Archive for May, 2016
Praise Scorn And Hope As CD Tenerife Draw Last Home Game

The ovation for departing midfield veteran Ricardo was warm and deserved, likewise the appreciation of the team’s progress under novice coach Pep Marti. The end of season party mood in the 1-1 home draw with Ponferradina was offset by a demo and prolonged chanting against President Concepcion’s intention to serve another two years.

With play off hopes gone this was always going to be a time to look at fringe players but injuries to Aitor Sanz, Saul, and Suso, suspension for Carlos Ruiz, and Copa America duty for Dani Hernandez with Venezuela dictated changes. The defence had a very unfamiliar look, Aurtenetxe took the left back slot, Cristian Garcia the right, with Alberto and German in the centre, Roberto got another call up but it all looked a bit wobbly. It was a different story up front, Choco seems to have continuous injury problems but again looked sharp and has a strong understanding with Nano who just keeps on improving.

The forward potency was soon making an impact, a long ball was neatly nodded down by Choco to Nano and the rising star reacted well but hit the post. Ponferradina still needed points to avoid relegation and weren’t shy in having a pop at the target, they put a speculative shot just wide and Casado came close with a free kick that cleared the bar. It was strange to see a big gap at our popular baja end, the noisy hub was dispersed as a protest against the President “empty seats call for change” being the message. We did get back to a goal less first half but Ponferradina looked ripe for the taking. It took just over 10 minutes from the restart for the opening goal, a breakaway found Nano on the left and he delivered an inviting cross which left a defender and the goalie scrambling, Choco saw his chance and slid in to bury the ball, his 10th goal.

When Jorge came on after 66 minutes for Ricardo it gave us the chance to applaud the released midfielder, 241 games in two spells at the club brought more ups than downs from the hard working 33 year old. Choco nearly doubled the lead, again he ghosted in but the visiting keeper got a hand to the ball. Tenerife were the better side but maybe the changes and a little end of term feeling weakened their resolve, even the scoreboard had given up part of it’s duties. Melero swung in a long flighted free kick to the far post and Raillo had room among three defenders to nod it down past Roberto.

It stayed at 1-1, Javi Lara for Moutinho and the final minute for Cristo Gonzalez in place of Omar couldn’t conjure up the win. There’s still the last game at Bilbao Athletic to come but thoughts are turning to building for next season. The big challenge is not to let the good work slip away, that means nailing down Nano and most of the loan players like Javi Lara, Saul, and Moutinho. The crowd of 8,279 was good with nothing to chase, it’s been an enjoyable season and the Armada Sur are not the only ones itching to get back into the Heliodoro stadium.

Spring Hotels Serve A Feast Of Song And Dance

You know it’s going to be a good party when there are two mermaids in the hotel lobby pool. That was just the start of Spring Hoteles 5th annual music celebration, once I had taken the red carpet under the pool side arch by the Arona Gran Hotel there was a tidal wave of entertainment.

It had been a typically scorching Tenerife day and the sun was setting slowly behind the Los Cristianos ferry port, but in his raised booth looking over Las Tarajales beach the DJ was sewing a cool vibe as 250 of the great and good of the major tour companies mingled. Artist Rafa Gamez delighted the growing crowd with his well observed and skillfully sketched caricatures. The mayor of Arona Jose Julian Mena was in attendance and the cocktail welcome was backed up with a steady flow of assorted long cold drinks.

It’s going to be a big summer for Tenerife, bookings are soaring and all the hotel groups are relishing the prospect of welcoming a bumper crop of visitors. Even on a late Friday evening there were plenty of people taking the night air on the beach promenade below. They could only guess at the musical treat about to unfold for us as the Bravissimo Show burst onto a large stage with an explosion of music, dance, and saxophone. It was breath taking stuff as they raced through several lavish costume changes while the dancing got more and more seductive. For older memories like mine it made Hot Gossip look like a Cold Chat. After taking their well earned ovation, the dancers dropped down to the sun lounge and encouraged guests to strut their stuff too.

