Our Madeiran spot by day:
and by night (courtesy of a Loved One):
We had the happiest and most relaxing of weeks; it is more than five years since I last had a proper holiday and many more since I had a holiday where I simply let go. (For the record, I relished every moment of my three weeks in India in 2008 and long to return but my Friend on the Road and I covered many hundreds of miles and I was, on that particular trip, a woman with a specific mission . . .)
Madeira was good to us: the sun was as generous as I hoped that it would be and, for a few days at least, our world was a warmer place. (Flying back into gales-force winds and cold, biting rain was most unwelcome.)
On our last evening we took a taxi to a hillside overlooking Funchal to eat at Z'Arcos, a restaurant that the Loved Ones had discovered on a previous visit. We ate outside on a wide verandah, surrounded by deep troughs of herbs - fat bushes of fragrant basil, rosemary, fennel and oregano. And we talked, among other things, of politics - national, European and international - as we often do and how we feel and see ourselves as Europeans and have done for as long as we can remember. (The UK faces the prospect of a referendum about our continued membership of the European Union; we agree that the community has many faults but faults can be put right. Better, surely, to make things better rather than to turn and walk away, without a clue of where we might be heading? We have no desire for the clock to be turned back. A Loved One remarks that, if the vote goes the wrong way - that is, to leave the EU - he will leave the country. We nod in agreement.)
Looking out across the pantiled roofs, with the Bay of Funchal just catching the last of the soft, evening light, we had a sense of being part of what we saw, not simply visitors. Something that none of us would wish to lose.