Archive for December, 2008
Tenerife north – it’s a wrap for christmas

The sound of angelic voices, singing lottery numbers, floated out from all bars and restaurants, it was draw time for the El Gordo (the fat one) Spañish christmas lottery, and all eyes and ears were trained on the 4 hour television coverage of the draw. All this unfolded as I started a northern tour in Puerto de la Cruz, well I was overdue a visit and wanted to check out how christmas was shaping up.

The sea was lively at the Playa de Martianez as I headed down the hill from La Paz, and the sun was bursting through in style. The 2 sea front cafes were still awaiting demolition, under the law of the coast, but I settled on the terrace of the open one to survey the scene. I don’t think I have seen the front as busy before, tourists crammed on every seating spot and surfers enjoyed the breaking waves as a small group murdered a few tunes on the pan pipes. there is a new addition to the tourist scene, horse drawn carriage rides, a Calash, as they are called, took off with its load and did a quick tour of the city, arriving back around 20 minutes later as i finished my coffee. It’s quite a stylish new addition at 10 euros for a single passenger, 12€ for 2, 15€ for 3, and 18€ for 4.


Things change, people and places change, even my socks change now and then, and in the few months since my last visit the new fishermans workshop had taken form next to the tourist information office, tucked just off the shingle beach down Calle Las Lonjas. Puerto de la Cruz was looking resplendent with poinsetias in full red and yellow bloom and some subtle but effective christmas decorations. I love the white wire sculptures like these below at the foot of the church in Plaza de la Iglesia. Making my way to the bus station, i was unsurprised to see it still standing – just, after many more recent pronouncements that it would finally be demolished before it falls down. It’s getting really old, dirty and wobbly – mind you aren’t we all.

Puerto xmas

On to Santa Cruz and a chance to see the annual nativity scene in the government headquarters near the Plaza de España. I was a bit dissapointed to see it was condensed into one large display this year, rather than the usual sweeping landscape with shepherds, wise men etc, but it still looked good and it’s free to see with donations going to a local hearing charity, Funcasor.

Santa Cruz belen

The docks are always worth a nosey, and there was certainly a large crop of ships in port, from the Oriana cruise liner to the second oil platform to pull in over recent weeks. The 1,400 ton China built “Noble Hans Deul” has arrived riding piggy back on a barge called “Transporter” and will be in for repairs for a few days to come. Over in the car park area, a large stage had already gone up for the Christmas Day 10pm free concert by the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra, a fine tradition that attracts massive festive crowds.

So the preperation is almost over, and christmas is warming up in the wings. CD Tenerife gave their fans a lovely present on Sunday with a 2-1 away win at Alaves to send them into the festive break in 5th spot – maybe 2009 could be the year they get promoted back to the top league – we live in hope. Anyway this seems a good point to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to anyone reading this – I can’t wait to see what 2009 has in store.


Kicking sand in our faces – tales of Tenerife beaches

Nice new walkways to improve access, and better facillities can make a big difference to Tenerife beaches, but sometimes the warning bells start ringing when the word improvement is used. Playa de la Enramada between Playa del Duque and La Caleta is a classic example. Last week the first stage of “improvements” were officially unveiled and blessed by the Adeje council, but visiting, a few days later, I was shocked to see what a mess has been made of the once wonderful beach after transforming it from the old look (top pic) to new.

Enramada old

Let’s pop back in time a few months to when  rolling banks of pebbles led down to the often wild sea, and there was a lovely white sand chill out area at the La Calete end, called El Chiringuito, which included a bar and a beach volleyball court. sadly this was all demolished as part of the 550,000 euros project. In April the first Costa Adeje Triathlon started from the beach, and was a great success, with the rugged nature of the sea, a fitting challenge to the contestants.

Enramada work

Now the beach has been scraped flat (below) and covered with tons of sand from the old Los Cristianos beach, other “improved” beaches around the coast have already found that new sand doesn’t bed down very well, and the new sand has been eroded near the shore, so swimmers still have to walk over pebbles. The beach is backed by high banking and has no natural character any more. there are 2 more phases to be completed, including a walkway along the rear of the beach and a park area just above and behind the sea front.

Enramada new

I suspect the overall idea is to make the beach more attractive to the posh 4 and 5 star hotels on the edge of El Duque, but it has just made it look bland. There was no pressing need to do anything to this beach, it’s nice to have a variety of bathing and swimming spots along the coast, but the council would no doubt call this progress -what a great shame.

CD Tenerife have their fans Singing In The Rain

What’s the best theme park in Tenerife? There’s no contest really, if you want a white knuckle ride of excitement with an unpredictable outcome, it has to be the Heliodoro Rodriguez Lopez stadium in Santa Cruz, home to CD Tenerife. On Sunday they served up another thriller that had even the most hardened fans squirming and preying to the football gods before an eventual 3-2 win over Hercules.

On paper this looked like a tight game, Hercules mean defence had only let in 8 goals all season and they were perched in 3rd spot in the Spanish Second Division. Tenerife seldom let form affect their display, and they set out at a fast pace making the visitors look very ordinary. After 25 minutes Alfaro picked up a ball from Oscar Perez (below) and fired Tenerife into a deserved lead. It was largely one way traffic and no surprise when Juanlu scored with a volley after 38 minutes to make it 2-0. It was looking almost too easy.

Oscar Perez

Time for a few twists and turns, firstly Tote from Hercules was sent off for a foul on Manolo but his team mates hit back well with Abel Aquillar pulling a goal back just before the break as the tenerife defence stood and watched.

