What’s on offer in Los Cristianos

Many say Los Cristianos is quiet, too quiet especially at night. Well in a sense that is true, it doesn’t attract the party crowd you find in Ibiza, Mykonos or Ayia Napa. You won´t find any drunken yobs urinating and vomiting in doorways or booze binge fights taking place, you won’t have dance music pounding in your ears or the place messed up with discarded takeaway food. That sort of activity is left to those who prefer the clubbing area of Las Americas.

Los Cristianos is more the sort of place where culture and folklore coexists with what a certain type of holidaymaker seeks in an established resort – tradition without the tat. It is more suited to families, those of more mature years and those who consider they have more refined and discriminating tastes. Of course, there are plenty of bars that have popular entertainment and umpteen restaurants that cater for all palates  and whilst there is no full in your face, aggressive partying there is always something going on albeit usually of a traditional nature.

Take this week – I knew that over the past few days Cultur Joven was in full swing. This is a project to keep the young amused with different sports, cultural and artistic activities as well as dance competitions and music concerts. It makes them realise there is more to life than to spend their time watching TV or mixing with the ‘wrong crowd’  and it seems successful as over 50 kids joined in the Break Dance competition earlier in the week.

Last night, X-Factor started and Jim wanting an excuse to escape (he hates these type of shows) so he took the girls for a walk in town. I asked him to take the camera and go to the old harbour as there was a fish fair going on.

He said as soon as he entered town he could tell it was very busy after another scorching day. He went to the beach area first all bedecked with bunting and took a nice picture of some boats moored up, before heading to the harbour. Sure enough, Feria del Pescador had arrived. This is a lead into the Virgen del Carmen celebrations to honour the patron saint of fishermen and is running in Muelle Viejo, Plaza de La Pescadora and the Culture Centre from the end of August to 7th September (for anyone wanting to go along)

05-DSC04588It is the second time this has happened thanks to a grant from the European Fisheries Fund to help finance “Sustainable Development of Fisheries Areas”.  The idea of the fair is to illustrate the history and lifestyle of the industry that gives Los Cristianos its unique character.  As well as exhibitions, (there were photos of the catches being landed, charts showing the different fish and models of fishing boats) the Los Cristianos fishermen offer the public the opportunity to taste their catch.

By the time Jim and the girls got there the air was filled with smoke and the intoxicating smell from what look like large paella pans used to cook the freshly caught fish, mainly tuna, bonito, sardines and mackerel. Many of the visitors had noticed the cooking area and the queue stretched back a fair way along the port. Unfortunately, our girls hated the crowds and Caña slipped her lead so instead of them all getting a tasty nugget they retreated to the edge of the beach where a stage had been set up and traditional musicians were in full swing.

Jim apologises for the quality of the photos, they were mostly taken with one hand while the other was used to carry a frightened dog. Still he said it was a wonderful way to spend a summers evening and as there is always room for another celebration it won´t be long until the next one – In fact probably tonight as X-Factor is on again!

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Things to do in Tenerife in September 2014

What to Expect

Whilst most places in Northern Europe begin to cool down September in Tenerife, is still a sizzler.  During the month, the average temperature is a pleasant 27°C with highs in the low 30°Cs and summer nights in the south never dropping below 20ºC.   It is a few degrees cooler in the north, thanks to the trade winds and daytime temperatures are in the region of 23°C with nights of 17-18°C.

The balmy air beckons you outdoors and even as the sun goes down there is a whole range of outdoor activities to enjoy under the stars. Add to this the beaches, excursions and the wide range of sports and outdoor pursuits plus local events, with their traditional and eccentric activities there’s always something going on.

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September Highlights

1st – 8th The festivities in honour of the Virgen del Carmen in Los Cristianos is a week of music festivals, cultural and sporting events, religious acts, fireworks and street parties. Definitely the most exciting event is the sea procession. The image is taken to the dock where it boards a boat and go in procession along the bay, accompanied by dozens of boats.

5th “La Librea” is described as one of the most important celebrations of Tegueste which has can trace its origins back to the year of 1600. As part of the festivities in honour of Nuestra Señora la Virgen de Los Remedios the event returns to the plaza de San Marcos and all those who join in are asked to wear typical 19th century costume. It will take the form of a fiesta of 1850 and will include  plays and echo the customs of country people and their religious roots, culminating in an impressive sound and light show to celebrate a famous battle between boats and the castle.

