It’s fair to say that we are staying in a well weird place. Nice, but well weird. The apartment block we are staying in was obviously built in the 60’s, but its surrounded by overgrowth and you wouldn’t know it was here. You know how on I’m a Celebrity, it looks like they are in the middle of the jungle, but then 100 yards away is a 5 Star Luxury Hotel? Well it’s like that, but in reverse. But with a crumbling apartment bock instead of a 5 Star Hotel. And no Ant or Dec.
The most bizarre thing though is the derelict swimming pool. As we look from our balcony, there is an Olympic sized swimming pool complete with 3 levels of diving board just sat here derelict. (Please don’t tell ITV as they may want to come come and refurbish it for the next season of Splash. I hear that one they use in Luton is getting quite expensive now). Then of course there is the hairdressers/Gym/ice cream parlour combo up the hill.
When our host was giving us his extensive briefing, he told us “this place has an amazing history. When we bought the place it was derelict and there were alligators here”. (The next day we did come across a tiny lizard, so I’m not sure if he was exaggerating or if there really were alligators). He then said “I’ll tell you about it in a moment” but the moment never came (too busy telling us about walks we could do. Like that is ever going to happen) so we never found out. The apartment is fabulous. Beautifully renovated. Very smart and modern. Paintings by local artists on the wall and a fabulous balcony. We have taken to sleeping with the blinds (and often the doors) open so when we wake up we roll over and see the sea (and the 7:20 TAP flight landing). We also see ourselves, which is disturbing. They have replaced the glass in the balcony with mirrored glass, which has the advantage of making the balcony appear bigger whilst hiding us from the few neighbours we have. Apparently (according to our host) “we can sunbathe nude if you like and no one can see you. However at night the effect is reversed and if you put the lights on, people can then see you”. With this knowledge I have taken to standing naked on the balcony and waving at the landing planes, safe in the knowledge that my modesty is intact. I have however stopped doing it at night after a rep from Jet2 came around and asked me to stop as I “wasn’t giving a good first impression of the island”.
On Saturday afternoon, it got even weirder. I was lying on the lounger on the balcony, minding my own business when we saw a load of blokes by the pool. I got off my lounger and walked to the over to the edge of the balcony to get a better view. I couldn’t really see what was going on so I got my telephoto lens out and had a good “squie” (as Karen would say). All the men were dressed in camouflage fatigues and they most definitely had guns. At this point, even with the mirrored glass, I felt a bit exposed. (Well I was stood in my trunks pointing a telephoto lens at a man with a gun. Not a good position to be in). I retreated back to my lounger and watched through the gap in the mirrored panels.
They seemed to be doing some sort of army manoeuvres. There was a lot of running around in zig zag lines. A couple seemed to be set up with a radio point at the position where the judges would be sat in “Atlantic Splash” (that’s what I’m calling the Maderian version. I’m dropping Jo Brand though. I love her on Extra Slice but to this day have no idea why she was a judge on Splash. A clear diary in January I guess. We’ve all been there). They were jumping in and out of the bushes and shooting each other. I say shooting. The guns were going “rat a tat tat” but that was it. I concluded one 3 things was happening:
1) Madeira was about to undergo a military coup
2)This was a really bad Stag Do where the best man had forgotten to pay for the paint pellets in the paint ball experience.
3) This was the Madeiran TA.
Boring though it may seem. I think it was option 3. Anyway, I digress..why do we have a derelict Olympic size swimming pool at the bottom of the garden? Well a bit of Googling (yes, we Google on a Saturday night. Rock’n’roll) answered all our questions. Basically between 1967 and 1974 the government built a complex on this spot for the Madeiran people. It included the 5 Star Atlantis Hotel (see, told you it was like I’m a Celebrity) an international Bridge Club and, you guessed it, an Olympic sized swimming pool. However with the extension of the runway in 2000, the complex was closed and the hotel destroyed the same year. All that is left are these few apartments, the gym/hair salon/Ice Cream Parlour and the swimming pool.
I was most impressed with my discovery. We found pictures online of how it looked and even a YouTube video. I went to bed feeling very content that I had unearthed the answer to our question. Until Karen came to bed. “Errmm, And, you may want to look at this” I got out of bed and went into the living room to see that on all the wall, just outside our bedroom door, in between all the local art, was a poster advertising the complex in its hey day. Perhaps I wan’t the Sherlock I thought I was.
Come back tomorrow for tales from the Beach.
PS: After the huge success of the word search yesterday, today I have popped in a “Where’s Wally” as a treat for getting through this blog. Enjoy.