Bee Eater Time Again!!

It is that time of year again where soaring overhead each morning and evening are the Bee Eaters.   Flying so high and fast overhead looking like they are playing with each other.  The sound of these birds is also amazing too and so lovely to hear.  As yet though that I haven’t been able to take a photograph of these colourful birds with my camera or even my phone camera…..to high and too fast and I’m too slow to get them!!

Bee Eaters are one of the more beautiful migratory birds visiting Cyprus, they arrive in large numbers in the spring (normally in May you will see them swooping around in the air) and autumn (September) as they make the long journey between Central and Eastern Europe and Africa.  Small numbers of these beautiful colourful birds sometimes stay for extended periods (up to 3 months at a time) in Cyprus, but this is not normal.

Of course as with many animals and birds Bee Eaters are subject to predators as they migrate to and from their destination with as many as 30% of these birds not surviving the round trip.  Eleonora’s falcons, are the main cause of these casualties.

As the name suggests Bee Eaters “do” eat bees but it isn’t their main diet and they will of course also feed on flying insects too, including those detrimental to bees such as wasps.   The food they consume is only those that are caught on the wing.  They do not eat any insects that are on plants or on the ground.   They will mostly feed in areas where they can perch and watch their food flying around and then launch themselves after their prey.  They snatch the insects out of the air with the tip of their strong beaks, crushing the smaller ones and devouring them on the wing.  Where they have caught larger insects they will hold these until they perch again, where they will proceed to beat the insect on the perch to kill it and break it up.    The poisonous insects they will also beat and wipe (with eyes closed) in a ritual to extract the poison before devouring it.

Although they are illegal to shoot bee hive owners have been known to take a pop at them as they worry for their hive industry.   These birds are definitely wrongly named but are in fact a part of nature’s balance. Without their contribution, predatory insects would have a devastating effect on the hive populations of bees.

If you are here in Cyprus at these times you have got to watch out for these birds swirling through the air as they feed as well as sitting on the telegraph wires.

 

August Already and 2 Years HERE Today!!

I can’t believe it is two years today 31st August we have been living on this beautiful island of Cyprus.

Over this period we have met some truly wonderful people including guests staying with us in Villa Corrado who have become lovely friends.   This has made it all worthwhile, our guests have been amazing and we are so grateful to have met them.

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Villa Corrado

This year Phill and I have settled down to a more relaxed way of life here and the 9-5 job  or dare I say the 7.30 am to whenever the day ended job has become a distant memory.  We are beginning to relax into taking life a bit easier and not have the hustle and bustle of the M25 and Canary Wharf to enjoy.  The train commute either at the crack of dawn to get across London before it is too busy or before some signalling failure or leaves on the line.

We have learned that life is to enjoy and when we can we go out and discover more of the island.  The beaches, the hidden villages, the mountains and the history behind Cyprus too.  Lots to learn here from plant life, what can and be planted around the garden here in Coral Bay due to hot temperatures and humidity.   I wanted to grow blue berries for my porridge and was told they wouldn’t grow where we lived, so have to settle for buying them instead when they are available. There are different types of bugs here too which destroy the garden plants if you aren’t careful.  One of these is the mealybug.  Phill is constantly learning about what needs to be done for each plant and his garden shed has started to look like a medicine cabinet!

We have been visiting our favourite beaches again this summer and really enjoying the picnics we are having (taking the cool box with lots of goodies to feast on when we are there)  and I even have a tiny pink beach chair now.  Got Phill a blue one not sure he would have liked the pink colour.  A beach umbrella is a must to protect you from the sun.

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Harry at Latchi Beach

Harry came to visit us at the end of June and off we went to some of our favourite beaches.  The first one being Latchi Beach – not quite in Latchi but between Latchi and the Baths of Aphrodite.  It is a fabulous beach albeit a bit stony but the water there is crystal clear and is so popular at weekends with all the local people but it is so big there is so much space around you.  It is heaven…..

I have always wanted to see the Blue Lagoon that everyone says “you just have to go to” as it looks amazing from the photographs.  There are many boat trips from Latchi to the Blue Lagoon, including motorboat hire (self drive not sure what the sea term is). Of course silly me thought by driving back to Coral Bay through the Akamas National Park we would go near the Blue Lagoon………….how wrong could I be!!  We started our journey bobbing about in our little Jimny and it gradually got worse and the road turned into what I could only describe as a dry river bed all different levels with lots of stones…..and it climbed and climbed and we never went anywhere near the sea but it was so worth it as the views were beautiful.

From the map you can see the main B7 road that we normally would take and then you can see the off-road section cutting right across the peninsula.  It was a crazy journey and probably of course would have been slightly better in a quad bike but you just gotta try it.