That was going to be a tough act to follow, my taste buds were already tingling at the thought of the lavish buffet dinner that awaited in the main restaurant. We entered to the sound of a flamenco guitar duo, my eyes nearly popped out as I passed the banks of exotic food that seemed to be never ending. Lobster, prawns, a stampede of salads, and a range of meats cooked to order as we waited, how’s a boy supposed to choose. The salmon won my vote, with canarian potatoes and a hint of salad I was under way. I’ll admit I returned for some turkey breast, prawns and a few more tempting treats.

As we enjoyed our meals, Rafa Gamez passed between the tables to capture some more faces with his pencil, and Steve Johnson mesmerized with his close up magic. A few Estrella beers and I was ready to tackle the stunning range of cakes and pastries, the chocolate fountain was luring people in so I had to dip a few profiteroles in the sweet flow. By now some of the ladies were displaying their nifty flamenco footwork, as someone with two left feet I was very impressed. Even fully loaded with food, there was plenty of enthusiasm for more live music as we adjourned to the big hall for Salvapantallas to mix classic rock and pop that had people up and dancing into the early hours.



Sharp Shooters Nano And Choco Keep CD Tenerife Eyes On The Distant Prize

Perky and thrusting, there were no thoughts of premature capitulation for CD Tenerife as they turned on the style for a 3-1 home win over Real Valladolid. The pressure was off with a promotion play off place disappearing over the horizon but our players are proud and stubborn and two goals from Nano and one from Choco Lozano left the tiniest of chances alive from three remaining games.

This was not a day for sitting back, Tenerife flew at Valladolid, Suso put a shot over the visitors bar after just two minutes. Nano was ready to chase everything up front and the midfield was strong and supportive with Mountinho and Javi Lara on top form. Roger was the main threat up front for Valladolid, he wasted two half chances, one straight at Dani Hernandez, and one comfortably wide. The opening goal on the half hour was a peach, Nano ran onto a deep ball from Aitor Sanz, his finish was perfectly measured and timed.

Javi Moyano got a mixed reception on his return to Santa Cruz, Suso was under his skin all game, the CDT captain used his knowledge of his former team mate to press all the right buttons. Home goals normally arrive in the second half but it was all change as Nano took a pass from Suso and beat two defenders before plundering his 14th strike of the season. There was a let off just before the break, Mojica smacked the post with his free kick and thankfully the rebound was scrambled away.

Aitor Sanz had a muscle pull and departed for Ricardo at the restart, it weakened the midfield but Tenerife were still attack minded. Suso went on one of his determined runs but this time it fizzled out before he could make it tell. Dani kept alert with a two fisted clearance as Valladolid sensed a lull in the home momentum. Launching another attack they caught the Tenerife defence napping and Oscar was able to elude four defenders to score. It brought an attacking substitution, Choco left the bench as Javi Lara went off, the Honduras striker showed no ill effects of a knock picked up the previous week.

Nano looked to have completed his hat trick as he leapt to head the ball down into the bottom corner of the Valladolid net, it was a close off side call that denied him. Soon after he put another shot onto the roof of the net before retiring, with a muscle tweak as Omar replaced him. Cristian Garcia went close with a header at the visiting keeper, the slender lead didn’t reflect the dominance of Tenerife but there was still four minutes injury time to come. Choco showed his speed of thought and feet as he rounded the advancing goalie and split two defenders with a perfect shot to make it a 3-1 victory.

Harsh reality may finally snuff out the promotion dream but this game showed the progress made during the second half of the season and the hope it promises for the next campaign. It’s a shame the crowd dropped to 7,714 but us lucky ones there can now make our leap of faith stretch to at least another 90 minutes.

Song Of Norway Is Music To Tenerife Ears

It was like a flag collectors convention in Los Cristianos as the Norwegian community celebrated their national day, 17 May, with some musical help from their Canarian friends. Stopping for a moment of reflection just in front of the old beach, the Norway flags fluttered in the breeze with those of Spain, Tenerife, the Canary Islands, and Arona municipality.

