Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Little Bird Overhead

A familiar clatter echoed around the valley just after dawn this morning: the Electricity Authority Little Bird was cleaning the pylons. Twice a year all the pylons are cleaned with a high pressure hose, but this is the first time I have managed to photograph it.

Note:  CLOUDS in the sky (I was even wearing long pants and a t-shirt with sleeves!).  Autumn is on the way...

Monday, August 29, 2011

Nabbed by the National Guard

Well the Army found Alex on Friday.

Most lads get their papers at age sixteen, and since he had made it to seventeen and a half without their being served, we were wondering if somehow he had slipped through the cracks. Perhaps the host of irregularities attending his birth (mixed parentage, unwed parents, no number on his birth certificate, no baptism (previously only Orthodox boys served), parents moved district in early childhood) had led to his somehow evading the system – and since it is the obligation of the State to serve the papers than for the boys to volunteer, we thought that he might just be blessed with the choice of whether or not to don a uniform and pick up a rifle (there is no chance of non-combattant status in the Cyprus National Guard) when he finished school.

I had rather mixed feelings about this choice, and knew that should he face it, he would have to make it alone. On the one hand, I am a pacifist and hate the thought of my sons serving as conscripts in an army – as well as resenting the fact that the two years that the Army takes (and in many cases wastes with endless guard duty rather than taking the opportunity for serious training and creativity within either a military or a community service sphere) are two that would otherwise be spent in the enthusiasm of youth's creativity, curiosity, passion. On the other, I recognise the Army as almost a rite of passage for Cypriot men. If someone doesn't do it, everyone thinks 'Lucky Sod!', but they also realise that that individual has missed out on an experience that nearly everyone else endures – a bonding, for better or for worse... So I had resolved to stand well back and let him make his own choices within the embrace of parental support.

But a phone call from the police on Friday changed all that. The Army had been looking for Alex for weeks in Nicosia and had finally found him through a relative in the police with the same surname; he had to report to the 'Army Office' to sign his papers and provide reason for any possible deferrment within the next fifteen days, or he would be conscripted in January.

We went this morning to the government building, found the Army Office, and spoke to a corporal behind the desk. “Where do you go to school?” she enquired when he said that he had spoken to the police. When he told her, she sighed: “You pay all that money for a private school, and they don't get the papers right with us, ever!” He filled out his form, signed it, and she explained that we had to have a letter from the school by December saying that he was enrolled for this year – which corresponds to the Third year of Lyceum. Next year, when he will be finishing his A-Levels and school is not mandatory, he will need another letter and proof of fees paid.

“Typical!” Alex snorted when we got into the car. “You remember N, the kid who was like the unofficial student council, the liason last year when there was all the trouble (our school has undergone a series of upheavals in the last few years culminating in total shake-ups, take-downs, and seismic changes)? He was in a similar situation. Told the Army he was at my school, the Army called for verification, and the school said he wasn't a student. He couldn't finish his A-levels and he's doing his two years now...” I don't know what N's story was – except that he is indeed a gun-bunny these days rather than the A student that he was – but I suspect that his parents (like many at our school) had not paid this year's deposit because they wanted to see what all the changes would bring before committing to another year – and thus the school, with no reason to protect N, simply said that he was not enrolled.

We went to the school, and requested the verification of Alex's being a student, and the Director explained that he never filled out the Army forms. “I can't,” he said. “It's a violation of the state's privacy laws to give details of my students to anyone, even the government!”

That may be true, but at least he could have let parents know that the papers had been served so that they had the choice of whether or not to fill them out, avoiding a last-minute scramble! All of Alex's other friends from school have already either gone into the Army – being a year ahead, are foreigners who are exempt, or are girls.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mataro Morning

Yesterday was the turn of the mataro grapes to be picked, and because the 'Gast Arbeiter' as Best Beloved jokingly calls his Austrian nephew – his key assistant in the vinyard – has returned home for a camping trip, the family was out in force. Even Sputnik was in the field by six a.m.

BB's back problems, and the short stature of the mataro vines, meant that BB supervised and everyone else picked. Leo and Zenon, once we managed to press their enthusiasm buttons, proved adept.

First we removed the netting that protects the berry clusters from sparrows, then we went down the rows of vines snipping away the bunches. We separated the grapes into Alpha and Beta qualities: the Alpha for immediate processing and the Beta for a few days' drying in the sun before pressing (BB is endeavoring to make a vin doux paille, and for that the grapes need to be slightly raisinated).

