Newsletter February 2011

Margarida Sampaio @  

I would like to start this months offering with a little shiver because while the sun is shining brightly during the days, the temperatures are so cold at night that I have witnessed three people already scrapping ice off their windscreens with credit cards in the morning in the past week alone!

So, I sit here writing this newsletter while paradoxically nursing a burnt nose from sitting out at lunch time while wrapped in my coat on top of my dressing gown and fingerless gloves with the air conditioning doing its best to counter the freezing temperatures. Brrrrr!

If you have been having a peak at the webcam over the past month, then I feel that those of you who are not able to be in Carvoerio at the moment will not be feeling all that much sympathy for me. With day after day of beautiful clear blue skies there really isn't much I should be complaining about!

General meeting in English

So down to business. This month saw the first ever meeting in English of the Voz Intensas group of Carvoerio, the group of business people and residents from Carvoeiro who have formed to work with the Junta to meet the needs of the people of the town.

On February 3 around 30 British residents and business owners met at the offices on the O Farol to discuss their feelings about the developments in the town, crime and the current works in Monte Dourado.

I am sure many of you are already aware that road works are taking place in Monte Dourado with improvements being made to the paving – a blessing for those who have attempted to stay upright when trying to come down by A Vela restaurant – but also with traffic now being not permitted to drive through the area as we have all grown used to.

In the meeting it was generally agreed that the current system with no entry was not something that anyone wanted to see continue and these thoughts will be taken to Jorge Pardal, the president of the Junta, by members of the group for the road system to potentially be revised.

The majority of the people at the meeting were British and foreign business owners from Carvoeiro and so financial issues were at the forefront, the most contentious of these being the current taxes paid by businesses that use a terrace area.

We all know that times are hard and the government bodies are desperately trying to scrape in money from wherever they can but the amount of money paid by each business per square metre for using a terrace seems to have increased massively with one example citing a rise from around €400 last year to over €1,200 this year.

The terrace tax is imposed by individual Câmaras so it is up to those in Lagoa to review this to try and help out the businesses of Carvoerio.

Finally the issue of crime and break ins was addressed and although the association is unable to provide any answers to the problems faced by property owners, residents and holiday makers who are affected by crime in Carvoeiro, the members will be reporting concerns to the Junta in a bid to improve the situation however they are able to.

This was the first meeting and an organiser from the group told me that she had been very impressed by the number of people who had turned up and how well behaved everyone was!

“People put up their hands when they wanted to speak!” she declared.

Now we just have to wait and see if the members of the association are able to get anywhere with the Junta in relation to the concerns of those at the meetings.

It was also stated at the meeting that the association starts to take a membership fee of a suggested €5 per month from those interested in getting their voices heard, although this is yet to be formalised.

Carnival is coming

On to more light hearted news in the town and there has been a lot of discussion and quite a lot of grumbling about the up coming plans for carnival.

This year the theme for the entire parade is Portuguese Traditions and History and Junta president, Jorge Pardal, has suggested that to encourage increased interaction between the participants and the crowd that a maximum of five people only should be allowed to actually be on each float with the rest walking along the street and trying to get the spectators involved in the whole experience.

Each group will have a different theme within Traditions and History with people dressing up as fishermen, in folklore dresses, as participants in bullfights and as Fado singers (I am sure that somewhere in there though there will still be opportunities for men to dress as women and babies and of course for the mandatory presence of Eduardo the taxi driver showing his bottom in some form).

The grumbles have come from those taking part with some believing that the traditions and history of Portugal isn't really a very jolly theme, especially when the children have been allocated the theme of Fado, possibly the most depressing realisation of Portuguese culture there is!

So only time will tell if on March 8 there will be a uniformed response to the theme or if a few very non traditional characters will be making an appearance.

The plan at the moment is that there will be a parade on the morning of Friday, March 4 for the school children of Carvoeiro with a full parade planned for the Sunday, March 6 to again be repeated on the day itself, March 8 so there is no way anyone will be able to miss it!

More details about further entertainment during carnival week and all the times for the parades will be popped into the next edition of the newsletter.

Bloody good

For those of you who are here this month then there is a chance for those registered with the Portuguese health system to give blood at the Hotel Tivoli in Carvoeiro on February 24 between 10.30am and 2pm.

Blood donors are always in high demand in the Algarve where surges in the population due to tourism means that there are never enough donors to meet the needs of the medical staff.

The team from the Algarve Blood Donors Association are great and coordinate the entire event which saves potential donors from having to trek down to the Barlavento Hospital in Portimão to be able to give blood.

The whole process is really easy and there is always someone on hand to help with the form filling if you are not sure what is being asked of you.

NB. If you are going along with a friend to help with translation be prepared to divulge your latest sexual history and other awkward and cringe worthy questions that really you should probably take up with the doctor rather than “that nice lady you sometimes see in the supermarket who offered to lend a hand” - You have been warned!

The great thing about giving blood here is that they run all those tests that the doctors tell you to take every year for free and let you know if there are any problems. Also as a blood donor you get preferential treatment in A&E and unlimited hospital visiting rights...the list of benefits goes on so there really is no excuse just make sure you haven't had a couple too many glasses of wine the night before!

If you are not sure if you are eligible to give blood then check out the info in English provided by Blood Donors UK at their website as the rules are pretty much the same here as over in the UK or if you speak Portuguese then call 282 417 295 to speak directly with the association.

Remembering Pat

Many regulars and visitors to Carvoeiro will remember Pat Bailey, a true character of the village who sadly died last year.

She was known for years as the barmaid for Sully's and then moved to Hemmingway's where she worked for Murray and Hazel.

After years of living in the village Pat became one of those faces that you just expect to see when you came here and although she had been unwell for some time it still came as a shock to many when she died.

In true Carvoeiro style Pat will be remembered with a darts match, a game she was outrageously good at for a woman who could barely see the board!

If anyone is up for it, the Patsy Lulu Memorial shield mixed doubles darts competition will be taking place in Hemmingway's bar on February 12 from 8pm with those wanting to take part to sign up from 7.30pm and there are sure to be a couple of bottles of Cristal drunk in Pats memory,

Love is in the air?

Those that know me know that I am not a fan of Valentine's Day (and before you say it, I am not a bitter and twisted old lady with Miss Haversham tendencies) but with all the cold weather and so many places closed for a winter break the town has been pretty quite recently and Valentine's is a great excuse for all of us who have been hibernating to get out there, if not for love then at least in support of local businesses.

Money is tight and you can't be bothered to tear yourself away from the fire but try to make the effort this month to support all the businesses in Carvoeiro that are slogging on through the winter.

At least that's my excuse for forcing the other half to pay for a slap up dinner this Valentine's – a girl has to try doesn't she?

Until next month, try to keep warm and drop me an email if there is anything you would like to know more about in the next newsletter

Margarida Sampaio