Sunday 28 January 2024

New Year's Eve 2023 - the Final Curtain


New Year's Eve 2023 and although it was a Sunday we were having a day without Mum because tomorrow January 1st 2024 we will be going to The Farmyard in Kathikas for a carvery with Lilian, Gail and Pete. 

This morning started out rather more grey than of late but it was very warm down on the coast and the sun just burned the clouds off and it was lovely.  What a glorious end to the year.  We walked Dot and Hector down as far as the campsite and then back to the harbour for a coffee.

We aren't sure quite what is happening with the campsite.  All the time we have lived here its future has been uncertain but it has been cleared although the campsite bar building is still there.  I understand that there are plans for it which may take a couple of years to complete.  No matter what those plans are the campsite will never quite be the same eclectic mix of patrons and camping homes which, from a sanitary point of view, is probably a good thing but it will lose some of its natural charm and unspoilt character.

We stopped off at Coffee Island for a coffee and a muffin and a chat and for the passers by to make a fuss of the doggies.  I reckon you should never be lonely if you have a cute attractive and pretty well behaved dog by your side!!!  It was such a lovely quiet start to the day, the sea was like a mill pond and once again we thanked our lucky stars for living where we do.

The remainder of the day was spent super quietly - exchanging texts with people near and far because we never stay up till midnight.  Instead we just relaxed, had a hearty meal of sausage and bacon toad in the hole with mashed potato, onion gravy and peas.  As I would be driving tomorrow morning I only had a glass of wine before we turned in and called it a night and an end to 2023.  In fact the fireworks from somewhere in the village woke us at midnight.

So in the words of Looney Tunes Cartoons "that's it folks".

After nearly 13 years of writing every single day, save for a couple of breaks when sad events meant I did not feel like posting, I am bringing this blog to an end.  That makes a total of 3,858 entries charting our move to Cyprus, building our lives and renovating our home and then our general day to day activities.  There was so much to write about when we first moved here - a real voyage of discovery - but now we have fallen into a routine it is harder for me to find things of interest!   Do you know that 3,858 entries taking about 30 minutes an entry equates to around 80 days of solid blogging?

Our time is now being taken up by more important issues like my mum's health - she needs us - case in point we have had Fred's passing and a day spent in A&E when she fell outside in the cold prior to us arriving with lunch.  We don't quite know how things will pan out this year - we just put our lives on hold a little so that we are available as and when she needs us.

On a brighter note I am actually looking forward to keeping in touch with people by way of a text, email or phone call because as we get older it becomes more important to know that people are ok rather than assume they are ok because social media has replaced personal contact.

So lovely readers thank you for your support and for the over 400,000 views and if you are in Cyprus we still need Lick-e-Lix and Branston Sauce!!!

Saturday 27 January 2024

My penultimate post...

We had an impromptu trip down to Paphos today.  I couldn't bear to think of Mum struggling with her TV or sitting in the house in silence (save for Freddo) so consequently I didn't sleep (that together with the fact that I was very full from the food we had consumed at Kaponas last night).  John said he would come with me and we decided to sift through all the watches we have sitting around waiting for batteries and take them with us to see if Gregory was open in the Old Town. 

The morning did not start well as we could not find the remote control for the Firestick and we had been playing around with our old Android Boxes to see if we could find a more straightforward TV solution for Mum and then decided they were too old so would get rid.  I scooped up what we didn't want but had only put that as far as the spare room and it wasn't there and then I remembered that we had kept hold of some cables and bits and pieces and I had put them in a box and thankfully the remote control was there.  I then went out in the garden to clear up leaves and clean the outdoor cushions and as I tipped up the chipboard stuff underneath the cushions it just disintegrated in my hand then when I went to open the gate the key snapped off in the lock by which time John had had a complete sense of humour failure and of course it was all my fault.  The final thing was that in the Old Town trying to find our bearings I walked into a bollard which I hit with the middle of my shin where there is the minimum amount of padding and it bloody hurt and John wasn't overly impressed with me then either but I just didn't see it.

