Newsletter May 2011

Margarida Sampaio @  

Easter has been and gone and thanks to over enthusiastic chocolate buying on my part I am feeling rather more ball like than I would usually accept. This has come at a very inconvenient time as this month saw the opening of the Aqua Portimão shopping centre, complete with the first branch of Primark and H&M south of Lisbon.

Shop 'til you drop

I had planned to spend most of the latter half of the month emerging myself in all things retail but will now have to set about the pre beach diet with renewed vigor to ensure that not only I do not attract the attention of the maritime police who may mistake me for an endangered mammal, but also to allow myself the opportunity to treat myself to a new wardrobe!

To be honest it is great to be able to have more of a choice when it comes to shops and the Jumbo supermarket is a good alternative to the other large supermarkets locally as well as having the cheapest petrol around.

Living in a town with so much choice food wise and some great restaurants those who accompanied me to the shopping centre obviously wanted to try out what they had to offer there in the fast food department (heathens!) and it has all the usual suspects plus a sushi restaurant and a kebab shop as a bit of a change.

Apart from the huge Primark store, which has everything for men, women, children, the home and he most enormous selection of sandals known to man, there is a good mixture of shops for everyone at Aqua Portimão and it provides a welcome new destination for those looking to fill in a wet or cloudy afternoon.

New additions

While Portimão may well be the new unofficial shopping centre of the Algarve, now nearly boasting more retail parks than the rest of the Algarve combined, Carvoeiro itself has seen some new additions to the high street with Alison Slater of Collections celebrating 10 years in business and opening a permanent shop on the in road next to the Algarve Book Cellar.

The shop officially opened on May 2 and stocks a large collections of ladies clothes and while it may not be to everyones taste or budget it is great to see some shops catering to a market that is not just for those looking to buy a house or a bucket and spade.

Another new edition for the village is a new Indian restaurant/take away located on Rua do Casino where Frasers Pizza used to be (near the post office). I sampled the new place after one the new staff handed me a flyer letting me know that it had “very reasonable prices” and the tiny bit of Scottish blood inside me was instantly interested so I gave it a try.

I found the food to be good, a little more spicy than the medium hot served in the other Indians, and with a very quick turn around of 15 minutes from ordering to walking out the door with my very tasty smelling food.

With the main Indian restaurant in the village on the O Farol always being very busy, this was a great alternative for me and as a lover of Indian food I am always happy to find one nearer my front door!

Another change on the restaurant scene has been the taking over over Xico Zé opposite the Santander Totta bank on the O Farol.

Ludwig, who many of you may know from A Paleta restaurant in Lagoa (on the left just before Pingo Doce after the mini roundabout) has taken over the restaurant and is said to be offering a tapas type menu during the day and a simple menu during the evening, in a similar vain to that already found at A Paleta.

With such a great terrace and recent remodeling work this could be a new one on the list to visit when making your way up the O Farol.

Roadworks completed

One of my favourite hobbies over the recent weeks has been observing, and then moaning to anyone who would listen, the unfinished work at the bottom of Monte Dourado where the road meets Rua do Barranco.

I can now announce that the tarmac is down and the painting of the much needed zebra crossing is all but complete.

Junta president Jorge Pardal promised this work would all be completed by Easter but being as we are in Portugal we will give him the necessary leeway and call this a project finished on time!

Easter Fair

We were all lucky enough in April to be able to enjoy a long Easter weekend as the traditional Good Friday bank holiday nicely coincided with the April 25 revolution day bank holiday and at least for this long weekend Carvoerio really came back to life. I found myself driving around the town frantically trying to remember those secret parking spaces you reserve for the summer months cursing all the visitors and then remebering how nice it is to see some hustle and bustle in Carvoeiro.

While I have been generally pigging out over Easter (and quietly monitoring road works!) other more industrious members of the community have been busy with the first Easter fair held in Carvoeiro.

The event was organised by Vozes Intensas and the Junta in a bid to encourage more visitors to spend time in Carvoeiro over Easter with the little fair taking place between April 22 and 25.

One of the members of the organisation told me that they had been very happy with how the fair had gone in its first year and the association were particularly grateful to all the businesses that supported the event, the Junta, Lagoa Câmara and the musicians that entertained the residents and tourists in the square over the bank holiday weekend.

