Newsletter November 2005

  by: Nigel Anteney Hoare

Saturday 1st October was really hot. We spent it on Caneiros beach which was simply beautiful with even the sea remaining warm. This is our current favourite beach especially now the August madness has gone for another year and the crowds are less. In the evening we met friends in the ANTEAK BAR and then on to THE ANGEL for what can only be described as a lively evening! On Monday the 2nd a partial eclipse of the sun was visible mid morning but it didn’t seem to reduce the heat at all! Just made things a little darker at around 11 am!

Monday evening we met up in the CARVOEIRO BAR with a work colleague who was over from Gibraltar with his girlfriend. I like this place – sort of a "proper pub" with very well served drinks. We then went to eat at CASA DO BIFE. This restaurant has had a slightly mixed bag of comments on the Restaurant Forum but we have always found it to be very good indeed. After the meal it was on up the hill to the BAR HAVANA. There were still plenty of people about enjoying the fresh evening air wandering up and down Estrada do Farol to and from the square.

On the Tuesday we again tried the lunchtime menu at the Anteak Bar. As I mentioned last month and was also posted recently by Ellie on the Forum this is very good value indeed. I hope they can keep it up.

Wednesday saw the annual bank holiday to celebrate the inception of the Portuguese Republic on 5 October 1910. The day began with the usual series of very loud explosions set off from the headland overlooking the beach. The square was cordoned off for some entertainment to be held later. The Portuguese Republic came about when the reigning king, Carlos I, returning to Portugal after temporary exile, was assassinated in his carriage by a republican mob . His son Crown Prince Dom Luis, in theory, automatically succeeded him but he was in the same carriage as the king and was also assassinated about 20 minutes later making him probably the shortest reigning monarch ever. King Carlos’ surviving 18 year old son Infant Dom Manoel was proclaimed King Manoel II but he was forced to leave the country during the ensuing revolution. On 5 Oct 1910 the dynasty was finally declared deposed. Poor old King Manoel was permanently exiled from Portugal where he died without heirs at Twickenham, Middlesex, UK on July 2nd 1932. At least he wasn’t shot!

Notwithstanding our remorse at the happenings of the 1910 revolution, we took off to Caneiros beach again. Arriving early, parking was not a problem, a nice coffee at the little bar at the top of the beach steps to set us up and then a relaxing morning before some lunch at the beach bar. It’s a hard life at times :)
The weather was fabulous – warm sea again and a really busy day for the lifeguard with all the sun beds rented out and plenty more people on the sand. This is a very well run outfit indeed. They have even experimented with a super-duper, purpose-made, wooden sun bed complete with a very thick circular mattress. This is built for two people (more if you are skinny!) and you rent it for the day complete with either a bottle of Espumante or if you want to go really potty - a bottle of Moet. I think it is 40 euros with the Espumante and 70 with the Moet. Very decadent eh? It is under a nice shady canopy and looks sort of vaguely regal. My mind wandered back to old King Manoel as I was inspecting it!

The fine weather continued until Sunday 9th which was local election day. We woke to heavy rain which continued more or less all day and, in fact, on and off for the next 3 days. Much needed rain at last to help begin to fill the depleted reservoirs behind Silves. The bad weather didn’t seem to put the voters off as the turnout was similar to 4 years ago. In the Lagoa area, generally speaking, the PS – Socialist party, made inroads into the PSD – Social Democrats majorities. Lagoa remains with the PSD Mayor in charge although only by the slender margin of 221 votes. However the Council of Lagoa is locked with equal seats held by the PSD and PS, the CDU candidate is holding the deciding vote. Could be interesting! Carvoeiro continues with Jorge Pardal as President of the Parish Council with the PS strengthening their majority on the Parish Council by 6 seats to the PSD 3.

The overcast weather continued and we saw more rain on Tuesday 18th. There was a real change in the weather now with things generally much cooler all round.

In the national press the Algarve got a nice mention as it appears that a South African film maker has chosen the Faro area as the perfect spot to develop a studio to produce adult movies due to the climate (outdoor shots?), reasonable labour (?) and other costs. He intends to make dozens of films each year using eastern European “actresses”. Apparently he hasn’t looked at using local talent so far! So keep your eyes open and you may be surprised by some of the filming on the beaches here next year!

