Welcome To The Jungle At Arona Carnaval

Like a modern day Tarzan, I´m going to swing in and defend the honour of the Cabalgata, the opening parade of the annual Arona Carnaval. Many visitors to the south of Tenerife ask when is the Los Cristianos Carnaval? meaning the Sunday Coso closing parade from the foot of Guaza Mountain to the city centre. Arona municipality covers part of Playa de Las Americas as well as Los Cristianos, so they like to spread the love by having the opening parade from Veronicas to the Oasis Commercial Centre just before Las Vistas beach. With this years jungle theme vaguely in mind, 2019 brought another wonderful evening of colour, music, and laughter.

Coaches spilled their cargo of eager, young revellers with mountains of latex suits, feathers, and make up, and as the sun set, the frantic army squeezed into their weird and wonderful costumes. The main difference to the closing parade is the Queen, plus senior and junior versions have not yet been elected, so the public get a clear view of the candidates in open top cars, long before they are encased in their extravagant royal costumes. There is also more of an end of term feel to the Coso with many strange regular characters from history and cartoons. But the Cabalgata certainly isn’t shy, they were chomping at the bit to strut their stuff, and everyone was decked out from head to toe.

The cool of the evening is a marked contrast to the heat of the Sunday afternoon closing event, just right for those clad in heavy outfits. Big respect to the leaders of the groups, make up needed applying, emergency repairs cropped up, and fitting their charges into their allocated staring slots required planning, precision, and the odd ciggie or beer. The gathering area is right next to a strip of bars, everyone wanted a photo with the glittering stars, and their requests were met with smiles and a snazzy pose. When the drum beats started to sound, the tempo picked up and the seemingly rag tag bands of marchers formed a seamless sea of joy.

The turn out this year along the route was as busy as ever. Hotel lobbies emptied onto the street, meals were put on hold as photos were snapped, and every vantage point was used to the full. The journey took a good 90 minutes, everyone wanted to see the mobile show, it was like lighting the blue touch paper on this years Carnaval. Hold on tight, it´s a jungle out there!

CD Marino Rock Back For Point As Santa Brigida Roll

Frustration was the name of the game for CD Marino as visitors UD Villa Santa Brigida took a 15th minute lead and then threw bodies behind the ball, and to the ground to try to hang on.The Gran Canaria team´s goal was under siege for most of the game but there was some justice when top scorer Ahmed ensured a 1-1 draw with a late penalty goal.
Santa Brigida were positive in the opening exchanges, they forced a corner that Marino´s Juanmi cleared up with a header back to goalie David. Jeremy floated in a free kick that Padilla put over the bar as the blues struggled to stake their home claim. The opening goal was a smooth move, Santi drifted across the box, laid the ball off to Ojeda, and he tucked it past David. That shook Marino into action, Guti picked out Gaizka with a well weighted chip but Brigida cleared the danger. Niki was making good ground from right back but his cross was headed high by Juanmi. Marino´s play was a little predictable down the right where big defenders Leandro and Juanyi made life tough for them. Once Bamba pushed up from midfield on the other flank, Brigida were stretched more and Marino tore into them.

There was little conviction in a free kick on the edge of Marino´s box and it was easily cleared. The blues penned Brigida back for the last 20 minutes of the first half. Bamba forced a save out of Ione, and Guti was almost glued to the corner flag as he sent in three corners in quick succession. Bamba blasted wide with the last shot of the half and it seemed that home goals would follow after the break. Marino came back out charged up, Gaizka ran the ball at the goalie, he stood firm to seize it. Samuel chested a falling ball under control before feeding Jony who was robbed by an alert defender. When Brigida broke to the other end, David make a fine sliding intervention to protect his goal, and a free kick faltered against a sturdy home wall.

Brigida players were starting to go down with annoying regularity but Marino kept their sights on levelling the game. Gaizkar tested the goalie again and two subs, Ahmed and Mylan added new threats to the forward line. Niki delivered another classy cross which Saavedra glanced wide with his head. When Niki found Gaizka again, his shot had a bit too much height on it. While chasing the game, Marino had to be careful not to leave themselves open, David made a great stop from a Brigida breakaway. Mylan caused plenty of problems on Marino´s left as the game became disjointed with the amount of Brigida players writhing on the ground reaching a ridiculous level.

