Archive for May, 2008
Not quite Carnaval

So today is Bank Holiday Monday, Whitsun holiday to be precise, and of course the rain has been coming down in stair rods. The big event of today here in Oxford is the Lord Mayors Parade, the first event in the year of the new mayor, actually its a Mayoress this year. For the full realistic feeling of the parade, you need to empty a few buckets of water over your head whilst standing in front of a wind machine.

Lord mayors parade

In the past I have taken part in the parade, the Ice Hockey club had a float for 2 years, a good excuse to dress up and drink beer, one year the theme was childrens stories so we went as Babes In The Wood, you really dont want to see those pics of me in a nappy! This year there were no floats, just a few tree huggers on foot and some people banging drums. The weather was terrible, pouring rain and a driving wind, but hey, this is where us Brits excell. Never mind that they were getting soaked, and never mind that noone seemed to give a shit that the parade was hsppening, they still marched on in their make up and costumes to Hinksey Park where a quagmire of mud awaitied them.

It was a lot different from the Santa Cruz Carnaval, with its lavish costumes, and through the night music and dancing. I did feel quite proud to be British, who else would subject themselves to this soaking parade, and all for the sake of charity.

So what does a boy do on a day like this, stay at home with my parents watching The Railway Children or The Great Escape? I don’t think so. There is a teeming city of pubs and  its my mission to explore them and check out the real ale on offer. Yesterday I went on a crawl with a few mates, we discussed the works of Shakespeare, the political system in Russia and the meaning of life in general, over a few cold lemonades and a fruit scone or 2, well something like that. Onward ever onward.Â

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

Like a Bat Out Of Tenerife

Tenerife has a big motorbiking scene with a lot of clubs and groups that organise regular rallys. This Sunday May 25th, there is the 4th annual Gran Vuelta a Norte (the great north tour) featuring the Honda 70 in its many forms, originals and replicas.

Honda 70

This is a good point for me to confess to knowing very little about bikes, apart from Westlakes and Jawas from watching years of speedway, but they are probably regarded as relics now. I had to look up the Honda 70, expecting it to be a powerful brute of a bike, but it is just a small four stroke ( said he, trying to sound knowledgeable) and some of the photos I saw made it look almost like a moped, not that I’m knocking that.

Anyway , back to the research and apparently it was known as The Rocket, because of its ability to power up steep roads fully loaded, now it starts to make sense. Sounds like the perfect machine to explore the hills and mountains of the north of Tenerife.

I remember a friend of mine in Oxford was the secretary of the southern Honda Goldwing club, and once a year they would descend on Oxford, set up camp in a far flung field and do a charity pub crawl in and around town before being ferried back to the camp site in a convoy of 12 coaches. One year I went round town with a few of them a week before the event, on what they laughingly called the dry run. This was to visit the chosen pubs and square things with the landlord so he wouldn’t panic when an army of hairy arsed bikers descended on him. Dry run? this advance party of 10 beer monsters nearly drained the pubs on their own, I dread to think what the real event was like.

Meanwhile on an island in the Atlantic, it’s back to the North Tour. Last year they had 101 bikes and will be looking to do even better this year. The main run starts from San Geronimo Industrial estate in La Orotava at 9am and ends in Icod de Los Vinos. The southern enthusiasts will be starting a little earlier from Bar Davimar in Buzanada. So if you see a swarm of bikers on Sunday, don’t be afraid, they are just out to enjoy their passion for bikes and Tenerife.

Be it ever so humble….but not that humble.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing in the red corner, Arona council weighing in with a 4 million euro beach renovation project, and in the blue corner, a cute little old Canarian lady with a beachfront house, undefeated on a 24,000 euro valuation. Let the contest begin.

Beach House

Actually it’s getting quite near the last round. The 4 million euro project in question is the ongoing renewal of the front at Los Cristianos, and the house is No 3 Paseo Maritimo, half way along the old beach. At first site it may seem run down and deserted but Casa de Laureano, has a tv aerial and power lines and is plumbed into the main drainage system. It’s been in the same family for generations and is far enough away from the shoreline to be outside the law of the coast and cannot just be demolished, so the council are trying to buy it.

