Madeleine – 3 May 2007 – 7.30 pm

By 7.30 pm on 3 May 2007, in apartment 5A in the Ocean Club, the trio of Madeleine, Amelie and Sean McCann had been put to bed. There was an hour before the restaurant booking at the Tapas Restaurant. Kate and Gerry McCann seemingly used this time to indulge in small talk over a glass of wine. They had a Sauvignon blanc that came from New Zealand (via Baptista supermarket). It seems to have reminded them of the time when they were both in New Zealand, becoming romantically engaged.

There is nothing odd in this. We put our kids to bed. We keep the volume down for a while. We indulge in quiet pastimes, like backgammon or Scrabble, Masterchef or Endeavour. Then we check that the kids are solidly asleep. This is pretty standard.

The Smith family from Ireland should have arrived at the Dolphin by this time, as 7.30 pm was their booking slot. I cannot remember any evidence to say whether they arrived on time, early or late. This point is important. It affects when they left, and when the they left is very important indeed. Perhaps all 9 Smiths walked down from Estrela da Luz to the Dolphin in one group. Perhaps they got there in dribs and drabs, like the the Tapas 9 arriving at the Tapas Restaurant.

In Germany, Werder Bremen were preparing to host Espanyol, to determine who would go to the final of the UEFA Cup, scheduled to be held in Glasgow on 16 May 2007. Werder Bremen were facing an uphill task as they were 3-0 down from the first leg.

In Seville, the UEFA Cup holders Sevilla were about to try to retain their trophy. They were playing another Spanish team, Osasuna, and yes there is also a football story behind this.

Two teams would go out of the UEFA Cup this night. Two teams would go to the cup final at Hampden Park in Glasgow on 16 May 2007. That is when an early showing of the video of Madeleine – Don’t You Forget About Me, was shown at half time.


Madeleine – 3 May 2007 – 7.15 pm

This timeline of 3 May 2007 is starting at 7.15pm. Many events before that could have been significant. Madeleine leaving High Tea in the Tapas area around 5.30pm. Phone calls in/around Luz at that time. David Payne’s visit to apartment 5A that evening. Possibly 5A was under observation, possibly not. I cannot clarify these things, so this timeline starts at 7.15 pm.

Around 7.15pm, in apartment 5A, it seems the McCanns were starting to settle Madeleine, Amelie and Sean down for the night.

Across Luz, the Smiths, an Irish party consisting of 4 adults and 5 children, were getting ready for a meal out at The Dolphin (O Golfinho). The booking was for 7.30 pm. The Smiths had an apartment in Estrela da Luz. Their walk to the restaurant would take them down Rua da Escola Primária. For part of the group, it was their last night on holiday and they were due to fly back to Ireland early the next morning. One of the party flying home was pregnant and would later be declared to be feeling unwell. However, there was to be a meal at The Dolphin, a restaurant with a South African menu.

Luz in 2007 had multiple sports bars, places showing sporting events on large screen TVs. In the time from when the McCanns arrived on 28 April to 7.15 pm on 3 May 2007, there were only 2 major sporting events. On Tuesday 1 May, Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties to go through to the final of the Champions League. On Wednesday 2 May, AC Milan beat Manchester United, to go through to face Liverpool in the final. It would be a replay of the 2005 final.

These big games may explain why on Thursday 3 May, the sports bars in Luz were not stuffed with ex-pats. The football on 3 May was the ‘junior’ version, the Europa Cup, and featured 3 Spanish teams and one German team. That ingredient mix may or may not be important.

SIL v Discussion Forum

On 19 Nov 2017, Stephen sent me an invitation to join the Discussion Forum. I still have a copy of the invite.

On 14 Feb 2018, I applied to join the Discussion Forum. I still have a copy of the initial response. It rquires activation.

I did not learn until later on the 14th that Stephen’s wife had died the day before. Obviously, I can understand why my application was not uppermost in anyone’s mind at that time.

However, 3 weeks on, the current administration team should have sorted things out, but I have not had activation of my application.

There is a particular thread on the Discussion Forum to which I would like to respond. Anyone reading the forum should be able to work out which one.

There are two ways forward. The DF admin team can grant me access to the forum. In that instance I will respond on the Discussion Forum and abide by their moderators. The alternative is that I am not granted access, in which case I will respond here, where I am not subject to moderation by others.

Since it is clear that my blog is read by a number of people on the Discussion Forum, I consider that giving notice of 7 days is more than adequate.

Over to the administration team on the Discussion Forum.

ATP – first day of Spring

The weather in the UK is awful. The weather in the Algarve is poor. There are warnings on the Algarve and in Lisbon about the height of the waves on the Atlantic. My grandson’s school trip today to a theatre in Lisbon has been cancelled, because of bad weather.

