Cycling in Cyprus

How do you fancy ………The wind in your hair, the sun on your back, the gentle crunch of tyres on gravel, the sounds of nature all around you, a glimpse of the sea sparkling in the distance, the smell of pines all around.  Up ahead a tiny church beckons to be discovered.  And of course a little taverna with that cold drink waiting for you.  If this is your idea of travelling, then cycling in Cyprus is for you.

In the last few years Cyprus has taken off as a destination for cycling enthusiasts both as a place to enjoy the sport and as a means to explore the island.  The island has perfect weather for cycling, especially in the months between October and April, when temperatures range between 15°C and 25°C, while annual rainfall is also quite low in comparison to European countries. What’s more, unlike other European or Mediterranean countries, the strong headwinds that are a bane to cyclists, are rare.

Last weekend Cyprus played host to the UCI Gran Fondo World Series in Paphos.  A three days stage race with a time trial on Friday and two road races covering the weekend which brought 360 riders from 20 different nationalities at the start of Cyprus Gran Fondo. Riders enjoyed the sunny weather with temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees.  Shame I didn’t have my camera with me as the cyclists passed – didn’t expect to see them in Coral Bay – next time!!

Cycle racing not your cup of tea then why not rent a bike and take a guided tour or suit yourself with your own route.  Cycle along the coast from Coral Bay to Sea Caves and beyond to Agios Georgious.   Why not try a wine route, there are 6 different routes to follow and learn all about the wine history of Cyprus.  You can also make new friends why not try cycling in a group.

 

An English Country Garden? Not Quite!

As we leave the cooler months behind, shrubs, flowers, hedges and trees are starting to grow and people are heading to the garden centres for new ideas, vegetables and of course more beautiful colourful plants which we can only dream of planting in our gardens at home in the UK or keep them in our conservatories to enjoy warmth and sunshine.

We love horticulture and we thought when we moved to Cyprus it would be easy to grow fruit and vegetables in abundance due to the hot weather and climate, however, we have discovered that it isn’t as easy as we first thought.  Fruit trees require a lot of attention and feeding  in order for the tree to blossom and produce fruit especially when they are young trees.

Cyprus may have beautiful weather most of the time but Cyprus gardening is not easy especially in the summer months.  While we have generally mild conditions in the winter months, the intense heat of summer literally fries many plants, making a productive vegetable garden a real challenge.  When we arrived at the end of August we decided to try our hand at growing tomatoes and chillies thinking that they would be so easy to grow as we had grown them previously in the UK, but alas not!!  The plants constantly looked like they needed watering but when watered it made no difference they started to wilt and then looked dead, we did manage to get one tomato though.  What an achievement – and I thought I had green fingers too!!

IMG_2575

Tomato Plant

We were surprised, however,  as we got into the cooler winter months that these discarded plants got a new lease of life and started to grow –  the chilli plant produced lots of chillies and I was able to fill up the freezer with them and even better the tomato plant is flowering so who knows this year we may get more than one tomato.

 

Although we currently have a few fruit trees in the garden Phill decided that it wasn’t sufficient and that we should have more so off we went to the garden centre in Kissonerga.  Kissonerga is a village in South West Cyprus, about 8 km north of Paphos, in a region notable for the cultivation of banana plantations.

What a surprise upon entering the garden centre we found rows and rows of roses beautifully arranged in rows.  Were we really in a Cypriot garden centre or were we back in England?

Roses

 Lettuce and herbs – including chives, oregano and flat leaf and curly parsley to name but a few were planted out and waiting for customers to take them home.  We are keen to be able to grow our own salad ingredients and herbs as it is something we use frequently in cooking.  I guess it is only trial and error in the beginning to know what can grow in the heat and humidity and what can’t.  I was really keen to pur a blueberry bush as I love blueberries with my porridge but we were told that it is to hot and humid around Coral Bay that we can’t so we will have to think of something else.

