Madeleine – 10th – the congregation emerges

The times on my camera are about 8 minutes ahead of the church clock. This the scene around 9.40pm, with the media now waiting for the congregation to emerge from St Vincent.

There are still late night passers-by heading south, perhaps to one of the restaurants or perhaps just going for a stroll on a pleasant evening.

I got intercepted by one gentleman from Sweden who was curious about the activity. And a German couple who said they were in Luz on the night Madeleine disappeared. Because I don’t look like media, people are generally happy to chat to me for a few minutes. The flavour was along the lines of why so much was being done for one child when there are many other missing children.

If you look at the lighting, you can see more sources than there are at the Jane Tanner sighting. However, Jane’s man-carrying-child was very close to a (sodium) street light. The street lights here are sodium, backed by fluorescent light from two shop fronts, the media cameras and a near-full moon. On 3 May 2007, the near-full moon had not risen, but on 3 May 2017 it was well up in a clear sky.

Make your own judgement about which colours can be picked out and which colours can’t.

The shop in the background with a green stripe over the window and a large plus sign on its front wall is a chemist. Back in 2007, it was an Ali Super convenience store. There is footage of that store in the background as the McCanns arrived at the church to attend an evening mass. The store remained open until 10.30pm.

If the Crimewatch special of Oct 2013 is to be believed, the man seen by the Smiths around 10pm headed in this direction i.e. roughly in the direction of the church.

If the Panorama special of May 2017 is to be believed, the dig in central Luz by Operation Grange in June 2014 relates to 3 men considered as possible burglars. These 3 men were 3 of the 4 made arguidos in July 2014, but all 4 have been informed they are no longer persons of interest.

Neither Crimewatch nor Panorama seems to have twigged the importance of Aoife Smith’s testimony.

It would be an interesting Freedom Of Information request to find out precisely how much the Operation Grange digs in Luz cost.

The church clock is showing 9.40pm, and the congregation has started to emerge, complete with candles inside little glass bowls. I was a little bit bemused as to why there was little attention being paid to these people. The best photo I have seen of them was taken by reporter Michael Havis, inside St Vincent. He told me the congregation numbered about 20 and they went near to east end altar, while the media, also around 20 in number, sat at the west end, near the door you see.

It dawned on me why the media was paying limited attention to the candle-light procession. They were queuing up for an interview with the Anglican minister, Reverend Haynes Hubbard. Presumably these had been agreed in advance i.e. that the minister would come out at the end of the service and talk to the media.

Madeleine – 30 Apr 2017 – Luz Tour #5

Let me tell you about a few of the things going on in Luz around this time, as the 10th anniversary approached.

Natasha Donn did a round up Portuguese press reporting on 30 Apr 2017. One of the things it showed was a picture perfect postcard of Gonçalo Amaral re-visiting Luz. Since I have been tracking the weather in Luz I am confident this was some days past.

The photo is pure blue skies. The weather in Luz has not had clear blue skies for several days. So this was something put in the can a fair time ago, according to Weather Station Luz. Here is the piccy.

The media in general has also been in town, also getting their clips and sound bites in for early production processing. On a morning trip to Baptista a few days ago, a number of media crews were buzzing around Apartment 5A. Who knows what will emerge.

Luz Tour #5 was quite simple, though very important. I met up with a Portuguese media team outside of Luz church, Nossa Senhora da Luz for Roman Catholics, St Vincent’s for Anglicans. We decided to go for a drink to have a chat.

The Portuguese team was from Lisbon. They pointed out the ice-cream factory. I explained to them this only does ice-cream. They pointed out the Fortaleza. I informed them that it is not a café, but a restaurant serving meals.

I suggested Fernando’s, so we all walked a bit under 100m to get to Fernando’s. The trouble was, it was shut for lunchtime. So we settled on Kelly’s instead.

The situation was quite amusing, in one sense. The Lisbon team came stacked up with a video recorder on a tripod, which was leant across the front wall of Kelly’s. It screamed media! I got my refreshment first, before the video/tripod/media bit was plain, so I feel confident I got my drink spit-free. The Lisbon trio might or might not.

