Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Beneath the waves.....



Safely out of the sea.
When I was young I was lucky enough to spend my summers touring Europe, camping with my adventurous parents.
We used to set off on the first day of the long summer break and after the traditional English breakfast on the ferry we would drive long hours to reach Italy, or the south of France or Spain or Yugoslavia as it was then.
I remember long days on the beach, fantastic picnics and on one memorable occasion we returned to our campsite to find they had dug pits in the main access road, filled them with hot coals and there was a huge "street party" style supper about to start.
We abandoned the car, fetched our camping table and chairs and joined in eating barbecued goodies and fresh watermelon.
When I travel I still like to live as much like the locals as possible. Since my mum lives in Cyprus when we are out there this is quite easy - she already shops in the local supermarket, speaks the language and joins in with village activities.
It also means she knows a lot of the local's secret spots - great tavernas, lovely picnic areas and deserted beaches.
Today we visited one such spot - beautiful Polis beach, down a winding dirt track, through a forest and an almost deserted campsite.
Now. Back in our European tour days I used to swim every day. Pools, sea, rivers even a canal or two. Oddly as I have got older my mild fear of water, coupled with the fact that I am not a very strong swimmer, has meant I swim very rarely and am actually frightened of anything but a fairly quiet swimming pool.
But when I first visited Cyprus with DH about six years ago he remembered a beach from when his sister and her DH were posted with the RAF to the island. We consulted maps and headed off - and found Ladies Mile beach. This is another almost deserted stretch of beach with sand, gentle waves and warm water which stays shallow for miles! Actually like a bath!
So even I was brave enough to swim in the sea. I even plucked up enough courage to try snorkelling again - the first time since I was about 14. There's not much to see but I like watching the tiny fish darting about.
Polis Beach Cyprus. Pic by Afra Willmore
Every time we visit Cyprus now we head for this beach just so I can swim in the sea. Not ideal because it's a long way from my mum's village. There is a beach a mile from my mum but I'm too scared to swim there!
But today we found the water at Polis was clear, warm and there were no crashing waves or strong currents so I plucked up the courage to go into the sea, with DH holding my hand until I felt secure enough to swim.
It was liberating! I felt like I'd conquered a phobia! I swam for a while then headed back to my towel for a sunbathe until DH called me to come and see the fish swimming round his ankles.
He said they were quite large and felt it was worth me coming back in to share the experience.
can't hurt me now!
Mum and I waded back in.We stood trying to watch our feet but being considerably shorter (and lighter?) than DH we kept being buffeted about. Suddenly Mum yelped! She said something had nipped her ankle!
Seriously - you have never seen anyone exit the sea faster than I did! When we were both safely back ashore she said it may have just been a sharp bit of seaweed catching her,
Then DH came wading out - apparently something had also nipped his ankle. Seaweed? I think not!
The music from "Jaws" started playing in my head and wild horses would not have been able to drag me back into the sea for the rest of the day.
I like fish, but prefer them well and truly dead, fried with a side of chips on a plate where they can't hurt me!


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