Charity Fruit

The Algarve has been busy collecting fruit! The supermarket chain Lidl’s have been offering stickers in return for shopping – which can then be exchanged for some rather charming and cuddly fruit toys. The offer ends today Wednesday 26th February and the fruit can be collected until Wednesday 5th March

 Lidl ad

One enterprising and selfless person here on the Algarve has been busy collecting the stickers and fruit for a different reason –  to give them to children with a rare disease called EB.

I was intrigued – and we had been collecting the stickers with no real intention of doing anything with them – at best we’d have collected a free fruit (probably the banana – it made me smile the most!) and then just stuck it on a shelf


So we contacted the lady in question – Cat Almeida – and asked her a little more about why she was collecting the fruit. She directed us to the UK website DEBRA which is the national charity working on behalf of people in the UK with the genetic skin blistering condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).

Understanding EB

Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) is a group of genetic disorders that result in fragility of the skin and, in some cases, other internal membranes and organs. Blisters, open wounds and sores form as a result of the slightest touch, rub or trauma. *information taken from the Debra UK website.

She also gave me the link to the equivalent site in Portugal –


The Portugal group was formed in September 2010 by a group of patients and parents of children with EB. Their aims appear simple – to generate more awareness of the condition and to find improved treatments.

Tomorrow – 28th February – is World Rare Disease Day – which is timely for this initiative. If you would like to know more about this – then why not click this logo which links to a video explaining more about the day

rare-disease-dayThe theme of World Rare Disease Day this year is “Care” – which is a trait embodied by Cat as she collects the Lidl stickers and fruit. Her initial message onto a Facebook group summed it up for me so well:

Do you have unwanted toy stickers for me to swop for soft toys for Butterfly children? … These kids have skin as fragile as butterfly wings hence the name. The fruit and veg toys are bright, smiley and soft, ideal gifts to try to tempt our kids to eat after esophagus dilation and other awful problems they have to live with every day. Can you help me provoke a smile from a kid that sometimes needs a reason to smile?

 TOYS 2 There is still time to join in – if you have enough stickers to exchange for a fruit …


then why not send your fruit to Cat? Alternatively if you can drop stickers off directly at her office before the 5th March I am sure she would be surprised and grateful to receive them. And the children she will be giving them too would be delighted.

Her office address in Almancil is:

HiFX PLC. Rua 5 de Outubro Nº 170. Almancil 8135-101



house for sale, Ferragudo, Bela Vista, townhouse, property

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Bela Vista – house for sale!

Bela Vista – Ferragudo

 4/5 bed townhouse for sale 245,000€

Bela Vista townhouse for sale

Would you like to wake up to this view?

Then you can!

Our well maintained large 4/5 bedroom townhouse with stunning views over the Arade river and Portimão to the Monchique mountains is for sale.

It is ideal as a family home or holiday let, and there is also the potential to convert the garage area into a 1 or 2 bed self-contained apartment.

Bela Vista townhouse for sale

This is an extremely well-presented semi-detached townhouse on a large plot, in a quiet residential area , situated on the top of the hill. It is a 5 minute walk to the centre of Ferragudo, with its quaint village bars and restaurants, harbour and beautiful sandy beaches. The townhouse is situated less than a 10 minute drive to Carvoeiro and Lagoa, and a 5 minute drive to Portimão, with its wide range of shops and amenities.

For Golfers we are less than 10 minutes from several excellent golf courses, including the renowned Penina Championship Golf Course near Portimão; and the Pestana Golf Courses at Carvoeiro.

Ferragudo Bela Vista townhouse for sale

Ferragudo village and harbour

If you would like more information – or know someone that might be interested in purchasing this beautiful home, please click the links below:

To view more information about the house – click here

House for Sale

To download the information as a full colour pdf brochure – click here


This is a well-maintained and beautifully presented town-house, built in 2005, and owned by the current occupants since 2007 as a much-loved and cherished family home. It is in a quiet residential area, with fantastic Portuguese neighbours, and is situated in an excellent location, whether you are looking for a holiday home with access to fabulous local beaches, or a family home in a great location for travel and local amenities.

