So we finally decided to go for a walk.  People keep telling us how lovely the walks are in Madeira but the main problem I have with them is that they are usually outside and inevitably involve hills.  I’m not a great walker for 3 main reasons

1) I have bad knees
2) I’m overweight
3) I’m lazy

Now common sense dictates that if I was less of the third and did a bit more exercise then the first two would ease, but me and common sense are not good bed fellows at the best of time.  When we arrived, in our extensive briefing, we had been told about Ponte de Sao Lourenco which is the peninsular that pops out of Madeira’s East side and looks a bit like a Scorpion’s tail.  Our host had said that it was  a lovely walk, but to:
a) get there early as it gets busy.b) take hats, suncream and waterproofs as it is exposed.c) take toilet paper in case we get caught short and there are no toilets.
So on Saturday morning, armed with suncream, hats, waterproofs and toilet paper (plus cover ups, a resealable plastic bag, a bobble and a penknife) we headed off.  We arrived at 10:00 ish and there were already a few cars and coaches but not too many.

What slightly bothered me were the hardcore walkers who were getting their boots on.  We had trainers (which was better than the flip flops we saw some people attempting the walk in) but we just hoped they would suffice.  I also had a walking pole.  Well I saw a walking pole, it was actually a walking pole which conveniently had a 1/4″ thread at the top and so doubled as a monopod for my camera (tripod number 3, snook in the case. Boom). It was actually really useful and I saw why people used them on rough terrain.  One was good.  Two just looked poncy.  I blanked the 2 pole walkers.  They were just frustrated skiers who couldn’t cope with the lack of snow.

The first part of the walk was paved, then it went to wooden decking, then it just went to rock.  It was ok though as it was sunny and the scenery spectacular.  This may even be able to exorcise all those memories of being forced to do fell walks at camp in the Lake District in the rain.  The terrain was getting more rugged and I noticed Karen was falling a bit behind.  Those of you know Karen know that she doesn’t do heights (insert suitable short gag of your choice here).  And there were a lot of edges to fall off on this walk, but she bravely soldiered on.

As the scenery became more barren and I strode off with my walking pole in my hand I felt like I had walked into a scene from Lord of the Rings.  I was like a tubby Gandalf leading the little hobbit onto Moooorrrdooooorrrr.  (I say I was like Gandalf, I might have been more like the other one.  Lego Legs?  Or perhaps Sean Bean.  No he got his head cut off in the first film didn’t he?  Or was that Game of Thrones?  Which is the one were they all sing about doing the washing up?  Oh I don’t know, I leave all that fantasy stuff to Karen).

We were making good progress even with Frodo, sorry Karen, stopping every 5 minutes to take pictures.  (I also don’t remember hobbits blowing their nose as much as Karen did.  Perhaps that was included in the Blu-ray Extended Director’s Cut version).  After about an hour we turned a corner and saw the final peak that was as far as we could walk.  It looked rather tall.  As we dropped our eyes to the valley below we saw…a visitors centre?
Yes it would appear that there were toilets after all, but you had to pay €1 to use them and put your toilet paper in the bin or take it home with you as this was an ecological zone.  Actually I was quite glad we could use their toilet paper as all I had in my bag were some napkins from the Fiesta the other night.  I’ve noticed in most place we have eaten they have those napkin dispensers on the tables (we eat in some classy places).  This is great, but they are the napkin equivalent of Izal toilet paper.  They just basically push the grease around your face and never actually absorb anything.  And this is what I had bought for toilet paper.  Great.  However we needn’t have worried as having a queue of people stood directly outside the door as well as a very official lady who insisted on you paying up, opening the door and then locking it behind you, made any bodily functions virtually impossible.

We looked up at the last bit of the challenge.  It was now 12:30, the sun was beating down on us and we had left the water in the car (idiots).

“Do you want to go up it?” I asked Karen
Long pause.”Well we have come all this way”.

That was it, we continued.  They had conveniently put steps in. Well not exactly steps as pieces of wood with earth behind them.  When the earth eroded from behind them, they just became mini hurdles.  As we slogged up the hill I could hear Karen behind me muttering about “the Shire” and her lack of “second breakfast” but about half an hour later we had made it.

OK, so this wasn’t Everest, but for a very unfit couple in their mid forties, this was an achievement.  The only thing we had to worry about then was the walk back.

That night we both went to bed happy, if sore.  Before settling down I completed my day as Gandalf by reenacting that deleted scene from the Lord of the Rings.  You know the one.  Where Gandalf rubs Voltarol gel into his aching knees.

Well that’s it blog wise for this holiday.  Tomorrow myself and Bilbo, sorry, Karen return home.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them.  If you have, then your next blog fix is coming sooner than you thought.  This was our (late) Summer holiday.  Well in about 3 weeks’ time we head off for our (early) Christmas getaway.  Normally we go somewhere cold and Christmassy, but this year we are going to…errrr…Pisa. (Look it was the only weekend we could do with Daz and Sue between now and Christmas all right and it was the only place we could get flights to).  So until November 4th, adios.
PS: Tonights puzzle is a  logic puzzle.  (Yeah I know, dull, but Karen loves them).


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