Sunday, 23 September 2018

Sundays seem to come round increasingly quickly at the moment!  Today Mum was bringing the meat element to our meal which was to be jacket potato, salad and Coronation chicken and we had bought some mega slabs of Paps carrot cake to share for pudding.  You can tell it is cooler because up until now the thought of a giant piece of carrot cake would just have been far too much!!!

The weather since Laura and Mark left has been really awful - unsettled and stormy and although the mornings start bright and warm enough it all goes downhill from there.  We have also had several fires nearby which have necessitated bringing in helicopters or planes to dump water.  One was started by lightning yesterday and affect an area near Yialyia - yesterday we saw one near Kritou Terra and apparently there were others around Kathikas and Stroumbi.

Mum didn't fancy a swim today - can't say I blame her as the skies had become overcast and it was bound to feel chilly when you got out but the mystery of the temperature difference between our pool and Lakis' pool has been sort of solved.  Lakis' pool is in full sunshine and they have one of these new geo-bubble covers which is super efficient and lightweight and initially the temperature difference was only a couple of degrees which was understandable and then over the last couple of days our temperature has begun to drop and his was going up and nudging 40 degrees!  This was strange but we thought that his new cover must indeed be magic and so we decided that once our 20+ year old one (which we were kindly given by Mum and Dad) finally meets its maker we would replace it with a geo-bubble.  As it turns out there is an issue with the scale on Lakis thermometer which moves so it can show warmer or colder than it actually is!  So in order to avoid any confusion we are going to invest in a couple of digital ones so we can be absolutely sure what the readings are!

So back to today we managed to start our regular Sunday afternoon game outside but were accompanied by the distant and then not so distant rumbles of thunder and then we were met with the plop plop plop of some rather large rain drops hitting the deck!  We retired indoors before Mum succumbed to hypothermia!

Someone managed to capture the rainbow which appeared after the storm and which was almost entirely complete over the village - what a fantastic shot!  The garden will have benefited from some rainwater but actually it wasn't enough to soak in and did little more than make a mess - John was hopeful that the panels would get a good wash but I think he will have been disappointed.

Partly because our game took so long to complete and partly because of the weather Mum stayed here until around 6.00pm which is fine in the Summer as she will be driving home in daylight but once the clocks change (if they do as there is now some debate about dispensing with the Daylight Saving Hour) we will need to review how we do things so that she is safe and we don't have to worry about her - which we do anyway!

We slobbed out this evening watching the remaining episodes of Jack Ryan Season One which we had started earlier in the week.  It has been a bit of a luxury to have the evening to ourselves and we actually stayed up much later than normal as a result.  We have quite a busy week next week - surprise surprise but I am pleased that I will be off to Art in the morning - the beach huts are calling!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Some rain today...

I had to give the old grey matter a wake up this morning when I had a phone call from John Read asking me what might have happened to a folder he used to have on his laptop - mmmmmm let me get out my crystal ball - if it was something I had done for him then it would have been a couple of years ago when we used to see them more regularly so I didn't have the answer on the tip of my tongue and then clearly my skills of talking people through what I wanted them to do have got rather rusty since my retirement but eventually I managed to get him to locate the errant files and restore them so tick in the box, job done.

John and I went off down to Polis late morning to do a bit of shopping and bugger me we were greeted by rumblings of thunder and and obscured view across to the mountains - we realised that this was caused by a fire which appeared to be over the back of Kritou Terra - rain did come on our way back home and the road looked like it had been quite a lot but nothing when we got back up to Droushia.
This afternoon I embarked on the dress-making I have planned to do for Mum.  She wants a simple shift dress to throw on in the summer and we hadn't been able to find anything so about 45 years since I last made anything (I gave up sewing at school when I was 14) I was busy cutting out a pattern, pinning it on the fabric and then cutting it out and putting in the tailor's tacks and then following the initial instructions so that I had a first attempt knocked together for Mum to try on tomorrow so I can ensure it is roughly the right shape and with the darts in the rights place.

