It is amazing how one word can trigger a multitude of thoughts and memories from all the corners of the brain, which I am sure has no corners at all.
My corners, if there were any, are probably clogged with those tufts of fluffy dust similar to what you find under beds and wardrobes.
Known as the pearl of the Atlantic, a floating garden.
I heard it on the news. And it was such sad news about the flooding from the mountains on 20th February 2010 transforming this beautiful Portuguese island. Devastating mudslides killing 40 or more; the closure of the airport; even Funchal’s streets being turned into a ghost town. You really feel for the residents who have lost so much. We are mere mortals in the great scheme of things.
Ever been to Madeira? I haven’t, but definitely passed by a long time ago on board the Winchester Castle with 2999 other passengers, heading towards Cape Town. It was 1948. I know Madeira was a different place then.
I’ve filed letters belonging to Daddy recently; letters he had written to his friend back in 1948 describing Madeira as we passed by on our life changing journey of adventure.
Quote from letter:
‘It was 6.00pm, three days on since we sailed from Southampton on the Winchester Castle when we saw Madeira in the distance. It was dark when we got there but it presented a lovely picture with all the lights.
The next day I went over to the island with some Scots fellows and sat outside a pub on these wicker chairs around tables. We were immediatley asked if we would like a bottle of madeira wine. One chap asked for Scotch, not thinking for a minuite that he would get whiskey. But the waiter obliged again :
So what do you think followed? We had a bottle of both!
What struck me most about the place was the street pavements done in nice designs of different colour stones; the bullcars, just a car with no wheels drawn by a pair of oxen; and the policeman, all small with badly fitting uniforms.
When we sailed the next day there was the usual excitement of throwing coins into the water and little chaps diving to retrieve them off small boats.’
His letter continues to tell of a burial at sea, then the traditional King Neptune’s visit from the deep. He came on board as we crossed the equator, when 200 children all received certificates to prove that they had crossed this line.
He told of the terrible heat that they were so unaccustomed to.
His wife and two babies still had to endure a two and a half day train trip to Port Elizabeth. Half way there he found himself running down the streets in De Arr, a railway junction trying to find Cow and Gate baby food for a screaming baby and make sure he didn’t miss the train in the process.
Port Elizabeth, this was where our family were to spend the first five years in South Africa.
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