A Post Lockdown Adventure

Escape to the countryside

Well at long last we can venture further from home since we have come out of our third lockdown here in Cyprus. We no longer have to request permission to go out and there is no time limit set on the outing. We are now free to travel around the island and stay out as long as we want in line with the agreed government guidelines.

We really enjoy exploring Cyprus when we get the chance especially inland and try our best to find new roads where we haven’t driven before to find hidden gems. From abandoned villages to beautiful scenic views who knows what is round the corner.

This week we have taken a couple of trips out and found a few new roads…….

So on our first day we headed towards Stroumpi to start our adventure and then further inland towards Polemi choosing roads to go as we came across turnings.

As we drove we came to Pano Panagia where we saw signs for Cedar Valley. We had never been there and had been recommended by a friend that it was well worth a visit. It was a lovely drive and amazingly peaceful. We were told that you could hear your voice reverberating around the mountains surrounding the deep valley.

When you think of the Troodos mountains and the winding roads leading to it one of the things that will spring spring to mind are the stunning sweet scented pine trees that blanket the rugged peaks. With our windows open and the roof down the scent of pine was everywhere. As you travel deeper into the Paphos Forest you’ll soon spot these pine trees changing to thousands of magnificent bright green Cyprus Cedar trees claiming their pride of place on the stony mountain sides.

Next we managed to find a bailey bridge – first one I have ever seen. I didn’t realise these bridges were built by the military. The idea was developed in the 1940s for use during the Second World War. A Bailey bridge (has the advantages of requiring no special tools or heavy equipment to assemble.

Built of wood and steel the bridge elements are small and light enough to be carried in trucks and lifted into place by hand, without the use of a crane. The bridges were strong enough to carry tanks. Bailey bridges continue to be used extensively in civil engineering construction projects and to provide temporary crossings for pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Trozena Bailey Bridge

The Trozena Bridge spanning the Diarizos River was built during the British occupation in Cyprus to link the then populated villages of Trozena and Gerovasa

Trozena and Gerovosa were part of a complex of settlements inhabited by Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Gerovosa was mainly a Turkish Cypriot village and the name in Greek means holy valley whereas Trozena was predominantly Greek Cypriot. The residents lived together in harmony however with the outbreak of bi-communal unrest between the years 1963-1964, the settlement of Gerovasa was abandoned by its Turkish Cypriot residents. Trozena was still populated until the 1980s, but by the 1990s, the trend of moving to urbanisations intensified, and by 2001, there were no longer any permanent residents left.

Route to the Bailey Bridge

If you fancy escaping the sun, sand and sea one day when you visit Cyprus why not take a trip out to see some history and some beautiful scenery too.

Wood Pile Chrescendo

The wood pile is growing high and is well and truly ready for our cooler season already this year.  Phill has been chopping wood endlessly in preparation for the evenings when we light the log fire and drink copious amounts of tea and hot chocolate in front of the blazing log fire.

img_7250 Last year on some evenings when we had the wood sitting in the log basket waiting to be put on the fire we could hear the logs making a loud ticking noise only to be told that it was likely to be burrowing wood worm !! My immediate reaction was to get my feet of the floor in the event that they got out of the wood and starting running across the floor towards me!! OMG!! Of course nothing happened and the little critters were sent to wood worm heaven in the log burner

Phill has of course seen these insects under the bark when he has been chopping the wood with their little bodies big teeth going like mad through the wood.  They love hard wood and they love the pistachio and carob wood that we have.  And not so keen on the soft wood.

There are several different types of worm and beetle that infest the wood.  Some of them lay their eggs in the plant pots and Phill has noticed them emerging ready to attack the wood with their mighty teeth all over again.

With the olive wood that has been chopped and lying on the ground a small grub will burrow under the bark and travel up and down the olive wood leaving tracks behind it.

Did however 2 minutes ago go outside to the large woodpile to try recording the noise and this is what I got…. can’t believe the sound when I play it on my computer !! eek!!!  I feel that they are inside it….

