Archive for June, 2011

The question always takes us by surprise even though we’ve been asked it on a number of occasions during the years we’ve lived on Tenerife – not ever by Canarios I hasten to add.

“Have You ever thought of living in the South of Tenerife?”

Funnily enough instead of just giving a straight answer, we normally justify why we chose to live in the north of Tenerife. We describe how we hired a car and travelled around Tenerife staying in various towns and resorts (and discarding them as places we’d want to live) before arriving in Puerto de la Cruz and deciding on the spot – más o menos – that this was the place for us.

Why we feel we have to come out with this tale every time I really don’t know. And I don’t know why we just don’t give the single word answer that really wants to escape my mouth and that is a simple, succinct no.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always thought that answer might come across as sounding rude, especially as the people who ask the question invariably live or holiday in the south of Tenerife.
But recently I started to look at it from a different angle. Why do people ask the question in the first place? As far as I can remember we’ve never asked anyone who lives in the south of Tenerife if they’d ever considered living in the north, so why do people keep asking us?

The north and the south of Tenerife, and I know this is a generalisation, are different. I’m not referring to the weather, although that is undeniably a factor, but historically they have always been different, in the looks department they are different and in personality they are different.

We all have various likes, dislikes and preferences and I prefer the north of Tenerife to the south. And if anyone thinks that might be an insult – don’t be silly; of course I do, that’s why I choose to live here.
I’ve always assumed that most people who live in the south do so because it ticks all the right boxes for them; just as I live here because it ticks all the right boxes for me. Therefore it wouldn’t cross my mind to ask the question. But when people hear we live in the north, the reaction is often similar to the reaction I use to get when I told people I didn’t eat meat (past tense BTW).

“Have You ever thought of living in the South of Tenerife?”

To me it feels as though there’s a bit missing from the end of that question. If you follow it to its logical conclusion there is an inference in a question like that. Which is why in future the answer will be a much simpler and significantly shorter one.

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The band tuned up in preparation for the fortieth birthday party due to take place in our neighbours’ garden.

The first notes were all too familiar. It was a song, or a variation of, that I used to hear at just about every suburban fortieth birthday party I’ve ever been to. It was My Guy. Why, no matter in what decade, era or century a person was born, does the music at a fortieth nearly always have to be a) Motown, b) The Beatles and other sixties stuff and c) really annoying pop pap long past its sell by date?

It’s a question that has baffled ever since it first occurred to me at a party in 2000 when the mainly 60s music being played had actually been in the charts long before the person celebrating their birthday was a teenager. What they should have been playing if they had, like many people, been musically stuck in their formative years, was music from the 80s.

Then one night I was watching the Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the answer became clear. At some point in many people’s lives they fall asleep and are replaced by something grown in a pod in the garden. Something that makes them discard everything about who they were to become someone who, at their birthday parties, likes to hear songs from way before they were born.

From that point I became nervous about falling asleep in the company of these doppelgängers. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know that they always, always bring pods – usually hidden in the boot of the car- to convert those who aren’t like them.

Over the years I’ve worked out another easy way to spot someone who’s been replaced by a pod.

It is when someone comes out with the phrase ‘the music today is rubbish, it’s just a lot of noise, not like when I was young.’

Don’t people realise when they come out with that one that they have become their parents. It is such a cliché, yet I hear it over and over again and want to shout ‘can’t you remember your parents saying that…and your parents telling you that their parents said that to them.’ But of course to do so would give the game away that I hadn’t succumbed to the whole pod business yet. I remember my mum telling me she wasn’t allowed to watch Cliff Richards (although in that case it’s damned sound advice when you think about it).

Recently I heard someone in their early 50s come out with the phrase and did a bit of maths. When this person was 20-ish punk was at its height. PUNK!! Conclusive evidence that the pod had been at work.

Back at the party the band finished tuning up and a DJ began the first set of the night and surprise, surprise My Guy was replaced by some loud, sweet, jazzy, modern chill-out music. As it turned out this was a forty year old who hadn’t been replaced by a pod. I smiled and sat back, wine in hand, to enjoy some brilliant sounds safe in the knowledge that later I could sleep without worry; no-one in the vicinity was going to try to sneak a pod into my garden this night.

I’ve been chained to my laptop for almost two straight weeks now trying to catch up with work. But, as always, that elusive finishing post stays way out of reach. I don’t really mind that part, it means that there are lots of projects on the go and that fact in itself keeps life spicy and interesting.

But, as I type, my feet are twitchy, I catch my fingers drumming out an impatient rhythm on the table and every so often my eyes drift from the screen to gaze longingly out of the window at some undefined spot in the distance. They want to be elsewhere…places new, doing things that thrill, educate and even scare them. For two weeks I’ve done nada except write and, as much as I love writing, I feel I’m going a bit cold turkey. I crave action and adventure and I want to meet new, interesting people. I’m desperate to do things that I haven’t done before and it’s making me terribly restless.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been spoiled by new experiences whilst gathering great material for our latest website Buzz Trips as well as other travel sites; some have been little things like eating Palamós prawns in a fishermen’s hut overlooking the most beautiful of bays at Tamariu or sitting on a rock in the Picos de Europa tasting blue cheese matured in a cave.

Others have been hi-octane experiences such as free-falling from the heavens above Costa Brava and manoeuvring through a sea cave in a zodiac to reach an enclosed lagoon in an uninhabited island near Lanzarote.

Then there’s been the moments of pure luxurious decadence that I’ll probably never get to experience again; wallowing in the comfort of a suite on the Transcantábríco as it gently chugs through the Asturian countryside and having my taste-buds pleasurably assaulted over and over again with 19 courses at the world’s second best restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca in Girona.

Possibly the most memorable experiences of all have been the people I’ve met. Apart from those who share an interest in…well everything. There have been those who impressed with their passion and commitment and reminded me that there are people out there who put their altruistic objectives before themselves.

Finally there were a couple of extra special individuals, people who are blessed with a quality that draws your attention to their every word like a moth to a flame – Ferran Adriá and Antoni Pitxot. Funnily, after I’d researched Ferran Adriá, hailed by many as the world’s greatest chef, I expected someone who might be annoyingly pretentious (blasphemous words in Catalonia) – instead I found a down to earth man with an zealous passion for his art whose eyes twinkled with amusement at our attempts to ask him questions he’d never been asked (except for maybe a zillion times before). But the person who made the greatest impression was painter and close friend of Salvador Dalí, Antoni Pitxot. Antoni Pitxot is an absolute sweetheart of a man; funny, open, talented, fascinating (this is a no-no word in writing terms at the moment but I’m using it anyway) and about as instantly likeable as a person can be.

A tour through Dalì’s house at Portlligat with Antoni Pitxot narrating and throwing out anecdotes galore was one of those extra special moments in life. He performed magic and brought Dalí back to life amidst the surreal décor.  It was an experience that will be difficult to top.

And that’s the thing. Having new experiences, great and small, is incredibly addictive. Once you unlock the door to that fact there’s no going back and, like any drug, you need to feed the desire on a regular basis.

It’s the reason why I could never spend a holiday simply lazing by a hotel pool. For me it is the key to what travel should be all about…even if the journey is only a few kilometres from your front door.