Newsletter November 2007

  by: Carol Carpenter


A gloomy start to October as it rained for the first few days, but Carvoeiro is still very busy and parking is just as difficult. This morning, I decided to park at the top of the village and walk down to the square. About a quarter of the way down is B&A ( Barth and Aleixo Villa Management.) and on the walls of this building are beautiful hand painted tiles, painted by Patrick Swift an Irish painter who emigrated to Portugal in 1962. This particular building belonged to a friend of his and was a Bed and Breakfast for many years. Patrick set up the Pottery at Porches, which led to a revival of the regional craft and made a huge contribution to the popularisation of the Algarve, and the beauty of its landscape, history and culture. He died in 1983 and his final resting place can be found in the tiny churchyard, across the road from the church in the town centre.
Porches Pottery is now run by Patrick’s two daughters Julie and Stella, both ceramic decorators in their own right. The glazing, painting and firing is all done on site and on weekdays you can watch the lady decorators painting their designs freehand (no two pieces are the same). All the decorators are local to the village of Porches and they have worked in the pottery for many years. I love to browse around and then have lunch at the adjoining Café / Bar Bacchus which is run by Morag. They have delicious home-made soups, a selection of jacket potatoes (my favourite being bacon and mushroom in a delicious cream sauce.) the cheese platters are delightful as are the smoked salmon and prawns.

As I carried on down the road I came across a new fishing tackle shop Loja do Pesca. This shop stocks several aquariums and also sells live bait. I wanted advice about an aquarium for our lounge so I went in to enquire, Rui Mimoso the owner was very helpful and made a lot of enquiries with regards to my request, but unfortunately as the alcove is quite wide but not very deep it cannot be done. I was very disappointed, because it would have made a lovely feature and I find fish very relaxing to watch. Rui said that he was kept very busy this summer I hope it continues.

You can find these and more  photos in large formats here [opens new window]

Further down the road is a new butchers shop, now called Blue Rock, only recently taken over by South African John Mathers, who advised me that he opens on Monday 5th November. I am really looking forward to sampling their meat and have always wanted to try biltong. I have a friend who is South African who simply adores it so I must give it a try. Apparently South African meat is superb, but of course she would say that wouldn’t she !!

There is also a new shop in Lagoa, The Party Factory and if anyone is thinking of having a celebration this is the shop for you. I have just bought all we require there for my fathers 85th birthday, even the weights that hold the balloons. They have absolutely every thing and can also arrange themed parties for the children. If you want more information contact them Tel/Fax 282353257, Mob 962152396 or

