Newman’s Farm, Kyrenia
Memories of Evelyn Newman – Part 1
By Margaret Sheard
I have written a few articles about Newman’s Farm which started its life in 1922, the latest being an update with information supplied by the current family in the UK. It has been a fascinating journey and even more so by having been supplied with the memoirs of Evelyn Newman who, with her husband Philip, bought land and started what was to become Newman’s Farm Milk Bar.
This is a wonderful account of life in Kyrenia way back in the 1920’s up to 1959 when the family returned to the UK and the Newman family have agreed that this can be published. As it is a very long story I am going to publish in 5 separate instalments. There have been some comments inserted by various members of the family in later years and I have highlighted these in blue.
EVELYN’S MEMOIRS – Part 1
Written by Evelyn Newman in 1962
Sometimes I wonder whether I should apologise for writing down some of my memories of those wondrous first sweet years we spent in the lovely island of Cyprus. Perhaps not, for many people have asked me to do so. Many others, too, who came to know us there would like to scan these papers, bringing back to them memories of the times they spent at what came to be known to many hundreds, no, thousands of visitors as ‘Newman’s’ Farm, Kyrenia’.
I want to write it down for myself, too, because it was really my life, and now that we are back here in England, I feel like a stranger in a strange land. Of course during those years I came to England several times, just a few weeks now and then, and always in the summer, but I was always eager and anxious for the time when I would set sail for what to me had become home.
Though our farm has been sold to the Turks, I still look on Cyprus as my home and my country and I long to be back there. Perhaps I shall go back one day. I hope so. I hope to see again those plains so green in spring, so dry and dusty in summer. Those navy blue mountains raising their hands of granite towards the deep blue Mediterranean sky, their feet anchored in groves of cypress and of pine, of olive and arbutus. To bathe again in the waters of the white sandy bays, in their clear transparent depths.
I think it is Sir N Linfor who writes that of the many countries he has visited, no other matches the marvellous scenery of this island, tucked away in the deep blue ocean where Asia, Africa and Europe meet.
I want to go back, too, when my days are done. To be buried in the little English cemetery among the tamarisk trees where my husband lies, where rests Joan my first daughter in law, and my first grandchild, little M J, who spent only one day with us before he passed away.
The young Newmans now live at Buckfast in Devon. They are happy there, but for me my heart craves for Cyprus. Devon can never be home to me.
Buckfast, April 1962.
The Newmans in Cyprus
By Evelyn M Newman (nee Leech-Porter)
It was in the summer, after World War I, that we definitely made up our minds to live abroad. We had both at last been demobilised and were turning our thoughts to a new post-war life. Philip had served in France and was tired of mud and trenches, rain and cold. I had been commandant of GSVAD units at Calais, (somewhere?) in Belgium, and before that had been with the 26th M A C in Italy. I had always longed for a life overseas, and as a child had often begged to be sent to an uncle (Beebe – TN) who had a sheep station in Australia, or to Canada where another uncle (Leech-Porter – TN) had become Dean of the Anglican Cathedral in Calgary. But nothing had ever been done about it. I took a children’s magazine entitled ‘The Round World’. It was a missionary magazine, but looking back, I believe I was more interested in the foreign countries themselves, than in what was being done there by the missionaries.
Now the time had come when we were to settle things for ourselves, and we were sure we would both enjoy making a home in a new country. But where? We began to think. The great Commonwealth countries were so far away; we would never have the time or the money to make the long voyage home to see our relations. Besides, it must be somewhere near the sea, somewhere sunny and colourful to make up for the dreary war years. Spain, Italy or Greece? But would it be wise or possible to buy land in those foreign countries? For we wanted our own place to make of it what we could.
So we thought again – perhaps the West Indies? Those were too far away too, and we should need more money than we had to set up in sugar or bananas. Our thoughts drifted back nearer home, to the Mediterranean perhaps, and we dreamed longingly of Corsica, Corfu and the Greek Islands, but there was still the difficulty of foreign soil. I used to talk of my time in Italy, of the olive trees, of trees laden with oranges and tangerines, of the times I had sat on the beach at Bordighera with Jack Wodehouse, seeing whether he or I could eat more figs. Figs? Philip’s eyes suddenly brightened! Once he too had tasted fresh figs – on his way to the Far East. Oh, so many years ago he too had eaten fresh figs, masses of figs. Where was it? Figs in a great big washing basket and grapes too, handed up to the deck of the troop ship at a shilling a time. Where could it have been? ‘I remember’, he said, ‘it was at Cyprus, on our way to the Far East.’ (Philip was stationed in Hong Kong before World War 1, commanding a battery on Stonecutters Island – CJN) ‘Our transport stood off Limassol and we helped hand those enormous baskets aboard.’ He was silent for a minute or two, then he spoke in an intense kind of voice. ‘Why, of course, Cyprus is British. I believe it is what we are looking for. There is sun, there is sea, plenty of it, and your figs, too!’
