Newsletter September / October 2007

by: Carol Carpenter

August got off to a great start with a 40th birthday celebration for Jan from Ma Ja’s. We had arranged to meet with Lazerblazer and his wife one Thursday evening and decided on meeting at the restaurant. On arriving, Mark informed us that he had arranged a surprise for Jan at 10pm in Brady’s Irish Bar and he would be closing early so after our drinks we made our way to Brady’s Bar. Klonakilty were playing, as they do every Thursday and at 10pm just as they started their break they sang “Happy Birthday” with everyone joining in and - a lovely surprise for Jan. At midnight the Champagne bottles started popping and we all enjoyed the numerous glasses that followed. The Champagne, along with the other drinks consumed earlier, led to one almighty hangover the next day but it was a brilliant evening. Jan also received some really lovely gifts and we all had a great time with Klonakilty superb as usual, getting everyone singing along and joining in. Mark had also arranged with Roy a flight around the Algarve on Monday. Again Jan knew nothing of this and as Mark’s father loves to sit at airports and watch the planes, Jan’s first thought on arriving at Alvor, was that she would be spending a boring day watching planes. You can imagine her reaction when we arrived to actually take her flying!! It was a beautiful day, a little bumpy, but lovely and clear so I was also able to take pictures of the Monte Santo resort along with the new apartments being built above the Indian restaurant and Rascals Bar. On our return we had also arranged a bottle of Champagne, which of course we all thoroughly enjoyed.
That was the good part of August but it was definitely downhill from then on.
A few days later I asked Roy if he could transfer the photos onto the PC. Giving back the camera later he informed me he had wiped off the photos as I had asked. PANIC!!!! “No I never said that! I simply asked you to transfer the photos onto the PC.” Blank look from Roy with “Oh s—t” to follow.
Later that week we telephoned Jan and Mark to ask if they could possibly endure another flight and explained why. Heaps of laughter followed but they were thrilled at two trips for the price of one. Unfortunately though the weather had changed and it was not as clear, but at least I could repeat the photo shoot. On our return we again enjoyed yet another bottle of Champagne this time with the added bonus of a box of chocolates. I am sure Jan will have fond memories of her 40th birthday !!

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That same week we also enjoyed an evening of Folklore dancing, performed by 10 countries at the Auditorio de Lagoa. Countries such as Russia, Czech Republic, Latvia, Spain, Portugal and Canada were among those competing, it was very colourful, but due to the hiccup with the camera I am unable to produce any photographs - I am afraid we could not repeat this event.
There has also been a variety performance this summer. “Don’t applaud. Just throw money” said the wording on the progamme and that’s exactly what everybody did, raising 4,400 euros in aid of Castelo de Sonhos (Castle of Dreams) a charity based in Silves. What a night of variety it was, renowned guitarist, Raimundo Seixas along with Anibal Vinhas on viola and Tiago Valentim playing base guitar, opened the show with a sparkling selection of tunes and then provided the accompaniment for well- known Fado singer Jose Candido, who sang three of these traditionally emotional songs.
The audience were also entertained by ballet and modern dance pieces. The very funny Ian Carfrae, who not only skilfully held everything together as Master of Ceremonies, but also metamorphosed into a saxophone playing Pink Panther, much to everyone’s delight. There was enchanting and exotic dancing to Arabian music, rousing singing from the Lagoa Christian Fellowship Gospel Choir, Karen Carfrae who gave us the ‘Oom-Pah-Pah’song and the amusing sand dancers from Carvoeiro with their camel. Circo Pequeno’s Light Juggling act was wonderful. Talk about light fantastic, what a brilliant demonstration and judging by the comments around me, literally the highlight of the show! The event was brought to a close by singer Daryl Bye with his electric guitar and some favourite hits from our youth.
Dra. Liliana, who heads the charity, received a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the performers, whom she thanked and all those who supported their cause.
During the first week of August, Portimao held it’s famous Sardine Festival on the riverside. The air was filled with the sound of great music and appetizing aromas, which both the local population and the tourists found hard to resist. Everyone enjoyed grilled Sardines on the Portimao waterfront, whilst being entertained by numerous artists. There were also many handicraft stalls for you to browse around after dinner.
Along side this was a Marquee showing World Press Photo 2007. These were award winning photographs from Press and television many of which were photographs of the War in Iraq. They clearly captured the grief and the sadness, shown in the faces of women and children. Some were gruesome, showing many injured soldiers and civilians lying beside their vehicles, which had been blown apart. I was really saddened by these photographs. How lucky are we not to be living this nightmare!!

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This has really been a brilliant month for entertainment with the next event being The Silves Medieval Fair in which the whole town returned to the past to recreate the history and culture of the 11th 12th and 13th centuries. This year it was bigger than ever including many more activities and attracting tourists and visitors from all around the region. Each day the fair opened at 5.30pm allowing visitors to view the 200 stalls, selling arts and crafts, spices, herbal remedies dried fruit, food, drink and much more. There were around 1,000 Medieval costumes available at the ancient gates to the city, for visitors to borrow until midnight each evening. Attractions and activities during this seven-day fair included daily Medieval tournaments in the Park Al-Mutamid, acrobats, belly dancers, jesters and fire jugglers who wandered the city, with a Medieval band of drummers. Locals and tourists were feasting on chicken, pork and sausages some being served on leaf shaped wooden plates. There were many banquets and we wished we hadn’t eaten earlier. We came across a Bedouin tent, where we enjoyed mint tea and delicious but very sweet pastries, whilst sitting on cushions around low tables. Roy, especially, enjoyed smoking the hookah as you will see in the photos. I gave it a go, but after choking, turning green and feeling a little high - the Arab waiter had assured me it was harmless - I handed it back to Roy who by now was looking a little glassy eyed.
Silves is full of history and well worth a visit at any time, but the medieval fayre gives you a unique glimpse into the past. We shall definitely visit next year wearing costume.

