Tenerife Business’s Set A Red Hot Record At InganeYami Golf Tournament

It wasn’t just organizers Pearly Grey Ocean Club that raised the standard higher than ever at the fifth Ingane Yami Golf Tournament on Saturday 19 July 2014.

The Golf Costa Adeje course welcomed 20 teams of four and the Tenerife business community dug deep to sponsor the event and donate prizes for the grand draw. The end result was a record total raised of 14,765 euros to help the continued growth of the children’s village in Kwa Zulu – Natal, South Africa.

The intense heat could have been a factor but from the four ball Texas Scramble start at 9.30 am the teams made light of it to be finished in plenty of time for the sit down buffet lunch in the club house at 2pm. They were helped round by a cool breeze and food and drinks at holes five and nine.

Many of the sponsors had been involved since the project started in 2009 and the tournament has become a firm favourite on the Tenerife sporting calendar.

Competition was keen but the eventual winners were Alan Hardy, Rick McKenzie, Chris Elkington, and Danny on 57 closely followed by Paul Greenwood, Bradley Greenwood, Paul Sidney Fellows, and David Morales on 59. There were plenty more chances for glory with nearest the pin at six of the holes and the longest drive for Eugenio Vonk and Tina Pazera.

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The ambitious Ingane Yami childrens village is rapidly taking shape with the first houses occupied but there is a long way to go and Pearly Grey Ocean Club in Callao Salvaje have plenty more fund raising efforts lined up. You can find out more about the difference the village is making at www.inganeyami.com

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Kiteboarding, Sporting Fun With Strings Attached

Catching the wind is difficult and riding the surf isn’t exactly easy, put them together and it’s enough to test body and mind to the limit. El Medano has long been a hot bed of this growing extreme sport but when the PKRA Master Cup and Spanish Championship arrived nature added patience to the riders” virtues. The wind had a lay in and didn’t blow in until 2 pm, so much for a 10am start.

Even given the becalmed conditions I was surprised to see riders carrying large hand pumps down to Playa de Los Balos along with chunky surf boards and bundles of sails. All became clear as the kites took shape, the air filling the frames to keep them as light weight as possible.

The originally promised field of 150 riders and the mornings recount of 50 turned out to be 20 but if quantity was absent quality was in good supply. Youri Zoon (above) of Holland was fresh from winning the fourth World Championship round in Fuerteventura putting him ahead of the pack. He gave me some pointers to the competition ahead. ” We go out for seven minutes in pairs and the judges are looking for power and execution. They award one, two or no points per rider, the whole event is on a round robin knock out system. Look out for the two types of freestyle (there is also a race format) old school is jumps and spins but new school go for tricks passing the handle behind their back.”

Although exhilarating to watch, the rewards for professionals like Youri are pretty scant, the men’s winners share 12,400 euros and the women 3,600. “We have to get good sponsors to pay our travel and hotel bills, 5,000 euros isn’t much for destroying your body.” Youri smiles as he refers to injuries, he has twice broken cross ligaments.

As the riders practiced, the announcer tried to direct the public away from the busiest air space but several groups of beach strollers were buzzed by kites caught on sudden breezes. Despite their inflated edges, a sudden dive was enough to put the wind up a few daydreaming holiday makers. Even the sun bathers were enticed to sit up and admire the flips and charges of the riders as they skimmed over the waves. Dressing for action was an experience in itself. First the harness around the waist and then a tight hold of the reigns while guiding feet into the boards foot holds and finding an extra pair of eyes to make sure the kite wasn’t mingling with another rider’s strings.

The sea was pretty crowded on the first afternoon but stray surfers and swimmers were merely another challenge to these skilled riders. Back on the beach the bar was doing a steady trade and sun cream was slapped on liberally and the Reina beer girls added another layer of glamour to the swim suits and torsos. Even those distractions found it hard to compete with the how fast, how high, how dynamic antics of the riders. The action continues until Saturday 13 August, good luck and may the wind lift you to new glories.

