Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Christmas with the Beardshaws

Having arrived home at 10.30pm on the 23rd December, Christmas Eve arrived suddenly.  Preparations for Christmas were minimal as we were going to DS 1 and family for Christmas Day.
First thing to do was put the washing machine on and start the process.  There is a LOT of washing after a four week holiday.  Next was open the post and all the Christmas Cards over coffee.  There was a lot of coffee drunk today just to keep us going.  Last minute Christmas presents were wrapped and then bedtime.

Christmas Day dawned cold and bright.  After breakfast I continued with minor things until it was time to leave for Dinner.  Loaded up with presents for the two boys we went over through the cold but thankfully no snow.  Apparently it was warmer than it had been but very cold compared to Madeira.  Santa (Grandad) arrived with the sack and was cheerfully greeted with the "More Presents, Can we open them now?) from 4 year old Hayden.  A mountain of paper grew in the middle of the floor.  Boxes were stacked high in two places - His and Mine (Brendan and Hayden)  Finally dinner interrupted the fun. Our son had cooked a beautiful Christmas Dinner and I had made the traditional Christmas Pudding, finishing the last steaming before we went.  The childrenate a good meal as there were more presents after dinner.  My  DiL had made some Christmas biscuits for later on with a cup of tea and we sent home very well fed.  Below are just a few photos.
I got a space suit
I got a T-shirt

A remote control car. Thanks!!
Haden was determined he could fit into the box that his remote control car came in.  In the end he had to settle for only getting in this far.

And finally Big ~Bro got to open his present.

A remote control stunt car.  Thanks Grandad.    

The next question was -Can we take the cars down to the park to try them out.  Of course the answer was Yes so whilst Dad, Grandad and the two boys went to try the cars out, DiL and I made headway into the pile of wrapping paper.  There appeared to be rather a lot and one or two present that had been missed to boot.  Still it was a brilliant day and everyone went to bed very happy.

Good night

Boxing Day
Morning came very quickly.  We had been invited to DS 2 and family for the day. We arrived for lunch, a buffet fortunately so eat as much as you like was very much appreciated.  I was still full from yesterdays feast.  Today proved just the opposite of yesterday.  The boys, Rees and Devan, had new whatevers for their play stations or whatever version they are now, I can't keep up with all this stuff, and so we hardly saw or heard them.  Coffee and food was on offer all day and adult talk about how to put new lighting in the bathroom, bedrooms and kitchen; how to alter the kitchen to use the space more economically; how they had had the conservatory altered to make it into another living space, etc.  You get the drift don't you.  I never got my camera out of its' bag, so no photos here then.

Mid afternoon and we made our departure for home, total peace and some sewing.  I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms.

A small glass of Madeira wine to celebrate the passing days and bed.

Good  Night
God Bless


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Good Afternoon my friends.

Well I will start back in November 2013 when we left the UK for a four week holiday in Madeira, Funchal to be precise.  We love this place and treat it like a second home and have been coming back for 11 years now.
The first week we were there was warm and we had a couple of very nice days but we also had rain, not too surprising for the time of year.  We visited our usual cafes and shops and had a lovely chilled out week.  Peter decided not to bother diving, after all he was there for 4 weeks
The second week started rather nice but the rain, although still warmish, was a little more frequent and the sea was becoming a little rougher and starting to roar.  I don't know what it is that makes it sound different, but it does.  We could see White Horses starting to prance on the water a little bit further out from the bay. Not a good sign.
The jetty was starting to take a pounding and the "BOOM" as the waves hit the bottom of the walls before showering down on the top was quite impressive.
By this time the attendants were removing all the sun beds from around the pool and taping off the way down to the jetty.  The red flags for no swimming were all around but I think only a suicide case would try the sea in that mood.  We stayed in and I got quite a bit of work done, the sewing was taking shape, I had taken hexagons and diamonds to make a small lap quilt.  I had also taken some knitting to make myself a cardigan.  Both progressed well.
I felt sorry for those on the cruise liners arriving in the harbour.

The tongues licking the heliport.
Later the second week the sea decided to show its power and for two days we had waves starting out in the bay at 15 mtrs high.  They crashed on the rocks and sent their spray over everything, landing and running back into the sea like hungry tongues grabbing what they could to take back as a trophy.  They also left their calling cards in the shape of large boulders from the sea defences.

 You can see the boulders on the red tiled surface to the centre left of the picture.

They don't look very big do they?  It took three large strong men to lift them back over the low board into the sea.  Some had to be returned by a bucket on a digger.  These boulders had also been thrown from the jetty, over the walk way around the swimming pool and into the pool itself causing considerable damage to the pool floor and taking with them some fishes.  Fortunately it also left some water for them to swim in.

Week 3     The  storm proceeded to increase in strength and by the beginning of week three we were warned that the whole island was on Purple alert. No-one could remember this ever happening before.  Not even in the terrible floods.  Boats were moved to what was hoped to be safe anchorage.  Liners already in port had to stay where they were and others were told not to come.  People due to fly home were brought back from the airport and returned to their rooms.  There was no way in or out of Madeira for 3 days.  It was the worst storm the island had seen in 60 years.  The damage was extensive.  At our resort alone they were counting damage in the tens of thousands of euros.  The new indoor pool and been  trashed with the glass windows just fragments lying around the pool area and in the water.  The roof was badly damaged and boulder were sitting in the coffee area waiting to be served, in vain.  The new coffee machine was totally demolished.  Served them right.
The jetty is under there somewhere.
Just a small part of the damage
to the 1st floor roof

We are on the 6th floor and this little beauty soaked us through
This lasted for 3days.  Hotels had their swimming pools broken away from the swimming area and left hanging in the sea where the water had eroded the sand and pebbles from underneath and the whole  area  just collapsed.  I felt so sorry for the islanders.  Their main source of income is tourists.                                                          

 On the Sunday morning of week 4 I was awakened by the silence.  The roaring and booming had stopped, the patio on the balcony was covered in sand and sea salt but there was no water.  The white horses had returned to their stables for a well deserved rest and the waves had returned to being gentle swells onto the beaches.  The ships were moving out of the harbour and others were coming in, apparently having run the gauntlet as the storm headed over to Tenerife and the other Canary Islands, its ferocity causing them considerable damage too.  It took another two or three days for the water visibility to clear and then Peter along with the other divers went to see if they could find some of the items the hungry waves had taken.  The boat divot's were found and a crane had to be arranged to lift them out of the water.  A piece of concrete about 25ft x 20ft which had been torn from the end of the jetty was found scattered around in quite small pieces.  It was over 10" thick.  But week four continued as usual, sunny and warm and we were able to visit the town where the Christmas festivities continued apace.  My lasting memory was sitting OUTSIDE our favourite cafe on the 21st December with no coats or cardigans, the sun shining for all it was worth, drinking coffee and eating Christmas custard tarts, listening to the local school choir singing carols in Portuguese, English and German whilst the finishing touches were put to the Nativity Display.  MAGIC.

 The end of  an interesting holiday and what did I do?  Well, knitted and sewed and taught patchwork to two new friends.  Now that is special.

                                                      Until the next time -

                                                       If you can dream it, you can do it.