Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200201 Cyprus England

Tuesday 1 January 2002  Main news on all radio stations is about the Euro which today becomes the common currency in 12 European countries.  Cyprus is not one of them but it does mean that for our journey back to England we shall only have one currency to deal with so it is good for us.  Morning visit – Mum shows some improvement.  The lung x-rays showed no problems.  She still feels sickly but fancies a "nice" cup of tea instead of the weak half milk, half water Cyprus hospital ones.  Nip down to the van and brew one just as she likes.  The tea plus a bit of jelly go down well – and stay down.  Never thought I would be pleased to hear her start worrying about trivial things but we know it’s a sign she is improving!   Early afternoon Mum is up sitting in a chair but still taking oxygen.  The concern now is double vision.  Return to the studio and cook a meal for us all then leave John and go back to hospital.  More good news – Mums’ blood pressure is now much lower.
Wednesday 2 January  Having realised our mistake in visiting too early the other morning we stroll in around 10.00am to find an empty bed.  Mum’s gone back to Nicosia for another CAT scan to make sure there is nothing in the brain causing the double vision.  Shop at Orphanides where there is a riot at the butchery counter.  Pork chops are on offer at 19c (21p) kilo and although there is a ticket system it is not working.  Steve finally gets his turn but the butcher laughs when he asks for 2 kilos and sells him a 5 kilo bag.  We get 18 chops for C £1 (£1.10) which is unbelievable.  Pick up John then return to find Mum back on the ward.  She complains bitterly about the journey to Nicosia which was very bumpy.  The stitches have been taken out of her head but the double vision is just the same.  Eat in the van then pop back in and find a Doctor who tells us the scan showed no change at all in the clot but that there was nothing in the brain causing the double vision.  He hopes everything will right itself it time but it could be quite some time.  Mooching round the corridors Steve spots an English paper on one of the beds which leads him to meet Johnny (a soldier at the base) and his Mum Elaine who on Saturday had an operation for a perforated stomach ulcer.  She comes from Shrewsbury (about 20 minutes from where Mum lives) and Johnny knows Maureen & Lenny, quite a coincidence.
Thursday 3 January  Mum’s not bad this morning despite a gruelling physiotherapy session.  Her drip has been removed and she manages to eat some dinner.  An eye specialist has visited her.  Mum tells us her double vision has gone but Steve immediately sees through her and realises she is trying to get herself on the Saturday flight!  Whilst visiting with John in the afternoon a family arrive to visit Mum.  People they met last year in Cyprus and had hoped to spend time with this year.  By the time they leave Mum is ready for a back massage followed by a sleep.  By evening Mum is brighter in herself and again eats some tea.
Friday 4 January  Elaine has been moved into the same room as Mum which will give Mum company and help pass the time.  PC Grigoris arrives and takes Mums’ statement about the accident.  Take John for his last visit before his early flight tomorrow morning.  Arrive for the evening visit to find Giorgos (the car driver) and his father John already there.  Mum finds their visits rather tiring as she struggles to understand them and to find anything to talk about but they won’t take the hint to stay away.  Settle Mum down after a back massage and a chapter of Harry Potter.
Saturday 5 January  Mum’s up and about when I arrive so I help her take a shower and wash her hair then massage body lotion in to soothe her dry skin.  Elaine has a CD player so they have been listening to music and I take some tapes to vary the selection.  They are both getting good at dishing out orders for cups of tea and coffee from the van.  After lunch Elaine’s daughter in law Tanya and her grandchildren visit.  They have brought an electronic "Who wants to be a millionaire" game for us all to play.  Mum & Elaine manage a stroll around the corridors primarily for Elaine to find a place to have a cigarette.  I’m just pleased that Mum is managing so much more.  Returning to Larnaca Steve spots that the football is already being screened at the Personality Pub so at the traffic lights he jumps out of the cab and leaves me to park the van.  Think he will be regretting it later when he has to walk back in the rain without a coat. 
