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

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.

Javea times

I’ve decided this year I’m going to try and do more posts, even if they are only small. So I thought I would start with my quick yet lovely time in Spain.

Went over to visit my friend Louise. The Spanish weather was perfect. Clear sky, warm breeze and cosy sunshine. A lot different to the rain in Manchester.

We spent the first day chatting and laughing. In fact, we spent the whole visit doing that!

New Year’s Eve came and we got dressed up and enjoyed drinks and dancing. And yes, the next day was a write off. A hungover haze spent on the settee.

We made up for the lazy day on the 2nd. We went to the Port in Javea and had a coffee and a wander. Louise insisted on taking lots and lots of tourist photos which was quite funny. I just wanted to capture the perfect boat photo…. We headed back to Louise’s and chilled for a while. Then got ready for another night out. We thought we would just have a drink or two. Have an early night….. but no. Louise’s friend Josh came and met us and the game stepped up. Tequilas were had. The night ended with pizza and talks of constellations. Apparently I did a sand angel on the beach. I did wonder why I had sand in my jeans pockets….

The next day was very chilled. Went for a final meal in the evening and had the best garlic prawns ever!

What a bloody lovely trip.

And for the cultural side. I learnt how to say some Spanish sentences.

Lo siento. No comprendo. Soy Inglesa.

Me llamo Amie.

Dos tequila con naranja i canella por favor.

Translation:

I am sorry. I don’t understand. I am English.

I am called Amie.

Two tequila with orange and cinnamon please.

Ludlow, Shropshire.

Again, I have to apologise for the lack of blogs recently. Being back at home I have just gotten too caught up in day to day bumbling about. But, I wanted to write a quick entry about a lovely little trip to Ludlow I had this weekend.

It took us nearly 3 hours to drive there due to bank holiday traffic. But eventually we arrived in the sweet town of Ludlow. When I say “we” I mean me, Dad, Molly and Aileen. We were staying in a higgledy-piggledy apartment full of character from its creation back in tudor times. Nothing was level, everything was on a wonk. It was great. We unloaded our stuff and went on a quick wander around the town. There are a few main streets so it’s easy to get your bearings. The first evening was spent at a lovely restaurant called “Bistro 7”. The food was lovely, the wine and gin even better. The evening ended with a slightly drunken draughts tournament back at the apartment. Dad was the winner. It turns out I’m not very good at draughts …

Day two was another potter around Ludlow. This time we went into the market and the different art galleries. Having a walk through the streets let us see all the quirks of Ludlow. Some of the buildings are so old and stick out at all sorts of angles! We also went into the castle grounds. It’s a ruin now, but with a little imagination you can imagine just how grand it must have been. I think I would have suited living back in castle dwelling times. All the door frames were very low, perfect for someone who measures just short of 5 foot 2!! Was there a role as a castle ornithologist? A castle bird ringer maybe? I could have fit right in!.. Whilst we were at the castle we searched for our surname in the database on the computer. It turns out “Wheeldon” originated in Chorley and it literally meant “a farmstead with a water wheel”. We also have our own family insignia which is “Virtue is more excellent than gold”. The database didn’t mention any noble lineage, but apparently the Wheeldon name has belonged to a few good cricket players as well as a convict called Annie who was sent to New Zealand at a mere 23 years of age! After our history lesson at the castle we went down by the river and had some lunch. We then attempted skimming stones, again, this is not a strength of mine. That afternoon we decided to play cards so I taught everyone how to play “shithead”. I kept getting a lot of luck which was very annoying for everyone else. In the evening we had an amazing thai meal and then headed back for more card games. We were addicted!!

The next day we had breakfast out and then leisurely got ready to head home. We stopped off at Delamere forest on the way back for a walk in the sunshine. Lovely way to finish off the weekend.

 

IMG_5062

Javea, Spain.

 

How on earth was this my first time on mainland Spain? Childhood holidays were spent in Tenerife, Mallorca and Minorca, so I felt I had experienced Spain. But oh no…

IMG_4853-1

I travelled to Alicante from Manchester and enjoyed the relatively short flight. Just enough time for a cup of coffee, a bite to eat and a read of a few chapters of my book (I’ve started the The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin). I landed and started down the steps from the plane. Boom, humidity hit me. I love that feeling. It was evening when I landed so I couldn’t get much of an idea about the look of Spain yet. Travelling to Javea I could see lots of houses dotted around on the hill sides. Yes, it was very hilly. I like that. I met my friend Louise at my bus drop off point. She’s lived in Spain since she was tiny but we met whilst doing our Masters research in Kenya. We were up until the early hours chatting about everything. Amazing first evening.

