Madeleine v Rocha Negra

A boy of 16 years old fell to his death on Tuesday, 29 May 2018, from a height of 100m on the cliffs above Rocha Negra, between the beaches of Porto de Mós and Luz.

Multiple authorities were involved in attempts to try to rescue him, but he was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident. Due to the difficulty of the terrain, his body had to be retrieved by sea.

He was with a teenage girl at the time. Presumably she was the one who raised the alarm. It is unlikely that a passer-by would spot a body at the bottom of the cliffs, based on personal experience.

The beach at Porto de Mós is much quieter and less touristy than Luz. Heading west from the Porto de Mós beach is a wide, flat, baked earth track. It starts a sea level, but surprisingly quickly ascends to the top of the cliffs. The track itself is 100% safe, because it is around 3m away from the edge of the cliff. You have to deliberately go over to the lip of the cliff before you are in danger.

The track runs from the beach at Porto de Mós to the trigonometry point on the hills overlooking Luz. The track is busier than one might think, for all sorts of reasons.

One is that ramblers like to do the walk from Porto de Mós to the trig point. The path is flat and the incline is fairly gentle, so it is an easy walk. An amble that is pleasant all year round. Then you come to the trig point above Luz, south of Bela Vista, and an opportunity for a chocolate box photo over Luz. The media love this as a special viewpoint.

From the trig point you have choices. One is just to do an easy amble back to Porto de Mós. Many pick this, because it is the simplest option.

If you wish instead to get down from the trig point to Luz, you have 3 alternative routes. This same choice would have faced Kate and Gerry McCann when they went jogging from apartment 4G, where they had been rehoused by Mark Warner at the Ocean Club. There are 3 routes up and down the hill. One route is a nightmare, one route is not joggable, and the third looks bad but it turns out to be easy. Mountain bikes go up and down it regularly.

I have no idea which route Gerry and Kate took.

The details of the 16 year old boy who died in the cliff fall are at best sketchy. Most of what you have in this post is local knowledge of Luz and its environs.


Gonçalo v the PSP dogs

We were having multiple issues with Gonçalo. He was proving hard to housetrain. He was also chewing more or less everything that could be chewed. He was also nipping us, and sometimes the nips were painful enough to make us exclaim!

Thus we started looking at resources which might get us through this difficult period more quickly.

Our first line of enquiry was a lady vet in Tavira who specialises in canine behaviour analysis. Here we hit a brick wall. The lady insisted we both had to travel to Tavira so she could see us interacting with the dog. Then she would write a report. Then we had to find a trainer who worked with the methods she specified. She had no existing contacts near to Lagos who did that. From here to Tavira is 1.5 hours on a good day, that to be followed by an ‘interview’ of 1.5 hours, plus another 1.5 hours to get home. We decided that as we could not implement any report, putting the puppy through a day of stress was not what we wanted to do.

Then I went online, researched training books, and picked The Cocker Spaniel Handbook by Linda Whitwam. This is a bit more theoretical than I wanted. We already had Gonçalo, so explaining how to check out a breeder and an obscure U.S. selection test was somewhat boring. However, I have completed the book, I have picked up some useful information, and I am now re-reading the book, as and when I can get some time.

The third strand was Officer Mario Pidos of the PSP. We got his name via a lady who operates kennels in Luz. Mario had trained some of the dogs of her customers 15 to 20 years ago. Mario also trained PSP dogs from 1997 to 2004.

The guts of the PSP training boils down to just 4 commands. However, these are taught in very specific ways.

‘Come’ means come here. This is done on a long lead. You say the dog’s name to get his attention, then say ‘come’, and give a couple of very gentle tugs on his lead.

‘Sit’ means sit down beside my left ankle. There are ways to make sure the dog does this by your side, rather than simply sitting down anywhere.

‘Heel’ actually means the dog should walk in time with you on your left heel. There is a process for getting the dog to turn at any angle as you both walk.

‘Free’ means the work/training session is over, and the dog is free to play as it wishes, on or off the lead.

After these 4 commands, the most important thing was getting the puppy to stop chewing everything. The key here is the dog does not like sudden, unanticipated noises. So one takes a small, empty water bottle and put a few stones, pebbles, dried beans, or macaroni inside, on the bottom. Anything that helps to make a noise, but is not heavy. Then when you see the puppy gnawing at a chair or destroying a cushion, lob the rattle to land near the dog. It helps if the dog does not see you launch the missile. The dog then learns to associate destructive gnawing with sudden, unpleasant sounds, and from there it learns to move on.

Officer Mario’s PSP programme is 100% practical. And so we are putting various rattle-making objects into small, empty water bottles. It’s us versus Gonçalo.

Gonçalo v Svetlana etc.

Gonçalo is normally extremely friendly with strangers. He is usually a lick-them-to-death dog. He loves humans, whether he has seen them before or not. He is is useless as a guard dog. He almost never barks at strangers.

He has just a few exceptions on his list.

We currently have a long-stay visitor from Texas, and at first Gonçalo was really not sure about her, though the ice has thawed now.

