Archive for December, 2019
Hopping Mad – A Winters Football Tale

Frosted panes of a red public phone box were further blurred by condensation streaming down the inside as four portly, middle aged men, pressed up close to a cracked grey telephone on top of a wobbly tin money box.

“My sodding thumb is dead, either that or the 10p slot is blocked.” complained Bertie, the so called clever one, and the only one of the four to possess any loose change.”Hang on, it´s moving.” The coin squeezed in but the lack of a tell tale dropping noise suggested further coins would struggle to find a home. “Good morning” shouted Bertie. “Is the game definitely on today?”

A faint female voice snapped back. “I wish you lot wouldn´t pester me. My husband is the Club Secretary and he is at the ground now shovelling up snow. It will be on if he has to crawl over every bloody blade of grass and breathe on them to defrost it.”

“I will take that as a yes then.” was the almost joyous reply from Bertie as he tried to nod frantically at his three well lagged friends before hastily adding. “So sorry to bother you but the ground phone seems to be out of action and we have travelled quite some way to see the game.”

The slamming noise would have told a less insensitive man that Mrs Club Secretary barely caught any of his polite signing off. The red frames of the box almost sighed with relief as the quartet splurged out onto the half thawed grass verge. Neighbours in the sedate village of Middle Brevit would have appreciated the close up parking to avoid filling the concrete base of the phone box with mud. Well they might of if the visitors hadn´t dug plough like furrows in the verge. Albert, the driver and proud owner of their now much browner Mini, plonked himself back at the wheel and unzipped his dark green three quarter length coat. As the others scrambled in, Albert fished out a map from the glove compartment and in a confident voice announced. “About five more miles lads, the beer guide says there´s a satisfactory real ale pub just before the ground, so lets go and make their acquaintance.”

The boys in the back seats, Roy and Pickle (don´t ask) were actually in the mid 50´s range like the front pair, but on football days, they were all boys again. A dense bank of fog rolled across the side track indicated on the map, they weren´t too sure of the name of the village home of Rakers FC , it was inside the Salisbury border but didn´t seem to belong of any of the smaller cluster of villages. Emerging from the fog, they could just make out a dog eared wooden sign saying Tyne Warp, that unusual name alone was worth bragging points when next meeting their fellow ground hoppers. As the warm air from the Rakers Arms pub greeted them, they were met by a dozen sets of curious old eyes. If the reception was a little chilly, the two hand pumps sent a warm glow of anticipation through them. Old Warbler would normally have won their vote but a slightly dusty pump adorned with the hand written clip for 5.6% Olde Rakes Pleasure beckoned them closer. Driver Albert knew at once this would be the source of the only two pints he would allow himself, so he shouted up a round.

“Oh strong ale is it lads?” enquired the crusty landlord as he pulled the first flush of liquid night time. Pickle went to hop up on a bar stool and the low throb of conversation ceased as eyes drilled into him. “Sorry” said the landlord as he poured, that´s old Percy´s seat” It was thick in dust, prompting Roy to pipe up.

“Which one is Percy?” A mild gasp of shock travelled around the room as the landlord leaned slightly across the bar and whispered. “Old Percy has been dead for 20 years, but that´s still his seat.”

A few chuckles and cackles in the background left the boys wondering if they were the butt of a local joke. They just shrugged, and withdrew to a comfy corner with their brooding pints. Albert´s modest drinking was soon eclipsed by his passengers until 20 minutes before kick off when they bade the regulars farewell and left the premises. Staring hopefully up at the bank of dark clouds, they patted down their layers of insulation to check they were fully loaded. Plain bobble hats emerged from outside pockets and were pulled down over their ears.

Squeezing through the turnstiles they joined the sparse crowd. Little notebooks were flipped open and scribbled in under bold headings of Rakers FC v Lower Marsh Casuals. Crackling announcements prompted frantic scribbling on the pads, no desecrating of the programme sheet was allowed. A polite ripple of applause greeted the teams, it was nice to see they all sported neat back and sides haircuts, the worrying trend of bubble perms thankfully hadn´t reached these parts. The kits got approving nods, just like a Subbuteo set, home in plain red tops, away in blue, and both with white shorts. The goalies stuck to tradition as well, green tops and flimsy gardening style gloves. The last regional meeting of their ground hopping circle had been rocked by a tale of a keeper in a yellow and black shirt – these were indeed shocking times.

