Archive for February, 2014
Oh What A Lovely War With The Tenerife Swallows

In case it slipped your mind it’s 100 years since the First World War began, the Swallows Drama Group from Los Cristianos hasn’t forgotten. They staged two performances of the musical Oh What A Lovely War and after seeing the first night I can vouch that the message is as powerful as ever.

Decades before Pink Floyd The Wall and Blackadde Goes Fourth took their swipes at the absurdity of and tragic waste of young lives that dominated WW1, this musical hit the stage in 1963. I can remember seeing bits of the Richard Attenborough film version but that was such a long time ago. My Grandad used to tell me of his awful experiences  in the trenches and I always remember the sorrow in his voice.

It was a time of bizarre optimism as the war was depicted as some huge boys own adventure, a stiff upper lipped determination that all would work out well and even to think about the cost in human lives was almost treason. The contrast with the western front couldn’t have been more different and it’s this gulf in reality that the musical highlights. The cast did a grand job of mastering the old popular propaganda songs like Pack Up Your Troubles and Belgium Put the Kibosh On The Kaiser and the generals and leaders were shown as history portrays them, fools at best and guilty of sacrificing millions of young recruits to protect their privileged place in society.

The hall at the Los Cristianos cultural centre was packed with an audience of 80 plus and the stage was small and with little room for access but they kept up a good pace as the story moved from 1914 to 1918. The soldiers, many played by ladies, wore clown like costumes rather than uniforms to further show the farcical nature of the hell they were ordered into. Props were basic but the narrator’s recital of the cold stats of lives lost in each battle illustrated the points perfectly.

The illusion of happy tommies backed by a well drilled military machine under the sharpest tactical minds was gradually shattered as letters from the front told of poor planning, lack of equipment, and an almost blatant disregard for others lives from the commanders. This was when the songs changed in nature to parodies of upbeat contemporary tunes and rebellious cries for an end to the carnage. When This Bloody War Is Over and Keep The Home Fires Burning are rousing but tinged with sadness. The two hour show was a fitting tribute to the anniversary of WW1 and with proceeds going to Cancer Research Tenerife it also served a good cause. My compliments to the whole ensemble, coming from a generation that didn’t have conscription I can only think how fortunate I am.




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.






Weird Weather And Weird Football, Made In Tenerife

The stonking rainbow as we approached Santa Cruz should have ended at Ayoze Perez, CD Tenerife’s pot of gold, but he had lead in his boots and a big money transfer on his mind in the 1-1 draw with Real Zaragoza.


It was cold in the Heliodoro but a great game to watch had the poor 7,180 crowd in good voice as Tenerife shaded the first half. Suso was in dazzling form again and new forward Juanjo had an encouraging home debut, with Cristo, Ricardo, and Aitor Sanz playing well in midfield there was plenty to cheer. Ayoze didn’t look sharp but a brilliant run down the right by Suso ended with a tuck back to Juanjo who powered his header into the net for a 26 minute lead.


Even the biblical rain lashing in couldn’t dampen our spirits and we just needed another goal in the second half to snuff out a good Zaragoza side but missed chances again cost us, Ayoze wasn’t on form and Moyano’s long range dig was the closest to increasing the lead. Roberto had been impressing with quick decisive interceptions but the young goalie made a hash of his timing when trying to punch away the ball and Arzu had an easy headed leveler. Tenerife tried hard at the end but Ayoze missed a tap in at the post and made poor contact with a headed chance while sub Edgar couldn’t find the net with the goalie stranded. A draw was a fair reflection but if only…


Sunday morning a few of us headed to Granadilla to see CD Tenerife B, we got there to find both teams and the crowd waiting outside a locked stadium. With the severe weather alert issued the previous day the local council had decided it would be too dangerous to play the game even though it was a lovely crisp sunny morning. Eventually the fire brigade and Guardia Civil arrived and the firemen went in to inspect the ground and repair a small break in a high fence, the game started 90 minutes late. Hope this doesn’t  happen in the World Cup final.


