‘There’s a Medieval castle at the top of our garden!’

Andrew Roberts (63, pictured below on the right) and Rupert Kirby (65, pictured below on the left) originally come from London (UK). In 2006 they moved to the Algarve, where they now run a bed & breakfast, Casa Rosada, in Castro Marim.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2017


What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Andrew & Rupert: After 25 years of holidaying in Tavira, it became harder to leave. So we decided to stop saying “Wouldn’t it be nice if….” and do something about it. We were ready for a calmer lifestyle and already loved the Portuguese people, climate and slower way of life, which was a big change from London!

We were getting older, but still felt ready for a new challenge and it seemed there were opportunities in the Algarve which we could explore. As we both had experience in the hospitality industry, creating a small but unique guest house here was fulfilling a mutual dream. A life which would keep us busy enough but not overwhelm us. Well, except for July and August!


When did you feel at home here?

Andrew & Rupert: Almost immediately. After holidaying in the area for so long, we’d already made friends here and knew the places we loved. Tavira we knew inside out, but Castro Marim was new to us; it was so quiet after the hustle and bustle of Hackney (East London).

But by and large people were welcoming and somewhat intrigued by the estrangeiros, as at that time we were the only foreigners in the village. Our neighbours welcomed us on the first day, as we were moving in, and we quickly made new friends in the area. We also soon started working on projects with others in the industry and local artisan producers. Initially we had to keep pinching ourselves to realise we were actually here, with a Medieval castle at the top of our garden!


Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

Andrew & Rupert: Getting used to the red tape and bureaucracy was difficult initially. Everything seemed to take forever. Of course it didn’t help that our language skills weren’t great, to say the least. But good friends were always on hand to help. After all, we were here for a slower way of life! On a personal level, it wasn´t hard at all to adapt to the food, the weather, the wine and the people. We embraced it all.


How does your life differ now you live here?

Andrew: Nowadays, I’m not rushing around, working late and then doing it all again the next day. I feel more in control of what we’re doing, as we can do it at our own pace and in our own way. There’s time to enjoy life, food with friends, the beaches and an occasional glass of wine in the garden!

Rupert: I feel as though I have a different outlook on life now, there is no rush. I am calmer, less stressed and able to tackle important decisions in a more balanced way. There’s more time to enjoy the little things in life.


What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Andrew: Last year in Castro Marim, while sitting under the stars at the Festival de Lucía. The moment Mariza began to sing ‘Meu Fado’ and her amazing voice soared into the night air is a moment that will always stay with me.

Rupert:  My favourite moments are mainly food related; as a cook, my passion for cooking was reignited by moving here and discovering the wealth of available produce. This culminated just recently at a lunch on the salinas of Castro Marim (pictured below) with local flor de sal producer Salmarim, other local artisan producers, the Portuguese Michelin-starred chef Alexandre Silva, food writers and friends. It felt that the Algarve cuisine was being celebrated and reaching out beyond our borders.


What annoys you here?

Andrew: Our house opens onto the street and people are constantly parking across our door, blocking it. It drives me crazy.

Rupert: The bureaucracy; the lack of information or reminders of licence renewals etc. There is always another form that you haven’t got, and didn’t even know about.


What do you miss most from the UK?

Andrew: The theatre. As a former actor I really do miss this. There just isn’t the opportunity here, and of course it would be in Portuguese and I would struggle (my problem, I know). Oh, and the English newspapers on a Sunday with all the supplements.

Rupert:  I don’t really miss very much at all. Maybe the Friday night after work, at the local pub with friends and a pint of real ale.


Which 5 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

Andrew: Sun, hospitality, food, peace, friends.

Rupert:  Welcoming, gastronomy, affordability, landscape, beaches


What’s your favourite spot?

Andrew: Tavira. It’s the place I first visited in the Algarve and returned to year after year. It became my second home; I have friends there, I know its streets, bars and restaurants and the centre really hasn’t changed much in 30 years. For me, it’s the most beautiful town in the Algarve.

Rupert: Cacela Velha (pictured below). A beautiful little village with the best view in the Algarve, looking along the coast and down onto the wonderful beach at Fábrica. Every time I go there, it takes my breath away. We always tell our guests about this place.


In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Andrew: The people we know and work with who are determined to promote the wealth of the East Algarve, which is so often overlooked.

Rupert: I’m inspired daily by the food in the markets. It forces you to think seasonally. I enjoy the challenge of using what is best today, and creating dishes inspired by the traditional Algarvian cuisine, the history of the region and the local suppliers. I enjoy creating something modern, but still true to the roots of the Algarve.


How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Andrew: Not great. I can understand a fair amount and read fairly well. Conversations around the dinner table are the hardest, but fortunately, or unfortunately, our Portuguese friends speak excellent English. That is embarrassing, I know.

Rupert: I notice a daily improvement and now have an extensive vocabulary. My challenge this winter is to embrace the Portuguese language and acquire hopefully a language certificate which will facilitate an application for Portuguese citizenship.


Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Andrew: If I told you, it wouldn´t be a secret anymore!

Rupert: The Algarve is not just about the great beaches. Explore the serra. Take a drive along the River Guadiana (pictured below), the border with Spain, up to the lovely village of Alcoutim. There are spectacular views at every corner and across to Spain.

Words courtesy of Andrew Roberts and Rupert Kirby. Pictures by Andrew Roberts and Julia Toms Photography.

See the original article in Enjoy the Algarve – magazine August 2017

Posted in Algarve expat stories.