Madeleine v VW T3 Westfalia

Christian Brueckner was the owner of an early 80s VW T3 Westfalia campervan. Allegedly, there were times he lived in it. Let’s have a peek at the facilities on the interior.

These are two standard photos that have appeared everywhere in the press, but they help explain the interior.

All of the facilities in a T3 are arranged on the left hand side, behind the driver’s seat. Take a look at the left hand side exterior. There is no entry/exit on this side because of the row of utilities. More importantly, look at the rear window, which appears to be half blanked off. That is a small wardrobe.

The following is the right hand side of the exterior. It has a sliding door to allow easy access to the utilities for alfresco dining. But please note the two shiny clasps on the roof. These pop off to raise the roof and give headroom in the cooking/washing area.

By the way on my trawl through VW T3s, I never saw another 2-tone example. It does not seem to be a factory option. That would make Christian Brueckner’s campervan more distinguishable than most.

Don’t blink. This next photo is indeed a 1983 VW T3, and you can hire it from a couple in Faro if you fancy a week touring the Algarve. It is in alfresco mode, and it is clear how the top works.

There is a sneak peek of the interior. I wonder if plastic jerry cans are the only way of getting fresh water into the van.

As you look at the interior, please think about what is NOT included. This is a very basic lifestyle, not 5 star luxury. The photo shows the small combined kitchen and living space.

Starting nearest the driver’s seat and heading back, first up is a small sink and a 2 ring gas hob.

Next is a brown surface, which is actually a pivoting table, to turn out for the 2 rear seats.

One further back is a white upright unit, the wardrobe. I would guess that at best it holds maybe 5 shirts and a couple of pairs of shoes.

In the living room, there are seats for two. These fold down to become part of a double bed, so they must be soft. There is an overhead storage area. And there is a large underseat storage area. That is the only large storage area in the campervan.

Have you thought about what is not included?

This is another shot of an interior, and it is probably more like Brueckner’s campervan. There are no speakers on the overhead storage unit. There are no seatbelts on the seats.

You can see how small the table is, and that is the main table. The kitchen storage space at first looks generous, but there must be waste water collection under the sink. And unless the T3 is a liquid propane model, there must be at least one gas bottle under the hob.

This is an example of how to take a good design and mangle it. Someone has added a third seat at the back, but it has no leg room whatsoever. It has also blocked off access to the wardrobe from the living area. Now one has to gain access via the sleeping area, presumably by clambering in through the boot.

And it baffles me how this 3 seat wide sofa folds down to become part of the bed.

These are the sleeping quarters, and you can see how the fold down part of the double bed works. Note also the overhead storage unit comes all the way back. The sleeping area is very definitely crawl into.

At the front the seats rotate, and there is a tiny table that swivels out from under the sink. Just big enough for 2 cups of tea.

This is our red T3 undergoing a major revamp, not just a tidy up. Those two low units on the left don’t appear on originals.

You can see the metal base used for the seating and the bed. More importantly, you get a partial peak into the underfloor storage.

That’s the end of the photo tour, now on to the analysis.

Christian Brueckner is said by several to like to look quite presentable. That is a mighty challenge if you live any length of time in a T3. There are ways of getting around obstacles, but you have to work at it.

The most obvious is the lack of a shower. A trip to a camp site is but one solution.

There is no toilet in an original T3. A cheap coffee in a café and that’s sorted. The red T3 HAS a toilet, presumably installed as part of the overhaul. The only place for it is the low unit beside the gas hob. That’s pretty public, but if needs must.

There is no oven, no fridge, no freezer. It’s the gas hob, take it or leave it.

There’s no facility for washing or ironing clothes. However, Portugal has many inexpensive lavavanderias.

There are no electrical powerpoints. That means no electric razor or kettle. It’s the gas hob if you want hot water.

As it happens, there’s no microwave or TV. Hopefully you enjoy conversing with your partner!

That underseat unit is definitely large enough to stow away drugs, or Madeleine McCann.

Until next time.