Even wearing more layers than an arctic explorer, they could feel the cold, toe wiggling in their sturdy shoes kept the little fellas awake. Roy´s memory couldn´t be faulted, he bought the warming round of hot Bovril, without any prompting that it was his turn.

The first half was very pedestrian, the glue pot of a pitch prevented flowing play, it was all good robust efforts to ensure the ball moved at all. Not surprisingly by half time they hadn´t troubled the man with the hook on a pole to hoist any numbers onto the tall scoreboard. Stamping feet and swivelling around during the break, the four chums took in the surroundings beyond the low wooden fences. It was all rolling hills, the road they had come in on was disappearing steadily under a blanket of dense grey mist. It was very clinging and made them shudder a bit, they had picked a central position as they weren´t favouring either team, it really did feel eerie and deathly quiet. At least they could finally hear the stampede of boots coming up the tunnel under the corrugated tin arch. What emerged made their jaws sag in awe.

The players all had a strange, grey, look about them and they had old retro kits, the same colours but in a duller, heavier fabric with string pull V necks and big collars. Even their hair was different, smeared down with grease, and as for their lower halves, baggy long shorts and hob nailed boots with vicious looking studs had appeared. The quartet looked at each other wondering if it was individual madness or a shared delusion. Slow nods confirmed they were on an equal footing, the refs whistle sounded sharper and echoed in the shroud of mist as he blew to resume the game. Forget the rutted mud and slush, the players charged into each other, it was all crunching tackles and powerful runs as they huffed and puffed like steam engines.

The pitch was just about visible through the misty coating but the boys couldn´t make out anything beyond the fence surround. Strangely though, they could hear clapping, cheering and mighty cries of encouragement, it seemed way beyond the ability of the scattering of fans at kick off time. Rakers responded best to the pulsing roar of the crowd. A nippy winger with feet like quicksilver weaved his spell again and again, twice in five minutes he wrapped his boot around the laces of the heavy ball and launched it high for a Goliath of a forward. The thundering giant met the first ball with a huge crack from his left foot, and the second time he intercepted it in mid air and became a human battering ram as he headed it in for the second goal.

It was an exhibition after that, for big men, the Rakers had lovely close skills and teased their valiant Lower Marsh rivals for the final ten minutes of the game. The final whistle lingered in the air before tailing off as the players filed off down the tunnel in a slow, regimented fashion with no exuberance or emotion. Even the clatter of their hob nailed boots faded in their wake as the mesmerised Mini travellers clapped loud and long. Looking around it was like a spell had been broken, the ground was empty, and the wooden doors to the street open.

The village was pretty much deserted, the pub was closed up but at least the car was parked up just beyond, a reassuring link to the reality they thought they had lost. All four slipped into the sagging seats and put some heating on. Their emotions were reeling, how could they explain the afternoon to their friends, the hoppers all tried to out boast each other with tales of games they had been too but this would draw even more scornful, disbelieving responses than normal. There was no point telling their wider circle of non football friends at their local – they all switched off anyway when they talked about stand designs and wonderfully graded pitches. It would just have to stay their own special daydream, mirage, or group illusion, there was nothing to suggest it had even happened. Bertie, who after all was supposed to be the clever one, had a thought and dipped his hand into his pocket to withdraw his programme sheet. The days teams and the date 27th November 1974 couldn´t be argued with, but the sheet itself was dry, faded, and like ancient yellow parchment. He held it up in front of the others, almost trembling, they also retrieved their sheets, and smiles spread across their faces as they saw they all had the same well worn paper. That was enough for them, they knew something had happened, it would be their secret, something special to bind them together for life. They tootled off home filled with a deep happiness – they even missed the fallen down sign in the hedge pointing back to Rakers FC – Founded in 1874, Inaugural Game 27th November.

Ships That Pass Tenerife In Their Might

By no stretch of the imagination  was it Antarctic weather in Santa Cruz. The 51.3 metre (168 feett) four masts of the Kruzenshtern clawed at the clear blue sky as 24 degrees of sunshine decorated the dockside with shadows of flags, rigging, and cross beams.

