Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Friday 24 April 2015

Places, common or otherwise

Time was, people kept commonplace books, to collect quotations and extracts that struck them as memorable, for whatever reason: a discipline that eluded me. Instead, the round of bits and bobs I've been posting here have come to seem commonplace in the other sense, and repetitive: which is why (Ms. Scarlett please note, and thank you for your kind enquiry) there hasn't been much activity here lately.

Still and all,if you don't mind fixing a polite smile on and suppressing any urge to yawn, here are some holiday snaps. Back in February, a friend was offered the free use of someone else's timeshare in Madeira, and asked me along. It would have been churlish to refuse....................

Madeira's an island of mountains, ravines and rocky inlets, out in the Atlantic between the Canaries and the Azores, with narrow coastal strips that don't allow much, if any, space for bucket-and-spade beaches.

Funchal, the capital, like many a Mediterranean island town, has its harbour/marina/cruise terminal and its its traditional fishing village core. Along the shoreline, cliffs of modern hotels and apartments spread out to either side to maximise the opportunities for seaviews and exposure to sunshine. But the solid mass of suburban development is punctuated with occasional gaps: the terraced plots of bananas that cover so many of the steep slopes behind retain a foothold right down to busy boulevards and shopping centres that, otherwise, might be anywhere.

What pulls the tourists is in and around its centre, with its market, fancy mosaic pavingflamboyant cathedral interior, museums and grand town hall, arty displays and other distractions and entertainments for the visitor: