Nature Trail from Treis Elies

Don’t forget you can order your copy of ‘Androula’s Kitchen- Cyprus on a Plate’ on this site at a very special price just click on the Home Page and follow the links. Why not buy it for a friend for Christmas? Read the reviews by clicking on the menu bar.

As readers of this blog will know my inspiration for the book Androula’s Kitchen, came after a visit to my cousin who lives in Treis Elies at To Spitiko tou Archonta http://www.spitiko3elies.com/ which she runs as a guest Lodge. Just on the edge of the village is the start of a lovely nature trail  which I have explored on a few occasions but only for a couple of miles. This is where you can access  the E4 nature trail which is a mammoth path that ends in Cyprus stretching across Europe and starting in Spain. Starting from Treis Elies it is possible to walk a large part of this trail passing through some of the most beautiful mountains and valleys that Cyprus has to offer. Outside of the village the Venetian Bridges trail can also be accessed.

I have not had the time to explore any of these walks fully but touched on a few parts here and there. The scenery is magical and if you enjoy walking in amongst shady wooded areas with frequent encounters with tinkling water running over rocks this is for you. The geology of Cyprus is unique and which many geologist come to study. A large part of Troodos is made of opheolite http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geology_of_Cyprus and dates back to a mind boggling 90 million years where it was formed in the ocean bed and literally was pushed up out of the ocean fully formed, by the colliding of the various tectonic plates,exactly like Aphrodite is said to have risen from the foam.

There are many nature trails that can be walked in Cyprus varying in length and difficulty a leaflet is available at the Tourist Information offices with all the  details.If you prefer you can also go on guided walks. Try Cyprus Walking Friends on Facebook. In October onwards  towards Spring this is a fabulous way of seeing the extremely varied flora and fauna which is prolific ,some of it unique to Cyprus.

On my last visit to Cyprus in April I attempted to video a short part of this walk to give an idea of its beauty. Please excuse the shakiness of it as it’s my first attempt at walking and filming at the same time.

Don’t forget you can order your copy of ‘Androula’s Kitchen- Cyprus on a Plate’ on this site at a very special price just click on the Home Page and follow the links. Why not buy it for a friend for Christmas? Read the reviews by clicking on the menu bar.

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Reflections

P1000374Tomorrow 10th August sees a special event in Treis Elies. For those of you who are not familiar with Treis Elies it is where it all started for ‘Androula’s Kitchen” indeed it started in Androula’s kitchen if that’s not too confusing! Androula Christou is a cousin of mine, she lives in To Spitiko tou Archonta;  translated it means “the house of the gentleman”; now run as a guest house it sits on the higher levels of this small remote village in the Troodos mountains. I first visited in late 2009 and it was this visit that inspired me to write the book. Androula had lived most of her life in the city but after a series of synchronicities led her to Treis Elies  she immediately felt this was where she wanted to be, she craved the cooler air as the heat had always disagreed with her. After the renovations had been completed she was thrilled to finally be living there.

The original part of the house where Androula lives has a timeless feeling of authenticity, eclectically furnished with both contemporary and antique it exudes a feeling of solidity and calm. One of the previous tenants had been a healer and it is interesting that Androula too has these qualities; she gathers herbs to make various teas to suit how she feels and uses essential oils to combat ailments. In a 21st century world she continues to live in many ways as villagers have always lived. All the villagers own a plot of land on the edge of the village which is used to grow vegetables and fruit which is abundant in this area, yielding walnuts, cherries, strawberries and oranges to name a few.  Androula is a one woman band so she spreads herself thin on many occasions when too many things demand her attention.

The Guest house over the years has attracted a varied and interesting selection of guests from all over the world, indeed when I stayed there last, a Japanese couple had booked for a couple of nights. In 2007 one of Androula’s early guests was an American author and photographer Ethan Hubbard, he was quite unusual in as much as he stayed for several months at a time as he was studying the inhabitants of Treis Elies for a book. Ethan had already spent thirty years travelling to more than 40 countries to study indigenous peoples in remote communities, when he finally landed in Treis Elies. How he chose this destination I’m uncertain but the resulting book is the reason for the special event taking place tomorrow. Ethan Hubbard studied how the villagers spent their time and lived, taking photographs and writing in lyrical prose descriptions of the minutiae of daily village life. The resulting book is beautiful with evocative black and white photos and a joy to those who view it, it has been translated into Greek for this first edition. A special presentation of the book is to be held at 7.15pm at the school at Treis Elies after which there will be a theatrical performance and all are invited to share in this unique occasion. I wish I could be there but alas I’m unable

On reflection, there must be something quite special about this slowly dwindling village to have inspired two people to write books about it, maybe it is the fact that it is so tucked away and in the midst of such lush surroundings. Many of these villages  flourished when the islanders fled the coast and the marauding Turks in the Middle ages, you could survive undetected by casual traveller up in the windy looming mountains of Troodos.

Ethan Hubbard’s book is called A journey in Spring.

 

A Friday Tale

Troodos mountains offer a very modern infrastr...

Troodos mountains offer a very modern infrastructure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After reading about the snow in Cyprus last week the snow has now also arrived in Tangmere today.  I found a nice little article here at On This Island  illustrating the extraordinary phenomenon that is Cyprus in winter, where you can go up to Troodos and ski in the morning then go down to the beach for a swim in the afternoon.

