Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Horseriding at Drapia Farm, Cyprus

On saturday, I went horseriding at Drapia Farm in Cyprus. It was my birthday treat organised by my lovely fiance. Unfortunately, I think I may have given him the impression that I was a more experienced rider than I am.

We turned up to Drapia Farm in Kalavassos on saturday morning and were greeted by a couple of young girls. To be honest they weren't the most friendly bunch. I explained that I am not a very experienced rider. I swiftly found myself on a horse with very little guidance. From the start, I had a bit of a bad feeling about my horse as she kept wondering off and ignoring me when I pulled on her reins. Our "instructor" left me alone with my horse and on her return, I asked her for some help. I think German was her first language and I didn't really understand her english. There was no explanation of the trail we would be following or anything like that. Our instructor rode ahead with a friend and we were left behind slightly clueless as to where we going or what we were supposed to be doing.

It all seemed to be going pretty well. Then I suddenly found myself sprawled on the floor in agony. It turned out that our horses had been given a fright from a rock falling off the cliff next to us. Falling of a horse is really scary and very painful. Luckily, I didn't hurt myself too badly. I have some very bad bruises and for a few days I had a sore back and neck.

To be fair, accidents happen with horses and when you get on a horse, you take the risk that you might fall off it. However, for the amount it costs to go riding at Drapia Farm, I think the service was pretty poor. It doesn't cost much to be friendly and give a little bit of proper tuition. I certainly wouldn't ride with them again and I wouldn't recommend riding with them unless you are very experienced.

Monday, 17 May 2010

The Valley of the Roses, Agros, Cyprus

On Sunday, we went to the Rose Festival in the small village of Agros in Cyprus on the foothills of the Troodos mountains. The drive up was gorgeous, all the flowers were out and the mountains were verdant and fresh – a pleasant reprieve from the heat of Nicosia. Driving in the troodos is always a bit scary thanks to all the people driving too fast or too slow along the windy mountain roads. We finally made it to Agros and had a delicious lunch at the main taverna in the village. You can sit outdoors under the shade of a huge tree whose branches spanned the entire seating area of the taverna. As it was Sunday, there was a set menu of souvlaki (rotisserie pork, lamb or chicken). We ordered souvlaki with green beans, greek salad, dolmades (stuffed vine leaves), fresh yoghurt and olives washed down with some local wine. The food was really good although a little pricey.

Afterwards, suffering from the accompanying sugar low of a large meal, we headed off to find the rose festival. Like most things in Cyprus, it wasn’t very easy to find. Eventually we got there – take the first left before the high school (the modern building with a green roof) - and follow the road down. First stop was the rose house of Agros which is home to the Venus Rose range of bio-certified organic rose products. All the roses are grown locally and harvested in May at dawn. The petals are distilled using by hand. It takes a lot of rose petals and a lot of work to produce even a tiny drop of pure rose essence.

We were given a guided tour of the venus rose range by Christakis Tsolakis who owns the company. It is a family business which has been running since 1948. Chris demonstrated the rose water cleanser which really did seem to work miracles. My skin was left cool, soft and very clean. We also got to try some of their local rose liquer, rose aperitif and rose wine. Chris was a charming if slightly eccentric guide. His demonstration of the flammability of the rose perfume certainly put me off buying it! The Venus Rose range is distributed worldwide which is incredible for a little company based in a mountain village. However, it is easy to see why people would want to buy it. There is no animal testing, no parabens and the ingredients are all organic and natural. The Venus Rose range is very ahead of its time!

The best thing about the tour is that you are under no pressure to buy anything. The shop is in a separate part of the building and you are left to browse alone at leisure or to leave empty handed. Unfortunately, we missed the main events of the rose festival but we were shown a video of the proceedings and it definitely looks worth visiting. The festival takes place in May each year.

Click here if you are interested in buying from their range.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Made my first treasury on etsy

Today I managed to finally be on Etsy at exactly the right time to make a treasury. My treasury theme is Mediterranean Dreams and it contains lots of gorgeous items to get you into a summery mood. Please take a look at it and leave a comment if you can.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

First donation to Argos Animal Shelter

At the weekend, I made my first donation to Argos Animal Shelter Cyprus. It wasn't a lot of money, just 20% of my profits so far on my jewellery sales. I think it will still make a difference as it was enough to buy a couple of bulk bags of animal food.

Argos Animal Shelter looks after more than 200 abandoned cats and dogs. They really need all the money that they can get! Hopefully people will keep on buying jewellery and I can keep on giving donations.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Sale at New World Monkey Jewellery

I've just launched a sale section in my etsy shop where you can buy some pieces from my collection at greatly reduced prices. Don't forget that 20% of all profits go to helping animals in Cyprus. Happy shopping!

A visit from the Mormons

Last night we were visited by representatives of the church of Jesus Christ and the Latter-Day Saints AKA the Mormons. Having recently read an article from the Sunday Times about their programme of sending young people around the world to spread the word, their visit was a bit like bumping into a celebrity for me.

We were making our dinner at about 6.30pm when we heard a knock. Given we only know about 10 people in this country, we tend to assume someone knocking on the door is asking us to move our car in the car park. My boyfriend answered the door and there were two young men dressed in shirts and ties with little backpacks on. They both looked very neat and nervous. They each had a little name tag written in Greek.

My instinctive thought was – don’t let them in, they will try to brainwash us! Luckily my boyfriend is slightly friendlier than me. They stood in our entrance way for a while explaining that they were representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter-Day Saints. I asked the obvious. Apparently Mormons is their nickname. Even our usually feral kitten was silently watching them next to us. Usually he runs and hides from visitors but obviously even he found them to be quite gentle.

We invited them in and ended up having a very enjoyable chat with them about their work in Cyprus. These young men had saved $10,000 each in order to have the opportunity to spread the word during a two year stint abroad. The one man was from Utah and the other from Germany. They both spoke fluent English as well as Greek. Quite incredible considering that Greek is a hard language. They were quite disappointed that people in Cyprus seldom actually talk with them in Greek but instead respond in English.

Intriguingly, they have actually managed to convert some Greek Orthodox Cypriots to the Mormon faith. Certainly, their visit helped me to learn about a religion that I know little about and it probably does result in the occasional conversion. They were not pushy in their methods but instead were happy to just answer any questions and provide information. I definitely have more respect for a religion where believers actually do something for their faith.