Alan Parks: We Love Memoirs
Good morning! Happy Father’s Day to all the Fathers in the group. Todays Sunday Spotlight is John Searancke, who will be here at 10am UK time. Feel free to ask any questions you like, and John will pick two winners later on to win copies of his book Dog Days in the Fortunate Islands.
Sue Clamp: Good morning, John, and Happy Fathers Day! Why did you choose to live in Tenerife?
John Searancke: And a very good morning to you too, Sue Clamp! I’ve just had a call from my son for Fathers Day, and am gearing up for questions. We came to the north of the island a number of years ago and fell in love with the Orotava valley. We decided to call it home nearly 5 years ago now.
Alan Parks: Morning John, have you always written? Do you like your work being ‘out there’?
John Searancke: Morning, Alan. No, this is my first book, which I started once retirement had kicked in, even though retirement seems to be a busier time than my working life. I am going to write another book, starting very soon. Yes, I am pleased that my book has made it out there – that was always the intention.
Julie Haigh: Good morning John Searancke – hope you enjoy your spotlight. I am currently reading and enjoying your book. Your surname isn’t one I’ve heard before-any info about its origins?
— I notice your home in Tenerife is in the north. My sister’s Spanish village used to be like this but 20-30 years later is quite commercialised. Many English going to live there, everybody’s doing it! I think it’s spoiled it’s charm a bit. What if same happened to your Tenerife? Would you move again?
John Searancke: Hi Julie Haigh good to hear from you. Thank you for reading my book! There are not many of us Searancke’s about now, certainly in the UK, although there is a big splinter group in New Zealand. I have traced my family tree back to the mid 1500s, when we were in the UK. Before that, all is shrouded in mystery!
Julie Haigh: Oh, I love all that tracing family trees!-maybe material for another book?!
John Searancke: Puerto de la Cruz is a fine old Spanish town, though with some large hotels and an influx of holiday makers. The plan is for a new marina large enough to take the inter island ferries. That will change things a bit, but things will have to alter dramatically before we get dislodged from here.
–Well, Julie Haigh my next book is going to be set in WW2, tracing the story of my father from being called up to capture in Normandy and incarceration in a POW camp. I have done 8 chapters so far.
Julie Haigh: Sounds very interesting, just my type of book again- another to add to my list.
John Searancke: Talking of POW camps, did anyone see the final of Great British Menu?
–Well, Julie Haigh it will be a while. My editor was a bit scathing about how I had proposed to write it all, so I am having to scratch my head a bit to come up with a different slant.
Cherry Gregory: Good morning, John. Hope you enjoy your day in the spotlight. What inspired you to write your book?
John Searancke: Hi Cherry! Thanks for the good wishes. I always felt that I wanted to write as book but never had the time until we moved over here. I decided to do a snapshot of our move and the following 3 years, to give an idea of the pleasures and tribulations encountered along the way. As it turned out, there were a lot of both!
Charlotte Smith: Buenos días John. Your book is most definitely on my list to buy. I’m so looking forward to reading about Freddie. Tell us a little bit about her
Julie Haigh: Well I will look forward to it, there’s certainly nothing wrong at all with the way you have written your memoir, so, if you want to go with your gut instinct- I hope your editor comes around to it!
John Searancke: Buenos dias Charlotte Smith! Freddie is actually a “he”, not a “she”! WE got him from the RSPCA rescue centre near Blackpool. He had been found abandoned at the age of about 6 weeks. He was too young then to be released to us, so we had to wait a few weeks until we got the green light.
Charlotte Smith: Sorry Freddie Fabulous that you rescued him John. I hope he enjoys Tenerife as much as you do
John Searancke: That’s the problem Julie Haigh. I was lucky enough to find a good editor who guided me through Dog Days, making me re-write it 3 times before she reckoned it to be good enough to publish. I guess I have to still be guided by her?
–Well, Charlotte Smith, no dog could have had a better life after having been rescued. He lived the first part of his life in Lytham in Lancashire, running with his friends through the seaside dunes. Then he made the epic voyage over here to Tenerife. Three years after he arrived here he suffered a stroke, followed a year later by another one. So, very sadly, he is no longer with us. We were devastated then, and still are. I have had many dogs in my lifetime, but that little chap was just the best.
Charlotte Smith: Oh I am so sorry to hear that John It sounds like he lived life to the full though. Will you get another dog sometime? Here are a few words to comfort you.
John Searancke: My wife Sally leaned over my shoulder and told me not to read it, as she had seen it before. Too late! I did so, and am now temporarily reduced to a wreck, typing this through a mist of tears. Ridiculous!
