Archive for Bandama

Panoramarama part 2

Posted in Photographs, the Canary Islands, the Madeira archipelago, Walking with tags , , , , , , on June 7, 2011 by maidofmettle

I’m not at sea this time, but working through the photos and particularly the videos of the other trip is taking a while, so have another interlude : )

(of course, the quickest of you will have noticed that I just plain forgot it was due to publish!)


Panoramarama resumes on Porto Santo, part of the Madeira archipelago lying about 450 nautical miles south-west of Portugal. Terra Cha literally means the end of the earth, and it feels a bit like it!

Just round the corner from where I took this photo, it’s an unexpected green grotto on a jagged ridge plunging down into the ocean. The barren landscape you can see from it is typical of much of the island, though a lot of reforestation work has been carried out in the centre.

Again, just left-click on the thumbnails to open bigger versions.

Madeira is a different story – mostly densely wooded except for one high plateau and some of the biggest central hills. Even the view from the harbour in Funchal was beautiful, especially around sunset.

(and now I’m back. Woo-hoo!)

We all did a fair amount of walking there, but for me it’s a place I went on my own that sticks in the memory as the most beautiful – the village of Boaventura on the north coast.

The landscape around Mt Teide on Tenerife was much more barren but just as spectacular. This is the view across the giant crater to the north of the peak, taken at some point during our climb up Teide.

Gran Canaria doesn’t have a massive peak comparable to Mount Teide, but it’s probably had several that would have rivalled it at times, though only craters and ridges remain today. This is taken from the edge of the Caldera (crater) de Bandama, looking down to the coast, with Las Palmas in the background on the far left and the crater itself on the right.

The centrepiece of this picture is Roque Nublo, one of the most famous landmarks on Gran Canaria (especially since the Dedo del Dios – God’s finger – unfortunately collapsed into the sea). Mount Teide is just visible on the horizon, more than 50 miles away.

Roque Nublo (on the left) and Teide are both still visible in this one, but play second fiddle to the valleys and ridges surrounding Roque Bentayga in the centre.

That’s all for now!

Taryna’ birthday party, and back to Bandama

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Walking with tags , , on April 14, 2011 by maidofmettle

I’ve been trying to work out  the last person in whose honour I’ve attended two birthday parties in a row is, and failing.

It’s quite a surprise that it should occur now while living a fairly mobile lifestyle – I’ve ended up staying here much longer than I planned, but many other boats have come and gone.

Last year Taryna’s birthday party in Gibraltar, held on the jetty between Heymede (Taryna and Dave’s boat) and Maid of Mettle.  We were very lucky with the weather and had a great time, ending up with music lasting quite a while into the night, including Caroline and Chris playing mandolin and guitar, a couple of other guitarists and our neighbour Mark with his bongo drum.

It was a nice surprise that Mark arrived from southern Spain in time for this year’s party on the beach, and also that it stopped raining just in time!

His dog Sheila was certainly happy to be there. We felt we had to try and tire her out before we could start a game of cricket, but didn’t have much luck..

There was a bit of a sandstorm going on in the background as we started, and the ball was threatening to split in half (even without any canine assistance), but it was still an entertaining game.

We do need more bowling practice though. A ball that’s whole, reasonably heavy and bounces would be useful too!

I had a slight panic moment when I was making food to take round to Heymede for the continuation of the party that evening. I had thought I had bought some interesting-looking local chorizo sausage, but I’d been in a hurry at the time..

It turned out to be interesting-feeling cream of chorizo, in a sausage-like skin. I didn’t really think squidgy lumps of pig product would work in the tomato salad I’d been thinking of making.. Fortunately I had some bread to hand..

We ended up saving most of the food for the evening rather than taking it to the beach and getting sand in it.

The party went very well – those of us sat in shelter on the boat with the food and drinks definitely had fun, and it looked like those on the pontoon did too.

Carolyn and I had both been tempted by the floor of the volcanic crater at Bandama when we’d walked around the edge of it with Jon a couple of weeks ago.

At that time I didn’t feel ready to go down 200m and climb back up again – the relatively level circling of the crater had required taking quite a few breaks.

This time it was much easier, and the meadow at the bottom was well worth the descent – beautiful in springtime.

The next day we went to the market – or rather the nearest one. I’d been intending to go for ages, but never got around to it as I don’t need to buy that much fresh food for just me, so it’s quite easy to pick it up on the way back from doing other things.

I’m glad I finally made it there though – it’s significantly cheaper than the grocer’s and supermarket nearer the marina

This lot cost about 5 euros..

.. and these about 1.50 each. The snacks are churros, basically deep fried batter, dipped in sugar. Mmm, healthy.

Mind you, churros and hot chocolate seem to be the Spanish version of the late night kebab, so we probably shouldn’t expect any less.

Talking of late nights, there have been some beautifully calm and still ones lately..

It’s just a pity the pontoon Maid is tied up to doesn’t lend itself to pictures with flat horizons..

Past and future (?) visits, and catching up on photos

Posted in Fun, Music, Photographs, Walking with tags , , on April 8, 2011 by maidofmettle

So, what did Jon (pictured) and I get up to when he was here? Quite a lot..

(credit for most of the photos in this entry goes to him, by the way. Obviously excepting the one above, which he’ll probably berate me for)

On Sunday we went for a walk along Las Canteras beach on the north side of Las Palmas. You’ve seen plenty of photos of that before, but not any of people being able to surf so close in – it must have been very near high water.

