Newsletter November 2003


by: Nigel Anteney Hoare

A long Newsletter this month covering 6 weeks. I hope it is not overlong but I am very open to suggestions/criticism and have difficulty in deciding what format this feature should take. By virtue of the fact that it is constructed during the month on an ongoing basis it is always more of a diary with some news rather than simply a Newsletter.

Here goes anyway!

Having returned from the UK to Carvoeiro on 14th September we found the days and evenings hotter than expected. Shortly before returning I had half heard on UK TV that there was to be another "heat wave" but dismissed it. It was true and it continued for all the first week I was back. By mid-way through the second week, the last week in the month, it had become cooler at night but still lovely in the day. Evening walks with the dog were cool with a pleasant breeze and clear starlit sky. Having been away a week longer than expected workload precluded too much japing around the bars and restaurants of Carvoeiro. In fact due to my prolonged absence, rumour had it I had gone to the UK to apply for the West Ham managers job. I wish! Probably do as well as the last one anyway!

We were invited to dinner with our neighbours CHARLES EVERY, and his daughter and son in law VANESSA and TERRY DE BEER who arrived earlier this year from South Africa to live. Vanessa has had a long career in catering and hospitality and the dinner was superb. She is starting a catering service aimed at holiday makers that want a change from restaurant dining or self catering. After all who wants to cook whilst on holiday ladies? (sexist?)
Terry was a business broker in S.A. and is specialising in selling businesses as going concerns here. This is lacking here at present I think. Charles as usual was able to entertain us with some stories from his many years in Carvoeiro. He has been here even longer than I have!

Saturday was very hot indeed and in the evening we wandered down to the town and had a drink in the CARVOEIRO BAR. Always pleasant there with well served drinks. We decided again, on the off chance, to eat at ELE E ELLA. Off chance? No chance! It was jammed - whilst trying to get a table I met long time friends VICTOR and JACKIE CONNOLLY from Ireland who have been visiting Carvoeiro for well over 20 years and have now bought a holiday home here. Jackies rack of lamb looked superb but with no room at the inn we decided to go back up the hill to MAXINES. First time for us there and I was very impressed. The menu is imaginative and well priced. The food is nicely prepared and presented with good touches like the "Chefs surprise" before you start and a lemon champagne sorbet after the first course. Pleasant staff and wicked liquor coffees rounded it off. After dinner we wandered up to the new bar SCREWY LOUIS where we bumped into some other Carvoeiro residents, WOODY of S.A.C.L. AIR CONDITIONING, JAMES WATSON from SHOE WORLD, their respective wives LOUISE, who runs a very successful interior design business, ISOBEL and two friends. They had eaten at the RAJ INDIAN restaurant at the HOTEL GARBE, Armação de Pera and said it was good. We sat outside Screwy Louis. I don't know what to say about the bar really but we were a little surprised when they called "time gentleman please" at 1a.m. and we had to leave. Big mistake was to wander down to the ROUND UP SALOON where I managed to purchase a hang over for Sunday morning! FRANK from The LANTERNA VELHA was enjoying an after work beer and said that
business had picked up again after a bit of a slow down in early September

Sunday saw a change in the weather and some rain forecast - it didn't look likely from where I stood but the end of September really saw the return of the rains. Monday 29th started cloudy and grey - so strange after weeks of blue skies. By late afternoon heavy rain showers had arrived and these continued on and off until the afternoon of Tuesday when it absolutely tipped down. I went home anxiously to see if my old roof had stood up to the onslaught. Only a couple of leaks! To someone in the UK this might sound odd but if you have an old house here with an old roof this is sort of expected. I remember the tale of an English guy viewing an old farmhouse with a view to buy at an inflated price. His wife was dismayed to see rain water trickling down one wall. She said "But the roof looks!" the Portuguese owner eyed her closely and replied "Yes, but only when it rains"

When I lived for 11 years in the country between Silves and Messines the
locals used to use these first rains to clean the roofs of houses and outhouses. After that a marvellous Heath Robinson type system of pipes would be connected to ensure that any further rainfall went into the cisterna alongside the house. I never did really understand how my Portuguese country neighbour managed with one electric bulb in each room and a bill of only 10 per cent of my own and also existed for most of the summer on the winter rainfall whilst I was buying water off the local man with a tractor and container in May! I felt so wasteful but then prided myself that the cash I was spending was circulating in good use amongst the local community. I reckon I financed several Portuguese wedding feasts whilst I lived up there!

The last night of the month I walked my dog under a star filled sky, but during the night the winds strengthened and next morning the first day of October was cloudy and blustery and you could clearly hear the rough sea crashing on the cliffs.

1st October saw much rain with torrential downpours during the night mixed with high winds. It looked to me like the start to a wet winter. That evening we braved the weather to go to a business meeting at VILAMOURA MARINOTEL. Different world there really with plenty of tourists enjoying themselves despite the weather.

The rest of that week continued with grey skies and heavy showers. To celebrate Friday I met up again with Woody of SACL in SMILERS. We savoured a few Guinness whilst discussing life in general and the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in particular. Woody, being an Aussie, has a slightly jaundiced view of rugby (and cricket!) and for some strange reason thought England wouldn't win it.

