Camping in Karpaz

This week has been a really lovely week. I’ve had adventures galore and it has made me smile so much.

On Tuesday I went to see my friend Doğukan at his house over the other side of Girne. It is a really lovely place to be, he grows all kinds of fruits and vegetables and so we just enjoyed watering all the crops and harvesting what we could. The figs are nearly ready for the first pick which is exciting, but in the meantime we enjoyed some of his home grown honeydew melon. He has an extended cat family that live in his shed. Misty is a Mum who has 4 kittens, I think they are about 8 weeks old. Cezi is also a Mum but only one of her kittens has survived. We called him Lucky, and he’s only about 3 weeks old now. When she first brought him to us he couldn’t even open his eyes! Being a cat lover it’s bloody lovely just watching them all hang out and play. I also got to me Doğukan’s dog, Kucucuk. He is a tiny chihuahua but has loads of personality. We decided that night that we would go on a Karpaz camping adventure and that we’d go the next morning.

Wednesday was the first day of adventures. We headed off to Karpaz in the early afternoon so that it wouldn’t be too hot once we arrived there. The journey there is beautiful, loads of coastline and the sea has so many colours of aquamarine. We got a few supplies in the village so we could cook something for tea! We actually went to a lovely place to get some veggies. It was a families home where they grow loads of vegetables that you can buy. The eldest daughter in the family took us around and let us pick some aubergine, peppers and tomatoes. She recognised Doğukan from earlier trips and didn’t want any money but we insisted! It was such a gorgeous place. They were so kind. To refuel from the journey we stopped at a cafe for a frappe. The owner of the cafe is Greek but it’s a mix of Turkish and Greek people who work there. They were all really smiley and chatty and we bought some lovely dried herbs off of them so we could make some different teas! In the late afternoon we went to the beach of Ayios philon. The water was crystal clear and so warm. We had a nice swim and relaxed in the last of the evening sunshines rays. Afterwards we went and parked the van and set up camp. We had a foam mattress that fit perfectly in the back so we could use it as a bed and we had fold out chairs, crates for a table and a small gas fire that made for a perfect kitchen set up. Doğukan took over the cooking and made some lovely veggie fajitas for us both. We then enjoyed watching the shooting stars and the milky way whilst sipping some lovely chilled Efes.

The next day we got up and slowly but surely got ready to move on. First we had a morning swim and snorkel. From the beach we decided to go for another frappe at the lovely cafe from the day before. Two of Doğukan’s friends turned up there just after us and so we spent the afternoon with them. We enjoyed coffee and chatted about all sorts. After that we started making our way towards the end of the peninsula to find our place to camp for the night. On our way we stopped at a lovely seaside restaurant to have something to eat. We ordered some fresh fish and calamari and got a small meze before hand. The calamari was so lovely and the fish was really tasty too. Luckily Doğukan took over the fish filleting for me, I have no idea how to do it properly! Once we were nice and full we headed back to the van and carried on until we found our place to stop for the night. We came across a lot of the wild donkeys and I fed them some carup fruits we’d picked earlier. We set up our little camp again and enjoyed the last night of camping. We were so full from the fish that we didn’t cook. We just enjoyed some snacks!

The next day we got up and packed up all the camping stuff. We stopped at Apostolos Andreas which is an ancient monastery in Dipkarpaz. We took a look around and even splashed our faces with some of the holy water from the fountain. On our way back we stopped for another Frappe (we couldn’t resist them!!) and then started on our journey back.

It was such a lovely few days and a spontaneous little trip. I really enjoyed it and I don’t think I stopped smiling. I’m now really excited for more adventures to come!

xx

Murder at the manor….and more!

 

Goodness me, I haven’t written in a few weeks. I’ve kept meaning to but life gets in the way and then you get bloody Laryngitis! But, it’s another Sunday and I’m going to write about the last few weeks of my little life.