Blessings on BB's new machinery, the destemming and crushing was done in less than an hour, and the mataro has started it's journey from 'vine to wine' in one of the steel tanks in the basement.  Its next stage is to ferment in open steel tanks for a week or so, with BB or me pressing down the grapes several times a day to ensure that no crusty cap forms on the top of the grapes, and that all get an equal chance at fermentation.

I returned to the field after all the grapes were picked because the mango season has just started.  The troops were clamouring for breakfast, and I was hungry too.  What better than a fig and mango smoothie?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Black & White

I'm trying something new here, linking to a blog called The Gallery which I found through another Cyprus blog, Emma's A Matter of Choice.  So The Little White Donkey will continue to chronicle the ups and downs of Family Life in Rural Cyprus (as it says in my header), but will also be navigating other photographic routes as well...

The Gallery's prompt this week was Black & White...


Yioti, my friend's son, had his fifth birthday party thirteen years ago, and his mother made him a number cake -- chocolate, with smarties.  Yioti's older brother is looking on in the snake t-shirt, and the little girl in the middle is my daughter.  The lady at the side is another friend.

How time passes -- how things remain the same!  Sophia is planning to go to England for her A-Level studies next year.  Yioti came by for a meal last night during a brief break in his mandatory Army service, Stelios was here over the weekend -- also on a break from the Army.  Six months ago, my middle son celebrated his 11th birthday, and the same characters were in shot -- but it wasn't a black and white picture, so we'll have to wait for a new prompt to see that one!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Day Out at Lara

Caught up in the business of living here in Cyprus I forget, often, just how wonderful a place it can be.

Yesterday we spent the day at Lara. It was Li'l Bro and the Cousins' Last Day (Bridie left to go back to work last week), and they had planned to visit Lara Bay in the afternoon, inviting Alex and Sophia to go with them.

I rarely get to Lara, the turtle nesting beach half way up the Akamas Peninsula. Getting there takes an hour, and the beach is sandy – a fine, dark sand that gets everywhere and sticks to everything – and I usually have too many other things to get through. But when Leo asked mid-morning with a winning expression “Couldn't you take us, too?”, I folded up the day's To Do list that I had just finished, and started making a picnic.

Into the coolers and dry bag went tuna salad, tzatziki, hummous, cherry tomatoes from Yiayia, fresh figs, passion fruits, pitta breads and the loaf that I had just baked, as well as the sponge cake that Zenon made yesterday. I found the old table cloths to sit on and rooted out the picnic plates, knives, and forks. Then made two litres of ice tea, got juice out of the fridge, and called the Big Ones to load the Land Rover. We were at the beach by one.

I looked at the number of cars parked around the access point, and my heart sank. 'We must be mad. It will be a zoo down there,' I thought. 'Imagine planning a trip to Lara Beach on the sixteenth of August, the high point of Cypriot summer holidays..'

Oh, Asproulla of Little Faith!

 I had forgotten how huge the beach is: an arc of at least seven hundred metres, it is also at least fifteen metres wide. The expanse of sand swallowed the hundreds of people with ease, and we found a spot at the bottom of the slope, far from our nearest neighbours and close -- but not too close -- to a marked turtle nest. All along the sand people were playing raquetball, building sand castles, enjoying the day. A fresh breeze came off the water. The Big Ones and Philipp set up the umbrellas, then dashed to the water.

“The sea's not like Petra here,” Li'l Bro reminded me. “Which has been uncomfortably fresh these last few days. Here you sweat when you swim!”

He wasn't kidding. The water was like a bath. Shallow and sandy, perfect for wallowing.  There were ripples, not waves, and I floated like a starfish and felt all sorts of tensions that I didn't know I had just drift away.

After a while, everyone settled down to eat the sandwiches that Mili had made and the picnic that I had brought, then the Big Ones and Philipp went off to jump off the seven metre rocks at the headland, Li'l Bro took off for two hours of snorkelling, and I stayed under the umbrellas watching the Littles and Timi paly out an endless sand fight.

Bliss! I read, wallowed, day-dreamed... Where did the day go? The Big Ones returned for chicken fights – no pictures of that as I participated – and before we knew it the shadows were lengthening and the time had come to pack up the gear, slog uphill through the heavy sand, and drive back to the Last Supper as Li'l Bro had dubbed the evening planned by Mili and Phil to mark their youngest son and his children's final evening.

