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Mezze is widely served in the Greek and Middle eastern world. An assortment of little dishes and tasters which accompany a nice ouzo or a glass of wine. So when you read mezze moments you will have tasty snippets of life as I live it, India for four years and now Brisbane Australia, all served up with some Greek fervour and passion.

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Friday, 24 May 2019

Paphos Love, Carobs and Coastlines

This is the final posting from our recent holiday - a short one with some magical photos to remind us to keep coming back, to lessen the trauma of the island's history and its recent record of inaction. To cry for the baby seal who bore the name of the goddess of love, Aphrodite,  that found an early death in fishing nets, and hope that immediate action is taken to ensure safe natural reserves are given to them. To wish Monica and her dogs all the very best in her relocation for the dog home and say to you all out there - dogs give unconditional love - so help her in her cause by donating here https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/buildahome

To remind ourselves, with some sisterly expertise, of all the rich history the island has to offer, the conquests, the ravages and the magnificent works of art be they in churches as painted frescoes or as mosaics or perched on hills with magnificent views below. To know that some, we hope, will stand the test of time and development, so that we can once more return to their tranquil setting.

Views from the Baths of Aphrodite over looking the Coastline.

Carob trees which were known as black gold for the molasses they produce.

The baths of Aphrodite where she reputedly bathed. 

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Hiking in the Troodos range

For this range we have no borders to cross, no passports to present, just mountains to climb and waterfalls to dip toes into.  One road leads to the top - Troodos nearly 2000 metres high. On a good year it will be covered in snow and offer Cypriots a couple of ski runs. What is on offers all year round are small mountain villages where the only noise are birds chirping and water cascading. Geraniums and roses abound. Hubby a little jealous. The scent of blossoms everywhere. 
The mountains of my youth are in essence the same. Some of the changes we noticed suggest they are slowly realising their value and their beauty. Viewing points have appeared along the road. Gardens of local plants and herbs are popping up, the most extensive being the A.G Leventis Garden in Amiantos. https://www.cyprusisland.net/attractions/ag-leventis-botanical-garden
More importantly the mine and the ugly slag heaps and empty hillsides have now been planted. What joy. Huge effort to restore the forest.A government initiative I think.
Troodos square remains almost untouched after so many years. We ate trout farmed in the area at Fereos -A family name that has been there for such a long time. We visited falls,
https://www.cyprusisland.net/cyprus-waterfalls/caledonia-waterfalls-kalidonia and walk trails and and came back to our home for the next few nights, Casale Panayiotis in Kalopanayiotis, http://casalepanayiotis.com a tasteful upgrade of village homes and heritage buildings near the famous painted churches of Cyprus. So much of what has been achieved has been thanks to the EU and other grants being made available. Makes you think, does it not, why the UK would not want to be part of this. 

 The smell of pine everywhere in the forest - the floor covered with fallen needles. Fascinating insights into frescoes, history and the natural world. Subjects we love.
 The olive trees are so laden with blossom - after all the rain it will be a bumper crop this year. The olive oil will flow. The ears of wheat just changing in the sunshine. A mediterranean delight.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Hiking in the Kyrenia Range

Headed out for day with my sister's https://www.historiccyprus.com/en/about-us today and our destination was in the Kyrenia mountains for a hike near the iconic Pendadaktylos. The weather was warm with a light breeze, a welcome change from the wet weather Cyprus experienced this winter. 
The rain has brought a profusion of wild flowers and growth. The forests smelt of pine, the bees and butterflies buzzed in the thistles. 

Down a deserted and windy road with magnificent views of the mountains and the coastline below we finally arrived at the Church of Antifonitis. Constructed in the 12 Century it functioned initially as a monastery. It is the one of the few examples of a single domed church with eight pillars which was extended over the ages. It contains frescoes from the 12th and 15th Centuries which are so very beautiful. 

