Robert and Tania drove us to the airport. On the way we saw a double rainbow, that dipped down into the sea, and when I tried to get a photo of this from the airport the battery in my camera failed. We sadly said goodbye to our friends as they were staying in Madeira for Christmas. Madeira is mentioned in the Guinness book of Records for the New Year firework display, but none of us stay long enough to see it.
Madeira is a beautiful and interesting place, although we only saw a small part of it. Funchal is said to be named after the Fennel plant (Funcho) which covered the area, and while we were in Madeira we saw lots of Poinsettia, Camellia, Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Hydrangea and Agapanthus flowers. The air where we were staying was filled with the scent of Pine and Eucalyptus, and for the first time I saw banana trees bearing fruit.
Madeira is famous for embroidery, cane work and for wine; there are at least six varieties that are drunk world wide. Shakespeare's plays mention the wine of Madeira; it was also drunk at the inauguration of George Washington and to toast the American Declaration of Independence.
Christoper Columbus is said to have come to Madeira as a sugar trader, then returned a few years later and married the Governor of Porto Santo's daughter by whom he had a son. This was all before he set off for the New World.
The flight home went as planned, except for a period of turbulence when the air filled with unspoken prayers, and I could mentally hear Robert saying "Richard Dawkins wouldn't like it! "
(Robert had been reading his book while we were on holiday.)
Our plane arrived at Stanstead 40 minutes early, but our Minni cab driver was already waiting for us and we were gratefully home in short order, around midnight. It seemed terribly cold, and the house was like an ice box, and took 24 hours to get back to the right temperature. Madeira already seemed like a dream.