9 February 2019

Manteigaria Silva

Lisbon, Portugal

The first ‘Lojas com Historias’ this week is Manteigaria Silva. In 1890, the area where the salt cod store is today, opened its doors for the first time, under a different name. Next door, the area where the grocery store is now, was originally a slaughterhouse, which catered to the old market on Praça da Figueira, which no longer exists. In 1922 the shop changed hands and became a Manteigarias, a butter shop, Silva was the family name of the proprietors. Only shops classified as manteigarias were allowed to sell butter and dairy products, and in Lisbon there were only about twenty of them when this shop opened. At the time, butter was an important and expensive product, which came from the Azores in blocks and was sold by weight, in small packages. Butter and its by-products were the only items for sale at this store.

The shop was extended in the 1930s to the size it is today, one side of the shop selling salt cod, and the other side a grocery store specialising in regional products and delicacies, like hams, sausages, cheeses, dried fruits and wines.

Espingardaria Central A Montez opened in 1902 and the shop is always described as being where the weapon that triggered Portugal’s transition from monarchy to republic in 1910 was purchased. The firearms used in the assault on King Carlos were bought at the shop, including the Winchester that killed the king. The seller was a young shop assistant,
António Montez, who later became the shops owner, naming the shop after himself, it has remained in the family. Montez represented Portugal at the Paris Olympics of 1924, coming 30th in the 25 metre rapid fire pistol shooting event. The spelling of ‘Revolwers’ refers back to a time when the ‘w’ was still part of the Portuguese alphabet, today ‘K, W and Y’ are only used in foreign words.

Espingardaria Central A Montez

Chapelaria Azevedo Rua, a hat shop, was founded in 1886 by Manuel Aquino de Azevedo Rua. He was a producer of Port wine, but had to leave his Douro vineyards when disease ruined his vines. The business has always remained in the family, with the fifth generation now running the shops.

Livraria Ferin is the second oldest bookshop in Portugal, founded in 1840. The name of this bookstore originates from the nickname of the Belgian family that settled in Portugal during the Napoleonic wars. The shop has remained in the same family, with the sixth generation of the family now running the store.

Casa Pereira da Conceição opened in 1933 and sells a wide range of teas and coffees. They have their own blend of coffee, beans are ground in the old machines on the counters. It also sells coffee making machines and accessories; chocolates; almonds, and hand fans.

Franco Gravador, does engraving, and personalised date and number stamps, opened in 1916, and was located in Rua da Prata before it moved to Rua da Vitória, in 1944. The founder, Joaquim Cândido Franco, passed it on to his daughter, who in turn passed it on to her daughter, Dulce Franco Matos, who currently manages the shop.

Alfredo Pinto da Cunha, a goldsmith from Porto, purchased Joalharia do Carmo from its founder Raúl Pereira in the late 1920s, and it has remained in the same family ever since. In 1925 the architect Norte Júnior produced the design for the iconic Art Nouveau façade, which remains unchanged. The jewellers is known for stocking exclusive Portuguese items.

2 February 2019

Lisbon, Portugal

One of the things I enjoy about living in Lisbon is there is so much to learn about the city. I have recently discovered the ‘Historic Shops Project’, set up by the City Council in February 2015, in recognition of the role these establishments have in the  city’s identity and character, and to ensure the conservation and revitalisation of this heritage. The project states,
‘One of the priorities of the city of Lisbon is to work with the traditional and historic businesses in the city with a view to conserving and protecting them and their material, historic and cultural heritage and energising and reinvigorating the commercial activities essential for their existence. It was with this objective in mind that Lisbon City Council launched its programme, which is a first in Portugal.’

Dotted all over the city centre, these shops can be identified by the ‘Lojas com Historias’ sign located somewhere on front of the building. They all have their own unique stories, I thought you might like to know about some of them.

I’m starting with Caza das Vellas Loreto, which is one of Lisbon’s oldest shops. It is has been in the same building, owned by the same family, producing and selling the same products, candles, since 1789.

