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Notes from Lapta, Cyprus – “The Gentle Rain from Heaven…” by Ken Dunn

There is only one thing I miss when in the TRNC and that’s BBC Radio 4. The alternative to this is BBC World Service but as my aerial is probably on the ‘duff’ side it’s difficult to tune in. It fades ‘in and out’ too often making it almost impossible to listen to. And yet, without having any kind of satellite dish or online connection, as yet, we’re not really that bothered. We always suffer from ‘news overload’ in the UK so it’s quite a relief to get away from it.

The one thing I don’t miss is the UK weather especially as we live in the part of the South West which is prone to rather too much ‘precipitation’. We happen to live in a town which is quaintly known as, ‘the piss-pot of the west’. Not a very nice or polite description, but, alas, true. I’m looking out of window as I scribble this down and, yes, it’s raining, again.

This inclement weather brings other problems. Umbrellas. Not that they are a ‘problem’ per se. They are extremely useful but it’s just that I can never hang onto the damned things. The number of times I’ve been out, walking forward against the windy downpour, water cascading from my personal canopy, and then, after visiting wherever I have been, preoccupied with the minutia of the moment, I usually walk off without it. A classic ‘senior’ moment situation.

But when in the TRNC….. Well, apart from using one as a sunshade I can only remember using a brolly twice. Once was about two years ago in late October when I opened the front door to find a impenetrable wall of water between me and the car. The second time was earlier this year in late February. The weather was particular pleasant but rain threatened so I bought a brolly.

This was a first for me for, as the showers did come down, and continued on and off for the rest of the day, I walked through Girne satisfactorily protected. The locals were highly amused by this but I didn’t care. It was, for me, a genuinely unique time, never having needed to do this before in the TRNC, even if the brolly I was using was less than two feet across. That perhaps was the reason the locals were smiling.

I’d bought it in that ‘cornucopia of retail delight’, the One Thousand and One Shop for the vast price of two and a half TL’s! It was one of those very clever, folding jobs which, at the push of a button, springs open and can shrink into a fraction of their opened dimensions. Very useful and incapable of being lost by the clever wheeze of stuffing it into a convenient pocket. But then, tradgedy. I couldn’t get the damned thing to fold up! It had locked solid half way, neither up nor down, so that made for some tricky moments, walking down the Girne High Street without running anyone through, getting through a shop door or back into the car. I gave up, dispatching it into a waste bin in the car park and, not wanting another mechanical joke, I resigned myself to getting wet. Just like the UK, except it’s warmer rain in the TRNC.

Now, I know it does rain in the TRNC, and sometimes very heavily, especially a year or so ago when the storms and continued deluges gave everyone a very difficult time. But as we used to be primarily summer visitors rainfall was very rarely a problem. Apart from one memorable day.

On that occasion we were sitting out on the balcony in the late afternoon. The air was heavy with humidity and from the west we heard the rumble of distant thunder. Looking up from our reading we noticed that, miles away, the sky had darkened over the sea and was slowly heading towards us. Thunder rolled again and again, the interval between the sounds ever shorter. In less than a couple of minutes we couldn’t see the Med at all and it was advancing quickly, covering the shore and over the land below us. Lightning was now flashing, coinciding with the thunder.

We stood and watched, fascinated. It was as if a large, grey curtain was coming towards us and now it was moving extremely rapidly. I began to say, ‘That looks like – WHOOSH – rain.’ By the time I completed that last word we were both drenched to the skin! Thrashing around in this maelstrom we grabbed the cushions and books, dived into the house and stood there, breathing heavily and dripping, feeling, and probably looking, rather silly. But then, minutes later, the sun broke through, the storm rumble off down the coast and within less than half an hour the balcony had dried out. We hadn’t!

Going back to ‘rumbles’ reminds me of some of the most magnificent storms I have ever witnessed in the TRNC. We have often watched the storm clouds building over the sea, the whole sky changing to a dark, undulating grey then almost boiling as sudden, deafening crashes of thunder followed extraordinary bolts of ‘fork’ lightning alternating with explosions of light from the ‘sheet’ variety.

The word ‘spectacular’ doesn’t really cover it. On many occasions these storms would circulate over us, round and round, the mountains behind seeming to act as a wall from which they would ricochet. The special effects department for a Stephen Spielberg film would be hard put to emulate these events.

So, as long as the reservoirs fill up in the TRNC, from ‘sensible’ rainfall, that will be fine but the storms over the sea will always hold our attention. I must get another, more reliable umbrella when I’m next over there, just in case. For now, here in the UK, I’ll use my trusty, wider, non-foldable version. Radio 4 has just delivered the weather forecast and guess what? Yes, it’s going to be wet for some days. Now, where the hell is that brolly of mine?

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