My visit to York was very personal, too personal to write about any time soon, but I did make time in the mornings for a walk in the chill. There was a serious cold snap whilst I was there, unprecedented they said…..coming from some quite balmy weather in London, and a heatwave on mainland Spain I really felt it – to my bones! Still, I loved the walking and managed just a few snaps.
Said if before and I’ll say it again, the thing I love about cities is the energy, and despite the cold there were people out running along the riverbank, and even people learning to kayak (goodness knows what would have happened had they overturned and fallen in!), and it was motivating to see. York is a gentle city compared to many, but still has that buzz.
Romeria Vilaflor, Tenerife, Canary Islands
There is no doubt that, as a foreigner at least, you can get romeria/fiesta burnout, which is probably why I wrote about an abandoned house by the roadside and not about the Romeria in Vilaflor the day I went there. It was a charming fiesta, more casual than the huge event I’d been to in La Laguna a few weeks before, but still with all the traditional ingredients – oxen pulling carts laden with children or folk in traditional dress….and the whole village seemed to be in traditional dress….the plaster saint, to whom homage was paid with folk dances and songs, strolling minstrel groups, goats and horses, toiling along dusty roads in the afternoon heat. Vilaflor is Spain’s highest village, and steep, it trails down a hillside, so he was carried from the church at the bottom to the church at the top, followed by, well, everyone, plus some tourists like us. It was very mellow, marred for me by some young drunks, which is surprisingly unusual at these events.
Fiesta in Amparo, Tenerife, Canary Islands
This is likely the best fiesta I didn’t go to! 20,000 artificial flowers were made by residents of this barrio of Icod de los Vinos to celebrate their saint’s day. I passed through twice during the time of their celebrations, but never at a time when there was anything happening! Still the decorations were stunning, quite the most elaborate I’d seen on the island, and in this rich arable area many contained real fruits and vegetables, so rather like a harvest festival in England. Tradition has the women out collecting poleo (so far as I can make out this is pennyroyal, not a herb with which I’m familiar) which is also used prominently in the decorations.
Katrina’s Visit, Tenerife, Canary Islands
Making new friends is always something nice to look back on at the end of a year, and getting to know blogger Katrina Stovold of TourAbsurd.com was a great pleasure in early Fall. Her posts about the island can be found here. Katrina is a witty and inquisitive person and I’m sure we would have gotten along in any event, but I was secretly delighted that the places she chose to visit were not the usual tourist haunts. Sure, it’s hard to get away from tourism on Tenerife if you only have a week to spend here, but there were a few places on her agenda which most don’t bother to see. We went to Garachico, Icod de los Vinos, Santa Cruz’s Museum of Man and Nature, and the Pyramids at Güimar, for instance….where Katrina displayed her amazing affinity with cats! As luck would have it, the one day we decided to chill on the beach at Los Cristianos fierce winds blew in from the Atlantic and sent us scurrying!
La Caleta, Tenerife, Canary Islands
I mention La Caleta because I had several seriously good meals there during the course of the year, most at Restaurante La Caleta or at 88, and one over the other side of the bay at Celso. Some of it was in the course of research for this wee post for Tenerife.co.uk but truthfully I didn’t need the excuse, this what-was-once-a-small village really is the gourmet capital of South Tenerife so far as I am concerned, and it’s also very pretty at night and has terrific ocean views by day.
Guildford has become a staple on my English itineraries since my son moved there, but I was so glad to have discovered it! This is why:
Waiting for him to finish work on the day I arrived, I grabbed a sandwich and coffee from Starbucks and sat on a bench by the river. It was warm, but refreshingly so after the heat of Sevilla and Barcelona. It felt very…..English!
Las Galletas, Tenerife, Canary Islands
Las Galletas I mention mainly because it’s an illustration of my mantra “Always have your camera with you”. It’s somewhere I go reasonably frequently. I had breakfast there just a couple of days before Christmas. Driving back from Santa Cruz a few weeks ago I could see the sunset shaping up to be memorable, and even though I put my foot down I knew I wouldn’t make the best part of the coast to photograph it there, so I dodged off the autopista and headed for Las Galletas. It turned out to be not quite as spectacular as I’d expected, but it was worth the detour :=)
Pinolere, Tenerife, Canary Islands
The annual craft fair at Pinolere was delightful, as always, though very frustrating this year on account of being broke! There were wonderful jewelry, musical instruments, scarves and shawls, woven baskets and more on which I could have spent fortunes. I contented myself with edible goodies on the basis that at least they were fodder, and came away with delicious cheeses, honey and some coffee liqueur for my dad. The highlights were this ecological carousel, which knocked me out, and performances of medieval-style plays by a local group, both of which proved that yesterday’s entertainments are quite as valid today.
Of course, I can think of dozens of other things I didn’t record here, but, yes, I think I am done with 2011 now, in more ways than one. Not sad to see the back of it, bring it on 2012!