24/07/2013

100 YEAR OLD PLANE


How do you fancy flying in this replica of a 100 year old plane?
It is - or was - a Bleriot XI - named for the Frenchman who was the first to fly the English Channel. Or as they call it, La Manche, which is French for 'The Ditch' - who said the French were romantic?

According to the Diario de Avisos, in 1913 another Frenchman, Leonce Garnier, brought his plane, his mechanic and his wife from Cadiz to Tenerife by boat in time for the May fiestas Probably hoping for a lot of Ron Miel!
He entertained the locals with demonstrations of his flying skills at Reina Sofia Airport until September, when he moved to Los Rodeos. The paper didn't say whether he flew there at his top speed of 73 kilometres per hour. Or whether he really only had bicycle wheels to land on.

I find it a little hard to believe that there actually was an airport then - it is much more likely that M Garnier used the flat bit of land by Montana Roja. After all, when I first visited Tenerife seventeen years ago there were only five check-in desks at Reina Sofia.
Times have changed and there are ninety now, which means there is enough space for them to exhibit a whole plane that has, again according to the newspaper, a wing-span of 7.81 metres.

I couldn't get far enough back to get it all in - I was practically sitting on a car-hire desk as it was - but I really do recommend a visit if you're local or flying in for a holiday - it's gorgeous!





18/07/2013

SONGBIRD

Every morning I am serenaded by the fluid songs of blackbirds and other birds. I don't know whether they are singing, "This is my patch!" or, "I'm sexy, come and get me!" or even, "Oh what a beautiful morning!" but I rarely see them.

They are usually perched in the pepper trees, whose feathery leaves shift in the slightest movement of air and disguise any fluttering of wings.

They are in bloom at the moment, too, which adds to the density as well as to the perfume - think green pepper sauce without the cream.


But this morning I had passed those birds and ducked under the pepper trees, collecting floral confetti in my hair as I went, and I was on a tree-less stretch of pavement when a wonderful song poured over me.
I looked up and there he was - the tiniest speck on the fence round a tennis court on top of a row of garages - singing fit to burst.
He must be a mature bird to have perfected such a wonderful sound, but how can this minute creature produce such volume?


This was the closest close-up I could get with my small camera - he's clearly not a blackbird - wrong colour and too small - can anyone identify him?

14/07/2013

EDITING STITCHES

I do a bit of sewing now and then, but this is the strangest commission I've had in a long time. And the smallest.

Years ago I earned some very necessary housekeeping money by sewing all kinds if things, from zips into trousers (I don't do those any more, so don't ask) to fitted covers for sofas.
A well-known actress who lived near us in England had me make all the curtains and fitted bed-covers for her new London pad - she auditioned my skills on her sister's house first!

In more recent years I have made a silk mosquito net for a seven-foot-square bed in the Bahamas - purely from measurements taken by the owner, unfortunately, not on site like the London one.

In the past I made clothes for my children, altered things we found at jumble sales, and I still make the occasional summer dress for myself. Less handy friends bring me alterations and repairs, three years ago I made a Father Christmas outfit out of fur fabric (never again!) and the Singer I brought out from England is struggling.

But this job couldn't be done by machine. A local group had a new banner made last year in India, where it was a third of the price they had been quoted in England. It is an object of significance to them, and definitely a delight to the eye, but in one place the spelling was wrong.
Who better to put that right than a seamstress-turned-writer?


Have you spotted the difference yet?



12/07/2013

CALIMA in TENERIFE

This is a calima. I took this photo this afternoon from the T-Gas station in Las Galletas.
Guaza Mountain in the foreground is only three kilometres away and murky, the one behind is maybe another two kilometres distant. Normally we can see them clear as a bell, and that faintly darker haze is an entire mountain range - buried under a blanket of grey dust blown over from Africa.
  Mount Teide? It's in there somewhere, but the destruction of the delicate surface of the Sahara by trucks and four-wheel drive safaris where previously there used to be only camels means that we get two calimas a month rather than three or four a year. The hospitals fill up with asthma patients, the blanket of dust holds in the heat, and our temperatures soar to 50 degrees Centigrade.
I had to go up the mountain a little way yesterday to the Outpatients building at El Mohon, and looked in vain for the splendid view of our neighbouring island, La Gomera. See that line of cloud over the sea? that's where it is.
 Actually, now I look at this photo more closely, you'll have to take my word for it that there is sea in the background!

11/07/2013

CAFFEINE, RUINS & CHOCOLAT

This is a barraquito.
I don't know if they make it anywhere else in the world - it might be a Canarian speciality - but if you come to Tenerife you must try one. My stepson and his girlfriend spent one happy holiday searching for the best one.
The most experienced restauranteurs present it still in layers which, after admiring briefly, you stir together and then drink. It is wonderful after dinner - sweet and strong and alcoholic - and full of caffeine which I have been advised to avoid.

But because I cannot enjoy one of these during my shopping trips, I now frequent a little place in Las Galletas called Cafela, where the green tea is the best I have tasted. A bonus is the view in the pedestrianised street behind the tiny cafe - this is an elderly couple's way of creating a garden outside their two-room apartment.






What a shame that someone can't renovate this little gem of a ruin that sits abandoned a few yards away.
If I had the money - and could track down probably a couple of dozen absentee heirs - I'd do it myself. It's fifty yards from the sea, ditto from the shops - what more could you want?










And, returning like an addict to the caffeine theme, this shop opened its doors just beside the car park this week.
"Chocolat!" I gasped, probably aloud, but it was not so - the damn place is yet another shoe shop.

06/07/2013

CAT & SALES - (or cat for sale!)

Here she is - Kika the little madam - catching up on her sleep in the sunshine after another night on the tiles.
Lucky for her she can sleep through the loud Italian party on our neighbour's roof terrace.
I could do with a decent kip as well, after the damn cat woke me - yet again - by miaoing outside my window in the wee small hours.



This was the sight that greeted me yesterday morning - behind those telegraph poles should be our mountain, but someone had pinched it.

The sky was clear as a bell today when my daughter Mandy joined me on my walk. Not only that, but the pods of cyclists who rode past us all gave us plenty of walking room and actually smiled - it makes such a difference having a pretty blonde companion!
We are apparently going to have a heat wave later - it may even start tomorrow - so all cardigans and jackets can be washed and put away until autumn. Barbecues such as the one at which I took this photo have been banned to reduce the fire risk - we don't want a repeat of last year's disastrous forest fires.

                                                                   .


Down in Las Galletas the Rebajas - sales - have started, and will  last all through July.

These summer dresses are selling for around ten euros each, which is great if your knees are good enough, but we were drinking our coffee opposite a very posh and expensive ladies' dress shop that displayed this sign.






The OH and I obviously have similarly twisted minds because the same thought struck both of us - they chose an unfortunate way to chop up the word DISCOUNTS!