Monday, 30 April 2012

Update - Funchal MusicFest 2012

Last Friday night some friends and I went to the Teatro Cafe for Coolfeel Band's gig and to find out which international band will head the bill at the forthcoming Funchal MusicFest in August.

The MC/DJ, who is part of the Festival organisation team, kept everyone in suspense throughout the night as to the identity of the visiting band.  We were asked to guess as videos of different bands were showing on the flat-screens.

Shouts of "Muse" "Skunk Anansie" and "Puddle Of Mudd" reverberated around, fuelled by rumours and the videos playing on screen.. A prize was offered for the person who guessed correctly, and since around 10 people chanted the correct name, one had to be handpicked.

Puddle Of Mudd, the rock band from Kansas City, USA, will be the main act of the Funchal Music Fest 2012.

Three nights of music by some of the most popular bands in Portugal capped by Puddle Of Mudd are eagerly anticipated by all. Tickets are reasonably priced at 20 euros for the three night event, so no excuse, everyone must attend.

Everyone, including those of you in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Sweden. And you all know who I'm referring to :)

RTP TV were doing the rounds, interviewing for the telly, and I was not surprised they made a bee-line for Lisandra Macedo - she looked even more beautiful than usual.

By 5am the crowd began to disperse, some going on to the clubs, some home, while I and Nathan strolled down to the sea front for a Vespas Burger.

By the way, Claudia and Isa are learning to play the guitar, and I , as their teacher, have set them a challenge. They will both perform at Warm Up, a song each, in 5 weeks time. Naturally they don't think they'll be ready but I know differently. They are making good progress after only one week. I will post the pics of the memorable event.


Friday, 27 April 2012

The town I love so well

I left the apartment at 13:30 and walked the half hour trip to the east side of town to meet up with a friend.  Funchal is a beautiful city, especially so when bathed in sunshine - the norm for at least 350 days a year.

The exotic scent from the various types of trees in bloom that line its avenues and adorn its gardens, encourages me to keep taking deep breaths, through my nose, filling my lungs and head with the sweet aromas that remind me of childhood.

The profusion of colour from the flowers, splashed across a canvas of white painted houses with ochre roof tiles, is a feast for my eyes. This is the little town I love so well.

Boa Vista - where I was born
I walked up the winding Rua Conde Carvalhal towards the house where I was born. I could almost hear the laughter of me as a child playing with friends. On the Boa Vista garden (pictured above) I sat on the wall and remembered the first time I held a girls hand. We were both 10 years old and were on our way home from the school play. She was beautiful and I wanted to kiss her but wasn't sure what or how to do it - so I did nothing but hold her hand.  I remember her face vividly but not her name. I wonder if she still remembers me? After our chat we went our separate ways and I ran at full speed, eager to get home and tell my older brother I had fallen in love. I didn't stop to cross the road and was nearly run over when a car appeared out of nowhere and screeched to a halt. But I felt no fear. I was young, in love and immortal.

When I'm feeling down all I need do is take a walk and admire the beauty of this piece of paradise - and reminisce.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A matter of life and death

On my last fishing trip, the sea reminded me once again of its colossal power and hidden dangers. Not for the first time I had to consider the possibility of attempting to swim to shore.

Although I was at the helm, I allowed my decision to move to calmer waters to be overruled by the two local fishermen in our party of four, and it won't happen again!

We reached the area of interest as the sea was picking up and the wind increasing. I didn't like the idea of setting anchor in rough seas but the pros assured me it was OK to do so. Half hour later I noticed an increase in the wind, and, turning to survey the sea to the west, realised the white-capped monster waves were racing towards us and would reach us in minutes.

I asked the others to pull up anchor but it soon became apparent they couldn't. It was stuck firm, wedged in the reef below us. I asked Jorge to take over the helm and steer the boat slowly around the rope and against the tide and the three of us would try to pry the anchor from the opposite direction.

Three pairs of hands took to pulling the half-inch nylon rope, taking care to avoid the propeller area and the boat proceeded to turn. As it did, the huge waves hit us side on, shoving the Bayliner 10 metres against the anchor pull. Catching us unawares and unable to slacken our grip in time, the rope whizzed out of our hands, taking the skin of my left knuckles with it.  The three of us struggled to keep our balance as the boat tilted sideways at a 45 degree angle, threatening to roll over. We just managed to stay aboard, release the anchor and sail to the nearest port.

