It all started off with an innocent conversation with a fellow author, Simon Michael Prior. Simon is from the UK but emigrated to live in Australia with his family many years ago. His book, The Coconut Wireless is definitely worth a read! (It’s available from Amazon at www.smarturl.it/thecoconutwireless)
He mentioned that his adoptive parents had honeymooned in the Algarve in the mid 1960s, staying at ‘one of the first hotels in the region’. I immediately said to him, “That must have been The Garbe, which is now the Holiday Inn.”
He said that he didn’t know where they had stayed, but that he had some photos he would send to me. Perhaps with my detective skills I could work out where it was for him?
I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to see the photos. Mom was apparently a keen photographer, even back then, and I was amazed when the photos arrived as they were in excellent shape – and they were fascinating!
The Holiday Inn – the Hotel Garbe
I spotted straight away that the hotel in the background was indeed the old Hotel Garbe – and knew that our friend Vicki Good would love to see the photos. She is the Holiday Director at what is now the Holiday Inn Algarve, previously known as the Garbe, and she is a wonderful lady.
Not only was she thrilled to see the photos, she showed them to her husband who said that he could actually name some of the people in the photos! She then went one better for me and spent the weekend travelling around Armação de Pêra, photographing the same locations as the photos portrayed – giving us a fantastic ‘Then – and – Now’ record of the area.
So here they are – the then and now of Armação de Pêra – with titles where we can name areas and buildings of interest for you. But first, a little more about the wonderful couple that gave us the original images…
John Miskin Prior and Phyllis Josephine Glasscock were married on 5th December 1966, in Croydon Parish Church.
Their story is a romantic one. They met at church youth club as teenagers, and were ‘an item’ until their early twenties. Half of the letters that Simon Michael Prior’s book An Englishman in New York contains were exchanged between them during this period. Then John became a parish priest in the rural West Country, and lost contact with Phyllis.
In 1966, aged 40, they bumped into each other at a bus stop in Oxford, a city neither of them lived or worked in; they were both there for one-off engagements. They rekindled the relationship as they were both single, and married later that year.
Their honeymoon in the Algarve would have directly followed the wedding, as was the custom then, in fact the slides Phyllis took are dated 1966, so we can definitively date them to the period between 5th December and Christmas 1966.
Simon’s mother was an enthusiastic slide camerawoman. She always had a camera round her neck, with a matching light meter in its own leather case. She would have taken all the photos herself. In 1985, they returned (with Simon) to the Algarve for the first time to visit his Uncle who had retired to an orange farm near Faro.