Sunday, 18 March 2018

Time spent with Friends - the last time we were all together

Another catch up Post

This morning we took the Pug down to see if we could get it a new MOT - not due until next week but as we were passing and not knowing if there was anything that might fail we took the opportunity.  The garage and testing centre is run by Andreas who is the husband of Marianna the Mukhtar's clerk and it used to be located in the village but now it has moved to the industrial park down below where John and Susan live.  It looks like a big old warehouse of a shed from the outside but on the inside has all mod cons.  Communicating with Andreas can be challenging because (a) his English is only marginally better than our Greek and (b) he is somewhat cross-eyed so always seems to be frowning and appears a bit bad-tempered - in truth I believe he is merely trying to focus on whoever is speaking to him!!!  Anyway today we had a result as Kelly's son who has returned from working in Namibia appeared to be manning the office and his English is great.  He told us to leave the car and return in a couple of hours.

We are still in search of the memorial rose we are to plant in the garden in remembrance of Hadge and now it is February it is nearing the right time for roses.  We went into the florists in Polis that sells all the lovely crockery and 'stuff'.  It is a right old Aladdin's cave and the two women we have spoken to couldn't be more helpful.  It would appear that the roses are beginning to come in now and they will ring us when a standard with dark red blooms is available.

With time to kill we wandered down to Fryday's for a coffee and a sandwich ruing the fact that it was not Wednesday when they put on their plentiful and reasonably priced breakfast buffet because our rather bland and boring toasted sandwich really didn't cut the mustard.  Whilst we were waiting for said item to arrive we were amazed to see a huge articulated lorry transporting live palm trees - somewhere to some hotel we guess.

I wasn't playing pickleball this afternoon and I was glad because it gave John and I the opportunity to go down to Paphos and spend some time with Mum and Dad rather than just popping in for a coffee.   I took Mum over to the Almyra to have a look at the charity exhibition into which I had donated my picture of the boy on the beach.  I have to say that I think the venue they used for the photographic exhibition last year was much more suitable as the room in the Almyra was a bit dark and uninspiring and the pictures were quite difficult to see, particularly as they had obviously had some sort of talk in there and the big projector screen was still in place obscuring almost the whole of one wall.  I just hope that they manage to sell the pictures and raise some serious money for PASYCAF.  The exhibition moves on to the other cities over the next few weeks so fingers crossed.

John has changed his dentist and I have decided to go to the same one in Peyia because John hates going to the Dentist but was mightily impressed by this guy.

I wanted to go and have a chat with him about all the reconstruction work I had done 30 years ago so that he would be aware of the difficulties I can encounter when in the chair with my mouth open for prolonged periods (difficult to imagine I know!!!).  He was really good and clearly understood all about the operation I had when they bought my bottom jaw forward, took teeth out, removed bone and wired them all together for three months.

I am to return next week for a deep clean followed by a panoramic x-ray so that he has a clear picture of the state of my teeth - he already spotted a couple of old fillings that may need replacement.  I have no idea how much this sort of work costs in the UK but all he kept saying was that at first glance there was nothing desperate and after the x-ray we could decide what should be done and when to suit me.  This initial consultation cost me nothing and I left with a handful of sample products, toothpaste, mouthwash and tiny brushes and a I shall be more than happy to return - in fact I am almost looking forward to having someone deal with my teeth who I understand and who understands me.

John and I returned home briefly to get shit shaved and showered before returning to pick up Mum and Dad and take them to the apartment where Jane and John are staying.  They had kindly invited us all for a meal - bless Jane because she was working in a kitchen which is not her own and which lacks some of the things she needs, not least markings on the cooker hob and knobs!  She produced a fabulous meal of roast potatoes and parsnips (to my deep regret I ate too many of them and have had a bloated and gurgly tum as a result - it is, however, a small price to pay!) cabbage, green beans and carrots and her version of tarragon chicken - different to and as tasty as the one which Mum produced on Sunday.  This was followed by fresh fruit salad and/or a lovely apple and pear crumble with custard.  Mmmm Mmmmm Mmmmmmmmmm all very lovely and washed down with a very palatable glass or two of Kolios Red.

Big big big thanks to the Page's for the kind hospitality this evening - it was lovely.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Another catch-up Post - Clean Monday - also known as Green Monday

Another Catch-Up Post

Today is “Kathari Deftera,” Greek for Clean Monday -  Clean Monday puts an end to the preceding Carnival celebrations, inviting all Orthodox Christians to leave behind the sinful attitudes associated with Carnival festivities and non-fasting foods, which were largely consumed during the three weeks of the Carnival.  As a result, the feast, which is a public holiday in Greece and Cyprus, is celebrated with outdoor excursions, the consumption of shellfish and other fasting foods, as well as the widespread custom of building and flying kites.

