Of all the activities I might have seen myself pursuing in the Algarve, croquet was pretty low on the list. Nevertheless on a damp, lacklustre Sunday, a warm welcome awaited at Bela Romao Croquet Club, and even a cosy log fire!
The invitation had come by way of the walking group I love to join whenever I am in the Algarve. I have to confess that a sausage fair at Querenca had marginally more appeal. But I had been to Querenca on a grey day (yes, the Algarve does have them!) in a previous year, and truthfully, I’m not all that keen on sausages.
So, the decision was made!
I had passed by on the E125 heading for Olhao many a time, but been completely unaware of the existence of the croquet club. Up an unobtrusive track, a hefty door awaited. A touch of the intercom and a smiley-sounding voice greeted me. The door rolled back to reveal a large expanse of drive, and above, an attractive villa. Climbing the steps to the pool, I looked for the lovely views to the coast that were promised. This was a day for using the imagination, but the potential was definitely there.
It was two in the afternoon and play had been suspended for lunch. Curious, I advanced into a small lounge, bar and restaurant. The decor was welcoming, the open fire warm, and the tinkling laughter of our hostess, Lita, a pleasure. I was shown to a bench seat by the window, with a menu to peruse. The salmon salad with teriyaki was a natural choice for me, and my husband was very happy with Irish potato cakes, meat pattie and blackpudding. Was it the lovely wine in the icebucket that was giving the room that cosy glow?
I got into conversation with one of the guests, and she described it as a “home from home”. It certainly had that kind of atmosphere, and I found myself thinking that I would be more than happy with a home like this.
After lunch we were offered a complimentary game of croquet. Lita was full of enthusiasm and I hesitated, but Michael had just polished off a large peach melba and was happy to return to Tavira. The views were still a little murky but I promised myself a return visit to enjoy Lita’s hospitality again.
I’m wishing I was there this Mother’s Day. You, too? Enjoy yours, ladies, wherever you are.