Tenerife Tales
An Ex Pat´s Life On A Rock In The Atlantic by Sue Havenhand

Jul
18

Rock Story opened its doors only a few weeks ago after endless auditions and rehearsals which have clearly paid off. This show is stunning and just so professional – its hard to believe it is here in little old Tenerife.

In three parts, we begin with an Abba extravaganza, in tribute to the highly successful musical and film Mamma Mia. The vocals are tight and choreography wonderful, but what this sets this Abba show apart from countless others is the addition of a four piece band and four amazing dancers. The stage set is full of colour and so visual – and of course the songs stand up for themselves. A nice touch is one of the girls playing live piano for The Winner Takes It all. Some 40 minutes later the Abba section draws to a close, and after a short interval its on with part two – The Pink Wall.

I have to confess this is my favourite section of the show. What I didn’t expect was a light show to rival any major UK venue – those expecting a Pink Floydesque display will not be disappointed – it is fantastic. I didn’t know I liked Pink Floyd until I saw the “Pulse” concert on video. I became a fan over night, and Comfortably Numb is in my Top 10 of guitar solos – ever. For that reason I took some footage on my iPhone which has not come out too bad, take a look.

All in all, an outstanding 40 minute set which showcases the talents of these four guys extremely well. As if that wasn’t enough, we have a contortionist / acrobat swinging from the ceiling adding to the visuals. I could write forever, but seeing is believing – and this show has to be seen to be believed. Another high spot is the amazing vocal solo of Hayley Butler in The Great Gig In the Sky – go girl!! The €25 entrance fee is worth it for this section of the show alone, however after another short break we return for the finale – a tribute to the late great Freddie Mercury and Queen.

Marc Quee is no stranger to being Freddie having done the show in the bars some 12 years ago – and his experience shows. Riding a Harley through the audience and onto the stage is some entrance, and again, the band do not disappoint, with the crowd pleaser’s coming one after the other. Again we have the lovely Hayley dueting on Barcelona – a great job.

In conclusion this really is a good night out and is sure to be a hit with a wide cross-section of tourists from all sections of the globe. Dont take my word for it though, get your tickets in one of the many excursion shops on the Island, and get along to Exit Palace to experience it for yourselves.

Jun
01

I write this time from the UK due to an unscheduled trip following a family bereavement. For some time I have  held the view that you have to be away from your home country for a good while to appreciate what it really has going for itself. In these difficult times the grass does indeed seem greener at home, in more ways than one. But where do we call home? After almost 13 years of living in Tenerife I still refer to the UK as “home” and to my return to Tenerife as “going back”. I know others however who would not share my opinion, it is very much a personal thing.

“Yorkshire – Gorgeous”

If home is where the heart is then mine never really left Yorkshire if I am honest. I would never regret the move to Tenerife however, the island has been good to us, and I would not have my much-loved son had I stayed in the UK. But now? I don’t know. It becomes increasingly harder to stay afloat, everyone is scratching around for what work there is and desperation brings out the worst in many. The phrase “selling your own Grandmother” springs to mind, and it’s not pretty.

Yet what are the options? As much as I am still very much in love with England, I am not naive enough to believe that it is not without its problems, and that carving out a living there is a challenge indeed. But the safety net provided by family and friends surely makes the idea a little more tempting?

Pontefract Castle circa 17th Century. Oliver Cromwell took it upon himself to fire cannon balls at it, but its ruins remain today.

One of the draws of England, for me, is the sense of belonging. Try as I might, even after all this time I simply do not feel this in Tenerife. I feel like a guest in someone else’s house, and like a fraud gate crashing their fiestas. Yet I return to Yorkshire, look around my home town and feel so very much at home. It may not be perfect, but its mine. Is it real or is it nostalgia? Would I desperately miss Tenerife if I returned to the UK, miss living near a great beach, miss the fact that my son can jump in the pool after school, miss not needing a bank loan to buy a bottle of wine? Maybe. Possibly. Probably. We will have to see, as at some point we will return “home” on a permanent basis. Until then, a twice yearly fix is the order of the day.

