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A blast in Blighty!

I’ve had a lovely week in England. Got to see so many members of my gorgeous family. And the weather has been glorious!

I go to so many places and am away so much but there is nothing quite like being home. Cuddles off my Dad, dunking rich tea biscuits with Mum, having the mic taken out of me by my cousins, listening to old tales from grandparents. I love it and wouldn’t trade that for the world.

But…. I’m off on adventures again. And this time I’m not alone. I’m going with my gorgeous little sister!!!!!!

Our first time away together, just the two of us! Or route: Hungary- Slovenia- Croatia!

Watch this space for tales of European wonders!!

X

Kıbrıs life

It’s been two weeks since my last post and it’s all been lovely. My Mum has been out so I’ve had some company for my birding!

We finally finished checking all the Roller nest boxes. Gosh they poo lots!! I was pointing out different species along the way. We saw some glossy ibis which was nice and my Mum’s favourite, Bee eaters!

I’ve done a few wetland surveys but it’s really strange doing them at this time of year! So many are completely dry! But they still have spur winged plovers hanging around. The best one I’ve done in this stay is Agluga. 100’s of cattle egret nesting, a few black-crowned night heron and my first ever Squacco heron! It was amazing!

Me and Mum have enjoyed our mountain wanders too. Early mornings are so calm and peaceful.

One night we went to Roots Bar and met up with Paul and Michelle. We played loads of pool and the next day was pretty much a write off for me!! Damn rum and cokes!!!

In between I’ve been doing PhD work. Starting to look at some interesting results now which is always exciting! Preparing for the conference next month.

Sav came back so I got to see him a few times which was lovely. He came over to watch the football with us all. My first England match of the World Cup! It’s coming home! Our tradition of hungover banana pancakes was maintained.

So this past fortnight has been pretty lovely. I do have to say though, I had one occasion where I got pretty upset about the state of the sea one day and the amount of plastic that was in it. The surface was covered. Me and my Mum went in a collected as much as we could for an hour. We filled a bag and five cups. I won’t rant. All I want to say is that we can all reduce, reuse and recycle.

Earth is beautiful and we are ruining it.

Anyway…

Home tomorrow and I get to hug all my gorgeous family! And escape this intense Cypriot heat….

Xx

Roller-ing with the punches

Another glorious week in Cyprus (a.k.a my favourite place in the world).

I’ve filled my time with birds, PhD work and friends. Can’t complain eh?! Monday was the day for my first wetland surveys since being back. I went to two near the West coast of the Island. It was lovely just going by myself. I listened to my music and just embraced the sunshine. It was really windy that day so at one point I just lifted my arms into the air and let the wind hold me up. I laughed, I think it’s good to laugh by yourself. Bird species weren’t out of the ordinary, a lot of coots, some mallards, little grebes and moorhens. There was a gorgeous kestrel scanning the hillside at one site. I watched her for a while. That night I went and stayed with my friend Penny. We had a lovely meze and a few rum and cokes!

Wednesday was probably my favourite day since being back here. I met up with Damla in the morning and we went and checked a lot of Roller nest boxes for chicks to ring. Rollers are probably the most magnificent looking bird on the island, well, either them or bee eaters! (Google both of them because they are beautiful and might just make your day!!). Quite a lot of the nest boxes had chicks. Some of them were pretty huge and had all there turquoise feathers in full show. I won’t lie, Rollers may look beautiful, but of all the birds I have handled (50 species or so!) they are the species that like to poo the most!!! Beautiful yet smelly. They keep their nests very simple. They just line the bottom with a bit of sediment and that is all. No little basket of straw or anything like that. Essentially they just make themselves a little carpet. One nest box just had a skeleton of a chick. It’s things like that that remind you how brutal the animal world is. It is literally a matter of life or death. After an exhausting day I went to Roots Bar to see my fantastic Roots family and Michelle and Paul. It was a fun night filled with laughs. I stayed at Michelle and Paul’s house that night, I think it is safe to say they are my Esentepe parents! The next morning we sat and watched the sea and talked about all sorts. One of my favourite mornings.

