Sunday, May 30, 2010

Las Ledas to Mazo

This morning I carried on walking along the footpath around the island. I started in Las Ledas, where I stopped last week, and walked up to the summit of Montaña de las Breñas, where you get an amazing view. Then I carried on along the path to Mazo. I had planned to get to Montaña de las Toscas, that's the southern end of Mazo, and I wanted to get to the farmers' market before it shut at one, so I detoured into the village half a kilometre earlier.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's been a busy week.

I decided to do a bit less routine cleaning, and a bit more decluttering, since the decluttering should last a bit longer. I started on the messy shelves in the hall, got enthusiastic, and spent hours on it. I've even ordered some more shelves, which should arrive in about a week.

I went to a funeral on the other side of the island. It was all the sadder for being totally, jaw-droppingly unexpected. But I'm glad I made the effort.

It made me very thoughtful, and I know I'm not the only one. The only conclusion I've come to is that it's important to seize the day and not drift along. As Steve Jobs said, "Live each day as if it would be your last and one day you'll certainly be right."

And the next morning I got an appointment for my routine mammogramme. Since mum died of breast cancer, I find it hard to keep mammogrammes in proportion. It's not that I'm a nervous wreck, you understand, just that I get the odd icy finger running down my spine. Getting the appointment just after being so forcibly reminded of human mortality was not ideal, and I had to remind myself that plenty of people had far, far worse problems, and the chances were that there was nothing t worry about anyway.

I was still rather down when I went to my yoga class that evening. We started normally enough, with stretches. Then the teacher started talking about mantras.

Mantras mean different things to different people. In this case, you repeat a specific sound, which a) helps you concentrate on what you're doing, rather than worrying about whether you have enough onions to cook a frittata for dinner and b) creates physical vibrations which massage a part of your body -- the part that vibrates depends on the sound.

Which all sounded pretty good.

And then we started with the sheep mantra. Basically, you go "baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" like a sheep, and everyone does it at their own natural breathing rhythm.

So we started. If I'd started first, I might have been able to concentrate on my own sound. As it was, the baaaaaaaa-ing started while I was still filling my lungs, and I got the giggles.

Everyone else was meditating, so I tried to giggle silently.

It was like school. The more I tried to stop, the worse it got. The giggle got steadily more hysterical, and every time I thought I was getting it under contral, I'd hear another "Baaaaaaaaa!", or the teacher would giggle from watching me, and I'd be off again, giggling helplessly.

This wasn't fair on everyone else, so I left the room until I could act more like an adult.

When I went back, people were talking about how the mantra affected them, and they'd all found it relaxed their throat wonderfully. I apologised profusely, but they didn't seem that bothered. And the teacher said laughter is also very good for you, with a ton of health benefits.

Well, I certainly felt better. In fact, I hadn't realised how tense I was until I wasn't tense any more.

And today the mammogramme was perfectly normal.

Now I just have to make my first ever batch of meringues for my son's school's Canary Day party. Finger's crossed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The footpath around La Palma

Because I'm slightly nuts and seriously unfit, I've taken it into my head to walk all the way around the island (in easy stages, of course).

Luckily there's a long-distance footpath to follow, the GR 130, all nicely marked.

I want to do the southern half first, because it's flatter. (Please note, flatter, not flat.) I hope to be a bit fitter before I tackle the seriously steep bits around the north of the island. Since it's a circular route, you can start or finish wherever you fancy. the guide books all start the walk in Santa Cruz de la Palma.

Going south from Santa Cruz, you start with a really steep slope up to the Concepción headland. No thank you. Wimp that I am, I started at the viewpoint on top of the headland. Then I walked though El Porvenir, San Pedro, San Miguel and Las Ledas. Almost all of it was on back roads.
By that time I felt tired, and it was time to go home for lunch. So I did.

About 4 km down, 155 km to go.

Yup, I'm definitely mad.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Electricity Prices in Spain and Rumour-mongering

Apparently there's an article going around the Internet that Spain's economic troubles are entirely due to its green energy policy producing "sky-rocketing" power costs. I live in Spain. I just dug out my old electricity bills and worked it out. Over the last five years, the cost of electricity's gone up by 7%. That's 3% more than inflation. Not ideal, but hardly "sky-rocketing."

Spain's economy is struggling. We have a large budget deficit and 20% unemployment. But the energy policy has little or nothing to do with it. We've got plenty of other problems.