Caza das Vellas Loreto

The Luvaria Ulisses, a glove shop, was founded in 1925 by Joaquim Rodrigues Simões. The shop’s tiny interior, it is the size of a cupboard, was created by Carlos de Alcântara Knotz, a wood carver, and the original interior is still maintained today. Made-to-measure gloves in seven different sizes are sold here, they are made in a nearby workshop in Travessa do Almada.

Ferragens Guedes was founded in 1922 by Luís Guedes da Silva, who sold the items he produced in his foundries, in this shop. The shop is lined with cupboards containing the item attached to the outside, it has just about every item that one may need to complete a piece of furniture, open or close a door, a window or even a safe.

Pequeno Jardim, (Little Garden) founded in 1922, is an example of the ‘shop under the stairs’, literally it’s a shop installed in a building’s entrance hallway, so it is very small, which is why the flowers and plants are displayed on the pavement.  The iron-framed, Art Nouveau inspired shop window, has a painted glass shop sign on the façade naming the shop’s founder. Florists are quite rare in the centre of Lisbon, so it’s a joy to have this pop of colour on the street.

The Ginjinha Sem Rival shop was founded towards the end of the 19th century by the current proprietors’ grandfather, João Lourenço Cima. The original interior had the Art Deco influenced work added after 1920. It opens from 8 in the morning until midnight, selling Ginjinha, (also called ginja). The original recipe for Ginjinha was created by a monk, who was inspired to ferment Morello cherries in brandy, with lots of sugar, water and cinnamon. Ginja is served in small glasses, costing around €1.40 a shot, one can drink it with or without the cherries at any time of the day, and usually while standing on the pavement, because the traditional ginja shops, like this one, are quite small and only have a serving counter, not table and chairs. It is a very popular tipple in Lisbon and one often sees queues at ginja shops.

This shop makes it’s own ginja and also supplies other ginja houses too. If you have visited Lisbon and either drank or bought a bottle of Ginja Sem Revival, this is where it was made. The shop also makes and sells a liqueur called Eduardino, named after the clown pictured on the bottle’s label, (just seen on the counter on the above photo). The clown, who performed in a theatre near the shop, was a regular customer here and liked to drink a concoction of ginja, herbs and spices. It became so popular it was produced and bottled, with the trademark registered in 1908, and as the sign states, it is the only place where you can drink Eduardino.

The sign above this tiny little shop front states that this is a hairdressers, ‘Cabelleireiro’, spelt with double ‘L’, is the old way of spelling hairdresser, it is actually a barbers, Barbearia Campos. Founded in 1886, by the Campos & Costa company, the business was taken over by José Augusto de Campos, when the company was dissolved in 1920, and has remained in his family since then. Apart from a temporary move to another premises when the building was being renovated, the business has operated at this site since 1886, and is the oldest barber shop in Portugal.

The shop still has some original features, the marble sinks and counter, and the tiled floor. The chrome chairs were a 20th century addition. Displays of original tools used in beard and hair care sit along side contemporary tools. The huge board has details of some of their famous customers.

26 January 2019

Quinta da Regaleira

Sintra, Portugal

Regaleira Palace

Sintra has several unique places to visit and Quinta da Regaleira is one of them. It was named after the Viscountess da Regaleira, who bought the estate in 1840 to use as a summer retreat. When António Monteiro purchased it in 1893, he added adjacent plots of land, and hired the Italian architect Luigi Manini, who added Manueline, Roman, Renaissance and Gothic architectural features to the 4 hectares of Quinta da Regaleira, completing the project in 1911. It remained in private ownership until 1997, when the Municipality of Sintra bought the estate, and after extensive renovations, opened it to the public in June 1998. This site is included in the Cultural Landscape of Sintra classification as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Regaleira Palace
The Hunting room

The Regaleira Palace has five floors, but only had a couple of rooms on the ground floor were open, as the rest of the palace was being renovated when I visited.

The paths, above ground, weave around the extensive gardens, leading one to water features, wells, and castle like structures. There are underground tunnels leading to grottos, caves, and to the Initiation Well.

Garden Bench
Portal of the Guardians
Initiation Well

The Initiation Well is 27 meters deep, walk down the stone steps to the well floor and there are tunnels that lead to other parts of the gardens.