Madeleine v Christian Brueckner intro

Before moving on to Christian Brueckner, let me give you a brief update on the situation in Luz yesterday, Friday 5/6/20.

My daughter uses a hairdresser in Luz and her appointment today was set up as soon as lockdown eased, before the latest news broke. Let me say that our dog Gonçalo has also visited his hairdresser because he was a very fluffy teddy bear Cocker Spaniel when he went in but he had been trimmed so much when he came out that I now call him baldy.

My daughter arrived in Luz some time before her appointment, so she and her husband decided to take a stroll along the Avenida, the short promenade that runs along the front of the beach. There they encountered many journalists, mainly Portuguese and Spanish, though I can tell from reports that there are several British journalists out here too, despite travel restrictions.

Whilst inside the salon, her hair stylist was interrupted 3 times by teams coming into her salon, scouring for a story. On the 3rd occasion in a single appointment, the salon owner had lost patience and abruptly told the media crew to get out, that we’re sick of it, and that we simply want to get on with normal lives.

Now back to the major story that has been breaking since a joint appeal by German and British police, neither of which I saw.

Christian Brueckner has a rap sheet that runs to 17 convictions, With one exception, details of these are sketchy. As far as I know, his first conviction is for child abuse in 1994 when he was 17. Perhaps more details will emerge. I have no idea what Germany keeps on record forever, what it deletes and when, and if 13 years later an enquiry via Interpol would have produced a result.

However, for some months Gonçalo Amaral has been speaking of a second German paedophile, who was investigated in 2008 and cleared. If so, his entry would be in the sex offenders part of the PJ Files, a volume that media and the general public are not permitted to see. As a minor aside, it also means Senhor Amaral must have an inside contact.

Allegedly, Operation Grange chunked through the PJ Files and more, and did not clock this offender. He has surfaced on the radar for quite different reasons. But he does look to fit the bill as Grange’s famous last line of enquiry.

That person, though his name was initially shielded, has now been identified as Christian Brueckner, who would have been aged around 30 when Madeleine McCann disappeared.

And a decent photo of Herr Brueckner has also turned up, which makes it a damn sight easier to identify him.

This article is getting to be too long for one pass, so please come back for the next instalment, when I will be talking location-location-location, Luz phone calls, and football.

Coffee break – 15 Minute Vegan

From those occupying the house layer above us came a recipe book. “15 minute vegan on a budget” by Katy Beskow.

Before we begin, I am going to dump the “on a budget” part of the title. Some of the vegan ingredients used by Katy are expensive in the Algarve, because they are imported from the UK. There are cheaper alternatives produced in Portugal, but we are not on a tight budget. So ‘on a budget’ gets binned.

Next, what is vegan? It can be strict, where any product from an animal, such as wool, is off limits. I’m more interested in the cooking side, because Katy has attempted to make vegetable dishes tasty and quick. While that 15 minute time limit is a master-stroke. These recipes are not chefery, but something your average home cook can rustle up quickly. Katy has confronted these two challenges of quick and vegan in one book.

The next level up is vegetarian, basically vegan plus. There’s strict vegetarian, but the most common format is technically ovo-vegetarian. That’s vegetables, plus animal produce that does not involve the slaughter of animals. It adds eggs and dairy, including milk, yogurt and cheese. As most people think of this as vegetarian, that is what I’m going to call it.

And the next level up is pescetarian. That’s vegetarian, plus fish and shellfish.

When the book was sent down to us, it was in absolutely pristine condition. My daughter-in-law does lots of fad diets, but it was obvious she had no more than a cursory glance through the book before deciding vegan was not for her. My wife also does lots of fad diets, typically lasting no longer than a fortnight. She decided to go pescetarian about one week into lockdown. That lasted for precisely two days, when I pointed out we had not stocked up on fish or shellfish in our contingency plan, so it would mean extra trips to the supermarket for fresh produce. So for the moment, she has reverted to eating everything, and pescetarian can wait until the lockdown is lifted.

