Just returned from my trip. The route back through Portugal from the factory in Spain took us through the middle of the Alentejo wine region, so it seemed sensible to try to have a look around.
After yesterday's continual heavy rain we were greeted by bright blue skies as we set off. The Alentejo looks very different in December to the way it did when I last visited in July 2005.
We stopped off at Estremoz, where Joao Portugal Ramos is based. Within half an hour I had pictures of vineyards, cork groves, workers pruning the vines and also a mechanical pruner in action. There's a sort of bleak beauty to winter vineyards.
The town of Estremoz itself has a sort of rather worn, lived-in feel. The old centre, walled and perched on top of the hill is quite stunning, but in an untidy, unmanicured sort of way. Marble is used as an everyday building material here. Pictured is the tower of what is now the Pousada da Rainha Santa Isabel - remarkably, this is made of marble too. It would have been great to have stayed for a while, but we had a plane to catch. One day I'm going to spend a serious amount of time in Portugal. My fantasy is to buy an old Landrover and spend a few weeks exploring with the family.