Madeleine – 10th anniversary – L’Heure du Crime

RTL did a special radio programme on 27 Apr 2017 to cover the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

RTL broadcasts mainly to a French-speaking audience. Its history is that it originated as a private broadcaster with a transmitter in Luxembourg decades ago in the days when radio broadcasts emanating within France were all state controlled. If you want more on its background, check Wikipedia.

The special was ‘L’Heure du Crime’, presented by Jacques Pradel. L’Heure du Crime is broadcast for one hour each night from Monday to Thursday, looking at crime, policing, judicial news etc. I don’t know whether it normally focusses on a single incident or it covers multiple topics, but on this occasion it was all about Madeleine McCann.

The transmission is at http://www.rtl.fr/actu/societe-faits-divers/il-y-a-10-ans-la-disparition-de-maddie-7788279123 , and I have no idea how long RTL makes a copy available to the public.

I was interested in listening in for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to get some idea of how the French approach this topic. Second, it has an interview with Anne Guedes.

If you don’t speak a smattering of French, don’t bother with the programme. I have schoolchild French, but most of the talking is so rapid it goes over my head.

If you are interested in Anne’s input, it starts at 36:16and runs to nearly the end at 43:34.

I have constructed a skeleton for the programme, but I don’t intend trying to do a transcript. I will return to flesh it out if I have some free time, and I am bored.

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Madeleine v 2018

2018 is going to be a particularly busy year in our household. We have a 21st birthday, two 40ths, one 64th, and a 70th. On top of that, I am trying to develop ‘themed’ days for Formula 1 and the World Cup. ‘Themed’ means an event with a matching drink and a matching hand-held snack, so one can watch TV and eat and drink at the same time.

The 3rd May 2018 will be the 11th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance. I am currently developing a ‘special’ that I want to ‘broadcast’ that evening. However, 3 May 2018 is a clash with the 70th birthday, so my focus will be on the 70th birthday first, then I will shoehorn in the 11th anniversary if that is possible. The Madeleine anniversary is no biggy – there will be a Madeleine anniversary for years to come. There won’t be another 70th birthday. So my first priority is the 70th, and I have already been working to develop that.

Turning back to the Formula 1 and the World Cup, since my home nation has done its usual and failed to qualify for a major football tournament, I have decided to adopt my country of residence, and support Portugal. That is going to make things easy because Portugal is awash with local drinks and hand-held snacks.

The Formula 1 is a bit tougher. The last race of this season is in Abu Dhabi. I guess that means I will be looking for some sort of ‘posh’ water to drink, though fruit juice and quality coffee are alternatives. The hand-held food is very straight-forward. All I need to do is remember that it is considered bad form to eat it with one’s left hand, so I am looking for a right-hand snack. Oddly enough, Abu Dhabi seems to be mainly left hand corners. Oh well!

Now I need to go out into our garden in the sunshine. I am trying to create an adventure trail for the little ones. The first step involves removing builders’ rubble and hacking back brambles. I am about half way there, but the half I have done is the easy half. Now I have to tackle the wilderness. The kids had better love this adventure trail.

It is Shining In Portelas. I am off to top up my sun tan.

Madeleine – the Farm Of The Poppy

As it was the 99th anniversary of the end of WW1 recently, I thought it would be interesting to show our home – The Farm Of The Poppy.

Portugal was neutral in WW2. It tried to be neutral in WW1, but it got sucked into the conflict. Madeira and the Azores were shelled by U-boats, and the Portuguese sent artillery units to fight on the Western Front. There is a war memorial to the Portuguese dead in one of the main squares of Lagos, and I visited that on Luz Tour #7.

By pure coincidence, our new home is called The Farm Of The Poppy. Note poppy is singular. The plot almost certainly was farm land once, but poppies were never a crop. It is simply a pleasant name to stick on the front of the house.

The connection, or non-connection, to Madeleine is simple. It takes about 25 minutes to get from here to Luz. Our US visitor has just made that journey, with the aim of watching an Algarve sunset. After a walk on the beach they ate at the Paraíso, the restaurant used by the Tapas 7 on the afternoon of May 2007.

I have not checked the search radius that was used for Madeleine, but I’m pretty confident we are outside of it. So think 25 minutes by car, and let me talk you through The Farm Of The Poppy.

The plot faces roughly south-east at the rear. Look near dead-centre and there are 3 larger trees and a shiny metallic object. Those are roughly 120m or so down the garden, and represent the half-way mark.

There are lots of plots in and around Luz that make our garden look tiny, so do your own arithmetic on how many men would be require to search just one house and one plot of the thousands within the search perimeter.

The Farm Of The Poppy is on 4 levels.

At the bottom are 3 ageing, decrepit outhouses. They were stuffed with the previous owner’s junk. Now they are stuffed with our family’s junk. I could hide more or less anything human-sized in there. There is also in there somewhere a commercial-sized chiller. And the outhouses have a working electricity supply. Though the chiller is not in use at the moment because it is under so much junk.

By the way, the thing in the outhouse that looks like a small car is a tiny BMW look-alike, bought for our 2-year-old’s birthday.

Just above the outbuildings, you can see the underbuild. That’s where us oldies live. Most of it is obscured by our lemon tree in the centre. We converted what was a large garage to be our lounge. Before that, it was filled with yet more of the previous owner’s junk.

Above that, with the 4 arches, is the main level, where the kids live. Although that looks high at the rear, it is actually at road level on the other side. That layer is 3-bed, lounge, kitchen-diner etc., and I suspect was once the only real living area in The Farm Of The Poppy.

