Can the parrot read in ‘Between the Lines’?By Jake Cleaver, In Books · 08 Jan 2021, 01:00 · 0 Comments
Well, no… but he can say ‘Olá’ and ‘Obrigado’, which isn’t bad…
When I first heard there were English books to be found at the ‘Entre linhas’ or, as it’s called in English, the ‘Between the lines’ café, in Tunes, it seemed to me to be the perfect name for my latest ABC (Algarve Book Corner) and I wondered if it did in fact have anything to do with reading? Turns out it doesn’t actually (well, at least not at first glance), it’s more to do with the fact that the café is located slap bang in the middle of the railway tracks.
Tunes would be a quiet peaceful little town, except for the fact that it has become a relative hubbub of locomotive activity. In fact, it’s the closest the train tracks in the Algarve get to a ‘spaghetti junction’.
Whenever I’ve had to drop city folk off at the train stations here in the past, they are normally used to navigating the complex spider web of networks of a bustling metropolis and so are anxious to get the right instructions about which train to catch, and I have to tell them that us ‘country bumpkins’ just have two lines to choose from and you can either head east or west, and the only place it gets complicated is in Tunes - where you can go north as well.
And located in between this (mini) ‘can of worms’is a ‘can of words’.
This cute café was originally started by an English couple who came up with the name, and also pleasingly, started a nice little book room in the corner where there’s a window sill full of books, and there’s even some sofas to curl up on and bury your nose in some words for a while.
English locals have taken to bringing in books they have finished and leaving them here for other people to read while they are sipping their coffee… But, if one ‘catches you’ (which they sometimes do) then you are more than welcome to take it away with you.
The café was taken over four years ago by a lovely Portuguese lady called Fátima, who changed the name to ‘Entre Linhas’ (and in case you were wondering, yes, you can find the hidden meanings of things and ‘ler entre as linhas’ in Portuguese as well). The café now has a strange blend of both English and Portuguese vibes and Fátima has been quite happy to continue to let this little local book swapping operation continue, as well as, she proudly informed me, learning how to cook a full English breakfast.
But she has however, as far as I can see, made one MASSIVE improvement of her own, which may very well be the reason you’ve kept on reading until now - to find out just who that beautiful green parrot in the picture is. He’s called Charlie and he really adds lots of character to the café. As I said in the beginning, he can’t read - but he can talk.
He will say ‘Olá’ to you when you arrive and ‘Obrigado’ to you if you feed him (although he likes to keep things interesting by mixing these up from time to time).
Charlie is very much part of the family. Fátima got him when he was a baby and has had him for 27 years. Apparently Parrots live an average of 50 years, so he’s middle aged I suppose... But they are known to live up to 100 years old. So, if for some strange reason you happen to be flicking through this now very old copy of The Portugal News in the year 2093 (while you are waiting for your train) maybe pop in and have a look if you can still read in ‘Between the Lines’, and see if Charlie is still chirping there too.