Saturday, January 14, 2012

High Hill Life

Where the common misconception of the Algarve is a mobbed deck-chaired beach, rudely affronted by apartment blocks, I have to admit that my heart sank a little when my parents finally settled on moving to Portugal. 

Leaving the appropriately nick-named Brizzle - an amalgamation of Bristol and its typical weather outlook – a few days before Christmas, the weather is the glaringly obvious reason why my parents decided to up sticks and move. But on touch down and a mere half-hour car journey inland from Faro, up into the hills, lies the real reason.  

Yes the weather’s good, but you feel a million miles away from the neon lights of a major Brits-abroad destination. Sao-bras de Alportel should have coined that Italian phrase ‘Il dolce far niente’; the art of doing nothing. It’s a sleepy Portuguese town with a decidedly anti-Albuferia feel. Replace beer-bellied-Brits with old toothless locals, reclining in plastic garden chairs by the side of the road, spinning yarns over a beer. It’s beautiful in a completely dilapidated kind of way; the plaster cracks in chunks off the fa├žade of lived-in houses, weeds creep in an unruly manner over busy roads, gardens are littered with flowers and rusty bicycle parts.

I was pre-warned that winters in the Algarve can get cool and damp, but the weather during the day stayed warm, even hot at times. I ate my mince pies on a sun lounger outsider. I could hear the farmer next door, his outhouses of propped together corrugated iron, cough, hock, and spit away his day. Trees still burst with lemon and oranges - so many, you couldn't give them all away.

And at night, the temperatures drop. It’s cold enough to light the fires inside. And even when stray dogs bark well into the night. It’s somehow still right.

All photographs by me.

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