Your nearest beach:

Bela Vista townhouse for sale Ferragudo

Praia Grande beach, Ferragudo


Bela Vista townhouse for sale 245,000€


For more information, or to arrange a viewing of the property, please contact

Dave & Alyson Sheldrake

PT mobile 91 202 7256               UK mobile 07743 412856

Thank you

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Energy Certificates in Portugal

We are about to enter uncharted waters for us here in the Algarve and advertise our house for sale – but don’t worry – we are intending to stay living here – and Algarve Blog will still be here! But we will share our sales journey with you in the hope that the information we share may be of help to others also intending to sell – or buy – a property out here.

One of the first things we have encountered is a new law passed last year which affects all property owners with a house to sell – with effect from the 1st December 2013 it is now a legal requirement for all property that is being commercially advertised for sale – or to rent – to have an Energy Performance Certificate.

Energy Certificate Portugal Algarve Blog

The ‘Sistema de Certificação Energética dos Edifícios – or SCE – is valid for 10 years and measures the energy efficiency of a property on a scale of A+ (top rating) to G (lowest rating).

To be honest, it appears to be a rather crude tool, which looks at the construction of your home, its energy consumption, heat output and insulation, and the ability to produce hot water via a boiler, alongside the position and location of your home and even its sun exposure.

Energy Certificate Portugal Algarve Blog

You will need to provide the following documentation:

Land registration documents – the ‘Caderneta Predial Urbana’ and the ‘Certidão de Registo da Conservatória';

and Plans of the house;

There are also optional architect project plans and insulation project plans which if you have them you can also provide.

Any architect or engineer recognised by the Portuguese Associations; ie the Ordem dos Engenheiros and the Ordem dos Arquitectos; can carry out the survey as long as they are qualified to do so.

The Certificate is issued by ADENE, and the fines for failing to have a valid certificate for individuals can be up to €3,740; and for agencies the fines range from €2,500 to a staggering €45,000. Trust me – an agency is not going to let you advertise your property for sale with them now unless you have a certificate!

We initially contacted an engineer recommended to us by an agency – and soon discovered some problems! First off, the engineers used to charge for the certificate on a sliding scale of prices based on the m². size of your house and we were told that our townhouse would cost €275.00 – a lot of money!! We were then quoted €330.00 as they have now decided that they will calculate it according to the number of bedrooms you have (we have 4) – we were not happy!

Added to that we were warned that since this new law was passed (enforceable since the 1st December 2013) – surprise surprise – everyone is busy trying to get a certificate and that it could take up to 2 months to process.

After 10 days of e-mails and negotiations with this engineer we gave up – and contacted someone else!

We struck gold second time around and found a young Portuguese man who is obviously willing to work long hours and provide a good standard of service – he was  polite, efficient and professional – we booked  him and he gave us a date within 3 days to visit our house, and only 10 days later we had our Energy Certificate – for a total cost of €195.00. If you would like his details just e-mail us at and we will happily pass these on to you.

Energy Certificate Portugal Algarve Blog

So now we have our certificate – and we are intending to trial the successful and highly recommended online website

Beverywhere logo

So if you fancy being able to wake up and enjoy a view like this every morning …

Bela Vista Algarve Blog

watch this space!

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Heading into the Alentejo countryside

Although we love the beaches and villages of the Algarve, it’s always fun to explore new places too – and we have been meaning to explore the Alentejo area above the Algarve for some time – drawn by the open spaces, big skies and space that it offers.

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

Our original plan was to go to Beja – but as you will see, we were totally seduced by the views and vistas along the way and didn’t get anywhere near Beja!

