Charting a couple's move from London to Portugal, tales, adventures and moving advice

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Everybody Loves The Sunshine 2

Posted on May 21, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

I don’t usually post on a Friday but I thought it was worth an extra quick update today just to say that this was the week the weather truly arrived here in the Algarve.

We haven’t seen a cloud all week and have really relaxed into the rhythm of the summer, which for me involves doing the bulk of my work in the morning and evening in order to have the afternoon free to enjoy the sun! This is something I think I am going to get used to.

We have been pleasantly surprised that with the low humidity, even when the thermometer has hit 30C this week it hasn’t at any point felt “too hot” for us, so we are sunnyless concerned that it will be too much for us when we get into the sweltering heat of July and August.

There have, in fact, only been two occasions so far this year when I have been uncomfortably hot. The first when I realised earlier this week that the day the temperature hits 30 degrees is not the wisest day to go on a long bike-ride, and the second on the London underground on a humid day earlier this month.

The only thing causing a slight concern is a truly shocking electricity bill that dropped onto our door-mat earlier this week. We hope very much it is an estimated reading as if it IS correct we will not be putting the air conditioning on when it does get warmer! We have tried a couple of times this week to provide a new reading but while we have three different readings on our meter, the electric company website has only one space to enter the new one – the situation is testing the limits of our Portuguese, our patience, AND Google translate.

I am pleased to see that our friends and family will be having some beautiful weather back in England this weekend. In fact our current heat-wave is due to end tomorrow and temperatures in London look like they may be better than here tomorrow and Sunday – if I listen carefully I’m sure I can hear a few of our friends chuckling about that fact!

Have a lovely, sunny weekend.

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Finding our feet…. 7

Posted on February 01, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

February already, and the start of our forth month in Portugal. After reading back through my last few posts, I have discovered that I am scarily weather obsessed (they say that about the English, it must be true,) so I am going to try to avoid talking about the weather for this post, other than to say it’s been pretty sunny and a lot more like we expected…

No weather talk this week!

No weather talk this week!

We seem to have settled into a routine now, and much as we thought before we moved that it would be marvellous to not have so much time pressure, having some sort of structure does seem to be good for the soul, and is making us more settled. My work is very flexible, so can really be done at any time, but we have now both settled back into something much more like a nine to five. Having back the excitement of Friday night, along with the slight sadness at the end of a Sunday just seems right somehow. Also, when finishing at five actually means finishing at five, rather than beginning a hellish commute at five, it makes you grateful for the extra time you have at your disposal. Time that can be spent cooking healthy food and (I never thought I would say this) getting some exercise!

Our language learning is coming on slowly but surely, every so often I look around me and realise that all of a sudden I seem to know the words for a lot more things. Where we still fall down is conjugating verbs and constructing actual sentences. To assist with this, last week we purchased a thick book called “501 Portuguese Verbs” (link below.) I have yet to look through it, but my wife did and so far she says the main thing that it has taught her is that it will be many, many years before we are anything approaching fluent!

During the last week we have restored a tiny bit of colour to our cheeks, had our second barbeque of the year, and visited one of the best restaurants we have tried so far in Portugal (see the review at www.foodandwineportugal.com) Our mould problems, sadly, are not over, but are improving and we have now found a new rental property starting from May. The mould is a pain, but from what we have read on forums, it is a common problem, so all we can really do is deal with it as best we can until we move. It would be nice though to have a few days without mould related sniffles, or bleach related sore throats!

Other than that, there isn’t much to tell from the last week – but not much to complain about either. We still like it here :-)

501 Portuguese Verbs (Barron’s 501 Portuguese Verbs)


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The weather outside is frightful…. 7

Posted on January 19, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

Anyone who has been reading the blog for a while will know that I pride myself on being a “Glass half full” kind of person. Unfortunately the last week or so has done its best to test my usual resolve.

Rain rain go away...

Rain rain go away...

