No madam, we can’t find a chef to make you haggis

February 27, 2015
Can you recommend a Scottish chef in Brussels who can make haggis? How do I set my antennae to receive English TV channels in Italy? Can you find me cheap flights to New Zealand? These are just some of the recent enquires the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has received from around the world.
Last year the FCO’s Contact Centres received more than 365,000 calls from British nationals. The vast majority of these were genuine calls from people who needed our help, but we still receive thousands of enquiries every year relating to issues we are unable to assist with. These enquiries can take valuable time away from those in genuine need of assistance.
 Some of the more unusual calls received in 2014 include:
-         A caller asking for help with setting up ‘British-style’  hanging baskets at a trade show because the professional gardener hired for the purpose had stage fright
-         A British woman asking the consulate in Albania how to find out if her son’s fiancée was already married
-         A caller asking for advice on how to treat a cat’s infected paw
-         A man called requesting that staff at the Embassy in Mexico City go to the airport to check whether he had left his mobile phone on a plane
-         A woman in Italy calling to enquire how she could synchronise her TV antenna to receive English channels
-         An event coordinator in Brussels asking for the name of a Scottish chef based in the country who could make Haggis for a Burns Night event.
Such enquiries stem from a lack of understanding of what FCO consular teams can do for British nationals overseas, so we are launching an awareness campaign to remind UK travellers and residents overseas of the services we provide, and what we can and cannot do.
The FCO’s priority is to protect the welfare of British nationals abroad, and consular staff will always do their best to assist people when they find themselves in difficulty. However, it is important for travellers to understand what services we provide before getting in touch. There are also some simple pre-travel steps that you can take to reduce the risk of getting into difficulty and needing our help, such as taking out comprehensive travel insurance, researching the destination and any health risks and ensuring access to emergency funds.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister, David Lidington, said:

 “It is important for FCO consular staff to be able to focus on our most vulnerable customers, such as victims of crime, those who have lost a loved one abroad or people who have been detained or hospitalised overseas.

“Consular staff support thousands of British nationals who encounter difficulties overseas every year and we handle over 365,000 enquires annually. We will always try to help where we can but there are limits to what we can do, so it’s important for people to be aware of how we can help.
“We can issue an emergency travel document if your passport is lost or stolen, offer support if you become a victim of crime or visit you in hospital or prison, but we aren’t able to pay medical bills, give legal advice or get you out of jail, or indeed act as veterinary surgeons.”
Head of the FCO’s Global Contact Centres, Meg Williams, said:
“The role of the FCO Contact Centres is to help enable consular staff to focus on what is important and to concentrate on those in need, but we continue to receive misdirected enquiries from British nationals. We receive hundreds of thousands of calls every year and while the vast majority of these are from British nationals in genuine need of our assistance and services, in 2014 38% were not related to consular support at all.
“For example, one caller asked us to help find his son’s missing suitcase – as it had apparently been lost by a British airline, the caller thought the British consulate would be able to locate it.”
Recent research revealed that the number of people who have knowledge of what embassies and consulates do has dropped to the lowest in three years among young people (aged 16-24), from 62% in 2011 to 55% in 2014.
For more information on how the FCO can help British nationals overseas, please visit

German Man Drowned At Playa de la Arena

February 25, 2015

playaarenaA German man in his seventies drowned at Playa de la Arena, Santiago del Teide this morning.

Emergency services were called in by beach lifeguards who had pulled the man out of the water realising that he had suffered a cardiac arrest.

Lifeguards attempted basic resuscitation and then more advanced techniques were used when the medical helicopter arrived on the scene at about 11.30 am, but to no avail.

Officials warn that Cardiac arrest is a recognized symptom of cold-water shock, and the waters in Tenerife are considered to be technically cold especially in February.

Furthurmore there is currently an alert for high seas and windy conditions in the island, and although local conditions in Playa Arena are reasonably good today, extreme care should always be taken when bathing in the sea, making sure to heed lifeguards’ instructions and the warning flags in place at the various beaches.

Local Police Injured In Gas Bottle Explosion In Puerto Santiago

February 20, 2015

fireTwo local policemen from the Santiago del Teide force, were injured yesterday evening when a gas cylinder exploded inside a house Calle Bermeano Puerto de Santiago

The two officers were helping the Santiago del Teide Volunteer Firefighters to extinguish a fire in a private house located near the Pancras Socas Sports Complex when the accident occurred at around 5pm.

Apparently an electrical short circuit caused a fire that in turn caused the butane gas cylinder to explode.

The injured were treated by emergency services on site and then transferred to hospital where they have been under observation for 24 hours.

Home Grown Tourism Needed To Drive Growth In Canaries

February 12, 2015

The Canarian economy is expected to grow by 2.1% in 2015.

According to a report from CEOE Tenerife (Confederation Businesses in Santa Cruz de Tenerife) the predicted growth factor , six tenths less than the national average, will result in 23,000 jobs being created.

In tourism, the report states that the Canary Islands will loose 300,000 tourists, down 2.3%, due to a drop in foreign visitors and only a moderate rise in home grown tourism.