This year was the 202nd celebration of their release from Danish rule, although it took until 1905 to get full independence . The gathering point of the parade was the Scandinavian church   at El Coronel in Paseo Maritima, it serves as a spiritual and cultural home for visitors from Sweden as well as Norway. I met some long term friends from Norway and their Vice Consul Toril Merett Wulff. The Pastor of the Norwegian church Age Losneslokken was also eagerly awaiting the celebration.

Back home in Norway the parties would have started early morning with children and King Harold leading the procession in Oslo. Smaller regional celebrations would be popping up all day with children very prominent in the fun. There were plenty of proud flag waving youngsters with beaming smiles in Los Cristianos and the Arona Municipal Band led the parade with some well practiced Norwegian tunes. It was a fairly short circuit around the block by the old beach, up to the church plaza, and back down to the church but they got a warm welcome from holiday makers, cafes, and restaurants, everyone loves a party in Tenerife.

I love the mix of cultures in Tenerife, the Canarian church also hosts Polish services and German organ recitals. Even as the parade returned to their Scandinavian church for a meal, at the cultural centre just up the road they were gearing up for a Russian comedy night. There was a lot more celebrating to do though for the representatives of the 800 Norwegians in the province of Santa Cruz (Tenerife, La Gomera, La Palma, El Hierro) and another gathering was taking place in Gran Canaria.

Injury Time Salvation For CD Marino

Football is a game of emotions, CD Marino thought they had experienced them all this season but their nerves were shredded to the final whistle as they closed the relegation trap door with a 1-0 home win over Union Sur Yaiza. Javi Marchena will have hazy memories of the victory as he was felled by the full force of the ball in the face at close quarters with just 15 minutes to play. Dizzy and in pain he needed treatment on the pitch but in time added for that stoppage Quintana crashed the ball into the Lanzarote team’s net to ensure survival.

With two games to play and a slender two points above the drop zone CD Marino were in attacking mood but they had to on guard for Yaiza breakaways, a goal conceded would have left a mountain to climb. Coly unleashed the first home attempt on goal but it rose over the crossbar. Kevin Castro at right back robbed the ball from Rami when the green shirted forward threatened and pushed the ball upfield. Hammad is one of the later arrivals to the Marino team, he’s made steady improvement and this was to be his best game in the home shirt, he worked tirelessly and tested the Yaiza defence twice in the first ten minutes.

Javi Marchena forced a corner as Marino turned up the pressure, the ball came out to Coly, his sliced shot wasn’t far off target. There was a warning at the other end as Yunes turned smartly to let fly with a shot that lacked direction. Adan was always a handful for the visitors defence, he beat two defenders before they managed to head the ball clear. Full back Javi of Yaiza tried his luck with a run that finished with his shot tickling the home post. It was pretty tense, Marino looked the better side but needed a goal to underline the fact. Coach Constantno shuffled his pack, replaced Alberto with Quintana, and Connor moved to right back to let Kevin Castro return to his former forward role.

The urgency was clear in Marino’s game, a deep free kick saw Marco Cicovic leave his goal area to launch the ball to the eager front runners. Josito closed the first half by floating in a hanging cross but there was no Marino head to meet it. Hammad thought he had made the breakthrough just into the second half, his shot pinged back off the bar with the keeper beaten. Coly nearly made a goal from nothing, his brave low diving header caught the Yaiza defence off guard but went the wrong side of the post. Pablo came on for Josito, his size added a new threat to the Marino attack and Coly tried his luck again with another crisp shot.


The injury to Javi Marchena cranked the tension up a few more notches, he was helped off the pitch as Cristo joined the game. Time was ticking away, signals from the bench kept the players aware that the team just below them, San Jose, were drawing 1-1, if both games were tied it would leave Marino sweating on a difficult away game at title hopefuls Las Palmas B. Quintana shrugged off a defender for a near miss, Cristo was causing plenty of problems to Yaiza’s right back but still the goal wouldn’t come. Moving into the extra minutes Kevin Castro was fouled, the free kick sparked a last big push and as the ball flew loose and Quintana struck the blow that finally saw off Yaiza. As the final whistle blew players fell to the pitch, tears flowed, and the celebrations started.

