Sunday, February 24, 2008

Paphos - Polis - Troodos - Platres

Next morning we took the hired 4x4 north to Polis and along the coast. After lunch in a seafront taverna, I took the wheel and we followed tiny winding roads up into the mountains.

With rock falls across the road and only passing about one car an hour, it was good to feel the sturdiness of the 4x4.

As we climbed and climbed, I started to get concerned that there was little sign of the promised snow; then suddenly you hit the snow line and several feet of white stuff lines the roads around Troodos.

Fortunately the roads themselves are clear, which is just as well as the last of the light is fading and it is becoming apparent that the map we have is more of a 'best endeavours' sort of impression of the road network rather than anything you could say navigate by.

Some of the road signs are simiarly vague and at one point we're not sure whether a large pine tree in the middle of a junction is a traffic island or a roundabout, and whether we're driving down a road or the middle of a car park...

We make it to Platres and know that our destination, the Forest Park Hotel, is on the far-side (in so many ways as it transpires) of the village.

Well assuming we've approached Platres from the angle we think we have and that we're on the road we think we're fact we're possibly just assuming that this is Platres...

We approach a junction and pull over by the signpost to discuss options. This appears to be the right road so maybe we should just continue on a little, the hotel should be somewhere on our right. I pull forward a few metres to the actual junction and simultaneously we all look to our right and see the huge entrance gateway on our right with huge illuminated sign, which reads Forest Park Hotel...ah the difference a few metres can make to your sightline.

As S observes, so glad there was no one passing and we didn't ask for directions.

We drive up the long driveway through pine forests and find our destination.

How should I describe the Forest Park Hotel? I think it deserves a blog post all of its own...

Forest Park Hotel - Platres, Cyprus

How can one do justice to the eccentric majesty that is the Forest Park Hotel in mere words?

Perhaps you can get the best impression of the place by checking its website here. Like the reality, it's all a bit old-school, but terribly well intended. Some days it works perfectly, other days you have to hit the refresh button a few times. As the Overview page says, the Forest Park has a style all of its own...

But don't stop at the overview page, the history and famous visitor sections are a must. Yes, we're following in the footsteps of royalty, presidents, famous authors and Telly Savalas...

The place resounds with the feeling of former times, but it's all spotlessly clean and recent refurbs ensure that it's a case of former, not faded glories.

The best advice I have is sit back and go with the flow. If you're expecting 21st century corporate bland service, you're in the wrong place. However, if you can appreciate the joy of sitting in a 50s style lounge room, with roaring log fire, whilst a waiter with shades on Manuel serves you a Brandy Sour cocktail, then you're in for a treat.

Other advice would be:

Indoor swimming pool - incredibly unpleasant taste (no I wasn't drinking it, but some inhalation is inevitable). Not sure if this is natural due to source of water (spa?), or chemicals added; either way it tastes like the aftertaste you get when you use antibiotic eyedrops...

This unpleasant feature can be easily overcome, by the use of some tic-tacs. They have a two-fold benefit: a) they mask the foul taste and b) sucking on one whilst swimming encourages you to keep your mouth extra shut.

Be careful not to exhale too abruptly though, or mints will escape and it transpires they don't really dissolve (so we can rule out acid then...) and you're left having to dive down to retrieve tiny white pills that show up a surprising amount in a still pool...

Dining - best not to really. Nothing that would poison you but for a four star hotel, you'd expect crab and avocado salad to not have to resort to crab sticks...
The bar food by contrast is simple and well executed. Except the tuna fish salad. Listed as tuna, lettuce, anchovies, capers and onions (and hence ordered as a nice light, fresh snack), I was a little surprised to be served this:

Yes, that really is just a huge pile of tuna-potato-mayo.

When the subject was raised with the waiter (who appeared to be covering the formal dining room, the lounge and the bar and was generally to be seen dashing up and down the marbled corridor from one role to the next), he charmingly and apologetically responded "oh! I made the wrong thing". It seems he was also the chef...

Breakfast is a bit random, but extensive and broad in range and arrangements from completely buffet style to part buffet, part prepared to order, seem to change daily.

However, in counter-balance to the slightly strange pool and decidedly disappointing evening dining, the rest of the experience more than compensates. The rooms are comfy and clean, the communal areas are extensive (you can get lost if you go exploring) and in the most part beautifully maintained, the location and grounds are stunning, the service charming and friendly and the whole tone set by the two rather eccentric elderly brother proprietors, the wonderfully named Mr Hercule and Mr Anthony Skyrianides.

The most outgoing of the two could not be more friendly as he charms the guests and seems to consider it his personal duty to make sure you're ok and know the way to the ski slopes ("follow me!") etc.

If you like the identikit reliability of a Holiday Inn then this isn't the place for you, but if you want old-school charm Cyprus style I highly recommend it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

What I did on my holidays...

I don't do the New Year thing, but in as much as I ever make resolutions, I was keen that this year, one way or another, I would try and get more proper holiday. In terms of a 'full week away somewhere' I think I've probably managed one week in Scotland and one week in Morocco in the last...ouch, probably 10 years.

On the plus side my tourist carbon footprint is positively respectable.

That said I'm badly in need of more proper down time; so this year I'm fighting back against the time demands of family and festivals, preparing to swallow the costs of unpaid leave and all in all trying to make a very little stretch a lot further.

Accordingly, last year when P&S suggested a week away in February, it seemed like the perfect idea. It was all had to be finalised a bit last minute (for various reasons) and we've had to reconcile ourselves to the environmental impact of the flights, but we did it and resultantly I spent the last week of Feb in Cyprus, with the bestest of friends.

