Madeira and beyond

One thing that struck me as we left Porto Santo for Madeira is the number of boats doing the ARC with young children onboard. The boat next to us was a German couple with 3 children and there were Swedish, Norwegian and Dutch children all playing together and communicating in the various languages including English. The children are obviously taken out of school for an extended period and home tutored on board. Initially I thought this was being slightly irresponsible but then seeing them all together, communicating with each other and knowing what they’re going to see of the world, surely that’s the best education to prepare them for life.

We arrived in Madeira at lunchtime and as the marina in the capital Funchal is quite small we decided to go to a new marina about 30 km away. We radioed ahead and were met by a dinghy that took us to our berth. We booked in and I immediately paid an extra €30 for full use of the beach and all pool facilities. The’ve build a small village around the marina  and up into the valley and it reminds me of Portmeirion, a modern version. The beach area has attended sunbeds and either an outdoor pool filled by the ocean or a more rocky area of beach that’s roped off and is great for snorkeling.  There are 2 other pools in the complex but all I want is the snorkeling.

We hired a car for a few days (Renault Clio) just to make life a bit easier as we didn’t fancy a long bus journey to Funchal.

Clive and I got the cable car to the top of Funchal hill/mountain and then came down on one of their crazy whicker toboggans. 2 guys push your toboggan down the streets for about 2kms. It’s great fun.

Kevin suggested that Clive and I have afternoon tea at Reid’s Palace one day so he booked us a table on the terrace. Wow! What an experience. Dress code was important to get in and we had a breath taking view of the ocean with Funchal to our left and the hotel’ s gardens beneath us. The service was the high quality to be expected of such a place and the 3 tiered plate of goodies tasted as good as it looked. Actually, no, it was better. We had champagne with our sandwiches then had a choice of dozens of tea blends to have with our fresh scones, cream and strawberry jam. The finale was a selection of bite size cakes to die for.  We had a wander around the hotel’s picture gallery to see who else had dined there over the years and it was more a case of who hadn’t had tea there. Winston Churchill, Amy Johnson, Terry Thomas, all sorts of royalty, Ernest Hemingway,etc. It was so gentille I expected Poirot to appear at any moment. We drove away with smiles on our faces and happy memories. Thanks for the suggestion Kevin.

We found a good fish restaurant in the next village, frequented by locals, which is always a good sign, and went there a couple of times. We also drove out to Santana and had a quick drive around the weird little houses there. They’re like little dolls houses and have thatched roofs that go right down to the ground. There wasn’t much else to see but we bought some lethal local punch made from rum, honey and lemon. mmmm!

We were sorry to leave the marina as it was a lovely location and very comfortable but the Canaries were calling. We set off and motored all the way as there was no wind and the ocean was as flat as a pancake. We saw a few turtles go by. Clive aimed at one to get a photo, got too close and frightened the poor thing. There were flippers flapping and it dived. I wasn’t too pleased with him and fortunately it bobbed up again in our wake and swam off.

The first sighting of Tenerife was the huge mass of the volcano Teide that dominates the island. The strange thing was that once we arrived and were in port we couldn’t see Teide any longer.

We said our goodbyes to Kevin who was flying back to Portugal. He was such a good find and we enjoyed his company while he was with us. It was handy having someone that knew the Portuguese way of doing things and he spoke enough to get us understood.

It felt such an achievement to arrive in Tenerife after setting off back in July. We’ve covered 2,000 miles to get here and can actually see Gran Canaria in the distance, so it’s not far to the start line for the ARC in November.

We’re going to stay here and chill for a couple of weeks and I plan to fly back to see family,  including my gorgeous little grandson.

So there’ll be no Pink and Fluffy for a couple of weeks now. Normal service will be resumed when we move from here, whenever that is.