Gordon Ramsay wants to Help Brits in The Algarve!

An exciting new TV programme is being launched – and restaurants in the Algarve could benefit!

The BAFTA-winning producers of Channel 4’s Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, is producing a brand new series to help struggling British owned-restaurants, hotels and B&Bs throughout Europe.

They contacted us and asked if we could share their promotion with our readers – anything that can help promote the Algarve has to be a good thing! So – are you a British restaurant owner here on the Algarve – or do you know one?

Could your restaurant benefit with help from the world’s most famous chef?

Has setting up a restaurant abroad not been the dream you’d hoped it would be?

Gordon Ramsey

Photograph of Gordon Ramsay © One Potato Two Potato Limited 2013. All rights reserved

Are you struggling to make ends meet? Are you barely breaking even or on the brink of bankruptcy?

If so – then maybe this programme could be for you!

You can check out the link here for more information and if you’d like some help from multi-Michelin-starred chef Gordon Ramsay then you can email restaurants@onepotatotwopotato.tv 

or call +44(0)203 227 5867

We will look forward to finding out more about this programme as production develops and will keep you informed on the blog.


Posted in About us, Eating out | Tagged | 8 Comments

Faro Old Town

We have previously blogged about the delights of Faro, with its many churches, museums, monuments and shops – which you can read about here – Don’t rush away from Faro This time, after dropping off a friend at the airport, we thought we’d take a leisurely stroll around the old town area, and just enjoy the sights. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the guide book and feel like you have to visit every church listed in the book – with our cameras in hand we often just enjoy wandering and exploring the back streets and corners of Faro … and apart from the obligatory coffee and cake, our afternoon was completely free – and totally wonderful!

There are so many iconic views of Faro, particularly the old 9th century Roman walls, although it is still possible to find a different angle if you explore a little – spot the White Stork nesting on the top!

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

Some of the buildings in Faro have been beautifully restored – yet still retain the charm of the old alongside the modern:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

Other buildings are unashamedly old – and yet hold a certain charm of their own – the colours on this wall and door are fabulous:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake The cathedral is one of the most visited buildings – and yet a free scamper around the outside can yield some great shots – like this beautiful window captured in the sunlight:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

I love spotting a winding old street with crumbling walls and old windows – it must be the artist in me!

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

And yet – another corner unveils a restored street – so similar to the one above that you can begin to imagine what a renovation project can do:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

Love the tiled waiter – he makes me smile every time I see him in all his Elizabethan-style finery!

You can pay to visit the Cathedral – which if you haven’t been before – is worth a visit – but once you have been there – next time you can just wander round the square and admire the buildings – and if you sneak a peek through the railings – you can see so much more!

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake A close-up will also reveal the local residents basking in the afternoon sunshine beside their private pool!!

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

The smell of the orange blossom from the trees lining the square of the Cathedral at this time of year is so heady – and the orange trees are laden too:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

But if you walk past too quickly – sometimes you miss the most bizarre sights – like these oranges speared onto the street lamp:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

If you need a rest from walking round – head down to the harbour – find a bench – and watch the boats bobbing in the sun – I love the symmetry of these three benches mirroring the steps down to the water:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake The locals are quite friendly too – and happy to pose for a shot:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

Until they spot some dinner that is!

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake And if watching them eat is making you a little peckish – well no self-respecting camera trip is complete without ‘uma bica’ and a ‘pastel-de-nata’

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

And then it’s back to more exploring – there are so many intriguing streets and corners to explore:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

And sometimes the light is just perfect on the cobbles:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

Every time we visit Faro, we find another archway to entice us – or name to investigate – who was or is Professor Norberto da Silva? Good old Google gave me a link to this site  – he was both a Sergeant in the Army and a prestigious schoolmaster – but if anyone knows anything else about him – do let us know.

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

We usually pop into the Galeria Trem near the Cathedral and see what they have on display – often they have very unusual exhibitions by local modern artists – this time it’s a series of installations called ‘Mapland’ by Mariana Medeira:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

The room has been turned into a series of table-top cities based on the four elements of water, earth, air and fire. Machines are linked to maps on the wall:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

It’s a bit weird, but intriguing at the same time and the dark interior of the room seems to set it all off really well – it’s worth a look – and free entry too. The inscription on the wall is quite thought-provoking:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

Next time we visit Faro we have decided that we are going to have a meal at this little restaurant near the back of the Cathedral – we stopped for a drink and the waitress was very attentive and the food inside looked great!

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

Then we just had time for a few more shots before the sun disappeared – we love the raking light of this shot:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake And to end – a favourite of mine – one of the fabulous old doors that can be found throughout the old town – and the inspiration for a whole new series of paintings that I am working on at the moment:

Faro Old Town Algarve Blog Dave Sheldrake Alyson Sheldrake

If you are interested in finding out more about my art, and our upcoming exhibition over Easter in Carvoeiro – then head over to my website via the link here:

Art by Alyson Sheldrake website

Hope that you have enjoyed exploring a little of Faro with us.

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

Posted in Algarve, Art, Places to Visit, Portugal | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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 – debra.pt


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

Posted in Shopping | Tagged | 4 Comments

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

Posted in House for Sale | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

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 ferragudo@live.co.uk 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.com

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!

Posted in About us, Algarve, Businesses, Buying & Selling a House | Tagged , | 16 Comments

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

Posted in Algarve, Places to Visit, Spotlight on... | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

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