Second placed Atletico Granadilla looked better on the day and eventually won 2-0 against the divisions leaders. It was a bizarre setting with the snow blanketing the hills above the ground while the sun made it a very warm, I definitely felt overdressed in my animal furs and Cossacks hat. The Tenerife B team has lost several key players to the seniors this season and still done really well but Granadilla wore them down and took advantage of a couple of silly errors for the goals to win 2-0 . With Marino winning away the top four promotion play off spots are really cut and thrust.


I thought things couldn’t get stranger but later that afternoon in Los Cristianos I went for a pizza at the Auditorio café, they had new staff and the bloke told me he would have a go at cooking my pizza and I would only have to pay if he didn’t ruin it. Just as well I didn’t order anything more complicated. The pizza was fine but as I ate it an old chap wobbled by juggling on a unicycle – well it was that sort of a weekend.






Fun With A Six Pack In The Dorada Brewery

It had to be done, after years of dedicated research six of the Armada Sur booked up for the Dorada Sin Secretos brewery tour just above Santa Cruz. We met up in Los Cristianos for some last minute liquid research into our subject matter and caught the 110 direct Titsa bus to the capital.

I had thought we might have to scrum down for the bus but it was pretty empty so we were able to spread out at the back and enjoy the trip. Of course we had a quick chorus of Oasis Oasis as we passed our football watering hold half way up the motorway. Santa Cruz was warm and sunny with the Carnaval fair under construction down by the tram terminal. We hopped on and were whizzed up to the stop just past the brewery. With plenty of time in hand we adjourned to the Tasca La Antorcha just up the side road.

What a nice friendly bar it was, they thought we were workers from the brewery, we ordered a nice spread of tapas to go with our Dorada’s and emerged fully prepared. I did the tour about a year ago but was looking forward to another visit, our two guides Laura and Rebeca were rather lovely and very informative with Laura speaking excellent English picked up in Kent. After paying our 3 euros first up was a film about the history of the company, then we got kitted out in our high visibility jackets – no sneaking off for a crafty swim in the beer vats then. 

Into the cooking area and we were able to see how the brewing process works and see the malt, hops and yeast at work, the smell was delightful. Going up in the big elevator I couldn’t help thinking of Willy Wonka however this lift led to the packing plant we popped little plugs in our ears as the clinking of the bottles charging along the belts is very loud. It’s surprising to see how few staff are needed on the floor as the washing of bottles and crates is automatic. Next stop was the lab where they carry out quality control on the brews, we were fortunate to meet the boss who answered questions from us. Dorada has another plant in Las Palmas where the cans are filled while the bottles get the magic liquid here in Santa Cruz.

That left one last stop, the museum and tasting room, by now our taste buds were gagging for some beer. Of course our only motivation for doing the tour was educational so it was good to see the range of bottles, cans, and posters that had been used over the years, the new carnaval bottles are the latest addition. Would we like to sample the beer? Silly question, of course we did and had a couple of beers each to savour, it tasted even better with our added knowledge. We reluctantly said farewell to the ladies and caught the tram down into Santa Cruz for a quick walk through the city centre to the bus station. Arriving with 20 minutes to wait for our bus we visited the bar for a top up and then headed south for the football at The Merry Monk. What a perfect day.

Late Goals And Near Misses As CD Marino Soar And CD Tenerife Crash

What a great time of season to hit top form, CD Marino followed up last weeks 0-1 win at leaders Granadilla with a spirited home comeback to see off third placed Mensajero 2-1. A subtle change has taken place in the team over the season and the newer players are making it hard for the old guard to keep a shirt.

Opening exchanges were pretty even, Airam and Lamine had half chances, the first running into a knot of defenders and the second shooting high and wide. The La Palma visitors looked a good side, well organized, big, strong and ready to exploit any weaknesses. Pulido was drifting in from his right back slot and Yeray took advantage of the space in the home defence.