 

First I have to start with a glorious weekend a few weeks ago where all my cousins and aunties and uncles celebrated my Auntie Karen’s 60th Birthday! We all went to a huge house in Monyash, just past Buxton. We spent the whole weekend there which was lovely, it’s quite rare for the whole bunch of us to be in the country at the same time! Usually me, Danny or Steven are off on some travel adventure! We even had the titchy nephews there which was a treat. How can two such tiny people already be my favourite people ever? I introduced little Max to some chickens he became quite fond of and I amused titchy Arthur with a helium Paw Patrol balloon! Anyway, the first afternoon was spent catching up, drinking and eating. Megan and Tom made a wonderful lasagne and so we all tucked in to that and soaked up some of the champagne and wine! That night a bunch of us went into the games room. Me and Mum taught my little cousin Katy (taller than me and stunningly beautiful) how to play pool and Molly had an intense game of connect four with my cousin Mark. It was lovely.

The next day we chilled out for a while. All the cousin generation tried to find a nearby river. Most of us didn’t end up there. We had parked way too far away (on the top of a hill where rivers aren’t usually found) and the walk was really far. We had titchy humans with us and it was really hot. Some of us decided to head back and go to a small ice cream farm instead. Mint choc chip quenched my ice cream thirst and we got to see some lovely little calves and a couple of emu. That evening was the evening of the murder mystery. We all had a character to play and so at about 6 we all emerged in character. I was a policewoman and strippogram on the side! Molly was the new young and glamorous wife of the deceased. Mum was a mystic. Megs a musician. Tom a chauffeur. Mark a french inspector. Holly the maid. Danny the grounds keeper. Karen was Lady Gardener. Steph was Lord Gardener (although I’m not sure he knew this!!). Jane was the flour dusted cook. David the general. Matt was the scientist. Steven the doctor. Ellie the tennis coach. Katy the glamorous sister of the new wife! Jack was the hipster priest. Joe was the butler. And Kinga was the house keeper. We all had parts to read and the murder was told their part in secret at the start. It was so funny to listen to everyone get into character. Marks french inspector role was the best. Although his and my aunties (the cook) love story was probably just as funny! Anyway, the story unraveled and it turns out Molly, the new wife, was the killer. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t guessed, I thought I could read my sister like a book! My guess was the musician…..

The next day was the day of the bake off. All the cousins and significant others had to bake a version of Nana’s famous chocolate cake. We’d all done this before arriving at the house. We played them out with our specific numbers so they were anonymous to the judges. These being my Mum, auntie Karen, Uncle David, Auntie Jane and obviously Nana herself! I’m pretty sure little Max was involved with the taste tests too though! The chocolate around his mouth gave him away! I really didn’t have any hope. Mine was a bit melted because of the heat of the weekend and I thought it was probably one of the worst. We all stood outside and waited for the judges to go through their process. Eventually we were all called in and the countdown started. There were a few people in joint last place. But then as the individual cakes were eliminated, I was in the final two!!! I couldn’t believe it. Anyway, I only went and bloody won! I was so chuffed, I really didn’t expect it. Maybe a slight melt of the icing helps after all?

It was a really lovely weekend and it was so nice to spend it with my gorgeous family.

After that weekend I had a few days before heading back to Cyprus. In that time I had cuddles off of my Dad and the little bunnies. I headed back to Cyprus but caught Laryngitis on the plane and was really quite poorly with it. I went out for one morning to do some field work, checking Roller nest boxes for chicks. We smashed out 16 of them and then called it a day. No roller chicks, but lots of sparrows. I just went down hill after that. I got a really sore throat and completely lost my voice. I basically didn’t get out of bed! My wonderful friend Katy brought me some ice creams to soothe my throat which was really thoughtful. After a few days Mum and Beth arrived and I soon got my voice back. The first evening I actually had to use a notepad and pen to communicate! I can nearly talk normally now, just the really high notes are still missing. So this past week I’ve basically been trying to recover. I’ve been doing some phd work on the laptop and trying to relax. On Friday night me and Beth went into Girne for some drinks. We went to Ego Bar and watched The Healers playing. They are a local reggae band who I’d actually seen before at Roots Bar (you’ll know how much I love this place from previous posts). It was a nice chilled nice just listening to good live music and enjoying the warm Cyprus air.

Anyway, I think that is most of the big events of the last few weeks. I’ll try and write more often again, I know my Nana needs her updates!

Right, that’s all for now.

xx

Keeping busy

This last week I’ve been enjoying the rest of my holiday in Northern Cyprus with my Mum and sister. The weather was getting hotter by the day and the sea with it!!