Ahmed teased the visitors down the right, he had an eye for goal and his curled shot went just the wrong side of the post. Marino followed up with another incisive move, Brayan found Gaizka just inside the box and Angelo held him down to give away a clear penalty. Ahmed stepped up and stroked in his 13th goal of the season past the full stretch keeper. As the final four minutes ticked down, Mylan rounded the goalie to rob him of the ball but as he pulled away into a clearer shooting position, Trujillo won the ball back and his own breakaway was only stopped by Mylan´s pull. Marino had to settle for the draw and slipped to 9th in their Tercera Division group.

CD Tenerife Are As Flat As A Carnaval Hangover

It was a 1-1 home draw with Numancia on the scoreboard, but for most of the 9,412 crowd it felt like a defeat, and a grim warning that CD Tenerife could still get pulled into the relegation mire. It was the Carnaval game but the mood was strangely subdued. The residents of Santa Cruz could be excused for feeling a little delicate after the previous days record breaking 400,000 revellers partied into the wee hours, but what was the players excuse for a pitiful performance.

Jorge Saenz was suspended from his centre back role, January signing Mauro Dos Santos was expected to make his much delayed debut, but coach Oltra opted for Carlos Ruiz instead. The veteran defender is always a reliable option but not even using Dos Santos as a late sub added to growing doubts over Oltra´s judgement. Numancia showed the greater hunger and determination for the game, a smooth build up from David Rodriguez saw an early shot covered comfortably by home keeper Dani Hernandez.

Numancia were looking to expose Tenerife, Luis Perez had to make a smart intervention to derail another raid from the visitors. Oyarzum sensed the lack of adventure in the home team and tried a long, looping shot that just cleared the bar. Tenerife were struggling to make any impact, Racic was playing deep again, a total waste of his talent, captain Suso was trying to lead from the right wing but when he opened up the Numancia rearguard he found his team mates were slow to support in front of goal. It took a moment of brilliance from Luis Milla to put Tenerife ahead. The midfielder launched a wonderfully flighted 23rd minute corner that curled and caught the opponents goalie completely stranded,

That should have been the spur for Tenerife to push on and bury the game. Coniglio, still looking to break his duck, managed to get up for a header but it lacked power and direction. Ganea was doing well down the Numancia left wing and dropped a teasing cross into the heart of the Tenerife box, Ruiz used his experience to intercept the ball with a well timed header. Dani Hernandez has been below par recently, he showed he is still a class keeper and put on a master class that included a reflex parry just before the half time whistle. Home form this season has seen Tenerife save their best for the second half, that trend was reversed as they emerged for the second half with no purpose or drive.

Even allowing for the usual sprinkler soaking of the pitch at half time, the home players had trouble keeping their footing. How can a striker as big as Malbasic become invisible? He wasn´t the only one, Borja Lasso was missing in action, Alberto continued to look uncomfortable in the centre of defence and had to be bailed out by Ruiz. It was up to Tenerife to push for a second goal to kill the game but they looked content to sit back, Racic tried to head a loose ball away, it fell to a Numancia forward and only a sprightly dive from Dani saved his team mates blushes. The resurgent keeper was the hero again with two saves from a corner, Numancia were well on top.

Subs are also a bone of contention for Tenerife fans, predictably the first swap came after 64 minutes, midfielder Isma Lopez on for consistently poor striker Coniglio. With 20 minutes left, Nano came on for Lasso, the striker doesn´t even look interested these days and his fitness level leaves a lot to be desired. The final swap was the most negative of all, the dour, defensive Undabarrena for Suso. Within a minute the equaliser arrived, as Higinio scored with a free header as a cluster of defenders looked on. It was now all about holding on for the last six minutes, Dani blocked a Ganea shot at his near post and made an injury time stop from a last gasp Numancia onslaught. The point keeps Tenerife in 16th place but the performance was more circus than Carnaval.