Juanda was a bit slow for Mensajero when through on goal, he got a touch to the ball but it trickled slowly and Alberto was able to collect it. Murci is the goal machine for Marino, he turned brilliantly in the box and put the ball in the visitors net only to see it ruled out. Alberto did well coming to grab the ball at the edge of his area but going forward much of Marino’s play seemed hit and hope. Yosimar saw his rocket shot go wide and the half ended all square.

Marino were the better side from the start in the second half, Murci thought he was through but Hernandez was strong in defence and denied him. Mensajero suffered a setback after 54 minutes when Alfredo was sent off for a second booking, from the free kick Luis did well to punch away a Marino shot.

Facundo Valiente came on for Yosimar and added another striking option for the blues, Pablo could have grabbed the lead, his shot was a bit soft and drifted wide. It should have got easier for Marino but Mensajero shocked them with 15 minutes gone, Muda pounced from a corner to put them ahead. It put some urgency into Marino and they snapped back with Pablo heading in a goal from a floating right cross. It was all Marino now, youngster Fran Alonso came on and what a good player he looked, he couldn’t quite convert a set up from Murci and followed up with a header that just missed the target.

Lamine opened up Mensajero with a deep cross and sub Balduino showed great control to loop it into the top corner of the goal. The minutes were ticking away and the home victory looked assured, Alonso made fools of two defenders with his close control and was eager to take players on down both wings. It’s looking good for Marino, up to third place, this weekend they travel to Puerto de la Cruz to play Union Vera.

Over on the mainland CD Tenerife paid the price for poor finishing, mainly from Ayoze as Barcelona B took a 2-0 win. Aridane was still injured and joined on the treatment table by Borja, there was a debut for new signing Edgar who looked useful on the left wing. A Denis free kick after 25 minutes and a Nieto goal in the second half sealed the score. This Saturday it’s Zaragoza at home at 5pm, and a chance to see a few of the new players.

Saturday Is The Time To Flock To Los Cristianos Beach

Have you ever been storked by a long legged bird? I reckon I might have been. It started as a fairly relaxed Saturday morning so I took my camera for a little wander down into Los Cristianos, stopping on the way to snap some weeds. They may be seen as weeds but growing wild on the waste land besides the pavement they had a certain charm and pleasing colours. I can’t really tell the difference, never ask me to tidy up your garden.


I’d done my energetic bit for the morning, my usual pool swim, but reaching the cultural centre I saw they had a stage set up and before I could say dance and thrust they had got a large crowd doing Zumba fitness. It was pretty frantic stuff and had a few drivers stretching their necks as they passed through this busy junction.


Anyway down by the old beach I noticed a large white bird on spindly legs pecking around on the sand. It didn’t seem that worried by the interest it was generating. Later in the day I sought advice from Steve Andrews AKA The Bard Of Ely, a man who knows nature well. His verdict was a White Stork which he insisted shouldn’t be in Tenerife. The internet reference he sent me struck a chord as it showed the bird roosting on top of Avila cathedral in mainland Spain. How strange, on the way back from an Armada Sur trip to Salamanca a few years ago to see CD Tenerife we stopped off there and I was fascinated by the feathered friends on high, maybe they didn’t like me taking their photos and are now after me. Research told me that they migrate from Africa to Europe but go far west or east to avoid the open sea as the air thermals they travel on are not created over water.


Back on track I had been tipped off that the new lifeguards were starting today so I went and had a word with them. There has been a long running saga with the previous guards, the service was franchised out by Arona council but when the company went bust the council washed their hands of any responsibility leaving the guards with no income. Despite being on strike they kept a presence on the beach for over a year before the council had them thrown off recently. All pretty disgraceful but the new Catalan company has employed local staff to provide a reduced service. The new guards had no say in the previous mess and as a regular Las Vistas swimmer I’m very glad to see them arrive. Just watch your backs boys and double check your wages.


The early sun must have been stronger than I thought, I was having visions, I saw a bevy of lovely ladies playing beach volleyball. Then I recognized a coach I had interviewed in the past, it was a gathering of international teams from Spain (pic with visors) Austria, Switzerland, and Holland. Los Cristianos is a regular training spot for most European teams, male and female and the ladies very kindly posed and let me do interviews for The Tenerife Weekly.


