Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Ladies Lunch but in the evening...

Today was the day we were having our Droushia Ladies Christmas Lunch except that Sheila had decided to hold it in the evening to make a bit more of an event of it - more of which later but let's just say it was an inspired decision because we had a fabulous evening.

I needed to go down to Polis this morning because I had an incomprehensible form which I needed to fill in and return by 10th December - this is to ensure that I do not pay the defence levy on any interest I might earn on money at the Alpha Bank.  Not that I earn much interest but if I do I would prefer to get it all and not give back 30%.  The Bank Manager carefully explained what the form was for and I told him that I knew what it was for but I didn't understand some of the questions and he had to admit neither did he because this was not the bank's form but one form the Ministry of Finance so we sort of cobbled together our answers until he declared it was done and that he would ring me if there was an issue.

We nipped into Paps to get some bits and pieces for Christmas using the money we had accumulated with our points - all 30 euros worth and went inside in sunshine and came outside to a storm so heavy that I had to go home and get changed as I was soaked to the skin.  We really have had some terrible weather in December.  I know the island desperately needs rain but not all of it in one day.

John was going to be in all day and all evening as he was relieved from taking Di and I to the meal and fetching us - for which thanks very much to the Bobster for being taxi driver tonight.  As a result he decided to light the woodburner - this was also so that we could decide whether or not we could still leave the dining table in front of the fire or whether we had to move the sofas back down to that end.  There are pros and cons to either configuration.  John has made his lovely light to sit over the dining table partly so that Mum will be able to play cards and read them when she is here but that is no good if it is too bloody hot to sit and eat comfortably.  Anyway after some furniture moving and discussion we decided that we could leave the dining table where it was and have the light over it.

So as I said earlier tonight we were having our ladies lunch which Sheila had organised to be at Finikas Taverna this evening and I have to say it was absolutely delightful.  Andri and her Mum and Dad had gone to town making the table look festive with beautiful decorations.

Waiting for us was Sheila with some lovely warming mulled wine which Klaus had made and I provided the cups.  Linda and Kelly had made little gift bags for each lady and Jan had provided the crackers.  On the table waiting for us were what I thought initially was a Christmas wreath decoration but on further inspection (apologies for the out of focus picture) it was the most fabulous salad which was to be eaten with a beautiful mushroom quiche and/or spinach pie.

Toasty warm inside (unusually) we enjoyed some lovely baked gammon with a sweet sauce which I reckon might have been made with mosfila and some jewelled rice and mixed vegetables and then Phillipos appeared brandishing a big old turkey and potatoes which had been sort of baked/roasted with orange.  This was all finished off with some hot apple pie and vanilla ice cream.  Diana and I washed it all down with a fine bottle of white Vasilikon wine.  Everyone brought a little gift and everyone took a little gift home and both Sheila and I had taken an additional gift so that there was something to give Marina and Andri.

It was quite hard to try and fit everyone in and they were all moving about but this will give you an idea.  Lovely that Marianna came even if it was only for a short while as she had a family celebration to go to as well and lovely that Kelly came and brought her mum.  Even better news Kelly's missing cat Beba has returned and she is over the moon.

Big big big thanks to Sheila and Klaus and everyone from the Taverna for an exceptional evening - we all admitted that we were feeling everso slightly Christmassy but how could you fail in that sort of setting?  Kalli Kronia xxx

Monday, 17 December 2018

The Foreign Office

This morning John was on the early morning coffee and cat feeding run but was faced instead with the disemboweled remains of some poor rat who had 'bled out' on my Kilim runner.  We were lucky enough to get said Kilim into the machine and washed and out on the line because for a short period of time we had some sunshine.  Fortunately enough to almost dry the rug before the awful storm which had been forecast arrived.  In fact the island was put on an orange weather alert today up until midday tomorrow.

The cats got fed eventually.  We think we have seen a small improvement in Charlie's eye but if we have it is brief and fleeting so we cannot be sure.  Chivers is poorly - he has been in a fight and the base of his tail has come off worse - he has several puncture wounds which we think are claw inflicted rather than teeth.  We need to keep an eye on him to make sure it doesn't get infected.