Friday morning was more Roller nest box checks. I went with a fellow Kuskor guy, Paul. We checked 8 new boxes but none of them had chicks. Maybe next year…. Had another night at Roots to see Michelle and Paul again. And I got a recipe for raspberry tequila! Need to try that!

Sunday was another Roller day. Me and Paul went and checked 13 nest boxes. 3 of them had Roller chicks! One of them was only a titchy one and it was accompanied by another unhatched egg. It was a pretty long morning but it was nice to get to see the lovely chicks. We also saw a small group of Hoopoe’s which was a nice surprise. (Another bird you should definitely google!). I went for a quick swim at Alagadi to cool off and then went for tea at Roots and watched a bit of an acoustic act that were playing. Didn’t stay too long though. Wanted to get home and relax!

In between all of this birding stuff, it has been election week for Turkey this week. Every day I have heard car horns beeping and music blaring. One day I was caught in a traffic jam of people rallying for their favourite candidate. People literally sit in their cars with their hazard lights on, waving flags and beeping a lot. It was making me smile. They’re very passionate about it. I finally got out of the traffic jam and saw a man riding his horse on a grass covered round-about. I laughed a little bit. I love this Island. It is so random and so unique and it just makes me happy. If I am having a rubbish day there is always something that makes me smile. Yesterday my smiles came from the waves. I waded into the sea and just jumped the waves for a while. Every now and then a big one would could and nearly knock me flying! I laughed to myself again. I think I need to start doing that every day. Find something to laugh about. Even if it’s just myself!

I’m already looking forward to what this week brings me!

X

Rooted to Cyprus

So I’m back again. Back in one of my favourite places in the world. Gorgeous, happy Cyprus. I’ve not written a blog post for a couple of weeks. I’ve been too busy!

I had a lovely little stint at home. Seeing my family is so special and the weather was nice for a change which is a huge bonus!!! My nephew Max is a dream and growing up too fast!! I swear next time I see him he will probably be taller than me!

I came to Cyprus a week ago and am loving it. This week has been nice because I’ve had loads of time to do Uni work. I have a little routine, I get up early and do computer work and then I head to the sea in the afternoon for a swim and a soaking of sunshine. Not a bad life really.

Hearing the Cetti’s warblers in the morning makes me smile. You can hear them and their poetic outbursts in most places in Cyprus. Lovely.

I’ve been doing a lot of snorkelling this week which has been really relaxing. It’s just me and the fish and you just forget everything for half an hour or so. The only thing that disturbs the serenity is the plastic. Each snorkel trip I always grab as much as I can. One less plastic bag for a sea creature to eat!!

I’ve also had some wonderful experiences with bats since being back. When I go to sleep I have my curtains open so I can see the stars (helps me fall asleep). I was looking at them the other night and all of a sudden, loads of bats starting whizzing past the window. It was amazing! They’re there every night and I get so watch their acrobatic performances. Much better than counting sheep!! When I was at Roots bar on Friday, Ash pointed out all the fruit bats in the tree. Loads of them, clutching to the putter branches ready for take off. I’ve never seen bats to clearly! I’ll always remember it.

Speaking of Roots bar. I’ve been able to go a couple of times since being back. I’ve ended up pretty damn drunk both times. It’s fantastic there. I feel like one of the gang now. Ash and Hannah, the owners, are bloody gorgeous. Such an amazing place. On Friday they had live music on so I went on my own to get out and have a lovely Cyprus night. Penny, a friend of mine from Alagadi, was there and so I may have persuaded her into a tequila or two! After most people left a water fight broke out. I got away with only a wet bum and back after an attack from Veysel. Katie, Ash and Veys were soaked! It was a lovely night, one of those that just make you smile.

I’m so so happy to be back here. I’m practicing my Turkish which is really useful and I get to be on this magical island again!

Love it!!!!

