Grandad with baby

Born in Leeds, I spent 11 years in London after university before returning to my Yorkshire roots, yet when I visit Cyprus, I somehow feel I’m home again. In 2010, I flew there solo to meet my folks who were holidaying there, so my father’s Mum, my Yiayia (Grandma), could meet my firstborn Oliver. Here are some of my memories of that time there…


The hot sun hits us the instant we embark, dry heat dancing on our cheeks drying Oliver’s tears from hours on the flight with promises to deepen his olive skin. Chattering crickets far away, under olive groves and beneath almond trees are background music to the dramatic tones of my mother tongue darting over us.

I quickly clamber to the nearest cab. The flight was no means easy.

Both tired, we cannot wait to reach my Grandma’s house in Paphos, to hug her, to eat, to sleep. Cradling my now sleeping boy, I bound towards Yiayia’s home, she awaits us anxiously with rabbit casserole and potatoes cooked in olive oil. So smart, so beautiful even at 93 (not a wrinkle in sight- how?), she the matriach who holds our family together-my namesake Yiayia Vikentia, holds my son, besotted with her first great grandson, the latest in a long line.

Greek Grandma and Grandchild

We hold each other tightly, she smells of rosewater (her perfume), strokes my hair and a million kisses later, we eat. My darling Yiayia. Dinner is filled with well told stories of courting my Grandfather, a headmaster whom she chose to marry after seeing him through the keyhole of his home, life raising five children (losing two) and memories so clear, I could write a screenplay of her life (one day I must). With sweet baclava come much loved vignettes about my father as a boy (loud, ambitious, loving, naughty) and poetry recitals of an island torn, I could listen to her forever.

Paphos, Cyprus

Days later, we return to the village of Filousa where my father spent his holidays from boarding school and I relish in the lively banter, the laughter and sheer energy of its Octogenarian inhabitants.

The only cafe in existence in this pretty village stands film set like, as if untouched since 77, the owner brings out coca cola bottles more suited to a museum than a shady seat in this white walled place.

A lone donkey, it’s owner 86, a close friend of Gran’s waves frantically at us from nearby fields, insisting we must eat together tomorrow…as we head back to the house, my father is cooking, the smell of fresh bread baking in al fresco ovens signals lunch is ready followed by Lamb Kleftiko, courgette flowers and Greek salad for us all.

We sit in the open air, against a backdrop of orange, almond and olive trees and eat. I breathe it in. This is my Cyprus. All mine.

Greek Grandma and grandchild

Sunset swims in the golden sandy beaches of pretty Paphos and Protaras complete my stay (Oliver splashes wildly, enjoying the gentle waves for the first time) and I promise to return again soon, I must….

Now, with another child, Alexander (Alexandros in Greek), we yearn to visit the homeland again next year. I need Yiayia to meet her second Great grandson. Their resemblance is uncanny, the baby, a missing piece of the Psarias clan. In the meanwhile she kisses his framed picture by her bed.

Both the boys and our wedding photo too. I need to hear bouzouki riffs, Zembekiko songs of lost loves and men who should know better, eat mezze in the moonlight and see all those I deeply love, again. My beating heart belongs to Cyprus and always will. My heritage, my past, my present too. My darling Kypros. A part of who I am.

Have you visited the beautiful island of Cyprus?

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15 Responses

  1. Emma

    A beautiful post, I love hearing about the real Cyprus and the stories from the villages, I really hope you do write a screenplay, I’d love it!

    • honestmum

      Thanks so much Emma, I would love to take the screenplay to fruition and get it made one day, thanks for your lovely comment!

  2. Michelle

    With Greek-Cypriot heritage – my dad is from Larnaca, I always feel “home” when I visit…it’s been a few years now, and much has changed, my yiayia passed away a few years ago, and bapou is back in the UK.

    It is a beautiful island, and reading through this brought me many of my fond memories too xxx
    Michelle recently posted…Chocolate + Peanut Ice-Cream CakeMy Profile

    • honestmum

      @Michelle lovely to meet you on here, sorry about your Grandma, I lost my Yiayia Vikentia who features on this post recently too. Glad the post brought back happy memories xx

  3. ebabee

    Beautiful post. And such a gift for your boys to meet their great-grandmother. Truly special photo’s and memories. x

  4. Mama and More aka Zaz

    This was a beautiful, delicious, evocative read – amazing isn’t it when you feel a place right to your soul. Your feelings are as mine are for Trinidad. What a blessing to have these places to connect to, and to share with our children. And your Yiayia looks just adorable.

    Gorgeous post, V, loved it xxx

    • honestmum

      @Mama and More aka Zaz thank you darling, that means a lot. You are right, we are very lucky to be able to share our ‘homelands’ with our kids-they are so much of who we are. Yiayia is amazing xx

  5. katie

    I agree with Franki – this made me feel all emotional too. What super photos, they must be very treasured 🙂

    I’ve been to Cyprus once and loved it!

  6. Franki

    Oh V, this made me all goose bumpy and really emotional. Your Yiayia looks fabulous and super snugly, what lucky boys you have to have such an amazing lady for their Great Grandma xx


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