–Charlotte Smith – but thanks for sending it.
Charlotte Smith: Oh dear, I’m not doing very well this morning am I? Sorry John. Have a nice cup of tea
John Searancke: I’m going to do just that! What a nice picture – thanks. And in answer to your earlier question, no, I don’t think that we will be getting another dog – too soon, too raw and I am 71 now. Mind you, we donate to the local dogs home here, and it breaks my heart to go there and see all those faces.
Charlotte Smith: 71 is still a spring chicken John. One day one of those faces at the dogs home will find its way into your heart (and maybe your home) So sad that there are so many animals around the world with no home isn’t it?
John Searancke: You could well be right, Charlotte. There are so many dogs over here with no homes. The locals here are only just coming round to having dogs as family pets. When we first came here we saw all sorts of pit bull type of ferocious animals, bred for God knows what. But in fairness, there has been a big turnaround. Freddie met, and played with, a lot of local Canarian dogs.
Charlotte Smith: Here in spain the locals are reluctant to neuter their dogs. Is it the same in Tenerife?
John Searancke: Sadly, yes.
Charlotte Smith: The problem won’t go away then
–Is there anything you miss (apart from family) about living in England John?
John Searancke: I hail from Leicestershire, so I do miss a spectacular hoar frost. And there is not much to beat the English countryside, even though we live in the Orotava valley, so stunning with views up to the volcano, and everywhere green with the cultivation of bananas. Oh, and a proper pork pie topped up with jelly would not go amiss, either.
Charlotte Smith: Haha – the pork pie wish sounds like my husband! We lived in the Middle East for several years and he was always begging visitors from the UK to smuggle him in a pie or two!
John Searancke: How barmy is it to elect to live on an island with a volcano that the experts say is 60,000 years overdue to have a major eruption?
— I bet the fine for smuggling in a pork pie was a lot more in the Middle East than it might be here, Charlotte Smith:
John Searancke: So quick! So mouth watering! Can I have just one slice now, please?
Charlotte Smith: The trick with smuggling pork was to hide it under ladies ‘smalls’ John. Customs officials were uncomfortable about knickers so waved you on without delving any further
–How close is that bubbling volcano to you?
Alan Parks: John Searancke, what did you do in your younger days?
John Searancke: As the crow flies, probably about 4 or 5 miles, but it takes an hour by car going through one town, a number of villages and about a million hairpin bends. Its jolly cold up there, with thinner air and spectacular views. Last time it had a minor eruption in 1896 (I remember the date because it is the same as when our house in Lytham was built) the lava flow completely obliterated a small town called Garachico, about 20 kilometres away from us in San Fernando. The whole place disappeared out to sea!
Charlotte Smith: Oh my goodness. Would you get enough warning to get away if it blew?
John Searancke: Absolutely not, if it really went up. The only thing to do would be to reach for the trusty bottle of claret…
Frankie Knight: Morning John!!! Hope you’re enjoying yourself so far? I once went up to the top of Teide in the 70’s, bet it’s bit different up there now? The smell of sulphur was overwhelming! I haven’t yet read your book (so many to read!) so knew nothing of Freddie but it sounds like you made her very happy at the end of her life, well done. It scares me the number of animals that are abandoned here in Spain and sounds as if it is the same where you are. Would you ever contemplate going back to UK to live? Can you say why, either way?
John Searancke: Alan Parks, I started work properly as an Articled Clark with a firm of solicitors in Leicestershire. Loved criminal law, hated conveyancing. Moved to a specialist engineering business manufacturing stuff like self tapping inserts and then spent 35 years in hotels and tourism. When Sally and I got married in 2000 I sold my hotel and we set up a business together specialising in commercial legal services, offering support in that area to companies in the North West. We sold out in 2009 and moved here to northern Tenerife.
— Hi Frankie Knight and good morning to you! Yes, if the wind blows in the wrong direction, you still get that horrible pong of sulphur, and can see it blowing out from one of the side vents near the top. Did you go up El Teide in the old cable car? We are very happy here, far from the madding crowds of the south of the island (our hidden Tenerife of my book) and one should never say never. Sally’s mother is 94 now, and getting a bit frail, as is to be expected. But we should be good, DV, for a good few years yet over here.
Charlotte Smith: Would you have time to drink the claret at least John? Hate to see a good red go to waste!
Shirley Ledlie: Good morning John and I hope you are enjoying your day so far. I am from Nottingham so not too far away but haven’t lived there for 20 odd years – still got family there. I love your book cover and its on my list – starting to get through them. Have been to Golf del Sur many times – we love the island. I think you might not be far away from Joe Cawley? Its the same here in France regarding the dog (or cat) siutaion, they just wont have them sterilised and think nothing of drowning each litter its heart breaking and I wish I lived close to a dogs home I could help out. Who designed your cover?