Let me return to the USPs of Katy Beskow. Vegan, which means she has worked phenomenonly hard at producing tasty meals from a highly restricted range of materials. And 15 minute, which means she has also worked extremely hard at cutting down on the time and effort to cook these dishes, so here’s a photo of Katy Bescow. Kudos,

The menu I am using to illustrate Katy’s book is Gigantes Plaki. It is a Greek dish consisting mainly of butterbeans and tomatoes, plus onions and garlic, with oodles of herbs, normally including parsley.. If you want it to be traditional, start with dried butterbeans which are soaked overnight, and fresh tomatoes. The mix is oven baked for around 2 hours, depending on which recipe you pick. Pescetarians can indulge in a popular Greek variant with fish cooked in this style.

To make our lives more challenging, our oven decided to pack up just a couple of days after Portuguese lockdown started. We’ve got no intention of trying to source a new one, and have fitters replace the dead one, while we are self-isolating. There is a conventional oven setting on our microwave, but I’ve got no intention of knackering that valuable resource carrying out long oven bakes. We need it as a microwave.

Katy cuts the cooking time to 15 minutes by substituting canned butterbeans and tinned tomatoes, and that means the dish can be cooked on our hob, which is still working OK. Expensive imported butterbeans can be replaced by inexpensive local white beans, even if they are not ‘Gigantes’.

You can go vegan, and serve the dish with flatbread, as per Katy’s book.

And then you can ramp it up to vegetarian by adding feta cheese. While fisk plaki is also popular in Greece

Katy’s book has an RRP of £15 UK / $22.95 US. It’s worth it even if you are not vegan, because of the time and effort Katy has put in constructing 15 minute versions. You can always use her recipes as a base, and ramp them up to the level of your choice.

Coffee break – fantasy football herbs and spices

While we are all in coronavirus lockdown I have used the quarantine to crack on with a few ‘when I get around to it’ tasks. That included a full audit of my pantry stock of herbs and spices, and it turns out I’ve got a whopping 66 of them.

And since most football has been cancelled, including my early morning fix of games from the Australian Hyundai A-League, I decided to put my favourite herbs and spices into a fantasy football team. My selection has been chosen to allow me to span the globe of major cuisine types, so this game is not quite as daft as it sounds. These are the herbs and spices I would keep if we had a clear-out.

You might like to think of what your choices would be, always assuming you do some home cooking of course.

My wife wants to trial a vegetarian diet in a few days, so I will be constructing a team squad list of fruit and vegetables, to focus on what are essential stock items for that.

To make sense of my team selection, please note I am using a 4-1-4-1 formation.

STARTING ELEVEN

Goalkeeper – Salt. While this is normally thought of as a condiment, I use it frequently during cooking as a flavour enhancer.

Centre back – Pepper.

Centre back – Garlic.

Right back – Coriander.

Left back – Ginger

Defensive midfield – 5-spice.

Centre midfield – Paprika.

Centre midfield – Lemon grass

Right midfield – Curry powder

Left midfield – Thai fish sauce

Striker – Chillies

SUBSTITUTES BENCH

Rosemary

Chipotle

Saté marinade mix

Garam massala

Mint

Kaffir lime leaves

In keeping with football rules, the maximum number of substitutes that can be used in any game is restricted to three.

If you know your cooking, you’ll note that there is no appearance of basil or cumin. That’s because we definitely do not like them. Obviously many people do, given how often these appear in recipes. Another missing from my selection is turmeric, so I may have to tinker with my squad.

Items like garlic, ginger and chillies taste much better fresh and keep for ages in a fridge, but our dried alternatives were checked for sufficiency and pass muster.

This coffee break article is now at an end, so I hope it amused you. Please note, coffee was on my lockdown contingency plan, so even if we have to self-isolate for 12 weeks, we will not run out. Teabags were also in the plan, because if we ran out of those, it would be a major disaster for my wife. We didn’t need to buy either as both were well-stocked in our pantry.

The sun has now arisen on the Algarve, and it looks like the weather is going to be brilliant.

Have a nice day, and best wishes to all.

Coffee – Elvis “Are You Hungry Tonight?”

