Logos Hope Makes A Book Mark On The World

A floating library might seem an odd setting for a stage performance of The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe but the Logos Hope is an extraordinary ship not bound by frontiers, languages, or conventions. The converted car ferry was on a 10 day stopover in Santa Cruz, and I got to meet just a few of the 400 crew members drawn from 60 countries.

Even among a bumper crop of luxury cruise ships, the fourth ship of the GBA (good books for all) christian charity organisation made a big impression and had a steady stream of visitors treading up the gangplanks. I made my way through the visitors section with video histories in Spanish and English playing on the screens, and strolled through the ranks of 5,000 books for sale. There were a lot of religiously inspired books, well they are a missionary project, but also lots of modern thrillers, travel tales, and childrens books. Sales of these books go towards funding the ships voyages, volunteer crew members also pay for their passage by raising sponsorship, there are only 10 paid full time crew.

Captain Chris Hughes, originally from Bristol,gave me the full tour, after 40 years experience with tankers he retired and has served on two of the earlier GBA fleet since 2006, he´s also an experienced north sea pilot. There was an unmistakable pride in his vessel and crew and it was noticeable that the crew we met on the tour were very relaxed, no salutes and even the uniform is functional rather than  formal. They all seemed young to me (well who doesn´t) but the skipper pointed out that they even have an 80 year old on the crew.” They all have to apply to join us and need to have a basic fitness level but they undergo on shore training for health and safety before even stepping on the ship.” There are other basic boxes to tick. “We are an evangelical movement so they have to be committed christians, we segregate male and female crew, the two or three bunk sleeping quarters are single sex, there´s no alcohol, smoking, or drugs allowed on board and the ships working language is English. Once on board they get allocated specific duty groups like books, galley, cleaning, engine, and deck.”

Whilst admiring the view up on the bridge, the captain told me more about the 40 year old ship. “It used to be a ferry between the Faroe Islands and Denmark, so when it was bought and converted in Germany in 2009, new stabiliser sections were added and a new upper deck. There are 4 engines, two propellers with variable pitch for better manouvering, and we normally travel at a fuel saving 10 knots although it can go at 15 knots.”

 

The bridge seemed very uncluttered and minimalistic but it was deceptive, the computerised navigation system zoomed in on their next course to Guyana picking out every fine contour and detail of the sea with a light touch of the captain´s hand. Continuing the tour downward, the 400 seater theatre was being prepared for the show, big screens would translate it into several languages. Passing the galley, the smell of freshly cooked bread tweaked my nose, and we had a peak inside the hospital the dentists office, and at the engine room from a safe distance.

A chart on the wall of another area showed details of one of their main missions, supplying water purification systems, they also supply eye glasses and clothes, and do some teaching, painting, and anything they can do to help at their ports of call. Since 1970 the organisation has visited 160 countries. Captain Chris stressed that they have to be invited, they don´t just impose on destinations, they have even visited some muslim countries. It was time for me to swap the gentle lapping of the ship for dry land as the crew prepared for another long spell at sea. With so much to do I´m sure the time must fly by but if the crew ever get bored they can always read a book, they have another 800,000 in a warehouse to back up the on board library.

High Balls And Low Returns For CD Marino

Even with a disasterous start and a weak finish CD Marino should have been able of beating a poor Union Sur Yaiza team but they left it to late to show their true form and lost 1-2 at home.

Compensating for injuries is going to be tough with a lack of experience in depth, goalkeeper Cicovic was missed, his commanding prescence and solid distribution inspire confidence. Replacement Petar had a nightmare start when a cheeky long lob from Victor caught him out in the second minute, 0-1 down and he hadn´t even got a feel of the ball. A soft clearance out to Yunes could have doubled his suffering but the Lanzarote striker didn´t make the most of the chance.

Rami was full of running for Yaiza but their hit and rush style was frustrated as Fran Delgado closed him down. Marino found their own momment of inspiration to draw level after 12 minutes, Mendy picked out Fran far up on the right and he worked the ball inside for Kevin Castro to make it 1-1. That should have been the springboard to a victory charge but Marino were not firing on all cylinders, Too many high and hopeful balls left attacking players with just shadows to chase. At one stage Marino skied the ball over the side stand, a nice surprise for anyone walking by.