Sunday 6 January  Whilst parked by the laundry Colin taps on the window.  A fellow motorhomer who lives here most of the year he chats and invites us to visit later to fill up with water which solves one of our problems.  It’s Epiphany and in Greece this means a procession from the main church down to the marina.  The road along the promenade is closed and lots of fairground type side stalls have been set up.  The last stretch of the walk along the marina has been lined with laurel leaves.  We climb a fence to get a good view of the stage.  The bands and procession arrive and then the priest does a lot of chanting.  Next he throws a silver cross into the water which is retrieved by divers.  This is repeated 3 more times accompanied by an uncoordinated cacophony of ships hooters and numerous bands backed up by the priest still chanting.  In the midst of this white doves are released but some have to be scooped out of the water by the divers as they can’t fly very well.  Colin true to his word supplies us with water and with his German wife tells us that they have also done motorhome exchanges with people in New Zealand.  Mum is showing more improvement and just has stitches in her back to be removed.  They may release her from hospital tomorrow but she will not be fit to fly for some time.  Last night John (the father of the driver who obviously fancies Mum) visited for 1 hour and left a bag full of family photos.  He just won’t take the hint that whilst a 5 minute visit occasionally is OK she doesn’t want him calling too often or staying too long!  By evening Mum has had her stitches removed.  Cypriot John calls again and we manage to pack him off after about 10 minutes but even that is difficult. 
Monday 7 January  In anticipation of Mum coming out today we make an early start checking out accommodation.  We are looking for a 2 bedroom ground floor apartment with central heating, TV and a place to park the motorhome.  The guide book has already narrowed our choices down to 5.  Most buildings have reception, bars, restaurants and shops on the ground floor and accommodation above.  End up with a choice of  3 with prices from C £20 (£22) – C£25 (£27.50) a night for the 3 of us.  12.30pm at the hospital Mum is given the OK to go.  The UK insurance company have to be notified of this and that she is unfit to fly and needs accommodation.  This and tying up loose ends such as medical notes and tablets from the hospital takes a further very trying 3 hours. Frixos Hotel Apartments is our chosen accommodation with the only disadvantage being that the largest apartment is 1 bedroom with 2 sofa beds in the lounge. However they do have a gym, sauna, steam room and a pub opposite which shows the football.  Mum thinks it is wonderful with the patio leading straight onto the attractive gardens and a sea view if you peer between the two Hotels in front of us.  The central heating is on and we are very warm but coming from the hot hospital conditions Mum is not.  Wrap Mum in blankets and sit her by our electric fire to thaw out whilst we strip off.  Her hearing is somewhat worse after the accident and to enable her to hear the TV it has to be so loud that I need to wear ear plugs to prevent myself from going deaf!  Mum wallows in an aromatherapy bath and gets quite a good nights sleep. Steve sneaks out and plays pool with the night watchman Andreas.
Tuesday 8 January  A beautiful morning with not a cloud in the sky.  By mid morning it is hot enough for us all to sit on the patio.  Mum soon finds it too hot so mixes things around by also sitting inside and taking strolls around the gardens.  Each time she returns with another orange which she has found under the trees.  For our afternoon Gin & Tonics we pluck a lemon from the tree by our patio.  This is more like it.
Wednesday 9 January  This is definitely not more like it as we wake to rain, strong winds, low temperatures and news that in Paphos, Nicosia and Limassol it is snowing.  Haul the TV and video in from the van to watch some films.  Mum still struggles to watch TV or read for any length of time so maybe our appointment with the hospital optometrist will reveal why tomorrow.
Thursday 10 January  Alarm wake up at 6.30am to make sure we are at the hospital for Mums 8.00am appointment.  Arrive in plenty of time but what a circus.  After getting wrong information and sitting in the wrong place we eventually figure out the system.  First you join the longest queue in sight and this gets you a number.  Next a queue to pay C £10 (£11) for an outpatients appointment followed by retrieving your medical records.  This is followed by a long wait outside the optometrists.  Mum finally gets seen at 10.00am. They are still concerned about her sight and send us up to the 4th floor to see the Specialist Orthoptist.  Mum’s having vision problems especially when looking down and they are not sure whether this is caused by the haematoma or an indication of a small fracture beneath the eye.  Following tests the Specialist still cannot be sure but advises us to fly back to England and get it checked out once we get back.  If the tests they then perform show no improvement Mum will need another CAT scan and if a fracture is found it must be operated on within 3 – 4 weeks of the accident.  Back at the ward the Doctor exams Mum and pronounces her fit to fly from Monday onwards.  We leave just after 12.00am complete with a full Medical Report on the accident.  Cyprus hits the national news due to the freak bad weather.  1.2m of snow has fallen in the Troodos mountains causing all the roads to be closed and even the hill villages around Larnaca have had snow.
