Category Archives: holidays

Cloudbusting

Do you know your cumulus from your altostratus or your cirrus from your nimbostratus? IMG_4739

Sort of? Not sure? Those geography lessons ringing a bell now? They did for us on a recent trip to the Lincolnshire coast where we got a crash course in cloud formations and their meanings.

The Cloud Bar at Anderby Creek is the UK’s first permanent cloud watching outpost. It’s situated at the entrance to the beach where you can read fascinating facts about clouds (like the fact that some clouds weigh as much as 200 tonnes – as my youngest son asked “why don’t they drop out of the sky then if they are so heavy?”) You can lie back on the stone seats and gaze up at the sky or swivel the cloud mirrors around to take a closer look at those big fluffy cotton wool balls in the sky…

The skies in this part of the world are huge with beaches to match. The Lincolnshire coast stretches for miles and miles with wide, sandy beaches…

… which are great for dog walking. We spent the best part of a day walking from Anderby Creek, past some pretty beach huts, to Sutton on Sea to have lunch at a lovely café and bistro called The Fat Seagull.

At the risk of being a beach-bore, here’s a photo of the place we stayed in – a little cabin set around a lake just behind the dunes. From the decking at the front of the cabin, as well as through the huge picture window, you get quite absorbed in the antics of the migrating birds that inhabit the middle of the lake.

Twenty Six is featured on the Sawday’s website, one of my favourite places to look when I am searching for somewhere unique to stay. This small village of cabins are Modernist classics built in the 1950s. Although bijou in size, Twenty Six, is actually quite tardis-like inside, with an open plan living area and kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms including a bunk room sleeping three for our trio of boys.

The decor is 50s-inspired with pieces of mid-century furniture and accessories adding character to the place which is decorated in a subtle palette of greys, aqua and yellow.

As a child of the 70s Anderby Creek felt like a step back in time – to bucket and spade holidays, sandcastle building, hiding in the dunes and collecting sea shells. The bright lights of Skegness are about eight miles south of here and the family seaside resort of Mablethorpe a few miles north. Anderby is definitely the hidden gem in the middle.

If you’re in search of an antidote to the fast pace of modern life you’ll love this place (there is WiFi by the way, which my own kids of the millennium managed to hook up to pretty soon after crossing the threshold!) Meanwhile I was quite content with the magazines, books, CDs and best of all, the view.

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Colours of Portugal

Whitewashed houses, pantile roofs and wooden shutters. Is this the image that springs to mind when you think of Portuguese towns and villages? This was the picture I had in my head before our recent holiday there.

Sure, the coastal resorts are pretty much a collection of whitewashed buildings, hotels and apartments but head inland and you’ll come across pops of colour and decorative details.

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I have to say that grey and yellow is one of my favourite colour combinations. There is something about the contrast of such a sunny vibrant shade against a muted one.

At first glance the lovely hill village of Alte in the Serra do Caldeirão area of the Algarve appears to be all whitewashed houses – and it’s true, many of the buildings are. But if you venture into its narrow streets you’ll come across a dash of colour, beautiful tilework and intricate decorative details.

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And even buildings with crumbling paintwork and in need of a bit of tlc seem to get away with being charming in a rustic type of way….For Sale too!

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I liked the geometric decoration on the café below. Agua Mel in the heart of Alte is reputed to be one of the Algarve’s best cafés. It didn’t disappoint – we tucked into the best Portuguese tarts, chocolate cake, coffees and freshly squeezed orange juice we’ve tasted. It’s a really friendly, welcoming place (the boys were all given a whopping orange each to take home and squeeze) and has lovely views across the valley.

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As well as shades of ochre, this terracotta colour features on many buildings. I loved this flick of colour and design on one of the houses in Alte. There’s a definite Moorish influence in the patterns you see – not surprisingly as the Moors once controlled what is now Portugal, Spain and the Pyrenees.

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Portugal is famous for its tilework, particularly the blue and white ceramic tiles called azulejos which are found on the interior and exterior of many buildings from churches to palaces. The word azulejos comes from the Arabic – the tiles often contain traditional Moorish patterns.

IMG_3277 2We visited the Church of São Lourenço de Matos near Loulé which has the most wonderful tiled interior of wall-to-wall azulejos depicting the life of St Lourenço. We weren’t allowed to take photos of the interior so I will have to leave it up to your imagination to picture this masterpiece of tilework. Amazingly, in the devastating Portuguese earthquake of 1755 the church lost just five tiles, so it’s still as in tact as it was when it was created.

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I know Scandi-style minimalism is very much in vogue at the moment but I can’t help returning from holiday wanting to embrace the colours and patterns of the architecture and design of this beautiful part of the world.