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El Médano Gears up for the PWA World Tour

El Médano’s trademark winds and surf dude ambience are preparing for some insane aerial acrobatics and slick wave riding from the world’s most extreme sailors as the PWA (Professional Windsurfers Association) World Tour gets underway tomorrow (July 14th) and runs through to July 20th.

The wave fleet have already descended onto Tenerife for this, the second round of the men and women’s wave tour and they’ll be honing some of their most daring manoeuvres in a bid to grab a slice of the €45,000 prize point and precious points in the world rankings.

Wave Conditions
Wave king and event organizer Dany Bruch (Starboard / Severne / AL 360) is no stranger to El Médano’s windy ways, seeing as it’s his home. The PWA asked Dany to provide them with an insider’s view of what to expect from Tenerife’s coolest resort over the competition:

“It is an amazing spot, the wave is a left hander and it is formed at a point break, usually you can fit in three or four frontside turns. The wind is a little lighter than in Pozo, I sail on 4.2m or 4.7m for the majority of the time,” says Dany. “The jumping is really great in El Medano, the wave comes straight at you so you can go really high. We can expect to see super-fast double forwards and massive backloops, but I think the wave riding will be the most impressive thing as a lot of the sailors prefer that”¦ just watch out for the rocks!”

Spectators
For anyone who’s wondering if it will be worth heading down to the southeast coast to watch the competition, Dany has this advice:
“There will be loads to do at the site; there is a large sandy area behind the beach away from the wind where the main tent will be. During the day the tent will be a chill out area with smoothies provided and really comfy chairs, but at night it will all change and become the party area with some great DJ’s coming down to entertain the crowds.
Alongside all of that we also have a seven meter climbing wall, loads of stands for the local surf shops and restaurants, a Canarian football kicking stand and a massage crew. We even have the chance to win a Renault Clio. There will be heaps going on and it promises to be loads of fun.”

Contenders
The PWA have given us the low down on who to keep an eye on over the next seven days:

Men’s Fleet
Philip Koster (Starboard / NeilPryde / Dakine) stole the show in Pozo and won the first event of the year. Expect to see ankle dry pushloop forwards from Koster and perhaps another attempt at the triple forward loop. He is sure to be going big in order to defend his position at the top of the ranks.
The 2010 world wave champion Victor Fernandez Lopez (Fanatic / North / MFC) will be hoping to break past the wonder kid Koster in order to re-assert himself at the top of the pile. Fernandez Lopez is famous for his smooth wave riding and radical backside 360’s.

High-risk wave rider Dario Ojeda (Tabou / Simmer / Dakine / MFC) delivered an incredible show in Pozo, defeating many of the big names in the double elimination to earn himself third on the overall scores. Expect to see Ojeda smacking the lip at the last minute to earn extra points from the judges.
The freestyler turned wave champ Ricardo Campello (JP / NeilPryde / MFC) will be hungry for revenge after a tough round in Pozo saw him slip down into fourth. Make sure you have your camera ready for Campello’s huge aerials and super-fast double forward loops.
In between ensuring everything is running smoothly local ripper Dany Bruch (Starboard / Severne / AL360) will be making use of his local knowledge to destroy his opponents, with his aggressive wave rides and mind-blowing wave 360’s.

Other extreme sailors that are likely to wow the crowds are Brazilians Kauli Seadi (JP /NeilPryde) and Marcilio Browne (Fanatic / North / MFC), Brit Robby Swift (JP / NeilPryde) and the Australian high flyer Jaeger Stone (Severne).

Women’s Fleet
Having retained her title in Pozo for the twelfth year, Daida Ruano Moreno (Starboard / Severne) will be looking to continue with her winning streak in Tenerife. Daida stormed into first place in Pozo landing an incredible double forward loop and the most impressive front side aerial of the competition.
Hot on her heels, twin sister Iballa Ruano Moreno (Starboard / Severne) will be giving it everything she has got to knock her sister down from the top spot. Iballa is certainly not afraid of going for the largest manoeuvres if it means she scores maximum points.