So we became obsessed with the idea of Cyprus. We paid many calls, and asked many questions at the Colonial Office and became ever more enthusiastic. ‘British, of course,’ we were told, ‘always will be. There will never be a Cyprus question; you will be quite secure there, you can live there for generations to come’. Thus the place of our future home was settled.
Next we enquired as to how to get there. We called at Cooks, the well-known travel agent, at their head office in London. ‘Yes certainly, wait a minute, I’ll get a file.’ He took down a big volume from the shelf behind him. He turned over the pages, his face looking more and more puzzled. At last he looked up at us. ‘It’s very odd,’ he said, ‘something is wrong. I can’t find it – it is in the West Indies, isn’t it?’ We assured him it was not – would he perhaps consult a book dealing with the eastern Mediterranean?
In this connection, I must tell the following story. About our second year in Cyprus we were invited to a dance at Government House. I needed a new frock. I wrote to a prominent London fashion house and eagerly awaited the dress I had ordered. Weeks went by and no letter or parcel arrived, so I had to go to the dance without a new frock. Months later a letter came – it had been addressed to me at Kyrenia, Cyprus, China. It was postmarked ‘Shanghai’ ‘Hong Kong’ and other places I have forgotten. It was just a mass of postmarks, and in a small corner was written ‘Try Europe’. I wish I had kept the envelope.
The young man at Cooks discovered there were several routes. He told us we could travel overland and take a ship from Marseilles, or from Genoa. But we finally decided on going another way – by sea to Port Said, there to pick up a little ship, the ‘Delius’. This sailed to Famagusta three times a month, taking mixed cargo and passengers. This would be best because we would be taking a certain amount of heavy luggage, including my saddle. Actually I never used this for we never had a horse, and it hung for many years slowly mouldering in the barn where we afterwards kept the cow halters.
(In the event, I think Philip travelled ahead to find property, and Evelyn and he were reunited and reputedly married in Port Said in 1922 – CJN)
So we came to Cyprus. It was a thrilling moment. Our little ship drew slowly to the dockside. Famagusta is the only port on the island where this can be done. In other ports, Larnaca, Limassol and Paphos, the boats stand off, and the final landing is made by motor launch. It was a glorious sunny day, sunlight glowing golden on the ancient Venetian ramparts and on the medieval cathedral of St Nicholas, its towers now surmounted with a minaret. We longed to explore the town but had to leave it for a later day as our baggage was already piled into the car, waiting to take us to the little seaport town of Kyrenia on the north coast. We crossed the brown undulating plain towards Nicosia, and skirted its ancient fortifications. We were not to see them again until the following spring when we were invited to a demonstration of the first tractor imported into the island. More brown countryside, and, in the distance, the mauve-blue mountains of the Northern Range, surely one of the most beautiful sights in the world.
I shall never forget my first view as we traversed the pass and began our descent to the coast. The road in those days was just a rough earthen track, winding around the mountainside in the most acute bends. At last we saw spread out before us the incredibly beautiful country stretching down towards the sea. The lower reaches of the mountains were covered with forests of pine and olive accented by the darker green of the carob trees. These last few miles of the drive down to Kyrenia have never ceased to thrill me. We were here in our dreamland. We were at last home.
To be continued….. follow cyprusscene.com to see Part 2 of this beautiful story. Parts 3, 4, and 5 will also be following.
To see the previous articles written about Newman’s Farm and the Chinese House, these are listed below:-
Newman’s Farm, Kyrenia, North Cyprus (August 2012) click here
Newman’s Farm, Kyrenia (September 2012) click here
North Cyprus – In Town Tonight – Lara Newman (January 2014) click here
North Cyprus – Newman’s Farm, Kyrenia (Revised Edition) (February 2014) click here