I looked at myself in the mirror somewhat ruefully that evening: although I had never actually sunbathed, the glare from sand and water had burned me a delicate pinkish tomato colour. 'Oh well,' I thought, spraying myself thoroughly with Aloe Vera. 'I guess I'll get a tan after all this summer!'

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Morning Hunters

Last Sunday morning the tinkling of bells outside our window woke Best Beloved and me simultaneously at about a quarter to six. BB pulled on some clothes, opened the French doors, and went outside on the verandah.

“Re Fileh! (Hey Friend!)” I heard him shout. “ Call off your dogs, please!” The man answered something that I couldn't hear, and BB responded “Yeah, well if my hobby was playing the bagpipes, how would you feel if I brought the instrument to outside your house at this time on a Sunday morning and started playing?” He came back to bed, but the tinkling continued, and two minutes later I saw a huge hound on the wall, a scant two metres from our window. “There's always the rifle,” BB said with a sigh. And got out of bed again.

I heard him go upstairs to the kitchen, take the air rifle down from the top of the dresser and pull the handle back to cock and load it. I heard the back door open. “I told you before...” he shouted. “Now call off your dogs!” There followed a hasty series of shouts and whistles, and the tinkling began fading into the distance. Then I heard a shot as BB cleared the rifle, and his steps came down again.

“He was too far away to see that it wasn't much of a weapon," BB said. “But I think he got the message.”

Our house looks over a valley where a seasonal creek straggles on its route to the sea. We own one side of the hill – a wild place where gorse blooms in brilliant yellow thickets through winter and spring, and wild olive, lentisk, and juniper are a haven for hares, foxes, birds, snakes and other wild life. A cousin owns the other side, and except that it's somewhat barer as she allows the goat flocks to pass through in the spring and autumn it has the same character. The whole valley is barred to hunters, both during the hunting seasons and outside: it is one of the respite places where hare and wild birds can raise their young unmolested – to keep their numbers flourishing for the areas where hunters are allowed to pursue and shoot them.

But it's a convenient valley – largely unpopulated, close to town, between two villages and near the main road, and hunters are constantly 'exercising' their dogs here (spot the difference between 'exercising' and 'training'.. I can't, especially as a pack – sometimes the men 'exercise' as many as eight hounds at a time, and when such a pack starts a hare, both dogs and men follow in full cry) in vioation of the regulations and the posted signs.  The hare usually escapes -- and I love seeing them outwit a pack of dogs -- but the stress will often cause pregnant does to miscarry, hence the total ban on hunting dogs in this valley.

In past years Best Beloved has put calls through to the Game Service, and when one of their armed mobile patrols has been in the area, the wardens have arrived in time to serve summons and hefty fines on the violators. One morning a while back I watched as two wardens (their AK47s discreetly out of sight) argued and negotiated with one recalcitrant hunter who refused for ten minutes to come and take his ticket. Only the threat of confiscation of his pick-up truck – Game Wardens throughout the EU have considerable confiscation powers, including of a vehicle and any equipment suspected of being involved in a violation – induced him to come and collect his fine notification. But the service manpower is stretched thin, and rather than call the wardens, it can be easier to deal with the situation 'in-house'.

This morning Best Beloved was off from 0530 picking the next round of grapes, and I was sound asleep when the barking of dogs and the shouting of men insinuated itself into one of my dreams. Waking, I found that the barking and the shouting was no dream, and that several men and a pack of dogs was just outside my window.

Then I heard Mili's voice.

This time there was no “Re Fileh, please remove your dogs!” Mili was a Cypriot matriarch in full spate, and she reached back into her village childhood and dredged up colourful epithets and threats that (according to Sophia, whom I met ten minutes later on the steps) had men and dogs beating a hasty retreat. I heard the piping voice of a child, then Mili shouting again (“Yeah, they had a kid with them,” Sophia told me. “And I felt really bad for Yiayia because he was being rude and swearing, but she just gave it right back to him, saying that she'd call the police and game service, and that she'd poison their dogs – and even if Yiayia wouldn't, most Cypriots would and these guys really don't want to risk that! Hunting dogs are expensive...”), then silence.