Thin Blue Line Makes A Good Point For CD Marino

Unfamiliar faces in unusual roles was not the perfect recipe for CD Marino to take on visitors UD San Fernando from Maspalomas in Gran Canaria. Ravaged by injuries, the blues came from behind for a well earned 1-1 draw, thanks to hard work and a battling attitude.

Striker Gaizka and midfielder Juanmi adapted well to filling the heart of the home defence, and Prince dipped back to help them, his early block of Fede set the tone for the resolute rear guard. Ahmed assumed extra responsibility up front, he rounded the yellows defence with ease before firing a speculative cross too high. Javi Gonzalez benefitted from a long ball in, he leapt well to head the ball but it went straight to goalie Choolani. There was a let off at the other end when Brandon only half stopped a San Fernando shot, the ball squirmed loose but trickled harmlessly out of danger as forwards rushed to reach it.

Much of San Fernando´s play was made down their left with Medina, when he cut inside he looked certain to try his luck but Gaizka shielded the ball well. The yellows tried to exploit the hastily refashioned home line up, Echedey wasted a free kick by curling the ball over the bar, and Niki came to the rescue to halt another Medina raid. Marino were giving away too many fouls and it cost them after 20 minutes when Navas powered a free kick to the left of a static Brandon to take the lead. Marino had to weather a prolonged spell of pressure that saw Bryan and Ramirez spurn good chances. The blues regained their composure and started to trouble their guests again, Bamba showed good vision when he tried to lob Choolani from distance, the keeper was relieved to pluck the ball under control.

San Fernando dug themselves a big hole when Ramirez brought down Mylan as he raced clear towards the goal. The ref didn´t hesitate to wave the red card to reduce them to 10 men. It was a handy bit of encouragement for Marino, and just before half time they seized an equaliser. A free kick into the yellows defence caught the goalie off guard, he prodded the ball a few feet in front of him and then got tangled up with his captain, Israel. As they fumbled around, Javi Gonzalez was quick witted and tapped the ball in the net. Marino should have turned the screw at the start of the second half but San Fernando made a spirited reply. Brandon had to be alert and decisive to thwart a Bryan shot, and then claimed the ball off the head of sub Quintero. The Gran Canarian side were getting some mileage out of pushing up their full backs but Marino put the squeeze on them to dry up that supply.

Numbers were evened out after 78 minutes when Navas got into an attacking position but was brought down by Gaizka just outside the penalty area. The ref brandished another red card but Fede could only muster a weak free kick that Marino easily cleared. Samuel added his speedy runs from left back to the home attack, he set up Ahmed for a shot that cleared the bar. Ideally Marino would have made a couple of earlier substitutions but the current shortage of experienced players on the bench limited their options. Mussa came on for Javi with barely 10 minutes left and Marino had a couple of half chances. There was always a danger that San Fernando might grab a winner, Quintero forced a corner and the ball in had to be cleared off the home goal line by a Juanmi header. A draw was a fair outcome and Marino learned a lot about how versatile their players are, but they will be glad to have a full squad available again.

Las Galletas Ready To Reel In More Visitors

Glowing with pride rather than jumping for joy. That would be the under stated reaction from Tenerife fishing village Las Galletas if Arona council plans for a new beach and promenade take shape. Although just a 25 minute hop from Los Cristianos, change has been gradual and respectful of tradition.


The shingle and dark sand crescent beach was almost deserted for my dull day visit, but I have enjoyed many swims in the gently shelving, calm of the sea framed by small boats. There is plenty of rough ground just across the main road to allow for a widened promenade with imported sand to make the beach more comfortable. At the moment showering is a free show for the cars and buses passing through, and a kiosk bar, plus a toilet and changing block are the only amenities. A few years ago large stones were cleared off the sand but soon back individually by bathers to anchor their towels.

The biggest change of recent years has been the building of the attractive Marina del Sur, that embraces the sea in front of the beach and has added pontoons for pleasure boats, restaurants for strollers, and a high wall for views out to the ocean. Fishermen still sell their morning catch from old wooden stalls just along from a rusty iron canon. A new modern sales room was spurned by fishermen who prefer to be on the front line where it is much truer to the character of the area. Modern trends in sea based sports and excursions are well catered for along the Marina, old King Neptune looks down on the ancient and modern mix approvingly.


