Ginjinha, chocolate and azulejos in Obidos, Portugal

We paid our first visit to the medieval town of Óbidos on Friday, along with about 100 coachloads of pilgrims. Luckily we got there early before the narrow, narrow cobbled streets of this pretty walled town became too crowded. It was so pretty with the whitewashed houses, the flowering plants and colourful handicrafts spilling out into the street from shady shops full of arches and wooden beams. The arched entranceway was walled with stunning azulejos and for the strong-hearted the, unprotected, 1.5 kms of battlements give great views of town and country. If you visit, look out for shots of ginjinha, cherry liqueur, sold in chocolate cups and beautiful tiles everywhere. You don’t need too long to do it justice – so when hunger strikes, head off on the hour or so drive to the coastal town of Ericeira for a wide choice of excellent value restaurants. Look out for the pits on the seafront, where mussels used to be cultivated.

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10 ways of bringing more joy back into my life

I visualise my readers as looking for more balanced, calmer and contented lives. As I am. I’m not in a particularly good place at the moment in my head and trying to find a way out of it, as well as supporting family members who are in even worse places. Tensions in relationships make trying to keep positive not always easy, but I’m focusing on things that help me get through. At the moment these include

1. Good friends who I can let off steam to and talk to in confidence

2. Getting as much exercise as I can, both by walking the dog and exploring on my own.

3. Keeping to a healthy diet – with S away, I have just enjoyed a week without alcohol and meat. I think I feel better for it.

4. Making sure the week contains some diary entries that get me out and about and away from my solitary occupation in front of the computer.

5. Researching and reading different sites and blogs that provide some life affirmation. I will start to provide links to them.

6. Trying to become more self-reliant and confident again. My friends always said I was the most confident person they knew, but the last few years have knocked that out of me.

7. As part of 6, becoming more self-assertive about what I need and want again. And increasing my financial freedoms to do so.

8. Finding something to be grateful for in each day – as some friends are doing and posting on Facebook.

9. Keeping in touch with old friends more – I’ve let that slip.

10. And finally – this is giving me most pleasure and affirmation at the moment – continuing to pick out from my bag of 100 treats!

I know I’m not along in searching for ‘a change for joy’ and hope my search can provide some help and inspiration, as I seek for advice from others.


One of this week’s little treats was to buy a new mug. The house is full of boring white ones from Ikea so I took myself off to the wonderful Portuguese store – Loja do Gato Preto .  I came across this store in Madrid and was glad to find it here in Lisbon.

Like all shopping it sort of expanded. A visit to Zara for a skirt and:


not just a mug but a teapot, sugar bowl and milk jug. Look closely and you’ll see the little cats.

A wander around Lisbon and a little purchase to treat myself

Kicking myself for forgetting my camera on my wanders. Took the train and metro to Almeda and wander from there back down to Cais de Sodre and enjoyed three (!) delicious macaroons and a coffee in the Mercado de Ribeiro. A beautiful day, not too hot and not too cold. It is strange that when I walk through the tourist areas, past the restaurants, with S – they are always trying to drag us in to eat. When I’m on my own, they don’t. Have I reached the age of invisibility? Or do they just think women don’t eat out on their own?

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There is nothing quite like buying a couple of new, luxury notebooks to use. The computer is great, but sometimes writing by hand is therapeutic.

Remember the treats – I’ve now got some sassy new ways to wear my collection of scarves.