Go, Mili. Between BB's rifle and her threats of poison, maybe we've seen the last of the hunters. They can't risk poison, and they don't know that we wouldn't use it as it is a common (if unfortunate) Cypriot country method of dealing with problem animals. Someone (probably a hunter jealous of another hunter's dogs) laid poison on our land two years ago and both Lucky I and Lizzie were casualties – Lucky I lived up to her name as her suffering was spotted by Li'l Bro and he whisked her to a vet in time, but Lizzie didn't make it.

I just wish that I'd been able to understand her tirade. I'm sure it had plenty of colourful vocabulary that I won't learn from Kyriaki when Sophia and I resume Greek lessons in September.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Pressing Shiraz

After five days on its skins – only four of them spent fermenting – the Shiraz was ready for pressing this morning and Philip and I helped Best Beloved play with one of his new toys. Some vinyards leave wine fermenting on its skins for up to several months, but because our difficult weather conditions can give rise to harsh overtones in the finished wine, BB wanted to press this morning.

Prior to the new toys' arrival last week, we had always pressed using a diddy little thing that took only a couple of litres at a time, and then we had to strain the results through a muslin sock. Those days are long past, and “Ooooh! I like it...” BB said when we had poured about 20 litres of must into the press, built up to the screw thread with bricks and blocks (the press is designed for at least 40 litres of must so we had to make up the difference in space in order to engage the screw thread), and figured out how to operate the ratchet mechanism for maximum pressure with minimum effort.

Separating the free-running juice from the skins.

Shiraz has a beautiful colour.

Oooops.  Small spill...

Pressed juice that will be more tannic is
fermented separately in a gallon jug.

We had a small mishap, but after only an hour and a half of comparatively easy work we had separated the free-run or lightly pressed juice for fermentation in the stainless steel tank from the pressed juice which can be added at later date after a separate fermentation if the wine needs more tanin.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Family Wedding -- Part II

At some point last winter or during the spring, plans for Li'l Bro and Bridie's wedding began firming up. It would be at Phil and Mili's – the civil ceremony in the formal seating area at the front and the feast on the spacious back lawn. Guests would be only immediate family and very few close friends. There would be no catering: decoration, food, and drink would all be taken care of 'in-house' – Sil would look to the tables and flowers, Mili would cook, Best Beloved was to provide champagne, and I was to make enough cheesecake for 'about thirty people'...

Every detail came under the microscope, was disected and discussed. “Do nothing without consulting us,” Li'l Bro and Bridie repeated, mantra-like. When Mili wanted to add pasticcio to the menu she was told firmly “We don't like it, we don't want it!”

Mili and Sil preparing vegetarian koupepia -- stuffed vine leaves.

“But the others...” she began.

“What others?” interrupted Lil Bro. “This is our wedding and we'll have what we want. I don't care about the others – there'll be plenty of other dishes for them to choose from.”

Ten days before the ceremony Bridie's family arrived from Belgium. Her father, mother, three sisters, and one sister's partner and child were to stay in a rented house not far from the village, and wanted to combine the wedding with a two-week holiday on the island. Five days before the ceremony we had a dinner on the lawn 'dress rehearsal' so that everyone could get acquainted before the big day. The food was wonderful, and Phil's skill at public relations ensured that nearly everyone was dancing before the evening ended. Our diverse families seemed to blend swimmingly – little Diego, Bridie's nephew, kicking a football around with Zenon and Leo and conversations in French, Spanish, Greek, and English erupting apace around the long tables on the grass.

The Day drew closer. Stress mounted. I steered pretty clear. I had my orders – cheesecake for thirty, and the photography. I stood by ready to help where needed, stocked up on Philadelphia cream cheese, checked that my camera batteries were charged, and watched the show. Although both Li'l Bro and Bridie had said that they would prefer no wedding gifts, I went by Lemba Pottery – source of all gifts for the last fifteen years – and picked out some nice stoneware for the Happy Couple.

On Tuesday, Bridie and I took ourselves off to the spa at the Columbia Beach Resort for an afternoon of relaxation, reflexology, and pedicure – a chance for some sisterly bonding and the perfect escape from last minute pre-nuptial stress. Tuesday evening I made the cheesecake, but “I had to do it in one big dish,” I told Li'l Bro and Bridie with trepidation. “People will have to scoop out their portions as I don't trust it not to fall apart, freestanding...” They assured me that scooping rather than neat separate slices would not be a problem. “It's family and best friends, Asproulla, they said. “No-one will care if the cheesecake's not in perfect slices...”