The Paseo Litoral is the popular walk between a stretch of restaurants and the banked stones that slope into the sea, the waves are much livelier this side and attract surfers rather that swimmers.The crunch of the shingle as it is dragged in and out is a pleasant backing track to the popular sun trap walk. Behind the restaurants is La Rambla, a shady mix of gardens and sculptures, look out for a series of large artistic shells designed by Maria Isabel Reyes Gonzalez. Modern intruders come in the shape of aeroplanes heading for Reina Sofia airport, they are low enough to get to know the crew, but soon become just a curiosity rather than an intrusion. The old part of town is made up of tight back streets and a pedestrianised central shopping area, many of the shops there close for an afternoon siesta but you can always find a coffee or snack stop. Frequent fiestas and promotions turn the centre into a cultural mix for all ages.

Arona is rightly proud of its older, more traditional areas, and that is reflected in the mural just before taking the short passage back out to the sea front. It may take a few years for a new beach and promenade to arrive, Las Galletas is used to moving at a sedate pace and is always a welcome place to relax and take it easy.

Late Redemption From Friday Night Folly

His keys, his wallet, or his mobile. Jose Luis Oltra may forget them all at some time in his life, but he will never forget his 150th game as coach of CD Tenerife. It must have been purgatory as his team slipped to a 0-2 home deficit against Mallorca and 462 minutes without a goal. Thankfully Serbian midfielder Racic became his friend for life by belting a 71st minute lifeline goal to set them on the road to a 2-2 draw.

All the old problems were present and incorrect in the first half, poor passing, little support for each other, and woeful finishing. Borja Lasso in a more forward role fired an early chance straight at goalie Reina. The suspension of Jose Naranjo gave Coniglio a starting chance, the Argentinian striker again looked totally out of his depth, he has neither speed, power, or positional awareness. Malbasic was left to offer his brand of hard work and determination, Mallorca defender Valjent made it tough for him and his team mates. The visiting promotion candidates were a sharp side, after 14 minutes Lago Junior brought the ball under control with his back to the goal line and popped a pass out to Estupinan who cracked a fierce shot beyond Dani Hernandez and into the bottom corner of the goal to take the lead.


Tenerife´s best weapon was Racic, always in the action and ready to chance a shot. A corner gave him the chance to launch a strong header but the keeper took it well and punched away another header soon after. It was already looking an uphill task for Tenerife, Malbasic needed some support as he had a good go at beating three defenders who crowded round him. Just before the break, defender Jorge Saenz got booked to signal a suspension for the next game, it would be a bleak half time dressing room. Dani Hernandez had received plenty of criticism in the week for his latest goal keeping error, it reached a new low just after the restart. A harmless ball came towards Dani who had time to cover it but he slipped and missed it, leaving a gift for Budimir to tap in. It was a schoolboy error to increase the pressure on the the teams saviour of so many games.


A huge reaction and show of character was needed and to their credit Tenerife set about clawing their way back into the game. A determined break opened the Mallorca defence but Malbasic´s shot came back off the underside of the bar. Lago Junior threatened again, Luis Perez was quick to intercept his shot and Dani seized on the loose ball. Nano, back from another injury, made his entrance after 62 minutes as Coniglio departed. The striker showed glimpses of his old form when he emerged from the youth programme, it gave encouragement to the home cause. It was Mallorca´s turn to hang on as the ball pinged around their defence and they tried to close down the game with some delaying tactics.

Racic deserved some reward for his efforts and it came after 71 minutes. A long free kick from Luis Milla fell kindly for the Serbian and he showed no mercy as he fired the ball into the visitors goal. It was like a release from a curse for Tenerife, hope was in the air and the players were chasing for the equaliser. Suso added some of his trademark runs into the box from the right to the mix, and when Mallorca made a dash for the other end, Dani showed his better side with a clean take from a Lago Junior attempt. Tyronne has been seen as a strange choice of sub as the club have told him his days are numbered in Santa Cruz. Coach Oltra brought him on after 84 minutes as an adventurous replacement for defender Hector.