We started our day out in the rural district north of Monchique – we know and love Monchique and its surrounding countryside, but this time we turned right as we approached Monchique and took the N267 road to São Marcos de Serra. It was a stunningly pretty road to drive, lined with cork and eucalyptus trees, with amazing views.

We had decided to spend the day meandering and exploring, and shouting ‘stop’ if we saw anything worth investigating or photographing … it wasn’t long before we stopped!

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

The Barragem de Odelouca – or Odelouca dam – is on our list of things to visit soon – it is enormous as it stores water from a catchment area of ​​393 km2, and has a reservoir of about 7.8 km2 We drove north of Monchique and realised we were still driving above and around the dam area, and stopped off at a little roadside turning, expecting to just have a quick look … but we were stunned by how beautiful it was and quickly scampered down the hill to see more!

It was so peaceful and beautiful – the perfect spot for a picnic although we had decided to wait a while before we scoffed ours!

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

I was quite envious of the little house beside the water – just a little boat and some chickens and ducks to keep you company!

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

After climbing back up to the road we were off again, and our next stop was São Marcos de Serra – mainly so that we could stop and have a coffee! It is a little place nestled between the mountain areas of the Serra de Monchique and the Serra do Caldeirão – and as it was Sunday it was shut! Literally! Everyone appeared to be in the pretty church in the centre but we managed to find a little café opposite which was open. I think it was run by a mother and daughter combo – daughter was in her forties/fifties and they never stopped talking to each other the entire time they served us .. it was very funny! They also served the strongest ‘bicas’ (espressos) we have ever attempted to drink, it was like treacle! It certainly kept us awake all day!!

The village also has a life-size plastic donkey sat on the side of the road beside a water wheel – São Marcos da Serra is locally known as “terra de peixe-burro”  (land of the fish-donkey) and tradition goes that a long time ago there was a man fishing in the Odelouca river and he caught a leg of a donkey instead of a fish.

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

To find out more about this little village we can recommend this great website São Marcos da Serra

From here we joined the IC1 heading up to Ourique – our plan was simply to find the first interesting turning on the road that we could explore and stop for a picnic lunch.

We soon found a sign to a river and headed off – north of Monte Ruivo – and discovered the quietest and prettiest little river bank imaginable, which we think is the very edge of the Rio Mira:

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

Nestled in the trees, the trickling water enticed us and the flower strewn field captivated us:

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

As we are not exactly sure the name of this delight – we are just going to have to go back again to check!

From there we did actually continue north and reach Ourique – but we had driven past far too many pretty turnings on the way, complete with trees and flower fields, so we soon turned around vowing to return another day, and instead meandered back down the IC1 stopping off at interesting points along the way.

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

The trees and fields were lovely, it was almost like being back in Devon, with herds of sheep and cows, wide open spaces and big blue skies

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

We also found the signs on the side of the road hilarious – as ‘caça’ translates as ‘hunt’ – we read the sign as being a ‘Zone to hunt  tourists’ … needless to say we didn’t stay there long!

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

Another sign that intrigued us was the sign leading to the church of Nossa Senhora da Cola – well we had to go and have a look didn’t we? A church dedicated to coca-cola had to be worth a shot!

We were however quite blown away when we arrived and found a whole Bronze and Iron age settlement – complete with tourist signs – and open to the public – for free!

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

It was great to be able to wander through this archaeological site and imagine what life must have been like in the past:

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

The views from the edge of the site were amazing:

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

The church of Nossa Senhora da Cola was of course shut – but it was still worth a walk around

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

And of course a shot of the name too

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countrysideOur last stop of the day was to set up somewhere to watch the sun set …we headed back past São Marcos da Serra, and saw a turning marked Miradouro – which usually leads to a nice viewing platform … oh boy did we wish we had a four-by-four vehicle! It was one of those bumpy twisty narrow tracks that once you have started driving – you have to keep going! It had quite a hair-raising drop to one side too! But it was so worth it!

