Archive for the 'Reviews' Category
Airside – Check In For A Thrilling Read

Dashing across rain lashed runways, scurrying through underground service tunnels, and shot at in deserted lounges. Kevin Tyler´s life is under threat from all angles at a remote German airport in the new thriller Airside by James Swallow.

Call it a judgement on his years of under achievement, or punishment for grabbing a haul of hidden hot millions. Despite that, Airside readers will still want to root for this little nobody. James Swallow, an accomplished author and screen writer, combines the raw fear and rsourcefulness of Kevin as he tries to outwit thugs, murderers and torturers who want their mislaid money back. There´s noone to trust and even Kevin sneers at his own lousy life choices to date. As the airport slumbers, Kevin must wake up his desire to live and make his daughter proud of him.

Swallow keeps the pace frantic as he contines to raise and dash Kevin´s hopes. as a familiar travel setting threatens to become a final touchdown. I was left with nothing to declare except my admiration for this inventive and taut thriller.

Airside by James Swallow is a 2022 release from

The Gibraltar Incident by Cranley Harding

Leaving a U Boat conning tower and a string of Nazi bodies, Secret Intelligence Service agent Scott Rutherford has moved on from the thrilling conclusion of The Tenerife Alternative, the explosive debut thriller fom Cranley Harding. The smooth agent and his bosses soon discovered links to a limpet mine attack on HMS Worcester in Gibraltar´s Royal Navy dock yards, and swung into action.

It´s 1935, Germany, Spain, and post Easter Uprising Ireland are in a state of flux as cut throat mercenaries, acting in their names but serving their own interests as Europe heads towards war. If you haven´t sampled Scott Rutherford´s fierce determination and resourceful drive in The Tenerife Alternative, prepare to be impressed by his actions and the words of Glasgow born but Southport settled author, Cranley Harding. Scott´s world is based on historical fact but with a few tweaks of dramatic licence, this hero is old school and doesn´t take many prisoners. Constantly adapting to conditions in the field, Scott even learns to moderate his view of the fairer sex after working with a half French and totally beautiful comrade, Yvonne Recoule who shows a tough edge that matched his own.

Scott´s enemies have revenge on their minds which adds to the thrilling ride across many borders with twists and turns that will keep you enthralled. The Gibraltar Incident is available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle version or you can contact Cranley direct for a copy. If you are in Tenerife, both books are available at Libreria Barbara in Paseo Pablos Abril in Los Cristianos. Don´t be too despondent when you turn the final page, Cranley let slip the word “trilogy” when I discussed the latest adventure with him.


Biographies That Bulge Nets, Ring Chords, And Are A Great Catch

How To Be A Footballer by Peter Crouch (with Tom Fordyce) Ebury Press (2018)

At last a kindred spirit for all football fanatics. Peter Crouch gatecrashed football at its highest levels (Tottenham, Liverpool, England) changed many perceptions along the way, and delivered goals galore. Like a bewildered intruder he has witnessed the bizarre rituals, superstitions, and vanity traps that have seduced even the best professional players. Now armed with a wicked sense of humour, Peter is naming names and throwing open the doors of the dressing rooms, training grounds, and elite hotels.
Starting out over 20 years ago as an apprentice, our guide has seen the passing of communal baths, card schools, and fish and chips after match meals. This isn´t your usual autobiography, but our guide still gives telling insights into what drove him to become so much more than the tall, ungainly, novelty painted by the media and mocked by some fans. The Robot goal celebration, fashion disasters, and houses and cars he lived to regret, all get an airing. They all seem quite mild compared to other star struck stars. You wouldn´t expect managers he served under like Harry Redknapp, Rafa Benitez, and Fabio Capello to escape his mischievous gaze, they all get the same close inspection from our Peter.
What has always endeared Peter Crouch to supporters has been his honesty, effort, and child like awe at being let into the world of his heroes. Even a VAR machine would struggle not to giggle at pages that aim high and deliver the trophies.

