Walking ferns

  In the shadier corners of the laurel forest on La Palma, the ferns walk about. Sort of. Woodwardia ferns live in the damper parts of the forest. You can find them along the river bed at Los Tilos, and in the irrigated garden around the visitor centre. They have enormous fronds, anything up to a metre long. When the tip of a frond touches the ground, it often sprouts…

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The Dragon Tree Viewpoint

  There’s a rather nice viewpoint in Puntagorda, on the main road at km 78. Its most obvious attraction is the dragon tree, leaning much further over than the tower at Pisa. > But when I was last there, I was charmed by a tame red-billed chough, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax barbarus. They’re relatives of rooks and crows, but this particular sub-species only lives on La Palma where they’re called grajas. They’re…

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The Altar of San Juan church, Puntallana, La Palma

The Church of San Juan, Puntallana

The exterior of the church of San Juan, Puntallana   As Palmeran churches go, the church of St. John the Baptist in Puntallana isn’t all that old. The presbytery and the side chapels date from the 16th century, and the nave from the 1719. It was officially declared an Asset of Cultural Interest (rather like a listed building) in 1994. The main altar in the church of San Juan, Puntallana…

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Growing Bananas on La Palma

  When I first came to La Palma in 1990, around 40% of the population depended on the banana trade: growing bananas, packing them, or driving them. But even with the EU subsidy, it’s hard to make a living from bananas. If you’re unlucky with the weather, you can work hard all year and still make a loss. So the economy is diversifying, and a good thing too. But bananas…

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Llano del Jable, Pico Birigoyo, LA Palma. Photo: Kai Petersen

Photos of La Palma by Kai Petersen

Kai Petersen has some spectacular photos of La Palma at his website: http://www.lightpaintingfreaks.com/index.php?/albums/la-palma/   My favourites are the night photos with stars, but he also took this lovely photo of my and my friend Nevermore on a tour of the Observatory of the Roque de Los Muchachos. The website is in German, but you don’t need words to enjoy them. I really recommend a visit, because there are 37 more!

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Volcanic Caves

I come from Yorkshire and I’m used to limestone caves, so I was surprised when I found that the volcanic island of La Palma has lots of caves too. Volcanic caves are formed when a river of lava solidifies on the top and sides, but the middle (insulated by the solid-but-still-hot lava around it) stays runny. Sometimes big bubbles of gas force their way to the surface, leaving a hole…

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