I spent a great ten days on the island of Cyprus over the Easter break. It was a cadet camp and there were 56 cadets and associated staff. We stayed at Troodos and ventured out from there to undertake various activities some of which are listed below.
Those travelling from Heathrow met inside T5 on the Saturday morning. The group were herded together and then we passaged through check-in, security and passport control. Reasonably soon we were on the flight to Larnaca airport. After arriving in Cyprus we had food delivered to us and we boarded a coach to Troodos. There were various meetings and briefings and these completed the day.
The morning started with breakfast, but from now we will take that as a constant, I’m not going to mention it every time. If I did you may begin to think I am obsessed with food. We had briefings about some local issues and then drove down to the coast to get lunch once there. It’s about an hour’s drive to the coast from Troodos. The roads are very nice and the towns and villages along the way are small. I had a massive hayfever attack on the way down the hill, my eyes streamed for about an hour and it was only after spending some time in an air-conditioned building did it start to clear. My head felt as though I had been crying for hours. Fortunately this was the only time it happened.
After lunch on base we went to develop the leadership and initiative skills of the cadets. We were working in an area overlooking Lemesos bay and the weather was a little blowy but still warm.
We then went to have the official camp photograph taken and drove back up the hill. The cadets then did some contract setting exercises in the sports hall.
First thing we visited the guardroom and had a talk from the chaps there. They explained their careers and the equipment they used. After that I had to get to the transport place and sign documents allowing me to drive the vehicles. This was on the coast so we drove down with one of the main camp staff. Because we were already on the coast we had tea and collected some lovely rolls from Lady L’s tea bar.
Clay pigeon shooting was next on the agenda and we did this at the Egg Club on a slightly different bit of the coast. There was some alarm when a dog walker appeared over the top of the range and whistles were blown to stop the shooting. The man’s dog had run into the clay pigeon area and had to be retrieved before the competition could start again.
After we had driven back up the hill I managed to get to the gym. It was very nice as the view from the running machine looked out over the valleys from close to the mountain top.
Our morning session was for swimming tests at Episkopi swimming pool. We also had a demonstration of life rafts and survival equipment from a member of staff who used to be a Survival Equipment specialist.
It’s always nice to have a cup of tea and we managed a quick one just before lunch in the tea room at Episkopi. We also looked around the Officers’ Mess and saw plenty of their memorabilia.
During the afternoon there was a round robin of activities and I was stationed inside the DCCT building, helping out and keeping score. It was good fun.
We drove to the south peninsula and, after dinner, the cadets went to the cinema and as I had already seen Logan I offered to not be in the cinema. This was granted and a few of us went bowling not that far away. I won, which was pleasing!
Obviously after that we had to drive back up the hill.
We had an early breakfast and heading straight away to the coast to see the dog section. Immediately after that we saw some other areas close to the airfield near the olive harvest. A quick trip to some S-61 helicopters and it was off to watch explosive demonstrations right out on the tip of the island.
Lunch was at the beach club although the weather wasn’t great. It was windy and quite cool. I had a baguette and chocolate.
The afternoon meant we had more chats from the EOD guys and played a bit with the robots. It rained while there, I sheltered in the bus. The harbour looked exactly as it had 29 years ago when I was last there!
We had a brief from the station and spent a little more time with the S-61 helicopters. I got to sit in the cockpit which is always enjoyable. Before heading to Sylvana’s for dinner and traditional Greek dancing we spent a little time in the shade of rotor blades.
The meal at Sylvana’s was great, there was way too much food. The dancing was enjoyable and watching someone move around with 12 glasses balanced on his head was a highlight. Seedy had a little initiation while here.
High ropes tend to be dangerous when there is a chance of thunder and lightning so that was canned. So we played dodgeball instead. Good fun and all kids seem to know the ADAA rules. Because we skipped the ropes we had a little while to catch a coffee in the mall the other side of the plantation.
On our return to the coast we visited the rescue helicopters of 84 Sqn while an aircraft did some practice landings not far away from us.
There is a small chance that I may have flown in the gate guardian for the rescue helicopter as I definitely had a flight in a Wessex when I was last in Cyprus!