Life by Keith Richards (with James Fox) – Published by Phoenix Paperback (2011)

Neither rule book or guitar manual are big enough to contain the most extraordinary rocker the world has seen and heard. Keith Richards has always yearned for more, from diverse musical influences, company, and natures cocktail of highs. Yet in his enthralling autobiography he also reveals the smaller, subtle influences of family, good friends, and musical icons. His cover assurance that “I haven´t forgotten any of it” is backed up by his thoughts and reasoning behind the screaming headlines that shocked several generations. Accomplished journalist James Fox, a friend since the 1970´s, teases out the details of Keith´s rows, riots, raids, and relationships with those closest to him, including his love and sometimes loathing for Mick Jagger.
There was plenty of friction through the decades from Keith´s Dartford birth in 1943, and the pearls that dripped from his guitar at a frantic pace as he taught himself to feel and think the chords and riffs, and to become a valued song writer. It´s all written in Keith´s non PC voice, and he is always generous in his praise for his contemporaries, and that willingness to share and teach from the strummers union. This far removed from those heady days when The Rolling Stones were seen as the devils spawn, it´s easy to forget how their exploits tore through the very fabric of society. Drugs played a big part in the revolution, Keith doesn´t shy away from his fascination and hunger for them, and recalls those who fell by the wayside.
The biggest addiction of all for Keith has always been the music. This book worships it, celebrates it, and gives an insight into its power. You don’t need to like rock, or the anti hero Keith Richards, just enjoy the ride through a who’s who of music, all witnessed via the child like awe of a true legend.

A Clear Blue Sky by Jonny Bairstow (& Duncan Hamilton) Harper Collins Publishers (2018)

Getting behind the man behind the stumps, this book reveals a clarity of ambition, dedication, and loyalty. England and Yorkshire´s record breaking wicket keeper and batsman tells how he was inspired by his fathers illustrious playing career, challenged by his fathers suicide and mothers fight with cancer, and did his family and country proud with bat, ball, and a refusal to be beaten.
Poised a run short of his first test century, Jonny recalls the highs and lows of life and sport that gave him purpose to prove himself again and again. Bitterness has no place in Jonny´s outlook, cruel fate and setbacks are taken as lessons to be learned from and fuel for the next push onwards. There´s plenty for cricket purists to enjoy, duels with great names, stories of Yorkshire pride that borders on beligerence, and a grudging, bat dragging journey into the modern commercial rebirth of cricket.
Even if you can’t tell your silly mid on from your deep gulley, Jonny explains the technical challenges with facing a myriad of bowling styles and speeds. Most were met with a firm bat or a safe pair of hands, even when struck by the fiercest of balls, Jonny took all the knocks and bounced back. The immense pleasure of facing the world’s greatest players, experiencing distant cultures and making new friends is shared with the reader. As a sports book it excels, and as a revealing account of growing up in the shadow of adversity, it’s inspiring and entertaining.

Bar Cafe Auditorio At The Heart Of Los Cristianos

Like the return of an old friend, Bar Cafe Auditorio has re-opened with great value, friendly service, and plenty of choices. You couldn´t be more central in Los Cristianos than the main crossroads on Avenida de Juan Carlos, just below the bus station. As I tucked into my delicious chicken, rice, and chips, the evening sun half covered the large terrace, it was like having a front row seat to watch the world go by.

Chicken was one of the daily choices on the menu, other delights like lamb or pork with Canarian potatoes were sure to tempt me back, especially at a mere 8 euros for a first and second course with bread, a drink, and dessert. There was a range of salads too, including a big special with fruit, nuts, and toasted bread, just 7 euros. Or how about a nice healthy op up of Croquetas with a pasta salad, goes down a treat on a hot afternoon.