Some years back, my father brother and I booked a fishing trip off the coast of Devon, England, and the experience left us contemplating giving up boat fishing altogether.

We arrived at Lee Bay to board and were told the skipper was off sick and that his teenage son would take us out instead. Not a promising start.

An hour into sailing and conditions changed - a storm hit the area. The young skipper decided to go back to Lee Bay and calmer waters, where we would fish until conditions improved. We sailed towards Mort Point, where a monster buoy served as a warning for the rocks just beneath the surface. The skipper underestimated the tide and wind force, and sailed too close to the buoy.

The huge kelp-covered buoy of about 20 meters in diameter and with nuts the size of car wheels around the waist must have weighed untold tons. Nevertheless, it was bobbing up and down on the waves like a beach ball in the surf. At times it was pushed so high on the waves it exposed the tree-trunk thick chain underneath that tethered it to the sea bed. As we got nearer, the skipper was frantically doing all he could to change course, but to no avail. We reached the buoy as it was riding high, above the boat by at least 5 meters and on its way down.  It hit the side of the trawler and cracked the hull. We thought we were done for, with no chance of swimming to shore under the conditions but miraculously the trawler righted itself and managed to sail to port, despite the water ingress.

On that occasion, the giant marker buoy of Mort Point nearly lived up to its name.

Sea fishing is dangerous but so is crossing the road.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

Chill at Warm Up

The Warm Up Cafe continues to be the place for socialising and producing music in Funchal. A regular crowd of around 30 people have become my dearest friends. Different music is played every night and all of life's topics are discussed over  a drink or two...or more. 

We're all wearing Johnny Walker promotional glasses - the
things we'll do for a free shot
Lisandra and I rehearsing for our future gigs

The crowd is made up mostly of musicians, with a smattering of TV and radio people. If you ever visit Funchal pop in and see us!


Monday, 16 April 2012

The dream stealer

The warmth of her body next to mine made me turn towards her, eyes shut, until I felt her smooth silk-like skin against my lips.

I instinctively moved in search of her mouth, my lips slightly parted in anticipation of the imminent pleasure of her kiss.

I whispered how much I love her just before our lips met. We kissed passionately and a tear rolled down my face, as if to witness first hand this most intimate of reunions. I momentarily wondered why I should weep, confused with my reaction in the presence of beauty and blissful love.

Her scent entered my body with every breath I took; her unique fragrance filling me with a sense of well-being and passion only she can invoke.

My eyes opened as her eyelids parted, displaying the crystal sparkling blue eyes that never fail to mesmerise me; eyes deep as an ocean I so yearn to immerse my whole being into.

I whispered my wish of never wanting us to be apart again. She responded likewise, with words of reconciliation. Another tear slid down my face, this one of pure relief and joy at the unfolding events.

A love like ours can never be compromised again, I said, never be taken for granted. She nodded in agreement and smiled - a smile so captivating, it compelled  me to stay locked in our embrace, frozen in time for all posterity.

The doorbell rang, a hideous sound that would raise the dead and stun the living. I stumbled to my feet, staggered to the door and picked up the intercom. It turned out to be someone looking for one of my neighbours. Wrong call. The dream stealer remained on the door step, unaware of his crime.

I slid back into bed, closed my eyes and hoped to resume the dream I dream about constantly in all my waking hours.

Anxious moments followed as I lay alone in my bed, longing to rejoin my beloved companion and once again feel the comfort of her presence.

My efforts to slip back into dreamland merely contributed to waking me up further. As I realised the chance had gone, probably forever, the tears returned, this time flowing profusely as if attempting to extinguish the flame that stills burns in my heart. A flame that, if left unchecked, threatens to consume it´s fragile host.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012


My present lifestyle of ample free time, music, sailing, fishing and socialising may seem enviable to some, but, although wonderful, it still leaves me unfulfilled.

My spare time, and that's a considerable chunk of any given week, is spent reading, voraciously and insatiably, as if escaping into the realms of fiction will tide me over until such time I can reclaim the life I long for.

When socialising with friends, something I treasure, I still feel a certain kind of loneliness. Having no real  partner leaves me with no fundamental alliance. Without a loving bond I feel like an astronaut barely tethered to his craft, liable to at any moment drift off into the limitless universe.

It is indeed good fortune to have good friends, likewise it is also - in my case - a misfortune to not have a "special" friend.

Presently, the women I'm interested in are not available and the women interested in me are not what I'm interested in.  This is a paradox, an emotional conundrum that needs addressing as soon as possible, if not sooner.

