Archive for the 'Life' Category
All Dressed Up For A Dickens Of A Christmas Tale In Tenerife

Santas little helpers are furloughed and Papa Noel has put the elves on ERTE. As 2020 sneaks out the back door, it´s giving us all more indigestion than the turkey, but young eyes are sparkling with hope, and the halls are being decked with bells and holly. The streets of Tenerife had been defiantly decked out too.


My latest wanderings were back in the north of Tenerife starting at El Tanque and their tree trunk reindeer outside the town hall. On a chilly day with drizzle in the air, it coaxed a smile out of passers by. Icod chipped in with a shadow nativity in the church plaza, bold but brooding, the mood was lightened by outbreaks of poinsetia all over town. I was used to seeing the red and even yellow versions but was pleasantly surprised by the pink blooms.If your looking for positive signs, the Mariposario(butterfly house) below the plaza,is open again after years of planning arguments. Long may their wings flap.

Dropping down to Garachico, the nativity in the Plaza de La Libertad was very traditional and bursting with cuteness. Was that a yard of ale contest I could see over by the Castillo San Miguel? No, just wishful thinking on my pary morphing the musical herald. A cage like red heart nearby was hardly needed but added a bit more variety to the scene. Across the cove, another more basic nativity was a magic link to the wild sea and spray.

Back down in Los Cristianos, tradition had another stronghold. The scaled down statue of the Virgen del Carmen is lovingly tended daily with flowers but at this time of year that is augmented by a few christmas toys and baubles. It´s an appropriate nod to the Virgen´s role as protector and guide to the local fishing families.  A short hop away, the church plaza benches were getting the benefit of a painting makeover from the team that did such an uplifting job on the beach promenade seats. Hope and renewal will be on many wish lists as this year fades away -we will take any encouragement we can find.





La Laguna And Santa Cruz Take Steps To Stem Covid Tide

Illegal bottle parties, and unlawful gatherings of more than six people, mainly young, have thrust Tenerife and specifically La Laguna and Santa Cruz, into the Covid spotlight. As I write, Tenerife has 80 per cent of yesterdays new infections across the seven Canary Islands, that´s 108 out of 139 new cases yesterday. Overall the Canary Island figures are some of the best in Spain but the pressure is on to squeeze a little tighter in the hot spots.


Christmas build up and Black Friday splurging into a week long event don´t help. I made a Saturday afternoon visit to the university town, and the capital city to see for myself. La Laguna´s main shopping area is centred on two main strets, Calle Herredores, and Calle Obispo Rey Redondo, a few policia local officers walked through the pedestrianised area, and a patrol car drove slowly through the link roads. This grid layout was marked to direct walkers in set directions to avoid close contact. It semed to work well without impeding the outdoor cafe table trade where masks, hand gel, and the six person group limit were the order of the day.

I made a call at the Museum of History and Anthropology and followed a small tour at a distance, There was plenty of space to avoid each other and browse, the staff even let me into a sealed storage area to see two ancient carriages, one with a London pedigree. I will return for a longer browse and do a post for here. It´s important that in these stressed times, that business´s and attractions continue to give good service – and they excelled.

After dark has been the main problem with Covid security but the current 11pm closing time for bars has helped as has the lock down of parks and plazas. Taking the tram down to Santa cruz, I turned my attention to Parque Garcia Sanabria, a delightful and popular park in the centre of the busy city. Large multi pathed and with many entrance points, I could see that barriers were already on standby for the 7pm sealing. Not robust enough to make entry impossible, but they represent another warning and probably and increase on the standard 100 euro fines. Video camaras near the flower clock would also play a part. Only time will tell if this measure will just move the problem or snuff it out,

My return trip to Los Cristianos was covered on my residents monthly payment card, cash seems unlikely to make a return to the bus drivers lives. Titsa have increased their payment options with tourist payment cards for a day or a week, and have increased the outlets where they can be bought, ncluding the airports and major bus stations. The whole rigmarol of Covid protection and measures is a monumental pain – but I´d rather stay alive!

