Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Madeira, m'dear?

Originally uploaded by goforchris.
Going away on holiday brings with it the proof of the old saying: You'll pey furrit. I spent yesterday in a nightmare of washing, dangling damp summer clothes around the house (it was raining. Of course it was raining). I also had to buy food, teach "Hamlet", eat a couple of pancakes and go to choir practice. By the time that lot was done I couldn't face blogging or anything else, but I need to say a few more things about Madeira... just a few.

For a start: why do so many old, decrepit or wheelchair-bound people go there at this time of year? It can only be for the wonderfully balmy climate, for there must be little they can do, other than potter on the prom - provided they can get there and back. Madeira has to be the steepest island I've ever visited, and the suburbs of Funchal are so steeply stacked you'd need strong limbs and lungs simply to visit the next street.

It is, however, a strangely fascinating place. The weather while we were there was like a seriously good week in our summer - temperatures between 18º and 22ºC during the day, and slightly cool at night, so that you needed a light jacket to go out. There was one torrential shower on Saturday night - great warm drops pelting down for about ten minutes and then stopping - and some rain fell another night near the airport. However, the locals are desperate for rain; they are already using next summer's store of water, as they've not had any real rain since November. But for me the oddest thing was to have this extremely European society stuck on a volcanic rock 400 miles from Africa, surrounded by banana plantations and exotic flora, cut off from all that Europe has to offer and inundated by pale, depressive Northerners. During our trip we talked to Swedes, Finns and Danes - and on our first day the discussion had come round to serotonin levels before the minibus had even cleared Funchal.

I'll save the trips we did for another post - I should have dealt with the photos by then. But I'll leave you with a picture of our homeward flight. Holiday flights pour into the island, and every one is packed. I felt more aware of this on our First Choice flight home to Glasgow, when I was almost brained by a walking stick with a heavy ivory top falling on me from the crammed overhead locker. The man beside me - the owner of the stick - trembled and sweated for the first hour or two after the trauma of getting to the airport, and I felt every quiver as I made myself smaller and smaller. And then a "wee lady" as the flight attendant called her collapsed just behind me and needed oxygen. As there was only one spare seat in the entire plane she had to lie with her head in the gangway supported by a crew member and her feet on her husband. No-one could pass until the emergency was over. She recovered - but it was a pretty hellish experience. I can think of other, less undignified ways to end my days.

That, however, is for another day.


  1. Oh dear...I so know that feeling of returning home to "the real world"...We love to camp with our little camper, but returning home means back to the drudgery and mundane routine.

    I poked about on your Flik'r photos, and the one where the guy is cleaning around the pool looks like the Garden of Eden. (or, how I might imagine it!)

    Madeira sounds a great deal like America's "Last Resort"....the state of Florida! All the elderly and retired so look forward to going there. I never will. Cannot STAND heat, giant cockroaches, bugs, lizards.

    Your return home was quite a trip, eh? Glad you weren't injured!!!

    Don't feel too badly about that could be worse. Just ask about the FREEZING rain we have been having of late!

  2. Florida, now - that could be somewhere to go in the dark months! Especially after reading of Edublogger's experiences there last couple of weeks!