Madeleine – 10th – #9 – is this the finale?

This is nearly the finale.

It was now getting late and I was getting fidgety. I had wanted to get to the Smith sighting by 10pm and the time had come and gone.

However reporter Michael Havis had now bagged Reverend Haynes Hubbard, so I took a few more photos. Please bear in mind that circumstances were far from perfect. I still had not figured out how to switch the flash on my camera off, so I must have being annoying many a person. It is also not the best camera mode for a night shot, which explains why this photo is so fuzzy.

However, this low quality photo made it into the UK media reports and the question is why. The photo shows what Reverend Hubbard was wearing on his feet – sandals and no socks. He obviously does not stand on ceremony.

But the photo part that interests me is what this gentleman has around his right wrist. It is a yellow band. Reverend Hubbard is Canadian, and these wrist bands have a meaning in North America. They signify hope that a missing child will one day return.

This is a marginally less fuzzy photo of Reverend Hubbard being interviewed by Michael Havis. You can see the lady in black from CMTV striding off at a rate of knots. Lisbon is 3 hours from Luz. London via Faro is more like 6 hours. The media did their interviews and headed off into the distance.

Whereas I grabbed Mr Havis, dragged him to the Smith sighting, and there we emulated exactly what could have been seen by Peter Smith, Martin Smith and Aoife Smith.

This is the last of my personal photos. Questions remain. Where were the McCanns? What did Sky’s special on 2 May 2017 reveal? What did the Panorama special on the 10th anniversary reveal?

Madeleine – 10th – #7 – media prize

The photo I am about to show you is particularly low quality, but it shows some of the backstage antics and I want to give you a flavour of reality. This is not the polished approach of professionals. This is amateur, It is raw and it is authentic.

The candle bearers were proceeding by, largely ignored. Under the tripod in the foreground is a red tablet. It has featured in this set of photos before. However, I cracked on with other things before I got round to watching Martin Brunt in the Sky special for the 10th. It wasn’t until I saw the Sky special that I twigged it follows Mr Brunt around wherever he goes. Consequently, I have no idea what information is held on that tablet.

The gentleman in the top is checking light levels, I think. He is wearing an orange t-shirt and shorts. No, you cannot see his t-shirt is orange in this photo, but he will appear again later.

The man to the left of centre is Martin Brunt, I believe. He was only one of two men wearing a suit. Mr Brunt appears to be catching up on his mobile.

In the next photo, you can see who the media were awaiting to interview. The time by the church clock is 9.46pm. It looks like Martin Brunt has nabbed first dibs on Reverend Haynes Hubbard. Our orange-shirted man has come across to join in, and it looks like a planning meeting. Reverend Hubbard is very casual in a white shirt, trousers and sandals.

My contact from Lisbon is Jerome pin, the man on the right with the dark blue shirt and light blue jeans. I have no certainty about who was on the phone, but I would guess it was work, aka AFP. Just to the left of the church door was CMTV tucking away some video. I didn’t know at the time the lady in black was from CMTV, but she will pop up again in a clearer photo.

The other person in the photo that I can identify is my contact from the UK, Michael Havis, in black, bent over his mobile. We had done Luz Tour 6 on 1st and 2nd May. I have yet to write that up due to priorities. He will appear again later in this photoset.

At this point I was getting a bit nervous, because I wanted to get to the Smith sighting for 10pm. Bear in mind that though the clock church said 9.46pm, I made it 9.52pm.

The trouble was, the media wanted to interview Reverend Hubbard.

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 – 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 6 – the Sun

The first photo was taken just a little further down the street from Galo’s, and obviously a tad closer to Baptista. The green shop is the one appearing in the Xmas Day 5 photo of Galo’s. There is nothing particularly special about this, and you can use Google StreetView to get the Aug 2009 version, but please note the pinkish shop at the end of the row.

day-6-1-the-shop-fronts

This is LuzTur. One of 4 men made arguidos in July 2014 lived here at the time Madeleine disappeared. As far as I am aware, there has been no news that his arguido status has been lifted. I am not aware of the process for lifting arguido status in an on-going case. There was news that Sergey Malinka, who was also made an arguido at that time, was informed that he was no longer a person of interest to Operation Grange, but I do not know if his arguido status was formally lifted.

day-6-2-luztur

Now we are at the pink shop at the end of the row. Clearly, it is decked out for Christmas. In summer it is stuffed with goods for the beach.

day-6-3-pink-shop

This is the end of the shop/accommodation block, and there is another alleyway. The silver car that featured earlier is still there, as is the green awning that adjoins the tent-shaped building inside the Tapas zone. The importance of this is that having these little short cuts is a major feature in Luz. Once you get to know them, you can get around on foot much quicker than if you take the main streets. I have no reason to believe the McCanns ever visited this row of shops, even though it is very close to the Tapas zone and just a few metres from the front of Baptista. I know the McCanns used Baptista to get food for breakfast and lunch, after finding the trek to the Millennium to be a struggle. Baptista has a rear entrance situated on Rua Martins, near apartment 5A, and that makes more sense re the McCanns.

day-6-4-pink-alley-to-tapas

Who knows, maybe Kate or Gerry used the café that is situated at the front of Baptista for a coffee and perhaps a pastry before Madeleine disappeared, at a time when all 3 children were in kids’ clubs and there was no tennis. I have sat outside outside that café on one of the Luz Tours for a long chat with a guest. It was early May 2016 and the sun was shining brightly in Luz. Throw in an interesting discussion and it really does not get much better.

