Note Number 20…A Glimpse of Madeira and the High Life…

The Hotel Taken from the pool and Reid’s Tea Terrace 

We have just returned from an amazing ten-day holiday at Reid’s Hotel in Funchal Madeira. It was a holiday of a lifetime, (apologies for the cliché).
We should have been travelling to Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, but after a busy 2016 I just couldn’t face the lengthy flights, but, we wanted a little bit of winter sun so ended up in Madeira, spending about the same money as a two-month vacation in the Southern Hemisphere! However, I’m not sorry.

The hotel did not disappoint and the room with a promised view of the sea, was spacious, with a desk and two armchairs as well as an enormous bed. A luxury marble bathroom and separate WC. I loved it! Reid’s has been around for 125 years and the atmosphere is unique. Photographs of rich and famous people who have visited in the past are kept in glass cases in a large walk-through lounge which joins the old hotel to the new bit (you can’t tell the difference between the two).

Room with a View…and early morning sun…

The gardens at Reid’s are tropical and lush with paths and seating areas throughout. I cannot emphasise the beauty of the place enough. The staff at the hotel were friendly and rushed about attending to our every need and appeared to enjoy their job. I don’t generally like being waited on, but they made me feel as though it was no trouble at all and that they genuinely wanted to help make our holiday the best it could be. On the tables by the pool there were little buzzers that you could use to call a waiter.

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The Buzzer or Call Button…

It took me about half an hour to pluck up the courage to ring it one morning, as it seemed such a decadent thing to do, but when the smiley waitress arrived, happy to serve me with a cocktail and a sandwich all my concerns vanished. Other guests were similar to us. I had expected a lot of stuck up toffs but on the whole they were ordinary people enjoying spending their well-earned money. There were of course a few whose opinions and demands could be heard above all others. But, as one waiter told us, ‘We learn to be just friendly enough and we respond to how we are treated, if the person doesn’t smile or speak well to us, then we serve them but we don’t make good conversation. We leave them alone and give them the bare minimum.’ Most of the older staff have been with Reid’s for many years, over twenty at least, which has to be a good sign. Although the hotel was originally family owned, it is now in the hands of Belmond (new branding for Orient Express) but, essentially, the atmosphere remains that of a family run business. That is probably the secret of its success. A grand hotel which feels like home from home.

A little slide show for you….

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We didn’t manage to take a basket sledge because by the time we had reached the top of the hill on the cable car it was too late…another time perhaps.

The breakfast was the best spread I have ever seen in a hotel, there was literally everything you can imagine, the choice was unlimited…fresh fruit, cereals, bread, croissants, pastries, cheese, ham, smoked salmon and other fish, plus bacon, eggs, vodka and champagne, etc., there was literally everything you could wish for.

Amazing Breakfast…and…

Amazing Desserts…and…

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Amazing Tea on Reid’s Tea Terrace… (oh and we also had scones).  By the way, the little round brown cake at the back with an almond on the top I believe is a Madeira Cake…they don’t have anything like the pale lemon flavoured cake that we know as Madeira…how about that? 

I have been thoroughly spoilt and The Man was responsible. We did attend the fitness centre (him everyday and me for seven out of the ten) and tried only to eat breakfast and lunch or breakfast and dinner never the three. On two occasions we ate breakfast and then a Reid’s tea. We walked from the hotel to Câmara De Lobos, about 7.5k…we got a taxi back then I went swimming and The Man went to the gym. Câmara De Lobos, was a place often visited by Churchill where he sat and painted the little fishing village. He also stayed regularly at Reid’s with Clementine, I believe.

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Câmara De Lobos – Churchill’s Favourite Village on Madeira (so we’re led to believe…)

Random Snippets about Madeira…

It’s an island in the Atlantic approximately 1000k South of Portugal and close to 600k from the North African coast.

over-the-sea

Over the Sea and Far Away…Madeira sits in the Atlantic…

 It has several micro climates so you cannot easily predict the weather but it is warm most of the time. We experienced between 13 and 23 degrees for our ten-day stay. Rain in the morning and sun in the afternoon or vice versa. Five of our days were sunshine all the way.
Bananas grow everywhere.

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Bananas – taken through the mini bus window…hence the reflection

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Sugar Cane also grows in Madeira

Espada (pronounced ESHPAADA)is the local fish and it is not pretty . Apparently it looks a bit like an ugly eel. We were told that it is line fished from more than 2000 metres deep in the sea around Madeira and that when it is pulled up the pressure causes the fish to burst so that all the innards come out negating the requirement to gut and clean the thing…sounds disgusting doesn’t it? You eat it pan-fried with banana, if you want to have it in the traditional way.

Limpet Rice served with Espada and Banana…

The poncha drink is local rum, honey and lemon… (It tasted a bit medicinal I think)
Tea at Reid’s hotel is a must for any tourist.

img_3245Poncha…as drunk by me…

Madeira has the highest cliff in Europe and you can stand at the top of it and look down through a glass platform.

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It’s a Long Way Down…

There are Levada (irrigation channnels) walks that can be taken but we didn’t go on this occasion, but if you want to see more look here

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Somewhere in this photo is a Levada Walk…I know because our guide Christina said so…

A replica of Christopher Columbus’s ship the Santa Maria is moored in Funchal and does daily trips out to sea…not sure it’s entirely propelled by sails now though….

