Newsletter May 2006

  by: Karen Telling

The warm, sunny weather at the end of March continued into the first few days of April, on Saturday 1st we took my mother-in-law to Algar Seco Bistro for dinner – taking advantage of the lighter evenings to admire the view of the coastline at sunset. The restaurant was very busy – obviously lots of people had the same idea! The following day we had a barbecue and it was warm enough for several of our guests to have a swim, followed by an impromptu table tennis tournament - unfortunately we were all beaten by a 13 year old!

The fine weather broke on Tuesday 4th; however the cooler temperatures and sharp showers didn’t stop us having lunch at Bar Bacchus in Porches with friends. The bar was busy as usual, and we enjoyed the home made soup and enormous salads that they serve.

The good weather returned for the weekend and we took my parents and mother-in-law to Galé beach for lunch, it was a beautiful day and the beach was very busy with lots of people sunbathing and swimming, and fishermen balancing precariously on the large rocks and boulders. We had lunch at Pedras Amarelas beach bar, at first glance it appeared to be full, but after a short wait we were shown to a table on the terrace with a great view of the beach, and we spent a very pleasant few hours people-watching and enjoying the delicious, fresh seafood.


On Tuesday evening we went to Cheers for cocktails and rosti – delicious and excellent value as usual, and the following evening we were invited to a barbecue by Roy4eyes. His wife, Carol, was totally unaware that her son was arriving for a surprise visit, and that Roy had arranged the barbecue to welcome him. We had a lovely evening with some of the other forum regulars, and Carol’s surprise (and maybe shock) was evident as we all arrived with our contributions of salads, potatoes etc to add to the mountain of sausages, chicken and ribs that Roy provided.

We took advantage of both us having a day off on Good Friday, and decided to paint the living room. We got up bright and early, moved the furniture, covered everything with dust sheets and got the paint and rollers out – to save masking the windows my husband decided to take them out of the frames – and we set to work. The morning had started out overcast, and the weather quickly deteriorated until a howling gale was blowing rain through the gaps where the windows should have been - of all the lovely days we had had recently, we had to choose the wettest, coldest day to re-decorate! That evening our reward for all our hard work was a few cocktails in Rascals, it was still quite a blustery evening, but we had a warm welcome from Rachel and Sergio.

Fortunately the weather improved on Easter Saturday as the big day had dawned at last – The Inaugural Car Treasure Hunt! We arrived at Fatacil to meet my parents – the other half of our team – and collect our instructions, we were one of the last to set off and were given the clockwise route, heading towards Portimão then turning off towards Monchique. Our first stop was at the natural spring at Caldas de Monchique, where we had to collect a sample of the famous water, then on to Monchique itself in search of a ‘chopper’! From Monchique we climbed up to Foía, the highest point in the Algarve – the views are spectacular, but the temperature was noticeably lower than near the coast. We then made our way down to the Quinta de São Bento where a very confused Portuguese woman was wondering why they were suddenly so popular (the building was previously the summer residence of the Portuguese royal family – the answer to one of the questions).

Registration - please find the photos here

One of our next stops was a bar in the middle of the countryside, where a young boy was waiting for us. According to our instructions we were looking for Wendolin, and although he didn’t speak any English he indicated that we should follow him. We had no idea who Wendolin was, but we went round the side of the bar, and up some steep steps cut into the side of the hill, at the top we finally found Wendolin – a pig. And there was us wondering if it was going to turn out to be the owner of the bar! We went back to the bar and ordered a round of drinks while looking at the general knowledge questions that we also had to answer. They all related to Portugal and Portuguese history, fortunately my parents had recently spent a weekend in Lisbon and they were able to provide the answers to quite a few of the questions.

Caldas da Monchiques / Wendolin - please find the photos here

We left the bar, and must have left our concentration behind too, as we missed quite a few of the following clues, however, we thought we were back on track when looking for the ‘orange seller’. We stopped at what we thought was the right place and bought our kilo of oranges – but the clue asked for the name of the woman selling the oranges, and we were served by an elderly man! Undaunted we got back in the car only to see another orange stall a few hundred metres further on, so we stopped again. This time mum and dad got out, bought a kilo of oranges and asked the woman her name – she looked at us as if we were mad so we gathered we still hadn’t found the right place. Directly across the road was another fruit stall and the couple there seemed to be looking at us expectantly, so we turned the car round and bought yet another kilo of oranges. This time the woman happily told me her name, which was quite unusual, and even spelt it for me so we got back into the car satisfied that we had answered that question correctly at last.

We headed back to Fatacil and dropped mum and dad off to go home and walk their dogs, whilst we went into Carvoeiro to pick my mother-in-law up as she was going to accompany us back to Fatacil for the dinner and prize giving. We were almost last to get back and arrived just as the soup was being served. After the first course had been cleared away Thunderbolt and Gambrinus started handing out the prizes – unfortunately we didn’t win anything but forum regular Steve and his family, ably assisted by their golden retriever, were the winners.

During the rest of the meal we compared answers with the other teams, and found that we didn’t do too badly overall, but despite 3 visits and 3 kilos of oranges we still hadn’t found the right orange seller! I wonder what those three stallholders thought we were doing, buying 1 kilo of oranges from each of them – and none of them were in on the joke!

The meal continued with a choice of main course, followed by a selection of desserts, coffee and liqueurs, the food was plentiful with waiters continually re-filling our plates and replacing empty wine bottles with full ones – unbeatable value and an ideal place for us to end up to discuss the day. I understand the party continued at Rascals, but, lightweights that we are, we went straight home to put our feet up. Roy4eyes, Gambrinus and Thunderbolt had spent months organising the event, and thanks to them, we raised 500 euros for the orphanage in Albufeira, as well as having a lot of fun in the process.

Roy4eyes / Fatacil - please find the photos here

the winning team - please find the photos here

Easter Sunday was another beautiful, sunny day and we took my mother-in-law to my parents’ house, where we enjoyed a lovely lunch sitting out on their terrace in the peace and quiet of the countryside. The following week continued warm and sunny and we ate out at Maxines on Monday evening with friends, Bella Vita on Tuesday, A Vela on Friday and Ele Ela on Saturday – all excellent as usual. The weekend turned cloudy and showery, and unusually for here, we had a ‘uk style’ barbecue on Sunday – dodging the clouds and the showers - although it stayed dry for us to eat outside in the afternoon.

The last week of the month was warm and sunny again, Tuesday 25th was a bank holiday commemorating the anniversary of the revolution in 1974, so the village was busy with quite a few North Portuguese taking advantage of the long weekend. As it was my mother-in-law’s last evening we went to O Cantinho for dinner, then on to Havana for a nightcap. The next day my husband picked her up in plenty of time for her flight back to Gatwick, he waited while she checked in and made sure everything was ok before returning home. I was checking the Faro website departure board, expecting to see the flight was boarding, when it suddenly flashed up ‘cancelled’! At first we wondered if they had made a mistake, but after a call to the airport we found out that the incoming flight had been diverted to Lisbon due to fog at Faro. The airline planned to take the passengers to Lisbon by coach, but as it was already 9.30 in the evening we decided to go back and pick her up, and re-book her flight for the following evening. I know she had enjoyed her stay, and had talked about extending her visit, but what a way to squeeze in an extra day’s holiday! Thankfully the flight took off on time the following day without any further problems.

On Saturday 29th we were back at the airport – my husband was flying back to the UK for ten days, leaving me in sole charge of the house and animals, and hoping for a quiet and uneventful week!