Results Day 1 | Results Day 2 | Results Day 3
A large DrongO trip, peaking at 15 people, headed out to Madeira for Ben and Zuzka's wedding present, a week-long "DrongO Honeymoon". Most people arrived on Saturday evening and we went to our accommodation, a large and rather nice building with a view over the sea in one direction, a view over a go-kart track in the other, and a massive bear-rug in the cupboard. We went out for dinner because noone could be bothered to cook to food we hadn't been shopping for. Jeremy had stupidly arrived a day too early but was able to recommend the Espada fish with fried bananas.
On Sunday we walked out to the tip of the peninsula on the eastern end of the island. It was very volcanic, and we found a good swimming/jumping in spot, and Dan didn't have any swimming clothes so he didn't wear any. Monday started off as a short walking day and morphed into a long walking day - Ben and John walked back to the cars to pick up the rest of the group, but they then decided to carry on and walk all the way back home! Meanwhile James had arrived and was running our walking route, gradually catching up.
Tuesday was supposedly good weather so we drove up to 1800m altitude for a walk to the highest point. Instead, it was misty, windy, and raining quite a lot. However, the path was very exciting with tunnels, arches and parts carved into vertical cliff faces. It was topped off with some amazing Brocken Spectres at the summit or Pico Ruivo. We warmed up with some very good hot chocolate in the cafe back in the car park and went back to cook in the evening.
Wednesday turned out to be absolutely beautiful weather, although we were also moving accommodation. So we packed up and drove up to Encumeada and Phil was slow because Google maps didn't have a 2-year-old tunnel on it yet. We set off walking and learning the lyrics to "Do TrailO" made the climb seem smaller. After lunch, where Phil had an arousing encounter with a stick, Ben and Phil went off on a power walk to Pico Ruivo from a second direction (this time with perfect views), chased by James who had come later after going go-karting with Jeremy, and picking Natalie up from the airport. The rest of the group continued to Pico Grande in a circular walk. Most of us finished just after dark, and Ben and Phil didn't quite manage to catch up with the walking group again after their diversion. In the evening we arrived at our new accommodation which had a heated swimming pool and a bar, and a view over a nicely lit motorway bridge. Jeremy got many plus points for his accommodation booking skills.
On Thursday we went for a walk to the "25 Fontes". We named three of then Arial, Helvetica and Comic Sans, but then got bored of thinking up font names. We eventually arrived at the 25 Fontes, which turned out to be one waterfall and not 25. John managed to go for a quick dip in the pool below it as the group left, hoping to run to catch up to warm back up. However, he caught us very soon as we were having races with objects floating in the lavada parallel to the path. Unfortunately the path short-cutted the lavada by about 800m. After some pacing and maths, we ascertained that Richard's guess of 0.5m/s water speed was rather correct. Next we drove down to the north coast for a swim in some "natural" pools at Porto Moniz before heading home.
On Friday morning Miranda wasn't feeling so good, and it took a few hours to realise it was food poisoning and not a hangover. We went on a car trip to a viewing point which was 600m almost vertically above the sea. After dropping some people back to rest at the accommodation, some of us went back to the hills for another walk up Pico de Serradinho which also had excellent views. In the evening there was a night sprint orienteering race in Funchal, which was interesting to see the city but not that difficult navigationally. James ran fast to win men's elite.
Saturday was another orienteering day in the afternoon, but in the morning some of we drove up to Pico do Ariero again in the sunshine above the clouds, and did a (relatively) short walk along the ridge to Pico do Cedro, during which John successfully scared Helen and Bara by diving out of some very thick bushes as they passed. The orienteering was much nicer than the map made it look, with various types of forest involved. In the women's Rona came 2nd and Zuzka 3rd, and Paul just missed out on a 3rd place by 4 seconds. Phil somehow mispunched on a loop control which he had already been to! Harriet managed to get her photo in the organisers' report! In the evening, Ben and Zuzka got sent to a restaurant for a honeymoon meal, and were forbidden from inviting any more DrongOs to come. When they returned sometime after 11pm, Ben predicted that at least one person would have gone to bed, but was wrong as many people were dancing and a last night/second last night party appeared to have formed, since James and Richard were leaving the next morning. James, Natalie and Jeremy, who all appeared to be winning the party, all managed to fit onto the shelves behind the bar.
Sunday was our last full day and at 6am James went back on his word 3 hours before that he would get up and go for a sunrise run. The rest of us headed off to the third orienteering race in another very steep, but generally quite runnable, forest. Again Rona came 2nd and Zuzka came 3rd in the womens, with Paul 2nd and Phil 3rd in the men's. Overall, Zuzka and Natalie got on the podium with 2nd and 3rd, with Paul 2nd overall in the men's. After the orienteering we did a lot of driving, and also some activities. First we climbed the highest point, Pico Ruivo, from the third direction, allowing most people to get a sunny view from it at last! Next we split into two groups with one group going to some caves, and one group going swimming in some different natural pools at nicely named Seixal. While it was sunny at the peak, it appeared to be raining on the whole north side of the island, so it was a rather wet swim, which of course didn't matter because swimming is wet anyway. In the evening we had tricolore spaghetti, which Ben and Paul decided should be cooked and served as three separate colours, and therefore with the help of Phil and Rona separated a kilo of tricolore spaghetti into its three constituent colours.
On Monday we packed up and went for a mooch around Funchal centre, had very very large 2-euro ice creams for the second time, and headed back to the airport.
Thanks from Ben and Zuzka to everyone to contributed to this trip, it was a really really amazing "honeymoon"!