A February Sunday in Arodhes

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It’s a cold, cloudy and windy February day here in Pano Arodhes and I decided today I would just stay put and catch up with myself and get some chores done in spite of a very tempting offer of a Lebanese breakfast from Elena in the morning, with the prospect of a pleasant walk around the village to familiarise myself with the layout later on. As I set off it started to spit with rain but it didn’t come to anything. I didn’t meet a soul needless to say as they were all tucked up indoors, there was a strong smell of wood smoke on the breeze. I thought I would say hello at the Kafeneon and get myself a coffee it was sure to be cosy and warm in there. Indeed it was, a very attractive Kafeneon. However as most of you know village Kafeneons, indeed any Kafeneons in Cyprus are the domain of the male of the species and they are not quite the same as a Cafe Nero or Starbucks. But I was assured by my hosts that they would be interested to meet me as they were curious and would be happy to get to know me. I didn’t get further than a few steps inside the door. It was fairly full of men and they all were very curious, the owner came to open the door but for all the welcome on his lips, I didn’t  see any welcoming smile in his eyes or feel they were very keen for me to stay  or was that me feeling  rather intimidated in that alien environment  among that mass of older Cypriot men? I introduced myself and asked for the mail as it also doubles as the post office and left rather swiftly as I lost my bottle to go inside and ask for the ‘cafe skerto’ that I had been looking forward to. I will return and have another go when my courage returns…maybe.

I took a turn around the village and took some photos of the rather wintry landscape with a few signs of the promise of Spring around the corner. I decided that it definitely was a day to get the fire lit, the music on and get cooking. I planned to make colocassi, a recipe that’s in my book which my cousin Christina had given me. I danced around the kitchen to the music as I went from sink to cooker, then the fire then back again, it was a very jolly affair and while I was at it I got a bit of chicken stock on the go to make some soup tomorrow. Just like being back in Blighty.


A Book Review of another Journey into Cyprus


A few weeks ago I did a review of a cookery book called “Cyprus A Culinary Journey” this time the journey is of a different kind and a different time. Colin Thubron embarked on a 600 mile trek across the sometimes forbidding terrain of Cyprus, the majority of the time is spent  navigating his way across the mountain ranges of Troodos and the Pentadaktylos with just a compass as his guide. He undertook this colossal task in the Spring and summer of 1972 just before the Turkish invasion, imbuing many of the encounters and experiences  he recounts at a later time, with great poignancy. These experiences are now impossible to relive as the villages in many cases are no longer inhabited by the same ethnic mixture and the freedom to wander in such a way is far more restricted. To undertake such an arduous journey in such a manner was looked on by the Cypriots as lunacy, as befits an Englishmen in their eyes. At some stages I’m sure Mr Thubron must have also questioned his own sanity in deciding to pursue such a course. To wander around this often desolate landscape, making his own path along the rocky, precipices of the formidable Troodos mountains takes courage, tenacity and a sure skill of navigating with a compass. I personally can think of few things that would terrify me more apart from maybe crossing the Atlantic single-handed. Even when offered a lift for a few miles he declined ,as this might cause him to miss some minute or rare detail of beauty. Being an accomplished linguistic offered him another rare opportunity, of understanding and being understood, both by Greek and Turk and Maronite.

He started his journey in the early months of the year which meant that the temperature fell quite low at night which he spent frequently under the stars with just a sleeping bag for comfort and no tent for shelter. The extraordinary kindness of shepherds and strangers he met in cafés who offered him shelter and a meal in their spartan dwellings was a humbling experience and this kindness came from Greek, Turk and Maronite equally. Through all the lyrical, erudite descriptions of landscape and experience all I could think was , “What must he have smelled and looked like, how did he wash himself and his clothes?” Even though he travelled light with just the very basics in his rucksack he had packed a pair of pyjamas, which I find infinitely amusing. The many places where he accepted the kindness of strangers afforded very little extra facility to carry out any ablutions that may have been  required, except perhaps a water pump. I guess that is a ‘man’thing to be able to rough it and go without a hot wash for weeks without worry.

These practicalities and mundane musings of mine aside, I am enjoying the rich writing of Colin Thubron, his extensive knowledge of history, architecture, mythology and painting enrich his wanderings. His journey includes many of the Byzantium gems and ancient ruins he even went diving off the coast near Amathus to discover the extensive ruins of that ancient city spreading out half a mile underwater. He made stops at monasteries along the way for shelter including Stavrovouni which nearly did for him. I found it tiring driving up there and thought I would never reach the top, how he managed to walk up I find astonishing.   He meets with the Chief engineer of the American mining company that were mining for copper still, as well as a Greek engineer who take him underground to see for himself how the mining is done and where it existed, the evidence left of the ancient mining casts. This is what makes the book so interesting as it weaves the past with the present. There are many astute observations of the Cypriot character often observed with affection. A highly recommended read.

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.

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.