• A Breathtaking Window on the Universe
  • The Seer’s Stone
  • The Dodo Dragon and other stories
  • About Sheila Crosby

The Caldera

The heart of the island is the Caldera de Taburiente. Caldera is a technical geological term for the crater at the top of a volcano. In fact the term comes from La Palma: all the volcanic calderas in the world were named after ours. So it’s really a pity that, since then, the scientists have found out that the Caldera de Taburiete isn’t a caldera. It was actually formed by…

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eace Day doves at an infant school, Breña Baja

Peace Day

Spain stayed out of both world wars, so they don’t celebrate Remembrance Day in November. They have Peace Day instead, which schools usually celebrate on January 30th. In Primary school they wear something white, or mostly white (if the children remembered to tell Mummy), and usually they go into the village centre and sing a song. At high school, the teachers try to work a peace theme into the lesson….

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The windmill at Buracas

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

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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Water Mines on La Palma

Although La Palma has more water than the other Canary Islands, many farmers used to be desperately poor and frequently hungry. The only water for irrigation was rainwater, and obviously they had no control over how much they got. Then somebody suggested digging into the hillside to find water. (If anybody knows who, please tell me.) The idea is that much of the rainwater seeps into the ground, and runs…

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Where the Heck is La Palma Anyway?

I originally came to La Palma to work at the astronomical observatory here. Almost as soon as I heard I’d got the job, my parents went to a travel agent to find out how much it would cost to visit. The young man at the desk said, “Las Palmas de Gran Canaris? Certainly Sir. I’ll just look it up for you.” “No,” explained my father. “The island of La Palma….

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