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Underground, Overground Wandering Three In Icod

What a contrast, from the majestic pine trees, vibrant flowers, and bird song, to the cool, dark, silent world of Cueva del Viento below Icod in the north west of Tenerife. I had visited the volcanic lava tubes before but it was nice to share the experience with Andy and Jim from the Armada Sur as well as the others on the full mini bus from the visitors centre where the tour started.

The first hint of the contrast came when we peered through the metal grid of a 17 metre chasm. Surrounded by greenery and vegetation it has swallowed up a curious local lady many years ago, luckily she survived and it led to the full exploration of the 17 kilometers of tunnels on four levels. Our trip was in a 180 metre downward plunging section with a guide and plenty of informative information. We learnt at the visitors centre about the different types of lava, this Tenerife natural wonder is of the layered type where lava has cooled and solidified to sculpt bizarre shapes and textures. Cueva del Viento (cave of the wind) is the biggest set of volcanic tubes in Europe and the fifth longest in the world.


The day started at Playa de Las Americas bus station, originally there were to be 8 of us on the outing but only myself and Andy Van Man boarded the 460 bus for Icod. Jim phoned to say he was at the wrong bus station but a frantic car catch up saw him hop on at Tejina. As we drove up through Chio and Santiago del Teide the cloud was hovering low to mask the scorching sun. We arrived in Icod a couple of hours ahead of our booked tour time so after a stroll through the historic back streets we settled outside Bar Hesperides for a few Dorada’s as we watched the world go by. For our delight and entertainment we were treated to a Mrs Merton look alike, a female Jabba the Hut impersonator – who turned out to be English, and a scattering of pretty young ladies also caught our roaming eyes.


A taxi whizzed us up the steep winding roads to the tiny village of Cueva del Viento and the visitors centre. We paid our 10 euros and collected our helmets with mounted spot lights and listened to the introduction talk and video. Suitably clued up, we piled into the minibus for another steep climb to a clearing were we set off across natures garden. Several expanses of lava rock gave us a better understanding of how the lava had poured down from Pico Viejo, next to Mount Teide, and created a 300 metre wide lava field. Part of the ancient Camino Real track, that linked remote parts of Tenerife, became our path as we neared the entrance to the tubes. Before putting the helmets on we had to pull a cloth protector over our heads, some of us got yellow ones, not a good colour for CD Tenerife fans. With the helmets tightened and the lights turned on we descended one by one down the entrance stairs.


In the first large cave we perched on the ledges as our guide explained more about our surroundings, a mummified body of a Guanche king had been found on a high ledge, and a small metal door in the distant rocks was a crawl space into the main tunnels where most of the tiny species of creatures live. Our journey led the other way through a tight, twisting, plunging tunnel with an uneven rocky floor. Our lights cast flickering shadows on the walls and ceiling to show the many small offshoots and the tree and plant roots that poked through. The air was chilled and drops of moisture plopped now and then as we explored some of the collapsed rocks. At the end of our stretch of tunnel we were just under the grid covering the chasm the old lady dropped down, and just to the side was a tight lava pipe leading down to the lower level, there are plans to offer that as an extra option for braver explorers.


Retracing our steps we stopped to look at some spiders on the ceiling of the passage and also to have our brief exposure to total darkness. The warmth of the late emerging sun caressed us as we climbed back to ground level, on the walk back to the minibus we were able to check out some obsidian rock and learn how it was used by the Guanches to make rough tools. By the time we got back to the visitors centre the whole experience had taken two hours so feeling educated and thirsty we rewarded ourselves with Dorada’s at the nearby bar and ordered our taxi back to Icod. As luck would have it we had well over an hour until our bus back south so we put the time to good use with more beer outside a large bar near the bus station. There was still time to pack more into the day, breaking the journey in Tejina we were able to meet the General in Bar Achimaye and enjoy some food and drink while watching the first half of the Europa League final before the last leg into Playa de Las Americas.


I jumped out in Torviscas to meet a couple of friends over from Bournemouth at The Wigan Pier, the second half of the football, extra time, and penalties allowed me to force a few more beers down and we even won their quiz. That was it for me – oh apart from a few nightcaps at The Merry Monk in Los Cristianos. It was a great day in good company, our next lads trip out is shark wrestling or hang gliding – as long as it includes beer I’m up for it.

 

Oxford, Change Here For Rabbits, Chimney Cakes, and Traveling Cats

Wednesday is a good day in Oxford as the outdoor market is on at Gloucester Green. It has evolved out of the old cattle market further out at Oxpens but the sheep, pigs, and hens of my youth are long gone and it’s more of a food, bric a brac, and general tat market but always produces some interesting sights, sounds, and smells.