Alberto and Facu didn´t work well as a pair up front and Kevin Castro out on the left wasn´t able to make his normal big contribution to the game. Facu showed some of his clever tap backs in build up play but Marino were crying out for the dominant Adan or Amed who were on the subs bench. Yaiza were looking to grab their lead back, Piñeiro got round the back of the home defence but couldn´t get the ball to the waiting Dani, and the half ended with Mendy doing well to snuff out Exposito as he bore down on goal.

The second half got worse before it got better. Petar made a good save to deny Yaiza but they kept pushuing. Aridane headed over but the next attack bore fruit as Rami powered through the defence to plunder a goal. Petar prevented the damage increasing as he plucked out more high balls and took Kamara´s shot full in the stomach. Home changes were long overdue, Facu and Alberto were replaced by Adan and Amed in a double swap and it almost brought an instant response with Amed winning the ball deep and surging towards goal before defenders crowded him out. Kevin Castro got a new lease of life by coming in off the wing to get more involved.

There was a lifeline after 73 minutes when the ref sent off Victor for Yaiza. Adan and Amed both tested the away goalie, and Coly headed wide. Adan was getting frustrated by the constant offside calls but not as wound up as the visitors defender Ignacio and his goalie who spent most of the last 10 minutes arguing. Fran Delgado sent in a late cross that third sub Akshi got his head to but couldn´t hit the target. The first home defeat of the season and a drop to 6th place, there´s a lot of work to do if Marino want to make up ñost ground on the battle for a play off spot.

 

Dire Straits Experience Roll Out The Hits

Some songs are timeless, The Dire Straits Experience proved the point again at the Magma Centre in Playa de Las Americas. It was an experience I was keen to repeat after seeing their pulsating performance last year in Tenerife and they were on top form again.

With original members Chris White on sax and flute, and Chris Witten on drums they have a strong connection to those heady days when the original band strode the world. From the opening songs Telegraph Road, and Walk Of Life they showed their class with their mastery of their instruments, all delivered with a swagger. The white headband of Mark Knopfler is long gone but in Terence Reis they have a worthy replacement, his voice caressed and teased out the lyrics while his fingers evoked the unique sound of Dire Straits from a succession of guitars.

The Magma Centre allowed plenty of room for the more enthusiastic fans to take to their feet and give in to the string of hits, I almost expected the concrete suroundings to start swaying as the tunes seeped into their soul. Your Latest Trick was one of the lesser known tracks that made a big impact and Romeo And Juliet opened up a vault of emotional memories from the 4,000 revellers. Tunnel Of Love has always been a favourite of mine and it was belted out with pomp and precision. The Man´s Too Strong gave Chris White a chance to show his skills on the flute but his command of the saxaphone was equally impressive.

Let´s not forget the other band members who added their own ingredients to the mix, Richard Cottle and Paddy Milner on piano and keyboards underscored the dominance of the guitars and complemented each other at either side of the stage. Tim Walters on guitar chipped in on the vocals, and Michael Feet on bass guitar and vocals ensured the lyrics tweaked the ears and memories of their audience. It was clear to see the band were having a great time, they looked comfortable in each others company and delivered the songs as if they were freshly penned, I tried not to think that some of the tunes dated back almost 40 years.

There were a few changes to the running order from last year, Expresso Love was a welcome addition as were Two Young Lovers, and On Every Street. There was never long to wait for a classic to ignite the atmosphere, Lady Writer was followed by Brothers In Arms with barely a moment for the band to catch their breath, it certainly kept the backstage crew busy, the parade of guitars was like a modern day stonehenge waiting to be worshipped by the audience.

Sultans Of Swing was the big breakthrough hit for the original band and it still held its head up proudly among the more recent releases, it surfaced later in the concert and had plenty of willing bodies responding to its infectious rythmn. It would have made a fitting end on its own but after a prolonged wave of applause the band played on with Money For Nothing being greeted like a long lost friend. It was difficult tio top that so they chose a different tempo and ended with the moody and magnificent Going Home. As they signed off The Dire Straits Experience promised to return soon – that was music to many ears.