Xx

Ciao Italia

It’s that time of week again. Another blog post full of more glorious adventures! This past week I have been in 4 different countries, all so different but all with their own unique charm.

The week started off in Poland. In the early hours of the morning on Monday Beth and I woke up and got a taxi to Poznan bus station. Our bus left at 04:00 and by 09:00 we had arrived in Berlin. I slept for most of the journey and didn’t even realise we’d gone through the border! We had a few hours to kill once we were in Germany. I had my huge 20kg bag and smaller rucksack so I couldn’t be much of a tourist. We decided to walk the 2 mile walk to Charlottenburg Palace. Such a bad decision. My little legs had had enough by the time we got there. And my hips were so bruised from the huge bag! It was hot and I was tired! The palace is beautiful though. To be honest, Berlin is beautiful. There are trees everywhere and the architecture is grand and elegant. Lovely balconies all around that I wouldn’t mind sitting on and enjoying a good brew and a biscuit! Anyway, we left the palace and headed to the airport. Checked in and got food. I decided to get Käserkrainer which is a cheese filled sausage. They recommended it with potato salad with a dash of extra black pepper. It was lovely! We boarded and headed to Italy.

We arrived in Naples and headed for a taxi to take us to our hotel. The driver was lovely, he had an app on his phone so he could translate what he wanted to say into English. We had a good conversation actually! We arrived at our hotel, Hotel Joyfull, checked in and headed to the city. Another taxi and more exposure to the crazy driving that seems to be the Italian way. We passed one of the 5 castles in Naples. Had a glimpse of the narrow streets of the old city. It was a place of energy. We got dropped off at L’Antica Pizzeria de Michele. Apparently the most famous pizza place in Naples, which is the home city of pizza! There was a ticket system to get a table, but even though the queue was about 50 people, we were still seated within half an hour! There are two choices of pizza and three choices of drink, marinara or margarita with a glass of coke, beer or water. We shared one of each type of pizza. I can’t do justice to how delicious the pizzas were. The crusts were thin but doughey, and the tomatoes sauces were rich and yet slightly sweet. The mozzarella can speak for itself. It was a meal for the Gods! After the pizza we had a little explore of Naples. We went through Spaccanapoli, the old part of Naples. It was full of history and character, tiny alley ways with washing hung from every balcony. The smell of cooking filling the air. We came across the Cathedral too. A great first impression of Italy.

Up early and down for a breakfast of Italian pastry. I tried Sfogliatelle, a layered pastry filled with a sweet creamy sauce. After a refuel we headed to the Port, to get a bus. It was a 5km walk but it meant we got a better view of the city. Most shops have tiny stalls outside filled with different breads and pastry. People walk through the streets drinking a quick espresso en-route. Mopeds wiz by and car drivers constantly beep their horns. We arrived at the bus station, bought our tickets and got on the bus headed for Pompeii.

35 minutes and a quick nap later and we had arrived. We bought our tickets and headed in. The city entrance is a huge archway, with a steep road leading up to it. A huge wall surrounds the city as part of its defences. When you enter it is a maze. It has been preserved and excavated so well. It felt as though it was still a thriving Roman hub. Poppies were in flower and found space to grow in the old house plots. Mount Vesuvius was in the backdrop, powerful and threatening but at the same time magnificently beautiful. My favourite part of the whole trip was seeing the statue of the Centurion. He was a huge metallic figure, standing guard of the city. His presence gave a really warm, protective feel. I could go on and on, but there is too much to tell. You should go. It’s incredible. After the city of Pompeii we had lunch and I finally tried proper Italian ice cream. We headed back to the hotel after a long hot day of history! I had a traditional pasta dish called Penne Genovease. It’s an onion based sauce found mainly in the Napoli region. It was lovely.

