We had arranged to meet the kind and hard-working ladies of Kyrenian Animal Rescue at a café within the port area. They had helpfully brought the three lovely dogs and three splendid cats to us, given that we had to turn round very quickly because of the delays caused by the weather. We were very sad not to see their shelter and to miss out on their Christmas fund-raising event.

While M settled down to peruse the promising-looking café menu, J managed to secure a sailing — due to leave within the hour! With stomachs rumbling we dashed to the car park, loaded the dogs and cats, checked the export paperwork, had a brief photo call and went back into the port area, to engage once again with our bemused new bureaucratic best friends. Exiting North Cyprus involved only two officials and 12 euros’ worth of port tax!

Within half an hour we were loaded onto the RoRo freight ferry and shepherded up a series of near-vertical ladders to a small and basic mess. Here we were fed bean casserole with rice and yoghurt on prison-style metal trays with only a large spoon for cutlery, mountains of bread in a large plastic container, and strong black tea to drink. It was absolutely delicious!

Apart from the frightful officialdom at the Greek/Turkish border, we have experienced great kindness and generosity from all the Turks we’ve met, and very good service whether in simple truckers’ cafés or smarter hotels.

We’re not sure whether it’s because they see us as innocent, lost babes in the wood — or because they feel sorry for a pair of old geezers who have apparently wandered out of the funny farm…

Photo call with the ladies from Kyrenian Animal Rescue