May
20

Again, written in collaboration with Sol Scuba

http://www.solscuba.com

Dive Sites in Tenerife

The dive site known as Palm Mar Cave is another superb site, well worth fitting into your dive schedule! It is situated just off the small community of Palm Mar, located in the south of Tenerife. This boat dive has a maximum depth of 32 meters where a statue of Virgin Del Carmen resides. When heading towards the cave, notice the rock walls, they are particularly stunning. Penetration of the cave is not permitted however, living in the rocks around the entrance of the cave are Moray Eels and Tiger Moray Eels. It is very common for a Ray or two to appear, gracefully gliding across the sand!


The resort of Playa Paraisso on the West Coast of the island plays host to another fantastic dive site. It can be reached by both shore and boat. This dive site is a must for seeing a large variety of Rays, including Atlantic Rays, Eagle Rays and Bull Rays. With depths between 18 and 25 metres, this makes a great dive for most certified divers. Following sandy bays with rocky walls, you will pass a large anchor (which a ship has lost at some point) and you will discover a spectacular swim through.

El Puertito is situated on the south west coast of Tenerife and it is the one dive that everyone should do! It is a typical Canarian fishing village with a sandy beach, which can disappear under water at high tide. The dive site is a small nature reserve managed by the University of La Laguna in Santa Cruz. All the Sea Urchins have been removed and the rubbish has been cleared. Greenback Turtles were introduced a couple of years ago, they stayed and successfully mated and now there are five turtles that can be seen, the babies (born late 2008) are a little more elusive! The adult turtles are very inquisitive when it comes to divers and love to come over and investigate. They do like to have their shells scratched by the divers and have been known to find a comfortable resting spot between the legs of a diver kneeling on the sandy seabed! With a maximum depth of only 12 metres, this dive is a must for everyone, from Discover Scuba Diving to the most advanced diver.

These dive sites are just a small example of what Tenerife has to offer! There are over 35 dive sites around the island to choose from

Children and scuba diving

Generally the earlier you start to become familiar with water the better!

Most children have a natural enthusiasm for water! Scuba diving and snorkelling provide a most excellent resource for appreciating and respecting marine biology and conservation. Learning to scuba dive or snorkel helps children to develop their confidence, esteem and co-ordination, whilst promoting an understanding of the ocean and its capabilities.

Snorkelling is a brilliant way for younger children to explore the ocean and the magical underwater world too! It is perfect for families and you don’t need to be a fantastic swimmer, just comfortable in the water! Sol Scuba also offers snorkelling safaris, where your personal guide will take you to a marine conservation area and teach you how to use the kit correctly and show you to the most amazing aquatic life. The guide will also give you a briefing on fish identification and the importance of marine conservation.

From 8 years old, children can experience a PADI Bubblemaker session with Sol Scuba in our swimming pool! The PADI Bubblemaker is a great introduction for children into scuba diving! They will learn about scuba equipment and the science behind it, swim through hoops, hunt for treasure and even launch the Sol Scuba underwater rocket! Just to prove that children can breathe underwater too, they will even receive a free photo certificate to show their friends!

From 10 years old, children can partake in a Discover Scuba Diving experience or obtain a lifelong PADI certification that is recognised worldwide.


Tenerife Diving Fact Sheet

Average air temperature: 19C _ 28C

Average water temperature: 17C _ 24C

Recommended exposure protection:
From a 3mm suit in the summer to a 7mm suit in the winter.

Average visibility:
20 to 30 metres.

Coldest times:
December to March.

Hottest times:
May to October.

Best times to dive:
All year round, winter/spring is the best times to see Angel Sharks.

Worst times to dive:
The weather does not affect the diving too much in the south of the island. If the wind is affecting one side of the island then the diving is simply switched to opposite side. Neap tides can cause some very strong currents, so on these occasions some dive sites may be unavailable.

Getting here: Flights operate daily from most major European airports. There has also recently been the introduction of a weekly flight direct from Miami, USA with Air Europa. Flight times from the UK are 4-4.5 hours.

Other information: It is not necessary to bring your own kit as all dive centres rent equipment or include it in the price of your dive. Currency is the Euro. Time zone is the same as the UK.

Sol Scuba’s Frequently Asked Questions!

I have never been scuba diving before, how will I know if I like it?

Call into the dive centre for a FREE try-dive in the swimming pool, so you can experience breathing underwater in a confined water situation and if you like it, we can take it from there.

