The windmill at Buracas

January 28, 2018

The windmill at Buracas was designed by Isidoro Ortega Sánchez (1843-1913), an engineer from Mazo. Isidoro was self taught, but he clearly thought it through very thoroughly.   The windmill’s largely made of tea, the heart wood of a Canarian pine. It’s much cheaper than stone, easily available in most of the island, and it lasts really well, and the construction’s rather simple.   There’s a mechanism to turn the sails…

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The gofio museum at Buracas

A wooden windmill
January 24, 2018

Gofio is the traditional staple food in the Canaries, like potatoes in Ireland or rice in Japan. It’s made by toasting cereal grains and then grinding them. You can use almost any cereal: wheat, barley, rye, maize, oats. You can also use lentils, chick peas or lupin seeds. My personal favourite is the 7-grain wholemeal variety. It’s such an important part of Canarian culture that I wasn’t surprised to find…

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Where’s the village gone?

November 14, 2017

Tourists sometimes go nuts trying to find the village of Breña Baja, or Fuencaliente. There’s a really simple reason why they can’t find them. They don’t exist. Breña Baja and Fuencaliente are municipalities, and their town halls are in the villages of San Jose and Los Canarios, respectively. It like driving all over the south east of England, looking for the town of Sussex. The map shows the 14 municipalities…

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Ravens on La Palma

October 4, 2017

Common Ravens live all over Europe, Asia and North America, but we have a different sub-species here. Some biologists group our raven in with the North African sub-species (Corvus corax tingitanus) and others think the Canaries have their own sub-species (Corvus corax canariensis). Like other members of the rook-and-crow family, they’ll eat whatever’s available: carrion, insects, cereal grains, berries, fruit, small animals, and food waste. And they’re pretty intelligent about…

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The Herschell dome motor

Lifting the dome shutter motor back onto the WHT, Roque de Los Muchachos observatory, La Palma island, Canaries
September 14, 2017

Today I was photographing the MAGIC when I saw a big crane beside the William Herschel Telescope. Of course I went up to look, and found the engineers were winching the dome shutter back into position after repairs. Of course it took some time. As you can see in the last photo, the motor is pretty big and heavy. I don’t know what the shutter weighs, but the rotating part…

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La Zarza Rock Carvings

August 14, 2017

One of the best archaeological sites on La Palma is La Zarza and La Zarzita, in Garafía. You have to walk, but it’s a beautiful stroll through woods of heather and bayberry trees. Yes, heather is a tree here – see the top photo. The whole walk takes about an hour, and first bit of the path is the steepest. It’s clearly signposted. You reach La Zarza first. Here there…

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