This popped up on a quiz, and I’m interested in historical cooking of a simple kind, so here is a summary of a 1992 book entitled “Are You Hungry Tonight?”.

The book makes two key claims. First that it a compilation of Elvis’ favourites, and second that it represents home cooking in a Southern style, dating back to before Elvis died in 1987. I can’t verify either claim. I have no personal knowledge of what Elvis liked to eat, and no experience of recipes in Southern USA in the mid-80s. So at the moment, treat this just as a bit of light fun to go with your coffee.

The recipes are from multiple contributors, and are arranged into 5 sections, so let’s tuck in.

BREAKFAST ALL DAY

Biscuits and Red Eye gravy   Blueberry corn muffins   Eggs Benedict for two   Fried cornmeal mush   Corned beef, potato and pepper hash   Sweet breakfast grits   Glazed doughnuts.

SOUPS AND SANDWICHES

Burnt bacon and mustard on toasted rye   Country kitchen soup   Potato cheese soup   Sausage spoon bread   Quick and easy Bratwurst sandwiches   BLT with cheese sandwich  Fried peanut butter and banana sandwich.

The last entry in this section is described as The sandwich, so I presume Elvis was partial to those.

MEAT AND POTATOES

Cubed beef steaks with fresh tomato sauce   Meat loaf with mushroom gravy   Beef rib roast with oven-browned vegetables   Homestyle pot roast   Cheeseburgers with the works   Baked country-cured ham   Ham slice with saucy apple wedges   Mississippi barbecued pork   Backyard barbecue spare ribs   Old-fashioned scrapple   Pork chops and sweet potatoes   Skillet almond pork   Basic fried chicken   Chicken a la King   Quick chicken supper   Savoury chicken pot pie   Spaghetti and meatballs   Macaroni and cheese

VEGETABLE DISHES

Savoury collard greens   Creamy onion casserole   Basic Southern black-eyed peas   Butter-baked sweet potatoes   Fresh kale with cheese   Apples and yams   Fresh mustard greens with potatoes,   Southern style Smoky Mountain gravy   Heavenly mashed potatoes

PUDDINGS, PIES AND CAKES

Good ‘Ol apple pie   Sweet cherry pie   Favourite pecan pie   Banana coconut chiffon pie   Lemon meringue pie   Southern sweet potato pie   Wild blueberry pie   Spicy baked apples   Spiced nectarine cobbler   Pineapple upside-down cake   Frosted brownies   Banana pudding   Summer ambrosia   The Royal Wedding Cake.

The Royal Wedding Cake alludes to when Priscilla and Elvis got married.

While I was digging into this idea, a trio of points struck me.

First, a venture in Luz on the south end of Primeiro de Maio failed miserably. It was an expensive re-furb to model it on a retro American diner. The Elvis Presley cookbook would have been ideal for the proprietors, but instead they went for a burger joint, selling ultra-expensive hamburgers.

That brings me to point 2. These people were trying to flog high-end hamburgers in an area that is populated with restaurants, and furthermore, there is a McDonalds in Lagos, just minutes away by car.

Third, I am looking into a property in Luz. It has location, location, location. It is derelict, and was when we arrived here, so that probably means it is locked in a family inheritance dispute. But until I find out more, it is worth digging into.

Here’s a final thought. Spiced nectarine cobbler. Apparently the Southern variation of cobblers is that they put pie case on both top and bottom, not just on top. So that’s a fruit pie filling surrounded on all sides by pastry. Who currently does a fruit pie surrounded by casing? The nearest is McDonalds in Lagos.

Madeleine – Simple Minds

The following is a very simple model of how human memory works. I use it to learn faster. Perhaps you will prefer to use it to sift through the Madeleine McCann case.

Memory is a 3 stage process.

Step one. A thought enters the forefront of your brain. You cannot consciously stop this happening, because your brain has evolved to notice things, to aid your survival. This brain part is literally at the front. Just press a finger above your eyes/nose and that is it.

This part of your brain has several functions. One of the most important is dumping trivia. It clears out the incoming garbage, the trivia, so you can focus on more important things in life.