I am not a certified diver but I want to dive in the sea.

You can become a PADI Discover Scuba Diver, an Open Water Diver or we can simply take you for a try-dive in the sea.

Is it safe and are there any prerequisites for scuba diving?

Anyone can do it! Anyone in good health from 10 years old can participate in scuba diving and from 8 years old for our PADI Bubblemaker experience.

As long as you have general good health, any health issues may require a certificate from a doctor stating that you are fit to dive.

At Sol Scuba, your safety is our first priority. Sol Scuba strictly follows all PADI standards and procedures. Sol Scuba is a legal and insured business, all our kit and equipment is brand new and is maintained to the manufacturers highest possible standards and within local laws. Our PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor will be with you all the way, at no point will you be left unsupervised whilst scuba diving.

Do I need insurance to scuba dive?

If you are a certified diver, you will need diving insurance, which we can arrange for you. If you are following a learning experience or introductory scuba diving then you are covered under our insurance.

I am a nervous diver or I could potentially be very nervous about scuba diving?

Feeling slightly nervous and anxious about scuba diving (whether you are a certified diver or a beginner) is absolutely normal. Sol Scuba has found that divers who are slightly anxious or experience mild nerves are generally more aware and conscientious than divers who are overly confident and have a tendency towards being blasé. Sol Scuba have found that no matter how well certified or experienced a diver, there are still divers who battle their nerves. We are all individual and certain aspects of diving may worry some more than others. Rest assured that Sol Scuba will be with you all the way, we are patient and calm and will offer advice and help you to overcome any minor anxieties or issues you may have or encounter.

I want to scuba dive with the Whales and Dolphins, can I do that?

It is against the law for anyone to purposely dive with Whales and Dolphins in Tenerife. Sol Scuba fully respects, supports and adheres to this law and under no circumstance will we promote diving with the Whales and Dolphins in Tenerife. However if during a dive we are lucky enough to be visited by these spectacular creatures, it is within the law for us to admire and observe them.

Can I feed the marine creatures when I scuba dive?

Sol Scuba apply a strict no feeding policy. Although we are aware that some dive centres do feed the marine life in Tenerife, Sol Scuba strongly disagrees with this. It is of our opinion that feeding any form of marine life upsets their natural feeding habits, promotes unnatural and possibly aggressive behaviour and it is not eco friendly. Whilst food obviously does attract the fish and other marine creatures, these are wild creatures that deserve our respect and the whole point is to view them in their natural state. Feeding encourages them to become tame, dependent and trusting of humans and is most unnecessary because their environment contains all the natural food that these creatures demand. It is of our opinion that humans do not need to upset this balance for their own benefit.

Are there sharks in Tenerife?

We are fortunate enough to have Angel Sharks during the winter months (November to March). However the Angel Shark is not to be feared, sadly, the reputation of the Shark is often very misunderstood! The Angel Shark will not harm you, unless it is antagonised and provoked. The Angel Shark can be up to 1.8 metres in length and lives on the sandy bottom of the ocean, but here is a baby of the species.


Are there any marine creatures that can hurt you?

As with any creature, if it is antagonised, threatened or disturbed it is likely to react! Our trained professionals are extremely knowledgeable on the local marine creatures and their behaviour and are so familiar with our dive sites that we know what creatures inhabit it and when! Therefore we will not take you to any dive site that you may feel uncomfortable with and we will certainly not put you in any danger! Nobody has ever been bitten, stung, injured or otherwise whilst scuba diving with Sol Scuba!

Once again, thanks to Sol Scuba for all this fantastic information. If your appetite for diving has been whetted, please contact them by either calling into the dive centre,

( open every day from 9.30am) which is by the pool at Club Marina Hotel, Calle Minerva, 238630, Costa Del Silencio, Tenerife. Alternatively you can email them at tim@solscuba.com or telephone/text  on 0034 690 039 745.

May
05

Written in Colaboration with Sol Scuba

My 10 year old son was lucky enough to delve into the underwater world of off shore Tenerife recently, and I have to say, he has the bug!! I was so impressed with the company who introduced him to scuba diving that I asked them to write some words about the subject.

