Ampeli Villa: 2019 Updates

Plenty of viewing and listening options

We are constantly on the lookout for ways to tweak and improve your stay at Ampeli Villa, aiming to make it as easy, comfortable and welcoming as we can.

In addition to our regular maintenance, there’s an ever-growing list of ideas for upgrades. This inevitably gets longer after comparing notes with friends and fellow holiday rental owners. Plus we do our best to implement thoughtful suggestions put forward by our lovely guests.

Browsing the gallery, quite a few minor changes are not reflected there… mainly because our visits tend to be working holidays with paint pots, ladders, tools and mess all around. It’s a case of making do with a quick dash round with the camera once we’re back in ‘guest-ready’ mode. Inevitably some shots are missed or spoiled by something in the background. One of these days it would be lovely to have a proper photographer in – another job on the wish list.

Giant Fan Palm

Fan palm natural parasol

We took the decision to take down our second (and last remaining) gigantic fan palm last November. This key feature of the border behind the pool had simply grown too big for the garden.

It’s incredible how quickly the garden grows in Cyprus. Despite the poor clay soil and extreme heat, most garden plants seem to thrive as long as they are given a good start with regular watering. Once established, trees and shrubs seem to manage quite well in the arid conditions.

The patio pots are a different story… because they need their daily fix of H2O, especially in the hotter months, the garden irrigation system is essential.

Unfortunately the palm tree was casting a large shadow, and dropping messy black seeds in the pool. Plus it was now so tall that it had got beyond the reach of our hard-working gardeners’ ladders when they had to climb up for trimming off the dead leaves.

The removal process was quite a feat… Daniel Petrov and his team at High Access Point did a most impressive and professional job which we captured on this time-lapse video.

The good news is that the pygmy date palms near the pool are looking better than ever, so we hardly miss our tropical giant.

Pool Border

As Cyprus is in an earthquake zone, it is recommended that swimming pools are built with a metal frame and pool liner to give a degree of flexibility that you don’t have with a tiled pool. The downside is that PVC liners do not shrug off greasy sunscreen like tiles do.

To refresh the pool, Border Choice installed a ‘Greek key’ border along the waterline where sunscreen accumulates and bakes on. This adds an extra layer of protection to the liner, improves the look of the pool, and – hopefully – gives a surface that is a little more robust. It’s not a perfect solution, however, which is why it’s still important to use the garden shower for removing sunscreen before swimming.

Super-Quiet Air Conditioners

Although the existing air conditioning was in good working order, we have upgraded to inverter units for the 2019 season. These initially draw AC power, then the DC inverter kicks in to control the speed of the compressor. This should give everyone a more restful sleep because the units run more quietly.

In the living area, the two smaller units were swapped for a larger one, and the two-hour timers removed.

Shiny New Taps

As the local hard water gives the taps a hard life, a change was due. We particularly love the kitchen tap which dispenses drinking water separately.

With recent focus on environmental concerns over single-use plastic, you’ll be pleased to know it’s safe to drink the local tap water, so there’s no need to lug home vast quantities of the plastic-bottled variety. In the villa you will find reusable glass bottles that you can fill up and keep in the fridge.

Guest Handbook

On our recent pre-season visit I was delighted to find the perfect folder for displaying the new guest handbook pages. Previous visitors can probably tell that designing this document is something I love. There is also an online A-Z version on the password-protected section of this site for booked guests.

The folder came from Jumbo in Kings Avenue Mall, Paphos. A Woolworths-type store offering a wide range of value homeware, (including beach paraphernalia and pool inflatables).

Sunbed Cushion Covers

We are moving on from ‘home made’ lounger towels and trying something slicker. This season’s new covers are microfibre, rather than cotton which should make them more durable and colour-fast. They are much less bulky to launder and store and should be quick drying.

Fingers crossed you like them!

Looking forward to welcoming this season’s guests…
Kalosórisma !

Summer Sky-Watching

Relaxing in a hammock star gazing

One of the pleasures of warm evenings outdoors is lying back on a lounger or relaxing in a hammock and gazing up at the night sky. Because there’s much less light pollution than in more populated locations, and frequent cloudless skies, the viewing is often rewarding. Switch off the garden and pool lights, pour yourself a chilled drink and enjoy sky-watching in comfort…

The constellations, the moon, meteor showers and the International Space Station can all be seen easily with the naked eye, although you may find the villa binoculars enhance the experience.

The Constellations – any time of year

If you’re new to star-gazing, there is a variety of apps which use your smart phone or tablet camera to assist you in identifying the constellations, for example Google Sky Map.

Perseid Meteor Shower – every July and August

Summer sky watching - Perseid meteor shower
Photo: Dominic Alves

The Perseids are one of the brighter meteor showers of the year. Coming from the direction of Perseus, these tiny fragments from the Swift-Tuttle comet provide more than one meteor every minute. The peak dates for spotting these shooting stars is around August 9 to 13, although they can be seen on any dates between July 17 and August 24.

Our tip: Concentrate on one small part of the sky, rather than scanning too wide an area. Spot one and a multitude usually follow!