Our waiter had clocked media and was doing his best impersonation of Mr Grumpy. I asked him a polite and civil question, and I got no reply. I asked exactly the same question, also in a gracious manner, but I got a vary terse and abrupt reply.

I had declined to appear on video or on photographs, so the Lisbon team decided to split up. I cannot blame them. They syndicate photos and videos around the world for a living. The journey down from Lisbon that day had taken 3 hours. They faced the same going back. I am no longer tough enough to stack 6 hours of travelling on top of a long working day. So the video recorder and the stills photographer decided to heave off elsewhere to get more material. All I knew about them, on that day, was they had tried to get an interview with the Mayor of Luz, but for whatever reason he declined, so they met the Treasurer of Luz instead.

I had no idea until that point that Luz had a Treasurer. It was news to me. But it makes sense. If we have a Mayor, we would obviously have a Treasurer.. I have no idea what finances this person keeps an eye on.

So we split up, with two of the three from Lisbon heading off to get their job done elsewhere, while I went on tour with one lady from the team.

Off we trotted, had a quick stop at the Smith sighting, then up Rua 25 de Abril, to have a look at Luz from the top of the mound, the one that Operation Grange dug up in June 2014. I explained the traffic, and the businesses around at that time. She was scribbling at 100mph in shorthand. I showed her why I take people up to the top of the mound. It is the one place I know of in Luz where you can see all 3 of the phone operators, Optimus, TMN, and Vodafone, at once, so you can work out what was going on.

We went back to the church and had a chat on the concrete seats outside. The lady wanted to get a few quotes from me for her script. She wanted short and sharp.

This was easy. I told her I am pro-Madeleine.

After she had jotted a few quotes down, we parted. She was intent on bagging a tourist or two. I had no interest in what the 2017 tourists think, so I went home.

Luz Tour #5 was over. The video-recorder will return, in Luz Tour #6. Kindly watch this spot.

I have no idea whether I was newsworthy enough to turn up anywhere. Since the team syndicates material across the globe, it would take a lot of checking, and I cannot be bothered.

Madeleine v The Telegraph Ep. 2

The Telegraph story has evolved. It now asks if ‘the police’ are closer to knowing the truth when once it simply asked if ‘we’ are closer to knowing the truth.

Here is the full text of the Telegraph article as published in April 2016 and retrieved today, 21 Jan 2017.

Madeleine McCann latest: are police any closer to knowing the truth?

By Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter

29 April 2016 • 9:41am

In the nine years since Madeleine McCann went missing from a holiday apartment in Portugal, myriad theories about what happened to her have taken root, but only one fact remains uncontested: that she was reported missing at 10.14pm on the evening of Thursday, May 3, 2007.

It was at that point, when police were called, that the clock started ticking on the biggest missing persons investigation for decades, a search which remains very much active to this day.

Facts, the hard currency of any police investigation, have proved almost uniquely elusive; every sighting, every timing and every witness statement has been disputed in the years that have elapsed since.

Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann quickly came under suspicion by Portuguese police, a development that the couple are certain meant vital clues were missed in the first hours and days after Madeleine’s disappearance.

Every possible theory has been explored since then: that Madeleine was abducted by a paedophile; that she was killed during a bungled burglary and her body dumped; that she was abducted by traffickers and sold to a childless couple; that she wandered out of the apartment and died in a tragic accident, and many more besides.

To date, however, not one shred of proof of what happened to Madeleine has been unearthed. The question of what happened to Madeleine would become not only a personal tragedy for the McCann family, but a national obsession in the UK and in Portugal.

Madeleine, of Rothley, Leicestershire, was on the penultimate day of her family holiday on the day she vanished. She had spent part of the day playing by the swimming pool in the Ocean Club resort, where the last known picture of her was taken at 2.29pm.