Friday 11 January  What a difference a day makes as we wake to blue skies and sun.  Make the most by sitting out and lunching on the patio.  Mum manages a stroll to the beach with Steve in the morning and a wander round the shops with me in the afternoon but even that tires her out.  It’s a bit unnerving when we go to cross the road at the pedestrian crossing and see a wreath hanging there but not that surprising having read in the papers and seen ourselves how notoriously bad the Cypriot drivers are. 
Saturday 12 January  An even hotter day than yesterday.  Our flights are booked for Mum & I to return on Wednesday with me staying for a week to help Mum and organise things where necessary.  Sandra phones from England to say she is flying out to Paphos to visit us for a week from 2nd February
Sunday 13 January  All walk down to the beach and spend an hour sat by the pool of the luxury Palm Beach Hotel.  The forces radio is telling everyone the ski slopes are open in the mountains so you can snow ski there and then later go to the beach to water ski.  Cloudy late afternoon.
Monday 14 January  Mixed sun and clouds.  Steve & I enjoy and evening sauna c £3 (£3.30) each whilst Mum creates her own sauna in the room with the central heating and the electric fire on!
Tuesday 15 January  Another mixed weather day.  Take a last stroll along the promenade.  Afternoon shop at Orphanides to make sure Steve doesn’t starve whilst I’m away although how he is going to live on beer along all week I’ll never know! 
Wednesday 16 January  Up just after 5.00am to get to the airport for our 8.30am flight.  Get a wheelchair for Mum and check our baggage in.  Say a tearful farewell to Steve.  Having not spent a night apart for over 5 years it’s very strange to be leaving him.  Proceed very well until we get to the security check which reveals a penknife in my handbag.  I always carry it around but never gave it a thought in relation to flying.  Of course since September 11th security is much stricter but not having flown since then it hasn’t affected me. At the check in they didn’t ask any questions about our hand luggage.  Enough excuses.  I am returned to check in where they have to package my Swiss army penknife to go separately.  Make a good attempt to demolish the duty free shop with the wheelchair before being assisted onto the plane.  Mum gets taken up in a special lift and we are allocated good seats.  After a 15 minute very scenic flight we land in Paphos to pick up more passengers.  A short delay whilst a technical problem is fixed then we are off again.  We get moved to a row of 4 empty seats which enables Mum to put her feet up a bit.  Land in Manchester ENGLAND around 1.00pm with a wheelchair waiting.  All well and good until we get to the baggage reclaim.  A brown envelope appears like the one my penknife was put in but on inspection it is not my knife (well at least I wasn’t the only stupid one).  No other envelope appears so presumably the other person has accidentally taken mine.  I hand the envelope in and explain and the girl pulls out a tray full of unclaimed knives and tells me to take my pick!  Finally emerge into the arrivals lounge but no one is waiting to transport us on to Market Drayton.  Having repeatedly checked that they were arranging our transport all the way home I am pretty annoyed.  Phone the company who say their obligations ends once they have got us home – home it transpires in their terms is to the airport where the holiday commenced in this case Manchester.  Have a bit of an argument with the supervisor but don’t get far so give up and commander a black taxi cab.  1 1/4 hours and £78 later Mum is home at 3.30pm – 12 hours since we got up this morning taking into account the 2 hour time difference.  There are lots of cards waiting for her and it’s not long before the phone starts ringing.  Netty and family call round in the evening.
Thursday 17 January  Despite a comfortable bed and a warm room I only get about 3 hours sleep but this does mean I get a lot of paperwork done.  A cold damp day not helped when Steve phones and reports of hot sunny weather in Cyprus.  The Doctor calls and checks Mum over and then I make arrangements for Mum to see an eye specialist in Shrewsbury tomorrow.  John arrives at lunch time having been in hospital himself since Monday for an operation.  He’s doing well.  Mum’s a bit weary and aching by teatime probably caused by the constant phone calls and dealing with things in general.  Borrow Mums’ car to drive round to Netty’s.  It’s over 5 years since I drove a car but as they say "it’s like riding a bike" and you don’t forget.  Well this bike has shrunk and the steering wheel is on the wrong side! By the time I leave Nettys’ it’s pretty cold with frost on the windscreen.
