sábado, 19 de maio de 2018

Madeira Blueberry (Vaccinium Padifolium)

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Vaccinium Padifolium (Madeira blueberry) is very common at elevations between 800 and 1,700 metres (2,600 and 5,600 ft). It grows mainly in crevices and exposed slopes and mountain plains. Fruits are used in preserves. It is endemic to the islands of Madeira and Porto SantoPortugal.
It is a semi-evergreen scrub to small tree 1.5–6 m tall. New branches are generally reddish and pubescent. Leaves are often flushed dark red in autumn 2.5–7 × 1–2(2.5) cm, oblong to elliptic, acute to acuminatepetiole short, pubescent. Calyx 3–4 mm, with five short, broad lobes up to 1.5 mm. Flowers on curved pedicels in erect, axillary, bracteate racemes. Corolla, 7–10 mm, globose to campanulate, the lobes very short. There are often five broad rose stripes on the white corolla. Berries up to 12 × 10 mm, ripening blue-black.
The blue color of the berries is due to anthocyanins (Delphinidin 3-O-α-rhamnoside and anthocyanins triglycosides).

Cory’s Shearwater (Calonectris borealis)

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The Cory's shearwater (Calonectris borealis) is a large shearwater in the seabird family Procellariidae. The genus name Calonectris comes from Ancient Greek kalos, "good" and nectris, "swimmer", and borealis is Latin for "northern". The English name is for the American ornithologist Charles B. Cory.

This species breeds on Madeira, the Azores and the Berlengas Archipelago in Portugal and the Canary Islands in Spain. They nest on open ground or among rocks or less often in a burrow where one white egg is laid. The burrow is visited at night to minimise predation from large gulls. In late summer and autumn, most birds migrate into the Atlantic as far north as the south-western coasts of Great Britain and Ireland. They return to the Mediterranean in February. The biggest colony is located in Savage Islands, Madeira.
This bird flies with long glides, and always with wings bowed and angled slightly back, unlike the stiff, straight-winged flight of the similarly sized great shearwater.
Cory's shearwater feeds on fishmolluscs and offal, and can dive deep (50 ft (15 m) or more) in search of prey. It readily follows fishing boats, where it indulges in noisy squabbles. This is a gregarious species, which can be seen in large numbers from ships or appropriate headlands. The Bay of Biscay ferries are particularly good for this species. It is silent at sea, but at night the breeding colonies are alive with raucous cackling calls.

This shearwater is identifiable by its size, at 45–56 cm (18–22 in) in length and with a 112–126 cm (44–50 in) wingspan. It has brownish-grey upperparts, white underparts and a yellowish bill. It lacks the brown belly patch, dark shoulder markings and black cap of the great shearwater.

Once considered two subspecies, (the Mediterranean C. d. diomedea, and the Atlantic C. d. borealis), Scopoli's shearwater and Cory's shearwater are now split into two distinct species. They are similar in appearance, although the Atlantic form is larger with a stouter bill. They are best distinguished by the pattern of the underwing.
The Cape Verde shearwater C. edwardsii (Oustalet, 1883) was once considered a subspecies of Cory's shearwater but has recently been split off as a separate species (Snow, Perrins & Gillmor 1998). It is endemic to the Cape Verde Islands. It has an all dark, slim bill, and darker head and upperparts than Cory's. The flight has been described as rather more typically shearwater-like than the Cory's, with stiffer and more rapid wing beats.

quinta-feira, 17 de maio de 2018

MIa Couto

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António Emílio Leite Couto (born 5 July 1955), better known as Mia Couto, is a Mozambican writer and the winner of the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. He was the host of the sixth edition of the Literary Festival of Madeira, which took place in April 2016.
Couto was born in the city of BeiraMozambique's second largest city, where he was also raised and schooled. He is the son of Portuguese emigrants who moved to the Portuguese colony in the 1950s. When he was 14, some of his poetry was published in a local newspaper, Notícias da Beira. Three years later, in 1971, he moved to the capital Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) and began to study medicine at the University of Lourenço Marques. During this time, the anti-colonial guerrilla and political movement FRELIMO was struggling to overthrow the Portuguese colonial rule in Mozambique.
In April 1974, after the Carnation Revolution in Lisbon and the overthrow of the Estado Novo regime, Mozambique was about to become an independent republic. In 1974, FRELIMO asked Couto to suspend his studies for a year to work as a journalist for Tribuna until September 1975 and then as the director of the newly created Mozambique Information Agency (AIM). Later, he ran Tempo magazine until 1981. His first book of poems, Raiz de Orvalho, was published in 1983; it included texts aimed against the dominance of Marxist militant propaganda. Couto continued working for the newspaper Notícias until 1985 when he resigned to finish his course of study in biology.
Not only is Mia Couto considered one of the most important writers in Mozambique, but his works have been published in more than 20 countries and in various languages, including Portuguese, English, French, German, Czech, Italian, SerbianCatalan and Estonian. In many of his texts, he undertakes to recreate the Portuguese language by infusing it with regional vocabulary and structures from Mozambique, thus producing a new model for the African narrative. Stylistically, his writing is influenced by magical realism, a movement popular in modern Latin American literatures, and his use of language is reminiscent of the Brazilian writer João Guimarães Rosa, but also deeply influenced by the baiano writer Jorge Amado. He has been noted for creating proverbs, sometimes known as "improverbs", in his fiction, as well as riddles, legends, metaphors, giving his work a poetic dimension.
An international jury at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair named his first novel, Terra Sonâmbula (Sleepwalking Land), one of the best 12 African books of the 20th century. In 2007, he became the first African author to win the prestigious Latin Union literary prize, which has been awarded annually in Italy since 1990. Mia Couto became only the fourth writer in the Portuguese language to take home this prestigious award, having competed against authors from Portugal, France, Colombia, Spain, Italy, and Senegal. Currently, he is a biologist employed by the Limpopo Transfrontier Park while continuing his work on other writing projects.
Awards and honours include the 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the 2013 Camões Prize and the 2007 Latin Union Prize.

