Tuesday, February 24, 2009

24 ~ The Birds and The Bees

male blackbird Male Blackbird .....(click photos to enlarge)

It's that time of the year again...spring is nearly here although they say the Canary Islands are the islands of eternal springtime. This winter we have had a lot of rain and some lower temperatures for a change. But the garden is blooming, the bees are out and the blackbirds are nesting. Today I discovered their nest which is close to my study room window and not too well hidden, so I will have a good chance of seeing the developments therein. Mother blackbird is sitting on the nest and seems not too worried when I tiptoe up and take her photo.

nest Female on Nest

Earlier on she perches in the sun on a branch of bougainvillae:

female on bougainvillaePerhaps she's contemplating a fly for lunch, as a change from the dry cat food she's been eating from the cat's dish on the patio.

flyThe peach blossoms are out and attracting bees.

peach blossomsA blue tit sits near my window observing a plate of crushed crackers I put out for the smaller birds.

blue tit The clerodendrum in the back garden is full of blossoms, some still about to open, like this one.

clerodendrum White stock is flowering on the patio.

white stock The bees have found the clerodendrum:

bee 1 There is no shortage of bees it seems:

bee 2 As long as the sun shines they will be buzzing around this shrub:

bee 3 The Iceberg rose blooms faithfully year round:

iceberg This aloe flowers every year in February:

aloe Father-to-be blackbird watches from the shadows to make sure I've finally gone away with my camera.

male blackbird

Thursday, February 19, 2009

23 ~ Carnival Time!

It's carnival time in Tenerife and after Brazil, the Canary Islands have the most spectacular carnival celebrations in the world. The events last for weeks and the preparations take a whole year. By the time one carnival is ending, the next one is already in the planning.

carnival face
On Friday Feb 13th, the big celebration was in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the next island, when their carnival queen 'Reina de Carnaval' was elected in a grand gala event. Here is a link to the video of that event which lasts around 185 minutes and can be seen full screen.
Murga in Tenerife show

This evening, Santa Cruz de Tenerife elected this year's carnival queen in a show which was broadcast not only over the islands but also internationally. I like to watch the event on TV to see the queen contestants in their fantastic costumes which are now so heavy that they are supported on the floor with wheels while the girls stand inside and push them along. Gone are the days when they were supporting all the weight on their shoulders. The creations are now more sophisticated but still very heavy. Some are even equipped with twinkling lights.

reina de tenerife Tenerife's Carnival Queen 2009

As well as the eighteen contestants of this evening, there were the dancing groups, the 'comparsas' and the singing clown groups, the 'murgas', whose purpose it is to poke stinging and satirical jabs through their songs and comedy routines at political figures and municipal situations not to their liking.

comparsa A Comparsa dancing group


contestantOne of the Queen Contestants

dama de honor One of the Maids of Honour

maid of honor Another Dama de Honor

dancer Dancers in a Comparsa


murga Colourful Costumes of a Murga

The carnival celebrations will continue now over a couple of weeks.

Here is a link to the official carnival website with a timetable of events and photos.

And finally, here are full photos of the winning creation and the new 'Reina de Carnaval 2009' of Tenerife

Thursday, February 12, 2009

22 ~ Sunshine for Breakfast

reflecting pool Reflecting Pool at Botanical Garden

(click photos to enlarge)

No, breakfast wasn't being served in the Botanical Garden but on my back patio, seeing as the sun was out and it was a beautiful blue sky day. I had black coffee and a raisin bun while the blackbirds behind me were eagerly picking the dry cat food from the tray hanging in the tree.

breakfast So it didn't take much effort to get out into the street for a walk around with the camera, ending up in the Botanical Gardens.
Botanical Garden
Botanical Gardens Although there are not many flowers in this garden, the ones that are there are mostly in shades of red and orange.

clivia nobilisClivia Nobilis

The sunlight is stronger each day and makes interesting patterns of light and shade on leaves in this tropical garden.

pleated palm leaves A cluster of small dates hangs on this Canary Palm.

date cluster A bright red pom pom is an invitation for a closeup photo.

calliandraCalliandra Haematocephala

The giant Banyan tree makes a focal point in the centre of the garden.

banyan tree Ficus Macrophylla

The lily pond shows a few buds about to open.

lily pond
water lily Here a mixture of shade and water plants.

shade & water plants
More ferns in the shady fern walk.
Below is my favourite photo from yesterday.

shady ferns A reflection of papyrus stems on the pond.

papyrus Cyperus Papyrus

cyperus papyrus Here a South African flower grows well.

haemanthus Haemanthus Puniceus

A screw pine is such an unusual little tree that it has its own display area.

screw pine Pandanus Utilis Bory

While in the garden I had a chance to go to the botanical office and inquire about the scientific name of a beautiful fern which is so commonly seen hanging on porches and patios in the Canary Islands. This fern is so treasured that it is often passed down from one generation to another. I know that in Spanish it is called 'helecho de metro', meaning that it grows a meter, but it is also seen with trailing fronds of up to two meters or six feet in length.

I have asked in garden centres but no one so far could give me the name until yesterday, when with the help of their computer and data base, the staff could find it and tell me that it was native to India and South-East Asia. The examples in the Botanical Garden have not such long fronds as others I have seen in private patios, but here is the photo I took there along with that elusive name:

helecho de metro Goniophlebium Subauriculatum

It was time to leave this shady oasis of tranquility and return to the sunshine.

exit garden

Saturday, February 7, 2009

21 ~ A Tapas Night Out

friends at tableMy friends at the table.

(Click to enlarge photos)

Leaving landscapes and flowers for a moment, here's a night out with some of the local food!

I had a wonderful evening recently, invited to supper in one of the best tapas bars on the island. My husband didn't want to go so I was with four friends on the night of the heaviest rainfall seen here in months. But we were cosy in this beautiful place, where I've been only once before. The inside could be a painting, and no matter in which corner you look, it's pleasing to the eye. One of the advantages of living in Spain is being able to eat real Spanish tapas!

bodeguitaPhotos 1 to 4....the setting and my four friends at our table. I love the overhead lamps made from wine bottles!

La BodeguitaThe wine comes, served rustic style in little water glasses and it tastes just fine that way.

Pimientos de Padrón....those little sweet peppers from the north of Spain, lightly sautéed and coated in chunky sea salt, served hot. You pick them up by the 'tail' and pop them in your mouth one at a time. Sometimes you get a fiery one...so it's like a Russian roulette. You can tell who gets one by the way they reach for a glass of water.

pimientos de padron Gambas al Ajillo - Sizzling garlic prawns....you can see the speed at which they were disappearing.....hot, very garlicky and red peppery and seeped in oil which we soon mopped up with our crusty bread.

gambas al ajilloCalamare (battered squid rings) ....they are tiny, crispy and hot. Even I ate some, which I don't normally do!

calamare Huevos al estampido - They are famous for this one... egg scrambled with bacon bits and potato, topped with paprika.

huevos al estampido Puntos de Solomillo...these are delicious bits of hot diced tenderloin steak covered in crispy chips just out of the fryer. They also disappeared quickly.

puntos de solomillo The final touch which I caught too late. Three slabs of fresh goat cheese, each one with a different topping. One with green mojo sauce, and two with different types of local honey. By the time I remembered the camera, they had been sliced up and were nearly gone.

queso The last photo was taken through a window of the bodega or storage room. Nice tomatoes and good wine were in there!



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