Newsletter July 2005

  by: Nigel Anteney Hoare

June – the real start to the holiday season here in Carvoeiro and usually some very hot weather! We returned from the UK on 6th June and were staggered by the difference in temperature compared to that when we left.

My sister and brother in law had arrived in our absence to take up their quarter-share period at Rocha Brava. They had travelled by car via the Portsmouth/Bilbao ferry having had a very rough crossing. Following a pleasant trip through Spain into Portugal they arrived in Carvoeiro to be met with high temperatures and, without the benefit of air conditioning in their villa, they were finding it too hot to sleep. I always maintain that the hottest spell each year is in June with the supposed, traditionally hot month of August much more bearable. Any readers suffering the same problem but who do not wish to install permanent air con may like to know that Paul Whitworth of OHMEGA air conditioning and electrical supplies in Lagoa, can offer the daily hire of free standing air con units for short periods.

This hot weather was accompanied by a strong, warm wind from the south east - the Levante, or S’oeste, which I mentioned in a previous news letter, returning to warm up the sea water to a very nice temperature indeed.

We decided to take a look at the new PLUS supermarket in Lagoa. It was like being dropped in Lidl in Silves! Even the goods were displayed in the same places! Same low prices as well. I managed to clear out the remaining stock of VAT 69 whisky at 5,99 Euros a bottle! More branded goods on the shelves though than Lidl, what seemed a very good butchery department all topped off with a great little coffee bar selling super bread and cakes. Apart from the effect it will have on the smaller shop this looks to be a bonus for residents and visitors alike. Be warned though, like Lidl only cash or Multibanco accepted and of course no free shopping bags!

The gastronomy festival and equestrian show held on the Fatacil site in Lagoa had finished and already work was underway to prepare for the main Fatacil show event held every year in August. This year I believe it will start on Friday 12 August and run for the usual 9 days. It is worth a look if you are around then. Be prepared for quite a bit of walking to see all the exhibits though!

As mentioned last month, occasional forest fires had been breaking out in the Algarve, quickly dealt with by the Bombeiros with helicopter support. On the 8th a large fire broke out behind Silves, the strong winds causing problems for the fire-fighters who eventually gained control. The Government have promised that 49 fire fighting aircraft will be available by July 1st and that this should be sufficient to deal with the problem. The main area affected until now had been further north with 900 hectares of forest being destroyed in the biggest conflagration seen for 10 years in the area of Figueira da Foz.

The very hot weather was bringing out the usual array of large lizards, chameleons and snakes crossing the country roads around Carvoeiro. I am not sure why they suddenly appear and do this - perhaps searching for water? In any event it seems crossing roads is not a snakes forté and you will often see the inevitable fatality as you drive around. I noticed a particularly large specimen which had been hit although seemed undamaged as I drove to work. I know many have a fear of snakes but I guess it is always sad to see wildlife of any description killed on the road. For the nervous I understand that there are no venomous snakes in the Algarve and even those that can give a nasty bite have their fangs set so far back in their mouth only a dentist would get into trouble!

The weekend of 11th and 12th was preceded by a national holiday - Dia de Portugal or also known as "Camões". This fell on the Friday so made a great long weekend for all. This day celebrates the life of Luis Vaz de Camões a 16th century Portuguese poet who died on June 10th 1580. The long weekend filled Carvoeiro with many Portuguese visitors from Lisbon who enjoyed the very hot weather with the sea warmed to a degree that I can't recall for many years.

On Sunday morning I went to see the Lagoa Juvenile football team play their last match of the season. My grandson plays in the team and, beaten in only one match all season, they had already won promotion needing this win to claim the league title. A good crowd had turned up including a gaggle of admiring young Lagoa beauties eying up the players. With a weak visiting team they duly managed a 7 - 1 victory with much celebrating following the final whistle. Like most councils, Lagoa supports its football club generally and youth football in particular and the Lagoa Mayor was there to present medals and sashes to the victorious players.

With family from both the Isle of Man and Norwich staying with us we decided to have dinner at CASA DO BIFE. Always busy this place and once again after the meal I wondered why we don't use it more often. My 8 year old niece was delighted to cook her junior sized, but still generous, steak on the hot stone and on the whole it was very good indeed if a little tight on space.

Saturday morning we made our annual pilgrimage to ILHA DESERTA, just off Faro. I mentioned this in last years newsletter but it is rather special and if you fancy something very different it is worth the journey. With a very pleasant 40 minute boat trip through the sandbanks of the Faro estuary it really is a pleasant day out. Again the sea was warm but a little too rough for the younger members of our group.