Built as the Padua in 1926 in Bremerhaven, the 114.4 metre (375 feet) long vessel joined the Soviet fleet after being surrendered to the USSR in 1946. Now proudly playing its part in the 200th anniversary of the first Russian exploration of Antarctica, the 66 senior crew and 120 cadets in the 17 to 21 age range were passing through Tenerife from a Kaliningrad departure and had eyes set on the next port of call Rio de Janeiro, on a Ships Of Peace tour. The cadets included six ladies, with another 10 as part of the senior crew. There was a nice mix of equipment and fixtures with original parts preserved next to more modern additions, helping the cadets to work, watch, and learn.

It was open house with the gang planks receiving an eager stream of members of the public with many varied nationalities. A small donated church and prayer area catered for the crew´s spiritual well being, and a Christmas tree on deck provided a focus for seasonal celebrations. Mutual respect filled the busy port air, six luxury cruise liners dwarfed the inter island ferries on the far side of the harbour. Names like Queen Victoria, Balmoral, and Artania brought a festive boom to Santa Cruz with 12,000 passengers swarming through the capital city.

It´s always good to see so much marine traffic using Tenerife, historically Santa Cruz has always been a popular stopping off point for the world´s shipping.  Looking around there were more recent additions to the waves such as the oil tankers and platforms, and pleasure boats also skipped across the horizon. Safe journeys to them all.

Daddy Finders Bring Families Together With Science And Sensitivity

Tracing adoptees birth parents has always been an emotional and difficult journey that requires a special dedication and compassion. Barbara Mason and Mick McNulty have those qualities and using DNA and genealogy, they have brought answers and comfort to 70 families in four years, with another 30 searches continuing in several countries. I became aware of their work after being introduced to Mick on one of his regular visits to Tenerife.

Everyone is familiar with family trees but mention Deoxyribonucleicacid, even by its more user friendly name of DNA, and you might start thinking of huge labs and banks of computers. Mick from Edinburgh is much more down to earth. “I was interested in genealogy, after being asked to trace someone’s father I learnt how useful DNA could be. It’s a bit like basic electronics and binary arithmetic and once you get into it, it’s like learning to read music. Barbara asked me to trace her dad, and we also found the father of a third cousin who was seeking her dad, and that started us off. When I went to the Mitchell Library on that first case, I used to joke I was off on a Daddy Hunt, so that led to the name of our group.”

The non profit making Daddy Finders operate through a Facebook page so they can offer self help, a forum for members, and private groups and messaging. “We have over 300 members and they can talk openly about their feelings and expectations. Barbara runs the organisational side of things and is exceptionally good at dealing with enquiries as she knows when they first make contact they may have had to pluck up courage, and she puts her own experience to good use. We don’t charge for our work as we think it is wrong to put a financial barrier on someone trying to find their parent or child. Everything costs money, so we welcome donations to pay for overheads.”

On to the method. “They need to buy a DNA testing kit online, about 80 pounds including post, there are several versions out there but we prefer Ancestry DNA for our methods, often we are working on 30 cases at a time so having the same system helps, and about half of the people on Ancestry DNA have added their DNA to their family tree. Invite us to the home testing and we can start by building a clients family tree and then attaching DNA values to it from the kit chart. Its a process of elimination, once we match values to people on the tree. We have solved cases with no known parent but it is much harder.” The time scale varies from case to case. “I started one case on a Tuesday and found the father on a Thursday, but I´ve been chasing one case for two years. Our cases have touched all corners of the globe such as America, Canada, Greece, Jamaica, Australia, and Spain.”

Most people would have symbols, numbers, and dates constantly spinning in their heads but Mick has a knack of treating it like a puzzle to be methodically solved, and Barbara makes sure that they always smooth the path for the anxious searchers, before, during, and after the trail has been illuminated. You can start your journey here.

Sun Sea Sand And Santa At The Tenerife Swallows Christmas Party

You could hardly move for lords A leaping, French hens, or calling birds. Maybe it wasn’t as clear and sunny as the previous sweltering days but Los Cristianos beach still pulled on the crowds for the annual Tenerife swallows Christmas day party.