This is our eighth Clean Monday (also known as Green Monday) and on all previous occasions the weather has dashed any chance of reasonable kite flying - either due to it being flat calm or hurricane conditions!!!

most important feasts all over Greece, each year commencing the 40-day period of the Great Lent for the Eastern Greek Orthodox Church, which is called “Sarakosti.” The feast begins on the first day of the 7th week before the Orthodox Easter Sunday.  

Today the morning started with some sunshine and a bit of a nip in the air and a light breeze which was a good start and we decided to get the kites out and go along to Pittokopos and stand on the ridge and see what happened.

The kite preparation is the Clean Monday equivalent of the Christmas fairy light check - we seem to make a habit of putting those things away unchecked or unworking and then we have a job putting it right on the day that they are needed.  We have this rather snazzy two string kite (which never seems to want to fly) and a cheap and cheerful box kite which usually is willing!!!
We found our spot overlooking Chrysochou Bay - it was a beautiful day to be outside with the land looking green and plenty of wild flowers around.  The two string kite was an unmitigated failure and after a brief Wiseman difference of opinion (because I fail to take instruction properly) we binned that one in favour of the cheapo which flew no problem at all even with me at the controls!!!!!  We had the help of a local guy who was passing by telling us we needed to be up a bit higher to get better air movement at least that is what we think he was telling us but he didn't speak much English so we cannot be sure but once the kite was airborne he was ecstatic and yelled bravo whilst slapping John on the back before he drove off leaving us just everso slightly bewildered!! 

We drove a circuitous route back to the village taking in our surroundings and having a real Ain't We Lucky moment then settled down to a quite hour or so in the warmth of the conservatory with the cats for company.  We were meeting up with Rob and Di at the Hotel before they shoot off to the UK for Rob to visit his Mum.  I duffered because was convinced we were meeting at 6.30pm but it was 6.00pm so I was rather grateful that John made us leave early (for him in time) so in fact we arrived at the hotel just after 6.00pm!!

We had a lovely evening at the Hotel which was rather busy with a college group from Dubai who were carrying out their Duke of Edinburgh at Kritou Tera.    We had a couple of carafe's of wine and (eventually) a platter of fruit after a newbie waiter delivered ours to the wrong people and they started eating it thinking it was just a standard thing that the hotel did!!!  Glad the Veasey's are only going for a short while - we will miss them!!

Friday, 16 March 2018


Another day which did not get posted...

So the wet weather brought to our garden something which we have never seen before - it looked like a bit of dried out spaghetti except that it was moving and moving like a snake - originally John thought it was a hair or a fibre moving in a puddle outside the front door but this thing was most definitely alive and we had no idea what it was so having picked it up and chucked it away in case it was dangerous to the cats we then looked it up on Google...

Welcome to our Nematomorpha or more commonly a Horsehair Worm or Horsehair Snake!!!!  They range from 50 millimetres to 2 metres in length!!!!  Adults are free-living in water but the larvae are parasitic living on insects such as Praying Mantis and when the worm infects the host the infection acts on the insect's brain and causes it to seek out water and drown itself thus returning the parasite back to water.  Some of these worms are even able to survive the predation of their host being able to wiggle out of the predator that has just eaten the host!!!! 

Interesting but not something we wanted living in our puddle so it was ousted!

So having had a lovely lazy day yesterday with Nicky and Mark avoiding the damp and miserable weather that was thrown at us we woke to a much much better day as the photos will show - same picture taken from same spot (just about) and what a change!

We had a leisurely breakfast before they packed up and made their way back to Emba with us closely behind as we were having lunch with Mum and Dad and Jane and John.

It was a really glorious day although along the coast the sea was quite rough and salt spray was coming up and over onto the road at Banana Bay but this is one of the things which is so interesting about living on this island - the weather can change in an instant and one bad day can be so easily followed by one good day.

We had a lovely lunch at Mum and Dad's although Dad is still suffering from the after effects of his surgery.  In fact I thought that his wound looked to be a little infected although it was difficult to tell - he is due back at the hospital on Wednesday but Mum is keeping an eye on it and if it seems to get any worse will get him back as soon as possible - the only trouble is that tomorrow, Monday is a Bank Holiday here in Cyprus and one where the island seems to grind to a halt and now several weeks later we are all so wise after the event unfortunately...