I have also discovered a really great shop, Aladdins Cork Centre Boutique in the village. We had a Dinner Dance on the 13th October and as it was DJ’s for the men I needed an evening gown. Before driving all the way to Algarve shopping I decided to first look around Carvoeiro. I wasn’t too hopeful as most of the clothes in the village are mainly for the younger set. Aladdins has been there for many years and I have often been inside to browse around, mainly for handbags and jewellery, but was unaware of the enormous selection of evening gowns they have. This is probably due, to the fact, that although we have been living in the Algarve for the past five years, this is the first posh event we have ever been invited to. How wrong I was - Aladdins had plenty of gowns all very beautiful in small and large sizes. Trust me though to be drawn to the styles in the smaller sizes. With a shake of the head from the owner, who was in the shop at the time, I hastily moved on to the larger sizes. Shock horror - all those cream teas in August, definitely did nothing for the figure, I am never having another cream tea – ‘Yeah’ and pigs might fly !!
After trying on nearly every dress in my size, I was getting more than a little despondent when the assistant brought over a dress that I had walked past and dismissed several times. I shook my head and carried on browsing through the gowns. By now I was feeling very fed up and wished we had never decided to go to the dinner dance in the first place. Once again the assistant brought the dress to me. Oh well, I suppose I could try it. Burgundy was not the colour I wanted, but as I was now getting a little depressed, I agreed to try it on. Would you believe it! I was amazed it fitted perfectly, hiding all the lumps and bumps and the burgundy colour was simply stunning. Getting a nod of approval from the assistant whom I should have listened to in the first place, we agreed this was the dress for me. Now I needed shoes. The adjoining shop had a beautiful pair of silver shoes, but unfortunately they never had a matching handbag. After paying for the dress and shoes and feeling really pleased, I crossed the road and made my way too the next bag shop. There, staring at me was a bag exactly the same colour as the shoes wonderful I had bought a complete outfit locally, which not only saved me time but also money, as they were all very reasonably priced.
Unfortunately, this whole event was fated, as Roy had to return to the UK to move our boat and get his validation certificate for flying, so I never did get to wear the dress.
At the beginning of October we took a boat trip on the Ria Formosa Natural Park, which stretches along about half of the eastern Algarve coastline – 60km in total covering an area of over 18,000 hectares. The outer boundary is formed by a line of sand dune islands, which host the fabulous long golden beaches. These barrier islands protect a huge tidal lagoon, which is at it’s widest between Faro and Olhao. The best view you will probably get is, as your plane banks over the coast, to land at Faro airport (sit on the right hand side of the plane). From the air, it is a stunning patchwork of green islets, blue lagoons and white beaches.
The Ria Formosa Natural Park is of particular importance to bird life: as a breeding ground for many species, a wintering ground for many birds from northern Europe, a resting and feeding station for birds migrating between Africa and Europe and as a habitat for several species threatened elsewhere in Europe. The park is also important for its rich salt-resistant flora and as a breeding ground and nursery for many marine species.
Our trip started at Porta Nova pier in Faro and our boat was called Sultana.

You can find these and more  photos in large formats here [opens new window]

We enjoyed a calm two and half hour trip through the canals observing the fishing, the abundance vegetation and of course the birds. There were Spoonbill, Oystercatchers, Little egret, white Stork, Little Grebe, Shoveler, Dunlin, Mallard, a Cormorant Colony, Great Cormorant, the rare purple Gallinule, Flamingo, and Grey Heron. It was a fantastic trip. On our way to Ilha Deserta we passed by the island of Ilha da Culatra. On this island there is a large population of fisherman who reserve the right to live there. They have built many houses and live in there own little community. At one end of the island live the deep- sea fishermen, in the middle are the shell-fishermen and the other end is reserved for tourists and locals with holiday homes. We spent about an hour on Ilha Deserta, walking around and collecting some of the beautiful shells we had found and paddling in the sea. Also on the island there is a newly built restaurant, although a little on the expensive side - especially for the local fish. We had arranged lunch in Faro this time, but would all love to visit the island again and perhaps have lunch at this restaurant.
If you are interested in visiting Ilha Deserta to spend the day you can take the ferry over, they leave at 10am and 1pm. If you prefer to go on the nature tour they run all year round and leave at 11am and 3pm. Contact 00351-918779155 or email


We have also just returned from a trip to Quinta Nova Cork Estate, Corouche and Quinta da Atela Winery, Alpiarca.
We were not too impressed with the wine tour but the cork tour was brilliant. We were first taken to the Rankin family home, an absolutely stunning house, as you will see from the photographs. On arrival we were welcomed with drinks and delicious canapés and after this we were given a brief talk about the Rankin family. They are an independent family run Company, who originated from Scotland supplying closures and merchandising products to the packaging industries at home and abroad. Founded in 1774, the Company has a long and proud association with beer, wines and spirits industries. Rankin is the only UK based cork company to own and manage over 6,000 acres of cork forestry in the Alentejo region of Portugal. Cork is a unique, natural, renewable resource stripped from the tree once every nine years. A single tree will continue to yield cork for up to 250 years. Portugal produces 85% of the worlds cork.
We were then taken on a tour of the factory and shown the process of how wine corks are made. The first stage is to boil the sheets of cork for one and a half hours to make them more pliable and easier to cut. The wine corks are then punched out, the surplus goes through several processes to make champagne corks and corks for better quality wines. Nothing is ever wasted and the dust from the cork is used as fuel. The work that goes into making just one cork is awesome. Now when I open a bottle of wine I will certainly look at the cork in a different light. I found the tour really interesting, vowing never to buy any wine with synthetic or screw tops again. A few years ago I remember going to Fabrica de Ingles in Silves where, after the visit we were led to believe that cork producing was a dying trade, this is not so, it is still very much a thriving business. Afterwards we all enjoyed a very good meal at a local restaurant.

