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Sunday 12th December 2021Blog from the Edge, 18

Here’s Alison’s new blog, as we enjoy the build up to our first Christmas in Madeira.


Poinsettias, Paintings and the Pool


Well Christmas has arrived, Madeiran style. Madeirans certainly go to town on their lights - and nativity scenes!  We haven’t yet ventured into Funchal to see the lights there, but Ribeira Brava is definitely bright!  We have our own cheerful patch of poinsettias in the garden, interspersed with red roses and lots of herbs.  It does seem a bit incongruous viewing of all these Christmas images against a backdrop of blue sky and warm sunshine 🌞 although there have been a few cold days and some rain, resulting in masses of weeds sprouting up overnight (my job!).


Work on the pool continues. Jose decided not to work in Funchal 🤗. After a mishap with the chute for the concrete, which led to wet concrete spilling everywhere, the chute is now in working order: the floor to the pool is in, the pipe work is there for the pump and shuttering is going up for the concrete sides.  It is very much a building site!


Paul has been extremely busy working on my sister’s two commissions and they are almost completed.  They are stunning and will look beautiful in situ alongside ‘Brides Veil Waterfall’. Read here to find about about visiting Madeira - from Love Holidays - https://www.loveholidays.com/holidays/explore-the-best-of-madeira/


We managed to get our booster covid jabs, and a flu jab for me, yesterday at the local health centre in Ribeira Brava, but we still await our residency cards 😳.


We have slotted in a few bimbling trips (courtesy of Paulo and Kate and Jay) and we have ventured to Furna (a village above us - with Poncha stops on the way down!), Ponta do Sol (for painting research) and Fanal in the north, famous for its old laurel trees.  This unfortunately was an abandoned trip, because of absolutely torrential rain when we arrived there (a visit for another day definitely) so we ended up in Paul do Mar to dry out and enjoy a spot of lunch. 

Posted on December 12th 2021 on 11:34am

Monday 15th November 2021Blog from the Edge - 17

Here's the latest blog from Alison, with news of our how pool is progressing, our travels on the island - and my current painting.
Pool Progress and Paintings
Since my last blog, family and friends have been and gone and all are much missed! When they are here, it’s the perfect excuse to get out and about and see more of this beautiful island.
I actually can’t believe that Christmas is just around the corner, mainly because the weather belies what is in my mind. It’s so different to what I am used to.  Nights are definitely cooler now and the days often have a cool breeze blowing, although the temperatures are still warm at around 24C. On our last trip to the mountains, it was definitely more autumnal, with brown ferns and autumn leaves everywhere.
Work continues on our pool, but will be on hold from the 26th of this month until the new year as Jose has a job with Bar Rio, manning a Christmas stall in Funchal. The guys all work so hard.  Paul’s main job is to keep the beer fridge well stocked!  
Jose comes up with some great ideas: for example, the smaller of our two Levada water tanks is down at garden level and we don’t really need it. Jose suggested it be emptied and used to house all the workings for the pool.  It took 2.5 hrs to empty it. (The banana plantation below us got a bonus soaking 🤣.) The space is enormous, so we are also going to use it as a potting room and Paul’s DIY tool den.   This frees up the two cellar rooms on the pool terrace, which we are currently using for this purpose. Ideas are forming to transform them into a pool bar and rest room 🤗. Because of lack of access, a makeshift chute has been erected from the top and down through the orchard ready for the concrete.  The pool at the moment resembles an iron cage as per photo!
While the pool work is going on, Paul is busy painting. At the moment, he is working on my sister’s two commissions.  
We have become acquainted with Kate and Jay, a lovely couple from London who live close by and who have been here for over a year now. They got stuck here on holiday during Covid and just decided to stay permanently, buy somewhere and work remotely.  They know other ex-pats so we are all getting together on Friday for a meal in Calhetta which we’re looking forward to.
Next week sees a meeting with our lawyer to try and sort out our residency situation 🤞. Once this is done, we’ll be able to travel back and forth from the UK - Brexit changed all the rules!

Posted on November 15th 2021 on 02:42pm

Monday 06th September 2021Blog from the Edge - 10

Here’s Blog from the Edge number 10 from Alison - a good insight into exploring Funchal for those of you who are planning a visit in the future.


Friends in the City


This week was highlighted by a lovely visit from friends who were staying in their favourite hotel in Funchal (Porto Santa Maria situated on the sea front, next to the old fort). 


We decided to return the visit before their week was up and rather than taking the 20 minute taxi ride to them, we decided we would take the local bus.  This was a Sunday and the ‘Rapido’ service doesn’t run on this day, so a full 1.5 hrs later, we arrived!


