Archive for October, 2008
Santa Cruz pours on the charm

Squeezing a jaunty tune out of his accordian, the beggar in Calle del Castillo was fighting a losing battle as heavy rain scattered Santa Cruz visitors today. Leaving the sunny south behind, I had gone up north with John Beckley, owner of Sorted Sites, who use my scribblings on many web and blog sites. After a couple of promising meetings, I declined the offer of a lift back, to defy the weather and go exploring, there is always something new to see in Santa Cruz.

Cine VictorA tram ride took me to La Paz and a chance to pay my respects to the Cine Victor, the grand old cinema that is nearing the end of its days. Opened on April 22 1954, architect Jose Enrigue Marrero Regalado, left his creative signature on the ornate and imposing building, especially the inside. Downstairs 550 seats have welcomed many a keen film goer, and another 225 upstairs have ensured that a night at the pictures was an enjoyable experience in the heart of the capital.

Sadly time has overtaken the building and a 5 year commitment by the Tenerife government to show special film seasons and maintain the general running of the cinema, ends on December 31. Today at 8.30 pm they were showing Blithe Spirit, from 1945, the last in a season of films by British director David Lean, to mark the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Tomorrow, Friday October 31, the TEA, Tenerife Espacio de Artes is officially opened and they will include film shows in their vast programme of arts. The lights are dimming for the Cine Victor as their are no takers to continue tearing the entrance tickets at a cost of 6,000 euros rent per month, it may end up converted into accomodation or commercial units.

Cine Victor inside

Moving down towards Plaza de España, I darted from shelter to shelter until reaching the entrance to the Castillo de San Cristobal, or at least the remains of it. Built in 1575 with 4 mighty corner bastions, the castle was a key defence in warding off would be invaders like Lord Nelson in July 1797. Originally it was in the sea on a reef called Blas Diaz but as land was reclaimed it became a dry fortress until its demolition in 1928. When the renovation of the Plaza de España began a few years ago, part of the original battlements and a canon were unearthed and an underground display gallery has been set up explaining the history of the area. Entry is free via a stairway on the marina side of the Plaza de España, and the new opening times are 10am to 6pm on weekdays, closed Tuesdays, and 11am to 7pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Castillo de San Cristobal

Braving the rain again, i had decided to treat myself to a new CD Tenerife shirt from the official club shop in Callejon de Combate, just up from the Plaza de España, turn right at the BBVA bank in Calle de Castillo and then left between the other 2 banks. Was it to be the 2nd strip blue shirt or the 3rd strip claret shirt? Sod it, I got them both. Feeling a little guilty at this extravagence, I needed a sign that I had done the right thing. On the walk back to the bus station, I passed a huge billboard featuring Liverpool striker Fernando Torres in his modelling role for El Corte Ingles department store. The look on his face confirmed that he approved of my wild purchase, good enough for me. Of course there will be economies as a result of this spending, so all anyone will get from me this christmas is a walnut and a satsuma – still it’s the thought that counts. Â

Walcott fires England to Euro glory

Just like his cousin Theo, Jacob Walcott is a man in form and the Reading forward earned England Under 17’s a 1-1 draw against Spain in La Orotava last night, to send them through to the next stage of the European championships.

Jacob Walcott

The tournament started last Wednesday with Spain thumping Estonia 6-0, while in the later game England could only manage a 0-0 draw with Armenia. That left the group finely poised, Spain looked the hot team, beating Armenia 2-0 on Friday but the England Lions found their roar to batter Estonia 7-0. Englands goals were spread around, Evertons Jose Baxter hit 2, the rest came from Tom Parkes (Leicester City), Jonjo Shelvey (Charlton Athletic), Luke Freeman (Arsenal), Liam Head (Plymouth Argyle), and Ryan Tunnicliffe (Manchester United).

