Shots and chips with everything – Portugal’s Little England
Growing up on the farm was wonderful. Our playground was 300 acres, we had rivers and lakes and woods to play in, and lots of other fun things like animals, tractors and combine harvesters. There were bales of hay, and corn bins, and both my brothers and I got to raise orphan lambs on the bottle. We were very lucky. It was wonderful.
The only downside to life on the farm (though I remember father saying there was no money in it) is that there are no holidays. Farming is a 24/7 business, 365 days a year. The stock need checking even on Christmas day. So bar a couple of trips, my experience of the wider world as a youngster was fuelled by books, films and television, and in no small part by crackly cricket commentaries from lands afar. As a result I’ve always been fascinated by travel, and I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a bit. I love it, I love exploring, and I love sampling different cultures, and food and music and people. The trouble is, the world’s a big place, and every time I look at the map I realise how little of it I’ve been to. I’ve not even been to all the places I’d like to visit in England, let alone the Amazon, China, the West coast of America, Pakistan off to discover the world. We were on a family holiday, with grandparents and babies, in a lovely villa. Weather was good, we had a nice pool, played lots of games, and had a great holiday.
But, my oh my, what have we English done to the Algarve? We had arrived in the dark, so only the next day when I went to explore the area on foot with The Boy did the signs begin to show. If I wanted an all-day English breakfast, a doner kebab, an English-style cheeseburger or a pint of ale in an English pub I was spoiled for choice. If I wanted to watch football I could pick from 150 sports bars and one even told me that: “We do Bloons, shots for one euro and laughing gas at three euros for a single or £6 euros for a double.” Hoping we might have hit a duff area, the next day we ventured into Albufeira, faithfully following the signs for the old town. Oh golly. Though the sun was out, it still felt like I was in a crumbly seaside resort on the south coast of England. Little England has firmly taken over in the middle of this former fishing village, and I was stopped twice by restaurant touts – one urging me to come inside for a “lovely cup of PG Tips” and the other saying I could “have chips with everything”.
Determined not to eat English we went for a pizza, before bolting back to the villa. It took some research to find a little bit of Portugal in this southern bit of Portugal. When we found them, they were quite lovely.
My oh my, what have we English done to the Algarve?