Archive for January, 2014
Football Sandwich With A North Tenerife Filling

The good thing about the noon kick offs at CD Marino is it gives me time to cram more adventures into the day. The top four clash between the Las Americas blues and CD Tenerife B didn’t turn out to be a classic but it was a good chance to see some of the next generation of blanquiazul players.

My memory said the San Sebastian parade of horses had taken place earlier in the week at La Caleta but the pitch at Marino looked like a stampede had taken place on it. All eyes were on 16 goal Murci of Marino and 15 goal Jefte of Tenerife but both had quiet games. Marino had the greater need for a win and were on top most of the time but didn’t push home their superiority. With the constant upward movement of young players at CDT it can’t be easy for the B side, Nano was on senior duty and the promising Jairo was missing in midfield.

Murci had a couple of early pops at Carlos in goal, he was worth pressuring as he kept punching instead of catching the ball. Jefte looked good, big and strong I reckon he is a better bet than Aridane at the moment but even his close skills couldn’t beat Alberto in the home goal. Joshua in midfield was buzzing but the full backs impressed me, the pint sized terrier Verdes on the left and the calm captain Alejandro on the right. It had 0-0 written all over it, Tenerife switched off, happy for a draw and Marino didn’t have enough to breach the visiting defence although Lamine was always ready to have a go.

A quick dash to the bus station and up to La Laguna via Santa Cruz and the tram. The cathedral was open to the public after 12 years and 15 million euros, it was pretty damm impressive even to a sinner like me. The police had a jostle with 3,000 students the day before as Spain’s minister for culture and education did the big reopening. I’m still upset they closed the duck pond outside the cathedral and relocated the feathered friends to a pie shop.

Tram down to the capital to suss out a German navy tall mast ship called Gorch Fock, there were three in port when I arrived, the Alexander Von Humbolt 2, been on that before, and from Norway the Stratsraad Lemkuhl. With my camera topped up with the ships I was looking for somewhere to watch Hercules v CD Tenerife, the Fred Olsen ferry bar had it on so I sat in there with some very drunk old locals and watched CDT go 0-2 up and the have to get a late 2-3 winner after slipping. Well done Carlos Ruiz with a header and Ayoze Perez taking his tally to 9 in 20 games – hope we don’t lose him in the January transfer window. A bus back home and a very satisfying day wrapped up.



Nut Misses Almonds But Strolls On

As Eric Morecombe might have said, I am doing all the right events but not necessarily in the right order. There I was scrubbed, loaded with sarnies, wrapped in multiple layers against the cold early morning winds and stood in the church plaza at Santiago del Teide at 8.30am – alone. Yep, I arrived a week early for the Almond Blossom Walk.

A call from councilor Chicken Legs confirmed my eager error, I declined an offer of a lift, no day out in Tenerife is a waste so I resolved to make the most of my early start. It had already been rewarding, I love seeing Tenerife emerge from the night looking all fresh and reborn. All the local bars and restaurants have special almond menus so I adjourned to Bar Soto for a trucha (small sweet almond pasty) with hot chocolate, only 2 euros, it was yummy. Reading the local paper I saw the damage done in Los Gigantes by the high winds, thankfully superficial like broken windows and a few displaced hotel guests. Much of the island was untouched and the wind had dropped considerably a day later. I set off to walk down to Puerto Santiago on the Camino Real, an ancient track of around 8 kms.

It’s a walk I have done several times before but no two Tenerife walks are the same, weather, the season, and time of day add new twists. It was 9 am when I started and just 9 degrees, the recent rains had perked up the wild grass and added some moss to the stony path. Even at this lower end of the almond trail there were a good few trees showing a fine display of blossom, a little teaser for my main event next Saturday. The sun was breaking through and I started to shed layers into my knapsack, what a lovely crisp morning. About an hour in I passed a group of about six people walking up the route, they must have made an even earlier start. The goats were bleating from the fields and clanging their neck bells and birds were swooping and chirping.

