Peneda Gerês National Park – Portugal

Breathe in the lush green scenery in Peneda Gerês

Made from granite and perched on the highest point in the village, the espigueiros do Soajo are used to store grain away from vermin and water.

Join us on our trip to explore Peneda Gerês National Park in northern Portugal – Spain. Then on to Soajo mountain village with amazing stone Espigueiros, hiking and wild swimming. We drove from Algarve in the south of Portugal to enjoy some cooler temperatures, hiking and swimming with our two Hungarian Vizsla in the North of Portugal. We visited Gerês, Peneda Gerês National Park, entered into Galicia Spain, and then a few days in Soajo.


Gin & Bird enjoyed swimming in the rivers and running through the lush green grass.

We only intended to use Soajo as a base, but we fell in love with the peace and tranquility of the granite mountain village. I’ve included a tour of our rental property, which I highly recommend.


Filmed in July 2021, I completely forgot to share this video on my blog. It brings back such happy memories and I can’t wait to visit again this year.

Definitely recommend!

In Algarve you can truly taste the sunshine all year around.

Before moving my life to Portugal, I day dreamed of gathering fresh oranges each morning in the sunshine, wearing my pyjamas and flip-flops, and snacking on sticky, syrupy sweet figs, straight from the tree whilst hiking the rugged, dusty, mountain trails with my dogs. 

Straight off the tree and into my belly.

Finding good vegan places to eat, off the tourist trail or away from the coast can be very challenging. Even though there are; mangoes, avocados and figs in abundance, it’s very hard to find a mountain restaurant which serves an attractive or tasty vegan meal. The chef will always oblige with a vegan plate, but don’t be surprised if you receive; a bowl of hot cabbage stew on a summer’s day, gazpacho with cheese and ham generously sprinkled on top, or avocado toast topped with two perfectly fried eggs. 

FiftySister designs available on T shirts and accessories. Click here to view

Summer sunshine treasure

In late summer, the fig tree boughs are heavily weighed down with an abundance of soft, ripe, delicate green or black fruit. Some have gone past their best and are drying naturally on the tree, others are simmering perfectly in the warmth of the day, oozing sweet, blushing, cerise, strawberry jam-like goo, completely beyond comparison to shop bought fruit.

Saturday is fresh produce market day in Olhão.

The local markets are filled with fresh produce, grown, picked and sold directly by the farmers. Honey available in every shade of amber, gathered from bees feasting on carob, rosemary, orange blossom and wild herbs. Summer fruits and salad are grown and harvested all year round. Crumpled skinned ‘Rosa’ tomatoes are huge and heavenly. It’s a foodie paradise! 

Wild flowers start to appear from January through May before the heat of summer.

Village stores filled with local artisan produce

Ask most people about the best Portuguese food, and they will tell you all about the ‘Porco Preto’ which is Iberian black pig and ‘Javali’ which is wild boar. Or perhaps the huge variety of delicious local artisan handmade fresh, cured, or smoked cheeses, (mostly from sheep or goats) available in every village store. But for me, as a vegan, it’s all about the fruit, veggies and wild foraging. On the trail, there’s easy pickings of black mustard, wild asparagus and nettles, with the scent of wild herbs such as thyme, fennel, rosemary and water mint in the air.

Wander the pretty cobbled streets of Olhão behind the market halls.

Make time to visit the farmer’s markets

Head over to Olhão market on Saturday morning to find chillies in every shape, colour and heat for around €4 per kilo. I use a handful of freshly pounded chillies and plump purple garlic to make Sambal Belacan. Or, chillies dried at home for a few weeks, chopped then scalded with peanut oil, make an ideal coating for noodles or blanched carrot tops.

Straight from the market and into my dehydrator for a few days to gently dry the fruit.

Mountain life

I lived for several months last year in the mountain village of Salir, 20 minutes north of Loulé. The days are warmer inland than the Algarve coast in the summer by several degrees, and in winter we enjoyed beautiful crisp, frosty, early mornings. A glassy frost carpeted the vibrant, green, grassy floor of the mountain orange grove. Small frozen puddles and dried carob fruit crackled underfoot as I made my way past the mill pool, to the heavily laden orange trees, which look out towards the table top mountain of Rocha da Pena. Some oranges dispensed lots of juice and were packed with seeds, some were almost seed free but unwilling to surrender their liquefied treasure. At -2℃, the oranges are cold, the juice is already chilled to perfection.  

