Turkish Delight – Gallipoli to Canakkale

Skirting the Sea of Marmara we officially start our journey by heading for Gallipoli to visit the Anzac Cemetery and the sites of the famous World War I battlefields on the European side of the Dardanelles.

Naturally being married to Jim I had heard of Gallipoli and knew that thousands of people flock to the site of Anzac Cove each year. The majority of these are Aussie or Kiwi patriots who view this place as a defining moment in their history. They come to commemorate the soldiers who lost their lives here and in Australia and New Zealand often refer to it as “Our Glorious Defeat”. It was also interesting to hear it from a Turks perspective as they speak in awe about General Mustafa Kemal, later known only as Ataturk and the founder of modern Turkey.

Brighton Beach, should have been the textbook place to carry out a strategic landing and move troops from the United Kingdom, France, India, Canada, Australian and New Zealand into hostile territory. However, this was not to be the case, poor communication led to troops landing on the wrong beach and essentially this was the beginning of the end with over 100,000 fatalities on both sides.

We then moved along to Lone Pine Cemetery and a sea of white gravestones. The graves all looked well maintained and all told similar stories of cherished sons dying for King and Country. Reading the inscriptions the reality became apparent as many of the fallen were teenagers. Gallipoli is an extremely moving place but it does make you wonder why some people bother to make the trip. A silly Australian woman in our group, the one who managed to upset everyone at one time or another asked where could she find her relation’s grave, when questioned further it seems he had fought in Vietnam! One thing I was not impressed with was the number of people sprawling over or in front of the graves taking selfies.  In my opinion, it just showed lack of respect and even more lack of understanding.

The campaign lasted for 8 months and many of the battles were hard fought resorting to bayonet or hand-to-hand combat to gain just a few yards of territory. Out of the awful situation came amazing stories of humour, courage and inspiration from both sides. The opposing troops were close enough to yell at each other, they grew to respect each other and had a “gentleman’s agreement” to clear their dead, share cigarettes, swap food and even play football together.

The Turks used to throw over tobacco in return for paper, so both sides could smoke. Every night one Turkish solider walked between the trenches picking up tobacco and paper that fell in the middle. He was an icon to the ANZACs, who never shot him, until a new regiment moved in and killed him on sight.

Monuments are everywhere; the most poignant is a Turkish “Mehmet” carrying a wounded “Johnny” as a symbol of the brotherhood between their countries.  This mutual respect was summed up beautifully in the now famous quote by Mustaf Kemal Ataturk in 1934 when he praised the bravery and fighting spirit of the ANZACs and said that they had become brothers to their Turkish counterparts.

You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies and Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have become our sons as well.

Later, a short ferry journey takes us to Canakkale.  Stepping on to the ferry, we saw a small diorama that showed where the various regiments were.  Someone on the coach (Oh yes it was our Australian lady friend) said in all seriousness, they must have played crazy golf when they weren´t fighting!!

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Turkish Delight – Our Road Trip

For some reason I am finding it very hard to put into words our experiences on our recent Turkish holiday.  Probably because there was just so much in terms of things to do, cultural experiences and historical attractions. I thought therefore rather than try to describe places like Ephesus, (despite practising descriptive writing, I know my limitations)  I have decided to add some ‘photo blogs’ of the highlights together with a few things we learnt along the way – these could cover culture, food and random thoughts as they pop into my head!

We left a day early having been given 2 complimentary rooms and free parking for the duration of our holiday at the Holiday Inn Gatwick. It made a nice start to the break and so not having cost us anything we decided to splash out and have a meal in the hotel that evening.  We all slept well then handed in the car keys, caught the transfer coach and checked in with plenty of time to enjoy a drink before boarding our plane.