I know I´m not alone in missing the relaxed setting, Guaza Mountain looks down on one side, Roque del Conde stands taller straight ahead, and the park behind wraps its green embrace around the 800 seat Auditorio Infanta Leonor theatre, and the attached cultural centre. Here´s a little history lesson. The theatre was added to the main building in 2011 and is named after King Felipe’s & Queen Letizia´s first born, Princess Leonor of Spain. There´s a small lounge area inside that can be served from the bar, many people have missed that option on show nights. Arona council runs free buses to many local fiestas, and a weekend free service to the Farmers Market in Valle San Lorenzo, the pick up point is handy just outside the cafe.

Back to the main stage for eating, Sunday paella will be a great way to try some local culture, on the evening I called by there was a mix of Spanish and British customers, with menus in both languages. Snacks are well covered, sandwiches, croissants, burgers, and chips, and tapas such as prawns or mushrooms. With the bus station or concert intervals tapping at your watch, a quick coffee or Amstel draught beer might be just the ticket, but a more leisurely sip in the sun can always be enjoyed with one of the days newspapers from the bar. Open daily from 8 am to 11 pm, it´s always a good time to call by.

Whales And Dolphins Greet Travelin Lady

Barely 20 minutes out of Los Cristianos harbour, pilot whales and dolphins converged on the Travelin Lady boat to show why Tenerife is the perfect place to watch these graceful and enchanting creatures. It’s a labour of love for the three strong crew and up to 80 passengers, and has been since they started trips in 1991.

A hot, clear day was unfolding for the 11 am two hour voyage, the sea was rippling gently and a pleasant breeze wafted through the two deck boat. One of the smallest of the local fleet to unlock the wonders of the Canary Island coast, Travelin Lady had an informal and friendly atmosphere as we headed out to sea. Ferries were rushing away to the neighbouring island of La Gomera but our pace was more leisurely and was rewarded when the crew spotted a mix of pilot whales and dolphins just ahead.

Slowing to a patient amble, our new friends hardly seemed to notice us. That’s partly down to the quieter new engine, one of several voluntary measures to comply with a code of conduct that is officially certified by the yellow flag. A third of all the worlds species of cetaceans either live in or pass through the waters of the Canary Islands, that brings a big responsibility, Travellin Lady has an enclosed propeller for extra protection. It’s good to know that care extends to the passengers, signs in English and Spanish explained safety procedures and pointed out life raft and jacket spots. A small bar ensured that drinks and snacks could be bought to answer the effect of the warm, salty breeze.

With cameras and videos filled with special moments, it was time to cut back nearer the shoreline at the base of the 428 metre high Guaza Mountain, a protected area of natural beauty. The basalt stacks of the cliffs are home to countless seagulls and rarer birds, and the erosion of the ocean has carved a series of inlets and deep caves. The curious sight of the fish farm cages showed a modern side to the fishing industry that has provided for the local people for many generations.

Working back around the coast, we headed past the harbour and out beyond the modern man made Las Vistas beach. The sparkling water and yellow sand were further reminders of the attractions of Tenerife. On the 1 and 3 pm sailing, the boat moors up for passengers to take a cooling swim before returning to the port. It was a very enjoyable trip with a well informed crew, Tenerife has many wonders but a voyage on the sea adds a whole new understanding to the rich harvest of life that call the island home.

Travellin Lady heads out to sea every day at 11am, and 1 and 3pm from the small quayside on the old Los Cristianos beach. The basic adult price is 25 euros, childrens prices depend on age, and ask about the VIP options. For more information, or to book right up to departure time, visit the first kiosk to the right of the beach. You can also visit the website.  Here is the full gallery of my photos from the trip.

Stands Back In Amazement At Royal Hideaway Resort

I got to La Caleta in good time for the opening party at Barcello Hotels new baby Royal Hideaway Corales Resort in Tenerife, so why did I hesitate to go in? Maybe because it makes such a stunning impression on the Adeje coast, I felt the need to skirt around the outside to appreciate the design of Tenerife architect Leonardo Omar. The spiral starwells, and bold white layers are very impressive. Before the January opening it had already won an award as Best European hotel in construction from Hotel Management magazine.

