Travel: Cyprus – May 2008

A remote mountain villa hideaway

May 2008, I whisked my girlfriend and myself to a remote spot in the foothills of mountains near the coast, in Cyprus. The plan for me was to focus on a new novel. We’d rented a villa. Normally used by groups of up to 12 people. There was just the two of us. The available space combined with the absolute isolation was fantastic. A truly perfect trip, almost admittedly more of a bubble world – the villa – my girlfriend and I – rather than any serious travelling or exploration of what Cyprus has to offer.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains distant view

Cyprus. Remote villa on edge of mountains.

09:15 Hrs, Thursday 15th May 2008. Sitting on a narrow high-backed chair of pale wood, with cream coloured cotton upholstery on the base; I’m at a table of identical pale wood, the table is long enough to seat 10 people and fits easily within the cavernous space of the main living area. Laptop is in front of me, Spitting Games by Snow Patrol playing on random. A green glazed mug empty of tea, exposing white ceramic interior. Numerous sheets of paper scattered around me in an arc, all of them covered in nearly illegible scrawls…notes for the new novel, EDGE.

To my left is a collection of deep and comfortable sofas, a flat screen TV, every window covered by a closed venetian blind. In front of me, and to my right are sliding French doors, voluminous curtains of cream muslin pulled open to reveal the view beyond. To my right is a bright expanse of a large swimming pool, beyond that, nothing but a horizon of yellow grass…stiff and brittle from the heat of the sun, and a scattering of stunted green trees. This is the landscape of the mountain foothill the villa is perched upon. Ahead of me though, above the rim of my laptop screen, through the glass of the French doors, bordered by the cream muslin, is a breathtaking view of rural beauty… yellow, yellow and more yellow… with green lines formed by trees and hedgerows, stretching away for two or three miles to the vast expanse of the sea… right now lost in a heat haze, a white mist barely separating the sea from the white intensity of the sky… the sun is hammering down, baking the air and land and everything on it.

I’ve been up since seven’ish, the first time i’ve been out of bed before 9 AM since getting to Cyprus last Saturday night. And the first time I’ve sat down to spend some serious time on the computer. Everything up to now has been paper notes…sitting outside on a sun-lounger…perched on the tiled balcony overlooking…the world.

There was a thunderstorm last night. Eye-burning flashes of light from way up in the clouds, all around for miles… a few vivid forks streaking down near the villa, deep rumbles and booms, but nowhere near as jaw-dropping as the massive electrical storm of South France 2006.

Time has ceased to have any meaning. The days have blurred into a simple continuum marked only by day and by night. During the day we live outside. During the night we live inside. We’ve barely spoken a word to anybody. There is nobody. I’ve shaken hands and exchanged broken English with a goat-herder, blackened and wrinkled by years in the sun, over the low chain link fence marking the boundary of the property…

There’s a slight irony in writing a novel set within the deep freeze of a New Zealand winter, whilst sitting here in the heat of a south Med summer.

– Extract from private journal

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Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains lounge dining room

View from lounge into dining room

We arrived late at night, hired a car and drove from Paphos through darkness along the Southern shore of the island before taking our exit off the deserted motorway and meeting G___ & M____ at a rural crossroads. Quick hellos through open vehicle windows and then a midnight drive along darkened roads without any clue as to what was around us, following the small Jeep as it bounced along the narrow routes… until finally turning up a steep hill and seeing an isolated structure… the place that was to be our home for the next few days.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains interior shot

Looking into lounge from dining room

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains staircase wrought iron

Main staircase from lounge to bedrooms

The main staircase leading up to the four main bedrooms and bathrooms. Another staircase exists behind a closed door, leading down into a self-contained apartment on the ground floor. This subterranean part was always dark or in shadow, even during the full glare of the sun; very little light coming through windows down there – themselves overhung by the upper balconies. There was an odd, slightly uneasy vibe down there so I rarely used it. Besides, there was so much space above ground there was almost no need.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains girl gazing at distant horizon