It was a lovely ride - twisting and turning up and down through numerous little villages along the way to Funchal, with fantastic views - for the princely sum of 3.35 euros each. We dodged heavy showers all day - a good excuse to shelter under cafe/bar umbrellas 🤣 - but even in the rain it was still warm and beautiful.  After a memorable chateaubriand for the men and fish for the girls it was getting a bit late (and dark), so we decided that a taxi back was the sensible option!   


Other days this week saw us putting in a few sweaty hours clearing my sister and brother-in-law’s garden in preparation of their impending visit to their holiday villa at the end of the month. A cooling dip in their pool was our reward after!  Their two mango trees were laden and so had to be picked - mango chutney on the hob this week, I think!  Also a walk up the hillside above our house revealed a mixture of impressive new villas mixed in with a smattering of the old.  Possible inspiration for future paintings for Paul perhaps?

Posted on September 06th 2021 on 11:47am

Monday 19th July 2021Blog from The Edge - 3

Alison’s third Blog from the Edge is below. The Edge is the name of our house in Madeira. 





Precious water - you realise the importance of it when you haven’t got it! After 2 weeks of a mere cold trickle for a shower, we now have 2 super duper brand new showers, spilling out powerful jets of hot water. It turns out that there was a fault on the solar panel and the filter was clogged.


Outside, Paulo our lovely neighbour, delivered the lesson of the Levada system to us. We get a time slot every week to fill our 2 water tanks - to be used for the gardens.  He gained permission for us to get an extra flow to flood the orchard where we’re going to plant numerous fruit trees.  


This week will see us burning all the debris from the orchard and garden in a makeshift incinerator (we’re not allowed to burn without one), then there’ll be lots of weeding - and finally planting.  


So far we have purchased a range of fruit trees:

3 lemon, 3 lime, 2 avocado, 1 orange, 1 guava, 1 fig, 1 olive, 1 grapefruit, and we’re waiting for 3 mango trees 😊. We already have a few banana trees.  Can’t wait to get planting!




Posted on July 19th 2021 on 11:24am

Tuesday 15th December 2020Green Windowsill

'Green Windowsill’ - is a bare, wintry scene, with the leaves off the ash tree outside. The old farmhouse was near to to Riddlehamhope, across Devils Water and along a track, towards Allendale. The farm is below the brow of a hill, a cold, exposed setting, with magnificent views towards Rookhope. 


The verdigris on the windowsill was caused by the ingress of damp, as the glass had come out of the windows. The sash cords had snapped. The whole scene was lit up by the gleam of natural light in the foreground.

Posted on December 15th 2020 on 11:47am

Wednesday 25th November 2020Loft, Old Madeiran Cottage

This atmospheric loft was in a derelict cottage just behind the house and studio in Madeira I’ll be moving to. You can see a broken bed up in the eaves - it must have been hot as hell trying to sleep there in the summer, and there are no windows in the two rooms downstairs. I only saw this in August - and most of the building has now been destroyed. This painting is a work in progress - very close to being finished.
You can also see a mysterious chest in the bottom right of this painting. I never remove or move what I find in the abandoned houses I paint - but this chest must be matchsticks by now! 

Posted on November 25th 2020 on 01:17pm

Wednesday 25th November 2020Himalayan Prayer Flags

I think ‘Himalayan Prayer Flags’ is one of the best paintings I have ever done, and capturing the fragile, fluttering flags in watercolour took many months.  The flags were in Triund, about 10 000 feet up into the Himalayan mountains, close to where I lived. The wind blows the prayers down the valleys and they gradually bleach out and disintegrate. 

The couple who own the original watercolour have been living in Geneva, and were kind enough to meet up with me recently so that I could have the painting scanned for prints. I lived in New Zealand when I painted this and didn't have resources to scan for prints. 



Posted on November 25th 2020 on 12:46pm

Tuesday 25th August 2020Madeira Move

 This article in the Tyne Valley Express tells of our move to Madeira and my latest painting, 'Homage to Riddlehamhope'. We hope to arrive in Madeira in time for the island's flower festival in September. We will be working on a new gallery there this autumn, and I have a separate studio to paint from, looking over the sea. For anyone wishing to visit the gallery, there is a small hotel just five minutes' walk away.

Posted on August 25th 2020 on 10:50am

Tuesday 25th August 2020Homage to Riddlehamhope Sequence

These photographs show the progression of my painting of the former hunting lodge at Riddlehamhope. I've been drawn to paint this atmospheric building several times. It has recently been demolished completely.

Posted on August 25th 2020 on 10:43am

Tuesday 21st July 2020Prudhoe Gallery in Kingfisher Northumberland Guide

You may spot the gallery in the latest Kingfisher hardback guide to Northumberland, which is full of information on galleries, restaurants, country houses and more to visit in our area.

Posted on July 21st 2020 on 03:15pm
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