Mr. Tim Motion

Response received from Mr. Tim Motion to Memories of Rosita - Carvoeiro in the sixties July 29th 2009

Lois Rowe's memories of Praia do Carvoeiro in the sixties are a bit hazy in parts!

I first came there in 1961 on holiday with the future Mrs.(later Lady) Conran. The entrance to the village was unprepossing to say the least and, in an open car, we were assailed by the pungent aroma coming from the fish canning factory on the right and the 'barranco' (read 'ditch with a trickle of unsavoury water').

However, at that moment I received what I can only describe as a 'coup de foudre' like a lightening bolt, a powerful physical sensation and a very positive feeling. No, it was not like suddenly seeing a beautiful view. The car edged into the main square (which was almost exactly as it is now except for the bars); it was about 7pm, i.e. 'a hora do passear' when the whole community comes out to admire each other - well particularly the young boys and girls. An open Jaguar sportscar in such a setting could hardlly be ignored, and a student from Lisbon who spoke English helped us find accommodation.

We stayed in a room above the post office, or more precisely above the taberna where all the fishermen would come in the early morning, downing aguardente, coughing and spitting and discussing the catch after a cold night's fishing out at sea. There was a telephone in the post office/store, and another in the Cafe Atlantico - run by Manuel 'Cebola' (The Onion) and his wife. He was the unofficial information service for the village and had a television. I certainly do not remember a lack of any alcoholic beverages there, and although the food selection may have been limited what can be better than fish straight from the sea, grilled on charcoal and served with boiled potatoes, olive oil and garlic, with a fresh green salad and tomotoes on the side?

In the late sixties the Atlantico became less democratic, being transformed into O Patio, where we ate memorable fillet steaks and drank vast quantites of Evel or Dao Grao Vasco. There was also a large painting on the wall of the cafe, by one of or both I am not sure, two RCA students Wendy and Jane who were I think the first foreign residents of the village, though it may have been Claude Bourgier and Marie Conte, a writer, eccentric and she a painter.

My companion always said it was the best holiday she had ever had. We went to the beach every day, carrying a picnic of ham, cheese, 'papasecos', a watermelon and a bottle of wine. I did not open the Sobe e Desce (now The Jailhouse) until 1967, having returned there in 1962 to stay, and met Patrick Swift and his family with David Wright the deaf South African poet. In 1963 they wrote a book "Algarve - A Portrait and a Guide" (Barry and Rockliff), for which I took the photographs. You can still find it on Amazon or Bibliofind. It is a classic. I had an exhibition of some of these photographs taken in 1963, at the Gallery in the Rua do Barranco two years ago. The Gallery has moved to Quinta do Paraiso I think, run by Katja Muller.

There were many nights of borderline mayhem in the tabernas of which there was one every other doorway, plus the 'Sociedade' which was a kind of Working Mens' Club, where Saturday Dances were held. I remember with a certain nostalgia the shuffling to the accordion-led tango on the dusty floor, the mothers and aunts in black eyeing up the potential suitors for their daughters. There were certainly houses along the Rua do Barranco, including the bakery which fired up at about 3 am. There's nothing, after a punishing night in the tabernas, to match the taste of hot bread, melting butter and slices of spicy chouriço. Maria da Gloria's was favourite; she was an astoundingly good cook and adorable person. I have never eaten 'lulas recheadas' (stuffed baby squids) to equal hers. Her charming husband Lubelio ran a taxi and Uncle Camilo sang heart-wrenching fados through a thick gauze of aguardente. Their son Antonio became a good friend also. He was was extremely handsome and a renowned practicant of spectacular handsprings on the beach and his natural prowess with the ladies.

I am Irish, having been born there. I do not play the saxophone but the piano. The saxophone player was a friend of mine Manuel Guerreiro from Portimao, who subsequently (late 70s) opened a little Jazz Club up at Paraiso.

Tim Motion by email 23-07-2009

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