Archive for June, 2014
Chopping For Tuna In Los Abrigos

Forget the little flakes staring up at you from a small round tin, this was the daddy of the tuna armada. When the chefs cut it open and showed a cross section of the body I was licking my lips like a starving moggy, tuna and salad cream sarnies were always my lunch break favourites at school. Best of all this monster of a fish was just a bit part player in the presentation of Granadilla de Abona’s Pescado Azul promotion. Blue fish don’t make naughty undersea DVD’s, but they are more oily around the muscles than the many other species that land up in the one year old Lonja Pesquera fish market in Los Abrigos.

Ask anyone in Tenerife where to get the best fish dishes and they will point you in the direction of Los Abrigos, a fabulous village just 30 minutes bus ride away from Los Cristianos. It looked beautiful and serene when I arrived early morning, several of the restaurants were advertising their special menus for the promotion that runs until 6 July and the Calle La Marina walk down to the quayside was dotted with a few people taking the air and enjoying a coffee.

The marquee area at the waters edge was bustling with activity as a stage cum kitchen was set up, tables were placed at discreet intervals, and bottles of locally produced wines were chilling in bowls of ice. It all got underway once the team of local chefs arrived with Juan Carlos Clemente taking charge as they unloaded the star tuna from its icy packed coffin and onto the worktop. Once the cutting up started I noticed a few guests faces going a little pale around the gills, thankfully we didn’t get something like the opening sequence on Quincy.

I never realized that a tuna could yield so many cuts of meat, they were all marked out for us, but then I was always puzzled how fish had fingers and cod had balls. As all this went on, the guest chefs cooked up some sample temptations using various sauces and spices and when they were finished the storage racks were raided for trays full of interesting earlier creations that the waiters passed around. My favourite was the Albondigas (meat balls) made from tuna in a tangy sauce. It would have been rude of me not to try the Granadilla de Abona wine that was being offered around, there didn’t seem to be any pint glasses so I settled for the smaller pourings of white and red, both impressed me.

The promotion runs until 6 July in El Medano and Chimiche as well as in Los Abrigos with a total of 10 restaurants offering special meals built around blue fish, mackerel, sardines, and chicharros are also included. If fish really is good for the brain I live in hope that my mornings nibbles might knock a few years wear and tear off my gray matter.

Los Cristianos Sunday Market Is Wide Open

Some might call it an ill wind that has brought some good and some would say it’s a welcome wind of change but either way Avenida de Londres is the new home (at least for now) of the Los Cristianos Sunday market.
Even in the less scorching winter months the popular collection of around 600 stalls at the Los Tarajales end of the old beach could get very claustrophobic and sweaty. Rumblings of discontent from the Arona Ayuntamiento grew louder until the original market was shut down on Sunday 8 June 2014. There were so many diverse objections pitched up you could be forgiven for thinking the council just wanted it closed no matter what. The trading area had reportedly spilled out over the original boundaries, there were health and safety issues over access, and inadequate toilet facilities, so the council claimed.

After the closure many doubted it would return but a lot of hard work and lobbying by the organizers, including a demo outside the town hall, brought a swift compromise and last week (15 June) it reopened at short notice a short walk away going up the hill between the two roundabouts beside Victoria Court. So with the second week under way I nipped down for a look around, the first thing I noticed coming down the hill was an ambulance and a cluster of mobile toilets, clear signing, and wide spaces between the rows of stalls. It seems it would not just be the traders breathing easier.

For those who haven’t indulged, it’s pretty standard fare, cheap replica fashion and sports clothes, watches, electronic gadgets, hats, and more Aloe Vera than you can shake a plant at. Everybody loves a bargain, particularly in these hard times, and it’s also the thrill of the chase, elbows working overtime as some good old fashioned rummaging takes place. I expected to see bargain bins of Spain and England World Cup souvenirs, you probably couldn’t give them away now. It was so nice to be able to stroll up and down the stalls with room to perform a lavish musical number if you so wished. The breeze was very welcome and down each side there were breaks in the stalls so people could dip out at easily to grab the shade of the palm trees.