Reports of when she was last seen alive by independent witnesses vary, but she was still alive at around 6pm, when she and her parents went into their apartment at 5A Rua Dr Agostinho da Silva, where Madeleine and her two-year-old twin brother and sister were readied for bed.

The McCanns told police they put the children to bed at around 7pm, and that all three were asleep by 8.30pm, when they went for dinner at a tapas bar 50 yards across the pool from their apartment. There they met seven friends with whom they were on holiday.

The McCanns say checks were made on their children every half-hour, sometimes by other members of the party, comprising Dr Russell O’Brien and Jane Tanner, from Exeter, Dr Matthew and Rachael Oldfield, from London, and David and Fiona Payne, from Leicester, together with Mrs Payne’s mother Dianne Webster. Mrs Webster, however, reportedly told police that each couple was responsible for checking their own children.

Gerry McCann went to the apartment at 9.05pm, when all the children were sleeping soundly and Madeleine was still in her bed, he says.

The police in Portugal, however, have never accepted the McCanns’ evidence as undisputed. They initially regarded the McCanns as suspects, and believed the McCanns could have killed Madeleine any time after the last independent sighting of her at 6pm.

A timeline of that evening shows that Dr Matthew Oldfield went into apartment 5A at 9.30pm, and noticed that Madeleine’s room seemed lighter than the others, as if the shutters had been partially opened. He could not be certain whether Madeleine was there.

Kate McCann was next to check on the children, at 10pm. She ran back to the restaurant moments later, saying Madeleine was missing. The McCanns and their friends made a quick search of the resort, but after finding no sign of Madeleine the police were called at 10.14pm.

The McCanns told police they had put Madeleine to bed with her pink comfort blanket and favourite soft toy, Cuddle Cat, and was wearing short-sleeved Marks & Spencer Eeyore pyjamas.

Crucially, however, the apartment was not initially treated as a crime scene, meaning around 20 people went in and out before it was sealed off, contaminating potential evidence. Roadblocks were not put in place until 10am the next day, border guards were not informed for hours and Interpol did not put out a global missing persons alert for five days.

It meant that the most crucial time of any missing persons investigation – the first 24 hours – was largely squandered, and police have been trying to catch up ever since. Yet potentially key sightings and artists’ impressions of suspects were kept from the public for years.

Mary and Martin Smith, from Ireland, told police they saw a man carrying a child matching Madeleine’s description at around 10pm on Rua da Escola Primaria, 500 yards from the McCanns’ apartment. He was heading towards the beach, did not look like a tourist and did not seem comfortable carrying the child, they said.

Their evidence was compelling, but it was only in October 2013 that two e-fit images of the man, compiled by police from descriptions given by Mr and Mrs Smith, were released by Scotland Yard to coincide with a BBC Crimewatch reconstruction of Madeleine’s disappearance. He remains a suspect.

There were also blind alleys. Jane Tanner, one of the tapas diners, told police that when she left the restaurant at 9.15pm to check on her own daughter, she saw a man carrying a small child, wearing pink pyjamas, in his arms.

For years afterwards, the mystery man would be a key suspect, if not the prime suspect, but in October 2013 the Metropolitan Police announced that a British holidaymaker who had been taking his daughter back to his apartment after picking her up from an evening crèche, had been identified as the man Miss Tanner had seen and ruled out of the inquiry.

The first person to become an “arguido”, or official suspect, was Robert Murat, a local property consultant, whose home was searched 12 days after the disappearance. He was formally cleared of suspicion in 2008 and won £600,000 in libel damages from 11 British newspapers.

The Portuguese Police, however, were suspicious of the McCanns from the beginning, partly due to a clash of cultures. They could not believe that parents would leave their children unattended, and did not approve of the McCanns’ use of the media to raise the profile of the case, in a country where secrecy is the hallmark of all police investigations.

The arrival of two British sniffer dogs in Portugal in July 2007 only hardened that belief. One dog was trained to sniff out traces of human blood, the other was trained to sniff out the scent of dead bodies. Both dogs were taken to several locations connected to the investigation, and gave alerts only in apartment 5A. Later, the cadaver dog gave an alert inside a Renault car, hired by the McCanns 24 days after Madeleine went missing.