“As more and more divers are discovering the secrets of the underwater world in Tenerife, it’s hardly surprising that the island is becoming such a popular diving and snorkelling destination! The fantastic year round climate, the water temperature at a constant 18-24 degrees and a huge abundance of marine life and rock formations makes Tenerife stand out from the crowd. Not to mention the vast array of activities to indulge in during surface intervals! With daily flights from the UK and a flight time of only 4 hours, there is simply no excuse not to visit the island and uncover the amazing underwater world for yourself!

Tenerife is the largest of seven islands that make up the Canary Islands, which are located off the West Coast of Africa, approximately 200 miles from the Sahara dessert. Formed from volcanic eruptions, (the last eruption being in 1909) the landscapes both above and below the water are absolutely stunning.

Tenerife dive centres can be found in most resort areas in the south although there are far fewer dive centres in the north. Sol Scuba is a reputable, family run scuba diving and snorkelling centre in the south of Tenerife. They offer accommodation at very reasonable rates and cater well for large dive groups. Sol Scuba offers all PADI courses and tuition in small and often individual groups, with safety and comfort being their main priority. Sol Scuba conduct diving by either boat or shore so you can rest assured of interacting with outstanding scenery and marine life. With scuba diving available to suit every level of diver from the beginner to the advanced, there is something for everyone!

Courses and tuition

No reputable dive centre will allow you to scuba dive without some basic training and simple understanding of using the equipment first. Some dive centres offer a Try-Dive for students that would just like to try scuba in the sea. This is always conducted as a one to one and the instructor will hold on to the student throughout the experience. By far the best way to first experience scuba diving is by participating in a PADI Discover Scuba Diving programme. This experience is the entry-level introduction to scuba diving and is a great way to explore scuba diving in the sea for the very first time!

The programme takes half a day, starting with a short briefing to explain the basic principles of scuba diving and to give you an overview of the scuba diving equipment that you will use. You are then taken into the swimming pool, where you will learn basic scuba skills. Once you have successfully completed these skills, you will be presented with a Discover Scuba Diving certificate, which is valid for 12 months. Sol Scuba also includes an open water dive in the Discover Scuba Diving program. The Discover Scuba Diving certificate allows you to enjoy scuba diving in open water to a maximum depth of 12 metres, with any PADI dive professional worldwide! To participate in the Discover Scuba Diving experience you must be aged 10 years or over and as with all scuba diving activities, you must be in general good health.


A more permanent alternative to the PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience is the PADI Open Water Diver certification. It is the world’s most popular scuba diving course and has introduced millions of people to the scuba diving lifestyle.

This course takes 4 days to complete and you must be aged 10 years or older. It consists of three main phases:

1) Knowledge development (to be learned at home or in our classroom). This provides an understanding of the basic principles of diving.
2) 5 Confined water dives (in the swimming pool). This ensures you learn basic scuba skills.
3) 4 open water dives (in the sea). This allows you to review your skills and explore the underwater world.

Upon completion of the PADI Open Water/Junior Open Water certification you will be certified to dive to a depth of 18 metres or 12 metres if you are a junior. This useful certification is a fantastic platform to develop your diving hobby or career and it doesn’t expire!

From the Open Water Diver certification, you can then go on to complete more courses and you may even consider turning your hobby into a career by becoming a PADI professional!

For more detailed information on PADI scuba diving courses in Tenerife, please visit http://www.solscuba.com

Types of Marine Life in Tenerife

With Tenerife’s amazing underwater landscape and the subtropical climate, a huge variety of marine life are attracted to the waters surrounding the island. Pilot Whales and Dolphins inhabit the waters and are often seen breaking the water’s surface! Groupers, Barracuda, Angel Sharks, Grunts, Sea Bream, Cardinal Fish, Turtles, Octopus, Cuttlefish, Stonefish, Trumpet Fish, many varieties of Eels and Rays to name just a few, are common sights on dives.

Wrecks to Dive in Tenerife

There are a number of wrecks to dive in Tenerife. Probably the most popular wreck site is that of the Condesito, situated off the Punta Rasca, a protected national park located in the south of Tenerife. This cargo ship sank some 30 years ago after running aground, one Christmas. At the time she was carrying bags of cement, which are still visible. Over the years the sea has taken its toll on the ship. The amidships to the bow has collapsed which has made a fantastic habitat for marine life. The depth of this wreck is between 10 and 25 metres.