View from the millpond towards Rocha de Pena, Salir. Algarve. Portugal.

You can truly taste the sunshine all year around. Oh, did I mention the wine? Maybe next time!

Followed in the woods

A rare photo of me on my walks as I usually walk alone. Which reminds of a very funny story from earlier today….

Me “This amazing woman followed me yesterday, she’s a stunt woman, how cool is that?”
Husband ‘Why did she follow you?’
Me “Because of my story on bamboo clothing”
Husband ‘She followed you because of what you were wearing?’
Me “Yes, she loved my story”
Husband ‘So she lives in Brixham?’
Me “What? No, why would you think that?”
Husband ‘Because she followed you on your walk’

I couldn’t stop laughing.

The amazing woman is @chloedbruce I had serious envy reading her profile and discovering she is a stunt woman. Is there a job cooler than that? I don’t think so. You need to go check out her profile. She is strong, beautiful, talented and a very creative photographer. She has a new podcast which I will be checking out later today. I found her profile completely captivating, I think I watched every video, some more than once as she is so physically fit and strong – such balance!

And there’s me, in this pic with my muffintop in full view. I will never be as strong as Chloe, but it’s never too late to start exercising and taking care of your body. No matter your shape, get up, get out and get active!

These stunning leggings are from @famaraonline The founder of the company is an artist and uses her skills to create unique designs. These are called ‘Pause & Reflect’ I also have my eye on ‘Flamenco’. More photos of these soon!

The bra top from @bamboo_clothing is so soft and comfy. More photos of this soon.

Leggings: @famaraonline
Crop top/vest & bra top: @bamboo_clothing

#vizsla #fitover50 #bamboo #midlife #hiking #devon #brixham #muffintop #leggings #healthyaging #proaging #getactive #vegan #over50 #over50style #stuntwoman #gifted

Hip happy

An early morning hike along the coast path, taking a detour along the rocks for a skinny dip at high tide.
If you want to preserve your hip function, exercise is the key. I walk 3 – 8 hours per day depending on my workload. My legs are in great shape but I need to work on my upper body. I’m swimming every day in the cove to work off the wine weight I’m still trying to lose ?

I keep a check on my weight and have entered the danger zone on the scales which means more; exercise, fruit and veg and less wine and crappy food choices like bread. I don’t diet as such, I just stop saying yes to all the bad stuff and focus on fuelling my body instead.

It’s never too late to start taking care of you. ?

Anyone else still prepared to enjoy a cheeky skinny dip? ?‍♀️
#proaging #aging #agingwell #silverhair #over50fitness #positiveageing #veganfitness #over40 #maturewomen #grayhair #plantbased #southwestcoastpath #devon #brixham #selfcare #midlife #midlifewomen #healthylifestyle #hiking

Lockdown creativity

Having lots of time at home has given me the opportunity to be more creative. It’s just a pity I don’t have more access to materials. This week I made some driftwood and string garden garlands, silk orchid hair clips and some shell garlands for the terrace.
My drawings and paintings are hung all over my little cottage. I can’t imagine anyone would ever buy one but they make me happy. I painted this one several years ago after I lost my 17 year old dog, so it reminds me of her and how I was feeling at the time,…a little bit lost without her.
I am a bit lost again at the moment without any potential to work as I am just not very skilled in the art of relaxing. I don’t watch TV (I don’t even own one) so I’m always on the lookout for creative opportunities and ways to re-use items I find on the beach.
Applying makeup every day also makes me happy. I enjoy playing with eyeshadows and lipsticks to create a new look using different combinations of colours and products. I know many women in their fifties stop wearing makeup but I cannot explain what a difference it makes to my mood for the day. A splash of vivid pink lipstick transforms my mood and energy levels for the day.
I’ve just returned from a very hilly hike to Scabbacombe beach which is wild, remote and totally worth the hip breaking ascent and descent to access the shore. Check out my story for the stunning views of the south Devon coastline today.
Have you been more creative in lockdown mode? What have you been making?

#devon #hillwalking #hiking #scabbacombe #creativity #over50 #50plus #over50beauty #matureskin #maturemakeup #plantbased #vegan #pinklipstick #midlife #middleaged #silverhair #silverbraid #silversister #grayhair #fitover50 #ilovepink #ageing