And what (else) will May 2022 bring, I wonder?

A trip to Cyprus to see Rob and Joanna married on Tuesday 31 May (after a two year covid wait)

The ceremony took place in the little court yard of the church used by the monks of the monastery on whose land the extraordinary Menthis Resort is now being built.

The last monk died only a few years ago, though the Menthis Golf Club was established in the 90s

The hotel was extraordinary! Fabulous views – yes; but the developer had majored on a ’village’ of boxy houses, stretching over several kilometres, finished to a very high standard, through which we drove in search of the hotel.

We didn’t warm to the architecture – but enjoyed the restaurant, the driving range, the views and the hoopoes … David negotiated an hour’s use of a hotel bike on both mornings; it was too hot to be cycling after 09.00 (unless you are Jason and Ian – tackling the Troodos mountains at noon!)

On our final evening David and I drove towards Polis to the north and on to Lakki on Chrysohou Bay and the so-called Baths of Aphrodite. Even at 18.00 Lakki’s concrete harbour was impossibly hot, encircled by restaurants and cafes, all touting for trade. We drove on and found a homely cafe overlooking the rocks of Aphrodite’s Baths to enjoy a quiet cool drink to the sound of the sea.

David, Hugh and I had flown to Cyprus in the week before to avoid the half term crush (and costs) and to see something of the inland landscape and settlements. We stayed at the Lefkara Hotel, still struggling after the covid closures, in this small if well-known village, 50 km from Larnaca airport.

Wandering around some of the back streets, we came across this series of murals, painted on the doors of lock-up garages (note the signage) : striking representations of aspects Cypriot life.

The drive the next very hot day in the Troodos foothills was dominated by the harshness of a landscape still not recovered from last year’s wild fires. We stayed two nights in Koilani, a small community bereft of younger people, and despite running water and electricity the dilapidated stone houses looked as they have for centuries, some slowly disintegrating, others transformed internally into very sophisticated holiday lets, like ours, the Stone House, below

After a drive towards Troodos village, we returned to Koilani. It was here that we pleaded for only vegetables on our second night in the only taverna, having eaten grilled meat at every previous meal. The request was not well received, though a basic salad arrived eventually.

The next day we drove south towards Paphos, before turning east for Coral Bay where friends were already ensconced for the first of the wedding events to be held at the Coral Bay Resort Hotel. En route we called in at Fikardis, and met Fikardis Fikardis (yes – think Gaia Gaia!) who is developing his father’s winery, based in the commercial sprawl to the north of Paphos. He recommended Oniro, where we ate twice – a fabulous restaurant overlooking the sea, with its very own wreck.

Our hotel, the Bella Rosa, was on the northern edge of the town, alongside a banana plantation with a small pool and some (minor) plumbing issues. But it was extremely cheap and the proprietor was both friendly and practical and the empty pool delightful

Our first evening in Coral Bay was spent at Allan’s and Rebecca’s villa where several familiar faces appeared for supper and stayed for the final of the Champions’ League which David accessed on his phone, and then Ian somehow managed to translate it to the villa’s TV. Of course it went to penalties!

On Monday we headed to Paphos harbour in search of decent cup of coffee (David), a large breakfast (Hugh) and a spot of sea air (Janet).

By some happy accident, the carpark by the cafe was directly alongside the entrance to the extraordinary archeological site of the Roman town, its mosaics only found in the 1960s.

After several hours of viewing these, some under cover, some exposed to the very hot sunshine, we turned for Menthis Resort Hotel, hoping to pass a congenial taverna en route. We didn’t!

We did struggle to find the reception of the hotel, having entered the complex by a back route. I couldn’t help wondering what the monks would have made of the architecture – or even the golf!

Our final journey – back to Larnaca airport – was uneventful though we were all amazed by the arid and barren landscape through which the main road travelled – and the scarcity of petrol stations! The gents in charge of the car hire returns (Hertz) were friendly and helpful; luggage check-in and security was rapid, and our only hold-up was on the runway, awaiting a ‘slot’. Heathrow was quiet; luggage retrieval immediate, as was the car; two hours after landing we were in Andover as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee party kicked off. She – very sensibly – stayed at home!

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