Footpaths on La Palma

November 12, 2019

La Palma has a network of well-marked footpaths, most of which are centuries old.  As late as the 1960s, walking was still a major form of transport for the islanders, The whole network of hiking trails on the island comes to over 1,000 km, and between them they pass through just about every kind of scenery on the island: lava fields, pine forests, lush laurel forests, farmland and village centres….

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Baby pine trees

Looking straight down on Baby Canary pine trees , La Palma island
November 8, 2019

Now that it’s autumn, lots of baby Canary pine trees are growing on the road sides above about 1,200m. At first sight, you wouldn’t think they were baby Canary pine trees, because they’re such a different colour. The adults are dark green, almost bottle green, while the babies are this lovely pale bluey-green. Every time I see them, I want a dress this colour. And when you look down on…

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Halloween

October 30, 2019

Halloween is not a traditional Spanish fiesta. Ten years ago, it was something the children learned about in English classes. But you know, kids love a chance to dress up, and they especially love an opportunity for legalised begging (and I was just the same). Naturally they love the idea of Halloween, and so do the shop keepers (obviously). And slowly, Halloween is becoming more popular. Don’t be too surprised…

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Dragon Trees

October 19, 2019

The north of La Palma is one of the best places to see dragon trees. These exotic-looking plants grow throughout the Canary Islands, and also in Cape Verde, the Azores, Maderia, and western Morocco, but  on La Palma, they’re still reproducing naturally. The Canary Islands used to have a large, flightless bird, something like a Dodo. This bird ate dragon tree fruits, so the seeds evolved to have a hard protective…

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Ship building in Santa Cruz de La Palma

October 15, 2019

Santa Cruz used to be the third biggest port in the Spanish empire, after Cadiz and Antwerp. So perhaps it’s not surprising that it also used to be quite a big shipyard. Some 90 ships were built there between 1809 and 1948. In fact I was recently told that the chestnut trees weren’t introduced for the chestnuts: they were mostly for the wood, for shipbuilding. One of the biggest was…

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El Paso’s Silk Museum

October 12, 2019

La Palma has a long history of silk production, going back to the 16th century. In fact, at one time, silk was made in all the Canary Islands, but since the 19th century, El Paso, in the centre of La Palma, is the only place which still produces it. They use an old fashioned, labour-intensive technique, the only place in Europe which still does so. You can see most of…

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