 

Salads

We eventually left the garden centre with a lemon, a mandarin and a red grapefruit tree. The fragrance from these trees floats on the air and the smell is so amazing as you walk around the trees from dawn until dusk.  I just love it!!

Our new trees have been planted and Phill is loving tending to them, feeding and watering them to see them develop and fingers crossed we have a great crop at the end of the year…watch this space and we will keep you posted.

All going well we will have lemons for the gin and tonic, mandarins for the fruit bowl and grapefruit for breakfast.  What more could we ask for.

 

Coptic Storm-“Equinox Gale”

Yesterday wasn’t as bright as a usual sunny day in Cyprus and to say the least it was very windy (fortunately warm winds) and all I could think of was that it was a great drying day for washings.  Twenty minutes after putting my washing out it was dry – what more could I want.  Later the wind died down and all was calm again in the evening.  However, today is a different matter it is calm, the sun is out and temperatures sitting around 20 degrees, but it would appear to be very hazy looking towards the sea and mountains – it is of course the time for a coptic storm.  The atmosphere today is full of dust particles and these have been known to hang around for a few days albeit sometimes they go unnoticed unless living high up in the hills.

When we first bought our home in Cyprus our neighbours used to say to us “wait until you see the dust from a Coptic Storm.”   Of course having never actually heard of these storms I did some investigating.

  1. The storms are usually the result of convection currents created by intense heating of the ground in Africa. The air over the sand becomes hot and rises, and in the Sahara, the Coptic wind is strong enough to move dunes!
  2. These coptic storms happen several times a year .  The dates show at the bottom of this page are fairly accurate within 2/3 days, most winds last between 2 and 6 days:- 11 January Gale (very strong)
    19 January Large Feeder Gale
    28 January Gale
    18 February Small sun gale (very strong)
    10 March Equinox Gale (lasts about 6 days)
    20 March Big Sun Gale (very strong)
    25 March Wind Gale
    29 April Sand laden winds (hot and sunny)
    27 September Cross-winds
    21 October Crusade
    28 November Broom Gale (very strong)
    6 December Gale
    20 December Small Gale
  3. The storm picks up the fine dust and sand from the Sahara and can be very destructive. Sometimes the gusts can even move large satellite dishes out of alignment and occasionally they bring a tornado with them, although this is rare. Although I said yesterday was windy it was nothing at all like what is mentioned here.
  4. The worst part is cleaning the dust and sand after a bad storm, currently it is just like normal dust that you would find in the UK however, sometimes it is red, and at other times it is yellow (the yellow dust has a sulphur like smell from it).  My car today looks like someone has poured sand all over it!!

“Now where did I see that Car Wash!!”

 

 

 

Gardening Discoveries

Yesterday was a gardening day in Villa Corrado where we spent time working on the hedges and climbers around the property. During our time there we discovered some of the wonderful nature that can be found here, a chameleon!!

Common Chameleon

I was lucky enough to have my mobile phone and got some great videos and pictures of it as it crawled along the branches of the hibiscus hedge.

Having never seen a chameleon before except in photographs I was really excited and had to look up the internet to find out more about them  and thought I would share it with you.

The common chameleon (native to Cyprus)  like others of its family enjoys a branchy habitat, scrambling about in trees and bushes with feet that have four toes, two on each side for grasping branches. It also uses its prehensile tail to maintain balance and stability. As I found out yesterday movement is slow, and often with a slight swaying motion this is to avoid detection by predators. The animal can move more rapidly when involved in a territorial dispute.

They are usually solitary animals which maintain a territory and only tolerate members of the opposite sex during the mating season. Average length of the common chameleon is from 20 to 40 cm, with females often being substantially larger than males. The colour of the common chameleon is variable, between yellow/brown through green to a dark brown. Whatever the background colour is the common chameleon will have two light coloured lines along its side. It has a small beard of scales and some small hard scales on the top of its back.

