Sliding down a mountain in a wicker basket might sound like the weirdest -- and most dangerous -- thing you could possibly do while on holiday, but T and I strapped ourselves in for a bumpy ride on the penultimate day of our trip to Madeira.
The run is about 2km long and it's nowhere near as fast or as furious as it looks, but maybe that's because our wicker basket contained two fatties -- and I'm not referring to the chaps who were pushing us.
All week we'd been watching a never-ending succession of tourists on the main road swooshing past our hotel and judging by the looks on their faces (check out the guy above) we expected it to be pretty bloody scary.
Usually you could hear the sound of the wooden runners on the shiny smooth bitumen before the carros de cesto (basket cars), pushed by two dapper-looking drivers, came into view. Sometimes you could smell burning wicker caused by the friction.
Apparently these wicker toboggans were originally pulled up and down the mountainside by horses and bullocks. Then, in 1850, the baskets, which carried produce and people, were adapted so that two drivers could control the descent.
The toboggans are now used exclusively by tourists. Ernest Hemingway is said to have described the ride as one of the most exhilarating of his life.
Try telling that to the woman above. She's talking on her mobile phone, as if it's the most natural thing in the world to be sliding down a 70 per cent incline on the way to the shops. You can almost hear her asking, "Yes dear, do you want me to get some milk on the way home?"