Julie Haigh: Aha! I see you said you loved criminal law when you worked for a firm of solicitors-would you ever write a crime fiction novel? or maybe even a book about some true cases?
Frankie Knight: No, went by coach so far and then walked!!! I was considerably younger and fitter in those days. There were no resorts in the south of the island and only the one airport. It was before the horrendous accident there. It was one of the places I considered moving to and would also have relocated to somewhere without the rush and noise of the tourist areas. In the end I decided on my mountain on the mainland and have no regrets (except when the snow lies thickly!!!). Is you mother-in-law with you or back in UK?
John Searancke: Well, Charlotte Smith if it was a proper big bang, then I think that we would be swept into the sea by the lava flow before the intake from the bottle could be completed. That’s if the lava came in our direction. It has in the past, because you can see, only 200 yards or so from where we live, old solidified lava flows running down the barrancos. If it was ash instead of lava, then we would become the new Pompeii, and your future relatives might find me one day in 1000 years time, still clutching the claret bottle, completely petrified
— Julie Haigh I have actually never thought about that. Thanks for the steer.
Charlotte Smith: Well I hope she stays asleep for long enough for you and Sally to drink your cellar dry!
Julie Haigh: Well John, I love that genre too, as well as memoirs-I would certainly read it if you did write a crime fiction or non fiction!
John Searancke: Hi there Shirley Ledlie we are on the other side of the island to Golf del Sur, in fact almost due north. Joe Cawley is also in the south. He was kind enough to write a blurb for the back cover of my book and to offer encouragement.
Julie Haigh: I would think you would have lots of material to work with from your experience in criminal law.
Susan Jackson: Ok, here are the cakes, want everyone to be happy!
John Searancke: Bags the coconut one, please! Thanks for sharing them around.
Frankie Knight: Brandy, Susan? Janet always supplies me…..
Susan Jackson: Where is the drinks person–still asleep?
–So John, I was reading thru the post and didn’t see this, sorry if it is a duplicate–what made you move and how did you decide to start writing?
John Searancke: Probably coming around at 12 noon, in 3 minutes time. I hope…
–No problem, Susan Jackson. We moved over here on a permanent basis because a few years earlier we had bought a holiday apartment and loved the area so much. When we sold our business, we rented out our house in Lytham and just moved over here lock stock and barrel. When things quietened down a bit, I took up my quill to see if I could write a book…I had always dreamed of doing that. One to tick off on my bucket list. I am really chuffed with the result, but it is for all you others to say whether it hits the right note, or not.
Frankie Knight: John, are you not on Spanish mainland time? It’s 1.05 here…
John Searancke: No Frankie Knight the Canaries run on UK time…none of that Peninsula stuff for us!
Alan Parks: Susan Jackson you are on catering duty while Janet Hughes is unwell!
Frankie Knight: Yes, I agree with that Alan!!!
Susan Jackson: For those of you that don’t want cake!
Charlotte Smith: Help yourself Frankie. You too John
John Searancke: Is that the Matterhorn in the background? But anyway, a large tot from that barrel is very welcome. I am going to have a light lunch afterwards of mozzarella and tomato with some olive oil and crusty bread. What are you going to have?
Charlotte Smith: I noticed that you went to Rugby John. Was it like Tom Brown’s Schooldays? What do you think about it being co-ed these days?
Charlotte Smith: Avocado for me. I love the avocados in Spain and can’t eat enough of them
Susan Jackson: I am new at this drinks stuff–not doing very good
Charlotte Smith: You’re doing great Susan Jackson
Susan Jackson: Lemons, love lemons for drinks and food
John Searancke: That’s a big question, Charlotte Smith. I went to Rugby for nearly 5 years. It was one of the best schools in the land at that time – probably still is. And yes it was just like Tom Browns Schooldays. I started out as a fag (hopefully no American members yet on line ‘cos they might not understand) and get up to the 6th. I was in School House, the house that the film was shot it. Very antiquated, steeped in history, and all the better for that – except when was caned. As for co-ed, I just shudder, but we must move with the times, must we not?
John Searancke: Susan Jackson is that coffee or a nice cup of Bovril?
–Susan Jackson what do you have with your avocados by way of a dressing?
Susan Joyce: Good morning from Uruguay John! Happy Father’s Day!
John Searancke: Thank you Susan Joyce. What time is it in Uruguay? Glad to have you on board. We are just having cake and coffee.