Two five star hotels embrace each other, one the family friendly Corales Beach, and the other the adults only Corales Suites. As I entered the Corales Suites reception area, with a big cavern, bubbling fountains, and a multi coloured rock face wall.,James Bond and Thunderball came to mind. Welcoming speeches were made in the Alice cafe, that specialises in an exotic range of teas and coffes. Simon Pedro Barcelo, Co President of the Barcelo Group spoke proudly of the resort and predicted a bright future for tourism in Tenerife. The resort employs 250 staff, another big boost for the island economy.

The walkway led to a shopping arcade but I was destined to a quick lift up to the fifth floor of the luxury suites. La Caleta is a smashing old fishing village bordering on the five star hotel boom, it can´t help looking good, but on this night a procession of hang gliders landing on the beach added a classy touch to the view from the terrace with its own spa pool. As singers welcomed party guests from a rocky perch below, the suite had my full attention. There are 160 of the suites and they all redifine the word luxury. A chef and his assistants stood ready to receive behind the in suite kitchen counter, just one of the mega extras you can book. After relaxing on the comfy bed, purely for research, I had a peak at the pillow menu, feather, thermal memory foam, or petit plus, the choice is yours.

Lets talk pools, up to the fifth floor I glided up in the lift to see the infinity pool, it was worth the ride, great views over to El Puertito were the backdrop to the roof top restarant El Maresia, run by the Hermanos Padron who have the Michelin Star El Rincon de Juan Carlos, in Los Gigantes. Back down to the piano pool, where music was wafting through the air. I had already noticed some metalic sculptures by local artist Yaron Lambez of La Musa in Adeje, there were many more surrounding the pool side to be admired as samples of culinary creations were served.

Local politicians including the presidents of Tenerife, and the Canary Islands formerly welcomed the new addition to Tenerife´s holiday attractions. and Pilar Rumeu of TV Canaria hosted the presentations. It was good to see the resort acknowledge all the services and workers who are the life blood of the resort. An earlier buggy ride gave me a guided tour around the grounds and perimeter of the huge building. One of the most impressive things about the resort was the passion, knowledge, and friendly attitude of all the staff. Back at the pool the water shimmered as the guests all mingled, the Cava, wine, and Dorada flowed, and the sun set to a gorgeous fanfare of colour.


Shared Heritage On Living Tenerife Tours

Ask British ex pats and residents what they know of our country’s relations with Santa Cruz and they may know a little about Horacio Nelson’s failed attack on the island capital in 1797. A very civilised surrender showed the mutual respect between the two sides and led to over two decades of historical links between the UK and Tenerife. Living Tenerife Tours is a new English language window on Santa Cruz that uncovers those links, plus the lesser known buildings and characters that forged a bond between the two countries.

Leaving our super cooled people carrier at the higher end of Santa Cruz, we climbed the stone steps to the imposing facade of the Colegio Escuelas Pias catholic school, a former castle built in 1870 and greatly extended in 1943. Our guide, Jorge Ballesteros set up the new tour to share his passion and knowledge for history. Educated in Sussex and London, he has lived most of his life in Santa Cruz. The school is not normally open to the public but Jorge knows the great and the good in the capital and we were soon enjoying a potted history and panoramic views across the city. There’s a great story behind the British influence on this building, one that Jorge enjoys telling.

Versatile and informal, the tour lets the guests set the pace, our trip was just a dip into Jorge’s vault of knowledge, La Laguna, and Puerto de la Cruz are also destinations for similar small, intimate groups of around 12 people. The back streets and plazas of Santa Cruz had plenty to divulge, Why on earth would a gothic revival Anglican church dedicated to St George nestle in a quiet Tenerife back water? The brick by brick account was quite an eye opener. As we travelled between stops, Jorge pitched in little teasers about a famous UK politician visiting Tenerife, and a British hand in kick starting the Spanish Civil War.

