Burnt rather than baptised

COGGESHALL IN ESSEX is an attractive place to visit. The small town contains over 300 buildings of historical interest, all of which have given protected status. Amongst these is Paycockes House, which I will describe another day. One of the many other old buildings in the centre of the town is a large house, once the home of Thomas Hawkes.

House of Thomas Hawkes in Coggeshall

Hawkes was a retainer of John de Vere (1516-1562), the 16th Earl of Oxford, who became a supporter of the Roman Catholic Queen Mary, who became the monarch in 1553 (following the deaths of the Protestant King Edward VI and the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey). Mary decreed that England should return to Roman Catholicism and the Earl of Oxford concurred with this.

Thomas Hawkes, a fervent Protestant, decided to leave his ‘employer’, who had become sympathetic to Mary’s religious cause. He returned to his home (known as ‘Constantynes’) in the centre of Coggeshall. Unwilling to partake in any Roman Catholic practices and a vocal opposer of that branch of Christianity, Hawkes soon became regarded as heretic by the Catholic authorities.

Under great suspicion by those then in power, Hawkes did something that got him into really bad trouble: he refused to have his newly born son baptised into the Catholic faith. He was arrested and taken to Newgate Prison in London. From there, he was taken to the palace of Bishop Edmund Bonner (c1500-1569) several times, and asked to recant. Having refused each time, on the 9th of February 1555, Bonner condemned him to be burnt at the stake. After Bonner had given him one last chance to recant, he is believed to have said:

“No, my lord, that I will not; for if I had a hundred bodies, I would suffer them all to be torn in pieces, rather than I will abjure or recant.” (https://coggeshallmuseum.org/thomas-hawkes/)

 After some months, Hawkes was taken to Coggeshall, where on the 10th of June 1555 he was burnt at the stake.

Hawke’s house still stands and is marked with a commemorative plaque. It was built in the mid-15th century, but has been much modified since then.

Dwarfed by a cruise ship

DURING THE ELEVEN days we spent in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, the city was visited by two enormous cruise ships. Resembling huge blocks of flats (apartments, my North American friends!) floating on water, they arrived in the port at night, remained a whole day, and then departed the next evening.

When these vessels disgorge their cargos of tourists, the centre of Funchal becomes crowded; the queue t the cable-car grows longer; and the frequency at which toboggans slide down from the Monte increases.

The port at Funchal is designed to accommodate these ‘humungous’ people carriers, so their arrival does not have the same damaging effect (on buildings and the shoreline) as is created by them in Venice (Italy). Cruising in vessels of this size appeals to many but not to me.

When the writing is over, the hard work begins

I HAVE BEEN working on the manuscript for a new book, which I plan to publish. I will not reveal what I am writing about … at least, not yet!

As I have been doing for the last few years, I write my text on Microsoft Word, and then re-read it several times, revising and correcting errors of fact, spelling, and grammar. At this stage, I am not too fussed about formatting because this has to be done using other software.

To upload a manuscript to publishers like lulu.com and Amazon KDP, it is best – if not essential – to prepare the final manuscript as a formatted .pdf file. The characteristics of the file need to match what will eventually appear on the printed page. Currently, I am using Serif’s Affinity Publisher software, which is a bit fiddly at first, but it does not take long to get used to it (there are many useful tutorial videos on-line) Using a preformatted template appropriate to the size of book to be produced, I flow my Word text into the Affinity software.

Screenshot from my Affinity Publisher

Once it is in the software, each page shows what will eventually appear on each page of the finished book. Using Affinity, I can add illustrations, add page numbers (which change if additional pages are added), an index, and more. I can also edit my text further and shift the formatting of the pages and the spaces between paragraphs to suit me. This stage of the book production is time-consuming but important.

When, eventually, I am happy with what I have produced, I can export the entire book as a .pdf file. This can then be uploaded to the printer’s website, be it lulu.com, Amazon, or another.

Although the writing can be difficult at times, the final formatting of the book to produce a suitable .pdf, which will ensure that everything is in the right place in the printed book is quite demanding but worthwhile at the ‘end of the day’.

Amongst the agapanthus

We visited Funchal in Madeira in early June 2022. Although we were recommended to visit some of the numerous botanical gardens in and around the city, it was hardly necessary. I do not think that I have ever visited a place filled with such a profusion of flowers as is the case for Funchal. The whole city seems to be one great garden.

During our visit, we were in time to see a vast number of blue flowered agapanthus plants. Although they are commonly known as ‘lily of the Nile’ or ‘African lily, they are not of the lily family. They are members of the Asparagales order of plants, a part of the Asparagus genus. Had I not seen so many of these flowers in Funchal, I might never have bothered to find out anything about them. As the saying goes, travel broadens the mind.

