Newsletter December 2003
by: Nigel Anteney Hoare
|Whilst the very beginning of November started bright enough I will remember the month generally as stormy, wet and windy. It reminded me of the Novembers when I first came to Carvoeiro well over 20 years ago. Then it seemed traditional that all the tourists would disappear as if by magic on the Thursday nearest the 15th October - the last charter flights out - and almost as if the weather knew they had gone and it didn't need to stay sunny for them, the rain would set in. Often all November would be wet and we would look forward to Christmas which always seemed to be very mild and pleasant often with sunshine. Perhaps it is my memory playing tricks but then during the 90's it all seemed to change and whilst we had rain of course, November seemed often to stay dry.
This November was particularly memorable for a huge storm during the night of the 23rd/24th. reports of the rainfall vary from 7.5 centimetres to 8 inches! I can't say which was true but it sure rained very hard all night. I think most had to let water out of swimming pools and plenty of houses let water in. For the second month in a row I was reminded of the Great Carvoeiro Flood of 1989 which coincidentally also occurred at the end of November.
The next morning at about 8, on my way to work I drove down to the town from the direction of Centianes and a great flood of water was flowing down the Estrada do Farol towards the square. When I got there it was a bit chaotic. A heavy cast iron manhole cover was being juggled in the air on a spout of water where the drains clearly could not contain the deluge.
It was still raining heavily and turning by Smilers I was worried that we would suffer another flood as water was coming down Rua do Barranco like a river. I stopped just past CASSY'S BAR by the JUNTA DA FREGUESIA and took a photo, although it doesn't convey the amount of water.
Later that day the hard working women street sweepers started a clean up operation clearing all the silt that had been brought down. The drains seemed to cope although I understand some shops had water in. The problem in 1989 I believe was inadequate drainage much of which had been blocked by sand and other debris from the mass of construction work that had taken place in the 80's. Later that day I heard that Portimao had been badly hit with flooding in the old part of the town and 20 homes evacuated.
Speaking of construction, things have moved on apace in Carvoeiro despite the wet weather. The place next to the ICE CREAM SHOP is well under way and the new apartments along Rua do Barranco (the road OUT of town) are really taking shape with roofs being tiled now.
I also noticed on a dog walk, that surveyors stakes have been put in marking out plots on the lower part of the MONTE SERVO urbanisation. This is that part best seen when you are approaching Carvoeiro from Lagoa, just past CARLOS's CEPSA SERVICE STATION on the left hand side. It is by the wall that attracts Carvoeiro's graffiti artist and in front of the new modern style villa recently built. MONTE SERVO was started many years ago and lay dormant but lately some very attractive individual villas have sprung up there and it seems now that a lower level is to be built.
Back now to some news of what else has been happening. As I said the month started ok and on Saturday 1st November I couldn't resist joining some friends in Smilers at 9.30 a.m. to watch the Ireland v Australia rugby match. The lone Aussie, WOODY from SACL AIR CONDITIONING, was there surrounded by vocal Irish and many English and Scots who were also hoping to see Australia get a thrashing. GERALDINE and her capable staff had obviously been well aware of the interest in this game and were well prepared, flat out preparing English breakfasts, coffee and not a few pints of Guinness for the assembled crowd. The result is history and Woody of course managed to come away with a good, even in if some say lucky, result to see his team through to play the All Blacks in the semis.
That night with my wife away in England I sallied forth to see who was out and about. It was pretty quiet really and I dropped in to Sully's and had a couple of drinks and a word with PAT and FLAVIO. Flavio had great news about his 17 month baby son LUKE who has suffered from a rare and unusual illness from birth and remains in hospital. He had made great progress in the last few days and things were looking very positive for the future. There were a few tourists about whom I spoke to and seemed to be really enjoying their visit to an out of season Carvoeiro.
On the way back up the hill towards home I was drawn magnetically into the ROUND UP SALOON where it all seemed to be happening. I spotted some people at the bar whom I had net the previous Saturday. I can't recall names but one was a "dead ringer" for dear old Jeffrey Archer and had been spotted as such by my wife the previous week. He mentioned he was a carvoeiro.com subscriber so if he is reading this I send my regards to you and your good lady your Lordship! It was their last night on holiday having rented a villa with another family up towards the Areias das Moinhos area. I joined their company and we had a great time although probably a little too much was enjoyed by us all. Lord Archer's chum was hell bent on attempting some sort of Macieira record as I recall! They told me they had really enjoyed their stay in Carvoeiro and hoped to come back. More converts!
Things were clearly staring to slow down though and various bars and restaurants were considering their winter close down. I knew RASCALS was already shut and FRANK from LANTERNA VELHA had told me they would close on 1st December.
That week stayed fairly good weather-wise but on the following Saturday as I walked my dog, whilst the sky was clear there was a heavy morning mist hanging in the valleys and as we walked on dew sodden grass I could sense a change from Autumn to Winter.
On the 12th having worked late we ate at O CANTINHO. We had decided to hold our company Christmas Lunch there planned for Friday 20th December and it gave me chance to discuss things with them. They do very good prawns in a garlic sauce and they will definitely be on the menu. It was fairly quiet of course and the staff seemed to be enjoying a well earned break from the usual.
Again on the 14th work pressure meant late hours and we ate at LANTERNA VELHA for the last time before they close for their winter break. Frank explained that having bought the longest wheelbase Land Rover which I have ever seen to transport the victuals from market to kitchen, that means no special winter holiday for them!
On Friday 21st I was persuaded to make a rare visit to GUIA SHOPPING to see Love Actually at the Multiplex Cinema there. As was recently posted and discussed on the Forum, it is surprising how we get to see movies here before they are even premiered in London! That was true of Love Actually which I enjoyed and also Master and Commander. Also of course one pays only euro 4.50 to see a movie here against at least £4.50 in provincial UK.
Saturday came and I was too nervous to go to SMILERS for the big one - England v Australia so watched it at home! Nail biting stuff and my thoughts went out to Woody and the euro 100 he would have to give me on our bet! I hear that after the now famous Jonny Wilkinson drop goal and final whistle it was "scrum down" in Smilers with Woody underneath the lot, He has now taken his family on a well earned lengthy vacation "down under" perhaps to work out how it could have happened. Sorry Woody!
Following the storm which I mentioned at the start of the newsletter the weather turned much colder. By the end of the month we were seeing temperatures drop to 4 and 5 centigrade in the evening and walking the dog it was very pleasant to smell the wood smoke from open fires and wood burners. The town was getting very quiet by now, especially round the square. The ICE CREAM shop was shut for a while but now reopened, SULLYS was also closed, SMILERS was closing in the evening, COLOMBO'S closed, the CALIFORNIA PIZZERIA closed, CARVOEIRO BAR has been shutting Sundays for a few weeks but still has a warm welcome during the week. I am sure many of these will reopen in time for the Christmas holiday.
The Christmas illuminations are now up and lit in Portimao and Lagoa. Carvoeiro has made a modest attempt to get in the mood with a "welcome" illumination as you arrive from Lagoa and with others in the square. I just hope that the weather will be kind to the many part time residents and visitors who come for Christmas and the New Year and wish all carvoeiro.com readers a pleasant holiday and a peaceful 2004.