According to the Confederation, domestic consumption will need to be the “engine of growth as the foreign sector is likely to register a slight decline because political instability in the Maghreb seems be nearing an end, especially in Tunisia, which has recovered as a winter resort”.

British Consulate Free Healthcare Information Events

February 11, 2015

Some 45,000 British nationals are believed to live in the Canary Islands but only 32,000* are registered with their local authorities. That means one in three Brits risk missing out on basic social services when in future they need it most.

So the British Consulates in Las Palmas and Tenerife, and the Healthcare Team in Spain that represents the UK’s Department of Health, are joining forces with local town halls to tell residents about the importance and benefits of registering for healthcare and other public services.

Discover why you should register on the ‘padrón’

Between 24th and 26th February the joint team will host four free information events in Lanzarote, Fuerteventura, Tenerife and Gran Canaria, where British residents can find out why it is worthwhile registering on the ‘padrón’, get answers to their questions on healthcare and what services the British Consulates offer, and raise any other concerns they may have.

Find out about the new healthcare option for early retirees

The Healthcare Team will also provide information about the new “convenio especial”, a special pay-in public health insurance scheme in the Canary Islands for those not otherwise covered for state-run healthcare, such as early retirees. They will also explain how to register for healthcare in general and how to get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are a worker or a pensioner.

The British Consul for the Canary Islands, Charmaine Arbouin, says:

“Our consular staff all too often see British citizens who are in desperate need of assistance because they have failed to appreciate how important it is to register correctly for healthcare and other social services when living overseas.

“Whether registered or not, I urge all British residents to come to these free information sessions where local consular staff and healthcare representatives will provide reliable, up-to-date information on a wide range of issues.”

Admission to all events is free and there is no need to register in advance.

The venues, dates & times are:

Lanzarote:     Tuesday 24th February @ 11.00hrs
Sala Fondeadero, La Tiñosa, Puerto del Carmen

Fuerteventura:           Tuesday 24th Feb @ 17.30hrs
Hotel Sheraton Fuerteventura Beach, Caleta de Fuste

Tenerife:         Wednesday 25th February 2015 @ 18.30hrs
Auditorio Infanta Leonor, Avenida Juan Carlos I, Los Cristianos

Gran Canaria:            Thursday 26th February @ 16.30hrs
Centro Socio Cultural de Mayores, Calle Santa Brigida s/n, San Fernando, Playa del Inglés

The full programme and latest news on the events will be published on the Event Page on the British Embassy’s Brits Living in Spain Facebook page.

Emergency Helicopter Pilot Fails Breath Test

February 10, 2015

An Emergency helicopter pilot working from the Tenerife Sur airport  failed a breathalyser test on Saturday, according to Spanish press sources.

The pilot who  showed positive for a high rate of alcohol in his blood, is employed by Inaer, the SUC’s  (Canarian Emergency Department’s)  subcontractor responsible for managing helicopters.

In a statement, Inaer acknowledged that it has opened an investigation into a member of the crew of one of its medical helicopters “for a possible case of intoxication”, which meant that the aircraft had to be declared inoperative.

The Guardia Civiltook responsibility for conducting the breathalyser after they were  requested to by the company.

The company has a code of conduct which has zero tolerance for regarding the taking of drugs or alcohol.

Santiago Del Teide “Prettiest Town In Tenerife”

January 24, 2015

Santiago de Teide (left) Peñaranda de Duero (right)

The county town of Santiago del Teide, also called del Santiago del Teide has been named the most beautiful town in Tenerife and is ranked 9th in the Canary Islands.

The list of top places was drawn up by the 20 minutos newspaper  based on votes by it’s readers and website users.

Three towns from each of the 17 autonomous communities of Spain then went through to the final of the competition, but unfortunately Santiago del Teide didn’t make the cut.

Teror y Arucas in Gran Canaria and Betancuria in Fuerteventura were the representatives of the Canary Islands and the overall winner of “The prettiest town in Spain 2014″ was Peñaranda de Duero in Burgos.

Santa Cruz Bank Robbers Caught

January 22, 2015

fotonoticia_20150120162715_800-600x319The National Police have arrested two men on suspicion of a robbery committed on January 2 at a La Caixa Bank in Calle Azorin, Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife.

The suspects, local men aged 44 and 36-years-old respectively, are accused of intimidating bank staff with large  knives, attacking one of them and forcing customers to lie on the floor, while the pair made off with 62,000 euros.

The men, who had masks over thier faces, fled in a stolen vehicle.

Officers found 37,000 euros in cash in the homes of detainees and at the same time clothing and knives, believed to be used to commit the robbery,were seized.


Dawn Rescue In Masca

January 17, 2015

Two 65-year-old hikers of Finnish nationality were rescued by firemen after getting lost while attempting the descent into the Masca Ravine yesterday.

According to Emergency services  Volunteer Firemen from Santiago del Teide finally located the two ladies in the early hours of the morning.

The authorities had first been alerted around 8pm the previous evening by other walkers who had been in the same party as the rescued women.

After beeing transferred by sea around 4am, the pair were met at Los Gigantes Marina by an ambulance and were then taken to a local health center where they received care for slight injuries.