Saturday, 18 August 2018

Saturday and the silly season starts!!!

Bobster this is definitely a new post!!!

We are at home today but can you believe the football season for clubs not in the dizzy heights of the Premier League starts today - bloody hell it gets earlier and earlier each year.  John is beside himself with anticipation and has arranged to go and watch the first televised match in Kathikas with Liselotte's John - it is Sunderland v Charlton and we know that the Bobster will be at home surrounded by beers and nuts and Jeff Snelling and wont want to join them.

I had a visit from Bassam and Lola this morning.  Bassam was having trouble with his phone and Lola tagged along to make sure that the house she is going to buy when she is older (ours) was still up to scratch.

Trying to sort Bassam's phones has always been an interesting exercise as he downloads so much rubbish and has it operating partly in English, partly in Greek and partly in Arabic - this is a challenge to say the least.  I manage to sort things as best I can and he is happy that he can use WhatsApp which he demonstrates by calling some relatives in the Lebanon.  He also has his Facebook restored which makes him even happier.

Sorting his phone is made even more complicated by the fact that Lola keeps pinching it and wanting to watch videos.  Seeing her in this picture it is hard to believe she still has two years left at the local village junior school and how much she looks like Elena.  She has grown up both in height and in manner - she is rather less manic than she used to be and I have promised to have her round one afternoon so that she can have a swim in the pool.  She wanted to stay today but Bassam was dragging her around to Aunty Friday's.  I asked him what all the earth moving was that was happening above Stavraki and Friday's house as it appears the land has been terraced and a new road about to be put in.  Bassam seems to think this is for an Old People's home which is interesting as I have heard rumblings about this in the past and seem to remember last year's 'do' in the village was organised by three groups one of which is headed up by Stavraki and is involved with providing such a facility.  I need to keep my ear to the ground on this!

John had a busy morning helping Lakis with a few last minute DIY jobs in readiness for Lakis' son and family arriving tomorrow - Lakis and Argy, understandably, want everything to look perfect but it meant John was a bit later getting ready for the footie than he had wanted and then he left his phone on charge at home so we had to go back and get it.  Anyway the two John's are safely settled into the Kathikas Square bar before kick-off.  The games sees a perfect start for Charlton but then their dreams are dashed by Sunderland equalising and then scoring an extra time winner.  Happy John, unhappy Bobster but my John will sympathise as the same happened to the Mighty Blades in the late game - they took the lead and then lost.

My afternoon at home alone flew by as I put my sewing skills to the test by shortening the sleeves on two dresses for Mum and took some fancy belt bits off of John's shorts.  I then turned my attention to tomorrow's lunch when Mum is coming up.  It was a bit difficult to know what to do as she is bringing up the meat (marinaded chicken pieces) and I am going to do the accompaniment.  I also needed to rustle up something for pudding so did the old favourite stand-by of an eggless lemon cake.

I took the scenic route to Kathikas to pick up the two John's driving through Inea which is slowly getting the road system back to normal and is looking lovely with all the newly built stone walls.  I then passed through Arodes, both Kato and Pano before arriving in Kathikas.

The boys were not waiting for me and John was not answering his phone which seems to mysteriously put itself onto silent so although I looked like the wreck of the Hesperus I had to park up and go and chivvy them along.

They seem to have enjoyed their male-bonding afternoon which was good as I am conscious that John has limited 'boy's time' over here.  He says he isn't bothered but I know that he sometimes misses the male camaraderie of going for a pint before the match, going to the match and then returning back for a pint and a post-mortem which he used to do when we lived in Yeovil and he followed the ups and downs (mainly downs) of our local team Yeovil Town aka The Glovers and went to the Royal Standard first and then to the match with Dave who strangely enough I bumped into when I was back in the UK staying with Hazel in May.  I cannot for the life of me now remember Dave's surname but I know he had a brother called Roy who we took with us point to point racing!

I am trying to give the freezer a bit of a clear out and have been looking forward to getting into salads because I am feeling rather porky and unfit at the moment so having bought prawns for Hazel's visit which didn't get eaten I decided we would have them tonight.  I love a good salad and although the Mighty Blades did there best to put a dampener on the evening we had a lovely quiet night in watching crap TV.