Anyway we did go to Gregory's with is right next door to the Kiniros Hotel in Makarios Avenue which is now pedestrianised but used to be a thoroughfare.  It is an amazingly bijoux establishment and the photograph above is the entrance way which leads into a hidden garden.  I think it is one of the most interesting and pretty places anywhere.

We took seven watches to Gregory.  A tiny elderly gentleman who has had that same shop for 50 years and who pitches up to work in a suit, shirt and tie.  Watching him change a battery is like watching a real labour of love.  He doesn't just change the battery he gives your watch care and respect and, even better, makes sure that they are set to the correct time which is a bonus on some of our watches.  Seven batteries changed came to 35 euros but John gave him 40 euros and wished him a Happy New Year and he seemed quite happy with that.

It was a glorious day and as we were leaving the watch shop we could hear a band up in the square.  The band marched down Makarios Avenue right past us.  It was lovely and the Old Town was heaving with locals frequenting any and every coffee shop or restaurant available.  The atmosphere was fun and friendly and if you had been a visitor here for the Festive Season it would have made your stay quite memorable.  Listening to Christmas Songs on a very warm December Saturday sitting outside drinking coffee is quite something to experience.

We had quite some success with Mum.  We got her TV setup in the Sun Room working and for the whole time we were there it was stable.  We gave her some tuition on how to move around so that she can find other things to watch and marked up her remote control with a series of dots to try and get her to press the buttons she needs to press not two or three at the same time.  In the end we decided one of the styluses that John's Mum had sent her for Christmas would be ideal and it seemed to be.  We at least got her pointing the remote control somewhere in the direction of the Firestick and not at the ceiling fan and she had stopped stabbing at the remote just gently pressing with the stylus.  I even took a picture of the handset and blew it up and annotated it so she could remember the buttons to press and what they did and the buttons she would never need to press.

On our return home I made some more Christmas Cards as I just could not face watching the Man City SUFC match although the result was nowhere near as catastrophic as it might have been.  

As a postscript shortly after I wrote this post Mum made the painful decision to have Fred put to sleep.  He had stopped eating and deteriorated very quickly.  The vet diagnosed that Fred was in the final stages of kidney failure and confirmed to me, when I went to sign the cremation papers,  that mum's decision was the correct one.  Poor Mum was devastated and she will undoubtedly feel a little more lonely as a result.

Rest in Peace Fred

Friday 26 January 2024

Saying Thank You

This morning I went to the Garden Centre with Gail.  We have been invited to Kaponas this evening for a meal as a thank you from Eleni for our support.  We are expecting that she will provide a buffet and that there will be no charge so we wanted to buy her something as a thank you from us for the kind invitation and the fact that she always knocks our bill down when we go anyway.  We are fully expecting an eclectic mix of invitees with the regular local freeloaders in evidence no doubt but we will be going to support Eleni and her family.

It was almost too hot sat in the Cafe and I was in shorts, t-shirt and sandals!!!  We both had a drink and a cake - I opted for the mini pavlova which was absolutely lovely - a small meringue confection which was crunchy on the outside and sticky in the middle pair of meringues filled with cream and strawberries and dragon fruit.  Gail had warm pecan pie and said it was amazing.  Bless Marianna she does so well with her food and you can see how much she loves her cafe and pleasing her customers.

We chose a beautiful anthurium for Eleni.  Rather than the traditional red flowering ones we opted for one with pale pinky-green flowers.  Eleni loves her plants.  This one is for inside and hopefully she will love it.

Gail needed a few bits of shopping before we got back home so we got that sorted.  A quick run round Paps, the chemist and ACS and then we were done and back home for a quiet afternoon or that is what I had hoped for but Mum had, in her words, buggered up the TV system again and so I had a lengthy conversation with her yet again trying to get something working for her.  I get cross and I know I shouldn't so I have to keep reminding myself that she is 88 and her TV is her company.

