Newsletter September 2006

  by: Karen Telling

The beginning of August saw very high temperatures, in the mid-late thirties every day, and still mid-twenties at night, the most dangerous time of year for fires to break out. The local bombeiros in Lagoa have been on fire watch for several weeks with fire-fighters living in the station for 24 hours a day, in shifts of up to 5 days at a time. Fortunately there have only been a few, small fires in the Algarve, although there have been more serious outbreaks in the north of Portugal, particularly around Oporto, involving thousands of fire-fighters and destroying thousands of acres of forest. The bombeiros get very little government funding and numerous events are held all along the Algarve to raise money to provide vital equipment for the local fire station – if you see any events advertised whilst you are here, your support would be very much appreciated.

This is also the peak time for visitors to the Algarve with holidaymakers from the north of Portugal and all over Europe, all making the most of the lovely weather and beautiful beaches - even President Cavaco Silva and Prime Minister José Socrates were spotted enjoying a break in the Algarve! Carvoeiro seemed as busy as usual and there was a great atmosphere in the square in the evenings – especially when there was live music on the stage!

On Saturday 5th we went to one of the garden centres on the N125 to get some new plants for the garden. On the way back to Carvoeiro, the traffic stopped as we approached Lagoa, and as there were lots of GNR officers about we assumed that there had been an accident at the traffic lights. We pulled up and were waiting for the traffic to clear, when the officers came past, signalling for all the vehicles to move over to the side of the road – we were expecting to see ambulances or fire engines arrive, but in fact they were making way for the cyclists taking part in the 68th annual Volta à Portugal race. The riders had just left Portimão Sardine Festival on the first stage of the race and they whizzed past us, accompanied by their support vehicles carrying spare bikes, tyres etc. A total of 149 cyclists in 17 teams took part, and just this initial stage was 186 km from Portimão, along the N125 to Loulé, then up into the mountains as they crossed into the Alentejo towards the finish of this stage in Beja. With temperatures of around 34 degrees the riders had quite a journey ahead of them!

The next morning I got some sad news from England, and started to make plans to go back for a family funeral – my first trip to the UK for almost two years. It’s not easy to book a flight back in the middle of August, but eventually I managed to get a seat on a plane to Gatwick in time to attend the funeral. Just after I had booked the flights the news broke of the alleged terrorist plot, and the new security restrictions that came into force, as I was only going to be away for a few days I had planned to travel light, with just hand luggage, but that was no longer a possibility! There were flight delays and cancellations at Faro for a few days, but fortunately not the major disruption seen at Heathrow, and by the time I arrived to catch my flight the restrictions had been relaxed slightly, so I was able to take my mobile phone and newspaper in my handbag onto the plane as usual – only liquids were banned. I had been warned that the weather in the UK had turned quite autumnal, but even though we landed quite late in the evening, I was surprised to find it was much warmer than I had expected. The funeral went as well as could be expected, and the return journey was delayed slightly, but otherwise uneventful. I was pleased to get back to the Algarve, but had taken advantage of the trip to stock up on a few things that are difficult to find here, including a ‘clicker’ to treat insect bites and stings – I hadn’t seen these before and it has proved very effective, well worth bringing on your next summer holiday to Carvoeiro.

The week before I left, there had been some misty early mornings, keeping the temperature down until the sun broke through just before lunchtime, but whilst I was in the UK I heard that the weather in the Algarve had turned a little cooler and showery, and on my first morning back I woke up to a cloudy sky– not what I was expecting at all! About mid-morning the heavens opened, and it rained heavily for about half an hour, my husband had gone to Slide and Splash with friends staying in Carvoeiro, and they managed to jump into the hot tub for the duration of the heavy shower. The rain took everyone by surprise, and it remained slightly cool, even when the sun re-appeared.

The following evening we went to Cheers for drinks and Rost, with friends, then after stopping for an ice cream, made our way to the square to hear Klonakilty playing. There was a good crowd dancing and singing along – and no evidence of the ‘drains’ smell – but the temperature was still much cooler than usual and we had to retire to Piu for cups of coffee and glasses of red wine to warm us up again. Fortunately, the next morning dawned bright and sunny again, and the short spell of unsettled weather was over.

My return to the Algarve coincided with the opening of FATACIL in Lagoa (Feira de Artesanato, Turismo, Agricultura, Comércio e Indústria de Lagoa) by President Cavaco Silva, which runs for 10 days each August. This is the biggest annual event in Lagoa and is similar to an English County Show with a mixture of trade stands, craft stalls and opportunities to try traditional food and drinks - there are also horse and dog shows, and livestock on display. The craft stands are particularly interesting with beautiful stained glass, woven baskets, wood carvings, pottery, lace embroidery, and items made from cork. Each night there is live music on a stage next to the open-air restaurants – this year the crowds were entertained by, among others, Kalulu, Santos e Pecadores, Xutos e Pontapés – and Boney M! Hundreds of cars are parked along the N125 every night as crowds arrive from all over the surrounding area – although you can park in car parks for 2 euros!

On 22nd we were invited to Hemingways for drinks to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday – as we drove through the village we could see the square was already set up for the festival of Nossa Senhora de Encarnação which takes place at the end of August every year. There used to be lots of market stalls going up Estrada do Farol, but since last year there are now just a few stalls on the square, plus a small roundabout for children. We visited Fatacil on the last day, Sunday 27th, then went into Carvoeiro for the Nossa Senhora de Encarnação procession, and managed to get seats at our usual vantage point on the terrace of Matabixo. The procession, including a marching band, comes down from the church, along Rua do Barranco, then back down Rua dos Pescadores, across the square and back up the hill to the church again. Around midnight there are fireworks signifying the end of the festival – and the end of the summer!


Please find all the photos here (opens new window)

Following last month’s saga of the car tax stamp, it appears that the situation is still not resolved. The deadline for purchasing the stamp was extended to mid August, but the Finanças have still not sent out all the stamps that were bought online, and although the deadline for displaying the stamp has also been extended from the end of August to the end of September, the police have already started fining drivers who do not have a current stamp displayed on their windscreen! I am glad I was able to get mine at the Freguesia - beware anyone who thinks that moving to the Algarve will mean a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle!

On 29 August our dog, Barney, had to have a fairly serious operation, and was kept in overnight until the wound stopped bleeding – as when he was hit by a car earlier in the year, I will have to be with him all the time for the next couple of weeks while he recovers. As I will hardly be able to step outside the front door, it will give me the perfect excuse to catch up on all the books I brought back from my recent trip to England!