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Madeira around Funchal

After the tour with HitTheRoadTours on our first day in Funchal, we decided we weren’t going to do much – a relaxing week in prospect. So we walked around Funchal and I took lots more pictures of doors which weren’t there (or I missed) the last time we visited. We also went up to Monte in the cable car and looked around the gardens at the top – so having covered a good 5 miles around the gardens, it wasn’t relaxing at all.

We stayed at Albergaria Dias – a small family run hotel in Funchal old town. We were able to walk through the hotel garden, out the back door and straight into the old town, full of restaurants and bars. Senor Dias and his family are excellent hosts and we really enjoyed staying there.

Our journey up on the cable car gave us the opportunity to see the haphazard nature of the devastation caused by the fire here. How one property can be totally razed to the ground leaving a nearby one intact is beyond me.

It’s quite amazing how the north side of the island can be cloudy and rainy, yet all the bad weather falters at the top of the mountains and leaves Funchal alone – no wonder over 100,000 of Madeira’s 268,000 population live in the Capital. The tuc-tuc seems quite a popular way of sightseeing here – we haven’t used one, maybe next time.

The two guys playing cards just near to where the cable car leaves from looked as though they were enjoying themselves but I’m not sure about the other two in the centre of Funchal. Just after I’d taken that photo, the guy in the flat cap got up and walked off.

Strolling through Funchal one morning, we heard some good jazz standards being played and we sought it out. Juan Caldarado and his band were keeping a good number of people entertained – excellent stuff. Just nearby we came across a lovely market stall in a square. The quality and diversity of the produce in Madeira is amazing. Thiago from HitTheRoadTours was telling me that the climate and soil quality give them the opportunity to produce 4 crops of potatoes a year. Useless fact or interesting – you decide!

The doors are coming……..

Madeira with HitTheRoad Tours

Madeira with HitTheRoad Tours

I’d seen reviews of this Company on Trip Advisor and FB and thought it might be a good idea to do a tour with them up to the western side of Madeira. So I arranged to get picked up bright and early and I was the first of 5 to be picked up. Thiago, the main man, said we had another 2 pick ups and we headed off to the Lido area to pick up a Canadian couple called Sara(h) and Michael. We waited, and waited a bit more, then waited a bit more but no sign of them, so Thiago set off for the second couple, Ian and Erika, who live in Berlin. No problems there, so we rang to see what had happened to the first couple and as there was no news, we set off. Thiago gave us some good history and facts about Madeira and told us the itinerary for the day which sounded good. The weather was fine and we were upbeat. Heading west in lovely sunshine, we passed through Camara De Lobos and Ribeira Brava before ending up at the sunniest point in Madeira, Ponta Do Sol. Thiago then rang to see where the other couple were and found out that they had been taken by mistake by another tour operator. We walked around Ponta Do Sol for a while to let him pick them up and then set on our way.

I’m not sure whether the roads we travelled on next are on the map, and whether they can be called roads is also questionable. However I have to say that pointing upwards at 45° around hairpin bends 3″ from a precipice is one of nature’s great laxatives. Really exciting too. It was sad to see the devastation left by the fire that raged through Madeira – the eucalyptus trees were as dry as tinder and it’s not difficult to understand how the fire took hold in the first place. Also, when we got to the plateau, the winds were raging and we were actually in the clouds in pouring rain – a stark contrast to Funchal. This meant that we couldn’t see anything that Thiago wanted to show us until we got to a public picnic area where we saw a static barbecue and seating area, shortly before the vegetation changed on the way down into Porto Moniz where we had lunch. On the north side, the weather is considerably cooler and changeable than the south. The waves were crashing into the rocks and there were no boats out at all. There were some interesting rock formations and we were taken to a couple of outdoor pools, adjacent to the sea, where people go to swim in complete calm whilst the sea crashes around them. The road we travelled on was not the old coast road, this has been closed for some time owing to rock falls and the fact that it is largely single track with sheer drops at the side. We moved on to Seixal and Sao Vicente and finally headed southwards through a tunnel which took us back to the southern side and as we got through the tunnel it was like somebody switched the lights on and the sun came out. Just in time for a Poncha said Thiago. They’re supposed to be made freshly in front of you so if it comes straight out of a bottle, forget it. The lady who made ours took great care and it tasted wonderful – kick like a mule. We all headed for Funchal happy people. On the way we stopped off at a glass viewing platform over 500m in the air for panoramic views of Funchal. Thanks for a great day Thiago – see you next time.







Red Squirrels

They don’t stay still very long and they’re very cute – so they make for a great day out. Up in Hawes again with red squirrels. The last time I was here, the weather in Hawes car park started off at -1°C. Fortunately it was very pleasant on Sunday morning, despite having not slept very well. Excellent Dales breakfast at the Cornlee Guest House with my mate Pete Stockton set us up for the day. Superb pies for lunch which Pete brought from Stokesley – yummy!