We had a relaxing time because I wasn’t very well and so had to take it easy and rest. Being sick knocks it out of you and the lack of sleep! Stupid bad dreams. Maybe I should take a dream catcher with me for next time?!

Anyway, one afternoon me and Mum decided to walk along the promenade near where we sunbath. It’s quite a long stretch and we chose the hottest part of the day to go so we didn’t make it too far… Mum spotted a gorgeous cuttlefish from the bridge that crosses a sheltered bay. We watched him for ages as he was right near the surface. He was gorgeous brown colours with a beautiful spotted pattern on top. It was a real treat! There were a couple of skylarks singing high above us as we walked. And a Zitting Cisticola was chirping his song over the field nearby.

Another nice treat was going to watch the sunset at Kervanseri. We enjoyed a drink and watched the sun melt into the sea. Sunsets are magical for taking your mind off of things.

Me and my Mum went for a birding adventure one morning. We went to the Kukla wetlands so I could survey the birds there and assess the breeding status of the different species. There were lots and lots of coot nests with chicks, and a load of juveniles that had left the nests. It was an amazing morning actually, so many gorgeous species. We saw a fair few Hoopoe, a Roller, Little egret, Grey heron, Flamingo, Ferruginous duck, Barn swallows and a few Crested lark. Unfortunately the car started to break and so we had to cut the trip short. I’d wanted to carry on to the Famagusta wetlands, but I’ll have to get to those when I go back in a couple of weeks.

It was lovely to see friends again. We met our friend Janet one day for a relaxed day by the pool. And one evening I drove over to meet my friend Veysel for a couple of drinks. I hadn’t seen him in ages so it was nice to catch up with him. He was telling me all about his recent adventures.

Since being back in England the weather has been rubbish. It’s been nice seeing my family and getting cuddles off of the two bunnies though. Today is Father’s Day and so I treated my Dad and sister to a nice breakfast out. It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning. It’s not often it’s just us three.

Not the most exciting week, but hey ho, I enjoyed it.

Xx

What will be will be

Sunday is normal blog writing day and so I’m trying to get back into it after my Mozambique adventures. I won’t lie, this past week hasn’t been great. I won’t go into the details, but yeah, I’ve really hated it.

I had planned to come to Cyprus with my Mum and Sister for our first ever holiday with just the three of us. So I guess that was a good thing. The first few days I’ve spent trying to relax in the sunshine. Unfortunately I picked up a stomach bug and have been bed bound which is really rubbish. Today I feel slightly better so I guess I’m kicking it! I can’t afford to be sick anymore, I’m tiny enough as it is!

Being back in Cyprus is lovely because I get to hear and see all of the gorgeous birds. Hooded crows are everywhere. I can hear tinkling goldfinch all the time and chattering swallows. I think my favourite so far has been the black francolin. I’m truly in Cyprus when I hear them. As well as the birds I’ve had a snorkel and seen some lovely guiltheads. I’ve enjoyed watching the ditzy butterflies and I rescued an overturned beetle on a footpath. This morning I was woken up by huge thunderstorms. Never a bad way to wake up. Mother Nature just having a temper. I feel like a bit of a thunderstorm inside these past few days.

That’s all for now.

Xx

Gareth and a gig.

The start of this week had me leaving the gorgeous North of Cyprus for a while. Before I left we nipped into Girne and I bought myself some scrumptious Turkish delight!

It’s been nice being home. I love all the hugs I get to have. I’ve laughed with Dad, chilled out with my Mum and giggled with my Sister. My grandparents all gave me lovely cuddles too! And of course, it’s lovely seeing the two cats, Ancient Saffy and big fat Lilly. Lily the dog was also chuffed to see me, although I think she just knows I’m a soft touch when it comes to treats! Since I arrived back, storm Gareth has been raging. Very strong winds of 60 mph and sleet and rain showers. Very different to the north Cyprus weather that gave me sunburnt cheeks!! But anyway, it’s lovely to be back.

I had a Turkish lesson this week with my amazing teacher Demir. The lessons are online so it’s very convenient. We were chatting about what I’ve been up to recently and he was helping me pronounce my vowels correctly! It’s all in the lips!

