Friday 9 December 2011

Father Christmas and the Fly Agaric

Traditional Santa Claus
Father Christmas is always dressed in a red and white suit and so too is the hallucinogenic Fly Agaric mushroom. Both are associated with reindeer too. Santa Claus has reindeer pulling his sleigh and reindeer eat Fly Agaric mushrooms. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer has a red nose as well. It all seems too much of a coincidence don't you think?

Several authors have theorised that the Santa Claus myth came about because in Lapland and parts of Siberia the Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) was used by shamans because of its hallucinogenic properties. Not only that but reindeer eat the fungus and their urine could be drunk, as can that of humans who have consumed the red and white toadstools, in an effort to become in the visionary state of intoxication it provides. There is simply too much of a coincidence that the Fly Agaric is bright red and white and that the costume that Father Christmas wears is the same colour scheme.

Author and filmmaker Chris Everard has written extensively in his new book Stoneage Psychedelia about the uses of the Fly Agaric. Everard also puts forward the view that many religions were based around the use of this hallucinogenic fungus and other herbs that have mind-altering properties.

In hallucinatory states the user of a shamanic substance, such as the Fly Agaric, may well feel they are mentally flying or voyaging to other realms. In the Santa Claus story he is helped by reindeer that enable his sleigh to fly through the sky. It all seems far too much of a coincidence dont you think?

Read more here: Father Christmas and the Fly Agaric

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Catfish are the bottom-feeders

Walking Catfish (Clarias batrachus) 

There are very many fish known as catfish in the world and most of these have whisker-like barbels that have earned them the name. Lots of the species found in the tropics are popular with tropical fish enthusiasts who like to keep them in their aquariums as pets. There are some really weird species of catfish such as the Walking Catfish and the Glass Catfish, and yes, the former travels over the ground and the latter you can see through!

I know that when I was younger and had a whole lot ot tropical fish tanks that I had a growing collection of various types of catfish. They fascinated me because of their unusual appearances and behaviour. I never saw any types of catfish as ugly though I am sure many people might view them that way.  On the contrary I find their whiskery faces rather cute.  I also really enjoy watching catfish rummaging around looking for food, food that other fish have missed out on.

Many people think that catfish will keep a tank clean and that they live on the dirt that accumulates but this is not true. Catfish need proper food just like other species of tropical fish. It is just that many types of catfish are adapted to search in the bottom substrate for food that may have escaped into it. This is where their barbels come in handy. Some types of catfish have sucker mouths that are used for grazing on the algae that grows on rocks, plants and the glass sides of an aquarium. 

Catfish are the bottom-feeders

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Livebearers are tropical fish such as guppies, mollies, platies and swordtails

Sailfin Molly (source Wikipedia) 

The Guppy is a very commonly kept tropical fish, as is the Platy, the Swordtail and the Molly. All of these fish are livebearers which means that the females give birth to baby fish unlike most types of fish that lay eggs.
This makes the live-bearing tropical fish easier to breed and keep. many fancy varieties have been selectively bred and you can get Veiltail Guppies, Red Swordtails and Black Mollies. In the following hub I take a look at all the different types and some of the more unusual livebearers too, such as the Halfbeaks.

As a boy and in my teens, I used to have a lot of tropical fish tanks, and keeping livebearers was a very important part of my hobby as well as keeping the egg-layers. I think that, like many people, I started out keeping Guppies and Platies and the other easier types of fish to keep and breed. It wasn't just that they were so easy to breed because I found them fascinating to watch too.  And, of course, many of the livebearers, such as the fancy guppies, have spectacular colours and fins too. Some types, such as the already mentioned, Halfbeaks, certainly wouldn't win any fish beauty contests, but their very unusual appearance guaranteed them a place in my tank.

It was exciting watching the pregnant females of my livebearer tropical fish get bigger every day because you knew that soon they would have their babies. Taking precautions so that the tiny fry didn't get eaten was another important part of it all.

Livebearers are tropical fish such as guppies, mollies, platies and swordtails

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday 27 November 2011

The Gouramis are interesting popular tropical fish to keep

Giant Gourami

There are many species of Gourami. Gouramis are tropical fish from Asia that are often kept by tropical fish enthusiasts. Most species are bubble-nest breeders, meaning that the male gourami blows a nest of bubbles into which the female's eggs are laid or are placed. The male will then guard them.
The largest species of Gourami is aptly named the Giant Gourami and can grow to over 2 ft.

I used to be fascinated by the various gourami types because of their unusual breeding habits in which the males build floating nests of bubbles and also because of their unusual appearance. I like to watch how these fish use their 'feelers' and also how they rise to the surface to gulp air from time to time. All gouramis are Anabantid or Labyrinth fish, and have the ability to survive in water that is low in oxygen because they can also make use of atmospheric air to breathe. This ability is linked with the bubble-nest huilding of the male gouramis too.