Each intersection was clearly marked, there were market officials identified by their t-shirts to offer help, and one of the nearby apartment blocks was doing a roaring trade in cold drinks and snacks. I spoke to a few friends who were working stalls and they were pleased with the new set up, some of them must have sweated pounds off at the old site. They also told me that pretty much all of the former stall holders had got themselves a new pitch.

The only cloud on the horizon is the uncertainty, they have a provisional agreement for 6 months but there is still talk of returning to base camp or being closed again. With less than a year to go until the local elections, councilors are trying to be all things to all people, and will be keen to please the various nationalities working the stalls and also keep local bars and restaurants happy with their big boom day of the week. For now though it looks like an improvement to an outsider like me, you can check it out for yourself from 9 am to 2 pm every week.

Coasting Along As Tenerife Summer Turns Up The Heat

Even that big blue wobbly thing called the sea has its moods and stages, I try to keep an eye on the Tenerife coast as there are always subtle changes going on. This week my travels centered on the south east part of the island and as always, it was a pleasure.

There are still plenty of places to explore so I finally got around to checking out Abades to Poris, a section I regularly pass on the bus to Santa Cruz. It looks quite and sleepy from the TF1 motorway partially due to the abandoned church that is highlighted against the sea beyond. I found it had plenty to offer during a two hour visit that included the old leper colony and the Punta Abona lighthouse. There’s an in depth look coming soon, and I’m sure I will going back to dig a little bit deeper.

Los Cristianos is my home and it’s easy to slip into the same daily route so it was good to swing out a little wider past Los Tarajales beach, the promised makeover has been a running joke for at least 15 years. There’s not much wrong with it, we need a raw, wild beach, Las Vistas and Los Cristianos beaches are more than enough to hold all the sun and sand lovers. Standing on the rough shingle beach near Montaña Guaza I could appreciate the wild beauty and the view across the main sweep of Los Cristianos. Another walk up the mountain must be on the cards soon, the views from there are wonderful.

El Medano was overdue a visit so I headed down there and as soon as I got off the bus I could see the council had been busy. The main plaza has been leveled, no more big steps, and the old stage has been removed, also the clutter at the back has been removed and new artificial grass laid to give a clear view of the sea and Hotel Medano with its pier. I nearly walked into a private office, just realizing in time that the cramped Tourist Information Office has upped sticks and settled in a bigger home at the back of the plaza. It was nearly full tide so the main beach was reduced to its smallest width of sand as the waves rolled in. I was a few days ahead of the big triathlon and showers were being set up like a car wash for swimmers to pass through after the opening 1.5 kms through the waves.

The wind has played a big part in sculpting the sandstone coves of El Medano and it was blowing strong, over at the sandy expanse of Los Balos the kite surfers were riding high and dominating over the few wind surfers. A walk round to the other side of the bay and round the headland exposed me to stronger winds at El Cabezo where I cover the World Windsurf Gran Prix each year. More work had been done here with yellow paving slabs being installed, just a little tweak but it made a difference. My stroll allowed the tide to subside a little so I could go back to Leocadio Mochado beach and into the sea from one of the coves revealed by the retreating tide. It was wonderfully refreshing as I swam to the pier and back to claim my towel and clothes, stashed on a rocky shelf. There was no doubt the old El Medano magic was still there, now where to go next week.

World Cup 1990 The Italian Job

Here we go again on the World Cup finals roller coaster, for me it always brings back memories of Italia 90 and a few days of pure magic. I dug out this report, written pre France 1998, and was shocked to think it refers to 24 years ago when I was a young slip of a lad.
Competitions were always a hobby for me and I had a decent strike rate but even better than the chance of winning a years supply of semolina pudding was a Fiat World Cup competition run with Fox FM, a local Oxford radio station. The questions were easy multiple choice with the answers contained on the entry pack so I had low expectations of winning through the large response. I nearly fell off my office chair when Fox FM rang me at work and asked an easy tie breaker. I couldn’t believe how obvious the answer was and hesitated for what seemed like an eternity before being told “Your off to Italy”. I managed not to swear to their listeners but did cause quite a commotion at work.

