the end of summer?

Today feels like coming towards the end of a very long summer holiday and the approach of September has a ‘back to school’ aura about it. The sand between my toes and now collecting in corners on the floor of the car is a tell tale sign of days spent at the beach. Damp towels, sandy snorkel masks and a striped beach bag in need of repair will soon be packed or thrown away, having served us for over two years.

It’s always sad feeling the summer come to an end. The past two years, although not a complete holiday, have felt more like a vacation than any other period of my life. Sitting watching the sun sink towards the horizon across the water tonight could hardly be more idyllic… as the sun sets on our time here. Even now there’s a warm breeze fluttering against my face while the sea is shimmering gold, and miniature waves lap with calming rhythm against the sand below us.

This week has been filled with ‘last times’ as we have revisited favourite haunts from cafes and umbrella lined bazaars in bustling Nicosia and the buzz of Kyrenia’s harbour at night to the remote wilderness of the Karpaz peninsular and its idyllic golden beaches.

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I don’t want to say goodbye to these places I’ve come to treasure and which are filled with happy memories of time spent with family and friends. Today we went to a different part of the beach and had a drink at a different cafe. This was partly for a change, but also on my part, I wanted to avoid the feeling of having to go somewhere knowing we’re not coming back any time soon. I decided I’d rather remember the last time there and hope we will return one day. I don’t like goodbyes.

Although we have been revisiting what I would call our ‘top spots’ on the island, we’ve also ventured out on a new experience.

On Friday we were guests on board an 80ft yacht with a Turkish captain and his mother. http://www.velayachting.com It was an unforgettable time from the moment we stepped aboard and removed our shoes to the fond farewells at the end of the day. Yacht ‘Vela’ was a treat. A beautiful old sailing boat with wood lined decks, neatly coiled ropes and relaxing navy cushions everywhere became our home for a few hours. A handful of us enjoyed a jaunt down the coast of northern Cyprus for the day stopping off at bays for swims and snorkelling along the way. This time it was a relief to know that while I lounged on a deck cushion the responsibility for dropping and picking up the anchor was someone else’s nightmare. It was a kind of treat not having to heave ropes or jump across jetties to secure lines, although one member of the party couldn’t resist lending a hand! I wasn’t even required to go below and rustle up rations as ‘Mama’, (we had been instructed to call her this), had already prepared a sumptuous feast of Turkish dishes spread out on the table when we returned from our swim.

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Meanwhile, Captain Serhat was doing his bit precariously barbecuing fish and lamb at the bows. Peaceful music tinkled all around and during the lunch we were serenaded by what sounded like snatches of an opera. It was a surreal yet lovely experience and Capt Serhat had some good banter with the other skipper on board, as they exchanged plenty of old sea tales. He also impressed us with a tight 360 manoeuvre below the castle walls… although someone kept muttering, “bow thrusters are cheating”. During the day there was ample time to watch the coast go by, muse on the identity of a flock of birds and natter with friends who had joined us, while we sipped strong Turkish coffee from miniature China cups. It was in fact a perfect finish to our Cyprus adventure as we sail into unchartered waters and life back in the UK.

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Last night was also topped off with a mini ‘night exercise’ along the beach. Having swum with turtles and seen their carefully marked nests on the beaches here, we were hoping to catch a glimpse of some baby turtles making their way to the sea by moonlight. Torches in hand we followed a path and steps onto the darkened beach where the crashing waves drowned out all other sounds. We were alone on the beach checking the sand for signs of mini turtles or broken shells, even the tell-tale pattern of fin prints in the soft sand. Although we saw a few of these and some scuttling mini crabs, there were no turtles in sight. Gradually a silvery moon appeared from behind a cloud and we took a break on a couple of empty sun loungers. Sometime later I woke with a start realising we had both fallen asleep. We’d probably slept through the turtle-hatching bonanza and missed everything. Either way it was too late, as we drove back along the cliff tops a little while later, I wondered why the light seemed bright in the car and realised the driver still had his head torch turned on, adding a third beam to the car headlights on the dirt track… time to call it a day. The quest for hatching turtles will have to wait for another summer – maybe on a return trip?

goodbye Tinkerbell

I’d forgotten that sadness makes your tummy hurt.

Yesterday we faced the cruel reality of the speed of cars on the road past the house, when we made the awful discovery that one of our orphaned kittens had been hit by a car. It was so sad to see her soft grey paws lying lifeless, when half an hour earlier she had been gently tossing a hair bobble across the carpet. That sick feeling in the pit of your stomach is how it feels to be so sad because something bad has happened and there is nothing that can be done to change it.

I didn’t expect to be so upset about a pet we hadn’t asked for and who only arrived last October, but one of the saddest things was looking at her fluffy tailed brother wondering where his playmate had gone. ImageImage

We’ve now almost completed a year in Cyprus and it has gone so fast, I’m panicking that it will soon be over. Our first proper visitors of the season have come and gone and we have more family arriving next week – the pool is heating up and the sky is mainly blue – the summer is getting into full swing and there’s lots to be excited about!

Our boys are coming to the end of education as they both move into full time jobs this summer and our only daughter is getting married….the times are changing. In the midst of all this I am trying to keep my head, while I write a best seller (or two), keep up with the daily news and earn some ready money. I also need to work out the best way to transform myself into a half decent ‘mother-of-the bride’ (MOB).

This is more challenging than I’d thought because no sooner do I embark on the 5:2 diet, which involves trying to limit myself to 500 calories two days a week, than we are invited to tea with friends from church. Walking into their lovely bungalow overlooking the sea, I make a mental note to refuse all cakes and accept just a cup of tea. Half an hour later I am helping myself to drop scones and jam and carrot cake – Oh dear. Life on a diet is cruel. I am considering doing some lengths in the pool and or going for a run – instead I have decided to catch up on my neglected blog. There’s little hope for this ‘would-be fit’ MOB.

Last night we raised a toast to Tinkerbell, chinking a few glasses of wine on the terrace with two cat-loving friends who called by to commiserate. We had buried her under the pine trees opposite and said a little prayer of thanks. This morning my stomach still feels strange, but it’s not as bad as yesterday.