 

In between meeting a few old work friends I had a wander around the stalls  and noticed how international the flavour is these days. I could have feasted on Japanese Gyoza dumplings or Hungarian Chimney Cakes and there are still plenty of old school traders with their cries and banter. Back in Cornmarket Street the entertainers were serving up a range of diversions from the ever popular cycling white rabbit churning out bubbles to a pretty good rock guitarist doing a cracking version of Gary Moore’s Still Got The Blues For You. I also met a traveling gentleman with his bundle of possessions and his white and ginger traveling cat Mr Pinky. This guy gets around the country and showed me an album of photos of Mr Pinky at various stops – there was a nice one taken in The Mall with the Queen playing a distant supporting role to the Michael Palin of the feline world.

 

I was good and kept off the beer until the evenings, otherwise I wouldn’t have got any of my ongoing paper chase done. Wednesday I popped down to the Rose and Crown in North Parade to see landlord and owner Andrew Hall, a good friend from the ice hockey days. Mine host was in good form and the beer and memories flowed. Thursday evening I met some former work friends at The Evenlode in Eynsham, a posh food place, we weren’t eating, the food prices were quite high but the drinks were amazingly low and they had a couple of decent ales. Friday was my last night and brought the richest harvest of strolling players. Starting at the Far From The Madding Crowd, the side alley pub was invaded by Morris dancers complete with face make up and woodland outfits – they looked like they might even have a badger or two hidden about their persons.  This group of around 15 dancers were the Armaleggan Border mob, lured out by the previous days arrival of spring or the vernal equinox as it’s called. Sadly there wasn’t room for them to do their full routine but they downed a few pints before moving on to their next pub stop.

It was a difficult night weather wise to parade the streets, some pubs were doing Sport Relief fund raisers, and then there are always the weekend nutters milling around, bouncers were on the doors and shouting up a beer was a long process at the main bars. I adjourned to Headington, as the bus passed Bonn Square the morris dancers were performing in the teaming rain to a small crowd of half interested tourists. The Britannia Inn in London Road was re-opening after a weeks intense makeover and as they were boasting 8 cask ales I had to give it a go. The slightly intimidating attitude of town was missing, instead it was a warm bright pub with some great ales, the food menu looked good too, I will test that on another visit. At some stage a free round was bought for most of the people in the main bar, I never did find out who the benefactor was but it was a nice bonus.

 

Saturday morning arrived too quickly, my train to Birmingham airport wasn’t as full as I feared, Reading away to the Blues but either their fans went up early or not at all. Fairwell Oxford, hello Tenerife, back just in time for a CD Tenerife Sunday game. 

 

Blue Heaven As Marino And Tenerife Hit Form

The walnut on my whip, the cream on my pudding, fair to say I was rather happy at CD Tenerife’s brilliant sign off goal in the 1-3 win at Lugo. It capped a wonderful day that started with a fourth straight win for CD Marino, this time 1-0 at home to Vecindario.

 

There was a surprise with top scorer Murci dropped to the bench for CD Marino but Balduino was leading the line and the home side soon tested the keeper. The Gran Canaria side struggled to put any good moves together but when the ball broke for them, captain Ruiman managed to show a little desire and Ruben even gave Alberto’s hands a little tickle with his shot.

It was all Marino, Balduino looped an effort over the bar, Airam and Yosimar tormented the Vecindario defence and their goalie looked ill at ease. The best chances came at the end of the first half, Balduino found himself in front of goal with Airam off to his right but he tried his luck and the keeper just about managed to get a hand to stop the shot. Darias took the ball to the byline and passed it back across the goalmouth but it eluded both sets of players.

 

The second half was frustrating for Marino as they tried to turn their superiority into a goal, Josito hit the ball over the bar on the turn and Airam had the visitors panicking, it nearly resulted in an own goal. Richard fired wide of the target but with seven minutes left Pablo saw his shot rebound off a defender and Balduino was on hand to get the vital strike.

 

Other results at the top went well for Marino with Granadilla losing and CD Tenerife B drawing, the Las Americas team are now a solid third just two points behind leaders Granadilla.

CD Tenerife had a dream start in Lugo, Moyano’s ball in from the right after six minutes was ripe for Aridane, he nipped in between two defenders and delivered a fine header for the lead. Lugo came back into the game as Alvaro picked up on a chance made by Renella and found a gap in the Tenerife defence to level. The home keeper had already got a knock and had to go off after a robust challenge from Ayoze and his replacement didn’t have a clue.