12 January 2019

Lisbon, Portugal

My walk today took me down to the River Tagus, where I watched a sleepy sun rising into a cloudless sky. The ground is freckled with dots of glitter and sparkles from the new year’s eve celebrations, reminding me we are already 12 days in to this new year. This early in the morning the city is still waking up, coffee shops are putting tables and chairs outside, ferries are taking people to work, and the seagulls are making the most of the low tide, to have their breakfast on the beach.

The sunlight at this time of the day, gives an orangey glow to everything. I was pleased to see the cranes, which rather rudely, ruined photos of the Praça do Comércio, have now gone. While I’m on the subject of morning walks, these are a couple of shots I took walking along the Avenida da Liberdade, I think Lisbon is a beautiful city.

The Algarve

At the risk of boring you with sun themed shots I thought I’d share some photos I took of the few days I spent in the Algarve, over Christmas. It was very quiet at Vilamoura Marina, so a joy to walk around, we walked there one evening in time to watch the sunset before we had dinner. The combination of water, boats and the sunset made it a very pleasant pre dinner walk.

Watching the sun set after Christmas lunch in the Algarve

There are great views from the apartment I was staying in, on this morning I got up early enough to see the mist rolling across the golf course.

23 December 2018

Lisbon, Portugal

It is just me or has this year gone by at super fast speed? It doesn’t seem twelve months since I was telling you I was moving from Asia to Europe, and here I am, almost a year later, feeling very settled in Lisbon. I’ve had a really good year, although I still feel I have only scratched the surface of the delights this city, and country, can offer. I think with places, like people, arts, food, etc., one either likes or doesn’t like them, and from the first week I arrived in Lisbon it felt good to be here, this city is my home.

This Christmas I won’t be feeling anxious about moving half way across the world to start again. I’m spending a relaxed Christmas in the Algarve with a very lovely, dear friend and then coming home to Lisbon to meet up with some more of my favourite humans, who are flying here to join me in the new year celebrations. I am blessed to have such good humans in my life.

This time of year, for me, is always a time of reflection, looking back on what I’ve done over the last twelve months and looking forward to the plans, hopes and aspirations I have for the coming months. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope this festive season is whatever you want it to be, and wish you health, happiness, and that 2019 is everything you want and hope, it will be. Boas Festas.

15 December 2018

 Alcácer do Sal, Portugal

Alcácer do Sal is a municipality in the Setúbal district, the small town is 90 kilometres south of Lisbon and gets it name from the Moorish Castle of Alcàcer, which, situated on the highest point, dominates the landscape. Excavations in the 20th century revealed evidence of human occupation here dating back to the late Neolithic Age. The Archaeological Crypt of the castle has the ruins of a Roman house, during the Roman occupation of Alcàcer do Sal it became an important trade centre for wool and salt.  

Rice is grown in Portugal, a fact I didn’t know until my visit here. The River Sado flows through the town, the flat lands and climate make Alcàcer do Sal perfect for growing rice. The climb up the hill to the castle provided views of the rice fields either side of the river. The air was filled with the smell of wood smoke, it was a beautiful still autumn day and I got there in time to watch the sun set.

Rice fields
Rice fields
Views of River Sado as the sun sets
Footbridge over the Sado
Igreja de Santiago
Igreja de Santiago

The Igreja de Santigo, known as much for the resident storks nesting on the twin bell towers as it is for the 18th century azulejos, that cover the inside of the building.

When the sun had set I went for a cruise on the river in the Galeão do Sado, a traditional boat that was originally used to carry the salt that was produced here. Salt production stopped years ago, so the restored boat is now used for tourist trips. It provides a different view of the delightful town of Alcàcer do Sal. 

8 December 2018

Mosteiro de Alcobaça

Alcobaça, Portugal 

Alcobaça’s development is down the Monastery, also known as the Royal Abbey of Santa Maria. Dom Alfonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, built a church to commemorate the conquest of Santarém from the Moors, in 1147. The king donated lands to Bernardo de Claraval and the Order of Cistercians, and building began in 1178 and finished about one hundred years later. At over 100 meters long it is the largest Gothic religious building in Portugal.