The top 2 countries would go through to the Elite qualifying round in Nyon, Switzerland in December so England and Spain knew they were both more or less secure but there was a lot of pride to play for and both teams had a clean sheet to protect. Jacob Walcott scored after 10 minutes beating Villareals Gran Canarian goalie Kilian Falcon. Englands task got harder after captain Eddie Oshodi (Watford) and Emmanuel Frimpong (Arsenal) both got sent off for second yellow cards. England held out until 80 minutes when an unfortunate own goal by Ezekiel Fryers (Manchester United) tied the game.

In the end Spain and England were both happy to progress in the competition and the north of Tenerife got to witness some international football. Lots of names to look out for on the England side as they start to push their way into their clubs first teams and maybe look for a place in the squad for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.Â

X Factor for robots in Tenerife

It may not have a panel of smug showbiz celebrities, or a horrendously expensive premium rate phone vote, but up towards the peak of Mount Teide, 8 robots are auditioning for an out of this world gig – on the moon. The European Space Agency has challenged universities from 8 countries to build and send their best lunar exploration vehicle to prove itself on the rocky and cratered moon type landscape of Teide National Park.

Las Cañadas

Britain is represented by Surrey University, although somehow the phrase “Guildford, we have a problem” doesn’t have the same ring to it. All the contestants will get their chance to shine, maybe it’s best described as a cross between Robot Wars and Stars In Their Eyes, before the lucky winner gets a chance at a future space shot.

But what will they find once they go into space? With a great sense of timing, the Spanish Ministry of Defence has just de-classified a whole batch of flying saucer reports from past years. Known as OVNI’s (Objeto Volante No Identificado) these sightings are outlined in a 84 page report, including several over the Canary Islands.

One of the higher profile encounters was in November 1974 when several sightings took place in Gran Canaria, including one by an off duty Assistant Air Colonel, who claims it flew over his car at amazing speed. At the same time, a plane coming into Las Palmas also reported an object buzzing it, popping in and out of the clouds. Pio’s (Gran Canarians) do have naturally bad judgement, their football team is a prime example, but many other OVNI incidents have been spotted over the other islands, including Tenerife, so maybe we should get these robots up into space and let them sort it all out.


Gym’ll Fix It

What are the strange new metal structures popping up all along the front at Los Cristianos. Are they bicycle stands for aliens, toast racks for giants or modern art gone mad? Actually, none of those, they are gym equipment installed by Arona council in a bid to encourage a little day to day excercise.

The 2 main areas are the small plaza with the fisherwomans statue facing the old beach, and to the east a mini park area just past the tiny plaza with the newly mended fountain. The latter area is mostly metal beams, a nearby plaque explains their 3 main benefits to the cardio vascular system, strength and flexibility. The other area has a treader for step ups and 2 seat benches fitted with pedals to improve lower body strength.

Gym 1

Gym 2












I’ve seen street gyms like this on a much larger scale in Arrecife, the capital of Lanzarote, and i’m told they are also popular in Miami. The Tenerife versions have popped up over night with no big fanfare, and are becoming a curiosity among passers by. I tried to get some pics of dolly birds trying the equipment out, but strangely they didn’t seem keen to exert themselves while a shifty looking blonde man lurked in the shadows with his camera.

If you go near the new additions, don’t just look, have a little play, it might encoursge others. I’m not too sure about the pedal machine, I have heard that it is linked to the cafe behind, where the owner is contemplating vastly reduced electricity bills. Besides that, when people pedal really fast using both seats, I could swear that Tenerife starts moving slightly nearer to La Gomera.

Tenerife to Torquay, a Fawlty connection or a mystery?

It’s enough to make the Major choke on his cornflakes and Basil chew the carpet. Puerto de la Cruz council want to twin their city with Torquay, the cream of Devon, forever immortalised by Fawlty Towers.

Puerto de la Cruz

Agatha Christie You can see the similarities, both coastal cities with a big fishing and boating community and popular with tourism, but that’s not the connection. Agatha Christie is the key to this mystery. The famous crime writer, born in Torquay in 1890, stayed in Puero de la Cruz in 1927 and was inspired to write the short story “The Man From The Sea”. Last year Puerto held an Agatha Christie festival from November 23 to December 1 to mark the 80th anniversary of her visit.