 

Just after the restart a defensive mix up released the ball, Ayoze was on it, he didn’t need a couple of brooms to speed him on his way, his pace took him to just outside the box where the sub keeper loitered and he popped the ball between his legs and into the open net.A tight offside call on Carlos Ruiz denied a further goal, and Roberto was back on top form and snapped up any high balls that came in.

Five minutes of injury time was a cruel test but Tenerife were ready with a blaze of glory. A free kick to Lugo was curled around the wall by Pitta but Roberto, partially unsighted, made an instinctive dive and pushed the ball away at the bottom of the post, the ball broke upfield and Ayoze was in sprint mode again easily outstripping his markers, his final move was to round Manu and tuck the ball in the net. Class, pure class.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to a better, less wetter, 2009

Los Cris xmasBrollies and raincoats were on most peoples christmas wish list here in Tenerife, the Canary Islands were lashed by storms with heavy rain and strong winds. I had the lovely Pam over for the week and felt very bad that the sun only made fleeting appearances. At the worst, on December 30, La Palma was cut off with ferries and flights cancelled, here in Tenerife, we had between 40 and 60 litres of rain per square metre with falling rocks blocking the main motorway and many places losing electricity. I felt very sorry for the families that had brought the kids over for christmas, and the local business’s hoping for a bumper cash boost over the festive season, many people will return to the UK with stories of rain and gloom-not good for tempting future tourists. It wasn’t all bad, even after a downpour at dinner time on christmas day, it cleared enough for a couple of hours on the beach in the sun, and since yesterday it has been sunny and hot again.

A new year is now upon us, crowds flocked to the beach area and the main church plaza (see pic) in Los Cristianos to welcome in 2009 with the usual impressive firework displays, I took it easy and spared my head from a hazy start to the year. The La Noria bar area in Santa Cruz made an ominous move, introducing a 20 euro ticket to get into this popular zone, hope it is not the start of the ticket only do’s that ruined much of the New Years Eve fun for revellers in the UK years ago.

Only Reyes (kings Day) to go now on Jan 6, and we can get back to a bit of routine and start to eat into the year. CD Tenerife resume their football season on sunday with a home game, hopefully the players wont have over indulged and can start the big push for promotion. Happy New Year.

A timely blast from my Oxford past

A bottle washes up on Los Cristianos beach, I open it and find a message inside, addressed to me and sent 18 years ago. It’s like a bizarre dream but the electronic equivilant has just happened to me. A friend from Oxford has emailed me a for sale item from E Bay, a copy of an Ice Hockey fanzine (482 Days) that I co produced 18 years ago has been advertised for 3 pounds, original price 40p, but the price is not important, i’m just gob smacked that any copies are still out there.

482 DaysLets rewind a little. I got into Ice Hockey with some drinking friends when Oxford ice rink opened in 1984, we all followed Oxford City Stars around the country as far as Glasgow, Irvine, Fife and even to France for a weekend tournament. Eventually, in the late 80’s me and my mate Nigel started the fanzine, very crude and rude in content and construction, none of this hi tech computer stuff, but it raised a few chuckles. Time to fess up, I wrote a lot of the items and got a “friendly” typist at work to type them up and then collated it all at work on the photocopier, when supposedly doing overtime.

We probably sold about 200 each issue at home and away games, they were sporadic, roughly every few months. Nigel quit after 7 issues but I carried on and got to about Issue 20 before stopping, it was even on sale at Sportspages in London and Manchester for a while. The name 482 Days refers to a spell when Oxford couldn’t win a home league game, they drew, won friendlies but went 482 Days without a home league win. The seller on E Bay is apparently a sports programme seller based in the Borders region, so 482 Days has really travelled.

Those Ice Hockey days were happy, and very boozy times, i’m still in touch with loads of the players, even the Canadians and Swedes, but thought 482 Days was long gone. Even over here, my past has reached out to me, well it’s a small world – but you wouldn’t want to paint it!

Oh Oxfordshire, is very wet…..

CarfaxLook, i’m not against rain as such but does it have to be bloody cold as well. Here I am in Oxford on a bank holiday weekend, and surprise surprise, its pissing down, to be fair, it started out quite nice.

Yesterday I went to my beloved football club, Oxford City, they had a beer festival, 15 real ales including a specially brewed Promotion Ale, did I mention that we got promoted to the Southern League Premier Division, just 2 jumps behind Oxford United. The ale was lovely and I sat outside with some old friends but mid afternoon the wind kicked up and the storm clouds moved in.