domingo, 13 de maio de 2018

Madeira Cable Car

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You’ll find that there are plenty of things to see and do in Funchal. Some of the city’s most worthwhile attractions are way above sea level and best reached by cable car, but the journey is part of the fun. 
The route of the cable car was chosen to replace the old Monte Railway which ran from 1886-1943. Construction of the cable car system began in September 1999; it was opened in November 2000 and has been in service since then. The bottom station is located at Almirante Reis Park in central Funchal. The length of the cable car line is 3,718 m and the height difference 560 m; the journey takes approximately 15 minutes. The cableway has over 39 cabins with 8 seats each, and can transport up to 800 passengers per hour.
On the ride up to Monte, enjoy the amazing view of Funchal bay and surrounding landscape. Upon exiting the Monte station there is a snack bar and souvenir shop.

Monte Cable Car Facts:

  • Travels safely between the Campo de Almirante Reis station and Monte Station
  • 39 cabins with a capacity for 8 passengers
  • A one-way trip is about 3,700 meters and takes approximately 15 minutes
  • Stunning views of Funchal
  • Many surrounding attractions to visit
  • Snack Bar available
  • Gift Shops available

For Further Information:

Monte Cable Car Visitor Information:
Tel: 291 780 280 and Fax: 291 780281
Open daily from 09h30 to 17h45

domingo, 18 de março de 2018

The Cannons of Faial

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Built in the early twentieth century, the area in which ten cannons keep watch was never considered a fortress, but rather a local watch against invaders, or gazebo for visitors. It is a simple recreation of a military battery which includes ten eighteenth century English cannons. The cannons belonged to Mr. João Catanho Meneses (1854-1942) who was a famous politician and lawyer who served under the Progressive Party of the early twentieth century. The cannons were originally from British ships which were eventually dismantled. The cannons were left abandoned along the northern coast of Madeira’s coastline until the Meneses Family decided to collect them all and gather them up in their estate. It became a tradition to fire the cannons during the festivities dedicated to Our Lady of the Nativity. In due time, the government forbade the firing of such weapons due to the fact that it was regarded as a security threat.  The cannons were eventually turned over to the jurisdiction of the Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs and recognized as a ‘cultural heritage’ by the local government in 1996.
As a tourist and local attraction the fortress area provides breathtaking views of a large stretch of the coastline, the center of Faial and, on clear days, Porto Santo, the Serra da Penha d' Águia and the northern part of Ponta de São Lourenço.

segunda-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2018

The Convent of Santa Clara

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The walls of the Santa Clara Convent separate the world from one of the oldest religious orders in Madeira. This convent was founded in 1496 by João Gonçalves de Câmara, Zarco’s (discoverer of the island) grandchild. Dona Isabella, Zarco's granddaughter, was its first Abbess. She established an aristocratic tradition which ensured the wealth of the convent. After her, many wealthy families’ daughters were forced to take "vows" when they were of age. It was such vows that supposedly provided spiritual benefits to them and their families.
The Convent of Santa Clara was rebuilt in the seventeenth century over the foundation of a fifteenth century chapel, where the remains of the first three governors of Madeira are believed to be buried. It includes a courtyard and a chapel, which exhibits an array of spectacular paintings, sculptures and tiles. 
In 1566, French pirates under the command of Bertrand Montluc pillaged the city of Funchal for fourteen days. The nuns had to abandon the Convent and took refuge in Curral das Freiras, or Nuns' Valley, taking with them a "monstrance", which in Roman Catholicism refers to an open or transparent receptacle adorned with precious stones in which the consecrated Host is displayed for veneration. 
Towards the end of the sixteenth century there were about seventy nuns. By the seventeenth century that number rose to one hundred and thirty.  
In 1896, the state handed the Convent over to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, which opened its doors for worship, as well as to shelter the poor.
Nowadays, the nuns run a kindergarten. It is possible to book guided tours to visit the convent, 
The Convent of Santa Clara is classified as a National Monument.

Opening hours: Monday - Saturday, 10:00 - 12:00 / 15:00 - 17:00
Closed: Sunday and Public Holidays
Contact: Calçada de Santa Clara 15, 9000-036 Funchal / 291 742 602

sábado, 20 de janeiro de 2018

Custard Apple Exhibition

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Every year, at the end of February, the Faial Community Centre and the Farmers Association promote the annual Regional Custard Apple Exhibition (Exposição Regional da Anona), in partnership with the Regional Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources and the Municipal Council of Santana. It is held in the parish of Faial and the event aims to support the production of this fruit and its derivatives, such as liqueurs, puddings, ice cream and milkshakes. This festivity provides plenty of entertainment, music, contests, food and beverages.