Unusually for June, the weather here in the Algarve is cloudy and a little chilly today. The absence of summer got me (Lou) thinking about the sights, sounds and smells that I associate with summer in Portugal.
In the UK it used to be the sound of lawnmowers whirring and the smell of freshly cut grass that meant summer had finally arrived. Here in the Algarve, the warmer weather means that grass cutting takes place in early spring, but there are other factors that I realise now signal the start of summer. Here are my top five:
The smell of sardines cooking
June is sardine season, when freshly-caught sardines are enjoyed by all and sundry. Walking through the streets of our village, we are guaranteed to pass at least one person cooking on a tiny grill outside their front door, with 6 or 8 sardines sizzling away and spreading their fragrance throughout the nearby streets. Guaranteed to make your mouth water!
The sound of tourists in our pool
This one definitely means that summer has arrived. While I sit indoors typing I hear splashes and the happy shouts of children jumping into the pool and playing water-based games over the edge of our balcony. It’s at once joyful and a little frustrating, as by the time I’ve finished work the sun has moved off the pool area. Still, that’s what weekends are for.
House martins darting through the evening air
It’s true that one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but the arrival of hundreds of house martins certainly does. In every nook and cranny below the eves, nests appear and the evening sees the skies filled with whirring wings as they dart around catching insects to feed their young. Watching the tiny birds peep their heads out of the nests while waiting for their dinner is a delight that heralds the arrival of summer every year. The fact that the parents poop daily all over our car is a price we are happy to pay.
Living in a popular tourist destination means that summer is announced by the arrival of queues. On the roads, in the supermarket and in coffee shops, the long-suffering locals have to wait patiently behind hordes of tourists dithering over which direction to take, muddling through coins they are unused to or trying to comprehend the baffling array of different coffees and pastries available.
The arrival of summer sees little white market stalls popping up across the Algarve, as the makers of local jams, cakes and handicrafts sell their wares, moving from town to town with the market throughout the summer months. Often only setting up late at night, the market stalls provide a nice addition to the local entertainment, offering an excuse to socialise over a flaky honey pastry during the warm, balmy evenings.
So, these are my top five sights and sounds that show me that summer in Portugal has truly arrived. I have to add that when Ben read this post, he said that his personal way of knowing summer has arrived is hangovers – something which I certainly second!
What is it that signals the arrival of summer in Portugal for you? Please leave a comment below to let us know.
Image credits: Wikimedia and Flickr