Festival Frolics at The Cyprus Wine Festival

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On Saturday I set off to make my first visit to the Cyprus Wine Festival at Alexander Palace  and was looking forward to feeling the vibe…..It started off well as we made our way to Ally Pally as it’s affectionately named, along the woody footpath, through a park on a lovely sunny day. As we neared the impressive building sitting on top of the North London hilltop we caught the unmistakable whiff of souvlakia and heard the music tinkling away.

Alexandra Palace was built in 1873 for the purpose of becoming ‘the people’s palace’ a site of recreation and entertainment. It does indeed look like a palace and covers a vast area commanding a sweeping view of London below. We approached from the Palm Court side and from the terrace here you have a fine view of the City skyline with the Gherkin and Shard clearly visible. Here was set up the souvlakia stand and to give added atmosphere recorded Greek popular music was playing. We resisted the taunting of the delicious aroma and went inside to see what fun and frolics we could find.

The Palm house area looks cool, calm and green with its palms and obelisks and the beautiful glass paned domed ceiling so very Victorian in its design. Entering into the lobby we passed painted illustrative scenes of Victorian leisure activities and came across our first stand displaying some beautiful black and white photographs of Cyprus in the late 60’s  as well as aerial scenes of Famagusta town. Famagusta has been frozen in time since 1974 when the Turkish invasion caused the inhabitants to flee and has remained  as if in a time warp. Cars and shops remain as they were that day a whole retro city, slowly crumbling and being re-claimed by nature. The inhabitants unable to return and the Turks  denied re-population due to a UN Security Council Resolution which will only allow the original residents to live there. It falls right on the edge of the occupied area and was once the pride of Cyprus,  a shining example of the wealth and rapid growth of tourism that took place in the sixties with masses of skyscraper hotels dotted along the coastline and a busy port. There are movements now taking place to open up Varosha, as it is called locally, to get the economy moving and re-open the port, this stand was advertising a petition which we gladly signed.

Moving on into the main hall we came across many stalls but they all seemed to be swallowed up by the vastness of the space. All the usual suspects of food importers and wine stalls with some other local  Cypriot businesses were assembled not forgetting the CTO of course. We arrived at lunchtime and it had the feeling like you get when you arrive too early at a party, you certainly couldn’t call it crowded. My biggest disappointment was there were no activities taking place, where was the dancing and singing? This meant the atmosphere was flat. A large area in the centre was taken up by a stage all kitted out ready for the music complete with security guards, and a seating area but the music was all taking place in the evening when the much publicised Elena Paparizou performing.

The most alluring of the stalls of course for me was the Aroma patisserie. Here were laid out all the Cypriot delights you could wish for, koupes, loukoumadhes, daktyla, pourekia anaris, shamishi, haloumopitta, eliopitta and so on. So of course we had to sample some and they were all delicious. The wine stalls only seemed to be displaying wines made by SODAP with one exception of one individual producer. My sister and I felt that this could have been so much more, a real showcase for Cyprus but really it is a showcase for the Cypriot businesses of North London and didn’t capture, for me, what is actually happening in Cyprus today. To be fair it is advertised as a business fair and really that should be its main title because Cyprus Wine Festival implies a whole different feel which it didn’t deliver for me, maybe I missed the party. If it truly was a wine festival, it could demonstrate some of the truly delicious wines that are now being produced by small wineries in Cyprus; that would have been worth sampling.



I’ve Got it Covered

The spine of the book is an important aspect i...

The spine of the book is an important aspect in book design, especially in cover design. When the books are stacked up or stored in a shelf, what’s on the spine is the only visible information about the book. In a book store, the details on the spine are what initially attract attention. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My first mailings of books have been sent out and received and what a wonderful response I have had! My heart is quite gladdened from the glowing comments. Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to contact me, it is much appreciated.

It is a nerve-wracking thing self-publishing when everything is down to you both the mistakes and the glory. But my what a lovely feeling when it is glory and how painful when it is mistakes. All in a day’s work and it’s the mistakes that help us grow. My cousin Androula is doing sterling work visiting bookshops and making contacts in Cyprus and I have recruited my sister to act as agent in London, I am truly blessed. When I spoke to Androula in Cyprus the other day, she said she was sorry I couldn’t be there to see the faces of the people she showed the book to, as they all smiled with pleasure and bought them straightaway how miraculous! To think how unsure I was  about whether I had made the right choice with the cover, it obviously works.

When deciding on the cover I was acutely aware that this is the thing that will attract or repel when you see it in the bookstore or even online. It has to make you want to pick the book up and read it. There are illustrators who specialise in just book design so I was quite nervous about my decision to use my own design.

I am in full marketing mode and it does take up a fair amount of time. I have a long list of things to do but I keep telling myself”One step at a time”.

The Streets of Paris


I enjoyed making the book Androula’s Kitchen so much that I have got the bug. So when I went to Paris Last week for a few days break I made sure I took a lot of photos so that I could make a short photo book with them. There is something very satisfying about editing and choosing photos and placing them in a book.

Paris is a city that presents the amateur photographer ample opportunity to take photographs that can’t help but look artistic. Every turn and  every corner you are given buildings, people and views that just speak of chic, street chic.

I saw so many snappily dressed young men, not in scruffy jeans hanging round there nether regions looking as if given the least opportunity they will fall around their ankles and are only hanging on by sheer strength of will.No these young men wore stylish casual trousers and  snazzy shoes with  non matching but well cut jackets in interesting looking fabrics, finished off with  jaunty scarves. How refreshing. I feel sometimes walking around London that it is inhabited by people with absolutely no interest in clothes. It’s not even about fashion it’s about an interest in colour and texture and variety. So much drabness becomes depressing in large numbers.

Some of my personal passions are texture and colour and in this modern contemporary world I sometimes despair at the limited selection of colours and designs we are offered in high street fashion. There is so much grey, black and taupe I could scream ahhhhhhhhh! What happened to turquoise, blue and all the shades in between, dark reds and burnt oranges and purple? The colours in nature are so infinite and varied I puzzle at the lack of desire to translate these subtleties into fabrics. And what about shoes???? Of course if you have the money all these colours and every richness of texture is available to you and if I ever make the kind of money that would enable me to have this choice I would cherish the opportunity to explore the design workshops of unknown individual designers. We have a huge amount of design talent out there and I get to glimpse the creations occasionally just as an observer. But one day maybe………