It was a nervous final home game but Marino showed great character and team spirit, survival meant so much to this young squad, many had grown up at the club, earning their way up through the age levels. There’s plenty to build on, the spirit is good and the passion for the badge is strong. Before the game the clubs other teams were presented to the crowd, the senior team is the aim for all of them and next year they will compete again in the Tercera Division of Spanish football.



Ref Twists The Knife As Dream Slips After CD Tenerife Home Draw

Suso was having another game of fire and energy but he looked a forlorn figure crouched on the pitch not even able to raise a good rant at referee Valdes Aller. It was beyond good, bad, or indifferent, this ref seemed to have a genuine dislike of CD Tenerife. Denying a clear Choco penalty with a 1-0 home lead, it hurt when he then gave one at the other end for a 1-1 home draw with Elche that leaves the play off dream dangling by a thread.

A win was always the required result, maybe CD Tenerife could have been more adventurous in the first half but the players and the coach showed the right spirit after the break. Cristo Gonzalez got the nod over Choco for a starting place but showed that he still has some way to go before reaching the level of strike partner Nano. All eyes were on 20 goal Elche forward Sergio Leon (no 9), he may be gracing the shirt of Middlesborough or Everton next season but Carlos Ruiz had him in his pocket for most of the game.

Aitor Sanz was having a strong game in midfield, he stopped full back Noblejas with a crunching tackle as he tried to round the defence. Leon managed to get a shot at Dani Hernandez, it was high and testing but not clever enough to evade his welcoming gloves. A goal line clearance was needed to on the half hour to prevent Elche from going behind as Tenerife finished the half strongly. Second half, attacking the Grada Popular goal always brings out the best in our players, I think they like to see the bloodshot whites of our bleary eyes before shooting. Nano had an early opening on the left, Pelayo made a meal of his attempt to get past him and defused that one.

Cristo should have done better when the ball came to him in a good position but he hesitated and the moment had passed. With an hour gone it was time for change and Pep Marti made a bold double swap, Choco for Cristo, and Omar for Moutinho. It added a bit of fizz and the opening goal followed. Suso squared a lovely cross for Nano, his finish was cool and clinical. It should have been 2-0 within minutes, Nano was the target man again, it looked even easier but somehow he managed to loop the ball over the goal with the keeper stranded. It was Choco’s big chance next, he got into a clear scoring position in the box before Armando came at him to floor him directly in the refs line of vision. Valdes Aller didn’t blink, he just ignored it, not even a booking for Choco, if it wasn’t a foul it had to be a dive.

There was insult to be added to this error a few minutes later, Elche broke and Raul Camara clipped an Elche player in the box, he milked it for all it was worth and a penalty was given. Dani got his body to Sergio Leon’s shot only to see the ball agonizingly fall to Noblejas to tap in for 1-1. With 7 minutes left Javi Lara replaced Raul Camara in an effort to push for the winner, Nano was again close but the keeper reacted well. Into injury time, Saul couldn’t quite curl his attempt past the keeper, Suso had a strong penalty call, and at the death Javi set up Nano but the pass just eluded him. What a cruel outcome for the 10,337 crowd, just five games left, away wins are going to be needed now to salvage the dream.


Many Milestones Of History In Santa Cruz

Working the celebrity line up I bowed slightly upon meeting Charles Darwin, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Jules Verne, and King George V. They had nothing to say for themselves but that was hardly surprising as they were plaques on 60 new tombstone shaped monuments at Santa Cruz marina.

The great and the good have all popped into Tenerife over the years, I knew of some like Agatha Christie who is honoured with a bust at La Paz in Puerto de la Cruz to recognize her stay when writing a short story. Leslie Charteris is another famous crime writer who called in, he penned a tale about Simon Templar chasing jewel smugglers through the Canary Islands, maybe with the upcoming TV revival of The Saint that yarn may yet be filmed. There were many surprises among the 24 Brits and 3 Irish figures from history immortalized in stone just a ferry hooter away from the shopping heart of Santa Cruz, each features a small biography in Spanish and English including the dates they passed through Tenerife.

