Newsletter December 2006

  by: Karen Telling

My mother-in-law returned home on the evening of 1 November, it was an overcast, drizzly day which made it a bit easier for her to leave, but when she landed at Gatwick it was minus 2 degrees, and I think she would have gladly turned around and come back to Portugal!

The next few days continued showery, but mild, until Monday 6th when we had a prolonged thunderstorm and torrential rain for about 2 hours. It was virtually impossible to leave the house, or drive anywhere, and when the rain eventually subsided, the centre of Carvoeiro was flooded, especially the square, Rua do Barranco and Rua dos Pescadores. Many of the shops and offices were under water, and when I went down to the village around lunchtime there was a major clean-up underway. The ‘in’ road was closed from the Post Office onwards as the local council workers were out in force, clearing the drains which were full of sand washed up from the beach. Looking out to sea, you could see how the sand had been churned up, and there were visible stripes of sand across the water. It wasn’t just a local problem, 11 out of 18 districts across the country were affected, in some areas people had to be evacuated from their homes, and many cars were abandoned on the roads. It’s not all bad news, however, as according to Águas do Algarve, the amount of rain that has fallen in the last few weeks means that we will have enough water, not only for summer 2007, but also for summer 2008!


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Although this type of weather doesn’t happen often, it’s not unusual to have very heavy showers at this time of year, the last time was two years ago, and on the side of the building between the ‘in’ and ‘out’ roads (next to the entrance to Matabixo) there is a mark showing the level of flood water in November 1988 – about 1 metre from the ground.

The following day was overcast but by Wednesday 8th the sun was shining and it was hard to believe that it was only 48 hours since the storm, in fact the weather continued warm and sunny for a week, so we decided to have lunch at Rei das Praias at Caneiros beach on Sunday 12th. The beach was very busy with locals and visitors soaking up the sun, and even swimming in the sea. Lots of the sun loungers were in use, including the double lounger I mentioned in a previous newsletter – a large Portuguese family had hired it for the day, including the champagne, and seemed to be celebrating a family birthday with a picnic on the beach.

This is also the time of year when some of the bars and restaurants in the village start to close for a well-deserved break at the end of the summer season – November and early December is always the quietest time in Carvoeiro, but it is never a ghost town and there are still plenty of places to eat and drink, just maybe not your favourites. Many of the places that close now will re-open towards Christmas, and some of those that are open now will wait until mid-January for their holidays. In spite of the possibility of bad weather, the winter is my favourite time in the Algarve, it is still possible to have daytime temperatures in the early to mid twenties, and this year it still hasn’t been really cold at night yet. If you are prepared to take a chance on the weather, it’s a great time to visit.

The build-up to Christmas is less frantic here than in the UK, but the shops are putting up their decorations now, and the Christmas lights at the entrance to Carvoeiro wish everyone ‘Boas Festas’. Many shops like Intermarché, which normally open only on Sunday mornings, are open all day, 7 days a week, in November and December, and the Forum shopping centre in Faro has installed an ice rink to get shoppers in a more wintry mood.

As the much-awaited new Carrefour supermarket opened at the end of October, we went to investigate, but unfortunately we were a bit disappointed as it seems to be very similar to the other supermarket chains in the area – in price and choice of goods on offer, but it will be useful to have a supermarket alongside the other stores at Portimão Retail Park like DeBorla, Moviflor and Radio Popular.

More details of the Budget for 2007 have emerged, and of particular interest to many holiday home owners is the proposed amendments to the law concerning the taxation of properties owned by offshore companies. In 2002 the law was changed to penalise this form of property ownership, which had previously been encouraged, with increased rates of IMI (annual council tax) and IMT (stamp duty), but the government has apparently realised that these measures merely had an extremely negative effect on Portugal’s reputation of being a good place to invest, and, as many owners of offshore companies took avoiding action, tax receipts have not increased as expected. Consequently, IMI could be reduced from 5% of the rateable value of the property, to 1% (double the normal rate), and IMT from 15% to 8% (normal rate is a maximum of 6%), if the Budget is ratified by Parliament. I suppose it’s too much to hope that lessons will have been learned from this experience when it comes to making decisions on the current Tourist Licence situation!

As promised last month, I have an update on the new service. After applying online, you have to go to the Post Office with your passport or residência card as proof of identity, to get an activation code. Once this code is entered into the system you can then decide which items of mail are to be sent electronically, and can also set up a link to your bank account to enable you to pay any bills automatically. At the moment the service is available for mail from EDP, Barclays, Vodafone, BPP and Unicre, with other suppliers such as Vodafone, TMN, TV Cabo etc due to join them soon. It will be interesting to see how the system works, when I (hopefully) get my next electricity bill online!