So if you want to memorise things, including trivia, or learn something more worthwhile, you have to get it past this gatekeeper. It has to be special in some way, worthy of being stored in your brain.

You can do this artificially, in order to learn whatever you want, and that encompasses trivia. If you focus on nothing else but whatever it is that you want to memorise, for a period of 6-7 seconds, then your frontal gatekeeper works out it is important to you, and lets it pass to stage 2.

In summary, under 7 seconds and your gatekeeper clears it and wipes it. Where did you put your keys? The gatekeeper doesn’t care! But if you focus on where you put your keys for 7 seconds, your brain gatekeeper will deem it worthy of allowing the thought through to stage 2.

Step two is the thought then goes to the back of your brain. That happens to be a bit that evolved early on. All you need to know is that it is like a cup or a glass, It can become full, which is why your stage one brain gatekeeper does not send it rubbish.

When it gets full, if you send it still more, it has to dump some of the important things that you have already sent through to it. When it is full, it replaces things you are trying to learn or memorise, with more exciting bumph, like the late night murder programme, or the latest level you just played on your Xbox game.

Stage 3 is sleep time, usually overnight, but whatever with enough time to dream. During that process your brain literally does a rebuild job. It takes all the interesting, novel, and worthy thoughts thus far out of your rear brain temporary store, and it hardwires them into your brain.

All it takes is a decent sleep. A siesta works fine. But it has to be decent quality. So – not interrupted, or clobbered by drink or drugs. Your brain needs a decent sleep if it is to remember or learn.

If you think these 3 stages through, you will work out why children struggle with learning.

Step 1 – get it past the gatekeeper. 7 seconds will do it! Another half hour of video games?

Step 2 – the interesting cup is full. Another half hour of video games?

Step 3 – a decent sleep. Assuming one goes to sleep.

That’s how your brain works, how your memory works, how learning works. Simple Minds.

But how does it apply to the Madeleine McCann case?

The Jane Tanner sighting is first up. Jane Tanner explained why an otherwise innocuous sighting became sufficiently memorable at the time to get it past her stage 1 gatekeeper. The alarm had not been raised for Madeleine’s disappearance, so that was not the trigger. It was the lack of a covering on a cool night for a young child that was notable, not the carrier. Hence a description of Tannerman can be expected to be vague.

Next up is Smithman. The statements of Martin Smith, Peter Smith and Aoife Smith should have equally vague descriptions of what at the time was a non-event. This should not have made it past their stage 1 gatekeepers. The statements of the 3 make the sighting non-memorable trivia. Peter Smith’s focus was on his pregnant, unwell wife. Martin Smith knew he had to be up very early to transport Peter’s family to Faro airport. Aoife Smith seems to have remembered more than most of that entire evening, but it is not clear if she was heading home on her own, or as seems more likely, with some of the other children as distractions.

The hotchpotches of conflicting interest call into question the accuracy of the descriptions of Tannerman and Smithman. There is no blame implied in this. It is simply how human memory works. The statements can be expected to be vague.

Furthermore, memory is malleable. It can evolve over time. My wife has evolved several experiences like this, until only a kernel of the truth remains, padded out by invention.

Finally, there is the bulk of the witness statements. Most people were asked if they saw anything odd or untoward. This makes sense as the brain gatekeeper is designed to screen out the routine. However, it is unfortunate in that what remains is only the abnormal. And so Luz became populated with creepy, odd, ugly lurkers.

On my many walks in Luz, I never saw a single creepy, odd, ugly person, even when I was primed and on high alert to spot one. Journalists, on the other hand, stuck out like sore thumbs. I clearly remember one from Good Morning Britain striding from Baptista towards block 6, clutching several bottles of water. He stated that the locals were not talking. He was dressed in a posh suit, shirt and tie, and shiny upmarket shoes. He might as well have had JOURNALIST stamped on his forehead. It’s the incongruences that are memorable, not the mundane bits.