Friday 18 January  Cold and frosty morning.  Drive Mum to the Nuffield hospital in Shrewsbury to see Mr Haigh about her eyes.  He does lots of tests but is still concerned about the double vision.  The easiest way to find out more would be a CAT scan but as Mum has already had 2 he is reluctant to send her for another.  Each scan subjects your body to 40 times more radiation then 1 chest x-ray.   He suggests we try a different type of eye specialist who may be able to find out more without the need for a scan.  They will try and get Mum and appointment for next week.  A quick shop in Sainsburys, dinner and McDonalds then back to Drayton. 
Saturday 19 January   Take Mum for a drive up town.  You’d think there had been a report in the Market Drayton Advertiser judging by the number of people who stop to talk to Mum – some she doesn’t even know!  Pick up Fish & Chips for lunch which go down a treat.  Drive over to Newport and check around the cottage.  They have put an en-suite bathroom in but unfortunately not in either of the rooms we would have liked it to be in.  Also they warn us that we could be in for some electrical re-wiring in the near future.  On the plus side they are about to tarmac the drive and want to sign a 3 year rental contract.  On to Pete & Carols’.  Carol is down town so I meet her there for a wander around.  Paul & Elaine call round late afternoon and we have a good chat and some laughs.  Pete asked me what I might like to eat yesterday and I jokingly said steak.  He does us proud with steak and all the trimmings.
Sunday 20 January  Daz is working today so Claire travels down with Daniel & Natasha and picks up David en route.  Try to keep things reasonably quiet for Mum by nipping out to do some shopping then after lunch Claire takes Natasha out to go visiting friends and I play Ludo and Tiddly Winks with Daniel.  Late afternoon leave Mum to have a sleep whilst we visit the "Gingerbread" pub which has a childrens play barn.  Daniel is very good at keeping an eye on Natasha and they have a great time. Netty joins us with Bobby & Nic and we have a meal. Follow it up with 2 big chocolate desserts to share (£4.95 each)  They arrive in enormous goblets and 3 spoons in each.  There’s chocolate and vanilla ice cream, chocolate muffin, popcorn, chocolate sauce and cream. We’re like pigs round a trough getting stuck in.  Feel a bit sad to say goodbye to my kids and grandies.  Not often we all get together.  Shame Steve has missed seeing how much Natasha has come on with her talking and how Daniel has grown.  John comes round in the evening but he is not feeling too well.  Reckon Mum will be pretty shattered also.
Monday 21 January  Mum’s birthday and she is inundated with even more cards.  Reckon the Get Well ones will have to be demoted to a different room to make space even though they are still arriving.  One of the many birthday phone calls is Claire who mentions that poor Daniel and Natasha have got impetigo – hope I haven’t picked it up.  When the phone is free for long enough I make a few calls and manage to get Mum an appointment with the Orthoptist at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital for this afternoon.  Although our appointment is 2.00pm we are seen at 1/4 to which is amazing as we are now using the National Health system.  After numerous tests the opinion is that there is a problem with the eye muscles.  Some are not working and this produces the double vision but as there has been some improvement in that since the accident they think it unlikely that there is a fracture under the eye trapping a muscle.  The treatment is just to wait and let nature take its course although this is likely to be months rather than weeks.  They will test Mum again in 6 weeks to see if there is more improvement.  If she still doesn’t have normal vision at the end of a year they may make corrective surgery.  In the meantime Mum cannot drive but can resume her music teaching as and when she feels able although too much will aggravate her headaches.  Boy does that car driver have something to answer for.  Return to find a friend just delivering flowers followed shortly by an Interflora delivery.  Have to hunt around for more vases as the house is beginning to look like a florists.  Finish off all the paperwork relating to Mums accident so there is nothing more to be done now but wait for Mums next appointment with the orthoptist which is in March.
Tuesday 22 January  Visit the hairdressers for the first time in literally years.  Return for the car to take Mum up town for her "girls" lunch at the pub with Thea and Anne.  I join them and pig out on surf & turf.  Using the "carrot" of a visit to the pub to make Mum take it easy all week she is now free.  Leave her paying the paper bill whilst I go for the car.  By the time I get back she has set off walking back.  Leave her to it but keep a watchful eye on her whilst she learns that she still has a bit to go in the recovery stakes. 
Wednesday 23 January  Netty picks me up and takes me to the airport for my 2.00pm flight.  At check in they ask me if I will be needing a wheelchair, well here’s me thinking I look pretty slick with a spring in my step. The uneventful flight lands a little late in Pafos CYPRUS at around 9.30pm.  Having collected my baggage I am a little curious to find no sign of Steve waiting for me.  Suddenly I’m pounced on with a big bear hug from behind.  He’s been sat in a area which I hadn’t seen.  Having been in Pafos since Saturday Steve has had time to check out parking etc.  Just a few kilometres from the airport is a car park opposite the Aloe Hotel and right behind the beach.  Leave the rest of the evenings proceedings to your imagination.