Nooks Crannies Birds Billy´s And Nanny´s In Ifonche

So there I was, surrounded by wild goats, miles from home, and with a thorn the size of an Esther Rantzen tooth pick stuck in my big toe. Well maybe things weren´that bad, the goats on the mountains of Ifonche looked friendly and were more put off by me, I had home, or at least my Arona start point, in sight, and as for the annoying prick, he pulled the pathetically small thorn out of his toe and carried on walking with no problem.


It was great to rediscover a walk I had neglected for too long, the 1.25 euro Bono ticket bus fare was a bargain and the weather was sunny and very warm as I headed out from church plaza in Arona old town. Following the signs for a regular trek of mine, Roque del Conde, the first mini barranco (ravine) brought me up to a sign pointing the opposite way from the table top mountain and I began skirting the edge of Barranco Grande. Recent rain had left a little give in the ground but the trail was stilla bit erratic to follow, a couple of old partly fallen houses provided a good aim point ahead.

As the barranco deepened so did the amazing shapes and patterns fashioned by nature over the centuries. Taking a water break sat on a rock I could hear melodic bird song and see squadrons of pigeons riding the air currents below. Another smaller barranco to my other side started converging so although there was a choice of paths I was being funnelled into the correct direction. Up in the distance the pine forest around Vilaflor was another indicator that I was on track. The old concrete water channels were empty and I soon came across the modern iron pipes that now do their work. A white and green house on the ridge ahead told me I was getting near the peak of my walk and soon the orange tinged path passed breeze block huts and a couple of tastefully renovated old houses.
A familiar soft clucking noise drew me to a gravel covered area surrounded by small ferns and I spotted a Barbary Partridge, I´ve seen a few in the Arona area and at Masca. This posh collared bird is one of my favourites and it gladdens me to see it looking so well. A few steps further in a clearing was the El Refugio, a delightful restaurant with a decorative garden and informal terrace. I was glad of a cold drink but stopped short of a meal as I hadn´t even started my sarnies and although the chicken sounded nice I kept thinking of my little plump friend a short distance away. This Ifonche hostelry has parking and rent out rooms for rural tourism, check the website for more details.

It must have been nearly 10 years since I last walked this route and my memory was sketchy but just past the restaurant was a sign down through a terraced bowl formerly fed by a dried up spring. A light bulb went on in my brain as memories flooded back of an Arona council guided walk down and back out the other side up to another old shell of a house, now I knew exactly where I was going. Beyond that other house was an old threshing circle looking out over a sheer drop, it´s used these days as a take off point for paragliders. To the right was Ladera de la Montaña Los Brezos, a high tapered peak with a precarious pathway to the top, I reckon a good hour plus up and down – maybe another time. To the left was Roque Imoque with a path spiralling down with a wooden bannister to begin the first tight corner.


That was my cue to head homeward, admiring the unfolding sea views as I descended. As the path curled down I could see the rear side of Roque del Conde, the lower slopes terraced for crop growing, they waste nothing no mater how tough the challenge. The tell tale jingle of bells alerted me to the goats roaming around ahead of me, once I realised they weren´t going to mistake me for a small crunchy snack I felt a lot easier. The path ahead was becoming much clearer and I could see familiar signs. Just a quick down and up through Barranco Grande and I was heading into the Arona plaza again. The 6.4 kms each way walk took me a casual 4 hours and left me glowing not just from the sun but also from a fabulous infusion of sights and sounds

Late Winner As CD Marino Shine In Derby

Big games, six pointers, local derby´s, the sort of games you look to when gauging how good a team is. For CD Marino in 2nd spot, that meant Ibarra at home and they emerged with flying colours, promotion play off credentials presented and marked with a big thumbs up. It wasn´t just the 2-1 win but the style in which they achieved it, coming from behind, surviving the injury loss of top player Mendy, and grabbing a last minute winner.
Ibarra score plenty of goals so it was no surprise to see Matias try his luck in the first minute, Fran Delgado blocked his attempt, the start of a strong game for the right back. Sandro veered too wide with his early effort, a corner being his only reward. Marino settled calmly into their game and were creative in midfield and always willing to spread the ball wide. Fran Alonso produced a couple of good moments but the end product didn´t test the away keeper.


