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We are back in Madeira after a lovely 7 week trip to South Africa (see our 2012-13 South Africa trip page on the left menu). We certainly noticed the difference in temperature on our return. After temperatures of around 30 degrees we were suddenly back to 10-15 degrees, and feeling it! Still, after a delivery of logs we soon had the fire burning and keeping cosy in the evenings. This week we noticed the temperatures rising slightly at night and more sunlight daytime. You may wonder why this is so significant for us? Well, the reason is that we are living at almost 700 metres above sea level on the edge of a mountain so we frequently have the company of the Atlantic clouds which roll over the high peaks and settle around us, filling the valley below us. The warmer temperatures usually means the wind has turned to the south, blowing the clouds away. This extra warmth has prompted us to get into the garden, digging, planting and sowing - so hopefully our efforts will be rewarded, and not eaten by the rabbits.
February is Carnival month in Madeira so off we went on the Saturday of the Grand Parade to watch. We decided to have an early dinner in the 'Old Town' but unfortunately we waited so long for our food that after 90 minutes of waiting we left. Dinner ended up being a hotdog from one of the vendors - and delicious it was.
Standing at the side of the road we waited in the crowds for the floats to arrive (we were at the end of the route). It was a good atmosphere and we met people from all over - Holland, Spain, UK and lovely locals that kept us up to speed on what was going on.
At one point Madeira's President - Dr Jardim - was spotted in front of one of the floats, dressed in black sparkly top hat and beating his drum.
pic: No- this is not the President!
The Floats were amazing and the concentration and physical fitness of the dancers was amazing. We did spot a few grimaces amongst them at times but they soon got over it and the smile was back and the dancing continued.
We have accomplished our first Levada Walk (well at least part of it). It was a gently walk for our 'first time' with no hills. 90 minutes there and 90 minutes back. The sun was out, the air was clean and the tea house was waiting for us at the end - what more could you ask for? On our way back to the car park our Levada 'guide' arrived and accompanied us all the way. He was quite short and hairy but kept an eye on us from the wall of the Levada before cooling off in a stream and then rejoining us - on the wall again!
pic: Our 4 legged, furry Levada 'guide'
Down at the boat yard we checked up on Red Ruth. She doesn't seem too upset with us for leaving her for so long, and the yard has looked after her well. The interior is dry and fresh - I had been worried that dampness would take hold. In the next couple of days we will start our maintenance and repair program.
Our diary is filling up with visitors, which we are delighted about, and we are looking forward to seeing everyone and spending some time with you all.