The deal was a four day trip to a game involving England or Scotland and the waiting for details was agonizing but a week later the confirmation letter arrived. I was going with a friend to Sardinia to see England v Egypt in the last group game. The flight from Luton was at 7am, so me and Nigel thought it best to go up the day before and stay at a cheap B & B for an early start. We arrived for opening time and toured the area, via many pubs, seeking a cheap place to stay but by 10pm we were still in a pub and gave in to a taxi to the airport and splashed out on a nearby hotel.
The early alarm rudely awoke us for a frantic walk down the road to an assembly point in time to meet the other 50 or so winners to pose for a lethargic group publicity shot. As the plane rose above the clouds we also gradually rose above our hangovers, and the warm sun that kissed us as we disembarked in Cagliari dispelled any lingering after effects. The coach to the hotel complex took the driver half an hour and the brochure we had poured over hardly did it justice. It was just two floors high and spread out among green lawns. A stroll through a super cooled lobby brought us to a large circular bar, half inside and half out facing a large pool. After dumping bags it had to be beer, mmm this could be fun, no cash up front, it would all appear on a room tab before leaving. Onward and out by the pool, over a lawn, through a small gate and there it was, a deserted, private, sandy beach, stretching several miles in each direction and within a few seconds of the bar – absolute heaven.

The next couple of days were a relaxed mixture of swimming, drinking, and exploring. We were fairly isolated but a few hundred yards down the coast was a camp site where many casual traveling fans had settled overlooked by a large contingent of the infamous carabinieri. Stories were circulating about the young trigger happy conscripts blowing away any fans who dared to even breathe heavily – thankfully they were just stories. The England camp was nearby up in the hills but it was hot enough to discourage the curious from paying a social call. Buses passed our slip road packed to the roof so it was a rag tag, strung out procession of England’s finest ambassadors that trailed into town each day along a busy, pavement less road.
Cagliari itself had plenty to offer. On it’s fringes were small shops and bars all awash with ever souvenir imaginable of Italia 90. The locals were, on the whole, pleased to see us as tourism was just about their main income. A few of us went into the heart of the town alongside the harbour and took the long hike to the ground to have a sneak preview. It was fairly new and impressive and it seemed strange to turn a corner only to be confronted by three large BBC outside broadcast vans. The authorities decreed that all bars would close in town 24 hours before the game, a decision, we were told, that was met with anger by the local bar owners. So it came to pass on the last trip to town the return bus was full of clanking bottle and crate laden fans, wisely and openly stocking up for the drought. I was disgusted to find that a bottle I had bought to drink on the bus was alcohol free.
At the hotel our traditional early evening pasta meal was followed by a frantic last drinking session at the bar with the manager, a Basil Fawlty look and behave alike, seeming to keep track of the slips of paper that recorded the ever growing tabs. Then came match day. It was a slow relaxed build up around the pool as we waited for our afternoon coaches to take us to the ground. Before we left the hotel it was time to settle the bills, the printouts showed alarmingly large numbers of Lira but after conversion most were pretty reasonable. However one middle aged couple were having a domestic, she queried the bill as they had only made a few phone calls, hubby looked sheepishly at the floor before admitting he may have wandered down for the odd beer after she had gone to sleep.

We must have looked a frightening sight as we boarded the coaches in our silly coloured shorts and football shirts with regulation blotchy sun burn. We had been given strict instructions not to take things that could be construed as offensive weapons, such as keys, coins, and combs. On arrival at the stadiums far flung car park we were escorted for the 15 minute walk to the gates where we were frisked. The young Carabinieri seemed almost embarrassed by the fuss, many posed for photographs with us and our home made banners. Once inside we found ourselves grouped together in a corner with a great view, a few thousand England regulars to our left were in full voice. Away in the other corner of the ground was a small group of a few hundred Egypt fans complete with their own brass band. Large metallic musical instruments obviously could not cause ass much damage as keys, coins, and combs.
After the formalities, kick off was soon upon us and we proudly joined in the singing with the main body of England fans, even though the game was nothing to sing about. An embarrassing draw was looming but thankfully Mark Wright, an Oxford boy, came to the rescue with a fine soaring header. In one motion he rescued not only our mood, but also our entire World Cup campaign. Suddenly the songs were of celebration and relief. “Let’s all have a disco” they sang, in previous games it had been “let’s go down the disco” as an alternative to watching poor football. It took ages for our escorts to march us to our coach, and even longer to negotiate the traffic out of the stadium. Back at the hotel everyone slipped quietly away only to re-emerge a few minutes later with their secret stashes of hidden, illicit alcohol.