A characteristic of the Cistercians was agricultural work and the monks introduced new techniques and systems that transformed the region, which is still one of Portugal’s main fruit providers. 

The kitchen dates from 1752, the huge chimney, supported by eight wrought iron columns, dominates the room. The walls are completely tiled, to make them easier to clean.  Water was delivered to the kitchen via a canal system, demonstrating the ingenuity of the Cistercian monks hydraulic engineering skills. 

Alcobaça has a Spal factory, founded in 1965, and I had a guided tour. Some of the machines looked architectural. It was interesting to see that a lot of the production processes are still done by hand. The 470 employees produce 18 million pieces a year, sixty percent of which are exported to forty five countries.

1 December 2018

Évora, Portugal

Évora is one of Portugal’s best preserved medieval cities, it thrived from the 14thto the 16th centuries, when it was favoured by royalty. It was declared an archbishopric in 1540 and in 1559 a Jesuit university was established here. After King Dom Henrique died in 1580 and the Spanish seized the Portuguese throne, the Portuguese royal court left Évora. The university closed in 1759 and French forces plundered the town in 1808, which exacerbated the plight of the city’s decline. It is suggested that this decline was the main reason Évora remained so well preserved, Évora’s obscurity in the 19th and 20th centuries meant it remained unaffected by modern expansion.

In 1973 the university was re-established and in 1986 UNESCO declared Évora a World Heritage Site, because: “This museum-city, whose roots go back to Roman times, reached its golden age in the15th century, when it became the residence of the Portuguese kings. Its unique quality stems from the whitewashed houses decorated with azulejos and wrought-iron balconies dating from the 16th to the 18th century” and is “the finest example of a city of the Golden Age of Portugal”

The narrow cobbled streets, often there is only room for humans or cars, but not at the same time, wind, maze like, around the city, leading to the many places of interest here, too many to see in two days. The darkish yellow paint is a feature of the buildings here.

The Igreja de São Francisco, built between 1475 and 1550 in the Manueline-Gothic style, was renovated in 2015, which is why it looks so new. The Capela dos Ossos, (Chapel of Bones) was built in the 17th century and is, interesting. 

Igreja de São Francisco

Igreja de São Francisco

Three Franciscan monks in the 17th century had a problem of what to do with the overflowing graveyards of their churches and monasteries. Their solution was to line the walls and columns of the memento mori (reminder of death) with the bones and skulls of 5000 humans. Thousands of bones are arranged in patterns, covering every wall and column in the Capela dos Ossos. 

Capela dos Ossos. 

It seems as if great thought was used to position the bones and skulls, the designs are clear and particular bones have been used for certain parts of the pattern.  The frescos that decorate the ceiling, date from 1810 and skulls have been incorporated in the design. There is an inscription at the entrance of the chapel which states ‘We bones that are here await yours’. Macabrely fascinating. 

I came across this church walking to another monument, the Igreja da Nossa Senhora da Graça, built in the 16th century and Renaissance in style.


24 November 2018

Templo Romano

Évora, Portugal

The Alentejo is Portugal’s largest region, covering a third of the country, from south of the River Tagus (Lisbon) to the northern mountains of the Algarve. The region has vineyards, wheat fields and cork plantations. Wine production was already established here when the Romans arrived and cork has been produced here for over 700 years. Today the huge cork groves of the Alentejo provide about fifty percent of the worlds entire supply of cork. I’m on a short, two day, visit to the city of Évora, which sits in the northern half of the Alentejo.  

Évora is a walled city, the original walls were built by the Romans when they occupied the city. In the 14th century new walls were built to protect the expanding city. Parts of the old wall in the city centre has houses built into it

Praça do Giraldo

Praça do Giraldo is the largest and main, square in Évora, lined with examples of gothic and Romanesque architecture, cafes, restaurants and the Igreja de Santo Antão. The rather large Henriquina fountain dates from 1570 and has eight spouts, which represent the eight streets which lead from the square. 

Henriquina Fountain

Today the square is a meeting place, where one can relax over a coffee, pose for photos or eat hot roasted chestnuts. In the 16th century it was the site of the public burning of people by the Inquisition, over 22,000 people in a 200 year period. One of the most notorious events happened in 1573 when ‘convicts’ of the court were burnt alive on giant pyres, constructed in the centre of the square. It was also where the Duke of Braganza was beheaded.

