Newsletter January 2011

Margarida Sampaio @  

First things first, I would like to wish all the users a very happy New Year and I hope you all had a great Christmas either here in the Algarve or elsewhere in the world.

So it is 2011 and we are into a new decade but as I am sure you all know Carvoeiro is a pretty sleepy little place and there have been no great moves into this New Year yet so I will give you a little recap of how December went in the town first.


For the first year ever the town hosted its very own Christmas fair and despite a wind that threatened to freeze off the noses of all the children, stall holders, musicians and anyone who dared to head down to the square, it was a great week.

The whole week kicked off with a parade through the town involving children from as young as only one year old up to enthusiastic parents dressed in various guises of Father Christmas.

There was a touch of the traditional with the three kings decked out in different pieces of curtain fabric and some angels in sheets who were then followed by miniature Christmas trees, gingerbread men (these ones were a little difficult to differentiate from strange bears but the effect was good!) stars and Christmas gifts.


The square was filled with people watching the singing parade pass by with the highlight being a Father Christmas/Pai Natal following on his enormous red sleigh pulled by a Land Rover. The crowd quickly learnt on the second time around the town that it was safest to avoid eye contact with sneaky santa as one glance in the wrong direction resulted in being pelted by boiled sweets!

It was great to see so many members of the community of all ages and nationalities supporting the event and of course all the children were enchanting with their singing of Portuguese carols and performance pieces so congratulations to all the teachers, parents and volunteers who took the time to make all the outfits and guide the children through the day.

It was a four hour affair on the Sunday and by the time we had enjoyed the magic show (rabbit included), singing, parents short play and experimental theatre piece which involved men and women in skin tight white Lycra body suits and UV lighting (!?), it was time for the man in red to make an appearance on the beach and give a present to each child.

A truly great day was had by all aided very nicely by the mulled wine on sale and sticky cake treats .

While it never broke into fully rain the weather wasn´t the best so the musicians throughout the following week did not have the numbers in the audience that they were deserving of although there were always a few brave souls who danced the afternoons away.

One of the organisers of the fair told me that they had been more than happy with the result of the week but they have changes planned for next year to include firstly the earlier promotion and planning of the fair to make sure it gets more advertising time, media attention and hopefully visiting guests from outside the town.

The other main change being muted is that the fair will take place closer to Christmas as the fair was held in mid December and would be more suited to taking place nearer to the 25th when more people are off work and able to attend the afternoon shows.

Let's see how it goes!


Well the lack of Christmas lights in the entire Lagoa municipality meant that it was tricky to get into the mood of it all especially as many people were working right up to the 25th but that is not to say that Christmas was any less of a celebration.

I am very lucky in as much as I am able to celebrate Christmas twice with my Portuguese Natal on the evening of the 24th swiftly followed by my British one on the 25th .

I went hardcore Portuguese on Christmas eve and had a meal that was a very Marmite experience (you either love it or you hate it) starting with a crab that had initially walked into my home on its own and then ended up a pile of claws and shells followed by Bacalhao salted cod topped with raw garlic, parsley and onion accompanied by cabbage, boiled potatoes and chick peas – as I said, you either love it or hate it!

The weather on the 25th was generally good with sunny spells and the odd torrential shower and all the food from the night before was added to with a full traditional Christmas lunch of turkey and all the trimmings, copious amounts of wine and rich Christmas pudding piled with brandy butter.

As you can imagine the New Year for me has started with a serious diet to shift the Christmas bulge after the feast.


The weather has perked up considerably this New Year after some crazy thunder storms that were so loud they set off car alarms around the town and we have had beautiful days with the thermometer gauge tipping over 20 degrees resulting a number of burnt noses from unsuspecting New Year residents taking the chance for a walk along the cliffs.

As many of you who regularly visit Carvoeiro will already know it is no secret that the town slips into hibernation during the next couple of months as the busy workers of the restaurants and bars take their breaks after a long season and festive period.

Many restaurants, cafes, shops and bars are closed but there is still life left in the town and winter repairs and remodeling are underway all around Carvoeiro.

The new parking spaces on Monte Dourado are being created, the Round Up saloon is having a refit to include a complete commercial kitchen and there are even some businesses opening their doors.

Primavera restaurant has been fitted out and I have been told that a very good job has been done and the food is excellent while a new café has opened where the butchers used to be on Rua dos Pescadores – Jo Mar.

The butcher still owns the property and has used the improvements made to the paving outside as an opportunity to convert the business into a café. Very Portuguese in style and a direct competition for neighbors Doce Mar so there are the usual toasties, bifanas and dishes of the day and at the moment the clients are mainly Portuguese so a great place to sit and pick up the local news from those who know.


For those wanting to get themselves into the know there is a brilliant opportunity coming up. There has been a lot of talk about the residents and visitors of Carvoeiro getting their voices heard and letting people know the needs of Carvoeiro and now there is a chance for all English speakers to take part in a dialogue about the town that we all love so much.

Well now there is no excuse of language barriers or no forum suitable to discuss opinions and ideas as the great people behind Vozes Intensas business and residents association of Carvoeiro have planned an English language meeting for all those keen to learn about what is planned for the town while also airing their own proposals and ideas.

There is no need to be shy as the people behind the group are all well known faces around the town and have set up this meeting specifically to target English speakers who want to help the town in a more hands on way.

Don't be afraid, no one will be forcing anyone to do anything but this is a chance to put yourself forward within the community if you feel so inclined or to simply sit back but show your support for the group.

There have already been several meetings of the group in Portuguese (but usually with some level of translation available thanks to helpful volunteers) but this is the first in English and will be held on February 3 at the headquarters of the association at Beco do Geleão (opposite A Galeria restaurant half way up the O Farol hill) from 6pm.

If you would like further information then just send an email the association (in English or Portuguese) to


It is the same every year, by the time it comes to Christmas you can see the weary faces of the folk in town longing for long winter evenings in front of the television as a break from the constant party that is Carvoeiro during the summer months, however it is not long before thoughts are turning to Carnival and the return of the fun and frolics of the town.

This year Carnival is falling pretty late on March 8 and although this means a longer wait than normal for people to start to come back and wake up after the winter, it also means that the chances that the weather will be good will also be improved (fingers, toes and everything else crossed of course!).

Again, the residents and business owners association who were behind getting the party started in the town over Christmas are back on board with Carnival preparations and I have been told that the local businesses are really looking to push the boat out this year with entertainment, floats and parties to involve the entire town and if you would like to take part then I would advise you attend the meeting mentioned above and speak with the members about what part you could play.


Finally I would like to sign off by thanking everyone for their support of this newsletter, it is great to know that I can be of help and offer a little insider insight for those of you who are unable to live here all year round.

We all know that Carvoerio looks its best in the sun but these winter months are when the true colours of the people who live here come out so although there is not a lot of news going on there is still plenty to entice those of you who are feeling the ill effects of weeks of snow in the UK and elsewhere to come down to our paradise on the Algarve coast.

I'll be back in February with more news on how plans for Carnival are shaping up and hopefully with tales of the brilliant weather we have had during January (a girl can wish can't she?)

Margarida Sampaio