Now here is my reason for dragging you along this row of shops. On 13 Oct 2013, the Crimewatch special on Madeleine McCann coincided with the release by Operation Grange of the two Smithman e-fits. I don’t know how much advance notice the media got of this or the Crimewatch programme contents. It is fairly standard practice when one wants a lot of publicity to put such material out early but say it is subject to a press embargo until a certain date and time. This means the media cannot publish the material before that date and time, but journalists and reporters can get their homework done.

The Sun either had such material in advance or its reporters moved very swiftly. From memory, the e-fits were made public on the morning of 13 Oct 2013, presumably with the aim of getting more viewers interested in watching the Crimewatch special on that evening.

By 14 Oct 2013, the next day, the Sun had a fairly large report on the Crimewatch special, including stills from the programme, leading me to think they might have had an advance view of the programme.

They also had a reporter/photographer team in Luz to get an exclusive angle. They had printed off posters of the Smithman e-fits, one with text in Portuguese and another with text in English, and had a bash at putting them put up in Luz.

The following is a photo of shop assistant Elane Harvey, putting the two Sun posters up outside the shop where she worked. I don’t know Elane personally and apart from this Sun report, I have never heard her name mentioned, so I am going purely by what the photo shows.

day-6-5-the-sun-suspect-e-fit-near-baptista

First up, we have the shop at the end of the row, nearest to Baptista. I know it sells beach goods during the season, but other things clearly fit as well.

Second, my photos are mainly pink, with a hint of orange, while the Sun photograph is orange with a hint of pink. What can I say? I am an amateur using a 60€ camera. I would hope the Sun photographer was a professional using a camera that costs over ten times as much.

Third, you have two photos to compare. The Sun photo was published on 14 Oct 2013. Mine was taken on 27 Dec 2016. In both you have bags of bright sunlight. In mid-October, Elane was wearing a thin top with short sleeves. The shop was still trying to flog beach goods. Although neither photo was taken in May, it shows why you get bougainvillea blooming in May. There is a lot of sun shining in Luz.

Fourth, clap your beady eyes on the beach goods under the posters but inside the shop. These are called sunglasses. Now sunglasses feature in The Last Photograph, and here we have a source of the same. As I have made clear, I cannot think of anything that places Kate or Gerry McCann in this area. In Kate’s book ‘madeleine’, she relates a story of the beach trip at lunchtime on Wednesday 2 May 2007, when Gerry bought sunglasses from a stall on the beach front. The sunglasses tale is something I would like to stack up for another time, because I’ve got some research to do on that one.

Madeleine – Luz weather station 12.37

I discussed whether there was a weather station in Luz with my last tour visitor. The data being presented in support of this idea can be shown to come from the Faro weather station, while there is a weather station much closer to Luz in Sagres. Paulo Rebelo requested the local weather for 3 and 4 May 2007, but when the weather forecasters asked for around €300 for this data, he seems to have declined to take it further.

This November 2016 I decided to try a little experiment. I decided to record the local weather in Luz each day at 12.37. I am recording the temperature (in the shade), the degree of cloud cover, the wind direction and strength. There have been successes and what I can best describe as opportunities to learn.

Lest anyone should think I have lost my marbles, please remember the role that weather plays in the disappearance of Madeleine.

There is the weather experienced by the Tapas 9 and others on that fateful evening of 3 May 2007. There is the question of Tannerman carrying a child without using a blanket. That is followed by Kate’s whooshing curtains and clunking door. And around the same time there is Smithman, also with a child without a blanket.

If you are curious as to where the 12.37 comes in, here is the explanation. Portugal is in exactly the same time zone as the UK. When UK clocks went back in late October, so did Portuguese clocks, to maintain synchronicity. At Greenwich, the sun is overhead and due south at 12 noon. But Luz is further west than Greenwich, and the Earth has to rotate for a further 37 minutes, until it is due south here at 12.37. I can then use the sun as a compass when I am trying to work out wind direction.

It is time to look at what I have learned from this little experiment.

First, trying to remember that 12.37 is approaching and I need to take the readings is not a robust system. I have had ‘wobble factors’ of an hour and a half.

Second, buildings are a major source of interference in working out wind direction. If I stand near our villa, I get how the wind is being channelled rather than the true wind direction. Were Kate’s curtains/door from channelled wind?

Third, a once a day reading is well nigh useless. At 12.38 today, I recorded 90% sun. Within about an hour it clouded over considerably, and now at 16.00 it is 100% overcast and raining. I have been using the video of the McCanns being taken by car for interview #1 on the morning of 4 May as an indicator of the weather the evening before, but my experiment has proved how dangerous this is.

In the same vein, anyone promoting data that does not come from a proper, automated data gathering weather station is promoting rubbish. I might as well keep a diary and rely on my memory of how the day went. I got a lot of vitamin D on my trip to Spar this morning, and I’m glad I chose to go then, because if I was out in it now, I’d be wet, cold and miserable.

Fourth, I have learned that nature can help. My chosen spot away from the house has a couple of clumps of bulrushes. Compared with wetting my finger and doing a 360° turn the bulrushes are much better at telling me the wind direction.

It may that when we move I will buy an automated weather station, given that I now understand the basics of weather monitoring, and the futility of manual checks. Goodness only knows we will have a huge expanse of garden on which we are permitted to do very little. I don’t think I need permission for a small weather station.