Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Some people seem to embody elements of nature and my friend J is one of them.  It took me a little while to put my finger on it, but now I am sure.  With her blond hair and smile, she is Sunshine.
J came to belly dance classes and was one of the rare people who don't need to be reminded to smile.  With good posture and presentation and a smile that says you are dancing for the love of it, people will see the smile and miss that you are (for example) temporarily on the wrong foot.  She stopped coming for a while due to a medical problem, which I think reminded her that life is short.  Problem sorted out, she and her husband G retired to Cyprus, where they already had friends and family, settled in ... and offered me the opportunity for my first proper holiday in over 5 years. And 50 years after leaving it, (if you don't count a short refueling stop-over) I returned to the land of my birth.
The promise of a holiday gave me some much needed focus, and after a flurry of knocking jobs off my To Do list, I zoomed off down the M4 to Cardiff Airport and my flight to Paphos.  It was a nice sunny day when I left - 21°C - but even warmer at night when we landed at Paphos, a balmy 27°. The luggage took an age to come through, then I found J outside, both wondering where I was (my phone was still off!) and trying to get hold of G who had gone somewhere with the car.
We went down to a bar in Coral Bay for a drink and to watch some dancers who changed from jumping, high-kicking cowgirls into Samba showgirls, with smiles bigger than their blingy bikinis. So fit, to be dancing so energetically in that heat - no wonder they weren't wearing much!
So began my holiday, tension draining away as I sipped ouzo and lemonade, and laughed and was entertained.
Late afternoon sun
Such an inviting pool!
The following morning, I put on my swimsuit and ventured into the pool.  With the water at 27°, it was warm enough not to trigger my cold-induced urticaria.  A hazy blue sky promising temperatures in the mid 30s by midday. It was luxurious, idyllic and a very pleasant physical shock to be somewhere so bright and warm. My photos look like shots for a holiday brochure. Just looking at them makes me want to go back.

I'd forgotten my unintentional habit of coming down with a cold almost every holiday.  It's as if my body decides I've got time to have a cold once I stop and relax. On the Sunday, I had a head full of cotton wool and eyes which wouldn't stay open. So, feeling feeble, I spent much of the day sleeping and reading by the pool, in the company of next door's cat, who seems to have adopted J and her villa as a preferred home. He often slept in the shade of the chairs and loungers around the pool, or sprawled in the shade of the olive trees and chased the occasional lizard. I missed my own cats terribly, but was warned he had a tendency to reward unsolicited stroking with a meaningful bite, so I left him pretty much to his own devices (but talked to him, of course, in English, Welsh and an odd word of Greek).  More than once, I woke after dozing on a sun lounger to find him snuggled against my legs. Apparently, after I'd left, the cat went around looking for me and then went off in a sulk for a day.
I swam every day, twice on most days.  It was just glorious to glide up and down in the warm water, with dragonflies skimming the pool. I trod water, twirled around, did ballet and belly dance exercises. By the end of the week I could definitely feel the benefits.  I'd forgotten how the rhythm of swimming in a pool helps me to get my thoughts in order.  I vowed I would swim more when I got back to Wales, although unfortunately, both of my closest public swimming pools are a 24 mile round trip, and the times for public swimming aren't really convenient for me.

I managed to get away with not getting very burnt (the spray-on factor 50 worked well) and not getting very bitten.  I did use an insect repellent, but usually I get bitten anyway.  However, J is an even bigger magnet for everything which bites than I am, and it was strange to stand next to someone who attracts the mozzies more than I do!

J and G took me out to do a few touristy things, including trips out to bars at night.  Even at the end of the season, there was still plenty on. We went to see a George Michael tribute act, an open mic night, and I even went to a pub quiz and enjoyed it! The highlight was seeing Ms Debonair at Charlie's Bar in Paphos, a drag act who lipsynched and mimicked some of the artists and their songs and sang some others.  It was all very entertaining and great fun except for the repeated link music between the numerous acts.  That pre-recorded driving beat and spoken build-up introduction quickly became very tedious, but probably acted as a timed cue because there must have been some very quick changing going on behind the scenes. After all the pouting and posing, (Warning, Spoiler Alert!) the finale was the wonderful Charles Aznevour song 'What Makes a Man a Man?', whilst taking off the wig and make up, changing the dress for trousers and transforming back from drag queen to man.

I stayed in a couple of nights, and let J and G do their own thing, as I was finding so much socialising and night life quite overwhelming.  And I really don't like football or anything too loud. One night was a karaoke down in Coral Bay, and from the villa a couple of kilometres away I could hear that the last song was The Green, Green Grass of Home.  Possibly people right at the top of Peyia village and as far as Chlorakas could hear it too.

At home, the grass would indeed be green, unlike the parched late-summer land in Cyprus. Suddenly, my week was over and it was time to go, with last minute souvenirs, a few pictures and a lingering memory of the warm brightness and smell of the sea and dry phrygana scrub.
Big thanks to J and her husband G, who fed me, entertained me, and generally looked after me and provided me with an opportunity to relax completely.

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