Having stormed through the fleet in Pozo, Karin Jaggi (Patrik / Severne) sits in third; she will be looking to fend off any advances from the rest of the fleet with her flawless forward loops.

Nayra Alonso (Fanatic / Severne) famed for her elegant bottom turns and precise cutbacks will be taking advantage of Tenerife’s longer rides in order to make her way into the top three.

Also in the mix and challenging for the top ten will be Silvia Alba Orozco, Evi Tsape (F2 / North), Laure Treboux (Fanatic / North) and Alice Arutkin (Starboard / North)

Keeping up with the action
Tenerife Magazine’s Colin Kirby will be waveside at El Médano, hoping to catch the action on camera and to interview some of the sailors so we can look forward to Colin’s report later. But to keep up with all the excitement as it happens, tune in to the PWA Live Streaming from 2pm on Thursday 14th July when, weather permitting, sailors take to the waves to kick start the competition.

It should prove to be a spectacular event.

Photos from PWA

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East Docks With West For Yuri Gagarin At Space Station Starmus

Not pop or sports stars but astronauts, these were the heroes inspiring two young boys to wear NASA space suits at the Starmus Festival at the Magma Arts and Congress centre in Playa de Las Americas, Tenerife. Even a cold war general like Yuri Gagarin would have been impressed to see his legacy still uniting the world 50 years after he broke free of the earth and started the space race.

Cosmonauts, astronauts and enthusiasts gathered to pay tribute to the Russian icon with a spectacular mix of big screen documentary footage, strident music and testimony from those who followed in the tracks of his space boots. People flew from around the globe to bathe in this gathering, David Malin a leading astrophotographer was at the festival to judge a special photo competition and was buzzing with excitement. This is a unique event, lots of different aspects have come together such as art and philosophy, I had the pleasure of organising the late night star party at Mount Teide, a fitting setting for our guests here.

Plugged in to my translator I was ready to listen to a who’s who of space exploration, Neil Armstrong who carved his own piece of history as the first man on the moon, spoke glowingly about the Russian Sputnik programme generally and the man himself personally. That first trip into space was a massive breakthrough that gave us all a dream to chase, I don’t think Russia or Yuri ever quite got the credit their space programme deserved.

Alexei Leonov who made the first space walk back in 1965 cut an imposing and impressive figure in his white suit and talked of the development of the Russian space programme. After Yuri we worked more on robotic probes for the moon, maybe that was a mistake on our part, the Americans made good progress with manned flights and beat us to the first landing.

Victor Gorbatko touched on his experience on the Soyuz missions and Yuri Baturin took the story on to his time aboard the Mir space station. Both were proud and aware of the debt they owed to Gagarin. For America, Jim Lovell reflected on his time aboard Apollo 8 and 13 and lamented the lack of a strong programme to replace the space shuttle. It was quite a daunting sight to see so many space miles represented on stage, each with their special contribution to man’s advancement.

I caught up with a couple of American enthusiasts from Montana, clearly in awe of the assembled crew. Gordon Dewey an avionics expert and Larry Beede a Fed Ex pilot, had been drawn half way around the world purely to see so many astronauts. It’s been an honour for us said Gordon this may never happen again given their ages and the pull of the Gagarin anniversary. We were hoping to see the entire Apollo 8 crew but Frank Borman couldn’t make it due to his wife’s health problems. It’s a shame many people were put off by the cost, we paid 1,000 dollars just to register and get all the passes to the events and the organised trips during the week. Luckily we stayed with a friend at his villa in Puerto de la Cruz (with 6 nights in a 5 star hotel Starmus packages went as high as 4,300 euros a person) but that still left flights via Madrid.

The memories, friendships and contacts will live on long after the festival and there’s talk of repeating it on at least a semi regular basis. The presentation of the talks was top class and all the delegates spoke glowingly about the hospitality they received. Tenerife hopes to see them all again on the next orbit.