There is also the fascinating wreck of the Meridian, situated off the coast of Palm Mar in the south of the Tenerife. She was purposely sunk a few years ago after many years of working as a whale and dolphin excursion boat, and prior to this she was a German naval minesweeper. The Meridian sits upright on sand with a maximum depth of 30 metres. Entry is possible into the wheelhouse and a trip up the mast to the crow’s nest always makes for a fantastic photo opportunity!

The wreck of El Raton is situated in Tabaiba, in the north of the island, just before Santa Cruz. This is solely a shore dive. This boat is a decommissioned tugboat and was deliberately sunk in 2006; she sits at a maximum depth of 30 metres. The typography of the coast in this area causes some big drop off points close to shore; this dive is therefore only a 2-minute swim out! Penetration is possible into the engine room and wheelhouse as all doors and obstacles have been removed. Even though she was only sunk a short while ago, a wide variety of marine life have set up home here making it well worth a visit.”

Thanks so much to Sol Scuba for such comprehensive information. Come back next week for Part Two of “Discovering Diving In Tenerife”

Photos : Alfie Havenhand – Bailey Aged 10

A Sea Turtle!!

Apr
21

I have been a worried bunny this week, in fact, I still am. As I write Tenerife is just about empty of holiday makers – not good for an economy completely reliant on tourism. No one has flown in of course for almost a week, and now the priority, quite rightly, is to get the stranded out of the Canaries as soon as possible.

It has been a roller coaster ride, with the possibility of light at the end of the tunnel on Monday evening, only to be taken away on Tuesday morning as the volcano emissions worsened over night. Tuesday was a grim day. I saw a Monarch plane depart, taking stranded holiday makers to the mainland to be sent by coach to northern Europe and presumably Eurostar. I felt a sense of abandonment, and wondered how many days it would take until Tenerife was a resident only island. By Tuesday night of course the light at the end of tunnel reappeared as UK airports reopened and things started to get back to normal.

It will take a while though. Many UK flights have arrived here this morning, I can see them from my window, but seemingly they are empty and are merely repatriation flights. April and May are naturally quiet times as it is, add to that the global recession which is showing no signs of abating here, and now the fact that there are, quite literally no holiday makers here, I fear an extremely lean few weeks are on the cards. Indeed, the effects are already being felt, with many bars and restaurants virtually empty, and the few clients they have spending very limited funds.

I can´t help but worry about the long-term implications of all this. Will people now avoid Tenerife in the future because we have our very own dormant volcano here? Sounds silly, but  people can be irrational. I hope not.

On a more positive note, I see that flights are available from the UK to Tenerife from tomorrow, Thursday the 22nd April, so lets hope that we will not be alone after all. Fingers crossed.

Mar
18

Is anyone else getting just a little bit fed up of seeing Cheryl Cole´s miserable face plastered all over the media?? OK, sympathies for her landing a rather inept excuse for a husband (albeit a rich and handsome one) but am I the only one thinking she might be milking it slightly? Let´s face it, all things being equal she has been a lucky girl, and has made a bit of talent go an awful long way. That of course, and the size zero body and doll like face which caught the eye of Simon Cowell thus ensuring greater mega stardom as an X Factor judge. That itself is a joke, given that most of the finalists can usually sing her off the stage.

 

Odd isnt it, how spur of the moment decisions can completely reshape our lives. Despite performing in a large number of modelling and fashion shows throughout her childhood, and appearing in several advertisement campaigns, the then Ms Tweedy was working as a waitress when she entered the talent show Popstars the Rivals in 2002. In the final show she received the highest number of votes in the poll which chose the girls for the all female group Girls Aloud, and was first to be picked for the group. So begins a rapid rise to stardom, celebrity status and designer threads.

Fast forward to January 2003 when her true colours broke free of their restraints and she clobbered nightclub toilet attendant in an alledged racially aggravated assault. Claiming she had acted in self defence (have you ever been attacked by a toilet cleaner – would this not be a nuisance to the proprieters?), and denying using racially abusive language, cut no ice with the jury and she was sentenced to 120 hours community service and had to pay Ms Amogbokpa £500 as well as £3000 prosecution costs. Ouch!