Thursday, 16 August 2018


For the next few weeks we have Fridays without pickleball and now that the weather has picked up I have to admit I am not sorry.  A couple of weeks ago I thought it would be fine to continue to play but today I know I am glad that we have the day at home and can escape the heat by jumping in and out of the pool or sit in the lounge with the fan on.  This is probably one of the few weeks when we wonder whether we should have installed some air conditioning when Mum and Dad offered it to us but then in a couple of weeks time when the weather has cooled a little we just wont need it and we reckon once you have it you rely on it!

We have just received our electricity bill - here they are issued every two months and we have a mystery with ours.  We have photovoltaic panels to generate our electricity - when they were installed you could only have a 3 kilowatt system - now you can have a 5 kilowatt system but since we have had ours it has just about provided us with all the electric we have needed but we are careful not to be wasteful.  Anyway two bills ago we did have to pay for some usage - this wasn't a surprise because it came after the winter months so our bill was about 60 euros for the two months including all the standing charges etc.  On our next bill two months later they credited us back the 60 euros we had paid so I assumed I had paid the bill twice - I do it online and there is an audit trail and on checking I could see only one payment so that was strange but heyho this is Cyprus.  Anyway this bill came which should be just for standing charges as our electricity generation has outstripped our usage.  This would normally come to just short of 40 euros but once again we had a credit and our bill for 2 months was only 15 euros plus they showed us that they had carried over a couple of hundred kilowatt hours of electicity for future consumption.  We have no idea why this is happening when our neighbours a couple of doors down do not seem to be able to get their electricity bills paid for love nor money!

So with no pickleball today and having seen Mum yesterday and she will be back as normal on Sunday I decided that today would be a good day for some early morning and late evening gardening when it is marginally cooler.  Some of the garden is looking rather tired, sonme of it has gone mad in the conditions we have been experiencing and case in point is our bay tree.  Not so very long ago John and I trimmed it and gave it a right old flat top - this was done so that if John wasn't about I could manage to keep it in check without getting out a step ladder.  Well it was fine for a while and then it just bolted towards the heavens.  It isn't the pruning that is the problem it is the disposal of the waste although at the moment the goats are still sometimes brought through the field next door and they would probably love the freshly chopped foliage.  So the bay tree now looks nice and tidy, the fig tree in front is looking very sad - I didn't have a problem with it last year and kept it indoors the whole time - I thought it would like being outside but now I am not so sure - I know they have a bit of a 'shed' but this is looking like a survivor from Chernobyl.

I have not as yet started my 'old Cyprus chair' upcycle project partly because I haven't had time and partly because the cats are loving the chairs in the garden.

Today John was clearing out the space next to the shed where he keeps the gas bottles - he discovered three small wasp nests so was intent on moving them on.  Nests here only seem to be about the size of a large orange - the ones he found ranged from the size of a walnut, to that of a peach and then a satsuma but the wasps were equally as ferocious as if they had come from a much larger establishment.  Armed with a stick and some raid he dispatched them but we will need to see if they return.

Anyway as part of his clear up he came across an old glass bottle which probably held some kokinelli at some point - it doesn't look like it was olive oil.  I hate throwing things like that away so at the moment it is in the garden with the old chairs.  Part of me admires the clean lines of those people who adopt a more minimalist approach to dressing their homes but neither John nor I can do that - we are too sentimental.

On the subject of chairs you might remember that recently we sold our two rather scruffy tub chairs.  The cats had used them as a scratching post and Charlie had torn off all the fabric on the underside of one and then on the other the condensation had dripped on the wood on top and dulled it and then ultimately lifted it.  We decided that having replaced them with two brown ones to match the sofas the orange ones were now surplus to requirement.

We sold them to a lady who has a business called Wisteria Furniture and she told us that she was going to use a technique which involved painting the fabric with chalk paint and then combing it so that the finish was like suede.  I asked her to send some photographs of the finished article not thinking that this could be possible but below is the end result and she has made a fabulous job of upcycling them - I almost wish I had kept them!!!

If you don't believe me that these chairs have been painted then here is what she called her 'squeaky bum moment' when she started to apply the paint and she had reached the point of no return!!