I have been very upset at the state of my old local pubs, several have closed since my last visit, and one, The Cock And Camel has become a Jamie Oliver restaurant, never did like that smug git. Just off for Sunday dinner with my parents in town and then I shall meet up with a few of the beer monsters for an afternoon of polite conversation and a few halfs of lemonade shandy, might even watch Dirty Leeds on tv in the promotion playoff. Hopefully I will post some pics on here soon, I want to get some nice shots of people getting soaked in the torrential rain, maybe a few Miss Wet T Shirt contestants.Â

Lanzarote Calling

Well here i am in Lanzarote for nearly a week, it’s work, honestly, i’m not enjoying all the sun, swimming and beer – much. I’m staying at the Sands Beach Resort in Costa Tequise, to soak up the local delights and enjoy the hospitality of the resort so I can write the copy for their new website.

Lanzarote

It’s a lovely place, im in an apartment above the “beach” a lagoon just behind the sea, there are also 4 plazas surrounded by apartments, each with a central pool. It’s an interesting chance for me to compare with Tenerife, and it is very quiet here, i’m told this is normal this time of year. costa tequise is a quiet family resort but i am exploring. Today i went to Puerto del Carmen, where i went on a day trip from Fuertaventura 10 years ago-they all remembered me – Â and told me I was back too soon. Puerto is a much livelier place, where the big nightlife is, but it too seemed quite subdued.

Pool

As I am missing my fix of CD Tenerife, tomorrow I am off to see UD Lanzarote v Alcorcon at 11am, hopefully I will get some pics for here. They have a Brit fan trying to draw fans to the game and there was a leaflet about the game in reception, apparently 2 of the players live in Sands.

Ok Im off for a non alcoholic shandy-more soon.

Ta ra Chuck

Chuck BerryÂ

So near and so far. I was hoping to reveal big news of Chuck Berry playing live in Santa Cruz on Monday November 26 but sadly it looks like it has all fallen through.

Before you ask, yes he is still alive, he turned 81 last month and is on a major tour. I heard mention of him coming here a few weeks ago and last week the Canary dates appeared on his official website but they have now been withdrawn. It was to be the Guimera Thetre in Santa Cruz on 26 and the Cuyas theatre in Las Palmas the next night. Chuck is playing in Burgos, mainland Spain on Sunday 25 November.

Not sure what really happened on this, the Las Palmas theatre has Fame, the musical on the night he was supposed to appear, the Guimera has a free night but when I called them, they had no knowledge of any concert and it has never appeared on their listings.

There is certainly no blame attached here as it was never officially announced, sounds like an ambitious plan that didn’t quite make it. There are still rumblings out there on the net on some Spanish sites and suggestions that he may come at a later date, if I find out more, you will see it here. Rock on Chuck.Â

Rain – whats that?

At the risk of being lynched by readers in the UK, can I say how badly we need some rain here in Tenerife. Someone reported a U.F.O the other day, but turned out it was just a cloud.

Latest government figures suggest that the 23 resevoirs on the island are on average, just 30 per cent full and there is only enough water to meet demands until November. Strangely the lowest and highest levels are in the same municipality, Granadilla, San Isidro is at 64 per cent full and El Saltadero is a mere 10 per cent full.

It’s not only the hot weather that has drained the water but also the recent fires that ravaged the north west of the island, vast loads of water were used to dowse the flames.

It all takes me back to the UK drought of 1976, yes they did have summers then. One of the water saving suggestions was to share a bath, mmmmmmmmm sounds good, now all I have to do is convince some poor lady that it really is for the good of the Tenerife environment.

Nino goal nets Tenerife draw

The waiting is over at last and the new Spanish football season is underway. CD Tenerife started off with a good 1-1 draw away to Sevilla Athletic in the Segunda Division, thanks to a second half goal from new forward, Nino, after 66 minutes.

It was a poor first half display and Sevilla took the lead after 29 minutes with a Sanchez penalty after Culebras was judged to have handled in the area. A better showing in the second, especially after a double substitution at 58 minutes brought Iriome and Rosquete into the action. The equalising goal came when the creative Longas sent the ball across for Nino to head home. A good point, cant wait for Cadiz at home next Sunday at 6.00pm, contact the Armada Sur if you want to go.

Elsewhere, good to see our nearest and dearest, UD Las Palmas lose 3-0 at Numancia, the first of many stuffings for the Pio’s. In the Primera, Barcelona drew 0-0 at Racing Santander, Real Madrid started with a 2-0 home win over city rivals, Athletico, and Almeria had a superb start to life in the top tier with a 3-0 win at Deportivo.

A sad postscript to the weekends games. Sevilla senior team player, Antonio Puertas, collapsed twice in their weekend Primera game and was taken to hospital with heart problems. sadly he died on Tuesday, aged just 22.