Thursday, September 13, 2012

Last day out of Cyprus: Carlisle shopping and a lengthy detour...

It feels like a very long time since we flew back to Cyprus, although it was less than a week ago. As ever, it's as if one life fades into the background as another resumes.

Still, I have one more day in the UK to write about. It was last Saturday. Was that really only five days ago? I suppose it must be.


Daniel and Becky's organisation were helping with a big stage production in Carlisle, at a community centre called the Sands Centre. The show was, I believe, a fund-raiser: an international show called 'Mysterious?'.  Daniel was doing some kind of technical operation, Becky was working on graphics during the show, and Richard was co-opted in to help with the sound.  There wasn't anything for me to do, but I said I'd be happy to potter around the town centre for a few hours, and then probably go to the show in the evening.

They had to be there at 8.00am for setup, rehearsals etc; not a problem for me, as I usually wake much earlier than that, so I went in the car with them despite the fact that it was (um.. theoretically...see later in the post!) only a ten-minute walk from Dan and Becky's home.  Daniel gave me instructions on how to get into the town centre, and suggested I return to the Sands Centre for lunch.

The day was grey but not cold; I was armed with a light cardigan and waterproof jacket, and set off in good spirits. I was pleasantly surprised at the attractiveness of the underpass which I had to navigate in order to reach the town centre:

There were even some flower beds in the middle section:

I'm not good at finding my way around but took careful note of landmarks, and soon found myself in the main shopping area: 

Of course, it was only about 8.20 by then, and not much was open. But I found a large Wilkinson's, which was interesting to browse, and bought a few useful items; I also found a newsagent that stocked some magazines I wanted for writing research purposes.

I walked around the whole precinct, checking the indoor shopping centre ('The Lanes') as well as the outdoor place, and noted that most of the interesting shops didn't open until 10.00.  However, by then it was 9.00, so I was able to pop into Holland and Barrett for some tea tree oil, although unfortunately they had run out of Vitamin C powder. 

I was sorry to see another Julian Graves health food store boarded up and closed down, and then rather shocked to find that Hawkins Bazaar - one of my favourite shops - was also, apparently, 'under administration' and closed, although I'm pleased to see that their online shop still exists. 

By then I'd been in the town centre for an hour, and - not being a fan of shopping, to employ a nice British understatement - was beginning to wonder what I would do for the rest of the day. 

Then, in The Lanes, a wonderful sign met my eyes: 

What bliss. We don't really have libraries in Cyprus, so this wasn't just a place to sit down and read for a while, but an unusual treat. 

I slowly walked up and down the aisles, breathing in the unique scent of library books, feeling my muscles relaxing as I sensed that I was - albeit very temporarily - at home.  I found lots of interesting books to browse through, and  sat in one of the many comfortable chairs. I enjoyed it so much that I didn't even think of taking my camera out... 

An hour and a half slipped by rapidly, and I decided I was ready for another onslaught of shops. I wanted to look in a couple of charity shops which I knew should be open by then, but I hadn't taken note of whether they would remain open in the afternoon. 

So a little reluctantly I left the warm embrace of the library, and ventured back into the town. I found one good charity shop where I picked up a few books, and glanced in several others. I was a little puzzled that I kept hearing what sounded like bagpipes, just playing a few notes. I couldn't locate the source of the sound, so assumed it was either a radio or perhaps my imagination... 

One of the highlights of Carlisle town centre is a huge, rambling second-hand bookshop called 'The Bookcase'. Apparently there are around 30 rooms of books; since many of them are enormous I would have guessed rather more than that. I wasn't entirely sure where this shop was, but knew it was close to the Cathedral. So I found that:

And, sure enough, The Bookcase was just along the street: 

I spent, perhaps, half an hour in there. Just walking around the books was almost as relaxing as walking around the library, although it was a little musty in places. And on so many different levels that I did start to feel quite tired with all the stairs. 

I was tempted by several books, but they were mostly hardbacks and none were particularly good value... so I resisted.  

It wasn't quite time to head back to the Sands Centre, but I thought I'd better make sure I could find my way there when I needed to, so I set off in the right direction... 

.. and suddenly, I saw this:

Yes! A library AND a pipe band on one day!

I stood and listened to about three pieces before the band took a break, which was just as well as by then it was time to buy myself a sandwich and trek back to the Sands Centre.

Happily, I found my way back, and was just in time to find my family who were about to eat lunch. There was some coffee available, and when they were about to start back to work, I realised that I could not face any more shopping. I wondered if there was a quiet spot where I could sit and read, and Richard suggested the back of our rental car.

That worked well, and I read an entire novella on my Kindle, while feeling a bit disturbed - off and on - by the sheer volume of some of the music that was being played for the show rehearsals.  If it was almost deafening, inside a car parked outside the building, I was pretty sure I would not want to hear it from the audience of the show!

So when Richard came to find me, I said that perhaps I would do better to walk back to Daniel and Becky's house, if they could explain how to get there in simple terms.

Daniel agreed that this was a  good idea, so he and Becky gave me instructions as well as a quickly-drawn map which seemed quite straightforward.

I set off about 3.45, and easily found the first mentioned landmarks. I even looked in a couple more interesting-looking shops that I passed, though I didn't buy anything.

Then I got slightly confused at the number of traffic lights and bridges, which didn't seem to quite match the drawn map. I was about to go in what I thought was the right direction when I spotted the huge Matalan store which we had driven past quite a few times. I thought I might pop in there too.

As I came out, I studied my map. Matalan was not mentioned, but I was pretty sure I knew which way we usually drove past it. So I set off with confidence.

Then we started passing places which I did not remember seeing before, and my confidence waned.

Then I saw a billboard advert. I forget what product it was for, but it was something about a chalice made of glass.  I knew I'd seen that one from the car, so I felt confident again. The word 'chalice' always makes me think of the classic film 'The Court Jester', so I kept walking with my mind elsewhere, while not really taking much notice of where I was going.

The next thing to look out for, according to my map, was a little co-op shop on the right.

Gradually, I realised that no co-op shop was appearing. And when I checked the time on my phone, I found that I had been on this particular road for over 20 minutes.

I could have turned around and returned to Matalan, but I had no idea where to go after that. So I was pleased to see a little Post Office/convenience store. The kind of place we'd call a Periptero in Cyprus.  They had some street maps on display, so I went in and asked if they had a local map.

They didn't, so I asked if they could possibly direct me to Dan and Becky's road. Two of the assistants looked blank, but the third was extremely helpful. She looked at the drawn map I was clutching, and explained exactly where I'd gone wrong.

I thanked her profusely, and set off, a little more slowly this time, to walk the mile or more back to Matalan. Thanks to the PO lady's instructions, I quickly found the right road, and soon saw the small co-op.  Then it wasn't long before I collapsed, exhausted, in Daniel and Becky's living room.

A walk that should have taken me about ten minutes had actually taken me an hour and a half.

Oh well.  I suppose a bit of exercise was a good thing, in light of all the good food we had eaten recently...

(And I was very glad that I didn't stay to watch the show; not only was it, apparently, quite loud in places, even in the outside broadcast truck, but they didn't finish packing up until after 12.30am... which is long past my bedtime!)

1 comment:

Louise Michel said...

We have just moved to Cyprus from near Carlisle. We miss the library in Carlisle, which is one of the most used in the UK. I stumbled across the public library in Limassol by chance. It is temporarily housed at the back of the art gallery.