Susan Joyce: John, it a little after eight our local time. What time is it in Tenerife?
John Searancke: UK time here, Susan, so 12.35 according to my computer. Hot, cloudless and still. Will be going in the pool later.
Susan Joyce: I read your book and loved it. Even gave you a rave review. I enjoyed all the life stories, but especially the one about you picking your dog from the lineup at the animal shelter.
–I’m having my first cup of coffee. Had a piece of that cake. Delicious. Thanks Susan Jackson!
John Searancke: Susan Joyce I saw the review, and thank you again for doing it. For a first time author, they were very welcome words. I tried to weave doggy stories into life stories and threw in the old classic car for good measure. I was so lucky that Mercedes Benz in the UK featured the car with a full page spread in the May issue of their Gazette.
Susan Joyce: You’re very welcome John! You mention dramatic changes coming to your part of the island. If it gets too commercial, will you move on? To where?
Susan Jackson: Coffee, thought some of our group would need it after last night. I don’t eat avocados or mangoes that used to grow in our yard as a kid–I grew up in Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach, Fl
Charlotte Smith: I went to an all girls boarding school John and they made a move to go co-ed in the late 70’s. Only one boy applied though and the school shut down eventually.
–Some of today’s youth would be better with a bit of caning in my opinion and I never thought I would say that
John Searancke: Well, Susan Joyce we had been losing a lot of banana fincas to housing development as the EU withdrew financial support. Fortunately, the EU seems to have had a change of mind and it is lovely to see old terraces now being cultivated anew, filled with the pale green of the new banana trees, against the background of the older ones in darker shades. A lovely patchwork. The other big thing is the proposed new marina for Puerto, supposedly large enough to take the inter island ferries and other large boats that get into Santa Cruz. That would change our town. But I think that I would still, love it here. I think that I am getting a thing about bananas!
Susan Joyce: Bananas? Cool John! I absolutely love the fresh fruit and vegetable we get here locally. Yes, bananas grow here as well.
John Searancke: In the setting of Rugby Charlotte Smith, caning by your housemaster (I was in School House, so I got the heavy touch of the Headmaster for my sins) was a core disciplinary measure, as was the hairbrush administered to the bare backside by prefects. It never did anyone any harm, as far as I know, but perhaps if Jacky Donovan joins us, she might know differently!!
Susan Joyce: Brandy for Frankie! Any other wishes?
Julie Haigh: Cheese on toast, coffee and lemon meringue pie to follow for me please Susan
Susan Joyce: Julie, I’ll put your order in.
Kate Pill: Hi John! Am really enjoying reading this fred. Must add your memoir to my list
John Searancke: Hi Kate Pill, greetings from Tenerife to Oz, which I think is where you are? Glad you are enjoying the fred. Do you have any questions for me before I stop for a few minutes for a bite to eat? You can chuck anything at me…
Susan Joyce: Have a good lunch John. It’s almost breakfast time here.
Kate Pill: Hi – yes am in Oz. No questions at the moment . As I said, I’m looking forward to reading your memoir. As a history teacher, your WW2 book sounds interesting so, I guess I also must encourage you to write a crime novel as that too is a genre I enjoy.
— It’s just about bedtime here
Julie Haigh: Any hobbies which you pursue now you’re retired? Art, music for example?
Susan Joyce: Here’s the grilled cheese sandwich for Julie.
Julie Haigh: Ooh, that’s different Susan-is that how you have it in Uruguay? I LIKE the look of that!!!!
— On close inspection I see it’s two halves of toasted sandwich-I thought it was one huge one!
Susan Joyce: And here’s Julie’s lemon pie. Hopefully she will share.
Julie Haigh: There you are John-more takers for your crime novel- Kate Pill is also really interested-better start making some notes!
Kate Pill: Yum! A slice of pie for me too please
Julie Haigh: Yep-dive right in Kate!
Kate Pill: Is there sauce in that grilled cheese sandwich? Yum – move over Julie Haigh it’s mine!!
John Searancke: I thought that you were going to bed, Kate Pill??
Julie Haigh: Sauce-which sauce would you be having Kate? I’m having a bit of marmite on mine.
Charlotte Smith: No she wants pie now John
Kate Pill: Yes, John Searancke I should be, but …
Susan Joyce: Julie and Kate, it’s either marmite or ketchup. Your choice.
Kate Pill: Vegemite and cheese Julie Haigh. Sorry john, I’ll stop hijacking your fred *sidles over to sandwich and swipes it before heading over to naughty step*
Julie Haigh: Same here-marmite is sort of same thing as vegemite.
