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    • BarrieMahoney When I moved to the Costa Blanca, I recall being told by one consular official that, “The Brits come here to die”. I quickly discovered that nothing could be further from the truth...
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    The Canary Islands have a history that is, quite literally, littered with explosions. Each of the seven main islands was created by hot...
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    • BarrieMahoney Agatha Christie visited the Canary Islands in search of a tranquil and recuperative environment to help her calm a troubled mind. In February 1927, at the age of 36, she visited the Canary Islands to recover from a number of events that had taken place in her life and were having a serious impact upon her mental health. www.barriemahoney.com
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    • BarrieMahoney Lighthouses and Lime Kilns "There are many lighthouses in the Canary Islands and locals and many visitors will know that there is a particularly fine one at Maspalomas in Gran Canaria. The lighthouse, or Faro in Spanish, helps sailors to navigate their ships and is an integral part of sea-life. Usually, they are cylindrical towers with a light on top, and emit a fixed sequence of beams that is unique to a particular lighthouse. Built in 1980, the Maspalomas lighthouse is still operational and, for those who like full details, provides 3 white flashes every 13 seconds. Before lighthouses were invented, sailors were warned of hazards by the lighting of fires along the coastline..." www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    • BarrieMahoney It is a safe bet that few people living in the UK and Northern Europe will have little sympathy for poor weather conditions in the Canary Islands. At the time of writing we see people facing horrendous weather conditions in the UK with reports of temperatures plummeting to minus 20ºC in parts of Scotland, and little better in most parts of the UK. Daily lives and routines are all thrown into chaos, and the health and safety of the young and elderly in particular are put at risk by the excessive cold, as well as very dangerous road conditions. www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    • BarrieMahoney Expats and Ebooks I miss books! One of the most difficult things that I had to do when we left the UK for Spain was to cull my collection of books. We could neither afford to transport them all, nor was there going to be enough storage space in our new Spanish home to accommodate them. Book lovers will know the feeling, I am sure, that books become like old friends - always there to provide words of comfort and support in times of difficulty, laughter as well as endless sources of wisdom collected over the years. In the end, I had to make a decision and most of my collection of books found their way to the Salvation Army shop at the end of our road. It was heartbreaking. Even so, I just could not part with some of my earliest childhood memories and so some of my favourite children’s books are still stored in a box in my elderly Aunt’s garage in the UK. www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
    • audioBoom Ugh - getting rid of books is so hard! I just feel reassured seeing them on my shelves. Kate @Audioboo
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    • BarrieMahoney "Living in present-day Spain and the Canary Islands, it is often hard to remember that Spain has only relatively recently emerged as a successful and fully-fledged democracy after years of fear and repression under the hated Franco regime. As the last remaining statue, erected by Franco during his dictatorship, was recently removed from Barcelona, most Spaniards look to a time when a thick line can finally be drawn under this black period of the country’s history. It is credit to the strength of personality and character of its people that Spain has achieved so much since the dictator’s death, and although not always a popular concept with the British, it must be said that membership of the European Union has also been instrumental in the country’s transformation from fascist dictatorship to a highly successful democracy..." www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    I admit to being a proud European. Although English born and bred, and I still love the United Kingdom, including Scotland if it remains...
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    • BarrieMahoney The Ship that Died I am not a great lover of things nautical; after all, I tend to get seasick when having a bath if the water is too deep. However, the recent announcement of a new ferry service from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria to Huelva in Peninsular Spain, with a journey time of just over one day, as compared to nearly three days on the alternative service, set me thinking about a once-beautiful ship now lying off a beach on our neighbouring island of Fuerteventura. www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    • BarrieMahoney "I have been a vegetarian for many years. I was a vegetarian when it was seen as cranky, receiving comments such as, “Are you sure you can live without meat?” to the time when vegetarianism became the thing for weight loss, or as a declaration by students, mainly to annoy their parents. It then became fashionable to be vegetarian, later it was definitely for the health conscious and now vegetarianism is seen as the way to conserve the world’s scarce food resources. My personal reason for becoming vegetarian so many years ago was very simple; I like animals and I do not wish to eat my friends." www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    • BarrieMahoney El Hierro gained its original name of ‘Fire Island’ from its origins of volcanic eruptions many years ago, and although volcanic activity has now gone, the natural Earth forces of water and wind remain. These power sources are now due to be harnessed so that by 2012, this small island in the Atlantic will be the first to be able to generate all of its electricity needs from sources that are renewable. www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    • BarrieMahoney As much as many expats such as myself enjoy living in our newly adopted countries, it is strange what we miss from our countries of origin. Lemon Curd, Persil tablets and Branston pickle are just a few of the items that I know our friends beg visitors to bring when they visit. For me, it is Marmite, mince pies and ‘J’ cloths that ensure that our visitors receive a particularly warm welcome. I also miss BBC radio news, as well as radio drama... www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    • BarrieMahoney “Phew, it’s hot up my barranco today, darling,” gasped Miranda as she staggered down the street carrying two large and heavy bags of clattering bottles from the local supermarket. Before you get too carried away by imagining a doctor about to don a pair of surgical gloves for some emergency female probing, I should explain that Miranda is one of the village’s more colourful characters. She is a school assistant in one of the less classy private schools by day and a tattooist by night. I once asked if there was any conflict of interest between her two jobs. She screeched loudly in my ear, before resting her mug of gin on top of my car. www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    • BarrieMahoney One of the many things that I enjoy about living in the Canary Islands is a decent cup of coffee. Gone are the days when “a cup of instant” seemed to be the norm, and I still shudder when I return to the UK for a brief visit. A visit to one of the relatively new, and supposedly trendy, overpriced coffee shops is, for me, an ordeal best avoided. A quick visit out of sheer desperation during a frantic shopping expedition led me into one of the many branches of ‘Costa Lottee’ that are opening up in all of the UK’s High Streets - after all, it did offer “Free Wifi Connection.” www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    It is strange how expats suddenly develop a craving for something that reminds them of life in their countries of origin. I guess it is...
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    • BarrieMahoney Nothing says “Royal Wedding” quite like an ostrich’s bottom joined to your left temple. No, I had told myself, I would not be spending the day watching the wedding celebrations and associated hats of a couple I did not know, would never meet and who were representing a country many miles away. www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com
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    • BarrieMahoney It is easy to understand the fascination of many Americans with these small volcanic islands just off the coast of Africa. More than two hundred years have passed since the arrival of the Canary Islanders in Louisiana. However, Spanish surnames are plentiful in Louisiana as well as in other states, and their descendants still treasure the unique heritage of their brave ancestors from the Canary Islands. www.barriemahoney.com
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    • BarrieMahoney My first encounter with ‘The Big Beast’ came shortly after moving into a new housing development in the Costa Blanca. Obtaining a reliable electricity and water supply were both considerable challenges, but none more so than getting a telephone. I recall standing in endless queues with other equally frustrated expats of all nationalities, and sometimes the shop closing before anyone was available to attend to our needs. I have witnessed grown men cry with anger and frustration at the sheer incompetence of trying to get a telephone line installed. www.barriemahoney.com www.thecanaryislander.com
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    • BarrieMahoney I have watched neighbours struggle and become obsessed with the after effects of red rain in the Costa Blanca. At first it was rather amusing to watch the frenetic activity on neighbours’ patios after a rain storm. Patio furniture, tiles, steps, banisters and balustrades all had to be carefully washed and scrubbed within minutes of the rain stopping. After all, this red dust from the Sahara was pretty powerful stuff and it seemed to get into places, cracks and crevices that you would not think possible. www.barriemahoney.com