On the 22nd of September, 2018 we arrived in Cyprus, ready to start our new life.

What could possibly go wrong?

A month later our beloved mini schnauzer Nero was fighting for his life after he and Mrs L had been attacked while taking a walk around the village. He didn’t make it, and took with him a part of our hearts. Not the start we were hoping for, and the loss weighed heavy, still does really. Through 2019, we built our lives together, being joined by Spice, our new canine companion.

2020 was looking good. We took a trip to Italy, to watch some Six Nations rugby and were blessed by glorious weather and a fantastic few days in the historic centre of Rome. Some virus was kicking off in Milan, but there’s always flu about, isn’t there? On our last day, Mrs L was struggling with her back. I fear we’d walked too much, criss-crossing the eternal city. We abandoned a stroll to the Coliseum, and had a light lunch before heading for the airport, where Greeks and Romans alike were wearing surgical masks. Melodramatic, these Mediterranean types.

Mrs L decided to join in. She wanted to be whisked about Athens airport in a wheelchair, no less. The things I put up with! Honestly, you wouldn’t believe it.

Once I got her home, she took to her bed, where she stayed for four months, moving only on a stretcher to and from an ambulance. Whatever was wrong with her back, it was serious. I became a full-time carer. That flu-thing had become Covid-19, and the world beyond our garden started closing down. We watched it unfold on a TV that I’d moved into the bedroom for Mrs L. Eventually, Mrs L had an operation on her spine, and was able to walk. I had plenty of time to consider how things would have unfolded had we been in the UK, and I’m convinced that we were very lucky to be in Cyprus. Even at the height of Covid, we were able to get Margaret hospitalised and operated on, and the isolation of the mountain hideaway was an ideal spot to stay out of the way of the virus and begin her rehabilitation.

As everywhere else, we had a rerun of 2020 in 2021 until the world started to normalise in 2022. Mrs L began working at a school, and although she’s far from restored completely, she’s not bed-bound.

2021 saw us add another canine to the family - this time a Jack Russell called Charlie. Obviously we needed a little more chaos, and boy does he bring it. I’m still working, with both Nero’s Notes and Lime doing OK. I’m studying for my MBA and the book draft is finished - awaiting a ferocious edit. Once the MBA is done in the New Year, I’ll get the book published and finally off the to do list.

Next month, I’ll get to take on the final leg of the Camino de Santiago, originally scheduled for 2020. Stu and I will be walking from O’Cebreiro to Santiago de Compostela where we’ll collect our…compostela and begin plotting our next adventure. Another pilgrimage? I hope so.

We’ve been toying with the idea of setting up home elsewhere, but Mrs L loves working with the kids and the mountain hideaway will always have a place in my heart.

Here’s to another five years.