Anyone who has been to Southern Europe will have noticed that the weather is generally pretty good and while this has the benefit of making it a great place to hold a barbecue, it also has its down sides, especially for the garden proud Brits abroad.
There is only one place in the Algarve where you can find lush green grass and that is on one of the numerous enormous golf courses. Being as I am under the age of 60, have no desire to wear ugly shoes, am not a sex addict and do not have several days to spare a week, I am not a regular on the golf courses of the region.
The thought of chasing a ball around a pretty field may not be appealing but the delicious looking grass that covers the greens and fairways like smooth icing on a Christmas cake is something that I am naturally drawn to.
Everyone knows that the smell of freshly cut grass is one of the best smells in the world (except if you have hayfever) but in the Algarve this is a dream that for the most is left only for the golf course.
A beautiful lawn is a thing of great pleasure for many a Brit. I once had a boyfriend whose mother would actually cut her front lawn with scissors after the lawn mower had done its job – just to make sure it was perfect. Ok, not all British people are that obsessive about their lawn but it is a feature of many homes and as soon as the sun comes out on a bank holiday all you can hear is the gentle groan of legions of lawn mowers being pushed around gardens by reluctant husbands.
Being as the Brit abroad does not generally adapt to the local surroundings well it is therefore no surprise that we do of course try to recreate our fabulous green lawns when abroad.
I often imagine the first intrepid types who packed up for a life in the sun decades ago (many of them are still lurking about in the Algarve owing to the fact they have lost their passports in many cases) looking around and wondering why the natives had forgotten to plant up a lovely lawn in front of their house.
After the first packets of grass seed were scattered on the stony soil, just how long was it before they realised that this just wasn’t going to work? Was it after they spent a months budget on irrigating it, was it when they saw the 40º mark approaching on the thermometer or perhaps it was when they saw it being washed down the cliff side during the winter rains?
But now we are living in times of 21st century technology the green lawns of our homeland are only a roll of astro turf away. Fake grass is something that I remember grazing my knees on at school while playing hockey but now this prickly green plastic can be feature of any home in the Algarve and it is only a home improvement store away!
There are of course the dedicted core of old school grass lovers (not in that way!) that are true to the cause and would never deviate away to the plastic side and these few are the ones who have had to dig their own bore holes to suck up as much water as possible for their lawn. And while it may look like the real British thing, it is far from that green stuff teenagers lie on during the summer holidays on the odd sunny day in the Midlands, it looks and feels far more like the stuff those teenagers are actually smoking – and that is not very British at all.