Nicosia Old City and Socials

The weather has turned to warm sun now and hopefully we have seen the last of the spring “change rain”, although I must say the hills and the gardens are looking all the greener for it.

We had a fabulous time on Saturday night and went to a lovely dinner dance at the posh Colony Hotel in Kyrenia. It was a charity dinner organised by our friends, Pamela and Eddie. We shared a taxi with some other friends, Linda and Mike and their friends, Tony and Helen. We started at 630 for cocktails in the rooftop ballroom and then enjoyed a lovely dinner with dancing afterwards. A great deal of food and wine was consumed and I will admit to having a slightly late start on the following morning. We took part in the raffle half way through and won a dinner for 2 at the equally posh Lords Palace Hotel. That will be nice. It must be said that the European community here have a very active social life and we are lucky to be able to join in with them when we are here.

Today we woke to a brilliant sunny day and we decided to head into Nicosia for a look around. It is a public holiday here today as it is in so many countries but by and large only government associated businesses are closed. We drove right into the Old Walled City and parked in one of the municipal car parks near the central market. It is 50p for the whole day. The old city is far and away the most beautiful and insta worthy part of Nicosia. If you cross the border into the Greek side from here, you might as well be on Basingstoke High Street for all the original atmosphere there is left….. such a shame. Honestly, don’t bother going at all unless shopping at Debenhams or Accessorize rocks your boat. The Turkish old city though is a maze of golden sandstone, slightly crumbly charm. Old wooden doors, decorative windows and balconies, climbing vines, flowers everywhere…… And people still actually living there. There are some fantastic sights: the Selimye Mosque which was once a Cathedral, is beautiful, the Great Han – a medieval inn for pilgrims, now an arts centre with a lovely cafe, the old Hammam, whirling dervish exhibitions and museum, more Hans, the Central Covered market built in the 1930s by the British, the old bazaar streets – incredible shopping, museums…… you can have a lovely day here especially if you visit outside of the very hot months of July and August.

We had a walk around the streets – quieter than usual today because of the holiday – had a coffee break in a cafe near one of the Hans, did some shopping, looked at the Great Han….. spent a lovely morning. The weather was perfect for Nicosia – about 24C, sunny but not too hot. The summer months there are a bit gruelling in my opinion. Too hot.

Came home and had a late lunch sitting on our terrace So lovely. We have all the loungers out now and the cushions for the sofas and dining areas. There’s an act of faith! Bob loves eating lunch outside. He takes huge pleasure from it. Can’t be too long before we’ll be eating dinner outside too.

This afternoon I picked a whole load of the loquats. Any the birds had pecked, I’ve left for them, and the second bush is a little behind the first, so there’s still some left on that. But I really got a load off – kilos and kilos. I like them just raw and stoned and mixed in with my yoghurt for breakfast, but there’s too many to keep for that. Bob likes them in a crumble so I guess I’ll make him one of those. I have found other recipes for them though: loquat margaritas, loquat jam and preserved loquats. I am thinking I will make up a good batch of the loquat jam. It sounds lovely flavoured with some powdered cardoman. Can make enough to bring some home and also to leave some here for guests. I think that would be a nice treat. Will go to China Bazaar tomorrow and buy some preserving jars.

Tonight we went to the quiz at Alvodar Bar in Lapta, on the Strip. It is run by our friends, Jacqui and Tony. Jacqui is Deborah’s sister. Anyway, it was packed out and we filled two of the tables – fellas on one, girls on the other. I’m delighted to say that we beat the boys hands down and in fact we would have won by a massive amount of points if we hadn’t made a crucial mistake in the final blowout round which was down to a total group mindmeld. We all agreed the right answer to a question, the scribe wrote a different answer down and then when we all individually checked the answers before submission, none of us noticed the mistake. No excuse- no blame….. We still came third and won a bottle of wine which everyone else said was awful so I took it home!!!!!

We went on to Jashan’s Indian Restaurant after the quiz – 12 of us – and had a lovely and most convivial dinner. Excellent evening. Pamela and Eddie are so kind. They brought me a massive climber with a great root ball to drape over the poor olive tree and also some litres of their delicious olive oil. Last year’s crop was a huge hit with the girls as well as ourselves so this was extremely welcome. I shall inadequately repay them with a jar of my loquat jam…..