Mum rang to say the weather in Emba was appalling.  It was still quite nice here in Droushia at the time so it was coming our way - she was without electricity but we later sussed this was because something had tripped rather than a general outage but she felt the weather was so dreadful that it would be a good idea to cancel pickleball to save people driving unnecessarily and I agreed so I got in contact with everyone in plenty of time.

We were taking a trip down to Polis to try and sort out the conundrum that is Lakis's electricity, the outstanding bills and them being cut off.  As you can see from the photograph John is in shorts and a polo shirt because when we left the weather was still reasonable although we had been prudent enough to bring in any washing and hang it in the conservatory (which I hate but it sometimes a necessity).

It tickles me that you can wander into the back room, sit down and discuss your issue with Mr Lefteris who looks a bit like a stern headmaster but is extremely helpful although he seems to be constantly harassed by staff and customers alike.

John managed to get all the arrears paid up and for future bills to be delivered to Lakis via email and the electricity supply has been reinstated (at a cost though 😕😕).  On our return John managed to video call Lakis to confirm what has happened and he and Argy are happy with the outcome and hopefully now, irrespective of the bank and its apparent inability to pay a standing order, they will be in control of payments so they will not get cut off again in the future.  We were pleased to be able to tick this particular problem off of our list for us and for them!

This was the weather that greeted us as we left the electricity board and was in sharp contrast to what we had experienced when we went in - the storm had arrived - the Met Office had been spot on and we were to expect some considerable rainfall to accompany the thunder and lightning.  We raced home to get in and hunker down for the remainder of the day.

My conservatory resembled a Chinese laundry but that was better than everything being absolutely soaked outside and the rain was so bad that Charlie kept running to the back door to go out for a wee and then looked at the conditions or got a massive droplet on his head and shot back in until he really had to go and then he looked so disgruntled.

We have not, as yet, lit the woodburner but it is coming close - we have to work out whether or not we will need to change the lounge/diner back round so that the sofas are facing the woodburner and the dining table back down the gas fire end but that is a task for tomorrow.

The cats don't really care as long as they are warm.  Boo Boo and Charlie were taking full advantage of the gas fire which has been working beautifully, thanks to the fact that John has practically rebuilt it with new parts.

We had a slob out evening watching all sorts of catch-up tv programmes which were my choice and which included aa really interesting one about the Foreign Office and the help they were giving Brits in trouble abroad.  

I applied to join the Foreign Office forty years ago and was accepted.  Ultimately I did not take up that challenge and I wondered last night what direction my life might have taken had I done so.  My friend Hilary went - she has ended up living in Canada and listening to Celine Dion although she did have connections with Cyprus because her husband worked over here for GCHQ and I think has toyed with the idea of returning at some point.  We also watched a programme about a gun which had been used in multiple crimes - Gun Number 6 was a thought provoking and disturbing insight into the criminal underworld in the UK.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Update on Charlie...

People have been asking after Charlie so this is a photograph of him enjoying the morning sunshine coming through the conservatory roof.  Outwardly he looks ok but the right side of his face is still causing concern - we think there is a little movement on the upper lid of his eye but that might just be wishful thinking.  We have also realised that he has lost part of his fang on the left side and possibly another tooth.  He used to have a fine pair of Draculas but no longer and we need to keep an eye on the chipped tooth to make sure it isn't dying - it isn't stopping him eating so we assume it isn't bothering him too much.  Anyway Charlie says 'thank you' to everyone who has asked after him and in particular to Daisy Dog who sent him a lovely card.

We were up early this morning enjoying some lovely sunshine after the weekend of miserable weather.  John is making me a duckboard for the shower room - it has been built and this morning because it was dry John was staining it in readiness for use.  We have a wet-room of sorts, we are not convinced that the bathroom guy actually bothered to check that the waste water flowed its way back down the plughole so we have been looking for ways to make sure that when you have finished showering you aren't standing up to your ankles in water.

