Memories of Alice – RIP

I first published this blog in August 2011 at that time I had known Alice several years so I was very sad to learn today that she has passed away after her long fight with cancer. She was always such a positive person that I thought despite seeing how thin she was at Christmas that she would somehow come through.  Sadly that hasn’t been the case but I assume many like me have some wonderful memories of Alice and Mark.


Do you believe that some things are meant to be?

A few years ago I spoke with Alice on Tripadvisor and when she and OH, Mark came to Tenerife on holiday we met for a coffee.  At that time, they expressed a wish to live here permanently.  It’s a common enough statement made by many in holiday mode, but this couple actually meant it. They went home, did their research and we kept in touch discussing the pros and cons of various business ventures.  Alice, in particular, has had some great ideas and each time she returned to the island has carried out market researched on how viable certain opportunities could be.

A few weeks ago Alice wrote saying they had been to Poochies Pet Hotel and were seriously considering taking it over. This was a surprise, as boarding kennels had never featured on the radar, although excursion centres and ladies only gyms had. But this is where, I believe, fate stepped in.

They had several properties to sell in the UK and until they sold, felt they could not afford to purchase Poochies although they loved the setup.  Over discussions with Pete the owner, they discovered he wanted to return to the UK for medical reasons and to an area that was just a few minutes from where they live in Yorkshire. They came up with an unusual but very workable arrangement and from that point forward, everything has fallen into place.  On returning to the UK after their last holiday, they received, out of the blue, an offer on one of their properties and now it is full steam ahead.

They have booked their final flights for the middle of August but have spent the past two weeks at the ‘hotel’ learning the ropes. They are under no illusion about the amount of hard work involved in looking after dogs and have embraced it wholeheartedly. They have spent their ‘holiday’ scooping poop, taking puppies to the vets, meeting clients and integrating into village life.

As an animal lover, I try to avoid visiting the animal refuges as I find it upsetting not being able to take them all home with me.  However, Alice being a friend I could not refuse an invite to look over Poochies. Getting to El Rio for the first time is interesting.  From the TF1 you seem to climb forever, in reality, it is only 30 minutes from the main resorts, but first-time journeys always seem to take forever.

We parked up and Alice met us carrying the tiniest of pups. There were five or six of them that they have taken from one of the rescue centres and they all have homes to go to in Germany. Thank goodness because I was besotted by a tiny bundle of fluff that could easily have slipped into my handbag. (Hindsight says this was the start of Alice collecting and spoiling those who needed lots of love).

We met the original Poochie who the hotel is named after, she is supposedly a guard dog and while large enough to frighten any intrepid intruder could not, in the heat of the day, be bothered to raise her head from where she was sleeping on the sofa. It was amusing to see Alice and Mark checking their lists and rounding up at exercise change-over time and making sure ‘friends’ were kept together. There is a strict schedule for doggy exercise, first the little chaps, then the slightly older pups, followed by the mature dogs that get along well together and finally the old miseries that don’t like mixing with other dogs. But the highlight of my day was having lots of loves from Dodo a huge white Great Dane cross.

People may recall that last year I was desperate to see Dodo re-homed. He really is a gentle giant but needs space and while he has loads of space at Poochies he is now waiting for the all clear on his blood tests before he flies to the UK and his forever home.

Poochies Hotel has an excellent reputation and works closely with the animal rescue centres and Alice and Mark will continue this.  I wish them the very best of luck on this adventure because I really believe it was meant to be.

UPDATE

Yesterday we joined Alice and Mark at Poochies to see how they were getting along with their new venture. It has to be said that the place is looking good, the house is bright and with just a few changes of furniture, they can now take in the exceptional views right down to the coast from their living room.

We were greeted by a bunch of ‘holidaymakers’ who are staying while their owners are enjoying their own vacations and a couple of long-stayers who are awaiting the all-clear for their flights to the UK. Of course, Dodo their most famous resident has recently made that journey to his new home. All the dogs spent the afternoon wandering around the grounds, playing chase, catching sticks or checking if the food was cooked and to their liking.

I think Mark was of the impression he was cooking for an army, steak, chops, garlic chicken, burgers, kebabs, Spanish sausages and huge prawns were constantly coming from the large barbecue to join the salads, quiches, jacket potatoes and various dips Alice had provided.

Although newcomers to the island Alice and Mark have quickly learnt to fit in and this noisy affair felt typically local. Children played in the pool while the adults sat around, drank good wine and beer and the laughter and conversation flowed effortlessly. Dogs were spoilt; they sat on guests knees, crept under the table and one even found his way into a handbag were doggie treats were supposedly hidden.

I am happy to say that business is doing well, there are enquiries every week from both old and new clients wishing to place their dogs in a happy environment while they can’t be with them.

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Cancer and Knitted Knockers

We went to one of our favourite Indian restaurants Sher E Punjab with Christine and Andrew this week but before that, on Wednesday, Jim and I met Alan and Shirley Rigby the couple who donated all of the mastectomy bras to the Tenerife Carrera por la Vida Walk for Life charity.