On our return home we realised that is is John's Mum's birthday later this week.  Her favourite flowers are freesias and now is a good time of year to be able to send them.  I always use Bunches although I am a bit disappointed that they no longer seem to send out a box of chocolates with their flowers but their flowers have never let me down.

I chose a bouquet of white roses and purple freesias with some greenery which I hope she will like.

We ended our day by watching the last episode of Britannia which we have enjoyed and which is all lined up for another series - hope there will be one otherwise we are left hanging!

Tomorrow we plan to go fly our kites as is the tradition - that is if the weather is kind - we have never yet had decent kite flying weather for Green/Clean Monday - either flat calm or hurricane conditions!!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Back tracking

Mum said my blog yesterday made her cry, that was not my intention so today I am going back several weeks.  Regular readers of my blog will know that I normally post in arrears - I have done this for a reason because I am conscious not to broadcast our actual whereabouts for all and sundry to be aware of. 

I had several posts sitting waiting to be published and so I am going to go back and post them just so long as there is nothing in them that might be upsetting.

So sadly the weather forecasters were right on the button and the weather across the island has been wet, wet, wet.  The photograph shows Old Town Limassol with cars underwater.  We had rain and storms in the night but nothing that kept me awake so it couldn't have been too bad.  Mum says that their front garden is under water and there is more rain forecast for today - still it is February and February is renowned for being changeable, at best, a washout at worst.  Last year our friends Pete and Helen came for a week in February and had the most fantastic week - they were lucky!!!!

We got up to make the last minute preparations for Nicky and Mark's visit, they text to let us know that they were running late which comes as no surprise, they are normally late but today they had a good excuse as there was a family issue involving Frank (Nicky's Mum's partner) who is currently in hospital recovering from a nasty accident which he had on his ATV.

We had more or less decided that it was to be a slob out day and this was confirmed by Nicky and Mark when they arrived - once they were in and slippers on they had no wish to venture out elsewhere and who can blame them?

I needed to make a pudding for tonight - my current favourite recipe is the eggless lemon cake now that I have remembered it is made with bicarbonate of soda and not baking powder (it makes such a difference!!) today I rang the changes by using brown sugar instead of white which gave it a different texture and a slightly more caramel flavour both in the cake and the syrup to lace it.

Lunch today was something light so as not to spoil our meal later on but enough to give a satisfactory lining before we cracked open the wine and started to play games.

We had baked brie which was cut open and a sprinkling of dukkah put on top this was served with a little jug of my home-made chili sauce and a fresh rocket and gem lettuce salad which had been tossed in a lime dressing.  Even if I do say so myself it was delicious - I just love baked brie and Paps has had a new brand in which is delicious and half the price of the Castello one that I normally buy (and then only when it is on offer).

So with a suitable stomach lining in place, the fire bedded down and tickling away nicely, the wine open and the board games out we decided that we would start with Risk, Nicky had brought it with her back in November and we didn't get round to playing it - this is a complicated and strategic game which needs to be embarked upon when you are all compos mentis which at this stage we were but having got it all set up we realised that they were missing five of the die which they had half-hinched for Yahtzee on a previous occasion so Risk will have to wait for another day!!!

We then got out a game which John's sister Janice plays with her husband and kids.  It is billed as a game for horrible people and is called Cards against Humanity and is like a very very adult version of blankety blank and I mean adult!!!

We moved on to Cranium which involves drawing, singing, miming and a lot of laughs!!!  All good fun and a great way to while away an afternoon before having our supper and then settling down for a film which Mark and Nicky managed to watch half of but John and I completed - we watched 6 days about the Iranian Embassy Siege in 1980.  It was quite clearly a British film, very very understated, had it been an American offering it would have been so much more gung-ho.

It had been a lovely day - always good to spend time with Nicky and Mark - we have known them several years and their company is easy - we have penciled in our next weekend and we are all looking forward to it already.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

I am sorry to regular readers that currently the content of my blog is rather introspective but to be honest I have been finding it a useful vehicle for expressing things that sometimes I have found hard to vocalise.  I know that for many my dad's passing is now old news but for me it is still raw and sometimes I feel like someone has pushed the pause button on my life and I don't know how to get it back onto play. 

