Archive for the 'Life' Category
Refreshing Changes Lap At Tenerife´s West Coast

Heat haze shimmered in a 35 centigrade stamina tester. most people chose to admire Playa San Juan coast under shade with cold drinks, but the recent widening and gentle sloping of the harbour wall path was a welcome option for my visit.

The flower beds were a blaze of colour, and dispite a Covid induced shortage of tourists, the beach had a fair sprinkling of bathers. The closed kiosks were frustrating but hopefully new tennants will be found once the times improve. This was my first chance for a close up look at the plaza that replaced the old church. Too stark and too angular from the outside, it was reprieved slightly by a spacious and welcoming interior, with bars and play areas.

Heading further up west, Playa de la Arena was busier. Their detailed, colour coded social distancing zones added a touch of class and even looked cheery after six months of turmoil and rwstrictions. Going back to school was the last thing on young minds around the craggy coast of Puerto de Santiago. Crab Island was in sedate mood to attract plenty of sea dippers, thankfully there was none of the clawing  waves that the area often delivers.

Los Gigantes was my first Tenerife base, the whimsical urban art of Momoshi made me smile even though the lack of passing holiday makers was sad to see. There was more art on the approach road to Los Gigantes beach, this time from Matias Mata (AKA Sabotaje Al Montaje). An even more pleasing sight was the slightly extended Los Guios beach, with more improvements partly done. An easy access ramp would be very helpful, and a new lifeguard tower would back up increased security.

My feet soon remembered the steep rise of cardiac hill as I made my way up and out of “the village” and my reward for the ascent was the sight of the fisherwoman´s statue looking resplendent ringed by a higher than usual burst of natures blooms. The days heat was well worth it to catch up with some of my favourite ports of call.


Past Future And Present Push Santa Cruz Forward

Cleanse your memory of forced museum visits in your school days. Times have changed and Tenerife capital Santa Cruz is a prime example of this. The Museum of Nature and Arqueology (MUNA) fitted the bill perfectly for the first of my months unlimited travel, residents pass,journey with Titsa bus company. The chance to rediscover some old favourites, neglected corners, and overlooked attractions suited the mood of the steady recovery from the Coronavirus lockdown. Phase Two was just about to dilute into the wider freedom of Phase Three across Spain and I´m keen to put Tenerife firmly back in the tourist window. The museums were offering free entry to their Santa Cruz and La Laguna buildings on a daily basis from 10 am to 5 pm until normality returned.

The three floors of the bright, modern layout before me, covered the birth and evolution of our planet and the Canary Islands in particular.  From minerals and rocks, through plants, animals, and natures volatile interventions, it was all in my face on large video screens, many interactive, and in a choice of Spanish, English, or German.They really pack a lot in to the building, the display halls were a treasure trove of interest and all a far cry from the stuffy presentations of my youth. The most famous exhibits are the mummified remains of the Guanche people, the original inhabitants of Tenerife, The foot in this photo is just a tease, the preserved skeletons are both stunning and shocking and best seen for yourself. Updates of all the museums are on the website along with normal times and charges.

Outside, Santa Cruz wasn´t standing still. The Auditorium had recently played a part in the filming of an advert for the new Porsche 911 Targa 45. A short splash away, the Floatel Reliance, a moveable hotel serving the oil exploration rihs, had just made its own showbiz bow. The long term upgrade of the giant worked out just right for its large kitchen galley to host filming for the new HBO series “The Head” which debuts on 12 June 2020. The Antarctic based mystery series will be shown in 30 countries, the Canary Islands are really striking oil these days as a location for film and TV projects.

Up in town, the La Recova market was buzzing and coping well with the social distancing restrictions. They have a keen sense of history and are restoring the original clock mechanism for the tower which has stood proud since the centre opened in 1943, I might as well name drop and tell you that La Recova was used for the final of BBC Masterchef a couple of years ago. Santa Cruz and La Laguna have an impressive quick link tram, it only seems a blink ago when I first discovered its sleek journeys but this last week it was celebrating 13 years of smooth running.

Down in the port, the Aida Nova cruise ship smiled sweetly, pleased to have found a temporary berth until the worlds ebb and flow regained some stability. Time for me to check my maps and time tables and to relish the prospect of my next excursions.




