Newsletter January 2006

by: Nigel Anteney Hoare

The stable, clear, sunny but cold weather at the end of November altered along with the change in the month to that of wet and warm. We had a fair bit of rain during the early days of the month which led to optimism amongst the authorities that the local Algarve “barragems” (reservoirs) would soon be back to their normal capacity. Even when the rainy days eased up the humidity was often over 80% making everything feel very damp indeed. As usual at this time of the year, even if the day is sunny and warm, at about 4pm the windows need closing to prevent the dampness entering. You will often see the local people airing bed linen and pillows out of their windows during the day but by mid afternoon it is all safely gathered in!

Thursday 1st of December was the first of our three December bank holidays - Yippeee! An old pal of mine had turned up on a flying 2 day visit from Pembroke, Wales. I picked him up at Faro airport and stopped off on the way into town at HEMINGWAYS to slake our thirsts a little. Quite a few bars and restaurants closed now either for a brief pre-Christmas break, a clean up or a longer holiday. Murray and Hazel are keeping going, though, to keep the residents and the odd tourist supplied with ale and good company.

On Friday it was over to KAZY in Silves with my friend for their delicious chicken piri piri. Still not bad value at around 15 a head all in. Saturday we made a mistake of heading for GUIA SHOPPING for pre Christmas purchases. It was raining and absolutely packed with others all having the same idea. The car parks were completely full and it was a question of one car out and one in.

Sunday continued with much rain and Monday also stayed very damp. By the 6th things improved and the following day we returned to nice sunny days and cold clear nights.

Thursday 8th was the 2nd bank holiday of the month – this time to celebrate the Immaculate Conception – apparently nothing actually to do with Mary, mother of Jesus conceiving “immaculately” but with a deeper religious meaning that I shall gloss over now!

The same weather pattern continued with clear brilliant days and cold nights. Monday 12th was the coldest night so far with some light ground frost and car windows iced up. The town was now very quiet indeed with many places closed up. The ice cream shop kept going as you can see!

On Friday 16th there was a charity raffle evening at the ANTEAK BAR to raise money for a young boy who is suffering from failing eyesight and needed some special spectacles costing around 600 Euros. Organised by GRAHAM GROOM and his partner GALIA with able assistance from PAULA, PAUL and ANTEAK staff the evening was a great success with just over the 600 being raised. Some good raffle prizes had been donated by local people and businesses and yours truly swept the board with the main prize a super Christmas Hamper. The Anteak Bar is on the darts circuit now and later in the month I saw THE ANGEL play them. Not sure how many bars have teams in this friendly “league” but it seems to make for some good winter fun. Aaron from the ANGEL planned some holiday after New Year the bar being ably run by LOUISE and daughter DAISY.

Flushed with our success at "Anteak" we arranged to meet there for Sunday Lunch with my sister and brother in law who had arrived to spend Christmas and New Year at their quarter share villa at ROCHA BRAVA. I must say that the Sunday lunch there is very good value and most wholesome. They are closed Mondays at present.

Access into town from Lagoa was by this time interrupted by drainage work at the bottom of the Solferias hill. This seems to be one of the final stages linking up with the new sub station just opposite restaurant O RAFAIOL and now seems pretty well complete. The road at the side of Rafaiol has also been closed on and off whilst the connection work takes place. The work in the square seems rather slow but no doubt will be completed before Easter when the place livens up again.

Please find more pictures of the drainage work here

Talking of access, visitors in 2006 will find many changes on the roads heading towards Carvoeiro as many of the traffic light controlled junctions have been replaced by roundabouts. The speed with which these roundabouts spring up is amazing. One in Lagoa nearby the bombeiros and the “elephant” car wash appeared within one day complete with planted palm trees! We now have new roundabouts on Carvoeiro side of the PLUS supermarket, at the junction of the main EN125 Lagoa/Estombar road, at the Alcantarilha/Armação de Pêra junction, at Guia and with more to come I feel sure. I can see the main Lagoa/Carvoeiro lights being next for the chop! I wonder if there is a massive store of used traffic lights some place?!

On Monday 19th we ate at VILLA MEDICI. This is our second time there and I was again impressed with the place in general. It has had very mixed reviews on the Restaurant Forum but we found that the service was good with a friendly face in Sergio (ex Vale do Milho Golf Club House) waiting on our table and the portions of pasta served were generous. Mean pasta portions is a pet hate of mine - after all, the raw material doesn't cost an arm and a leg!

At last the town started to liven up with the usual inflow of Christmas visitors outweighing those residents going home to spend Christmas with family and friends "back home". We have done our bit for the Carvoeiro economy this year as my sister and her family totalling 10 have decided to spend an alternative Christmas here at Rocha Brava. It did seem to me that this year was quieter than usual in terms of tourism and more places seemed to have remained closed.

On 19th my dear son in law hit 40! He and his wife (my daughter!) and their family had planned a few days in Lisbon to celebrate so I delivered his present on Sunday 18th. Not knowing what to buy and knowing him to be a “bon viveur” we opted to buy him a leg of presunto complete with the wood support, knife etc. In true Portuguese style, this was all quickly assembled, slices cut, bread found and sliced, a good bottle of red wine (also a present) appeared and the festivities commenced! A good start to the festive period.

On 23rd there was another 40th! This time it was my niece and 19 of us had a splendid birthday dinner at JULIOS. This place just keeps on going despite the occasional adverse review on this website. Julio was in attendance - on his usual form showing off his latest offspring.

Unfortunately for my sister and other arriving tourists, the pre Christmas weather took a turn for the worse from the bright sunny days to overcast with a threat of rain. In fact the weather up to an including Christmas Day was pretty poor with frequent heavy rain. Christmas Day itself was more or less a washout. Boxing Day cleared a little and it was mixed weather between Christmas and the New Year.

Fed up with turkey and general overeating it was time for some exercise and 6 of us headed off to the new golf course of ALAMOS at Morgado do Reguengos just north of Portimão. This will be a very nice course indeed or will be once it has matured. On the golfing front I understand that work is well underway on the two new courses just north of Lagoa being created by the Oceanico Group.

New Years Eve - the culmination of the lot! We opted to have dinner at KOH SAMUI Thai restaurant which we have enjoyed a lot this year. RAUL and his staff had put on a limited 3 course menu, including wine and espumante etc. Eight of us joined other diners and enjoyed ourselves very much - too much in my case!. We left before midnight and journeyed up to Sesmarias and on to the car park above Praia de Mole from where along with scores of others we had a good view of the Portimão firework display.


Please find larger versions of the photos in the gallery

New Years Eve in Portimão/Praia da Rocha coincided with the second stage of the Lisbon - Dakar rally, all the competitors having arrived the day before and due to set off at 6.30am New Years day (who dreamt that one up?). Portimão was full of people and it was rumoured that the entrances would be closed off. It was a fine firework display (I borrowed some photos of someone from the Portimão side for you!) and we saw the New Year in with a bottle of champagne or two before wending our way back to Carvoeiro. It was an early exit for yours truly who had become tired and emotional at this stage although others in our party made it on to as late as 5 am before giving in. I didn’t envy the entrants in the Rally with the 6.30 am start however I did manage a charity swim in the sea at Armação de Pêra at 11 am!


Please find larger versions of the photos in the gallery

This present newsletter marks almost 3 years of my efforts and personal and business pressures have made me decide to call it a day. In addition, after so long, the newsletter has become dull and repetitive so it is time to get someone else reined in. Thanks for your many e.mails and kind comments over the time I have been writing them and I wish you all a superb 2006 and many happy visits to Carvoeiro.