I went off to Art this morning.  Looking at the progress, or lack of it, made this week you would think that Sheila and I spent the whole time chatting!!!  Today I worked on the cinnamon stick and the bits and pieces in the foreground on the left which were clearly very time consuming.  I am in no rush to finish this one - it is just a subject matter I chose to push me.  After a lovely lunch of sweet and sour Chicken I walked up to the cemetery and John drove up to meet me.  We have a quiet few minutes with Dad - it is hard to believe that it is now nine months since he left us, some days it only seems like yesterday and others it feels like a lifetime ago.  Not wishing to dwell on this to much we said our goodbyes and returned home.  Judi has been having a couple of IT related issues so I checked she was in and John went for a coffee with Di and Rob and I went and sorted her out.

This afternoon I had been invited for coffee up with Jan Fox.  She and her husband have a holiday home on the Lordos 2 development the other side of Droushia and she found me through the blog.  We see each other periodically at Ladies' lunches and have a chat if we are sitting near one another but today was an opportunity to have a proper talk.

In her lounge she has the most fabulous charcoal drawing of an elderly Cypriot lady which was done by Harry Hawkins who used to live in Neo Chorio but who sadly passed away a few years ago.  In fact it was the books written by his wife Sheila about them building their lives in Neo Chorio shortly after the troubles in the 1970s which inspired us to try and build our lives in a village.

Jan was saying that her family found the portrait of the lady quite scary - I think it is wonderful and am absolutely amazed that it is done in Charcoal - this is not a medium I know anything about.  Jan said that Harry told her he had to be very careful not to sweat whilst he was working on the picture otherwise the charcoal would have been ruined.

I had a very nice time with Jan and I have to thank her for the splendid piece of ginger cake for which I now have the recipe.  I was thrilled to learn that she has been preserving her ginger having read the recipe that was on my blog.  I have to admit I have yet to use the jar I did but may well have to try it and make this cake - it was delicious.

I returned home in time to speak to John's mum who seemed in good spirits - talking of which I have given her the head's up that Lidl are going to be stocking Peaky Blinders Gin and she sampled that one when she was over here and seemed to like it!

We had a right old slobby evening snuggled up with the gas fire on watching Escape to the Chateau which I love - Angel reminds me of Gemma who I used to work with.  Then we watched an episode about Clivedon and some super dooper Anglo Indian wedding that was being hosted there - this was rounded off with an episode of Apprentice - all programmes which needed no brain power!

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Better days...

After a really horrible 36 hours of storms we woke today to a much better day.  Fingers crossed this lovely sunny weather will last long enough for Wendy and Bill's short trip next week.  We have the goats visiting this morning.  The goatherd always sounds really cross - he shouts constantly but then I realised he was on his mobile phone!!!  I like the goats but they smell quite a lot and fart and bring the dreaded ticks with them.  Anyway at the moment they are eating the garden waste that I have lobbed over into the field.

John was getting himself ready to watch the Mighty Blades who were the early televised game on Sky and as I cannot quite share or understand his passion I find it quite uncomfortable listening to him screaming at the TV so I opted to go out and do some food shopping (there is little else open in Polis on a Saturday afternoon!!!).  It was warm and I had the windows open - just past the Scrimmers house the boys have put the horse that we thought kicked Charlie.  You can see from how wet the ground is what kind of rain we had.  I slowed down because I realised the horse was loose and he came over and almost put his head through the window.  He looks scraggy as his coat is long and muddy.  I say He although I have no idea what sex it is!

We appear to have a new addition to the village in the form of a bus shelter - that should keep the kids happy as it will provide them with somewhere else to graffiti - I am hoping that this is not its final resting place as it is at a weird angle right in front of the church but knowing the village that will be it - functional but with no thought for aesthetics.  There will be little point saying anything because we have just learned that come Brexit we will no longer be able to participate in any local elections so there will be no requirement to court our votes come election time but to be fair we didn't vote last time because it had all got so political and caused massive rifts within the community.

We received an email this week announcing that the Droushia Heights Hotel will reopen for a function on 20th December so as I drove past I took a look at the extension to the bar area which looks like it is going to have to get a wiggle on if it is to be ready and waterproof by that time.  Having said that they will probably be slapping on a coat of paint just before people arrive.  We noted that the builders only painted the outside of 3a the day before the Syrian family moved in - they were lucky it dried in time (if it did) but we reckon the works had overrun so the family were moving in whatever.  Today we see they are having the solar panels fitted - we guess that the landlords are doing it rather than the tenants but don't know.  It gave John the opportunity to point out to Mohammed things he needs to rectify on Lakis side of the wall and also in so doing realised that their house has no electricity for some reason.  We rang Lakis and Argy and they think that their bills are still not being paid properly by the bank despite them trying to rectify the situation when they were here so it could be they have actually been cut off.  John will investigate with Stelios to see if it is a mechanical failure of a fuse or the meter.