Splash Of Sport Eases The Pressure Of Coronavirus In Tenerife

Slow and gentle were not on my agenda as I raced into the calm blue twinkling sea at Playa de Los Cristianos. After over two months denied my swim by the coronavirus lockdown in Spain, it felt so relaxing and uplifting to take an 8.30 am dip at one of Arona councils newly established four aquatic sport zones in the south of Tenerife.

Leaving Kirby Towers, daybreak treated me to a bright full moon pinned against a radiant blue sky. Our nearest neighbour island, La Gomera, was already bathed in sunshine, and Roque del Conde was sporting a Donald Trump wig of wispy cloud. The slowly unfolding coronavirus recovery programme had full beach openings reserved for two further steps, around four weeks, down the line, Thankfully the well organised sport excercise programme was just starting up, so I headed for the selected part of the beach via the entrance by the sailing school. This led me directly to a narrow strip of shoreline that already had attracted a well spaced out bunch of swimmers.

Once in lapping distance of the gentle waves, people were discarding clothes to leave the beach looking like a mass homage to Reggie Perrin. Sun beds remained stacked, secured, and out of use. This was swimming unplugged, no sun bathing or castle building and no showers afterwards. The usual wash areas were among the sealed sectors and receiving a daily blitz of disenfectant as part of the fight against the virus. Life guards were on hand though to ensure safety, but the old beach is much calmer and gently shelving into the water thanks to the embracing arm of the ferry port and harbour wall. Once refreshed by my swim, I headed to the exit point by the small quayside where the boat excursions depart.

Arona aquatic sport zones cater for surfing, kayaks, and padel surfing and are also at Playa de Las Americas (2) and Las Galletas, Granadilla council have a similar scheme. Hopefully it wont be long until we can return to normal sea freedom but in the meantime its a pleasure that reminds us of what we are striving for.



Money In The Post Coronavirus Age – Can We Handle It ?

One of the first lockdown restrictions here in Tenerife was the suspension of coin payments on the public service Titsa bus service. Big changes are on the cards for bars and restaurants everywhere, not just limits to seating and time allowances. We will have to adapt to tight rules and regulations that will change our social habits. One of the big issues is the handling of frequently palmed coins and notes. Of course our flexible friends, credit and debit cards, as well as phone swipes, will eliminate much of the interaction but wont cover all situations.

Small purchases like a small drink or a coffee are usually paid for in loose change, also many low paid bar and restaurant workers rely on on coin tips to make up their wages. Another popular use for shrapnel is the charity collection boxes you see on many a counter. Spain hasnt gone down the road of plastic, washable notes, maybe coins could be run through a beer glass like cleansing machine, but its all more detail to slow the slick process of business.

There are already more radical alternatives to filthy lucre. Crypto Currency has a lot of supporters. A dinosaur like me can just about cope with Paypal, a crypto bar opened in Los Cristianos a couple of years ago and a friendly waitress shocked me by revealing a crammed page of the menu just devoted to crypto currency, as well as normal money, but she looked blankly at me when I offered Esso World Cup coins.The bar didnt last long which maybe tells its own tale. It makes my mind creak to think I have witnessed two changes of currency, in 1972 decimalisation shook up my UK piggy bank, and in 2002 the euro replacement of pesetas put my brain to the test once more. Amazingly pesetas can still be redeemed through the Bank Of Spain until the end of 2020, some estimates say there are millions of coins and notes tucked away out there.

All changes are met with pockets of resistance but we soon learn to live with them. Maybe the aftermath of the Coronavirus will inspire new easier and safer ways of trading and if all else fails we can take a quantum leap back to the days of barter and skill swaps. Imagine topping up your phone by handing a chicken or some other poultry over the counter. At least it would bring a more humane ring to the term battery hens.

Tenerife Dawn Chorus Is A Sporty Break From Lockdown

Colour coded like a long forgotten school timetable, Spain´s latest stage of coronavirus lockdown liberation saw me heading down to Los Cristianos beach front as dawn turned into daybreak on Sundy 3 May. This was the new daily sport and excercise innovation, I chose the early bird option in the 6 am to 10 am slot rather than the 8 pm to 11 pm late shift. Under 14´s accompanied by adults had tested the let out ground a week before and would now slot in before a short OAP stint ahead of the late spot.