It was a bit blowy and the sand was stirring but it was nothing compared to the lively antics of the swallows *the affectionate name for the mainly mature visitors who head to the sun every winter. Not that age was a barrier or qualification, everyone was invited provided they had a hearty singing voice, nibbles and drinks were also on parade in abundance, much to the amusement of the locals.

Strange hats dotted the skyline, as young and old embraced the big day, even a few pets were wrapped up in festive coatings. It was raining back in the UK but it was pouring on the beach – cava, wine, and beer. You couldn´t fault the main players for organisation, carol lyrics were handed around, signs were dished out to head up the groups depicting the 12 days of Christmas in a frenzied dance.


Many of the hats and other garments had been brought over in visitors cases, what on earth would the airport security scanners make of the odd sights coming through their terminals. Anyway back at the beach it was all bubbling along nicely, strangers were becoming firm friends and appetites were being built up for the plates full of dinner to come. Ho ho ho was never felt so deeply as the chuckles rang out across the beach. Tenerife knows how to stage a good celebration, local fiestas are always dazzling and the big Spanish celebration of Reyes (the arrival of The Three Kings) was yet to come.

The swallows certainly made their mark, it was a  fabulous morning and the perfect cure for the hangovers from the previous night. Roll on New Year, there´s plenty of party spirit left to go around.


Chinese Pay Tribute To Sea Goddess Mazu In Los Cristianos

What a rich cultural mix we have in Tenerife, and Los Cristianos is the perfect stage to enjoy the celebrations that different nationalities generously share with us. On Thursday 19th December 2019, dragons and lions danced, and gentle music filled the air as sea goddess Mazu came to town.

As well as performers gathered around the Cultural Centre, many helpers made a point of mingling among the curious crowd to answer questions and shine a light on this important part of their traditions. Mazu originates from the island of Meizhou, and settlers from the town of Putien have made their home in the south of Tenerife. Mazu protects fishermen and sea farers, a perfect match for the fishing port of Los Cristianos. The importance of the Virgen del Carmen to the sea around our coast is spelt out in lavish celebrations each year, this new event marked the first celebration of Mazu in mainland Spain, a welcome honour.

A helper informed me that there are 8,000 Chinese in Tenerife, nearly 1,000 were present for the ceremony. Mazu is normally celebrated on the 1st March. There was a complete age range of performers on the stage, all looking resplendent in their bright, energetic costumes. Highlights for me were the duel with the yellow lion and the taming of the red dragon.

The parade headed down to the beach front before doubling back and heading up into Oasis del Sur, plans are in hand to build a Chinese temple as a focal point for the devotees. Many churches around the south host services for catholic, Anglican, polish, and Russian orthodox. For an island that has always been an important sea junction and trade hub, it´s good to get a glimpse of different ways of life, it´s a big part of why us Brits feel so welcome here.

Chasing The Chocolate Nativity

Just suppose Mount Teide erupted chocolate all over Tenerife, what a yummy time we would have, and at least the UK tabloids would have to be a bit more inventive with their headlines. It was just a thought that made the lonely journey through my empty head as I admired the chocolate belen (nativity scene) in San Miguel. There were plenty of other festive treats to pack in on a pre Christmas day out on the Titsa bus.

Water, and energy bars were more likely on the menu of the lycra clad cyclists that tested themselves up the steep incline above Valle San Lorenzo as the 416 Los Cristianos bus took me high above Arona and past the Ceninela mirador against the backdrop of clear blue skies. Getting off at the entrance to San Miguel I could feel a crisp chill as I started to snap the roadside decorations that always brighten up the town. Chocolate was top of my list so I took the turn down past the eye catching blue and white Ayuntamiento (council) building just above the El Ajibe exhibition hall. Quite a star in its own right, the hall is an old water tank converted to show off arts and crafts.

What a feast awaited my eyes, a mix of traditional Christmas items such as angels, with the San Miguel influence of the church that dominates the local skyline, and even a couple of trains. Two members of staff were choo chooing and generally regressing to their youth and I felt much the same way. A lot of work had gone into making the display but if I had been holding a cup of tea I might not have been able to resist a snack attack. The exhibition is free and open from 9am to 2pm on week days, excluding holidays, until 6 January. On the way back up to the main street I took a moment to admire the cascading monument to one of the founding fathers of San Miguel in the Plaza de Agricultor. Each year San Miguel encourages local groups to decorate the streets with eye catching yuletide creations, it all added to my jolly mood.