Give A Lift To The Plunging Pardela Chicks In Tenerife

Yellow beaks and webbed feet should alert you to any of the thousands of Pardela sea birds falling to earth in the Canary Islands from mid october to mid november. Otherwise known as Cory´s Sheerwater, they are aiming for a life floating on the Atlantic tides, but increased street and advertising lighting disrupt their natural radar. An annula lure to lay eggs on high rocky ground makes the Canary Islands a popular call.

Thankfully a well established safety net led by SEO Birdlife (thanks for their excellent photos)  swings into action each year. just call the emergency services free number, 112, and mention pardelas and their location, that will bring a rescue person. In the meantime, don´t feed or water the bird as that may confuse their awakening natural hunting instinct for fish and other small sea creatures, and a thirt for sea water that they can clense via a special gland in their body. As you wait, if it´s possible, you can gently wrap a small towel or cover around the bird to keep it from hurting itself by flapping. If you have a box just bigger than the bird, pierce some breathing holes and that is a good temporary holding point.

In Tenerife, the main coastal falling zone is from El Medano, up and around the west coast to Los Gigantes via Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas. The councils covering those areas are well versed in the proceddures to help these creatures. Road lights and advertising neon are dimmed within safe levels and the emergency services are used to dealing with rescue calls. This year the Pardelas have even got a lift on the Titsa buses with the poster above drawing attention to their plight. Once the fallen birds have been assessed and treated, they are released from high coastal points to enjoy roaming the Atlantic. Just a few minutes thought and you can take pride in helping to be the wind beneath the wings of the Pardela.


Refreshing Changes Lap At Tenerife´s West Coast

Heat haze shimmered in a 35 centigrade stamina tester. most people chose to admire Playa San Juan coast under shade with cold drinks, but the recent widening and gentle sloping of the harbour wall path was a welcome option for my visit.

The flower beds were a blaze of colour, and dispite a Covid induced shortage of tourists, the beach had a fair sprinkling of bathers. The closed kiosks were frustrating but hopefully new tennants will be found once the times improve. This was my first chance for a close up look at the plaza that replaced the old church. Too stark and too angular from the outside, it was reprieved slightly by a spacious and welcoming interior, with bars and play areas.

Heading further up west, Playa de la Arena was busier. Their detailed, colour coded social distancing zones added a touch of class and even looked cheery after six months of turmoil and rwstrictions. Going back to school was the last thing on young minds around the craggy coast of Puerto de Santiago. Crab Island was in sedate mood to attract plenty of sea dippers, thankfully there was none of the clawing  waves that the area often delivers.

Los Gigantes was my first Tenerife base, the whimsical urban art of Momoshi made me smile even though the lack of passing holiday makers was sad to see. There was more art on the approach road to Los Gigantes beach, this time from Matias Mata (AKA Sabotaje Al Montaje). An even more pleasing sight was the slightly extended Los Guios beach, with more improvements partly done. An easy access ramp would be very helpful, and a new lifeguard tower would back up increased security.

My feet soon remembered the steep rise of cardiac hill as I made my way up and out of “the village” and my reward for the ascent was the sight of the fisherwoman´s statue looking resplendent ringed by a higher than usual burst of natures blooms. The days heat was well worth it to catch up with some of my favourite ports of call.


Past Future And Present Push Santa Cruz Forward

Cleanse your memory of forced museum visits in your school days. Times have changed and Tenerife capital Santa Cruz is a prime example of this. The Museum of Nature and Arqueology (MUNA) fitted the bill perfectly for the first of my months unlimited travel, residents pass,journey with Titsa bus company. The chance to rediscover some old favourites, neglected corners, and overlooked attractions suited the mood of the steady recovery from the Coronavirus lockdown. Phase Two was just about to dilute into the wider freedom of Phase Three across Spain and I´m keen to put Tenerife firmly back in the tourist window. The museums were offering free entry to their Santa Cruz and La Laguna buildings on a daily basis from 10 am to 5 pm until normality returned.

