Olive Picking – Seventh Letter From Cyprus

It is always great to get word from my farmingfriend‘s friend David who has a smallholding in Cyprus.

Hi Sara and all farming friends

Well we are now into November and I am happy to say that the sun is still shining although rain is forecast tomorrow. After the very wild weather and thunderstorms that we had through October the weather returned to warm sunshine last week and the temperature is still pleasant.

Our trip to Kyrenia was a great day out. We arrived at the border in Lefkosia where we welcomed our turkish cypriot guide. He said that his home town was Polis and that he knew Tsada well. He now lives in Lefkosia but I believe that he misses his home town and would like to return. In fact the turkish cypriots that I met were charming and very friendly. They were interested to know that I owned land in the Troodos and was starting a smallholding and many I believe had old family roots on the south “side” of the island. Without getting too political I can only say how sad the whole affair is. But it is for the cypriots both greek and turkish to sort out the problem. Left to their own without all the politics I believe that there would rapidly be an accord.

I must have a rather warped sense of humour but I always find signs forbidding any photography amusing. At the border in Lefkosia there are signs in the buffer zone similar to those around the Sovereign base area at Epsikopi. Now my brother in New Zealand can zoom in on my site in the Troodos via satellite without any problem so what are they thinking that no one must know about. Beats me!!

The scenery as you approach Kyrenia (or Girne in turkish) is very dramatic as you pass through the Pentadaktalos (Five fingered) mountains and the town and sea is spread out below you. We stopped at St Hillarion Castle which is somewhat reminiscent of a film set. It has I understand featured in a number of films.How those knights got up and down the hillside in full armour and in the Cyprus heat I do not know. Made of sterner stuff than me!!.Next we went to Bellapais where Lawrence Durrell lived and wrote his book Bitter Lemons of Cyprus
Most went off to visit the Abbey but I went for a wander round the village and ended in a pleasant bar with a bottle of Efes beer a turkish brew and really very good.The lady in the bar had family in New Zealand so we had a pleasant chat about trips there and my land in the Troodos. Finally we ended up in Kyrenia with a quick visit to the castle and then lunch on the waterfront. I must say that the northern part of Cyprus has some dramatic scenery and is well worth a visit but the area has a rather sad and downtrodden feel about it.

We are now into the olive picking season and my friends Maggie and Maurice have allowed me to gather the olives from their three trees.Some will be pickled in brine for eating but most will be sent to be crushed and made into olive oil. Marina their gardener has offered to make up the olives to a reasonable quantity for pressing.Apparantly the cost is 10 euros up to 100 kilos then reduces on a sliding scale. Marina told me that she and her family sent some 2424 kilos to the crushing plant so that should keep them in oil for the next year.

Once again the days have fled past and we are now well into December with Christmas looming. I am afraid that the olives this year were not worth crushing as there were not really enough to be worth while. I still have them and they will become a mulch up in the Troodos. I did pick some olives for eating and these are currently pickling in brine.The next stage is to soak them in a vinegar/water mix and then they can be bottled up with a light olive oil mixture.I hope they will be good .Marina has kindly offered me five litres of the family olive oil for which she will accept no money so I think some chocolates for her two children may be appropriate.

My potatoes are doing really well. Some I have planted in old car tyres and others are in a raised bed. It will be time to dig some up soon so I hope to have some nice new potatoes for Christmas. I will let you know the results.

I have decided that I may have to leave Tsada to move closer to my land if I am to really make a go of it as a smallholding. I have been offered a house for rental in a village called Kedares just near Nelion winery by Kleanthis who is our village secretary. It belongs to his sister who is an aunt of Marina so I will be in good company if I do move and my greek should improve. Neofytos and Nitsa at Nelion are already talking about replacing the vines that did not take so I think I will be rather busy in the New Year. More trees need to be planted and then it will be some livestock- chickens or guinea fowl. Some almond trees need replacing and I think I will try some walnut trees as well. I will let you know what happens.

Well once again I have prattled on so it is time to stop and end by wishing you and your family and all farming friends throughout the world a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year. (And if that is politically incorrect I make no apology as the sentiment remains the same).


I enjoyed hearing about David’s visit to Kyrenia, about pickling olives and potatoes planted in old car tyres – we have lots of old tractor tyres so may have a go at this myself next year, so thanks for the tip! I look forward to hearing whether David has moved  to Kedares in the new year and being able to offer advice about keeping chickens and guinea fowl.

If you would like to read David’s other leters then click on the following links:

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5

Letter 6