Santísimo Cristo is a month-long event held in La Laguna – a Unesco World Heritage Site. During this celebration there is something going on almost every day, with elections for the fiesta queen, music festivals, fireworks displays and processions. The programme of events is never announced until the last minute, so keep your eyes peeled for posters.

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Other Celebrations in September

7th – Pilgrimage of the Barrens, La Laguna.
7th – Pilgrimage of La Milagrosa in El Alto Ortigal, La Laguna.
7th – Pilgrimage of San Agustin and San Roque in Vilaflor.
7th – Pilgrimage of Socorro (Bajada de la Virgen) in Guimaras.
7th – Pilgrimage Relief (Ascent of the Virgin) in Guimaras.
7th – Pilgrimage of San Isidro Labrador and Santa Maria Head in Benijos, La Orotava.
8th –  NS de Remedies, in Tegueste
14th – Pilgrimage of San José in San Juan de la Rambla.
14th – Bajada de San Carlos, Pilgrimage on the stage, Guimaras.
14th and 15th Our Lady of Sorrows in Icod
21st – Pilgrimage San Miguel Arcangel in San Miguel de Abona
21st – Feast of the Holy Christ – Tacoronte
21st – N S Light – Guia de Isora
28th – Pilgrimage of San Miguel in Geneto, La Laguna.
Last Sunday in September Holy Christ of Calvary in Icod

For weather & news updates around south Tenerife check Queenies Daily Snippets

Continued Page 2

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It’s a personal thing – Golf del Sur

When we decided we would like to live in Tenerife the first place we stayed was the Palms in Golf del Sur.  We thought it was lovely; we looked around and were impressed with the superbly maintained landscaped gardens and beautiful villas but the high winds and low flying aircraft put us off.  We decided that was not what we wanted and it got a black mark in the box of desirability.

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That first impression has stuck with us all these years and it is such a shame because we went recently to visit friends who were staying in the Santa Barbara and the whole of this area has been transformed.  What used to be just a one way system has been extended and you can now easily cross to Amarilla Golf.

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Don´t get me wrong, I have been to the Golf in the intervening years mainly around San Blas for a meal or drink and a walk along the seafront but usually in the direction of Los Abrigos. This time we left the Santa Barbara by the ‘back door’, which led straight onto the seafront walkway.  We headed in the direction of Amarilla Golf and the views were breathtaking.  I’m not a beach person so there being no beach is not a problem for me although some may find it off putting. There is however easy access to the sea and a few people were swimming on the day of our visit.

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I was surprised at the number of restaurants along the short coastal strip.  There were certainly enough to satisfy most tastes, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Spanish and the one we stopped in a Pancake house where the staff were welcoming and nothing was too much trouble.

The views down to the harbour were lovely and during our 3 to 4 hours there I didn´t hear one single plane!  Previously I was of the opinion that those who lived there just said this to justify their choice of location – I couldn´t imagine anywhere in such a relatively small area that the planes could not be heard as when we first went they were coming in so low you could see in the windows!  However, I was wrong, it really must depend on your location in the Golf or perhaps on the wind direction. There was still a breeze but on that particular day, it was welcoming because although the day had started overcast the heat was stifling.  In all senses it turned into the perfect setting on that occasion.

I don´t think my preferences have changed over the years I just think I hadn´t learnt enough about the Golf and assumed the whole was the same as the small part I had experienced.  A bit like peoples’ perceptions of Tenerife when they think the whole island is summed up by Veronicas.  I really should have known better. 

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Treacle Tart

This isn´t just Harry Potter’s favourite dessert it is also one of mine.  I sometimes cheat and use Mercadona’s frozen shortcrust pastry, unless I’m feeling super angelic then I will make my own.

Ingredients:
Pack of Ready-made Shortcrust Pastry
400g Golden Syrup
2 Eggs
150g Breadcrumbs
1tsp Lemon Zest
½ teaspoon ground ginger

Instructions
Preheat oven to 175c.

