Thursday, 3 December 2009

Out and about

The environs of Olhos d'Agua was every bit as nice as the rest of the area. Down towards the old fishing area of the town were a line of palm trees fluttering their leaves in the wind and looking very exotic against the blue sky.
The cliffs along the seashore are, as I have mentioned before, rather beautiful but are nonetheless very dangerous. Indeed, just a few weeks before we went, five Portuguese people were killed as they sun-bathed at the base of the cliffs. The cliffs suddenly and without warning, gave way and fell on the unfortunate people.
Along the roads, the gardens of some of the large villas had big, knobbly and contorted trees growing in them. These turned out to be Cork Oaks (Quercus suber).
The thick bark of these trees is 'harvested' every 9 to 12 years and is used to produce the corks for wine bottles and various others. strange to think that cutting off the cork bark has no lasting effect on the tree, which immediately starts to grow more.
Also growing as a commercial crop all around the area, are Oranges (Citrus X sinensis).
Many different sub-species exist and many flavours, shapes and sizes as we all know. The trees are strange among flowering plants as they produce flowers and fruit together and almost all year round. Portugal produces about 1% of the total tonnage of oranges of the world's biggest producer, Brazil.
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