Day 1 : Baby Constantinos takes one of his very first drinkies from one of the hospital matrons.
āIf we all had hearts like those which beat so lightly in the bosoms of the young and beautiful, what a Heaven this earth would be! If, while our bodies grew old and withered, ours could but retain their early youth and freshness, of what avail would be our sorrows and sufferings!ā *
Nine months and two days since I left England; left Home to start my Big Adventure. Itās about 8.40am local time at Bahrain International Airport where you find me now passing the time with Charles Dickens before I catch my connecting flight to Larnaca, Cyprus.
Seven months since I sat here, in Theklaās kitchen, where I write this now, as my best friend Despina waltzed in and announced to her parents and I unexpectedly (as these things often are) at lunch that she and her husband Demitrius were expecting their first child.
āWow! Thatās great!! Congratulations!ā
"What a strong boy you are!" Doc checks out babies muscles 'n' limbs.
. Theyād been to the doctors that morning. āSo youāll be coming back to Cyprus in May/ June wonāt you Stevie? Itās not like you have a choice!ā
my best friend invited / ordered with her usual sprightly verve and flutter of eyelids. So Iāll be coming back to Cyprus in about May/ June then I guess folks. So here I am. 10 countries and two continents later. A slight return.
As I sit in Bahrain today with Mr Dickens, itās also 8.40am local time in Nicosia, Cyprus and my best friend has just safely delivered little 7lb baby Constantinos into our world to breathe in; to take in his first of its wonders.
By default of considering each other close enough to be ābrother and sisterā (although there is no blood relation) I am semi-officially an Uncle for the first time in my life. I arrive at Larnaca International Airport just 6 hours after the birth. Not bad timing I reckon. Yep, ya can chuck me halfway across the globe and Iāll still try my darnedest to get to you right on time. Us Brits, weāre nothing if not sticklers for punctuality. ** āWell, you donāt manage to grab the globe by the financial short ānā curlies or paint one fifth of it pink by being two minutes late for teatime mādear, what-what! Oh no, no by Jingo! By Jove!ā
anā all the rest.
** National Railway networks and Tax Returns are excluded of course.
'Mother & Child'
Yes, it seems a lot can happen in nine months. Heck, donāt I know it! A lot of ground covered. Too much probably. But Iām new to this game. Over eager. Geographically greedy. 21 countries in 245 days (if you include Vatican City and that 4 hour stop-over in Bahrain). The other day I bought a copy of the fold-out āTimes Map of the Worldā. Following the inspiration of a former travel companion (Minoru : Annapurna, Nepal) I traced my route Indiana Jones style in red ink from point to point to illustrate the journey so far. West to East and back again upon my pancaked paper globe. It really helps to give you a sense of proportion and place all too easily lost when travelling incessantly; a perspective on your adventure and its scope.
'Beep beep here we go' :D
Chiefly, how triflingly small your globe-trotting achievements look āon paperā. Barely a red scratch upon the surface. Not even a drop in the worlds oceans navigated. The recent little dribble of red marker pen arcing across China starkly revealing how laughably little of that gargantuan nation I was able to take in in 6 weeks! āHey, itās a start!ā
is all I can say.
But anyway, less about me. Thereās a reason why Iām here, back with my āSecondā or Cypriot family. Thereās a new star of the show. A new kid in town. A special guest appearance for todayās entry. Please ladies and gentlemen put your hands together and offer a warm worldly welcome to the teeny, the tiny, all too cuddly and shiny CONSTANTINOS!
Constantinos or āCostasā or āCostakiā (āLittle Costasā) or āCostaki mouā (āLittle Costas of mineā) as he is already variously called is the latest addition to my much cherished āSecond Familyā.
Daddy Demitrius and son.
My Cypriot Family. That of my best friend. A family who have now played hosts to me I think on somewhere in the region of 8 times! I lose count. Constantinos is the name of my friendās husbandās father being passed on to his grandson as is still tradition in Greece and Cyprus. Coincidentally it is also the name of Despinaās brother. Itās a popular name. Constantine. To be constant; steadfast. Had he been a girl he (she
) would have been āJoannaā after his (her
) paternal Grandmother. Should Baby Number Two make an appearance in the future they will take the name of their applicable maternal grandparent. As an aside, my name when in Cyprus is āStevakiā or āLittle Steveā the suffix āakiā meaning ālittle oneā.
"Mam, that tickles!" :)
Yes, itās wonderful to be back with my āFamilyā away from family. My āHomeā away from Home. Time to stop moving, relax a little and decompress. Less stress, more happiness etc, etc. A āholiday from my holidayā as I keep telling everyone back home much to their probable envy and justifiable hatred. Sorry gang!
Wait, Iām talkinā about Me again arenāt I?!ā¦ Costas?ā¦ well, heās asleep right now so I thought Iād leave him be for the time it takes for another reflection or two. Heās always asleep. A new born babyās numbers one, two and three priorities? Shut-eye! They can hardly be blamed, barely knowinā how to open them yet anā all, and barely able to endure the bright lights and strange sights of this oddest of worlds.
Sissy inspects the competition for mommy's affections.
Everything was so much easier when it was just pink, wet ānā warm right?