Matias put a header wide and it was fairly even as Saavedra chased down the left to feed Alonso, he got round the defence before the keeper pounced on the ball. Manzi could have given Matias an easy finish if he had squared the ball in front of goal instead of going alone and when Sandro had a pop Cicovic showed a safe pair of hands. Ibarra were shading the play and a smart break found Pablo who found the space beyond Cicovic.
Mendy got a foot to a shot from Manzi and was a little lucky to see it deflect wide of the post. This was one of Ibarra´s best spells, Manzi was face to face with Cicovic but the home keeper stood his ground and won the stand off. The in form keeper followed up by smothering a ball from Sandro. Marino picked their moment and moved forward again, some neat passing between Facu and Kevin Castro opened up the Ibarra defence for Facu to finish off the stylish goal. Mendy got a nasty knock just into the second half and had to go off, this was a crucial moment but as Amed replaced him the defence shuffled around with versatile Kevin Castro adding right back to his CV and Saavedra slotting into the centre of defence.


Fran Delgado, now at left back overlapped on the wing and got behind the defence giving Ibarra plenty to worry about. When the visitors did find a way forward, Cicovic was in supreme form especially when they tried to test him one on one close to the goal. Saul replaced Adan who had few clear chances, and he gave the Ibarra defence some new problems. Facu riffled a fierce shot in that was blocked and Lolo cleared the bar with his chance. Time was running out, Manzi ran himself into a dead end waiting for support and the action switched to the other end. Marino bombarded the away defence and it paid off as Saul struck a hard shot deep into the net. It was a hard earned win but well deserved and another big boost as Marino returned to second place, three points behind Las Palmas B with a game in hand.

A Galaxy Of Sport And Science In Tenerife

Where’s my red spandex suit? I felt a bit like The Flash this week trying to run ahead of everything that was happening, but that’s how I like things. Sleepy little Playa San Juan was having an out of body experience when I called by on Saturday morning as the Tenerife International Water Ski Racing tournament was getting underway. The small harbour adjoining the gently shelving beach had a bizarre mix of huge throbbing speed boats, small training yachts, and paint peeling old fishing boats.

Could the mix get anymore bizarre? It sure could, police whistles shrieked, sirens wailed, and a string of rally cars came bombing along the coast road and up through the tight main road. The Subida de Isora contestants were just limbering up for the afternoons uphill charges, a nice little bonus for me in the quest to fill my allotted pages of the Canarian Weekly. I was impressed that people in the sea front cafes hardly missed a slurp of their coffees as the action unfolded around them.

The lure of CD Tenerife at home to Rayo Vallecano meant I could only sample these splendid contests before catching a magic carpet, well Titsa bus to be precise, back to Los Cristianos and a link up with the Armada Sur. My blog match report has slipped down behind life’s sofa with so much going on but needless to say I was well chuffed with the 3-2 win and awarded myself the appropriate reward measured out in Dorada beer. Sunday brought more football, this time a noon kick off at CD Marino in a local derby with Las Zocas. Prowling the touchline with my box brownie (that’s an ancient camera, not a new bondage doll) I was sent almost dizzy by the 5-1 home win.

My big midweek mission was a long anticipated coach trip to tour the Tenerife Observatory perched just below the peak of Mount Teide. Volcano Teide made it possible for me, the observatory report is in the latest Canarian Weekly but as I hadn’t made the journey to the Teide national park for several years, it was good to remind myself how amazing the 2,000 metre plus world is. Rising through the pine forests above Chio, the first stop was at Llano de Ucanca, an old dried lake bed surrounded by towering rocks sculpted by nature. Speaking as someone who can just about turn on his computer without blowing up the national grid, I marveled at the audio guide downloads on the information boards. On a more rural note, one of the walking trails was chained off due to wild sheep, I think on that rough terrain they wear little hiking booties.