It was party time around the pool, our singing was loud and boisterous and soon attracted the attention of the carabinieri patrolling the beach, wary of the nearby campsite. They arrived, struck a few menacing poses, but soon sat down smiling when offered a drink and a good natured night followed.
My thirst earlier in the day had depleted my stocks and I ran out of beer quickly. However a few with an eye to our prompt getaway the next morning, retired early leaving plenty off spirits which I helped to dispose of. Overcome with emotion, my legs became a bit wobbly and I was helped to the hotel lobby by a couple of kind carabinieri – a photo opportunity too good for Nigel to miss. The next morning was hazy. Barely five minutes after my awakening, I had packed and boarded the coach. Most of the trip to the airport was spent with my head firmly bowed as we passed through the barren countryside. The flight was smooth and punctual and my emergence from the mists coincided with our onward arrival at Reading station. A couple of good English pints in the nearby pub gave me time to reflect and check my souvenirs. More by luck than planning, I had remembered to add them to my case. I just hoped the players had enjoyed themselves as much as I had.

Granadilla Tenerife Sur Can Almost Taste The Promotion Cake

They came by the cart load to see the new football heroines of the south Granadilla Tenerife Sur grab a 2-1 lead over Fundacion Albacete in the first leg of the play off final for promotion to La Liga. The timing was perfect as this was the day of the big local Romeria, we noticed that fact as we overtook a barn on wheels full of party people in full Canarian costume. The traditional homage to San Antonio de Abad was put on hold for a few hours as around 1,000 people enjoyed the free entry to the stadium.

Just inside the stadium gates everyone was given a large crusty loaf from game sponsors Tarteria, I would have been just as happy with a little tart. The sponsors also had a man dressed as a pink cake who spent much of the game being chased up and down the terracing by a man with a megaphone, I think they were local internet pranksters Rudy Y Ruyman.

It was refreshing to see both teams play such good flowing football, it was pretty even early on before GTS cut open the Albacete defence to set up Maria Jose Perez for a neat finish. The cousin of CD Tenerife’s Ayoze was delighted to be back in action after a crunching leg injury in the Canarian Championship final and celebrated with her team mates. The human cake got a bit carried away and ran onto the pitch, the referee had a word with the home officials but wisely didn’t take any further action, come on how would he explain it in his match report.

Albacete backed by a large section of fans, came back strongly and pinned Granadilla down, the defence did well but with five minutes to the break a strong header at the far post tied the score. That left the home coach, Andres Clavijo, plenty to think about at half time as the crowd enjoyed the party atmosphere with the beer flowing and a couple of drummers providing the beat. My loaf was in danger of becoming toast as the sun scorched down, I was still waiting for someone to bring the fishes to go with it. People were sat on vantage points high up on the surrounding half finished buildings and the return of the players was greeted with a roar.

Albacete had ended the first half on top but Granadilla looked determined in the second half as they used the wings well, Reichel, the main striker was a constant threat to the visiting defence as they were kept under sustained pressure. It paid off as a hurried clearance produced a hand ball in the box, the referee didn’t hesitate and pointed to the spot, up stepped Maria Jose Perez to convert the penalty and spark wild celebrations. There was still plenty to do with the away leg to come, the home squad has plenty of depth, they signed three players from Catalan side Sant Gabriel at the end of the regular season and they used their subs well to keep the team fresh. The players collapsed exhausted at the final whistle but the slender lead gives Granadilla an excellent chance to achieve their dream away next weekend.



Black Slick Of Defeat Washes Over CD Tenerife Season

With nothing to play for the pressure was off for CD Tenerife, time to emerge from the shadow of six straight 1-0 defeats. Time to repay the fans for their unstinting loyalty while the club became a laughing stock following a mid season of quality and promise. What did we get though, a half hearted 0-3 surrender at Sporting Gijon, the players looked like they had just emerged from Tuesdays Mahou brewery visit. Key players like Edgar and Ricardo were suspended and Ayoze didn’t even bother to travel this week as his move to Newcastle has been rubber stamped.

