By: Chris Winstanley
AS NEW arrivals in the Algarve from the wet and windy county of Cheshire in England, my wife and I have never thought of the outdoors as an extra room in the house. Our garden has always been somewhere where, at best, we crucify a sausage over a barbecue on the two or three days a year it is nice enough to cook outdoors: we lived near Buxton, which has more rain per year than the tropical rainforests!
This year’s fashion
Upon arrival, we discovered that we inherited a jumbled collection of garden furniture which is faded, dangerously weakened by the sun, cracked in places and doesn’t match – in fact the colour of the cushions and covers could best be described as toxic! So we set about deciding how to furnish the outdoor area of our new villa in Porches to make it stand out from the rest and make all our fellow Algarveans jealous ….
From my research, it appears that this year’s colour in garden furniture is java. What colour? I hear you cry. It is chocolate brown to the less “arty” among us. Also, this year’s material is rattan, woven from synthetic fibre to create a wicker look with all-weather durability. This furniture can be left out all year round and is colour fast to resist the high UV levels experienced here in the Algarve. It is virtually maintenance free – a big bonus for me as I would rather spend my time at the beach!
I have discovered that another way to make your neighbours look longingly over the fence, is to take the kitchen outside with a gas barbecue. Having been dismissive of gas ‘barbys’ for many years, I have succumbed and now have a fabulous three burner cooking up a storm many nights of the week.
Much to my family’s delight, we have discovered that with the control cooking on gas gives you, barbecues, long the domain of charred lumps of meat and eyebrows, have become a pleasurable experience. The excellent fish and seafood that is so easily available in this wonderful country, cooks in minutes, and without stinking the house out! I even used the side burner to make a healthy stir fry – a welcome change to salad. With gas, not only does the food taste great; I am cooking in minutes rather than having to wait for the charcoal to be white hot (then running to dunk my foot in the pool as a glowing ember drops on to my bare feet).
No to glass
My other tip for Algarve newbies, is to take a look at acrylic glassware and melamine plates and tableware, which I found is now available in styles to suit all tastes – traditional or modern. I raise this, as some new friends told us the horror story of glasses smashing into their pool, leaving them with a bill for thousands and an empty hole in the ground while they waited for new parts for the pool pump. With these items now purchased, we are ready to entertain and meet new friends, fancy coming to a barbeque anyone?
This article has be written by Chris Winstanley, Partner at Moveison, outdoor and indoor furniture stores based on the EN125 in Lagos and on the main road to Carvoeiro. Tel 00351 282 798 101 or visit their website at [email protected]