Our flight on Turkish Airlines arrived on time and we were collected with three other people to make the arduous journey, because of the amount of traffic, across Istanbul to our hotel.  If you get the timing right, it can take 20 minutes, but get it wrong and it can take 3 hours.  We were fortunate and got to the Hotel Grand Haliç in around an hour.  As we entered the old part of Istanbul I said “Do you realise it is 20 years since we were last here.  We stayed in a hotel close to the Galata Bridge and it was an easy walk to the Spice Market”. Almost as soon as I had finished speaking, we crossed the bridge, turned left and stopped outside our hotel. Talk about coincidence, the name on our itinerary hadn´t meant anything, well twenty years is a long time, but as soon as we pulled up, we recognised the place we had stayed all those years ago.

After collecting our cardkey, we went to our room on the 2nd floor.  I had ordered a triple room throughout our tour because the savings we made more than paid for our optional excursions.  After freshening up the three of us went to eye up our travelling companions in the Welcome Meeting.

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It was, compared to other Archer/Cosmos tours we have done, a large group, 43 in total and slowly as we got to know each other, I can confirm it was a really good crowd of people.  With the exception of one, you always get one; we all gelled together well, looked after each other and had some laughs, with and at each other.  On each tour we have been on, until we get to know our fellow travellers, we give them nicknames.  This trip was no different and it was only at the end we learnt from others that we are not alone in this.  We all had similar names, we of course were ‘The Canaries’, we had ‘Knee’ when referring to Terry and Gillian from Auz as he had recently had a knee replaced.  ‘The Derby Girls’ Elsa (from Denmark) and Chris who both now live in Derbyshire, ‘Little Sister’ the Indian family of 4 she was 70 although didn´t look it and was adopted as Jim’s little sister being a couple of years younger than him, and so it went on.

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Our Tour Director was Aykut Gun who has vast knowledge and pride in his country and our driver who made us feel very safe was Birol.

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After a good night’s sleep (For those who know I don´t do EARLY mornings, there were lots of 6.00am wake up calls! ) we head out to our coach and drive through the city.  As I said, it was 20 years since I was last in Istanbul and at that time, it felt very foreign.  Today it is a very different place.  Istanbul, in fact everywhere we saw in Turkey is very prosperous, the people are well dressed; they drive new cars and have beautiful homes. Istanbul is the only city in the world that spans two different continents, it is huge, colourful and  vibrant … but more about that later as we get to spend a couple of days here at the end of our visit.  For the time being, we start skirting the Sea of Marmara as we head for Gallipoli on the European side of the Dardanelles.

So stay tuned for the ‘official start’……

 

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A Brit Abroad

As an expat, I am often asked, “Do you like living in Tenerife?” and “What do you like about it?

Having been here for 9 years as of 1st September last, I guess the answer to the first question is Yup we love it and have never for one minute regretted our decision to move here.

To answer the second question, is a little more difficult because there are just so many things to like about Tenerife it is hard to know where to start.  In no particular order, I have listed some of the reasons why we like it here but I am sure there are loads I have missed.

High on the list has to be the climate. Tenerife is on the same latitude as Florida, which means almost year round sunshine without the humidity.  The sun shines most days however, the past couple of years I have noticed the winter months haven´t been as hot as when we first moved here. Perhaps weather is changing everywhere or maybe we have acclimatised. I used to think it strange seeing locals wearing knee-high boots and jeans but come December I now find I am doing the same. I like the fact that you can spend so much time outside, plan ahead for a barbeque and not fear it will be spoilt by inclement weather. I also like knowing that within a couple of hours my washing will be dry. For me there is absolutely nothing better than the sweet smell of sun dried cloths fresh off the line. But weather around the island does vary – I didn´t realise just how much until I started adding the daily webcam images to Queenie’s blog.  I received a complaint about the number of cloudy days in Puerto during the summer as if I was in charge of weather!

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And at certain times of the year, the north is cooler and damper, but having specific seasons of the years reminds many of the UK so for some, the north is an ideal home from home.