The current bid stands at 24,000 euros but it must be worth more than that, and as the occupant is old and partially disabled , it would cost loads more to get somewhere as central and away from steep hills. The council are confidently predicting that a solution will be reached by the end of June, personally i’d say good luck to her, push that price as high as possible.

Los Tarajales

In the meantime, other work is going on at the old Los Cristianos beach behind the house. The sand is being dug up and turned over as part of a cleaning operation and a few truckloads of sand were dumped on Los Tarajales beach, further on towards the Arona Gran hotel. Back on March 24 I did a post on here about a 12 million euro council project that had been announced to give Los Tarajales a long promised new look over the next 2 years, that would include new headlands, rock pools and breakwaters to protect the new beach. Sadly the stop gap measure isn’t really working as the beach wasn’t cleaned or levelled first, the back walls are still covered in graffiti and with no protection the sand is just washing straight out. Maybe the promised long term solution will come about, once they decide whether or not the old houses, illegal under the law of the coast, will have to come down.

Slowly, slowly turn the wheels of Tenerife publicity

Only a few days ago I was talking to a few other local writers, and of course we had a good old moan about the downside of living in Tenerife. One of our common frustrations was the lack of advance publicity for events in Tenerife, and when the government, council or private promoters do swing belatedly into action, it usually involves a press release a few days before the event. This is as useful as a chocolate fireguard to the Brits, as one paper comes out weekly and the others fortnightly. Anyway since that meeting, I have already come across several more examples of ” hark, hark, whisper, who cares, if we don’t tell a soul, there’ll be more empty chairs”.

Today, Saturday, the Canarian rugby champions, Nandu of Tenerife, are playing a friendly at the Adeje stadium against Trafford M.V from Manchester at 4pm. I’m sure a few rugby loving Brits would have fancied that, but I only found out this morning from a poster just put up in a shopping centre.

And the next. A couple of days ago, I discovered there is a Tapas promotion in Granadilla de Abona from May 15 to June 15, with many bars and restaurants offering tapas for 2 euros or less. This covers popular places like El Medano, and Los Abrigos but when I was in Granadilla town tourist office barely 2 weeks ago, there was no mention of it, I eventually saw a leaflet in a Arona tourist office yesterday. There is a competition on the leaflet as well, get 20 of the participating outlets to stamp your leaflet and you can win a meal for 2. I comb through all the Canarian papers every day and haven’t seen this promotion mentioned, maybe you have to go to the council website and search it out, but you would need to know it was there to look in the first place?

Luca D'Alisera

Well, here’s one FREE event that I saw a poster for today, a whole week in advance. It’s the Canarian Roller Figure Skating Championships in Las Galletas, next Saturday May 24 at the sports hall in Avenida del Principe Felipe, that’s the 2nd stop in on the bus. It takes place from 9am until 2pm and 4pm until 9pm and as well as the competition, features displays from a former Italian champion, Simone Fraietta and 3 times World Champion, Luca D’Alisera (in pic).

The poster was in Los Cristianos on the same shop that advertised a FREE christmas roller skating gala, so it’s probably someone who is heavily involved in the sport. The sports hall, how many know that is there, took 5 years to build and is pretty basic but most things they stage there are free. I have been a couple of times to see the in line hockey team (it’s the nearest I will get here to my ice hockey fix) the Tenerife Guanches, it’s out of season at the moment but I will do a piece when they start up again.

Anyway, all those frustrations aside, it’s been another glorious day here, and life is good. There is a big summer of events ahead, so let’s hope that they are all a big success and well attended, I will try to do my little bit to publicise those I can find out about.

Comfortably Numb in Santa Cruz

I hope the passengers on the Independence Of The Seas cruise liner enjoyed their day in Santa Cruz, I certainly did. I arrived early afternoon, armed with my camera, and made for the docks to see the monster new ship that had arrived from Southampton on it’s maiden voyage. The port authority had taken a full page colour spread on the back of all the local Canarian papers to welcome the liner, and with a month of celebrations going on in the capital, the bunting and flags were out.

