Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age


Why Tenerife?

In a country renown for its crazy festivals, on an island known for its love of fiestas, Las Tablas de San Andres is surely one of the wackiest. Don’t let the name fool you – it might take place on St Andrew’s Day, but it’s not at all religious, unlike many of Tenerife’s celebrations, which are based loosely on Catholic philosophy………

That was how I began this post,  back in December. The trouble with being “away” for so long is that you forget “how to do it,” write that is. Oh, not the tapping of keys or the putting together of words, but the train of thought, the remembrance of things said before, even the enthusiasm for a place or an event. I wrote a couple of paragraphs back in December, and then it occurred to me to check what I had written the last time, because I knew I’d written about this festival a few years back, and I didn’t want to repeat myself. When I looked, I realized that I had nothing new to say. I knew that I could say it better now (note to self: tidy up that post!), but the information, my feelings, my reactions were pretty much the same.

The beginning of my blogging hiatus perhaps began with this one in 2015. I was already out of love with the perennial round of fiestas which punctuates island life. My relationship with Tenerife, like a stale marriage, lacked sparkle and curiosity, and even love. Predictably, festivals come around, and I enjoy them, but they have all fudged together in my mind. They follow the traditional paths they have taken for decades, and  I needed variety. I was finding it difficult to raise enough enthusiasm to go, let alone write about them, which is not to say that you shouldn’t go to them, especially if you are here on vacation. The island does fiestas superbly, they are colourful, friendly, fun and a tribute to island heritage.


Days on Tenerife don’t always end up the way you expect

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Springtime in Tenerife: Beyond Words

Someone (forget who) said to me recently, “Don’t you hate it when someone says, ‘There just aren’t words to describe something,’ and then proceeds to ramble on for page after page to try to do that which they just claimed to be impossible?”

With that foremost in my mind I will be brief, and let the photographs do the talking for me.  Truth is that I don’t have the time to conjure the words to tell you how utterly delightful this spring has been here, and I am still of the old-fashioned view that I want my blog to be a timeline, more or less in cronological order….so photos it is.

Poppies and mountains

I’ve lived in the Canary Islands for almost 26 years, but I have never, ever seen a profusion of spring flowers like this year. Without any professional confirmation (I’m sure someone will put me right!) the feeling is that after two years with precious little rain, seeds have lain in the ground, waiting for the winter rains which finally came this year, and the spring sunshine. Hence three years’ worth of flowers in one go, tumbling down mountain sides, scrambling along roadsides, peeking from rocks and walls, or swaying in the breeze,  some in abundant tangles of color, others gracefully alone……it’s been a spring to remember, and one to share.




spring blossoms











and another take on the previous one

and another take on the previous one

And a third take on that poppy

And a third take on that poppy


Had to include the dandelion ' cos it was lonely :)

Had to include the dandelion ‘ cos it was lonely 🙂

field of wildflowers









The thing neither photo nor words can convey is the perfume, stepping out of the car the scent from this orchard of orange trees filled the air with sweetness

The thing neither photo nor words can convey is the perfume, stepping out of the car the scent from this orchard of orange trees filled the air with sweetness


And the obligatory shot of a bee gathering pollen :)

And the obligatory shot of a bee gathering pollen 🙂

tangle of wildflowers






fields of wildflowers

ok this one's a cheat - not flowers, but it was so pretty it was a shame not to share it!

ok this one’s a cheat – not flowers, but it was so pretty it was a shame not to share it!




poppies and wildflowers

These photos were taken in Valle de Arriba, Santiago del Teide, Teno, Esperanza, Escalona and Vilaflor. And, finally a very bad, wee video:


So, Again, I Didn’t Get to do York’s Ghost Walk

My trip to England took me, as is my custom these days,  to York. It’s a city I know more for its shops, cafes and restaurants than for its historical sites, though its history is as rich and colorful as anywhere in the country. I go to visit family, and there is rarely time to revisit the famous places I remember from youthful visits. This time too I went on family matters, so neither as tourist nor even as traveler, because I was born in England. It is, at the same time, both familiar and novel. The streets run in the same direction they always did, but the facades change, new structures rise, things improve, things have been left to rot. Change and renewal in the city as in the countryside.

