Christmas Message - 2016

A Yule­tide Stay­ca­tion for ’16

Published: 15 December 2016

 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 must stay put this time. Here's why:

Reason #1 – Puppy

We have a new wee Vizsla. Elliot was born on 4 September and is too young to go on Christmas trips. It might have been possible had he been a month or two older.

Reason #2 – Brexit

After the BREXIT Referendum result, the value of the GBP plummeted against the USD by 15 to 20 per cent. With fewer dollars, taking a holiday would be at the expense of some work that needs to be done in the house. So, needs are what needs to be.

Cyprus Trip

I did make a trip to Cyprus in June, though. Karen 'came up trumps' and donated enough air miles to fund a return business class flight from IAD to Larnaca. I flew Austrian Airlines via Vienna there and back and extensively enjoyed the service. 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 bit of reading, I got my story straight on Austrian wines, particularly the unfamiliar reds. The in-flight sommeliers seemed eager to keep an appreciative traveller'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 was interested in seeing the changes and 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 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 intended to take photographs, but it was a short stay, and instead, I tended to stay put and do nothing. With its swimming pool and orange trees laden with fruit, the villa 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 coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice. After that, it was easy to doze off again, recharge the batteries, and linger.


During the trip, I was delighted to meet 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 ancient ruin for a sum that didn't dent his retirement gratuity. 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 mainly worked independently and used materials from other ruins he could scrounge. For instance, his solid timber window and door lintels come from a long-demolished British Army pier at Avdimou. If Kevin McCloud had caught wind of it, Dave's project would have made the best Grand Designs episode with no exaggeration.


Gregor waits patiently for the rain to subside.

We lost dear old Gregor, our 13-year-old Vizsla, at the tail end of the Summer. He was one of the friendliest dogs on the planet and knew how to walk away from trouble before it started. He never got into a fight, 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 pretend to switch it on, but he knew that the seat wouldn't get warm if the indicator light didn't come on the dash. 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 has grey on his face and a rapidly oscillating tail. He enjoyed occasions like that and didn't let the brash 18-month-old Brodie spoil it for him; the tail didn't stop wagging.

 Ye Wee Blogger

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