Independence of the Seas

The roof of the Fred Olsen ferry terminal was the best vantage point, so I joined the rather small crowd to snap a few shots, at this point I suppose I better drop in some stats about the ship. Built in Finland, the Independence Of The Seas is the biggest european docked cruise ship at 339 metres long and 56 metres wide, it weighs 158,000 tons, has 18 storeys, 1,815 cabins – 844 of them with a balcony and 120 suites. The facillities are amazing, an ice rink, theatre, casino, an on deck surfing area and masses of shops, restaurants and bars. The 11 night cruise it is on now had already called at Funchal and was going on to Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Lisbon, Vigo and back to Southampton. It was a little disconcerting to see someone welding low down on the bow of the ship, just below the cabin portholes, worrying if you have paid anything from 933 euros.

On to the football and hopes were not high with Sporting Gijon the visitors, needing points to help their promotion push, both Tenerife and Gijon had missed out to Madrid the day before in the contest to host the Davis Cup tennis in September, so at least they had something in common. The game was frustrating, Tenerife had loads of chances in the first half but couldnt score and Sporting took their only 2 chances well with 2 cracking strikes into the top of the Tenerife net after 27 and 40 minutes. There was no way back and the few hundred Sporting fans celebrated their move into second spot.

CDT v Sporting Gijon

As the Armada Sur coach drove off I stayed on and met up with a mate of the General’s, Tony, and we took the short walk to the Palicio Municipal de los Deportes to see a tribute show to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The sports hall is tucked just behind the football stadium, this was my first visit, and I was impressed, bright and modern with raised seating on 2 sides and more seats put out down at floor level in the centre. The Wall is a pretty ambitious work to tackle, Pink Floyd only performed it a few times on stage, Gonzalo Valdivia and his 6 musicians did a great job of it though. When they came out, there was a small wall built at the front of the stage, which they duly kicked down, there was a big screen behind the band and one in front at each side that showed a mix of clips from the film version of The Wall, new images and the lyrics in Spanish, they sung in English.

The Wall

It’s a shame the hall was barely half full, most were pushing middle aged, aren’t we all, and there was a nice mix of Spanish, Brits and some Germans. Beer was widely available, and due to a miss calculation over bus times , we had realised we would either have to leave before the end or kill time in Santa Cruz until the 2.30am bus to the south, so we started as we meant to go on with the beer.

For those who don’t know The Wall, it’s a dark epic about a rock star descending into madness, with themes of islolation and a bullying state. The bands excellent playing and singing skills managed to capture that, with Comfortably Numb and Run Like Hell the highlights for me. As the story reached the climax, the band took a breather for The Trial, leaving the film clips running with the superb animation of Gerald Scarfe. They returned to  raptourous applause and launched into other Pink Floyd classics like Wish You Were Here, Time, Money and a soaring version of Shine On You Crazy Diamonds. After Echo and the Bunnymen 2 weeks ago, this underlined the great musical delights that the north of the island has to offer.

The Wall

A slow crawl around Santa Cruz brought us to the vibrant bar area just by the Plaza de la Iglesia, it was packed with no sign of slowing down even at 2am, and several Sporting Gijon fans were still toasting their teams success. The bus ride to the south slipped by in a snooze and I headed home with Pink Floyd tracks replaying in my little happy brain. Just a small footnote, I checked my emails this morning and found I had won a ticket to the concert from La Gaceta de Canarias, the mail arrived just after I had set off yesterday – never mind, it was 12 euros well spent.

Granadilla, full of rural charm

Tenerife is full of so many wonderful places, my biggest problem is deciding where to visit next. Granadilla drew the short straw this week, another of those towns that is just a pleasant memory from a visit some years ago.


Heading by the more familiar landmarks of the municipality of Granadilla de Abona, like Reina Sofia airport and El Medano, the bus veered up through San Isidro to Granadilla, about 20 minutes up hill. Leaving the bus station on the side of a very steep slope, the drop in temperature was noticable, but hardly anything to worry about.

