Locked down in London: Day 3
Today the health service sent me a text message, saying that as I’m one of the 1.5 million people in Britain who are at high-risk from the coronavirus, I should stay at home for a minimum of 12 weeks, keeping at least 3 steps distance from my husband and daughters at all times. (Where do they think my husband will sleep? In the doghouse?)
I know the health service means well but the text freaked me out. Do they really think I will lock myself into our bedroom (thank you for allowing me to open the window, by the way) and won’t hug and kiss my family for 12 weeks (minimum)? Frankly, I’d sooner die of the coronavirus.
So, a big breath… rant over. Let’s try to hold it together – by going for a walk in Madeira!
A Walk in Madeira
Today, we’ll be seeking solace from the lockdown misery by going to Madeira.
- …this was one of the destinations my family and I considered for this April’s holiday, and because…
- …I just happened to read a description of Dr Maturin walking up to the mountain top from Funchal last night before going to sleep.
I could be there… (Click to enlarge the gallery)
The book in question is HMS Surprise by Patrick O’Brian. O’Brian is chiefly famous for a series of novels about the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars. Dr Stephen Maturin is one of the two main characters (the other is Captain Jack Aubrey): a doctor, naturalist and spy. In the following excerpt, the poor Dr Maturin is quite as disconsolate as I am at the moment; I wish I too cold just walk up the hill from Funchal:
He [Maturin] walked steadily uphill wherever the path mounted, and in time he climbed through the small fields of sugar-cane, through the orchards, through the terraced vineyards, and to the chestnut forest. Up through the parched meagre vegetation; and so, beyond all paths now, to the naked volcanic scree lying in falls beneath the central ridge of the island. There was a little sleety snow lying the shadows up here and he scooped handfuls of it to eat; he had wept and sweated all the water out of his body; his mouth and throat were as dry and cracked as the barren rock he sat on.
He had walked himself into a dull apathy of mind, and although his cheeks were still wet – the wind blew cold upon them – he was beyond the immediate pain. Below there stretched a tormented landscape, sterile for a great way, then wooded; minute fields beyond, a few villages, and then the whole whole south sea-line of the island, with Funchal under his right hand; the shipping like white flecks; and beyond the ocean rising to meet the sky. He looked at it all with a certain residual interest. Behind the great headland westwards lay the Camara de Lobos: seals were said to breed there.
The sun was no more than a handsbreadth above the horizon, and in the innumerable ravines the shadow reached from rim to rim, almost as dark as night. ‘To get down – that will be a problem,’ he said aloud. ‘Any man can go up – oh, almost indefinitely – but to go down and down surefooted, that is another thing entirely.’ It was his duty to read the letter, of course, and in the last gleam of day he took it from his pocket: the tearing of the paper – a cruel sound. He read it with a hard, cruel severity…
(Patrick O’Brian: HMS Surprise)
If you liked the excerpt, you might want to consider reading the series. 🙂 Since it amounts to a whopping 20 volumes in all, it should keep you happy for the entire lockdown!
Keep safe, keep happy! And keep sharing! 🙂
Further reading: ⇒ The Patrick O'Brian Compendium ⇒ Madeira in photos on Pixabay