Of course I couldn´t move on without visiting a few other key places, starting with the Casa de El Capitan, an imposing building from 1814 dedicated to the traditional pottery made in the area. The church plaza also drew me in, partly for the great views of El Medano and the coast below, but mainly for the style and grace of the church itself. Hopping on the next 416 bus I completed my journey to Granadilla, a little higher up. They were going for a more modest intrusion of Christmas but the natural beauty of the quiet streets and another equally grand church were good rewards for my short leg of the trip. It´s good walking country in this part of Tenerife, I have pounded a few paths but there´s still plenty to add to y tick list.

Even without stop offs, the 416 is a very enjoyable journey. Just an hour direct between Los Cristianos and Granadilla, the fares are very cheap using a Ten Mas pre paid card. My broken journey on the way up, and the straight return trip only totalled 4.70 euros. It was a very sweet day and a further incentive to get out and about even more in 2020.

Ankle Agony Lame Leg And CD Tenerife Up To Their Necks In Relegation Trouble

Like a turkey noticing the sage and onion, latest CD Tenerife coach Ruben Baraja must have been squirming when his world fell apart just four minutes into his first home game. Borja Lasso was on the ball and poised to push forward but Alcorcon defender  Miakushkov came flying in from behind and took his left leg from under him, crunching his ankle in the process. The ref was no help and after consulting VAR decided it was just worth a booking as Borja limped off. That set the tone for the afternoon as two poor sides ground out a 0-0 draw.

Before kick off there was hope of improvement, Alex Bermejo returned from injury to bolster the attack and Munoz resumed his left back role after suspension. The coach was also able to welcome back fit again Luis Milla, initially on the subs bench. Jose Naranjo took over from Borja who needed treatment for his broken ankle at a specialist Seville hospital and will be side lined for the rest of the season. Nothing was expected of forward flop Naranjo and that´s exactly what he delivered, at least Bermejo was keen and his fierce hook shot forced a diving save from goalie Mirales. Alcorcon hadn´t lost away all season but their lack of initiative and ambition showed why they are snoozing in mid table. Stoichkov, their main front man was thwarted by a combination of Alberto and Carlos Ruiz but Luis Perez was struggling with a thigh injury.

Baraja moved Malbasic to help cover Perez at right back, a strange call as it weakened the home attack, holding midfielder Javi Alonso would have been a more obvious back up. The villain Miakushkov threatened on the visitors left with a free kick that Ortola dealt with easily. Naranjo should have made more of a chase for a loose ball but Mirales showed more urgency. With Perez unable to play on in the second half, USA international Shaq Moore filled the void and showed more aggression making a couple of speedy raids down the right. His cross was deflected over the bar and his next set up wasn´t pounced on by Bermejo or Dani Gomez. Alcorcon didn´t punish a weak defensive clearing header from Alberto and a rushed headed rebound cleared the woodwork. Naranjo fired a poor shot into the side netting and a goal less draw looked an inevitable result.

Maybe Luis Milla could unlock the visitors defence after replacing a tired Bermejo. Sadly he sliced a shot off target after Gomez had fed him. Neither side deserved three points, Costa squandered a shot and got no joy with a VAR hand ball call, it clearly struck the home defenders chest. The feel good factor has deserted the Heliodoro stadium along with a drop of 4,000 fans since the previous home game. Calls for the President to resign persisted as despair filled the air. The draw completed the worst ever home streak in the history of the club. Major surgery is needed in the January transfer window but attracting good players to a struggling club isn´t easy, and that´s assuming they can offload the dead wood that is dragging them down.



Pink Strides Of Walk For Life Tenerife Are Bigger Than Ever

Great friends, great vibes, great costumes, and above all a truly great cause. Walk For Life lit up the south of Tenerife again, for the 15th year, and the 2019 vintage was as bubbly and joyful as ever. Hope is always the driving force, education, research, and early treatment are the tools but it is the people who embrace the Walk For Life and all its hard work throughout the year that have made it one of the biggest spectacles on the island.