Hermano PedroFirst port of call was the Plaza Gonzalez Mena, the focal point of the town and setting for the Ayuntamiento(council) building. The Convent de San Luis Obispo was again being given a facelift, nothing new after many fires and accidents since it’s 1550 birth.

There was a small staue of Hermano Pedro in front of the building, he was born in nearby Villaflor and preached, taught and healed locally before emigrating to help the poor of Guatemala, eventually dying there in 1667. For several years he lived in a small cave near El Medano, it’s a bit of a tourist attraction now, and it is said miracles can happen there. When the Pope made him Tenerife’s first Saint in 2002, thousands went from Tenerife to the ceremony in Guatemala. Church

Religion is just one strong element of Granadilla, and for a better understanding, a visit to the History Museum of Granadilla (top) , just down the road, is just the thing. It’s free and open Monday to Friday from 10 am to 2 pm  and 4 pm to 8pm. Granadilla is also the gateway to the foothills of Teide and the pine forests of Villaflor, and a real walkers delight. The local council have made great strides to encourage rurul tourism with a leaflet featuring 10 converted farms and houses that are ideal for rural holidays, details are also on the council website.

One of the best walkers hotels is the Hotel Senderos de Abona, right in the centre of town and staff are very knowledgeable about the area. Church banner

This is just opposite the Church of Antonio de Padua, which boasted a terrific floral offering from the Day of the Cross , which is celebrated in the Canary Islands on May 3. The banner says “I am the good shepherd, and you are my sheep”. There were many other floral and adorned crosses around the town, and I saw some more later in El Medano.

I tried to find the famous spring, Fuente de Agua, Â up above the town but after puffing up ever steeper hills, I gave that one up and settled for the great views and a quick march down to a cold drink. It was fairly warm today in Granadilla, but last time I called in, it was decidedly nippy and a couple of winters ago, the snow on Mount Teide crept all the way down to the town plaza.

It was worth the effort to see Granadilla again, and it even stirred my desire to maybe do some more testing hill walks in the summer, but for now, a chilled Dorada will do nicely.

What ever floats your boat

After 3 weeks of people asking me what that old ship is, moored up at Los Cristianos, I thought I better find out. No it’s not Roman Abramovich’s bath tub plaything, it’s the Lyubov Orlova, a Russian cruise ship, built in Yugoslavia in 1976, registered in Malta and specialising in trips from Argentina to Antarctica. Is that bizarre enough for you!

Lyubov Orlova

It may not look like much, but it has 4 decks and a bridge, and can carry 110 passengers at a top speed of 12 knots. Quite why it has stopped off here, I don’t know, the next cruise isn’t until November, when it will sail from Ushuaia, Argentina to Anvers Island in Antartica and back, a round trip of 1,700 nautical miles. The voyage lasts 11 days and the cost depends on what standard of accomodation you want, but starts at 3,500 dollars.

Maybe the crew came to Tenerife to get some sun and have now melted away, although I did see a few people working on deck through the lens of my camera. I didn’t think Russians liked Antartica, brings back memories of Lenin and that ice pick that did for him. Maybe they have come to liberate a few of the inmates at Planet Penquin in Loro Parque, but they always seem so happy there, so they would probably tell them to ppppp pick on someone else.

For the record, the name, Lyubov Orlova, refers to the first big screen star of Russia, she was a sort of early Marilyn Monroe, for the wild sex scenes she would undo one button on her trench coat – pretty risky stuff in Russia. An old Russian cruise ship, headed for the Antarctic,with lots of adventurous young people on board, sounds like the premise for a Ealing comedy – Carry On Comrade!

CD Tenerife outclassed by league leaders

There’s no shock or shame in CD Tenerife losing 4-2 away to champions in waiting, Numancia, but it is annoying to see them showing the same faults that have dogged them all season.

Canal Plus showed the game live so it was an 11am kick off but within 10 minutes Tenerife fans were choking on their eggy soldiers as they went one down thanks to a blunder by Raul Navas in goal. A long shot from Quero went straight through him, brushing his chest on the way, even the Numancia coach Arconada, winced at that one, but then he was Spains top keeper in the early 1980’s.