Long shadows started to shorten and with the clear sky the temperature rose quickly, I thought the bed of the old ravine might have a little flowing water as I crossed it but there were just a couple of small pools, further down the reservoirs were brimming with their recent top ups – all good for the farmers. Local produce was all around me, banana plantations were bulging with large green hands wrapped in cellophane covers and trees were bending under the weight of ripe oranges.

Even with a few breaks to attack my food, I was coming out onto the main road above Puerto Santiago within two and a half hours and feeling very satisfied with a lovely walk. Heading into Los Gigantes I could see some of the wind damage like the missing tiles at the Stil Los Gigantes Hotel but the sun was blasting and the hotel pools were busy as always – normal service was resumed.

Taking the bus back south I stopped off at Callao Salvaje to try out the Sansibar Ajabo restaurant overlooking the recently revamped beach. The food  and setting were top notch and will appear soon in one of my online reviews. Arriving back in Los Cristianos it seemed an eternity from my 6am alarm but it was another cracking day and now I’m looking forward to the big walk with even more relish.


Saddled Up For San Sebastian At La Caleta

Church bells ringing, paella cooking, and wine pouring into glasses, what a wonderful way to start a special celebration. The fiesta of San Sebastian is dedicated to the animals and a full paddock of horses were grabbing what rest they could under thee shade of the trees as young and old alike stroked them and posed for photos.

The buses into La Caleta were crammed full like cattle trucks as thousands flocked to one of Tenerife’s most popular celebrations. The church doors were flung open and the noon Holy Mass was being conducted with the dedicated faithful inside and many curious visitors straining at the doors with cameras, phones, and I Pads. Down below a large open air showground was brimming with stalls selling traditional food and drink alongside American inspired cartoon character merchandise. A sea of tables groaned under the weight of baked potatoes, sweet almonds, beer, and more wine.

There was no real hurry to get the parade of horses underway so I had a good stroll around, despite gray clouds over the Adeje hills the sun was blazing down and the shaded outside of the church was a popular place to gather, All around the building groups gathered together as old Canarian songs were sung while small guitars and timple were plucked. Meat sizzled on the hot plates before tasty salsa sauces were added, pancakes were filled with sweet fruity fillings, and you guessed it, more beer and wine was added to the mix.

As the church service drew to a close, horses were untethered and ridden out to the sealed off main road. All sizes and ages were mounted as hooves clip clopped along the tarmac at a sedate canter. Falling into a rough formation, the runners and riders were finally allowed to saunter down the side road, past the five star hotels where people were hanging onto every possible viewpoint, and down the path to the beach. Police and security kept a wide opening for the animals and once on the sand they broke into a faster trot as they headed to the shore. The sea was a bit livelier than usual so some of the horses pawed cautiously at the rolling waves before risking a deeper wander.

The best vantage points had been quickly grabbed and the large mound was peppered with people, some perched in quite precarious positions. As the horses frolicked in the water loud rockets were let off but it hardly registered with the horses, they were having too much fun. I did well not to get soaked feet or something nice for the roses on my trainers. It was noticeable there were more ladies taking their charges for a dip this year and most of the riders were recording their own snippets of photos and video on phones and cameras.

Considering the huge swell of people on La Enramada beach it was impressive how smoothly it all went off and as the procession of horses filed back up to the main square the crowd dissolved away either to enjoy more music, food, and dance or like myself to disperse to other parts of the island. It’s a few years since I last took in the San Sebastian spectacle but the magic is still there and it was good to see new generations of Canarians passing on the appreciation of the historic partnership between the land, the workers, and the animals. 

Open Window And Open Defence As CD Tenerife Drown

Had I known that CD Tenerife were going to play this badly I would have brought some sand bags back from Oxford to shore up our leaky defence. Maybe I could have also invited the stewardess from my return flight along to stand outside the dressing room and tell the players “your nearest exits are here and here”. The 0-4 home defeat to Alcorcon was a rude awakening for me as I caught up with the weeks footie events on the rock.

