Archive for July, 2010
Santa Cruz Repels The Brits With All Guns Blazing

Gunshot and canon fire were ringing in my ears as a few yards from me a second line of the Canarian infantry reloaded and stepped up to the hay bale barrier where a dead body slouched over his rifle. Running in from the sea wall a small group of British troops fell to their knees as they were picked off amid the swirling smoke and loud explosions. Were we back in the Santa Cruz of 1797 as Admiral Nelsons troops tried to add Tenerife to their list of naval conquests? A wider glance saw the battle framed by the modern hook nosed Auditorium and crowds of onlookers with phone cameras in one hand and ice creams in the other.

La Gesta commemorates a proud moment in Tenerife history when the island forces saw off the might of the British Navy under its finest commander. Nelson himself took little part in the fighting as his first step onto Tenerife soil from a landing boat was greeted by a musket blast that shattered his right arm and led to a quick return to his ship to have the arm removed. The financial crisis nearly defeated everyone this year but a late influx of 40,000 euros from Santa Cruz council saved the week long celebration, albeit on a reduced scale. One of the visiting British fighters, the Peninsula War Association told me their numbers had been reduced after recently taking part in a Waterloo battle but he assured me that their lack of numbers would not dilute the passion.

A lavish production was indeed what we got, film maker Teodoro Rios wrung every bit of emotion out of the skirmish, 70 troops took part in total, 60 kilos of gunpowder made sure it went with a bang and authentic uniforms were defended with reproduction guns like the British Brownbess and the French Charleville favoured by the Spanish. There was an uneasy peace at first as guards lined the battlements of the Castillo San Juan, usually referred to as Castillo Negro. A special soundtrack composed for the event created a miliary mood as preperations continued with rival soldiers going through their moves in their minds, then a flash of coloured smoke and a deafening blast from the Atlantic end of the coast path signalled the start of the attack.

The Spanish fired down on the invading Brits from the castle and at ground level kept two waves of riflemen trained on the enemy from the sparse safety of the hay bales. As the Union Jack was carried closer to the castle the Spanish troops went on the offensive and engaged the enemy as bodies fell among the smoke. Both sets of soldiers were a strange mix of ages, shapes and sizes, one fallen Brit looked alarmingly like Captain Mainwaring. The Brits were taking a battering and retreated back down the walkway to the sea, this gave eager swimmers in the Parque Maritimo complex a great close up view of the action as they hung over the wall dripping pool water.

Some symbolic moments were added to the re-enactment, hay bales were set on fire, Captain Troubridge who took over command when Nelson was ferried back to his ship, threatened to burn Santa Cruz to the ground if his surrender terms were not met. In the end it was a very amicable surrender at the time with a great deal of mutual respect despite the loss of 226 British sailors. Spanish Governor Juan Antonnio Gutierrez gave help to get the injured brits back to their ships and both sides exchaned gifts, Canarian wine for the Brits and a barrel of beer for the Canarian force. You can still find a couple of streets in Santa Cruz named after Nelson as well as a grubby, neglected monument to the two leaders down near the port.

There were more ceremonies to come for the official anniversary day on 25 July but as the soldiers dispersed they posed for photos with wide eyed children and some equally excited “older kids”. As the gunpowder smoke drifted away the Castillo Negro and surrounding area went back to being a popular tourist magnet but at least the echoes of this turbulent past will have touched a few more ears again.

Look What The Catwalk Dragged In

Hopefully customers is the answer to that headline, and it did work to an extent. Los Cristianos business association and Arona council pulled out the stops with a beach front fashion show at the old beach. At the mention of young ladies strutting their stuff I was down the hill and in place quicker than Ussain Bolt on roller skates. There were four shows, 6.30 pm and 8.30 pm on Friday and Saturday featuring clothes and accessories available from shops in the surrounding area.

The Los Cristianos Zona Abierto campaign was greeted enthusiastically by local business’s and just past the church plaza Perfumeria Mego had set up a makeover area outside their shop and were preening passers by. The smell of all that combined fragrances made quite a heady mix adding to the hot evenings balmy beauty. I wore a few dabs of my latest fragrance Midnight In Grimsby , well the local cats seemed to like it. Further down at the front there was a childrens play area with toys and games to keep the toddlers amused and one of the restaurants had a face painter on hand to add an extra gleam to smiling young faces.

In front of the large catwalk quite a crowd had gathered taking up the seating and spilling out all around ready for the show. A large video screen and pumping music set the tome and a female compere tottering on very high heels built up the excitement levels. In the backstage are, just behind the Plaza de Pescadora nervous youngsters limbered up before hitting the stage via the orange carpet. Many of the early, younger models were a bit shy but most showed a real flair for modelling. Nearly all of the models were of school age and had friends in the audience cheering them on and in some cases dishing out some good natured banter. As well as the majority of female models there were a few young men, now if you were a young teenage boy and your mate was up on the catwalk, you wouldn’t give him any stick would you? – no not much you wouldn’t. Big respect to the models for running the guantlet of their teasing school mates, and the dance troupe ended the show with a stylish performance.