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

The view was spectacular as we watched the sun set, and then the low cloud and mist rolled in behind the Monchique:

Alyson Sheldrake Algarve Blog Alentejo countryside

We drove home happy – sadly our final stop of the day let us down – the wonderful ‘A Rampa’ restaurant near Foia does the best piri-piri chicken for miles around – but they were closed! We ended up at another of the restaurants on the way down from Foia to Monchique – but take note – scrawny pigeon-sized chicken and greasy chips are not what we enjoy :(

But we loved our day trip out to this area nestled between the top of the Algarve and the start of the Alentejo – and we will definitely be returning there again soon.

If you enjoyed this you might also enjoy these posts too:

Spotlight on Monchique

The Hidden Algarve

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Storm Surge hits the Algarve

Monday was quite a scary day – with the bad weather which was affecting parts of the UK also hitting the west coast of Portugal. The initial weather warning was a red alert for the western side of Portugal from Lisbon to the north – so we really didn’t think much about it down here on the southern Algarve coast.

We happened to be walking along Ferragudo’s harbour in the late afternoon when we looked out to sea past the breakwater and saw some pretty big waves! It was quite scary as they were actually bigger than the horizon – which was something we had never seen before. The water in the harbour was rushing in very fast, and we knew we were not even at high tide yet; the water was coming in the harbour in waves and it felt strangely ominous. Lots of locals were coming out to look at it too – so we decided to retreat to higher ground rather quickly!

Praia de Molhe Storm Surge

Praia de Molhe breakwater and beach

We headed up to park on the cliffs above Praia de Molhe, one of our favourite small beaches between Ferragudo and Carvoeiro, which is normally a favourite small beach for surfers offering a gentle stroll along the breakwater to the lighthouse. Lots of locals were already there at the car park at the top and the sight took our breath away – gone was the usual view of gentle waves lapping onto a golden sandy beach – instead the sea was ferocious, kicking up giant waves and storming onto the beach area, which was completely submerged.

Praia de Molhe Storm Surge The waves crashing up onto the cliffs before they even reached the beach area were startling – we have never seen them so high before:

Praia de Molhe Storm Surge

And then they continued to roll in – completely covering the lighthouse as they streamed forward – and flowing over the breakwater:

Praia de Molhe Storm Surge

You can see the difference here between these two shots as the waves relented for a second in the shot above- until the next powerful one arrived in the shot below:

Praia de Molhe Storm Surge

As it got dark and high tide approached, the sea seemed to turn even more menacingly strong, sending waves crashing right into the little beach café.

The waves caused damage across the Algarve, it seems that Armação de Péra, Carvoeiro, Praia da Rocha and Portimão were some of the worst affected areas – we could see the waves crashing onto Praia da Rocha beach from where we were stood on the cliffs:

Praia de Molhe Storm Surge It was a very sobering time standing safely on the cliffs but watching the immense power of the sea claiming land and crashing up the rocks of the cliffs below us. As it got darker the sound of the waves seemed to be magnified – there were a lot of local people stood watching on the cliffs – but no-one was speaking – all just stood in silence, witnessing an eerie and spectacular sight.

It wasn’t until morning that the extent of the damage was uncovered – the Portugal News have reported this in detail on their website – link here  – with information showing the debris and damage across many small coastal villages.

Here is the little beach café on Praia de Molhe beach this morning:

Praia de Molhe storm surge

You can also clearly see the strength of the waves when you look at the breakwater this morning – the rocks that are now scattered across the walkway are giant boulders – they have been moved as if they were small pebbles:

Praia de Molhe storm surge

Although the bad weather had been forecast, it really did seem to take locals by surprise here – we have since discovered this really handy surfers’ website which has a great ‘wave simulation’ programme which will show you the strength of the forecasted waves for the next three days – it’s simple and effective – click here to view the site.

