A special November

By Jenny Grainer [email protected]

Jenny Grainer arrived in the Algarve to live, work and raise a family in 1968. She is a freelance writer and her book ‘Portugal and the Algarve Now and Then’ has sold more than 2,000 copies.

I’ve enjoyed November so far and still have things to look forward to before this month ends and December and the Christmas frenzy begins.

I don’t mind the rain at all – after the heat of the summer, which seemed never ending this year, just watching the rain washing all the dust away, seeing the leaves on plants and trees sparkling and buildings looking like they had been given a fresh coat of paint amidst the green shoots sprouting from the earth gives me that delightful inner feeling of shrugging off the old and bringing on the new.

The dams are filling with water, the underground streams heading off in their diverse directions surging with strength and renewed vigour and whilst winter will soon be on us, we still have sunny days to look forward to and invigorating walks along empty beaches or beautiful countrysides whilst I get to snuggle up in soft, fluffy flannelette sheets and pillowcases at night.

November is when the residents get active. Free of summer visitors they can take up hobbies or sports.

More people will be coming to my monthly writing circle and hopefully I will get a good attendance at the new English afternoons I’m starting in Lagoa, where anything to do with the language may happen, from authors talking about their books to poets or comics entertaining us or whatever….

I bet a lot of people will be starting Portuguese classes again, determined this time to get their tongues round it and leave sadly defeated again by the grammar.

The Algarveans are well into rehearsing their pantomime Aladdin, due to be performed at the beginning of February so start practicing your boos and hisses.

They are also looking for a lamp to rub so if anyone has such an object please contact me.

The most satisfying thing I have achieved so far in November is the variety show I recently did when Clive Dunn so kindly offered (at the ripe old age of 92) to tread the boards for charity.

He and all the many other artists performed for no fee whatsoever. Clive is still a wonderful artist and consummate professional.

Everyone who appeared and came to the show had a thoroughly good night out and we raised a lot of money for a little girl with Cerebral Palsy who will soon have the essential equipment she needs to add a little more quality to her life and make things easier for her mother, her 24-hour a day carer.

Having children is a wonderful blessing but I think whatever we believe, we always offer a silent prayer of thanks when our children are born whole and healthy.

I find it very satisfying when those of us who live here and derive so much pleasure in doing so find ourselves in the fortunate position of giving something back to the community amongst whom we live.

Times are very hard now with so many people unemployed. Apart from the child I mentioned, the money raised will also be helping APAA to continue with their work amongst animals and a donation to the Junta de Freguesia will see to it that people who need it will be given food and clothing and the elderly a little extra for Christmas, but so much more is needed.

Before the month ends, I will be getting on a plane to spend a few days with my now four month old grandson. I expect to see a lot of changes since I saw him last in July when he was all shiny and new.

I wish I could see all my grandchildren all the time but perversely my children who were born and grew up here in Portugal chose to live in different parts of  England, whilst I, of course, did the reverse.

Christmas will be spent here where all my friends are, if not family. A long time ago when I first came, the foreign community was so small that we would all unite in a hotel and do our best to make the resident musician play some English-style Christmas Carols. Played on an accordion wasn’t quite the same but he always did his best and we all sang with great gusto to cover any minor mistakes.

The chef served up a great turkey and roast potatoes, heavily seasoned with garlic and piri-piri which made it slightly different and the trifle was an alcoholics dream.

Nowadays there is no shortage of traditional food stuff available, be it from England or any other country and always, restaurants or hotels to go to if you want to relax and let someone else do the dishes.

We will be at home after church sharing with friends in traditional style but, with sage and onion stuffing and no garlic on the turkey!