Walking through the quiet town centre, I was ressured by the looming sight of Roque del Conde beyond the central car park.Both beaches were still taped out of bounds but attracted longing glances from the steady flow of runners and strollers. Santiago del Teide (Los Gigantes and Playa del Arena) had opened their beaches to excercise but the sea was still off limits. Here in Los Cristianos, Las Vistas was being raked and graded as part of its cleaning routine. Los Cristianos port and harbour were busy with inter island ferries, and fishermen landing their catch. On the old beach, the swimmers showers and surrounding areas were getting their daily disinfection. With the public out of the way, seagulls sunbathed on the beach as the sun started cranking up for a near 30 degrees day.

Normally both beaches would be surveyed from busy bars and restaurants but not even a coffee kiosk stirred. The next stage of recovery includes a planned gradual re-opening from Monday 11 May for eateries with outside terrazas, but with only 50% of seating in use – even that was a late update from a 30% limit after angry owners across Spain complained that it would have been unviable to open. There´s still a long way to go in the struggle against coronavirus, Arona and Guia de Isora councils have cancelled all fiesta celebrations until October. There´s a precaroius balancing act between allowing people some release from pent up boredom and frustration, and opening the flood gates to the risk of losing the hard fought ground gained in the battle against the virus. In the meantime we will enjoy the glimpses of freedom we get and keep plodding on.

Tiny Footsteps Towards Tenerife Lockdown Release

Phew! I wasn´t about to be exterminated. As Daleks go, this one was petite, smiley, and gentle, and the thermal reader she pointed st my forehead heralded my entrance into the Hiperdino Supermarket in Los Cristianos. It confirmed I was cold bloodied and free of coronavirus type heat levels. As the Coronavirus approaches the 40 th day of Spain´s lockdown it has been announced that children under 14 years of age will be allowed out on the streets from 27 April when the next phase of isolation starts.Its caused a bit of head scratcgingas people wonder how the police will know who is over or under the age, and parents with more than one child will cope-especially if their childrens ages fall either side of the divide. Parks and gardens are still sealed off, even the mini swings and slides outside the supermarkets, but at least the young ones will get some fresh air. Lets take it in the spirit it is meant. A reward for largely good self discipline since the lockdown began, and a pointer to further relaxations when this next phase gets to its 9 th May end.

Last week saw construction work resume and with it some support services like deliveries. White vans abound now in Los Cristianos as cosmetic work begins on many of the closed hotels. Restaurants and fast food outlets have also been testing the water with limited home delivery services. It looks like there will not be a big bang announcement end to our confinement, more likely a slow drip of slackening of controls as each month passes.Tourism is putting on a bold front, Tenerife is already pushing its charms under the campaign slogan of “Volveremos” We Will Return” , lets hope the airlines step up to the mark and everybody gets realistic about accomodation prices. Our capital Santa Cruz is showing a colourful and defiant front. Some 50,000 plants and flowers have been planted in the key points of the city. Begonias and petunias will help to show that the city is looking forward. Meanwhile infection and death figures in Spain are continuing to follow a downward trend, especially in the Canary Islands. Protective masks and testing kits are flooding in from around the world, the government are trying to ensure people aren´t trying to hike up the mask prices, the Titsa bus network and handing many out fre to passengers.A robot at the HUC hospital near Santa Cruz is now capable of processing 1,400 tests a day so that should speed up the safety programme.

There´s even hope i might see CD Tenerife resume their season in late June. The latest plan is for training to start on the stadium pitch in a couple of weeks with players in individual zones. That will be enlargedto 3 and then 8 player groups in later weeks before fully open training groups and virus testing for all the squad ahead of the return of games. This is assuming all the interested governing bodies can agree on their plans. I´m still dreaming of bars reopening and a cold Dorada with good friends. At least im not getting bored and losing mind. My latest project is to build a model of St Pauls Cathedral from my toe nail clippings.



Carrot And Stick In Tenerife Lockdown

Keys and bolts are not the literal consequences of the Coronavirus Lockdown but that didn´t persistent quarantine breakers from from getting a year, and six months in two extreme Tenerife cases in the last week. Helicopters and drones are spotting casual offernders enjoying illicit sun bathing on remote coasts, and arounnd apartment complex pools. By and large though here in Tenerife, people are living within the guidelines and life is ticking on with a few yawns and the odd frown or two.