 To finance wages for new players in the January transfer window, Sergio Aragoneses, Raul Llorente, and Oscar Rico had been released, they wouldn’t have played anyway but the suspended Aitor Sanz, Bruno, and Ricardo were a bigger miss. If you think I’m softening you up to explain away the poor showing, absolutely not, the whole team was awful. Bruno holds the defence together and it was clear from the start that his stand in Rigo didn’t have his authority and influence. Pacheco had pace and pulled him and Raul Camara all over the place, the Alcorcon striker hooked an early shot over but was involved in the build up after 14 minutes as unmarked Javito tucked in the opener.

 The marking was ridiculous as up to three players were drawn to a visiting attacker all the time, Prendes glanced a shot off his boot but Roberto had it covered before the second goal duly arrived from an easy tuck back in the box to Javito in loads of space. At the other end Tenerife couldn’t produce any threat, the midfield offered worse service than the Oasis and Aridane was again playing a little deeper and was having a nice nap. Ayoze didn’t look sharp, maybe he is getting found out a bit now and Suso gets closed out of the game by good defenders who know his style. Two down at half time was just about redeemable partly thanks to Roberto’s save to deny Javito his hat trick before the break.

 The injured Rigo was replaced by Chechu before the restart with Inigo Ros filling his role and off we went again but looking even more sluggish. The Alcorcon goalie gave us the come on with a few dodgy pick ups but no one was biting. Ayoze had a half chance with a header but his marker got up for it as well and deflected it away, Chechu launched a tempting cross, still no takers. A gamble was needed and coach Cervera gave a debut to 18 year old forward Nano in place of Raul Camara, he almost got a first touch to score as the ball was scrambled wide by the goalie. Then Roberto was found wanting, he should have intercepted a corner from Pacheco but missed horribly leaving Verdes a simple header into the net.

 Alberto got some more game time taking over from the invisible Rivero, the local player is edging towards the exit but for my money he deserves a decent run in the team. It didn’t make any difference on the night, Juli finished the humiliation to make it 0-4 and the 7,937 crowd could hardly believe what a shambles they were watching. We need new strikers before the window slams shut and a ball winning play maker in midfield – well we can but hope.


Sand Bags, Floods, And Beer In Oxford

They promised me rain and guess what I got, yep buckets full of the stuff. I suppose I was lucky, as I returned to my home city of Oxford the advertising placards for The Oxford Mail proclaimed that the flooded roads were now re-open, a trifle premature judging by the skies.

Anyway this was a whirlwind five day trip to chase more legal loose ends and to see my mum on her 78th birthday, of course there was time to squeeze in a few pubs and to meet up with some old friends. The smiling sunshine logo against Birmingham on the destination board in Tenerife airport didn’t give me any false ideas, the 6 degree temperature reading didn’t lie and as I walked from the plane into Brum arrivals the chill nearly cut me in half.

I had only booked an inward flight so was going to get a one way train ticket to Oxford but as a return only costs 50 p more I got one in case I passed once more through the land of Villa, M & B beer, and seedy ice rinks. On the platform I met a couple from Banbury who had flown in from Gran Canaria, I just about persuaded them to give Tenerife a go next holiday. Oxford was cold but the pubs were warming, as I supped a few en route to my Headington guest house. Tuesday saw my mad dash get underway, the roads to Wantage and my mums care home were surprisingly unaffected by the rising water level. Back at Headington Co-Op Travel I also managed to book a return flight from Luton and supped some superb Plum Stout in town after doing my mums birthday shopping. Pre armed with an advised list I even negotiated my way around the ladies undies department in BHS, well it gave me the excuse to ask a young lady assistant to show me around her knickers.

Reading the local paper provided me with a few chuckles, the Scales of Justice section included small misdemeanors and punishments, many had to pay a victims compensation fine, strange that one offence was for fishing without a licence – so who was the compensation for – the fish? Wednesday was an interesting night in town, at The Far From The Madding Crowd students were doing their Dungeons and Dragons card games – very odd, and a chap dressed as a woman stood out like a sore thumb in a group of very serious ale drinkers. Then at The Chequers a larey young couple tried to have a very loud and potentially violent domestic – those Rock And Roll Woodbines had definitely played a part. The staff were spot on and got rid of them before they reached meltdown, I adjourned to The St Aldates Tavern, formerly my old haunt The Hobgoblin, it was great to see it back on top form with a good range of ales and lots of customers.