DNA tests on samples taken from the car proved inconclusive, but the Portuguese police wrongly told journalists they were a “100 per cent match” for Madeleine.

The Portuguese police came up with the theory that Madeleine had been killed by her parents by accident, possibly by being given an overdose of a sedative to make her sleep, that they had hidden the body, faked her abduction and then used the hire car weeks later to move her body to a burial location.

In early September 2007, according to Kate McCann, she was told by the Portuguese police that if she admitted that Madeleine had died in the apartment and she had hidden her body she might only serve a two-year sentence and Gerry McCann would not be charged at all. On September 7 the couple were both made arguidos.

Goncalo Amaral, the chief inspector who had been in charge of the case, resigned in 2008 to write a book alleging that Madeleine had died in an accident in the apartment and the McCanns had faked the abduction. The McCanns sued him for libel, and won: Amaral was ordered to pay them £394,000 in damages, but in April 2016 that decision was overturned by an appeal court.

In July 2008 the Portuguese attorney general announced that the McCanns were no longer suspects and the investigation was closed. The McCanns hired private investigators to carry on the search, but it was not until May 2011 that Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced that Scotland Yard would review the evidence in the case, which had until then been the responsibility of Leicestershire Police, working with the Portuguese authorities.

In July 2013 Operation Grange, the review of the available evidence, became a full-blown criminal inquiry, and Scotland Yard said it was concentrating on a “criminal act by a stranger”.

The Yard announced it was looking into possible links between Madeleine’s disappearance and bogus charity collectors who were knocking on doors in Praia da Luz at the time. Between 3.30pm and 5.30pm on the day in question there were four separate sightings of men who said they were collecting money for an orphanage. British detectives believe men whose photofits they released in 2013 may have been engaged in reconnaissance for a pre-planned abduction or for burglaries, in keeping with the theory that Madeleine may have been killed by a burglar she disturbed.

telegraph-april-2016-e-fit-x-4

E-fits of men seen acting suspiciously near the apartment on the night Madeleine went missing

Scotland Yard also said in 2013 it was eager to trace a blond-haired man who had been seen loitering in the area on April 30 and May 2, looking at apartment 1A. He was described as “ugly” with a spotty complexion and a large nose. Two blond-haired men were seen on the balcony of the empty apartment 5C, two doors from 5A, at 2.30pm on the day of the disappearance. Blond men were seen again near 5A at 4pm and 6pm that day, and at 11pm that night. Following the appeal on Crimewatch, the Portuguese police re-opened their own investigation.

Scotland Yard officers travelled to Portugal in 2014 to interview four suspects and carried out searches of the area around the apartment using ground-penetrating radar. One of the men who was interviewed has since been eliminated from the inquiry, but the other three men remain arguidos.

The British officers questioned them on suspicion of being part of a burglary gang that panicked after killing Madeleine during a bungled break-in. They all protested their innocence and were released without charge.

Another suspect was Euclides Monteiro, a convicted burglar with a drug habit, who had been sacked from the Ocean Club in 2006. Mobile phone tracking showed he had been in the area on the night of the disappearance, and police believe he may have been burgling apartments there to fund his drug addiction. He died in a tractor accident in 2009.

In March 2014 Scotland Yard announced that a lone intruder sexually assaulted five girls aged between seven and 10 in the Algarve between 2004 and 2006. The man, who has never been caught, was said to have a “very, very unhealthy interest” in young white girls.

The four incidents, one of which involved two girls, were among 12 in which men had entered holiday accommodation in the area, including two incidents in Praia da Luz. The force also said it was looking at 38 “people of interest” and were researching the backgrounds of 530 known sex offenders, including 59 regarded as high interest.

In December 2014 Det Chief Insp Andy Redwood, the man who had led Operation Grange, retired and was replaced on Dec 22 by DCI Nicola Wall, who travelled to Portugal the same month to conduct further inquiries.