Next time I will have to take a boat trip or hire a motor boat to see the Blue Lagoon.  Not sure I Screen Shot 2018-08-21 at 12.40.08 PMcould face another adventure through these hills to find another road to the coastal area.

Our next trip was to Kourion Beach which is situated on the coastal road towards Limassol.  It is near the Archaeological Site of Kourion.

Although lots of pebbles at the water’s edge the sea is sandy and very shallow going out.  It was however so windy the day we went that we had to do a lot of wave jumping to get anywhere.  Good fun was also had on the boogie board we had with us.

There were lots of people arriving to windsurf and kite surf.  Definitely worth a visit.  We had a great time.

Although it is very warm here I am starting to think I have acclimatised to the weather.  I have managed to suppress any complaints about the heat especially in July and August.  So Phill doesn’t hear me complain at all.  Actually August has been much cooler this year whereas I think May was warmer.  Or maybe just me…anyway the temperatures have been very pleasant especially sitting outside in the evening enjoying lots of barbecues and salads.  Too hot to cook indoors and even better Phill then does all the cooking….can’t be bad can it??

One of our favourite places this year has been Sea Caves Tavern where the staff are lovely and the service is really good.  And even better the view is to die for and the sea breeze makes it all worth while.  The food is good too and served freshly cooked each time.

I have also found a few hobbies that I enjoy including, drawing with graphite and stone painting.   I just love it, it can keep me busy for hours.  I am trying hard to get good at portraits.  None so far have looked like anyone but I hope one day I will get there as I love those artists that do photorealism…..AMAZING!

Watch this space as I hope one of my future blogs will show what I have achieved whilst living here.

 

 

 

 

Kourion Archaeological Site

So what do you think of this amazing place!!  We just loved our visit to the ancient city of Kourion.  It definitely does make for a fabulous day out and there was no better time to visit this archaeological site than when Kate arrived for a week.

As we approached the gate to gain access to the site we passed on the right hand side what appeared to be caves when in fact they were ancient tombs….

One of the main attractions of the ruins of Kourion is, without doubt, the large and very impressive amphitheatre from the 2nd century BC.  Although it was originally built as a theatre, it is believed that at some point in time it was used mostly for gladiator games.  In the centre photograph above it shows the entrance to the lower ground where it is believed that animals were kept before being lead into the arena.

Of course this is not all the original amphitheatre and what is seen now is an imposing curved auditorium that includes additions and renovations made during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and which seats some 3000 spectators. The stage currently only preserves its foundations, but it originally rose to the full length of the auditorium.

Today the amphitheatre is a venue for cultural events that include music and theatrical performances during the summer months.  Perhaps there will be a performance on when you visit Cyprus this summer.

 

Kourion was an important city kingdom. It  consisted of many monuments, many of which date from the Roman period. Although the amphitheatre is the most impressive of them all the city also had a forum, the Nymphaeum, Public Baths, Fountain House, the House of the Gladiators and the House of Achilles.

The total destruction of the village of Kourion and the death of more than 500 people was the result of a massive earthquake that shook Cyprus during the 4th century AD. Kourion suffered from numerous devastating earthquakes between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, until a severe seismic event, believed to have occurred at approximately AD 365, had led to its permanent destruction.  Cyprus is still subjected to minor earthquakes which have no adverse effect on the population but of course the building method these days is very different to that in the time of the Kingdom of Kourion.

And of course the view from this once magnificent city was spectacular.

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Interested??  Find out more about Kourion!!

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It’s Carnival Time!!! Hoorah!!

The Bunting was hanging right down the Coral Bay Strip when we went to dinner last night – WHY I asked, what’s happening I asked Stavros, only to be told it was Carnival Time in Cyprus, and the festivities all related to the Greek Orthodox Easter.

After some research on my faithful laptop it seems that because of Easter falling on April 8, 2018 it is the earliest Orthodox Easter for the last eight years, a date which won’t be equalled again until 2029. Which means in Cyprus we’re about to hit one of the most decadent fortnights of the year… Count back the 40 days of Lent, allow another 14 or so for the upcoming festive period, and – fanfare please – it’s Carnival time!

Shops have been full with thousands of fancy dress costumes, more than I have ever seen in the UK for Hallowe’en, with every costume and mask imaginable.  It seems that Cyprus takes its Carnivals very seriously.

It seems that Limassol is the true home of the Cyprus Carnival; even as far back as the 70s, local revelries were described as “two whole weeks during which the people of Limassol do little else other than party every single day, drinking, dancing and staying up all night. There’s lots of fun, practical jokes, and some love-making: the three elements which the people of Limassol live and breathe during the days of the Carnival.”

These days, little has changed there is 14 days of parades, parties, dances, competitions, exhibitions and serenades enticing thousands to the town. 