All was in place for Wednesday. Last minute spats about who was making what on the menu were smoothed over. I found smart, casual (clean and ironed!) clothes for the Little Ones, discouraged the Big Ones from wearing black, tried and rejected several sets of clothes myself – had to be smart, but not too restrictive for the photography, and arrived next door just as the first guests – lifelong friends of Li'l Bro drew up at the door.

Sil preparing the tables.

Phil preparing the souvla.

Phil greets Bridie's family.

 Right on time the ladies from the municipality arrived to conduct the ceremony. Not only were the setting and the weather perfect, but both the preamble and the vows were much more elegant than those of the old formula.

“You (names of bride and groom) know that by your simultaneous consent which is given publicly and formally in my presence and in the presence of the persons now here, accept each other as your lawful spouse and with the confirmation of that fact by your signature you contract a lawful marriage...”

After receiving a short warning against committing bigamy, Li'l Bro and Bridie repeated their vows – LB solemnly, Bridie with some humorous ripostes: “I call upon all persons here present to witness that I accept you as my lawful spouse to love and to share with you as from this day, moments of joy and sorrow, wealth and poverty, happiness and unhappiness, throughout our life until death do separate us.”

“As from this moment,” Katerina-the-official intoned. “I pronounce you man and wife. You are joined together by your free consent in matrimony, and you owe each other love, fidelity, and respect throughout your life. This marriage constitutes the fulfillment of your life and links your destinies on good and rainy days, in happiness and unhappiness, in wealth and poverty until death do separate you.

Vows exchanged...

Diego plays...

Kisses and applause...

“On the basis of equality you should face together all the problems and all the difficulties of life. Together you should shoulder all the burdens of marriage, each one according to your capabilities. You have both the right and obligation to take care of the upbringing and education of your children so that they may become useful and good citizens and free personalities.”

Their marriage was that simple, and that beautiful. Rings and kisses were exchanged, champagne corks popped, Diego played an air on his violin, and we all ajourned to feast around the beautifully appointed tables, finding our seats by the hand-lettered stones that marked each place.

I missed the speeches (can you believe it?) having chosen just that moment to run home for the cheesecake in its glass dish and the jug of raspberry sauce. But they were that pithy that by the time I returned a scant five minutes later, toasts had been drunk and the serious business of eating and drinking was well underway.

Bridie and her father.

The buffet...

The toasts...

The setting...

The feast...

The cake...

Dancing followed dessert – the bride and groom first on the 'raised dance floor' of the back patio, then a blend of boogies and Greek dances until Bridie's parents – her father is in poor health – wrapped it up and left at 11.30, and the other guests – with the drive to Nicosia before them – left as well. “I never imagined it could be done this way!” the Best Man told LB as he was taking his leave. “If only I'd have known, do you think we would have had the usual wedding?” All those miles of hand-shakes, the hours of standing could not be compared to something as simple and beautiful as this.

The dancing...

I saw no tears at this wedding – though there may have been a few shed from happiness – but the smiles? There were more than enough to spread around.

Family Wedding -- Part 1

Earlier this week my brother-in-law married. He lives in Austria and his bride (Chilean by birth, Belgian by asylum) lives in Brussles – so it was natural that he marry in Cyprus. More specifically in the back yard of my in-laws' home here just outside Paphos.

A quick break for Family Identification (do I sound like an American television station from the '80s?). My Father-in-Law is 'Phil'. My mother-in-law is 'Mili'. My husband is Best Beloved. His younger brother is 'Bill' and Bill's wife is 'Sil' (yes, the -'il' suffix stands for 'in-law'. Clever, no?) So, I'll designate Youngest Brother (No, not as Yob!) as Li'l Bro, and his wife will get the Irish moniker Bridie. That way, we all know they're married. Li'l Bro has two teenage sons, Philip and Timi who, like my children, play themselves.

Li'l Bro and Bridie have been an item for a few years now, but it was only during the last six months that they decided to 'tie-the-knot', and to tie it here, in Phil and Mili's garden, during the holiday season that was convenient for all concerned.


