Next activity moved from 29 Feb. to 1 March

Owing to the weather forecast, at time of writing, which indicates a sharp contrast between Saturday (steady rain in the morning, 80% probability) and Sunday (sunny, zero probability for rain), the Gerakies Moutoullas outing is moved to Sunday. Nicosia meeting point is moved accordingly to the usual for Sundays (at Archangelos).

Our Weather – Personal vs. Political Considerations

If you are spending this summer in Cyprus, you are probably developing thoughts about your weather preferences, along such lines: Do I prefer the hot summers or the cold winters? The humidity of the summers or the dry winters? How sustainable can summer life be when confined to air-conditioned spaces? What kind of summer weather do we experience, when the temperature difference between the coast and the high mountains is a mere two degrees?

Such is the changing summer weather on this island, and you are rightly concerned.

Next, you cast a wider eye, and reach out to the Amazon. This gigantic forest has experienced a reported number of about 45,000 forest fires this year, so far! You wonder why, and consider possible explanations, such as: not all of these fires can be the result of natural causes; why are the authorities not doing their utmost to mobilize international aid to put out these fires? What benefits could some evil minds be contemplating, for the day after this massive deforestation? Would it be plantations for human consumption? And construction works, in the name of development?

The Cyprus Strollers share a deep appreciation for the Cyprus forests. We understand that the health of our forests in Cyprus is very closely linked to the prosperity of the Amazon rain forests.

The issue is obviously extending beyond the personal; it affects each life on earth, and therefore becomes political. It is time to demand new actions. For in the words of poet John Donne (1624): “never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.

Forest Bathing – Shinrin Yoku – Can Make us Feel Better

The Japanese have known for years that spending mindful time in the woods is beneficial for body and soul. Now western doctors agree. As do, of course, the members of The Cyprus Strollers. Read this exciting new article from The Observer and don’t miss out on the activities of the 11th season of your club, commencing October 

Poetic Platres – 14 April

The turnout at Platres on Sunday 14 April was impressive, because so many Strollers fancied a hike to a waterfall, along a river, in a forest, offering charming views from high up to a picturesque village that inspires poets and romantics, followed by a delicious lunch that catered to the needs of vegetarians and vegans. Compliments to Stathis for the photos. Join us on 20 April at Kykkos

World Cup for fans and non-football fans

All of us are watching, to a larger or smaller degree, the games and what takes place at the World Cup. Are there elements worth our attention beyond the football? Click on the two links below and see for yourself.

Call to Action for Parents of Overweight Kids: Sample the Delights of Hiking

The 23 May 2018 European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, organized by the European Association for the Study of Obesity revealed embarrassing facts concerning kids in Cyprus: 43% of boys and girls aged 6-9 years have a problem with excess weight; further, about half of these overweight children are obese! Stated simply, 1 in 2 of our kids experience serious health risks from a tender age.

This news calls for alarm. If you are a parent, you need to take corrective action now! Please don’t look right or left: the onus is on you. Children aged 6-9 years are still under your influence and you cannot hide behind the excuse that your child would not follow your guidance. And guidance is the secret of success. Kids respond well to parents who can lead by example, but will resist orders, because you cannot fool them. ‘If it is good for me, then why are you not following, mum?’ would leave you searching for words.

This applies equally to food, to time spent in front of a screen, to exercising. A parent who eats unhealthy because this is ‘customary’ while watching football on TV, a parent who spends hours every night browsing the internet, a parent who feels too tired or busy to get up from her couch, will have little success with instructions to their children to shape up. Kids have a good understanding of what is good and what is bad, and they don’t need your regular preaching about it.

Looked at positively, here lies a wonderful opportunity for you to (re)start on a new course, which will ensure a healthier life for you as well as your kids, and also will bring the family much closer together, doing the same things and communicating more. You may begin with a change back into the Mediterranean diet which we have abandoned, as was revealed at the European Congress by Dr. Joao Breda, from the World Health Organisation “The Mediterranean diet for the children in Mediterranean countries is gone, and we need to recover it”.

