Sir Cliff spends his ‘Summer Holiday’ here and the Beckhams and Madonna are regulars. Offering year-round sunshine, sweeping, golden-sand beaches, top-class golf courses, excellent restaurants and a luxurious lifestyle to boot, it’s no wonder celebrities flock to this part of Portugal.
Last year awarded with an OBE for his services to entertainment (his career spanning nearly 50 years), actor/writer Tim Brooke-Taylor, best-known for his role in BBC TV’s 70s series The Goodies and for clocking up over 40 years as a panellist on BBC Radio 4’s ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’, talks to Angela Sara West about his luxury villa and lifestyle in the Algarve, where he enjoys a ‘Goodie’ game of golf.
How long have you been holidaying here?
Eric Morecambe recommended it to us in the mid-70s when we met up as families and we’ve been addicted ever since. I’ve owned a delightful 4-bedroom villa here for 13 years, which we share with friends. It overlooks the lovely, long beach half a mile away at Meia Praia, near the pretty town of Lagos. Nobody overlooks us and when you’re swimming in the pool you feel like you’re in a lovely, private garden.
I head here six or seven times a year, usually with my wife Christine, sometimes with friends and our two gorgeous granddaughters and three grandsons…Lily, Bonnie, Robin, Charlie and Felix.
Your favourite things to do?
First of all, we lap up the sun, then make for a beach bar for a leisurely lunch. Both Christine and I are keen, if not particularly good, golfers, so that’s usually part of the stay. I love golf and the Algarve provides great courses and weather. I’ve played in the Jimmy Tarbuck Golf Classic at San Lorenzo many times over the last 20-odd years and for the past few years I’ve played in the Bobby Robson Classic at Vila Sol.
Your preferred courses?
Golf World once asked me to name my favourite courses in the world and I put San Lorenzo at the top of my list. Nothing has changed there. Boa Vista, the new course just west of Lagos, is an absolute peach, winding its way through natural countryside and then revealing fabulous coastal views. Recently-renovated Palmares, just east of Lagos, is also fantastic. I do a TV programme in the UK called Golf Clubs with Tim Brooke-Taylor where I make the professionals look good. I’ve been trying to persuade the producers to take the programme to Portugal…
We tend to go to the delicious and simple. The Adega da Marina is always a favourite spot. It’s a large room with long tables and customers of all ages. There are many tourists, but we’re vastly outnumbered by locals. The food is fantastic and very inexpensive. It offers all sorts of fish and for those, like me, who don’t like fish (although I do love shellfish), there are good meat courses including the ubiquitous Chicken Piri Piri. You might hesitate to order the wine as it’s so reasonably priced, but go for it…it’s delicious.
Another beach bar, Bar Quim at nearby Meia Praia is another find. Do try the baked, spicy Camaraos (prawns). They’re absolutely delicious! If you want to see what they look like then have a look at the photograph of them on the wall there. I’m very proud to say I took the picture!
Do you speak the lingo and feel fully-immersed as a local?
I’m afraid not. The language is a bit of a problem as I’d love to have proper conversations. I’ve never been much of a linguist, so I’d probably suffer anywhere. Christine’s Portuguese isn’t bad, thank heavens. I don’t get involved in local festas or customs as I’m never here for long enough. But I do feel like a very welcome guest. Portugal, for me, is all about the sunshine…beaches…beach bars…golf…and very friendly people.
Any tips for readers thinking about purchasing a Portuguese property?
Buying a property isn’t easy, but when has it ever been anywhere? The laws seem to be tightened up and better now.
Any funny stories to tell from your times here?
An ex-pat living out here once said to me ‘You’re Tim Brooke-Taylor, aren’t you?’ I responded, rather proudly, ‘Yes’, only for her to say ‘Oh dear, that’s giving my age away’! Another time, in the 70s, The Goodies was showing successfully on Portuguese TV. As I was swimming, suddenly a lovely, young Algarvian beauty rose out of the waves and said ‘Goodish’. She followed me up the beach and said to Eric Morecambe ‘He Goodish’ and Eric said ‘No, he very baddish’!
How did it feel to meet Prince Charles and be awarded with an OBE?
I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Prince Charles, not only because he said he was a fan of The Goodies. So it was a particular pleasure to receive the OBE from His Royal Highness.
You’ve also met Salvador Dalí…
I was once introduced to him by Hermione Gingold in New York and he assumed I must be important, which I certainly wasn’t. We talked as if I were an expert of art, which I also wasn’t, and how I had directed Orson Welles…this actually was true!
Your ideal day in the Algarve?
Get up, not too early, and set off for the West Coast, which is still fairly unexplored. The lovely, long Cornish-type beaches have hardly a soul on them. The Atlantic is cold, but when the days are hot this is a bonus and I love swimming in the sea. A beach bar is then found and a long and moderately alcoholic lunch follows. I never thought I’d drink Mateus rosé again, but cold at lunchtime, it’s delicious. It doesn’t seem to be quite as sweet as it used to be.
And to round off that perfect day?
Nine holes of golf, a short siesta and out into Lagos, a surprisingly beautiful and unspoilt town.
So, do your Goodies co-stars, Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden ever visit?
Sssh…Don’t tell them I’m here!
Tim’s villa can be rented via Emma Hollen. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org