Travel tales- When I met Helen, the Fairy Godmother

Saturday morning. A gorgeous, warm, sunny, summery day, one of those I almost forgot I live in this country.

9:50am and I’m on the train. The lack of sleep and a few drinks the night before have taken their toll and I am exhausted but so happy I’m about to spend the day with my best friend exploring Oxford.

The train is packed (glad I decided to reserve a seat). I’m trying and failing miserably to take a selfie so I just put my music on and enjoy the sun lightly burning my skin. I don’t mind. I’ll the take the sunshine any day.

Just after the Winchester stop, a sweet, elder lady gets on the train and sits next to me. White curly short hair, glasses, a floral dress and a huge smile. She seemed so kind and lovely, sometimes I can tell straight away, I got a strong urge to start a conversation, though I was painfully aware that it might backfire, people are not always that friendly at this neck of the woods.

I’m so happy I did. We ended up chatting until she got off the train. It felt so easy and natural, as if we’ve known each other for years. I straight away explained why I was tired, where I was going and why and ended up telling her about my plans and dreams and hopes for the immediate future and she told me about her life (she was heading to her mother in law to look after her for the day and relieve her husband), her travels in America back in the 80s and she reassured me without realising that I’m doing the right thing.

She told me: “Go, travel, see the world. I didn’t meet my husband until I was 36 and had my children in my late thirties. Enjoy life whilst you can.

Just before she got off, I asked her what her name was.

Helen’ she said.

‘Eleni, which is Helen in Greek. So lovely to meet you.’ I replied.

‘Lovely to meet you too dear’, she replied. She wished me the very best for the future and I felt she meant every word. She wasn’t just being polite. She actually meant it.

How often does it happen to meet a stranger you connect straight away, who as a Deus Ex Machina (απο μηχανής Θεός), a fairy Godmother re-assured me I’m actually doing the right thing, leaving my job and taking a leap of faith?

After she left I couldn’t stop thinking how many amazing, incredible humans, everyday heroes like her I’ll meet on my travels.

I’ll always remember Helen as a fairy Godmother who decided to pay me a visit to cheer me on and remind me to always believe that something wonderful is about to happen.



Blogmas day 13- Magical Christmas at Beaulieu

You can’t not believe in magic after experiencing Christmas at Beaulieu. Beautiful lights, Christmas music, the alluring, familiar smell of roasted chestnuts and marshmallows whilst walking through the gorgeous Abbey and Palace House gardens and the Forest.

Two weeks ago my friend Helena sent me this and asked me if I’d like to join her and a couple of friends. I couldn’t say no after I watched the video and last night was the night. Let me give you a little taste. 

I felt festive as soon as I walked into the entrance as the most magnificent Christmas tree stood proudly looking all pretty. The biggest real Christmas tree I’ve ever seen in the flesh.

And off we go to follow the Christmas illuminated trail. The first decorations we came across before we even made it to the beginning was only a tiny sample of what it was about to come. It was freezing cold but we almost forgot about it when we started looking around in awe.

After a short stop to have some delicious roasted chestnuts we stepped through the gorgeous illuminated archway which signalled the beginning of the trail. I haven’t had any for years, the smell and taste instantly took me back to my childhood.

We then walked in the Abbey gardens illuminated by a magnificent fire display accompanied by ‘Silent Night’.

After watching a short Panto and singing Jingle Bells we wandered into the next part, the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’, where twelve signs were illuminated in order following the song. 

We made another stop to enjoy a huge, handmade gourmet marshmallow and since this place is magic, of course there was a fire pit where we could roast it. A little piece of heaven!

Next up, we came across the Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Party gorgeous set and a wishing tree where you can write away your wishes. I didn’t have to write any as some of my favourites were already there.

‘Health and happiness’

‘I wish I was a princess in a castle’

I wish for a dog’.

We then walked through another gorgeous archway to make it to the Palace House, illuminated with more dancing lights.

After a wander through the Forest… where we saw an Elf sitting on the tree…

we reached the end of the trail to see an enormous lit tree…

A truly wonderful magical evening which ended with a scenic drive through the Forest, we even saw a deer!


