Newsletter March 2005

  by: Nigel Anteney Hoare

They kept saying “Easter is early this year” which got me thinking as to why it moves?
Newsletter trivia coming up!
Apparently it is all to do with the Gregorian calendar and the moon phases but the nitty gritty is that Good Friday can never be before March 22nd and never after April 25th (another good Portuguese date!) Good Friday this year falls on March 25th so “they” are right - Easter IS early this year!
So far so good - now, as Ash Wednesday falls 47 days prior to Easter Sunday and Shrove Tuesday is the day before that it explains why it was so flipping cold for the poor carnival dancers in their skimpy costumes on the 8th of February!! It is one thing being in Rio on 8th Feb but rather different in Carvoeiro!
see larger version in new window

see larger version in new window

In fact the lovely January weather continued into early February until Monday 6th when the sky darkened and a good downpour was threatened. It never happened though – just a few showers here and there and then like magic at about 1,30 pm on the morning of Carnival Tuesday the skies largely cleared and the sun broke out again. The Carvoeiro Carnival celebrations started on Sunday 5th with much activity around the cordoned off square. It was a Moorish theme this year and Sunday was the day for the kids to dress up and get their sweets and presents from a very attractive “Genie” who was hidden in what looked like a large plastic wheelie bin. After the fancy dress judging loads of sweets were hurled into the crowd which got all the kids scrambling around dirtying up their costumes to their mothers delight!
see larger version in new window

see larger version in new window

The Tuesday Carnival celebrations included the usual motorbike cavalcade -getting bigger each year - and the procession of floats with streamers, confetti, thrown sweets and all the usual Carnival stuff to keep the street cleaners busy for a day or two. On the large stage erected in the square, this year very sensibly on the opposite side of the square and facing the sea, we were entertained by a dancing display by the nubile young (and some not so young!) ladies from Carvoeiro Tennis Club dance school who entertain under the name “JUST FOR YOU”. I had seen them perform before at the Hotel Garbe for the Tsunami Charity Auction night and they really are rather good with splendid colourful outfits.
see larger version in new window

see larger version in new window

The weather now was noticeably warmer at night and in the early morning. The weekend of 12/13th was simply fabulous. The weather was so warm that many people sat outside the bars and cafes and on the town beach enjoying the sunshine Really exceptional weather for the time of year and of course still no rain. It was a big sporting weekend with Six Nations Rugby and Premiership football being shown on televisions in the various bars. Not much of a sporting weekend for me though as I lost €10 on the England v France rugby match and my soccer team went out of the Cup on a penalty shoot out – very glum indeed!

Sunday was PAT (ex-Sullys) birthday and although I couldn’t make it I understand it was celebrated in fine style at HEMINGWAYS BAR. As mentioned last month Fraser of O FORNO DE FRASER is now back in full swing, but without Lynn who is still in the UK attending to family matters. He is doing takeaway only and I had the opportunity to sample a slice of someone elses pizza - boy it was good! Please support Fraser if you are in Carvoeiro as he certainly has had an “Annus Horribilis”

The same day I read in the Portuguese newspaper about the Algarves criminal of the month, just down the road in Alcantarilha. This guy struck up conversation with a customer in a local café and offered to sell him some “haxixe”. The man showed sufficient interest to encourage our chap to go home and fetch his total stash of 510 grams. On his return he was met by the GNR as the man he had propositioned was an off duty cop! Just a bad day I guess!!

With my wife away in UK to stay with our children on their weeks half term I was left to my own devices and visited the FATACIL RESTAURANT in Lagoa to sample the 7 Euro all inclusive lunch. They certainly don’t hold back on the portions and generally I must say it is excellent value for money. Whilst there one day I bumped into fellow diner GERRIT, frequent poster, and his wife who had been encouraged to try it because of the Newsletter. Gulp! Hope it was ok Gerrit?

