Cyprus – English Fatigue?


I spend a fair amount of time in Cyprus.

My parents retired here and I lived here for a while.

I have a holiday home not far from Limassol.

It’s beautiful. It’s hot and sunny.

Cyprus, island of Aphrodite, sits in the eastern Mediterranean, not far from the coast of Lebanon. As islands go, it has seen more than its fair share of turbulence and invasion.

For many years it was a part of the Ottoman empire and laterly was a Crown colony of the United Kingdom. In 1960 it became an independent republic.

Recent history is complicated – Greek Cypriots in the 1950s were fighting for ‘Enosis’ –  union with Greece.

Instead, they got an independent republic, where ethnic Turkish Cypriots had protected rights.

The Republic never really worked and in 1974, the Greek Cypriots staged a military coup (egged on by the Junta in control of Greece) with an eye to achieving Enosis.

Turkey resisted this with an old fashioned, but effective counter.


The island was partitioned and remains so to this day.

The above is a gross over-simplification, I am no historian.

There is a fascinating book called the Cyprus Conspiracy by Brendan O’Malley that does a good job of shedding some light on a dark corner of geo-politics. Well worth a read.

The United Kingdom, throughout all of this upheaval, has largely managed to maintain a strong relationship with the part of the island that was not occupied by Turkey.

The Royal Air Force has an airfield here and there are several other UK military installations on the island.

Cyprus is reliant on tourism and the lion’s share of visitors have always been British.

Certainly, one would never struggle to find an English Breakfast on the coast.

While I would not necessarily see the ubiquitous availability of an English breakfast as a positive, there can be no denying that the universal use of English and affinity with the British does make Cyprus ‘easy’ to work for the Brits.

This affinity, together with the tourist industry and turnover of military personnel means that thousands of UK citizens make Cyprus their home in retirement.

Greek is a tough language, and the British are notoriously bad at learning languages anyway.

In Cyprus, this never mattered. Cypriots speak excellent English and many have attended university in the UK or the USA.

Over the last couple of years though, I have noticed a trend.

A sort of militant “Greek only” trend.

In equipping the holiday home, I have visited that famous Swedish furniture giant – Ikea. As Cyprus is a small island, rather than invest directly, multinational firms tend to grant franchises. Ikea is no exception.

Everything in Ikea – from the labels on the goods, to the leaflets, to the signs on the door is in Greek and only Greek.

I have never seen that in Cyprus before.

Adjoining the Ikea store is a shopping mall. The mall has a food court where can be found the usual fast food suspects.

There is also a fast food version of more traditional Cypriot food.

Again – all of the signage was in Greek only.

A reasonable percentage of consumers in Cyprus will speak little or no Greek. Tourists generally don’t, and many expats don’t either.

Therefore this policy has a cost to the business.

Perhaps I am reading too much into it – but there seems a sort of militance to it – an intentional statement.

I am not sure why it should be happening and whether it might have a broader connotation.


WAKE UP! Appeasement doesn’t work.


The picture above is of Neville Chamberlain, a very nice chap, who is perhaps unfairly remembered almost entirely for his utterance “Peace in our time”.

He had met up with a little chap called Hitler and they had agreed that young Adolf was not going to do anything that might upset the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

So that’s all right then.

Chamberlain was far from alone in recommending that we avoid war at all costs. The vast majority of the USA was of the same mind, for example. Frankly, the young Nazi chap was clearing Europe up a bit. A little close to the line perhaps, particularly if you were Czech for example – but ultimately, better to let him get on with it, than risk war.

Appeasement they called it.

As a policy, it didn’t go terribly well.

Recently, a key issue in the parliamentary election in the UK has been Immigration.

Even more recently, we have been gripped in the new soap opera called ‘Grexit’.

There has been an enormous amount of focus on the harrowing and difficult conflict in Iraq and Syria.

Meanwhile, there have been some other bits and pieces of news. It is these bits and pieces that I wish to bring to your attention.

The UK military has been known to refer to the island of Cyprus as ‘our permanent aircraft carrier in the Eastern Mediterranean’.

More recently, the European Union made an example of Cyprus – forcing it to impose a levy on all bank accounts or drop out of the euro. In plain talk, savers in some Cyprus banks made an involuntary donation to the public purse. That showed them.

