‘Volunteering can be so satisfying’

Christine Holmes (67, pictured below second from left) originally comes from Lincolnshire, England. In 1998, she moved to the Algarve, where she now lives in Guia. Christine is retired, but an active volunteer who has helped setting up APAA’s first charity shop in Montechoro. She’s also involved with Castelo do Sonhos in Silves, AAG in Guia, Desafios Luminosos and REFOOD.

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


What inspired you to move to the Algarve?

Christine: The climate, as well as the idea of living a simpler and less stressful life among ‘people who have time for people’.

When did you feel at home here?

Christine: I suppose I felt at home after about six months. It was after I had been away, back to England, for the first time since moving here. On my return to the Algarve I really felt ‘this is home now’.


Was it hard to get accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle?

Christine: It wasn’t. I just kept saying to myself: ‘this is why you came here, for something different’. While getting accustomed to the Portuguese lifestyle, I was always trying to remember not to be in a hurry or worry about the time it takes to get things done here.


How does your life differ now you live here?

Christine: My life is completely different now. Mostly because I’m retired, which is great. But also because I don’t have the same values as when I came here, almost 20 years ago. Looking back, I was so materialistic then, whereas now I want to give something back by helping those in need here. I do this by volunteering for various Algarve-based charities.


What is your favourite Algarve moment?

Christine: My favourite Algarve moment is being at a local festival (we had the 30th C.P.P. festa in Guia this year), eating chicken piri-piri and drinking a glass of red wine. I shall be doing exactly that in January 2018 when I celebrate 20 years of living here.


What annoys you here?

Christine: The bureaucracy. I would like to say things have gotten better over the last 20 years, but I can’t. In my opinion it’s mostly down to a lack of investment in staff training by employers.


What do you miss most from the UK?

Christine: Daffodils, especially fields of them. I was brought up on a farm and have a great appreciation of nature. The closest I can get to those English daffodil fields in Portugal are the sunflowers in the Alentejo.


Which 5 words would best describe the Algarve for you?

Christine: ‘This is where I belong.’

What’s your favourite spot?

Christine: Galé beach (pictured as intro and below). Apart from my favourite spot in the Algarve, it’s also the beach that’s nearest to me. However, there are lots of beaches in the south of Portugal that are just as amazing.


In what way does the Algarve inspire you?

Christine: The Algarve inspires me with its light. When I came here, I took a lot of photos because I thought the light you have here in the late afternoon and early evening was so special. Now I think the light here generally energises me. It makes me thankful to be able to live so much of my life outdoors.


How’s your Portuguese coming along?

Christine: My Portuguese has been helped tremendously by getting involved in volunteering, which I started when I first came here. Through volunteering I’ve been in contact with local people and have been using the language as much as possible every day.


Do you have a secret tip for our readers?

Christine: Get involved! I can’t emphasise enough how satisfying volunteering can be. As a spin-off from my volunteering involvement I’ve gotten together with other expats and Portuguese to form Desafios Luminosos, a charity that helps families in crisis in the Algarve. My current involvement with REFOOD in Algoz and Tunes, a nationwide organisation whose purpose is to reduce food waste and help feed the needy, has given a lot to me in return for my two hours a week. Of course there’s the feel-good factor, the idea that your small contribution makes a difference, but it’s also a great way to meet like-minded people and make friends of different nationalities.

Words, first and last pictures courtesy of
 Christine Holmes. Intro picture and other pictures by Kyle Rodriguez.

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

Posted in Algarve expat stories.