Even before marrying Ashley, she won the title of “Sexiest Footballers Wife” in FHM´s Bloke Awards, and as Cole´s fianceé she was a prominent WAG in Germany during the 2006 World Cup.

They eventually married later in 2006 in a blaze of publicity, her in a £110,000 Roberto Cavalli frock and the whole shebang financed by OK! Magazine. And now its all gone Pete Tong. It would appear Ashley has difficulty keeping his todger in his designer pants, and Cheryl, as I write is staying well away, practising her Liz (havent I been hard done by) Hurley tragic expressions. Judging by the queue of desperate wanabee WAGs lining up to say they too have been in the sack with Señor Cole, it would appear he is not that picky, SO, where I am going with this is :- had Cheryl stayed as a waitress she would probably not have become Mrs Cole, BUT, she may well have been his bit on the side.

Talk about turn a different corner.

 

Mar
03

How time flies – we are over half way through the school year aready, so I thought I would share with you three very different opinions on schooling here in Tenerife. It can be a bit of a minefield, and for some reason there will always be someone ready to tell you that you have made the wrong choice. Personally I would never be so rude, but there are plenty here who will foist their unsolicited opinions on you and have you wondering if you made the right choice. Don’t listen! At the end of the day if you have looked at all the options and found one which suits your child, then stick with it, and tell the rest to mind their own business. That said, here are the options you have, comments from friends of mine who have gone down that route, and their reasons why.

 1) Spanish State School. Hours 8.30am – 1.30pm then lunch, if required until 2.45pm

Cost : tuition is free, books cost around €200 per year, and meals are provided at a nominal fee, which is means tested.

The Mum of my 10 year old son´s best friend says :- “My son was 3 years old when we moved to Tenerife. I felt it was a big move for him and I wanted him to settle in as quickly as possible so I put him in an English School. After 18 months it was clear we were happy in Tenerife and were here to stay. I decided he needed to mix with more Spanish children and I wanted him to learn their culture, so I enrolled him in the local state school. He settled quickly and within 6 months he was speaking, reading and writing Spanish fluently. I find the Spanish Education no problem for him and his end of term reports were excellent. He has 2 English lessons per week, which I re-enforce at home, this is neither a problem nor chore”

 2) Spanish Private School. Hours 9.30am – 1pm, 3pm – 5pm Cost – increases with age but its approximately €200 per month (for 10 months of the year) at primary school age which includes a three course lunch. www.lutherking.com

My neighbour, who has 2 children aged 9 and 11 says :-“It was always our intention to be here for the long haul and we were keen for our children to be educated in the Spanish system. I was told that discipline at Luther King School was a high priority, and that was the deciding factor for us. I believe that through respect and discipline comes learning, and the pupils of Luther King have the utmost respect for their teachers. The class sizes are quite large (approx 30) but the teachers have total control over the pupils and will physically remove an unruly pupil rather than let them disrupt the class. The pass rates are high, and the children can progress into the Spanish University system. They are also taught English, and my children are now fluent in both languages. On the down side, the days are very long, and then there is often a pile of homework, which I feel is too much at times, but the children seem to cope with it. On the whole though, I still believe this was the right decision for us and will stick with it”

 3) English Private School Hours 9am – 3.45pm Cost from €1025 – €1771 per term (three terms per year) depending on age www.wingateschool.com

Alfie, now 10, was born here, and we actually were offered a place for him at Luther King when he was just 2 years, 6 months, as they have a nursery. However, I felt the days were too long, and even though he could have just done half days, there was no reduction in cost which I felt was rather inflexible. We therefore put him in the nursery section of the English Educational Centre, with the intention of returning to Luther King when he was a little older. However, he settled so well we felt it wrong to move him so we decided to stick with the English route. We have never looked back. He spent 4 years there before moving on to Wingate School where he can stay until he is 18 if he wishes. The standard of education is excellent, and like Luther King, strong traditional values and respect are taught to the children throughout. I just read today in another newspaper of a young man who was educated first at the EEC, then Wingate, went onto sit A Levels in England and has just graduated from Liverpool University with a combined majors B.A. Hons.Degree . So it’s good to know the system works. If we ever decide to move back to the UK, Alfie will slot straight into school, and carry on where he left off here. Lastly, because Alfie was born here, it is important to me for him to be essentially an English boy. I want him to learn English history and never to forget that English blood flows through his veins. I don’t worry too much about the fact that he isn’t fluent in Spanish at the moment as that can be taught, and learned separately.

