Cyprus Mail

Island bloggers give differing views of Cyprus life

Many of us have thought about doing it. Some of us do it sporadically: an infrequent guilty pleasure. Others do it in total secret, indulging purely for self-gratification. And the odd few are completely up front, enjoying it publicly and sharing their inclination with hundreds in one go. Amongst the latter, there are few who have the power to really catch – and keep – our interest. Julia Heydon-Wells, Lena Jamieson and Eleni Antoniou are three who have made the grade: perfectly ordinary people who have turned their passion into a career – or, at the very least, an emotionally rewarding sideline… Talented writers, consummate story-tellers, and pretty handy with a camera, these three all blog about life on the island.

In her own words, Julia Heydon-Wells is “new(ish) to the island. I’ve spent my whole life dreaming about living abroad, ideally in a white house by the sea. And that is exactly what I’m doing!” In love with Cyprus, and passionate about her new home, Julia began her blog as “a shout out about how incredible this island is and to encourage others to go out and explore it” just a few months after her arrival in September 2015.

Far Flung Family details her adventures, as this ex-publishing executive explores the country – “remote tombs and caves, to pregnant-dancing in Guaba, epic hikes in the Akamas, and analysing bugs on our veranda!” – often with husband and kids in tow. “Getting to the places is usually half the fun and often involves giving my husband a coronary and almost always involves breaking the Land Rover,” she laughs. But these real-life family adventures are proving a big hit with readers, who love her very human experiences (emergency mountain-side poos and panic attacks on clilffside terror tracks) against a backdrop of amazing destinations.

Logging about once a week, Far Flung Family fills the need for creativity between school runs, nappy-changing and fights about vegetables. And though Julia finds it a challenge to “find a balance between having a life in Cyprus and writing about life in Cyprus”, her mix of local and foreign readers find her exploits charming. While her most-liked post covered Nicosia’s abandoned airport, Julia’s readers have also been able to enjoy posts about the ruined villages of Paphos, girls’ nights out in Napa, and ‘Dozens of Donkeys’ in Skarinou.

“I think people follow me who love Cyprus as much as I do and want ideas for new places to explore,” she explains, adding that the ultimate goal is to “keep blogging about more amazing places on this island – and maybe cover other countries to, if someone else can finance the trips!”
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Named for the Holy Trinity of Mediterranean food, Bread Olive Wine focuses on the staples of local cuisine in a back-to-basics approach to cooking. Brainchild of self-confessed ‘transplanted Swede’ Lena Jamieson – a customer service agent by day, passionate foodie by night – the blog combines her two loves of food and photography.

“I’ve always wanted to work with food, preferably as a food writer, and starting a blog seemed like the perfect way to accomplish that without having to take the traditional route of sending scripts to publishers etc. I also love photography, and food blogging combines food and photography perfectly so it seemed the obvious medium for me to use,” explains Lena, who launched the blog last year “on the day I turned 50!”

‘Eating fresh, eating seasonal, eating local’ are her watchwords, along with the idea of “respecting and making the most of each ingredient, for your health and for your wallet. It’s about getting back to grandma’s way of cooking. Enjoying the simple things in life. And also about food traditions and culture, about Cyprus, about living simply, frugally and generally slowing down the pace of modern life.”

Blogging roughly once a week, Lena bases her cooking around the seasons, taking inspiration from farmer’s markets, village fairs and the world around her. And though she finds “staying on track when you’re stressed or feel down” a bit of a challenge, she’s enjoying her captive audience of “mostly friends and colleagues, I should imagine!” no end. “The thought that someone out there might actually try one of my recipes and love it is the biggest kick ever,” she enthuses.

A favourite with followers, her Salted Caramel Oatmeal Cookies and Hot Honey Spice Tea posts have seen the highest levels of engagement so far – “probably because people like sweets!” – and Lena plans to monetise her talents when the time is right. “I’ve made a big, fat zero so far!” she laughs, “but the goal isn’t the money. The dream,” she says, adding that a series of e-cookbooks are in the works, “would be to live off food writing, whether only the blog, or the blog and cookbooks and as a columnist. Blogging is the journey, not the destination.”
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Originally, there was one, and that was Georgie. Six years on, there are three, and Eleni Antoniou a.k.a. ‘Georgie’s Mummy’ has become an online inspiration to hard-working mums across the island and beyond. It started in 2011, at a time when Eleni had just quit her job, given birth and was dedicating “100 per cent of my time to this little person…

“In the beginning, the idea was to keep a kind of journal that I would then make into a book and give to Georgie when he was older.” But, as she enthusiastically Googled pregnancy and birth sites, Eleni came across parenting blogs, and everything clicked into place. “I’d left my job thinking I’d be back within four months, but instead, I’d been sucked into the amazing and turbulent life of being a mother. And I wasn’t willing to let that go. Nor did I want to lose the rush of being a writer. So I decided to combine the two and create ‘Georgie’s Mummy’.”

Now with a seven-year old, a toddler and a newborn, Eleni still manages to post once a week, writing about things that appeal to her personally. “Food, family, beauty and fashion, interior design, books, music, travel… Every single post is based on my own personal experiences or inspirations: a great and easy recipe; a new shop; a life-changing piece of advice. The kind of stuff I like, speaking as a young mother who has no idea what she’s doing most of the time!”

Eleni has built a substantial following, an audience of mostly young mums. “Why do I think they follow me? I have no idea but I love every single one of them for it!” she laughs, “I enjoy connecting with people and especially other mothers who send me emails and messages. I’ve met some wonderful, creative people and made friends with readers, which is fascinating, especially for someone like me who’s a bit of an introvert. For me, blogging is all about the impact it has on another person: it’s hard enough being a mother or a father, so if I can help or inspire in any way that’s great!”
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