Newsletter March 2007

  by: Carol Carpenter

Firstly apologies for the delay in producing this Newsletter due to the fact that we were on holiday visiting my sister in Spain after which I took my father back to England after his three month stay here with us.

Thanks to everyone who gave feed-back on my first newsletter and who wished me good luck.
This is quite a challenge for me as my only experience has been writing stories for our grandchildren, so I was very pleased with the response. I was also very surprised by the amount of enquiries I had with regards to CASA(Carvoeiro Association for Social Activities)and anyone who is interested should contact Franz Pecheur on 282 312 819.

Unfortunately the February weather was very disappointing this year with many cold grey days followed by rain. Normally it is a lot sunnier with clear blue skies and higher temperatures - in fact I have vivid memories of suffering from sun stroke one year. Apart from the weather I think February is always a very pretty month in the Algarve, the almond blossom starting to appear with its gorgeous scent along with mimosa and prickly pear and many wild flowers. We made a trip to Monchique and the carpets of flowers, the orange and lemon groves and the almost miraculous recovery of the hills from the ravages of the fires made for beautiful scenery.

This year started with the pantomime performed by the Algarveans Experimental Theatre Group. It was called Scherezade’s Greatest Hits and was exactly that, a hit. There were belly dancers, camels, pirates and a ‘talking’ parrot. Written by Sian Hughes-Roberts, who also performed in her own inimitable manner and directed by Keith Beasley, the audience were enthralled joining in throughout the performance. Abdullah the Merchant played by Paul Capper brought the house down with his sequin encrusted codpiece and although all were excellent Lara Costa, as Ali Baba, was outstanding. All the dance routines were really great with dancers young and old, slim and not so slim wiggling their hips in perfect time. There are some really talented performers so “well done to every one”. The theatre group are always looking for new members either to perform or lend a hand back stage, so if interested you need to speak to Norman Thompson 289 561 594.

On Sunday 11th February despite the bad weather, rain and blowing a gale, armed with a notebook and camera I ventured in to the village of Carvoeiro mainly to check how the road works and new constructions were progressing and also to see just how many other souls were prepared to battle with the elements. I was extremely surprised to find quite a few!! I started at Algar Seco were I found a lot of fishermen moaning over the 5 euros charge they now have to pay for the privilege of fishing from the rocks. There were also a lot of tourists climbing down the steps to the Aboneca where at certain times of the year you can see the most beautiful sun sets. I did my best to get some pictures to include a few tourists, but there was a slight language problem as they were German and to my surprise spoke neither Portuguese nor English. I am struggling to learn Portuguese so German is definitely out!! I thought smiles and hand signals would be enough and they would get the message. Oops! I was wrong and they thought I was charging to take their photos. Eventually with some assistance from a passer-by they understood, but I still failed to get the photo I wanted. Feeling foolish I made a hasty retreat to the Bistro ending up with a coffee and brandy to steady my nerves, which a smiling Joao, who had heard of my predicament (by seagull post no doubt!) found very amusing.

You can find all the photos in the gallery (opens new window).

Continuing on with my tour I was amazed by all the building work that was being carried out. On the road out of Carvoeiro many old derelict buildings have been renovated and turned into new apartments making a big improvement. There is also a new Law office, which is quite impressive and situated next to the Bellissimo cafe. The old market has also been renovated and at the very end of the road, opposite the Anteak bar and Le Doce pastelaria, my favourite café, who sell the most delicious cakes, there is a huge block of duplex apartments under construction. These are T1,T2 and T3 with shops below (do we need more?) and a swimming pool. It is also rumoured that along this road the pavements are to be widened, making it better for pedestrians, but it will cut down the amount of parking spaces available. This will surely cause a big problem in summer as it is already difficult to park. Apparently the Square is also to be re-vamped and I will update you on this at a later date. All this walking brought on a thirst so I paid a visit to the Safari Bar which is now under new ownership and due to be called The Irish Times. Now owned by Graham, who is Irish, hence the name change and his partner Galia, it was absolutely brimming with people having Sunday lunch. Galia was rushed off her feet but still found time to welcome me with her beautiful smile. This is a very lively bar with a wide-screen TV and they also have a really good inexpensive menu - definitely worth a visit. Incidentally they do recommend that you book early for Sunday lunch to avoid disappointment. Thanks Galia for the hearty Jamesons I received with my coffee!