Fair play to her - her name is Kath Trinny Bauchope and you need to check out her work on her Wisteria Furniture Facebook site which I have linked above.  I keep saying to John that it would be nice to turn the decked area in the front garden into a craft room where I could keep everything secure and dry but I would start too many projects and then not want to get rid of anything!!!  I still have a complete Keter box full of card making 'stuff' that I need to use or cull - I may just ask John's mum or her friend Jackie if there is anything they might like to take back with them.

John and I worked hard until it became too hot and then we retreated indoors to watch some crap TV for a while before going to our neighbours for supper.  Argy was making green eggs κολοκυθάκια με αυγα (courgette and eggs) for supper which is one of my favourites.  Bless her she knows that John is a meat eater and although orthodox Greeks are currently observing a fast until 15th August (the Assumption of the Virgin Mary) she supplemented the meal with pork chops and roast potatoes!  We had a lovely meal and then sat out in their courtyard admiring the work that has now been completed.  It has been a long and difficult road for them but now it is all done and it looks lovely - it is exactly what it needed as a holiday home with nothing needing any attention in the garden.  They are super excited that one of their son's and his family will be coming on Sunday.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The heat is on...

The heat has come back with a vengeance after some lovely cool mornings and evenings it is hot hot hot - we have heard that the temperatures will be up around the 40s for quite a few days.  We are feeling it but not as much as the cats -they are acting like we have drugged them!!! 

This morning we left Mr Boo snoozing on the bed with the shutters shut to keep it cool.  He was last seen hugging one of the cushions sound asleep and stayed there all day.  

We found the reason why Mr Boo was on the bed - Charlie had taken up squatters rights on the new bed which has, up till now, only been frequented by Boo.

Charlie didn't stay there long because the minute we went into the kitchen he took up residence in the cupboard where we keep his cat food, obviously it was cooler in there.

John and I had nipped down to Polis before Mum came up for lunch and then she went to visit Sheila and Klaus - we had a few errands to run one of which was to get a letter posted back to the UK which was our claim for John's medical treatment which hopefully will get paid otherwise we are on bread and water for a while.  The woman in the post office told me that the cost was €1.52 so I gave her €1.60 and she returned the 10 cent coin - so I only paid €1.50 - somehow I cannot imagine that ever happening in a Post Office in the UK!

Mum came up safe and sound and we had our lunch outside - nothing fancy but some lovely fresh pittas with lounza and halloumi and some fresh coleslaw.  It was warm and airless under the umbrella so after lunch we moved around the corner and Mum and I sat in Wendy and Bill corner in the shade to relax for an hour or so before Mum went to the cemetery and then the Knips.

John doesn't 'do' the sun and has to be very careful anyway having had some issues in the past so today he created mark one of his floating armchair with cover - I doubt that my old firm Porter Dodson ever expected their brolly to be used in this way!!  He said it was ok but I pointed out that his ankles and feet were exposed and getting those bits burned was not recommended!!

After Mum left us and it cooled a little I set about doing a little gardening - the garden is looking a bit tired and untidy and John's family arrive next week so he will want it looking its best.  Evidence of a visitor in the vine has been lacking of late but today this little fella was on one of the leaves - this was a mere baby compared to the one I found previously.  I took its photo and then put it back somewhere safe to live another day.

I am thrilled that Hadge's rose is flowering again.  It had looked a little weary and some of the leaves had gone yellow so after it had finished flowering the last time I cut it back a bit, removed any yellow leaves and put banana skins on top of the soil because apparently roses like potassium and it seems to have worked.  I am hopeful that now it might continue to flower so that John's Mum will get to see it when she comes over.

We had a lovely quiet evening at home and relaxed in the conservatory with all the doors open watching some really naff TV which was great except that this was an open invite to every biting insect in the neighbourhood - but we didn't find that out until the following day!

Monday, 13 August 2018

Ladies Lunch

Today there is a special high to someone who I know reads this blog because she told me so today - she will know who she is - big big kisses to you and your family from John and I xxx

It was a strange and eerie start to the day - Charlie had me up at 6.00am - he has perfected using John's wooden back scratcher, which is hanging from my wardrobe door, as his breakfast gong.  I can see him jump up onto the bedside cupboard and eye up the scratcher - if he realises I am looking at him he pretends to act all innocent checking his claws like nothing is happening and then when I shut my eyes he smacks the scratcher good and hard but just once.  I stare at him and he looks around like nothings happened and then I shut my eyes again and he smacks the scratcher hard two or three times for good measure and then stares at me defiantly and I give in!  So this morning we had rolling mists as the sun began to rise but these soon dispersed.

We were planning a quiet morning before I went to Ladies Lunch and we were hoping that Lakis and Argy could spend today enjoying their home with Lazarus just finishing off the inside painting.  Clearly others had a different idea because it was today that Argy's brother decided to start having the house in between them refurbished which meant that there was man breaking up the patio all day.  Sorry but this smacked of sibling rivalry because this work could have been done at any time but we think they chose to start today to spoil the peace and quiet - as we say - there is Nowt so Queer as Folk.  We are lucky that being tucked away we don't hear very much noise from the rest of the development but guess that work is going to carry on there throughout the summer.

I decided to walk down through the village to Christos's taverna which was where we were having lunch - although it is the main holiday season here the village is quiet but there is a blanket of cloud over us today so I am guessing people have escaped down to the coast to get the sunshine.

It is supposed to be 40 degrees tomorrow but today there has been talk of rain and at times that looked highly likely.  Still sitting outside in a courtyard eating is better when it isn't in full sunshine and as there is usually shade from a canopy of grape vines and the vines have failed this year it could have been quite hot.

We were a small group today but it is easier to get to speak to everyone.  Sheila is currently without her car so if there is no news later I am going to take her down to Polis in the morning so that she can wo-man the shop and I can do some shopping as Mum is coming for lunch.  It also gave me a chance to catch up with Di who has visitors coming up for the day tomorrow and Clare who will be returning to Hong Kong shortly with Les.

I sat next to Lucie who has started a new venture running a B&B from their lovely home in Kathikas.  Their guests benefit from the fact that Tom and Lucie have a fabulous organic garden which provides the breakfast and full use of their lovely pool and surrounding area and knowing Lucie I am sure it will be absolutely first class so I said I would give it a plug on the blog.

Finally I heard from my sister that Dad's plaque is now in place on the memorial bench in East Portholland - she has been down with my cousins Karen (who recently lost both her mum Norma and Dad Tommy) and Christine (who recently lost her dad Alf) and between them they tidied this bench, Gampy's bench and cleaned the existing plaques.  A big big big thank you to the three of them for doing this.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

So this morning I went down to Paphos to try and sort out my mum's tax once and for all.  Two months' ago I submitted a form via the tax office to HMRC to request that Mum is taxed over here even though she has been registered to pay tax here for the past 30-odd years.  In that time she didn't receive sufficient income to pay tax but now she does and HMRC in its infinite wisdom had been over-taxing her.  We had managed to get the HMRC to reduce her tax code but ultimately I want her to be taxed here - she is entitled to be taxed here and it would be financially beneficial for her.  So I took a copy of the form which I had submitted and asked the receptionist who directed me to Mrs 'Despo' who had been on holiday when I came two weeks' ago.  Mrs 'Despo' turned out to be very helpful particularly when I gave her Mum's tax code in my bestest Greek.  She assured me that everything was fine, the form was in the system and it could take anything up to four months before Mum gets confirmation from HMRC and then next year I can do her tax return on-line and she will be entitled to be taxed at 5% on any amount over the initial tax-free allowance - PHEW!  It is now a waiting game - there is nothing more I can do and as far as I can tell this is all the paperwork resulting from Dad's death dealt with and sorted.  I keep trying to reassure Mum that she is fine for money now and when the tax is sorted out she will be more than fine but I know it has been worrying her.

My make do and mend skills clearly know no bounds because this morning before taking Mum to Jumbos and the Mall for a light lunch I 'upcycled' her glass topped outside table with some stickers.  Previously I had done the same to Mum's glass topped table upon which her TV sits in the sunroom and she loved it - she had bought some more to do the dining table but subsequently Graham cut the dining table down so the stickers were surplus to requirement then Mum asked if I might be able to do something with the outside table and the result is above - to be honest it isn't the best job I have ever done because I could have done with a Stanley knife for the curved edge but had to make do with what we had and it is only going outside and Mum loves it so that is all that matters.

Job done we went to Jumbos as there were a few things I needed and then we were going for a bit of lunch together.  Now that we are not playing pickleball John and I are going to make sure we break up the week for Mum so plan to see her on a Wednesday and can incorporate Paphos-based chores and shopping at the same time.  This week I wanted to sort the tax (TICK) and Mum is coming up to Droushia on Thursday.  Anyway Jumbos at this time of year is a nightmare because it is full of dipstick holiday makers who have no control over their baskets and trollies and it worries me to death that someone is going to barge into Mum and injure her and I know she thinks I am being overly protective but I really don't want anything like that to happen so she probably thought I was being a bit sharp with her when she was trying to get things out of my trolley and I could see the lump of a lad in front of her swinging a kitbag around narrowly missing her legs.  Her reward for avoiding injury was a visit to her favourite fast food outlet KFC or at least it normally is but I know she loses her appetite in the summer so I was hopeful that a bit of finger lickin' good chicken would excite her tastebuds.

John and I had been invited out tonight with our neighbours because at long last their renovations are all but complete and they wanted to say thank you to us for everything we had done - or really that John had done to help.  We started with drinkies on the newly completed patio and were thrilled to learn that Lakis and Argy had tried out the newly filled pool during the course of the afternoon.

They had planned to take us to Santa Barbara for dinner and the spectacular view of the sunset that you get from that location but it was fully booked so we headed for Yiallos instead which is one of our favourites anyway so we weren't bothered.

The unusual weather conditions that we are experiencing meant that we were treated to some pretty amazing skies - you never get a complete view of the sunset here as the sun slips down behind the headland towards Blue Lagoon.

We had a lovely meal although there was a bit of a mix up or misunderstanding so that our salad and dips which were supposed to be a starter came closely followed by our main meals but it didn't really bother us and we just sat at the water's edge reminding ourselves how lucky we are.  Tomorrow Lazarus comes to do the final bit of internal painting and then Lakis and Argy can relax and look forward to their family visiting at the weekend.  It has been a long and sometimes difficult journey for them but finally they have reached the end and the results are spectacular.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Today Steve and Kim returned home after a three month stay in Polemi - we weren't able to catch up with them but it sounds like they were too busy anyway having met a couple of people who might like to do a house swap next year which is good news for them.  We have heard that they got home safe and sound albeit at a very unreasonable hour and Kim nearly had nosebleed when their hotel charged nearly 20 quid for a gin and tonic and Becks Blue!  Anyway we are glad that their holiday was a success in spite of its many setbacks.

I was having a nice normal Monday at art having missed last week because of Hazel's visit so it was good to get back to my picture.  Sheila and Klaus are fine - they had a viewing last week and are waiting to hear how it went.  For them I hope it was successful but for John and I, selfishly, we love having them just up the road and I know that Klaus keeps a watchful eye on Dad which is a comfort.

So my picture progresses.  I can see that I have a perpendicular line that needs adjusting and there is a patch of cloud on the left that needs some work but it is coming on and I like it - I hope the recipient will too.

Back home the beauty of the blustery weather means that my washing is done, put out and dry in a very short period of time and if hung right doesn't even need ironing!  I returned home to make the bed but had to do so around Chivers who resolutely refused to move - the guest room had similar treatment in readiness for Nicky and Mark when they come up to stay next with the addition of a throw over the bed just in case one of the cats sneaks in for a snooze.  I often wonder if our bedrooms look nice to others - I often wish I could have done an interior design course.  I am guessing that there are rules to follow and tips and tricks which can be learned, our trouble is that we are terrible at hoarding things and as John so rightly says we have to live in our house it isn't a show house.

It was a make do and mend afternoon as I decided to alter the size of the bathmat which I bought for the shower-room whilst Hazel was here.  We have a wet room of sorts but it isn't perfect and because the room is so small we need somewhere dry to stand after showering so I purchased this mat and took the tassels off but it was still marginally too big and got caught up in the door.

I was really pleased when I had turned over both ends to make it the right size only to find that I had cocked up and done one end on the 'right' side and one one the 'wrong side' which necessitated an unpick and a re-stitch accompanied by several bugger-its!  Still it was done eventually and I will look for another when I am next in Jumbo which is going to be tomorrow all things being equal.

I am eternally grateful that I had sewing lessons when I was at school and that I have the use of Mum's sewing machine - it does mean that I can carry out some alterations and sewing with a reasonable idea of what I am wanting to achieve and that comes in very handy at times!

The job eventually completed John and I took a ride into the village to see if Bassam was in.  We had been invited to Rabia's 13th birthday party yesterday but it being a Sunday we were unable to attend as we had Mum with us and by the time she had let us know she was home safely we were too tired to go up and engage in the inevitable water fight that accompanies Rabia's birthday celebrations!  Sadly Bassam and the kids were out so we will have to return another day.

We did a little detour on the way home and swung by O Stathmos for a shandy - Bambos had been so kind as to give us our drinks on Friday night we thought we should return and put some pennies in his coffers.  As we sat there under the vines and looking out across to the rocks we said to ourselves we really should do this more often because it would be such a shame if establishments like this in the village were to disappear because this was the 'real' Cyprus that we had anticipated enjoying when we made our move here.

We returned home and had our tea and collapsed on the sofas to watch some crap TV before deciding to have an early night.  Minnie conspired to wreck this brilliant idea by being sick in the middle of the night.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Sunday - Hazel is Home...

Poor Haze had a bit of a nightmare journey home because her flight was delayed and her paid-for seat double booked so she was asked to move because a family wanted to be seated together - she was shoved to the back of the plane with a coffee and a Kit-Kat as compensation which is not good enough and then she didn't get in until 2.00am this morning and was hit with horrible weather as the heatwave had finally broken although it is due to return in a couple of days.

She sent me a picture of her curtains now resplendent with new tie-backs which we gave her.  She had seen them on the curtains in our guest room and not having time to nip into Jumbos before she left I gave her mine and will replace them when I am next in the shop - they look lovely and it was such a small thing to give her to take home as a memento of her holiday with us.

We hope that her dog Lily's stay away from home will have been successful so that she feels able to come over again although we may have to see what effect Brexit may have on flights, prices and visa requirements because there is all sorts of speculation and scare mongering!

We had a fairly lazy start to the day - it was strange not to see Hazel swimming in the pool before breakfast so John took her place this morning.  It had been, as Rudyard Kipling would have said, a grey, green and greasy Limpopo start to the day with rolling mists, grey skies, high winds and heavy condensation more reminiscent of Autumn than Summer.

I was in the kitchen getting ready for lunch with Mum joining us as she will do now for a while as long as the weather is good and she is happy to drive or isn't entertaining visitors.  It was to be a light meal, Mum had suggested halloumi and lounza but I had lots of lovely bacon that needed eating so we had salad, coleslaw, jacket potatoes and a mix of pan fried halloumi, bacon and onion.  Mum doesn't like tomato and cucumber so I made her a special salad with lettuce, orange, grapes and cashew nuts which I hoped she would enjoy.

Mum had also requested a light pudding so I had found a creme caramel kit in the cupboard which I know is probably not really what she had in mind so I got some pears on the way home from the airport last night and poached them with some grapes.  The pears really needed to have been a tad riper but poached grapes are a winner as they retain their shape and added a nice tartness to the rest of the pudding.

After lunch we played Rummikub outside in the garden by the kitchen where it was slightly less windy and I managed to be leadingmost in one game and bummer in the next!  It is all good fun and our Sundays would not be the same without some good natured banter and a bit of competitiveness around the table although John manages to take that to a different level sometimes!  He does it to wind us up and succeeds but doesn't mean anything by it.

After Mum had left we tidied up and as we were taking rubbish out in readiness for the bin-men tomorrow we decided to wander over to see how our neighbours were as their London alarm had gone off in the middle of the night waking them in Cyprus, their son in London and their neighbours who were less than pleased.  Poor Lakis has just about had enough what with that and the building works but hopefully they are now nearing the end of the project and, as they were this evening, can sit looking at this view from their patio and relax and enjoy.