Remove ready made pastry from the fridge and roll it out to line a flan tin with a detachable base. Gently press to mould to the sides then cut off the excess pastry but leave about a 1cm rim (this will help to counteract the pastry shrinking when it is cooking). Cover the pastry base with greaseproof paper and blind bake.  One day I will have some of those flash ceramic baking beans but until then I use rice.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 10 mins. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Gently heat the golden syrup in a small saucepan until warm but not boiling. Remove from the heat and mix in the eggs, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and ground ginger until well combined.  Then carefully pour the mixture into the pastry shell. It should even out on its own.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 50 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.

Tart (1)

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The Railway Station

Following my venture into descriptive writing Annie told me that she felt as if she was on the beach with me after the crowds had left.  If you are just starting on a new track (in this case, pun intentional) that is the sort of encouragement you need to make you try once more, so here we go.

It is a miserable, wet day as I approach the white pillars guarding the hand-crafted iron gates at the entrance to the railway station that have been there since the place was built.

The stairs leading down to the track are damp and dirty from people’s feet, old ticket stubs and chewing gum.  The handrail even more gritty. The stench of boiling coffee and month-old curry wafts around the crowded platform. Travellers step over crumpled newspapers that the cleaners have missed and pigeons scuffle around, scrounging left over nibbles that have been dropped on the floor by commuters.

The swirl of mist and rain covers the empty track and crowded platform. Chaotic noises fill the air. In a corner, a young busker wearing a hoodie plays a guitar.  A cry of laughter as a young girl is tickled by her dad.  And a sleepy beggar, who smells of alcohol and vomit, grasps his cup and pleads for spare change from passers-by.  His speech is slurred, no one understands him and they quickly walk on by.

Amongst the myriad of confused people searching for their trains, stands a frail old lady, her hair a delicate grey, glasses perched on her nose.  She scans the plethora of facts and figures to try to locate when and where her train will arrive.

Information boards begin to rustle and the frantic voice of the tanoy alerts people where to go.

The tracks rumble and screeching breaks can be heard entering the station.  As the train arrives, the sound of thumping feet gets louder as more and more people run down the stairs and businessmen and women scamper to get a seat on the train.

Clunking and rasping, the engine again kicks into motion, pushing the sleek, modern train down the beaten track.

Here I am again. The same too small, hot and crowded compartment. The same horde of half-awake creatures in ties and business suits that hide behind newspapers that need a small rainforest to construct. People tuck themselves away with no concept of what is going on around them, completely oblivious to all the other passengers.

The man with the raised arm in the middle of the train holding on to the rails hasn’t showered again.  The stuck-up guy with his large watch, new laptop and self-motivated air sitting next to me turns another page of the ‘Times’ that seems even wider than the previous page. I discreetly attempt to get his sleeve out of my mouth but fail miserably.

I managed to keep cool and the train finally approaches my station. I stand, walk through the sliding doors and make my exit off the train.  Once free, I sprint out of the station vowing never to return again.  Well at least not until like thousands of other workers it is time to pack my bag and return to a loving family at the end of the day.

I should say that I based the above on when I used to commute to the Barbican many years ago and the last time I was on a train which was going from Farnborough to St Pancras it was a totally different and indeed pleasant experience.

For weather & news updates around south Tenerife check Queenies Daily Snippets

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Colourful Collioure

Côte Vermeille or vermilion coast is the name of the region near the border with Spain and stretches from Argelès-sur-Mer along the Mediterranean coast to the border village of Cerbère.  We explored the towns of  Port-Vendres and Banyuls-sur-Mer and spent quite a long time in Collioure before reaching the border and the start of the Costa Brava on our return to Barcelona airport.

Collioure is a beautiful little town clinging to the hillside around a picturesque Mediterranean cove. A former fishing port, full of history, charm and a little je ne sais quoi.

There is really only one word for it STUNNING – stunning scenery and such vibrant colours.  Even the drainpipes are brightly coloured with faces and the rooftops with their warm orange tones do not disappoint. It is a lovely place to spend a few hours wandering through the quiet winding streets full of pastel buildings and feel the charm of the old town.

Collioure has a rich history, probably because of its strategic location, where you can still see around the historic harbour the impressive fort and castle. The Spanish have had their fair share of occupation and the town has only been part of France since 1642.

Even during the quiet season, life goes on and the tapas scene is active. Rows of tables and chairs line the front, making it the perfect place to sit back, in the sweltering sun sipping a café crème, relax and watch the world go by.