York – again – and yet again I didn’t do one of those ghost walks I so much want to try! My time to explore and wander was mainly early evening or early morning. I have two memories from this trip. One is the Big Wheel. I’m sure it wasn’t there in October, the last time I visited. Folk told me it was, but in a different location. Clutching the best Cornish pasty I’ve ever, ever had (bought at the train station when sorting out tickets), full of chunks of moist and mellow meat and the pastry crunchy but light, I approached it around sunset. That seemed like a really good idea, to photograph the city from its heights, bathed in the light of the setting sun, or even just enjoy my supper from that vantage point. Sadly, no food allowed, and I’d bought the large size, and it was far too good to rush, so I wandered off, intending to return at the same time the following day. The price was certainly right at eight pounds.

The next day, wandering along the riverbank, having some time to kill before sunset I became entranced by Spring. Often said I’m an Autumn gal, but not having been anywhere in Springtime for a couple of years, and then it was the “back end” of the blossom season, I was drawn to the daffodils and narcissi, the blossom and the buds.

The way the colors of the fresh, crisp flora glowed in the late afternoon sun seduced me.

The reflections and shadows on the river fascinated me.

The way the sun appeared, unexpectedly  between the skeletal remains of centuries-old shells of building, intrigued me.

And before I knew it, I’d lost the moment, because although sunsets do last longer this far North than they do at home, I still didn’t have time to make it to the Big Wheel in time…….so that’s something else, along with the ghost walk, that gives me a reason to return.

Another day, whiling away time whilst my aunt was at the hospital, I trotted into town quite aimlessly. I didn’t have time to commit to a tour of anywhere in particular, so I joined the throngs of other tourists, meandering the city’s narrow streets until I spied a Book CloseOuts-type place…..well, now, broke or not, there is always a few coppers for cheap books, isn’t there! My haul was very moderate compared to past times (thanks, also Ryanair!), but I took them off to a coffee shop to gloat. On the way I passed this shop, and fell just a little in love with its facade. Back when I’d have dived in, looking for treasures, but what with one thing and another I content myself with a photo of its pretty displays now.

Maybe the best thing about my few days in York, though, was meeting Mike Sowden of Fevered Mutterings. Mike is kind of a hero of mine (take a look at his blog if you haven’t already, and you’ll know why), and I don’t know if you’ve ever met a hero, but it makes you a bit tongue-tied. Standing outside of Marks & Spencer waiting to meet a strange man one knows only via the internet – hmmm, good job my dad couldn’t see me! Mike’s lovely, though, and funny and interesting, and he put me at ease right away, and we sat over chai latte and talked and talked. Afterwards he gave me a very brief mosey around the cathedral area, and fed me a couple of interesting facts I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

He’s also a true gentleman, and walked me to my train, because that day I was moving further north again. We walked along the city wall, and the picture below wasn’t actually taken that day because my stuff was all packed up for the journey (I haven’t mastered that art of keeping the camera out whilst juggling baggage too). However much of a hurry one is in, it has to give you a thrill walking the ramparts of a Roman city, knowing that 2,000 years ago soldiers patrolled the same stones, but there wasn’t time to dwell on it. We arrived at the station with minutes to spare for my train, and Mike kind of disappeared, leaving me grateful and wondering if I’d just imagined the last few hours!


Subtropical Snow

There’s no doubt about it, the sight of snow on the mountaintops whilst you’re strolling along a sunny, palm-lined street, or even floating in the ocean is almost surreal, and  it still gives me a thrill.  I was both born and bred in a flat and damp English landscape, and the vista from my roof terrace yesterday morning was so very different from those lingering winter memories! I just had to get up there!

So I seized the chance to take some time off to take a closer look. A few weeks back when it snowed, I wasn’t able to get up into the mountains for 3 days, and by that time much of the snow had melted away. It was cold too, with a keen windchill factor. Yesterday, however, was different, it was only 24 hours since the last snow had fallen, and it was a morning of halcyon purity, with a sapphire  sky straight out of a glossy travel magazine to offset the shimmering white,  and bone-warming sunshine.

