Notes from an ambler – the urban rambler: Stars in Portugal


I cannot see the sky on this murky December morning. I am in it. And as I look up and try to imagine the blue beyond the grey, I close my eyes and take myself back to a summer’s night when It felt I was in the sky too. Black, star-scattered and silent.

We were all quite relaxed by that time. Having spent a week in Lagos relaxing, we went up to the mountains for even more relaxing and booked ourselves in to the Spa at Caldas de Monchique to relax some more.

Driving up from the parched August coast, past stork’s nests on chimneys the landscape became greener and the air fresher. We turned left down into a hidden wooded ravine to the village – a cluster of gorgeous 19th century buildings set around a cobbled, tree-shaded main square. It was a riot of colour – the yellow and blue buildings as vibrant as the reds, pinks, whites, violets and oranges of the plants, a cool blue pool in the centre, surrounded by lush green grass and wooden beds protected by cream umbrellas.

We spent the evening sitting in the square under the trees as the sky turned from blue, to pink, to purple to perfect black, eating and drinking and chatting surrounded by a low buzz of conversation from the other tables, watching families playing cards, feeding a visiting cat, staring into the distance.

As the clock chimed twelve we made our way to our rooms at the bottom of the tiny valley along a dark secluded path and stopped.

“Look!” said one of us.

We looked up to the sky, framed by the hills on either side of the valley, a canopy of thousands and thousands of luminous stars, glittering so close I felt I could put my hand up and touch them. I stood, drinking it in, committing it to memory, the light, the sounds, the jasmine in the air, the beauty of it, so on days where the sky disappeared I could bring it back to life.

Then a distant laugh, the thrum of a car engine. The spell broken. We continued down the path, and left it behind for someone else to wonder at.






About chrispenhall

Mother, writer, radio person. Lover of sun and flipflops. Doesn't like snow.
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