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As a pensioner cost of living is important.  I mostly buy local produce, picking over fruit and vegetables and choosing just the amount I need rather than having to have a large bag, which could go to waste. I also shop in Spanish/Canarian supermarkets in local towns. I am frequently amazed at how much I get for so little and equally amazed at how much I have to pay for far less when I return to the UK on holiday. Neither of us drink, I occasionally have a cigarette but a pack of 200 lasts me several months however we both like eating out, and again this is not expensive. Add to this no heating bills, low petrol costs plus our favourite perk resident’s allowances, which we frequently use for cheap travel and we feel we have died and gone to heaven!

Healthcare here is amazing, I have never in my life experienced such good health care. Being a pensioners we have access to free medical treatment exactly as we would in the UK.   Fortunately, to date we have had no need to try this out. We also for a very small fee use a private doctor for annual routine check-ups, blood tests etc. before I moved here, “cholesterol” was a word that had no meaning. Now, I know exactly what levels of each cholesterol I have, what they should be and if I need to take any dietary steps to counteract.

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On the topic of food, many seem to think the south of the island is nothing but full English breakfasts and anything with chips.  Of course, these are easy to find for those who want them but just as easy for the more adventurous are restaurants serving not only Canarian and Spanish food but also Thai, Indian, French, Moroccan, Lebanese, Chinese, German, Italian, Mexican and Japanese.  Add to these the numerous restaurants in the fishing villages of the south that serve the freshest seafood at incredible prices and you have a mouth-watering feast to suit anyone’s taste and pocket.  And for those who like a tipple with their meal, there is a wide choice of local wines.

I’m not sure whether my next point is a good or a bad thing.  With so many Brits living on the island one of the good things for me is that I can always find English newspapers and books and of course TV. Also on the odd occasion when I fancy something typically British I can easily lay my hands on a bar of Cadbury fruit and nut chocolate.

The bad side of this is it is all too easy, which makes us lazy at learning the language and we forget that sticking to our ‘own’ we miss so much of the real Tenerife that is all around us.   When we take the time to utter even the odd word we find people in general seem so much more open, or helpful, or just more willing to talk.  I have read numerous times, of how serious and officious public service workers are but we have never ever experienced this.  I will concede that paperwork here is daunting at times, but the more you do it, the less unusual it seems. I am convinced it is how you approach the situation that is secret.  If you think you are going to have a hard time you probably give off an air of aggression and if you appear more relaxed the typical Tinerfeños reciprocates as they are used to this slower laid back pace of life.

I like the fact that Sunday is still a ‘Family Day’, and reminds me of the UK in the 50s and 60s. Every village regularly has a fiesta where you can experience the true culture of the island surrounded by folks in traditional dress who are happy to hand out food and drink to all – yet even at Carnival where thousands gather, you rarely see anyone the worse for wear or causing trouble. Staying with culture we want for nothing – we have our fair share of opera, jazz, ballet and concerts from the latest pop icon of the day. Sometimes we have to visit Santa Cruz to see these but it is only 40 minutes and the parking is easy and free. Other times they are on our doorstep in the southern resorts where the venues are second to none.

Adeje Romerias (61)

The scenery is diverse, I find the contrasts here amazing. You want sun, you can have it, you want cloud, you can have it, you want green, you want grey,  you want forest, you want lunar landscapes or tropical beaches you can have it – they are all  here and should we tire of all this and feel like a break – the UK is a short flight away.

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I really can´t think of a more perfect place to live. To me home really is where the heart is not the place we come from and Tenerife is where we call home and our hearts are definitely here. Even after all the years of living here the island still holds as much charm as it did in the beginning and I never want to live anywhere else.

 Images courtesy Turismo de Tenerife
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The little known places in Tenerife

It was the first Sunday we had had for a long time that was overcast so we decided to load up the car with dogs and water bowls and head out to who knows where – wherever we happened to end up. We didn’t go far, only about 20 miles from Los Cristianos to a quaint Canarian fishing village often bypassed as people speed along the TF1 either to or from Santa Cruz.