Yesterday was a great day. Me and my sister went into Manchester for a George Ezra concert. We went in early and went to a market place for food and wine. We shared a bottle of fruity red and munched on pizza. I was slightly tipsy by the end of it. Not drinking much means I’m a light weight! In the rain we made our way to the arena and got a spot on a slightly raised platform in the standing area. It was fab because it meant I could actually see the stage for once! Being titchy means I usually just have to do random jumps to catch a glimpse of the act! The support artist was Sigrid who we love. She was amazing and it was fun to dance and let go! Then George Ezra performed and he was amazing. He had a trumpet, saxophone and trombone player with him so there was a sort of carnival vibe to the night. Listening to live music makes me feel bloody amazing. I don’t think I stopped smiling.

It was a lovely way to spend my weekend. With my gorgeous little sister, just laughing and enjoying life.

Xx

It’s finally sunny in Cyprus

This week I’ve been joined by two of my bird ringing friends from Manchester. They chose a really good week to come because it’s finally gotten sunny and warm here in Cyprus which is nice.

On their first day we had a scout out of Sadrazamköy so I could show them the habitat there and we could figure out where to put nets up for bird ringing. On the way we stopped to take in the view and I tried to ID some flowers. There are so many beautiful ones! We also had a walk up the mountain behind the apartment. Lots of lovely flowers there too including some pretty orchids. That evening I took them to Tervetuloa for some amazing meze and Turkish food. Me and Ingrid had Imambayaldı which is aubergine stuffed with mince and veg. So Tasty!

The first day of ringing was a great success. I got to ring a new species in the form of a gorgeous male sardinian warbler. Jake had a first with a black redstart. We saw lots of linnet and Serin which was nice. They have a gorgeous song. I got a bit sunburnt on my face which wasn’t ideal. But hey ho. We enjoyed a lovely tea at Silver Rocks to finish the day off.

Rather than ring every single day we decided we’d put some European roller nest boxes up to help out with the Kuskor project. We went to a couple of villages near Boğazköy and placed them on some pylons. I hope they do well and get used. It’s always exciting to check.

This weekend we have been busy ringing again. Saturday was spent at Kukla wetlands. It was a really nice day and we caught lots of nice species. I got a ringing tick with an Eastern Bonelli’s warbler which was really special. We also saw a blue throat close to the hide and a lovely female Little crake. She was beautiful. Quite a few locals came to the hide and so I got to practice my Turkish which was good. I think I managed to chat quite well. I had a selfie with one family because I’d shown them the flamingos through my scope and they were really happy. One couple came to have some breakfast in the hide and gave us some tea to drink and some bread and cake. It was so lovely. So caring. After the ringing I decided to drive on to Famagusta so I could show them some of the wetlands. I managed to spot the Finsch’s wheatear for them which I was chuffed about.

Today we went to haspolat to do some ringing. A large flock of Serin came down to drink from the puddles in the road and so we caught a few which was nice. None of us had ringed any before. They have a gorgeous greenish yellow rump and the males have the same on the crown of their heads. Very cute.

It’s been a very busy week. Absolutely shattered now. It’s been nice to get the sun on my face. Always lovely to bird here in Northern Cyprus.

Xx

Lucky Lady Linnets.

Blog writing time again. It always comes around so quickly. This week I’ve doing lots of the same really. I’ve been doing lots of PhD work, mainly writing up a paper.

There were two nights where I just couldn’t sleep. There were huge thunderstorms right over the mountains. So considering the mountains are behind my house, not much sleep at all! Let’s face it though, there are far worse things to keep you awake. It was quite exciting listening to the build up of thunder and anticipating the next lightning flash. After two days the novelty had slightly worn off so I was glad for a good nights sleep on the third day!

I’ve done a bit of birding this week. Well, one easy one was a kingfisher I heard from my lounge. It must be taking advantage of the newly flowing ravine near the house. I also scouted out Karsiyaka headland one morning. Unfortunately because of all the water, the field was impassable, so I couldn’t make it all the way. Instead I parked up and had a wander down to the shore and saw a few stonechat, Sardinian warbler, crested lark and a couple of black redstart. It was a really lovely little cove I’d found. It had a wall of washed up sea grass nearly a metre tall at the wash line which was quite cool to see. It also had some lovely historic character. There were some old steps leading up from the beach covered by an arching oak tree, and on the wall below, there was an old, cracked, painted TRNC flag. It was a lovely, peaceful place and the sea air was nice on my cheeks.