There was another short stop at the Teleferico cable car station which takes visitors to viewing areas nearer the peak of Teide. The queues were long but the views make it worthwhile, it’s definitely something I need to do again as it’s been about ten years since my last ride up. Just a week before Teide was glistening with a dusting  of snow but it had soon melted  away, on this day it was clear, and the air was lightly chilled as the sun kept the temperature at a comfortable level. Come the turn of the year when inevitably some heavier snow settles I intend to make the pilgrimage on one of the specially buses to catch people playing in the snow, making snowmen and sledging through the strange white visitor. For now it was onto the observatory and an enlightening tour of the telescopes and science projects. It was nice to think that the beach would be waiting for me on my return offering warmth

Five Star Blitz From Red Hot CD Marino

Never accuse CD Marino of being shy, they were straining at the leash for goals this week, a 5-1 home derby win over Las Zocas was richly deserved for showing attacking flair and that killer instinct that was missing in the last two home draws.

It was a sign of the home dominance that Marko Cicovic was a spectator until Ibra gave him a little tester of a shot after 20 minutes. The reds from just up the road were pinned down in the first half by long deep balls down the wings for Fran Alonso and Amed to run onto. It was a change of tactics that worked well, the back up goalie David looked unsure and his jitters spread to the defence. Kevin Castro strode around picking his moments to turn on the pace and run at the Las Zocas defenders.

Amed and Kevin Castro were so close to exposing the goalie after a neat bit of passing, Las Zocas had a few moments, Esau and Ibra worked hard to create any openings but the finishing let them down. Former home player Jonathan Sesma sat injured in the stand and must have been itching to try to unlock his old team mates. The game didn’t lack passion, plenty of hard tackles and fierce tussles for loose balls but ref Marta let the game flow as much as possible.

It seemed like Marino would have to wait until the second half to open the scoring but a sustained attack at the end of the first half saw the ball trapped in a sea of legs in the Las Zocas penalty area, it came loose and Amed pounced on it and powered it into the back of the net. The break didn’t cool Marino’s enthusiasm, they came back out looking to add to their advantage. Kevin Castro used his close control to round a defender on the goal line and popped the ball back to Amed for an easy finish, 2-0 had a much better ring to it. Amed was cursing his finishing when the chance of a hat trick eluded him but it was clear this game would be graced by more goals.

How demoralizing for Las Zocas to see Adan come off the bench for Fau Valiente, if there were goals to be had, the big striker would want his share. With an hour gone Amed jumped for a high cross but it dropped just behind him where Mendy powered an unstoppable header past the goalie. To their credit Las Zocas didn’t give up, they pushed forward looking for a way back, Esau made Coly clear his shot from the line. Amed was subbed by Josemi, the applause as he departed was well deserved for a disciplined performance in a slightly different role from usual.

Las Zocas tried their own change and it had some effect, Bene Aro got into a good position to receive a through ball and put his shot beyond the reach of Cicovic as he dived. That could have been a springboard to a Las Zocas charge, Marino reacted well, they tightened up at the back and went in search of more goals at the other end. It was almost slow motion as Adan eased past the rooted red defenders and picked his spot in the goal. As the game moved towards its finish Adan struck again after beating his lone marker, even in injury time he was so close to a third but the 5-1 score line threw down a big marker in the battle for promotion. There’s a three point gap now between Marino and joint leaders Las Palmas Atletico and Marino mean business.

 

Puskas And A Revolution On And Off The Pitch

Ferenc Puskas

The worst thing that happens to modern football superstars is losing a cosmetics endorsement. Imagine being exiled from your country of birth, your family and friends, and being labelled a traitor, all that and more happened to Ferenc Puskas of Hungary but he preserved his talent, his love of football, and his dignity to become one of the greatest players the game has seen. All this was brought into sharp focus for me when I attended a commemorative day to mark the 60th anniversary of Hungary’s short lived uprising against the communist rulers who moved in from Russia after WW2.