All good so far but I didn't have pinking shears and I dont have an over-locker so I am concerned that the seams might fray as the material seems to have that tendency and I need to get some interfacing for the bodice - fortunately I located a lady in Chloraka who has some so I can pick it up next week when I go down to visit Mum - fingers crossed that when she tries it on tomorrow it will fit and she will like it.

If this proves to be successful I might be tempted to try and make some things for myself but we will just have to wait and see but I don't think any of the top designers need worry at this particular point in time!

This evening we had been invited to join our neighbours for a meal down at the coast watching the sun go down at Santa Barbara.  We last visited that place six years ago when Debra was visiting and to be honest it was rather disappointing - we had gone for lunch and the food was average and the service appalling.  The place has changed hands since then and the current owners are Greek.  Argy has made sure she is known by the management and so we had a superb table outside with a cracking view of the sunset and although we had had some rain earlier today this evening was almost cloudless and warm.

We were treated to a spectacular view as the sun made its decent into the horizon.  It was one of those "Ain't we Lucky??" moments when we take stock of where we are actually living and realise that, if we wanted we could do this regularly and that many of those around us pay an absolute fortune just to come for two weeks.

We have mentally put this on the list of somewhere to take Janet, Stan and Jackie when they are here later this month although we will need to keep track of sunset times so that we do not miss it!

We had a lovely evening, venue, company, food and wine - perfect!!  Such a change from the last time we visited so BIG THANKS to the Kyriakides for persuading us to go with them this evening.  We realise that sometimes we need to branch out and be less insular - there are still so many places to go and see.  It was a relaxed evening and we made our way back home and enjoyed a nightcap with our neighbours before retiring to bed.

Whilst we were out Charlie obviously got bored and lonely so wandered off to another of our neighbours for some company and cuddles.  Here is a picture of Charlie around at Persephone and Savvas' house in the arms of their son Neofitos.  I had thought that Charlie was still in summer slim mode but looking at this picture I am not so sure.

Neofitos is training to be a doctor studying at Cambridge which is what our niece Alicia is hoping to do in the future and Persephone has kindly offered for him to give her any advice she might need.

Looking at the fine young man he has become makes John and I feel old - when we first moved here seven years ago he was a young teenager and now look at him!

Persephone must be so proud of him and their daughter Nefeli who is also training to be a doctor.

Charlie eventually came home - we are lucky that all our neighbours put up with (and love) our cats because they stupidly believe (the cats that is not our neighbours) that all the houses and gardens are theirs to visit as and when they please!

Friday, 21 September 2018

Today we were catching up with Carole and Paul who are regular visitors to the island and staying at the Souli hotel in Latchi - we met them in person for the first time last year.  They wanted to grab some lunch with us and not having been to Fitos but having passed it and heard about it we were happy to oblige.  The weather was quite'iffy' and storms had been forecast so this was a good way of spending the day.

We had our favourite table (No 1) and the food did not disappoint - I opted for the stifado but really need the Bobster with me to help finish it - it was a mega plateful and so rich and tender - I did my best but it beat me!  We had the standard salad and dips to start and then some cakey things after our main meal - I had to wave the white flag - I couldn't manage my cake but Paul stepped in and did the honours.

Over lunch we had been talking about various places we visit which were unfamiliar to Paul and Carole and so we offered for them to come back for coffee but we would visit the little church in Arodes which has the old church in the cave behind Panayia Chrysospiliotissa.

The little churches in Cyprus are beautiful and thankfully many remain unlocked so that you can go inside to see all the beautiful icons.  This particular church is tiny and was almost full with the four of us inside.  We are not sure why some of the icons were covered over with lace - we think they were icons of Mary but cannot be sure - maybe someone reading this can enlighten me?

We then went into the cave church - this is an amazing little place.  I had not noticed the cross and the hearts above the door before - clearly something had been happening there fairly recently as the door frame was surrounded by dried flowers.

Inside is dark and dank so we left the door open - if you are planning on going in take a torch with you otherwise you will miss all the nooks and crannies - I still cannot get my head round the rather creepy wax babies in the form of a candle.  I think there are now many more icons inside than there were when we first came across this site for which I think we have to thank Sheila and Klaus who told us all about it.