Dr. Breda came with further sad news “Physical inactivity is one of the issues that is more significant in the southern European countries”. Inevitably our sedentary life is closely related with trending activities, such as inordinate use of electronic games and the social media. A young client recently had immersed himself so deeply in it that he had given up gym exercising completely. For you as a parent, guiding your child to an active life may prove much more of a challenge than controlling what you eat and drink. Not only because what you do in front of a screen is ‘fun’, but also because you may feel that sports that suit your kid are beyond your own reach. Rightly so, only few and athletic parents can take up track sports or martial arts or play basketball any more. To this there are merely two exceptions, swimming and hiking. These are safe sports for persons of practically all ages, in general good health.

Hiking involves walking (neither jogging, nor running) in nature and contrary to swimming is not a widespread practice. Hiking through a forest or up and down a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul and is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty. Luckily, hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive sports to get involved in, and it can have great benefits for the whole family. It is non-competitive, thereby offering your kids a relaxing break from their daily results oriented school routine. And because all the family, even grandmas can participate, you will be amazed at the breadth and depth of conversations you will hold while you hike, leaving you at the end perhaps tired, yet feeling spiritually satiated and so close together.

Research has shown hiking to reduce levels of stress and anxiety in adults. Further research on children with hyperactivity has shown that when they are in a natural, outdoors environment their attention levels improve greatly. Finally the most astounding research results came from Professor David Strayer of the University of Kansas, whose experiments with people hiking revealed a 50% boost in their creativity.

To sample the delights of hiking, start with a google search. There are several responsible hiking clubs in the island, which will welcome you and your kids, on your journey to a better life.

Good Friday Stroll: 8 Epitaphios in Old Nicosia

A custom from our childhood years came to being on Good Friday (6 April), when an impromptu stroll was conducted around Nicosia Within-the-Walls. During the afternoon, and before the start of the evening church service, we visited 8 Orthodox churches and venerated their Epitaphios. Let the photos do the talking. Best wishes for a Happy Easter. P.S. Regrettably no photo from Chrysaliniotissa, which is ironic because we thought had the prettiest decoration.

Agios Kassianos

Agios Ioannis

Agios Antonios

Agios Philoumenos

Agios Savvas



Mountains under pressure: climate, hunger and migration

The Cyprus Strollers celebrated the International Mountain Day with a gathering on 10 Dec., in which the following message was shared with all.

The UN declared 2002 the International Year of Mountains. From 2003 onwards, 11 December, is celebrated as “International Mountain Day”.

Mountains cover 22 percent of the earth’s land surface, and 915 million people live in mountain areas. 90% of these 915 million mountain dwellers live in developing countries, and ~ 1/3 of these people are poor and vulnerable to food shortage and insecurity.

Our mountains are threatened by their population abandoning their homes, moving to urban environments. Another serious threat is climate change; as temperatures rise, mountain glaciers are melting, and this affects our freshwater supplies. Hence the theme for this year’s International Mountain Day is climate, hunger and migration.

Some 30 years ago, while this writer was living in Switzerland, it was a shock to learn that snow was no longer falling at the time it was customarily expected, and the tourism industry was employing artificial means to create snow for skiing. One may wonder “how do these phenomena affect one living in Cyprus”. The answer is that the entire globe is no larger than a village, as far as the breadth of climate degradation goes. Recall, over 20 persons died in floods in Athens last month.

“What can one do about it”, comes another voice. There are no simple answers, and a Global Meeting is taking place from 11 – 13 Dec. 2017 in Rome, focusing on the challenges and opportunities in sustainable mountain development. This Global Meeting is expected to launch a framework to support concrete actions. It is not easy.

Having said this, at a personal, individual level, each one can continue acting responsibly, influencing others and, finally, not losing faith. As Jesus said to his disciples, in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, chapter 17: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as one grain of mustard, you can say to this mountain ‘move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”