath footprints. It was great being able to see the
mood the beach takes on at different points of the day. We walked past the beach late another night, where the glowing full moon rippled on the dark waters. I was reminded of
the time I spent in Eastbourne and how relaxing the dusky seascape can be.
Running my hands through the grains, shell shards become unearthed. Iridescent pieces caught the last glimmer of daylight, with creamy brown and white bands decorating the sand.
I brought some of the shells home with me, so I could create a sea-inspired terrarium. Maybe some pearly stones combined with spiky air plants to best encapsulate the scene. Quiet
moments on the beach, Pretty serene. Raindrops gently began to make their way down, just as sis joined me. We took in the view, before the heavens opened up something good.