 So, should you decide to move here with your children, whatever choice you make I’m sure it will be the right decision for you, and I hope the above views have given you food for thought. At the end of the day what suits one child will not suit another, and if we can all look back in 10 years time and say hand on heart that we did the right thing, then that’s all that counts. Happy Schooling!!!

Feb
18

Well, what a couple of weeks we are having here in the Canaries as numerous storm fronts come rolling over. As I type the rain is rattling down, the wind howling, and we have just endured a 5 hour power cut due to lightning striking something or other on the National Grid.

That our Islands enjoy “All Year Round Sunshine” is in fact slightly economical with the truth, and should perhaps read “With the Possibility of All Year Round Sunshine”. Indeed, the poor holidaymakers who have flown in over the past few days might be wondering who in Trades Descriptions they might aim their complaints at.  It´s like this – if you have a calm, cloudless day in the winter months then you can bask on the beach or by the pool in temperatures as high as the mid 20´s, it really is lovely, and why tourists flock to the Canaries in their tens of thousands in search of this winter sun. However, the chances of a cloudy day here and there are quite high, and without the sun on your back it can start to feel chilly. Locals wouldn’t dream of visiting the beach in winter and enjoy sporting their winter wardrobes of jumpers, woolly tights and boots, and in the evening a warm coat is a must. December, January and February can also bring storms, and we are on our third of the winter this week. Talk about four seasons in one day, I was awakened yesterday morning by torrential, and I mean torrential rain, and high winds. Within 3 hours it was bright sunshine and the puddles had all but disappeared. The worst was not over though, and today has brought yet another round of  gales and horizontal rainfall.

The problem with rain and Tenerife is that the two just do not sit well together. Unlike the UK where the earth will absorb rainfall in all but the most extreme cases, Tenerife is an Island of volcanic rock. Add to that it is shaped like a witches hat, with the majestic Mount Teide at it´s center, and it is plain to see that the water has nowhere to go but down to the sea.  Within literally minutes of heavy rain like that of today you have roads turned into rivers and utter chaos as a vast amount of water races down hill to the sea.  Just search “2010 Storms in Tenerife” in Youtube for spectacular footage of what happens in when it rains.

Only a couple of weeks ago one of the South´s premier tourist beaches was left in ruins as a storm surge replaced the sand and sunbeds with rocks, and broke the little blue and white changing huts to pieces.  Heaven knows how much the clean up will cost the authorities but clean it up they will, and soon. My local beach may have to wait a little longer however, since is not in the typical tourist zone, although it is very popular with the local community. What was an expanse of sand now has a river winding across it, a river of red fresh water having made its way down from the hills, awash with debris. At the moment I cannot imagine Playa La Tejita ever being the same again, but I guess it will be, eventually.

In a few days this current storm will have blown itself out, and everyone will be happy and on the beach again. Personally, I am looking forward to that. In the meantime I look forward to an unscheduled late morning tomorrow since school is cancelled due to the extreme weather. Clouds, silver linings?????

Feb
04

I lost my driving license last week – not lost it as in having it confiscated for road naughtiness, no, lost it physically by being careless. Let me tell you, solving problems like this is a nightmare here in Tenerife, nothing to do with paperwork and documentation is simple – ever.


The actual process of getting a duplicate license in Trafico (our DVLA) is not so bad if you speak a bit of the lingo, but get this. You cannot simply say, “I´ve lost my license”. No. No way José. You have to go to a police station first and say, “I´ve lost my license”. They then give you a piece of paper called a denuncia which says on it “This person has lost her license”. Why, you may well ask? I have no idea.

