Pix of the trip: Madeira
Chalkmarks: Cable cars, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023

Bom dia!

THINK green slopes, blue water, yellow sun and something good to drink. Plus, dolphins and no clocks. Okay, there are clocks but you don’t need them when you’re on holiday. So, back to no clocks. This is Madeira. It’s a volcanic Portuguese island in the Atlantic, close to Africa. It’s Cristiano Ronaldo’s home town and on a winter’s day, it’s 20C. Think it’s for oldies? Think again. Many people are wrong about Madeira – the island… and the drink. Allow us to reintroduce Madeira because it really needs it. So, say hello to Hawaii, meets Costa Rica, meets Rio, meets Bavaria – no special effects needed. Tempted? Here are ten reasons to go. First there are dolphins … They live here, that means you are practically guaranteed to see them on a boat trip, pilot whales too (we also saw a humpback whale – quite rare, it was lost tbh) … Second it’s always spring and summer… the land is evergreen and everything grows here … Third they have banana pineapple… It looks like a banana, it tastes like a pineapple …. Fourth there’s Madeira wine … with a fashionable twist served with ginger ale … and while you’re here try the rum and Poncha (not for the faint-hearted – it’s made by sailors for sailors) … There’s plenty of history too, sign up for a Madeira tour at one of the most famous brands … we went to Blandy’s … Fifth there are waterfalls everywhere … Sixth if you take the cable car to the top of the mountain, they’ll bring you down in a toboggan … Seventh Ooh, rock pools you can swim in! Eighth You can walk the Levadas … Ninth to reach the tip top of the island, walk the Pico a Pico trail for spectacular views of the archipelago … Tenth the street art in the Old Town in Funchal makes it a cool Insta-hit hangout … And the main town is straight outta Lisbon … Hold on, there’s more … Eleventh the Santana houses … Twelfth coffee and a pastel de nata costs €2 (in 2023!) … Thirteenth Bolo do Coco is your lunchtime go to … Fourteenth the airport has a fantastic scenic landing … Fifteenth you feel like you’re as far away as possible but it keeps to UK time! … We didn’t even get to the beaches! One last thing: the ants … just a little thing!

Chalkmarks: Cable cars, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
San Francisco? The cable car in Funchal goes up to Monte and the Botanical Gardens
Chalkmarks: Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Portuguese cultural heritage: Listen to Fado singers in the small restaurants in Funchal
Chalkmarks: Bird on the Levada das 25 Fontes walk, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Tweeting in: Bird (not sure which, soz) on one of the most popular Levada walks, 25 Fontes
Chalkmarks: Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Days at sea: A lookout of the island’s high cliffs and coastline
Chalkmarks: Traditional Santana Houses, Santana Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Traditional: The thatched roofs of the colourful Santana houses from the 1400s
Chalkmarks: Banana pineapple, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Cool bananas: This is banana pineapple
Chalkmarks: Natural swimming pools in Porto Moniz, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Dive in: The natural swimming pools in Porto Moniz

Move over Port, on this Portuguese patch it’s all about the Madeira!

Chalkmarks: Madeira tasting at Blandy’s, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Glass-act: A Madeira tasting at Blandy’s in Funchal
Chalkmarks: Painted doors in the Old Town, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Paint the town: The colourful doors in the Old Town, Funchal
Chalkmarks: Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
From above: The blue sea and green land of Madeira
Chalkmarks: On the Levada das 25 Fontes walk, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Tree-mendous: On the Levada 25 Fontes walk
Chalkmarks: Sea sky, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Sea-cret: Taken on the boat on the way back to port
Chalkmarks: Bolo do Caco, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Grab one: Bolo do Caco is the bread smothered in garlic and parsley butter, and filled with ham and cheese
Chalkmarks: Green lake, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Shore-ly beautiful: The green lake in the Fanal forest
Chalkmarks: Rainbow in Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Pot of gold: A rainbow seen en route to see the 25 springs in Rabaçal
Chalkmarks: View from Pico a Pico trek, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
On high: View from the Pico a Pico trek
Chalkmarks: Black scabbard fish, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Unlikely pairing: Black scabbard fish with banana
Chalkmarks: View looking out across Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Long shot: Panorama of Madeira
Chalkmarks: Old Town, Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Maritime history: Old Town, Funchal
Chalkmarks: Google Maps, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Where we were: Madeira, Google maps
Chalkmarks: Time it took to complete Pico a Pico, Madeira, Portugal, December 2023
Pico a Pico: Time it took to walk summit to summit, Pico do Areeiro to Pico Ruivo, about 6miles/ 10kms

Treasure island!