It needs a decent blaw to get going, never a problem in this wind-battered country of ours, but a different story in sun-baked Tenerife.
But what’s a Saltire even doing flying here in the Canaries?
But there it is, fluttering gently on the pole of the council buildings in the UNESCO city of San Cristobal de La Laguna.
And by the entrance gates of the farmhouse restaurant near the volcanic park El Teide.
And on the masthead of the morning newspaper.
Yes, we love this island with thousands of us visiting the suntraps in the south.
But who knew that out of all the legions of tourists who flock to Tenerife that we’d be the nation they’d take most to their hearts and immortalise on their flag? Eva, my guide on our 12km climb to Afur in the more rugged north with trekking specialists CanariaWays.com can’t tell me why.
She just shrugs her shoulders. Nor David, our host in La Laguna.
So I have to do some digging in the bars and wine shops.
Soon, I’m told it is a common maritime flag and furthermore that the Tinerfenos won it from Admiral Nelson in battle.
Not the only thing he lost…he never again got to clap his hands.
Or maybe you prefer the tale of how some scamps played a trick on St Andrew, who had stopped off on the island, got drunk and fell into a slumber.
They are said to have tied bells to his feet so that when he got up they rung thunderously in his ears. A bit like how I feel this morning. I’ve been on the local wine, Malvasia, the “perfume of the blood” and the perfect accompaniment to island speciality rabbit stew and wrinkled potatoes.
The Canaries became wealthy on such wine, the secret of which is their volcanic soil.
Tenerife is home to Europe’s most visited national park, El Teide, in the shadow of the brooding mountain which, the indigenous Guanches people believe, looks down into hell.
The bleakly dramatic El Teide national park draws 3,000,000 visitors a year to walk its multiple tracks which have been unspoiled for millions of years. Despite its popularity you can feel anonymous in this ashen expanse with only a few lizards as company on the dusty paths.
And that is what separates it from the throbbing tourist trap south.
That and the big sky, cobalt blue by day and lit up at night,
Juan Vicente at the Parador de Canadas del Teide Hotel will be only too happy to get out his light saber torch.
A natural storyteller, he points out Uranus and Saturn and gives us a rendition of The Lion King.
The following day, it’s good wine-growing weather for the Tinerfeno we witness tending his vine in the galleria on the slopes on the way up to Afur, our most arduous climb of our four days, at 12kms. There we meet John and Susie from Bathgate who come here every year. They let the bus take the strain, so have a head start on us when we eventually refuel at a Franco-themed pub at the top of the hill.
And, guess what, John and Susie don’t know the true story of the Tenerife flag either.
I daren’t ask Franco’s friend, the bar owner, even if I could converse with him in Spanish. I do know enough to work out that his beer is only €1.
For all that our new friends have a spring in their step, my joints will repair themselves.
And I have a bank of images and stories you can only really capture high up on a precipitous cliff, between the bowed trees of a rainforest or in a smuggler’s cove.
Effervescent Eva had kept me going with tales of island life on this climb and the promise of a beach where I could take a dip.
Only for it to turn out to be as black as a mine.
Blowing hard from my walk, I have a thought.
Every beach has a flag right?
Only wouldn’t you know in the one place on the island where our beloved flag would dance it is nowhere to be seen.
Perhaps the pirates have taken it, and the story of how they came by our flag.
It hardly seems decent, but on the island there a Christ on a cross wearing a skirt. It’s the most mystifying myth on this island of timeless tales. And it is wrapped in a story which addresses the distinctive challenges of living on a volcanic island.
It’s to ward off eruptions. Naturally!
It hardly seems decent, but on the island there a Christ on a cross wearing a skirt.
It’s the most mystifying myth on this island of timeless tales. And it is wrapped in a story which addresses the distinctive challenges of living on a volcanic island.
It’s to ward off eruptions. Naturally!
We took a four-night Teide walking short break with CanariaWays.com from €570 per person sharing, including the spectacular Paradors hotel. canariaways.com/ways/tenerife/teide-short-break