#1: Fire suppressant. Obliviously went on holiday to Madeira last week. Went there once before in the late 90s and it was very lush, but there has been a bit of a drought and this (impressive, time lapsed) video is the edge of the main town and one of several large outbreaks in various locations around the island a few days prior to our arrival:
Didn't affect the holiday at all besides: a) Getting a hotel room upgrade presumably because of cancellations, b) Not being able to take Sprogette to some aqua park thingy that was very close to one fire (closed, dunno - guess it was still full of ash or perhaps used in fire-fighting and half-empty). However on one day we did The[tm] mountain walk which is half the reason for going there, a strenuous ~4000ft up/down between two ~6000ft peaks and it turns out the top 1000ft of the highest mountain burnt in 2010 - last century there were lots of green 'heather trees' that I think were hundreds of years old - this time they were dead, charred and leafless.. very sad, won't be the same for generations, but it's still a really, really awesome walk though (not my blog).
#2: Child motivator. Previous day Sprogette whinged, whined and tarried over aching legs/feet/whatever on a 15 min walk to town. On aforementioned walk clouds had formed for the last bit which after about ~5 hours is a final ~2000ft ascent back to where you started.. demon child kept racing off ahead and this time bitterly whinging and whining over getting wet whilst having to wait for us old folk who were almost literally crawling and probably would have just sat down and cried if that bit had been hot/sunny.
#3: Traffic calming. We had a LHD hire car. It was the Rally Vinho da Madeira (with, if you're bloke-ish, a first outing of a Lotus Exige R-GT) on Friday and all week it seemed like every car impatiently up my backside going up+down the steep, narrow, zig-zagging mountain roads with random obstacles was some professional rally driver figuring out the course.. expect once when driving through clouds+rain for an hour one day when thanks to much practice with the Brit climate I finally got to leave some backsiders behind in the fog+puddles.
I love Madeira - if you like walks with fabulous scenery and don't mind interesting driving getting to them then it's brilliant. Even has a little beach now (a bit of imported saraha or something). Only downside is other tourists.. a lot of middle-age+, and often rather dour Europeans but you can leave most of them behind on the sun-loungers around hotel pools.
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