So I booked a cheap package holiday for some winter sun in Cyprus. It worked out well - 20 degrees and sunny at the end of Feb. And it turned out fine for vegan tourism too.

I stayed in a hotel I wouldn't particularly recommend, but it was self catering with a kitchen just in case I needed to cook for myself. Provisions I brought were builders bars, trek bars, primal strips and wheaty sausages. I easily found vegan bread in a Lidl supermarket - just had to get a loaf labelled in both English and Greek and compare with the Greek text on other loaves to find the milk-free ones. Also picked up pickled gherkins, olives with lemon and one of those middle eastern roast veg pastes in a jar. We always had this stuff on hand for emergencies/picnics. I often found food labelled as suitable for vegans in supermarkets. Cyprus is remarkably overrun with British expats, so there was plenty of UK food in shops had I wanted such a thing. One small supermarket on a tourist route had as much vegan milk on sale as any large supermarket in this country.

Restaurant-wise, I stayed in Paphos which amazed us by having a Pizza Express, and we went there a couple of times because we like their stuff and were lazy. Sadly, it was no cheaper than back home. Also had some terrific food at the Syrian Restaurant in a back street in Kato Paphos. The waiter thought our diet was weird, but was very friendly and brought us some well-made meze including hoummous, roasted pepper with walnut and baba ghanoush to have with our flatbread and tabouli. There was enough left over to take with us on a beach picnic the next day.

Everyone I spoke with had perfect English so asking for vegetarian without milk was no problem. This included the visitor canteen at Kykkos Monastery which turned out to have rather nice pilau rice with lentil stew as well as a salad bar - a surprising feast to find on top of a rather remote mountain. Also had a really excellent meal at a new Indian place on Tombs Of The Kings Road called Koh-I-Noor. Special mention should also go to the Segafredo coffee shop near our hotel in Posidonos Avenue, Kato Paphos which had soya milk and vegan chocolate, was open from early morning to late night and had free wifi. Again though, London prices. On the seafront was Pahit ice cream shop with 10 vegan sorbets including chocolate, but at half the price of places like Scoop in London. They even had vegan chocolate waffle cones and various toppings. Pretty awesome.



In terms of visible animal abuse, this was surprisingly rare. I saw only one place offering donkey rides, though this was in the off season. A couple of places I saw goats grazing in the hills. There are loads of seemingly autonomous cats and also some little dogs that roam the city and countryside. Clearly the cats have clocked that tourists will feed them. At the tourist info centre, there were flyers for an animal sanctuary that seemed to be run by Brit expats again, and there is a donkey sanctuary in the Troodos Mountains.

In terms of stuff to do, I reckon hiring a car is pretty essential, and it meant I got to explore the mountains, the coast, lots of archeological UNESCO world heritage sites and a couple of monasteries. On the down side, I got a patriarchal vibe off some Cypriot men - for example one invading my personal space at a petrol pump with his huge belly. Also, we were there during the Presidential election when a pro-austerity Conservative got elected and we had to put up with an evening of Conservative voters driving through the streets of Paphos waving flags and honking. I imagine this time next year many of them will have been austeritied out of their livelihoods.


Last weekend we had awesome, deep snow that just kept coming. My dogs loved it. Coco ran around eating it and sat on my lap on the sledge. Rolo chased the sledge while barking - he didn't like it. Today it's finally melted so anywhere we walked was muddy. I walked them to Nunhead Cemetery for the first time. Pretty good walk. It turns out they've been loads of times with the dogsitter. Friday I hired a car and took us to Bell Green to do the bit of the Waterlink Way up to Catford and back. Thought the WW lacked wildness, but it's prob not the best time of year to see it.
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Cargo cult

Why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people had little cargo of our own?

Jared Diamond set out to answer the above question in his book 'Guns, Germs and Steel' which I commend to anyone as a fascinating history of civilisations. 'Cargo' of course refers to belongings including the clothes that to someone from New Guinea would seem excessive. I've been reflecting on my cargo on a daily basis in recent weeks. I've been skint for about a year and a half but did some extra work before Christmas and so felt more able to buy things I felt I had a use for, like treats for the dogs that would keep them distracted so they didn't make constant demands on my attention and waterproof socks for cycling in the rain.

At the same time, I've been having a big clear out. Collapse )


Have updated http://xsynthesisx.org.uk/ slightly with a new intro photo that was taken in India, on the path up to a waterfall in a nature conservation area of Wayanad. At the bottom of the path was a tree with a wall around it because it was worshiped as a god. I saw indigenous folks in Wayanad too. Our guide said, "There - wild elephant, there - wild man". He had a good sense of humour. Indigenous folks were living in the nature reserves and we saw lots of the men out collecting wood and doing conservation work. They lived in non-traditional concrete houses that the state government built so they wouldn't be trampled by elephants. We saw a wild elephant swimming.

4 hour adventure

Today the dogs & I walked all the way to Ladywell Fields, which is probably the furthest I've walked from home. Route:
- Camberwell Old Cemetary
- Brenchley Gardens
- Bottom of One Tree Hill
- Camberwell Old Cemetery main entrance to railway bridge (Jez joined at this point)
- Brockley Cemetery (first time there!)
- Ladywell Fields
- Back the way we came

Exhausting! Good for the dogs. Brockley Cemetery had a lot of character - like a flat Nunhead Cemetery with fewer big memorials.

