Tuesday 28th September 1954
Not much sleep last night what with the jollifications overhead till 03:00
and the cabin unbearably hot and airless. Got up on deck early and found a
heavenly day with a tropical feel in the air. We had to get packed and out of
our cabins by 10:30. Rather a bind. Spent the morning on deck. I have met a very
nice girl, Janet Smith who comes from Swanage and remembers the Unwins!
We sighted the islands of Porto Santo to starboard about lunch time and Madeira
shortly afterwards. It was marvellously clear and the approach to Funchal is
incredibly beautiful. A lot of us were busy taking photographs.
|The last time I saw Madeira was en route for South America in 1936. We then
passed to port and the whole island was dark and cloud covered.
This time everything was crystal clear and sparkling, right up to the summits of
the mountains with the white houses and their red roofs scattered up the slopes.
sea was a vivid blue, with dancing white horses.
It was the Isles of Enchantment materialised.
we neared Funchal I heard shouts and cries to starboard, and there were
dozens of ramshackle little rowing boats, each containing one older man at
the oars, and two or three younger men and boys, all shouting and yelling
for coins to be thrown for them to dive for.
of the boys were tiny fellows apparently not more than seven or eight years
old, but all of them could swim and dive like frogs. It was all very
picturesque and exciting, but if one studied the brown half naked figures,
one could see how thin and ill-nourished they are; and behind all the
shouting and clapping their faces were drawn, and there was an almost
wolfish look in their eyes as they watched for the coins.
A boat piled with wicker chairs and baskets came alongside too.
We arrived off Funchal at 15:00 B.S.T. but had to put our watches forward an
hour as Madeira sun-time is the same as B.S.T. and Madeira was on their summer
time. Their hour went back while we were there, and English time when back
before we got home, all of which led to a lot of jugglery with the hours.
Presently the launches came out. Each bearing a flag with the names of the
various hotels. The Savoy took about three launch loads (including the two
“dizzy blondes” and their escorts!) The New Avenue and Reids took a lot more,
and I was among the last sweepings for the Miramar and one or two other smaller
It was quite sad to see our close knit shipboard community breaking up.
Cars met us on the quay, and whisked us away to our various destinations. Most
of the hotels are on the far end of town, about a mile along a wide avenida.
|The MIRAMAR HOTEL is situated in the heart of the British residential district.
Three front entrances facing the main road overlooking the Bay. Side entrance
opposite the British Country Club, where residents and visitors meet.
Only a few minutes from the Casino and the Lido, Madeira’s best sea-bathing
pool, one of the Island’s greatest attractions.
From the MIRAMAR HOTEL terraces, there is a superb view of the entire range of
hills, town, bay and sea. Light, healthy, sunny. 350 feet above sea-level. All
bedrooms are sunny and airy, have hot and cold running water, the windows being
netted against flies. The better rooms have balconies.
The British Country Club is another attraction of Madeira. It has two hard
Tennis Courts, Squash Court and a Mashie Golf Course on turf. The Club House has
a spacious Lounge, Bar, Billiards and Bridge Rooms, Library, etc.
Special subscription rates of Esc: 30$00 for 15 days and of Esc: 50$00 for 30
days, etc: are made for short-stay visitors.
Attractive unique Madeira style bar-lounge in separate building. Log fire.
Dancing during the Seasons. Beautiful and extensive gardens and lawns, replete
with exotic flowers and fruits. Motor cars always in attendance. Constant bus
services pass the Hotel doors at frequent intervals going into the town, or to
the Lido bathing pool in a few minutes.
The Miramar is almost the furthest out and has a most magnificent view across
Funchal bay, also over the town and round the whole encircling range of
mountains. In fact the view from this hotel is far better than the more
expensive Savoy and Reids.
I am in the annex in a delightful corner room with a private balcony.
A long low building known as the “Cabin” with bar and small orchestra stands
between the annex and the main building.
We had a long wait at the Miramar before being allotted to our rooms, owing to
the delay in delivery of the passenger lists.
We had some tea, and then I got
chattering to a Miss Grey who was leaving in the Venus the same evening.
her I wanted to find the British Cemetery where my Grandfather and other
ancestors are buried, so she conducted me via the most amazing back alleys till
we found it. All the roads and pavements are made up of cobbles, mostly very
small rounded pebbles, absolutely agonising to walk on.
The British Cemetery is totally unlike the sketch of it we have at home, and we
couldn’t find any graves or family memorials. Later on I discovered that the
cemetery was altered a good many years ago, but since that sketch was made, and
many of the graves and tablets transferred, which explained it; as I should have
certainly have recognised it from the sketch I know so well.
Eventually we got back to the hotel. I was completely deadbeat, having had a
very long and exciting day, and the heat and cobbles just about finished me.
Dinner was late, and the luggage very late in arriving, however eventually I got
unpacked, had a bath, and tumbled into bed.
The cicadas simply scream all night,
and music and dancing went on till quite late in the Cabin just under my
windows. There are banana groves close under my windows and the subtropical
trees and flowers are really marvellous.