With approximately thirty art galleries Collioure is known as the “City of Painters”. It’s no wonder that so many artists set up their easels to try and immortalized the small Catalan harbour. They all see themselves as a would-be Matisse or Picasso who took much of their inspiration from this area who can blame them in such beautiful surroundings.

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Scampi’s – Playa de las Americas, Tenerife

Having been brought up on the coast and being used to FRESH fish, which I loved, since leaving the NE of England I am not a great lover of fish and chip.  In the majority of cases I find the fish is often what we in Hartlepool called ‘overland’ so it had been travelling for a long time before reaching the plate.  The only other place I really enjoyed fish and chips was on a visit to Blackpool and that was literally a flying visit, drive down the illuminations, buy the fish supper and continue to pass through.  I wasn´t impressed with Blackpool and can´t see how people can compare it to Tenerife either with or without the sun.

So back to the fish and chips.  Friends suggested we had a meal at Scampi’s in Las Americas.  I have eaten there once a few years ago and from what I remember the food was OK but I was put off by the service, which was horrendous.  However, things change, people move on so I was happy even if a little apprehensive at giving Scampi’s another try.

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Jim and I were the first to arrive and the place was very busy, all the outside tables were taken except one small one and two that had been pushed together with reserved notices on them.  I asked the young man if these had been reserved for us and suggested names they may have been booked in.  He said he had no idea but suggested the waitress might know.  She told us ‘We don´t make reservations’ …. My immediate thought was well there are three reservation notices on tables so what the heck… Don´t say she was the person who hacked me off last time!

We sat down anyway. Above the serving counter, a television plays to itself, as the images flickered and danced their way across the small screen.  We did a bit of people watching and after a few minutes, our friends arrived.  They were greeted warmly and we were given the menus.  I asked if the fish really was cod as often it is advertised by rarely served.  After this was guaranteed we all ordered, three large cod with mushy peas, 1 haddock with mushy peas and two small cod – mine without peas (I was erring on the side of cautious because I hate mushy peas and I was still unsure about the fish).

The moment of truth arrived it all looked lovely, the aroma of sizzling batter that smothers the freshly caught cod made my nose tingle and my mouth opened slowly waiting for the first bite.  Wow, they were delicious, I ate more and more, in fact, I cleared my plate, which is totally out of character, but the taste transported me back to my youth – this was the beginning of an evening to remember.

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By now the crowd had thinned and the waitress that I thought at first was surly turned out to be quite nice, I suppose being rushed off your feet (she was no spring chicken) means at times you can be a bit sharp.  However when I was talking to her afterwards, like wot you do in the ladies, she was very pleasant and kindly give me a couple of tooth picks from behind the bar.  I asked the cook if he minded me taking a picture of the frying area that was spotless but there were not many fish left to photograph as it was now  almost closing time. Even the man having a quiet beer by the door, who I presume to be the owner, wished us an enjoyable evening.

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All in it was a nice experience, good service and delicious food – more so because it was far better than I had anticipated and I will certainly not be leaving it another three years before my next visit.

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Beer and Tapas in Los Abrigos

As festivals go, the Beer and Tapas Festival in Los Abrigos is tiny. Then again, the sleepy fishing village of Los Abrigos is also tiny. Tucked between the resort of Golf del Sur and the town of El Medano the only thing tourists seem to know about it is that it has some great fish restaurants.

Festivals South TenerifeHowever, for the past 5 years it has been successfully holding a beer festival that is now attracting around 1000 people.  It runs for 12 hours starting mid morning and a large number of restaurants and cafes join in by offering beer, wine, soft drinks and tapas for €1.  There are also some stands and kiosks around the picturesque fishing harbour and the Church Square cooking food and displaying crafts.  All this is set to live music which adds to the festive atmosphere.

It seems as if I have slipped into the habit of talking about something after the event. Obviously turning into an island native! If you missed it, you could try the Bavarian Week in Puerto de la Cruz which runs from 20th to 30th August and ends with the traditional ‘Oktoberfest’. Or just add the date to your diary for next year.

