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MADEIRA


HOME FROM HOME MADEIRA


Our tour of places popular with expats takes us to Madeira, a lush Portuguese island that was once – briefl y – under British rule and is known for its eponymous cake and wine, and fi reworks


WORDS CHRISTOPHER NYE PICTURES THINKSTOCK MADEIRA?


A little corner of lush paradise, less than a four-hour fl ight from the UK and in the same time zone. The island is only 60 kilometres long and 20 wide, part of Portugal, with a tremendous infrastructure complementing its natural beauty. This includes amazing cacti, banana trees, palm trees, jacarandas and eucalyptus forests preserved by national park status. It’s a volcanic island, climbing to 1,200 metres in the centre with deep valleys and looming cliffs. The coast is craggy, with very few beaches, but for the more energetic visitors the centre of the island is famous for its walking trails.


BRITS IN MADEIRA Madeira is quiet, dignifi ed and likes


to think it’s much classier than most


holiday islands. You can tell that from the British people most associated with Madeira – George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill. Churchill spent the days between being Prime Minister painting and writing here, and Shaw learnt to dance at the famous Reid’s Hotel. The British occupied Madeira with the agreement of Portugal during the Napoleonic wars, marking the start of a long and friendly association.


THE ENGLISH LOVERS In 1377 a young Englishman named


Robert Machin eloped with his lover Anne to France, but their ship was blown off course and they landed in Madeira, at that time deserted, where she died. Machin escaped to Castille, where his tale was heard by Henry the Navigator, who later went and “discovered” Madeira, and named the town of Machico in their honour. That’s one version anyway.


THE EXPAT LIFESTYLE TODAY Don’t expect the gated developments


and chip shops of southern Spain. Brits in Madeira blend in well with their Portuguese neighbours. But there are little pockets of Blighty, such as at the Holy Trinity Anglican church in Funchal, that has tea and social afternoons every Wednesday, as well as coffee mornings, bingo evenings and art workshops. And church services, of course. There is also MADS – the


Madeira Amateur Dramatic Society, whose recent successes include Les Misérables and The Sound of Music. There are several English language websites and publications including The Brit in Madeira.


A TASTE OF HOME Reid’s Palace Hotel: Famous for its cocktail bar and its afternoon teas complete with cucumber sandwiches and Madeira cake, Reid’s has been the island’s most famous and high-class establishment since 1891. Goodies: In central Funchal, Goodies sells a great selection of British products including Marmite and teabags, and even accepts Sterling (www.goodies.pt,00351 291 765 301). The Red Lion: Traditional (to England) family-run pub serving a mix of British and local specialities. You’ll be serenaded by live music at the weekends from Eduardo and Mary.


WHAT TO DO IN MADEIRA New Year’s Eve: Funchal celebrates the start, or end, of the year with a massive fi rework display, said to be one of the largest in the world. Crowds are boosted by passengers from cruiseliners that arrive for the party. Flower Festival: For the two weeks after Easter, the streets of Funchal are


70 A PLACE IN THE SUN APRIL 2011


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