Have you seen the cork tree in the Christchurch Botanical Gardens? If not, look for it next time and give its springy bark a pat. It’s on the edge of the archery lawn opposite the herbaceous border. The label just says “Quercus – Cork Oak”.

There were cork plantations most of the way from Lisbon to Évora.

There was agricultural land between with harvesting going on, and sheep and cattle grazing.

In Évora, there is a lot of cork in gift shops. Today I chanced upon a wonderful exhibition of cork models at MADE: Museu do Atesanato e do Design de Évora.

I’ll let them speak for themselves.

This is the artist.

There were all manner of things made of cork in the museum.

Straw panniers for a donkey:

A wool rug:

There was a modern design section.

Imaging lugging these about on your travels:

Kenwood mixers, but not as old as yours, Mum!

A flip-open landline dial phone:

To put our throw-away society into perspective, there was this medieval pot with repairs evident. I imagine it would be unthinkable to throw such a useful container away just because it had a few cracks in it.

And, “A gourd!” For the Monty Python fans among us.

These are cork products for sale in the streets:

Portuguese ships

There are some dedicated ship enthusiasts in Portugal creating these detailed models for the Museu de Marinha (Maritime Museum).

I hadn’t noticed when watching Pirates of the Caribbean that the ship’s wheel might be two wheels with a rope in between. Is the rope attached to the rudder, perhaps?

The displays include ancient maps, astrolabes and navigational instruments.

I liked the early ships best, of The Age of Discovery, which didn’t travel light (and that’s without taking white man’s burden into account). Here is a portable altar:

And here is an elaborate casket used to carry the ship’s colours embroidered by the queen. It has bronze turtle feet and looks heavy.

There was a section on fishing, since that is very much part of Portuguese life.

This painting reminds me of Clark Esplin’s work:

There were the cabins of the former king and queen (Carlos and Amelia) of Portugal on the royal yacht, Amelia.

There was the royal barge, which our queen sailed on during a visit to Portugal around 1957.

There were pleasure craft and an Olympic medal winning yacht:

A fire engine from the docks, which looks like an incendiary device itself:

And sea-planes. The Santa Clara made the first crossing of the South Atlantic in 1922.

This is the entrance to the museum which is in a wing of the Jeronimos monastery. Here, in a chapel built by Henry the Navigator, mariners took mass before embarking on their voyages. (Source: DK Portugal guide, which is one of the heavier items in my luggage – the other is the Paris guide. The digital versions may be weightless, but aren’t up to my well-used books.)