I decided that John and I would go down tomorrow and try and sort things there because over the phone it is an absolute nightmare, Mum gets all flustered and for some reason cannot tell her left from her right.  I spent some time trying to get her to point her phone at the TV screen but simply got a view through into the utility room!!!

Gail casually slipped into conversation that she had made a New Year's Day card for Eleni and family so pressure was on for me to do the same with the time I had left this afternoon.

Thank the lord for tintyweb as there were all sorts of simple ideas and I ended up doing the balloon one which is to the left!!!

We assembled at 6.00pm and walked up to the taverna.  We know it is normally busy on a Friday but when we go at lunch time or early evening we never see anyone else so we were interested to see who else might be turning up.

As I said all the usual suspects who pitch up for a freebie were there so we found ourselves a seat at one end of a long table and ended up meeting a couple who have lived on the island for years the last three of which have been in Droushia and who we have never seen before!

The food was amazing and there was so much choice.  Starters, mains and sweets.  As we had thought Eleni didn't want any payment but Pete and Gail and John and I wanted to give the family something back for all their hard work so John insisted that their daughter take 50 euros to treat her and her brothers to a drink or something.

It's all about food

The weather continues to delight us so today was another glorious and warm day, shorts and sandals were required for my trip down to Paphos to take Mum shopping.  John had gone out on his bike with Pete so I set off quite early as I wanted to go to the bank and do some bits and pieces before picking up Mum and John and I had planned a trip to the Pizzeria early afternoon.

As I needed to go down the Mesoghi Avenue I drove through Kathikas and at the point where you can see the coast on both sides of the road I pulled in, stopped and took a photograph of the glorious terraced landscape stretching out before me.  I never want to get bored of looking at my surroundings.  With the weather as it has been recently we appreciate even more than ever how exceptionally lucky we are to live where we live.  

Mum didn't want much shopping but needed some cat food for Fred who has become very picky about his food.  We cannot be sure whether he is just getting old or is unwell so may have to take him to the vets and I am dreading what might happen if he is in kidney failure (which is likely) but will have to deal with that situation if and when arises.  I decided to take Mum to the cafe at the Begonia Garden Centre opposite the Mall.  She hadn't seemed keen when I suggested it previously but today I just took her.  It was warm enough that we could have and probably should have sat outside because it was considerably cooler inside although Mum did divest herself of all her layers as she warmed up.  She opted for a pot of tea and a bacon and egg bap.  The bap was huge but she had a good old stab at eating it all and said she would have finished all the bread had it had butter on it!!!  I have to say it was lovely and clean in the cafe with comfortable seating, nice food at a good price.  I will be taking her there again!

We returned to Emba where I spent time trying to get Mum to master her fire stick and its remote control.  I also swapped her VPN for the one we use - it was all working swimmingly when I left but by the time I had got home she had managed to do something to render all my good work useless.  I really dont know what we are going to do with her and her TV.  She only wants to watch BBC and really it shouldn't be too difficult but sadly it is.

As the glorious afternoon was coming to an end John and I made it to My Mamma Mia for our usual pizza.  It was marvelous and we don't even have to tell the woman there what we want - she knows!!!

It was lovely not to have to cook today and we both returned home feeling nicely full.  We watched a bit of the darts after I had had an hour long video call with Mum trying to get her to input a 6 character password - by which time I needed a drink or three!!!

It was still only early when the darts came to a break so we then started to watch a series called the Couple Next Door which can make you see your neighbours in a whole different light!!!

Tomorrow we have a relatively quiet day but are going out with Gail and Pete to Kaponas as Eleni has invited regulars to a special dinner.  Sadly Jan and Derek and Nicky and Mark are away and Ellen is poorly so it will only be the four of us.

Thursday 25 January 2024

Festivities over..