Today I had a trip to Sadrazamköy, a piece of headland right at the far wester tip of the north coast. It’s only 40 minutes or so from home and the drive is bloody lovely. The route takes you on a winding coastal road, hardly anyone is on it, so all the flowering plants, the birds and the horizon feel like your own. Gosh it put a smile on my face. Just looking out at the flat calm sea would have been enough. But then you catch a glimpse of a perched stonechat or see a lovely cloud formation and it’s like heaven. I reached the fresh-water pool and stopped for a little bit to look for some birds. There were lots of goldfinch flitting about, many stonechats, a couple of black redstart and a gorgeous, melodic group of linnets. I stood and watched one male Linnet singing for ages. He had a lovely song. If I was a lady Linnet I would choose him to partner up with!! The site is a lot wetter than when I last went and so the frogs are taking full advantage. I spotted a few with my binoculars. One was ribbeting away, his cheeks all puffed out, he was clearly in the mood to impress his Mrs. It was lovely to spot them all peaking out of the water. Spring is coming and love is in the air!!

I’ve felt slightly cabin-fever-ish this week, so getting out this weekend has been so nice. It’s amazing what nature can do for your wellbeing. This morning, I sent my mum a morning selfie and she said it didn’t look like me because I wasn’t smiling through my eyes. If I wasn’t smiling with my eyes this morning then I certainly am now.

That’s all for now.

Xx

I’m a published scientist!

Another nice week has gone by in Cyprus. I’ve gotten PhD work done and so been sat at my desk for the majority of it. But…. I have been birding and I did go on a night out!

The best bit about this week is that my first ever scientific paper was published! Back in 2015 I went to Kenya and did research in the Aberdare National Park. I was looking at different survey methods for birds. Anyway… it’s now up for the world to see. I’m so happy and feel like I’m a proper scientist now! If you fancy a read, here is the link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/aje.12596

I met my friend Olkan on Tuesday for a day full of birding adventure. I’ve not seen him in a while so it was really nice to catch up. One of our first stops was a small coastal stretch near Esentepe. We saw a nice group of wood larks amongst the shrubs. We both agreed that larks are a bit tricky to ID sometimes, they usually land in places where you can’t get the best view…and they are all brown and don’t have any obviously stand out features. Well, not at first glance. We had a good view of this group though and we slowly pieced together the clues so we could ID it. Mainly a white band going from above the eyes on both sides and joining at the back of the neck. Anyway, it was a nice start and so we moved on to Geçitkale with high spirits. Olkan mentioned the possibility of seeing a Finsch’s wheatear here. You can usually spot them on mounds and ridges of rubble. They like the insects creeping around on them. On the drive in we didn’t spot it and so thought we’d missed our chance, but on the way back to the main road I spotted it! Gosh it’s a gorgeous bird. Striking white and black plumage. It has an almost checkerboard style to it, like a chess board! We watched it for a while. Made sure we could see the distinctive white back. I was so chuffed, I’ve never seen one before. It filled me with a lot of joy. We continued on and went to the famagusta wetlands. We saw a good group of curlew and a grey plover which was nice. Not every day you get to see those! It was a long but lovely trip. It’s always nice going birding with someone else. It’s nice to have a shared experience, plus, two pairs of eyes means you can spot more!

For a lot of this week I’ve felt a bit sickly and washed out. I also felt really anxious. Think my body was trying to tell me to try and relax and find happiness. I woke up one morning and decided to do some yoga before anything else. I followed a video on YouTube and the instructor kept saying “and smile” throughout the practice. So I did. And I felt great. Sometimes just the act of smiling can make you feel so much better. So yesterday I was feeling my usual tiny and weird self again so I went for a bit of a solo bird in the morning. I sang along to feel good music and enjoyed being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by singing birds. I then went out with a few people that also live in Lapta. I had a few pangs of feeling very geeky. My go to conversations are about bloody wildlife and birds. I must try and remember that not everyone is a bird geek. But, my geeky ways make me who I am, so I guess people just have to deal with. I might not be that cool, but I’m my little weird self.