They were grabbing an unscheduled week in the sun and we met them for lunch at Dedos in Las Americas. The food was exceptionally good, Alan and I had the pulled pork and even though we had only met for the first time I pinched his gherkins!. Shirley had the falafel and Jim went for the spicy chicken. It was huge (half a chicken) so he brought home about as much as he ate and our girls had it for breakfast the next day. Even Marti who is so fussy and has to be tempted with every bite wolfed it down.

The service was first class from our young Estonian waitress, the food was well made and we would certainly go back.

After we had eaten we jumped in the car and went to Adeje and the Pink Room Sadly Brigette was on holiday but she arranged for Karen to be on hand to translate and along with Hermi we had a lovely hour or so discussing how different cancer is treated in the UK to here on the island, or perhaps that is Spain in general.

In the UK ladies don’t have to pay €200 for a prosthesis – imagine the cost if you have had a double mastectomy. OK, you get 80% back from the government, eventually, but that can take weeks if not months to be repaid and in the meantime, most women have had to give up work so the cost, as well as the worry, is phenomenal. Which brings me to knitted knockers.

There are volunteers who knit or crochet various sized ‘knockers’ and donate them so that ladies who have had a mastectomy can go about their lives feeling ‘normal’ while saving hard for a prosthesis.  I’m sure there are lots of crafters on the island who would be able to do this and donate them to the Pink Room. Check out the video below and see what a great idea it is and so simple. You can download patterns, and all the information you need from the website as well as size charts which are easy to follow, even I could see what they meant and how they work. So if anyone has any free time on their hands, perhaps they would like to see if they can produce a knocker or two.

We discussed various other ideas that in my opinion would take little effort but could make such a huge difference to cancer sufferers on the island.  One of these was to recycle wigs. In the UK these are free to anyone who loses their hair through chemo but here although they are available only about 10 a year are free so if anyone has a wig they no longer need, perhaps they could get in touch and we can have it professionally cleaned and pay it forward.  Another idea was mastectomy bras if you have the wrong size or it doesn’t feel comfortable, why not pass it on rather than let it sit in the drawer gathering dust.

I have no doubt the fine people of Tenerife will do their bit by supporting all ‘Walk for Life’ events because no matter whether we are young or old, rich or poor we are all touched by the dreaded disease or know someone who is.

Come on folks lets try and make a difference……..

Check Queenie’s Daily Snippets for Tenerife news & events 
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Make the most of each season

Recently I have been reading about something that is referred to as a “Super Saving Baking Day” where you bake a selection of items for the freezer. I’m not sure why it should have suddenly become popular. When I got my first freezer back in 1973 while I didn’t necessarily have a “Baking” day I did have a “Cooking” day and have been cooking this way ever since.  Back in the 70s at weekends, I prepare meals in large batches and then froze in suitably size portions to be defrosted as needed. Nowadays I do it as the fancy takes me.

It helps, I suppose if you like cooking but even if you don’t by preparing in bulk things like bolognese sauce, stews and various kinds of soup, in the long run, it saves a lot of time in the kitchen. And there is always an answer to the “what are we having for dinner?” question.

If you cook what is in season it also saves money and for me, buying in bulk is not a problem. I find it quite therapeutic skinning tomatoes, peeling apples and chopping leeks although I do draw the line at onions and always chop these in the food processor.

I had bought a large bag of onions at the farmers market and spent time chopping and bagging these for the freezer, a few I kept to one side to make one of my favourite soups and the rest were turned, with the help of some mature cheese, into a tasty quiche.

ONION SOUP WITH CHEESE CROUTONS
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion chopped
Pinch mace
6 fl oz white wine (from a cheap Mercadona carton)
1/2 pint water

For the croutons
2 slices baguette, toasted
Handful cheddar cheese, grated

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry for 4-5 minutes to soften. Add a pinch of mace and cook for a further two minutes.

Add the wine and water to the saucepan and simmer for a further ten minutes.

Meanwhile, for the croutons, place the cheese on top of the toast and place under the grill for 1-2 minutes until bubbling.  To serve, pour the soup into bowls and top with croutons

I don’t make my own shortcrust but buy frozen, which saves time and always turns out perfect. If I do get a packet of ready-made that you mix with a drop of water, it can be a bit boring so I might add a good pinch of cayenne to give it a zing, in this instance, I had peanut butter in the larder which adds a nice crunch.

CHEESE AND ONION FLAN WITH PEANUT PASTRY
1 packet ready-made shortcrust pastry
2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
1 egg
¼ pint milk
salt and pepper
3 oz cheese, grated

Place the pastry mix in a bowl and stir in the peanut butter and water and mix to form a firm dough. Knead lightly, then roll out and line flan case.

Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion and fry gently until soft, about 5 minutes. Beat together the egg, milk, salt and pepper.

Place the onion in the flan case and pour the milk mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 180°C for 25-30 minutes until the filling is set and the pastry golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

I love the sharpness of lemons but also like the sweetness of Lemon Curd and it can be used in lots of recipes. Generally to make this it will say cook in a microwave but as I don’t have a microwave (gave mine to my daughter when the first grandchild was born to help sterilize the bottles and she is now 20!)  I find this bowl and water method quick and easy.