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This year was the 28th annual Fatacil fair and was again a great success. Held at Parque de Exposicoes in Lagoa, this fair is a little like BLIP (Better living in Portugal) but consisting mainly of Portuguese commercial companies and industry, along with exhibitors of commercial art and animal breeders from agriculture and cattle breeding sectors. Each day is dedicated to a particular Institution or Charity. During the 10-day fair visitors are invited to compete in various competitions and watch the evening concerts, which include popular Portuguese singers and bands. Open each day from 4 p.m. until 1 a.m. there were also many stalls to browse around and always plenty of regional Restaurants from which to choose.
The St Patrick’s Society recently held it’s annual End of Summer Party at the house of Iggy and Jenny Gannon in Val d’el Rei attended by 60 guests.
Following welcome cocktails and a superb range of canapés, guests enjoyed an excellent dinner comprising this year, instead of the traditional suckling pig, of a selection of hot dishes followed by a range of sweets prepared by volunteer members. The free bar ensured that everyone was on good form and the entertainment was provided by fire-eating belly dancers, who then persuaded some guests to try belly dancing. Roy was one of them, as you will see in the photos supplied, eventually winning a bottle of whiskey for the best male belly dancer. After all the alcohol there were (un)fortunately no volunteers for fire eating !!
The Society has also recently enjoyed a visit to “Quinta do Morgado de Torre. This Adega is situated along the road opposite the Penina Meridian Hotel in Alvor. We were lucky to be visiting during the harvesting and were able to see the grapes being pressed. Set in 23 hectres of vineyard the soil, clay and sand they produce 100,000 litres of wine, which is mostly sold in the Algarve, but also, belying the poor reputation of Algarve wines in general, have won several prizes at International Wine Fairs. The oak barrels are used up to 4yrs and then replaced by new oak. It was really interesting watching all the equipment working as they explained the process to us even giving us a bunch of grapes to eat during the tour. There is a very interesting shop attached to the Adega where you can buy the wine along with other produce. “Alvor” is on the bottle and it’s also sold in Sanipina in Lagoa. Afterwards we all enjoyed lunch at restaurant “Solar do Farol which is about a mile from the Adega.

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The International Algarve Fair was held at Fatacil. This was a 2-day event Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 8pm. Over 150 stands and exhibits with everything for home garden and lifestyle along with all day entertainment. Although a much smaller fair than Fatacil 2007 it still attracted many visitors. The Arena featured fifteen food and drink outlets with everything from authentic Cornish Pasties, Indian curry, Pizzas, Kebabs, Sea Food, Traditional English Steak and Chicken Pies and a South African barbecue. The entertainers were Oo-Boop-I-Do-1920’s band, Brazilian Dance Group, Moroccan belly dancer, Russian Musical Group, Cristina Afonso Jazz Band and many more. Klonakilty Irish Band were the star band for Sunday evening, -appearing again after rave reports from 2006.
We normally support this Irish Band, but were invited to join the party at Casa Gevera in Val d’el Rei the home of Joyce, who is President of Vale do Milho Golf Club. What a fantastic party it was. There was a great atmosphere and the food was plentiful. The entertainment from the U.K was “Bella Finesse” they were brilliant singing songs from the 60’s with everyone dancing the night away. Many thanks, Joyce, for a superb evening.
Another party we attended was to celebrate our friend Kevin’s 50th birthday. It was held at Tivoli Almansor Hotel in Carvoeiro. This is a superb hotel situated at the very top of restaurant hill. It has the most amazing view over- looking the bay beyond from the bar and restaurant areas. On arrival we enjoyed Buck’s Fizz and Champagne then the most delicious buffet followed. Everything including, Crayfish, Langoustines and giant Prawns to Smoked Salmon and Tuna, with delicious salads, Lamb cutlets, Pork and turkey. Followed by an array of delicious desserts and ice cream. There was also a huge birthday cake. We were entertained by a very good Dutch band who, normally play at Chico-Ze in Lagos. We all had a great evening and wish Kevin many years of joy with his present - a new boat.
I have included photos of the Lagoa canal as we call it. Apparently this is taking the partly treated water from the new “Water treatment works” along and across the field to Fatacil, we then think it is taken underground to Armacao and then into the sea. I personally think it is an eyesore and also dangerous to animals and people because of it’s depth. This field is always water logged during the winter so perhaps the idea is to help to drain it.
I have also included photos of “ The Island Café” at Presa de Mouro in Sesmarias, very nice but we thought quite expensive and there is also a new Victor Picado hair salon on the site.

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Carvoeiro, has been really busy this year and according to the local shops, they have done much better than last year. Every time we have been in the village the restaurants have been full, as have all the bars. Roy and friends were in the village to watch the firework competition at the end of August, which they all thought were excellent. I was in the U.K at the time, camping with the Grandchildren, which was fantastic fun. We camped on two working farms at Corfe Castle in Dorset and the weather was glorious. Unfortunately, after all the naughty food i.e. cream teas, ice cream with clotted cream on top and of course fish and chips, I am now on a diet - but it was worth it!! Although it was brilliant fun, it was also tiring, as there were six children the second week. Apologies to “BaggysallyJane,” I forgot to take your address details with me but I am definitely looking forward to joining them again during their visit next week.
Thanks go to my grandchildren - who I know read this newsletter - along with friends and family who made the holiday so fantastic. I really look forward to the next time.

This last paragraph is where I lost all of my work last time, so I shall say goodbye now just in case.