Then there was José, a Portuguese man tapping in calçadas to build us a new patio in the garden. There was an awful lot going on at the time he first turned up, so it was difficult to figure out exactly what spooked Gonçalo. He seemed OK after that as José got on with his work.

The most interesting person in this tale is Svetlana. She comes to clean our home. She is roughly the same age as us. She happens to work hard. She is also extremely friendly. Our conversation is limited because she speaks very little English, and we scrape by in Portuguese, but her Russian is definitely beyond us.

Somehow we manage to communicate. On her last visit, Gonçalo had done a poo after Svetlana started her work, so she cleared it up. Then she told us Gonçalo’s poo should not look like it did, and that we needed to take him to the vet. That’s what we did the very next day. Gonçalo went on antibiotics and the poo problem was quickly consigned to history.

However, Gonçalo does not appear to like Svetlana, despite the fact that she is extremely friendly.

In the minutes just before Svetlana’s last visit, my wife had folded an old cloth place mat on a small glass-topped table on her patio. Gonçalo clearly wanted it, but it was flat on the glass. After 10 to 15 minutes, the dog finally got the place mat off the table. Then Gonçalo sat in front of us, triumphantly dangling the place mat from his mouth.

Then he invited my wife to play tug-of-war using the cloth place mat. Gonçalo loves tug-of-war. He had not yet got his wish when Svetlana turned up behind him. When we both pointed behind him and said ‘Look, who’s here?’, he turned and saw Svetlana, and the result was comic. Gonçalo immediately dropped the place mark, started barking loudly and rapidly reversed behind my wife’s legs for safety. He continued to bark at Svetlana from his position of security.

The only common denominator we have between our visitor from Texas and Svetlana is that they are taller than average females.

This is not a lot to go on.

Madeleine – 11th anniversary

The 11th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann was pretty much like the 9th – nothing of major significance happened.

Kate and Gerry attended a service at the war memorial in Rothley.

Correio da Manhã wrote that the citizens of Luz were wearied of ongoing interest is the case, That may well be true. However, the Correio da Manhã article was bland enough to have been fabricated in an office in Lisbon, despite a claim that there was on-site content from Luz.

The background pattern to the week was similar to 2007, but far from identical.

While things have been extremely busy on the home front.

On 2nd May, my better half went to Alvor, near Portimão, to have a cataract operation. This was quick and painless. So much so that when she met Brian, an ex-pat waiting to undergo the same op, she was able to put his mind at rest. If you use the Miscarriage of Justice website, the “Webcam at Ocean Villas” shows you the gardens attached to the villas in Luz that Brian bought 20 years ago.

On 3rd May, it was a return trip to Alvor, to check that the cataract operation had gone as planned, which it had.

On 4th May, my beloved had one of those crunchy birthdays which ends in a zero. The major celebrations would be held on the 5th. First it was an afternoon peach blossom daiquiri at the beach front bar on Porto de Mós, the next beach to the east of Luz, then it was onto Tasca Jota in Lagos for the main event. Sample menu at

These celebrations had been carefully crafted to permit two things. First, we were expecting a visitor from Dallas, Texas, and she was on a marathon journey via New York and Lisbon, before a 4-hour bus trip to Lagos. She managed to turn up with about two hours to spare for the birthday bash.

The second visitor was more important. He is my wife’s eldest son, and she had not seen him since we came out to Portugal 6 years ago. He was booked to fly from New York to Milan, where he was scheduled to take part in a business fair. He landed at Milan as per his original plan, but then he flew to Frankfurt. From there he flew first to Lisbon, then to Faro, where he hired a car for the journey to Lagos.

He managed to make it to the beach bar in Porto de Mós while the birthday group was still there. His sister was giving my wife a big nudge-nudge-wink-wink hint, but as my beloved was recovering from her cataract operation, she was bit slow to twig it was her eldest in the background.

The evening went well. Next day was Mother’s Day in Portugal. The son was scheduled to make another epic journey to get back to his Milan business fair, so they decided to meet at 8.30 am in Lagos, to see if they could get a café open on Mothering Sunday at that time of the morning. They met at McDonald’s, it was open, it was quiet, so they decided to stop there to talk.

A happy Mother’s Day is spending a couple of hours chatting with your long-absent eldest in McDonald’s in Lagos, complete with an Egg McMuffin and a coffee. Bliss.

Gonçalo – April adventures

Gonçalo went to the vet on 26 March 2018. Then he weighed 3.3kg. On 27th April, he was up to 5.1kg.

He is not getting fat. We have been feeding him the correct amount for a 3.3kg puppy, without realising how fast he is growing. He also gets lots of exercise every day.

He gets tick medicine, with dosage according to bodyweight. I have had to increase that as well.

He has gained a lot in confidence. When he first went out for walks, he was frightened of nearly everything. Now, he is the master of his universe.

That universe has expanded a lot. I have re-cut the adventure trail through our meadow, and Gonçalo loves that. It is roughly akin to humans walking on a trail through a forest. I’ll get a photo when the current wet-weather front passes through.