It was a beautiful drive down to Polis this afternoon.  It is such a bonus after the storms to have a glorious day like today - so lovely that we had piping hot showers late morning and then sufficient hot water in the evening to do the washing up and John checked the PV monitoring and we had made almost 10Kw.  We had the meter read only last week and we have a healthy 700Kw hours in the bank to supplement our usage over Christmas.  This really has been a great investment for us particularly because there is now bugger all interest being paid on any of the accounts available to us here on the island.

The nice Home Concept Shop was still open when I passed by so I called in to have a look around - more to waste time than anything else - there is currently a sale on with 30% off the Christmas Decorations and 20% off everything else.  Some of the stuff appears to be quite overpriced but a lot of it is reasonable and saves a trip to Jumbos.  I picked up some lovely serviettes for Christmas in shades of grey (although not 50) and really wanted to try and support the shop a bit more but there was nothing else I needed.

I know the car had been stopped for a while in the sun but this was the temperature when I got back in - compare that to the 12 degrees of yesterday!!!  I headed off to Paps where I met so many people that I knew!  Firstly Yve who I hadn't seen for ages and have now bumped into three or four times and she is coming to our Ladies Christmas Meal on Wednesday.  Then Anastasia who has recently done some pretty complicated clothing alterations for Liselotte and who I bumped into at about the same time last week and in exactly the same place and then Di and Rob.  Di, Rob and I blocked up the fruit and veg aisle for a while having a catch up!

I got home to catch the last few minutes of the football match - Big Mistake as the Mighty Blades conceded in those minutes to their arch rivals Dirty Dirty Leeds.  I don't think that my purchase of some award winning wine which was to accompany a very tasty duck (for which I must thank Mum) and spicy noodle dish compensated in any way for the dismal failure of his beloved Sheffield United.  John pee'd off???  you betcha!!  Next time they are playing on TV I must try and stay out for the whole 90 minutes.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Wild Weather

Sorry regular readers but my laptop was out of juice when I went to post last night!!

I got up this morning after what was a wild night.  The storm that had been forecast came and came with a vengeance.  This is not my photograph but someone down near the coast in Paphos took it - that is some impressive lightning!!!  We had lightning, we had thunder, we had torrents of rain and we had hail.  To be fair this was the first storm of the winter but it left us in no doubt that Summer is well and truly over!!!

Anyway I got up and put on some scruffers as we wanted to have a bit of a clean up outside before going off to pickleball well that was the intention but it was pretty wet outside and my plan to swim on Saturday has been put on hold as the pool water was nestling right near the top and will need pumping out and because the rain was mixed with hail it will have been chilly and the temperature is bound to have dropped.

John went out and checked that our neighbours' pools were ok to be left today - more rain is forecast today although the weekend looks to be fine.  We ensured everything was safe and sound before heading off to Emba and a game of pickleball.

So you can see that when we set off the temperature had only managed to get up to 12 degrees - it was considerably warmer down by the coast in fact a whole 7 degrees warmer!!!  It was a grey and miserable morning - these days are few and far between but John commented on how different the island looks when it is like this.  Everything is a mess because the lack of drainage means that the roads end up coated in guff which has been brought off of the fields.  Diana text to warn us that there was an issue on the road near Tsada - I am guessing there might have been a bit of land slippage but we didn't go that way to see what had occurred.

Sorry but this was taken from inside the car - John is driving down the 'Egyptians Road' and today we have no view across the valley and beyond Kritou Tera - the mountains are swathed in clouds and there is a fine drizzle and it is barely daylight.  John took it carefully down towards Coral Bay but fortunately there was little problem on that route and we stopped in Peyia to get rid of our recycling.