It´s Day 30 as we start the third stretch of the restrictions, running up to 26 th April. Tough early controls have allowed some relaxing of restrictions from today, the biggest being a return of constuction worlk to boost the sagging economy. Spain´s President Pedro Sanchez, whose socialist PSOE paty hold sway in a fragile coalition government has already indicated that a further extension of lockdown is on the cards to 10th May – but there are strong hints of a relaxing of restrictions in that 15 day phase if death and infection rates continue to fall.The Canary Islamds government are pressing for more local leniency due to our encouraging figures and isolated distance from the mainland. That´s a long shot, the Baleares Islands could well use the same plea but Spain could see it as unsettling to a unified fight against the virus.

Here in Tenerife the first 30 dys have tested our resolve and brought out hidden depths of adaptability, responsibility, and new routines. Normality is now a cherished sight. The daily rubbish collections and the upkeep of public spaces, trimming hedgerows and palm trees all help to show we are looking ahead. The nightly 7pm clapping in support of the health workers are established as a tonic to the many who join in. Nature is paicking up the slack left by the absence of tourists, birdsong is loud and proud, the air is fresher, and the nights drawing out is also a great lift.

Some visitors are still waiting to return home. Swallows our mostly British, mature winter guests are hoping for flight updates. Jet2 upset at least two couples I spoke to who booked May flights but were then notified a few days later that flights and holiday packages will not restart until at least 17 June. Other nationalities are in a similar position, 372 Italians were repatriated in three planes a couple of days ago and more of an estimated 1,000 late waiters will follow shortly. Hopefully incoming visitors will start to trickle in from June but the summer tourist season will be a pale shadow of former years. Winter is the big focus as our climate gives us an edge over the summer destinations but its going to take time.

I can´t wait to get back out there to visit and publicise places, events, walks, and new adventures via my blog. Domestic chores will be cast aside in favour of swimming, exploring, and football. The latest disputed plans to resume the 2019-2020 Spanish season are looking at around 6 June with teams playing every 72 hours and four water breaks a game to counter the soaring summer temperatures and unrelenting schedule. Then a few weeks break and straight into the 2020-2021 season – with CD Tenerife promoted to the top flight? Well I can dream. Reality is much mor uncertain as money is always the sticking point in sport these days. Anyway, stay safe and keep positive.



Living In The Tenerife Lockdown

Nothing, no clatter of suitcase wheels over the tiles, nobeeping of car horns, amd mo murmour of conversation. It´s day 17 of Spain´s Lockdown and as I stroll onto my Tenerife apartment balcony at “Kirby Towers” in Los Cristianos, my mind is seeking reassurance that i´ve not been left behind by a secret evacuation. The tourists are gone and the hotels sit empty awaiting deep cleans but life goes on across the island. The pulse is slower and more subdued but still strong.

Mundane routine is a small sacrifice as the front line medical and emergency workers strive to stem the tide of infevtion and death from the coronavirus. Boredom and negativity are the enemies, chopping the days into manageable chunks is my chosen route to keep sane. Going out for supermarkets, chemists, and banks is still allowed in short daily, singular doses. The shelves are well stacked and the toilet rolls have lost their superstar status after the intial panic buying, and once past the plastic gloves and antiseptic gel, the aisles are spacious. People crave brief moments of interaction, a casual wave or a cheery hello at a respectful distance goes a long way. Police and army checks keep the general flow of people moving and many cars are being stopped to ensure they obey the one passenger limit. The Titsa bus company is running a trimmed down free bus service with just 18 passengers allowed on at any time, and a reduced ferry service continues o link the seven Canary Islands.

The weather has been a mixed bag, bright sunshine is great for balcony reading but the twinkling of the complex pool is a tease to me as it is sealed off like the beaches, they are forbidden fruit. Anything that attracts groups of people is a seroius no no. Cold nights have heralded snow on Mount Teide and short bursts of daytime rain have fuelled the indoor cleaning frenzy. Tenerife is a melting pot of different nationalities and backgrounds. Swapping stories of homeland responses to the virus is giving us a feel of the scale of the crisis. The daily 7 pm minutes support of the front line workers has caught the imagination along iwth the balcony messages of families, and provides a moment of solidarity, purpose, and shared hope. The recovery from the Coronavirus will be lomg and complicated, and for a tourism reliant island like Tenerife, the impact on business will be brutal. For now its one step at a time, encouraged by the outpouring of positive thoughts and actions, and the kindness of so many people.