I shall now take this blog into previously pretty much untroubled waters and proceed to bore you silly with tales of "wot I dun on my hulidays", suitably accompanied by slide show...

After an early morning lift to the airport (greater love hath no buddy) and a two hour delay, we finally made it to Paphos where we were met by the lovely H, S's cousin.

The first night was spent at H's who made us feel incredibly welcome and cooked us the most amazing mousaka.

Also on the plus side the in-flight magazine informed us that the airline took it's environmental responsibilities seriously and in a bid to reduce carbon emmissions had reduced the weight of this very magazine by 32g. So that's alright then...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Minor trivialities that annoy me (part 1 in what is likely to be a never ending series)

Endless offers of loans and the like from my credit card companies - the junk mail that escapes the clauses of the Mail preference Service.

Not only are they unwelcome and an annoying waste of paper and postal effort, but in these days of identity-theft-phobia what I resent most, is that they habitually include enough personal data that I have to go to the effort of shredding the crap before dumping it in the recycling bin.

I want that time back.

Monday, February 18, 2008

How Marvellous

Can it be spring soon please, so that I can wear them out?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rest and Disturbance

Tomorrow brings an important meeting with the client. A meeting that myself and my colleague have been dreading for months.

So a day of sleep and general rest is necessary in the hope that I will possibly feel better.

It seems to be working.

Until I'm disturbed by the sound of something on the porch roof. That's either the biggest squirrel in Christendom, or a scallies trying to nick the lead flashing. Again.

A bang on the window and the shout of "Oi" has him on his felonious way, but not before he's ripped a whole strip of lead free (though some satisfaction that he has to scarper empty handed).

The police are unusually attentive. Now I may be suspicious, but does it really take an hour to take a statement for such a simple event? They're incredibly lovely though, so I really shouldn't complain and it would certainly be beneath me to pass comment on the warmth of my lounge in contrast to the sub-zero temperatures outside...

One kind neighbour helped be get the lead to a safe place. Another tells the police I'm a lovely neighbour and a third tells them likewise and even comes across to check I'm ok (and then again with the name of a builder they can recommend).

I could have done without it all (especially given I'm in pyjamas), but the kindness of the constabulary and my neighbours has me feeling all warm.

Mind you the writing skills of one of the officers was truly shocking, but I felt it would be churlish to refuse to sign a statement on the basis that the spelling offended me...

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I really could do with a day in bed, but that's just not possible, so weighed down with piles and piles of tissues and flu meds, I struggle across to York for the Greenbelt Venue Management Support Team meeting.

It's a valuable day and we manage to draw up plans for the way forward as B moves on to pastures new.

At the end of the meeting we head to Cafe Concerto to enjoy their fine fare.

By eight I'm back on the train for Manchester and I'm touched by the kindness and sympathy of strangers - I clearly must look like shite.

Friday, February 15, 2008


In the course of the day I've started to feel that perhaps the slight "swimming pool chlorine" snuffle, might actually be more connected to the fact that half my colleagues appear to have had the lurgy.

An evening with my Manchester family is just what I need. DVD, home-cooked pizza and oodles of ice-cream. I just hope in the course of the evening, as the snuffles turned to streams, I didn't pass anything on.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Is it a southern thing?

News today of a civil service blunder that has resulted in Newcastle-Under-Lyme (that town in Staffordshire) refusing to pay back over a million pounds in grants that were meant for Newcastle-Upon-Tyne (that city in Tyne and Wear).

John Shipley, the city council leader of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, told The Times: "It was an astonishing error by a Whitehall department to confuse the two Newcastles."

As someone who had the dubious pleasure of growing up in London, I was less astonished. The average knowledge of the 'north' among my contemporaries amounted to "North London, that bit in Hertforshire that's still covered by the Underground, that area a bit further north than that around Watford and errrrr it all gets a bit fuzzy after that".

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


In the post, a rather fine fridge magnet from the lovely Caroline:

It would be tempting to caption it with "If Sally had placed the order for the feeding of the five thousand".

Sunday, February 10, 2008


A lovely Friday night meal at Koh Samui, a Saturday out in the Peaks enjoying unexpected sunshine, a laid back Sunday.

All nice but not enough and nothing has changed, just as I suspected it wouldn't have.

I know my answer, I just need to work on how to relay it.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Shipping News

Time to have my back cracked again. It’s three week’s since the last appointment and it tells a little. Some intensive manipulations later, things seem to free up and the Chiro is happy to go to a monthly schedule. I just need to keep up my commitment to my prescribed daily regime of exercises.

Straight from there to Book Group, to discuss The Shipping News.

A good discussion, but I’m just so tired, so head home early and crash.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Intense Meetings

A week of meetings this week and pretty intense ones at that. Not sure how I feel about having reached the dizzy heights of management where myself and three others sit in a room and decide salary and bonus gradings for about 100 staff.

I certainly don’t know how I feel about then each having to leave the room whilst the other three discuss the absent party.

Paranoia inevitably creeps in. I’m sure they’re taking longer to discuss me than we took over the others…

Monday, February 04, 2008


S is in Manchester today, catching up with former colleagues.

We manage to squeeze in a curry at the Punjab, before she has to get the train home. Lovely to spend time just chatting about everything under the sun; the frivolous and the serious. I miss this.

As I drop S at Piccadilly, who should be standing at the exact place I pull up, but Sarah Contrary. Good to have a quick catch up, but all a bit weird when you realise you know stuff about someone more through there blog than real life meetings.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Another weekend away and fortunately the bad weather fails to disrupt it at all.

After a Greenbelt curry night in Leeds, the four old Festival Ops Managers spend Saturday in Yorkshire with our two new compadres, planning how we’ll go forward.

A really productive day, but pretty intense. Good stuff though. And even better people.