We invited Carole and Paul back for coffee and so that Carole could meet the cats.  I don't think Charlie is overly impressed by the looks of this photograph but he should be grateful because our guests brought a gift of our favourite bottle of wine and some treats for the cats!

We had a lovely few hours with them and plan to catch up again next Friday before they return home - we have loaned Paul a tellytubby snorkel mask - he has the perfect head for one - no hair to get trapped and cause a leak - we shall be interested to learn how he gets on!

Lovely to catch up again and thanks for the gifts -  hope your holiday will have been a good one and see you next year !!!!!

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Dentist day

Since Laura and Mark have left there has been a distinct change in the weather it has cooled and become windy and changeable - the island, along with us, is sad that they have gone!  They were delayed returning to the UK so will have had a long night.  We had a relatively quiet Thursday planned save for a visit to the dentist for us both to have a check up at the dentist and a clean before going to see Mum.  I have to say that my clean at Perfect Smile with Dr Haris was bloomin' thorough to say the least - I think the soda blast was interesting but it did leave me with my teeth looking the cleanest they have in a very long time.  We were both happy with the results and have no other issues so just made a regular appointment for six months time.  John is no lover of the dentist but thinks Dr Haris is excellent so we are glad that we have been able to find someone he is happy with.

After the dentists we went on down to Emba.  Mum is back volunteering at the What's New Pussycat charity shop which I think is brilliant - it gives her a bit of routine and some human contact and now that pickleball is back on means that, once we start playing on Fridays, she will have something organised at least four days a week and I know that will be good for her.  She did her first return stint this morning.

Mum was after a photo frame as she is organising a gift for my Aunty Joyce when she comes over so John suggested a trip to Lemba and we went en masse and rifled through their selection finding something suitable and reasonably priced which meant we didn't have to tackle Jumbos.

We returned home for a quiet evening - something which we have not had for a while and with it a chance to catch up on some TV.

We are catching up with Carole and Paul tomorrow - they are regular visitors to the island - staying at the Souli in Latchi and they want to try Fitos for lunch - we are happy with that particularly as the weather is forecast to be stormy.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, good night...

A week on holiday is just not long enough as today we said goodbye to Laura and Mark and it seems like they have only just arrived. They promise to return and we know they mean it and we will look forward to it - they are fun and easy company.  They had to be out of their accommodation at the Spa by 11.00am and they went down to Paps to stock up on a few things to take home before arriving at ours.

It was another lovely day and we decided that we would have a late lunch as they weren't due down to the airport until later this evening and then as it happens the incoming flight from Cardiff was late coming in so they knew they were going to be late leaving which is pants when you aren't going to be arriving until the wee small hours and Mark's Dad was picking them up so it was going to be a late one for him as well.

John and Mark ventured up to the cheese factory in the village in the hopes of getting some halloumi to take home - this is no problem if it is vacu-packed.  They had been up previously to the cheese place that never closes only to find it closed but apparently this was because of a family wedding so there was no such trouble today as Maria was there and they got some halloumi and also some feta which we haven't tried from there before because initially when they opened they didn't make it.

So their last lunch on the island was a fairly traditional one with pittas, lounza and halloumi and a selection of salads and dips which we sat outside and ate.  This suits Laura down to the ground being a vegetarian (obviously she doesn't eat the lounza) and Mark is and always has been a bit of a foodie so he is in his element.  We are now faced with the conundrum of finding a traditional Cypriot barbeque for sale in the UK!!!  For this we will enlist the help of Lakis who says they are readily available around where he lives - Argy said any Cypriot shop in the UK should have them and then we pointed out that they were a bit thin on the ground in Yeovil, in fact anywhere in the South West thinking about it!

We had taken Laura and Mark around so that Laura could see how Lakis and Argy had modernised their three bed villa on our estate - although the houses are all 'similar' those that are owned and regularly occupied have all been done up so very differently.  Lakis and Argy's is a brilliant 'lock up and leave' but still with style and personality.  Mark things something like that would suit Laura and him down to the ground and they have friends out shortly who are looking for their own bolt-hole in the sun.