Firstly, the weather….the Algarve is reported to average around 300 days of sunshine annually. That being the case, by my reckoning the sun should come out at the end of the week and stay out until next Christmas!  I wasn’t under any illusions that we wouldn’t get a winter here at all but, according to locals, this winter has been unusually wet and dull.

My wife and I never realised how much we would yearn for central heating. As mentioned in a previous post, damp is a huge problem in traditional Algarve houses. Before we moved here, we couldn’t understand why the Portuguese seemed to favour more modern properties. Now we know. Despite a team of cleaners de-moulding our house, investment in dehumidifiers and other steps, we are still fighting a losing battle against mould in our house which seems intent on destroying our clothes and possessions. There are so many different varieties of mildew appearing that I am sure groundbreaking medical discoveries could be made here if only we knew what to look for!

In all seriousness though, it is well documented that it simply isn’t healthy to live in this environment (especially with asthma!) My wife and I are taking it in turns to be unwell, and spending far too much of our free time keeping on top of mould. It isn’t funny anymore. We have had to step up our hunt for our next property, which is sad because this house is perfect in every other way.

The other small problem this damp issue is causing is that it is near impossible to get any clothes or towels dry. It’s amazing how much you take for granted the ability to dry undergarments on a radiator if required…Even though the rain has slowed, it does seem to know exactly when to return in order to drench the almost-dry clothes on the line!

Knowing we have to move again, having to rotate bedrooms relentlessly to avoid mould, feeling ill and/or “seasonally affected” half the time, and rarely having any clean pants, just doesn’t really feel like the dream that we spent several years building up to! It isn’t causing us to have doubts as-such. Although we have occasional home-sickness feelings, not helped by the issues listed above, we would still rather be here than in the UK. We have been very unlucky with the house we chose and just have to stick it out until the weather improves and we can get moved to somewhere more appropriate (and more modern!)

Apologies for starting the week on a negative note, but I do have a responsibility to people reading this blog who may be planning to make a move here, to not always present a rose-tinted view of things. It has all been a little bit bittersweet of late….

To conclude, some tips for anyone planning to move to the Algarve, based on our recent experiences:

  1. There is a clear reason why a lot of locals prefer to live in modern properties – if you fancy a traditional house, go and have a look at it after three days of rain and have a REALLY good look at the walls!
  2. Get central heating, or budget a small-fortune to keep your air conditioning on 24/7!
  3. Get a tumble dryer or a lot more pants than you would ever expect to need!
  4. Don’t be fooled into thinking there isn’t a real winter.
  5. Keep smiling!


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Here comes the sun / rain again…. 2

Posted on January 11, 2010 by Ben Algarve
Meravista

When people come to visit us in Portugal it always gives us a chance to re-evaluate our decision – it encourages us to view the place through their eyes and is a good chance to take stock. After a slightly complicated Christmas (see previous post,) and torrential rain, we were most grateful that our relatives brought some sunshine with them!

Praia De Rocha - Early January

Praia De Rocha - Early January

We have spent a fantastic four days re-exploring our town and other parts of the Algarve, as well as sampling plenty of food and wine (for some new Tavira restaurant reviews see my new post at www.foodandwineportugal.com)

Although the weather was only 13/14 deg C, the sun was blazing and on a day visit to Praia De Rocha we were able to sit outside (when shielded from the wind) and even fitted in some paddling!

As always, it was sad to see them go home – it always makes the house feel strangely empty when visitors leave, and gives us the same kind of “end of the holiday” feeling we used to get when leaving Portugal as visitors. Shortly after they left I looked out of the window, saw white houses and palm trees and almost had to pinch myself when I remembered that I don’t have to go “home” and that I still live here. It was a great feeling!

Unfortunately, it seems our visitors took the sunshine away again when they left as Sunday was another day of torrential rain, leaky window frames, and new patches of mould on the walls, but I am very happy that our guests were able to see the Algarve in the sun…


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