A brief recap: Since arriving at Ocean Villas Luz in August 2020, our resident writer David Lugg has been experiencing all aspects of Luz Life. This is his October 2022 review:
I have always been fascinated by the imagination of the English author HG Wells. Despite being born in 1866, he was decades ahead of his time writing progressive novels such as The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Island of Doctor Moreau. It came as a pleasant surprise to learn that he had spent time in Portugal and, in 1924, had written an essay of his experience. Almost 100 years later, I wondered whether his views were still relevant to modern day Portugal? Let’s take a look.
Whilst he was here, Wells enjoyed a Portuguese winter noting that ‘Portugal has a climate that is always interesting and generally delightful. It has its phases of sea-wind and passionate rain and then the only thing to do is go to the western headlands and see the green Atlantic waves hit the cliffs and explode into vast mountains of sunlit foam’. Watching the Atlantic rollers crashing into the west coast is one of my favourite pastimes. If you have not done so, I highly recommend that you head that way on your next visit.
‘The Portuguese air’ he writes ‘is as keen and sweet as Alpine air and the sky is blazing blue. Wet or fine, the air of Portugal has a natural happiness in it’. This latter part resonates with me most. There appears to be an osmotic relationship between the weather and the people and it is happiness that usually bubbles to the surface.
I’ll be honest, Wells does find fault in a few aspects but I can understand his frustrations. He is keen to point out the ‘inefficient’ and ‘bad condition’ railways. This year, Lagos celebrated 100 years since the arrival of the first train. There are some days when I doubt that the second train ever arrived! He also highlights the ‘visible evidences of incompetent administration’ – some things never change! And, rather ominously, he notes ‘people hope for such violent remedies as a dictatorship’. By the end of the 20’s, the right wing ‘Estado Novo’ rose to power leading to decades of dictatorship regime.
Back on positive ground, Wells was a student of biology but also professed an interest in botany. ‘The flowers are astonishing’ he commented. ‘There is purple iris in all the water courses; the banks are alive with periwinkle and tall spikes of antirrhinum; in the woods are endless scillas and rock roses.’ My favourite part of the essay is how Wells reflects upon a walk he takes over the Portuguese moorland admiring the wildflowers. ‘Not a soul was there to appreciate this lavish loveliness’. How often I have spotted something wonderful within Portuguese nature, but no one has been there to share it. At least I have a camera!
HG Wells’ Portugal essay is almost as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. That is partly down to his astute skills of observation, but also to the slow rate of evolution in Portugal. Trains and bureaucracy aside, there is no doubt that this is part of the country’s charm. It’s not hard to picture yourself as a child on the sands of an Algarve beach as its essence remains the same today as it did in 1924. You could see it on the faces of Mum’s and Dad’s during the half term week at the end of October.
When time allows, perhaps a visit to Praia da Luz will do you good. Come and sample the sweet Portuguese air for yourself and breathe in the natural happiness. Take a walk and admire the west coast waves and marvel at the ‘astonishing’ flowers. Just remember that if you take a train, it’s best to take one of HG Wells’ novels with you while you wait.
More news next month.
(All photo images owned by David Lugg)
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