Next day and another early morning. This time we were heading to Amalfi to see the gorgeous villages hanging onto the beautiful coastline. It took around 2 hours. I got talking to a lovely Italian guy who gave me information on how to get back later on and where to find the best ice cream. The drive to Amalfi really was beautiful. The towns are literally embedded into sheer cliff faces. I’m pretty sure magic must have been involved in the making of them. Where there aren’t houses there are lemon trees, with lemons the size of my head! The bright yellow and blue of the sea is something from a perfect dream. We spent the day sunbathing and relaxing on the pebbles. I was a bit of a wimp and only went waist deep in the sea though…

After more ice cream we started the very long journey back to Naples. It took a winding, two hour bus journey and a hot and sticky 2 hour train journey to get back. It would have been bad but the views just made me smile. We eventually got back to Hotel Joyfull and packed ready for our early flight home the next day.

After a long morning of travelling I got back to the UK. After so many different countries I was finally home. I spent the first day with my beautiful little sister. We chatted all day, ate amazing food for tea and relaxed on the settee together until we both fell asleep. I got to see my amazing Dad too. He gives the best cuddles and we always laugh. It makes me happy to see them. I’ve been able to see most of my family which has been lovely, most of my cousins and my gorgeous nephew, grandparents and the various pets! I’ve loved every second.

Being back home for this short break is lovely. It’s like pressing a reset button. You get a full charge of hugs and cuddles. A full dose of northern charm. So many brews you can only ever taste tea. And the kindest smiles you could wish for. I love being home and I love all my home people. It’s nice to have so many people to miss and so many people I get to look forward to seeing.

I’m one lucky bird.

2 hangovers in 1 weekend

This week has been lovely. As usual. The weather is still lovely and the birds are still singing.

I was in the office during the week doing PhD work. It’s always lovely to see everyone. And I also had another Turkish lesson. Slowly but surely I will get there!

A nice mid week treat came in the form of home made cookies and shisha. Donata has her own shisha set so we enjoyed an evening on the balcony smoking and drinking kwass. Kwass is a Lithuanian bread drink. It’s weirdly tasty! I love evenings like that, when it’s nice and warm and the sun sets really slowly. We had a lovely chat and just relaxed.

On Friday my friend Beth arrived. She wanted to come and visit Poznan again and have a mini adventure with me! We’ve been enjoying Poznan night life! On Friday and Saturday we went out in the old square. In the normal Amie style, I had lots of tequila and danced my sandals off! I also decided to try and speak as much Polish as I possibly could. Alcohol definitely makes me more confident in languages!

We leave Poznan tomorrow. It’s been so lovely seeing all of my people in this part of the world. But I can’t stay in one place for too long. Time to move again. Next stop is Naples!

Pilots in Poznan

This week has gone by in a flash. It has been really lovely and with a mix of even lovelier people!

Earlier in the week I went for two nice walks. One was in my lunch break where I went to the huge reed bed nearby. The reed warblers were so loud and joyful. The same day Donata and I went for a forest walk. We were graced with chaffinches, greenfinches, blackbirds, blue tits, great tits and tiny wrens. My idea of heaven.

On Tuesday I had my first online Turkish lesson. I have to learn a foreign language as part of my PhD and so I’ve decided to learn Turkish because of my connection to Northern Cyprus. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be able to write a translated version of my blog!! For now I know how to say “I would like a coffee please” which is vital for me.

Thursday evening came and me and Donata went to my amazing Czech families flat for something to eat and a catch up. Pavel cooked an amazing salmon, cream and spinach gnocchi. Bloody delicious! All washed down with red wine of course. It was so lovely to see the kids too. Astrid is the calmest baby ever, Hynek just wants to climb on things! It’s always so nice to see them.

As well as work I’ve been practicing my drawing. This week I did a lion for my Dad. The strongest, bravest man I know.

Anyway….then the weekend came.

Saturday day was spent relaxing. In the evening we got ready and heading into the Old Town to meet Donata’s friends. The rum and cokes started. We had several each. After the first few we went into the Ratusz (town hall) as it was open all night with free admission! Being slightly drunk inside a museum is hilarious. I’d highly recommend it. We went to a bar after that. Had more drinks. Me some Dutch fighter pilots. Drank some more. Moved on to another bar. Had tequila. Met the pilots again. It was light by the time we headed home! Such an amazing night!

