Newsletter February 2005

  by: Nigel Anteney Hoare

January 2005 is memorable for clear, blue sunny days, exceptionally cold nights and lack of rain.

Carvoeiro mid January - see large photo (opens new window)

Once we had got up and shaken the effects of celebration from our heads we could see that the New Year had got off to a great start with beautiful sunny weather. This continued for a couple of days until cloud came over on the 4th and the evening became very cold.

Another earthquake was felt in the Algarve, this time in the Olhão area and measuring only 4.1 on the Richter scale. It seems this area is letting off a lot of steam at present which is a good omen so seismologists say.

Like the rest of the world we were all shocked by the news and images of the south east Asian earthquake and many set about organising events to raise cash to help. On the 5th Howard Bancroft of SULLYS and the R.B. CAFÉ made the splendid gesture of offering to donate the entire days takings of both those establishments to the Tsunami Relief Fund. We visited Sullys after work and a good crowd were there both enjoying the social occasion and helping swell the coffers for this worthy cause. Too late to eat at home we dropped into the Chinese restaurant with our friend ALYSON JONES and her son ZAK. It was a very cold night again but a beautiful clear sunny day next day. We pay a little at night for these clear daytime sunny skies but it is worth it!

Charity evening at Sullys Bar - see large photo (opens new window)

On Saturday 8th I took my son to GRAMACHO golf course to play just 9 holes. Plenty of golfers were enjoying the sunny weather and a leisurely game. On the way back we dropped into SULLYS. Flavio was in attendance and I told him that I had heard on KISS FM radio that the faith healer DOUG BALLARD was back in town and was hoping to spend some time with Flavios son Luke in an attempt to improve his condition. For those that don’t know Luke has never left hospital since his birth suffering from a disability that makes him rely on life support systems.

That evening being the last before our children returned to school we went out to eat. Many restaurants in Carvoeiro were closed. The three Chinese restaurants were open as usual plus CASA DA BIFE, A GALÉ, A GALERIA, CALIFORNIA, O CANTINHO,O PATIO on the square, VIMAR and O CASTELO. That looked to be about it! XICO ZÉ seems to be undergoing some renovation work, and HAPPYS, MAXIMES, ELE E ELLA; OASIS etc remain shut.

Even the newspaper shops are closed at present so it is off to Intermarche for the Sunday English paper!

Anyway we opted to go up to MONTE CARVOEIRO to see what was open. The place was deserted and the only light came from FERNANDOS STONE STEAK. Not a sole inside but it looked welcoming so in we went to find a warming log fire. I think we were the only table that evening but we enjoyed it and full marks for them staying open at this quiet time.

On Tuesday whilst we had been hearing and seeing images of the violent storms sweeping northern Britain we awoke to the coldest morning so far. 2.5ºc as I drove to work and a heavy ground frost all along the Carvoeiro/Poço Partido valley, with ice on car roofs and windscreens. Still no rain though and much talk about a drought unless we get some soon. I had heard from someone knowledgeable in these things that the western Algarve (the Barlavento) should be ok as there are plentiful bore holes to rely on although the eastern Algarve would suffer badly without rain this year. The worldwide weather does seem topsy turvy.

I noticed that SMILERS had reopened, daytime only, after a 5 week break and already people were enjoying the sunshine on the terrace watching the world go by. HEMINGWAYS, on the other hand, which had profited from the lack of bars open had closed for a while for a minor renovation, I understand.

The mild daytime weather had helped the almond trees bloom early and their pink and white blossom dotted the countryside. Competing for attention the lovely yellow mimosa was also just starting to burst into bloom along the roadsides. The clear sunny days also meant some super sunsets.

Almond blossom - see large photo (opens new window)

Sunset - see large photo (opens new window)

The good weather was also a bonus for all the builders busily engaged on the construction of new property which continues apace on the outskirts of Carvoeiro. Activity is particularly noticeable on the north, Lagoa side, of the town - on the left as you drive in - where the Monte Servo development is taking shape and also on the east side, in the Areias dos Moinhos area where many large villas are going up.

New building - see large photo (opens new window)

On Friday 21st as part of the ongoing effort to raise funds for the tsunami disaster, the ALGARVE RESIDENT had been instrumental in organizing a charity dinner and auction at the Hotel Garbe, sister hotel to our own CARVOEIRO SOL. About 200 turned up to enjoy an Indian buffet and bid for many very nice prizes donated by local businesses. The dinner and auction, together with peripheral events under the same banner including a tennis tournament at CARVOEIRO CLUBE DE TENIS and golf tournaments at Laguna golf course Vilamoura and Salgados raised over 30,000 Euros in total. A magnificent effort for a small community.