For my last night I met up with a couple of old Co-Op work friends at The George and Dragon in Hanborough, nice pub, nice beer and nice friends. Dropped off back in Headington I squeezed a few more beers down at The White Horse but was still up bright and early to start my trek back to the sun. With a limited number of coaches to Luton airport I got there with three hours to kill, I was tempted to try to get a tshirt from the outside I Love Sausage food hut, I know a few ladies who would happily wear that cheeky message. The time passed smoothly and without their over priced beer and I whizzed through Reina Sofia airport to find a Titsa bus waiting for me, a couple of Dorada’s and a meal later I was back in Kirby Towers. Thanks Oxford, always good to see you, hope the floods drain away soon. 


The Changing Coastal Face Of West Tenerife

Any excuse for a stroll, with big waves battering some parts of Tenerife and a storm on the way in, I leapt through the window of opportunity to revisit my west coast roots. First stop was to have been Alcala but the weather was so gloriously sunny and the sea relatively well behaved so I hoped off he bus at Playa San Juan to take the coastal path.

The first surprise was work done to the corner entering the path, the two layers of natural terrace had gained some slatted wood walkways and a few guide rails and some people were taking full advantage of the natural sun trap. I had expected to find the sea lapping high up the rocks but it was just tickling them and posing for a few camera shots.

It’s a nice undulating pathway that shows off the rugged beauty of this part of the coast and half way to Alcala is the little hamlet of Fonsalia, the closes point in Tenerife to the island of La Gomera. Ever since I arrived 12 years ago there has been talk of a new ferry port at this point but work has only started recently and I was keen to see how it was progressing. Slowly is the word, the framework of a couple of buildings is creeping up but it looks many years away from resembling a port. I took the short detour through the one main street of Fonsalia and back down to the path through the building area, the workmen didn’t look unduly concerned.

There were plenty of other walkers enjoying the sun and the only slightly challenging way behind the rocky outcrops. Alcala soon came into view as the path became a small street giving a sneak peak over to the quayside. When I scribbled for The Western Sun our office was in a back street and I loved taking my lunch break down on the quay for a swim followed by sarnies. The sea has been calmed a little since then with a dyke under the water and plenty were sat down there with a dip on their minds, there were even a couple on the micro small Playa Arena with its bold missionary cross.

Walking through it was good to see the old tuna canning factory overlooking the quay now has a small bar and tables outside, they even advertise live Saturday night music. Following the promenade past the Palicio de Isora hotel brought me into the new modern extension of Alcala, much of the landscaping and children’s play areas were part of a trade off with the hotel and it looks good. The target of my visit was the newly revamped Playa Jaquita a bit further along, last visit it was still a work in progress but now it’s open and in use although still waiting showers, lifeguards etc. Top marks to the planners for combining three black sand coves with two rock pool areas, a good blend of nature and modern tourism.

Walking round to the main road I noticed several new shops and bars, Alcala is on the rise, I stopped for a drink and chat with an old friend at Sun Bean a fine example of converting a run down shop into a bright modern food and drink stop popular with visitors and locals. Satisfied I was leaving Alcala in good hands I caught the Titsa express bus back south pleased to have given my rotting trainers a good walking send off before they are humanely destroyed.


No Hangovers For CD Marino And CD Tenerife

When the punch has been drunk and the drunks have been punched normality returns and what better way to start 2014 than with a weekend of wins. CD Marino started the second half of their season with a comfortable 2-0 home win over UD Las Zocas.

The pitch looked a bit shell shocked after a 26 game blitz in last weeks Arona 7’s competition, taking the pre match team shots out in the middle I was worried some of the under 12 players might still be trapped under the divots. It was going to be a full bloodied derby with Saul and Rayco playing under coach Willy Barroso back on their old home ground.