We don’t have quite enough snow here to ski although we do have a few hills where you can have fun sledding have you a mind to. If the snow is still around tomorrow and it looks as if it will be, I will be out with my camera and taking a few photos but not from a sled! I wanted to build a snowman earlier but when  I poked my nose outside the door this morning it was snowing a veritable blizzard, so I brought it back in sharpish and decided that making bread would be more of a suitable pastime.

I’ve also been browsing the web of course, perfect day for it, I was reading a recent post by Cypriot and Proud which was on a topic I relish: artisan/designers. This post  focuses on a young Cypriot weaver designer Joanna Louca who  studied ‘Textile constructed design’  and then gained a masters in ‘Textile in Art’ at Middlesex University London.  She now has a weaving studio in Cyprus where the textiles are produced and has collaborated with Italian designers to produce some wonderful bags. She also weaves her textiles to use  in all manner of creative ways, I love her colour combinations and her patterns echo the traditional patterns used in Cyprus for centuries.

I was thrilled to see this article as it is a fervent wish of mine to see the valuable traditional crafts like weaving and basket making, being used by young artists designers to produce contemporary and exciting designs, looks like Joanna is doing just that. I love it. She will be someone I would very much like to visit in person on a future visit, to see those beautiful textiles for myself.

Joanna Louca's work Photo courtesy of Cypriot and Proud

Joanna Louca’s work Photo courtesy of Cypriot and Proud

Little fish in the Ocean

Ελληνικά:

Ελληνικά: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It seems to me that there are two ways of going about writing books. One is when you have something inside you that makes you want to write; it could be about experiences or ideas or a story that just pops into your head fully formed. I’ve heard this method of instigation is a common one for many writers and composers. Often the most brilliant stories and pieces of music and even ideas for paintings, have come to the artist in the night when they have had the sense to keep a piece of paper by their bedside on which to write down these nocturnal inspirations.

The second way is when the author is approached by an editor or publisher to write a book. Which, for the author, on the one hand must be a comfort to know that there is an advance to spur them on and on the other if no inspiration is forthcoming, a curse.

The idea for “Androula’s Kitchen” was not a nocturnal inspiration but did come to me out of the blue.

I was musing upon my recent holiday with my cousin Androula, who I had met again for the first time in more than twenty years when visiting her home in the Troodos Mountains. She had spent sometime restoring a traditional house which now offers guests a secluded, restful environment from which to explore the surrounding countryside and the many beautiful monasteries in the vicinity. She has a love of the antique and articles produced by the artisan. This combination of surroundings, a traditional house and the eclectic mix of objects within triggered in me a curiosity to investigate and explore the crafts of Cyprus both old and new. I am a crafts-person myself and have spent many years practising my craft in the seclusion of my workshop and I took a great deal of pleasure visiting craftsmen in Cyprus and discovering a side of Cyprus that I don’t usually get the opportunity to see.

Of course once I got thinking, I had to include information about the food! Cyprus is an island that revolves around food. They say an army marches on its stomach and the same could be said of Cyprus.

There were many foodstuffs and recipes I had wanted to know about and this was an ideal opportunity for me to discover how the food was prepared and my favourite foods were cooked.

Now after spending a couple of years compiling, writing and re-writing the text and taking and organising photographs I want to see it in print. I have had discussions with a couple of publishers in Cyprus but nothing has come of these. It is the London Book Fair in April and I have bought my ticket. I feel like a minute piece of plankton about to float into the ocean. It is an overwhelming prospect and I will be feeling very out of my comfort zone. But needs must…….

A Walk on the Wild Side


My friend Karen and I go walking together when we can, not long walks, enough to have a good stretch and get some welcome fresh air.  We live in a beautiful part of the world and  try to choose a different area  each time we trot off. We  are very fortunate to have such a variety of landscape to choose from, it varies from open fields to seashore, heavily wooded areas to hills with beautiful vistas. We have had some lovely ambles through our green and pleasant land and we thank our lucky stars every time for our beautiful surroundings.

It doesn’t matter too much if it’s raining as we try to choose a sheltered spot if we know it’s likely so we can run for cover under a convenient tree. Last week I fancied a spot of sea air and we drove down to Itchenor to park and walk along the coastal footpath towards East Head which is a well-known beauty spot. The weather did look a bit threatening but with typical  true British grit we risked it. The walk was beautiful and in many parts it looked reminiscent of the continental coast with trees bent against the wind on the foreshore.  But it was a tad windy and then came the rain. Luckily we had turned back before the heavens opened so we didn’t have too far to walk and it certainly put a spring in our step so that we arrived back in double-quick time.

This picture is on the fabulous coastline of northwesterly Cyprus but I have to say, apart from the lack of sunshine our coastal walk did look remarkably similar, only we had Hayling Island on the distant horizon.  Near where my cousin Androula lives in Treis Elies in the Troodos Mountains, there is a long nature trail that takes you through some fantastic countryside and part of the trail passes her village  taking you through a beautiful shady glade by the river. This is different again as it is so densely woody with some marvellous views down the steep bank to the rocky river bed below. You pass over an ancient Venetian bridge built-in the time of the Venetian rule of Cyprus for the pack animals taking copper from the mines. Well worth making time for if you like walking and are in the area.