DCI Wall and her team interviewed seven suspects and four witnesses, but have not released any information about what they discovered, insisting they will not provide a “running commentary” on the case.

In September 2015 the Met announced that it was scaling back the Operation Grange investigation team from 29 officers to four. With the cost of the inquiry topping £10 million, the force said it was following “a small number of focused lines of inquiry”.

It added that the “vast majority” of the work of Operation Grange had been completed. In total officers had reviewed more than 40,000 documents, took 1,338 statements and collected 1,027 exhibits.

The Met said 60 “persons of interest” had been investigated, 650 sex offenders considered and 8,685 potential sightings investigated.

Then, in April 2016, came an announcement by the Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe that his officers had boiled down the evidence to “one final lead”.

Having failed to substantiate other theories, police are reportedly left with one of the original theories – that Madeleine was killed during a botched burglary.

The Met wants to re-interview three suspects who were placed at the scene through analysis of their mobile phones: Jose Carlos da Silva, 30, who used to drive guests to their apartments at the Ocean Club resort in Praia da Luz, Ricardo Rodrigues, 24, and Paulo Ribeiro, 53.

They have previously admitted petty theft from apartments at the complex but denied any involvement in Madeleine’s disappearance.

Kate and Gerry McCann remain convinced their daughter is alive and that they will one day be reunited. The hunt to find her continues.

Madeleine v The Telegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/16/madeleine-mccann-latest-are-police-any-closer-to-knowing-the-tru/

This an article by Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter, and is currently dated 29 April 2016. It is like a pinned piece or a sticky. It gets updated when there is any significant development in the Madeleine McCann case. As it has not been updated since April, it is reasonable to assume there hasn’t been a major development for months.

From memory, that is correct. Operation Grange had already been downsized to 4 officers and DCI Nicola Wall had returned to multi-investigation work as per her role before being appointed to lead the Madeleine McCann case.

telegraph-april-2016

There have been minor scraps of news since then. These include Operation Grange pursuing a single line of enquiry (Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe), or a small number of lines of enquiry (Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Duthie), and further funding for 6 months to April 2017. These are hardly major stories requiring an update to the Telegraph report.

I know that a version of this article pre-dates April 2016, and I believe by a considerable amount. Unfortunately, the format of the article’s URL, with a date embedded in it, makes it difficult to trace previous variants of this report. I do have a version dating back to 5 Sep 2014, but I believe the origin to be much older. However, I also know that one piece of information was published in The Telegraph in 2007, in an article by Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter, and the same misinformation is in the TimesOnline, dated 9 Sep 2007.

My working assumption of how these types of articles are maintained is based on seeing a similar pattern across several newspapers. I don’t know whether TV and radio stations operate in a similar manner though BBC news articles seem to evolve in this manner.

There is presumably a file or files on the Madeleine case in each organisation, and some of these files contain stock text and stock photos. When there is something newsworthy, the first port of call is one of these filed reports, which is then tweaked to include the new development.

This means new news can be reported very quickly, with little effort, so it is efficient re time and cost. However, once an error enters the base story, it has a tendency to get recycled and republished time and time again. It takes a considerable degree of effort and extensive expertise to debug such errors.

I want to look at the Telegraph article to see how many errors can be identified, and establish if these are significant. I haven’t tried this yet so I cannot say at the moment whether there will be a few errors or many, but I already know it is not zero.

I am not being critical of Gordon Rayner or The Telegraph. The Crimewatch programme of Oct 2013 has been picked apart by at least one person with considerable experience of the Madeleine McCann case, and errors identified, so this attribute applies to documentary makers and Operation Grange alike. And I know I have made some errors on my blog in my time.

I have seen the tabloids recycle errors and it normally leaves me unmoved. I don’t use the tabloids as a source of information.

One can reasonably expect better quality newspapers to have a higher standard of reporting, but what will we find in reality? Find out after the break!

Madeleine – Xmas day 11 – Band on the Run

I am still progressing the Day 9 – Wasteland post, and while I was doing it, a thought entered my head. Why do I know so much about the nooks and crannies of Luz, the places that Google does not go?

