My First Winter in Portugal

Algarve Life - Amanda Gleaves
3 min readAug 13, 2023

I had no idea it could get so cold here!

After the summer the winter seemed to suddenly come upon us. September saw the first rain and by October it was torrential.

One advantage was, the ‘cisterna’ was filling up!

I was living in a place called Agostos, 3.8 kilometres from the main village, Santa Bárbara de Nexe. This quaint little village is nestled in the Barrocal region of the Algarve, a natural sub-region located between the mountains and the coast.

One characteristic of this region is that it is very hilly. 400m above see level. This means that it the winter ( a good winter when it rains) you are going to be literally in the clouds.

It gave the whole landscape a mystical look.

As it was winter, I was no longer working in the restaurant, tourist season had finished so I was jobless. We had no rent to pay, so that was a big bonus. João got a pension because he was classed as disabled (more about that later) so we could actually survive on our tight budget of 200€ (40,000Esc) a month. Back then it was escudos and would actually stretch a lot more than the equivalent today.

At first it was great.

Having the fire lit and watching the TV at night (improving my Portuguese)

But the damp just started to get everywhere. Clothes, shoes and even the bedding. It wasn’t moldy, but everything just felt damp.

I had also forgotten to mention in the previous post that we had the roof repaired not long after moving in. The tiles had been removed and all that nice insulation that was there before had all been taken out too. The bamboo canes were rotten and had to be replaced.

Bamboo canes for the ‘new’ roof.

The picture is a little out of focus, but you can see all the canes.

However, when they replaced the roof tiles, they didn’t put any insulation between the tiles and the canes.

We got deeper and deeper into the winter months and the weather just didn’t let up! 3 months of rain — heavy rain. Some days it would get so windy too. If we lit a candle, the wind would blow it out!

The rain stopped around January, then it became so cold, I thought I was back in the UK. We actually had to use our jackets in the house. Many people did this back then. The only way you could benefit from the log fire — was sitting on top of it.

Of course during all that rainy weather doing hand washing had been very difficult and I was having to dry it in front of the fire too. João’s mum had a washing machine and she would wash all the sheets and towels for me — that was a huge help.

It was so depressing though, a cloud shrouded the house. I felt constantly cold and shivery.

It no longer looked mystical and pretty.

In no time though, the spring was here again…

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Algarve Life - Amanda Gleaves

I have been living in the Algarve in Portugal since 1989! I have been teaching Portuguese to foreigners for nearly 20 years! https://portugueseinsixweeks.com/