Colour Changing

Many assume the colour changes undergone by the chameleon are a result of its attempting to camouflage itself, when in reality the chameleon changes its colour as a response to light and temperature stimuli and as an expression of its emotions (like chameleon body language). Often when caught for analysis, the chameleon may turn a dark colour, Their colours are also important for interspecies communication, especially during the mating season.

The common chameleon eats insects, capturing them by stealth and the rapid extension of its long tongue which has a terminal pad which grasps and adheres to the prey. Adults are known to eat young chameleons and have been observed to eat fruit.

It is definitely worth keeping an eye on the hedges and green shrubs when visiting Cyprus as we also found a praying mantis in the hedge too.

Praying Mantis

DSC_0307

These creatures are so difficult to spot hidden in their lush green surroundings, however, it is well worth keeping an eye out for them as they are so interesting to watch.

They have triangular heads with bulging eyes supported on flexible necks. Their elongated bodies may or may not have wings, but they all have forelegs that are greatly enlarged and adapted for catching and gripping prey; their upright posture, while remaining stationary with forearms folded, has led to the common name praying mantis.

It is definitely worth having your camera ready to snap these creatures!!

Villa Corrado Updates

Our electrician visited us at Villa Corrado today to replace all of the outdoor lighting in readiness for our guests visiting in the summer.  New garden lights were added outside on the terrace to provide beautiful lighting for alfresco dining and relaxing on the terrace.

The next update to the villa on our list of things to do is to put a new pergola on the terrace so that some shade is provided whilst you enjoy eating outdoors.  Don’t worry there is still going to be lots of sun to be found on the terrace, by the pool and surrounding garden area if that is what you are looking for so fear not you can still go home with a lovely tan!!

Watch this space as we start work on the build of our new pergola – tomorrow we will measure for wood and once the wood is ordered and delivered I will provide the photographs showing progress being made.

My friend who has been here on holiday for the last 9 days returns home to the UK tomorrow so to end her holiday here we paid a trip to one of her favourite locations, the “Sea You Beach Bar”.  AND what a location it is !!

I previously mentioned the work being carried out there and today it is still progressing with new paving being put down and closest to the sea new rustic decking has been laid.

As you can see from the photographs the weather was once again amazing I bet you can’t wait to get here!!

 

 

First Weekend in March

What a weekend weather-wise for the first weekend in March, the sun shining brightly and the temperature rising to 21/22 degrees during the day.   Good news also was that the pool reached a temperature of 20 degrees too so it shouldn’t be long before we are swimming in it once again.

It is hard to think of different seasons in Cyprus as most days even in the winter months are sunny and although it may not be bikini weather at times it is certainly possible to walk around in shorts and tee-shirts a lot of the time during the day.  Sounds a bit different from UK weather in the winter wouldn’t you agree?   It certainly feels like we are heading towards the summer with its warm balmy evenings and beautiful sunny days.

The days are getting longer too with sunrise taking place just after 6am and sunset around 6pm.  Many restaurants are extending their opening hours to 7 days once again and many more have opened following the winter holidays.  Coral Bay is starting to show more and more life about it every day.

We had another leisurely walk to Coralia Beach yesterday and found it  busier with visitors, some sunbathing and others taking a dip in the clear Mediterranean Sea.  And of course people like ourselves strolling around the harbour and the sea front.

 

img_2381

Coralia Beach

The sun beds have now returned to the beach having been put away during the cooler months.

A few families could also be seen on Coral Bay Beach enjoying the beautiful weather and playing in the sea.

Another fabulous day today where the sun shone brightly and temperatures once again were in the low to mid 20s so we grabbed the chance to have a Barbecue with our friends.

It was time to try out the new skewers to make a great Rick Stein Recipe, Lamb and Pistachio Koftas followed by a lemon cheesecake using lemons from the garden.  Oh and I forgot to mention a little glass of bubbly was also on the menu.  Delicious on a warm sunny day.

What more could we want on a Sunday.  Great food,  great company and the perfect location!!