Winston Churchill. CR7 dispute. Tourism plan.

The 50th anniversary of the death and memorable funeral of the legendary two-time prime minister this week reminded me of his association with the island. According to most historians, Churchill contacted Bryce Nairn, the British Consul in Madeira, in 1950 to enquire about the possibility of of a low-profile visit, specifically enquiring if there was a suitable hotel and scenery suitable for painting. There were rumours of ill health at the time, and apparently Churchill wanted to recuperate prior to contesting his last general election in 1951. The rest is “all history” as they say, with the statesman becoming synonymous with Reid’s Palace Hotel, and his paintings of the island scenery, most famously Câmara do Lobos. Churchill arrived in Funchal aboard the liner, the Durban Castle ,on the 2nd of January 1950, returning earlier than planned on the 12th of January.


imageAll of the media is currently speculating about the repercussions of a likely victory for the Syriza party in the Greek elections today (Sunday). This left wing party is advocating negotiating a huge debt write-off with the EU/IMF/Troika, and that the current austerity measures be revoked. The possibility of a Greek exit from the Euro is being mooted again as a result, together with the possibility of a “domino effect” in ClubMed countries including Portugal. Interesting Bloomberg video here

Ronaldo to be sued over underwear

I have been sent an interesting story from late last year. Apparently a Rhode Island man is trying to sue Cristiano Ronaldo in a dispute over an underwear line, but he can’t find him. Christopher Renzi sued the Real Madrid forward and a Danish underwear maker in July after being told of their plan to use the phrase "CR7" to sell underwear in the United States. Renzi, however, owns the “CR7” trademark in the United States. Renzi had until the end of November to notify Ronaldo of the lawsuit, but his lawyer said this week they haven’t been able to track down one of the world’s most famous athletes.
In the meantime, lawyer Michael Feldhuhn said he’s keeping an eye out for CR7 underwear being sold in the U.S. Feldhuhn said a Spanish justice official went to the headquarters of Real Madrid in Spain and tried to deliver the legal papers there, but the official said in a filing that a receptionist refused to accept them because the lawsuit doesn’t involve the team. Feldhuhn said they are now trying to serve the papers at an address where they believe Ronaldo lives. The judge overseeing the case has given Renzi until March 26 to find Ronaldo and serve him with the papers.
Ronaldo, meanwhile was sent off yesterday for some rather petulant behaviour, kicking out at an opponent and slapping him in the face. He apologised later.

Tourism plan

A detailed strategy plan for tourism on the island over the next five years has been unveiled by ACIF (the Madeiran Chamber of Commerce) in conjunction with the accountancy firm KPMG. The preferred focus for marketing is to be "Nature complemented by the Culture and Gastronomy". The full document can be downloaded from the (very slow) ACIF website Targets include increasing the number of overnight stays to 8.4 million (currently 6.2 million) and upping the the average expenditure per tourist from the current 113 euros to 142 euros (this seems a low figure but I guess it includes cruise ship passengers only staying for a short time).

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Santa Cruz palm trees. Fire damage. Euphonium concert.

Santa Cruz seafront palms “doomed”

Palmeiras em Santa Cruz estão irremediavelmente condenadas.

The Diario last week ran a feature on the palm trees that adorn the seafront in Santa Cruz being hopelessly condemned. The plague of red beetles was first detected in 2009 and already some have had to be cut down, whilst those that are still standing are doomed to follow the same fate according to the vice-Mayor of Santa Cruz, Miguel Alves. Regardless of the genus or species, the many palm trees that lend a subtropical environment to the seafront in this popular town are all being affected by the destructive action of the larvae of this beetle – even those that were protectively treated whilst free from infection. In some cases palm trees can still maintain a healthy appearance, but are already rotten inside.

Work is underway to find alternative solutions to alleviate the visual impact that the disappearance of palm trees is causing. One ornamental tree that is being used is the Pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) or “New Zealand Christmas Tree” (above), a species native to coastal areas with rapid growth and red flowers.

Fire-fighting costs not met by Lisbon

The Diario reports today that the Portuguese national government has still not offered any state-aid for the €1 million of fire-fighting equipment needed after tackling the fires on the island during 2012 and 2013. Additional resources have been requested from central government, as well as funds to cover replacing hoses etc. – in Funchal alone around €75,000 worth of equipment was damaged in just a few days in August 2013 (blog archive photo above from that month). Financial assistance was promised by Lisbon at the time. A spokesman for the National Association of Professional Firefighters said that whilst they were not actually missing any equipment at the moment, “resources were stretched”.

Euphonium Concert

Regular contributor Sue Marloye-James has requested that the blog publicises the music concert ” The Lyrical Euphonium” on this coming Thursday 22nd January at 9pm at Holy Trinity church, in aid of the bicentenary church restoration project currently underway. Sue notes that

Sadly the euphonium has not shared the glamour of other orchestral instruments and is rarely heard as a solo performer, outside of brass and military bands. However, some composers have written some wonderful orchestral pieces for this most lyrical of brass instruments. As we hope to include many in the programme this is a good opportunity to introduce the music and the instrument to a new audience, as well as share both with those fortunate to be already acquainted with them. We would be most grateful if you could support this event. Tickets are a modest 7.50 euros on the door, but will be available from the church office from one week beforehand. We are extremely grateful to maestro Martin Smith for his offer of a gratis performance during his short stay on the island, and to our friend Andras Hennel for his free services as accompanist.

Euphonium poster

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Birds of Prey photos. Encumeada closure. Seixal festival.

Empresa Fosouvenir Madeira garante já ter informado a CMF.The long running saga of the attempts to stop operators using the streets of Funchal to pester tourists to pose (and pay) for photos with various birds of prey (see previous blogs) seems to have drawn to a close. The subject has drawn a lot of attention in the local press and social media after the local authority finally decided to outlaw this cruel activity. However, despite the recently enacted legislation, just one outfit, “Fotosouvenir Madeira”, continued to operate in the the city centre. Under the threat of prosecution it has now written to the Camara to say that it “regrets that the company is not cherished by the local authority” and that it will “cease its operations”.

Work on Encumeada tunnel postponed

The Diario reports today that Alberto João Jardim (thought he’d gone?) has personally intervened to “soften” a plan to close the second longest tunnel on the island beneath Encumeada for between six and nine months to conduct urgent repairs to the road surface. The floor of the VE5 has increasingly prominent bumps and visible depressions due to geological dynamics seen in the rocky mantle of the central mountain range of the island. Apparently the closure, and resulting chaos as the main North–South link was severed, was considered too much of a vote loser at an electorally sensitive time. The work will now be undertaken with traffic lights.

Seixal: Festa de Santo Antão

This weekend the picturesque village of Seixal celebrates St. Anthony, the towns patron, with the annual festival. Link to their Facebook site here


Just noticed that the pound seems to have gone mad over the last couple of days, rocketing over the €1.30 mark. Guess who changed some money earlier this week…


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