Another quick aside to glance at the usual structure of Cypriot weddings. Most occur in Church, in a ritual that takes upwards of an hour and is linguistically incomprehensible to anyone who is not familiar with Katharevousa, the liturgical language of the Greek and Cypriot Orthodox Church. Village weddings have elaborate preparations leading up to the arrival of the church which includes the dressing of the bride, the shaving of the groom, and the preparation of the marriage bed, but modern urban weddings generally skip those steps.

A reception (300 guests is considered 'small', 500-1,000 people counts as 'average', 2,000+ is a good turn-out) usually takes place in one of the hotels or large restaurants depending on the depth of the pockets of the hosts. It used to be in the town square, but modernisation has put paid to that except in close-knit village communities where everyone turns out to help: one of the nicest weddings I ever attended was that of one of BB's cousins in the Plateia of Mandria, with the whole village in attendence and a genuine warmth and interest in the happiness and welfare of the couple. At these receptions bride, groom, and both sets of parents stand, sometimes for hours, accepting hand shakes, good wishes – and piles of 'fakkelakia', the little white envelopes that each contain anything from twenty to well over one hundred euros, depending on the relationship between couple and guest.

The flesh pressing is generally followed by a buffet meal where the menu follows a predictable pattern, and only the quality varies depending on the 'toniness' of hotel or restaurant. A selection of salads (tahini, taramasalata, tzatziki, and village salad); kleftiko, or baked lamb and potatoes (originally baked for a day in clay ovens, these days more often foil wrapped and cooked in the kitchen, although a surprising number of mobile kleftiko ovens are hauled around on the backs of trucks to cater for weddings and other community functions); pasticcio (the Cypriot version of lasagne); stifado, a beef stew; some form of chicken, either souvla or baked; and rice, potatoes, or bulghur wheat. Desserts generally include cream caramel, jelly, wedding cake, and platters of fresh seasonal fruit. Every guest takes away a little wrapped sweet, often containing almonds.

Weddings play an important role in the society, community, and family here. The gatherings are so large because traditionally everyone needs to come and meet everyone else: in a conservative, primarily agricultural society, such family events were the only times that a whole clan gathered and distant cousins could meet and renew old family ties. It was also an occasion to form bonds between the partners' families, and in a community where family links are prized as business connections or for job introductions, knowing who ones 'singenis' or relatives were could be a lifeline. A large gathering is also an essential economic start for a newly married couple: each guest brings money – and every couple hopes to recoup the cost of their wedding by inviting sufficient well-wishers. This may sound cynical, but it's true, and will be openly admitted. An invite to a wedding is also a tacit contract: I will come to your children's weddings and support them, and you are expected to come to mine... In a society that has moved as rapidly as Cyprus has down the materialism highway in the two decades that I have lived here, this has burgeoned into weddings becoming ever more sumptuous social occasions, and expectations becoming ever grander.

When Best Beloved and I wed, back in the early nineties, we bucked the general trend and opted for the gradually-gaining-in-popularity civil wedding, and really rocked the boat by insisting on only twenty-five guests joining us for an evening meal at a Nicosia restaurant. Mili was distressed (“We could have had a small gathering, only 300 or so close friends and family!”), but Phil supported me (“Think of Asproulla's side, only one sister coming! How will she feel surrounded by hundreds of strangers at her wedding, all speaking a language that she doesn't understand?”) I have always blessed him for that.

So we were married by the then-Mayor of Nicosia, Lellos Dimitriades in his city-centre office with only about fifteen attendees (remember, Lee?) in a quick ceremony in English where I didn't have to promise to 'honour and obey' and BB didn't have to say he'd always 'love and cherish' me. There was something about forsaking all others and poverty and wealth and sickness and health, but it was all rather bog standard. He wore a suit, I wore a pale pink party dress from the 1950's that I had picked up in a Galway charity shop. We both said 'I do!' with smiling enthusiasm, then we were driven off in a friends BMW to the Nicosia Hilton leaving 18-month old Alex in the care of my friend Rosemary for the night. Dinner was happily casual, nice food, pleasant music, good company – and several of our guests said 'Your wedding was much nicer than mine, and far less exhausting!'


But I digress... Suffice to say that to break the mould of Cypriot custom and invite only a few friends is unusual, and that although civil weddings are now much more common than they were a decade and a half ago, to have a civil wedding in your parents' yard is to really go out on a limb of originality. Stay tuned for the next post...