Oct 12 03
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This autumn’s pre-winter trip was to the politically Spanish but geographically north African Canary Islands.

Well, I wanted heat and sun and I got both in Lanzarote. They had had no rain for a year – until last Thursday! After a tropical downpour the humidity improved and it was more comfortable for walking.

Cliff top scenery

As you probably know Lanzarote is volcanic and all the hills are volcanoes.

looking down into a crater

Although the volcanoes appear to be dormant it is in some places possible to dig a few inches down, through lava gravel, to reach temperatures too hot to touch. There is a visitor centre where the staff do party tricks such as chucking dry leaves into a hole where they sem to spontaneously combust. There is also a lot of interesting geology to look at.

Black sand and strata

I also visited Isla Graciosa which has “proper”, yellow, sand. Here I know Tish would have enjoyed being thrown around by the Atlantic breakers as I was :) Very invigorating. However, for my money, if you want to see active geology I would recommend Iceland where there are live explosions, steaming pools, and it is possible to step from one tectonic plate to another.

Because it was so dry the scenery was not that attractive and most of the time it was like walking on the surface of the moon. Astonishingly the many bodegas were still serving wine – I tried a very pleasant rose – though, to judge from the sad-looking vines, I suspect that most of the product was from last year’s harvest.

The little crescents on the ground are small walls built of lava to protect the vines, or other plants, from the prevailing wind. There are many thousands of these evidencing an enormous amount of hard labour over the last 300 years.

As well as some exercise, working on my tan, and eating huge amounts of food (back on the fitness diet now) I made some new friends:

All in all a very welcome interlude after a rubbish summer of poor weather and hospital visits. Now: whwere is the atlas to research the next trip??

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