Like a velvet cloak

There are times when one regular outing can change into something different, a gem that quickens your pulse and provides the idea for another blog post.

This is what happened recently when I set of for a meeting in a venue that was new, one I hadn’t heard of despite its proximity, but which had me reaching for my iPhone as I had no camera with me.

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Madeira Wine – Rooted in history

One of the many advantages on an apartment in the centre of Funchal are the number of places that can be visited without walking far. The old part of Funchal with its narrow streets and houses with wrought iron balconies sits alongside grand old properties given new leases of life beside wide boulevards and streets.

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Carnival in Madeira

For a week before the parade there had been smaller local events with street entertainment in the centre of Funchal and people wandering around in costumes of various kinds, as well as community events. The sound and beat of the samba was everywhere, either live from groups of musicians, or recorded and played through speakers lodged in trees.

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European dreams

I should have been born in a warmer climate, but then I wouldn’t have been Scottish, and I rather like being Scottish – especially at present when politics here are amazingly interesting., though often also frustrating.

What I want are warmer winters, but, despite the effects of global warming, not much chance of that, so I have to content myself with forays to places where winter is akin to our summer.

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Walking where lava flowed

São Vicente is a village on the north coast of Madeira, at the end of the valley that was the birthplace of the island. We were keen to take our grandchildren to walk where lava once flowed, so organized Ricardo and his taxi to take us across the island from Funchal to São Vicente, on a road where the latter part was prone to landslips and where there had been bad flooding a few years ago.

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Mmmm, that’s good!

The large mahogany table in the kitchen groaned with bowls and baskets of fruit, some, like tomatoes, staples of our diets at home though different varieties that seemed to have more flavour. We trawled market and supermarkets for salad ingredients and experimented with some fruit and vegetables we weren’t familiar with. Bananas were Madeiran, slightly smaller, firmer and less cloying than those we usually buy, but with a flavour that filled your mouth.

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Food al fresco

When you hail from a country where summers rarely reach dizzying heights of temperature (more often a mix of sun and cloud and the occasional shower) eating in the open air is a fairly rare experience, especially when it comes to evening meals. As the sun goes down the dew falls, making it chilly to sit outside, and more often than not the pesky midges appear to make the occasion a misery rather than a pleasure. So one of the real joys of trips abroad is…

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Sun, olives, lamb and baklava

On a hot summer evening in the Aegean olives have a zingy, comforting flavour that’s missing at home. The same goes for watermelon. Served up free at many restaurants what is often a tasteless fruit in Scotland oozed honey sweet juice, and served chilled was wonderfully refreshing. Husband even made a drink with it and iced water.

Read more about dining in Pefkos, Rhodes at http://jingsandthings.wordpress.com