No walk this week as I have been on holiday in gadgieland, aka Madeira, with the gadgette, the gadgiebabes Kate and Lucy, the apprentice gadgie Mark, who has many years to go before he gets a bus pass, and the mini gadgie Alex who has 59 years to wait for his.
When I was a mere boy I read a couple of books by Ludwig Bemelmans. One was called Hotel Splendide but I can't remember the title of the second, nowadays it would be Hotel Splendide II, or Return to Hotel Splendide. They were gently humorous tales of life in a huge hotel in New York between the two world wars. Living in a forties council house in Lancashire as I did, the luxury and size of the hotel was beyond my comprehension. When I got to stay in New York for a few days in 1966 the student hotel I chose was seriously lacking in the spendour of Ludwig's place of work, a bit grubby and the TV only seemed to show baseball.
The Pestana Promenade Hotel in Funchal is probably not as luxurious as Hotel Splendide either but it is a holiday hotel offering a pretty high standard of accomodation, swimming pools, saunas, jacuzzis and Turkish baths. We booked a three room apartment which had a living space, kitchenette and two bedrooms. One room for Lucy, Mark and baby Alex, one room for the gadgette and I and a settee/bed for gadgiebabe Kate. Three bathrooms, one hot tub, three balconies and underground parking. A long way from the boarding houses of my youth.
We did not do any serious walking on the holiday, Alex was not too keen on the levadas but we had a great family time. In our rented VW Sharan, with me driving and the gadgette's eyes tightly shut we drove to the Curral das Freiras, Valley of the nuns. Since our last visit some years ago either a tunnel has been dug avoiding some of the more tortuous bends or we came a different way. Previously we journeyed by bus along narrow roads which climb steeply through tight bends and with only a low wall protecting vehicles from a vertical descent to the valley floor.
The nuns apparently came to this valley to avoid the attentions of fifteenth century pirates who were probably not too keen on their devotions. Now it is a tourist spot with views, roast chestnuts and a serving of chips even bigger than the portions from Gills Fish and Chip Shop on Chillingham Road in Newcastle.
Sister Lucy at the Valley of the Nuns. She has few bad habits, taking the piss out of her dad is one of them.
Another day we went for a trip on a replica of Christopher Columbus's ship the Santa Maria. I have nothing but admiration for the men who sailed the Atlantic on these tiny vessels. The replica is fitted with an engine but at one point it was shut down and sails were hoisted to give us some idea of life on the ocean wave. I suspect the sailors were not offered Madeira wine and cake as they crossed the ocean, nor would they have a pump action toilet like this boat has.
|Long John Silver Hair shows Alex the ship's parrot.|
|Cabo Girao from the deck of the Santa Maria.|