I am a complete and unregenerate lily-livered coward.
This means that the first 24 hours of our holiday were not an unmitigated success.
Flying has always been an affair of shut eyes and fervent prayer on take-off and landing...but arrival in Madeira, where the runway is a on a causeway across the sea, with sheer cliff on one side, shifted those prayers to a whole new level of intensity.
Then came our first journey in a hire car with a husband whose driving motto is "Death or glory" - on the "wrong" (right) side of the road, in a car with everything else back-to-front too...Fun!
I never even enjoyed the dodgems as a child(who in their right minds would want to replicate the feeling of a car smash? and why??) - and it didn't take long for me to realise the excellent opportunity that Madeira provides for far more significant damage, as we followed a narrow road round hair pin bends up into the mountains.
Ever now and then the views were too spectacular to miss, LC stopped the car and we struggled out, legs shaking, to look at a landscape clearly fashioned by a model railway buff with more papier mache than sense of proportion. Those mountains are just so unlikely with stands of pines precariously and randomly balanced on jutting outcrops of rock- juxtaposed with terraced vineyards and luxuriant banana groves.
I began to be annoyed by my persistent fears. Why can't I just sit back and enjoy the view?
Then, bizarrely, just as we approached the island's 2nd highest peak (the only one reachable by road) my mobile rang. I'd even forgotten the thing was on (no expectations of a call here in the middle of nowhere) and collapsed into giggles when the screen showed S (owner of a blog less ordinary ,-partly at least because it's less written in).
S tends to vanish from my life for months on end and emerge when least expected - but rarely less expected than last week.
Was I free for lunch on Thursday as he would be in Cheltenham?
Amid semi hysterical laughter (at that moment I would have paid huge sums to be safe in Cheltenham and available for lunch) I somehow stopped being terrified...so thanks for that, S. Not the first time you've rescued me, but surely one of the strangest.
After that, I was mostly able to marvel at the scenery...so different from anything here at home.
I did wonder, as the days wore on, if I lived among such majesty, whether I would ever manage to see it....and what other splendours I ignore at home on a daily basis?
(Having had very special visitors here the past couple of days, the answer to that seems to be "quite a few")