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Apollo Astronauts Leave Starmus Festival Star Struck

Liquid oxygen venting into the blackness of space, two of three fuel cells dead, and heading for the moon 200,000 miles from Earth, the phrase Houston we have a problem has to be the understatement of all time. When Apollo 13 captain Jim Lovell (above) broadcast those words to mission control in 1970 he must have doubted if he would live to tell the tale. Now a sprightly 83 he was captivating an audience of international scientists, astronomers and space enthusiasts at the Starmus Festival at Abama Golf and Spa Resort on Tenerife’s west coast.

Jim was just part of a constellation of guest speakers for the week’s event. As a boy I remember the excitement and tension of the pioneering days of space travel and now I was witnessing a first hand account from three genuine Apollo legends. First up was Bill Anders (below) a fellow crew member of Jim Lovell on Apollo 8 and previously involved in the Mercury (one man crew) and Gemini (two man) projects. The bond of camaraderie and friendship between these spacemen has endured down the years, Bill bounced a joke off Jim in the audience, referring to the cramped Gemini capsule he shared with Frank Boorman didn’t you two get engaged after that flight?

The risks were never higher than in the early years. A fire in the command module of Apollo One on the test pad killed all three astronauts but Bill sees their legacy in the form of lessons learned. It exposed a whole lot of problems that needed to be tackled, the lessons we learned from the tragedy paved the way for the rest of the programme.
Jim Lovell had the steepest learning curve of all when an oxygen tank exploded and damaged its twin. Mission control didn’t initially believe the seriousness of our situation when I reported it, they were sure our technical readouts were misleading due to solar flares but I knew, that’s when I felt that lead weight in my stomach.
A mammoth salvage effort saw the Apollo 13 crew cannibalise the lunar module to propel the crippled service module home. The lunar module was made for just two people and had no heat shields, we also had to invent a way to filter our air so that we didn’t poison ourselves. That 4.5 minute engine burn behind the moon got us going but there were still problems correcting out course manually with short thrusts timed by my watch as most of the gauges including the clock were off.

The tension at mission control played out to world television audiences and even the re-entry and splash down was an unknown quantity as the parachutes hadn’t been maintained when the power went down. Later Jim co-wrote the book that became a film with Tom Hanks playing his part.
Charlie Duke became the 10th of only 11 men to walk on the moon with Apollo 16. These later missions pushed on with the scientific experiments and we had the lunar rover to help us. The tyres were made of woven compressed piano wire, that worked really well as it gave us good traction. Unfortunately in our space suits we had no rear vision so that made reversing the lunar rover difficult, we got round that by lifting it and turning it around ourselves thanks to the zero gravity effects.
These were changing times and only Apollo 17 followed. NASA cancelled Apollo’s 18, 19 and 20, that was a shame as we had the equipment working well. About that time they announced the space shuttle programme but they should have found a way to keep using the Saturn 5 rockets that Apollo used, they haven’t been bettered and the shuttles are excessively expensive.

The three space pioneers, combined age 235, united on stage to take questions. It was clear that they shared a huge respect for mission control and the technical crews that backed their missions. Bill Anders looked to the future. Mars landings will come eventually but not with chemical rockets, they will have to be nuclear powered. Charlie scuppered any hopes for tales of extra terrestrial encounters. We all got to see all the de-briefings after the missions and not one astronaut had anything of that sort to report.

Apollo was a glorious age of exploration and the testimony of these three remarkable men brought it to life for the eager, appreciative audience. Suddenly those 4 hour plane flights seem very ordinary.

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The Corpus Christi Red Carpet on Tenerife

It’s June 1936. Francisco Franco is Governor General of the Canary Islands and is in La Orotava watching the Corpus Christi procession as it passes over the floral works of art.

Well known as a dissenter, Franco has been posted to the furthest and quietest outreach of Spanish governance to keep him out of harm’s way. If only they’d known then that most powerful of idioms – keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The authorities are expecting trouble, there have been whispers of an assassination attempt and the Guardia have a heavy presence, their cars parked beneath the magnolia frontage of Casas de Los Balcones. In the event, the procession passes quietly without incident.

