Portugal 2011 into 2012

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Bom Dia and Bom Ano Novo (Good morning, and happy new year)!

Apologies for my absence over the Christmas period. I took a bit of a blogging break, but am now back refreshed and reinspired.

After a week or so working in London and delivering presents to friends and relatives, we had a fantastic, if slightly hectic, Christmas back in the Algarve. The festive season was full of wonderful moments, so I have decided to list a few of the highlights:

1. Taking my mother and mother-in-law to Praia de Tres Castelos beach on the 22nd December, where our car’s thermometer read the temperature as 23 degrees Celsius. The weather was beautiful enough for us to eat lunch at a beach café, paddle in the sea whilst watching some amazing light bounce of the water (see photo), and even for us to get slightly sunburned! Returning home to make mince pies and wrap gifts after a day like this was surreal, to say the least.

Sparking Water at Praia de Tres Castelos
Sparking Water at Praia de Tres Castelos

2. Meeting our new, seven week old great-niece while we were back in England. I must, however, admit that the term “great uncle” makes me feel very old indeed.

3. Having time to cook so many things at a relaxed pace, including some foodie gifts for relatives such as spiced nuts, gingerbread and Christmas dressing. Sadly, even slow-paced Portuguese life manages to frequently leave us short of time during a working week so having plenty of kitchen time was a real pleasure. Our Christmas cooking included bright pink beetroot hummus, a sinful banoffee pie, and the pictured garlic flatbreads!

Homemade Garlic Flatbreads
Homemade Garlic Flatbreads

4. Our neighbours coming round just before Christmas with smiles and Christmas gifts for us. This was an extremely kind and touching gesture that we will never forget—it made us feel so welcome in our new country.

5. Having two barbecues during the course of the Christmas period. There’s something wonderfully decadent about BBQing in December.

Finally, though it’s not a Christmas highlight, as such, I feel I have to point out that whilst driving near Maragota the other day we drove past something you don’t see every day in the Eastern Algarve – a camel!

Algarve Christmas Camel!
Algarve Christmas Camel!

Now the festive season is out the way, it’s time to look to 2012, a year that everyone is telling us is going to be a tough one.

Algarve 2012 Weather
Algarve 2012 Weather

There are already some visible signs of the truth of this, and a good example is the Gran Plaza shopping centre in Tavira. Stores both large and small have been dropping like flies in the past month. The shopping centre will be half empty if retail businesses continue to fail at this pace. On the bright side, the smaller stores in our area seem to be hanging in there and we have seen several new businesses start up recently. As I am a “glass-half-full” kind of person most of the time I am going to try to focus on this fact instead.

My wife and I don’t “do” New Year’s resolutions. Grand undertakings in times where it’s depressing to be back at work and the apartment is still full of leftover booze and chocolate can only be doomed to failure. Regardless, we are conscious that times are hard, so intend to buckle down to a year focused on working hard, spending minimally, and enjoying all the inexpensive outdoor pursuits the Algarve has to offer. Given that the next fortnight promises relentless sun and temperatures around 20C, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Happy New Year!


Continuing the theme of keeping old posts alive, at this time in 2010, things weren’t going quite so well! We were in the middle of the Algarve’s wettest winter since 1870 and feeling rather unsettled. Read the post here!

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