I never had any Giant Gouramis in my collection because I knew they would grow too big. I used to like to see them in the show tanks at the local aquarium shop though. I used to dream of one day, when I was grown up, of having big enough tanks to keep these massive fish in, and all the other very large species of tropical fish that you can get. Not having the space meant that I had to be content with keeping Dwarf, Thicklip and Blue Gouramis, the species that could be housed and bred in aquariums that I could afford to have and that my mother would allow in my bedroom.

The Gouramis are interesting popular tropical fish to keep

Thursday 24 November 2011

Poinsettia is a flower for Christmas and a member of the Spurge family

Pretty Poinsettias

Poinsettias can be seen in full bloom now in many parts of Tenerife where they are grown in gardens, parks and along roadsides. They form large bushes and small trees and are ablaze with their bright red bracts that have made the plant become associated with Christmas. The Poinsettia is actually a member of the large and varied Spurge family and is known to botanists as Euphorbia pulcherrima.

The Poinsettia is a very popular ornamental shrub or pot-plant in many other parts of the world too. In America and the UK, for example, these plants are just as important at Christmas time because of their festive colour.  In Tenerife Poinsettias are planted out in flower borders in parks and public places to make large colourful displays. They are also grown in pots to help beautify the house or to place on a terrace or balcony perhaps.

The Spurge family, to which the Poinsettia belongs, is a very interesting and very large group of plants. There are Euphorbia species that grow as small trees, others that look more like cacti and other types that look like ordinary plants with green leaves and stems. Some types are covered in thorns, some grow as succulents, and yet others are common weeds of gardens and fields. The one thing they all have in common is the toxic white juice or latex which will quickly ooze out if the plants are broken.

Many species of Euphorbia thrive on the island of Tenerife, both endemic species and exotic ornamental types like the Poinsettia that have been brought there. The warm climate suits these unusual plants very well.

Poinsettia is a flower for Christmas and a member of the Spurge family

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Monday 21 November 2011

Live food for tropical fish to get them in good condition for breeding

Culex mosquito larva

When I was a boy I used to love to keep tropical fish and quickly learned that if I wanted to keep them healthy and to breed them then live foods were essential. Bloodworms, tubifex, mosquito larvae and daphnia were all excellent foods but my favourite was the humble earthworm and the fish liked them a lot too! I used to spend a lot of time finding food for my pets.

Water butts were a great source of mosquito larvae and blood-worms. Tubifex I collected in the black stinking mud of the River Taff and daphnia could be netted in local ponds as well as being quite easy to breed in containers of stagnant water.  Earthworms, of course, came out of the ground.

There were techniques you had to learn or come up with in order to get enough of the live foods your fish needed. I remember leaving large dollops of mud containing tubifex worms to dry out. The worms would form into large masses underneath in an effort to conserve moisture and were easy to pick out and then to swill under clean water before feeding to my fish.

Mosquito larvae present a challenge because they will quickly swim down into the depths of any water they are in if they are disturbed. The trick is not to disturb them and to quickly skim or net the wrigglers from the surface.  Bloodworms can be harvested like Tubifex or can be carefully picked out of the tubes of mud and muck they make.  Daphnia can be netted using a fine gauze mesh in the net you are using.

Newly-hatched brine shrimp nauplii were the best food for tropical fish fry. 

Live food for tropical fish to get them in good condition for breeding

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Las Galletas means the biscuits

One of the Las Galletas beaches

Las Galletas may well mean “The Biscuits” when translated from the Spanish but I am thinking of a charming fishing village turned resort town in Tenerife South that bears the same name. Las Galletas is not far from Los Cristianos and the Reina Sofia Airport as well.
Las Galletas has become a really popular seaside town with a good range of varied shopping, plenty of bars and restaurants and an attractive seafront promenade. It also has its own harbour and new marina where cruises operate from. It is possible to go diving from Las Galletas which has a dive centre as well.
Las Galletas is the neighbour of Costa del Silencio with its many housing complexes and large community of British ex-pats and other visitors to the island. Part of Costa del Silencio is known as Ten-Bel, and this was one of the first specially built self-catering resort developments. There are many Tenerife apartments for rental in Costa del Silencio and Las Galletas itself, and this is why so many people end up staying there after they have discovered these places when looking for Tenerife accommodation.
Because Las Galletas is in the extreme south of Tenerife it usually has excellent weather and plenty of sunshine. This makes it just the sort of place holiday-makers are looking for. Its proximity to the resorts of Los Cristianos and Las Americas goes in its favour too, as does the fact that it is very near to the Reina Sofia Airport for Tenerife South.
Las Galletas has two long beaches and one of these is very popular with sun-bathers and swimmers even though it has a lot of pebbles on it and it is right in front of the road. Its sunshine, calm waters and view over the marina with the many boats there more than make up for any disadvantages! 