For weather & news updates around south Tenerife check Queenies Daily Snippets

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Pilgrimage and Fiestas in August

There are several fiestas around the island in August; the most important is probably the one I wrote about last year the Virgen de la Candelaria, when thousands of Canarios honour the Patron Saint of the Islands.  On the serious side, paths and roads on the island become a pilgrims trail as locals whose numbers are swelled by visitors make their way to the Basilica in Candelaria.  After the religious ceremonies, an amusing piece of theatre takes place on the beach when the town residents dressed in sheep skins re-enact the first meeting between the Guanches and the Black Madonna.  This takes place on 14th and 15th August.

Prior to this on 10th, there is the Pilgrimage of La Guancha or the Descent of the Beeches when hundreds of people honour the Virgin of La Esperanza

Between 13-17 August Alcala in the South West celebrates theVirgen de Candelaria  who is also their patron- the highpoint is  a spectacular firework display which will be at around midnight on 15th.  The whole of the day is a celebration, events will start around 1pm with a flotilla of boats, one of which will be carrying a statue of the Virgin will sail in a procession between Playa San Juan and Puerto de Santiago.

Held on August 16th the Pilgrimage of San Roque in Garachico has been declared a national tourist event. Thousands of people flock to the town and port to see not only the procession, which includes bands, carts and festively bedecked goats but also the local fishermen who take part in a sea-going procession in their boats along the coast. The origin of the Pilgrimage goes back to the early seventeenth century. Between 1601 and 1606, the island was hit by a terrible plague mainly focused in the Port of Garachico. When the disease sudden disappearance it was seen as a miraculous event and attributed to the intercession of San Roque. From that date, each August 16 all roads leading to Garachico.

The unusual “Corazones de Tejina” (the Hearts of Tejina) takes place on the Sunday following the feast of San Bartolomé (24th August).  I suspect that rather than stick with the 24th the people of Tejina will choose the following Sunday 31st to squeeze in an extra weeks partying before they officially honour their patron.  Enormous hearts made out of wood and metal and decorated with flowers, ribbons, fruit and local cakes called “Tortas” are at the centre of the celebrations, which is a curious blend of pagan and religious rituals and attracts visitors from all over the island.

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On 24th is the Pilgrimage of San Agustin in Arafo.  This relatively new event started in 1975 and became so popular that in 1983 it was declared a national event of tourist interest.  It commemorates a miracle that occurred in 1751, when the saint intervened to send a storm to clear the rubble from the Añavingo spring, which had been buried by a landslide.

Add to the above open air concerts,  music festivals on the beach, and if all that isn´t enough every other year there is Realexo, which is a way to learn, how people in Los Realejos lived in the past. Over 2 days more than 250 actors will guide visitors through the streets of the town re-enacting daily life and historical events that took place

If you can´t make any of the dates in August, don´t worry, Tenerife has a busy calendar of events and a plethora of exciting festivals taking place all year round but some of the best are in the summer so if you can join the locals in the serious business of partying.

For weather & news updates around south Tenerife check Queenies Daily Snippets

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The Last Post Ceremony – Ypres

This year is the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War. It also marks not only the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the second front in Europe but the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.

It therefore seemed an appropriate time for Jim to take time out from his UK visit earlier this year and catch the ferry with our daughter Kate and granddaughter Tilly for a short trip to Belgium. The main purpose of their break was to visit Ypres, which will forever be associated with the Great War, its trail of destruction and its meaningless slaughter.

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Yet one hundred years later, the local people proudly carry out a simple and moving tribute under the imposing arches of the Menin Gate. Irrespective of whether there is a large crowd or just a solitary passerby just before 8 o’clock in the evening, the traffic is stopped and the noise from the cobbled streets around the Menin Gate ceases. A stillness descends over the memorial as buglers from the local fire brigade arrive.

The Last Post is played in memory of the soldiers who fell at Ypres. This is followed by a minute’s silence. The buglers play Reveille then march off and the ceremony is ended.

The ‘Last Post’ marks the end of the soldier’s day – what more fitting way to commemorate those 54,896 dead soldiers who were never found, have no known grave and whose names are inscribed at the Menin Gate than with a symbol that they have finished their duty and can rest in peace.

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They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

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I was not with the family on this visit but I have been to the ceremony before and found it extremely moving.  Although I hate war, I believe only by visiting and seeing for yourself where these battles took place can you recognise and possibly understand the depths of the sacrifices made and the heroism involved.

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