This is the grim view as we drove along one of our most favourite coast roads which is at Banana Bay heading towards Sonny's restaurant.  The sea was very rough but as I said before it was nowhere near as chilly as it had been when we left Droushia.  We were quite early when we got to pickleball.  Normally I leave it to ring Marios as I don't like to push my luck but we decided it would be better sitting inside the building on a day like today and he was quite happy for us to go in.  It gave us the opportunity to replace a couple of the court markings which had become quite warm and then the other John arrived followed by Diana then Liselotte and Mum.

It tickles me how everywhere in Cyprus now embraces Christmas and even the room that we use for playing pickleball had its own decorations and Christmas Tree!!!

We managed to hit one of the balls which is suspended from the ceiling and brought it down - fortunately it was only plastic and had obviously been stuck up having been knocked down previously.

We had some really good games - everyone was in good spirits and we had quite a laugh.  This was to be Liselotte's last game before Christmas as she is off visiting family but John will be there for a couple more games although not next week as he is taking her to the airport - much to his surprise!!!

We went back for a cuppa with Mum.  She is thrilled that Fred is making progress in the exercise stakes and now that he has a free run of the bungalow moves around from room to room and now sleeps with Mum which gives him the opportunity to jump up (onto the bed) and down which is something the vet wanted him to do - jump that is although not necessarily sleep with Mum.  Mum had bought him a new toy and sent some video later in the evening to show me he was playing with it.  It is a big change for Fred who has, for the previous four years or so, been confined to a much smaller area and has never jumped up onto anything.  The small changes that have been made will help him with his metabolism and hopefully will help his liver not being clogged up with a coating of fat.

Great excitement today as we have heard that our No1 Stalkers are coming over for a week's holiday.  We have missed Wendy and Bill being on the island so we are thrilled that we will get a chance to see them before Christmas - fingers crossed this crappy weather improves for them - we kind of want to remind them what they are missing by not being on the island.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

all good in the hood...

We are fast is approaching the end of November and I am certain that it is warmer for this time of year than it has been in previous years - maybe, according to the photovoltaics, not so sunny but generally milder.  Having said all that bad weather, and I mean very bad weather, is forecast to hit the island today and I wanted to get to cemetery in order to dead head and tidy the plants.  The original osteospurmum is still flowering and looks really healthy and the Chrysanthemum looks better for a haircut.  It all looks tidy and cared for which is what I have always hoped would be the case.  In the spring we will need to think about something more permanent.  I am not entirely sure whether Dad actually ever went into the cemetery when he was alive so I hope he approves of his final resting place and the care we take.

Job done I came home and did a bit of work in the garden.  As it happens the weather forecast turned out to be right but fortunately the storm did not arrive until late this evening but when it did it was a biggie - lots of thunder and lightning and heavy, heavy rain.

I guess if I look back on the blog I will be able to see what is normally happening in the garden at this time of year.  The garden is a riot of colour and I am loathe to cut things back right now.  The rose we planted in memory of Hadge has flowered on and off since we got it.  It looked a little weary at the end of the summer with the leaves turning yellow but since it has had some natural watering it has perked up and greened up and there are a fair few buds ready to flower.  My original clock vine which was a gift from Elaine some years ago got split this year and initially I thought the bit we split off wasn't going to survive but it has and it is still flowering and the leaves haven't shown any sign of dropping so we will leave it be for the time being.  It is nowhere near the pool so John wont be moaning about it being a pest.

On the subject of the pool I looked back to see when we stopped swimming last year which was when the pool reached the dizzy depths of 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) and it was around the third week of November.  Looking today the temperature was still around 56 degrees F (14 degrees C) so if it remains like that and the weather is kind to me I plan to go in on Saturday which will be the first day of December.

Whether it is as a result of global warming I don't know but this year it seemed to take a while for Summer to get going and it has been wetter with rain falling in months when you wouldn't expect it but here we are still without any duvet on the bed and without John desperate to light the wood burner although we are all ready to do so - it just hasn't been cold enough!

I continued to spuddle around in the garden doing a bit of tidying and weeding and enjoying being outside John was taking advantage and doing a few jobs.  He has kindly started to make me a duckboard for the bathroom which we will be able to stand on after showering and which I can put our towels on and store under the sink so they aren't on the floor.

