Friday, 31 August 2018


We didn't think that we would be able to have a family holiday this year. L was doing her year as a pupil barrister, working hard and trying to impress, and E didn't fancy a holiday without her (apart from the fun weekend in Stockholm!). Then suddenly, L was given tenancy and we were on. We're masters in the art of last minute holidays - our personal best being a trip to Barcelona, where we had about 5 hours between booking and the actual flight! So, a week's notice gave us plenty of time. Cyprus was chosen as the destination; flights booked; accommodation found, far from the madding crowds in the quiet village of Pissouri; neighbours lined up to look after Hamish and the chucks, and off we went.
Given that we had just had a bit of a heatwave in the UK, I did wonder at how wise it was to visit Cyprus in the middle of August. Friends who had visited in October had found it quite hot enough, so I was slightly concerned. As it was, I needn't have worried. Our spell of hot weather may have acclimatized us somewhat, air conditioning and sea breezes took care of the rest. We had a wonderfully relaxing 10 days. Cyprus was beautiful, the locals friendly and helpful, and the vegan food lovely (although, I might give hummus and falafel a wide berth for the next few weeks!). It is, however, the 'home of halloumi', so we felt that we slightly missed out there.
Here then are a few photos, chosen at random, from our trip:
The view from our balcony:
On our last day, R woke me up at 5am to watch a bat flitting round. By the time I had staggered out the bat had disappeared, but I did get to have a cup of tea whilst watching the sunrise:
Kato Pafos Archaeological Park. The mosaics in the Roman villas are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site:

E loves lizard spotting:
Watching paragliders at sunset:
We tried to pick one of the cooler days for our visit to Nicosia; being inland we found the temperature much hotter and, unlike the coastal areas, it maintained the heat after 5pm staying hot and humid. Despite that, the medieval walled city was one of my favorite parts of Cyprus. It is famously divided - the northern part reflecting Turkish culture and the south remaining very much Greek. We crossed the border between the two and I loved the Turkish part with its mosques, bazaars, spices, and the call to prayer sounding out. Sadly, I didn't do enough research and, being Monday, the Cyprus Museum with its famous terracotta figurines was closed.

Buyuk Han - a former Ottoman inn, now a central courtyard featuring craft shops and cafes:
We drove into the mountains to see the famous Troodos painted churches. These unassuming little buildings with their treasury of Byzantine religious art also have UNESCO World Heritage status: 

Vegan ice cream!
We seriously challenged our hire car by driving miles along rutted tracks to reach Lara Bay. The beach here  is frequented by loggerhead turtles.

Kourion - our favourite ancient city in Cyprus. We arrived late in the afternoon to avoid the heat, and stayed until after sunset when the site closed. There were beautiful mosaics, Roman Baths, an amphitheatre, stadium and more villas than you could shake a stick at.  

Bouzouki and Tapas night at our local taverna. The owner even arranged for vegan tapas to be made especially for us. 
The evening ended with plate smashing and Greek dancing - although, I'm not posting those particular photos!
Historic Limassol, Cyprus' second largest city. The ancient medieval core was fun to explore and when we got too hot, we sat outside of this gorgeous cafe and enjoyed frappes.

On our last day on the way to the airport, we popped into Ancient Amathous to get a last fix of ruins.

Well, that just about sums up our holiday. I would heartily recommend Cyprus to anyone who hasn't been. The island does have some tourist hot spots which are probably best avoided if, like us, you prefer a quiet life. That aside, it has so much to offer - go for the archaeology, the historic city centres, the food, the beaches, the warm weather and, above all, the people.