IMG_4833-1

Up and out relatively early the next day so Louise and her Mum could run some errands. This gave me a free hour on my own. I walked along the promenade at the port and sat at a sea front bar to enjoy a coffee. The mediterranean sea was glistening and the heat was quite exhausting, but I couldn’t help but smile. Sunshine is just wonderful. England has had a summer of showers this year so I will take any ray of sunshine I can get. Anyway… After my coffee I met Louise and her Mum for some lunch. We had a traditional Spanish dish called Tostada, a baguette type bread sliced in half and topped with chopped tomatoes. Very tasty and fresh. After a refuel we then went to the old town of Javea. This was beautiful. Jam packed full of old narrow streets, all with a different feel and character. The balconies of the buildings all have tiles underneath and so any foot passenger walking below has a lovely colourful view when they look to the sky. There is a huge church in the centre sprayed with bullet holes from the civil war. It was one of the nicest old towns I have seen. We also nipped into a nearby market and I treated myself to some fresh figs! They just don’t taste the same in England, they need heat. The afternoon was spent lounging in the sun and enjoying the swimming pool. We then got ourselves ready and went for a meal and then headed out for drinks. Tequila was had… That is all that needs to be said really.

IMG_4842-1

IMG_4847-1

IMG_4844

Due to said tequila, the next day was a write off. We just sat in the sun and chatted. We had so much to catch up on. Never a dull moment. A speedy evening meal out and an early night was had. Tequila is bad.

The next day was packed with fun. We woke up and left the house for 7 to go on a walk up the hill. There used to be a national park there but it was burnt down last year so it is quite bare now. It was extremely humid but worth the view. We caught the sunrise and it was beautiful. We shared our walk with the swooping swallows and swifts. They always look so busy in their aerial displays. We got back from the walk and then headed to the port to do some water sport. We decided on kayaking. I’ve never kayaked on the sea so it was quite exciting. We had an hour so we didn’t go too far, we just enjoyed being in the sea. The way back was tough, the waves were against us and the sun was very hot. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be sticking to my running, kayaking is tough! I was glad to be back by the end. We got back to Louise’s just in time for her other friend Amie to arrive. Yes, two Amie’s, both with an I E. What are the chances? Amie got settled and then we all met another friend, Sienna, for tapas by the sea. It was so tasty. We had squid, calamaris, pork, patatas bravas, bread with allioli. All so tasty. Spanish food is really nice. It’s so impressive hearing Louise speak Spanish. I want to learn, I’ve told her she has to be my teacher! The afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool. In the evening Louise, Amie and I went for a nice meal. I decided on a salad and that I wouldn’t be drinking. That plan failed. The salad part was fine, a nice tuna one. The non drinking part really didn’t go to plan, I blame peer pressure and tired eyes. I stayed strong for a while, drinking my virgin mojitos and soda waters. But tiredness set in, my eyes were so heavy but it was Amie’s first night and I needed to WAKE UP! One gin and tonic I said.. Just one.. 3 gin and tonics, 2 tequilas and a fruity shot later and I ended up swimming in Louise’s friends (Josh and Sam) pool at 05:30 in the morning, cooking spanish sausages on the BBQ and finally getting home at 07:30. It escalated so quickly. A proper Spanish night was had!

As you can imagine, another day was then spent being hungover and tired. We just sat around the pool and I enjoyed my last day in the sunshine. That evening we went for paella. I have never had it before and I’d been excited to try it. We got the mixed one and it came with langoustines, squid, chicken, pork and octopus. WOW. It was so tasty. I even got complimented on my langoustine peeling abilities. Not bad eh? The best bits were the scrapings from the bottom of the pan, nice and crispy and full of flavour. Perfect last meal in Spain. We sat for a drink at a sea front bar and then headed home. I had an early flight the next day and wanted a couple of hours sleep.

IMG_4824-1

And that about sums up my trip. Spain is such a brilliant place, or at least, the little corner of it I have seen is. The people, food and lifestyle is so refreshing. Laid back and happy is exactly what I wanted to be on that holiday and it is exactly what I got.

If you haven’t been then I urge you to go. Try all the foods and embrace the siestas and the late, late nights. Enjoy dipping your toes in the mediterranean sea and feeling the humidity on your cheeks. I did. I think it was just the detox I needed.

Spain and Louise, I’ll be back.

FullSizeRender-1