Grandson Matthew Prichard, who now handles Agathas estate and rights to her works, came over to attend a number of events including the unveiling of a bust at La Paz, the mirador (viewpoint) that looks down on much of Puerto de la Cruz. The plan is for a second festival to be held in June 2009 and the twinning arrangement with Torquay would fit in nicely with that.

The Devon city has its other claims to fame, comedian Peter Cook was born there and the lovely Helen “Hells Bells” Chamberlain is probably their most famous supporter of Torquay United. I doubt if we can look forward to a literary festival based on the works of Derek and Clive, or the contents of the Torquay football programme, so murder and intrique will continue to forge links between the 2 cities.




Anyone got change for a 12 Euro coin?

Money makes the world go round, well so Liza Minelli sang, I find that a dozen bottles of Dorada Especial makes most things go round. Anyway, giving the World an extra spin is a new 12 euro coin made by the Real Casa de la Moneda, the Spanish mint.

12 Euro coins

The new coin weighs in at 18 grams, is 33 mm in diameter and is to commemorate 2008 – the International Year of Planet Earth. Although it is technically legal tender, it’s not issued for general circulation like other coins, and you would probably have a hard time getting shops to accept it. I thought this was a one off but delving deeper, I found that there is a history of these 12 Euro coins to mark special occasions, the last 2 years has seen specials to commemorate the Treaty of Rome and the 5th centennary of Christopher Columbus.

The coins are in the tradition of the British crown, they had a face value of 25 pence or 5 shillings in pre decimal terms. The Queens silver jubilee crown of 1977 is probably loitering around in the bottom of many peoples change jars, I still have my 1965 Churchill crown tucked away and gathering dust somewhere at my parents. They were often given as little birthday presents with the idea that they would grow in value as collectors items, though there were so many of them, they wont make you rich.





Young England Lions on prowl in Tenerife

International football and a chance to see the next generation of England players comes to Tenerife next week in the Under 17 European championships qualifying round. La Orotava, near Puerto de la Cruz, is the setting for most of the games as England, Spain, Armenia and Estonia battle it out for the 2 top spots that will take them through to the Elite qualifying stage next year.

All the England players are pushing to make the big breakthrough with their club sides, but for some it’s easier than others. Arsenal have already bloodied some of their home grown talent in the cup competitions so names like Luke Freeman, Emmanuel Frimpong, and Jack Wilshere (below)Â may ring a bell. One of the star forwards is Jacob Walcott of Reading, a cousin of senior star Theo Walcott.

Jack Wilshere

The games start on Wednesday October 22 at 5 pm with Spain v Estonia followed by England v Armenia at 7.30 pm, both at La Orotava. On Friday October 24 it’s England v Estonia at 6 pm follwed by Armenia v Spain at 8.30 pm. Because the last 2 games may be vital to qualification places, they both take place at 8.30 pm on Monday October 27, Estonia v Armenia will be the only tournament game to be played at Los Realejos while England take on Spain at La Orotava.

Spain’s squad will be dominated by future stars of Real Madrid and Barcelona, realistically they should be looking at going through with England, but they will be wary of the 2 outsiders springing a surprise. England under coach John Peacock, may well contain a few emerging stars that go on to senior glory in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.



A little justice for a lot of suffering

Living here in Tenerife, it’s easy to get used to the constant arrival of illegal African immigrants on the pathetic wrecks of boats known as pateras or cayucos. Living in comfort in a beautiful setting, it’s hard to imagine the hardship and poverty that drives these people to risk their lives in search of a new life and new hope. Only a couple of days ago, another 69 were beached at San Miguel, most of them dehydrated and suffering from hypothermia.