 

Today we are hungover.

I just wanted to end with this…When we were at the Czech family’s house, Marketa commented that she has never seen me so calm and relaxed. She is the second person to say this to me during my visit here. Kasia said the same to me last weekend. It makes me feel really good that I have come a full circle in a whole year. I’m back to Amie. I’m so happy in my lovely little life. I think for now it’s just great to be in a flow that suits me. You only live once. This isn’t a dress rehearsal or a practice run. This is the now. I’m just going to enjoy it all. And most important thing, I’m going to enjoy being me!

Back in Poznań

So this week I have been back in Poznan. I’ve been going to the office every day and getting through lots of work. On Friday I had to do an official presentation for my PhD in front of the faculty council. I think it went okay!

My lovely friend Donata is my host for my stay here. I always get amazing breakfasts and we enjoy a good sing along to chart topping hits!

I met her Spanish speaking friends on Wednesday. We had a mini pizza feast. Her friend Kris had been travelling around Greece and brought back some amazing cheese for everyone to taste. She also brought us some traditional cheese from her village in Spain! Both bloody delicious!

This weekend I’ve been at my amazing Polish family’s house. For those of you who don’t know, when I first moved to Poland (for the year long stint) I lived in the flat of one of my colleagues, Kasia (I had never actually met her before hand!). I got to know her and her family and they are now my Polish family! I even got to see my friends Viola and Łukasz! Viola is pregnant and only a couple of weeks away from the big day! They are a lovely couple. Always laughing and smiling. I can’t wait to meet their little one!

Anyway… This weekend we have been at the house in the countryside enjoying the sunshine and the peace and quiet. It’s amazing. You can hear birds for miles around. My favourite is probably the yellowhammer. The first one I ever heard was in Poland, so now they always remind me of here! Both evenings I’ve heard a cuckoo calling. The first evening I even caught a glimpse, it was perched at the very top of a silver birch tree.

All week I’ve been delighted by the birds. Walking to work I can’t help having a smile on my face. I hear chiffchaffs, blackbirds, great tits, blue tits, song thrush, chaffinch….. its a chorus just for me. I love it.

24 hours in Istanbul

I normally don’t write mid-week posts. I like to keep it for the weekend. But I just can’t wait to talk about my latest adventure!

From Northern Cyprus I took a quick flight to Gökçen airport in Istanbul! After buying my visa and getting through passport control I was greeted by my gorgeous friends Simla and Donata. We all met whilst living in Poznan last year. Simla is from Istanbul and had invited us ages ago!

Loaded with my huge bag, we set off to the bus stop to start the journey to Simla’s house. Mid way through the journey we stopped in Levent for some food. We tried to go to the shopping centre but security there is really strict and I wasn’t allowed through with my field knife! So we opted for a kebab place instead! We were recommended the iskender. This is döner meat on top of chunks of soft bread soaked in an amazing tomato sauce. All with a huge dollop of yogurt on the side. Of course I had to have mine with pickled chillies.

Driving through Istanbul was actually lovely. It’s so different to what I had imagined. It is so green! There are lots of trees and when you look up to the hills, it almost feels as though nature is in control and the houses are just adapting to it. Quite refreshing really. We crossed the river and I spotted several seabirds and smiled. It felt like a utopia!

Anyway… A couple of buses later and we were home. I met her cat, Kedi and we rested up for an hour or so. Istanbul is massive, travelling across it takes a really long time! Especially with traffic!

First port of call was the Grand Bazaar. We entered through a side gate. Again, loads of security. Simla took the lead and we weaved our way through the hustle and bustle. The curved tunnels could lead you anywhere, like a maze, each with its own treasure at the end. We took the route to the coffee shop. It was much needed. We drank a Turkish coffee each and told each other our fortunes. Apparently my journey is far from over and I have lots to look forward to. All good.