Friday, 10 May 2019

The majesty of mountains

I lived in Switzerland for eight years, yet as the train gently swooshed through the Italian and then the Swiss Alps it was as if I was seeing these areas for the first time, a star struck tourist, a camera happy camper but perhaps you will excuse my enthousiasm when you see these majestic mountains.

Wandering in my old neighbourhoods I come across our village fountain, or one of them. Always beautifully decorated with seasonal flowers, houses and gardens displaying the precision of form and neatness that seems to be the norm here. Nothing out of place, not even the firewood which is stacked like a perfect wall - exactly as I remembered it in the farmhouse round the corner from the house, all those years ago. Such familiarity which comforts us as we walk by, the new houses and constructions fueling us with curiosity and questions about what was there and what has gone. 

My bedroom balcony of the swiss house with the wisteria in full bloom and some of the lovely flowering trees in the area. A morning catching up with old friends from my walking group in  Manora. Such happy times and memories of walks in woods, fields full of cows, cow bells, cow pats, and camaraderie over coffees.

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Perugia - the historic town

Perugia the capital of Umbria has all the picturesque scenes anyone can hope for. If you are staying in a hotel from the 1200s which has been restored to some of its former glory you have a heightened sense of what is on offer. The Fortuna Hotel is found behind a veritable wall of ivy - we had some difficulty locating it. Inside, the reception is not unlike most hotels, but exploring a little further and you find corridors with some of the original colours of the walls, lovely chandeliers with Murano glass, vaulted ceilings, frescoes painted on the ceilings and period furniture. There is a roof top with views over the city and a reading room with a painted ceiling. Rooms look out onto courtyards with tended pots on the balconies and flags of the Eu draped here and there. Charming and quirky it is just the perfect place from which to explore the historic capital of Umbria.

The city is perched on a hilltop and cobbled stones lead to big wooden doors, secret passages and walled gardens. The piazzas have imposing buildings in simple and worn marble which we found very appealing. It seemed to us that the town was alive and lived in by locals not just a place for tourists so we went in search of some of the locals ... 

The imposing griffin and lion stand out on this church. The alleyways are full of small bars and eateries with simple but delicious fare. This is where we ended up ... with the local rugby team, lots of good wine and delicious cheeses and hams.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

A walk in the Tuscan hills

A quick snatch of sunshine saw us scampering up the hillside at the back of the villa for a walk amongst the vineyards and orchards. The wildflowers were there in abundance and the fruit trees were just budding the young fruit. Surprising in its fecundity, so early in the season, was a fig tree  laden with fruit, looking to the sky for the warmth of the sun. 

Big orchids blossoming everywhere. 

An olive tree with a vine all over it. Two in one. What Romans and Greeks loved best.

A beautiful rainbow reaching into the hillside. 
Stuff of novels and dreams these Tuscan hillsides. 

Friday, 3 May 2019

Umbria to Tuscany

The valleys are luscious and showing signs of ripening, the hills an intense green with great conifers, pines, cedars, plane trees and lime trees. Best of all the roadsides are bursting with poppies and daisies and many orchids. The vines are neat, and clash brightly with the forest backdrop. Having arrived in Perugia we made our way to Lake Trasimeno, for a delicious bruschetta pommodore and bresaola with rocket and parmesan and fresh blood orange juice. We explored the little village and walked through the streets. From there we drove the back roads through the mountain villages to our destination, taking time to stop and admire the views and the flora. 

We arrived in Pontassieve in the early evening, a beautiful agri resort nestled in the side of a mountain near the National Park Casentinesi Forest nearby which we are looking forward to exploring tomorrow. Its rooms are quirky and individual with great big wooden wardrobes and marble urns, delicate wash bowls and crazy colour schemes in olives and mustard which bring out the intensity of the dark greens just outside the window. 

Dinner was in the local pizzeria with local wines and pizzas the likes of which I have never tasted before. Aged flour, special ingredients and hardly any cheese on them. Totally moorish.