Newsletter April 2003


by: Nigel Anteney Hoare

The newsletter usually takes shape on a continuous basis during the month. That way it is easier to recall any newsworthy items and of course it avoids the last minute panic to supply the Webmaster with his editorial! On this point, if any Carvoeiro residents are subscribers to the Newsletter and have any snippets of news, gossip, scandal, recommendation - in fact anything true and of interest they should bang it down the email tube to me via the webmaster.

This usual pattern has been interrupted this month as I spent the second week of March in the UK on holiday/business. I went with my family and we visited places as "far" afield as Bristol, Ipswich, London, Isle of Man and Southampton, so were able to enjoy the vagaries of the, albeit southern, English winter/spring. To be fair the weather was pretty good - largely dry and not too cold. What was apparent as always to me was the cost of maintaining a social lifestyle which many of us take for granted living here in Portugal/Carvoeiro. In particular we found eating out in the UK expensive in comparison with here. I find the rule of thumb is that the sterling amount spent in the UK is the same as the Euro amount here. That is of course a generalisation but we can eat well here in the Algarve as a family of 4, with 2 children that consume as much if not more than us (not the wine thankfully!) for anywhere between 40 and 80 Euros including wine, soft drinks etc etc. The best deal I managed in the UK was about £65 for the same sort of tuck! In fact if you look around in Carvoeiro/Lagoa area you can eat even cheaper than I have mentioned - and of course much dearer as well. What you should do if you are a planning a visit to Carvoeiro is check out the pages to find the best deals.

On the subject of food, which is dear to me as anyone who has seen my waistline can verify, I believe the overall quality of food and service here in Carvoeiro is excellent. Sure you will get the odd "moans" and problems but I think most restaurants/bars and their staff try their best to give a good deal and pleasant service.

When we landed at Faro, José Manuel, our regular taxi driver (we all have our favourites don't we?) was there to meet us and we were so pleased to see clear skies and smell that particular Algarve smell that told us we were home. On arriving in Carvoeiro it seemed as if spring had suddenly arrived during our week away. The almond blossom had given way to the beautiful yellow mimosa which is nearly in full bloom, the sky was blue and it was WARM!

On return to Carvoeiro, with an empty fridge at home, we decided to round off our weeks holiday by eating out and tried the new pizza and pasta restaurant MONA LISA, located on the Centianes "bend" and which used to be called Restaurant Centiane. It was mid March, a Wednesday evening and quiet but we were warmly welcomed by the brothers Antonio and Rocco (real Italians!) who provided us with a delightful meal. It was nice to see some Italian wine listed at sensible prices and we tried the Frascati just for change. A quirk of fate meant that we had eaten during the previous Christmas holiday in Antonios former restaurant also called Mona Lisa in a much colder Laxey, on the Isle of Man so I was able to freak him out with a reference to that. One of us had pizza cooked in their open oven which also cooked the flat Italian garlic bread pronounced "best ever". Three of us tried pasta dishes which were again very good. Medium priced and well worth a visit - nice people and they deserve success.

After a fabulous sunny day on Saturday my euphoria was shattered on Sunday when a low pressure area brought very high winds followed with driving rain on Sunday night and Monday. Oh well of course it was too early to say that summer was here as we will still get wet weather which is needed to fill the local reservoirs and keep our summer visitors showered and clean. Perhaps I am not sticking my neck out though to say the cold weather has gone. In April as in the UK we get "April showers" known here with the old Portuguese adage "mes do Abril - aguas mil" loosely translated as "month of April - a thousand rains". There is another saying I like about those very brief light spring showers which are known as "molha parvos" or translated as "only the idiots get wet"! Enough about the weather for now although from the Forum it seems that our far flung readers do like to hear what is going on. It must be comforting to those in the UK to hear we do get it rough sometimes!

On a very windy Sunday we were invited to a christening in Lagoa church. I am always amazed at the condition and splendour of even modest churches here. If you visit Carvoeiro do take a look at Lagoa with its very good regional food restaurant O LOTUS, next to the Galp petrol station at the Lagoa-Carvoeiro crossroads, CASA VELHA which offers Fado on a Saturday evening and O CICLO, a sister restaurant to BOM BORDO in Carvoeiro, serving a wide selection of very reasonably priced dishes - especially good and busy at lunchtime. In the evening, don't miss CHRISSYS in the square by the old market place for its fine Belgian food cooked by the chef/owner - excellent.

After the religious ceremony the traditional feast or "copo dŽagua" was held at O CANTINHO in Carvoeiro half way up Estrada do Farol towards Centianes (rudely known by some as hamburger hill!) on the corner of the steep road that heads up to Algar Seco. I was reminded yet again what a really nice, friendly, good value restaurant O Cantinho is. No wonder it is very busy in summer!

I survived the christening party which isn't always easy here and on Monday early evening met up with Graham and Thomas two Irish pals. I was reminded that it was St Patrick's Day and they both seemed fairly determined in that true Irish manner to make sure it would not go amiss. Thomas was going to a "do" at the Pestana Gramacho golf club house and Graham was going to take in the sights of Carvoeiro finishing up at DIRTY NELLY'S on the road into Carvoeiro which hosts Eilish and Manuel had opened up the previous Saturday. I hear it was a very good night indeed. Rumour has it that there may be another Irish bar opening up in Carvoeiro in Estrada do Farol before this season gets fully under way. Bars with televised sport braced themselves for extra business with the rugby matches on the weekends of 22nd and 29th of the month and as I had somehow got involved with bets on the England v Ireland game with the aforementioned Irish contingent you can imagine I was quite happy with how things went.

The weather continued for the rest of the month very mixed with the odd sunny day followed by cloud and showers but it stayed mostly warm. On the last day of the month we visited Silves to eat at KAZY a restaurant tucked away in that fine old city specialising in chicken piri piri - delicious and only Euros 44 for the 4 of us including wine! On the way there and back with the jeep windows open the powerful scent of the orange blossom was very evident and as I sit at my keyboard finishing this and looking out at clear blue sky I am sure that Spring is firmly here at last!

Regards to all