Jesua wide on the left for the visitors showed some fancy footwork before unleashing a long range shot that just curled past home keeper Alberto. Shoot on sight seemed to be the Las Zocas policy, Jesua had another flash at goal before Pulido for Marino had their first effort, a strong strike that Isaac took well.

Marino started to take control but Cabrera was strong in the heart of the Las Zocas defence especially with powerful clearing headers. It needed that bit of class to beat the visitors resistance and Murci is just the man for that job, he showed his strength and determination crashing through his markers and hooking the ball into the net for the lead.

Helio blasted a shot high over the Marino bar and then set himself up well for another pop but couldn’t match it with a measured finish. Aaron Darias could have ended the half with a second goal but was torn between a cross and a shot and missed his chance. It didn’t take long after the break for Marino to get their deserved second, Murci was patient and completely fooled Cabrera to score again. Helio went close with a shot that Alberto got a foot to and a quick break produced a tremendous diving save from the keeper as he changed direction at the last moment.  Las Zocas faded quickly after that, Marino made changes from the bench and were even able to take Murci off. The win was much needed with the tide lapping at Marino in fourth spot.

The day before in Murcia a performance of great character from CD Tenerife got them back to winning ways with a 1-2 win. Maybe they rode their luck a bit but with Ayoze back in the side they were always in the hunt. After 11 minutes the young striker set up Aridane to open the scoring. Kike Garcia was the home sides main weapon and after a poor clearance he pounced to level on the half hour. Ayoze’s tactical awareness forced a foul from Murcia and Loro, another returnee to the line up, fired in the spot kick just before the break. Tenerife held on well, Garcia spurned his big chance with just 10 minutes to go, he had room in the area but wasn’t up to the job. Two home games on the trot and Tenerife have a chance to get well away from the dreaded relegation zone.


Kings Aint What They Used To Be

I nearly didn’t go to the Three Kings parade in Los Cristianos – well it’s always the same – isn’t it? They caught a lot of people out this Reyes Eve by changing things around, call me an old stick in the mud but I thought the early part was chaotic, I don’t like change, I’m still reeling at having seen two currency changes in my lifetime.

It was past the advertised start time of 7pm, but that’s expected, and people were milling about looking for a sign from the east – or anywhere really. Normally the parade starts from the ferry terminal but this time the ringing of a ships bell and bright lights heralded the arrival of a small ferry boat by the old fishermens quay. The Arona brass band was assembled beyond the guarded gates and the Kings had arrived off the ferry but there was no sign of camels or the other cartoon characters, jugglers, etc. A path was cleared along the quay as crowds flocked over across the old beach and the band led the kings and their servants on foot down and around to the Plaza del Pescadora.

The plus was the children could get up close to their heroes but the down side was many couldn’t see over taller people in front of them. Taking the passageway up at the back of the small plaza the master plan was revealed, the camels were parked up just below The Devon Arms and their many magical friends were dressed up and waiting. I didn’t see the kings at first and assumed they had popped in for a Guinness but they soon appeared and saddled up. It’s a tight area and those camels were parked bottoms outwards so everyone was trying to avoid any extra gifts not mentioned in the old tales. It was good to see the hairy beasts and I can’t remember when I have seen so many camel toes. I was shocked to see among the cartoon characters a large Pio – but I bit my tongue and resisted the football chant reserved for this Las Palmas mascot.

At the top of the steep slope the jolly parade turned up and into Avenida Suecia, back on the old original route, that was more like it, the Kings and their fellow paraders began throwing handfuls of sweets out to the crowds packing the pavement and people were able to see their royal visitors in their elevated position perched up on the camels. Along and past the gloriously lit church plaza, which had hosted bouncy castles and games earlier – they still think I’m too old for a bounce.


The final stop was outside the cultural centre where the thrones were awaiting the royal bottoms and the children were awaiting their presents. As the paraders arrived I tried to get the Pio to pose with me for an Armada Sur caption competition but it was whisked away to the changing rooms along with Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob, Tom and Jerry, and Snow White and her Seven Dwarfs, it must have been quite a clash of egos in there. The big day Reyes (6 Jan) will be a quieter day for families to enjoy, hope everyone gets those special presents they really wanted.