Hungary Day Adeje

During those turbulent times 193,000 people fled the country, many headed for Spain and there are 300 Hungarians living in Adeje, Tenerife. The Hungarian Consul Nora Henriette Hermann-Boer and other leading figures from the community led the gathering in El Convento, between the Plaza de España and the town hall. The red, green, and white Hungarian flag nestled between those of Spain, the Canary Islands, and Adeje as speakers recalled those dark days. After the service the Spanish and Hungarian national anthems were played to the small gathering.

Hungary Day Adeje

Hungary Day Adeje

I had been drawn by the promise of a documentary film, The Real Puskas, I had heard lots about the footballing genius and seen old footage but didn’t appreciate the extent and impact of his career not only as a player but also as a manager. Puskas introduced himself to the British public in what became known as The Game Of The Century, England, unbeaten in 24 matches, hosted Hungary in 1953 at Wembley and the sublime Puskas led his team to a 3-6 victory that shook the football world. The Mighty Magyars are still recalled as the most complete team of all time. Get a load of these Puskas stats, he scored 84 goals in 85 internationals and 514 goals in 529 games in Hungary and Spain. The great man joined Real Madird as an overweight, semi retired 31 year old and starred for eight seasons, winning them everything in sight. Later he became a manager, getting Panathanaikos to the European Cup Final and taking Melbourne City to Australian league  and cup titles.

Mariann Szucs Adeje

Mariann Szucs, Adeje

Puskas career gives a unique insight into the problems in Hungary, a team mate was hung for trying to leave the country, Puskas was abroad with the national team when the revolution was quelled and didn´t return until after the new free republic was formed in 1989. During the uprising 2,500 Hungarians were killed, the communists agreed to negotiate a peace but then sent in tanks to crush resistance. Thankfully these are happier times for Hungary, I felt a little uneasy watching this suffering unfold via the football film as I enjoyed the hospitality of ladies in national costume dishing out cheese straws. After the film there was a recital of music and folk stories on a stage in Plaza de España with the Barranco del Invierno as a terrific backdrop. In the plaza there were other echoes of stormier times via the brush strokes of Mariann Szucs, haunting images harked back to the years of struggle. For me though it was a delight to meet some new friends and yet another reason to be thankful for the easy life I have had.

Goals, Draws But Nothing To Dance About

Some people go to church on a Sunday, I do my worshipping elsewhere. Two games in a day seemed like heaven but both matches left me feeling my beer glass was half empty. CD Marino let a 2-0 lead slip to tie 2-2 with San Fernando, and CD Tenerife were downright awful in a 1-1 draw with Cadiz that they did their best to lose.
 
CD Marino have made a good start to the season and are in the leading pack in Group 12 of the Tercera Division. Without either of their big centre forwards, Adan and Ammed it was left to Kevin Castro to take on the central role, he hit an early shot into the visiting goalies hands but battled hard as always. Fran Alonso looked good with a switch to the left and had some meaty tussles with Feito of the Gran Canarian side. Two former home players, Amado, and Eslava, lined up for the yellows but the nippy Joel was their best forward. Maikel tried a long shot that went wide and Mendy did similar for Marino near the end of the first half.
Marino grabbed the lead with a deft flick of the head by sub Facundo and a clever turn by Alberto gave him a clear sight of goal to make it 2-0. It should have been comfortable from that point but the visiting coach had other ideas. A double change and an attacking frame of mind brought its rewards within minutes. First Feito finished off good creative play from sub Dani, then captain Israel tied the scores, suddenly Marino looked vulnerable. Both sides had chances to win, Marino with a free kick that the keeper punched away, and San Fernando with several raids that Cicovic did well to keep out of his goal. Marino will see it as two points lost but hopefully will learn to not sit back on a good lead.
If the first game left me a little disappointed, the second was like someone cutting up my Shoot league ladders, and scribbling all over my programme collection. CD Tenerife are struggling again but home to lowly Cadiz should have been a fairly easy home win, instead we lost 1-1, it felt like a loss.
The first half was poor, a midfield lacking ideas and still no start for Cristo Gonzalez. Choco´s shooting boots were back in Honduras and only good defending from Camille and Inaki kept Cadiz at bay. Suso and Amath were quiet on the wings and no one had the confidence or directness to test the visiting defence. Ortuño must have felt sorry for CDT he clattered Inaki and got sent off just before the break. That left a clear plan for the second half, attack the short handed team. It seemed obvious to the 8,425 crowd but the coach, the team, or both didn´t get the idea and were if anything even more cautious in the second half.