Santo Antáo Igreja

The remains of this Roman Forum, Templo Romano, are among the best preserved Roman monuments in Portugal. Dating from the 2nd or early 3rdcentury, the temple was, over time, incorporated into various buildings, including a butcher’s shop/slaughter house. The Forum was re-discovered and restored in the late 19th century, 14 of the original 18 granite columns remain.

Évora’s Roman-Gothic Cathedral was built from 1280 to 1350 and is sited on the highest point of the city. 


The Aqueduto da Água de Prata (Aqueduct of Silver Water) was completed in 1537, 18 kilometres long, it provided freshwater to the residents of Évora until 1979. Although no longer used to carry water, the structure is still in use, as houses have been built into its arches.

17 November 2018

Alcobaça, Portugal

Alcobaça is a municipal district and town about 100 kilometres north of Lisbon. In the 12th century it was chosen as the site of Portugal’s largest church and this is what the town is best know for, more about the church in a future post.  Alcobaça is a delightful town, where I had lunch after visiting a local factory. 

 Atlantis Crystal is said to be one of the finest handmade crystals in the world and I had a guided tour of the factory in Alcobaça, where it is made. Founded in 1944 as Alcobaça Crystals, producing chandeliers and glasses for domestic use, and then in the early 1970s it started producing high quality hand made glass.

The factory has an aerial walkway for visitors to watch the craftsmen (there were no women) at work. Using moulds made of wood and steel, and blow rods, the highly skilled artisans produce some of the worlds finest lead crystal.  The high standards of quality control mean many pieces are discarded by experts, who find flaws not seen by an untrained eye, this glass is used in the production of sandpaper. The factory was very noisy and extremely hot. 

By the time I’d finished the guided tours the sun was setting and it was time to head home.

11 November 2018


Lisbon, Portugal

On the last day of October it rained all day. The rains brought a drop in the temperature, from the mid twenties to the late teens, announcing that Autumn has finally arrived here in the city that I now call home. This summer was beautiful, and long and hot, (including a not so nice week of heatwave temperatures of 45C), but the summer seems to have gone by in a flash and although the leaves on the trees are still green, it won’t be long before they bare their naked branches and rain will be ‘the normal’ again. There hasn’t been any rain here since May, so aside from the realisation that summer is over, it was a also a reminder that the stone tile pavements here, when wet, turn into the equivalent of sheets of  ice, and one has to relearn to walk on the slippy slopes to prevent falling over. I have a mixture of things to tell you about this week, none of which have been enough for one post which is why they may seem rather random.

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On the 4 November there was a military parade commemorating 100 years since the end of the 1st World War, (1914-1918). It was the largest parade of it’s kind in the city, honouring the memory of the 100,000 Portuguese people who fought in the war and the 7,500 who died. It was also to honor peace.

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There were 4,500 people in the parade, including representatives from the armed forces of France, Germany, the UK and the USA; approximately 200 vehicles and motorbikes; 86 horses and 30 dogs, complete with their humans; and a fly past by helicopters and F.16 aircraft. The roads around Avenida de Liberdade were closed, where some of the parade participants were waiting, so the city centre, devoid of traffic, became a peaceful place for a couple of hours, aiding time for reflection and commemoration.

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I recently had a guided tour of the Portuguese Parliament Building, which is in the São Bento Palace. The palace dates from 1598 which is the year the monks began building, what was originally a monastery. It remained a monastery until 1833, then it had various incarnations as a prison, a military academy, a hospice, and a repository for deceased foreigners, before becoming the home of parliament.

Over the years the building has been remodelled, with additions like the Lobby, built in 1895; the Grand Staircase, built in the 1930s, which leads to the Session Chamber and the Senate Chamber; and the Hall of Honor  built in the 1940s, with murals depicting Portuguese maritime scenes.

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On a balmy evening in late September, I went to an event of The Environmental Sound Art Festival, held at the Māe d’ Água. I saw Sirius, who are Yaw Tembe, a trumpeter and Francisco Trindade, a percussionist and objects manipulator. Sirius are described in the festival programme as ‘a psychedelic kind of improvised music’.


