Newsletter October 2011
Margarida Sampaio @
It is officially the autumn but instead of the leaves all falling from the trees and crisp, cold mornings you could be mistaken for thinking that it is still very much summer.
Temperatures are still warm most days and hot on others even at this early stage in October and I am told that the sea is lovely and warm for those who fancy a dip. I personally will not be shedding my clothes and making like a fish mainly because I have never got over my initial shock many years ago when I first came to the Algarve with the foolish belief that it was on the Med and after being flipped over in the waves and suffering extensive sand grazing where grazing should never occur I realised that the Algarve was actually on the Atlantic.
IS IT WINTER YET?
But while many are still in their bikinis and strolling around town in their shorts it never ceases to amaze me why retailers have failed to take a peek outside to see what the weather is like. A recent trip to the Aqua Portimão shopping centre thrust me into deepest darkest winter as I was faced with an array of woolen tights, knee high cosy booties, slippers, knitted dresses and a strange amount of hats, scarves, gloves and ear muffs (these I haven't seen in any shop since I was five).
Well I can assure all readers of the newsletter who aren't lucky enough to be over here not to be fooled because the temperatures are still well into the mid to high twenties and very nice it is to.
What isn't quite so nice is the news that the company that is going to be managing the collections of tolls on the A22 (Via Infante) has announced that they will be ready to start taking our money as soon as October 15.
This date has now been given to the government for them to be able to consider and it is expected that this will be rubber stamped and therefore brought in sooner rather than later.
A protest against the tolls has been planned for October 8 with protesters joining from all across the Algarve and eventually meeting up in Faro where they will also be joined by protestors from Spain in last ditch attempt to try and halt the tolls.
I would like to be able to think that this protest will do more to raise the awareness of the number of people who are against this new toll but being as the last protest was such a disappointment I am not holding out much hope and have instead resigned myself to what seems like the inevitable and will be joining the legions of confused road users in the post office when the date is announced to try and buy my chip.
Information about exactly how the tolls will work for residents here (it has been said that residents will be entitled to a number of free trips every month for a limited period but this has still not been officially confirmed) will no doubt be released in full when the tolls are out but in the mean time you can keep up to date with the general situation through the local English language media in the Algarve who are keeping tabs on the situation.
CUTS, CRISIS, DOOM AND GLOOM
The tolls are not the only thing getting people down at the moment over here and although the sunshine can make even the worst situations look better then experiencing the same in the rain, there is a general feeling of doom and gloom most days because of the economic crisis.
A nation of worriers at the best of time (what other country would adopt Fado as their national music) the economic crisis gripping southern Europe is having a very real affect in the Algarve, a place which usually feels a million miles away from the rest of the world, and in every coffee shop and bar you can hear the sighs.
Wages are being cut, taxes are being increased and what benefits there were are now nearly none existent but thanks to Carvoeiro remaining one of the best places to come for a holiday, the situation here is not nearly as bad as in the rest of the country and we are all just hoping to get through the winter and start again in the spring with new ideas and energy to keep Carvoeiro the place we all love to live and visit.
The cuts were the topic of discussion of one local resident here who was featured on a news television show last month talking about the proposed cuts to street lighting in the municipality. All the local Câmaras are having to make budget cuts in all sectors and one area that is going to need some of the biggest is the use of electricity. This is because the tax on electricity is being raised to 23% and will see private households noticing increases on their edp bills as well as businesses and local authorities.
In Faro the Câmara will be cutting the hours that street lights are on, turning them later in the evening and off earlier in the morning to try and make savings and other local authorities are considering the same or similar measures with it being muted that lighting in the Lagoa municipality will simply be turned off when it gets to 3am although this has not been confirmed or finalised.
If Carvoeiro was a small rural town then I could understand this cut being perhaps a good idea but in a town where there are a number of bars that stay open until 4am it seems a little foolish to have no lights as people come out of these bars and try to make their way home – lets face it – at that time of night you need all the help you can get to find your way home!
Other cuts across the board have already seen the Civil Governor of the Algarve being removed as a role and now further cuts are being made in the public sector with Junta offices being looked at as potential points for savings to be made.
I may be biased (actually I am totally biased) but I think that Carvoeiro is a prime example of a town that needs to keep its Junta (parish council). Without the Junta we are at the mercy of the men behind closed doors in Lagoa and we will have even less control about what happens in the town which generates substantial revenue for the entire municipality.
Again, no official decision about if Carvoeiro will see its Junta closed has been made and it may be saved but if we are all aware then we can all show our support to Jorge Pardal and the rest of the staff at the Junta.
While for many businesses belts are being tightened to combat the crisis there are glimmers of hope with new businesses opening in the town.
Up the hill past Sullys Bar we have Rascals Bar which has reopened again and is now being run by Kate Green and Barry Smith. The bar has a great terrace with one of the best views in the town overlooking the sea and you will be in need of a cool drink once you have made it up the steps and in! So far Rascals has been open during the day and the evening showing sports, serving sunday lunches and drinks til late.
Another new venue for Sunday lunches in the town in Bistro 72 located on Rua do Barranco (the out road) next to the Junta offices, I saw an enormous plate of food being served up there last week and it looks like another good stop for a sunday slap up meal.
Meanwhile, Liz is back at her salon at Carvoeiro Clube de Ténis after a brief stint in the village she reopened the salon with a day of promotions (including the chance to win a botox treatment!!) and a fashion show in September so good luck to Liz back at the tennis club.
MUMS GONE TO....
Well I am not sure if Mums still go to Iceland for their shopping but a new branch of Iceland is going to be opening in the Algarve in Guia.
The shop will be in the retail park located right next to Algarve Shopping (the part where the Nike store is).
According to the franchise that is bringing the store to the Algarve the shop will have the usual miles of freezers where you can pick up offers akin to those found in the UK while they will also be stocking other British favourites including cakes, cheeses, breads and other goods.
There are now numerous places you can pick up British brand products but we will have to wait and see if this franchise, brought in from Spain, will be bringing us crumpets and sausage rolls and the like at reasonable prices.
The date for opening has changed quite a few times in the past few months but the latest is November 9.
With all the moaning and groaning about having no money it is nice to see that there are still things we can do in the Algarve for free with the open day at the Quinta dos Vales winery in Estombar being a great free day out for all the family.
If you have never been to this place then it is well worth a visit and there is no better time to do this than at the open door event over the weekend of October 15 and 16. The winery will be open to everyone from 1pm until 6pm with free wine tastings, tours around the sculpture gardens, farm and winery, show cooking demonstrations and much more.
This event always attracts a lot of visitors to get there early to get a space within three miles of the gates or if you are a little bit late and have people in the car who cant walk far then drop them off before parking.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Well I hope this newsletter has helped you to keep up to date with the comings and goings of Carvoeiro over the past month and shown that while things can be difficult, essentially the sun is still shining and not even the tolls can change that!
Until next time,