Here are some final photographs of the garden which shows the lush greenness and colour.

As the sky began to cloud over with some threatening looking clouds and the temperature began to drop it was time to retire indoors and get on with some cooking - this obviously means we will eat and it also keeps me warm and the kitchen warm.  I think people here would agree that the temperature indoors really drops late afternoon and then seems to creep back up again an hour or so later.  We have found a big difference by having the roof in the conservatory done - there doesn't seem to be such a difference in temperature between there and the kitchen.

This sort of Autumnal weather makes me want to cook and tonight I had decided to try my hand at a Chicken Biryani rather than a wet curry with rice.  I was going to make it from scratch so got all my spices out the smell of them infusing in the pan was absolutely lovely.  My tastebuds have most definitely changed over the years because I now prefer my food to be spicier than ever before - I followed the recipe but on tasting both John and I agreed that it needed to pack a bit more of a punch so added an additional chili to the mix.

I have a hankering to make my own mango chutney - I need to get some mangos when they are cheap or maybe 'B' grade because that wont make any difference if they are being made into a pickle.

I shall soon need to make a new batch of my lemon pickle - this has proved to be such a success - we got some jars when we were in Jumbos the other day and I had made sure that there as one put back for the Bobster which was just as well as he text me tonight (on his new 21st century smart phone) to say he had just finished his last lot.  Well Bobby this one is yours and is made with love!!!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Sonia is 70!!!

I am oh so very pleased to say that today I had been invited to Vasilikon Winery to celebrate Sonia Demetriou's 70th birthday.  I say very pleased because Sonia would be the first to admit that her retirement to Cyprus did not really go as she would have planned.

I met Sonia through Elena when Sonia used to come to talk about her book Androula's Kitchen and we became friends and then Sonia came for an extended stay on the island living in Arodes for a while and then Prodromi - it was a big decision for her to retire, sell up in London and move to Cyprus where she hoped to find a little traditional house and potter but she did.  Sonia arrived in Droushia shortly after Elena had passed away which was sad as Sonia missed the opportunity to build on their friendship.  Then not long after moving here Sonia sadly had a stroke which she was recovering from really well when she had a fall which set her back no end.  But undeterred Sonia is living on her own in Prodromi and making the most of her retirement with no regrets.  She is inspirational.  

Sonia had asked for no presents but that was never going to work so I did a bit of investigation and found that she was a lover of bright colours and handmade items so when I did my weaving last week the second rug I made was with her birthday in mind.  I wrapped the gift in some handmade paper which Elena had given me shortly before she passed away so that a little bit of Elena came with us for Sonia's birthday.  Sonia guess by the size and shape of the package what was inside and was absolutely thrilled to bits and I am so glad.

We were a small group of ladies who have been important to Sonia in her retirement journey in Cyprus.  Sonia had very kindly funded the afternoon which included the lovely wines from Vasilikon and cheese and meat platters with bowls of mixed salads.  Being a small group we were all able to chat and get to know one another.  I knew Stacey and Gillian and Diana and also Andrea at the end but the other ladies were new to me.  Jackie Fessas sat on Sonia's left was a hoot.  Initially she was only introduced as Jackie but then I realised that she is Kate Fessas mother in law.

Our afternoon was rounded off with a very nice chocolate cake and I am not normally a lover of chocolate cake but this was light in texture and flavour.

John was a star and he was taxi driver today and came and picked Di, Gillian, Jackie, Sonia and I up when we were ready to leave.  I got the short straw and the baby jump seat in the boot.

When John came to pick us up poor Maria had to have a quiet word - apparently the last time we had come for a drink and a pitta (which happened to be the day that Charlie was knocked over) we had left without paying - she wasn't bothered because she knew we would be back or failing that she could find us in Fitos's (she is related to Fitos!).

That is not the first time we have been somewhere and left without paying (quiet inadvertently of course) and will not be the last I am sure but no-one was bothered.

Anyway we got all the girlies back in one piece and we hope Sonia had enjoyed herself - it certainly looked like she had.  So a really big thank you to Sonia and let's hope she goes from strength to strength.