deferred suicide with great scenery

My wife Rachel and I love the sun. One of my greatest regrets as I get older is that I didn’t choose a career with a transferrable skill, ‘cos there are days (like today) when if I had, I would be out of this lousy, dank, miserable, no-summer country so fast it would make your head spin.

But, ‘tis not to be- there isn’t a lot of call for 51 year-old specialists in English personal injury law around the Mediterranean. So, we try to manage a couple of weeks somewhere sunny every year. It has to be no more than 4-5 hours flying time away, because that’s my absolute limit before I start showing signs of psychosis and incipient DVT.

Last year, we went to Cyprus for the first time, just for a week, primarily because friends of ours had moved there after 3 years down our road, leaving my 11 year-old son bereft of his best friend, their daughter, who was half his height, a third of his weight, very blonde, very bright, and could kick his arse at everything except Pokemon Mystery Dungeon. Secondly, my cousin had lived there since marrying a local girl 15 years ago and I felt it was about time we got back in touch. (Ulterior motive?....... qui….. moi? Tut.)

Suffice to say that Cyprus, of all the places around the Med, is the one for me. The sun shines, the food is wonderful; there are tiny beaches everywhere; the scenery around the mountains to the west is fantastic; the people are an engaging mixture of helpfulness, cynicism and grasping opportunism; you can go to a restaurant for dinner at 11:30 at night and eat outside; they drive on the left and there is only one motorway network which will get you pretty much anywhere you want to go. The Cypriots also like motorcycles - to ride. They don’t like them to have on the road, ie. when they themselves are in any other kind of vehicle.

There are two kinds of motorcyclist in Cyprus- dead ones, and the ones that aren’t dead just yet. Drivers of every other vehicle show a terrifying disregard of anything on two wheels, seeming to consider them a disposable hazard in the highway, like hitting a plastic traffic cone. Scarcely a day goes by without a news article about another dead biker. The expendable nature of bikers is such that my cousin, who is a bit strapped at the moment, what with the twins, new baby, apartment in Nicosia, house in the mountains, good lady on maternity leave- even he decided not to chop in his second 4x4 for a bike for his 30 minute commute to Larnaca, simply because the chances were he wouldn’t live very long if he did.

And yet……. I can vouch for the quality of some of the rides on the island, especially the roads in the foothills of the Troödos. Recently, I happened across some footage on YouTube of a lady and her friends scratching Suzukis with considerable panache (and certainly more grounding of footpegs than I would have the b*lls to do) around some twistys, and thought the roads looked familiar. Cyprus it was, and what roads. Sweeping bends, one following the other in endless procession, probably with rocks to one side and a vertiginous drop to the other. Stunning scenery, if you care to back off a bit and take a look. No irritating distractions like crash barriers, hard shoulder, warning signs of reducing radius bends. You have to read the road, watch your limit points on the bends and PAY ATTENTION. For the scratchy amongst you (ie. young and immortal), take something 4-cylinder, 600cc-ish and get some scuffs on your knee sliders, racking up kudos before downing a couple of cold beers in a village taverna.

For the more sedate, (ie. experienced, aware, still alive- to wit, me), taking a decent tourer across the mountains and around the inner coastal area from north west to south east must be one of the most enjoyable trips imaginable.

And next year, God willing, I intend to ship out my BMW and do just that……….

michael.clarke@sleeblackwell.co.uk

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