The answer has two parts. The first is that I am a lifelong walker. When I visit somewhere, I like to make sense of it by exploring on foot. I prefer the parts that are away from car traffic and typically that means old historic centres or in the case of the Wasteland, the trails that few people have used.

I have walked from Luz to Burgau on many occasions, and the coastal pathway is much, much more pleasant and interesting than the M537 road between Burgau and Luz.

The second part of the reason is we have moved frequently in Luz. The shortest stay was one week, while the longest was nearly 2 years. We counted up our residences, and the total so far is 8 in 5 years. This excludes the properties rented by the kids’ family when we were living apart, though they are significant. They rented a house immediately east of the Wasteland, and that is how I know you can hop the wall to get onto the plot. I’ve been exploring on that land before, merely out of curiosity.

Bear in mind that I had very little interest in the Madeleine McCann case until the Operation Grange dig of June 2014, so most of my exploring had nothing whatsoever to do with Madeleine.

When we arrived in the area, the plan was to move to a villa we were renting just outside Luz. We had to stay in an apart-hotel in Luz for a week whilst waiting for our furniture to be moved from the UK to the villa. That week was actually very hard physical work. We had been promised that the villa would be cleared before we moved in, and we had paid for it to be cleaned. Being Portugal, the villa was neither cleared nor cleaned, so we spent large chunks of time gutting it and then cleaning it. When we had finished ripping out aged tat, there was well over a lorryload of the stuff. Fortunately, the local council picks that sort of rubbish up and disposes of it for free.

I woke up early one morning in our week the apart-hotel, and since I didn’t want to disturb the family, I decided it was time to explore. It was late February and the weather was glorious. I hunted down the beach, passing other early morning walkers and exchanging amiable chat with them of no particular significance. Then I arrived at the beach area, and I though the vista was jaw dropping. I had an exploration along the front, including the Roman ruins and the Fortaleza, then I returned to tell the family, excitedly, about what I had found.

It was decided we would all head to the beach area for breakfast. We chose the Paraíso because it was actually on the beach and had the best view. The weather was warm enough in February that we wanted breakfast al fresco, so we sat on the outside. There were 4 adults, 2 teenagers, and one baby. Due to the size of the group, we happened to sit on or near where the Tapas 7 took their children for tea on the afternoon of 3 May 2007. We probably appeared on the exactly the same CCTV, just years later on.

Bear in mind that none of us had the slightest inkling that Luz was connected to the disappearance of Madeleine, nor of the movements of the Tapas 7. We had simply picked a pleasant spot on a beach to have breakfast in the sun. There would be many more such coincidences as we became ‘The Band On The Run’, even if I only became aware of those quirks of fate much later.

The villa we moved into is in Urbanisation Melody. We moved out again soon after because the villa was damp and essential features such as showers and the oven were decrepit, and we had too many people to hack that. The owner assured us the main oven was new, but shortly before we moved out the oven fan fell out because it was rusted through completely. We later learned that our ‘contract’ with the owner was not a legal contract in Portugal, because none of us had the correct documentation to enter into a legal contract. It appears money was being hidden both from the tax man and the owner’s family, who had a right to a share of our rent.

Once more, I did not hear about the scandalous rumour connecting Gerry to Urbanisation Melody until much later. The urbanisation was added to Google in Jan 2015, so you can now peek around for yourself if you want. We were in the villa that has a skinny black dog by the gates.

I did my usual walking, exploring and mapping. I walked to the camp site to the west, which happens to have a tiny role in the Madeleine McCann tale. There I discovered a Brazilian restaurant that did buffet lunches, so we decided to try it out one day. The range was good and the price was relatively inexpensive, but I am not a fan of buffets, so we never went back. That restaurant later relocated to Valverde, where the GNR car was on 3 May 2007 when it got the ‘hurry up’ call. The Brazilian has a good reputation in Luz, so perhaps I am picky about my food. Again by sheer coincidence, my family was in that restaurant for lunch one day when Operation Grange heaved up for their mid-day break from the Luz dig.