Anyway, I’m now a little bit hungover, more tired than anything. And I’m really craving a kebab. So I’m going to stew on the settee for a while and hope the kebab shop has some chicken doner left later.

Xx

Lone Wolf

Hello again,

This week hasn’t been too eventful really. I’ve been in doing lots of PhD work. But I did go for a birding adventure on Tuesday. I went to Kukla Wetlands here in North Cyprus. I have never seen these wetlands with water in, it’s been so dry the past few years they haven’t managed to fill up. Since the flooding a couple of months ago, this site has been thriving. I got up early and set off in the dark. I was so excited when I finally got there and I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. It was slightly misty so I think that just added to the magic. As I drove up, a vast expanse of water greeted me. Along the near edge were some hungry Coots rummaging around in the foliage. I could see a huge group of flamingos, shovelers, mallard….. I climbed up the huge hide and started to survey. I was a bit overwhelmed to be honest. I had no clue where to start. I finished the survey as the hide on the far side of the wetland. I got a better view of the various duck species here. Teal, pintail, wigeon… just me and all these gorgeous birds. I could have stayed there all day. It was so peaceful. I can’t wait to go again!

Anyway….

As I haven’t had much opportunity for adventure this week, I thought I’d talk a bit about my random way of life. I am on my own quite a lot. I am usually travelling from A to B on my own. When I’m in Cyprus I’m alone. I sometimes feel alone in England too. Everyone has their own lives to be getting on with, so when I’m back I have to try and slot myself in. I’m not saying being on my own is a bad thing. In fact, I think it has made me very strong. I can confidently and proudly say that I am extremely independent. I don’t NEED anyone else to be by my side. It’s nice if I’m around family, of course, but that’s a lovely highlight. As far as day to day living goes, I’m my own little self. I can handle myself. I’ve never been one of those people who is constantly in a relationship, in my whole life I’ve had a single boyfriend. And that was short lived. I don’t mind that. I think it helps demonstrate the type of character I am. I’m a feisty person striving for the best I can get for me. Don’t get me wrong, being on my own so much isn’t always the best, but at this time in my life it’s just the way it is for me. Sometimes I get lonely, I think anyone would. I try and think of things to occupy my mind before I start to think too deep. Usually listening to music or going for a birding trip helps. I have the best family who are always there to talk to and I have a few very close friends. That suits me. I won’t be on my own forever, someday I’ll slot into someone’s life and it will just work. But for now, I love my random life. My time to just be Amie. I know her very well.

Xx

First Barn swallow of 2019

Merhabalar! Hello hello!

This week has gone by quickly. It started off with me turning 26. It was quite an uneventful birthday. The best bit was driving with Molly to the airport and singing along to some amazing songs! I spent the day travelling on my own, but I ended up in Cyprus, so all ended well!

This week the weather has been horrid! It has been very rainy and so I’ve been stuck inside most of the time. I’ve been cracking on with my PhD writing though which is nice. Being in Cyprus gives me time to just get on with things. I have a part of my own life back. Maybe it’s a bit selfish, but sometimes it’s nice to just be me, for me.

I’ve been very glad to see a few of the cats are still around the apartment after the floods here. The feisty kitten is still around which is just lovely. For a couple of days I was also feeding a very fluffy puppy. I named him Mowgli. For some reason I had visions of him being raised by wolves…

Today I went for a bit of a drive to get out and see a bit of the sunshine we’ve had. I didn’t do any proper surveys, just fancied a mooch around and to stop if I saw anything. I saw loads of kestrels, corn bunting, serin, crested lark, white wagtail, a single chukar and two gliding barn swallows. I feel like seeing barn swallows is a little tick for my year. I know that spring is soon going to be in full swing. How exciting!! Barn swallows breed up in Europe but they over winter in Sub Saharan Africa. So each year they travel all that way, such small creatures on such big journeys. If I’m feeling overwhelmed, I sometimes try and put it into perspective. I mean, I don’t think I could fly all that way!! And when they do arrive they sing and do amazing acrobatics in the sky. They just amaze me.

The bird I am most excited to see return are the swifts. Their screeches fill my heart with utter joy. I think they’re magical.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Here’s to sunnier times ahead. More birds singing. More butterflies fluttering. And more bees buzzing.

Xx