I realised, even as we came upon the magnificent sight on 1 January, that migratory flamingoes feeding on the shrimps of the salt lake so close to Larnaca airport would have made the perfect snap for a New Year greeting. Alas, no record either of this or of the snow-covered trees of the Troodhos mountains on our Christmas Day picnic exists, as I'd left my camera in our Nicosian friends' car after a lunch in Vouni.
So the hint of flamingo pink in the sky behind the part-restored, part-ruined Monastery of the True Cross just outside our village retreat will have to do.
Even this is cheating, as the photo was taken at Easter (there were such skies, and such stretches of warm sunshine, in December; though we also had to contend with a two-and-a-half-day storm, bringing the Cypriots much needed rain in torrents, and biting north-easterly winds). But since Juliette, the hostess with whom we spent such a relaxed time then, has demanded that the holiday be somehow recorded on the blog, it will have to do. And of course it reminds me that while on this occasion we were seeking the Byzantine churches of the Troodhos - and very rarely getting inside to see their frescoes - the turn of 2007-8 saw a tougher time in Mali, hunting out mud mosques in hard-to-reach places, like the Sankore in Timbuktu:
We think of our glamorous friend Sophie, whom we met through Juliette and who set a rather more adventurous example for this blog with hers, since although her Hotel Djenne Djenno is thriving, Keita is seriously ill with suspected multiple myeloma and they await the result of further tests from Bamako with trepidation. Thoughts, messages, prayers, whatever those of you who know her care to offer up, will be welcome.
I'll leave you, however, with a jolly paraphrase of a Djenne Djenno jeu d'esprit, in which a Belgian guest encouraged three uncles who'd never been outside their Ardennes village to travel vicariously by photographing their photo in all sorts of unexpected destinations; he intends to present them with an album of such shots for their 80th birthdays. Among the many places the uncles 'visited' was the plantation of the Hotel Djenne Djenno. So while I can't offer you New Year flamingoes, yes, we have some bananas!