Fast forward 75 years and on the 30th June 2011, the alfombristas of La Orotava will unveil the 106th carpet to be constructed in the Plaza Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square). During its existence this most fragrant of Canary Islands traditions has seen some important feet passing over its cobbled streets, not least those of the Corpus Christi procession to whom it owes its existence.

Rolling out the carpet
The feast of Corpus Christi had already been celebrated for over 300 years in Tenerife, predominantly in La Laguna where the day was marked by theatre, dancing and traditional games as well as pious acts, before the first petals were ever laid in La Orotava. The honour of being the first is attributed to Leonor de Castillo Monteverde who, in 1847, thought it would be a nice idea to decorate the road outside her home for the Corpus Christi procession to walk over. So successful was Leonor’s idea that the practice quickly spread to other parts of the island and her descendants still complete that section of road outside her home today.

In their 164 year history the La Orotava flower carpets have only twice been suspended, once in 1891 and again in 1897. Last year, despite the persistent rain that marred the whole proceedings, the people still turned out to make their flower carpets and to ensure that their 120 year unbroken record still stands.

The La Orotava Town Hall tapestry
Despite the popularity of decorating La Orotava’s streets for the procession, it was to be almost 70 years after Leonor’s radical gesture before the Plaza Ayuntamiento stained its face in the name of religious devotion.

The Corpus Christi procession began passing through the Town Hall plaza in 1913 but it wasn’t until 1919 when Felipe Machado and Benítez de Lugo took it upon themselves to carpet the square in flowers and vegetation that the tapestry tradition began. Before then, the only time the square had seen decoration was in 1905 when a floral carpet tribute had been laid to honour the Spanish Navy ensign.

On the 21st May 2011, work began on this year’s tapestry, the theme of which is the 26th World Youth Day which will once again bring the Pope to Spain. This year’s design will use 21 different colours to create 20 individual tapestries as a nod to the 20 years that this particular group of alfombristas have been the creators of the carpets and the latest generation of artists to continue the ethereal tradition that has characterised the town for so long.

The La Orotava Corpus Christi flower carpets take place on 30th June 2011.

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The Alternative Live Music Scene in Tenerife, FMAC 2011

Vegas lounge crooners, tribute acts and stars who made it big in the eighties are all very nice, but what is there for those of us staying in or visiting Tenerife who get a buzz from vibrantly fresh and original live music? Where do we go for our hit of sex & drugs & rock ‘n” roll…well the rock ‘n” roll part anyway?

The answer is that there are actually plenty of venues to see good, live original music that offer an alternative to the cabaret and tribute acts more commonly associated with the music scene on Tenerife. And the next couple of weeks sees the best of the Canary Islands” musical talent rock the reef, as well as most of the other islands, as part of fmac 11; The Canary Islands Festival of Alternative Music.

This year nearly forty bands are performing at the fmac festival. Most are Canarian based, but there’s also a good sprinkling of artists from mainland Spain, Europe and as far afield as Japan. On Tenerife a concentrated dose of the indie rock, pop, jazz, world music and funk that usually makes up the sounds heard at the fmac festival can be a welcome change to those of us fed on the musical diet of the Latino beats and traditional Canarian compositions most often heard outside of the main southern resorts. For everyone else the festival is a great opportunity to get to hear some thumping live local bands do their stuff as well as experiencing a different face of Tenerife’s night life that isn’t usually seen by most visitors.

Most of the concerts are free and there are seven venues just on Tenerife alone; Cafe Quilombo (La Orotava), Castillo San Felipe (Puerto de la Cruz), Bar del Sheriff (Puerto de la Cruz), Cafe 7 (La Laguna), Banda Aparte (Santa Cruz), ON Bar (La Orotava) and La Casa de la Cultura San Agustín (La Orotava).

