When September is rainy and blustery and cold, like it's been in England, Portugal is definitely a good place to be. This marble staircase was up with sun and beautifully tiled with 18th century tiles. According to the sign outside, it was a police station - just a teeny bit different from our local nick here in London, so I crept in and took a few pictures.
In a little museum near Evora, I saw some very unusual embroideries.
Unfortunately, they were captioned all in Portuguese, a language I don't speak, but someone told me that several incorporate pieces of "chestnut skin." (I think that this means the shell of the chestnut fruit). This thin and brittle substance is sewn onto the embroidery in a kind of applique. The examples here all date from about 100 years ago and didn't bear much resemblance to the "local" embroideries on sale in the rather small number of souvenir shops I spotted.
I was in the Portuguese Alentejo, an agricultural and wine growing region which lies north of the Algarve, and is far less well-known than the Algarve. With textiles in mind, I also visited an amazing modern tapestry works in Portalegre. The tapestries - often vast - are hand woven using a unique stitch which allows great precision in the design. This gives them a really fine quality, and means that pictures or photographs or even paint techniques can be reproduced or suggested far more accurately than they can in ordinary tapestry. Like, paint on a wall...
By contrast, the tapestry below is in totally different style. Created to a mid-twentieth century design, it's large, subtle and detailed and it is tremendously striking. I can only show one, much-reduced bit of it here.
As the tapestries are hand made and so specialised, they're also ruinously expensive and production is very slow. Perhaps that's why the company doesn't even seem to have a website. Now I know these tapestries exist, though, I have decided that if I ever win the lottery, I'll commission one to adorn the mansion which I'm going to buy.
Since that's in my dreams, it doesn't matter that it would take years to weave!