Suso was fouled near the touchline by Estupinan who was sent off by the ref, an idiot in the San Sebastian stand threw a plastic bottle, the ref noted it and got Tenerife officials to flash a warning about behaviour on the scoreboard. The club could face sanctions from the league. Tenerife did well to not let the incident break their resolve, and the ref did well to make sure he added on five minutes for stoppages. With two minutes of the added time used, Tyronne headed an incoming ball down to his feet and unleashed his shot to tie the game. The point leaves Tenerife in 17th place and with an awarded 0-1 win at financially sunk Reus to come, they can rest a little easier in their two week gap before the Carnaval game at home to Numancia on Sunday 10th March at 5pm.

CD Marino Pounding On The Play Off Door

There’s an old saying about keeping your head when all around you lose theirs. CD Marino brought it to mind as they killed off Mensajero with two classy late goals after four players were sent off following a skirmish involving both sets of players .

The 86th minute flash point didn’t change the balance of the game, Marino had already dominated, particularly in the second half, and could have built a commanding lead. The La Palma visitors are always in the promotion mix, and played their usual style of fast breaks down the flanks with big front man Victor the main weapon in front of goal. Kevin Castro tested Kilian in the Mensajero goal with an early cross that was a bit to close to the keeper. Vianney was a danger down the reds left side with full back Azael overlapping. Brandon was taking no chances in the Marino goal, when Victor was racing in for a loose ball the home keeper rushed out and cleared the danger with a strong, decisive kick.

Ahmed nearly unlocked the Mensajero defence with a neat lay off but Javi Gonzalez couldn´t quite connect to put in a shot. Javi was a real handful all afternoon, he breached the defence but fired directly at Kilian. Mensajero were a strong side but found their match in a hard working Marino team, and when the visitors looked to spring through for a shot, they again found Brandon alert and ready to dispatch the ball far upfield. Marino were taking more control as the game went on, Samuel stormed through from the left back slot but his effort was high and wide. A cheeky chip from Jony towards the end of the first half fell just a bit short for Gaizka, and Ahmed created space for Jony to put over the bar just before the break.

Just seconds after the restart, Javi pounced on a loose ball and raced past the Mensajero goalie as he side footed the ball beyond his reach for a 1-0 lead. Omar tried to hit back with a break down the right but Brandon was waiting with a clean take. Marino put the pressure on and lay siege to the visitors goal, Javi could have made a hat trick as he continually beat the defence but was foiled by Kilian. Even a double substitution by Mensajero had little effect, Samuel put in a teasing cross which Kilian caught at the second attempt. Ahmed was also unlucky not to get a better reward for his determined run through the Mensajero defence. Mylan came on for Javi with 15 minutes left and after a clash of heads with Kai, he followed up with a run across Kilian´s path as the ball ran out of play. Oscar chipped in with a few comments and the game was suddenly sizzling.

Brandon snapped up a deflected shot at the other end of the pitch but the action switched to the dug outs when Marino coach Zeben Hernandez reacted to a push by Oscar. Players swarmed around the sideline as the officials tried to calm things down, it all got quite heated and once order was restored the ref sent off Juanmi and coach Zeben for Marino, and Vianney and Oscar from the Mensajero players. Marino kept their composure and Ahmed spotted his chance, winning the ball and walking it into the visitors net.

It was a crushing blow to Mensajero and Mylan went one better as he weaved his way past two defenders and the goalie before adding a third home goal. Mensajero ended the game far from happy with the ref but credit to both teams for ensuring hand shakes were exchanged between both sets of players. Marino now sit just 3 points outside the promotion play off zone where Mensajero hold 2nd spot, the teams may well meet again at the end of the season.

Raised Flags And Lowered Standards At CD Tenerife

On the 12th minute mark, the Heliodoro stadium became a sea of swirling flags and scarves in tribute to super fan El Barraquito (Damian Fleitas), who died a few days before. At the final whistle, the ground became a low tide of despair and disbelief after an inept performance saw CD Tenerife lose 0-2 to struggling Cordoba. Good and bad runs often overlap for the Santa Cruz faithful, but ending a three game shut out and recording a third straight game without scoring was hard to swallow for the 12,596 crowd.