EASY PEASY LEMON CURD
Zest and juice of 4 lemons
200g sugar
100g butter
3 eggs

Put the lemon zest, juice, sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the basin doesn’t touch the water. Stir from time to time until the butter has melted.

Whisk the eggs lightly then stir into the lemon mixture. Let the curd cook, stirring regularly for about 10 minutes until it is thick. It should feel heavy on the whisk.

Remove from the heat and stir occasionally as it cools. Pour into clean jars and seal.  It will keep for several weeks, but it must be stored in a cool place.

Check Queenie’s Daily Snippets for Tenerife news & for daily weather updates 
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The Mystery of Abadas

In the summer of 1992, Spain was enjoying a magical year showing the world its most avant-garde image with the Universal Expo in Seville and was on a countdown to the Olympic Games in Barcelona. But just two weeks before the flame was ignited in the Olympic cauldron a strange event took place in Tenerife.

Just as the clock struck 20:30 on Thursday, July 9th the Guardia Civil and several news outlets began receiving telephone calls from citizens who claimed to have seen a plane fall out of the sky and into the sea on the coast of Abades, in the southeast of the island. The testimonies came not only from people living in the coastal village but also from several drivers and passengers who were at the time using the motorway to reach the capital.

All of the witnesses stories agreed. They each described what seemed to be the tail of a blue and white aircraft rapidly falling into the sea. The official report of the 151 Guardia Civil Command recorded the testimony of a man from Fasnia who said he had just seen a “Boeing model” plane drop to the sea one kilometre from the coast.

The alert immediately caused bewilderment as neither the South airport, located less than 20 kilometres away, nor the North airport had reported the disappearance of an aircraft, nor were there any planes or even airlines that were due to operate at that time nor on that day and none of the official organizations were aware of an air accident.

The next morning, at first light, several divers, a zodiac and a Guardia Civil helicopter scanned the coast without detecting the slightest hint of a plane crash: no oil stains from the engines (the first sign of any catastrophe), no remains of an aeroplane that usually emerge in the hours following a disaster, such as vests, seat covers, blankets or pillows. The divers focused on a distance close to 500 meters from the coast since from there the ocean floor in the area is more mountainous than the Gulf of Mexico making it impossible to access.

The non-activation of alerts which is the normal protocol by Aviación in these cases immediately led to a conclusion: the aircraft, if any, was not registered.

The absence of any tangible facts triggered all kinds of speculation in the following days and the questions kept spreading: what did the locals and motorists see? All the hypothesis remain open.

  • Could it have been a contraband plane flying almost at sea level to avoid the radars?
  • Was it some military exercise?
  • Could it have possibly been a meteorite?

Today, more than a quarter of a century later, we still have no answers. The Abades episode is as mysterious now as it was at the time it happened.

Check Queenie’s Daily Snippets for Tenerife news & events
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Forced to do Nothing

I wrote this blog in November, I already had lots of blogs scheduled in the run up to Christmas which is why this one has taken so long to ‘go live’.

Readers will remember the day it rained here on the island. Not some short-lived shower to dampen the southern resorts, it rained all day, for hours on end. So it was with a growing sense of discontent that I was forced to sit back and spend the whole day indoors. I didn’t want to do housework, I didn’t want to read my book.  I refused to go on the forums that I frequent, as I knew that once I did I would be sucked into chatter and as amusing as it can be, once there time would slip away.

The first half of my day, I peered out the window mourning the lack of the sun and feeling for the tourists who were arriving at TFS airport expecting to be met with glorious heat and instead were faced with rain that lashed windows and roofs and bounced of the ground making it slippy.

I then tidied up my laptop and I realized, somewhere around mid-afternoon that I had no regret over those ‘wasted’ hoursI had peered into old folders, browsed lots of dodgy photographs taken years ago and relived some good memories.

One of these was the holiday in France when we realised we were in Arles the location of one of our favourite movies, ‘Ronin‘ starring Robert De Niro and Jean Reno. In the film there was a great gun chase, through the dark, winding tunnels of the amphitheatre which is today used as a bullring – so being the sort of people we are, we did our own re-enactment.

Also the scene in Nice harbour where Sam met the guy with the newspaper – we had been sitting in the cafe and only realised when we watched the film.

In Barcelona’s Boqueria Market where I got passionate and turned all artistic over the fruit and vegetables. This is the only sort of market I like and when on holiday will seek them out.

The time I thought I would hate the Millau Viaduct and it turned out to be one of the most memorable experiences I have had.

Or finding an English man in a bar miles from anywhere who took us to a Knights Templer Commanderie in France where the sign on a building criticised the modernisation work as being badly carried out.  It had been done in the 1300s !!

The shopkeeper who wanted to charge me €12 for a stamp just because we were in Carcassonne and the castle looked like Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and the movie Robin Hood, starring Kevin Costner, was filmed there – No way José or should that be Pierre?

And OH racing around like Robert Langdon in the Da Vinci Code at Rennes le Chateau.

Sometimes it is good to do absolutely nothing, just think about life in general and revisit times gone by.

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