It wasn´t just the older times that we were enlightened on, as we passed through the modern part of the capital, there was plenty of information on how Santa Cruz had re-invented itself. A stop between the Auditorium, and the Palmetum plant park helped us to piece together the new landscape. Another big favourite was the Military Museum, again Jorge smoothed our extended stay, as a working military barracks they only have limited opening hours and thee is so much to see. The canons hugging the courtyard wall were just the start, upstairs a model landscape with commentary took us through the battle for Santa Cruz. The city coat of arms bears testament to this and two previous failed British assaults.

A short trip past the port brought us back to the Plaza de España and our lunch date at the exclusive Royal Casino members club. Opened in 1840 it still has reminders of its casino past, and offers splendid views of the Plaza and port. Our food and drink reflected the best of Canarian cuisine, gofio, Canarian black pig, and an award winning Fuerteventura cheese to name just a few. It was a special way to round off the day, all the trips can be tailor made to suit your needs and it will give you a new appreciation of the culture of Tenerife.

Fortunate Isle by Ronald Mackay

Wrestling an octopus, dynamiting bedrock, and grading and packing acres of bananas ready for market. Sounds like back breaking, hard work, but to 18 year old Ronald Mackay it was all part of his introduction, integration, and education to the rare and beautiful culture of Buenavista del Norte in the north west corner of Tenerife.

Fortunate Isle is a name that is often used to describe the climate, setting, and rural contentment of Tenerife but to Ronald it came to represent the open hearts, practical minds, and communal spirit of his unexpected hosts for a life changing year. It wasn’t a planned stop off, originally the Canary Islands were to be a stepping stone to South America for an adventurous young man from Dundee. A series of random circumstances landed Ronald in the heart of a family eeking out a living via a small farm cum guest house.

On the face of it, that might sound like a dour, uninspiring basis for A Memoir Of Tenerife, but Ronald Mackay manages to convey his awe, admiration, and comfort as he is accepted into the community. With settled digs, tasty and creative meals from the bounty of the island, and a welcoming niche in the banana growing industry that fuelled Tenerife’s economy in those early 60’s days, Ronald had a sturdy base that allowed his enquiring mind and feet to wander and explore. The mountains of Teno offered plenty of adventures, and he also gained a healthy respect for the wild seas that buffeted the craggy coast.

The book is a journey of discovery and a coming of age, lessons learnt from first hand experience, and described in detail from a sharp eye and an open mind. Learning Spanish along the way, Ronald slowly opened the door further day by day on his new world. The affection for his new life shines through in the books pages as his horizons expand to the peak of Mount Teide. Uplifting, informative, and infectious, Fortunate Isle proves the old adage that travel does broaden the mind. You can get a paperback or electronic copy via Amazon, at bookshops, or contact the author at


Westgate Oxford, White Rabbit Or White Elephant

Half yearly trips back to my Oxford roots have for the last three years featured curiously peering into the 440 million pound Westgate shopping centre rebuild. The old building was decidedly shabby and run down so this trip I got to see the opened and nearly finished article. Standing on the roof terrace looking down into the three layers of 100 shops and 25 cafes and restaurants I was getting mixed messages.

Wind tunnel is the biggest criticism I had read and heard about and on this arctic chilled January day I could feel their point. Ok I know I have been spoiled by all my years in Tenerife but I thought comfort was the big consideration for modern shoppers. The building layout reminded me of prison wing landings but this chocolate box collection had some nice thoughtful touches. Little scattered seating areas around coffee and snack stalls were nice and informal, and I liked the references and quotes from Lewis Carroll, alias Oxford scholar Charles Dodgson, who wrote Alice In Wonderland. As a true Oxonian I would have liked a few nods to “town” heritage such as William Morris, rather than just “gown” references.