I was stoked, as my sons would say, to be up in the mountains again. The drive was easy, through the first stirrings of spring; some lingering almond blossoms, a few adventurous California poppies and evident, fresh, green growth on the pines. When you drive up from the Vilaflor road it’s a mellow ride, taking you to another season, through those first glimpses of springtime, into pine forests and snow-lined roads, then into the barren rockery on the outskirts of the crater, until El Teide rises before you, lord of all he surveys, and in his winter coat, more awe-inspiring and imposing than ever. If you live in the north, the omnipresence of  Teide is perhaps not so much of a surprise when you arrive, but from the southern coast he rises tall but distant, and arriving you marvel at his domination of the scene.

Traffic was light enough, though it was obvious that locals as well as tourists were heading upwards to admire the winter landscape.  It’s not uncommon, it snows up here most years, but it doesn’t last long under the sun’s fierce glow, and there isn’t always chance to come see it, nor mornings like this to see it at its most breathtaking.  I overheard people talking about taking their kids out of school for the outing.  By weekend when they have no school it will mostly be melted away.

At the first  stop I looked back, and could see that mountain mists were following us. We must have been driving just ahead of them as they wound through the trees and rocks, and now they were beginning to finger their way across the crater, but for the meantime we were well ahead, and the road in front was clear and quiet enough.

The thing which struck me about this depth of snow cover was that it highlighted the ebbs and flows of lava, so that you could see how it had inched its way down the mountains, and where and how, at some point, it had halted, sometimes producing lacey effects, like festooned curtains, with the weird shapes and boulders, randomly spewed out from the earth, stark against the white.

Drawing level with the parador, we turned into the viewing area opposite, where the vista is unfailingly jaw-dropping in any kind of weather or time of day, but it was chock-a-block with cars, buses and tourists. I have nothing against them. We need them – just not in my photos! So it was back into the car. I wanted to see what the view was like from where I taken these photos a few weeks back. However, it wasn’t to be. Just past the cable car the road was still closed off. I learned later that roads from La Orotava in the north, and la Esperanza just above La Laguna were still closed. We’d only seen one snow plough on our journey, and though there had been some light rockfalls, the road had seemed quite safe, but as always here, life on the other side of the mountain is a different story, so we turned back, to see the mist now approaching fast, an over-powering, immense wall of dense white, shifting shape as it flowed over hilltops and crater. We took the road down to the west coast and Chio, partly because it’s wider with smoother bends than the Vilaflor road, and partly for the change, Mother Nature and the Enviromental Service having spoiled my plans.

The lava beds through which this road winds are sombre black and rich brown, contrasting with the snow, and resilient to whatever kind of weather Nature hurls at them, be it a temperature of 5ºC or searing heat in August. We’d lost the sun’s warmth to that mist now, and the day was chilling fast.

Stopping to try to capture the diversity of landscape between the snow covered forest floor and the sight of the island of La Gomera seemingly floating on that sub-tropical ocean (It didn’t turn out that well. The camera doesn’t see what the eye does – or is it time to try out HDR I mused – that stain of a darker blue in the top right is La Gomera), I turned around to see, on the other side of the road, a bleak and colorless scene, as the clouds bore down on us. Thank goodness this was a drive and not a hike, though hiking in those conditions wouldn’t have fazed me at one time! But I’d seen the desolate scenes on morning tv the day before, and I hadn’t expected to be able to walk very far, so I wasn’t entirley euqipped, plus lunch was calling too!

There was even less traffic on this road, and as we descended and, as the temperature rose, the road was adorned for springtime again.  These bonnie flowers are lotus campylocladus, and were so prolific in places that they carpeted the floor of the forest which was getting sparser as we drove down.  By now, however, the light had gone, despite heading west, it was too gloomy to get a decent snap.

And so we returned to the coast, casting aside layers of clothing until the normal jeans and T-shirt remained, and marvelling at how we’d seen at least three out of four seasons in something short of one day. I know I keep saying it, but diversity is what keeps me here. At the end of the day, this is an island, it’s small, there are constrictions which come with that, however beautiful it might be, but it does feed my need for variety very well.