The weather continued dry and sunny and again the weekend of 19th/20th was fabulous. On the Friday I had been invited to a birthday dinner at the restaurant O BARRADAS which is on the old Lagoa-Silves road. You now have to turn off the new road to a place signposted Palmeirinha and then double back under the new road and turn right towards Silves. It is a favourite restaurant with foreign residents and I enjoyed a very nice meal there. The amiable owner is a wine buff and also in the business of supplying and distributing wine. All in all very good, a little different but I thought a little pricey. Back to Carvoeiro and I paid a call to HEMINGWAYS which was “simmering” nicely!

Saturday morning I bought a Portuguese paper to see what was being said about the general election the next day. On my way down town to fetch it I noticed that VIA ITALIA was having a revamp with a new front and work on the ground floor. Perhaps they are going to serve downstairs as well as the terrace that gets so busy in summer?


With newspaper in hand I settled down at VALE DE MILHO GOLF CLUB in the warm sun on the terrace watching the golfers with their struggles and enjoyed a breakfast. This is the life I thought thinking of the jobs I should have been doing at home and pushing them to the back of my mind. Sergio the regular barman there has moved on to pastures new and Andy is temporarily holding the fort alone with his other staff of course. Good place for a spot of lunch as well!

Everything pointed to a big socialist victory and the only doubt was by how much and what the turnout would be. We had been treated to plenty of posters and canvassing for some time now, only halted for one day of mourning as a mark of respect for Sister Lucia - the last remaining member of the trio of young peasant children who were visited by the Holy Virgin back in 1917 close to Fatima. Sister Lucia died aged 97 on the same day of the week they had witnessed the first vision having spent half her life in a Carmelite Convent.

Sunday started fair for the election and as always plenty of people were out on the street having voted or on their way to vote, chatting with others and explaining to one another why they had voted this way or that. Voting here seems still quite a social event, perhaps because it is still quite novel after only 30 years of democracy. Foreign residents can only vote in the local and European elections and having been away from the UK for many years I have lost my vote there as well so I am truly an impartial bystander! I had enjoyed a Sunday family lunch at my eldest daughters house, she has taken Portuguese citizenship and should have a vote however hadn’t registered soon enough so will have to wait for the next one.

The result came in quite early in the evening with a large majority for the PS – socialist party as predicted. Let’s see what they can do to sort the economy out. Some harsh measures are needed with a big balance of trade deficit, unemployment at 6%, personal credit sky high and declining foreign investment. Add to this Government spending on an ever increasing public sector which accounts for 15% of GDP and as the old song goes “there may be trouble ahead”

Carvoeiro itself followed the national trend with a swing to the left the PS increasing their 2002 figures by a massive 35% at the expense of the PSD and CDS/PP alliance.

Once again with the full moon we saw a change in weather. Tuesday 23rd started cloudy and completely windless with a much warmer morning feel to it. Black clouds framed the Monchique hills and we thought that maybe some long awaited rain might fall. We counted 3 drops in Lagoa by lunchtime! This warmer feel was short lived however and once again, whilst we read of a big freeze up in the UK and other parts of Europe we did not escape the bitter northerly winds descending on us from Monchique.

Friday evening I called into SULLYS for an early one on way back from work. Still quiet at this time of the year with the delightful MARIA on duty and a few regulars. Owner HOWARD arrived, his usual cheery self telling a self deprecating story about his healthy investment in a de-salination plant to clear the salt in his borehole water which was no sooner up and running than his borehole started to dry up! Water is a big topic of conversation now having been over 3 months without measurable rainfall.

The last weekend of this short month again saw much sporting action with the English League Cup, now known as the Carling Cup and the Ireland v England Six Nations Rugby match falling on Sunday 27th - both with a 3pm kick off. I was going to watch the footy on Andys large screen at Vale do Milho but was persuaded to go to Hemingways where I was told they would show both matches. I was duped and ended up surrounded by the Irish - whooping it up as Ireland beat England and me losing another 10 euros to a certain large Irish gentleman who promised to invest it wisely in Guinness.

Monday we woke to very black clouds and what looked like the inevitable rain which had been forecast. It rained but very little really and simply stayed grey and cold all day. I guess we will have to hope March brings the water we need.

Até logo

see larger version in new window