You can find all the photos in the gallery (opens new window).

I came out to find the sun was now shining with the square and beach full of people. I walked along the beach, stopping to watch some children playing, and then spent a little time sitting on a rock looking out to sea. After a while I started to walk up the hill, past the Ice-cream Parlour where I stopped to wave, as the grandchildren always get Mummy to show them the square, hoping they will catch us on camera walking past. I am not an alcoholic, but my next stop was Rascals Bar owned by Sergio and Rachel a really lovely couple, who are very friendly and really good fun. They too were very busy serving Sunday lunches with every table plus the terrace awning full. Their bar has a really lovely ambience especially in the evening with soft music playing, where you can chill out and relax in the candle light - definitely my type of bar. Sergio also makes wonderful cocktails, but beware! - I sampled his special Valentines Cocktail which he called a ‘Strawberry Margarita’ - absolutely delicious but it took me all of the next day to recover. Well perhaps three was a little O.T.T. Again it is recommended to book for Sunday lunch.

You can find all the photos in the gallery (opens new window).

The St. Patrick’s Society joined with the St. Andrew’s Society for a Ceilidh on 17th February organised by the well-known Sally Dawson and Jim Brownlow. It was held at the Fabrica de Ingles in Silves and included a very good meal with wine with music provided by The Oxford Fiddlers, a group of mainly music teachers from the U.K. They were absolutely brilliant and the dancing started with a display by the Scottish dancers, followed by the Fiddlers getting everyone else on the floor and taking them through the steps.

Both the St Andrew’s and the St Patrick’s Societies organise a lot of events during the year, the most lavish being the St. Andrews Ball and the St. Patrick’s Celebration. Anyone interested in joining these societies should contact Kathy Prentice 919 635 246 for the St.Andrew’s Society and Brian Holman 282 359 637 for the St Patrick’s Society. More members are needed for the Irish Ceilidh dancing and classes will resume in September at the International School near Porches so anyone who is interested in joining should contact Jim Brownlow 282 431 595.

February is “Carnaval” time and the main event is on Tuesday 20th, which is a public holiday throughout Portugal. Shrove Tuesday marks the beginning of Lent and whilst it is British custom to eat pancakes, similar traditions exist throughout the Western world and in many places it is marked by carnivals. In Portugal the most lavish carnival takes place in Loule, where a stream of floats carrying musicians, dancing girls and huge caricature figures parade around the town throwing sweets and streamers from the floats to the onlookers. Children of all ages wear fancy dress even the babies and anyone who joins in are made very welcome. Everyone agrees that outside Brazil, this is the nearest Europe gets to Mardi Gras.

You can find all the photos in the gallery (opens new window).

Carvoeiro carnival started on 18th with a procession around the village by the 2CV6 club. All the cars were decorated and the occupants in fancy dress. The main procession was on the Tuesday when a convoy of floats made their way around the village. Many people in fancy dress followed closely behind and at the end of the parade there came the horses from the nearby riding stables. They seemed very nervous but were very well behaved and their riders looked immaculate and very proud. The Square was full of children wearing costumes and many stalls selling pottery, jewellery, toys, and leather goods. There was also a pig roast and a stall selling mulled wine. The stage was set up and many people were dancing and partying until late into the night.

You can find all the photos in the gallery (opens new window).

If you have never paid a visit to Carvoeiro at this time of year you are missing out on a lot of fun.

“Go for it, come and Mardi Gras.”