Catching the last boat back to Faro at 6pm and with a longish drive back to Carvoeiro, we decided to get pizzas from FORNO DE FRASER. We rang through our order and 45 minutes later I dropped in to see a busy Fraser putting the final touches to our food. All agreed that Frasers pizzas are "simply the best"!

The annual 3 day Lagoa Jazz Festival was held at this time at the dramatic location of the auditorium at the FONTES DE ESTOMBAR. We never got there this year but I understand the music was great. However, I believe the entrance tickets are too expensive at 10 Euros and should be more heavily subsidised by the local council and perhaps local businesses. I understand that Howard Bancroft ofSULLY and ROCHA BRAVA CAFÉ fame never handled the bar and catering this year and the quality suffered drastically as a result.

The week continued very hot and the lack of any water has made everything so very dry. As I walked my dog the grass crackled underfoot but it hasn't affected the fabulous displays of Bouganvilea everywhere which this year seem more colourful than ever. I couldn't resist taking a photo of a large almost wild specimen near Salicos. After 20 odd years I finally learned my lesson and have stopped pouring water on garden plants opting instead for low maintenance pebbled areas, rather than grass, with cactus and other succulent type plants here and there. With the water shortage saving water is the sensible option and I feel any new arrivals here should re-consider having grassed areas of gardens not only due to water problems but also the cost of mains water to keep it green.

On Friday 24th I played golf with my brother in law at Palmares golf course. This was the June monthly competition organised by Golf For Greys, the local golf society for the over 50's. We were paired with a long standing visitor to Carvoeiro, retired Irish dentist Victor Connolly who at 73 is still hitting a fine ball! A fabulous day and a fabulous course with breathtaking views across the bay towards Lagos. This must rank as one of the most beautiful locations for a golf course anywhere. To add to the enjoyment I didn't have a bad game! Golf for Greys has now over 700 members and continues to grow offering good discounts on all the Algarve courses for its members.

The heat continued with the town now pretty busy. Live music some nights in the square and very pleasant indeed to sit outside theGRAND CAFÉ sipping a drink or with a coffee and just "people watching". I spoke to Jan Zegers, owner of PIU/GRAND CAFÉ, MARTINS GRILL and O PÁTIO, who told me that he is again supporting the summer music with a large financial contribution but the printing of the programme by the council showing what is on and when, is delayed so nobody knows what is happening at the present time. Good to see it is happening at all anyway!

Last year we had taken a trip to the FIESA sand sculptures on the Pêra to Algoz road. It had been so hot that day that we decided to go later in the day this time and see the sculptures illuminated. This years theme is "Lost Worlds" but would have been better named "ancient civilizations" as it features the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians etc. The sculptures are simply amazing and well worth a look. Whilst it delightful to see them at night I think it is better during daylight when it is easier to see the incredible detail that the sculptors have managed to create. Well worth the 7 Euro entrance fee.

With my sister and brother in law nearing the end of their stay we decided, at last, to try L'ORANGE restaurant along with some friends of theirs from Norwich. We booked for 8pm and enjoyed a really fine meal in pleasant surroundings. One of the higher priced restaurants in the area but the quality of the food justifies it I think. The only fault we could find was the lengthy delays between courses however that also can be justified with the presentation and quality when it arrives!

In the final days of the month the heat returned in earnest although it was cooler at night allowing some rest. I had a quick tour round and took some photos of both Centianes and Carvoeiro beaches in full swing for you.

It was a gorgeous day with the Carvoeiro speed boat and "donut" rings passing Centianes beach on the blue sea with some happy holidaymakers on board! I also noticed that the new restaurant just before Rocha Brava still has a lot of work to do before it opens which doesn't look likely to be this summer.

MONA LISA has had an external facelift including a very sensible wheelchair/pushchair ramp for the less able and the new Italian restaurant VILLA MEDICI, next to PRIMAVERA, has been completed very tastefully and is now open giving even more choice in that part of the town.

Virtually at the end of the month I heard some very good news. Sally, wife of Flavio from SULLYS, had given birth to their new son Sean. A fine healthy baby! I took a photo of the proud dad, a motor racing fanatic, holding a digital image of the little boy that he insists will become the first Anglo-Portuguese Formula 1 driver!

Back at the end of July.