It had been a while since we had been to Poris de Abona but it is just the sort of place to go if you want to leave the tourists behind for an hour or two. The original old fishing village has kept its charms especially in the centre where nothing has changed in decades and life still goes on in a relaxed way. On any visit you are likely to see anglers on the quay wall or straddling the rocks waiting for a catch.  This time was no different – a lone fisherman stood on the farthest outcrop feet almost in the sea. It was such a lovely setting that he probably wasn’t too concerned if he got a bite or not, the tranquillity was reward enough.

We started off feeling energetic so decided to walk along the coastline using the walkways and promenade that the council have provided. These are lovely and have an abundance of benches so it wasn´t too long before we stopped for the girls to have a drink and we enjoyed the fantastic sea views.

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From the promenade we came to the small, sheltered curving beach that is popular with locals but never crowded. The crystal clear water is shallow so great for kids to have fun to their hearts content. We tried to tempt the dogs in to cool down but that was never going to happen.

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From the beach we took in the sights and sounds of the village, which was deserted and silent!  I had hoped to catch the farmers market in the plaza by the Church, which I had heard has a good variety of local produce but it was Sunday and it was late afternoon so the place was like a ghost town.

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We continued along the coastal road, which turns into a rough track and reached the new red and white lighthouse that dominates the skyline and is an icon of Poris. This however is not the original that was built in 1902. From here the views of the sea and coast are wonderful. Then we did an about-turn, if the sky had been clear we would have had a magnificent view of Mount Teide with the white windmills in the foreground but sadly for us it was obscured by thick cloud.

 

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We drove back home through the mountains and stopped to look back at the pretty little village that time has almost forgotten. I have recently seen that several holiday lettings have sprung up trying to attract holidaymakers looking for an authentic, relaxing holiday by the sea to the area. I know it is selfish but I really hope this doesn´t happen as we locals like to keep these truly Canarian havens purely to ourselves for when we wish to escape.

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A day in Puerto de la Cruz

I spent the weekend, deleting photos, saving photos and generally tidying up my laptop.  In the process, I came across some old photos taken on a visit to Puerto de la Cruz.  I have no idea when this was; perhaps it was one visit or maybe two. The sky is overcast so probably during the winter months; it also looks as if it is coming in dark so we probably stayed overnight, which we have done on occasions. I thought I would use the unexpected find to add these images to a blog but rather than speculate what we did and when we did it, my comments are based on the sort of thing OH and I do when visiting somewhere – an excuse to practise a bit of descriptive writing!

Puerto (3)Puerto de la Cruz isn’t exactly bustling with activity on our visit. Not particularly unusual during the autumn months except for weekends.  Different story during the summer when the town is flooded with tourist all day long and there are people everywhere packed like sardines in the narrow streets of the old town.  However, like the majority of people we encounter, whilst we may not yet have one foot in the grave, the sedate pace of life at this time of year suits us.

Puerto (6)Just a short walk and we are in San Telmo surrounded by a labyrinth of souvenir shops.  Buckets and spades, lilos and local handicrafts tumble together and spill onto the walkways outside the stores to attract the passer-by. The shopkeepers open handed welcome and cries of ‘hola’ reverberate down the cobbled lanes but there are few takers; most seem intent on saving their money for the numerous cafes and bars that line every street and plaza.

Puerto (4)We wander to the waterfront where the pathway is lined with trees and has no traffic.  This part of the promenade is laced with cake and ice cream shops. We walk, then rest at a restaurant that has spread its tables and chairs onto the pathway where we sip our coffee, nibble our cake and enjoy the fresh sea air.

Puerto (17) Puerto (14)We walk again and sit on a stone bench overlooking the large beach of black sand. It is a good place to relax and watch the waves and the world pass by in a continuous easy-paced stream.