Having never been to one of the carnivals it was the ideal opportunity especially when Kate (Phill’s lovely daughter) was visiting and it was right on our doorstep in Coral Bay to get out there amongst the crowds to support all the local businesses that were taking part.  The Coral Bay Strip was closed for the day and the music from the many speakers strategically placed down the strip made for an amazing carnival atmosphere.  

Lots of photographs were being taken by families and friends of the amazing floats that had been created and the atmosphere was buzzing.  It seemed that everyone was participating on one way or another.  Kate and I really enjoyed seeing the kids all dressed up and dancing.

This took my back to my childhood where there was the Carnival in Ayrshire where they had the floats going through the town and they crowned the carnival queen and everyone knew everyone in the community. 

What an amazing day with streamers and spray foam and string!! Who knows we could be on the float next year – keep an eye out !!

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Could it be Scotland?

I could have closed my eyes and been transported back to the west coast of Scotland on one of its few sunny summer days, I couldn’t believe the view, the greenery and the mountains it was like being home in Scotland, but instead it was Cyprus!!  I think it took me back to my camping days (long time ago) in Skye

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Our drive took us to the Asprokremos Reservoir near Kouklia.  We had been talking about going for a drive there for a few weeks so that we could see how much water was in the reservoir.   We also wanted to compare the reservoir from our previous visit in December 2016 to see if the water levels were higher ALAS not.

We have seen a few dams on our travels around the island in the last year but didn’t realise that there were actually 108 dams and reservoirs in Cyprus and we have only ever stopped at two!!   Asprokremos and Mavrokolympos near Coral Bay.

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February 2018 – Water Levels Lower 

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December 2016 

After taking photographs of the reservoir we headed towards the Troodos Mountains through Choletria and then to Nata.

As we headed towards Nata we couldn’t believe how green it was who could believe that we were in Cyprus and also that Cyprus could ever be so green but of course we do get some rain in the cooler seasons and everything starts to grow again, the fields turn green as the grass grows and all around looks beautiful, buds on the trees and flowers opening up and most importantly the grass is green instead of the burnt out dried landscape that we tend to see in the summer months when the temperatures soar.  Nonetheless the weather in the cooler season is still lovely with temperatures reaching an average of 18 degrees most days and Phill is living proof that it is warm as he lives in shorts daily from morning until night 7 days a week.

Our drive through Anarita and down to Timi was very interesting – passing goats, sheep and goat herders on the narrow roads.  We even crossed a bridge where the river flowed under it towards the reservoir.  At this time of year when the snow is on the Troodos Mountains there is quite a lot of water running down the hills from Mount Olympus.

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What an amazing view!!

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Street Art

A few years ago, street art in Cyprus was considered little more than vandalism, frowned upon by most and totally disregarded by many.  Whilst the majority still hesitate to accept the practice, there is no denying that street art is a far bigger deal on the island in recent years especially leading to the Culture year of 2017, with festivals encouraging talented young artists to jazz up public spaces and buildings in need of a colourful revamp, while many derelict and abandoned spaces, parking lots, and empty walls around Paphos have come to life with all sorts of brilliant designs.

With this in mind we took to the streets of Paphos Old Town to find more of the art work mentioned above.   Absolutely amazing display of various colourful paintings on empty walls and car parking spaces.

Car Parking

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A few talents joined forces to create this impressive graffiti in the Makarios Avenue parking lot in Paphos –  as part of the Paphos Street Art Square Festival to add colour to the streets of the seaside town.

The art work below is shown on one of the electricity boxes.  Isn’t it amazing?  We found this one at the start of our walk into the narrow streets of the old town.

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Phill and I probably haven’t found them all yet….do you think you can find some more for us?…..

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Just Loving it, Christmas Day 2017 and 21 Degrees

An amazing morning to wake up to.  Not only was it Christmas day but the previous days coptic storm was gone and the skies were clear!!  There was a stillness in the air, everything was quiet and calm and most importantly clear blue skies and a blazing sun shone down as we sat on the terrace drinking coffee.  We could also hear the waves lapping the shores of Coral Bay which just showed us how quiet it was.  What a difference from yesterday!!

A walk down to the beach is what is needed on Christmas day so off we went.  Temperatures were rising as the morning progressed and we started to feel the sun beating down on us around a staggering 21 degrees.  What’s not to like !!

Coral Bay Beach

We passed Coral Bay Beach and onto Corralia Beach where as with lots of Cypriot beaches there was those who had come to the beach for the family ritual of a Christmas Dip in the Mediterranean and those mad enough to do so for fun.  It has to be done they say!! and it couldn’t have been a better day for it.  Christmas Day 2017 and 21 degrees.

Corralia Beach in Coral Bay

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