Algarvean Daze

Events & Activities - mainly during the daytime - across the Algarve

Cafévourite: Il Cappuccino Café Restaurant

I can not believe that after only one visit I feel inclined to add Il Cappuccino to the Algarvean Daze list of Cafévourites. But here it is, our second cafévourite.

For some months now friends of ours have been suggesting that we join them for a meal at an Albufeira eatery where, they insisted, a tasty three course meal with wine and coffee was on offer for the less-than-princely sum of 6.50€. Eventually we could no longer dodge the invites, so earlier this week six of us - four 'regulars' and we two neophytes - descended on Il Cappuccino.

I can say without much hesitation that I don't normally rate Formica and flourescents as being the height of restaurant chic. Had I stumbled upon this place I would have walked straight past, not straight in. However, as our friends had booked a table (In a café?? My mind boggled!) it would have been a bit churlish to walk away at the last minute.

I'm so pleased we didn't do that runner! Firstly, we went to the only table already laid for six (in fact, the only table laid) where were greeted by the owner, Nelson, who ascertained our drinks order. A good, prioritised start. Then he advised us of the specials of the day and gave us time to ponder the menu. Our friends then told us that for the set price we could have either the daily options or chose from the menu. No tourist menu, no yesterday's overstocks, but al a carte at a fixed price.

The food was plentiful and tasty, the wine, albeit of the jug variety, abundant and drinkable, the service efficient and Nelson and his wife Gabriella, the most convivial of hosts. How long they will be able to continue to produce a board of fare at such a price is anybody's guess.

Locating Il Cappuccino is not that hard, from the worms roundabout head north 50 metres to the next roundabout (Pingo Doce), turn right, follow the road past the library (on your left) 100 metres. Il Cappuccino is on the right. Google Earth puts it here - 37.096144 -8.230702

A final word - if you plan on dining after 8pm, make a booking. Within 30-45 minutes of our arrival there was not a table to be had. It seems like quite a few people like value for money!

The Hidden Side Of Retirement Planning

Aren't you lucky? If I've heard those words once I've heard them more times than the remaining hairs on my head. The reference is, however erroneous, about our retiring to the Algarve.

First, luck had nothing to do with it. We didn't win the lottery, nor did we derive any sort of windfall from the untimely demise of some unknown reclusive relative with a mattress stuffed full of thousand dollar/pound/euro notes. Second, retirement, early or not, comes with it's own baggage.

Yes, we were prepared for the physical aspects of professional unemployment. Our home in the sun was unencumbered by loans, it was furnished, we had transport and we had an income stream capable of allowing us a lifestyle at least akin to that which we were used to during our working lives. And we had time.

Endless hours of time. Time which used to frequently be spent apart, due to the nature of our jobs. Time which now juxtaposes us 24/7. This was the unplanned entry in our financial model. What do you do, what do you say to your partner during the eighteen daily waking hours that you now have at you disposal? When we worked, we exchanged our stories in the evenings or, depending on travel for work, only at weekends. The time allotted to our sharing of events was proportionate to what we actually had to say.

Now we are together almost every waking moment, and managing this closeness is probably the hardest work we have ever done. However, counsel on how best to survive the emotional aspects of shared retirement has fortunately already been written, not by me, but by Kahlil Gibran.

"...let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."

Damn, I wish I would have put that variable into my retirement planning!

Tempus Fugit

A few years ago we had flyscreens installed to shelter us from the annual Algarve autumn onslaught of the annoying little beasties. I'm pleased to say that this was a total success, and our home is now a wonderful fly-free zone. That should mean that I'm no longer bothered by the malevolent moscas, but this hasn't been the reality this weekend.

During the previous week we had a neighbouring olive tree pruned, one close to our kitchen wall with branches draped over our kitchen roof. This work also exposed the kitchen wall, a wall that hasn't seen paint for ages. So, with an exposed wall in need of paint, good weather, paint, rollers and brushes in the shed - I headed out with the best of intentions to tackle what should have been a quick job. I didn't count on the flies.

As soon as I had wedged myself between the wall and the trunk of the olive tree, someone, somewhere sounded the call to arms for every able-bodied fly to muster and prepare for attack.

Ill prepared, wearing shorts and a t-shirt and armed only with a paint-laden roller, I fought a losing battle. With each passing minute I swatted madly with brushes and rollers, resulting in very little paint applied to the wall, gallons on myself, with only the occasional bugger sent to oblivion. Fighting the annoying little blighters turned the time which should have passed quickly into one that which dragged endlessly on.

I think I now know what is implied by the phrase 'time flies'.

Happy Anniversary

This one snuck up on me - as of this month it's been ten years since we moved to the Algarve. The upside must be that in spite of the upheaval we have managed to slot ourselves into the country, and to some extent it's customs, the downside may just have something to do with being ten years older.

There has been much written lately about expats abandoning the 'dream' and returning 'home'. If we wanted, we wouldn't, we couldn't do that, as Portugal, the Algarve, is now home. We never really had a dream, but we did have a plan. When we left the UK (not my country of birth) we pretty much cut our ties and now I'm not sure that we could afford to get back on the property ladder, to live there. It may not be as cheap to live in Portugal as it once was, but I really do believe that all told, Portugal is still less expensive than the UK.

We are still working to the weekly budget we set ten years ago, and in fact have not increased the total amount. Yes, the way that money was allocated has changed, with more on dining out and less on groceries, but the bottom line remains the same. In respect of annual expenditure, we still feel that we are ahead on rates, TV and heating, but maybe paying a bit more for insurance and communications. But the scales are still tipped in our favour.

Will we stay in Portugal forever? I don't know. But I do know that it's unlikely we'll be going back to any place we have already lived before. So Happy Anniversary to us, and to all the other expats who see the benefit of riding out the storm. Parabéns!

Incomplete By Design

Yesterday I took down the shade sail that has for the last few months provided our kitchen patio welcome respite from the Algarve's endless summer sunshine. Although the installation and removal of our canvas canopy is an annual event, I am still amazed when suddenly I regain the ability, upon exiting the kitchen, to see the sky, the vapour trail of planes still conveying visitors to and fro from Faro and stars, the amazing amount of stars visible in an Algarve sky when there are no streetlights within hundreds of metres.

The return into the light is both physical and symbolic. Just as the physical barrier between ourselves and the firmament has now been removed, our personal, invisible ceiling on how we plan our time and what tasks and activities we feel comfortable in taking on has likewise disolved. Unlike the summer, when remedial work is routinely postponed so as not to conflict with the need to socialise, to be accommodating toward friends & visitors, there is now nothing stopping me, no restrictions.

Except, of course, my penchant toward laziness!