I was, unashamedly, a Daddy's girl and for nearly 30 years both John and I have done all sorts of things with both Dad and Mum in mind.  John and I were not yet married when Dad was recovering from his first heart attack and we used to go across to Keinton Mandeville on a Sunday for lunch.  John would spend ages trying to find a new bottle of red wine for Dad to sample and then when Mum and Dad moved to Cyprus we would visit as often as we could and once again John would scour the duty free for a nice little bottle of red for Dad.  Oxford Landing springs to mind - purchased at Bristol Airport and then there was the highly acclaimed Fleurie purchased at great expense one Christmas and which none of us really liked.  Dad introduced us to Othello and Statos 99 and Island Vines and eventually our favourite Agios Onoufrios - Dad would drink some terrible house wines and even worse cartons but as long as they were red he didn't seem to mind.

His birthday will never go unremembered as he shared that day with John born on the same day but 35 years apart and his passing will never go unremembered as he died on his great grandson Jack's third birthday.

He is with us wherever I look around the house and the garden, he loved coming to Droushia even though he found it cold, he insisted that we always began our Christmas Day celebrations with a trip the the Hotel, maybe it made my cooking taste better because he once declared, very loudly, that my Sunday Lunches would be ok if I just knew how to cook my vegetables properly!  Although this year I seem to remember he said I got his Brussels just right. 

What I must keep reminding myself is that, over the course of the past 7 years when we would have seen Mum and Dad on average three times a week and then sometimes more over Christmas and New Year when they stayed over, John and I enjoyed over a thousand days of his company on the island that he loved - we did so much together and the vision I have of him sitting on a village bus swigging wine out of the bottle en route to John's 50th birthday party will stay with me forever - he enjoyed life to the full and to the end.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Small steps towards normality...

It was with a great sense of relief that I went to bed last night and slept, for the first time in days, reasonably well for me, well for me and my bladder.  The whole car affair had been bothering me so much and I just wanted to get it sorted for Mum so she could get herself around without worrying.  It got resolved, god knows how, maybe divine intervention, I don't know but all I do know is that this is one massive big tick off of my list of things to do for Dad and thereby for Mum.

Although we now all acknowledge that we need to get ourselves back into some sort of routine today was slightly unusual in that I was not going to pickleball, had I not got the things done yesterday that were on my list I had set aside today to complete them.  We had been approached by a holidaymaker coming to the island this week to see if she could join our pickleball group for a game and so with both Mum and I out and with Di still recovering from her bronchitis there was plenty of room to accommodate her and I have received a very nice email this evening thanking me for organising it for her and thanking the group for welcoming her.

We started our day by visiting Dad.  I cannot believe that it was a week ago that we laid him to rest.  I don't ever want his grave to look neglected (which is very unlikely with Sheila and Klaus living nearby I have to say) so I wanted to go and remove any of the floral tributes which may have seen better days.  I was pleased to see that his spot remains looking tidy and many of the flowers have survived the week.  Klaus and/or Sheila have clearly been as the candle in the lantern had been lit.  Once again the sun was shining and as we stood to pay our respects the man who we refer to as Papou was there tending what I assume is his late wife's grave.  It is a serene spot and I take comfort in the fact that this is where Dad will remain.  We plan to go there on Sunday when Mum is coming up for lunch.

We went down to Universal thereafter to catch up with Karen and Dip who have been here over a week and we only saw them briefly last Tuesday when they came to pay their respects - we had not expected them to come but as Karen said we are family and that is what families do and for that I thank her.  They are both fine in their apartment in spite of the water issue caused by a flat roof leak.  This will be resolved in due course when there has been a period of dry weather, as Dad would have said, no shipwrecks nobody drownded.

We dropped in to see Mum who had swung by Lidl to stock up on John's favourite pain au raisin or swirls as we call them.  She too slept better last night with car-gate resolved.  Bless her she had been out and run her errands with greater enthusiasm knowing that the car was all hers and that at least one half of her pension had been sorted.

We have been a little concerned about Fred (the cat) because on returning from Dad's funeral Fred appeared with a mark under his chin.  Whatever it is it has not healed and looked a little painful.  Mum's lovely local vet had agreed to come to the house to take a look as Mum would not have been able to get Fred to the vets, he ways a ton for a start and she doesn't have a basket anyway.  We were so pleased to hear that the mark is nothing suspicious, it would appear that Fred, like Minnie-Mou is a sufferer of feline acne so hopefully a dose of antibiotics will get him sorted out.