We have not had the forecast electrical storms, just a lot of very welcome rain. In a sunshine break from the rain, I took a stroll around our adventure trail.

Here is what the first day of Spring looks like in the Algarve.

The last time I walked the adventure trail, this flower was not here. It has popped up in the last day or two, from nothing to what you see in the photograph. Perhaps it is the time of year. Perhaps it is all the rain we have been having.

But welcome to the first day of Spring on the Algarve.

Madeleine – body in Rio Tinto near Porto

One of the distinctive features in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann is the difference in capability of visitors, such as Kate and Gerry McCann, to conceal or dispose of a corpse, and that of locals, be they Portuguese or ex-pats.

This story today in Correio da Manhã caught my eye. It is behind a pay-wall, so I only have the headlines.

A corpse has been found in a wall of a house in Rio Tinto. This is near or in Porto – see the map.

There is very little information outside of the pay-wall, but the house appears to be terraced.

I don’t know if the relevant wall is external or internal. I don’t know if the corpse is that of a child or an adult. The only other information is that parts or all of the body were wrapped in a newspaper dating to 1970. Unless someone had kept an old newspaper, it is likely that this death dates back to around 1970. That would give a cold case just short of 50 years.

One the most important dates in Portugal’s history is 1974, when the Salazar regime was overthrown.

Quite how one gets a body into a wall in a house in Portugal is baffling me. My experience of workmen is that they are seldom working alone or unsupervised, so this method of body concealment is quite puzzling.

ATP – Storms and Poppy Pots

We have a week to 10 days of rainstorms incoming on the Algarve, grey, windy and wet. This is not as bad as it sounds. The reservoirs are perilously close to empty, so a week or so of rain is welcome news in that respect. And on the Algarve we don’t do cold rain, only warm rain.

The issues arise when the lightning storms arrive. This is Wednesday’s weather prediction, and Thursday’s is similar.

I would bet a large amount of money that the power will go off, because it frequently does in lightning storms. It may go off for minutes. It may go off for hours.

Our home is 100% electric, so when the power cuts we have no heat, no light, no cooking method and no TV. Our PCs have a battery, and our Internet connection is via satellite, so as long as the battery power lasts, we can still reach the outside world.

Our contingency plan has been upgraded. We could of course just leave home and go where they still have power, commonly called a pub or a restaurant. But if we had to bunker down here, we have got some 1918 basics to see us through.

I have prepped a mini-barbecue so it will start with just a match. We have purchased four candles, so we can light up each room. We bought a small camping gas stove, which will give us hot water for drinks or elementary hot meals. The fridge is replete with cold meals and we have fresh bread.

So we have heat, light and elementary cooking facilities.

If the electricity goes off for long enough, I will run out of battery power. That means I expect to be offline for hours at a time.

Talking of 1918, 11 Nov 2018 is the hundred-year anniversary of the Armistice, and we have been working on that too. My beloved brought back two types of poppy seeds from the UK. One is Ladybird, so called because it is red with black spots, akin to a ladybird.

The other one is the field poppy, so called because it grows best in rough-tilled fields.

I will leave it to you to think about why the fields were rough-tilled in the Great War.

In a break in the rainstorm today, I planted a pot with a small number of field poppies, to see if they will grow in rough Algarve soil. Perhaps they will, and perhaps they won’t, but I do know they were well-watered by the rainstorm.

ATP – our new adventure trail

Valentine’s Day turned out to be a grim day for me. I started to write a blog entry about it, but that was depressing me so I have given up on it.

When I get down, I like to stop my brain from thinking. One of the best ways to do that is to carry out some relatively heavy manual labour. So I went down into our meadow and carved out an adventure trail.

Our plot is immense and can be split into two parts. The third nearest the house can roughly be termed lawn. It is not fine trimmed, but it looks like lawn. The two thirds that are farthest away can only be termed meadow. In the Algarve, the growing season is winter. The meadow was cut and baled for hay in summer 2017, but it is nearly knee-high in parts.

I attacked this meadow with a brute of a lawn mower to carve out an adventure trail for our little grandchildren. The trail has orange trees, a lemon tree, flowers, white-winged butterflies, a goat pen, a grand vista of our neighbour’s impressive garden plus other botanical features.

I have carved out a rough trail but I need to go over it at least once more. Then I can move onto another project.

I want a poppy patch, to commemorate 100 years since the Great War ended in November 1918. I live in a house called Farm Of The Poppy. So I want a poppy patch to celebrate the end of WW1.

My research says that poppies don’t flower in November, but this is the Algarve, where everything grows out of season. Who knows.

Poppy seeds have already been purchased in Inglaterra and should arrive at lunchtime today. I simply need to get off my rear end and dig my poppy patch.

And get planting.

But we now have an adventure trail.