Sadly, where there is suffering, there is often someone profiting from their misery, and in this case it’s the gangs that operate the boats and take a meagre lifes savings off their desperate passengers. In many cases they are abandoned at sea once the police patrol boats come into view, that is those who survive that long, lots including women and children die on route. Even if they finish the crossing, many are forced into slave labour, often to pay off the balance of their fare.

This week there was some payback in a Santa Cruz court against 3 boat operators from Mauritania who had brought over 67 of their own country men and women in a rickety cayuco in January. They were spotted off the Tenerife coast by the Guardia Civil patrol boat and towed into Los Cristianos harbour, and on to hospital for treatment. All 3 “captains” got 3 years in jail for their exploitation, there are many more over in Africa, just as ruthless and greedy, ready to take their place – but it’s a start.


Paul McCartney, Tenerife December 6, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Paul McCartneyYesterday, Macca’s concert seemed so far away, now it looks as though he’ll be here to play. It was starting to look as if the proposed Paul McCartney concert at Golf Costa Adeje on Saturday Decemeber 6 wouldn’t happen but a leading Tenerife hotel has started to take reservations for package deals that include accomodation and tickets.

There is still no confirmation on the official Paul McCartney website or anywhere else I can find on the internet but the 5 star Grand Hotel Iberostar Anthelia at Playa del Duque are taking bookings for 2, 3 and 5 night stays. Iberostar is a major international chain and of course local to the golf course where another British knight, Sir Elton John performed back on January 24. The same promotion company, Canarias Live Sun Festival, are behind the Macca gig, which was announced tentatively a couple of months ago.

The deals on offer are all for a double room with a sea view in the luxury hotel and spa, and include breakfast. For 2 nights the cost is 195 euros each, 3 nights 255 euros each, and 5 nights 425 euros each, but that option includes a meal in the poseidon restaurant, that could be quite an adventure.

Hopefully confirmation and ticket prices will follow soon, but to give you an idea here are the prices from the Elton John concert. The flash seats were 120 euros, dropping to 90 euros and 35 euros in the cheaper areas, they can get 20,000 people in and should have learned a few lessons from the scrum down at the start of the Elton concert.

So get practicing folks “Simply having a wonderful christmas time” and of course “bom bom bom, we all stand together bom bom”



Would you like a tree with that cheese roll?

A few years ago in the UK, war was declared on waste in the form of excessive wrapping and packaging whenever you buy things, guess what, it never reached as far as Tenerife. It struck me again today when the supermarket down the road started to share my meagre bit of shopping around 4 plastic carrier bags, I tried to protest as always but they seemed quite offended, as if I was questioning their professional packing skills.

Bags of bags

 It’s a similar tale with food, I ordered a cheese bocadillo (roll) in a bar, out it came on a plate with 3 napkins, and all the bar/cafe tables have a plastic cube full of little tissues anyway. Order a take away and it gets even more like pass the parcel, a paper bag with at least 3 napkins, then a bocadillo wrapped in tin foil, tap it and unwrap it and yes, there are 2 more napkins around the roll.

First prize though for waste goes to El Corte Ingles, the multi storey department store in Santa Cruz. I often pop into their food hall to drool at the cream cakes (not on them you will be glad to know) and might get a slice of pizza or a filled roll to chomp on the way into the city centre. They swathe my food in napkins as if they are the make up ladies on the latest Mummy film, and then for good measure they stick the package in a full size plastic carrier bag, I have to send a search team in to find it. I try to stop them but they insist on the full routine.

Some countries have limited or even banned new carrier bags, but anything illegal would soon become hot property over here. People would siddle up to you in a seedy nightclub and try to sell imported white, blue or even top of the range M & S bags. As you can tell, life is pretty good here if this is the worst thing I can think of to moan about. I can report though that the worlds financial problems have really affected me this week. My morning coffee in town normally arrives with 2 biscuits, but this week they have cut back to just the one, damm you banks, it’s hello credit crunch, goodbye Abbey Crunch.