International Space Station – any time of year

Summer sky watching - International Space Station
Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The International Space Station is most easily seen within a few hours of sunrise or sunset because the sun reflects off the space station providing a good contrast with the darker sky.

The space station looks like an aircraft or a very bright star moving across the sky, although moving in a straight line and 30 times faster.

If you visit NASA’s excellent Spot the Station website, you can find up to date spotting information such as this below to help you decide exactly when and where to look. (For Cyprus viewing you need to choose Nicosia as the location.)

Summer sky watching - International Space Station sighting details
Example ISS sighting information from NASA

Alternatively, if you have an Android phone or tablet, download ISS Detector Satellite Tracker free app which can sound an alarm 5 minutes before the Space Station is due over your location.

Happy sky-watching!

Lose Yourself in a Good Book

Roman steps - perfect reading spot

Is your precious annual holiday the chance to lose yourself in a good book?

If so, we have a small library with a selection of reading material to suit a variety of tastes including autobiographies, thrillers, detective novels, chick lit, light reads, local travel guides, and comedy books.

So whether you prefer to read lying down on one of our comfy loungers or stretched out in the villa hammock; or alternatively sitting up keeping an eye on proceedings from a balcony seat, or chilling half-in and half-out of the pool at the Roman steps; you should be able to find a comfortable spot to relax and immerse yourself in the book of your choice.

The-Sunrise-Victoria-Hislop
The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop

As usual with Victoria, this is a meticulously researched novel woven around the human side of the tragic events of 1974. Set in Famagusta and Varosha which were favourite celebrity hangouts in their heyday (much like the South of France today). In those heady times the popular beach resort was regularly visited by all the glitterati of the time, including film stars such as Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

Beginning prior to the invasion, when Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots lived happily side-by-side in mixed communities, despite some political tensions, it shows how dramatically lives were changed by the Turkish invasion of the island.

Guests will find hardback and paperback copies of Victoria’s excellent book in the villa library.

Abandoned-Cyprus-Airways-Trident-Nicosia-Airport
Abandoned Cyprus Airways Trident at Nicosia Airport

Crossing the Green Line

Even today Cyprus remains a divided island, with a ‘buffer zone’ patrolled by the United Nations and the world’s only remaining divided city: Nicosia.

You can visit Northern Cyprus via the crossing point in the capital’s Ledra Street. Take passports and be careful not to take photographs near the border. We do not advise driving over as your rental insurance will not be valid.

Another option is to take an organised tour, such as The Original Red Bus Tour from the eastern resorts which offers a full day guided tour to the Venetian walled city of Famagusta and the ghost resort of Varosha. It’s shocking to stand on the beautiful beach and see the dilapidation of the once thriving high-rise hotels behind the barbed wire. If you’re happy to make an early start, you can drive to Protaras and pick up the bus there.

Gordon-Honeycombe-newscaster
The Edge of Heaven by Gordon Honeycombe

The well-known former ITN newscaster was a regular Pissouri visitor in the 1970s, choosing the area as the location for his fifth novel.

Those who remember him from his serious news days, may be surprised to find that parts of the novel are rather racy!

More about Gordon

Although out of print, we have managed to track down a paperback copy of Gordon’s book for the villa library. Please treat it gently.

Plastic-Bag-Trees-Valerie-Day
Plastic Bag Trees by Valerie Day

Valerie is an ex-pat who has settled in Pissouri. She has written a light-hearted anecdotal holiday read about her experiences along the way.

We missed our chance to get a print copy for the villa library, but it is currently available in eBook format.

Kindle download

50-Things-to-do-in-Cyprus-Chris-Alden
50 Things to Do in Cyprus on a Sunny Day by Chris Alden

As a former Cyprus resident, with an insight into the culture through his Cypriot family, Chris’ travel guide offers a wealth of suggestions and tips.

Although we have a print copy in villa library, you may be interested in buying the eBook version for yourself as it includes regularly-updated web links.

eBook link

Moon’s Vietnamese Kitchen – Vineleaf, Pissouri, 24 Aug

Quotes from the B family

Enjoy authentic Vietnamese cuisine ‘under the vines’, as recommended by the B family.

Tickets €17
Be quick – booking needed on 25221053 | moonsvietkitchen@gmail.com

Or if that date doesn’t suit, you can order a tailored ‘by the pool buffet’ from Moon delivered directly to the villa.

More info: http://www.moonsvietnamesekitchen.com

Mr & Mrs N Recommend: All in Pissouri Bay

Mr and Mrs N recommend

We love it when guests share tips about their favourites. Since their first visit in 2015, these guests have returned twice a year, and are planning for 2018 – to enjoy more diving, rest and relaxation.

Extracts from their review:

“G did a diving course with Pissouri Bay Divers – they were fab – very friendly and incredibly professional. So much so we are returning in October for him to continue to the next level.

For me the holiday was a crash and chill so I only ventured out to wander along the beach eat and visit the local shops in the Bay for supplies. I did however happen upon Bay Jewellery, Gemma is very talented and her jewellery is lovely, she is also very keen to make any pieces bespoke.

Kastros and Artemis remained our favourites from last year. With Yialos being added this year – the fish was amazing.”

More guest feedback