I love the unpredictability of Tenerife, there is always so much going on. This could  be a slightly liquid week as my mate Neal is popping over, the Dorada brewery tour is just one of the highlights to brace myself for so if the blog is a little delayed at times this week forgive me, it’s just the  beer – unless the stork swoops down and carries me off. 




Shtandart Offers A Different Life On The Tenerife Waves

It may have been a dummy load but the explosion and smoke from the canon of the Shtandart triple mast frigate felt real enough as the bundle of spare rope was propelled two miles across the sea. Our barefoot Captain Vladimir Martus chuckled at our reactions, it’s all part of the daily life for him and his regular crew of seven, usually boosted by up to 30 trainees.

The creak of the ropes and pulleys, and the lap of the water against the ship was more than I had hoped for when popping to San Miguel marina for an on board tour. As the crew and guests were about to depart I was hauled aboard for a six hour voyage out past Costa del Silencio, Las Galletas, and Palm Mar. The ship is a beauty, built in 1999 in St Petersburg it’s a replica of a 1705 original built for Czar Peter. The oak body, larch planks, and pine masts, tallest 33 metres, stretch to 34.5 metres long and 6.95 metres wide.

As we swept out of the marina the well drilled young crew sprang into action hauling ropes and lowering the vast 660 square metres of sail. As the sails billowed with the captured wind it felt like I had been transported to another age, the sea was fairly calm and a firm turn of the wheel put us on a steady course. This seemed a good time to find out more from the 47 year old captain.

“I took to the sea at 14 in St Petersburg, did some wind surf racing and got interested in replica tall mast ships, traveling as far as the Baltic Sea and round the Cape. This is the furthest west I have been, we spent most of winter in Holland then Bilbao and down to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.”

It’s not just the look of the ship that is a replica, they used traditional timber and basic old fashioned carpentry skills with Vladimir leading the way. “I cut down some trees in Russia and Holland, it’s not easy to find the right materials. We do all the repairs on board and teach the crew and volunteer trainees to learn a range of skills from setting the sails to learning to tie all the ropes and steer the ship. It’s all about helping people to mature and become better people.”

He wasn’t kidding on those ropes, besides the spaghetti junction of ropes on deck I peeped into the storage area and there was enough to confuse a troop of boy scouts. The sleeping quarters are best described as minimalist with hammocks slung up in any spare corners. There was also a party of four German journeymen carpenters on board, they tour Europe exchanging their skills for travel and accommodation and had been busy renewing planks and adding new tar to fill gaps.

Maybe I have seen too many sea faring swashbuckler movies but firing the canon was a highlight for me. Rolling the 6 pounder (3 kilo) canon into place by the small porthole a member of the crew lit the gunpowder fuse and kaboom off it went. Apparently in the old days a one kilo load in a canvas bag was so volatile no one was allowed any metal when they went in the storage area, even a spark from a key could blow them sky high.

At a suitable distance out there was more frantic sail setting and we took a break down in the galley where a fine spread awaited us complete with tots of rum. Back up on deck the sails were furled away and the two engines kicked in for a slow journey home. Whales and dolphins danced in the water ahead of us and curious pleasure craft came up close to check us out. It was a great experience and a pleasure to meet such a friendly and dedicated crew. Shtandart is taking on paying trainees for a series of cruises based from the Canary Islands, to find out more check the website\en  


CD Tenerife Let Rip With Both Barrels

It must be quite frightening to face Tenerife forwards Ayoze and Suso when they hit top form, and they certainly hit it this week. Mirandes were blown away in a 3-0 home win that broke the home goal drought.

There was plenty of room for surprises with the four January captures in the squad but they will have to wait, not so Alberto who replaced Bruno in the heart of the defence and Borja in for the suspended Aridane. What a revelation Borja was, normally as alert as the staff at the Oasis, this week he was sparkling from the kick off, enjoying a supporting role with Ayoze rather than his normal deeper slot. When everyone’s choice to leave in January did a neat back heel the gasps of astonishment could be heard back in Kilmarnock.