Going back to the topic of Urbanisation Melody, the scandalous rumour was that Gerry had buried Madeleine’s body in the garden of one of the plots, and the gardener failed to notice this. This is a scarcely disguised variant of the scandalous rumour that Gerry had buried Madeleine in the villa the McCanns rented at 27 Rua das Flores and the gardener failed to notice this.

I had criss-crossed Urbanisation Melody and the surrounding area in my time there, and trust me, there are dozens and dozens of places to conceal a body that are much better than digging up someone’s garden. This should not be interpreted as meaning Gerry found some better place in the area. Unless he was scouring the countryside like a madman, he would not have been able to find this urbanisation until Google put it on-line in Jan 2015, so it is a complete non-starter.

Of the 8 places we have lived, I can only think of a couple that are not coincidentally connected to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. That is simply due to the size of Luz and the amount of coverage of the disappearance of Madeleine in the media.

Our proposed move to Portelas has crawled forward at a snail’s pace. The house has now been valued by the bank and the valuation is sufficient to cover the mortgage we want. The council has conducted its inspection to check that the work it requires has been done to the standard it requires. We have good reason to believe it has. All we are waiting for now is the paperwork. Mind you, we have been trying to buy the villa for about a year now, and this is Portugal, so we are not holding our breath.

Does Portelas have some sort of coincidental connection to the disappearance of Madeleine McCann? Of course it does. First, in the Luz rubbish disposal tale, it features as a transit station before the garbage is moved on to its final destination in Barlavento. Second, it was the residence of Euclides Monteiro, aka Tractorman, a person I think Operation Grange was checking out in 2014.

Today’s Day of Christmas tale is nearly done, except for a graphic of the 8 locations we have lived in while we were the Band On The Run. It looks a little bit like someone has taped the base graphic over a dartboard and then thrown a dart or eight, without much accuracy. Or is it a blunderbuss spray shot pattern?

madeleine-xmas-day-11-band-on-the-run

Madeleine – Xmas day 9 – wasteland

My small adventure on 2 Jan 2017 was to have a wander through a plot of land commonly referred to by the media as wasteland. The plot size is 58,000m2, so a lot bigger than the site searched by Operation Grange in June 2014. It is slightly further away from apartment 5A than the mound, but it has plenty of anomalies for Operation Grange to sink its teeth into.

First up is a satellite image of how Luz looked in May 2007. Kindly note how many ‘wastelands’ there are. This was around the start of the global crash, and I would suggest Luz looks much the same in 2017. Buying a piece of land and doing nothing with it for years is called land-banking, and a lot of land-banking happens in Luz and the surrounding area.

map-luz-may-2007

The red dot is apartment 5A. The yellow dot is the mound, as searched by Operation Grange in 2014. The green dot is the ‘wasteland’ I want to take you through. The pink dot may be the decider. It is the Smithman sighting, and it is obviously closer the the yellow dot, the mound, than the green dot – my 9th day special. Whatever, I want to show you a piece of ‘wasteland’ in Luz, to illustrate the challenges faced by the searchers.

mad-day-9-wasteland-1

This is a very simple photo. It shows the ‘wasteland’ and a ruin north of the road coming in from Burgau to Luz. There is a sheet metal fence around this part of the plot, and in Portugal, I know that putting a fence or wall around your plot means others are obliged to keep off the property. The trouble with this fence is that I know towards the north of the plot there are no such barriers. This means that people can, and definitely do, wander over the plot for many a reason, just as I did on the 9th day of Xmas.

It sounds truly and utterly boring. But it happens to be how Luz worked. It happens to be important to working out what happened to Madeleine. Decide for yourself how tough the searches were. Decide for yourself how many hiding holes there could be in Luz. And remember, this ‘wasteland’ is just one of many in Luz.

