Newsletter May 2003
by: Nigel Anteney Hoare
What an odd month April turned out to be! Perhaps I should keep quiet in the Newsletter about the weather and leave it to Steen's magic weather cam and weather stats. Every time I mention that it seems to be settled we get plenty of "wet and windy". Anyway I am going to have one more go as I sit here on the May Day holiday weekend, putting the final touches to my monthly letter with the sun beaming down, my daughter having just returned from Carvoeiro beach where she said the water was great (?! brrr). Perhaps we have really turned the corner from spring to early summer?
At the end of the March newsletter I mentioned how orange blossom fragrance filled the air and that spring seemed finally here. April continued in the same vein to begin with but then we hit some really unsettled windy weather with cloudy, showery days. All that whilst parts of northern Europe and the UK in particular enjoyed an unseasonal sunny period with temperatures higher than here. Easter was soon upon us with Good Friday and Easter Saturday very mixed and showery. Easter Sunday was fine and sunny however and I visited Lagoa Football Club for their regular Easter Football Tournament for the youngsters - 9 to 11 years.
As always it was superbly organised. I am out of touch with what goes on in the UK and other countries but am always amazed with the effort both sports clubs and the local council put into juvenile sport. They can't always boast the finest facilities but for enthusiasm and determination they get full marks. I think many visitors to Portugal/Algarve/Carvoeiro comment about how it is a very kid friendly scene here and whilst I appreciate that not everyone is a kid lover it is good to see families on holiday out and about at restaurants etc in the evening with their children, instead of having to find childminders or simply stay at home.
Easter was hotly followed by the celebrations for the 25th April - the day of the "peaceful" 1974 revolution. This is probably remembered and celebrated less and less each year but the local parish council (Junta da Freguesia) did the right thing by firing off the usual thunderclap explosive rockets at 8am (were they less powerful or do I sleep heavier now?) A few years ago the tradition of handing out red carnations persisted - carnations were I am told placed in the barrels of soldiers guns by the ordinary people on that day in April 1974 - but you don't see too many now. The parish council helped pay for and organise the usual celebrations in the town, street races, live music etc and as the day was fine all went off well.
There were two fairly major local events - one anticipated and one completely unexpected. The anticipated, as you may have noticed from news posted on the Forum, was that the last section of the motorway linking Lagos to Lagoa was opened at 12 midnight on Thursday 10th April - exactly on time. A credit to the road builders I think. The road is simply great and gives some hitherto unseen views of lovely open countryside. I find it amazing to see how close to the developed coastal strip lies such beautiful open unspoilt countryside. We do indeed live in a very fortunate location.
One really nice view I thought was the approach from Lagoa to Portimao - you see views of the wide river Arade on your right and to the left a great view of the bridge and a different perspective of Portimao - what a big town it has become. You also run very close to the Refugio das Burros (donkey sanctuary) at Estombar run by Peter Lee Lander and Nan Richardson and can see how the property was sliced in two by the road builders causing some consternation and outcry.
Without wishing to sound unkind, in true Portuguese fashion, us estrangeiros, even if well indoctrinated in Portuguese ways were fooled (along with plenty of locals I suspect) by the fact that the road builders neglected to place signs informing drivers that they had to leave the road at Odeaxere to get to Lagos as the dedicated Lagos turn off would not be ready until July! I sailed past Odeaxere in total euphoria and found it was not possible to get off until I reached the end at Bensafrim with a 9 km trip back to Lagos along winding country roads behind a tractor! I wonder why it goes to Bensafrim anyway?!
I hope the speed with which the road was completed was not at the cost of its infrastructure. I do notice that the link to Silves has already subsided giving that wonderful free roller coaster effect that can also be enjoyed on the stretch from Faro to Spain!
The fact that such a major road has been completed on time must be a good omen for the new Loule/Faro football stadium which is to host 2 qualifying games and a Quarter Final match in the 2004 European Championships. By the way tickets went on sale ON-LINE on the UEFA home page on 28th April so why not buy some for the games at our Algarve local stadium and combine a great holiday with some great footy! On the footy angle (sorry football haters) Portimao Football Club (Portimonense) are 3rd in the 2nd division and heading for promotion to the top flight Super Liga when they will host the likes of Benfica, Porto and Sporting Lisbon etc.
The unexpected event, again as has been posted on the Forum and the Home Page, was the closure mid month of Centianes beach for major cliff works.
The weather was generally so poor at Easter that this probably did not atter much but we all hope that the work is completed as soon as possible and that beautiful beach is in order to receive the summer influx of visitors. A visit there today shows that the cliff has now been removed almost down to the existing beach level but they seem to have hit some harder rock and are using rock hammers. There are now 3 machines working on it and where the removed rock has been pushed into the sea a great "slick" of sandy, muddy water is curling along the coast! I simply can't see all being ready before June especially as the beach restaurant has to be rebuilt completely.
As the month unfolded Carvoeiro was getting busier and busier especially over Easter which is a favourite time for the "Lisboetas" to take an extended weekend and invade their seaside cousins. Plenty of Spanish visitors also as usual, finding things cheaper here than across the non existent border. In all it was a good holiday atmosphere - I believe that the bars, restaurants, supermarkets and gift shops managed to get their tills back in real action and everyone seemed happy. Big Will at the Round Up seems to have celebrated by changing his hair style to the shortest "short back and sides" ever or is it my imagination?
Marisqueira Palmeira in Rua do Cerro (the road that runs up past the municipal market between Lanterna Velha and Restaurant Xico-Ze) benefited during the showery days having had their open terrace glazed in. It looks good and has effectively trebled the interior seating capacity. I also notice that they have sensibly installed a wheelchair ramp for our less able bodied visitors so that they can enjoy what is reputed by some to be the best seafood rice in town! Speaking of the Rua do Cerro area, having had an enquiry from friends to arrange some overspill accommodation for June, I paid a call to Villa Welwitchia which is more or less opposite Marisqueria Palmeira and was very impressed both with the accommodation they can offer and the prices. This small friendly "guest house" is a very welcome addition to the hotels in the area.
Finally those of you that occasionally browse the Web Cam may have wondered what the JCB digger is doing appearing in shots now and then, tipping loads of sandy coloured earth into lorries. Don't worry - it is not the ice cream shop that is being demolished it is the property next door but one going up the hill. The work has caused some traffic problems with signs routing cars heading for the Monte Carvoeiro area up the hill past the Solferias Hotel. Lets hope that whatever gets built there, being so close to the centre, has been well designed and is sympathetic to the village.
All for now - have a great May.