Likewise, you cannot say “Please send my new license to this address, the address where I live”. No, that wont do. You have to go to your local council office, take a copy of your house deeds and ask them, “Can you give me a piece of paper that says I live at this address please?”  They do so, and off you go to Trafico with said piece of paper. In fact you need one of these “proof of address” papers often, when you buy a car for example, and even when you want to put your children into school. Paperwork breeding paperwork. I have to wonder, is the Canarian obsession with pieces of paper responsible for the destruction of the rain forests? I for one would not be surprised., and have a mental image of primates running to escape the chainsaws, all to provide paper to feed the  Canarian bureaucracy machine. What a sobering thought.
Visits to Council offices, Trafico, and other Government institutions are stressful affairs. Take every document you have, relevant or not, with a couple of photocopies in reserve, and you should be ok. If you’re lucky. When the stamp comes off the desk and is banged onto various papers then you’re more or less home and dry, this signifies the end.


Carrying identification is the law here. Thats fine by me, I don’t know why the English have a problem with it, other nationalities do it as a matter of course. But get this. Spanish nationals have their own photo ID card. Until a couple of years ago, we foreigners had our own version, called a residencia, a nice, credit card sized photo ID card. Perfect. Now however, that has been replaced by a silly A4 piece of green paper (look out Amazonia, we´re coming to get you) which carries no photo at all. So, as carrying ID is the law, what to do now? You guessed it, carry the green piece of paper around ( to prove resident status) and your passport for photo ID. How rubbish is that? To add to the inconvenience you are not allowed to fold said piece of paper, so you need to pop it in a plastic file for safekeeping. Arrrgh!! It’s like someone thought right, how can we maximise inconvenience for our lovely immigrant community? Yes, thats it, take away a handy little ID card and make them carry their passports and papers around at all times. Then, when they lose their passports and papers (and carrying photocopies of such is not allowed) the whole paper trail starts again, providing employment for the masses. Simples.

Right, thats me done for this week, I have a drawer full of paperwork to sift through, could be a while………….

Photos courtesy of Diana McGlone of  The One Stop Problem Shop, for all your paperwork needs made easy. http://www.diana-mcglone.com/

Jan
27

I have loved Puerto de la Cruz since the first time I saw it. It is far prettier than the purpose-built  south of the Island  – and Puerto has not grown and stretched itself out beyond all recognition.
The first tourist resort in the south was Tenbel, in Costa del Silencio. The fishing village of Los Cristianos became popular, and then the “fun city” of Playa de las Americas was born. In the words of the Spice Girls, two became one, and its now unclear where one ends and the other begins. But that’s still not enough. Travelling westwards, Playa de las Americas runs into Puerto Colon, which runs into Torviscas, which runs into Fañabe, which runs into Playa Del Duque, which runs into La Caleta. The whole shebang is now one huge stretch of developed coastline.  All very well if tourism figures are also on the increase, but what if they stay the same – or fall even?? Many, many more beds, bars, restaurants and businesses vying for an ever decreasing slice of the euro pie. 

In contrast the north has lush green trees and grass, lots of it, and the buildings in the old town are quaint and have so much character – it’s gorgeous.
There are ghosts, of course of a lucrative tourist trade long gone, with  seventies style high-rise hotel and apartment blocks looking sad and empty. I believe that some 25 years or so ago it was the Island’s only tourist resort, and that coach trips ran along the undeveloped south coast, stopping off at Tenbel for a glimpse of things to come.
So what went wrong for Puerto? Well, it’s before my time here, so I can only pass on what I’ve been told. A long-term resident here told me that prior to moving here many moons ago, he and his wife holidayed every year in Puerto. Steadily, major investment was flowing into the development of the south. One particular year they called their travel agent to book their annual break, only to be told Puerto de la Cruz was “unavailable” and that “nobody was going there anymore”. And so Puerto was cut adrift by the big boys, desperate for a return on their investment in the south. How sad!
Credit where it’s due, the Germans have never lost faith in Puerto, obviously not swayed by the hype – so good for them. In fact, in my opinion it is rising from the ashes and  is very much an international resort these days –  if they could just get rid of the unused tower blocks which scream “failure”, then I feel it would have even more appeal. 

The fabulous Loro Parque is just a dream – It’s slogan “The Must of Tenerife” is spot on, especially since the 4 Orcas, direct from Seaworld Florida have taken residence.

So, you holiday makers adventurous enough to hire a car, do yourselves a favour and take a ride up there, it’s a fabulous drive along the coast, and even Mount Teide looks bigger and more majestic from it’s northern side – you won’t be disappointed I guarantee.