As I caught the bus in from Los Cristianos to Siam Mall, I could see pink groups gathering for coffee, breakfast, and last minute costume adjustments before they headed to the Adeje start point. The main stage was bouncing, faces were being painted, t shirts, wings, and hats were being fine tuned. Everyone wants to get involved, the Adeje bomberos (fire fighters) and a local ambulance crew stood by bedecked in pink ribbons. Children and pets swelled the family numbers, and water, bananas, and cookies were stocked up ready for the 3.5 km route ahead.

Mayor Fraga of Adeje and Mayor Mena of Arona were joined this year at the head of the procession by the President of the Tenerife Cabildo (government) Pedro Martin. The drum band rapped out their rallying call and the pink ribbon started to thread its way out of the car park and flooded over the motorway bridge and towards the coastal promenade. There are always a few tears, many walk in memory of family and friends they have lost, but there is a defiant intent to ensure prevention and better treatments can spare other from the same suffering.

Founder, visionary, and driving force Brigitte Gypen always has a glowing smile of pleasure and pride. Backed by a dedicated team of helpers and so much goodwill, she has seen real progress in attitudes and support for the cause. The looks on the faces of unsuspecting tourists are always rewarding, they peel themselves of their beach sunbeds and appear on balconies and roof tops trying to take in the sheer scale and spread of the pink procession. Each year the route is tweaked a little for variety, this time the end point was the Golden Mile just over the border into Arona and near Los Cristianos.

Entertainment is always a key part to the celebration as walkers reach the end of their journey, a large stage made a focal point and Los Banditos were ready with some nostalgic rock and roll to kick people up an dancing. The walk has moved with the times, no more stacks of balloons to float away and damage the environment, ticka tape was cannoned into the air above the finish zone and would be much easier to tidy away afterwards. As collection money was paid in the amazing total of 36,600 euros emerged, some of it made up from fund raising that goes on in the preceding year. Walk For Life is the chosen charity of my CD Tenerife family, Armada Sur, and I was immensely proud of the 1,364 euros they contributed.

My admiration for all those who make Walk For Life such a success, grows every year. Already plans are being drawn up for next year, and the foundation works all through the year to offer support and advice to those who need it. The website gives practical advice and links in several languages.

Playa Paraiso Rocks To A Differnt Tune

Pocket size beach cove, Las Galgas, was secluded and sparsely used as I came around the coastal path from Callao Salvaje into Playa Paraiso. The second stage of my Tenerife west coast visit was set on a gift wrapped present of a December day and I had a lot of catching up to do. The twin stacks of the Hard Rock Hotel were new on my last visit three years ago and things were beginning to change in the overlooked and neglected area.

JCB diggers were carving out new channels from the barranco at the rear but those few dipping into the sea were greeted with gentle waves. Below the coastal walk between the two resorts, the isolated outcrops of rock looked inviting but potentially dangerous. Taking the steep walk down and back up the other side of Las Galgas I was soon on the modern pedestrian promenade, wide, clean, and a pleasant place to stroll. Warnings signs at the access points to rock pools are frequently ignored but a little further renovated steps down from the main road led to the small dark sand that backs onto the imported orange sand of the Hard Rock Hotel swimming pool complex.. It had been in a sorry state for years but its now its buzzing with music, cocktails, and a bridge linking it directly to the hotel. It is also open to non hotel paying visitors.

The horizon is now dominated by modern hotels, the huge three stage H10 Atlantic Sunset gleamed in the sun,the loop of land it sits on used to be a bit of a dumping ground and a magnet for auto caravans at fiesta and holiday times. The influence of the new posher neighbours can be felt all through Playa Paraiso, Punta Paraiso is now home to Roja Negra beach bar, and walking up into the main street outside Hard Rock Hotel, most bars and restaurants were either boasting new looks and names, or up for sale and rent.  I´m guessing that rents have increased with the makeover, it´s a shame for the old bars that kept the flag flying when Paraiso was less fashionable but there were noticeably more people sat outside enjoying food and drink. There´s even a rock supermarket, those groceries have a lot to live up to – maybe Prefab Sprout would be appropriate! The rebirth continues, the Roca Mar complex, by the Adrian Hoteles Roca Navaria, is a white elephant that never got any tenants, a team were busy coating it with new aluminium panels ready for an expected influx of new shops.