The 3-stage model of memory that I have described is entry level, as simple as it gets. You can make your memory and your learning much better that this Ford Model T.

Simple Minds. “Don’t you, forget about me.”

Coffee – Gonçalo’s birthday bash

I hope you had a merry Christmas and enjoyed the New Year celebrations.

In the midst of this, we had a family dinner to celebrate Gonçalo’s second birthday. It all started off quite well.

The weather here has been very clement for about a week, blue skies and sunshine. This is Gonçalo taking the sun.

We had all of the family down for a take-away lunch of Chinese and Indian. Half the family ate Chinese, whilst the other half stuck to Indian. Gonçalo had king prawns from the Indian and duck from the Chinese. He’s not fussy as long as he gets some of what the humans are eating. We had wanted to take him to a restaurant, but it seems dogs are not legal inside in Portugal, while for whatever reason both businesses were very packed on New Years Eve.

My birthday fare was lamb dansak, king prawn Kashmiri, both of those shared, and a garlic naan. I scoffed the whole naan on my own, then had to retire to my bedroom because I had eaten far too much. Stuffed!

Gonçalo was given a couple of presents. The first was a hide ‘bone’. He loves those because it has something to do with eating. He has also ‘buried’ it somewhere, probably under one of the beds. The second was a squeaky reindeer toy, and he loves destroying supposedly rugged toys.

The other event of the day was the return of the prodigal son. He went off to Texas with his girlfriend 3 months ago, on the promise of a job in an IT business. He got married while across there. But nobody had worked out that he would require a green card, so he was unemployed throughout his stay.. His wife is now looking after her father, and some cats they got while he was in Texas.

As his tourist status ran out, he was forced to leave her behind and return to Portugal. There is now confusion over whether he has to wait 3 months or 6 months before he can return fto Texas or another attempt.

Gonçalo is so just much easier than this family, and possibly more intelligent too!

Happy New Year 2020!

Coffee – Instant Spanish

Merry Christmas! Have you got time for a coffee break? If you have then perhaps you’d like to put your feet up, have a sip of coffee, and think about a challenge.

If you only learned ten words in a foreign language, which ten words would you pick?

The ten word restriction means Instant Language, whether the language is Spanish, or Welsh, or Russian, or Urdu, or Mandarin or Arabic etc. etc..

If you think about it, this is not as easy as it first appears. It depends upon what your ten words are going to be used for – reading, writing, listening, speaking v going on holiday, a business trip, visiting a relative, going on a pilgrimage, and no doubt many more.

Bearing that lot in mind let me crack on with a general purpose ten words for Instant Spanish. I do a lot of reading and listening to Spanish. I use the news site El País to keep in touch with the latest developments in Spain, and when I can be bothered, our Internet television system can be used for all sorts of native Spanish TV programmes. A major gap for me is interactive conversational Spanish, because I don’t have a source for that.

Here I am going to cheat a bit, because I already know a fair bit about the structure of Spanish.

At #1, it is ‘the’, which in Spanish is el, la, los and las. This is Instant Spanish, so don’t worry about when to use which word. El País becomes The País or The Country.

‘The’ is the most frequently used word in English. And it pops up frequently in Spanish.

At #2 is ‘de’ meaning ‘of’ or ‘from’. It is the most commonly used word in Spanish, because of the way Spanish is constructed.

That leaves me just eight words for conversation.

At #3 is ‘donde’, meaning ‘where’. Where is my luggage? Where is our child? Where is the taxi?

At #4 is ‘está’, meaning ‘is’. This is a workhorse in Spanish, so it surfaces frequently. Donde está el supermercado? Where is the supermercado (supermarket)?

At #5 is an essential biological function – the loo. Baño (pronounced ban-yoh). There are many words for ‘toilet’ in Spanish, but baño should get you what you need. Donde está el baño?

That leaves me five words for common courtesy words.

At #6 is ‘please’, which is ‘por favor’. The literal meaning is ‘for favour’. That means you get a bonus. ‘Por’ means ‘for’, and it pops up regularly in Spanish, ‘for example’ in ‘por ejemplo’.