As the second half kicked off, the heavens opened and rain poured down on Santa Cruz, Tenerife seemed to lose their way and when Sendoa tied the game after 59 minutes, the 13,247 crowd sensed the worst. Tenerife battled hard but poor finishing and spoiling tactics from the visiting goalie seemed sure to fritter away the remaining time. Hercules lost another player after 86 minutes as Sergio picked up his 2nd yellow card, and CDT surged forward.

Bertran attacked down the right and floated a cross into the box, Alfaro met it perfectly with his head and sent the fans wild with an injury time winner. Players jumped the advertising hoardings and fans vaulted the pitch surround to share their joy, a quick clearance allowed the last few seconds to be played out before another pitchside celebration erupted at the final whistle. Phew, there is certainly never a dull moment with CD Tenerife.

Super Oxford City round off my trip in style

How wonderful, a rare chance for me to see my beloved Oxford City at Court Place Farm, and they did me proud with a 2-0 win over Bashley Town. What started as a crisp sunny winter afternoon descended into a freezing second half once the sun went down, but the hoops were quick out of the blocks with a 2nd minute goal from Jamie Brooks and added another in the second half from Craig Faulconbridge for a convincing win. Crowds are not quite so big as at CD Tenerife, in the British Gas Premier Division (that’s the old Southern League) , the only good thing about only getting 217 people in, is you can be sure to get a burger at half time.

Oxford City v Bashley Town

Anyway the visit to Oxford descended after the football, into a few days of drinking, well I do miss the real ale, but at least I managed to squeeze a little work into my trip, meeting up with Pablo Gonzalez de Chaves Fernandez, a young student from Santa Cruz. Pablo is studying Sports engineering at Brookes University in Oxford, funded by a grant from the Fernando Alonso Foundation, it made a good story for the local Oxford paper.

On Monday I headed back up to Manchester and Pam’s welcoming arms, before heading out to catch my Monarch flight back on Tuesday. Before the flight we spent the morning at the Trafford Centre, not so much a shopping hall, more like a village. What a mammoth and extravagant place, full of elaborate ballastrades, balconies and statues, it’s even got it’s own cinema and a new extension with an Italian style piazza, complete with mermaids drinking out of a huge fountain. The only thing it was lacking was customers, the cleaners outnumbered the shoppers, obviuosly not impressed by Gordon browns latest ploy to make them spend, spend, spend.

Trafford Centre

The flight was on time and smooth, although barely two thirds full – another sign of the times. It’s good to back in Tenerife, now the catch up starts – and of course CD Tenerife at home at the weekend – not a bad life is it.

Biting cold and childhood memories in Oxford

SharkMaybe I am aclimatising to the frost and ice now im down in Oxford, I almost feel like skinny dipping in the River Thames – I did say almost. I have been visiting a few old haunts around Oxford during my stay, more of the pubs later. Hope you are suitably impressed by the famous headington shark, it’s been in that roof since August 1986. The house owner, Bill Heine, an American ex law student had the 25 foot creature sculpted in fibre glass by John Buckley. It arrived under a veil of secrecy, scaffolding and covers went up and then one morning it was removed to reveal the shark, much to the horror of neighbours and the indignation of the local council. After a big planning row, it was allowed to stay, probably because it had gained so much world wide publicity by then.

Why is it there? i hear you scream – I have very acute hearing. it is called “Untitled 1986” and is supposed to say something about CND, nuclear power and Chernobyl. It has done well for its owner Bill Heine, who became a bit of a local celebrity and then a presenter on BBC Radio Oxford, he later added a giant pair of candy striped kicking legs on the front of his Moulin Rouge cinema, and a giant pair of white Al Jolson like hands on his Penultimate Picture Palace – both have gone now.

When i was younger, so much younger than today, hey thats a good idea for a song lyric, I used to go to the local cinema down the road The Regal, for the saturday morning ABC Minors Matinees. Oh what jolly good fun it was, a cartoon, a main film, and a serial such as Flash Gordon or The Black Whip, try Googling them and you will probably get something much raunchier these days. The cinema closed years ago and after a brief spell as a bingo hall, was left to rot until earlier this year when 2 entrepreneurs bought it and gave it a face lift to become a big live music and private hire venue, I have been itching to have a look, in my young days it just left me itching.

The Regal

As a grade 2 listed building, The Regal has been restored with all the old grandeur and ornate decoration revived. The gorgeous and very helpful Charlotte on reception must have thought i was an escapee from Jurassic Park as she let me in to have a quick nosey. The memories came flooding back, it was 6d to sit downstairs and 9d to sit up in the balcony, a good vantage point to flick sweets etc. I recall the brushed red tip up seats, the kiora and slimy hot dogs and even packets of poppets chocolate sweets. Each week anyone with a birthday was invited on stage to get a free ticket and a goodie bag, some kids seemed to have several birthdays in a year. then there was the song we all had to sing before the films started, I can remember it even now, but suffice to say it was all about how we were all jolly pals together – corny or what.Â

Regal inside

There was also a series of ABC Minors badges you could collect, wish i still had mine, probably very collectable these days and worth a bob or two. Usherettes ( not a job option these days) would stand down the front below the stage in the interval, in their red uniforms, selling choc ices and sweets such as Old Jamaica, a sweet imitation of tobaco, you wouldn’t get away with that now. It was a simpler age, not always better, im sure many of the kids still went out after the show and caused mayhem, shoving bangers up a cats arse or nicking sweets from Woolworths pick and mix – I always went for the raspberry ruffles. Nice to see the old place put to good use, the day after I was there, they had an afternoon tea dance-isn’t that what Max Mosley called his little parties? or is that just my smutty mind.