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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November 1st

Here comes winter. The clock has changed and we’re in the count-down to Christmas, though many shops have been sneaking festive fare into their displays for the past month and more. But with Halloween over, and a free run until December 25th (though here in Scotland we have St Andrew’s day on November 30th, with Thanksgiving in the States) retailers will be ramming presents, food and what to wear for those wall-to-wall parties (what parties, we huddle by the fire here!) and that all-important big day.

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Spring fashions

Last weekend the trees around us suddenly dressed themselves in their new finery. Our exposed situation means that it’s mainly hardy natives that grow well. And while some cheeky chaps from other parts of the world survive, and bloom and come into leaf earlier, the natives know best and hold their finery until fairly certain that harsh frosts won’t blast their tender shoots. So last weekend they decided to put on a display, like models showing off the latest fashions, and this afternoon they looked very cheerful in the sun, although like much of spring so far the breeze is chilly.

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Lion and lamb

March, named after the Roman god Mars, god of war and guardian of agriculture, seems aptly named. He came second in importance to Jupiter and, not surprisingly, most of the festivals associated with him were held in the month of March. The first of the month was his birthday, while other festivities during the month included chariot races.

Mars was father of Romulus and Remus – founders of Rome as I remember from my days of Latin at school – and was therefore regarded as father of the Roman people. He viewed war as a means of securing peace.

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The boat was a Turkish gulet, twenty-three metres in length, called Bonita da Madeira, made from rich coloured woods and stainless steel, with masts that soared towards the sky. At the stern, we lounged on blue plastic covered mattresses formed into a relaxing seat. The relaxing aspect was further enhanced by a glass of Madeira wine – such a welcoming gesture as well as a great promotional tool for both boat trip and wine.

Fruit, fire and foundering

Reading a blog post about the role of environment in writing, prompted me to admit I’d find it difficult to write if I couldn’t recall the natural backdrop to the action of story or novel. Surroundings have always been important to me.

When young, holidays were spent on a small island in the Clyde estuary, playing on beach and rocks, and messing about in rowing boats with friends. I remember vividly the gritty feel of sand between bare toes. As we paddled in the shallows, feet looked strangely white, like jellyfish, their image fractured by dancing waves and reflected sun.

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The big journey

Spring forward, fall back. In the early hours of Sunday morning the clock went back, gaining us an additional hour that day as we exited British Summer Time and head Spring forward, fall back. In the early hours of Sunday morning the clock went back, gaining us an additional hour that day as we exited British Summer Time and head into autumn and winter.

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Within faded red brick walls

The athletes have packed up their medals and memorabilia and gone home. The venues have been stripped of the furniture and trappings of the event, and the people of Glasgow are returning to a life less normal by the recounting of wins, gripping stories, and hilarious happenings.

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Seaweed — another strand

Thank you to Dina for sending me a link to a video on mechanical seaweed harvesting off the west coast of Norway and the damage that is causing to the seabed. Whilst watching it I noticed this video which gives information on seaweeds and explains what they are presently used for.

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