Completely coincidentally, Russian investment in Cyprus increased. While the rest of the world was running for cover, Russia was investing in Cyprus. In March of 2014, they even sent an aircraft carrier to pop in.

The Cypriot government has granted Russia access to a deepwater port and airfield you see. How very neighbourly.

Then there was a little fracas in the Crimea. All a bit difficult to follow for us Western folk – but it’s okay, that nice chap in Moscow sorted it out.

Something about a deep water port down there too. Still you have to admire the consistency.

I know that it is difficult to believe, but this Vladimir chap has also found the time to help out in Ukraine. Apparently there are a whole load of people in the Ukraine who really want to be best friends with Russia.

In fact, rather than move to Russia, these people have decided that they must take up arms to defend themselves from their own government. Thankfully Vlad has it all under control.

Meanwhile – The European Union is taking no prisoners in Greece. Time to make an example of them. Quietly, Vlad has offered to help out his comrades in Athens if they can’t make up with their European buddies. How nice of him.

What is amazing, is that this caring, community chap used to be a cold war warrior. He spent his life in learning subversion techniques – Hearts and Minds, I think that we call it.

After Mr Chamberlain waved his bit of paper and declared “Peace in Our Time”, well..

There wasn’t.

Remember the Wombles?



The Wombles. If you are British and of a certain vintage, then you will surely remember the ‘Wombles of Wimbledon Common’.

The Wombles had a glittering career in TV and Pop Music in the 1970s.

“Making good use of the things that we find
Things that the everyday folks leave behind”

Read more:

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Halcyon Days.

This week, I am lucky enough to be back on Aphrodite’s Isle, Cyprus.

In common with many other British people, my parents chose to retire in the sun. Somewhere to relax, escape the British weather and enjoy their twilight years. The perfect retirement.

My Dad had a few short years and is indeed buried here.

My Mum gamely carried on alone for fourteen more years, but has now decided to return to the UK.

My wife and I have been very busy clearing out things that tend to accumulate over twenty five years.

I have been assured by my Mum that all I need do is pile things up at the bottom of the drive next to the bins.

I will admit to being somewhat sceptical of this advice. Surely the local authorities would seek some payment for hauling away old bedding, broken electricals, redundant filing?

We left a good car-load of things next to the bins and set off to a neighbouring village for dinner.

Upon our return a few hours later, everything had gone.

I was blown away by these excellent levels of service.

Yesterday was an intense clear out day.

Load after load was deposited at the bottom of the drive.

I also had to drive to the recycling centre to dispose of packaging in which new furniture had arrived.

As I passed through the gates, I caught sight of a deeply tanned young man carefully sifting through the loads.

He smiled and waved. So, I smiled and waved back.

I have always thought that the Wombles had been victims of budget cuts back in the seventies.

It turns out that they simply moved to Cyprus. Probably for the weather.


Z is for Zanadja



I feel reasonably certain that I’m the only one in the A to Z Challenge blogging about Z for Zanadja.

The picture above is of my Mum and Dad’s house in Zanadja, Cyprus.

Actually, it is more properly my house in Zanadja. My Dad passed away a good few years ago and my Mum is returning to the UK – making the house mine.

There are all sorts of economic reasons that property in Cyprus is struggling as an investment class, but at the end of the day Zanadja is a gorgeous village ten minutes from Mediterranean beaches.

Mum and Dad had this house built in the 1990s. They had decided in the 1960s that they wanted to retire to Cyprus. They were serving there in the Royal Air Force at the time.

As the house was being built we talked about a name and I suggested Elysium which is a heavenly place of eternal rest in mythology.

Elysium was set in the idyllic village of Zanadja and my folks enjoyed some wonderful years there.

Before my Dad fell ill, he walked me around the house in Zanadja and standing almost exactly where the picture above was taken from, he turned to me and said;

“One day Son, all of this will be yours.”

I think that his tongue was firmly in his cheek when he said it, but I also believe that he felt enormously proud. The house represented what he and his wife had achieved through hard work and saving.

The house is now mine. I would much rather that my Dad was still around and the house gone, but that is not how things work.

So – Z is for Zanadja. My challenge is finished.

Phew! That was tough.

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