North Yorkshire Waterfalls+

My friend Pete Stockton and I, decided to have a day photographing red squirrels in Hawes – that post comes later. We needed something to fill our first day so naturally, waterfalls and landscapes were the order of the day. We started fairly late after brunch in Leyburn and then went up to West Burton. Not as much water there as we thought – considering there had been a stack of water the preceding day, not too far away where Pete lives. Nevertheless, we had a good couple of hours there, then moved on to Cotter Force and finally up to Keld where we saw a good barn with a few clouds, so here are some images from our excursion :-

RPS/Line & Light architectural Photography day

I looked at the email from the Royal Photographic Society and thought – “I’ve not been on a course for a while” – so I paid the money and charged my batteries. A day of architectural photography with Martine Hamilton Knight down at Nottingham Trent University. I had been told that the park and ride/tram into Nottingham was the easiest way in and it really was simple. Park at Phoenix Park, return tram fare for the day £4 and just simple.

Trent University is a great building with lots of lines and light (maybe why Martine chose it) and after an introduction to the subject we were let loose. Some images inside and some outside. Here are a selection from the day. If you get chance to take this course – go on it – Martine is an excellent tutor and a real pleasure to be with. I hope these images do the day justice.

North Wales

We decided to visit Llandudno for a few days as the weather was mainly forecast to be on our side. The first afternoon was a bit dull but we managed a fair walk and were set up for more on Monday. We tried a new restaurant, nearly next door to Sue’s brother who lives there. Carlo’s – brilliant food and service so we’ll go again sometime.

Monday morning and it’s chucking it down with rain but we’ve got a decent sized brolly so we’ll brave the elements. We decided on the west shore and set off in light drizzle. 200 yards down the road and the heavens opened. We had to point the brolly into the wind and hope. Well we stopped at a bus stop for a bit of shelter and by this time our jeans were soaked from the knees down. A bit further on the wind got worse and the brolly blew inside out but cleverly we turned head on into the wind and it went the right way but with a broken strut. Wringing wet we squelched home and got dried out. In the afternoon we drove down to one of our favourite gardens, Bodnant – it was lovely and we had a good trek around. There was a new bit called Far End, which we’d not seen before. It includes a boat house, a lake and other features such as a small picnic area and cafe. It has taken staff 5 years to restore and has extended the walk considerably.

The next day was a joy and we walked up the Little Orme. The sun was out and we nearly had the place to ourselves. We stayed up on the top for quite some time and just enjoyed the sun after the dismal showing the morning before. The image below is taken from the trig point on top of the Little Orme. We had booked a table at another restaurant we’d not been to before, The Seahorse – again excellent food and service.

The final morning was spent walking along the promenade at Rhos on Sea where we used to walk with Sue’s mum when she was alive. The tide was out – we haven’t seen that often when we’ve been to Rhos. That meant people on the beach enjoying themselves, buckets and spades, splashing about and all the usual seaside stuff. Before leaving, we dropped into Colwyn Bay to Porth Eirias restaurant for lunch. Third new place, third good meal.

Llandudno from the Little Orme



Hull – UK City of Culture 2017

I thought it might be a good idea to try and help to make our City of Culture year a success in whatever small way I could – so I volunteered to be a … volunteer. So, a couple of training sessions later I’m a little more knowledgeable and looking forward to whatever comes my way.

One of the sessions included a walking tour of the old town with Guide, Paul Schofield. I’d never thought about a walking tour of Hull or what it might entail but it was both informative and entertaining. I took the opportunity to take the GX8 around with me and so here are a few images from the morning.


The Sesh, Hull, 2016

As well as the band related images I took, here are a selection of “general” images, ranging from the wonderful pastries outside 1884 Dock Street Kitchen, to first thing in the morning – setting up the gin bar outside The Minerva, to one of the sound engineers on stage rolling up his trousers for some fresh air – either that or he thought the Hokey Cokey was about to start. On a more serious note, a first responder cycle ready for action, reminding us of the brilliant job the emergency services do for us all. Then – the MAN himself, first thing in the morning on walkabout just before Pavey Ark kicked off on the Minerva stage.


Sunderland Air Show – beach assault

In a break from the air display, we were treated to a battle re-enactment by troops from HMS Bulwark. The story was that reconnaissance had been carried out by troops from the Ship and commandos had sent a couple of advance commandos ashore in order to gather information as to how they should take the beach position under defence from artillery. Two inflatable craft were sent to recover the commandos and then after plans were drawn up, they attacked the beach position and captured it. One of the beach party tried to evade capture by dressing up as a blonde but the troops were sharply onto her/him. I think the hairy legs gave it away.

After the re-enactment, the troops sent a party onto the beach to make it safe and blow up any unexploded shells. Very loud and very watchable.


Fosse Hill Jetski & Caravan Park

There was an event on at Fosse Hill on Saturday and I took the opportunity to practise a bit of sport photography on the site. There were a number of competitions, novice riders, including John – a young at heart 62, and more experienced riders later, followed by the “Show us your best trick” competition. I had to leave before the results were announced but here’s a sample of what went on :-