The fringe players should have grabbed their chance to impress but in the first minute goalie Diego Divas dropped a high ball under pressure and was lucky to get a second chance. Then the normally reliable Carlos Ruiz was slow and timid to let Lekic waltz round him and fire a second minute touch in to make it 1-0. When the second goal went in after 15 minutes, this time from Carmona, I suppose it was a change from single goal deficits but it still depressed me.
Tenerife managed a mini revival, a Loro free kick just cleared the bar, and Aridane spurned the best chance when he headed the ball down and wide in front of goal. Just after the half hour Ruiz confirmed his worst display for the team as he gave up the ball to Carmona who set up Scepovic to make it 3-0. We were watching amid several TVs in The Phoenix in Los Abrigos and by this point Britain’s Got Talent was actually starting to look appealing.

Half time swaps of Alberto for Ruiz, and Ayoze Diaz for Camara made little difference, Sporting were toying with us, a cheeky long shot went oh so close and if Sporting hadn’t relaxed the total would have risen. Borja came on for Cristo after 63 minutes, surely his farewell run, Aridane proved too slow to convert a good pass into a shot, and the juggling dog on the other TV was showing more control. The final whistle put us out of our misery, seven games without a win, and 641 minutes without a goal, whichever way you slice it, that is a dismal epitaph to the season.

Saying Cheers To Suso As CD Tenerife Say Cheers To Mahou

It was like CSI Candelaria as we all donned our white paper suits for a tour of the Mahou brewery. Your average super star footballer would have been straight on the phone to his agent, all hurt and unloved at being forced to wear anything without a designer label. CD Tenerife players are a bit more down to earth and arrived from morning training in a mix of cut off shorts and laid back t-shirts, a few arrived in their sponsored cars but most were on a team bus.

The visit was a thank you acknowledgement to the brewery sponsors of the pre season Mahou Cup, usually played over two legs against the Pios from Las Palmas. It was a double mission for myself and The General as it seemed the perfect time and place to present Suso Santana with his Armada Sur player of the season award. Here’s a weather flash, summer is in full flow and it was damm hot as we drove around the industrial estate trying to find the brewery, I knew we were close when my tongue started salivating.

Once everyone was assembled at the visitors lounge we fanned out in the hall to hear a speech from the brewery officials as all us media folks snapped and filmed. The first call was the storage yard where mountains of bottles and barrels towered above us as a fork lift shifted further supplies around. Cue a big squad line up complete with Mahou officials before they were split into two groups for a pre tour introduction talk. At this point we seized the moment and posed Suso for a snap with The General handing him the trophy.

Then it was dressing up time in the oversize tissue suits and we were led through part of the factory. We had both done the Dorada tour but this was a smaller operation, although they produce Reina as well. None of the machinery was in action but it was stifling hot inside as we were up close and in amongst the machinery, they don’t do public tours, quite a few safety measures would be needed for regular visitors. By a stroke of luck I had researched my subject at the Gastro Canarias food fair a few weeks before when I had sampled all their bottled range and even rung out the barmaids apron for good measure.

The tour took about 30 minutes before we could dump our disposable Alec Guiness suits (ask your Gran) at the visitors centre. With Ayoze Perez due to make a 2 million euro move to Newcastle we did contemplate salvaging the suits to sell to Geordies on Ebay but thought better of it. Most of the club officials joined us in the tasting room, President Concepcion was a notable absentee on the day. We held back as of course CD Tenerife were the main focus of attention but once they were served, several had sin alcohol, we were invited to partake. The sweet irony of the visit amused me, at the weekend three pio players were fined 6,000 euros each for a curfew breaking drinking session after their defeat in Mallorca. Their guilt was proven on social media posts but here were CDT free to enjoy beer as they pleased, I hope they sent phone pics to those pesky pios to rub it in.

At first there were nuts and nibbles on the tables but then I noticed a magic window behind the bar, the waitress was pulling in trays of ever bigger offerings through small cakes, samosas, and then burgers. I’m sure after we left they would have got onto pheasants and swans. After a few final pics and thanks to our hosts, The General and myself made our exit and headed back south. Saturday is the final league game and the last chance to end the dismal losing streak, then the grim reality of new contracts or the dreaded release will focus minds before a busy summer of squad strengthening.