Saturday saw some better weather with sunshine. That evening we met up with LARRY and SERENA EMBERLEY who lived here over 13 years ago. They used to run BUBBLES BAR and had returned after all that time for a two week holiday and perhaps to lay some ghosts. I will not pull punches by saying that some long term residents will recall Larry with mixed emotions but it was really good to see them and share many memories - good and bad. It was surreal to have a meal at the LANTERNA VELHA with Larry on water having signed the pledge two years ago. It was great to see how they had happily settled into UK life. Serena looks just the same as she did 13 years ago. I don't know what she's on but it's working!

The square was now oddly overshadowed by a huge tower crane being used to construct the building next to the DANCONE ICE CREAM shop. It looks most odd and has sort of "grown" out of the old semi derelict building between the Turismo office and O PATIO. Bit of a mystery how it got there as it suddenly seemed to appear rather like Jacks Beanstalk!

The days were shortening now, still dark at 7 am. I was looking forward to the hour change as I hate getting up in the dark. On Monday 5th I had to work late to prepare for a business trip to Malta. Too late to cook, we decided to eat at O CANTINHO, a favourite of ours and as usual the food and service were first class.

My first visit to Malta reminded me of the Algarve 20 years ago - before EU funds sorted the roads and other infrastructure out. I was not personally over impressed with the place and they will certainly need some EU money pumped in to get up to standard. Historically very interesting though.

On our return on 13th October we noticed Carvoeiro was considerably quieter. The weather continued in a very mixed fashion, thunder, lightning and heavy rain on the 15th and noticeably cooler at night with a hint of wood fires in the air. For the first time since summer I doubted my wisdom in wearing just a T-shirt for the dogs morning constitutional

With my wife away in the UK for the weekend of 18th and 19th to collect our children after their first half term at boarding school it was left to me as dutiful son in law to entertain mother in law who had come over from her home on the Isle of Man. Having dropped my wife at Faro airport on the Friday I decided to visit our old favourite the LANTERNA VELHA where the delicious plaice on offer got me in her good books.

On Saturday morning I took her at ERICAS HAIR SALON, at Curva do Casino for the ritual hair do and then to VALE DO MILHO GOLF CLUB for a sandwich lunch.
I like the CLUBHOUSE BAR and restaurant there and quite a few customers were already lunching. We managed to catch the England v South Africa rugby on the television and after taking her to Lagoa Church for the 6.30 Mass it was back to Carvoeiro, an early evening cocktail in the CARVOEIRO BAR and dinner at MAXINES next door. Second time there, busy and very good again. The weather continued very wet and blustery and only on Monday started to improve a little.

With children back home for two weeks half term, late afternoon on Monday we drove to Lisbon to see ROBBIE WILLIAMS at the ATLANTIC PAVILION on the Expo site. Not my favourite performer but he put on a good show which had the capacity crowd rocking. Drove back after the concert and found the up and down in one evening a bit much!

Friday early evening we all met up with my old mate GRAHAM GROOM and his friends TOMMY and HELEN and son JONATHAN over from Ireland. Again we all decided to eat at the LANTERNA and then on to the ROUNDUP SALOON. A big storm was forecast and brewing. This arrived in the night with some force and the next morning it looked like there had been some local flooding at the bottom of the town. It seemed that the gift shop behind OS TRES JOTAS had some water in and this reminded me of the end of November 1988 when Carvoeiro suffered the big flood. I recall the "lixo" bins, taxis and other cars floating down Rua do Barranco towards the beach where they all crashed into one another on the square. That was the time when FRASER and LYN (now of O FORNO DO FRASER) and then at the SAFARI BAR were flooded from floor to ceiling and their pet parrots drowned. For those that do not know or have never noticed there is a tile commemorating the flood on the wall near the door up to the MATABIXO BAR CAFÉ.

That Saturdays Portuguese newspaper had news of a mans body washed up on PRAIA DO CARVALHO. It seems it was a local man who had been fishing and either lost his footing or was plucked from the rocks. This is an all too familiar occurrence I regret.

The 28th and 29th continued wet and windy. On Wednesday 29th We drove to Silves and had our regular fix of frango piri piri in RESTAURANT KAZY then on Thursday 30th it was time to go back to Faro airport for wife, mother in law and children all to return to the UK. On the way to the airport you pass the magnificent new stadium nearly ready for the June 2004 Euro football finals. The England team are supposed to be coming over on February 18th to play Portugal in a friendly there.

Halloween was suitably dark and stormy with radio warnings from the Civil Protection Authority of severe storms. Early evening I met up with work colleagues in the CARVOEIRO BAR and then on to THE INDIAN in Rua do Farol where eight of us enjoyed a good Indian meal. There seemed to be loads of local residents out and about. I met up with TONY SEAL and SUSAN on our way into the Indian and then good looking bearded ROY (my doppelganger!) ex resident JOHN DACE and friends came in making another table of eight. Plenty of good natured "brincadeira" was had by all and generally it was a very good evening. The ROUNDUP SALOON were advertising a special party in aid of the Lagoa bombeiros as a thank you for the sterling work done during the summer fires. We went down there and it was really jumping with resident guitarist/singer(?) DAVE joined by his banjo playing mate and another regular guitarist who is a cross between Wild Bill Hickock and General Custer (don't know his name!) all on fine form. It was nice to hear one of the young lady Bombeiros get on the mike and do three Portuguese songs including a fine Fado renditon. BIG WILL made a presentation of a framed set of photographs of fire scenes to the Bombeiros, everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves then it was home to bed to see what November might bring.