Living the Dream – 45. Coptic Gales

The Khamsheen Winds, the last of the Coptic Gales are here. The air is thick and heavy. Everybody has a sore throat and irritated eyes.

Sounds like the opening of a Wilbur Smith novel. But it isn’t.

Coptic Gales

There are fourteen Coptic or Phoenician gales, between the end of September and the beginning of May, each named by Arabic fishermen. The gales come each year at broadly the same times. I am no meteorologist, and I can’t comment on the science, but there’s definitely something to these romantically named phenomena.

The storms often bring sand from the Middle East and Africa, of various hues. It can settle like snow. The red stuff is the worst. It’s a swine to get off garden furniture and cars, particularly if it comes down with rain. If there is no rain, then the dust simply constantly appears and reappears, silently settling on every surface. Many visitors feel that they must have brought a cold with them, that manifests as a scratchy throat and sore eyes.

When the gale comes as a real storm, it’s very identifiable. The sky is dark, the temperature changes (up or down) and winds and rain turn everything red or yellow. Then the skies clear, everyone cleans up and gets on with their lives.


However, things are not always as straightforward. The Khamsheen Winds are due on the 29th of April, and since around that time, (it’s now May 3rd) there has been dust in the air. Some days have been unusually cool, some unusually clammy, and we have had winds; but a storm, per-say, has not quite happened. We’re in limbo, on the cusp of Summer, but not quite free of the last Spring storm. Some years, the dust just stops coming and one morning all is clear. I look forward to breathing easier soon.


Our weather remains cooler than normal. It’s actually pleasant, mid 20s centigrade (mid 70s to 80s Fahrenheit) during the day. Ideal for pottering around in the garden and playing golf. In true British fashion, everyone is so busy lamenting the wet winter just passed and predicting a long, too hot summer, that they are forgetting to enjoy the perfect temperatures of today.

Right, I’m putting my shemagh on, and gazing into the sky, with a faraway look. I might even play the soundtrack of Lawrence of Arabia for effect…

Living the Dream – 26. Rain? Where did that come from?

Rain? Where did that come from?

The sky, obviously.


My memory of rain here was of spectacular electrical storms, followed by beautiful clear days, the air feels thin and crisp, where before the storm it was soggy and heavy. Cypriot rain is mostly polite, falling predominantly at night.

It doesn’t rain often in Cyprus, but when it does, it makes a real effort. These last two weeks have been punctuated by violent, percussive storms.

We’ve had some of that, but we’ve also had prolonged spells of persistent, soaking precipitation. Heck, it has even been a mite parky.

Rain in Cyprus
Winter is here

Already feeling that Aphrodite’s Isle has been less than welcoming to us, Mags has been put out by the rain. Plans for beaching, golfing, even washing have been, …well, washed out.


All that said, on Saturday, I played Golf in the sunshine. On Sunday, I roasted a chicken on the BBQ. The latest bout of weather arrived during the night, and I fully expect to be back on the golf course on Wednesday, in bright sunshine and 20 degrees. The same day in the UK, the forecast shows ‘wintry showers’ and a temperature of 7 degrees.

On the golf course
It’s not all rain.

What interests me, is how quickly our expectations have changed. Living in the UK, every plan included the very real possibility of pretty much every type of weather. Certainly, year-round, my golf bag included warm layers, waterproof layers and sun cream.

I was scheduled to play golf today, and though it is raining, in the UK, I would not have hesitated to go out. “Skin is waterproof.” I would say. Here – one look at the grey skies, and I’m reaching for the pullover and a good book.

“Shall we put the heating on for a bit?”

Experience warns me that in August, I will be yearning for rain and cool air.

Never satisfied, are we?