I also saw Tomoko Sauvage. Rather than do an injustice to the work of Tomoko I have taken this description of her work from her website,  ‘For more than ten years, Tomoko Sauvage has been investigating the sound and visual properties of water in different states, as well as those of ceramics, combined with electronics. China bowls of different sizes, filled with water and amplified via hydrophones (underwater microphones), water bowls is a kind of natural synthesizer that generates fluid timbre using waves, drops and bubbles. These recipients resonate and also produce subaquatic feedback, an acoustic phenomenon that requires fine tuning depending on the amount of water, a subtle volume control and interaction with the acoustic space. Through primordial materials and playful gestures, Tomoko Sauvage searches for a fragile balance between randomness and discipline, chaos and order.’    

oznorIt was my first experience of music of this kind and it was very interesting. The water around the stage provided great reflections of the event.



4 November 2018


Buddha Eden Garden

Situated at Quinta dos Loridos, the park was opened in 2006 and has continued to expand, new pieces were being displayed when I visited. Along side the Buddhas, there’s a diverse collection of contemporary art in the gardens.




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An African Sculpture Garden, dedicated to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, has over 200 sculptures.

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A restaurant provides good Portuguese food and somewhere to rest ones weary feet from walking around the grounds. Adjacent to the garden are vineyards and the onsite shop offers wine tasting as well as an extensive range of local wines.

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27 October 2018

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Buddha Eden Garden, Portugal

An hour’s drive north of Lisbon is the Buddha Eden Garden. Covering over 35 hectares of land, it is the largest oriental garden in Europe. Created by José Berardo, a contemporary art collector, who after reading about the Taliban’s destruction of stone Buddhas in Bamiyan, purchased a huge range of Buddha statues and created the sculpture park.





Aside from the Buddhas, the park is home to seven hundred terracota soldiers, modelled on the originals from Xian in China.

The gardens are landscaped with several water features, one of which has a variety of wild animals made from metal. There is more about the park in the next post.


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22 September 2018



Óbidos, Portugal

Óbidos is a town about 80 kilometres north of Lisbon, which is completely surrounded by the walls of a 12th century castle. Famous for being a wedding present given to queens by kings, starting with King Dinis who gave Óbidos to Queen Isabel on their wedding day in 1282. It continued to be the property of Portuguese queens until the 19th century. The town is also where, in 1973, the first meeting took place that led to the Carnation Revolution on 25 April 1974. (Search 25 April 2018 for more information)


Until the 15th century there was a natural harbour on the west side of Óbidos, where ships moored at the castle walls. A combination of tsunamis, earthquakes and storms ‘moved’ the coastline 10 kilometres away from the town. Óbidos was declared a National Monument in1951.

Access to Óbidos is by the town gate, built around 1380, which leads to narrow cobbled streets, flower covered walls, and white painted, terracotta roofed, buildings. There are also five churches and a chapel fitted within the medieval walls. The shops all seemed to be aimed at tourists, which fill the main streets, wander away from these and one will find quieter lanes with fewer tourists, making it slightly more pleasant to enjoy the medieval delights of Óbidos.


It is possible to walk along the castle ramparts, which provides views of the surrounding countryside as well as of the town itself. The aqueduct, sited outside the town walls was built by Queen Catherine in the 16th century  to transport water to the town.





15 September 2018

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Murtosa, Portugal

The municipality of Murtosa is located at the centre of the Rio de Aveiro, and over 80 percent of its land area is within a Special Protection Zone. Much of this area is covered by the lagoon and one of the best ways to experience this is a boat ride.

The chap steering the moliceiro, (boat) I was in was 82 years old, and has worked on the lagoon all his life. In the 19th century moliceiros were designed and used to harvest seaweed from the lagoon, ‘moliço’ is seaweed. They are painted in bright colours, with low sides and a high front and back, to make the collection of seaweed easy.  The seaweed was used to fertilise the sandy soil in the area, before chemical fertilizers were used. The moliceiro is perfect for  the shallow waters of the lagoon.