Jouini took over from Crosas but the service to the attack was still woeful, Suso tried to ignite something but his ball to Amath was lost because of poor control. Omar for Carlos Ruiz could have helped but after impressing up front in the midweek cup game, Omar was deep on the right as little more than a full back. Finally Cristo was brought on after 69 minutes for the predictable Amath, eventually the other players realised it might be a good idea to feed Cristo on the left. Floating in a perfect dipping cross, Cristo found the head of leaping Jouini who showed lethal finishing. If the big Tunisian can make a habit of scoring we might all have to learn his celebration dance. It had been hard going but a 1-0 win would do, but there´s always a but, deep into injury time a bread and butter shot from Santamaria should have been easily dealt with by Dani Hernandez but he fumbled the ball and gave Cadiz a share of the spoils.
Waylaid By A Tenerife West Coast Wander

Seagulls packed the breakwater that was exposed by the low tide and a small group of kayaks tailed behind their leader like ducklings following their mother. Aah yes it was a delightful morning as I made Playa San Juan my kick off point for a stroll along the west coast of Tenerife.

One of my favourite sculptures has been moved along to greet walkers as they take the concrete path that hugs the coast. The rock formations left by the receding tide were spectacular, nimble footed fishermen and women had found some precarious perches while others explored brimming rock pools. Up top an enclosed petanque court was staging a hotly contested game and the pink cactus pears were plentiful on the plants. It’s a busy walkway and a fairly gentle one but it pays out so much in sights and sounds.

Half way to Alcala there’s an interruption in the form of the new desalination plant, this small section  is sealed off but hopefully may reopen soon, the diversion leads inland a few yards to the small village of Fonsalia. There are two modest sized bar restaurants that open after 1.30 pm but all could change if they expand and link the road out to the new ring road. The whole point is to service a new port, it was first planned in 1995 but still only exists on paper, in the meantime I enjoyed my 10 minute diversion through the charming back water of Fonsalia. Emerging back on the coastal path I rose upwards on a narrow and tricky section with a vast expanse of craggy fingers reaching out into the sea.

The approach to Alcala is always good, I love the drag of the shingle below in the small coves. A few people had taken the steep stone steps down but I pushed on into the plaza for a cold drink. My old Western Sun office was just off the fishermen’s quay and I have fond memories of lunch break sea swims followed by home made sarnies as I sat on the rocks. Much has changed and mainly for the good, the walkway around the bay is always a blaze of flowers and opens out to a wide strolling area in front of the Palicio de Isora hotel. The play areas, wooden benches, and Tourist Information Kiosk help to encourage hotel visitors to explore back down into Alcala, and it is reaping the benefit from more trade.

Pressing on the Playa La Jaquita is another good addition, a mix of small, subtle, dark sand coves and rocky bathing pools, all well served by the Arela Beach Bar. The recent upgrade could have distorted the canvas but it has just opened it out and what a pretty picture it makes. Around the headland and I could see the cliffs of Los Gigantes in the distance but the path was signed as closed for a new coastal walkway to be made.

I of course detoured up to the main road and didn’t squeeze around the barrier, If I had, I might have seen the new path taking shape, again it’s that balancing act, this time between encouraging more people to see the wild Punta Blanca coast without smoothing over too many of natures wrinkles. Time will tell but hopefully it will finally stop the illegal campers, I can remember the piles of rubbish they used to leave behind. I still ended up in Varadero ready to revisit old friends on the way through Playa de La Arena. It’s still good up west.