“We’ll need to get your parents a thank you present for this,” I said, as I watched the sun set over the Med. It felt a million miles from Luton Airport, where only seven hours earlier, my fiancée and I had been sat waiting for easyJet to whip us across to Paphos. Now here we were, enjoying the evening’s warmth from our own terrace, while two slabs of swordfish cooked on a little barbecue in the corner. I had a local Keo beer. My better half a sangria. Life was good. And even the family of swallows seemed to be taking great pleasure in skimming across the pool to cool off.
Before I go any further, I perhaps ought to explain why I felt compelled to suggest the notion of thank you gifts on the first day of our holiday. Basically, it was free. My partner’s parents had paid for the flights, and our accommodation for the ten days was their holiday home in the village of Kissonerga. It was their way of saying congratulations to their daughter, who’d not long completed her teacher training.
Over the coming ten days, we proceeded to do very little except work on the tans – a competition I lost quite comfortably. Nevertheless, days were often spent lazing around the pool, with a cold drink and a good book. My literature of choice on this occasion was Ralf Georg Reuth’s enlightening biography of Erwin Rommel. I remember it well for two reasons. One, it was very interesting. And two, when we did venture out, it was fair to say our rubbish little Suzuki Swift negotiated the stony terrain with all the finesse of one of Rommel’s Panzers.
That said, a couple of trips in our little Panzer really stick in the mind. The first was a lunchtime drive to a lovely restaurant, Viklari, aka The Last Castle, in the hills around the Akamas Peninsula. Once we’d negotiated the off-road track that leads up to the place, we were greeted by huge hunks of chicken and pork slowly rotating over a giant barbecue. The tables were all stone. The shade all vine leaves and hanging grapes. And the views over the hillside and down to the sea – amazing. The food was seriously good, too. Its menu of chicken, pork or both, was served with either potatoes or wedges and salad. It was proper back-to-basics stuff that had me dribbling like I’d just been cattle prodded.
The second trip, however, was not only tasty but also allowed us to buy the thank you gifts we’d spoken about – namely, bottles of local wine. Now it’s probably fair to say that Cyprus isn’t as famed for its wine as some of its Mediterranean counterparts. But actually it’s an island with some lovely wine routes and some fantastic reds and whites. We decided to drive up into the mountains to the tiny village of Kathikas, with its equally tiny winery. A short tasting session later, we left with a handful of their Cab Sauv. Thank you presents, sorted – although I have to confess one bottle didn’t make it home.
Personal nostalgia aside, if you want to thank someone without having to jet off into Europe, why not think about personalised thank you gifts? After all, we don’t just need them as a ‘thanks for sending us on holiday’. Okay, so it could be a ‘ta for feeding the cat’ while you were away, but it could also be a thanks for helping us clear out the garage, or cheers for doing that massive pile of ironing. The point is, it doesn’t matter what you’re saying thank you for – there are plenty of thank you gift ideas, no matter what the occasion.