The three floors of the bright, modern layout before me, covered the birth and evolution of our planet and the Canary Islands in particular.  From minerals and rocks, through plants, animals, and natures volatile interventions, it was all in my face on large video screens, many interactive, and in a choice of Spanish, English, or German.They really pack a lot in to the building, the display halls were a treasure trove of interest and all a far cry from the stuffy presentations of my youth. The most famous exhibits are the mummified remains of the Guanche people, the original inhabitants of Tenerife, The foot in this photo is just a tease, the preserved skeletons are both stunning and shocking and best seen for yourself. Updates of all the museums are on the website along with normal times and charges.

Outside, Santa Cruz wasn´t standing still. The Auditorium had recently played a part in the filming of an advert for the new Porsche 911 Targa 45. A short splash away, the Floatel Reliance, a moveable hotel serving the oil exploration rihs, had just made its own showbiz bow. The long term upgrade of the giant worked out just right for its large kitchen galley to host filming for the new HBO series “The Head” which debuts on 12 June 2020. The Antarctic based mystery series will be shown in 30 countries, the Canary Islands are really striking oil these days as a location for film and TV projects.

Up in town, the La Recova market was buzzing and coping well with the social distancing restrictions. They have a keen sense of history and are restoring the original clock mechanism for the tower which has stood proud since the centre opened in 1943, I might as well name drop and tell you that La Recova was used for the final of BBC Masterchef a couple of years ago. Santa Cruz and La Laguna have an impressive quick link tram, it only seems a blink ago when I first discovered its sleek journeys but this last week it was celebrating 13 years of smooth running.

Down in the port, the Aida Nova cruise ship smiled sweetly, pleased to have found a temporary berth until the worlds ebb and flow regained some stability. Time for me to check my maps and time tables and to relish the prospect of my next excursions.




Splash Of Sport Eases The Pressure Of Coronavirus In Tenerife

Slow and gentle were not on my agenda as I raced into the calm blue twinkling sea at Playa de Los Cristianos. After over two months denied my swim by the coronavirus lockdown in Spain, it felt so relaxing and uplifting to take an 8.30 am dip at one of Arona councils newly established four aquatic sport zones in the south of Tenerife.

Leaving Kirby Towers, daybreak treated me to a bright full moon pinned against a radiant blue sky. Our nearest neighbour island, La Gomera, was already bathed in sunshine, and Roque del Conde was sporting a Donald Trump wig of wispy cloud. The slowly unfolding coronavirus recovery programme had full beach openings reserved for two further steps, around four weeks, down the line, Thankfully the well organised sport excercise programme was just starting up, so I headed for the selected part of the beach via the entrance by the sailing school. This led me directly to a narrow strip of shoreline that already had attracted a well spaced out bunch of swimmers.

Once in lapping distance of the gentle waves, people were discarding clothes to leave the beach looking like a mass homage to Reggie Perrin. Sun beds remained stacked, secured, and out of use. This was swimming unplugged, no sun bathing or castle building and no showers afterwards. The usual wash areas were among the sealed sectors and receiving a daily blitz of disenfectant as part of the fight against the virus. Life guards were on hand though to ensure safety, but the old beach is much calmer and gently shelving into the water thanks to the embracing arm of the ferry port and harbour wall. Once refreshed by my swim, I headed to the exit point by the small quayside where the boat excursions depart.

Arona aquatic sport zones cater for surfing, kayaks, and padel surfing and are also at Playa de Las Americas (2) and Las Galletas, Granadilla council have a similar scheme. Hopefully it wont be long until we can return to normal sea freedom but in the meantime its a pleasure that reminds us of what we are striving for.



Money In The Post Coronavirus Age – Can We Handle It ?

One of the first lockdown restrictions here in Tenerife was the suspension of coin payments on the public service Titsa bus service. Big changes are on the cards for bars and restaurants everywhere, not just limits to seating and time allowances. We will have to adapt to tight rules and regulations that will change our social habits. One of the big issues is the handling of frequently palmed coins and notes. Of course our flexible friends, credit and debit cards, as well as phone swipes, will eliminate much of the interaction but wont cover all situations.

Small purchases like a small drink or a coffee are usually paid for in loose change, also many low paid bar and restaurant workers rely on on coin tips to make up their wages. Another popular use for shrapnel is the charity collection boxes you see on many a counter. Spain hasnt gone down the road of plastic, washable notes, maybe coins could be run through a beer glass like cleansing machine, but its all more detail to slow the slick process of business.

