I. Am. Excited!

Yes. I. AM!

Soooo several mornings a week now I am creative adventuring at the quaint, quirky and very cool 'Layia Village Crafts'.

Snuggled in the village of Lageia (pronounced Lay-a) at the feet of the Troodos mountain range, this wee treasure trove is the 'cute-as-a-button' lovechild of Lynn and Pete Gallagher. Gaining attention for their brilliant Bee hotels and craft workshops, (sponsored by the local tourist board), these two are so incredibly generous of heart and spirit and I am loving being in their company. English expats, they have been permanent Cyprus residents for more than 8 years, and in early 2019, in the wilderness of Pete’s retirement, (wanting to contribute to his community) he turned his capable creative engineer mind and hands to working with mother nature (aka the local 400+ yr old olive wood), making beautiful timber jewellery (you will see a photo below of me with the heart necklace I purchased from him in 2019 when I first visited darling Cyprus) and other goodies. Anyways, in sourcing a natural product to protect the timber pieces, he found wax from the local bees. This discovery, in turn, lead Pete on a brilliant path regarding the protection of our dwindling bee population and then fabulously to the creation of his Bee Hotels (made with all kinds up found and recycled materials). The local tourist board took an interest (Um totally not surprised) and commissioned Bee Hotels for surrounding villages and the local 'Honey Route" was established.

Lynn is also cleverly craftily creative and the store is filled with delightful gems produced by her hands. They both run workshops teaching tourists about their special part of the world through craft and they are booked out until the end of the year!

This is a wee video I took spontaneously whilst Pete was talking about the pollinator bees in the Bee Hotel.

And soo, my first project here is now complete-i-o. On day one at 'Layia Village Crafts' I was swept (quite gleefully) into designing and painting a fun mural/photo opportunity, to go outside the store. Painting for 2-3 hours a day, (because 35 degrees even in the shade is p-r-e-t-t-y hot) this piece has taken around 6 days. I am absolutely thrilled with it and naturally it's ability to play and interact with visitors. See photos of my shaded outdoor studio as I began the work and the complete mural below: including one of Pete and I (with our faces in...well we had to didn't we?) on the night of Layia Village festival.

Plus I have to say...I LOVE LOVE LOVE the 23 minute, 50 cent bus trip up the hillside from Skarinou to Lageia Village. The bobbling blue and white mini bus lulled up the hillside by the gossip, chatter and low belly laughter of the Greek speaking bus-catchers...it is such lovely hub bub.

The dry Cyprus landscape harshly bisected by ancient limestone walls, long forgotten, and chalky calcite paths, gets a little greener as we ascend… we totter thru picturesque stony hillside village after village with their beautiful, all important churches, and blue doored sanctuary’s all buttoned up in the blazing heat. I love it.

Pete says there is a quicker bus but I'm absolutely not having it.

The above photos in order are of my new Arty friend Jacki, who took us on a generously knowledgeable walking tour of her village Pano Lefkara, photos of her studio and view from one of her many balconies and studio looking out over mountain and sea. Also the church of the Holy Cross (dated back to the 14th century AD...wowsa, yep) there is a fragment of the actual 'Holy Cross' in the wooden carved cross (it sits in a sneaky secret cavity apparently).

Fengaros music festival in Kato Drys, we sat in the village square under the stars and enjoyed the most amazing young Greek singer performing with voice and bouzouki, MAGICAL!

Some photos of Theo the gnomes village (see story below) and us at 'Layia village Festival' and the traditional dancing after our banquet dinner under the trees....


My favouritist thing this week:

After a scrumptious dinner of fire cooked chicken, hummus and salad in the teeny village of Kato Lefkara, one night, (at a wee taverna with passionfruit vines overhead, sunflowers and delphiniums marking the soft edges) we curiously ambled the narrow paved streets (to work off our din-dins)…both whispering (well that was probably all me) Oooh look at that...Oh my goodness there's a tiny chapel here, Ohhh this is like a secret garden, as we duck under trailing strings of greenery…then a wooden shutter magically opens at street level and a grey haired gnome (well not really, but he just seemed to mystically pop out like he expected us) called Theo peeks out (yellow T-shirt, huge white jodhpurs cinched at the waist with a large old leather belt and knee high gumboots) not joking (he was heading down to the community garden for some late night watering he told us later) Anyways he offers “Welcome to Our very special little village, would you like to see inside my house?" Sure, you don't have to invite us twice…well it all looks so mysterious from the outside and we are 2 curious adventurers. So yep in we went…the heavy wooden door opened to a vine drenched courtyard (all Miniature and perfectly sized for his eloquent gnome-like stature) His ancient tiny home, a 560 year old stone house restored immaculately with cane lined log ceilings and higgledy piggledy staircase was like a total glorious step back in time. Through the poky narrow doorways cut into the cutest maze of stacked stone-ribbed spaces opening to a rooftop balcony looking over the starrily blanketed valley it was AMAZING!!! One of the oldest houses in Cyprus (1100 years old) next door had also been restored and he showed us the different stonework styles of the new second storey addition. What a magical mystery tour we had with the generous Theo. I didn’t get photos (that felt too imposing, but there are others of the narrow streets above)


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