Partner and Family lawyer Susan Anderson is currently on sabbatical in Madeira. Susan reports on her first few weeks.

‘I have been here just over a week now and have spent most of the time getting to know the Madeira Regency Palace Hotel and the stunning island of Madeira, which has just won the accolade of being named the Best Island in Europe to visit.

The hotel is very luxurious and I am finding it weird adjusting to having clean sheets every single day! The four course lunches and dinners are pretty tough, too. I am trying very hard to just have a little fish and salad followed by fresh fruit . The fruit is spectacular. Madeira is a near tropical climate so fresh pineapple, kiwi, papaya, banana are all abundant. It’s quite odd to see banana trees instead of Kent’s apples and hops!

The landscapes are quite magnificent – likened to Bali, Hawaii and other such places. Extraordinary steep terracing for the agriculture – all farmed by hand as there is no modern machine that can cope.

The city of Funchal has a very Latin American feel to it. There is plenty to see and do. I am looking forward to seeing the oldest Mandolin orchestra in the world at the weekend, who play on Fridays in the English Church in September and October. A fellow holiday rep and I are going to the harvesting of the grapes at a wine festival in Camera de Lobos on Saturday – our day off. This is where Winston Churchill used to go and paint. There is a big parade through the streets, treading of grapes and then sampling of food and wine throughout the day. We are then heading down to the city for an outdoor midnight concert in the centre.

The work bit. I have my first guests who are all absolutely delightful and great fun. An early start at 8 for breakfast – practically anything you can think of is available. But, fruit and yogurt for me. Then “desk duty” for an hour, answering queries, booking excursions. Today, I took a small group down to Funchal for an orientation tour, did some jobs in town, back for paperwork for more new arrivals tomorrow, more desk duty, cocktail hour, dinner then Quiz Night! A 13 hour day and 31 degrees to work in! It’s now 1030pm and lovely to be in my cool air conditioned room for a well earned sleep! Sat on my huge balcony with its fantastic view towards the second highest cliff in the world and also out across the Atlantic for a while – and so to bed!’

Susan Anderson