It occurs to me that I've been somewhat rude about Madeira on the whole, - so let me share with you something that was a source of unadulterated delight. The fish. Whether consumed in the assorted excellent restaurants that we discovered (not a day passed without TW or his mother enjoying calamari in some form or other) or encountered through the windows of the glass bottomed boat we went aboard to celebrate WN's birthday, they were an absolute and unqualified success.
The boat trip also provided an unexpected treat when a female fin whale appeared, and let us get within a few yards of her, doing all the right whaley things (to my lasting credit I resisted the urge to yell "Thar she blows" when I spotted her doing just that)...So huge, so alien, so much at home in her element. The birthday treats of earlier years seemed rather insignificant in comparison.
The other joy of the island, though, was the plants and flowers, even in dry and unpromising August. Hydrangeas, hostas, red-hot pokers, - things that can too easily look naff when they are planted in suburban gardens, flourished in generous profusion at every turn in the wild. Here they looked absolutely right, so that plants I usually dislike had me stopping and searching for my camera...Weeds, they say, are simply flowers in the wrong place. But these blooms, that seem so excessively contrived and pretensious when placed "just so" in Privet Drive, are transformed when they find themselves at home. Agapanthus is on my "A" list in any situation,- and the banks of them lining the roads up into the mountain were, quite simply, stunning. Eat your heart out, Kew Gardens!
I do apologise for wittering on so about my holiday...but I promised Songbird I wouldn't talk about her stay till she was safe home at a bloggable computer...and that wonderful camera from HongKong has simply forced me to take far too many pictures. Just for good measure, this is a view from the balcony of our horribly concrete and unbeautiful apartment. Straight ahead was a busy road, cutting us off from the more salubrious parts of the complex, and from the sea as well...but if you leaned at the right angle, this more attractive prospect was in view.