Ships That Pass Tenerife In Their Might

By no stretch of the imagination  was it Antarctic weather in Santa Cruz. The 51.3 metre (168 feett) four masts of the Kruzenshtern clawed at the clear blue sky as 24 degrees of sunshine decorated the dockside with shadows of flags, rigging, and cross beams.

Built as the Padua in 1926 in Bremerhaven, the 114.4 metre (375 feet) long vessel joined the Soviet fleet after being surrendered to the USSR in 1946. Now proudly playing its part in the 200th anniversary of the first Russian exploration of Antarctica, the 66 senior crew and 120 cadets in the 17 to 21 age range were passing through Tenerife from a Kaliningrad departure and had eyes set on the next port of call Rio de Janeiro, on a Ships Of Peace tour. The cadets included six ladies, with another 10 as part of the senior crew. There was a nice mix of equipment and fixtures with original parts preserved next to more modern additions, helping the cadets to work, watch, and learn.

It was open house with the gang planks receiving an eager stream of members of the public with many varied nationalities. A small donated church and prayer area catered for the crew´s spiritual well being, and a Christmas tree on deck provided a focus for seasonal celebrations. Mutual respect filled the busy port air, six luxury cruise liners dwarfed the inter island ferries on the far side of the harbour. Names like Queen Victoria, Balmoral, and Artania brought a festive boom to Santa Cruz with 12,000 passengers swarming through the capital city.

It´s always good to see so much marine traffic using Tenerife, historically Santa Cruz has always been a popular stopping off point for the world´s shipping.  Looking around there were more recent additions to the waves such as the oil tankers and platforms, and pleasure boats also skipped across the horizon. Safe journeys to them all.

Daddy Finders Bring Families Together With Science And Sensitivity

Tracing adoptees birth parents has always been an emotional and difficult journey that requires a special dedication and compassion. Barbara Mason and Mick McNulty have those qualities and using DNA and genealogy, they have brought answers and comfort to 70 families in four years, with another 30 searches continuing in several countries. I became aware of their work after being introduced to Mick on one of his regular visits to Tenerife.

Everyone is familiar with family trees but mention Deoxyribonucleicacid, even by its more user friendly name of DNA, and you might start thinking of huge labs and banks of computers. Mick from Edinburgh is much more down to earth. “I was interested in genealogy, after being asked to trace someone’s father I learnt how useful DNA could be. It’s a bit like basic electronics and binary arithmetic and once you get into it, it’s like learning to read music. Barbara asked me to trace her dad, and we also found the father of a third cousin who was seeking her dad, and that started us off. When I went to the Mitchell Library on that first case, I used to joke I was off on a Daddy Hunt, so that led to the name of our group.”

The non profit making Daddy Finders operate through a Facebook page so they can offer self help, a forum for members, and private groups and messaging. “We have over 300 members and they can talk openly about their feelings and expectations. Barbara runs the organisational side of things and is exceptionally good at dealing with enquiries as she knows when they first make contact they may have had to pluck up courage, and she puts her own experience to good use. We don’t charge for our work as we think it is wrong to put a financial barrier on someone trying to find their parent or child. Everything costs money, so we welcome donations to pay for overheads.”

On to the method. “They need to buy a DNA testing kit online, about 80 pounds including post, there are several versions out there but we prefer Ancestry DNA for our methods, often we are working on 30 cases at a time so having the same system helps, and about half of the people on Ancestry DNA have added their DNA to their family tree. Invite us to the home testing and we can start by building a clients family tree and then attaching DNA values to it from the kit chart. Its a process of elimination, once we match values to people on the tree. We have solved cases with no known parent but it is much harder.” The time scale varies from case to case. “I started one case on a Tuesday and found the father on a Thursday, but I´ve been chasing one case for two years. Our cases have touched all corners of the globe such as America, Canada, Greece, Jamaica, Australia, and Spain.”

Most people would have symbols, numbers, and dates constantly spinning in their heads but Mick has a knack of treating it like a puzzle to be methodically solved, and Barbara makes sure that they always smooth the path for the anxious searchers, before, during, and after the trail has been illuminated. You can start your journey here.