There are already more radical alternatives to filthy lucre. Crypto Currency has a lot of supporters. A dinosaur like me can just about cope with Paypal, a crypto bar opened in Los Cristianos a couple of years ago and a friendly waitress shocked me by revealing a crammed page of the menu just devoted to crypto currency, as well as normal money, but she looked blankly at me when I offered Esso World Cup coins.The bar didnt last long which maybe tells its own tale. It makes my mind creak to think I have witnessed two changes of currency, in 1972 decimalisation shook up my UK piggy bank, and in 2002 the euro replacement of pesetas put my brain to the test once more. Amazingly pesetas can still be redeemed through the Bank Of Spain until the end of 2020, some estimates say there are millions of coins and notes tucked away out there.

All changes are met with pockets of resistance but we soon learn to live with them. Maybe the aftermath of the Coronavirus will inspire new easier and safer ways of trading and if all else fails we can take a quantum leap back to the days of barter and skill swaps. Imagine topping up your phone by handing a chicken or some other poultry over the counter. At least it would bring a more humane ring to the term battery hens.

Tenerife Dawn Chorus Is A Sporty Break From Lockdown

Colour coded like a long forgotten school timetable, Spain´s latest stage of coronavirus lockdown liberation saw me heading down to Los Cristianos beach front as dawn turned into daybreak on Sundy 3 May. This was the new daily sport and excercise innovation, I chose the early bird option in the 6 am to 10 am slot rather than the 8 pm to 11 pm late shift. Under 14´s accompanied by adults had tested the let out ground a week before and would now slot in before a short OAP stint ahead of the late spot.

Walking through the quiet town centre, I was ressured by the looming sight of Roque del Conde beyond the central car park.Both beaches were still taped out of bounds but attracted longing glances from the steady flow of runners and strollers. Santiago del Teide (Los Gigantes and Playa del Arena) had opened their beaches to excercise but the sea was still off limits. Here in Los Cristianos, Las Vistas was being raked and graded as part of its cleaning routine. Los Cristianos port and harbour were busy with inter island ferries, and fishermen landing their catch. On the old beach, the swimmers showers and surrounding areas were getting their daily disinfection. With the public out of the way, seagulls sunbathed on the beach as the sun started cranking up for a near 30 degrees day.

Normally both beaches would be surveyed from busy bars and restaurants but not even a coffee kiosk stirred. The next stage of recovery includes a planned gradual re-opening from Monday 11 May for eateries with outside terrazas, but with only 50% of seating in use – even that was a late update from a 30% limit after angry owners across Spain complained that it would have been unviable to open. There´s still a long way to go in the struggle against coronavirus, Arona and Guia de Isora councils have cancelled all fiesta celebrations until October. There´s a precaroius balancing act between allowing people some release from pent up boredom and frustration, and opening the flood gates to the risk of losing the hard fought ground gained in the battle against the virus. In the meantime we will enjoy the glimpses of freedom we get and keep plodding on.

Tiny Footsteps Towards Tenerife Lockdown Release

Phew! I wasn´t about to be exterminated. As Daleks go, this one was petite, smiley, and gentle, and the thermal reader she pointed st my forehead heralded my entrance into the Hiperdino Supermarket in Los Cristianos. It confirmed I was cold bloodied and free of coronavirus type heat levels. As the Coronavirus approaches the 40 th day of Spain´s lockdown it has been announced that children under 14 years of age will be allowed out on the streets from 27 April when the next phase of isolation starts.Its caused a bit of head scratcgingas people wonder how the police will know who is over or under the age, and parents with more than one child will cope-especially if their childrens ages fall either side of the divide. Parks and gardens are still sealed off, even the mini swings and slides outside the supermarkets, but at least the young ones will get some fresh air. Lets take it in the spirit it is meant. A reward for largely good self discipline since the lockdown began, and a pointer to further relaxations when this next phase gets to its 9 th May end.

