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.

 

 

 

 

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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Could it be a Coptic Storm

I think we could be experiencing our first Coptic Storm of the season although from reading the calendar detailing Coptic Storms in Cyprus we seem to be a bit early as it isn’t due until 26th November and yesterday saw the start of this one which was the 13th November – the calendar, I’ve been told is accurate to 2/3 days so not sure about this one.  Perhaps I could be wrong…..it’s not unheard of you know!! 

Anyway yesterday saw a very still sunny morning where not even a blade of grass or flower moved  in the morning sun turn into the windiest day every 2 seconds later – from leaving the chair outside to getting upstairs there was a gale and the garden furniture blew over with a very loud bang and the chair cushions ended up floating in the pool.  I quickly ran downstairs to drag the cushions out of the pool before they got a chance to sink and then moved all the furniture into a corner to avoid being blown back towards the pool.

Although the umbrellas weren’t up 2 of them are in shreds in some places where the wind has been so bad.  Lilo’s, balls and a few other inflatable items blew from one side of the garden into the pool and then out the other side.  I was amazed at the sheer strength of the wind.

Today there is no wind and the only evidence now is the number of leaves that have been blown of trees and bushes which have gathered in corners and in pools.  However, there is a haze over the sun today and the visibility is really poor.  Can’t see the sea from the balcony.  Take a look at the difference below:-

Believe it or not it is still sunny although the sky doesn’t look blue – all strange.

Screen Shot 2017-11-14 at 1.50.42 PMNow if I am right we are on Coptic Storm El Micness – maybe someone else can tell me if I’m right on this one or did we just go through a windy day and we aren’t on the 2nd day of a Coptic Storm – who knows!!

If you want to find out more about the Coptic Storms in Cyprus why not read my blog from earlier this year.

 

 

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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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Revival of Paphos Old Town

The sky was overcast and it had been threatening to rain, but being Cyprus it was warm even though slightly dull it was great to venture into Paphos with my friend Carolyn as we hadn’t seen each other for a few months….. So with umbrellas in hand we decided to have a wander round the old town to see the work that had been carried out over the past year and the changes that have been made.

I’m pleased to say that the work being undertaken is progressing well and it is hoped that it will bring regeneration to the old town where the once vibrant centre of Paphos had become desolate in places with shops and premises lying empty.  It is hoped the €60m worth of projects for Paphos, including the regeneration of the traditional shopping centre and Kennedy Square, the restoration of the municipal market, the upgrading and enhancement of the Markideio theatre, and connecting and enhancing the squares of October 28, Kosti Palama and Dionysios Solomos (around the town hall) will see the old town being revived and re-invigorated not only because Paphos is the European City of culture for 2017 but for the future of Paphos itself!!

From the photographs below you can see the streets have been pedestrianised with lovely paving and beautiful shrubs and trees have been planted.  Shoppers can now wander without any need to worry about traffic on the narrow streets.  Many street cafes have opened in addition to those restaurants that have been there for many years (near the market area)  Clothes boutiques have opened and some little shops open  selling local artist products.  Of course there are still shops selling bags and leather goods.  Fitflops can also be found here at a fraction of the cost of those at home.

They are once again looking to move the bus station from the harbour to the old town near the Markideio theatre where it originally was to bring tourists and locals once again back to the old town.

We couldn’t believe the changes in the area.  It looked amazing we could see that the developers/architects were trying to retain the traditional old world charm expected of the old town but also introducing the more modern cafe and boutique feel about the area too.

 

The little shops and cafes all looked very interesting and definitely worth a trip if you fancy getting away from the beach and out of the sun for a few hours……..

If you do fancy it you don’t need a car to get to the old town of Paphos just jump one of the local bus which is signed to the MARKET.  If you feel like walking then you can go straight up the road from the Kings Avenue Mall and you are there.  In the cooler months it may take about 15 minutes from the mall but allow more time in the hot summer months.

Of course every outing with your friend needs to start with a coffee before moving onto the shops and other attractions.

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Grafico Cafe

We chose this quaint little cafe “Grafico Cafe” to have a coffee in the new pedestrian area where we sat and caught up and watched the world go by as we enjoyed the ambience surrounding us.

Grafico Cafe in Paphos Old Town

Having ventured into a few clothes shops and did a little window shopping we came

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The Place

across an old traditional property housing a   shop called “The Place“.  From the outside we thought it was fabulous and the architecture was typically Cypriot so we had to go inside to find out more…..

 

Once inside we met one of the local artists who told us about the Place and how it offers the opportunity to visitors to get a hands-on experience of Cyprus culture and tradition.  She told us everything that we saw was made by local people.

“Everything here is traditional and handmade. People were disappointed to come to the market and see goods from China. This is why everything we have is natural and from small producers in Paphos villages. People want to see what they’re creating.”

I was very tempted to purchase a few of the items on sale here, from wine jugs to glass candle holders not to mention locally grown herbs too.

There are live daily demonstrations of traditional handicrafts, pottery, basket making, weaving, wood carving and wine tasting performed by wine experts as well as a variety of Cypriot handcrafted gifts, souvenirs and products to enjoy.  We were offered the opportunity to try wood burning and pottery designing (we declined on this occasion but most definitely will return and perhaps take an opportunity to try our hand at one of these crafts.   Who knows we may discover we have a hidden talent!!

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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!!”