There has been an addition to the meadow. We now have a bee hive, and the bees are settling in slowly. This is the hive, with our resident bee-keeper looking after his colony.

The adventure trail loop is a 15 to 20 mins walk, and Gonçalo normally gets 4 or 5 of these per day, so he is out for an hour to an hour and a half normally. This morning we squeezed in a much shorter walk just before another downpour started.

Gonçalo is showing signs of getting more domesticated. He has improved slightly on the pee and poo front. He has improved a lot on the biting and chew front. We bought him an osso de presunto (ham bone) and that kept him occupied for 2 – 3 days. A rolled-up newspaper is also effective. A smack on the bottom does not hurt the dog, but he learns from the sudden noise.

One of the most noticeable changes is that he has gone from a little puppy yelp to a proper dog bark.

And Gonçalo enjoys a drop or two of lager or white wine. I like to watch a quiz programme on TV called The Chase. When it ends, it is time to put out Gonçalo’s dinner. I have been watching The Chase with a glass of beer or a glass of wine, then wondered what the lap-lap-lapping sound is, only to find it is Gonçalo helping himself to my drink.

What is on the menu for May? Gonçalo is very intelligent and gets bored easily, so I want to expand his universe again. It is time to take him out on a lead to show him what the village looks like and meet some of the locals, both human and dogs.

His toilet training will also change. In May he will get chastised re indoor poos/pees. He already gets rewarded re outdoor poos/pees.

Madeleine – weather front 28 April 2018

On Wednesday 2nd May 2007, a weather front swept across Luz, from West to East. Tennis lessons were postponed. Gerry and Kate McCann went to the Millennium for coffee with Fiona, David and Dianne.

On Saturday 28 April 2018, a weather front is predicted to sweep across Luz. Here it is in 8 maps.

The first is at 01:00, when everything looks completely clear.

In the second at 04.00, there are the first signs of the front, in the Atlantic to the north of Portugal.

By 07.00 the wet weather is building in the Atlantic.

10.00 I still have time to walk Gonçalo.

Because this is what it looked like in Portelas at 10 am. Earlier this morning, we had thin cloud, lots of sunshine, no wind and it was still sunbathing weather. Now it is clouding over a lot and the wind is picking up.

At 13.00, the weather front is nearing Porto and Lisbon but Luz is still clear.

It is 18.00 and the weather front is over the north of Portugal, but it still hasn’t hit the south. In reality, we have been getting rain for some time.

And this is when it supposedly hits the south.

The final graphic is when the front clears out to the north-east. 24.00.

By way of contrast, here is the webcam image outside the Habana on the beach front at Luz. It was taken at 10 past 6, 27 April 2018. It was sunshine, a clear azure sky and no sign of any incoming weather front.

I hope to track and compare the weather here in Portelas and compare it to the Luz webcam and the forecast, in the run-up to the 11th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

There is a serious point to this.. The weather conditions around apartment 5A shortly after 10 pm are critical. The issue is whether I can work out exactly what was going on, or not.

Saturday, 28 April 2007 was when Madeleine touched down at Faro with her family, then transferred to the Ocean Club.

Madeleine v Vinte Cinco de Abril

It is 25th April 2018, the 44th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution on Vinte Cinco de Abril 1974.

This is the first anniversary of Revolution Day in which more than half the population of Portugal was born after the actual event took place.

The day is a holiday for most, though supermarkets and some shops are open, and certain people prefer to work. We have a German working on white washing an outdoor patio, and a Russian cleaning inside.

In Lisbon, the day is being celebrated with a solemn session of parliament, the opening of a new park, and a public procession along the Avenida da Liberdade. My sources suggest that locally, most Portuguese people will simply see it as a chance to eat, drink and enjoy the Algarvian sunshine in pleasant company.

Here is how Lagos looked on 25 April 1974.

Moving closer to 3 May 2007, when Madeleine McCann disappeared, a background pattern is replaying itself.

Last night (Tuesday), Liverpool beat Roma 5-2 in the first leg of a semi-final of the Champions League. Roma managed to overcome a 3 goal deficit to Barcelona in the last round, so there is much to play for. It could become Liverpool’s first appearance at a Champions League final since 2007.

Tonight (Wednesday), it was the first leg of the other semi-final of the Champions League. Bayern Munich v

Real Madrid. It ended Bayern 1 RM 2 in one of the oddest games for ages.

Tomorrow night (Thursday), it will be the Europa League first leg semi-finals – Marseille v Red Bull Salzburg

and Arsenal v Atletico Madrid.

The return legs will be played one week later on Tuesday 1st May, Wednesday 2nd May and Thursday 3rd May.

By coincidence this day and date pattern for return legs is identical to what happened in 2007.

And as we leave Revolution Day behind and head towards the 11th anniversary of Madeleine’s disappearance, the next key date is Saturday 28th April, the same in 2018 as 2007.

On 28 April 2007, Madeleine McCann would arrive in Luz at the Ocean Club.