Newsletter April 2014
Margarida Sampaio @
It is amazing what a spot of rain can do to your mood and equally how a glorious day in the sunshine can lift your spirits, so if you have seen what the weather has been like in the Algarve for the past month you will understand why I have felt like I have been on an emotional rollercoaster recently!
As I write this I am huddled over my laptop using the overheating battery to warm myself and trying to drown out the sound of the crashing waves, beating rain and gusting wind that has destroyed my little garden. But it was a totally different story only a couple of weeks ago when I was down at the beach trying to turn my almost translucent skin slightly golden (more of a red effect was the result unfortunately).
There has been a lot on the news recently about climate change and what we should all be doing about it and in general I am pretty ambivalent to the subject, but if the weather in March in the Algarve is anything to go by then perhaps they are on to something with all this climate change lark.
I am not exaggerating when I say it felt like summer earlier in the month and on the beach out of the wind the temperatures really were tipping the 30 degree mark. I was not the only red faced, red armed and red legged person on the sand – I could almost see the steam coming off one lady who had decided to go for a nearly all over tan and may have perhaps not increased the sun protection on the more delicate areas as she plunged into the sea.
This fantastic weather had us all excitedly bringing out the shorts and flip flops and trying to find our beach towels again but within only a few days we had gone from feeling like June to regressing back to weather similar to that seen in the storms in January.
The change in the weather had been predicted and we dropped 10 degrees overnight and on April 1st we had our own little flash flood in the town as the storms dumped enough rain for what felt like a year in only a few minutes.
Down the road in Vilamoura and Vale do Lobo the WAGS and starlets would have been having to hold onto their Gucci handbags extra tightly for fear of them being sucked up in the tornado that hit land and the driving conditions on the roads have been appalling - both during the bad weather and also during the good as I have to follow cars doing about 7km an hour as they look for that illusive unmarked junction.
A Portuguese comedian posted onto Facebook the new sequence for the year which went Spring, Winter, Spring, Winter, Summer (yet to be confirmed), Winter, Autumn – he may be onto something there…
The long Carnival weekend at the start of the month was another example of how strange the weather has been with revellers in the square switching between sunglasses and raincoats every half an hour or so!
We had a great turnout for the children’s parade on the Friday morning, although it seems that we have reverted back to it being traditionally late to start again after an exceptionally prompt start last year that was sure to be far too good to be true to continue.
The children from the primary school up by the church and the smaller ones from the pre-school aged between three and six all dressed up following the theme of the sea with the odd Spiderman thrown in for good measure.
The poor little things walked miles around the village but by the end only three or four were sobbing and the rest seemed to have enjoyed the day!
The main carnival events were on Sunday and Tuesday and although it is not an official bank holiday I didn’t notice many people being at work that day and they were doing a roaring trade on the spit roast pig sandwich stand and an even better trade at the beer hut (you can’t beat €1 beer in a plastic cup while dancing in the rain).
The theme for the carnival this year was I am guessing something along the lines of “Around the World” because we had some busty ladies in corsets acting out a scene from France of the past, giddy people with a barbecue and leather shorts representing Germany, a good sprinkling of Pharaohs for Egypt and some slightly politically incorrect girls painted in brown paint and wearing afro wigs and grass skirts (words fail me for this one).
After being hit in the face several times by misaimed (perhaps) boiled sweets from the floats it was into the little square for more beer and some dancing to baile music which mainly involves women dancing with women and men watching on while having another beer and pretending to stop the children from running into the road.
All in all, a great couple of days was had by all and helped to lift the spirits after what has seemed to be a very long winter thanks to the prolonged bad weather we have been having.
Oh – and you will all be pleased to know that we of course had Danny dressed in his oversized swimsuit and leading to difficult questions coming from four year olds and the obligatory man dressed as an adult baby – it wouldn’t be carnival without them!
PAID PARKING RETURNS AND ZEBRA CROSSING EPIDEMIC
While the weather may not have made up its mind yet what the season is there is no denying that summer is actually on its way and the pulling down of the black plastic bags over the parking metres could only mean one thing – paid parking has returned to Rua do Barranco.
