Newsletter December 2011

Margarida Sampaio @  

After the rain, and oh how it rained, it seems we have returned to the weather we all love so much in the Algarve, with the blue skies, fabulous sunsets and afternoons spent absorbing the winter rays reminding us all why we live in this little piece of paradise.

The first couple of weeks of November saw the roads of the town turn into rivers as the rains hammered down and washing took ten days to dry (and still smelt damp) but now the sun is out it is hard to remember that it is winter at all.

It is only thanks to my advent calendar that I know that we are now on the official countdown to Christmas. It would be hard to guess that we are now approaching the festive season due to the complete lack of Christmas decorations or lights but then again, this is basically the same for the entire Algarve and Portugal as budget cuts mean that it has been decided that is more important to spend money on things like trying to pay the doctors and teachers rather than forking out for lights.

It would be lovely if the town was lit up like Vegas but even I have to admit that this is not really a priority at the moment.


Despite the lack of budget Carvoeiro will have a Christmas this year and the local business group Vozes Intensas have organised, with the backing of the Lagoa Câmara, a Christmas fair to take place between December 14 and 18 in the square.

As usual the planning that has gone into this has been huge to try and organise the tents for the stall holders, the right dates for it to be able to take place and all the other bits and bobs that none of us ever realise, so a big thanks has to go to Vozes Intensas for their efforts.

So far it is still not certain if there will be six or eight tents for the little Christmas fair but it is certain that there will be plenty of food and drink as well as the chance to pick up some Christmas gifts at the fair.

Local businesses have been asked to take part including Lagoa wine, handicraft makers and other local vendors so this should not only help businesses that struggle during the long winter months but should also be a chance for local residents and visitors to same some local produce. If you have ever wanted to drink Ginginha from an edible chocolate cup while eating sardines then this is your chance!

Look out for mulled wine, cakes and sweets as well as paintings and hopefully a little entertainment for the children over the four days between 11am and 6pm each day.

Make sure you don't miss the fair as this year not only are we not expecting any lights or decorations in the town we will also not be having the Christmas party for the school children with music and entertainment and gifts for the little ones. Lets hope these economic woes end soon.


There may be no official party but at the fair there will hopefully be a fatura stand parking up in the area with the seating for anyone who wants to pick up more naughty snacks and there will be plenty of space for the van to park thanks to the lack of potted trees there now.

I watched in horror as they were all unceremoniously loaded onto a truck and driven off leaving the square area looking decidedly empty.

According to my very reliable sources, these trees have been taken away to be “treated” and will be returned in the spring. However the same source did add that the likelihood of the trees coming back was slim to none, which is a shame.


What could also be described as a shame (or add your own expletives here if you prefer) is that it has now been announced that the tolls on the A22 will start on December 8.

One has to question the wisdom of starting such a complicated scheme on a bank holiday but I am sure that those in charge know what they are doing (?).

The details of exactly what you have to do, depending on if you are a resident or renting a car or driving a foreign car, are long and I am still not entirely sure what it is we have to do myself so I won't begin to try and outline them.  If you are looking for some answers to many of your tolls questions then for further information I would suggest contacting or looking at ether or for details.

However at a local level I thought it part of my fact finding duty to head into the Carvoeiro post office (CTT) and ask how they can help anyone wanting to buy the transponder needed for the tolls.

The ladies on the desk were very helpful and confirmed that anyone with questions could pop into the post office and ask for details which can be given in English or Portuguese.

When I asked if they sold the transponders required for Portuguese registered cars here I was told that they did but could not until next week. It turns out that they did have some but had already sold out and were hoping for a new delivery the next week.

“You must have had quite a rush on for them,” I said.

“Not really,” was the reply, “we were only given four to sell.”

Are we surprised?

Anyway, what I was able to glean was that if you want to buy one of the transponders then make sure you take not only your €20 ish with you but also photocopies of your car documents, your fiscal card and proof of address (some sort of bill is fine in this case). I hope this saves some of you some time in queuing up to pay for a device and then being told that you don't have the correct paperwork – a familiar experience to many of us I'm sure.


Now we have dispensed with the doom and gloom I have to mention the opening of the new Iceland store in Guia (on the retail park next to Radio Popular).

Not since that pesky ash cloud left thousands mixed up in air traffic nightmares has the word “Iceland” been on the lips of so many in the Algarve.

I am not exaggerating when I say that the opening of the store has been the topic of conversation over many a cup of coffee or bottle of beer this month.

It is amazing what some reasonably priced gravy granules and some sausage rolls can do to the community.

The store opened on November 9 and has been packed out from then on with the staff literally being unable to keep the stock on the shelves as it flies out of the shop.

It is the simple things in life that can make you the happiest and I ave to say that I have never seen so many happy faces as I walked around the freezers and made my way to the humbugs and Everton mints at the back. Chicken Kiev's, spaghetti hoops and potato waffles have now become staple foods with people scrambling for the last pack of sausage rolls or pot of cottage cheese at every turn.

On the whole there is very little I miss about the UK and see the pros outweighing the cons to living in the Algarve but now we have Primark and Iceland I have to say there is very little to entice me back to those wintry shores – the power of the pork pie is amazing!

Any of you who plan to come over for Christmas but are worried about having everything for the big day if you intend to cook at home need not worry now as this fantastic supermarket has everything you need for a perfect Christmas with all the British bits we love and the Algarve sun to top it off.

For those of you who are interested in when it is best to go to the supermarket and not find the shelves empty, I was told by one of the checkout ladies that there are deliveries made every Monday, Wednesday and Friday but it takes the staff all day to get the stock out.  She suggested Tuesday mornings first thing or Saturdy mornings to find the widest range of stock in store!


A little closer to home but also suitable for a Christmas themed newsletter, is the opening of a new shop opposite the post office (previously used by Dean for his curtains).

Mca Acessórios is a really different little shop which sells all homemade handicrafts from soft toys to baby booties and everything else in between. If you are looking for a unique gift for Christmas this year it is well worth popping in to have a look and if you don't buy anything you can at least admire Maria da Conceição  making some of her goods while sat in the shop ( I have to say her work has certainly put my efforts of homemade cards and prezzies to shame, perhaps I could pass off some of her creations as my own?)

Also new to the area is Tacuba in Ferragudo which officially opened on November 30. Although this is a little drive away it is one that I will definitely be checking out in the near future as it bills itself as a cocktail bar come restaurant serving street style Mexican food.

There is already a Tacuba in London and the same owners have now opened a new venue in Ferragudo and will be hoping to attract visitors looking for something a little different in the Algarve.

It's good to see that new businesses are still coming to the area and see the potential it has while there are still plenty of bars and restaurants open in Carvoeiro itself if you are over here in December and are looking for food and drink (that hasn't come from Iceland).


I have realised that it has been a year since I took up the writing of the newsletter and I would like to thank everyone for their support through the year.

I love Carvoeiro and writing about the goings on here is something I am yet to tire of so you can be sure that there will be plenty more from me (as long as Steen can put up with my ramblings) in the coming year.

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and New Year, either here in Carvoeiro or wherever you may be in the world.

Feliz natal e um Feliz Ano Novo!