Madeleine – Xmas day 8 – Baptista

I meant to go down into Luz today to get a couple of shots of the café outside Baptista supermarket, as Baptista pops up in quite a few people’s revelations hare and there. Robert Murat, Sergey Malinka, Barrington Godfrey Norton and Kate and Gerry McCann, oh and Jenny Murat. In 2007 it was the only supermarket in Luz though there were two or three convenience stores. And the Baptista café was a place to have a cup of coffee with a pastry or a bifana, and have a friendly chat or conduct a little business.

Unfortunately, after an extended spell of glorious weather in December 2016, it turned a bit overcast in Luz today and I could not have captured a photograph that approximated to early May 2007. It’s a fair trek to there and back to get something that shows an al fresco café with few customers, so I decided to give it a miss.

What I have got instead is some scans relating to the inside of Baptista. These were published in a magazine in Sep 2015 and they are paid-for advertising, so the Baptista you are going to see may well be quite different inside to that seen by the McCanns.

Ever since we heaved up in Luz there has been a little Baptista in the Commercial Centre. It sells fish, freshly baked bread and pastries and after-dinner sweets. Back in 2007, that location was where the video rental shop that features in the ‘Brazilian couple’ story was located. I don’t know whether there was a fresh fish counter in big Baptista in 2007.

The McCanns very quickly worked out that the walk from apartment 5A to the Millennium, complete with two twins aged 2 years and 3 months, and Madeleine aged nearly 4, minus a buggy for the twins, was too much like hard work. I have walked that walk. I can state that in the same circumstances, I would not have being using the Millennium, and there is a further statement in the PJ Files that supports this.

Thus, Baptista became the source of breakfast and lunch for the McCanns, with the Tapas zone providing high tea for the children and the Tapas Restaurant providing dinner for the Tapas 9. All of this, if you understand the layout of Luz, makes perfect sense. Baptista was perhaps 60m down Rua Martins from apartment 5A. Somewhat of a doddle.

To whet your appetite, here is the first scan I have of a magazine feature on Baptista. This is not unusual or special. Baptista commonly carries out this type of advertising.

baptista-1-sep-15

Baptista is posh or upmarket supermarket. The nearest thing I can think of in the UK is Waitrose. In Baptista, goods are normally more expensive than in most supermarkets, but in Luz, money is not in short supply. Both well-off Portuguese and ex-pats patronise it.

The supermarket has had the sense to stock a range of imported goods beloved of foreigners, and makes a healthy profit from them. A tin of Heinz baked beans is around €3.50, and you get British bread, British sausages and Kellogg’s Frosties. Home from home. The sort of place where the McCanns could get the type of food that the kids were comfortable with and would eat.

If I have scanned this copy properly, you should be able to read Baptista’s description of Baptista. Here is the first page of the advert. As you can see, it is the wine aisle. I have no idea whether the New Zealand wine chosen by the McCanns is on sale regularly.

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Here you see the next health challenge in Baptista’s – the charcutaria. This is stuffed with delicious treats, but is has two dangers. The first is that much of the meat here is processed, and I eat that only sparingly. The second is that it is stuffed with a wide variety of different cheeses, all tasty but very fattening.

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My favourite counters are the Talho (butcher) and the fish counter in little Baptista. The butcher’s counter in Baptista sells high quality meat, though the range is a bit restricted. I am looking forward to Portelas, as it has a talho of high renown, and the range is more extensive, such as rabbit and goat. Perhaps I can even lay my hands on a haunch of venison.

I believe there was a dedicated talho active in Luz in 2007 in LuzTur, now closed. To the best of my knowledge, the person who now has the talho concession in Baptista’s also runs LookSteak, a restaurant beside Kelly’s. LookSteak did not exist in 2007.

I also like fish. This is something that dates back to when I was young, and a treat on a Friday night was cod and chips from the local chippie, complete of course with very fattening batter.

If the weather is not too bad later today, since it is now day 9, I hope to get out and show you some ‘waste ground’ and ‘anomalies’ in best Operation Grange style. It sounds boring, but it goes to the heart of Operation Grange.