The Devil in Tijarafe

September 7, 2019

Saturday night (or rather, early Sunday morning) will be the fiesta del diabolo in Tijarafe. Every year, right in the middle of the annual village fiesta, the devil turns up at Tijarafe in the early hours of September 8th. It starts off like most fiestas. The village centre is off the main road, and on the way in, you pass the usual mobile bars, blasting out music at full volume….

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The Coloured Waterfall (Cascada de colores)

September 5, 2019

A few years ago I hiked up into the Caldera de Taburiente to finally see the famous Coloured Waterfall. By my standards it was a long hike since it’s 5.5 km each way, although it’s pretty level. (That is, A Dutchman wouldn’t consider it flat, but you only climb about 200 m in 4.5 km. If you carry on to the camp site, that’s another 350 m climb in 3.2…

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Starlit Skies

Galaxy M51 taken with the Isaac Newton Telescope and Wide Field Camera by Simon Driver
August 29, 2019

  There’s a really simple reason why the Royal Greenwich Observatory moved their telescopes here. It’s one of the three best places in the world for astronomy. The observatory was founded in 1675 by Charles II of England – hence the “royal” for £520 (£20 over budget!). It was the first purpose-built scientific research facility in Britain. At the time, Greenwich was a great place to build it – away…

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What to Feed Lizards on La Palma

August 20, 2019

Yesterday I discovered that the local lizards (Gallotia galloti palmae) are fond on watermelon on a hot day. Figures. Unlike most lizards, they eat quite a lot of plants, especially ripe fruit, to the point where they can become a nuisance in vinyards. I recently discovered that we only have one species of small lizard here. What I thought were two species is one, with different colours for males and…

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Mulberries

July 24, 2019

  Mulberries were originally introduced to the greener parts of La Palma to feed silkworms for silk production. The fruit is a delicious side-effect. Sadly, you rarely see it on sale, because it’s fragile and doesn’t keep. It’s also a strong, natural dye (and is used as such). If you pick your own, expect stained fingers and watch your clothes. In fact, if you’re staying near a mulberry tree in fruit,…

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Walking ferns

July 20, 2019

In the shadier corners of the laurel forest on La Palma, the ferns walk about. Sort of. Woodwardia ferns live in the damper parts of the forest. You can find them along the river bed at Los Tilos, and in the irrigated garden around the visitor centre. They have enormous fronds, anything up to a metre long. When the tip of a frond touches the ground, it often sprouts roots,…

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