Newsletter April 2007


by: Carol Carpenter

Many thanks for all the complimentary comments on my last newsletter despite the lateness of it. I do hope it’s not going to be like my game of Bowls, one good wood and downhill from then onwards!!!

After spending 3 months here in the Algarve it was now time for my father to return to the U.K. Before doing so we thought it would be nice for him to spend a few days in Spain to see his other daughters in La Manga. My younger sister lives there with her partner whilst my elder sister and her family were house hunting in the area. The journey was strange in that we had to use a German airline, Air Berlin, to fly from Portugal to Spain, overfly our destination to change at Palma, then fly back to Alicante where my sister was to meet us. We were very impressed with the Airline, the seats were comfortable, not cramped, the staff very friendly, and we were also fed and watered on both legs of the journey. The only grumble was the long hike from terminal A to terminal D for the transfer, but once comfortably on board (and before take-off) for our 25 minute flight my father insisted on ordering us a double scotch to more than make up for it.

It was great to see my sisters again to spend some quality time together. We all live so far away now, that it was good for Dad to see us all together enjoying ourselves. Our apartment was on Thomas Maestre Marina and it had the most amazing views of the Mar Menor (little sea in Spanish) where my younger sister runs a small bar and her partner has a Marine School. La Manga is very pretty, with the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the Mar Menor on the other, but unfortunately, with the construction of many tower blocks and hotels, it is of course being spoilt a little, as in many other coastal regions. La Manga known to the locals as “The Strip” is 18 miles long and they live at the very end in an older apartment having one of the best views, to both the Med and Mar Menor. Father thoroughly enjoyed his stay there having his morning coffee and brandy looking out onto this beautiful view. Pretty though it is, it would not be for us - the thought of travelling 18 miles for the weekly shopping and back would not suit us at all, especially when, in the summer with all the tourists, it can take almost 2 hours to drive the strip. You can shop and eat in La Manga, but it is very expensive especially on the Marina. Although it suits the life style of my sister and her partner and they are very happy there, we love the Algarve and can never wait to get back. Eventually after spending 6 days in Spain I delivered my father safely back to the U.K staying for a week including a short visit to Gloucestershire to see his great-grand children after which I returned “home” to the Algarve.
 

   
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The EasyJet flight from Gatwick was quite unbearable. On checking in I was told that my case, which I had taken in the cabin with me on the out going journey, was now not allowed and it would have to go in the hold in spite of the fact that this case had flown with me from Faro to Palma, to Alicante to Gatwick without a problem. Apparently I was only allowed to take one piece of hand baggage and as this case had the makeup bag with it, similar to the cases used by the Cabin staff it was not allowed. This took me over the size limit and I also had an umbrella (which I should have binned, as it was a freebie anyway), now costing me £25 to take home, as extra baggage. Anyone flying with EasyJet is warned, if you have a handbag and a small case which you wish to take on board, put the handbag inside otherwise they will not allow it and it will go in the hold. I suppose due too the cheapness of the tickets, they must make their money by ripping us off - but it leaves a bad impression and I do not think in the long term they are doing themselves any favours !!!.
The most expensive umbrella I have ever owned !! - according to EasyJet.

Arriving home I was looking forward to the St Patrick’s Society Annual Celebration Dinner at Villa Petra in Albufeira on 10th March. This event was once again a great success with 180 guests enjoying a sumptuous buffet and free bar, and this year being honoured for the first time by the attendance of the Irish Ambassador, James Brennan.
 

   
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The dinner was followed by music from “The Melting Pot” an Irish band from Lisbon together with a disco provided by Kiss FM’s DJ and compere, Marc Damon and an excellent demonstration of Irish dancing by members of the society’s own dance class.
A raffle draw featured fantastic prizes, including five pairs of Ryanair tickets to various destinations, boat trips with South West Charters, a weeks holiday in Gibraltar from Kiss FM, a flight with Aero-Algarve, treatments at Vila Vita’s Spa and other prizes too numerous to mention raising 2,000 euros for the Castelo de Sonhos.
One of the Ryanair flights, from Faro to Barcelona was won by Betty Arnold, a great-great grandmother who will be 100 years old in August !! She lives in England where she is known to her close family as ‘Nan and, like the Queen of England from whom she will soon be hearing, ‘Nan’ does not carry any money hence her nickname of “Queen Nan” This remarkable lady, with all her faculties intact, stole the show, putting people half her age to shame by dancing the night away.
 
Carvoeiro held its own St Patrick’s Day celebrations. Starting at Dirty Nellie’s we found Eilis the owner, pouring pints and handing out hats to everyone - with many people wearing fancy dress, hats or wigs. There were also a lot of visitors from Scotland joining in the celebrations many wearing kilts. After a pint of Guinness and a photo session we joined a small parade led by Graham of the Irish Times, dressed as St Patrick on a four bar pub crawl to Hemingway’s, Imprevisto, Sully’s bar and the Irish times. After a hearty Guinness at each bar we all made our way back to Dirty Nellie’s, to sample their Irish Stew, which was so delicious we ended up having two portions. Eilis had also organised a raffle with the proceeds going to The Cystic Fibrosis society. We all had a great time and the partying went on well into the night. Thanks to everyone who posed for the photographs, especially the Scotsman who proved that many wear nothing under the Kilt. I hope the ladies from Scotland, on holiday without their men folk, had a great time perhaps we will meet again one day and a big Hello goes to “Canada” and her husband - it was nice to meet you and we hope you enjoyed your stay.
 

   
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On March 18th Stars Dance School from Carvoeiro Clube de Tenis staged their show called “Move It” at Lagoa Auditorio. There were two performances at 2.30 and 6.00pm. with all types of dancing being performed. Ranging from Ballet, Tap and Jazz, to Salsa and Funk, it was performed brilliantly by all concerned. All age groups contributed to the show, from tiny tots to teenagers, adults, young and old, who all performed extremely well. Congratulations to all the teachers who give their time and patience to produce a show so successful. Anyone interested in joining any Dance classes should contact Carvoeiro Clube de Tenis. There are also many other interesting classes available, such as Tai Chi, Yoga, Aerobics, Fitball, a fully equipped Gym with a qualified Trainer, a slimming club, which is held once a week and for those who wish to learn Portuguese a language teacher is available.
 

 
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The EDP is busy relaying new cables on the old road to Sesmarias starting at the Madonna and continuing along the road, in the direction of Lagoa and also a lot of work being done improving the drainage at the Lagoa end. We thought they were re-laying new water pipes but it looks more like a dam. There are huge stones being put into wire cages, which are then laid into the ground and they are then building a wall around the edge of it. Very interesting to watch and is a work of art but no one seems to know the exact purpose – I tried to ask the workers but they seemed to speak neither Portuguese nor English. Hopefully it will be completed before the season starts as the man with the STOP and GO sign sometimes disappears leaving you to take life in your own hands when manoeuvring around the machinery.
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There is still no sign of the square in Carvoeiro being changed and work has still not started on the road out of town. I will keep you informed on developments.

Have a great Easter.

Carol