Eyes facing the ocean from Madeira

STARING OUT TO sea at Calheta on the Portuguese island of Madeira is a bronze bust of a man wearing 18th century clothing and a bow tie. The sculpture depicts Sebastián Francisco de Miranda y Rodríguez de Espinoza (1750-1816). Born in Caracas in what is now Venezuela, Miranda became a military leader and a revolutionary fighting for his country’s liberation from Spanish rule. Regarded by many as the forerunner of Simon Bolivar (1783-1830), the great liberator of several Spanish South American colonies and born in Caracas, Miranda ended his life in a Spanish prison in Cadiz.

The plaque below the bust in Calheta records (translated from the Portuguese on a website: https://statues.vanderkrogt.net/object.php?record=ptma108):

“The Sons of the municipality of Calheta in the lands of Venezuela at the bicentenary of the Independence in honour of its precursor ‘Generalisimo, Sebastian Francisco de Miranda’ ‘The most universal Venezuelan’”

I interpret this as meaning that the bust was erected by descendants of people from Calheta, who had emigrated to Venezuela.

The bust was created by the Venezuelan sculptor Julio César Briceño Andrade, who was born in Caracas in 1950. It was unveiled in Calheta by Lucas Rincón Romero, the Venezuelan Ambassador to Portugal, on the 5th  July 2011.

Miranda was the son of a man, who had migrated to Venezuela from the Spanish Canary Islands. His mother was born in Venezuela. Although, he crossed the Atlantic several times, I do not know whether Miranda ever set foot on the island of Madeira.

Like those from Calheta, who migrated to Venezuela, many others have migrated from Madeira to various parts of the world over the years. I have been told that many of the Portuguese speakers in South Africa had their roots in Madeira. Having seen the bust in Calheta, clearly Venezuela was another destination.

Now, with difficulties that Venezuela has been facing, some its citizens with Madeiran heritage are returning to the island as can be seen in an article published on-line (www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/madeira-an-island-of-refuge-for-venezuelans-of-portuguese-origin/):

“No one knows the exact figure but the authorities in Madeira consider that about 6,000 Venezuelans of Portuguese descent have taken refuge on their island, where they found themselves in an extremely precarious situation. “They arrive with nothing, many are sick, these are people lacking a great deal,” said the President of the Portuguese archipelago, Miguel Albuquerque. These people are second or third generation Portuguese, descendants of those who left Madeira decades ago in search of a better life in Venezuela. They are now making the opposite journey.”

Reading this made me think about South Africa, to which many Europeans, including my parents’ families, travelled in search of a better life. After the ending of apartheid, many of their descendants have left the country because they had become concerned about their futures in a land where Europeans no longer hold the upper hand.

A giant aircraft in Lisbon

WHILE AWAITING TAKE-OFF from Lisbon’s main airport, our aeroplane was ‘parked’ beside the largest aircraft I have ever seen. Operated by Maximus Air Cargo company, its nose was pointing upwards towards the sky. It was being loaded with freight through an enormous aperture at its front end. The aeroplane was so large that it dwarfed the numerous workers around it and the forklift trucks being used to load its cargo. Even the Airbus 320 craft standing nearby seemed tiny in comparison. As we had to wait for what seemed like ages before we taxied to the runway for take-off, I had plenty of time to stare at it and to take photographs through the window next to my seat. My curiosity increased when I observed that the ‘plane had its make written on the raised section of its nose: Antonov 124-100.

The Antonov aircraft were built mainly during the years that the Soviet Union was in existence. The company that built these freight carrying ‘planes is named after the aircraft designer Oleg Konstantinovich Antonov (1906-1984). Born in the Moscow region, he was the son of a civil engineer. From 1923 onwards, he was deeply involved in aircraft engineering and design. By 1938, he was the leading designer in the aircraft plant headed up by AS Yakovlev (www.antonov.com/en/biography). And in May 1946, he headed up his own aircraft design plant, based in Novosibirsk. By 1948, ‘planes designed by Antonov and his team were being manufactured in Kiev (Kyiv in what is now Ukraine). In 1952, Antonov and his design bureau moved to Kiev. Antonov’s team began designing the AN 124 heavy transport aircraft in the early 1970s. The AN 124’s maiden flight was in 1982, but the vehicle only became known to the world at large when it was exhibited at the Paris Air Show in 1985. The AN 124s were produced at two factories: one in Ulyanovsk (now in Russia) and the other at Kiev (now in Ukraine). One special feature of the AN 24’s design is that its landing gear with 24 wheels is designed both for landing on rough terrain and to enable the ‘plane to kneel down so that its front entrance can be lowered to make loading and unloading easier.  About 55 of the AN 124 craft were built between 1982 and 2004.  According the uk.flightaware.com website, the AN 124 (registration UR-ZYD), which we saw on the 17th of June 2022 had flown from Leipzig to Lisbon that day and was about to fly on to Cairo (Egypt). It flew to Kigali (Rwanda) from Cairo on the 18th of June. Another website ( www.planespotters.net/airframe/antonov-an-124-ur-zyd-maximus-air-cargo/ejn4jx) revealed that UR-ZYD was built just over 18 years ago, in about 2013/14, making it one of the last to be built.