Puerto (19)Before continuing our walk, we are entertained by the street performers with their puppet shows and magic tricks. A group of chattering holidaymakers get side tracked by a musician with his accordion playing 1960 songs and two of them do an impromptu dance giving their age away, and some street artists try to entice tourists to sit for a caricature drawing.

The afternoon draws on, it is starting to get dark and we watch the sun as it sets slowly, colouring the sky pink then dark red and finally disappears leaving just a gentle glow over the horizon . Feeling weary but happy, we know it is time to make our way home.

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This image isn´t Puerto but one of many taken from my patio in Chayofa.

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The Storm

This descriptive writing lark isn’t as easy as I imagined.  Firstly I find it particularly hard to find something to write about and then once I do I’m at a loss at how to create a vivid picture.  It makes you realise just how lacking in language you really are!

/ Gregory Thielker

/ Gregory Thielker

Long before technology people relied on observation to avoid being caught off guard by the elements. Despite being raised on the wild northeast coast, I was never good at predicting what was going to happen so inevitably I was taken totally by surprise.

The day started beautifully, the sky was like a dome of plasma-blue but there were those who saw the storm closing in. Within minutes of me setting off for town, the once clear sky became full of thick clouds, staining it a deadly shade of indigo. Birds silenced their song and people ran for cover as the saturated clouds start to rumble and spat out beads of water – it began as a whispering in the air but a storm was brewing.

I quickened my pace but caught the first splatter of rain when I was halfway down the road. I took refuge in a doorway, others huddled under shop awnings or sheltered in cars, their windscreen wipers furiously struggling against the increasingly pounding rain as we waited for the storm to pass but the rainfall became more intense. For a while, those who rushed off to work as they do every morning eventually made a wet scramble to stay on schedule only to be drowned and drenched.

So much rain was falling that the sound blurred into one long whirring noise.  It wasn’t the soft, sodden, swollen drops of spring; it was as if ball bearings were hitting the pavement with force. The thermometer plunged as we huddled together and shivered. For a brief moment, I thought that we might be doomed adventurers, destined to be swept away in a mighty flood but eventually, the noise lessened and we made a break for our destinations.  I hurried inside a small cafe, where the smells of strong coffee and wet woollen coats floated in the air. I chose a seat and gazed out of the steamed up windows every few seconds to check what was happening.

It was only a little after ten o’clock in the morning but the pallor of a winter evening seemed to have closed upon us as the lightning started. It never came through the menacing clouds, just lit them up from above, then the loud rumble of thunder echoed around the almost empty, lifeless streets. Any last remaining footsteps quickly disappear. The wind came in gusts; it blew with such force and swayed, like a drunken man, picking up then quickly releasing the scattered rubbish again and again. Trees surrender as the battering wind forced leaves to be torn off branches.

From the safety of my refuge I looked at the deserted street and the feeble daylight appeared to dim as the dark clouds moved across the sky. A lone dog pattered across the waste ground then threaded its way between the few surviving cars. Then as if some mighty hand had flicked a switch, the sun came out again, casting slanted beams of light across the land. An explosion of birdsong erupted from the dripping trees and it was as if the storm had never been. Steam climbed slowly from the rapidly drying ground. It rose up eerily and drifted mist-like towards the molten-gold sun. The image was so vivid that it stayed with me all the way home

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

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Bakewell Tart

As you have probably guessed, I don´t always write and publish immediately, if I have several things on the go I ‘schedule’.  So I didn´t make this tart today, as when this article is being published I am somewhere in Turkey. I actually made it a couple of weeks ago.

I had asked on Facebook where I could buy ceramic beans, I normally use crumpled greaseproof paper for blind baking because in the baking world, a soggy bottom is bad news and my idol Paul Hollywood would most definitely not be impressed. The outcome was that someone posted their version of a Bakewell tart. They don´t blind bake, don´t use any flour or lemon and don´t get a soggy bottom. The recipe looked simple but I have made my version for years so I know it works. It is a deliciously crisp short crust pastry case (don’t be afraid to buy shop bought pastry) filled with a moist almond filling topped with toasted almonds.