The five screen Curzon cinema was a work in progress but promises to offer more relaxed viewing habits than the many other screens in and around Oxford. Social, is a collection of taste experiences from around the world, such as noodles, nachos, and designer burgers, all in a self contained dome. The Junkyard Crazy Golf looked tempting with dance music and pulsating lights as players pick their way around wrecked cars and other obstacles. Maybe at this point I should drop some store names, Hugo Boss, Mint Velvet, Moss Bros, Primark, and Ted Baker, There are also health and beauty shops. The two bus companies have stops just outside the centre and frequent Park and Ride links but the roads into the city centre are still a nightmare.

The crowning glory is the Roof Terrace with views of the spires and hills of Oxford, the tourists will love it in the summer as they can sit a little bit worryingly near the edge of the roof. The restaurants and cafes are all very up market and expensive, even the churros and chocolate by the plastic grass. I met a friend for afternoon coffee at The Alchemist, a nice relaxed setting although the multi coloured vapours coming off the cocktail mixing at the bar made me yearn for a real ale. Drinks are on the house in the Roof Terrace but only in an altitude way. The posh watering holes are open to 1 am Friday and Saturday and 12.30 other days.


I was told the opening days entertainment in the main square was spectacular, if they can have regular promotions and events, that will draw people back. The centre has no doors, I walked through a couple of nights, security have their work cut out, and I wondered how the ghosts are coping with the changes. I will have another look on my next trip over, but as I fancied a proper beer I adjourned to The Castle opposite, newly refurbished by Hook Norton and brimming with real ale.



Carry On Camping At Montaña Roja

Compact, cosy, and a nice place for campers to rest their weary heads. Two years after Camping Montaña Roja in El Medano closed, it´s back with a new eco friendly look, plenty of extras, and best of all close up views of the red mountain that rises above the sea just behind Tenerife South airport.

I popped in on the official open day, Granadilla Ayuntamiento (council) have invested a million euros and installed a management team to offer much needed camping space near La Tejita beach and the wind and kite surf magnets of El Medano. My initial impression was how neat and well laid out the site is, the wooden cabins are the stars and they are blended in among the trees with a neautral colour scheme. The full menu of the site offers tent pitching spaces, and parking for auto caravans, cars, and motor bikes.

An admin office, mini market, and the Tejita bar restaurant cater for all the basic needs, there´s also bike hire, and a kite school next door. The new La Tejita Street Market shopping centre is five minutes walk away and has a large Dialprix supermarket plus several enticing tapas bars. My curiosity couldn´t wait any longer, I had to get a look inside a cabin, two were open for viewing, They are all the same size, 46 currently with plans to increse to 90, and are split into two rooms, one with a settee that folds out to a double bed, and another room with two snug fitting beds. The main room has a small fridge (electric and water are extra) and there are plug points but for Wi Fi you need to go to the bar area.

That may sound quite restrictive but these are just intended as a base for visitors, not a home, each cabin does have a small wooden decking porch, and at the end of each row there are larger communal sun bathing areas. I spoke to an American lady who was reading in a hammock outisde her small individual tent and she was quite happy to have found such a nice site so near to the airport. The pitch in a shaded spot was costing 9.90 euros a night but unlike taking a chance in the great wide yonder, it was legal, the camp site is fenced in, visitors get a key for the gates onto the beach, and there is security on site. The toilet and shower block had 3 shower cubicles in the gents and ladies sides, or there´s also a large outdoor shower wall outside the block.

Planes using Tenerife South airport might disturb the tranquility a little, plane spotters would be in heaven. The little touches impressed me, wide paths with low set lights link the cabins and it´s well marked with a letter and number grid, there´s plenty of bins and recycling points, fire extinguishers are at key points, and there´s even a massage and therapy tent. The setting is a real plus point, much of the land nearby is protected and the walk up to the top of Montaña Roja is always a pleasure. Many species of birds pass through El Medano, it was good to see plenty of small finches flitting around the site – they seem to have made themselves comfortable. There´s more lowdown on the website.