Standing at dining room doorway looking out at distant ocean

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains view of double balcony

Two balconies to choose from

Stepping outside the kitchen / dining area takes you onto a fabulous balcony…which is a sun trap during the whole day. Above you are balconies leading off from the bedrooms. Below is the apartment.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains Oj

Oj

With nobody around there was a luxurious sense of freedom and space. The whole place was ours to enjoy as we wished when we wished it.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains goat herder

Alone, except for the goat herder…

The only interruption was the daily passing of the goat herder.  Forming one of my abiding memories of the place.  A soft ringing and clank of metal bells, the gruff barks and quick whistles of the herder, and the vast sound of numerous goats munching through dry grass.

One afternoon I was sitting here at this table, writing, listening to the sounds of the goat-herd, and then I heard Jo call my name with a slight air of panic. I looked up to my right and saw a goat stood by the pool, staring at Jo. The goat wasn’t too sure where it was but eventually ran off down the sweeping curve of the path and out through the gates of the driveway, out onto a road and went bounding away down an empty road.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains private swimming pool

Swimming with an open view

Saltwater. No chlorine. Ours to enjoy without interruption. Great to escape the relentless heat of the day.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains dragonfly

Cyprus: dragonfly – David J Rodger

The poolside had a regular contingent of playful dragonflies.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains David J Rodger working on novel called EDGE

Working on novel called EDGE

Most of the writing work was done by paper and pen, reclined on a sun-lounger by the pool, but when I did sit down to write-up my notes for EDGE this is where I was.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains David J Rodger

David J Rodger

The isolation meant I could get away with looking like a dick; my way of avoiding melting my brain in the sun whilst I worked.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains wildlife

Another poolside visitor

Travel photo Cyprus Mount Olympos listening post

Mount Olympos military listening post

My girlfriend and I finally got further than the local villages. On the penultimate day we clambered into the car around noon as the villa was being battered by high-speed winds. We headed West to Limassol and turned off towards Trodos. The road began to rise sharply, eventually reaching nearly 2KM above sea level. The very top is restricted access and the views from there are limited; “secret” military golf balls occupy the crest.

Travel photo Cyprus Mount Olympos David J Rodger

David J Rodger

The journey there and back again is worth it for the moments when you are able to glimpse the staggering alpine scenery.

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains insect

Another poolside visitor, although this one needed rescuing with a net

I rescued it. And then a bird whizzed past and ate the bloody thing. That’s nature, I guess.  With me serving up hors d’oeuvres on a net!

Travel photo Cyprus remote villa on edge of mountains British Sci-Fi author drinks tea in swimming pool

Like any Brit, supping tea in the swimming pool.

Travel photo Cyprus full moon

Full moon over Cyprus

The moon on my final night there was incredible, nearly full and yet incredibly bright…it was almost like daylight outside but in a surreal alabaster / black shadow style.  My final evening I supped whisky watching the sun set, whilst I reflected on the infinite expansion of time I experienced whilst living here. One week felt like a month. Brilliant.

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Edge - a sci-fi dark fantasy novel by British author David J Rodger

Available in paperback or kindle

Paperback : LULU & Amazon Kindle: US ($), UK (£), DE (Euro)
BUY > iBook : from iTunes Store

EDGE { novel } In the near future, a prolific inventor is close to burn out. Desperate for a break he grabs an opportunity to go snowboarding in New Zealand, thinking it will refresh his mind and spirit. But a malign and alien force is oozing back into our reality, older than humankind and growing strong as it emerges after centuries of absence. Zen Dow snowboarding and ski resort, perched in the foothills of the volcanic mountain Ruapehu, is about to experience mind-shredding consequences as one of the Great Old Ones returns. On the other side of the world, an unscrupulous concept scout scrambles onto the trail of a new technology that has vanished from the corporate R&D labs. Quickly out of his depth, it becomes a race to track down the missing components before competing corporate agents kill him. David J Rodger’s trademark relentless narrative pace is here in palm-sweating abundance, delivered in a tense action-packed novel that blends corporate espionage, with a creeping, spine-chilling horror.

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