One of my great regrets of this blog is that having spent two weeks furiously trying to catalogue my European adventure here on TB in October last, I ran out of time, and never did get around to writing about Cyprus and my āFamilyā here. [ photos of Cyprus and its sights can be found there though for those seeking inspiration] And actually, strangely, for now I may more or less leave that as is. I will sing their individual praises most gloriously some other day; some other time when I can give the subject the space it deserves.
Suffice to say that Despina, her mom, my āCypriot Momā Thekla, my āCypriot Dadā Kyriakos and āCypriot Broā Costas treat me with absolutely unimpeachable hospitality, unsurpassable generosity and boundless kindness and care every time I am here.
Like a little prince. āPrincakiā? This has always been so and I am eternally grateful for their constantly taking me under their wings, through thick and thin. Unconditional affection. Even after
I got so
drunk at Despinaās engagement party that after all was done I wobbled around the house in nowt more than my boxer shorts talking b***ocks, sobbing and pressing my teary face into Mommy Theklaās comforting bosom ātil late into the night. āHey, it was New Year okay! Taking stock anā all. 2006 had been an emotionally challenging year!ā. Not
a characteristic scene I hasten to add! :)
Yes, Thekla and Kyriakos never once ceased in their smiles, and joyfulness and kind attentions even through one of those hardest of times.
What proved to be my motherās final āfamily holidayā when I accompanied her to Cyprus. By then her eyes and body language were already overcome by the infinite anxieties and tiny, near-invisible shades of terror that were sadly never, but for the briefest moments of false-hope brightness to leave them again. They made everything as perfect for her as was possible under the circumstances. And I will always thank them for that amongst the many great favours this family continue to lavish upon me.
But thatās the past. We look to the future now. The Present? Well, I aināt doinā a whole heck of a lot. Yep for two weeks now Iāve done nothing. Literally nothing more than sleep, read, write, open my mouth wide for Mommy Thekla to not-too-metaphorically shovel the finest of home-cooked Cypriot foods into the gullet of this practically reborn chick in her nest.
My best friend in this widest of worlds, Despina and her beautiful boy Constantinos.
I seem to be no drain on this indefatigable womanās maternal powers despite her newly adopted mantle of Grandmother. Oh, and of course Iāve taken absolutely reams of cute photos of Constantinos & Co. I have been commissioned to make his first album. No folks, I donāt sing for māsupper when in Cyprus (and the worldās a safer place because of this!), I take photographs. Yes, thereās no avoiding having this particular journal entry look like something out of an Anne Geddes calendar I'm afraid. So like it or lump it and vom-bags at the ready if youāre not into cutesy-pie baby snaps!
āOoh, wait I think I hear him stirring.ā Itāll soon be time for a little wail and āa pint of mummyās finest please landlord!ā.
He is an exceptionally endearing, smiley little squidge of furry, sparkle-eyed flesh it has to be said. But then I guess they all are right? Heās treatinā mom pretty kind so far. Although sleep is of course a concept consigned to the dustbin of daily life for the time being. Heās quite the little 24/7 guzzler. And what does he think of āUncleā Stevaki so far? Well I dunno. Youād have to ask him. Iām just the slightly smaller-than-the-other-blurs blur with a bright orange glow on top of him whoās always pointing a big glass eye into his beetroot-pink little moosh. Heāll thank me for it one day I guess. Or not as the case may be. And have I hard-forged my powers of 21st Century Manhood and Domesticity in that heated (smelly) crucible of Life - oneās first nappy change - yet? I know youāre dying to know.
'Father & Child'
'Aunty' Anita & Mommy & Boy taken by 'Uncle' Stevaki.
, not yet. But it will happen. I will earn my colours; my stripesā¦ by wiping away both those of his. There was a Code Red situation the other day (well, more a browny-yellowy-green situation really) but the ensuing disaster scene was deemed messy and traumatising enough to risk putting me off fatherhood for life and thus imperilling the already genealogically fragile line of Weselby. So my challange was deferred. Itās all good fun Iām told.
So there ya have it. A pause for me. A rest from The Road. But not for so long. A flight booked to Bulgaria already and an Iranian Visa application currently going through the bowels of the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tehran. The journey of life for me (and you) continues.
Which way up? :)
The self same journey has only just begun for little Constantinos and I wish him the best, with all my heart. The stalk who brings the babies has delivered him to one of the finest, smartest, most beautiful moms any little poop-factory could possibly hope to have. Heās gonna have one hell of a ride in This World. This Life. As my favourite of his little jumpsuits proclaims in little white-stitched letters āBeep beep here we goā.
Now please, if youāll excuse me I have lots to doā¦ (um? Now where is that book of mine?ā¦ Iām sure I put it down just overā¦ cold beer? Why yes please Thekla, donāt mind if I do! )
āThe Day wore on, and all these bright colours subsided and assumed a quieter tint, like young hopes softened down by time, or youthful features by degrees resolving into the calm and serenity of age.
But they were scarcely less beautiful in their slow decline than they had been in their prime; for nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own, and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy, that we can scarcely mark their progress.ā *
"Boo-hoo!" The fate of the photographer of course is always to be behind the camera, rather than in the cute baby snaps. Oh well, happy with m'beers! ;)
* All quotations from āNicholas Nicklebyā by Charles Dickens