Another long walk

Something I've wanted to do for a long time is explore the unofficial path from One Tree Hill into Camberwell New Cemetery. Lots of little trails run from the eastern main path into the overgrown bit of the woods. The one that goes directly to the naughty entrance turned out to be very muddy & claggy. I'm still using my winter boots so it was fine though of as usual the dogs needed their legs rinsed off later. It's an old vertical bar fence on the boundary just like the one in Dulwich Woods and just 2 bars were just slightly prised apart. Rolo jumped straight through first. It was a mysterious corner of the cemetery with one lone grave up the hill separate from the others. The dogs found lots of exciting things to explore in the west side of the cemetary - we didn't go any further or hang around for long. I most liked the view - particularly to the east and south where the hills were continuous all around like we were in the bottom of a bowl. We took the muddy path back to the woods and went over the hill before going home.

Walk to Sydenham

Today I wanted to find a place with the rather romantic name Lammas Green Public Open Space which I saw on the map was just next to Sydenham Hill Woods. Unfortunately, I didn't bring that particular map with me and the rubbish new map on my iphone wouldn't show it. I left the woods at the Crescent Wood Road gate, crossed the main road and didn't know what to do so I headed straight into the Sydenham Hill Estate and on the other side was a park I'd not seen before - Sydenham Wells Park.

After being on lead across a scary road and through the big estate, Coco was losing her mind to be off lead again and Rolo to have his ball. They thanked me graciously once they were off lead though. They enjoyed the park, which had some nice trees and a bit of variety in the paths. Being a week day, there were few kids so we did alright. I didn't find Lammas Green on the way back either, though now I see it wasn't particularly close to Crescent Wood Road. Next week I'll try again.

USA cultural hegemony in Borough Market

English woman aged about 25 standing at artisan bread stall sees a traditional German pretzel for sale. The pretzel is claimed by many German towns, and even towns in Central Europe, as their original cultural property. It's an emblematic bread for Germany - like the Jewish cholla or hot cross buns in England.

The woman said to her friend - 'they have those big ones like in America'. So her only reference point to this object is movies set in New York City.

Belair Park

I'd never been to Belair Park before. Somehow I'd pictured it being right the other side of the borough, but when I checked a map properly I saw it was actually just the other side of Dulwich Park. The dogs and I all enjoy DP so the first part of the journey would be a pleasure anyway. More families than I'd expect on a weekday, but apparently the schools aren't back yet. Coco didn't like being made to leave the park at the other end. We crossed the road and were on green again at Dulwich Picture Gallery and then a few minutes down Gallery Road. They were delighted once we got to Belair Park, but I didn't think much of the place. The wildlife area, an edge-of-woodland, seemed a nice habitat but tiny. There is a path around the back of the playing field but this time of year it was too claggy to use. Overall, a small, flat park dominated by sports facilities. We didn't stay long. When we left, I saw that there was a footpath, 'Lovers Lane', directly across Gallery Road so we took that back towards the Park and it was a good route. It came out into quaint Dulwich cottagey-ness and a good broad walkway back to the Park. Overall, a good change of scene from our usual walk.

More walking

Yesterday's walk has had an impact on me. I've kept out my winter walking boots for using on dog walks and I feel like I could do massive long walks every day and want to explore loads of new places on foot. I've never felt like this before and hope it will last! And it'll be nice for the dogs.

I've lived in East Dulwich for 2 years now and always felt rather spoiled for having so many places to take the dogs just a few minutes' walk from home. I am getting a bit bored with them though, particularly at this time of year since on weekends when the parks are full of children and football I've got no choice but to take the dogs somewhere muddy. I've taken more time to look at the map and just beyond our usual places there are other green spaces we could get to to extend our walks. I'd particularly like to do the http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/sport/get-active/walking/Pages/Waterlink-Way.aspx, but getting there in the first place will be a problem. The dogs won't like the public transport connections.

One of the places I'd never been is Honor Oak Recreation Ground, which I know to be just behind Camberwell New Cemetery. We've not properly visited there either, so that was today's goal. We did our usual route to One Tree Hill via Camberwell Old Cemetery and Brenchley Gardens. At the top of the hill, I decided to explore the path that leads South and found it's a nice green walk pretty far down toward the rec ground entrance. Some mysterious major digging was going on at one side of the allotments. Even more major work was happening to transform part of the rec ground to cemetery, much of which had already been done and was pretty bland. The rec ground was mostly flat, open grass, but the views to the southeast were terrific and at the south end was a separate play area with nice trees and a big pipe with a hill built over it. No sports was going on, so we had the field to ourselves to chase balls or sniff around.

Then it was into the south side of the cemetery - a very peculiar place with woody bits, a pond with a waterfall, paths going every which way and lots of twee little burial areas. Not like any other cemetery I've seen. Later we got to the main bit where the paths & graves were fairly regular though I came across graves for Catholic holy sisters and a whole section of Salvation Army couples. On the former, the years of holy service were included and on the latter, the women were named after their husbands - Mrs General Anderson etc. Creepy.

We went out the main entrance and home via Brenchley Gardens. Tired dogs.