A little stroll through a Spanish village

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Dogs on roof tops. A common sight in Spanish villages

When my parents decided move to Tenerife they were determined not to end up in one of those pensioner expat villages. Instead they’ve decided to move away from the beach into the hills and the small village of El Rio, Arico. Over ten years they’ve managed to learn the language and become part of the local community. Since then we kids visit on a regular basis.

At first we had to figure out what to do in such a small place, especially if you are used to big city life and you don’t speak Spanish. But there is more to Tenerife than beaches. Many professional and amateur cyclists that use the island as training ground. It’s a real task to make your way, on a bike up the mountain over small winding roads and in extreme heat. I do admire these people but I am glad I don’t have to swap place. I rather sit in front of my parents house with a coffee in the morning and watch the show 😉

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El Rio is located alongside the Barranco Del Rio a ravine that’s famous for rock climbing, canyoning and hiking.

Signpost for the Barranco del Rio

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(prints available for some images)

Presa del Rio

Signpost of the Presa del RioPersonally, I am in love with hiking and like to explore the the trails in the area. Mum and I share this passion and often took the dogs up the the Presa del Rio as it lies pretty much opposite of the house. Because mum hasn’t been well for a while and wasn’t able to hike for almost a year, we decided to take a smaller route of the Presa as our first test hike. To make it more interesting we went in search of an an old bride that apparently takes you over the barranco (canyon). As you’ll see we did it! Mum was so happy, we actually expanded to 8km walk down to El Poris the following week (a separate post to follow) and now we plan the big Las Vegas tour which is more challenging. I am very proud of her and look forward to the hike.

Small note about hiking trails on Tenerife.

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Typical stone pile which marks the right way

Small or big routes, if you decide to set off by yourself rather than a guided tour (of which there are many) be sure to do your homework. Wear proper shoes, bring water and if possible have a map (or GPS on your phone). The local municipals have done a lot to improve the trails over the years and put up many trail signs. But sometimes and on older/ lesser hiked routes, the path may be overgrown, rocky and hard to spot. You may also need to know that sometimes the sign is a traditional little stone pile. It’s nothing to be concerned about but it’s worth to pay attention. Mum and I often decide to start late in the day ( for short routes) because of the heat but be aware that once the sun goes down it gets dark quickly.

Next time you’r on the island try out some hiking. I’d love to hear where and/or what your favourite trail is. Just post a comment below. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. For more videos subscribe to my YouTube channel.

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We spotted the tiny old bridge across the barranco.

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we weren’t quite sure where we can get out. So next time we’ll try it from the other end
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Candelabra cactus

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Dungeness exploration completed!

A while ago I set the mission to explore Dungeness. My friend and I wanted to spent 2 days at the famous coast in Kent, which apparently is the largest expanse of shingle on earth, to take pictures and find out about the people who live there. See objectives post.

However, for a while it looked like the entire trip was doomed. A day before we were about to set off our accommodation was cancelled. We managed to find something near by in Romney Sands (30min by train) but that meant we didn’t get a chance to chat to the people living directly at Dungeness.

The next blow came from the weather gods who sent pretty much the first and only rain in 2 weeks on the day we were heading to the beach. And I mean it was pissing down. Trapped in a caravan park all day, all we were able to do is to hang out in the pub and play snooker. Ok not a bad day overall but frankly not what we had planned.

Optimistic for a sun rise the next day we set the alarm for 4 am and then for 6,7 and finally 8am until the rain finally stopped. Honestly I was ready to call it a day and head back to London.

But we set off anyhow and after 8 hrs walking along the beach we were happy, exhausted and even managed to get a sun burn (at least I did).

I still want to find out more about the people who live on Dungeness. What you can see is that the few thousand residents are overwhelmed with 1 million visitors each year. It’s a bit like being the attraction in a zoo and happy snappy tourists point their camera directly into your bedroom window. This can’t be fun.

I personally took only a few images of houses and only when they were either not occupied or in respectable distance.

Instead I got obsessed with the decaying machinery and rotting boats that are littered all along the beach.

Enjoy the slide show below.

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Obviously we had to catch a ride back on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway, which again supposed to be the smallest passenger railways in the world. To be honest it is very small.

The objective: explore Dungeness

Objective 1: the photography away day 

It’s time to get out of town. I love London but sometimes this town can drive you nuts.

A friend and I planning to head for Dungeness beach in Kent. A strange desolate place that has been featured in various music videos (the Prodigy and Nicki Minaj) as well as in TV, film and advertising. It’s a nature reserve, a place of scientific interest, home to a tiny community and features a massive power plant. The Guardian described it once as, “where the wild west meets the post-apocalyptic”.  I had no idea such a place exists in the UK and less than 2 hours away from London. Just google image ‘Dungeness’ to get an idea.

Objective 2:  what’s it like to live on Dungeness 

Dungeness is private land and was bought in 2015 for £1.5m by EDF who subsequently own and run the local power station. My cynical mind questions how much good will it do for the local community. Surely EDF’s main interest is the plant and their business. According to an BBC article, “It was scheduled for decommissioning in 2018 but is now scheduled to remain open until 2028”.

The area gets roughly 1 million visitors a year, enjoying the landscape and checking out the small community (who pay lease and rent to the new owners). However, anyone planning to shoot for commercial purposes, including student projects and bigger organised photo groups will be asked to apply for permission from the new land managing trust and to pay a fee which can go up to £1200 for the day.

Now what bothers me is that the local shops and properties weren’t in the original deal. If you shoot for commercial reasons or film a Dr Who episode then I think it’s only fair to pay a fee but I wonder how much of it actually goes back into the community?

The truth is, only because you forked out expensive fees to take pictures on the land (especially as a student), you would still need the to ask the locals if they are ok with you taking pictures of their houses and shops – for free. Really what does the community get back from EDF? EDF’s Community Report for May 2017 states:

“EDF Energy maintains its strong ties with the local area through our Land Quality Management Team and continues to support the area through roadway improvements, signage, rubbish clearance and biodiversity improvement programs”

We will be staying with a local artist couple for one night and I hope they’ll be willing to have a chat about what it’s like living on Dungeness and what they think of the new owners.

 

Find out how it turned out. 

 

 

Hi, I am isibue

So this is it. I am really going to do this. If you landed on this page, I’d like to say hello and welcome to the ride.

This blog is about my way of making sense of what’s going on around me and connecting with the world.

I just quit my job after 10 years working as an Editor and Product Lead for the NHS website. It wasn’t easy giving up something that has been a big part o my life but frankly I wasn’t happy – constantly stressed and close to a depression. There is more to life then 9 to 5 in the office. So I quit.

I have taken a timeout to do the stuff  I always have done and loved: travel and photography. And whilst not all of us can work for National Geographic that doesn’t mean we can’t try and fulfil the dream otherwise. I saved up a bit money so that should tie me over for a while and I am determined to make the most of it.

Last year I walked the Camino de Santiago. Roughly 900km from the Pyrenees to the coast of Galicia, following an ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago De Compostela and beyond. I wasn’t sure if I can do it. Would I give up or worse being forced finish because of injury? Would I cheat and get the bus? I posted one picture a day on Instagram as a life sign to family and friend. But It became so much more and I had a blast doing it. And yes I made it and I am proud to say not cheated once (although very tempted at times)!

So if you are just a little curious then join me on new adventures or better send me on a mission to explore.

I’ll try to post at least once a week and keep you updated via Facebook and Instagram

So welcome to the mission. Isibue