Madeleine – Last photo – Bougainvillea

I have been trying to find a weather chart referred to in Richard D Hall’s “When Madeleine Died”. Mr Hall uses this to query whether the photograph known as The Last Photograph was taken on 3rd May, or earlier. My interest in the weather chart lies elsewhere.

Here is The Last Photograph.

Last Photgraph medium size

The following is a link to a large-scale version of the image

I am now wading through an excruciatingly long thread on CMoMM, about The Last Photograph, in the hope of finding more about that elusive weather chart.

One of the objections raised in this thread is that there is bougainvillea behind Gerry, Amelie and Sean, and that by 3rd May it should not be in bloom. NB I have learned in my search that what appear to be flowers are in fact leaves that emulate flowers, and the real flowers are below. I have yet to check this, but one step at a time.

From this objection it is hypothesised that The Last Photo was taken not in May 2007, but in summer or autumn of 2006 i.e. that the McCanns had already visited the Ocean Club at Luz. There is nothing in any statement to support this notion, though some early media reports, published well before the PJ Files were released, appear to assert the McCanns had indeed visited in 2006.

Frankly, my knowledge of gardening does not extend to recognising whether a plant is bougainvillea or not, thus I need to rely on identifications made by others, or do I? Equally, when someone states that said person lives in southern Spain, has bougainvillea, that it never flowers by early May, and that it much prefers dry winters, I am in no position to argue otherwise.

So I decided on a practical check. I decided to walk to the Ocean Club today to see what the bougainvillea looks like. On my way I passed multiple ‘hedges’ made of thick grown shrubs that were in flower. Perhaps a quarter to a third were in bloom. These all had ‘proper’ flowers, so if bougainvillea has ‘deceptive’ flowers, I did not see any bougainvillea on my walk there.

By the way, I am in a villa with a fairly diverse garden, and there is always something flowering. It would strike me as very odd if there was nothing flowering, even in mid-winter. There is probably less flowering in the 3 hottest months of the year due to the arid dryness of the soil.

Now, weather wise, I have now seen 5 winters in Portugal and the latest was by far the worst, IMO. Portugal has been getting the tail end of the bad weather affecting places like the UK. There has been less sun and much more rain than I have seen before.

So, on to the Ocean Club bougainvillea. What did it look like after this wet winter? It is in bloom. It has paid no attention to what bougainvillea may do in southern Spain, and it seems to have coped with the winter rain.

To be precise, the bush is nowhere near to being in the state of bloom as in The Last Photograph. However, there are 9-10 weeks to go before 3 May 2007.

As noted earlier, I cannot tell what is and is not bougainvillea. One possibility is that this shrub is not bougainvillea, but another plant that simply looks like bougainvillea but with different growing properties.

The bottom line is the state of bloom of that plant does not invalidate 3 May 2007 as the date of The Last Photograph, and there is therefore nothing to suggest it came from 2006.


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