“The four building blocks of the universe are fire, water, gravel and vinyl” Dave Barry
Well we’ve been busy doing DIY again this week – nearly there now… phew! One of the last jobs has been to tile the new utility area, which involved trekking around a lot of DIY and tile shops to find something we liked. (We can now recommend Leroy Merlin at Guia – as we have been to virtually every shop this side of the Spanish border…and all for one pack of tiles)
Grabbing the cameras this afternoon and chasing the sun around Ferragudo, hunting for shots of the old Azulejo tiles was much more fun, and set me off exploring the internet to find out more about them. (thanks Wiki and others)
Azulejo (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐzuˈleʒu]) from the Arabic word zellij زليج or az-zulayj, means “polished stone” and describes the painted, tin glazed, ceramic tilework you can see all over Portugal.
It is reputed that the Moors brought the “Azulejos” to the Iberian peninsula in the Middle Ages and that they may well have borrowed the techniques and geometric designs from the Persians. Portugal’s first “Azulejos” date from the 16th century. By the 17th century, large, carpet-like tiles used just white and blue, the fashionable colours at the time of the Great Discoveries, and were influenced by the Ming Dynasty porcelain from China. They now portrayed mainly Christian legends and historical events; like this one of the ‘sacred’ or ‘holy family’:
I love this tile sat imperiously on an old facade in the village – the house is virtually derelict yet the tile clings on – I do hope if anyone ever restores this old house that they try to preserve this:
The tiles were also found to be effective as damp-proofing for houses, and in Lisbon, after the 1755 earthquake necessitated extensive rebuilding, many houses were entirely covered in tiles – a practice that can still be seen today across Portugal and the Algarve.
It is great to be able to wander around and start to really look at these tiles, some of the designs and history are really inspiring, and the art work can be so detailed. They are also of course not exclusive to the outside of buildings, and the churches certainly make extensive use of them inside…
Modern day tiles and shops also abound, but I do think some tiles are better than others, with a tourist inspired market there are always going to be a lot of bowls of lemons and ‘quaint scenes’ to be found, however this is a modern one on a house that I quite like:
We also have our own ‘atelier’ in the village, Sylvain Bongard, who has done some amazing modern designs and even tiles on public buildings, including many of the more modern/traditional tiles in Ferragudo:
You can find out more about him at his web-site http://www.atelierbongard.com/ and he has a nice quirky studio you can visit in Ferragudo.
With all this DIY, it’s been quite a tiring week really, and we have been trying out new ways of making a healthier iced tea to cool ourselves down .. as one of our friends reminded us of just how much sugar is in ‘ice tea limao’ from the supermarket (…but it’s so nice!) So if anyone has any ‘recipes’ out there for making a nice cool drink we can store in the fridge – let us know!
You might be wondering what any of this has to do with toilet rolls though – well I caught a bit of Sir Cliff being interviewed by Piers Morgan last week on TV – and (shock apart of seeing my childhood hero ageing so much on TV!) he got caught by Piers admitting that he liked his toilet rolls facing ‘outwards’ … oh the groan as Mr S nudged me… I have been trying so hard on this blog to disprove the ‘mildly OCD’ label he has given me since we moved here… and then Sir Cliff goes and ruins it for me… we have friends who can unfortunately testify to me actually visiting their home and turning their toilet roll around…. sad but true!
So if you invite me round, beware – not only will I be taking a keen interest in the tiles stuck on your walls, I might even start turning your toilet roll around!
“Here’s kind of my motto – if you’re not happy at home, you’re not happy anywhere else”. Angie Harmon