Toodle pip for now. x

Friday, 3 August 2018

Two Go Mad in Somerset

When R and I went to Stockholm last month, we went alone on the basis that L had said that she couldn't have any time off at the moment, and E claimed that she didn't really want to go on a family holiday without L. It was only when we got back that we realised that E was rather miffed - apparently 3 days in Stockholm doesn't count as a 'holiday', it's just a 'fun weekend', and yes she would have liked to have gone! Feeling guilty, I booked a last minute 3 days (2 nights) trip to sunny Weston Super Mare for the 2 of us. Alright, so it's not exactly exotic, but E and I have had several trips in the UK as treats following various exams and we always have fun together.
Weston was no exception. Admittedly, the hotel sucked: I booked it because it was right on the seafront (it was), and it was cheap (you could tell!). The decor was tired and dated, the breakfast abysmal, and the shower curtain rancid. Worst of all, was the attitude of the manager - when I asked for some soya milk at breakfast, the waiter disappeared and returned with the boss. She then spent 5 minutes explaining (at volume) that guests with dietary requirements normally brought their own. I was icily polite as I explained that I had said that we were vegan at the time of booking and that reception had confirmed it on our arrival. No one had mentioned anything about providing for ourselves (which we would happily have done if only we had been told). Apparently, she hadn't been informed and somehow that was our fault. With the words 'I am the customer, and therefore right' ringing loudly (admittedly, only in my head!  :0)  ) we glumly perused the full English menu together. She then offered us a 'gluten free sausage' and to our great credit, we managed not to laugh. I was very tempted to ask for some 'wafer thin ham', but restrained myself. We managed to cobble together something to eat, and then looked at each other in disbelief as the people on the table behind us were asked if they wanted the full English or were they awkward too!
She excelled herself on our last day when some unfortunate eldery lady vomited at breakfast (probably as good a comment on the food as any I could give). The poor lady was mortified and the manager's response was to pull a face, announce 'Ew!' and then exit the room, leaving her staff to clear it up. I'd slate them on Trip Adviser if I could be bothered to register with them. As I can't, can I just recommend that anyone visiting Weston Super Mare avoid The Sandringham Hotel. Still, it was memorable.
Here then are some photos from Weston:
  The beach was enormous and beautifully sandy:
 ............... apart from when the tide went out leaving a strip of sticky mud. We found this out on our first day when we managed to miss the warning signs!
I do love donkeys, but we felt very sorry for these poor beasts, forced to stand in the hot sun all day giving rides to fractious toddlers. They did enjoy a nice ear rub though.
 The Weston Eye. I'm terrified of heights, but forced myself to go on this. E enjoyed it!
 Crazy golf:
 Vegan ice cream!
  Sand sculptures:
 E's attempt!
  Lunch at a Japanese restaurant - YUM!
 Dinner at a fun Mexican restaurant - there were hats and ponchos for dressing up, but I'm not posting those particular photos!
 The one thing I don't have photos of is the high ropes course from our last day. Can I just reiterate my acrophobia at this point? E  was keen, and I was desperate to have actually done it, even if it terrified me. They allowed me to go up to assess it first before committing myself, and next thing  I could hear someone saying that it would be okay - that someone was me .......................... and it turned out that it wasn't! E was an absolute star, she went first over each of the sections and then talked me through it, encouraging me every step of the way. She hugged me after each part as I clung sobbing to the central pole, and told me I was doing fantastically well, when clearly I wasn't. The worst part was the final zip wire. Had the harness been taut at that point, I think I would have been okay. Unfortunately, you actually had to drop off the platform before it became taut and that was the part that freaked me out. Eventually (there was quite a queue behind me at this point, and they couldn't overtake as our harnesses were attached to the wire in order), the man running it decided to come to my rescue. He did the zip wire in reverse (it was a very shallow gradient), misjudged his aim and managed to crush my legs against the platform that I was sitting on. My knight in shining armour slid slowly back down the wire with me shouting 'How was that possibly helpful?' after him! His second attempt was more successful and he told me that he would use his weight and momentum to carry us both back. That did the trick - not wanting to be squashed a second time, I dropped off the platform and slid whimpering to the end, where E hugged me and we examined my rapidly developing bruises. It's now a week later and they are still appalling. Overall though, Weston with E was lovely; she is always good company and great fun to be with.

Other happies this month:
Finishing my black denim pinafore dress (pattern: Cleo by Tilly and the Buttons):
Not really a happy as such, more a question. What are these 2 bees doing? (I know that sounds a little stupid!). They look like completely different species to me, so are they mating? They were locked like this for quite some time, eventually the larger one seemed to have had enough and seemed to be trying to remove the smaller of the two. I tried to help with the aid of a twig, but angry buzzing ensued, so I left them to it. Eventually they flew away, so I assume all was fine. My knowledge of bees is deplorable, so I'm afraid that I don't know if they are different types of the same bee - worker and queen?  Sorry to be so ignorant, but I was fascinated - CT, can you help?
I bought tickets for the Pink Floyd Experience for R. He was a big fan of the original and though it's not quite my cup of tea, he seemed to quite enjoy it:
Deirdre munching windfalls:
Pride socks for L:
Dusting 'Bernard' off ready for the summer. Look at my poor drought ridden lawn:
Working on my Featherweight Cardigan by the river:
This chap has been around quite a lot recently:
A day trip to Brighton in Bridget. It's been a while since we last went to Brighton and, to be honest, I was slightly disappointed - it all seemed slightly run down and there was far too much graffiti. Maybe they had spent all their money on the offshore wind farm. Still, it was a lovely sunny day, and we had chips on the beach - always a favourite. I also got to visit their yarn shop, Yak.

The Pavillion:
The Lanes - again, I remembered these as having a more diverse selection of shops. They were mostly overpriced jewellers.
Finally, my anniversary flowers:
Someone liked the box!
Well, that's all for now. I have been enjoying the slightly cooler weather this week, but I hear that it's going to be hot again tomorrow. Enjoy the weekend, whatever you have planned.

Toodle pip for now. x