The first guitar twangs rang out on 18th March, but fmac really only hits its stride in April and the next three weekends see nineteen different artists bring their own particular brand of alternative music to venues on Tenerife; the highlight of which is the free concert featuring three or four bands that signals the end of the festival. Usually this is held beside Casa Aduano (the customs house) in Puerto de la Cruz but this year it’s been inexplicably shifted. So if anyone wants to catch Lanzarote’s pop/rock group Oscartienelas, Tenerife rockers Marvel Hill, electronic punksters LolaLola and the ‘delightfully’ named Fuckin Four Factory from Gran Canaria, they’ll have to head uphill from the north coast to the plaza beside the Casa de la Cultura San Agustín in La Orotava on the night of Friday 15th April.

Historic surroundings and rocking good music in the same package and for free…surely an alternative aspect of Tenerife that is worth seeking out?

For a full list of venues, artists and dates (but curiously not times) check out the official fmac website here…

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Carnaval Costumes on Tenerife

What is it about the British psyche that makes us so reluctant to do anything that could be construed as making us look or sound silly? From using the right accent when speaking another language to donning a fancy dress costume, we don’t easily slip into alter egos, unlike many of our European cousins who smooth talk their way effortlessly through foreign accents and don a wig and high heels at the slightest hint of an excuse.

Well carnival is coming and if ever there was a good time to break the mould ““ this is it. So if you haven’t done any serious role playing since you tottered around the bedroom in your mum’s high heels at the age of four, it’s time to rediscover the inner you.

The Sublime
Using the word costume to describe the incredible creations in which contestants in the Carnaval Queen competition strive to move around the stage, is pure poetic licence. The only part of the outfit that actually comes into contact with the wearer is the skimpiest of bikinis and headgear so heavy that if the girls ever let their heads go down they’d be looking at the floor for the rest of the night.

The costumes themselves are reputed to weigh somewhere in the region of 200 kilos and are mounted on wheels to enable the wearer to move. Stretching muscles the size of knots in string, the poor girls are okay once they’re on the move but any hesitation and they have to be ignominiously jump started by the stage roadies.

The Ridiculous
Elusive to all but the most avid of carnival fans and competent Spanish speakers, are the magnificently costumed Murgas whose competitions herald the start of Carnaval for weeks in advance.

Heavily dependant on foam coupled with intensely bright primary colours, an excessive use of glitter and face painting that makes David Bowie’s Ziggy look like it could have been done at a kiddie’s fair, the Murgas are a cross between clowns and Leprechauns on drugs and are my favourite Carnaval costumes.

The Show-offs
Hoping for temperate nights and sunny days for Opening and Closing Parades respectively, are the troupes of scantily clad dancers who twirl, side step and skip their way through the streets.
Usually sporting variations on whatever Carnaval theme has been chosen that year, spectators are treated to a frenzy of feathers, jewels, glitter, tap shoes and exposed flesh.

The Professional
Leaving the formal events and heading into the murky waters of the very soul of Carnaval, long after the last parade float has rattled by, the street parties begin and this is when the real ingenuity and imagination of Carnaval costumes comes to the fore.

Mercifully, the furry animal all-in-one costumes that dogged (lit) Carnaval nights for years are now losing popularity and invention has returned. One of the great joys of attending the street parties is to see what rich veins of imagination and professionalism appear in both contemporary and classic outfits.

The Amateur
They may not be as professional looking as the shop bought version, but rising to the challenge of a home made costume is part of the fun. The gender bender option is always an easy one to go for but it’s worth making the effort to do it properly.

You won’t find many men with a couple of balloons stuffed down their girlfriend’s dress, a lopsided wig and smeared lipstick. What you’re much more likely to see are men who look far better than their wives and girlfriends do on a Saturday night with just that touch of OTT make-up and a Dick Emery wobble in the walk to remind you it’s just Carnaval.

In my experience it’s best to begin with one item of clothing or one accessory which may spark an idea, and to work from there. In past years an old mosquito net and a kilt have been catalysts for some rather fetching numbers.

The Tourist
If you really can’t bring yourself to throw off the mantle of conservatism and plunge headlong into full fancy dress, at the very least pick up a glittery hat or a pair of false breasts at one of the kiosks and spark the inner child in you.
Now all you need are the words to the song so you can belt it out:
Fiesta! Fiesta! Nah na na na na, nah na na na na!
Now, how difficult can that be?

