Christmas Message 2016

  Images from a Trip to Cyprus in June

Stay­ing Put

We will spend our first Christ­mas and New Year at home in over a dec­ade. We enjoy our trips away over these hol­i­days but have to stay put this time. Here’s why:

Reas­on #1 – Puppy

We have a new little Viz­sla. Elli­ot was born on 4 Septem­ber and is too young to go along on the kind of Christ­mas trips we make. Had he been a month or two older it might have been possible.

Reas­on #2 – Brexit

After the BREXIT Ref­er­en­dum res­ult the value of the GBP plummeted against the USD by 15 to 20 per­cent. With less dol­lars to spend, tak­ing a hol­i­day would be at the expense of some work that needs to be done in the house. So, needs be as needs must.

Cyprus Trip

I did make a trip to Cyprus in June though. Kar­en came up trumps and donated enough of her air miles to fund a return busi­ness class flight from IAD to Lar­naca. I flew Aus­tri­an Air­lines via Vienna both ways and enjoyed the ser­vice very much. By chance, I had watched Rick Stein’s BBC “Long Week­ends” epis­ode about Vienna a week or two before the trip. So, with that and a little more read­ing, I got my story straight on Aus­tri­an wines, par­tic­u­larly the unfa­mil­i­ar reds. The in-flight som­meliers seemed eager to keep an appre­ci­at­ive traveler’s glass charged with an unc­tu­ous full bod­ied Blaufränkisch on the way out and again on the way back.

I hadn’t been to Cyprus for 30 years and so was inter­ested to see the changes and also the many good things that I trust will nev­er change.

One of my daugh­ters flew out from Lon­don to join me and we ren­ted a small villa in the hills halfway between Paphos and Pol­is for a few days. It was ideal and not at all expens­ive giv­en the great loc­a­tion above the vil­lage of Mili­ou. The weath­er was per­fect and we relaxed and enjoyed the loc­al food and wine. I had inten­ded to ven­ture out to take lots of pho­to­graphs but it was a short stay and instead ten­ded to stay put and do noth­ing. The villa with its swim­ming pool and orange trees laden with fruit was a mar­vel­lous place to do just that. I got up just before the Sun broke over the hills to the East to enjoy the cool air with a cup of cof­fee and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. After that, it was easy to doze off again, recharge the bat­ter­ies and then just to linger.

Reunion

Dur­ing the trip, I was delighted to meet up and stay a night with my old pal, Dave Marks. He went to live on the island more than 20 years ago and did some­thing extraordin­ary. He bought an old ruin for a sum that didn’t dent his retire­ment gra­tu­ity too much. It’s in Lem­ona, a vil­lage in the foot­hills north of Paphos. He rebuilt and exten­ded it from the ground up. He added a new upper floor for bed­rooms and cre­ated a beau­ti­ful open plan area down­stairs. He worked mostly on his own and used mater­i­als from oth­er ruins he was able to scrounge. His sol­id tim­ber win­dow and door lin­tels come cour­tesy of a long demol­ished Brit­ish Army pier at Avdimou, for instance. I am sure that had Kev­in McCloud caught wind of it, with no exag­ger­a­tion, Dave’s pro­ject would have made the best ever epis­ode of Grand Designs.

Dogs

Vizsla patiently waits for the rain to subside
Wait­ing for the rain to stop

We lost our dear old Gregor, our 13 year old Viz­sla at the tail end of the Sum­mer. He was one of the nicest dogs on the plan­et and had the nack of walk­ing away from trouble before it star­ted. He didn’t get into a fight ever and I nev­er saw him curl his lip at anything.

He liked to sit in the pas­sen­ger seat of our SUVs and in the winter would paw me until I switched on the seat heat­ing. Some­times I would try to fake him out and only pre­tend to switch it on but he knew that if the indic­at­or light didn’t come on on the dash, the seat wasn’t going to get warm. The paw­ing would con­tin­ue until he saw that light, once he did, he would curl up and wait for the heat.

Kar­en shot this video of our three Viz­slas open­ing their Christ­mas presents in 2014. Gregor is the dog with the gray on his face and the rap­idly oscil­lat­ing tail. He really enjoyed occa­sions like that and didn’t let the brash 18 month old Brod­ie spoil it for him, his tail nev­er stopped wagging.