Kate Pill: *munching on pie*
John Searancke: Julie Haigh – I can’t keep up! You asked about about hobbies, now that I am retired. Well, I seem to be busier now than when I was in full time work. It seems a cliché and I have heard it so man times. I am critico gastronomico for Island Connections, the main Canary Islands English language newspaper. I have to visit a number of bars and restaurants (Well, someone has to do it!) and I write regular reviews. I also do some motoring correspondent work and I have an old classic car, which inevitably keeps one busy. It is a Mercedes 300 SL convertible, 24 years old now. I bought it in the UK and drove it from there to Tenerife. Its story is briefly in the book. Hope you enjoy it!
–Pie for me too, please!
Susan Joyce: Coming right up John.
John Searancke: Ta everso, Susan.
Julie Haigh: If there’s enough left Kate’s just had a right big wodge of it!
Kate Pill: *zzzzzzzzzzzz hand on belly*
Susan Joyce: John, I’d like to hear more about your next book. What was the slant that your editor didn’t like?
Kate Pill: Critico gastronomico – that sounds like a lot of fun John. How did you become involved with that? And yes, what slant are you thinking of with the WW2 book?
John Searancke: Susan Joyce I did 8 chapters and sent it off for her comment, as she had suggested. I was writing it as fact, but she thought that it came over much more like fiction. I dunno, perhaps it was my fault. I have a huge hoard of letters written between my mother and father between 1940 and 1945. He led a charmed life during the war – if you can include travelling across France in a cattle truck to his final destination at a POW camp in northern Germany. He was captured in Normandy. He took me, when I was about 16, to the actual orchard, and I could see the bullet holes in the orchard wall still there. I just want to record such a journey over that 5 year period. Anyway, I am going to get started on it, hopefully at the end of the month. If other authors out there have any suggestions or ideas I will be very pleased to hear them.
Susan Joyce: John, sounds very interesting to me. Are you writing it from both parents viewpoints? That would be intriguing.
Julie Haigh: What about his story told through letters? I really like that sort of format-that and diary format for books-memoir and fiction books, I do like them written in this way.
–Prose mixed in with lots of letters-that would really appeal to me.
Julie Haigh: Perhaps you need to employ me as your editor ha ha!
John Searancke: Kate Pill are you still with us, or have you popped off to bed now? Critico gastronomico is just a fancy title for a restaurant reviewer. I have been doing it now for about 3 years. The editor of the newspaper sent me an email one day asking if I would be interested and I just said yes. She had learned that I had been in the hotel/tourism industry for upwards of 35 years, and had owned an hotel and held 2 AA rosettes for my restaurant for about the previous 5 years, with 1 rosette before that. I said that I would only do it if I could record the bad stuff as well as the good. I got the OK and away we went. I also included, much to everyone’s amazement, a loo score, on the basis that a grotty loo could put you off from a place that served good food. That was well received, and has caught on elsewhere. As an example, I had to go to a well known restaurant in the south of the island the day before yesterday. Our two meals were so bad that I refused to write a word. There was nothing to say good at all. By contrast, we went out last evening to a small wine bar and had the most superb tapas and I shall be giving that almost unknown place the full 10 out of 10. The owner gets only local Spanish clientele, and bemoaned the fact that the English and Germans just walk on by.
Julie Haigh: What sort of foods are your favourites? and have your tastes changed much since living in Tenerife?
Susan Joyce: Good for you John. Like your style of reporting.
John Searancke: Susan and Julie – yes I think that is what she is trying to get me to do, rather than a straightforward storyline. I think that I just lack the experience to get my head round a different format and genre.
Susan Joyce: I love the fact that life isn’t linear.
Susan Jackson: Here is breakfast for the late risers–eggs, sausage, toast and for those that don’t know–grits!! Enjoy, I am off to the movies to see Blended with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore–I am about to quit going to the movies–it has just gotten tooooo expensive. And then to the mall to spend whatever I have left after the movies. Helped hubby clean the pine needles out of the rain gutters before the next onslaught this afternoon!! Have fun.
Julie Haigh: Well I agree with your editor if that’s what she’s trying to get you to do and Susan’s idea of the different viewpoints-that could come through the exchanges of letters in the book-yes-I think you’d really be on to a winner then!
Susan Joyce: Thanks Susan Jackson! Looks delicious!
–Have fun Susan Jackson!
Julie Haigh: Very thoughtful Susan Jackson. Enjoy your movie!
Susan Jackson: John Searancke, I have commented several times that I think lots of memoirs read like fiction so why do I have to read fiction?
