It’s been three years since I joined the Archipelago Choice team. In my former life, I was a theatre sound designer but the long hours were getting in the way of family life and (perhaps more importantly) my mountain biking. When you live in as beautiful place as the Lake District, you have to spend as much time as possible out on the fells. Now I’m lucky enough to travel to an equally beautiful part of the world: the Azores – to mountain bike, to hike, go whale watching, kayaking and canyoning; as we often say when chatting to new customers, it’s a great destination for anything except lying around on a beach.
Although everyone’s first reactions is normally to ask, ‘So where are the Azores ?’, historically we have quite strong links to the Azores – and when you start to poke around into the history of the islands, you find connections we’ve forgotten over time. Recently I’ve been reading about George Clifford, the 3rd Earl of Cumberland and resident of Brougham Castle which is just down the road from our office in nearby Penrith. George led an expedition that ransacked the islands of Sao Miguel, Faial, Flores, Terceira and Santa Maria during the Anglo-Spanish War (1585 -1604). I promise there are more positive examples of our historical links with the Azores, but that’s a connection all the same!
We’ll be adding Madeira as one of our destinations later this year and so I’m currently reading about our historical connections with those islands (mainly surrounding the wine trade). Coming right up to date, there’s a real buzz in the mountain biking community about Madeira and its popularity as the winter biking destination of choice. I’ll hopefully be able to confirm that in person very soon…