Perched on the roof is the final level, another bedroom with two small windows on this side. It has larger windows on the other side, which is cooler in summer.

This is around 150m down the garden. The shiny, metallic object from the first photo turns out to be a light trailer. The brown heaps on either side are the remnants of a row of trees that have been trimmed. One could conceal a large object under that lot, and finding it would take a great deal of manpower.

This is the bottom of the garden, perhaps 250m from the house. Most of our land is unfarmed but flat, so concealing a body requires digging harder than Scotland Yard’s Operation Grange did in 2014. But if you look closely, you will see other challenges. Much of the east and south sides of our property are unfenced. We simply have a ditch and bulrushes. A searcher’s nightmare.

Our neighbour’s property poses different challenges. Three houses, building supplies, a chicken coop, and a goat pen. Our house did have a pig pen, but it had to be removed on order of the Câmara.

All photos were taken on he 99th anniversary of the end of WW1. I will commemorate the 100th anniversary with something a little more sombre and respectful. This was simply a test run to check out some of my planning.

One final thought. If we had lived here in June 2014, when Operation Grange was digging up central Luz, I would have had no reason to visit the dig. Consequently I would not have got interested at all in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. It would simply be an event that passed me by a fair distance away.

Madeleine – The Magnificent Six – introduction

It may look as if my blog is a bit quiet at the moment, but in reality I am working hard on a number of different ideas, including a ‘special’ for the 11th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance. This may be 6 months away, but there’s an awful lot of fact-checking and photo-gathering to be done before then. The 11th anniversary is a complete clash with an anniversary that is much more important to me, and I’m busy working on that one too.

The Magnificent Six is not simply a list of resources concerning the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. I use Pamalam a lot for the PJ Files, and a couple of well-known forums, but none of these features in The Magnificent Six. And I’m sure there is more than one worthy person who will not get a mention.

So what is/are The Magnificent Six?

This is a bunch of people who, in my opinion, have raised public understanding above and beyond the PJ Files, using a combination of effort, expertise, and ‘specialist’ skills. These people know a great deal more about the case than, for example, most media people involved in covering the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. And that is even when the better informed media teams are backed up by decent research teams.

What The Magnificent Six is not is some sort of organised group or a network of people co-operating on the case. Each of the Six goes his or her own way, and views on what might have happened are as diverse as the people making up the Six.

The common denominators are simple. An interest in the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. An ability to converse in English. A willingness to do a lot of donkey work. An ability to make 2 + 2 = 4.

What I intend doing with The Magnificent Six is to bring you a small pen-portrait of each. This is harder than it sounds, because I want to wash out personal details that I have gleaned along the way. I do not research people’s personal backgrounds. I prefer to evaluate their contribution solely based on the quality of their contribution. However, I have gained an insight into the personal life of most if not all of The Magnificent Six, so there is a bit of an evaluation to make to discriminate between what The Six make public, and that which they would prefer to keep private.

Come back soon, because I will start on the easiest of The Magnificent Six to describe. That would be me, as I know what I am happy to make public, and what I would prefer to keep to myself.

Would you like to see the Farm of The Poppy? That’s where I live now. It is fast approaching the day of the poppy, so of course I’m active on that front too.

Madeleine v Clouds

I got interested in clouds when looking at various photos and videos of the time shortly before and shortly after Madeleine McCann disappeared.

I was trying to work out if you can determine anything from them, absolutely anything, about the weather.

Wind direction and speed is the one that really fires me up, but how about location, date, time of day, sun position, temperature, and of course clouds.

Here is today’s piccy of the clouds across Portelas.

I thought “It’s going to rain”, so I scuttled about trying to sort everything necessary out before the downpour. Except it didn’t rain. The clouds have disappeared and we now have a pristine blue sky.

This tells you how much I know about how the weather works.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now” Joni Mitchell.

Portelas v Bonfire Night

I have two small grandchildren, one aged 6 and one aged 2. As far as I know, they have never had a Bonfire Night. So I have been conducting experiments.

Keep in mind it has been bone dry in the Algarve. We have had just one 20 minute downpour in the last 8 months or so, otherwise not a drop of rain.

Further north in Portugal, it went from disastrous forest fires in the dry to flooding monsoons in the wet, so Portugal is mixed. But the Algarve itself is parched, as dry as it gets.

So a bonfire is a bit of a tricky challenge, and bearing this in mind I have carried out a couple of tests. Both were on my barbecue, which is very small and located well away from our actual home. Plus I had lots of water on hand, in case things got too lively.

Test #1 was with hay. Our meadow got mowed perhaps 4 months back and there is lots of stubble drying out under the hot sun. This experiment did not go well. The stubble burned well, but it gave off enough smoke to choke all our neighbours. So it will not be a hay bonfire.

Test #2 was with pine tree detritus. We had a line of pine trees down one side of the plot. They were ugly, and getting out of control. So our resident woodchopper went out and woodchopped, and most of them have been cut back. This left a lot of bits, ends and pieces lying on the ground, and these have dried out. That means they are dry trees stuffed with pine resin.

Test #2 was also a failure. The pine tree cuttings went up like rocket fuel. There was little smoke this time but my little barbecue looked like Dante’s Inferno. I cannot try that experiment on a larger scale.

Also I cannot get fireworks here. That’s not a problem as I don’t fancy having to chase around my neighbours’ gardens making sure nothing is burning.

So I am moving on to plan B. I need to check out if anyone in the area is doing an official bonfire/fireworks for 5 Nov, because it looks like we will not be doing anything in-house.