A few months ago, in a fit of wild spontaneity in between ‘Dinner Date’ and ‘Millionaire Matchmaker’, I fired off an application form for a teaching job in Cyprus. As you do. Then the adverts ended, so I put down the laptop and thought nothing more of it.
It was only when I was called for interview that I looked up where Cyprus actually was on a map. Bit closer to Syria and Iraq than I thought it was, to be honest. However, they were paying the expenses and I’ve never been one to turn down a jolly, so I slapped on the Factor 50 and hopped on Easyjet’s finest. Plus it was in term time – bonus. I’ve put more preparation into nights out, so I was pretty startled when they called a few days later and offered me the job.
Now here I am. Feels a bit like ‘Alice in Wonderland’, except at the end of my rabbit hole there was a small island in the middle of the Med. Some of the local characters are quite similar though. The first few months have mostly been spent wolfing halloumi, mainlining super strength Cypriot rose and wondering how on earth we ended up here (my boyfriend came along for the craic).
We now live in a very small village and it turns out, there’s only so many bars you can fall out of before people start avoiding you in the local shop. So, given that we’re here for the foreseeable, I’ve decided that I need to make some lifestyle changes. Less cheese and boozing, more water and jogging. However, given that I haven’t managed more than a brisk stroll since my last PE lesson in 1997, I suspect it may be quite painful.
A month later…
It’s not going too well. My Couch to Cyprus venture appears to have taken on more of a Couch in Cyprus vibe.
In the past four weeks I’ve managed:
1. A brief Phoebe-from-Friends-style sprint, followed by what felt like a mild heart attack, but on reflection was probably just a severe stitch caused by devouring half a Vienetta 10 minutes beforehand.
I had excellent intentions: I spent almost an hour in Sports Direct perusing lady trainers and deciding what colour leggings to buy. I even bought running socks, which are an actual thing, apparently. At least 20 minutes were spent working out how to attach my phone to my torso so that I could be inspired by the motivational running playlist I’d spent another delightfully leisurely hour compiling.
As I left the house, I turned right and joyfully galloped along a road I’d never explored before, hurtling as fast as I could down the short but surprisingly steep hill at the end of it. In that moment I decided that I loved exercise and the outdoors and my running socks and even spent a fleeting moment wondering if it was too late for me to apply to compete in some sort of sprinting event at the next Olympics. Sadly, my elation vanished as soon as I realised that that particular hill leads to a dead end and that I’d have to run back up the fucker to get home.
I did my best to last for a whole song before realising that Spotify had randomly selected the eight minute version of Born Slippy by Underworld. Not a chance. That short steep hill quickly became my Everest; needless to say the journey up it wasn’t quite as jubilant as the one down it had been. Minutes later, as I hauled my worryingly asthmatic-sounding lungs and clicking knees through the door and back onto the couch, I made the executive decision that from now only songs under two minutes long would make it onto the playlist.
2. A daring early evening hiking expedition into the wilderness, which sadly had to be abandoned due to my fear of being attacked by Walkers, having recently binge-watched all six and a half seasons of The Walking Dead.
It started pretty well. Boyfriend and I made it out of the house at about 5.30pm, by which time it was already pitch black. Cheeringly, had we left at 5.29pm we’d have almost certainly been hit by an escaped power line that was lashing around at the end of our street, Final Destination style, which then plunged the whole village into further darkness, so that was encouraging.
Naturally, I’d have been perfectly happy to stay inside basking in candlelight and eating crisps, but due to the absence of both candles and crisps, boyfriend thought it’d be a great idea to introduce me to a frankly desolate (apart from the nearby residential estate) area at the start of one of his mountain biking routes.
Now I’m relatively open to a leisurely stroll in some greenery, as long as there’s a concrete path, adequate lighting and an off licence nearby. In complete darkness, with rumbles of thunder and the howls of wild dogs echoing in the distance, I wasn’t convinced, but he was, so off we went, him striding cheerfully ahead with me scuttling behind clutching my travel torch like a tiny truncheon. We managed to cover about 200m before the shadows, noises and potential for zombies became too much for my delicate city-dwelling nerves.
In my defence, I made it back to the car a lot quicker than I’d made it up that sodding hill. Maybe there’s still some hope…