With time to kill before they left for the airport the poker table came out again and John is still completely discombobulated by Laura's tactics or apparent lack of them and she just relishes the fact that for a large percentage of the time it works.  I was technically the winner today because at some point during the proceedings I went ''all-in'' against Mark, won and then never got the right chips back!!!  I didn't complain though because it is only a game - something we had to keep reminding John who in his exasperation said it was more like playing Bingo.  God that man is so competitive!!

It is probably a bit too early as I write this to know whether they arrived safe and sound - I am sure they did and are sleeping off their travels.  Until the next time Mark and Laura - take care of one another and see you soon xxx

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

The Last Castle and Lara...

I cannot see who individually reads this blog but I can gather some statistics and since I began there have been over 180,000 page views from people spread across the globe from Andorra to Venezuela and of those readers we have made some great friends (aka Stalkers!).  The blog allows us to reach out to wider audience and share our experiences.  It can be a bit of a chore sometimes particularly when time is short or a day has been boring (in my opinion) but I guess there would be some people who would miss my musings!  Case in point is that we were contacted by our neighbours daughter  Louise today to thank us for clearing the garden of their villa in preparation for them coming out.  I had put it on the blog and her mum had seen it and shown her!  So to all my readers, near and far, thank you xxx

So we were out today on one of John's Jolly Jaunts which involved a trip down to Cap St Georges before heading up to the Last Castle.  Only a couple of years' ago Cap St George didn't exist - it is a manmade development just before St George's bay which should probably now be renamed Cap St Topsy because like Topsy it is growing and growing.  God only knows who buys in these places - the prices are only available if you enquire but if you are interested then you can get more information HERE from Korantina Homes who have also built that rather stunning development along Banana Bay.  This is about as far removed as you can get from traditional Cyprus and I would hazard a guess that anyone staying there has absolutely no idea about the island, its culture and traditions.  We drove past one house which had two Porches and a Maserati on the drive - that it serious, and I mean, serious money. 

We arrived at the Last Castle (Viklari) a little earlier than anticipated but it didn't matter as our table was ready and waiting and we had one with a view which is always a bonus.  John had booked vegetarian in advance for Laura (obviously) but I opted for that too as I love the fasoulia here.  Interestingly we were also offered the opportunity to have fish - I have never seen anyone having fish here but it is interesting to know for the future.

John was driving today - that is my Keo he is waving but as he said no self respecting ex-matelot would be seen with a glass of water or lemonade in front of him!  Lunch was perfect, it was warm with a nice breeze and the food was superb.  This had been the one place Laura had wanted to revisit - we had not been here since they came way back in 2011 and it was Mark's birthday when we brought them up here.  That was October and we remember racing back from Lara hotly pursued by a thunder storm!

Lara was our next stop and the beach was reasonably empty.  The downside to the beach is that there are a number of steep and uneven steps to get to the bottom - it is ok going down but not so ok coming back up particularly if it is hot and you are carrying something!  We traveled light which was sensible.

At the bottom of the steps is the turtle information hut - Lara is the prime turtle beach and was covered in a large number of nests.  In the tanks in the hut were some little loggerhead and green back turtle hatchlings which are there to educate the masses and will be released later to embark on their journey through the seas.  It was good to see that on the main part of the beach people were heeding the request not to erect tents or umbrellas although at both the far ends umbrellas were in evidence although fortunately not where there were any nest cages.

The sea was rough and sadly very full of seaweed which neither Laura nor I care for.  The boys weren't bothered going out far enough to avoid the majority of it and whilst Laura read her book I walked along the water's edge and found a lovely spot in amongst the rocks where there was soft sand and the waves coming in and out were free from seaweed.  I sat there for quite a while but it was proving to be too hot there which meant it would be even more hot where we had left our towels.  We stayed for a short while before declaring it a day and then made our way cross country back to the relative cool of Droushia - BLISS.