John Searancke: Just catching up with an earlier query from Julie Haigh about food over here in Tenerife. Up here in the north of the island, we eat with the seasons. So, if mangoes are in season, then we eat them then. The same goes for beans, cauliflower, leeks etc. The exceptions are the ubiquitous banana which is available all year round. Our Canary banana, variety Dwarf Cavendish, has much more flavour than those big ones you see in English supermarkets. Tomatoes and melons and potatoes are cropped three times a year..the climate brings things on a treat. Down in the south the tomatoes and melons, and some bananas, are forced in huge plastic sheds. We have none in this part of the island, and it is interesting to drive uphill in the valley and just see how the crops change, the higher one goes. Our Orotava valley is also famous for its vines, from which superb wine is made.
— Well, truth is often stranger than fiction, Susan Jackson and I appreciate everyone’s advice.
Charlotte Smith: I love eating things in season – they taste so much better and you appreciate them much more than if you can have them all the year round. I do most of my shopping in the local village and everything sold is seasonal. Yesterday I went to a proper supermarket and I noticed some tomatoes imported from Holland. Why on earth would you buy those when Spanish tomatoes are so delicious?
John Searancke: I totally agree with you Charlotte Smith. We go to a weekend farmers market here and buy everything direct at much cheaper prices and much fresher too! Those Dutch tomatoes are grown by hydroponics, I believe, using a waste product not mentionable in public! I may be wrong, of course, by way of disclaimer.
— Someone asked me earlier about the front cover of my book. I had the idea in my mind of something that was typical of the island, that potential readers might know of or be drawn to. So the volcano was a given. So was a palm tree. I wanted a picture of Freddie to be included, and I had a photo of him rooting about in the garden, with just his backside on display. I handed my ideas to my brother in law, John Harding, who is a talented illustrator, painter and exhibitor (do ask me for his details if you may be interested in his services) and he produced varying sketches and then a full painting of what I wanted. I checked with my editor who said that it was great, and Troubadour OK’d it too, which rather surprised me. So that was that, and it went ahead. When you actually hold the book in your hand, it just looks great. But then, I am biased, I suppose…
Julie Haigh: I also think the cover of your book is very eye-catching and colourful.
Frank Kusy: Have a great spotlight John, sorry this is just a flying visit, I’m off to me 60th birthday bash. Enjoy your day in the sun(day)
Susan Joyce: John, we also have the Dwarf Cavendish bananas here. They are delicious!
Julie Haigh: I’ve never even heard of Dwarf Cavendish bananas!
John Searancke: Hi there Frank Kusy and thanks for the good wishes. Have a good 60th bash. I am hopeful of going for a swim before the sun goes down.
Julie Haigh: ……just looking back a bit through the spotlight to see if it says earlier what this type bananas is like…………..
Susan Joyce: Happy Birthday Frank!
Bambi Flanner: I’ve noticed that we have several members from Tenerife. Bearing in mind that I’m geographically disabled, how does Tenerife compare to the other Canaries?
Julie Haigh: Ok, just looked back and seen it-canary banana
John Searancke: Julie, they are a smaller, sweeter variety about two thirds the length of the average UK supermarket variety. Over here, they are characterised by some black blotches on the skin, but that does not mean that they are over ripe or anything like that. Best type in the world!
Bambi Flanner: And also, if the north is so lush and beautiful, who do so many people choose the arid, dry south? Is it beaches?
Susan Joyce: John, yes your cover is a stand-out one. Definitely a winner.
John Searancke: Thanks, Susan.
Julie Haigh: There are some really tiny bananas I’ve seen in the supermarket over here in England but I didn’t notice what variety they were-I will check them out in case they are those or something like them.
Nancy Gould Gomoll: Just caught up on this fred. I will have to get your book and add it to my collection of “to be read”. I hope you are enjoying your day in the spot light. I cannot stay but will catch up on things later. All this talk of fresh fruit is making me hungry. Unfortunately here in Michigan, USA we are always stuck with the imported stuff . When I travel it is the fresh fruit and the variety that I really love to eat! Well, Have a great day and thanks for taking your time to share with us. We all appreciate it (even those of us who have to read thru this after the fact!).
Susan Joyce: John, do you have a swimming pool? You mention going for a swim.
Gramma Lupcho: Good morning,John, from Georgia, USA.. Coffee here bright sunny and cloudless here. I’m looking forward to reading ur book. Have you ever regretted the move?? And how fares your better half??