Tenerife were at their sloppy passing, half hearted tackling worst, and Numancia showed them up with some crisp passing football. Thankfully Tenerife fans have found one reliable constant all season, and that’s small but gutsy forward Nino. One again he was battling for every ball, despite being isolated most of the time. Just before the Numancia goal, he had found it a stretch too far to reach a Iriome cross and on the half hour mark he latched on to a free kick but couldn’t quite convert it.

ArruabarrenaInto the second half, and another familiar piece of plot, coach Oltra realised he should add some more punch in attack, and added Longas and Arruabarrena (pic) . Â Moreno made it 2-0 though with a blast into the visitors net but Tenerife hit back, Nino putting the ball into the box for Iriome to tap in. It could have got even better as Arruabarrena was floored for a penalty but Ayoze shot just to the left of the goalie, who saved it.

With 70 minutes gone, Nagore hooked another goal in at the post and Del Pino headed another a little after to make it 4-1. Tenerife staged a late rally, a Bertran break set up a missed half chance for Nino and Arruabarrena pulled one back in the final minutes to end it at 4-2.

Las Palmas drew 1-1 at home yesterday with Castellon to keep them cheaping at out heels, just 2 points behind. Another tough one next weekend at home to Sporting, who need the points for their promotion challenge, hopefully we might blood a few more young players in the last games of the season.Â

Go west, not so young man!

Speak as you find, well I try to, but first you have to find, so after an extra early swim, I headed westward, with Guia de Isora, the village, as my first stop. Barely an hour on the 417 Titsa bus from Los Cristianos, and there I was up in the hills, at a village that hadn’t seen my knobbly knees in at least 5 years.

Church plazaMy prime target was the town hall, but following the main road along I didn’t recognise any tell tale landmarks. Â The view out to the sea in the distance and Playa San Juan just before it was impressive, but it took a coffee stop at a small bar to nudge me up one street level to the main church square, part shrouded in shade, and into the town hall.

I had hoped to view the plans for the proposed new port at Fonsalia, but even after being redirected to the technical office, I was told they were not on public display and the architect had popped out for 10 minutes (that’s Canarian for a couple of hours) so with not much time to spare, I headed back to the main road. The port has been suggested for about 10 years, and will probably drag on for at least as long again.

It’s clear the Socialist (PSOE party) council of Guia de Isora has splashed a bit of money, there is a new auditorium and cultural centre, although both were closed, and the footings of a new youth centre, but some of the narrow and patchwork pavements suggest more work ahead to bring it up to scratch. The bus station is new, and the 493 bus arrived spot on time for the 20 minute drop to the coast.

The tight winding road down through Tijina and Piedra Hincada passed fields of heavily loaded tomato plants and cacti in full bloom, thriving despite the less than half full resevoirs. Safely dropped in Playa San Juan, I headed for the new look beach, just nearing completion on my last trip (Posted March 20Â ) 6 weeks ago. Formerley covered in large stones, they were ground down to give a dark shingle type surface, which has caused an outcry from opponents who wanted a yellow sand beach. Also many sources have said that the covering has already been washed away by the tide, in fact, it is only a band along the shore line, and a similar thing happened on Las Galletas beach.Â

San Juan beach

The promenade has been opened since my last visit and the striped changing huts are in use, all giving a vastly improved appearance. Beaches are a very contentious issue in Tenerife, black volcanic sand is the norm but there is always a clamour for smooth yellow sand and no rocks. In Los Cristianos they have just started work on cleaning the old beach, with suggestions that they will move tons of sand onto the wild and natural Los Tarajales beach. That seems unlikely with many bigger issues still not resolved (Posted March 24) Â on the wilder beach, such as drainage outlets and old shacks that go against the strict new outlook on the coastal law.

San Jaun Prom

The wider area of Guia de Isora is undergoing big changes as tourism takes on a bigger role, and there is a delicate balance to be maintained. One thing is for sure, they wont be able to keep everyone happy.