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Not Peter Rabbit


Earlier this year we enjoyed a great three weeks’ driving in Portugal, starting in Lisbon and then moving south to Sagres and the most south westerly tip of Europe, then along the Algarve and up the centre to Evora and Elvas and back to Lisbon.

Empty autoroutes, beautiful old towns, great food and wine and friendly people. What more could you ask? Well, it was a disappointment photographically. In 2016 I came back with a nice portfolio of photos. No such luck this year. The light was often not right. Many days started overcast and although the cloud burnt off mid-morning, I missed the golden hour at sunrise. Other days it stayed lightly overcast all day.

I don’t really do tourist shots — castles, whitewashed farmhouses with terracotta roofs, cute flower boxes, green bicycles, red fishing boats, etc, and Portugal is full of cliché shots, many of which have already been taken and are sold on postcards. Not taking them really narrows your photo opportunities although I did manage a few cliché shots of my own along the way. 

My preferred subject is people and I managed some good people shots in 2016. But this year, I found that people were more reluctant to let me photograph them. Perhaps too many camera phones had been thrust in their faces or maybe they found the largish Leica Q more intimidating than the small X1 I used much of the time previously.

One day I did strike lucky was on my early morning walk in the strange old mining town of Minas de Santo Domingos, east of Mertola.

The town is very poor and apparently almost solely inhabited by elderly relatives of the miners — the mine closed in 1965. I came across this man by the road skinning a rabbit which he had caught in a snare. He was tackling his task with enthusiasm although he was using only a pocket knife.




  1. It might be messy John, but it is a sign that life is still happening…

    It’s not all Lidl-de-Aldi yet.


    On a similar note, I remember going out for a drive with my nephew near Coolattin, Co. Wicklow, he pulled into a driveway and asked me to hold on while he spoke to someone.

    Next thing, the rear hatchback door opens and the springs were suddenly depressed as a hind leg of a cow was dumped into the boot.

    The pong was like nothing on earth…

    Dog food, for the pack, they still do that sort of thing in Ireland.

    • Yes we do. Thankfully, we have kept in touch with nature here, but all modern facilities are available too. My younger brother plays golf near Coolattin. I do know of a few fox hound and beagle packs in Wicklow and my wife’s family goes hunting with one of them.


      • Indeed you are also allowed to shoot things William.

        Whatever next?

        Give a man a fishing rod…

        That nephew and his brother are members of the local hunt, one was Master for a while… And for those reading, there is nothing snooty about hunting in Ireland, one of them drives a readymix concrete truck and the other one is a plumber.

        I have played golf at the beautiful little nine hole at Coollatin and ridden hunters at Broomfield.

        • There is nothing snobby about hunting or fishing in Ireland. I always say that there are very few Irish people ‘more than one field away from a horse’. That is not a literal concept, of course. The Government introduced a fishing rod licence here some years ago and had to withdraw it after ‘resistance’.

          Not all Irish people approve of hunting, though. It is many years since Oscar Wilde defined hunting as "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable".



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