As the clean-up and repairs begin, we are saddened to see how much damage has been caused to small local businesses and beaches – and wonder how long it will be before our beloved little Praia de Molhe beach is back to normal:

Praia de Molhe Storm Surge

 If you would like to know more about the weather in the Algarve – when we don’t have unprecedented storm surges forecast – you might enjoy reading this post:

When to visit the Algarve

Posted in Beaches | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

The invitations are piling up – it must be Christmas!

It has been a busy time at Sheldrake Towers, and the mantelpiece has been full of shiny invitations to events. It might be a quiet time of year for tourism here on the Algarve, but there are still a lot of things happening, and many of them are set up to raise money for charity or enhance the profile of the Algarve – all a good thing!

Last weekend we were very busy! On Friday evening we went to the opening of a new exhibition of work by local artist Liz Allen:


Liz is a really nice gentle person, and it was great to be able to catch up with her again. She paints bright acrylic work in the Naïve style, and is a member of The Association of British Naïve Artists. Her work is colourful, full of pattern and shape, and intuitive, and I always enjoy seeing her new pieces:


Naïve paintings have a characteristic absence of perspective, which creates the illusion that figures are “floating” and also means that features and buildings that would normally be decreased in size and detail the further away they are in the landscape are painted with the same rich intensity and colours as those in the foreground – which always makes her paintings very interesting as she gives a unique spin on local Algarve villages and scenes.

The exhibition is on throughout December at the offices of Town and Country Estate Agents in Carvoeiro – click here for their website and directions.

You can also view more of Liz’s work on her website Liz Allen Art 

Saturday morning saw us up bright and early so that we could go to Armação de Pêra for the Father Christmas Walk which raises food and money for the ‘Banco Alimentar de Portugal’ or Portuguese Food Bank which does an amazing job collecting and distributing food to those in need:

Santa walk 2013 Dave Sheldrake photography

It was lovely to see so many Santas walking through the town in the bright sunshine, although this dear little puppy looked very tired afterwards:

Santa walk 2013 Dave Sheldrake photography Saturday afternoon saw us dashing off to Vale de Lobo and the Christmas market – there are a plethora of markets and events across the Algarve each Christmas, and we had promised our friends at Birch Photography that we would pop in and see them – we had also had a lovely personal invitation from the organisers Inspirations Algarve who have been a fantastic support all year advertising our exhibitions and events for us – so it was great to actually meet Paul Rouse and his wife Kate at last!


The event I have to say was actually quite tricky to find – unless you know the Vale de Lobo resort well – but we eventually found the main auditorium – and it was great! Now in its fourth year, the Christmas market raises money for a number of the Algarve’s leading charities, including the Wolf Valley Charity Fund, Their Voice Portugal, the New Goldra Dog Sanctuary, the Algarve Oncology Association, and the Peta Birch Community Association. All very worthy causes indeed. There were a large number of stalls, mainly selling crafts and gifts, with plenty of food and drink on sale too. We even managed to buy some nice Christmas cards for a very reasonable price too – now all we have to do is write them and post them!

The children’s entertainment was great, with Santa, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, face painting, and even two of the actors from the Zoomarine, who were very funny – and one of them took a particular liking to Dave at one point:


Naturally we had to have a go in the photo booth set up by Birch Photography - Dan and Natasha are such a great couple and are so relaxed and friendly – which is probably why we ended up with a shot like this to keep – which we have now decided will become our ‘Official Christmas Photograph’ … we have vowed to get our revenge later…


Monday saw us spending the afternoon celebrating Christmas at Cliff’s vineyard on the Algarve, alongside many other friends and family of the estate. It was great to be able to have a quick look around as well, it has been quite a few years since we toured the vineyard, and it has definitely expanded since then:

 Alyson Sheldrake Photographer

We were also able to try some of the delicious Vida Nova Sparkling Rosé wine and enjoy a fabulous hog roast whilst listening to local children sing and entertain the crowds.

 Alyson Sheldrake Photographer

The views from the estate are stunning at any time of year, but there is something magical about the sunlight streaming through the burnished red and orange leaves of the old vines:

Alyson Sheldrake Photographer

It was a lovely afternoon!