A quiet day today getting back to a bit of normality.  We didn't have much planned so had a lazy morning but I was up early enough to get three loads of washing in, done, out on the line and dry which for 27th December cannot be bad.

I know Uncle Stan never believes me when I say we have hard winters but when we do we do, this year however the weather has been unbelievably kind and today I got my pastey-coloured legs out and went back into my shorts and sandals - note to self I must sort my toenails out - I just hadn't anticipated having my tootsies out in the open this side of New Year!!!

We need to make the most of this glorious weather as my app tells me that an extended period of rain starts on Wednesday after New Year's Day and looking at various reservoirs I can tell you that the island needs plenty although maybe not all at once.

We are currently looking after Nicky and Mark's three cats - Roxy, Tabitha and Noodles.  Today there was not one to be seen and it didn't appear that any of the food had been eaten either.  We don't like it when we don't see them so we had a walk around looking for them.  No joy but fortunately after texting the neighbours Rich confirmed sightings of all three today thank goodness.

We nipped down to Polis this morning as we wanted to organise a replacement dehumidifier as our current replacement had failed like the first one.  The electrical shop in Polis was very apologetic and had offered us 30% off a new one and, as we like to keep the spare room dehumidified and it hasn't been for some time we were keen to at least get one ordered.  Fortunately they had just one of the one that we chose so we took that then nipped to Paps for a bit of shopping and then home where I spent most of the afternoon cooking up leftovers.  A St Stephen's pie from the turkey and gammon which we will have one Sunday with Mum and Lilian and sausage rolls made with the leftover stuffing plus a pork dish to have at a later date.

A lovely quiet evening watching the darts and little Luke Littler who played like a whirlwind, blink and you would miss it.  

Not much else to report save that we had company this evening in the shape of a lime green spider which seemed to be making a home in the tinsel above the mirror on the mantelpiece.

It is apparently a green huntsman spider but minuscule compared to the billy big brown ones we have had in the house which are so large you cannot put a pint pot over them in order to capture them and put them outside!!!  


Wednesday 24 January 2024

Boxing Day

Christmas Day went just about as well as I could have possibly hoped for.  Gail and Pete were so lovely with Mum and Lilian which is great as it isn't everybody's idea of a good day out spending it with the older generation but within minutes they were all relaxed and chatting and having a laugh.  Bless Gail she said she had toned down the content of her Present game parcels so as not to offend anyone which was good of her because she has a brilliant but wicked sense of humour so it did not go unnoticed that it was my Mum who lowered the tone of the day by shouting out that she thought John's headgear looked like a penis!!!  Gail and I are still sniggering about it now - children that we are!!!

A glorious day today for our annual Boxing Day stroll.  John and I started the morning by opening the presents we had left under the tree yesterday which meant we had our lovely gifts from the UK.  We then packed up the pasties and the non-alcoholic mulled wine and picked up Lilian and Mum and sent down to the coast for a wander in the sunshine.

It was absolutely glorious walking along the coast - if I had come prepared I would have jumped in for a swim without question - several people were doing exactly that - and this is the spot where I swam last December with Kaye - it is near the King Evelthon where they have created a nice natural spot to enter the sea.

So Mum managed to walk a reasonable distance but decided to sit so John and I could walk further and Lilian stayed with her.

I was far too hot in my jeans, as was John, so we actually didn't walk much further because we were melting.  What we did see was that there appears to be yet another massive hotel being constructed on the coast opposite the Melania - not visible from the road but very visible from the coastal path.

We slowly made our way back to the car having built up a bit of an appetite so no pressure then for me to get my pasties reheated in mum's ancient and rather temperamental microwave.  I had everything crossed that pre-cooking had been the right way to go because I didn't want a repeat of the gluey pastry I had when I made them and froze them uncooked last time.

