Monday, January 11, 2010

Puerto de la Cruz


Tucked off the top of a steep staircase in Puerto de la Cruz is the Orchid Garden. It's a relic of early British yearning for footholds in the sun. They set up the first hotel in this northern Tenerife town in the 19th century. The explorer Richard Burton came this way, and Agatha Christie with her daughter in 1923 (hence the kitsch photo, the garden the setting for her tale 'The Mysterious Mr Quin'). The British are now in  a minority, Germans and Finns bulking up the winter tourist numbers.
The Orchid Garden is in truth past its prime. The botanical gardens are splendid though, stemming form the 18th century when plants were brought from the Americas and Asia to acclimatize here before being moved to Spain.
We were acclimatizing too - writing under a blue sky on the roof of the hotel, watching clouds swirl around the summit of Mount Teide, as snowstorms battered Britain. Walks were along the Playa del Jardin, to a wondrously good restaurant at the far end (Tambo).

Friday we meandered through the town of La Laguna (the model, so they say, for all the Spanish-style cities of the USA) and were walking the laurel forest, apparently pretty much as it has been for twenty million years. And today I've been treading down the centres of London's smaller roads, where traffic has melted the snow a little. I've begun the task of typing up the handwritten pages of my novel from my last computer-averse weeks, much expanding and improving the work as I go.
I finished Andrei Kurkov's The President's Last Love as the plane touched down at Gatwick, a heartwarming satirical ride through some winters in Kiev. Now I'm settling in to Cold Snap, Francis King's new novel set in wintry 1940s Oxford. It seems the Canarian sunshine has warmed me enough not to need escape reading.

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