The main items on a mouth watering menu were Suso and Ayoze, they didn’t give the poor Mirandes side any rest, Borja set up Ayoze for an early pop that Prieto saved then Suso got the same result from the keeper. Cristo was working hard in midfield, he hustled two markers to make an opening, Camara was surging forward from left back, and there was a nice flow to Tenerife’s play. The opener was worth the wait, after 35 minutes Ayoze held the ball up brilliantly as Carlos Ruiz raced through and scored from the tuck back.

Roberto had little to do, even Icod born Iriome couldn’t give Mirandes any encouragement. The second half was a golden opportunity to pile on the goals, the early raids didn’t quite pay off, even when Ayoze tied the defence in knots and nearly forced an own goal. Rivero came on for Borja after 62 minutes and the sound of applause must have been sweet music after so many previous harsh farewells. Nano arrived for Cristo, he already looks comfortable in the seniors and his first goal will ignite him, in the meantime he will learn so much from Suso and Ayoze.

The second goal was delightful, a deep pass from Ricardo found Suso, he cut inside and left two defenders in his wake as he cracked in a wonderful goal. A few minutes later he broke again and Ayoze was thinking ahead, when the cross came over Ayoze dived into it and headed his tally up to 10 for the season.  It was so nice to get back to celebrating after the last few dismal home losses. Hopefully we have learned our lesson and wont get carried away.


It’s Blooming Lovely In The Santiago Del Teide Garden

Unlike my timing, Mother Nature was spot on for the Almond Blossom Walk in Santiago del Teide. White and pink blossom was bursting out everywhere, the lava fields were stark and rugged, the pine trees proud and majestic, and Mount Teide wore snowy highlight on the side that faced us. At the start and end of the five hour 9 km walk it was distinctly chilly but for the most part it was clear blue skies and hot sun.

Arriving at 8.30 am the church plaza was full of craft fair stalls and groups were already checking in for the short and long routes at staggered leaving times. When I last did the Almendro En Flor we went out around the road but this time the route cut straight  up into the rural landscape and my camera was already spoiled for choice. The click of hiking sticks mixed in with the peel of the church bells as we worked our way up to the resevoir. As I looked across to the Masca road the sun was warming my face and the shedding of layers had to begin.

The sheer amount of almond trees was staggering, most were in full bloom but plenty of buds were ready to add the next display. After just over an hour we took a break at Chinyero where Tenerife’s last volcanic eruption in 1909 was stopped in its tracks by the statue of the virgin from the church, now a wooden cross sits below the frozen crest of the lava wave and a small white shrine welcomes the annual pilgrimage. Now as well as beautiful flowers we had amazing rock formations to admire.


The pine trees and the peak of Teide took the views up to another level and we took our time to enjoy the bird song and kick our way through the fir cones like rugby balls. Whisps of cloud moved around us giving some relief from the heat and partly obscuring the views of Santiago del Teide in the distance. There was another mass resting point above Arguayo before we entered the final phase, it looked like I had paced my sarnies and water just right.


The final descent into Arguayo was one of the trickier pathways with shifting small rocks and then a tight corkscrew path down through the terraced fields laden with more almond trees. I could feel the pull on my leg muscles but that was more than compensated by the wonderful views. Once down in the quiet village of Arguayo we popped into the Museo Etnografico to see how the old skills were being preserved, then up to the sports hall and cultural centre to receive goodie bags with water and almond samples. The Ayuntamiento (council) mini buses shipped us back to our start just as the cloud and temperature dropped much lower and a little drizzle fell.


Top marks to Santiago del Teide ayuntamiento for their organisation and the El Cardon guides and Cruz Roja for looking after us. The blossom will be drawing the walkers for several weeks yet but even after it has blown away on the breeze there will be plenty of new sights to delight in, not only on the west coast but also throughout Tenerife.