Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Friday, 27 November 2009

Last of The Summer Wine go Levada Walking

Here we are, on our last day in Madeira, having another stroll in the warm sunshine along the 'Town Levada' before catching the bus home.

So it's goodbye from Dave, Barry and Sue, as well as from me; the next transmission will be from good ole virus infected blighty....

Bye bye.

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Madeiran Flora and Fauna

It's always good to see firecrests in the woods, and mewing buzzards above them.

Other bird life is relatively sparse compared with that in the UK, but there are various birds out there to be spotted by the more observant. Whilst we don't fit that category, we have seen grey wagtails and warblers and several species commonly encountered at home.

Lizards up to about 8" long are to be seen everywhere over here, popping out of their crevices to bask whenever the sun shines. We've seen no snakes though.

Spring is possibly the best time for flowers, though even now in autumn there is lots of colour, with many plants still in flower. Some of these will be included in a slide show later, so for the time being I'll leave you with this taster (see picture).

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Thursday, 26 November 2009

Pico Ruivo - 1862 metres

Pico Ruivo is the highest point in Madeira. At this time of year it spends most of its time in cloud. So, and some readers will be pleased to hear this, we didn't go up it today. But we did view it shortly before its immersion in cloud, from this spot on the ER-202 road (see picture).

That was after we had discovered our planned Levada Furado route to be under repair and well and truly blocked off. So we enjoyed a stroll along the Levada da Serra instead. Despite being fairly simple technically, this route did contrive to trick our 77 year old joker, Barry, into falling in again. Perhaps he was distracted by the 6irecrests. Sue missed the fun of course, but did enjoy a short coastal 'promenade', before we all reconvened at the Savoy Gardens Hotel for an excellent 'Gala Dinner'.

A quick check on the emails reveals that we have the pleasure of Lord Elphus and LEJOG Alan's company on our Xmas walk - 13 December, with the possible bonus of Miss Whiplash's presence. This takes us into double figures. Others are most welcome to join us on this shortish walk with a long lunch break in the Peak District - details are at www.topwalks.com (Day Walks).

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Lunch in Spennymoor (aka 'What a Load of G....k)

Here's Sue, enjoying a glass of wine (actually, for the observant - ie Alan - awaiting a refill) on Alan and Christine's balcony in Spennymoor-on-Sea.

God created this Sunny Haven earlier today from his nearby shed. We are so grateful for this wonderful gesture on His part, especially His willingness to project Spennymoor's Sunshine across to the Other World of Canico in Madeira, where Sue had been languishing in the mist, wondering where her next masgae was coming from....

Hic!

Note for tomorrow: warn residents of Spennymoor-on-Sea to carry extra Sun Tan Cream due to God's unfortunate bout of hyperactivity in their locality.

PS Thanks, A+C, for an excellent lunch on your fine balcony....(deletes more gobbledygook). Enjoy the rest of your trip.

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Madeiran Churches

Madeiran churches are mostly striking buildings. The history lesson may follow; but for the time being here's the church in the centre of Canico - it's a cloudless summery 27C day today. Lovely.

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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Levada Walking in Madeira (1)

November can be wet, windy and cool in the UK.

So it's an ideal time of year to pop over to Madeira for a spot of levada walking.

Levadas are the irrigation channels constructed shortly after the island was first inhabited in C15 to make use of the rich water resources in the interior for the cultivation of sugar cane and wine. These 'levadas' now total some 1400km in length. Their maintenance paths can provide ideal hiking paths, such as that pictured - today's route beside the Levada do Norte. This path is vertiginous, so we turned back before Espigao, but it is currently being upgraded at a cost to the EEC of some €1.5 million! That won't change the label 'Exposed levada walk for tightrope walkers', which rules me out, but not Sue - who has a much better head for heights and will hopefully have recovered sufficiently to give this one a go by the time we next visit Madeira.

In the meantime, such walks are not feasible for Sue, who languished in the Savoy Gardens' massage room whilst Barry, Dave and I enjoyed a 7 hour jaunt (only 25 metres ascent, mind you) finishing in an opportunistic taxi together with the driver's wife and mother-in-law.

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Beer o' Clock

Dave and Barry enjoy some light refreshment at the O Pinheiro bar in Boa Morte, in preparation for tackling a vertiginous section of the Levada do Norte.

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Monday, 23 November 2009

Eucalyptus Trees

Today's walk, along the Levada da Serra do Faial, involved a 500 metre ascent from the botanical garden, then a stroll alongside an ancient, but now mainly dry, levada.

"I could get a nasty scratch in there!" quipped Barry.

The route passed through sun dappled mixed woodland, including pine trees and these tall eucalyptus trees, which shed slivers of bark in the light breeze as we passed.

All our thoughts today frequently drifted to the images of the English Lake District brought to our hotel rooms by way of rather flaky Sky News transmissions.

They bring back memories of the devastation of Borrowdale by flood water some years ago.

Our thoughts are with the residents affected, and our friends in Kendal, and we do hope the local authorities and insurance companies will deal with issues and claims in a timely and effective manner.

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Jardim Botanico

Where better to spend a sunny Monday morning in Funchal?

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Sunday, 22 November 2009

Thomson Gold

We are here, enjoying some winter sun from the luxurious quarters of the Savoy Gardens 4* bothy in Funchal, Madeira. Dave got us in at Bargain Basement prices back in May (our missives from the TGO Challenge relate how we were so rudely interrupted by Dave's advances during our sojourn in Scotland). So we have a small balcony and a limited view - most definitely ****.

Barry's commando style return to civilisation was achieved today fairly effortlessly with the aid of a conveniently placed bus and the hotel's more than adequate bathing facilities, though his camera and his watch are still in catatonic shock.

Incidentally, Dave's first concern expressed after Barry's incident with two feet of fast flowing levada water in the middle of a 500 metre tunnel should be recorded:

"Is the kitty OK" Dave stammered, trying and failing to stem his compulsion to laugh at our treasurer's mishap.

"I feel really refreshed" shivered Barry, "you should try it!...."

"I'll bring a torch next time" he conceded.

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Barry's (Mis) Adventure

Barry Walton (77) emerges dripping from the 500 metre tunnel on the Levada dos Tornos. It's narrow and slippery, especially without a torch. However, Barry is a Tough Guy and has emerged wet but cheerful after his little adventure.

"It's better to fall into a levada than off the edge of one!" exclaimed Mr Walton.

Yesterday Barry's hat had a levada adventure; today it has dried out. In fact it's now Barry's only dry itm of clothing.

Dave and I will conclude today's amble, keeping our distance from 'The Semi-Naked Rambler'!

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