Last week by invitation of my friend Barbara from Bern I visited Tenerife. This was the first time I’d travelled so far south – to the largest of the Canary Islands 62 miles west of Morocco. Barbara and her husband, Paul, own a beautiful house there on the edge of the small resort of Palm Mar in the very south of the island. This year Barbara and I met with our two other friends from the Cambridge days to celebrate 40 years of friendship.
Tenerife has a distinctive, but not particularly attractive, volcanic landscape so I was interested to see all the unusual native plants and trees. Despite what appears to be unrestricted building development in some areas much of the island’s nature is protected by law. There are also many huge scale banana plantations protected from the strong winds by miles of hessian.
Barbara’s house backs onto the Special Nature Reserve Malpais de la Rasca. Sandy footpaths cross the reserve and on Sunday afternoon we stepped out to cross the scrub landscape, keeping parallel with the sea, to the Lighthouse Faro de Rasca, at the southernmost tip of Tenerife. Shortly after passing the lighthouse the Reserve finished and banana plantations appeared. After a couple of miles further on foot we finally arrived at the little town of Las Galletas where we dined at a restaurant on the promenade, watched the sun go down and hailed a taxi to take us back to Palm Mar.
Palm Mar and the island of La Gomera the roof terrace
Typical Rocky Inlet along our Route
Typical Sandy Path and Banana Plantation
Leaving the Nature Reserve
Path Continues Past the Banana Plantation
Hippie Beach Bar near Las Galletas
Marina Las Galletas
Las Galletas Sunset
The National Trust information board tells us
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as messing about in boats”*
One of the chief delights at Ferry Cottage, Cliveden was the proximity to the River Thames. There are rough footpaths along the banks. And, lucky for us, the river trips started for the 2017 season that very weekend.
Last August I attended a family wedding celebration at Cliveden. We all stayed for one night in beautiful Spring Cottage which is part of the Cliveden House Hotel that occupies the main building at Cliveden. The whole estate belongs to the National Trust. You can read all about the story of Cliveden and its occupants (and scandals) elsewhere.
Spring Cottage, Cliveden
Last week I was in Norfolk again. My usual accommodation was not available (sister had the decorators in) so I booked a B&B just outside Norwich and was delighted when I arrived to find my very own “Hobbit hole” – The Buttery.
Chirk Castle Gardens are as lovely (even in March) as the Castle itself is interesting. As you can see there are lots of yew trees and hedges all clipped to within an inch of their lives. All the hedges and topiary are 130 years old – and it shows in places. They are almost entirely English yew (Taxus Baccata) and it takes garden staff 6 to 8 weeks to cut with electric shears. Interestingly, two tons of clippings are collected each year and these are processed to make a cancer treatment. In the past all clipping was done by hand but there were many more gardeners then. These days there are 3 gardeners plus a full time apprentice and a team of part time volunteers.
Arriving at Chirk Castle
Started in 1295, Chirk Castle was one of several medieval Marcher fortresses sited on the Welsh-English border to keep the Welsh under English rule. Last Thursday was a glorious spring day and ideal for a visit to this beautiful location. There’s a longish approach to the Castle from the village of Chirk. You pass the wrought iron gates commissioned by Sir Richard Myddleton and built between 1712 and 1719. They were originally at the Castle but moved to their present location in 1888.