When I arrived in Cyprus at the end of November, the sea was blue, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it was T-shirt temperatures. Idyllic? Don't be fooled. The Eastern Mediterranean in winter is not for the faint hearted. Coptic storm El Mickness hit right on cue. Up the mountain, raindrops the size of golfballs fell into the pool for a solid three days. Roads washed away, winds lashed the trees and lightening lit up the sky all through the nights. So, after the best part of a week without internet and occasionally electricity, Cyprus is almost up and running. Well, except for the strikes.
After a truly appalling accident involving a school bus and a lorry, the locals are striking because the government, they say, made a terrible decision. Instead of turning back the clocks, they decided to stay in line with Turkey and keep on summer time. This means that at 7.30 in the morning it's as black as night. Hence the accident. Why? So it's back to politics. The north of Cyprus is sticking with Turkey given the now inevitable collapse of the negotiations with south (Greek) Cyprus to solve the island's problems. Even Boris came over last week to rally the troops though he made no difference, naturally. This is a quarrel that's gone on for millennia and it won't be settled any time soon.
El Mickness ignored the rule that it should only last three days and the rains continued. So up in Karmi, the other side of the rainbow and one of the highest villages on the island, there was chaos. Rocks tumbled down the mountainside, mud slides washed down the roads and my friend Elizabeth (aged 80) was brushing out the mud as it came under her door and carrying the carpets out of the way. People out here have to have a bit of an edge, a certain toughness because the Med is not, as I say, what you might expect when it gets to December. She comes, though, of strong Scottish stock. So when her mother discovered she'd lost her Guinness record as the oldest tandem skydiver (she was 100 when she did it), she decided to do it again. At 104 (and a half, as she told me when I wrote it up for the Times).
You have to made of strong stuff out here...