Spain's been hit hard by the drop in foreign tourists. Since Spain is sunny, it's the most popular holiday destination in Europe. This year they've mostly stayed home, due to the banking crisis. Plus there's the banking crisis itself. Then there's the linger-term problems like too much paperwork and a lot of public holidays. We've also had more storm damage and forest fires than usual in the last few years.

Basically, the "facts" quoted in this article are fiction.

Someone seems to have worked out that you can sow a lie into cyberspace, and then deny all responsibility if people find out the truth.

I'm sure it's much easier to spot lies and wonky logic when it's something you disagree with in the first place, but most of the really la-la land stuff I've seen seems to support the far right, usually the American right wing. You know, like the lies and lies and lies about the British NHS and Obama being a Muslim, and "sky-rocketing" electricity costs in Spain and so on. Or that Muslims will make up the majority in Europe within 20 years (only if the women have about 20 babies each, see

And perfectly nice people repeat this stuff in good faith, and make decisions based on junk data.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Circus

We finally made it to the circus for the last performance. It was a bit pricey, and we arrived at the last minute, so we didn't get good seats, but the performance was fantastic. My son particularly enjoyed Spiderman.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I didn't go to yoga last night or Monday because -- how shall I put this -- I had an upset stomach and I'd have had to hand round clothes pegs for everyone's noses. But I felt well,and I fancied some exercise, so I went for a walk. I thought I could gas the bumblebees instead.

La Palma is a walker's paradise. There's a network of official hiking trails which are fairly clearly marked, and the GR130, which goes right around the island, passes near our house. So I had a nice little walk along that. Not the whole thing, of course, since the whole thing takes a week, even if you're a lot fitter than I am. I just strolled along for an hour or so, taking the odd picture with the compact camera, and it was very nice too. For one thing, most of the wild flowers are in bloom. I think this is wild carrot, which grows all over Europe.

And now I'm seriously wondering whether I could walk the whole path -- in easy stages of course. I'd need lifts, so I didn't have to walk back to the car every time, and I'd need to be fitter before I tackled all the steep hills in the north of the island. But I have a sweet-natured husband, and there are buses, and by the time I've walked around the south, I'd be fitter.

I think I'll do it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Rainbow

My son dashed out, late for school.

Then he dashed back.

I said, "What have you forgotten?"

And he yelled, "Fantastic rainbow outside the front door. Grab your camera, Mum!" And he dashed back out.

Thanks, Love.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The zoo

I made time to go to the local zoo with my son this morning. It's a very small zoo with no lions or elephants, but we had fun.

And the peacock was actually displaying his tail! With his back to us.

I managed to get around the front and grab a quick shot, but he stopped the display before I could get the wide angle on to record his full glory. I did manage to get a detail of his tail as he walked through a patch of dappled light.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Fiesta de la Cruz

Last night was a local fiesta, so I lifted my nose from the grindstone long enough to go and take some pretty pictures.

The plan was to go to Cruz de la Pavona at the top of the hill and work our way down past the crosses, with my husband driving. That way, as we joined the traffic jam above each cross, I could leap out with my camera and create a masterpiece for the blog.

How do you make God laugh?

You tell him your plans.

The police stopped us and breathalysed my husband. No problem - he's an adult and acts like one.

The area around Cruz de la Pavona, at the top end of Breña Alta was packed with people. My husband was so busy not driving over pedestrians that he went past the turn off to go down the hill past the usual run of crosses. After that, it had all been converted to one way down the hill. That wasn't too bad, because there are crosses that way, too. But as we went down the single track, we met two cars coming up. Just to be clear, this is a track that the police are sending people DOWN, just like every year.

But normally you give way to traffic going uphill, so we backed. Until the car behind us wouldn't back any more.

And then the driver got out of the car coming uphill to insult us. Never mind that he's going the wrong way, we have to reverse over the car behind us. I wonder when he bought the road?

In the end he reversed, and he didn't have to go very far at all. It was only after we'd driven on that the penny dropped. The guy going uphill was on the back road to avoid the police. I really, really hope they found him and breathalysed him.

And then we realised that I'd forgotten to go for petrol. We sat in the queues past the crosses watching the gauge drop, wondering if we'd be walking home.

But as it turned out, we made it home, and I got my photos after all. More of them at