One of the biggest changes has come at the old abandoned apartment building at the lower entry to Playa Paraiso. It had been part built and left as a rusting, crumbling wreck for decades but is now a gleaming white private apartment block and soon to be home for the Expo Vida project. Originally Expo Vida was promoted as a health theme park to emerge from the wreckage of the old Sky Park in Torviscas, but judging by the lack of progress on the other site, it seems to have a new scaled down home. The building frontage is very striking with dynamic, thrusting statues, I love the humour as in the figure propping up one of the main walls.

As I was in the area, I had to check out the newly opened CC Rosa Center shopping complex part way up the main road out of the resort. This one is a bit of a clone of Parque Santiago 6 and the three layers only have 35 units, many were not yet open. Pretty standard fare, Hiperdino, Burger King, a couple of coffee shops, Springfield, and a large Stradivarius transported from the centre of Los Cristianos. The large top floor terrace will be a nice place to enjoy food, drink, and views, once the other units open, and the flowers and plants will look better once they have grown out of their perfect just planted shapes. In general it´s a bit bland, too many straight lines, and the outside gates reminded me of the old football ground turnstiles. Music was a big theme of my day, it was flowing out from Hard Rock Hotel and H10 and there was muzak hanging in the air at Rosa. when I used the toilets I had Aretha Franklin for company, a bit off putting. Don´t let this cynical old git put you off, go and check these places out for yourself, it´s good to explore.


Fall Back On Nature At Callao Salvaje Beach

Like the ebb and flow of the sparkling sea, Playa Ajabo at Callao Salvaje on the west coast of Tenerife, is used to change. For many years a sandy makeover of the rough pebble beach was promised and was delivered in July 2013. My first visit for three years coincided with the removal of the damaged sunbeds, but there was still a good spread of people enjoying the gorgeous December sun, and dipping in the refreshing waters.

My hour journey from Los Cristianos on the 473 Titsa bus put me in a chipper mood, the council workrs of several municipalities were busy planting festive poinsettias and adding Christmas decorations along the route. Hopping off early at the top of the main road into Callao Salvaje, gave me the chance to savour the clear views of the sea with the island of La Gomera clear in the distance. It also allowed me to check out the distinctive community  church in the Plaza da la Mujer Trabajadora (the working woman). Home to catholic and Russian orthodox services, it´s still an infant at barely 10 years old. The shelf overlooking the sea at the bottom of the road is always a great spot to savour the sea view.


After hearing tales of turbulent times at the beach, my first view showed a more basic layout than my last call. When it opened after the big makeover, the sun shades had call buzzers that summoned waiters from the café restaurant up above. Sadly it was closed a couple of years ago and a gradual decline has followed below. The arm of the quay never did take on small boats and fishing as it was intended but was proving popular as a launch point for swimmers  and a sun bathing spot. With the loss of the food and drink outlet, the sunbeds were also abandoned until recently unscrupulous chancers were trying to illegally charge sun bathers for using the abandoned rests. The beds were then chained to the shades and most were broken and unusable, but a crew of staff and a pick up truck was loading them to take away.

The sea can be wild at Playa Ajabo, the high sided rocky surrounds are held in check by metal mesh and a barranco (ravine) gulley channels rain down either side of the beach. It´s all part of the rugged charm of this area, getting the balance right is a challenge but one that has been managed pretty well. I like the way the makeover left a large protruding rock cluster on the middle of the beach, like a defiant gesture from nature. The coastal path has been improved and makes a bracing walk to link up with Playa Paraiso. The rock formations and swirls of the incoming tides sooth the mind and the modern concrete bridge over the small barranco removes the scrabble down and up to the other side. There was clearly a sense of local pride, an ashtray tree waved a flag for conservation and protection. The dwindling cap of snow on Mount Teide added another attraction to enjoying the day.

Even if the restaurant doesn´t get a re-birth in the near future, the beach will still attract plenty of people. The walkways down to the sand from each side make access easier and there were a few takers for the rock steps further round beyond the outstretched quay. It was time for me to push on and see what was happening just up the coast at Playa Paraiso, more of that soon.