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Why Tenerife South is the holiday-maker's first choice?

Tenerife South Airport

Tenerife’s Reina Sofia Airport is situated in the south of the island and that makes it the point of arrival for most tourists who are taking their holidays there. Tenerife South is the first choice of very many holiday-makers, and with good reason.
The south of the island is very different to the cooler and cloudier north. Tenerife’s south gets the best of the weather all year around, so if it is sunshine you want then this is where you are likely to find it.
This has led to the main tourist resorts being created in the south of Tenerife. Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas are neighbours on the coast of Tenerife South with other resort developments and seaside towns further along the coastline.
Of course all tourists visiting the island will need to find suitable Tenerife accommodation. Although there are hotels in the resorts, many holiday-makers prefer to book self-catering holidays in Tenerife apartments. There are countless such apartments available for rent in the south of Tenerife, and all are within easy reach of the beach.
Tenerife’s south has plenty of long sandy beaches, as well as loads of bars and restaurants. Everything the typical holiday-maker can want is found in this part of the island. There are theme parks too such as Siam Park and Aqualand.
El Medano is on the southern coast of Tenerife and this is where all the wind-surfing enthusiasts gather. This seaside town has one of the best beaches on the island and is also very near the airport. Los Abrigos, famous for its restaurants where you can get some of the best fish dishes on the island, is next to El Medano and both places are very near Golf del Sur where golfers can enjoy their sport whilst on a holiday in the sun.

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Friday 5 August 2011

Los Cristianos is one of the most popular resorts in Tenerife

Los Cristianos harbour photo by David Parkes

Los Cristianos in the south of Tenerife is one of the most well known and popular tourist resorts on the island. In fact for many people it is the only part of Tenerife they really know. Los Cristianos is where countless holiday-makers go and find it has all they are looking for.
Los Cristianos has the sandy beaches, the warm subtropical sunshine, the bars and restaurants and an excellent range of shops and local businesses. It is also within easy reach of the Tenerife South Airport.
There are hotels in Los Cristianos but many visitors to the island who are looking for Tenerife accommodation chose self-catering holidays in rented apartments. There are plenty of short-term lets as well as long-term rentals available for Tenerife apartments.
Apartment blocks and community complexes usually have their own swimming pools for residents and are not far from shops and bars. It is easy to get to the beach too in Los Cristianos, which is where most holiday-makers like to spend a lot of their time.
There are two large sandy beaches and a smaller one. The main beaches are Playa de los Cristianos, which is near the resort’s harbour, and Playa de las Vistas, which has been awarded a Blue Flag of excellence. The beaches provide long expanses of golden sand and are ideal for sunbathers. Sun-beds are readily available and WC and shower facilities are provided.
Los Cristianos runs right into and merges with the resort of Las Americas, and it is easy to walk along the seafront that joins the two.
Los Cristianos harbour is a focal point of the seaside town and also where ferries travel to the neighbouring island of La Gomera from.
Los Cristianos has an excellent regular bus service that enables travellers to get to many parts of the island from or for shorter journeys in the south.
Los Cristianos started life as a fishing village but in the late 1960s it began to develop fast into the thriving tourist town it has become today.

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

Friday 24 June 2011

Popular Tenerife Resorts

Las Americas at sunset

Tenerife in the Canary Islands is a very popular destination for holiday-makers with many British people, as well as Germans and other nationalities choosing it as the ideal place to spend their holidays. Of course this is understandable with its subtropical climate, sandy beaches and modern tourist resorts.
It is also easy to book flights to Tenerife, especially to Reina Sofia Tenerife South Airport, which is within convenient travelling distance from the main resorts in that part of the island. Visitors to the island have plenty to choose from when it comes to a selection of affordable Tenerife accommodation, and there are short-term lets for Tenerife Apartments as well as long-term rentals available.
There are plenty of apartment blocks, apartment-hotels and more conventional hotels on offer in Tenerife but many visitors like to choose a self-catering holiday to suit their pockets.
The most popular and well known resorts in the south of Tenerife are Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas but there are many other coastal villages that fit into the resort category as well.
The resorts offer everything a holiday-maker could want. Besides the wonderful beaches and plentiful sunshine there are loads of bars and restaurants, as well as large modern shopping centres. There are theme parks like Siam Park, as well as coach and minibus excursions all around the island.
The resorts are served by an excellent bus service too that makes it easy for visitors to the island to get about, although many are quite content to use the local beaches and facilities in the area they are holidaying in.
Tenerife North, which on the whole offers a cooler climate and more rain that allows luxuriant vegetation to grow, has resorts too with Puerto de la Cruz being the most popular and largest of these. This is where you can visit the world famous Loro Parque Parrot Park or relax on its black sand beach with its own gardens known as Playa Jardin.

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.