Last week saw construction work resume and with it some support services like deliveries. White vans abound now in Los Cristianos as cosmetic work begins on many of the closed hotels. Restaurants and fast food outlets have also been testing the water with limited home delivery services. It looks like there will not be a big bang announcement end to our confinement, more likely a slow drip of slackening of controls as each month passes.Tourism is putting on a bold front, Tenerife is already pushing its charms under the campaign slogan of “Volveremos” We Will Return” , lets hope the airlines step up to the mark and everybody gets realistic about accomodation prices. Our capital Santa Cruz is showing a colourful and defiant front. Some 50,000 plants and flowers have been planted in the key points of the city. Begonias and petunias will help to show that the city is looking forward. Meanwhile infection and death figures in Spain are continuing to follow a downward trend, especially in the Canary Islands. Protective masks and testing kits are flooding in from around the world, the government are trying to ensure people aren´t trying to hike up the mask prices, the Titsa bus network and handing many out fre to passengers.A robot at the HUC hospital near Santa Cruz is now capable of processing 1,400 tests a day so that should speed up the safety programme.

There´s even hope i might see CD Tenerife resume their season in late June. The latest plan is for training to start on the stadium pitch in a couple of weeks with players in individual zones. That will be enlargedto 3 and then 8 player groups in later weeks before fully open training groups and virus testing for all the squad ahead of the return of games. This is assuming all the interested governing bodies can agree on their plans. I´m still dreaming of bars reopening and a cold Dorada with good friends. At least im not getting bored and losing mind. My latest project is to build a model of St Pauls Cathedral from my toe nail clippings.



Carrot And Stick In Tenerife Lockdown

Keys and bolts are not the literal consequences of the Coronavirus Lockdown but that didn´t persistent quarantine breakers from from getting a year, and six months in two extreme Tenerife cases in the last week. Helicopters and drones are spotting casual offernders enjoying illicit sun bathing on remote coasts, and arounnd apartment complex pools. By and large though here in Tenerife, people are living within the guidelines and life is ticking on with a few yawns and the odd frown or two.

It´s Day 30 as we start the third stretch of the restrictions, running up to 26 th April. Tough early controls have allowed some relaxing of restrictions from today, the biggest being a return of constuction worlk to boost the sagging economy. Spain´s President Pedro Sanchez, whose socialist PSOE paty hold sway in a fragile coalition government has already indicated that a further extension of lockdown is on the cards to 10th May – but there are strong hints of a relaxing of restrictions in that 15 day phase if death and infection rates continue to fall.The Canary Islamds government are pressing for more local leniency due to our encouraging figures and isolated distance from the mainland. That´s a long shot, the Baleares Islands could well use the same plea but Spain could see it as unsettling to a unified fight against the virus.

Here in Tenerife the first 30 dys have tested our resolve and brought out hidden depths of adaptability, responsibility, and new routines. Normality is now a cherished sight. The daily rubbish collections and the upkeep of public spaces, trimming hedgerows and palm trees all help to show we are looking ahead. The nightly 7pm clapping in support of the health workers are established as a tonic to the many who join in. Nature is paicking up the slack left by the absence of tourists, birdsong is loud and proud, the air is fresher, and the nights drawing out is also a great lift.

Some visitors are still waiting to return home. Swallows our mostly British, mature winter guests are hoping for flight updates. Jet2 upset at least two couples I spoke to who booked May flights but were then notified a few days later that flights and holiday packages will not restart until at least 17 June. Other nationalities are in a similar position, 372 Italians were repatriated in three planes a couple of days ago and more of an estimated 1,000 late waiters will follow shortly. Hopefully incoming visitors will start to trickle in from June but the summer tourist season will be a pale shadow of former years. Winter is the big focus as our climate gives us an edge over the summer destinations but its going to take time.

I can´t wait to get back out there to visit and publicise places, events, walks, and new adventures via my blog. Domestic chores will be cast aside in favour of swimming, exploring, and football. The latest disputed plans to resume the 2019-2020 Spanish season are looking at around 6 June with teams playing every 72 hours and four water breaks a game to counter the soaring summer temperatures and unrelenting schedule. Then a few weeks break and straight into the 2020-2021 season – with CD Tenerife promoted to the top flight? Well I can dream. Reality is much mor uncertain as money is always the sticking point in sport these days. Anyway, stay safe and keep positive.