There’s a lot going on at the portside and it looks smarter with every visit I make. The new cruise ship reception centre on the inland side is growing quickly and will be a classy addition. As it stands now cruise ships moor over the far side and disembarking passengers have a long wait for shuttle buses to the city centre and beyond to tourist attractions. The new centre will fast track visitors through and a new green covered ramp nearer the marina gives a short cut to Plaza de España for walking shoppers. Some of the older, rusty ships that have been hanging around since the dawn of time have been moved to the far flung corners of the port near the oil platforms awaiting a spruce up, and others removed to give a less cluttered look to the place.

Was I being stalked? The Spanish Navy ship Cazadora was in port, the day before it had been moored off Los Cristianos. I tried to blag my way onboard but was met with stony indifference, hardly surprising as it turns out, they were on a drug busting mission and had seized 800 kilos of synthetic drugs from a yacht. One of my main missions was to check out the new monuments, and I was mightily impressed. Well researched and informative they help to evoke the sense of history surrounding this important stop over on old trading routes. Who would have thought Robert Baden Powell, founder of the Scout movement would be rubbing cement shoulders with author Graham Greene, and William Bligh of Mutiny on the Bounty.

Some of the revolutionary figures were reminders of violent struggles from the past, I was going to check out another testament to civil unrest. Yes I was about to be detained by the Spanish National Police, or at least their exhibition, The Victory Of Freedom, showing at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Calle Castillo, the main shopping street. This looked back almost 50 years to the police fight against terrorism, in particular ETA, the Basque movement. The AUNAV bomb disposal robot in the entrance hall drew some strange glances from passers by, but many curious people were lured inside to the free exhibition to see more.

The first Policia Nacional terrorist death was in 1968 when a chief inspector was killed. Just inside one of the early brown uniformed dummies held a Astra 960 revolver but further inside there were also video and written news reports plus victim testimonies, much of it in English as well as Spanish. One of the most infamous displays was the GEO sniper rifle that was used in the aborted assassination attempt on King Juan Carlos by ETA in 1977, this was in a glass case. A Russian grenade launcher made another menacing sight, also encased,, complete with remote control explosive devices. All this may sound a bit gruesome but it is an important part of history, maybe the recent nature of the exhibits are what make some people squeamish but a few yards down towards the port the famous Tigre canon that helped to repel Nelson, is on display, an equally deadly weapon as its modern ancestors. It was certainly a different exhibition and well put together, history has lots of lessons to teach us in Santa Cruz.

Prevention And Flexibility Guide The British Consul For South Europe

Being an advisor, instructor, and pathfinder for ex pats abroad must be a right royal pain at times but William Middleton takes it in his stride, even with 17 countries to oversee. The British Consul Regional Director for South Europe is quite a title to carry but fitting in a stop off at Adeje Cultural Centre (below) , William was relaxed and informal as he met some of the bloggers, journalists, and community leaders of Tenerife South.

With less than two weeks until the online voting deadline for Brits abroad in the In or Out EU referendum, life after 23 June was a hot topic. So why have no clear plans been announced for a possible life outside. “The truth is no one knows what will happen if Britain chooses to leave, its uncharted waters, there is no provision for a country leaving in the treaty. So much would depend on the attitude of the other 27 states, but one thing is sure, nothing will change overnight.”

Good news for those fearing a Millennium Bug type meltdown (you know, the one that never happened). In the meantime the British Consul is relying on the priorities that underline the consulate service on all other issues. “ Prevention is a great thing and we like to remind people that registering on the local council pardon brings so many advantages financially, as well as building safeguards against any future health and age problems that may arise. Helping the most vulnerable is our aim, sadly many people only think of us in times of dire need but we have so much easily available information that can smooth people’s everyday lives.”

Reaching out to communities is a big aim of the British Consul, in this computer literate age, accessing information and filling in forms can be done at the touch of a screen. This answered one of the concerns about the British Consul in Tenerife being based in Santa Cruz (Mary Suarez and Helen Keating made the short trip down to Adeje) with no part time southern office these days. William’s kingdom covers 37 posts and 130 staff so he has plenty of experience of spreading himself thinly. Based in Madrid, he clocked up 130 flights in three years, and managed calls at three different Balkan countries in one day. The South Europe region stretches from Portugal to Turkey.