Thursday 24 January  It’s good to be back home even if the van does seem rather small after 2 1/2 weeks without using it.  Steve has been telling me how great the weather has been this last week (it must be true as he is very brown) but this morning it is cloudy – he says I am a bad influence.  Stroll the area known as the Sodap triangle and then all the way along the front to the harbour.  Pafos has a nice feel to it and is pretty busy mainly with British visitors.  It’s lunch time so we stop for an all day cooked breakfast CY £1.50 (£1.65) on the way back.  Manage a very brief sitting out spell in the afternoon.
Friday 25 January  Relocate to the far side of the Paphos Mosaics site.  At Koutas Beach we have a good parking spot right by the sand.  Steve has stayed here before and knows of a gap in the fence leading into the Roman site.  Stroll round looking at the impressive mosaics.  Return via the Solomoni Catacomb and the handkerchief tree.  Walking along Tomb of the Kings road we are again tempted to have lunch out at Thomas’s Jungle.  There seem to be lot of value meal deals in Pafos and we prefer it to Larnaca. 
Saturday 26 January  At last a nice sunny hot day.  So nice that Steve even misses the first half of the football match as he can’t drag himself off the beach to walk the few hundred yards to the pub. 
Sunday 27 January  An even hotter day but with slightly more afternoon breeze.  No problem for us fenced inside our windbreak coral.  Steve to football afternoon and evening.
Monday 28 January  Shop at Orphanides which was the main supermarket chain in Cyprus for some years but has recently been challenged by Chris’s Cash & Carry.  However in Pafos the brand new Chris’s mysteriously got burned out just after it opened.   Heading round the bay we detour into the famous Coral Bay which is a bit of a let down.  Continuing along the coast banana plantations are being removed as the coast is rapidly being developed mainly by a company called "Aristos".  Agios Giorgos is a small village on the coast and the gateway to the Akamas Peninsula which they are trying to make a national park to preserve its natural beauty.  The tarmac road finishes at the restaurant and from then it is dusty dirt track.  Settle onto the barren and windswept Toxeftra Beach backed by unusual wavy cliffs.  Ensconced behind windbreaks we are able to enjoy the hot sun.  Stroll the length of the beach and learn from other visitors that the road deteriorates further up and you cannot get through to Polis.  Shame as we would have liked to visit Lara Beach which is famous for the turtles.
Tuesday 29 January  Our planned walk to the gorge is postponed due to the beautiful weather.  Spend the whole day lapping up the sun on the beach.
Wednesday 30 January  Make a substantial effort to get up early to do the walk  Leave at 8.15am and take a short cut through a citrus plantation.  The Avgas Gorge starts after about 1/2 hour and we are soon rock hopping over the water or in my case falling into it.  The gorge narrows into a spectacular gallery where the sun barely penetrates.  Emerge into a wider area then scramble over lots of scree and boulder slopes remaining from the 1996 earthquake.  There’s lots of vegetation as we continue and clamber up the side of small waterfalls.  It’s wonderfully peaceful and we don’t see another soul in either direction.  Arrive back at 11.15am ready to hit the beach.  Head North late afternoon using the Pafos – Polis ridge road which gives us superb views of the south, west and north coasts.  Make a brief visit to Aphrodite’s Baths then return to the small fishing village of Latchi to park by the beach.
Thursday 31 January  Once again our windbreaks enable us to enjoy the beach whilst the few other people around only walk along it.  Do fit in a walk towards Polis and the campsite which is deserted.  After 2.00pm we head east along the coast where even "Aristos" doesn’t have many sites.  Come to a halt in Pakhyammos when we reach the border of the Turkish enclave of Kokkina.  Without a 45 minute detour on poor mountain roads we cannot reach any more of the Greek coastline so retrace our steps to Pomos. We spot a tiny marina and make our way down to find a super sheltered spot with a beach just over the breakwater.  Just settling in when a rented car pulls up.  The couple have a motorhome and want to chat.  Over tea and biscuits Martin & Christine reveal that they are from Keighley.  Not only that but they know Sandra who is arriving to visit us on Saturday. 

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