Wave Of Youthful Laughter And Colour In Arona

Hitting me with their rhythm sticks and their dainty red caps, the mass of harmonious voices stopped me in my tracks just outside Tenerife Sur at the bottom of Funchal. Fiestas are many and often in Tenerife but I was sure there were none today so I asked one of the grown ups in charge of the musical youngsters what was occurring.

A multi regional gathering was the answer with the party I had seen coming from Barcelona, a few yards further on I found another group with different but co-coordinated outfits in a flamenco style and complimented by little baskets of flowers. They were all heading for the Los Cristianos cultural centre, a bit of research told me it was an Encuentro featuring eight colleges and 300 pupils from across Spain, three from Barcelona, two from Leganes, Madrid, and others from Cadiz, Valladolid, and the hosts from Santa Cruz.

Later I found an even bigger gathering at the old beach with team games breaking out all over the sand under close supervision. One of the organizers told me it was called Jugar & Convivir (play and live) and set up by Ofra Bella Vista college in Santa Cruz with help and support from the culture and sports departments of Arona council. It looked brilliant, the sea was a little choppier then usual on the more sheltered beach but teams were venturing into the water to play between inflatable goals, over inflatable nets, and into inflatable basketball hoops. Others were indulging in tug of war with one side trying to pull the others into the sea.

The groups are here for five days and the purpose is to share culture, music, and sport, sounds like a very worthwhile aim to me. As I left the beach the speakers were being cranked up in Plaza del Pescadora with some reggae themed dance music. Let’s hope they enjoy all that the fine facilities of Arona have to offer and make lots of new friends along the way.


Whimper And No Bang As CD Tenerife Surrender The Dream

To cheer your team off the field after a sixth straight 1-0 defeat shows great loyalty and belief. To slink off the pitch after an awful display, with only three players acknowledging the fans shows contempt and ingratitude. That gulf in response was as wide as the gap in ability between a weakened CD Tenerife and the visitors Real Murcia who were hardly troubled after their first minute goal.
Hopes of making the play offs hung by a slender thread, especially with Camara and Suso suspended and Newcastle bound Ayoze Perez conveniently injured. The home defence were caught cold as Saul threaded in a pass to Kike Garcia after 30 seconds and he took full advantage to hit his 22nd goal of the season. Tenerife had nothing to lose after that and should have thrown everything at Murcia but they didn’t seem up for the fight, Edgar did quite well trying to imitate Suso down the right flank and after 14 minutes his cross landed perfectly for Nano but he popped his chance over the bar. Aridane managed a header that flashed by the post and Bruno saw his header clip the bar although he had already been whistled for offside.

Murcia have a strong claim to a play off place and showed plenty of hunger, the home defence tightened up with Bruno in awesome form to shackle Garcia. Roberto looked sound in goal when the visitors breached the defence but again the midfield couldn’t create enough openings to threaten their confident opponents. Tenerife faded even more in the second half, Aday came on for Nano and patrolled the left wing with limited success, it might have been wiser to switch Edgar to his preferred left side. It would have helped if the ref had awarded a penalty just after the break, Molino clearly handled the ball in the box but we have come to expect little joy with these calls.

There was a big feeling of anti climax, we didn’t expect much against such a good side but it would have been encouraging to equalise and set up a storming finish. Several Tenerife players will have put question marks over their usefulness to the squad for next season. Rivero replaced Ricardo and again looked very ordinary, Juanjo came on for Cristo and was another lightweight. Everything seemed half pace, even the scoreboard wasn’t bothering to show the time elapsed or the scores from other games. It’s a good job the 7,825 crowd kept up a good tempo, thanks were due for a better than expected season. Murcia’s celebrations at the final whistle showed how much they want promotion, Bruno hurdled the boards to swap his shirt for a fans scarf but there wasn’t even a hint of a team response and Ayoze couldn’t be bothered to say goodbye. Next Saturday it all wraps up at Sporting without the suspended Ricardo and Edgar.