John Searancke: Bambi Flanner thanks for joining in. Tenerife is one of the Canary Islands, of which there are 7 if you discount La Graciosa which is (almost) uninhabited. The islands are Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, El Hierro, La Palma, and La Gomera. Together we make up a clearly defined archipelago. All are volcanic, some with their own smaller/extinct/dormant volcanoes, but Tenerife has the big one, El Teide, the highest peak in all of Spain. Capped in snow for part of the year, it creates differing climates for the north and the south. As you said, it is the beaches and the wall to wall sunshine that attracts the holiday makers in their droves to the south of the island, which is now significantly built up. We hate it, but that’s another story, and I can quite understand why people flock there for their summer or winter holidays. Here in the north we have a slightly more temperate climate and we actually grow things in real soil! It is a slower pace of life with real Canarian people. The scenery is stunning, and much less built up. There are old towns unspoiled by modernisation etc. Here in the north is where the Spanish conquistadores came to exxex Tenerife and the local indigenous Guanche population fought back to oppose them until they finally were vanquished. I am so in love with it that I could go on for ever…
Julie Haigh: Now John-that sounds so good, have you just typed it now totally spontaneously? Or have you done a travel writing piece? If not-maybe another string to your bow to think about-a travel guide?
John Searancke: Thanks so much Nancy Gould Gomoll for your brief visit. As an unknown author, I am flattered that you gave any time at all to express interest in my book. Perhaps we may catch up later on? Have a great day over there in the US of A.
— Susan, we have the end apartment in a development. There is a communal pool…quite vast… at the other end, so it is quiet for us here. The development is not a holiday complex but a place where “real” local people live. We love it.
–Julie Haigh No I just bashed it out on the spot.
John Searancke: Hi there Gramma Lupcho, thanks for joining in the fun. Coffee break time for you over there? I reckon its time here for an early cuppa. Anyone got a tea tray to offer?
Judi Bedford-Keogh: Oooh 170 comments. I have been out walking – need to catch up
Frankie Knight: I preferred the north and east of the island when I used to visit. It was lush but still very warm. The south was not built on at all and the tourist places did not exist. It was the first time I’d seen bananas growing and was fascinated by it. I had several growing back in UK and even had small bunches on them. Due to the weather they did not ripen. I brought several small ones to Spain with me but they die off in winter in the cold and only get to about a metre tall in summer.
–Do you speak Spanish John? I suppose you must if you are visiting restaurants?
John Searancke: Gramma, we have not regretted the move (the book tells all, so enjoy!) My better half says that she is cursing the fact that I am not actually Ken Follett and that she has to do some ironing whilst I am at this keyboard!!
Julie Haigh: Amazing for just a ‘bashed out’ effort John!
John Searancke: Well, thank you, Julie.
— Frankie it must have been many moons ago that you visited Tenerife then, if the south of the island had not been built on. I was there with my first wife when they just started to build at Playa Las Americas, which has now developed into a concrete horror story. Sally and I both had Spanish lessons when we came here. We were very lucky to find a Swedish (!) professor de idiomas who taught us. We have now become friends of the family with them and are currently in the process of arranging for one of her students to stay with my son’s family whist she does an English course in Brighton. How strange is life?
Gramma Lupcho: Actually coffee is my eye opener for the day! I’m a late morning bird – a privilege that comes with my age!!
Frankie Knight: Yes, it was possibly during the 70’s that I was there. I visited several times and landed at the only airport in the middle of the island (now closed I believe after the horrendous accident?) and stayed in a hotel in a small coastal village about half way down the east coast (sorry, cannot remember the name).
Gramma Lupcho: Do you have a schedule for writing or is it as the spirit wills???
Frankie Knight: The Spanish you speak there is different to our Spanish. There were 2 people in my class who had lived on Tenerife for several years and we were surprised at how many things were different. I don’t just mean the appalling Andalucian accent either.
John Searancke: Frankie I think that I was there in the 60’s. The airport that you mention is Los Rodeos, here in the north of the island just outside the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. It is still open, despite that dreadful crash in the fog when over 300 people died. In fact, neither plane should have been there, one having being diverted from Gando because of the weather there. The airport is going great guns and has as much traffic as the newer one in the south, but with a preponderance of commercial traffic. Most flights to the Peninsula go from there, many times a day.
–Gramma, I have only done 1 book so far. I tried very hard to set aside time most mornings, but what with dog walking, and other intrusions, it was a bit of a free for all. For this next book I am going to try hard to be more disciplined.
Susan Joyce: John, do you have a working title for your new book?
John Searancke: Frankie Tell me about it! Boy oh boy is it different over here! Its like having to learn all over again. Our Spanish neighbours, properly brought up in the language, confess that they can hardly understand things if they go into shops higher up in the hills behind us, all of 3 kilometres away!
