The Cyprus Reunion by George Bason

Leicester in October 2014 and the question was asked, ‘How about a reunion in Cyprus?’ The response was that it would be looked into, as with all suggestions, and interest established.
Following some research contact was made with hotels in Paphos and after some negotiations I plumped for The Avanti Hotel. It had been recommended by Shona and Eric Wilson and I was soon to find out why. From my initial contact with the management through Susan and Zee I knew we were on a winner.
No better way to test out the place than to stay there so I booked in during early September as my granddaughter was getting married in Paphos. The hotel was excellent and a very good rapport was established with the two ladles mentioned along with the rest of the staff. It is not usual to write articles about the build up, but they all deserve full credit for going the extra mile for us.
So, here we were in late October convening for the latest reunion. On this occasion I was about the last to arrive, which was unavoidable but I found others of our group already comfortably installed. There had been storms the week before but, I specifically ordered good weather for our stay and this was duly delivered, I have the actual emails to prove this! On the day we left it was cloudy and started to rain so, that says it all.
As the reunion was to last longer than usual the emphasis was on relaxation. For those that had been there before it was an opportunity to indulge in a bit of nostalgia. For newcomers, it was a chance to explore at their own pace or just relax by the pool. Organised trips were thus kept to a minimum.
The following day, Thursday, was a chill out day with the Welcome Buffet that evening held in the Alcyon Restaurant in the hotel. This was followed by relaxation with the odd beverage in the bar and foyer.
The following morning some 14 of us went in the minibus to RAF Akrotiri where we were hosted by Corporal Scott Wain. Our numbers had to be restricted for the trip and I was gratified that we were still able to go despite a large number of immigrants landing on the beach a few days before. The camp is huge and we certainly needed the minibus. Lots of new houses with built in garages, broadband and satellite TV. That’s for the single guys as well. Makes you think! A tour of the station and their museum along with one of the archaeological sites led us nicely to the restaurant on the beach where we had lunch. We were very conscious how busy it was there with all the operations going on. On departure a donation was made to a station charity on behalf of Rafling, which is our customary practice. Grateful thanks to Group Captain Chaz Kennett for allowing this visit. I have written to him and Scott thanking them for giving us an enjoyable day. Before saying farewell to Scott he left us at the ecological site, which is just down the road from the station entrance. Then it was back to the hotel in order to freshen up before sampling one of the many varied restaurants in the area.
Saturday arrived and people went their own way exploring the area and markets. Some went further afield. In the meantime, back at the hotel, yours truly was liaising with the staff putting the final touches to the Gala Dinner for that evening. In truth, there was little for me to do as they had it all pat and it was not an onerous task to be these delightful ladies for a while in any event. I was spotted by the pool later on so I cannot pretend to be rushed off my feet!
The Gala Dinner arrived and how splendid it all looked. One of the hotel owners, Mr Terry Spiby, joined us for the meal along with Sandra Pope. They stayed pretty well to the end, showing no signs of wanting to escape, so they must have enjoyed it! My apologies for forgetting to say Grace but the Loyal Toast was observed along with Absent Friends. Coupled with this was a brief eulogy to George Aspden who had sadly passed away and had been intending to come. The disco was not over loud and some rather exotic dance steps were being performed. I would add that Terry Spiby insisted on providing more wine for the members. He was thanked for this at the time and in a subsequent letter. At the end, the usual hardy souls gathered in the bar area to keep alive the traditions of chatting and drinking a while longer.
There was nothing organised for the Sunday so people did their own thing. Some went off to the north of the island for the day, which they enjoyed.
Monday arrived and all went on the organised trip to Nicosia, the last divided city in the world. Our guide was Ulla from Finland who spoke perfect English and had been domiciled in Cyprus for the past thirty years. She really did make the trip Interesting. I have to say that all the drivers we had were very good as well being considerate and making us feel safe with their mode of driving! After viewing the border area there was time to walk around Nicosia. How well I recalled Ledra Street, known as ‘Murder Mile when I first went there in 1963. Now there is a border post and several members took the opportunity to walk over into the north. It’s not quite the set up of Berlin but poignant nonetheless. A very enjoyable day then back to the hotel.
Tuesday arrived and the last chance to sunbathe, explore or do some shopping. It’s so easy to get around on the buses and not expensive. In fact, even in the hotel the drinks were not expensive and this was further helped by a discount factored into the deal.
Eventually, it was time for the farewell buffet following in the usual format. Farewells were said for those that would not be surfacing early. Three of our members were leaving at 0430 and I did try to get a party together to say goodbye at that time but, it was declined!
Wednesday morning arrived and taxis were booked to ferry everyone to the airport for their respective flights. A nice surprise for me as, on settling my bill, Daniela on reception wished me a happy birthday. I had not told anyone so clearly my passport had been clocked. Lee Bryant was stood next to me and, I’m not saying anything, but, word got around! A cake appeared along with lots of attractive ladies from the staff and our group so, it was a case a making the most of it! Thank you one and all.
Talking about Lee reminds me that he took in excess of 1800 pictures on his camera. I hope we see some of them sometime!
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it and the longer format worked well. Feedback has been positive and mention has already been made of going back there again as a party and individually.
Many thanks to all those that attended and to the staff at The Avanti Hotel. You all made it a very special occasion.