Sunday 17 September 2023

April on Madeira

At least it is this April, it could be a lot worse. Needless to say I've had this on my to-do list for a while, and whilst there are more interesting things I could write about, readers do need to be informed about Madeira and what a cool place it is. From my persepective it is a botanical garden with a few birds thrown in. I know, what is not to like? I shall be brief, for the sake of, well, brevity.

I've been to Madeira a few times before, mostly solo. The first trip was to scratch the itch of the island's endemics, Firecrest, Trocaz Pigeon and so on. It didn't take me long to catch on that this was a simply stunning place where the gardens and verges were as interesting as the birds. Perhaps more interesting actually, fabulous collections of Cycads, Araucaria growing alongside Agave and Aloe. Heaven on earth in my book. Subsequent trips tended to be about the plants more than the birds, but there was something missing. Mrs L. She has no interest in birding trips, nor particularly in the kinds of plants I like, but over the years something about my enthusiasm for the place must have taken hold and a seed was planted. I knew she would like it, but there was always somewhere else to go, something else to do. This April though and we were finally game on - the Easter holidays, Madeira the perfect destination for an exhausted teacher and her long-suffering husband. Or something like that.

The timing wasn't wonderful, I'd just had Covid again, and was in the middle of a bout of diverticulitis that would eventually see me seek medical advice (spoiler: I survived). I'd booked a particularly lovely hotel, a hotel I had walked past many times on previous trips and wondered what it was like. All I can say is that there are worse places to be ill and it was wonderful. Things being as they were we didn't do a great deal, and so for once a holiday was actually a holiday rather than a manic trip trying to squeeze as much in as possible. An old person's holiday, and I could get quite used to them. Leisurely breakfasts, reading on our own private terrace, a swim in the pool, evening cocktails in the bar and a meal out. Add in a visit to a Madeira winery, an utterly fabulous botanic garden, and Cory's Shearwater nesting in the cliffs below the hotel....well, I personally don't need much more to be happy. Very happy. We didn't even hire a car, so the island beyond Funchal remains for another visit, and as Mrs L is now a convert I don't expect it will be too long before we're back. In fact typing this is making me think of booking it again....

The view was a bit so so, but we got through it

The sensational Monte Palace Gardens

The hotel was a botanical garden in its own right

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