After the midday meal we visited the Met Office, ATC and the fire section. A voyager landed while we were there. It’s a lovely aircraft.
We then had another briefing about Operation Shader and then we saw a large version of Heracles, the Greek divine hero.
The runway was quite busy that evening. The cadets went bowling and we ate pizza for tea. Another drive up the hill was required before bed.
Laser tag and target shooting with paintballs was on the menu this morning.
The views across the mountains were lovely from the Adventure Park. Lunch was a nice roll with bacon and cheese, served with chips. We had to cancel the dragon boating for safety concerns and went again to the beach club where we had a BBQ for dinner. A few of us staff played Cards Against Humanity for about twenty minutes and they were moments of sheer joy and delight at how bad-taste we could be.
After food the cadets and some staff, me included, took part in a bush-tucker trial. I am glad it provided amusement. It wasn’t very tasty and the gherkin nearly made me throw up. I had eaten quite a large quantity of BBQ though!
The runway was again quite busy that evening. We returned up the hill.
After a slight lay-in we sauntered to Agia Napa to spend time at the water park there. I think we had about four hours and I went on most of the slides with Vicki. It was quite a laugh and I was also pleased that I didn’t get sun burnt. I hate sun tan lotion and I hate burning. This means I spend a lot of time in the shade. I can still get burnt from the reflected sun light though! Sensitive skin, me.
On the way along the motorway my phone logged in with a Turkish cell tower. EE text me to say “Welcome to Turkey” and then promptly charged me a fiver for using a little bit of data in those few miles. Bugger.
For dinner we went to the Lady’s Mile restaurant which required driving along a sand road. Lovely.
The weather was good. The food was great.
The kids had a disco. I had a whiskey. Obviously I didn’t drive back up the hill that night. There was more runway traffic heading off into the night sky.
Who can resist a day on a party boat on the Med? We took the bus down to Pafos to get on the Wave Dancer 1 boat. This took us, in just under a 2 hour rocky ride, to Lara Bay. I had a walk along the rocks with excellent company and then went swimming in the sea.
Lunch was served shortly after leaving Lara Bay.
The boat [or ship or whatever] headed to Coral Bay where we had an acrobatic display on the gently swaying ship. Two chaps were entertaining us while motoring with some classic rock songs. The bar was free. I drank coke and coffee.
Jumping off the front ramp into the Med was great fun and I did it a few times. After returning to shore we had dinner and a disco at the Captain’s View restaurant. The food was plentiful and we had an awards ceremony congratulating the best cadets and groups etc. The disco got everyone jumping and we returned up the hill late after needing to refuel the buses.
Our final day but still plenty to do. A quick-ish drive down the hill to the Need For Speed Go Karting centre and all the cadets had plenty of laps of the track. Staff were on last and I have to say I found it exhilarating and I went fast. It was great. I lapped all but one of the other drivers on the track, some multiple times.
The thrill of speed is something I have missed since I gave up motorcycling.
I didn’t have long to gloat because we needed to get back up the mountain to join the coach that would take us to Larnaca airport. A four hour flight later and collection of my car and I get into bed about 0100 Tuesday morning. Obviously I was bright and refreshed for teaching on Tuesday.
Upon my return my camp duck has been placed on a shelf in the office at work that is endearingly called “The Shelf Of Shit”. Every item on there has been lovingly collected. You can see my duck, it is placed next to my F5 model.
This communication does not and cannot give you a full appreciation of just how much hard work this trip was and all the things we did. Consider this a highlight reel. It was also a brilliantly funny, if not belly-achingly funny, time and I made great friends. I do hope to go next year.
Along the course of this camp I licked three planes. Apparently that is a thing people do, but I am going to try and not lick any more.
I earnt [?] the nickname Gollum.
I didn’t get burnt and I didn’t put on any weight.
I wore my hat a lot. I love my hat. I’m worried what I’ll do when it dies.
I saw things I can’t mention in this forum. But I can mention I can’t mention them.
I woke up every day to this view from my veranda, snow, sun and coffee [in my hand]: