Newman’s Farm, Kyrenia
Memories of Evelyn Newman – Part 4
By Margaret Sheard
We are pleased to continue the intriguing story of the Newman family in Cyprus and hope you enjoy Part 4 which is as follows. As in Parts 1, 2 and 3, notations by members of the later Newman family are highlighted in blue and some notations I have also added are highlighted in blue and initialled MS. If you missed Part 1 – click here, Part 2 – click here, Part 3 – click here to read the previous instalments.
EVELYN’S MEMOIRS – Part 4
Written by Evelyn Newman in 1962
Eventually the war was over and travelling was once again becoming favourable, so we were able to have John home for his summer holidays, which was a great joy. But Philip was beginning to feel the effects of his war work, and though he continued to do as much as ever it was too much for him, and he passed away suddenly on 27 December 1947. With John still at school in England, Charlie and I were left to carry on alone.
People began to visit Cyprus again and we met many interesting people. Staying so near in the hotels of Kyrenia, they would come in for a drink of iced coffee or a milkshake. I remember Lady Wood, the widow of Sir Henry Wood, the famous conductor, and Dirk Bogarde who had come to make a film in a bay just along the coast. He was unhappy – the weather and the rough seas were not too kind. February perhaps was not the best month for film making. (I believe this was probably a film made in 1953 called “They Who Dare” – MS).
One day we noticed a car stopping just across the road. A man and a woman got out, and the driver produced a big easel and rugs from the boot. They were evidently going to paint. But what? We strolled across and asked if they would like chairs or stools, and what were they going to paint? They told us they were Col. J J and Lady Violet Astor, and had noticed the beauty of our place on a drive along the coast road. Col. Astor was a keen painter and they wanted to take some pictures of Cyprus home with them. When the picture from across the road was finished, they suggested painting another nearer the house. I remember the canvas quite well – it was really large, and his painting of one of our Eucalyptus trees was charming. We had planted these a number of years before; they grow quickly and the shimmering of their silver green leaves in the least little breeze is enchanting.
In the shade of the olive trees and of the bougainvillea, Cecil Wills wrote the first chapters of his novel, ‘The Quest of the Golden Earring.’ (Research shows this was probably called “The Clue of the Golden Ear-ring” written in 1950, no longer available – MS). He described the farm so well in his opening chapters. It was while the Wills were visiting Cyprus that the well-know harpist Carl Ames came to stay with them. Carl had a beautiful harp with him. It had been his mother’s – she had been a fabulous player. Carl gave his concerts in Nicosia, but we were fortunate in accidentally having one in Kyrenia as well. It happened this way. One of the hotel taxi drivers was killed driving over the mountain road. He left a young wife and family. Carl offered to give a benefit concert at the hotel for them, and Mr Wills promised to double the gate money. The widow was very happy to receive a really considerable sum. After the concert, Mrs Wills gave her immediate friends a delightful dinner party. Charlie and I were among the guests.
‘The Quest of the Golden Earring’ was not the only time we have appeared in a story. There is a novel called ‘A Cottage in Kyrenia’ by a well-known author. I am easily recognised as a married woman in the novel, and Charlie is obviously the amiably smiling Tony, but I don’t think the characterisation is very like us. I have never suffered from rheumatism, and if I had, I should never have bored anyone by talking of it! Perhaps I am mistaken in thinking I have quite a pleasant voice – not high-pitched and squeaky. But I suppose what really hurt me about the story was the references to Philip. No one ever worked harder on the farm, from dawn to dusk, for the benefit of his family. Besides this, he did much for our little English community. He took great interest in church matters, and stood as godfather for a young Turkish Cypriot who wanted a Christian baptism. Then there were the years, three of them, spent with the Cyprus Volunteer Force. No, I cannot agree that he did ‘nothing much’. (There is a plaque to Philip Newman in St Andrew’s Church, Kyrenia – MS).