Saturday 22nd I played golf at the Laguna course at Vilamoura in a monthly competition organised by GOLF FOR GREYS. This is an association dedicated to the over 50’s and intended to bring the power of a large organization to golfers by arranging cheap golf, discounts at golf courses and golf shops. The idea was the brainchild of JOHN HAWKER and EDDIE PILKINGTON, two long standing foreign residents of the Carvoeiro/Lagoa area. With almost 500 members in just the 12 months of its existence it is a huge success and a voice to be reckoned with in the Algarve golfing world. See

Staying with golf, an important coup for the Algarve is that the Golf World Cup will be held from 17-20 November 2005 at the new Victoria course in Vilamoura bringing representatives from 24 nations to compete for the $5 million prize fund – the largest amount of prize money in golfing history. Some say that the Victoria course only opened in September 2004 is not ready for a major golf tournament and it is difficult to understand how it can even be “bedded down” yet let alone mature enough. Still it will be a great event and a boost to the local economy in a slow time of the year.

Sunday morning I bumped into FRASER of FORNO DE FRASER as we were buying newspapers in O GLOBO, Rua do Barranco. Fraser looked well and full of enthusiasm. He confirmed that he was open for takeaway only at present but is going to convert the “back” room he used as a small restaurant with a counter and stools so that people can eat in, but without any waiter service. Sounds a good idea. You can check his menu out if you go to or type “forno de fraser” in Google.

Returning home I was surprised to see literally hundreds of walkers passing my house on their way down to the village. At this time of the year you will often see these walks, much favoured by the local Portuguese people, and usually supported by their local council. This one had been organized by Lagoa Camara and busloads of people had been brought from surrounding areas (Silves, Messines and even further afield) to enjoy the spring like weather and take part in a 10km walk. This seemed to have started somewhere near the Areias dos Moinhos/Vale do Milho area, taken a route all along the roads surrounding the golf course then down into Carvoeiro where their transport collected them again.

I dropped into the VALE DO MILHO golf clubhouse to catch the West Ham v Derby match at Sunday lunchtime. Owner ANDY DE FREITAS was busy getting ready for around 30 Sunday lunchers who had booked in plus the others who dropped by for drinks and snacks. SERGIO, the ever present efficient barman, is off work enjoying the last days of his annual months holiday and he popped in to play some golf. As I sat at the bar watching the game the food passing by smelled and looked delicious I must say.

Monday morning started with much dew and a heavy fog along the Carvoeiro-Poço Partido valley. As I arrived at work I could see that the whole of Lagoa was shrouded in the same fog but by 9 am the sun was well up and burning it away with the promise of another beautiful day in store. A colleague told me that we were to brace ourselves for some very cold weather coming down from the north – it’s rain we want not cold!

Tuesday saw the full moon and start of the promised cold snap. On Wednesday morning as I drove from Carvoeiro to Lagoa my car temperature gauge showed 0º C – not often we get that low down here. There was no wind however so with the bright blue sunny sky it didn’t seem that cold. This unusually cold weather continued all week with temperatures dropping below zero at night but with brilliant blue clear sunny skies in the day.

On 29th I noticed that there was a photographic exhibition in Carvoeiro at the premises of C.A.S.C. – this is the Centro de Apoio Social de Carvoeiro, a non profit making organization dedicated to assisting the young and old of Carvoeiro. The plan is to construct a crèche for 44 children, much needed in Carvoeiro, an after school activity centre for 20 children to assist working mothers unable to collect children immediately school ends, an elderly peoples day centre and various other initiatives. The photo exhibition was at their headquarters which is next door to the pottery shop O BAU DE AVO in Rua do Barranco, the road going out of town. One of the best displays was a set of photos of Carvoeiro then and now where they had old prints of Carvoeiro scenes and had taken recent photos from exactly the same spot – really interesting.

The month ended for me with yet more golf, this time in a charity tournament to aid a childrens home in Loulé. This is an annual event with a dinner at the Vilamoura Casino and raises huge amounts for the designated charity. The golf tournament was a long drawn out affair due to the large number of entrants and held at the Victoria course I spoke of earlier in connection with the World Cup. A nice course with spectacular greens but they sure do have a lot to do in the 10 months left to get the surrounds fit for such a prestigious event!

Coming home from Vilamoura well after midnight the outside temperature gauge showed -3ºC and we wondered if this strange weather would ever end, bringing Portugal the rainfall so badly needed especially here in the south and the Alentejo.

Até logo!