Photo of Carnaval Queen and Murgas courtesy of www.carnavaltenerife.es

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Chestnuts and the Fiesta of San Andrés on Tenerife

What do Britain and Tenerife have in common at this time of year? A dunce’s hat to anyone who suggests the weather. Whilst British children are accidentally whacking each other’s knuckles trying to smash their opponent’s vinegar soaked conkers, it’s also chestnut season on the island of eternal spring.

November is the month of the castaña (chestnut) on Tenerife and whereas in Britain chestnut season means epic conker battles and bruised knuckles, on Tenerife activities have more than a hint of a Charles Dickens’ Christmas about them.

Throughout the month, soldierly rows of iron braziers, blackened by years of service, spring up on cobbled streets and town squares across the north of Tenerife. Mini carbon mountains are fired up and chestnuts collected mainly from the Acentejo region are peeled, scored and slowly roasted in heavy pans that become white with the heat. Their locations are impossible to miss as smoky sentinels weave through the streets enticing victims with aromas full of nostalgic promise.


I’d never been much of a fan of eating chestnuts before moving to Tenerife; my one and only experience being chewy when roasted, frozen ones from the supermarket. However, the first time I tried roasted chestnuts beside the harbour at Puerto de la Cruz served in a paper cone, they were a revelation. Soft, savoury sweet and, accompanied by a cup of robust earthy red wine, they were simply heaven in a poke. Now I’m a big fan and look forward to my annual castaña hit.

Although chestnut month on Tenerife mostly consists of the brazier roasted chestnuts adding a touch of seasonal colour, smell and, if you get close enough, heat to plazas across the island, some municipalities really go to town.

La Victoria de Acentejo celebrates the mes de castaña with a series of events including guided walks through the castaña forest, artisan fairs and musical evenings with chestnut themed tapas. Restaurants in La Victoria add chestnut inspired dishes to their menus and at Tasca Garpa (Carretera General, 205) chestnut aficionados can tuck into fillet steak in a chestnut sauce , whilst La Sabina restaurant (TF5 exit 27) has chestnut tempura on a bed of prawns and langoustines in green curry. A seasonal must in the town is to pick up some chestnut bread from Panadería Santo Domingo (Calle Bubaque, 12).

The culmination of chestnut month is the Fiesta of San Andrés (Saint Andrew) on the 29th November. Scotland’s patron saint has an affinity with the island ““ same flag, towns named after him and a party to honour his existence even if on Tenerife it’s celebrated a day earlier than in Scotland.

29th November is the day when traditionally the island’s wine cellars open their doors and the season’s new wine is ready to be launched on a thirsty world. It’s also another one of those Tenerife days when uninformed tourists in Puerto de la Cruz are completely bemused by what’s going on around them. At first, tasting wines from the Orotava Valley at the kiosks around the harbour makes it seem like a genteel and sophisticated fiesta”¦until you step onto the cobbled street and are nearly flattened by runaway washing machines. The arrastre los cacharros are an essential part of proceedings and involves making as much noise as possible with any metal object that comes to hand and if you want to know why read our report from last year.


In the hills celebrations take on a slightly different form. Any town with steep streets will have them commandeered by local youths who careen down them on tiny wooden sleds before crashing spectacularly into a mountain of Dunlops. It’s the modern interpretation of transporting wine barrels from the upper parts of town to the lower on wooden carts. The best place to view this loco tradition is in Icod de los Vino which boasts a number of nose-bleed inducing streets. Few visitors or even ex-pat residents travel to see this arrastre de las tablas, but it’s quite an experience. However, the last few times I’ve been it rained and last year it was so heavy that there was not a lot of careening down the hills going on.

With the night temperatures cooling down as the month progresses, standing around a chestnut brazier sipping wine is quite a magical way of keeping warm that seems more in accordance with bygone days. And when you see the glowing braziers I’m willing to bet that one of the first things that enters your head will be the opening line of a classic Nat King Cole song”¦ well it will if you’re over a certain age.