Is your mouth watering yet?

Ingredients:
Pack Shortcrust Pastry
4 tbsp Jam I prefer raspberry but strawberry is fine too.
150g Butter
150g Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
120g Ground Almonds
125g Self Raising Flour
Zest of half a Lemon
1tsp Baking Powder
1tsp Almond Extract
Almonds for Sprinkling

Method
Preheat oven to 180c.

Roll out the pastry so it is larger than the tart dish. Gently lay the pastry over the dish and working around the edges gently press into place. Be careful not to rip the pastry. If you do a wet finger can make any small repairs. Place a round of baking paper on top of the pastry and blind bake until the edges are golden about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the dish. When almost cool spread the jam evenly over the base.  Now to make the filling.

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Cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Follow this with the almond extract, and then beat in the ground almonds. Sieve in the flour and baking powder and fold together, finally mix in the lemon zest.

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bakewell tart

Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 mins. Remove and scatter some flaked almonds on the top. Return to the oven for a further 15 mins. Remove and allow to cool before slicing.

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It’s a personal thing – La Orotava

Invariably when anyone asks on Tripadviser  what to do or see in Puerto de la Cruz, those who prefer the north generally say catch a bus and go visit La Orotava.  It seems a strange comment to advise people to escape where they have chosen to stay and always makes me smile, but I do understand as La Orotava is very different to other towns in the area. Located in the north of Tenerife most of La Orotava is high above the sea. Originally it was the last stronghold of the Guanches against the Spanish conquerors. But what has emerged over the centuries is a region of wooded hillsides, fruit plantations and rich agricultural land producing tomatoes, bananas and grapes and a beautiful town steeped in colonial history. In effect a showcase of traditional Canarian architecture.

When visiting the north, I prefer spending time here rather than in Puerto de la Cruz with its proliferation of German bakeries (can you tell I am thinking about dieting!). However, ignoring cakes, La Orotava has plenty to keep you occupied.

Its historic centre is a must-see for any visitor. The steep cobbled streets and picturesque squares are filled with museums, churches and convents.  A walk around town will highlight elegant colonial houses built by wealthy aristocrats and merchants in the 17th century with their beautiful balconies and interior courtyards

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For the gardener, wander through the Jardines Victoria or visit Hijuela del Botánico, a relatively small garden brimming with thousands of exotic species from around the world.  It’s the lesser-known cousin of the Botanical Gardens in Puerto de la Cruz but it is free and in my opinion equally as good. Visit Pueblo Chico a theme park representing all of the Canary Islands in miniature, Artlandya  home to more than 600 teddy bears and handmade dolls or just relax on a beach.

 

Whilst the town is known more for its architecture than its beaches, probably due to the difficulties involved in reaching them, once you do arrive, they are not crowded like those in the nearby tourist resort. The views from Playa El Bollullo are spectacular, however it can be dangerous even for good swimmers, as strong tidal currents are common.  Playa de Los Patos is favoured by surfers, again for its strong waves and it has recently been announced that new steps will provide access the beach. The old steps closed in 2013 for safety reasons.  The third beach made up of dark sand and edged by cliffs is Playa de El Ancón. Once again the access is a bit difficult so there are never many people here making it more attractive to those seeking seclusion.

El-Bollollo-Beach

La Orotava is also well known as an artisan centre with the top spot to shop for some mementos being the Casa de los Balcones, famous for its characteristic wooden balconies both outside and inside. However as this is a personal opinion, for me it is far too commercialised with its coach parties and organised tours. Nevertheless, I have to admit the exterior is impressive.

