Madeleine – May 2018

May 2018 was the 11th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. In truth, very little of significance happened on the case around this time.

On 3rd May 2018, Kate and Gerry McCann attended a remembrance service at Rothley war memorial, and Kate read a poem. Meanwhile in Portugal, Correio da Manhã ran with a report that Luz residents were weary of the situation.

Then Dr Julian Totman and his wife Rachel became news, in the Tannerman sighting. They claimed that they had thought Dr Totman was Tannerman for years, but despite talking to police early on, they had no idea if their evidence was treated seriously.

Some background chatter went quiet. Netflix several months back was supposed to be doing an 8 part documentary on Madeleine McCann, but that has seemingly melted faster than hailstones in the Algarve. Another such idea was a long-heralded video by Sonia Poulton. This was ‘The McCanns and The Police’. This came out late in April 2018 on YouTube, supposedly part 1 of 10. I have not watched the video, so I cannot comment on its contents. However, this too seems to have created few ripples on the pond.

The one idea to emerge that interested me was by Professor Thomas Horan. He posted on CMoMM in May that he wanted to do a podcast, mainly for American viewers, on the disappearance of Madeleine. The concept was the first 24 hours after the alarm was raised, and whether the police response was proportionate.

CMoMM appeared not to grasp these two points. Forum members went off into everything except the first 24 hours, and the adequacy of the police response.

I have no idea whether Professor Horan has made or is making his podcast, but the idea of the police response in the first 24 hours intrigues me. I may return to that diligence at a later date.

In the month of May 2018, the 11th anniversary of the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the story was notable for its remarkable quietness. Whilst the 10th anniversary brought a clutch of specials, the 9th anniversary had made little impact, and the 11th anniversary even less. There is a pattern here.

It may be that the residents of Luz get their wish for normality as the tale of Madeleine McCann fades into obscurity.


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.

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.

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.

Madeleine – Gonçalo is in training

Gonçalo is in training. In addition to teaching him the domestic niceties, work has begun on training him to find living and dead people.

The latter aspect has 3 sections to it.

First, Gonçalo is learning to play ‘fetch’. I read an article by a police hander which concluded that one of the key aspects of training was rewarding the dog with a session chasing a tennis ball. Thus far, progress on this front is limited. Indoors, Gonçalo will play fetch, and then get a small treat for doing well. Outdoors, Gonçalo will ‘chase’ a tennis ball, but he has never yet brought it back.

Second is the issue of ticks. We have two sections to our plot. The part nearer the house is considered garden, where the grass is medium length because it gets mowed regularly. The part further away is considered meadow, which is uncut, and at the moment vegetation is just under waist-high.

Gonçalo loves the meadow. He likes bounding through the tall vegetation. Obviously, the grass is taller than he is, and I can only work out where the dog is by watching the ripples at the top of the plants.

The problem is that long vegetation is prime tick territory. Every morning at breakfast, Gonçalo gets a few drops of a veterinary medicine designed to kill ticks once they start sucking his blood. The ticks love Gonçalo’s long floppy ears. As they can transfer to humans, it means I have to check the dog for ticks after every romp, before the ticks settle in, or switch to us.

This means I won’t be training him in the meadow, as I had intended. Instead I am going to have to train him in the shorter grass of the garden.

The third issue is what we feed Gonçalo on. He managed to thieve some of our (raw) potatoes, and proceeded to tuck in, until I got them off him. Several hours later I was treated to his first vomit, a mixture of raw potato and grass. That incident led me to think about what we feed him on. He is certainly no vegetarian.

For his breakfast and dinner, the main ingredients are dehydrated chicken protein and rice, with things like beef pulp and vegetable oils.

He gets two types of mini-treats, tiny morsels for a small well done. One is lamb-based. The other is chicken and fish.

He gets a maxi-treat when he does something ‘big’ correct. For example, if he walks around our garden off the leash, does not run away, and comes to me when called. These big treats consist of cereals, oils, meat and meat derivatives.

So Gonçalo is getting a fair bit of vegetarian mixed in with his meat.

The thought that struck me was if a dog eats a wide range of meat and fish products, how does it learn to detect dead humans?

So far, I have not seen pork mentioned explicitly in the list of ingredients, but meat derivatives covers a range of possibilities. If things work out, I intend to train Gonçalo on fresh and decaying pork, as I can’t use humans.

Possibly dehydrating the meat removes most or all of the smell. I feel an experiment coming on.

Madeleine – body decomposition – Maria Beatriz

Correio da Manhã is running with a very odd news item today, about human body decomposition.

A woman called Maria Beatriz has been found mummified in a flat in Penhora, in Lisbon. This is the apartment block.

The body was found earlier today when one of the block minders let the PSP into Maria’s apartment. Correio da Manhã speculated that Maria Beatriz may have been dead for 10 years or more.

I have no further details, but I am sceptical about what Correio da Manha has reported.

Penhora appears to be well-located within Lisbon, making such apartments desirable. From the photo, the block seems to be in decent condition. Quite why such a flat should be unrented for 10 years baffles me.

The mummification aspect is also puzzling. There is no suggestion that this is anything other than a natural death. Equally there is no suggestion that mummification was anything other than natural.

That is not how I understand body decomposition. I would have thought the corpse went through bacterial attack first, followed by attack by insects. That suggests an awful smell for the neighbours, and worse.

The fragment of the Correio da Manha report does not say what triggered the inspection. It could have been the block caretaker or the PSP.

Thus far, Maria Beatriz’s story has more questions than answers.