Luis Milla was out suspended and losing his influence in midfield was a huge blow but didn´t account for the negative approach, particularly in the first half. Undabarrena played like a crab in his deep midfield role, sideways and backwards became the home pattern when Tenerife should have torn into the second from bottom visitors. Cordoba were encouraged to have a go and found room on their left against a hesitant Luis Perez. The danger was evident after Dani Hernandez blocked a shot at the post after Naranjo had dropped back and put a half hearted clearance into the path of De Las Cuevas. The forward tried again soon after and drew a diving save from Dani. The home attack was in a shy mood, Naranjo hiding out wide, Malbasic taking one touch too many when he got the ball, and Suso struggling to make an impact.

Borja Lasso made a couple of decent chances for Tenerife and they could have rode out the first half all square if their marking had been better. After 38 minutes a corner from Aquado was headed on by Flaño to Herrero at the post to squeeze past Dani Hernandez with a header. The second half started more promisingly, Borja slipped a little before unleashing a long shot, and Suso started to cut inside from the right to worry the visiting defenders. Malbasic managed a good run and put the ball across the face of the Cordoba goal, sadly there were no takers to finish it off. Alberto put a header over the bar as the Cordoba players began to drop easily to waste valuable time and hold onto their lead. Suso got in behind two Cordoba defenders and looked mightily frustrated when his ball into the box was snapped up by the goalie.

Coniglio, was given 30 minutes to impress when he replaced Naranjo, but the Argentinian striker didn´t make the most of it. Jorge pressed forward to help the search for an equaliser, a weak shot at the keeper was his best attempt. Another January transfer window addition, Isma Lopez, made his debut, taking over from Undabarrena, and tried to open a channel from the left of midfield. Tenerife were making a few openings but Cordoba had an eye for a break and picked up a free kick a little way outside the Tenerife box. The defence hadn´t learnt from the opening goal and were powerless to stop a well struck goal from De Las Cuevas. The ref wasn´t making things easy for Tenerife, he booked six home players and added a comedy moment as goalie Lavin slipped when walking backwards, he blew for a Tenerife foul even though there was no home player near.

A late bid for redemption saw Tyronne on for defender Perez but it didn´t bring the turnaround, even 5 minutes of injury time couldn´t ignite Tenerife. Coniglio got within sight of the Cordoba goal but defender Quintanilla held him off easily, making the forward look like a light weight. Not a good end to a turbulent week, that saw Jorge sign a 4 million euro pre contract deal that will see the defender move to Valencia in the summer for 5 seasons.

Rocks In CD Tenerife Defence But Pebbles Up Front

Jorge Saenz rejected Janaury transfer window offers from a host of clubs and made light of the attention, showing magnificent form in a battling 0-0 draw at high flying Deportivo. It was a third straight shut out as CD Tenerife dominated for much of the game but once again the lack of fire power frustrated their aim to break their away drought. Storm Helena diverted the clubs flight and it looked like coach Oltra had used the extra time to drum a new style into his back four. Deportivo were left chasing shadows in the first half hour as Tenerife stroked the ball around in defence with a confidence bordering on arrogance. When the chance came to break forward the confidence didn´t stretch that far, Malbasic ploughed a lone furrow for much of the game. Borja Lasso couldn´t make the most of his teams first chance but Tenerife were unlucky with a well worked free kick after 8 minutes. Suso played the ball to Luis Milla who fired a powerful drive high into the box, Jorge got a head to help it onto the target, and only a smart save from the home goalie saved his team.

Deportivo stirred and Caballo tried his luck with a shot that went well over the bar. Malbasic got in behind the home defence but his poor control produced a weak shot. Dani Hernandez was wide awake to thwart Dique, and a late firs t half Deportivo chance went the way of so many of their efforts, high and wide. Dique was severely restricted in the game by another excellent display at left back by Hector Hernandez. The defender was told he should look outside Tenerife in the January transfer window but he opted to stay and fight for his shirt. Midfielder Montañes has been cursed with injuries in his two seasons with Tenerife, he had to be replaced at half time by Jose Naranjo, and may face another few weeks on the treatment table. Racic got into a strong second half position before firing at the home keeper, and Malbasic hustled between a clutch of three defenders before losing the ball.