We haven’t even really begun to think about planning our own Christmas yet, but all of these invitations and events are certainly beginning to get us into the mood – just one more commission to finish painting this week and then I can begin to hunt out the Christmas decorations!
And wherever you are – and however you celebrate – have a fantastic Christmas!

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Our top 10 beaches of the Algarve

The Algarve is known for its stunning coastline and beautiful beaches – and we have enjoyed exploring so many of them over the years. We also enjoy sneaking our way up onto the West Coast around Aljezur as well – so you’ll find some of our top 10 are around this area too.

In 2012 the Algarve was voted Europe’s top beach destination and it’s not hard to see why! Choosing just ten beaches to share with you was an almost impossible task – but here they are – our top 10 beaches – in reverse order!

10 ~ Praia do Amado

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

Wild, unspoilt and great for surfing! This is a great beach to get away from it all, and has soft sand and big skies. There is also an international surf school here – the Algarve Surf School The beach is on the west coast near Carrapateira.

9 ~ Praia de Molhe, Ferragudo

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

A small beach with a big heart. As you can see from the above image, it is one of the most stunning small beaches from which to capture an amazing sunset. On the way to Carvoeiro from Ferragudo, alongside the lighthouse and walkway on the Ferragudo side of the harbour.

8 ~ Praia da Marinha

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

This is a view that is so iconic to the Algarve – crumbling cliffs, hidden coves and incredible arches of rock reaching out into the sea. Marinha is one of several beaches east of Carvoeiro, near Armação de Pêra. Access to the beach is via some steep steps – or you can enjoy views like this from the cliff-top walk.

7 ~ Monte Clérigo

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

Near Aljezur, this is a delightful beach with wide open sand, good body-boarding waves, and the most stunning small black rocks washed up on the beach.

6 ~ Bordeira

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

A wide open large beach, with sand dunes and lots to explore – you are almost guaranteed to find some space on this beach – even in the summer! Follow the signs for Carrapateira, then Bordeira, and then park up and walk along a wooden board-walk to reach the beach – and look out for the surfer’s beach hut above!

5 ~ Armação de Pêra

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

A long expanse of wide sand, beach bars and fishermen mending their nets. As a beach, this seems to sum up the two extremes of Portuguese beaches for you – a working fisherman’s beach and a great sunbathing site!

4 ~ Evaristo beach

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

Near Albufeira, this has a lovely restaurant overlooking the beach, and is a great rocky beach for exploring and searching the many rock pools. With good facilities and even the chance of some celebrity-spotting too!

3 ~ Galé Beach

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

A wide and sheltered beach, with amazing rock formations at the eastern end to explore. This is one for a long leisurely walk along after lunch – and a great place to watch the sun set.

2 ~ Praia dos Três Irmãos

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

This is actually just the eastern end of Alvor beach, and is named after the three jutting rocks that extend into the sea, creating a stunning backdrop and a beautiful beach to relax and enjoy. With golden sand, and smaller coves to explore at low tide, this is a real treasure. There are also several good beach restaurants and cafes here too.

1 ~ Amoreira beach

Algarve beaches Dave Sheldrake Photography

Back to Aljezur on the west coast for this beach – and a real hidden treasure – we even thought long and hard about even sharing it with you on the blog – as it has such an unspoilt and magical feel to it. Drive through Aljezur, then turn left at the sports centre – and then it’s a long drive down a windy track – but well worth it!

Beautiful soft sand, backed by sand dunes, and with the most stunning rock formations and a lagoon at low tide, with a lovely restaurant overlooking the beach – perfection!

So that’s it – our top ten beaches – but which ones would you have chosen?

To be honest we could easily have made this a top 20 of Algarve beaches – because there are so many gorgeous places to enjoy along this stunning coastline.

Please note all the images here on this blog are © Dave Sheldrake Photography Please respect our copyright. Thank you.

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