After a busy Christmas period we are readjusting to school and work starting again. A January back in Belfast was always an extremely quiet affair, spending most of the month inside and trying to get the bank balance and waistlines back to pre-festive season levels. Being in Albufeira, we are able to spend more time outside and my favourite part of the day is fast becoming my early morning espresso in the sunshine overlooking the pool. At this time of year we are especially grateful for the more favourable climate.
Staying warm at night
The temperature during the day in January has been fairly consistent in the 15 and 18 degrees range. The sun rises around 7.30am just as we are getting ready for the school run. However, we’re learning that its really important to get the doors and windows closed up around 4.30pm latest as the temperature drops quickly. We are in a traditional Portuguese building with no central heating or air conditioning system. This means its designed to keep the heat out in summer, but is also useful for keeping heat in during winter making it important to get airtight before the sun goes down bringing the cooler air. We’ve now got two electrics heaters and plenty of warm blankets. Evenings cuddled together on the settee are a norm so make sure you don’t have a January family argument or you’ll literally have the cold shoulder!
This week we had a strange cold snap though. The maximum temperature on Wednesday and Thursday was around 9 degrees and in the evening we were barely above zero. This seemed to be a surprise to everyone around us and in Tavira we saw news footage showing the first flurries of snow in the Algarve since 1954!
Shock Football Results
We’re a football mad family and have been getting into the local Portuguese football scene. The past week in January has seen some surprising football results.
Firstly, last Saturday, Benfica, league leaders and in fantastic form, found themselves 3 nil down at home to Boavista after only 25 minutes. They eventually recovered to draw 3 all in what was a great match to watch on TV with the locals. Later that evening Sporting, who have been struggling badly of late, failed to capitalise on Benfica’s slip and conceded a late equaliser to Chaves to also draw 2 all.
Chaves are in the first season back in the Primera Liga after 17 years. During the week they found themselves playing Sporting again, this time in the Taça de Portugal (the equivalent of the FA Cup). Surely Sporting wouldn’t slip up again, but indeed they did, conceding a late goal to lose one nil. Sporting have now been knocked out of both Portuguese cups after a controversial exit pre-Christmas in the Taça da Liga (the Portuguese League Cup). Their week didn’t improve as they yesterday scraped another two all draw away to Maritimo, twice being behind. The Sporting manager Jorge Jesus is a controversial character after joining Sporting directly from Lisbon rivals Benfica – he now finds himself under big pressure to keep his job and we will watch that story with interest.
We are trying to practise our Portuguese by watching the local news channels. In a month when Donald Trump became the 45th US President to widespread disdain, one story that stood out was the affection the Portuguese people showed in mourning the death of one of their previous Prime Ministers and Presidents, Mario Soares. Soares had been Prime Minister 3 times, served a 10 year Presidency and was a key figure in post dictatorship Portugal. On the news we saw a simple billboard which said “Mario Soares, Obrigado” (Thank you Mario Soares). I wonder will Donald Trump receive the same tribute in future years?!