Herbs, Fairies and Cypriot hospitality: Cyherbia and Mr Adamos

I’m sat in a beautifully decorated cafe on the grounds of a magical garden, sipping on my complimentary, homemade herbal ice tea, having a deep conversation about life with a-five-minutes-ago complete stranger and I’m thinking I’ll never forget this day.

On a scorching hot Monday afternoon, after waving goodbye to our temporary holiday home in Protaras, we just made it for the first time to Cyherbia, a botanical park in Avgorou village.

From just walking through the entrance, you cannot but admire the creators’ love for what they do.

It may not have been the best day to visit. It’s the middle of the day, 35 degrees Celsius and we are about to wander in a maze, after a quick walk around the herbs garden. I’m melting, physically melting. I can’t remember the last time I sweat so much. At least we have umbrellas (the owners have really thought of everything). I found it amusing we were lost in a maze, holding our colourful umbrellas. Hah the little things.

My dear dear mamma enjoyed it more than I expected, despite our heads were so hot you could fry an egg on, she loved every minute of it. I can’t say the same for the little one, a typical 20 year old, complaining Oh is too hot!

After we finally made it out of the maze we walked into the cutest little fairy house. For a moment, you could not but just believe in magic…

With our 5 euro entrance ticket we get a complimentary homemade ice tea, so after about half an hour in the heat, we tried the lavender liqueur, ordered our teas, a couple of muffins, a banana and carob and apple and cinnamon (homemade and delicious) and sat at the beautiful cafe. So, so beautiful. Everything is beautiful here.

Whilst sitting at the cafe, a man came over to chat to us. He asked our mum who these ‘cute girls’ were. To begin with, we were taken aback,  I couldn’t stop thinking what his motives were but I didn’t want to appear rude so we introduced ourselves and that was the start of a heartwarming conversation that left me leaving warm and fuzzy inside.

Mr Adamos is the owner of Cyherbia. Himself and his wife made all of this.

He is smiling all the time, calm, peaceful. When you talk to him you cannot but smile.

He found the meaning of life, for him. That’s what I felt from the little I got to know him. He seemed at peace. He found his happy. He quit his old life to live in a little village in Cyprus and spends all of his time with his family, planting, landscaping, spreading the love, making others smile.

I’m the practical one, gardening, doing work around and my wife is the creative mind behind all of this. But can you tell what the shape the trees on this part of the park form, the ‘Round of Cyprus’ forest? It’s Cyprus, and here’s where I’m from, Kyrenia.

One of the many things he said that stuck with me, Life is a gift, the most beautiful gift God gave us, we HAVE to enjoy every minute.

If Cypriot hospitality was a person, that would be him. Although he only had just met us, he treated us with figs cut fresh from his fig tree, gave us a pouch of deliciously smelling lavender each and gave my mum an aloe vera plant. A generous man who loves sharing whatever he has with complete strangers.

With him it was an old friend, Christos. Mr Christos and Mr Adamos were childhood friends and were captured by the Turks in 1974 together. They hadn’t seen each other since. But today, they met again after thirty odd years.

I hesitantly asked if I could take a picture of them. I’d have regretted if I didn’t. What were the chances the day we decide to visit Cyherbia that these two then young little boys and now 50 year-olds, would meet again after three decades?

That was such a special moment I wanted to capture. I don’t normally ask people I barely know for a picture.

Mr Adamos, sweet as he was, he of course agreed. Take a picture here, I love this spot!

Adamos and Christos

After a while Mr Adamos had to leave (to catch the barber’s for his haircut!) so we hugged him goodbye. It’s the fastest I made friends with someone.

He asked us to go back for Halloween, they’ll have a pumpkin festival, they’ll do pumpkin carving amongst others. I sadly explained I won’t be there. I  so wish I could. But I’d love to visit in spring, when all the flowers and herbs will be blossoming!

Just before we were about to leave to hit the beach, we went up the intriguing looking stairs at the end of the cafe, which led to a beautiful terrace, with tables, chairs and dreamy swings, overlooking the park. The surprises never end at this place. Just magical. I asked the little sis to take a snap of me. She took a couple already when I was not looking.

She unknowingly captured that rare moment of pure happiness I somehow experienced twice in the last four days.

Thank you Mr Adamos and lovely wife for a day I’ll always remember.