At #7 is ‘thank you’, which ‘gracias’. Please and thank you get you a long way in any human interaction, so surely these are both in your top ten?

With only three to go, at #8 it’s ‘sorry’. As in please forgive me or ‘desculpe’.

Decide for yourself about the last two, but at #9 I’m going for ‘hello’. That’s ‘hola’, with a silent H. It’s cheap and cheerful – what more could you want?

Finally, at #10, it’s ‘goodbye’. If your coffee is cold it’s time to say ‘adiós’.

That’s your Instant Spanish, in just ten words. Now go back to your Christmas!

Coffee and oatcakes

It’s gone past Friday 13th and you all know the results of the general election. So why not put your feet up with a cup of coffee, and read about an oatcakes tale?

Kay and Steve Mundy run a takeaway from a narrowboat.. Look them up on Facebook if you want more. They are easy to find. B’Oatcakes or just oatcake boat will do the trick.

As a food aficionado, I was interested in looking at their menu. There are no canals in Spain, I think, but surely their idea could be tweaked for Iberia? Here’s a photo of Kay on her boat.

This photo is lagging just a little behind the times. Note there is Pepsi at 80p per can. That was May 2018, but inflation has taken its toll. Now in December 2019, it has jumped to £1 per can.

Kay’s menu is deceptively simple – just oatcakes with cheese, bacon or sausage. Plus a range of drinks, and did you notice the extra toppings at just 20p each?  Or in 2019, 50p each.

I reckon I can do an all-day breakfast for half the price it would cost on the Algarve. Oatcake with cheese, then bacon and sausage, and add all 5 toppings for just £1 then, now £2.50. Except I haven’t had black pudding in years so I’d have a double portion for a high calorie breakfast.

The Mundy’s narrowboat appears to be in a prime location for people who enjoy walking near the lake, and despite the signs, it does have the facility to set up an impromptu canal-side towpath café, complete with a large sun awning.

The reason I discovered the oatcakes boat was because Jeremy Corbyn decided to use it for a photo opportunity. Let me finish with Boris showing off his home for the next 5 years.

Merry Christmas!

Madeleine – 10 questions for Kate & Gerry

On Saturday10th November 2019 Kate and Gerry McCann dined with friends at the Beijing Banquet in Renfrew. They were recognised and photographed as they went to replenish their plates from the buffet. The story emerged because photos and comments were circulated on social media. The tabloids picked up the comments and chose to run with a story themed as abuse of the McCanns by on-line trolls.

Here is a photo from this event.

The tabloid story angle does not interest me because it is telling me nothing of importance.

However, the photograph sparked off a thought. If I had been eating in the Beijing Banquet at the same time as the McCanns there was the opportunity to get a question answered. ‘Pardon me for interrupting your evening, but I’d like to ask a very simple but very crucial question.’

Here is a list of 10 simple questions that I would like to put to Kate and Gerry. These are in no particular order. Each covers a crucial element of Madeleine’s disappearance.

1 Was the Tapas Restaurant menu actually tapas, or was it traditional starters – mains – desserts?

2 What was the process from check-in at the Ocean Club reception to entering apartment 5A?

3 What channels could be received by the television in apartment 5A?

4 When Kate did her check in the children’s bedroom and looked through the open window and raised shutter, what could she see and what could she hear?

5 When Gerry met the GNR at the Ocean Club reception, what information was given to the two officers?

6 Around that time Gerry made two phone calls to Kate. Where was Gerry when those calls were made, and what was said?

7 What was the date when the booking for the holiday was made?

8 When was Madeleine’s height, and weight, last measured before her disappearance?

9 Would the McCanns fund a reward if that simply led to the elimination from the investigation of Smithman, the man seen by the Smith family.

10 If Operation Grange ceases activity, will the McCanns employ another team of private investigators to find out what happened to Madeleine?

The answers to these simple questions would lead to a great deal of progress in clarifying the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I doubt very much that I will get those answers.

Sometime before Christmas I will return to this post to explain the importance of each question.

Hasta luego!