A booking for Milla after 56 minutes pushed him over the line for a suspension at home to Cordoba, the influential player will be a big miss. Deportivo were finding the Tenerife defence a hard nut to crack, Jorge rejected bids from Valencia, and Fulham, both were willing to meet the Spain under 21 players 3 million valuation but he decided to stay with his home town club. Winning the CD Tenerife player of the month award the last three times has been a rich reward as he has turned early promise into mature, disciplined performances. Naranjo has been one of the big let downs of the season, he is the teams top scorer, but with just four goals, he spurned another chance as the game went into the final phase.

Coniglio replaced Suso for the last 13 minutes, the Argentinian forward is still settling in after being lured over in the window, and added little threat. Underbarrena came on for Borja with two minutes left and his foul gave a free kick to Deportivo. It was heading for the goal until Dani made a double save to parry and then secure the ball and the away point.

Chill Wind Blows Some Good Memories On Icy Oxford Visit

Like the snow that was heading across the UK, I drifted into Oxford for an overdue visit to my roots. It felt plenty cold enough as winters fingers poked and prodded me, but as well as catching up with family and friends, I managed to rub noses with some dark brooding ales, and take some short, bracing walks.

It was crisp and sunny when I wandered down the Oxford canal tow path from Hythe Bridge Street. The grass area was a popular summer sandwich spot when I worked in a nearby George Street Co Op office as a spotty youth, and even though the Nags Head opposite has changed more times than Dr Who, I could almost taste their doorstep hot sausage sarnies. Narrow boats of many years wear lined the canal bank, many paying for long term moorings. Plump ducks waddled along the grass bank, watched closely by a large friendly cat that hopped from boat to boat with ease – maybe an undercover sea dog? I just wandered as far as the lock and bridge, and many other people were taking a stroll too. I made a mental note to do the full hour plus walk to Wolvercote on my summer visit, several delightful pubs en route will keep me cool.

Oxford keeps changing, not always for the good, lots of my favourite old pubs have gone, so it was nice to visit a revived ancient coaching inn, The Plough at 38 (to use the full new title), in Cornmarket Street. It had been Austin Reed tailors for as long as I could remember but the ground floor is now a bar with home brew ale to come, and the gutted upstairs is becoming a restaurant with a chef who trained under Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck. It’s just around the corner from my old haunt, The Three Goats Heads, which is a pale shadow of its old self. The Chequers in High Street was an early watering hole of mine and remains largely unchanged, they helped me to sign off my last night in style with a 6.5 % Broken Dream. It fortified me for the sideways wave of snow that was blasting along the High Street as I left.

Rewinding to earlier in the day, the harsh frost added a white coating to my stroll down from Headington, past the haunting spectre of South Park, where I was tortured by knee deep mud, and flying snowballs on cross country runs from Cheney School. Crossing over I walked through Headington Hill park with its trail of magnificent oaks, pines, squirrels, and robins. The path took me out to Marston Road, I had a brief but mind numbing career with the civil service there, all the buildings have now been swept away for Brookes University’s endless student housing blocks. Over the road and down past the forlorn and deserted Somerset pub, put me on the path into the University Parks. Hedges and trees were a brittle white, and the small brook was glazed over with ice. As I stood on the bridge just before the main park entrance, ducks and geese were bravely taking to the river, and swans swooped majestically to land near their huge nests along the banks.


The Parks were busy with joggers and dog walkers, I found it strange to see the cricket pitch looking as white as an umpires freshly washed flannels. Many a happy hour was passed by myself and friends when the touring international sides played the Combined Universities. We would book the three days off work, load up the cool boxes with beer, and relax in the sun to the soundtrack of willow on leather. I regretted not booking the extra Saturday for my trip, a chance to see Oxford City FC at home. Then the snow came, guaranteeing that match was called off anyway. So the weather was part curse, and part blessing, there’s a special harsh beauty to an English winter, and it is always nice to embrace my home city.