Silent nights.jpg

Silent nights

FOR MANY, the week between Christmas and New Year is a peaceful period to reflect on the past year and plan the one ahead. Holidays probably take pole position, followed by, perhaps, house makeover plans.

If you live permanently in your Algarve property, you can afford to be a little more lax with your organisation and implementation of the New Year to-do list. But, if you are an absentee owner, you will need to liaise with the managing agent to schedule work, such as pruning, painting and refurbishing, to be completed before the first spring guests arrive. So, the sooner you set dates the better, because the earlier work can commence the less pressure there is on the teams who provide the necessary service.

Whatever the work that needs to be done, do not forget aspects that are not so visible, but are equally important, such as bedroom and bathroom essentials. By that I mean the beds themselves, not just bedcovers and curtains. The mattresses and their bases need close inspection and if they look a little frayed around the edges, sag in the middle or are five to eight years old, then they need replacing.

If your property is full of guests in the summer, the beds will take a bit of a beating due to the sweat from each body during the night, not to mention dead skin cells and other unwanted detritus. So replace mattresses as often as possible. Clients who sleep well are far more likely to make a return booking.

There is a very unfair belief held by long-term residents (that rubs off onto new arrivals) that Portuguese beds are all dreadful and that it is better to bring them from northern Europe. That may have been true 25 or so years ago, but it is not the case anymore. And so, if you are purchasing anything upward from five beds of varying sizes – a major investment – you should change suppliers if you are not encouraged to lie on the beds you are choosing.

Towels, too, need to be inspected. If they are stiff as boards or you can see daylight through the fibers, they need to be replaced ready for next season.

Forgotten Algarve

Sadly, there are Algarve folk who have perhaps never bought a new bed in their entire lives and sleep on the one they have inherited or that was given to them following a house clearance. I speak of the elderly in the Algarve who are not as lucky as some of us and survive on the fruits of the land they work, with little or no education. But, they were fortunate to have been born in a country where the sun shines nearly all year round.

We, the foreigners who have been coming here in droves for years, enticed by the very sun that made life sometimes so difficult for them, have brought much needed foreign currency, helping to increase the quality of life of some of the locals by offering them jobs.

However, some least fortunate ones missed out on the opportunity to benefit from the boom we created, because they were already retired or too old to work. Many of them now live in inadequate accommodation due to lack of funds – they are the ‘forgotten Algarve’. They are old, forgetful, maybe even ungrateful and rude as all of us can be at times, but need our nonjudgmental help.

Without them, and those who went before them, there would be no olive groves, almond orchards, lanes flanked with dry stonewalls or cobbled streets. The Santa Casa da Misericórdia in Albufeira takes care of 60 of these elderly residents and needs your help to fund equipment for new premises. Please contact Peta Birch on 289 541 983 or e-mail her at birch@mail.telepac.pt and find out how you can help give those elderly folk a great start to 2006! Thank you in advance.

• Tessa Tuson is an interior designer, supplier of justwhite bedroom and bathroom essentials & property photographer. Visit: www.algarvenet.com/interiormotives, www.justwhite.com, www.algarvepix.com.