I much prefer the Ethnographic Museum in Pinolere, which recreates the culture, customs and history of Tenerife.  The museum has straw houses and traditional buildings that have been turned into exhibition spaces, a threshing-floor, chicken runs and rabbit pens and a medicinal/herb garden.  You can find all sorts of craft activities going on such as ceramics, lace, wood and leatherwork.

The museum  holds an annual fair, I love it! not just to see the displays of basketry and ceramics or the performances of medieval-style plays by locals in traditional dress but I like to sample the local food products like cheese and honey (oh heck back to food) as well as admire the hand-crafted jewellery, shawls and scarves on display by local as well as international exhibitors.

Before you leave, you must stop at the Humboldt Mirador, from here you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the valley as it spreads out before you with Mount Teide providing a stunning backdrop.  On a clear day it will take your breath away.

Orotava valley

 

NB: the images of Casa de los Balcones are from Tourismo de Tenerife and those of Pinolere are from the museums own website.
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Things to do in Tenerife in October 2014

What to Expect

The weather starts to cool down in October and  the average temperature in the south of the island is around  26°C, with highs of 30°C during the day and evening temperatures of around 20°C. In the north of the island the the temperatures range from 22°C  as an average dropping to around 14 C  at night.

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October Highlights

Summer might be coming to an end, but it doesn’t mean festivities are over. The following is a round up of some of the best cultural, sport and music events to help you extend the summer vibe.

4th IV Festival Malvasía This festival will feature performances by the Association of Folk Igonce Candelaria and Malvasia. Organizers describe this as “a very emotional evening that will be marked by the tradition of the Canarian people, and we have worked to make many efforts to succeed.” Hours: 20:30 pm Plaza de Cañeño. Free admission.

Other Celebrations in October

6th Holy Christ of Health – Arona
13th Feast of St Ursula – Adeje
15th – 20th Celebrating Feast of the Holy Christ of Calvary – El Tanque
21st Day of Saint Ursula, patroness of the municipality – Santa Ursula
24th – 25th Feast of Our Lady of Remedies – Buenavista del Norte

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

Continued Page 2

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El Corazón – Chayofa

It is a long time since I had a meal at the Chayofa Country Club.  Consequently, this week our quiz group thought we would give it a try. We arrived at around 8.00pm and there were quite a few people around.  We had unwittingly chosen the night when the village regulars partake of karaoke Once I realised, I did get a little frisson of entering a private space but they were all very friendly and we were not made to feel excluded even though we did not intend to sing or even lip-sync to the karaoke.

03-DSC04608The owner told us that the restaurant’s name has changed to “El Corazón” meaning The Heart in Spanish. The styling isn´t particularly Spanish, in fact I don´t think the decor has changed much since I was last there.  There’s nothing about the menu that makes you feel particularly enveloped by “Besame Mucho” or “La Cucaracha” which did make me wonder why they chose the name, but that is only puzzlement on my part and not a criticism.

04-DSC04609The food was better than I remember from the early days. We went for the BBQ at €13.95 per person including the first drink, which in my opinion offered impressive value. There was in Christine’s words ‘an overload of meat’ certainly nobody would ever go hungry and the vegetables were good too. The rest of the menu included some no-compromise fare for adults and a sensible range of dishes for children. In fact, in its unpretentious way, this is a something-for-all-the-family place to eat.

The staff were very friendly and could not do enough for us.  Talking to a regular, it seemed the new owners went out of their way to accommodate the wishes of their customers by getting opinions as to what they would like from the restaurant. It seems that they were told exactly what we have had in the past but better…. so they re-employed the old chef and continued with a similar menu but at a higher standard.

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We certainly enjoyed our food and it was only when the singing got underway did we feel it was time to make a move. Now I thought I had a bad voice but …there were occasional breaks in the singing, but only to be replaced by some not bad but not great keyboard playing so if like me you are not into this type of entertainment then give Thursdays a miss, otherwise I would recommend as somewhere worth adding to your ‘give it try list’.

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