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Queen Elizabeth, New Ace In The Cunard Pack

She may not be the biggest ship to drop anchor in Tenerife this year, or even this month, but when it comes to regal splendour the newly launched Queen Elizabeth sits crown and shoulders above her rivals. Cruise holidays are no longer about regimented timetables and starched jackets for dinner. A queue of T shirts, shorts and summer dresses lined up for the shuttle bus from the quayside into Santa Cruz and a Union Jack was draped casually over one of the 71 balconied cabins. I had to crane my neck to gaze up the 16 decks as the early morning lifeboat drill was practised. Then checked, scanned and photographed the media guests were welcomed aboard, through the plush carpets and super cooled lift area up to the ninth floor for the exchanging of plaques and Canarian wine between the Captain and the Tenerife port authority.

Captain Chris Wells has always loved the ocean, from fishing trips near his Bournemouth birthplace to meeting German wife Hedda while both served on the Queen Elizabeth 2. I felt a small sneaky swell of local pride as the Captain commented on the previous day’s cooler, cloudier weather at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, part way through a 13 day trip that started with a lavish launch ceremony in Southampton.

Formalities over, we went off on a tour starting with the pool area below the meeting room and night club. Occupants of the Jacuzzi and sun beds quickly grabbed towels, well would you want to be caught belly up by the press pack? Moving down to The Garden Lounge (above) we were again enveloped by cool air as we admired the paintings of Kew Gardens around the walls. I chatted to a British couple reading Daily News, an internal morning update from Blighty, which is left outside each cabin along with a programme of the day’s choice of events and excursions. Scanning the menu I found all the prices in US dollars and was pleasantly surprised to find bottles of real ale Spitfire for sale at 5.75. I was later told by a passenger that a 15% service charge is added to all the menu orders and bills are charged to an on board swipe card to be settled at the journeys end.

Moving down to the third floor Grand Lobby, the style and elegance was stunning. Stairways circled down past small trees to a piano lounge and the brass trimmings were being polished as we passed, the chandeliers and coloured glass décor looked like another never ending job on the cleaning schedule. It was almost eerily quiet on board as 600 of the 2092 passengers had been whisked off to Teide National Park, others had opted for a jeep tour and the bars and shops of Santa Cruz had attracted many more.
Attention to detail is vital on this 90,400 ton Cunard ship, the library had a pile of sheets with crosswords and sudoku to pass those quieter moments as well as the day’s British newspapers. Tradition is another strong theme on the ship with display cases of old news clippings and memorabilia from the previous vessels to bear Queen Elizabeth’s name. The Verandah restaurant was one of my favourites, finished in shimmering white and tingling with fine crystal glasses. Even here at the entrance a Healthy Hands wet wipe vender was a reminder of the dedication to clean habits in a notoriously difficult environment.
Passing through the Queens room with a respectful nod to the HRH’s bust and portrait, we found the Royal Arcade with jewellery, watches and fashion on the upper level and access to the games machines and the Golden Lion pub, where you can enjoy fish, chips and mushy peas with the finest cocktails.

So what do the passengers think. Alison and Duncan McMenemie (left) from Greenock, Scotland were on their third cruise and I caught them popping back for lunch after visiting Santa Cruz. “It’s been very relaxing, drinks and spa etc are extra but we haven’t really spent much,” said Alison. “Santa Cruz was good value too, we bought some kids” presents. We found it interesting to see how all the ports we called at made a fuss of us when we left, the big cruise ships call in Greenock and they do a good send off.”
Charmaine Attwood and Perry Millward were spared a long train journey to Southampton as they live in Salisbury. “We went on the QE2 three years ago and were lucky that an online cruise site got us tickets for this trip, we heard they all sold out within 29 minutes of going on sale,” said Charmaine. “The ship looks like an apartment block on the outside but inside it is a lovely old style and the entertainment is wonderful.”
For up to 16,000 pounds for luxury suites, the Queen Elizabeth is not a cheap option but with 7 European stop offs and a wealth of ways to relax and soak up some unrivalled style and service, it should float most peoples boat.

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