First Day at Villa Rockheart

We flew to Cyprus yesterday morning from Stansted. A pretty fast turnaround for me, having got back from Rome the afternoon before. However, the packing cubes came to the rescue and all was well.

We flew Pegasus Airlines to Ercan in North Cyprus. There was a touch down and a quick change of planes in Izmir. It was a good flight. In terms of full service, I do prefer Turkish Airlines but there was quite a price difference this time. It is actually cheaper at the moment to fly into Larnaca in the south but for frequent visitors to the north, like us, this just results in a possible hassle.

Ozzie (Gunray car hire) was at Ercan to meet us and he transferred us to our hire car parked up in Catalkoy. We got to the house at around 11pm. Everything was looking lovely. Wilma , our new house manager, and her team had done a great job of getting it ready for us. We unpacked the essentials and turned in….

What a lovely thing it is to wake up here, pull back the curtains, feel the warm sun already up, and see the view out over the sea and mountains!

We had tea and finished the unpacking, unpacked our private cupboards and then headed out to the Ileli Supermarket. We gave ourselves a treat and went to their attached cafe, Freshbites, for breakfast before shopping. Bob went all in for the Full English which was indeed….full….. I had eggs benedict on avo toast which was lovely and included diced tomato and onion and pieces of halloumi. Toasted almonds sprinkled on top.

We did a biggish shop including some meat from the excellent butcher there. It came to about £90 but it was a lot of shopping, a good selection of vegetables too. We will be well set up for a week or so. We were too full from breakfast to want any lunch so came back and did a bit more house prep – put the winter heaters down in the store, and I had a walk around the garden.

The borders are looking a treat and the orchard is a brilliant patch of colour with the spreading plants we put down last autumn. Theyve really gone mad and will soon make a lovely carpet. The spike bourgainvilleas are doing well as are all the fruit trees. The loquat is covered, absolutely covered with golden yellow fruit. I shall have to pick them quickly as it is a race against the birds who just love them. I’ve watched them strip the tree in a day. We also have an orange ripening and more behind, plus lemons. The almonds, pomegranites and figs come later. The only thing that is not looking well is the olive tree. There are a very few green shoots on it but mostly it is bare. This time last year it was covered in new growth and then we had water rationing over the summer and it took quite a hit. Olives don’t need a great deal – if any – water but this tree was a transplant, an old big tree, and I think it needed to be kept watered for longer. By the time we came back last autumn, most of the green shoots were brown. I hoped the wet winter would help it but it doesn’t look any better. It makes me so angry because we could have had tankered water brought up to the house to keep the watering going and the pool overflowing and for reasons best known to Marion, our then house manager, this was refused. Tomorrow I will go and consult the old chap who runs the local nursery and see if he has any advice. I don’t know it if can be saved.

Later on we drove back down the hill and I went for a hair cut at Ali’s, where I always go when here. The roadworks transforming the road between Girne and Lapta from a two lane highway to a 4 lane highway are still ongoing and are now progressing beyond the turning to Alsancak. It’s going to be interesting because there is a barrier going up between the two carriageways which means a series of roundabouts is going in at quite frequent intervals to allow for traffic coming from the side to go in both directions. Bob also had a hair cut and he went to the nearby Turkcell shop and got a new sim for our Cyprus phone.

Came back home feeling thoroughly exhausted and had a rest.

Tonight, despite our food shopping trip, we decided to eat out. We went to our “go to” down the hill restaurant: Tervetuloa. Our “go to” up the hill is Hoots Bistro. Anyway, we motored down, it only takes about 7 minutes door to door. Greeted by the waiter, Amir, and the owner/chef, Afet, with great fondness. We’ve been eating here since we first came to Cyprus, when Afet’s dear father was in charge. The meal format hasn’t changed much. Whilst you are entirely free to order a la carte – one, two or three courses, most people go for the traditional meze offering. With this, you choose your main course from all the options and that determines the price. Then included in that price you get a bottle of water, 9 cold meze dishes, 5 hot meze dishes, bread, a platter of chips and a bowl of green salad. Of course you also get your chosen main course and then afterwards you get a little dessert plate, coffee and a brandy. It’s an amazing bargain. Like everything, it’s gone up a bit this year – £16 instead of £10 but still….. We really enjoyed it and it felt like being back……