John picked up the Pug today, hopefully now the overheating issue which began last Summer, seemed to be resolved and then reappeared again last Tuesday, has now been put to bed.  It will have to go back Friday for some belt tightening or some other thing but fingers crossed.

Finally we slipped into the local garden centre near mum's to look for some pots and some plants.  Di and Rob had bought me a Pot Notch (like the one in the picture but mine is blue) for my birthday and I wanted to get two nice pots and some plants to go in it.

The woman from the nursery was absolutely fascinated by the wooden construction and we found two lovely unusual pots and two plants and I will post a photograph of the completed ensemble when I have done it.  Although the Pot Notch is marked as being waterproof we didn't want to take any chances so decided to boat varnish it so it lasts as long as possible - the sun will probably do as much damage as any rain.  It is currently outside hanging outside drying and I will pot up the plants tomorrow and then we can decide where best to hang it.  I have to thank the Veaseys for such a thoughtful and unusual present - they know how much I love my garden and like to have different things within it.

Monday, 12 March 2018

We make some progress...

Based on my current experiences I would give you all a piece of advice which is that when someone asks you to (a) be a godparent to their child and/or (b) be an executor on their will please think about what this might entail before you glibly reply in the affirmative.  Neither should be undertaken lightly.

Today I have come to realise that angels come in all shapes and sizes and Mum and I were lucky enough to encounter some today.  I had set myself the target of sorting out the car so that it was transferred into Mum's sole name then taking her to the bank to sort out the accounts - just two things which had been depriving me of sleep and which, you would have thought, should have been straightforward.

My Mum and Dad had been reasonably savvy with most things, Mum in particular, had been putting their house in order over a period of time but it never occurred to us that having their little Nissan Note in joint names on the log book could have potentially caused us such angst.  So much so that it appeared that Dad's estate (or lack of it) would need to go to Probate.

As I was about to disintegrate into a snivelling snotty heap in the cafe of the Tax Office having been sent on yet another wild goose chase a man appeared from nowhere to speak to mum - he was a kind and gentle man who told us his wife was an English Probate Lawyer and that we could have a quick chat with her and pick her brains.  I viewed him with suspicion as I thought he was just touting for business but his wife was a lovely lady called Marion (I need to find her card so I can give her full name and contact details) who suggested going to Mum's local Mukhtar to see if he would sign something allowing us to get the car in Mum's name and negating the need for Probate.  She was to be our first Angel of the day.

We went off to the Mukhtar's office in Emba and waited in a freezing cold office for about an hour waiting for him to turn up.  When he did he said he had no idea what we needed but then proceeded to fill in a form which the receptionist had given me for the sale of a vehicle.  The Mukhtar seemed to say we could sort of 'fudge' this form to fit but I was not so sure so disheartened we decided to tackle the bank accounts next and I nipped in to pick up Dad's passport from Angel Guardians and Maureen seeing my deflated appearance asked what was wrong and when I explained about the sodding car she called down a colleague called Nicos who checked out the Mukhtar's dodgy paperwork and told me to go off, get an insurance covernote in Mum's name, call in to the Citizens' Advice and get the car transferred over asap (no passing go and no collecting 200 quid).  He was my second Angel of the day.

We spend the next two hours getting a bank account sorted for Mum and making sure the existing joint bank account was still accessible then shot off Atlantic insurance and grabbed the covernote and shot off to the Citizens' Advice where we played dumb, handed over the paperwork, held our breath and crossed our fingers, nearly lost it when the man queried the names on the form and then pointed out Mum's name was incorrectly spelt somewhere on the system.  I got mum to hand over the 8 euros 54 cents and we dashed out of the office before he had time to change his mind.  That bloody bloody sodding car was now in mum's sole name and it was insured and I might just now get a decent night's sleep.

Dealing with a bereavement is difficult enough without the added angst of paperwork.  I don't know which is worse - people who are unhelpful or people who you think are being helpful and then you end up going round and round in ever decreasing circles.  Poor Mum who has always done things by the book looked like she was going to be tied into knots simply by being honest.

Anyway in the end we managed to get the most important things sorted and we have had confirmation that her old age pension has been adjusted and will now be paid into her new bank account.  It may not seem much but that is a huge weight off of both of our shoulders.

Our final Angels Jane and John (seen here last September at John's 50th) have returned to the UK today with Lin.  We cannot thank them enough for their help over the last two terrible weeks.  This is not exactly the holiday that they could have ever dreamed of but it was a great comfort to John and I to know that they were there with Mum when she needed them most.