Portelas – 20180413 – Farm of the Poppy

Whilst taking Gonçalo out for his morning stroll in our garden, I noticed we have our first poppy since we arrived at the Farm of the Poppy.

This is quite an odd coincidence. Gonçalo was born on 31 Dec 2017. That is the very same day we planted our vegetable patch. It was never meant to be anything but a memory for our 7 year-old grandson, who did the actual planting. He had a vegetable plot for his first festive season here in the Farm of the Poppy.

As expected, nothing we sowed has grown. What we have is a fine crop of weeds, many of which are tiny, pretty flowers, but not what we planted. And a poppy.

After a few days of quite heavy rain, I was quite pleased to get Gonçalo out for a walk in the sunshine.

I am trying to cultivate poppies in a medium size pot, and they are doing reasonably well, as far as I can tell. Although they are some months off before blooming.

It seems poppies prefer rough terrain, and the weed patch appears to work wonderfully.

Whatever, we now have our very first poppy.

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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.

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.