We rounded off our day with a jolly trip down to Latchi for an ice-cream and a wander.  I had carrot cake ice-cream - yes you heard correctly carrot cake ice-cream which tasted mildly of orange!!!  Laura and I walked from Porto Latchi to La Plage and back to get rid of the calories - mind you with the size of the tub of Snickers ice-cream Laura scoffed down that was probably not a bad idea.

The boys whimped out preferring to sit at the harbour side at Sea Fayre and have a pint and set the worlds to rights.  It was a beautiful evening - almost too warm and the manic hustle and bustle of the tourist season has subsided to we saw locals down eating - including Soteris and wife and girls who were having an evening out from Droushia.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Just a lovely day with lovely friends...

This morning we had a bit of a rest before going down to the Spa to pick up Laura and Mark as we had planned a little cross country trip over to the Winery so that we could have a light lunch.  We are out for a mammoth Finikas meze tonight so mindful of that we knew we had to be sensible.  The Spa is looking lovely - the pool area is really attractive and overlooked by a small restaurant.  The only trouble is that it is a large development in a small village that never really took off so sadly not all the facilities seem to function and it is looking a bit weary if you look closely and you don't have to look too closely.  Initially this was to be the Jewel in Droushia's crown with the promise of Italian style water gardens running through the middle (if you look at the marketing blurb).  This never materialised and what is left is a concrete sprawl where the planting has never really softened the edges.  The indoor pool, sauna and steam room are often closed up and the luxury penthouse apartments should come with working jacuzzis but this does not seem to be the case.  Being slightly outside the village centre and on a steep hill it isn't somewhere that we would just pop into although when we first moved they held a reasonbly good quiz there on a Thursday night.  The afternoon teas were legendary but then it all went pear-shaped and it has never done anything much to encourage locals to use it - unlike the Droushia Heights which kindly gave us a discount card and always makes us feel very welcome.  

We picked up our charges and took the rough back-road to the winery where they were clearing up after a rather large christening last night.  Laura and Mark have been there before so there was no need to get them wine tasting (Laura doesn't drink wine anyway - in fact she drinks very little full stop).  John was mesmerised by some Chinese couple there who seemed to be buying up the whole winery's supply and was having bottles signed - he found it so interesting that he completely zoned-out to our conversation.  He does this all the time which I find rather irritating - he doesn't mean to but can't help himself as often this ear-wigging leads to full-on Yiannis Tour Guide mode with him speaking in the slightly amusing broken English with Greekish accent that he adopts!  God love him!  Anyway we managed to bring him back to our conversation sufficiently long enough to eat a pitta for his lunch.

We dropped off the P's so they could enjoy their pool for the afternoon and arranged to meet them at Finikas at 7.00pm.  John nipped down to Polis to get some food for the cats and I had a lazy afternoon - I am feeling very tired - the nights have been exceptionally hot and if anyone offered me air-con at the moment I might almost be tempted - but not quite.  As we left to go out we were tickled to see the ice-cream lady in our development - not coming for the Syrian children around the corner but for our Cypriot neighbours!  We saw her later on trundling through the village stopping at a junction, indicating to turn right and merrily turning left.

By the looks of the sun going down this evening we are due to have another ultra hot day tomorrow and we have planned lunch at the Last Castle and a trip down to Lara.  The last time we did that with the P's the waves were above the boys' heads and we were chased all the way home by a thunder storm.

The P's were in place ready and waiting in what Phillipos referred to as 'our' table and we sat down to enjoy a really lovely meze - we had asked for slightly less food - opting to forego the last course of chicken for a sea bream instead.  The Bobster will be pleased to know that we made a fair attempt at finishing the dishes but we were beaten and the taverna cats benefited as a result!  Two French people arrived who are staying in Sappho Manor - we had to stop John earwigging and morphing in to his tour guide mode for the second time today!

Laura had parked in the Hotel car park so we decided to go in for a night cap.  We understand that the hotel is closing in the Autumn for a refurbishment which will be interesting to see.  Already in there and dining with their friends Chris and Pat were the Bobster and Di so it was lovely to all sit round having a nightcap together before wending our ways back home.