Painted Doors in Old Funchal Town….

There was so much to see and do in Madeira, we merely covered a few of them. A day trip out took us to the North side of the island and the weather was very changeable from wild, windy, misty and wet…to sunny and bright, although the sea remained monstrous.

Changeable on the North Coast…these photos were taken less than ten minutes apart.

One of very few places on the list for a return visit…Have you been?

Pet Passports Please…?

Passports

We did eventually get passports and photos…scroll down to see the fun we had before achieving this!

The Man and I are going to drive to England in October and stay for a month…and…we decided that the animals, one cat, one dog could come with us Yeah!
‘All we (I) had to do was get them a passport each and then they can travel anywhere in the EU. ‘It’ll be easy,’ I said.

First I bought a carrier for the cat, nothing too small because I don’t want him to have to spend 20hours cramped up.
I read that you could buy a spray and use it in the carrier fifteen minutes before travelling. The last time Mickey had been in the box he was NOT happy. So we duly sprayed the box and drove him twenty minutes to the vet. He only miaowed a little bit on the way so we figured the magic potion worked.
I didn’t stay in the room while Mickey had a chip inserted and two injections one for rabies and one for cat flue. But The Man said he was a star, never made the slightest murmur – once they had prised him out of the box. (Which by the way was too big to sit on the Vet’s examination table).

Jpeg (the dog) had already got the chip and distemper jabs so she only needed the rabies – she was a real wuss and tried to escape the kindly vet’s hypodermic syringe by winding herself around my legs. It’s a wonder I didn’t get the rabies jab.

So everybody ready…now for the passports.

I went to the local hospital in Petritoli on a Saturday morning. On the door, which says VETERINARIO quite clearly there are the opening times. (I’ve written it all in English)

Saturday 8.30 – 9.30
Thursday 8.30 – 9.30 For enquiries phone the vet on ********(with the number)

So I called the number because I was there, in front of the door at 9.00 and it was locked and not a soul around.
The conversation went something like this,‘I’m at the hospital, I need two passports for the dog and the cat but there is no one here,’
‘No, it’s closed on Saturday.’
‘But it says open on the door’
‘Oh take no notice of that. Anyway, you need to go round the corner by the church, that’s where the office is. You could try Tuesday at 8 in the morning.’
‘So, Tuesday at 8, right fine thank you.’

I walked around the corner by the church but couldn’t find anything, so assumed I had misunderstood. Tuesday morning I went back to the door which said it was the vet’s door but of course no-one there so I came home and called the office in Fermo, the county town. She gave me the opening hours during the week, I then asked where I should go,

‘Where are you?’ she asked.
‘Petritoli.’ I replied.
‘Ah,’ she said.
The music came on the phone and I waited…

‘Pronto?’ said the voice on the phone (pronto is how they answer the phone – I don’t know why because it means ‘ready’).
It transpired that they had put me through to the Petritoli office.
‘Oh,’ I said, ‘but you’re not open.’
‘We are if you come immediately.’
‘Where ARE you?’ I asked.
‘Come into the hospital, through the main entrance and we’re on the right.’
‘But I’ve just been there, five minutes ago and there’s no one there.’
‘I am here, come now.’

So I did, but the bloody door was closed! I searched and shouted and rang the bell – nothing.
I asked a cleaning lady and she took me by the hand, led me outside, round the corner of the building to an obscure door, I couldn’t see a sign but there must have been one. I entered…
Happiness…she was there, the women I needed, at last I could obtain the passports….Hoorah!

Dog first…

‘Name?’
‘Jpeg.’
‘No, your name.’
‘Sorry, Ninette….’ Etc.,
‘Now for the dog. Name?’
‘Jpeg.’
‘Masculine of feminine?’
‘Female, we say bitch, but that’s not a nice word really.’
‘Excuse me?’
‘Nothing, it’s okay.’
‘Breed?’
‘Don’t know’
‘Let’s put mixed breed then.’
‘Okay.’
‘Date of birth?’
‘Don’t know but she was a tiny puppy in 2009 and she found us so we had to keep her.’
‘Colour?’
‘Not sure, brownish.’
‘Long nose or short nose?’
‘Shall I just show you a picture?’
‘Yes, thank you.’

Then the cat…

‘Name?’
‘Mickey.’
‘Masculine or feminine?’
‘Masculine but he’s been, you know…done?’
‘Okay, maschio, castratato.’
‘Oh poor Mickey, imagine having that written on your passport.’
‘Date of Birth?’
‘Don’t know but he’s the same year as the dog.’
‘Breed?’
‘Don’t know.’
‘I’ll put European.’
‘Okay.’
‘Colour?’
‘Ooh, I can answer this one! We say ginger but you say red. I can show you a photo of him too if you like?’

After three quarters of an hour and only 20€ later I had the two pet passports in my hand. We had great fun taking the photos as you can see…

What do you want now

What Passport photo-

Expression

My best sideHow about a little blingsunglasses and false teeth copy

Is this better-

Too Close