On Wednesday the weather kind of sorted itself out to the relief of all the holidaymakers with young kids. In the evening we made our occasional pilgrimage to KAZY in Silves for chicken piri piri (eat your heart out Maisie!). On the way back we drove up Estrada do Farol to see what was has happening. With work the next day we resisted the temptation to stop but everywhere looked really busy.

On Friday it was an afternoon trip to Lisbon to attend a Trafalgar Day dinner held at the Maritime Museum. It was a really good match of foreigners (mostly British of course – I didn't notice many French about!) and Portuguese. Suitably stirring music was played by the Portuguese Navy Band and much toasting of Nelsons famous victory with port and dark rum. We stayed over in a new hotel called the Vila Galé Opera virtually under the bridge at Alcantara. Ideal spot to explore the Belem region of Lisbon with its many monuments.

Saturday afternoon the unsettled weather cleared and Sunday and Monday were glorious days.

On the Carvoeiro restaurant front I had noticed a sign outside the chinese restaurant in Estrada do Farol, O GRANDE MURALHA offering an "all you can eat" chinese buffet at 8,80 Euros a head. Always a sucker for what appears to be a good deal and impressed by their "winter" initiative, we strolled down there with some friends from London who were staying with us for the week. The buffet was pretty good all in all with about 15 different dishes. With a bit of wine and soft drinks etc we came out at about 10 Euros a head. It was quite busy – especially early on, with families taking advantage of the fixed price. Having saved some cash on the dinner, we couldn't resist a final cocktail, so up to the BAR HAVANA where I learned of a Halloween Party to be held there on the 31st. Jenny and Craig are good at organising these sort of things now and then.

On the subject of food prices, regular newsletter readers (are there any?!) will know that for some time I have been on a quest for the cheapest lunch in the area. Sad I know, but sort of an obsession now! The contenders so far have been the 10 Euros deal at the beach restaurant on the fishermans beach at Armaçaõ de Pêra, 7 Euros or thereabouts at O PESCADOR which is at Salicos and the 7 Euros for the all-in 5 courser at Restaurant FATACIL. There are also the very cheap lunch snacks at THE ANTEAK BAR where the main course costs just 3 Euros but I think the winner this year must be the café at INTERMARCHÉ where soup, dish of the day, water and coffee costs a princely Euros 4,90! It's pretty good as well as long as the daily dish suits you of course.

The weather broke again on Thursday 27th with heavy rain all day. I stopped at the ANTEAK BAR on way home from work (fatal) and had a few with heavy rain more or less curtailing any ideas of a dash for the car! Despite having been fairly well anaesthetised when I got to bed, I was awakened at 6,30 with bright flashes of lightning out to sea and heavy thunder overhead. It was simply pouring with rain. Enough to make me get up and check rainwater drains to make sure we weren't getting flooded anywhere. Lots of rain fell that day.

Clouds and mixed weather were the order of the remaining days of the month. On Friday we arranged to try out the newest restaurant in the Carvoeiro area, LA BELLA VITA. This is at Algarve Clube Atlantico, Alfanzina. For those that can't place that, it is out of town past Rocha Brava and keep going until you find Clube Atlantico just before Alfanzina or "smugglers" beach. It is where the Indian gourmet restaurant was located and looks as if large dollops of cash have been spent on completely overhauling it. The result is a very nice, light and airy restaurant. 10 of us ate from an extensive menu of pizza, pasta and other dishes. The service was superb, the food simply great and all in all a memorable meal. If they can keep this up it can become one of Carvoeiros best. The bill was under 30 Euros a head.

Finally, for those visitors that love the juicy Algarve oranges and freshly squeezed juice some disappointing news! I read that despite the recent rains, due to the lack of water earlier this year in the Silves reservoirs, the citrus crops in Silves and Lagoa did not receive the irrigation they needed and thus the orange crop may be down by about 15% this coming harvest. The fruit will be of "poorer quality and smaller sizes".

To give an idea of the drought we have been through, the Arade reservoir can hold 28 million cubic metres of water and at present has just 1 million including what has fallen in the last days! Looks like we need a fair bit yet to avoid problems in 2006 and the authorities estimate we need good rainfall for the next 3 months to guarantee citrus production next year. So if you are over here in November to January and it rains – think of next years oranges! You heard it here first!!

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