William, originally from Oxfordshire, started out as a business journalist with The Times but has now 14 years under his belt in the British Consul service. When he left for further meetings in Tenerife I had a browse through the wealth of information on courses and events in the Adeje Cultural Centre, with an inexpensive café and auditorium on site it’s a great example of a wide ranging resource for all nationalities. On a beautiful clear day the flower cross on the church was still impressive a few days on from Dia de la Cruz and the view over Adeje down to the coast was inspiring. The cockerel on the weather vane could see for miles, but the British Consul Regional Director for South Europe has even further horizons to keep an eye on.


Glory Of The Crosses And Beauty Of The Petals In Santa Cruz

Hardly a shop was open in the centre of Santa Cruz and the streets were strangely quiet even for a Tuesday morning. On the outskirts of the Tenerife capital I stepped off the tram at La Paz into a buzzing throng of people in Las Ramblas, Dia de la Cruz (Day of the Cross) was in full swing as music and laughter filled the air.

Every year is special so why not for the 522nd aniversary of the official founding of Santa Cruz, to the left the wide walkway in the centre of the busy road was full of stalls selling traditional food, games, and crafts. A troupe of musicians wandered, spreading good cheer, and children made the most of this extra May 3 holiday. From the bridge over the barranco I looked down to my Heliodoro home in the knowledge that I would be back for another CD Tenerife game on Saturday – all was well with the world.

Retracing my steps past the dancing fountain I found myself among the first batch of crosses made specially for the day, these were put together by schools, youth groups, and clubs and showed plenty of fertile imagination. Cartoon characters, animals, fruit, sweets, and even a homage to Cervantes were woven around the crosses. It was very busy so I had to drift with the flow, again on this side of Las Ramblas the wide central area was a car free zone as traffic worked its way past on outside lanes. The old bull ring still looked unloved as posters curled and paint peeled, was it really ten years ago a competition produced plans to revamp the old arena. Henry Moore’s statue reclined under a shady tree as people took turns to snap pics of the youngsters creations.

Approaching Parque Garcia Sanabria the crosses changed to the larger, adult, flower versions, and what a beautiful sight they were. The clear blue sky fought for attention with the bursts of coloured petals, framed against the overhanging trees from the park. The air was sweet and scented, gardeners were swooning in admiration, and I was suitably impressed as this was my first trip to the celebrations. Beyond the end of the crosses, there was a childrens play area but in the park below more temptations awaited.

Several days of Fiestas de Mayo had been taking place in Parque Garcia Sanabria, it’s always a special place but had an increased vibrancy with the walkways lined with flower and plant stalls. The flower clock near the main entrance had been given another change of colours and positively pulsated with pride. I was a little upset to have missed the children’s puppet show but after a sulk and a stamp of my feet I recovered my composure. In the centre of the park by the fountain a stage was brimming with singers and musicians in traditional dress. The paths that radiate out from the fountain had plenty of food and drink stalls including a Dorada van selling exotic bocadillos (rolls) with black pig, salsa, and yoghurt.

You can never have enough flowers, Santa Cruz Ayuntamiento (council) have just had 55,000 flowers added to beds and borders around the city, I don’t know how much that cost but it’s worth every cent. It wasn’t just the park that looked lovelier than ever, the roadsides and junctions looked wonderful all across the city. Down by the port there are a lot of concreted areas but creative use of flowers took the hard edge off them, it helps to shout a huge welcome to visitors from elsewhere in Tenerife and on the many cruise ships. I wasn’t the only one snapping away at the councils range of choice that included kalanchoes, tagetes, begonias, geraniums, petunias, surfinas, and marguerita daisies.

Santa Cruz is always moving forward, if you pop back to this blog I will share the rest of that days activities – including meeting 60 of the world’s most famous people and being detained by the national police. Dia de la Cruz was an outstanding success and the regular weekend shopping promotions will ensure a steady flow of retail raiders. Concerts, sporting events, and fiestas will keep the pot boiling but it seems every time I pop up from Los Cristianos it’s for a very different reason – I feel another tick list coming on.