Both Rui Sax the saxophonist and Ricardo Sousa offered up their services for free which was greatly appreciated by the organisers and gave a good feel to the event while the exhibitors reported that they too had been happy with both the turn out and the response they received from visitors to their tents.

Local artists also took part in the fair with Jan Mullen, Pam Gray, Ania Rubin, Anne Duarte, Sandra Neves and Gloria Costa who all participate in the Giracâr Art Group at the Lagoa Art School helping the Carvoeiro cause by pledging to donate 10% of all the money raised through the sales of their pieces during the fair.

The association member told me that the association strongly believes that fairs such as these are of vital importance to Carvoeiro as they offer a chance for the people to live here as well as visitors, the chance to enjoy the best of Carvoeiro while supporting local businesses and residents.

Elephant invasion

While the fair was a chance for people to see Carvoeiro square in a new light, those who are here at the moment or who have had a look at the webcam recently will have noticed an invasion of elephants in the seating area in front of the Soares shop.

In total there are eighteen elephant sculptures creating a very striking display in down town Carvoeiro until May 8, with all the elephants decorated and painted differently by various artists.

On the other side of the road (when are they going to put a zebra crossing there to prevent the near death crossings of children as they bolt towards the beach?) is an impressive monochrome elephant tree which is causing equal measures of pleasure and confusion and a pretty decent hazard to drivers navigating this section of Carvoeiro.

The man behind the elephants is Karl Heinz Stock from Quinta dos Vales winery in Estombar as he organised the artists to come together for the exhibition and love them or hate them the elephants have been an interesting addition to Carvoeiro over the past few weeks.

Palm watching

Have you been able to spot the difference outside Smilers? Plans to cut down the palm trees in the village to prevent the further spreading of the Red Palm Weevil and to cut down already infected trees saw the palm trees outside Smilers bar being uprooted and removed to later be replaced by other leafy trees.

The entire process was made far more exciting however as the machine used to remove the trees broke when trying to extract the main culprit outside the bar leaving a comical “leaning palm of Carvoeiro” tourist attraction or a couple of days.

On the Monday the machine broke down and it was only on Thursday (April 7) that the offending palm was finally removed.

Someone from Smilers was said to be responsible for placing the leaning palm sign onto the tree however it was rumoured that many passers by took the chance to have their picture taken next to this Carvoeiro oddity which became a talking point at the start of the month.

Congratulations Jen!

While many of us were starring at the palm, Jen Hurst was busy raising funds and training for the London marathon.

On April 9 the town was taken by storm by some rousing strip/dance performances by some strapping young men who were helping to raise the funds even further.

Audiences were treated to repeat performances in Mungos Bar, The Round Up Saloon and The Black Stove, helping Jen to break past the £1,500 mark in her fund raising.

When it came to the run itself Jen unfortunately was ill but carried on regardless in her bid to raise money for the Gauchers Association.  She told me that she had initially thought she felt rough after all the fun of the Full Monty evenings but it soon became clear that she was in fact very ill and it has nothing to do with Cristal in any way shape or form.

Being the trooper that she is though Jen completed the run in just over six hours, fighting through the wall and coming out the other side to cross the finishing line.

Well done Jen, I am sure that everyone who would see you running through Carvoeiro each Friday is pleased that you managed to complete this amazing run for charity, I for one will be raising a bottle of Cristal to you!

Golfers lend a hand – and a few thousand...

Jen was not the only one doing her bit for charity this month and the members at the Carvoeiro Golf and Country Club were also able to see just what the money they raised during 2010 was being used for when the new baby facility at the A Escolinha creche in Monte Carvoeiro opened on May 2.

The generous members donated a massive €7,500 to the creche to pay for the equipment needed for the new baby room at the facility.

This means that parents needing to get back to work as soon as possible now have a safe place to leave their children from the age of six weeks, a great facility for all the residents of all nationalities living in Carvoeiro. Well done to all at the club who play from the Pestana Pinta and Gramacho courses.

See you in June

Well I am off now to stare at my wardrobe again, as I do every day in the vain hope that I might hit the jackpot and put on the right clothes for the weather. I have been caught out too many times during April with my flip flops on in the torrential rain and my Barber on in 30ºC sunshine (the smell of hot wax was quite overpowering).

I will be back in June with more news from Carvoeiro and in the mean time, if you have any requests, questions or suggestions then send me an email at