I needn't have worried - the pasties were a thing of beauty. You can't tell from this picture but actually Mum and Lilian were really enjoying them and ate every bit of them and they were huge and packed full of meat.  The non-alcoholic mulled wine was also a revelation.  You would never have known that it was only made from fruit juices and spices - not too sweet and punchy in flavour it went perfectly with the super peppery pasties.  For once I was proud to have made these and will always cook then freeze in future.

A beautiful day.  My work here for Christmas/Boxing Day done we returned home and kicked off our shoes, poured a large wine and sighed a sigh of happy relief - all feelings of well-being were firmly erased by another abject performance by the Blades - this season cannot be over quick enough for me.

Sunday 21 January 2024

Christmas Day...

Christmas Day - a beautiful day with glorious sunshine.  

John and I were up early getting organised and then we went down to the cemetery to visit Dad, Elena, David, Les and Janet and Arthur.  Sadly this morning saw the passing of Philippos's mother who was in her 90s and stole the show at one of the village festivals when she took to the stage.  May she rest in peace and our thoughts are with the family for them Christmas will always be inextricably linked with her death.  Her funeral will take place on Wednesday - the service being held in Inea because our village church is still being refurbished.  It is always quite sobering when we leave the cemetery to realise that there are more and more people that we know who now rest there.

We returned home and John then shot off to pick up Lilian and Mum.  Gail and Pete were coming over at 12.00 and I was trying to get everything cooked and kept warm and hopefully producing a decent Christmas Dinner.

I knew that Gail and Pete would be relaxed about sharing the day with Mum and Lilian and they were absolutely brilliant at including them in conversation and having a chat and a laugh when John and I were busy being host and hostess with the mostess.

We realised we had a problem with the fridge freezer early doors, not the freezer part but the fridge which was far too cold and much colder than it should have been irrespective of what setting we put it on.  There wasn't any time to worry about it - at least too cold was better than not cold enough.

When everyone had arrived and met one another and settled into the (very warm) conservatory we opened the gift bags that I had prepared instead of crackers.  Everyone had a festive headpiece, a Christmas photograph of themselves, a Christmas mug, a joke, a packet of smarties, a game, a carefully chosen keyring and a mini cracker which actually had a banger in it which worked and a joke and quiz question.  

As we had insisted on no presents (save for the present game) the non crackers went down really well and really broke the ice and anyone who knows me knows I love to do things like that and with good old Jumbos and Shein or Temu with their unending supply of irresistible tat on offer it is a joy not a chore for me!

So once the gift bags had been fully investigated we were then ready for our Lunch.  Lilian had kindly brought some Nosecco which I hadn't tried before but have to say was really rather nice and preferable to getting bloated on a load of fizzy pop.  I was driving Mum and Lilian home later so was happy not to have anything to drink until I got back when I could kick off my heels and relax!

We had a variety of hot trays and throw away roasting tins to keep everything as hot as possible and very welcome they were too because we had to accommodate the following...

Roast Turkey and Roast Gammon, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, Yorkshire puddings, roast carrots, pigs in blankets, two type of stuffing, bread sauce, peas and sauteed leeks, mashed swede and carrot, cauliflower cheese, red cabbage and Brussels sprouts!!!!!

Johns temporary table top was a triumph and everyone liked the table decoration and personalisations and the food went down well too - Mum ate an enormous meal and was actually determined to finish everything she had taken even though we did tell her she didn't have to!!!!  Needless to say we had a long break playing the present game before tackling pudding!!!

Sorry about the out of focus picture but this just goes to show what a frenetic game we had - Pete isn't a generally someone who plays cards or games but he got well into it and despite being late into the present selection process actually ended up with more gifts than anyone else.  Somehow this always gets people laughing and today was no exception.

As the day wore on Mum decided she wanted to be home before dark to settle down with Fred and Lilian was happy with that so I took them back and Pete and Gail went home to spend time with the dogs, they returned for a nightcap when I got back from taxi duties.  We all agreed it had been a lovely day and it really had been.