Judi Bedford-Keogh: Wow what a good fred. Most of the questions I wanted to ask have been answered. Is El Hierro still “growing”? My parents spent the 6 winter month on Tenerife for almost 20 years. They were in the South, Los Cristianos, and I didn’t like it at all. I only saw the North when Mum ended up in hospital in Puero de la Cruz. I spent many an hour exploring as I waited for visiting time. It is a lovely city; i do hope the new development, port/marina, doesn’t spoil it
John Searancke: Oh, Susan, what a perceptive question. At the moment I am torn between A Captive Audience, and An Everyday Hero. Trailing in in third place is In The Still Of The NIght. Comments will be welcome.
Susan Joyce: I like #1. Catchy!
Judi Bedford-Keogh: The Still of the Night -isn’t there a song? I like #1
Susan Joyce: In the Still of the Night is the song and that would make a good title.
John Searancke: Hi Judi Bedford-Keogh, I am so pleased you like this fred. I thought it might be over by elevenses. Puerto is still a lovely old town. I was in Los Cristianos two days ago, and like you, I don’t like it either. It is now one complete development right down to Playa Las Americas. A concrete jungle. El Hierro is still growing! We now have a small underwater infant volcano, clearly visible on the NASA space photographs, and if the tremors still go on, it will be incredible to see a nascent volcano emerge from the seabed. A couple of years ago La Restinga on the coast had to be evacuated, dead fish floated for miles around the actual spot, and the smell of sulphur was classed as toxic. Fortunately, although there are still tremors – we had one about 4 miles away not so long ago – everyone is back to normal.
Bambi Flanner: So, what exactly is elevenses?
–And I like Everyday Hero. I feel it’s relatable to everyone, and will draw people in. But that’s just me. Lol.
Judi Bedford-Keogh: We get earth quakes quite regularly here on the mainland. Fortunately not strong except for the one that struck Lorca about 3 years ago. Lorca is about 50kms from here and we felt the quake
John Searancke: Bambi, Elevenses are what you have at 11 am in England. It consists of a cup/mug of tea accompanied by dunking biscuits. It is an important national ritual – a bit like Corrie!
Bambi Flanner: Corrie?
John Searancke: CORONATION STREET!
Bambi Flanner: Aha! sorry. >sheepish<
Julie Haigh: I too like An Everyday Hero and yes you’re right Susan Joyce, In The Still Of The Night is a song by Cole Porter.
John Searancke: No problem, Bambi. Are you still in Wiesbaden?
Gramma Lupcho: Probably written in the 1930s
Bambi Flanner: No, I went to high school there. I’m currently state side, but have always wanted to go back. With an adult memory this time.
John Searancke: I have happy memories of Wiesbaden, Bambi. A nice city.
Susan Joyce: From the way John speaks of his father, he wasn’t an “Everyday” kind of guy.
Bambi Flanner: I was there from 1974 to 1977. I lived in Berchtesgaden when I was 9 and 10, so I need to go back and see it all again. My memories of both are very, very good.
Charlotte Smith: Sorry John – I’ve been neglecting you. Have just caught up on your thread. Here’s your tea
John Searancke: You are quite right, Susan, but he seldom spoke about his experiences, which had to have been horrific, so from that point of view he could have been termed as modest. He led a company of men against German panzer tanks and was in the thick of a battle close to where a VC was awarded. He never mentioned that to me and I only found out by research after he died.
–Thanks Charlotte Smith I do like a nice bit of fine bone china.
John Searancke: Bambi Flanner Military family?
Bambi Flanner: Yes. Definitely. Dad was US Air Force. Vietnam.
Frankie Knight: John, that’s a sign of good breeding – drinking from a nice china cup!!! I do not drink tea but always drink my coffee from bone china….
Terry Bryan: Good, Charlotte, I was just thinking someone might like a snack. Or tea.
Gramma Lupcho: My hubby John was WWII, aircraft carrier Hornet in the Pacific. He loved drinking in good company! And I was really good company..
John Searancke: I love that last bit Gramma Lupcho!
Gramma Lupcho: And always a good snack. He loved Genoa Salami and Pepperoni snacks. His Mom send him both when he was on the Hornet and sometimes took 3 months to deliver, but he said it was always wonderful as he and his budies made short work of it!!
John Searancke: That looks a good snack to me, Terry.
Susan Joyce: Here’s to Gramma for being good company!
Frankie Knight: What ALL of them????
Gramma Lupcho: Yes, champagne, my drink of choice always!
Susan Joyce: Thanks Terry! Perfect with champagne. Frankie, enough for you also!
Charlotte Smith: I’m sure Gramma will share if you ask nicely Frankie