Coffee stop was over and we headed to the Spice Bazaar. A different, more modern feel, yet still really old! Turkish delight could be seen as far as the eye could see. And the smell of spices filled the air and our noses! Gorgeous! We entered one of the many Turkish delight stalls and got lots of tasters. It is the best I have ever tried. I bought a small box, and am currently eating a pomegranate piece as I write this.

From the Bazaar we then had a quick tea stop and then went on the the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. They are both magnificent buildings, intricate and mesmerising! It was call to prayer and so we weren’t allowed inside the mosque, but to be honest, just seeing it from the outside was enough. We shared a simit as a snack which is a Turkish style pretzel covered in sesame seeds. It was delicious! And just what I needed!

We began the journey home, using metros and buses. It was quite late but we were peckish and so Simla took us to try tavuk göğsü. This is a desert made from chicken. It’s literally very finely shredded chicken mixed with milk and magic I think! Then it’s covered with cinnamon! We had ours with vanilla ice cream. It was pretty tasty, and I’m very open to different foods. But I won’t lie, it was hard to get past the fact that it was chicken!

Home and bed for us! Long, long day!

The next day Simla had an exam early in the morning so she left and me and Donata got ready for breakfast. We wandered through the streets to find coffee and food! We found the perfect place and I put my limited Turkish to good use. We got iki Nescafé ve iki sandviç (2 coffees and 2 sandwiches)!! We got our taxi shortly after and headed to the airport.

It was amazing trip! I’m already looking forward to my next visit!

It makes me smile when I think about all my friends dotted around the world. It makes it seem small and it makes me want to see as much as I possibly can. I don’t spend money on clothes or bags or makeup. I spend it on flights because the memories you make at all these destinations last forever!!

Goodbye, Sleepy House

A week has already gone by and so much has happened and changed. Me and Sav took Rupert and Bob to the border so they could return home, it was just down to two in Sleepy House for the rest of my time in Cyprus.

We both had a lovely week though. We put up lots of Roller nest boxes, did a bird tour, got drunk, did office work and got drunk some more. What more could you want from a week?

I’ll set the scene a little bit more.

After dropping the others at the border we headed to Haspolat to put up some nest boxes. It was so humid that day and I felt all funny inside because we’d had to say goodbye to people. There was a huge highlight though, I got to see my first ever red-footed falcons! A beautiful adult female and a first summer male. The tree they were in was grand. It was full of birds, several kestrels were happy to perch amongst the leaves. We stayed there for a while and just watched. Even Sav was excited! I think he’s got the birding bug!

The next day was full on. We had to take 2 people out on a bird tour. They were a lovely couple, Bryan and Brenda. They were in their 80’s and by the sounds of it, they have never stopped moving! They have been all over the world and seen some incredible things. It was lovely talking with them. And we stopped for a strawberry milkshake which is always a bonus. That night we went to Roots bar. Had lots of tequila. And I know doubt did something embarrassing…

The next day I did office work. Hungover.

Another day of odd jobs after that. We went to Lapta to drop some stuff off at my Mums. Then we nipped to Roots again for a sunshine shandy. Home for some amazing noodles and then back out to Roots for my farewell drinks. Again, we had lots of tequila and I probably embarrassed myself. We saw Michelle and Paul there which was lovely, I’m pretty sure I invited myself to Ireland to visit them!

Another hungover day after that, but more productive. We did the first beach walk on Alagadi for nesting turtles. They’re really early this year! I paddled in the sea and enjoyed the fresh air. It was a good day for food too. Banana pancakes for breakfast because I know how amazing Sav can make them! I decided to buy us a roast chicken for lunch and we ate like vikings! Nothing but roast chicken! Tea was homemade pizza!

Saturday came and it was time for me to leave. I cried. A lot. Sleepy House adventures have just been so amazing. I have met so many amazing people and been able to do so many amazing things. I’ve made best friends.

I won’t be away for long. Cyprus is already calling my name.

I’m currently sat in Istanbul having visited my friend Simla. I’ll be posting about that next week. Too much to talk about!

Xx