This is a new experience for Phill as he had vast wood piles back in the UK and very rarely noticed any burrowing insects or worm.  This of course isn’t just a problem for Cyprus as the whole of the Mediterranean suffers with similar problems.  4b3d039c-6ca4-4948-bbd2-306ea9d03d84

Phill is trying desperately to save some of the carob wood with its rich red colour for making into ornaments and other things so he has treated it with an insecticide and stored it away from the log pile for his winter projects.  Once treated and stored he will carve it and sand it then lacquer and it will be safe from all the insects.

Phill is making weapons of mass destruction but I am trying to get him to focus on salad bowls and wooden spoons.

And on Christmas Day (2018) we have now found some of the grubs under the bark – Felt like we were in I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here – we decided we would stick to traditional turkey

Fire Fighting in Cyprus!

I haven’t noticed  many fires this year in Cyprus at least not in the Paphos area however, today was a different story and 2 helicopters were flying overhead carrying water from the sea to put out the fire.

Following some on-line investigation I discovered that the fire was located between Droushia and Kritou Terra.  These names may be familiar to many of you if you have taken a drive over to Polis and Latchi when visiting Cyprus as the villages aren’t too far from Kathikas.

Fire is by far the most destructive single agent, threatening the forests of Cyprus and no real progress can be made in Forest Development unless the forests are adequately protected. The long hot and very dry summers together with the frequent strong winds, and the inflammability of the vegetation favour the outbreak and quick spread of fires. Furthermore the urbanisation, the abandonment of rural areas and the increased number of visitors in the forest for recreation raise the fire hazard to very high levels.

Main Causes of Fires in Cyprus

The biggest percentage of forest fires in Cyprus and especially the most destructive ones are of human origin.  Nearly 87% of these fires are due to negligence or lack of care and attention and less than 13% are attributed to incendiarism.  The main causes of forest fires (based on the last years records) are:

  • Burning grass – gorse or stubble by farmers
  • Fires caused by careless visitors and picnickers when using fire for cooking and grilling.
  • Burning cigarette ends and matches used by careless smokers
  • Military exercises with ammunition or explosives of any kind
  • Hunting during the summer period
  • Burning of rubbish at non organised rubbish dumps
  • Fires caused by people or machines engaged in any activity associated with forest engineering and forest production
  • Some fires are caused by lightning but these fires are not significant because these fires are usually accompanied by rainfall

Fire Fighting

Aeroplanes

Aerial firefighting of forest fires has been applied successfully and effectively in Cyprus. For the suppression of fires two aeroplanes from the Department of Forests are used. Additionally, the Government of Cyprus rent a number of helicopters which are also used for this purpose  Helicopters belonging to the Police and the British Bases are also used depending on the size of the fire to be tackled.  In cases of big forest fires, Cyprus obtain help from Europe and other countries.

Helicopters

The helicopters used for fire fighting carry buckets, in this case a rain maker bucket, (see picture below) it is a specialised bucket suspended on a cable carried to deliver water for aerial firefighting.   Each bucket has a release valve on the bottom which is controlled by the helicopter crew.  When the helicopter is in position, the crew releases the water to extinguish or suppress the fire below. Each release of the water is referred to as a drop.  The design of the buckets allows the helicopter to hover over a water source – such as a lake, river, pond, or tank – and in this case in Cyprus “the sea” and lower the bucket into the water to refill it.  This then allows the helicopter crew to operate the bucket in remote locations without the need to return to a permanent operating base, reducing the time between successive drops.

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Helicopter flying over our house in Coral Bay – photograph by Fionna Morley

Buckets can be collapsible or rigid and vary in capacity from 60 to 2,165 imperial gallons; or 273 to 9,842 litres. The size of each bucket is determined by the lifting capacity of the helicopter.

For the quick detection of forest fires,  a modern automatic system for the detection of fires has been installed in some locations in Cyprus.   The system covers the important Area of Akamas and in case of fire the system automatically informs the surveillance centre for the existence of fire and at the same time the starting point of the fire is mapped. This automatic system is operating day and night even under conditions of limited visibility (fog and cloud).

So don’t forget if you ever visit Cyprus in the summer season when all the vegetation is dry please think before creating a naked flame – from a match to a cigarette and if you do make sure you dispose of it correctly.

All photographs taken by me 

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