Oh yes, I can almost hear you say that matters of the heart seldom go to plan or schedule.  I accept that, with reticence, but mere acceptance does not alleviate the pangs of solitude.

You see, it is only when I'm in love that I allow life's ordinary tribulations to sink into insignificance - such as the ordinary tribulation of temporary loneliness.

One consolation though, is that I now have more time to write songs and the planned novel, and also to express myself in this very public but personal diary.


Sunday, 8 April 2012

A brief and totally forgettable encounter

Jorge and I drove off from an unusually wet an misty Funchal at 09:30 on our way to Calheta Marina, hoping the weather on the west side of the island would be more conducive with a day's fishing. It was, but only just.

We sat in the boat for about an hour, set up our rigs and asked the rain gods to give us a break.

An hour later the drizzle abated and we set off.  Rain clouds above bored down menacingly on us, threatening to drench us at any time.

An hour later I placed my sunglasses down by the rod holder while changing tackle and accidentally knocked them into the sea. Two gluh-gluhs and they vanished from sight, gobbled up by the deep blue. The Atlantic was in a taking mood yesterday; it refused to compensate for my loss by offering at least a few decent fish.

Had it been a sunny day I would have dived in after the shades, but the prospect of sailing for an hour back to port as wet as the miserable handful of undersized fish looking lost in the bucket, put me of the idea. 

A couple of hours later we were forced to give up and head back to the marina when the clouds above decided to relieve themselves all over us, soaking us to the bone.

No sunglasses no fish and no dry clothes.

In Madeira we get around 320 sailing days per year - I know - but still..


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A brief and unforgettable encounter

I was half way through last night´s performance at The Hole In One Pub when, what appeared to be a mother and daughter, sat at the table directly in front of me. The daughter was stunningly beautiful

I was singing but instantly noticed both her elegance and that all eyes were on her.

She wore a pink, figure-hugging dress that showed off her recently-acquired tan and the kind of stunning, perfect figure, one rarely sees.

Camilla, as I later found out, hails from Norway, is blonde and blue-eyed, extremely beautiful and loves Irish music.

I noticed her singing along to Saw Doctor's "I have fallen for another"  and immediately knew I had to get to know her and  find out the source of her knowledge of Gaelic songs.

Every time I looked at her, which was constantly, she was looking at me -obviously because I was performing- but it completely knocked me off my stride, making me forget the lyrics of songs I've sang a million times.

Camilla then asked the waiter for pen and paper, looked at me and jotted down something. The first thought that entered my mind was that it would be her phone number. Well, it happens quite a lot in my line of work. As the song ended, Camilla handed me the note and my heart fluttered in anticipation. It was a request for several Irish songs, one of which I knew the lyrics. I proceeded to sing "The Fields Of Athenrye" and couldn't wait to end the set and talk to her.

I sat at their table and we chatted. Camilla's knowledge of Irish music is due to her mother always having been a fan.

At around 12:00, some thirty minutes after I stopped playing, the three of us walked to the Warm Up Cafe for a continuation of our chat and a few more drinks.

An hour later, Camilla's mum decided she wanted to go back to the hotel to be ready and fresh for the 9 am trip to the airport and to my delight, Camilla decided to stay with me a little longer. I promised her mum I'd make sure Camilla got back to the hotel safe and sound. We continued chatting and drinking.

Camilla told me all about her travels, her charity work in Ghana and even her past crushes and relationships. And also that she was single.

At 6 am, the bar staff called time and we decided to walk back the 15 minute trip to the hotel. Camilla was still beaming, fresh as a daisy, despite the numerous cocktails.

As we walked back through the quiet streets of Funchal, arm-in-arm for support, I thought of the strangeness of having only just met someone but conversing like old friends.

Outside the hotel, Camilla suggested we sat at a bench and chatted some more.  The birds were singing their dawn cacophony, the temperature was warm and I heaven. Camilla held my hand and didn't release it  until it was time to go.

With only a couple of hours until her trip to the airport, it was time to call it a night. We hugged for absolute ages, said our goodbyes and she walked into the hotel and out of my life.

It´s now down to FaceBook contact until her return. She has promised to visit again within months. I sincerely hope so.

Next Monday's gig at the "Hole in One" won't be the same without her - of that, I am most certain.

So long, sweet and kind and beautiful Camilla. It has been a great pleasure knowing you. I just wish I could get to know you better.

Klemmer og kysser Camilla - Jeg savner deg