You can find these and more  photos in large formats here [opens new window]

BLIP (Better living in Portugal) 2007 was once again held in Portimao’s ExpoArade on the weekend 13th/14th of October. Nearly 8,000 people attended and it was another resounding success. A large array of products and services were available at the exhibition, which featured 166 exhibitors occupying 263 stands.
Visitors were offered advice on a diverse range of subjects, including property, insurance, beauty, healthcare and finance. Large and small businesses were on hand to show off their products including food, Christmas goodies, furniture, clothing, hot tubs and much more. The busiest stands while I was there were Luzdoc, who were busy giving flu jabs and also testing for high cholesterol and osteoporosis, Borleys pies, Magna Carta books, Collections and Shoes & Cards 4U.
The best in show and highly commended stalls were, Adam Ainscough from Expression Photography, Henrique Pinheiro from Medal, Scott and Charlotte Thornycroft from Rococco Natural Stone and Tim Gurnett and Dra. Maria Alice from Luzdoc. Visit for full coverage of the event.
More than 2,000 people participated in the seventh Mamamaratona, a marathon run or walk of five or eight kilometres which also took place at ExpoArade on Sunday 14th
A friend and I walked the eight kilometres and it took us 1hr 15mins. Next year our aim is to walk it in 1hr.!! This annual event, organised by the Associacao Oncologica do Algarve (the Algarve’s cancer association), aims to raise funds for AOA’s projects in the region. Previous Mamamaratonas raised enough funds to by a mobile unit that has been used since June 2005 to detect breast cancer in women across the Algarve.
Isilda Gomes, Civil Governor of Faro, said “This group of men and women who carry out such an important event deserve all of our support and thanks as they are doing something we should all do, which is to help people have a better life.”
For more information about this event, please visit
Algar Seco BistroBar is to have new management. I had gone in for coffee after my usual walk and was told that they were closing at the end of November. The restaurant will re-open in December with complete new staff. Joao who has been there for many years is extremely upset, but is now looking for new premises in the town centre. Apparently the new management are from Club Atlantico. I do hope they will still do morning coffee, as my father will be gutted if they don’t.

05-11-2007 Note from Algar Seco; The BistroBar will be closed end of November and we will open on December 22nd with the new management headed by two partners, the ex headwaiter of La Bella Vita at the Clube Atlantico together with a chef from Luxembourg. It has nothing to do with Clube Atlantico management. We will continue to offer coffees, breakfast, Portuguese food, lunches, dinners, snacks as usual.

Last but not least, there is a new Café Restaurant that has just opened on the out road of Carvoeiro just before you get to the junction on the left. Troppo owned by Fernando Costa, has a very good varied menu with all the pasta made on the premises. They have a really good take away menu it consists of Pizza, Salads, Calzone and Baguettes and the main menu also looks good and is reasonably priced This is a very modern restaurant, cool and bright, contemporary in design and very tastefully furnished. Upstairs is the main restaurant with the lower floor mainly for coffee and snacks. I was made to feel very welcome by the young assistant, who also gave me coffee and then showed me around. Whilst having coffee I asked if they would mind having their photo taken for the newsletter and they were very happy to oblige. Also posing for the newsletter were our friends Peter Home and John Prout who had popped in for coffee, before suffering another Portuguese lesson that morning. I never witnessed any alcohol being consumed so they must have felt confident. It is normal for me to have a very large vodka and tonic before my lessons and that’s just to get me through the door.

You can find these and more  photos in large formats here [opens new window]

I did notice the lack of comments or constructive criticism after my last newsletter so let’s hope I’m not boring you all?