The waves weren’t big but some of the surfers were pretty impressive nonetheless.

On Monday we travelled down to Maspalomas – one of the biggest tourist developments on the island, but also home to some impressive sand dunes. The town itself is a big sprawl of holiday apartments and restaurants offering every type of cuisine you could want, with a full supporting cast of people pushing jewellry and stuff – quite a shock having been staying in the north which is much less touristy.

Having got away from that the dunes themselves are pretty impressive – it only takes a few minutes walk to be away from all the noise of the beachfront kiosks and into a very different feeling world of sand and scrub. It’s quite something – especially when you’ve worked out which bits offer the beautiful scenery without the naked men wandering around.

On Tuesdaywe had a more restful day, with a little more sightseeing in Las Palmas, wandering around one of the parks near the marina.

That evening we (or rather Jon) rowed over to Pax Nostrum for harmonica practice  for me, photography for Jon and then chatting till the usual ‘how did it get that late?’ finish.

It looks as though none of us know the words to this one yet!

Jon sent some photos when he got back which everyone is thrilled with – thank you again!

By this time I was keen to get out for a proper walk and show Jon some of my favourite parts of the island. This is the view down into the volcanic crater at Bandama – we chose to go round the edge for a relatively easy walk – the farm on the crater floor is about 200m below.

That said, I’ve not found many walks on Gran Canaria I’d call flat (the word ‘strenuous’ is frequently used in my guidebook), and the southern edge of the crater rim is pretty narrow as well – here are Caroline and Jon walking along the start of that section:

At the end of the walk they were rather surprised by the way we popped up next to a golf course – it seems rather out of place here, though it dates back to 1891 and is in fact the oldest golf course in Spain!

It also seems a little odd that the green pictured is very near the edge of the crater – anyone driving a bit too far is going to land in the world’s biggest bunker.. It seems like it might be a health hazard on the crater floor as well!

On Thursday we made the rather shorter bus journey to the hospital (I had to finally post a picture of it), and sat around a lot waiting to get my results and have my stitches taken out. It was definitely good to have someone to wait with, and share the frustration of not actually getting the results that day..

Afterwards we crossed the main road to the old fishing quarter. Unsurprisingly there are several fish restaurants there with very nice views out over the sea, and being well away from the tourist areas of the city it’s quite cheap. The fish were good, and the coffee was very nice as well.

If you’re wondering about the layered effect these are the traditional ‘leche leche’, which I suspect I’ve mentioned before – condensed milk on the bottom and then coffee on top – the uppermost layer is just the milk froth.

After that we got a bus back as far as the old town centre and walked around there before returning to the marina. It’s an area of real contrasts, from the patchwork colours of houses piling higgledy-piggledy up the hillside:

to the grander architecture of the town centre

and back to the marina along the bustling main shopping street

Later that afternoon we went over to Las Canteras beach on the other side of Las Palmas to admire the sunset and dusk from the promenade.

And of course to admire the slightly intimidating sand sculpture (there was a dinosaur as well for those who prefer less polemical beach art).

On Friday we went for another walk. I’d come up with one plan for a short walk from Cruz de Tejeda to a viewpoint on the opposite side of the ridge but after some time poring over bus timetables we decided it wouldn’t really work that well. Thankfully Jon spotted the improbable sounding option of walking to Lanzarote, which we duly did.

It worked just as well – to start with we had slightly views over one of the biggest valleys in the centre of the island, and then crossing the ridge and descending the other side, we had views of Las Palmas and the northern side of the island as well as the scenery closer to hand.

This is another abandoned farm set in a crater – again impressively remote-feeling like the one at Bandama, though this one does have road access.

We also passed some basins where water draining down from the hills was used for washing clothes by the people of the village.

Some of the tourist information claims it’s still in use but it looked like it might turn things a bit green – it certainly must be a while since it was this busy!

Having got back we went for a quick swim on the beach by the marina to cool off, and also for me to see how it felt – a week or so before cold had made it very hard to move my left leg, but as with most things this seemed to have improved significantly.

It felt good enough that on Saturday morning we went over to Las Canteras again to swim inside the reef at the near end. The water is quite clear, so with goggles on we could see lots of fish swimming around the reef, and surprisingly right up close to the beach as well, ranging from brightly coloured to jet black with blue fins.

Then back to the boat for lunch, and then to the bus station so Jon could go to the airport for his flight back. It was a great week – great to see him again, and also nice to have someone around to give me a reason to get out and about more while being very patient with my walking speed (especially at the start of the week) and tendency to sit down a lot.

I’ll get on to future plans a bit more in my next entry, but I will mention one thing here – having thought everything was done for a while I got a call from the hospital to say they want to do an ultrasound scan at the end of April.

The scan is presumably just routine follow-up – nothing to worry about, but I’ll obviously stay for it. I think it’ll also work out quite well in terms of getting jobs done on the boat to be here till then.

So if anyone else is looking to come out and visit, within that period would probably be easiest to arrange – it’s rather short notice, but then any trip would probably have to be once I get sailing again in May, and travel will get rather expensive when / if I make it to the Azores.

Let me know if you’re interested and we can try and sort something out, either sooner or later.

Of course, I’m hoping to see most of my friends again on returning to the UK, hopefully in August – it doesn’t feel like all that long now!