It was a great show, a lot of work had clearly gone into it and hopefully the clothes shops will benefit from improved sales. The nearby restaurants were a bit busier than usual, but this was the early show and possibly a bit early for many families to eat, hopefully the later performance reaped even greater rewards. It was a shame to see the illegal street vendors cashing in, I’ve never seen so many tacky sqeaky flashing toys on offer, it must annoy the shop owners who are shelling out high rents and rates. Anyway look out for more events on the promenade and try to give them your support.

Go On Take A Walk On The North Side With Hotel Las Aguilas

Like David Banner at the end of The Hulk or Cain at the end of Kung Fu, I feel compelled to walk into the distance and try new destinations, thankfully in my case without green fits or flattening the locals after announcing that I Come In Peace. Tenerife is perfect for my wandering spirit and the north has proved rich ground for some wonderful trips. For readers of Tenerife Magazine it could all be slightly easier and a whole lot more comfortable with a weeks free half board holiday for two people at Hotel Las Aguilas in Puerto de la Cruz.

That’s the latest prize on offer for simply being a Facebook fan of Tenerife Magazine and getting pulled out of the draw on 2nd August. Then it’s up to you what you do, I’m not going to nag and tell you about all those wonderous places you ned to visit like the Drago tree at Icod de Los Vinos, the Garachico rock pools and volcanic mound of rock spat into the sea by a major eruption of Mount Teide, and the wine trail at La Orotava that will leave you struggling to walk in a straight line. Wild horses and even countless repeats of Friends couldn’t force me to divulge the location of all those lovely coffee and cake cafes and bizarre bars that I have encountered on my travels. It’s up to you to go and explore.

Mind you I can understand if you just want to relax by the two large swimming pools at Las Aquilas, or enjoy the four star luxury service and views. Maybe try out the tennis and padel courts or the three restaurants and show bar. The 10.000 square metres of gardens may well distract your interest and the modern spacious layout will give you time to chill. For some history and culture the easy way just hop on the regular free shuttle bus into Puerto de la Cruz and explore the rugged sea front and a myriad of back street shops and restaurants. Basically there is plenty to do during your stay.

You still have time to win a week’s half board holiday for two people. All you need to do is be a Facebook fan of Tenerife Magazine by the closing date of 31st July. The draw will be made on 2nd August, is not transferable and must be claimed within 2 weeks of the draw or it will be re-drawn. The prize voucher can be used until the end of 2010, not open to staff or relatives of Tochdocun or Grupo Gomasper.

If you want to know more about Hotel Las Aguilas try the website or give them a ring on (0034) 922372806 or drop them an email

Armada Sur Give Their Fans A Real Grilling In A Tenerife Forest

Just up past San Miguel said The General, we were to discover it was quite a long way past. The football season is nearly upon us so what beter way to rally the Armada Sur troops than a barbecue up in the hills of Tenerife. It was all organised in advance with The General and German Frank going up early to the public barbecue site at Cho Pancho to stoke the fires and reserve us a decent space to spread out and enjoy ourselves. The coach picked us up from the Toby Jug and the The Royal Oak 2, a couple of our favoured watering holes, and then we headed up, up and further up the tight hill road way past San Miguel. It seemed we may have gone too far so we got the driver to do his best Italian Job impression by reversing and doing a three point turn just above a sheer drop. We should have had more faith, turns out we hadn’t gone far enough, another U turn later and a few frantic phone calls and we screeched to a halt just short of running over The General and Frank.

The barbecue site was down a slip road that we could have easily missed, even Yogi Bear would have trouble finding this place. Some were ferried by car down to the main site and other of us walked and what a fantastic site greeted us. Two sturdy toilet blocks signalled that we wouldn’t have to get too native and then the path led down into the forest and a clearing adorned with Armada Sur banners and flags. The hard working advance party had even hung a Pio from a tree, he was always going to meet a sticky end. As the chicken, pork, sausages and burgers sizzled nicely we found some nice shady seating either on the large benches and tables or on convenient rocks. Kevin and Karen had provided one of their trademark hot curries, mine slipped down nicely followed by a cold beer from the bottomless iced bins.

It was a very hot afternoon, we had a few worrying days waiting for the heatwave warning and fire ban to be lifted but our timing was spot on. Even in the shade the heat made its mark, some of the younger members started to spray water around, it was very refreshing and soon the impromptu showers had spread to the next party just along from us. Just a short walk up from our spot was a flat clearing, perfect for a game of cricket, one of our group had brought a wicket, bat, ball etc so Frank proceeded to show us that the Germans could whoop us at cricket as well as football. There was quite a drop if the ball went out of play, thankfully it didn’t happen that much. Cricket gave way to football but the heat and thirst drew people back to the barbecue area and some much needed iced drinks. The Pio was starting to look smug on its lofty perch so The General cut it loose and placed it over one of the grills. The yellow menace took a while to get going but burst into a satisfying ball of flame, the first of many pios to be punished this season.