Maximus Air Cargo, which operates the AN 124, which I saw, is an Abu Dhabi based company, which specialises in transporting larger than usual objects. The company owns one Antonov 124-100, about which its website (www.maximus-air.com/fleet/antonov-124-100) noted:

“The heaviest of the heavyweight cargo lifters. It has a unique self-contained multiple winch and overhead crane system capable of self loading / unloading 120 tonne from front or rear. Can carry 21x Toyota Land Cruisers or 4 x Mi 17 MTV Helicopters without breaking a sweat.”

The aircraft’s maximum range is 6710 nautical miles (‘nm’), but when it is carrying its maximal pay load (120,000 Kg), this reduces to 2420 nm.

I had heard of the Antonov aircraft before, but the example I saw in Lisbon is the first I have seen ‘in the flesh’. I found that seeing this giant was very exciting.

Black and white beneath your feet

WHEN WALKING IN central Funchal, it is worth looking down at the pavements. Like those in Lisbon and other towns in Portugal, their surfaces are covered with small black and white stones arranged to create pleasing patterns. I imagine that these compositions created using irregularly sized stones must be laid by hand rather than by using a machine.

Funchal

Often the stones are laid on the pavements as well as on large open spaces in such a way that fascinating optical effects are achieved. By making such lovely places on which to walk, the cities and towns become beautiful in whichever direction you look.

Rum and cane in Madeira

CALHETA IS A COASTAL town in Madeira about 1.5 hours drive west of the capital, Funchal. We went there for an outing to see something of Madeira away from its capital. While there we saw an interesting factory-cum-museum.

The island of Madeira was once a major producer of sugar cane. Some of the work was performed by black slaves, but unlike other places such as Brazil, the slaves in Madeira tended to be ‘employed ‘ as domestics and builders. Today, sugar cane is till grown in Madeira,  but the workers are local Madeirans.

Cane pressing machinery in Calheta

In Calheta,there is an enterprise called Sociedad dos Enghennos da Calheta. This is a factory where sugar cane is crushed between rollers to extract the sugar cane juice.  The juice is fermented in the factory to produce rum. It is also processed to make molasses. The place also makes traditional Madeiran cake called Bolo de Mel and soecial biscuits. All of these products can be sampled and bought at the factory. Visitors are free to wander around the factory and its attached museum, which contains a fine collection of vintage industrial machinery.

As with other museums we have seen in Madeira, the exhibits are well displayed. Although the main attraction of Calheta is its sandy beach – the only one in Madeira: it is created using sand imported from North Africa, the rum and cane factory/museum is well worth a visit.

A lady from Lichtenstein

FUNCHAL IN MADEIRA is famed for its glorious gardens, which can be visited by members of the public. Actually, the whole city is filled with so many flowering plants and trees that it is almost like a huge garden. Nevertheless, we decided to see one of the gardens  for which the city is known. We chose the Palheiro Gardens, which are located about 500 metres above sea level.

To reach the gardens, we took local bus number 37 from the Pingo, a square near the  Mercatos Lavradores. While waiting for the bus to depart, we began chatting with another passenger, a lady who spoke English with a Germanic accent, who last visited the Palheiro 18 years ago. It turned out that she is from Lichtenstein. As far as I can recall, she is the first person from that tiny country next to Switzerland with whom I have ever spoken.

The bus trip up to the Palheiro is spectacular. The road winds ever upwards along the edges of deep ravines. As the road ascends, there are many dramatic views of Funchal and its bay.

The gardens are well-tended and are laid out in a seemingly informal way, in the English garden style. The gardens flourish on slopes overlooking the city far below and a golf course nearby. I do not know enough about trees and flowers, but suffice it to say that the place provides a colourful feast for the eyes.

The Palheiro gardens are laid out in the former estate of the wealthy Count of Carvalhal. The place was purchased in 1885 by the Blandys, a family of British entrepreneurs, bankers, makers of Madeira wine, and merchants who have been important in the development of Madeira’s economy. Part of the gardens retain features laid out by the Count in the 18th century, but much of the rest of the grounds have been developed since then.

Being at about 500 metres,  the garden is noticeably cooler than in the centre of Funchal.  In fact, during our visit, we were close to the clouds and occasionally felt the moisture contained within them. I am pleased that we visited the Palheiro, but feel that given the profusion of lovely plants all around Funchal, I wonder whether visiting gardens like this one is a ‘must do’ activity unless you have a special interest in gardens and gardening.

The journey between Funchal and Palheiro and my first meeting with a person from Lichtenstein enhanced my trip to the gardens.