Saturday, 6 December 2014

My Madeira notebook, part one

Last month, The Husband and I spent a week in Madeira. My parents have a timeshare apartment in a rather swish hotel in Funchal, so we joined them to celebrate my dad's 70th birthday. Thankfully, we were also celebrating the success of his treatment for prostate cancer. (He starts radiotherapy this month, but it's just to zap the tumour that is rapidly shrinking.)

Our flight left Heathrow at 6am, which meant we had to be there at 4, so we spent the night at a nearby Holiday Inn. During the ten minute taxi-ride to the airport, my dad and the driver managed to squeeze in a conversation about politics and weather in Russia, and how it compared to Africa. Not bad for 3.30 in the morning. After The Husband had a brisk patting-down from a burly security guard at Heathrow, we flew over a damp and foggy London, and I started on my first book (Norah Ephron). The flight was three and a half hours, during which there was nothing to do but read or sleep. As the seat was bolt upright, and I didn't want to risk a beating by reclining it, I read. The Norah Ephron was brilliant, but not very long, so I was thankful I had also shoved Tina Fey in my hand luggage. Of course, there was then the worry I was going to run out of reading material before the week was out. I only had a book and a half left. Would they sell books in English? Could I learn Portuguese in a day? Seriously, it was a worry. I've read every day since I was 6, I couldn't stop now. I could hijack my mother's kindle, I thought, or The Husband had brought a football manager's biography (the first book he's read since our honeymoon in Scotland when it rained non-stop for a whole week). 

Anyway, we got to Madeira without diving off the end of the microscopic runway. That's it, in the not-very-good photo below. Apparently, it used to be half the length and had a net at the end. (I don't know what an aeroplane net looks like. I'm picturing something like a large butterfly net, but I'm sure that can't be right.) It's on all the lists of 'World's Most Dangerous Airports', but thankfully I didn't know that before we landed.  

We relaxed for the rest of the day, just wandering up the road for a beer at an outdoor cafe. Now, what I want to know is, with a temperature of 24 degrees in November, cafes overlooking the sea, and very cheap beer... why did I come home? And lizards. Scampering around everywhere. I loved those lizards. You don't get those in a freezing, foggy, bloody miserable November in Norfolk. 

But... the mosquitoes. I always attract them, while everyone else is sitting around saying, 'Mosquitoes? No, I never get bitten.' And we did look for insect repellent, but all they sold were organic herbal things. I needed something 100% chemical, with the power to repel mosquitoes, feral cats and small children. Oh well, more beer. It may not have repelled insects, but it stopped me from caring. 

Next time: The spectrum of British tourists, cable cars, and hurtling downhill on tea-trays. Or not. 

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