All this has meant at the moment is that all along Rua do Barranco between Hemmingways at one end and up almost to Taste restaurant at the other, is that there are lots of empty spaces here and nowhere to park further along the road at all.
I think perhaps this year with Easter being so late that the introduction of the paid parking has come a little early. I am actually all for the paid parking as it is a good way to bring in some extra revenue to the town and is very cheap compared to prices in the rest of Europe.
If you are parking along the Rua Barranco now remember to put your money in the machine (and to gather together some change too) or you will be dicing with a parking fine!
I am very worried about the white paint stocks in the Algarve after the recent epidemic of zebra crossings in the town and beyond! It seems to be that we are following the same rule as the roundabouts that came from nowhere and then featured every 100 yards or so a few years ago - if in doubt paint on another one.
I am all for this increase in road safety – now all we need to do is let pedestrians know firstly to use them and secondly to advise drivers to stop when a person is on one…
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‘Tis the season where it is all change (actually it seems to be like this all year round) and we have seen Tia Ilda restaurant reopening after some major remodelling works. The place is looking lovely in my opinion and they have maintained the original shape of the structure with the roof top terrace but have opened up the downstairs by replacing the front wall with glass and allowing for a decent sized indoor restaurant.
Works are still going on at the little shop next to the 3 Jotas at the start of Rua do Barranco but we have seen Tony’s opening further along the road next to Harrys Bar.
Tony’s is being run by António, formerly of Poço Partido restaurant and before that of A Gále and he has set up the place to be a cheap and cheerful snack bar with great burgers and low prices on everything so I am sure he will be doing very well, if not just from my family alone. He also looks like being in the running for the best toilet facilities in town – that is if you are able to work out that it is a sliding door to be able to get inside.
We will also be welcoming a new business to Monte Carvoeiro in the coming weeks with A Tasquinha in Lagoa opening up in Monte Carvoeiro. The restaurant will be reopening under new management on May 1 in what used to be Phoenix Nites and if they are able to replicate the great success they have had for serving great quality food at very low prices that they have built up in Lagoa then it looks like this one could also be a great hit – best of luck to them, a very welcome addition to Monte Carvoeiro.
COMING UP THIS APRIL
There are actually a lot of local events coming up this month in Carvoeiro, another sure sign that summer is on its way and as well as the usual quiz nights and live entertainment around the town we will also see the return of the annual Easter Fair if all goes to plan.
The fair is planned to take place in the square between April 17 and April 20 each day with the usual mixture of stalls, live entertainment and hopefully the inflatables on the beach again – I particularly enjoy stifling my giggles at the tube that looks like it is from a haemorrhoid cream advert.
There are still no details as yet about the fair (far too early for plans like that of course) but I can imagine it will follow the usual format so look out for some activity in the centre of the town over Easter.
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THE HOFF AND GORDON
Almost as exciting as the Easter fair is the news that we will be welcoming some big stars into the area in the near future and they don’t come bigger than David Hasselhoff, star of Baywatch, Nightrider and that home video where he tries to eat a burger after a couple of vinhos…
The Hoff will be in the Algarve for the Acceleration festival taking place at the Algarve Motor Park from April 25th – April 27th. The main event is on the Friday night with the Hoff introducing a mixed bill of stars from the 80s and 90s including 2 Unlimited, Samantha Fox, Sabrina and Haddaway. If you fancy a night looking back at how music used to be then you can pick up tickets for €25 each. Visit www.acceleration-portugal.pt
And if that wasn’t enough it looks like Gordon Ramsay may be heading our way – that is if any expat is willing to open up their kitchen to him for a new series of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares looking for Brits whose restaurant dreams abroad have turned into nightmares…
It sounds like it could be good news for all the cats in Carvoeiro, with the local parish council announcing a new street cat programme to sterilise stray cats around the town and also build them shelters where people can then feed them for – and who said it was only the Brits who had a soft spot for pussies?
I am off now to batten down the hatches and put the finishing touches to my ark – hopefully I will be able to report back next month if I am not off floating around the ocean with my sterilised cats…
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