Indeed there was the history book he wrote, as well. One evening in the summer of 1938 Jim and Elinore Stewart invited Philip and me to a sherry party at their lovely cottage at Bellapais. They had come from Australia on an archaeological expedition to excavate a Bronze Age village near the Abbey. The cottage was full of pots and vases they were painstakingly patching together. The guest of the evening was a professor from Cambridge who had come to Cyprus at the request of the Governor, Sir Richmond Palmer, to discuss the writing of a history of the island, for use in schools. Sir Richard was anxious to teach the history of their own land to the young Cypriots. Through the years they had heard only of the glories of ancient Greece, not realising they had an enthralling history of their own. However, the professor could not agree terms about the work, and mentioned this to Philip and me. On the way home I said to Philip, ‘Why don’t you offer to write the history. I know you could do it.’ The idea attracted him and he set about writing at once. When a few chapters were ready he sent the script to the D of E, who was delighted with it and asked him to carry on in the same way. By the next spring the book was complete with maps, plans and pictures of his own drawing. The first edition was available for the schools by the following term, but sad to relate the ‘public’ edition was destroyed in Fleet Street by one of the first air raids in London. (I am eagerly awaiting a second-hand copy of the book I have ordered which is being brought from the UK by a friend, it is a shame I did not have it in time to make a comment here but I am looking forward to reading it with interest – MS).
Some of our most frequent visitors were the Buckshee Wheelers. They were wonderful boys, who rode like the wind over the mountain roads and then threw themselves onto the deckchairs awaiting their refreshments. For by this time we had many little green tables and deckchairs by the dozen. With brightly coloured canvas covers they looked very gay among the shrubs and flowers.
Some of the RAF preferred sailing. They now have a good clubhouse in the harbour where they can sleep as well as moor their sailing boats, but in those early days they came to us and spent the warm summer nights down among the orange trees in the orchard. Very early one morning when I went out to help with the cows, I noticed the big white bull was missing from his stand. I looked all around for him, but he was nowhere to be seen. I went down past the tank into the orchard. There at the far end I saw branches and leaves from the fruit trees flying up in the air, and in the midst of them, the big white bull tossing his horns from side to side. Some of the boys were still lying there covering their faces with their sheets; others were getting out of the way as quickly as possible. I chased the beast into the Far Field, and when he had quietened down a bit, and took to grazing the maize, I managed to catch hold of the small piece of rope still tied to his horn, and lead him back to his stand.
Hundreds of names are inscribed in Our Book. I must tell you about this book. When the visitors began to come in numbers, we made many friends among them and some would write their names and addresses on bits of paper or old envelopes and stick them on the mantelpiece in the hall. Sometimes they fell down or got lost, so we bought the very best book we could find in Kyrenia. It was only a fat Collins book but it served our purpose. The names were written in it instead of on odd bits of paper. It is now one of my most precious possessions. (Now sadly disappeared – TN)
In 1951 Charlie married. Joan came from northern England, but did not mind the hot weather she found with us. In May 1953 Penelope was born. I had become a grandmother. Joan was a great asset to us and enabled me to visit England the year she came to Cyprus. But, so sad to say, she did not live with us for very long, for she died in 1955 (the headstone shows 1954 – MS) when little Philip was born. This was a great blow to us all, especially Charlie who carried on bravely until his life was transformed again when he and Rosalind married.
It was during Joan’s time that we made great friends with Father Godfrey. He was an Armenian, attached to the Franciscan monks in Nicosia. He came often to the farm, and was a genial figure in his purple gown. He kept his letters and his papers in his hood, and I remember one hot thirsty day he asked for a second pint of milk. He loved milk. Whether the canvas of the deckchair he was sitting in was really weak, or whether it was the second pint of milk, we shall never know, but I was called to look at him sitting down on the ground through the frame of the chair, with the canvas and all his papers strewn around him. He thought it a great joke. When he left Nicosia and returned to his studies, we missed his visits.
During the years we had many visitors from other countries in the Middle East. Cyprus was a leave centre for the RAF at Habbaqui and Shibal. From Habbaqui, in particular, came many nursing sisters, doctors, and personnel. It must have been a delightful station from their accounts of it. I wished I could have gone there. They were going to start a dairy farm there – fresh milk would be of great value. One Saturday two young officers arrived at the farm. They had flown over specially to see us. They had collected a herd of native cows and had arranged to import a pure bred dairy bull from England. But Foot and Mouth had broken out just before the bull was due to be shipped. Someone in the mess remembered seeing our fine looking young bulls at the farm. So a deputation was being sent to see if we would help them out. Could we do this? We took them around behind the stillroom where we had two fine little bulls – stable companions – tied up. They were as like as two peas in a pod, except that one had a white star on his forehead. The other, ‘Ebimon’ was my favourite. He was really loveable and I always gave him a hug when I fed him. So we agreed to sell ‘Star’ and they took him away. I believe he was a great success and he certainly grew into a fine beast judging by the photographs we received from time to time. It was sad when the station closed down.
To be continued….. follow cyprusscene.com to see the final part of this beautiful story.
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