Reluctantly we had to pack up and head up the slip road for our bus back to the south, everything was of course cleared up and we took all our rubbish with us. The bus back was boisterous and musical as the beer fuelled passengers refelcted on a superb afternoon of good company, good food and the best of Tenerife’s rural charms. Less than 2 weeks to go and we can get back on the terraces belting out our support for the mighty CD Tenerife.

Making A Date With The Peroni Calendar Girls

A beautiful model skimpily dressed, a cold bottle of Peroni beer resting on her thigh, the sun beating down and a golden beach merging into a clear blue sea, what’s not to like? In the my pre Tenerife days that would just be a wild dream  broken by the shrill call of my alarm clock but now it’s just another day in this island paradise and another story for  The setting was the Gran Hotel Bahia del Duque a five star chocolate box with many layers of luxury. I always get lost when I go there but eventually found my way to the Beach Club where the Peroni girls were gathering for the first of 2 photo shoots for the 2011 limited (only 400) edition  calendar.

Regular readers will know that I’m a Dorada drinker, Especial rather than Pilsner please, but I have fond memories of supping too much Peroni in Sardinia for a 1990 World Cup game between England and Egypt. All roads now converged as Dorada’s parent company Compania Cervecera Canarias, part of SAB Miller also distribute Italy’s favourite bottled brew. The three local models for todays shoot, Vanesa Cabeza, Laura Martin, and Natalia Farina were slipping into something a little cooler for their moments before the lens of Alfonso Bravo from Santa Cruz. as if that wasn’t enough there was a troup of young Peroni promotion girls on hand-Ding Dong. It says a lot about the sort of clients that the hotel gets that the sun bathers around the many pools barely stirred from their waiter service cold drinks to see the bevy of beauties.

A small crowd of us followed Vanesa up to a rocky mound above the resort where the main work of the day started, how that bottle of Peroni didn’t pop its top is a mystery – well the weather was rather warm. As if to order, a luxury yacht sailed by in the background as I scrambled to get some decent pics without getting in the photo crews way. Further action followed on the beach, a nice extra tale to tell for many holiday makers.

The next day, even hotter, I headed early up to Santa Cruz to see the other three girls strut their stuff, Alicia Medina, Juliane Brandmayer and Leticia Sarda looked cool as the crew unloaded all the lights and clothes. The action took place at the old jet foil station just down from the main ferry port. Looking down that way the yellow funnel of the old steamship La Palma catches the eye, this grand old Middlesborough built vessel used to deliver post and supplies between the Canary Islands  and is now many years into a restoration programme. I met Damian from the La Palma foundation, he had given me a guided tour for an article about the ship earlier in the year. Alicia gazed into the camera from the deck and then wobbled down the gang plank on her high heels. Juliane was busy in the improvised make up and changing area and Leticia had already slipped into her sporty motoring gear complete with leather gloves.

Round the back of the main building a classic Alfa Romeo was the set for Leticia, stunning bodywork, sleek and very racy, the car was nice too. The luxury cruise liner Arcadia was docked across the water blissfully unaware of the artisitc endeavours going on under their highly pampered noses. It takes a lot to be a Peroni pin up and as I left I noticed down on the pocket sized grimey beach next door, one aspiring model whose calendar had long passed its sell by date. Don’t call us, we certainly wont call you .

More pictures and details from the shoots at

Leaping in Where Golf Angels Tread At Tenerife Ladies Open

Most people would arrive at a major media event via the front entrance, I made my bow at the Tenerife Ladies Open golf at Buenavista, by clambering over a wall. It wasn’t some sort of statement of sporting anarchy just some locals having a chuckle as they gave me dodgy directions to the course. I got the early TITSA bus up to Icod de los Vinos and then the 30 minute link bus to Buenavista along the glorious low road route through Garachico. A hot sunny day was brewing and the frothy sea was a bathers delight at the large piscina and the numerous rock pools.

Arriving at Buenavista, my first visit, the Teno mountain range was as majestic as promised and I walked through the town soon realising the course was some way away. That’s when I sought  guidance from some old chaps chewing the fat in the plaza, they kept staight faces as they directed me down a small road that soon became a dirt track and then skirted around the cliffs. I could see the course but it still needed an uphill route march to get to the coastal path that runs beside the 17th hole, at that point I scrambled over and tried to look dignified.

The course is a real selling point for Tenerife, stunningly beautiful and spread outbelow the clear sky and clear deep rich blue ocean that laps at the lower edge. some 120 countries are expected to take at least highlights of the four days of action, what a wonderful living brochure they will see. The ladies had started out early so I set about stalking a few of the groups, the ladies game has the advantage of being a great shopwindow for clothes brands and they all looked cool and stylish as they toiled in the hot sun. I checked in at the clubhouse press centre and found it to be surprisingly quiet but it will build as the tournament does the same.

After the first days play the good news is we have a sporting English star in the lead, defending the honour of Derbyshire Melissa is one of  the favourites for the title, time will tell,

  • 1st Melissa Reid (England)                            6 under par   66 shots
  • 2nd Ursula Wikstrom (Finland)                   6 under par    66 shots
  • 3rd Virgine Lagoutte-Clement (France)  6 under par    66 shots