Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The "Magnum Opus" begins ...

Well it all started at 07.32 this morning when we saw Antreas' multi-coloured van coming up our long drive, followed by one of his guys in his car. We were, of course, up and dressed (surprising to those of you who know us), and organised after a fashion. Antreas told us that the work would take four days, and that tomorrow there would be a greater number of workers here.

We had chosen to have our bedroom done first, so that we had a secure base for the week. Daisy was in her "house" and behaved brilliantly for the whole day. Sprout was in various locations but survived the day with some dignity. Honey and Jaz pottered around, coming in and out at will, but we're not as distracted as we feared.

Work proceeded apace and Savvas and his Vietnamese girl arrived to remove the big curtains for cleaning, as they had been affected by the mould. He also sorted out a problem with "back washing" the pool, which saved calling out the pool man.

A phone call announced that our local log burner firm would be able to fit our log burner in the next few days. So, fingers crossed, all systems are go. We are taking the opportunity to rearrange furniture and have a clean in those parts which are not normally cleaned. The day was fine, although with all the windows open, and the kitchen door being opened and closed, it was quite brisk. By the close of play, when our guy left, we had to rapidly heat the house and take some alcohol on board.

We will find tomorrow more demanding as the forecast is a bit grim, and the guys will be working in our living area. We may decide to retire to bed, with the electric blanket on, and dogs and cats lurking  with us. But the end is nigh ... I trust.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

"Action this day"

Winston Churchill's famous comment on communication when he wanted something to happen urgently always strikes a chord when I hear it, and it is so apposite to those of us living in the land of "slowly ... slowly". A friend whose mother lives in Spain used to recount the story of "MaƱana" which translated literally means "tomorrow". She explained that it didn't mean that in Spain. It meant "Not today", which gave no promise to do something soon.

Well we have action on our damp, condensation and mould problems - which have worsened this year (despite the fact that we have had hardly any rain). A succession of experts have been up to the house, a civil engineer, the architect who "designed" the house, a builder, a decorator - in fact everyone except Uncle Tom Cobley. An absolute flurry. The end result is that we are getting action this week. The decorators are arriving tomorrow, to clean the mould and are then painting the whole of the interior with an anti-fungal paint. Demotronics, although at a date to be confirmed, are coming to clean and service the air conditioning system (this apparently can cause problems). And then the icing on the cake is that a local firm will come up and install a wood burning stove (a convector stove) which will give a dry heat and thus cause less condensation than our gas fire.

It is ironic in such a country with a warm climate that these problems should arise for three months of every year. Many times it is warmer outside than inside, and so the wood burning stove will be a real boon. It is being fitted into our fireplace which should look good as well. As I barrow the logs from the drive to our storage area I shall be singing "I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay". Perhaps a rugged checked shirt might be necessary.

"What price salvation now?" as George Bernard Shaw wrote years ago. Well the cry might as well go up "What price a damp course?" as they seem to be almost unknown here. We are told that this should resolve the problem. If it doesn't, the next step is proper double glazing. It's like setting fire to a vast pile of Euros. And that might keep us warm ...

Friday, 29 December 2017

Christmas time ...

Well here we are heading towards our sixth Christmas in Cyprus. We shall be glad to get there as the last week or two have been very busy, and occasionally frustrating. It all started when I realised I had to apply for my State Pension, which according to the UK government, is described as a benefit. What! I could rant on for hours about having to apply for a benefit which I started to contribute towards in 1969.

Our motto for 2018, which sounds uncharitable, is to mirror what Peter O'Toole cried aloud in Lawrence of Arabia "No Prisoners". We are utterly sick of being taken advantage of, and used, by those who home in on Ann's kindness. My lovely wife is one of the kindest souls on this planet, and people have taken advantage of her since we have moved here. She is "Such a good listener" they say, and then bombard her with their concerns.

Well no more. If you have a problem then consult a psychiatrist. Don't bring your problems to us. I get heartily sick of people using and abusing Ann's good offices and she does not need any of that stuff.

So be warned ... cross our threshold and we will bite back ... and sort your own problems out.

Monday, 18 December 2017

A nasty experience ...

As I do every morning, and some afternoons, I took Daisy for a longer walk in the wooded hills above Argaka. Occasionally we meet other dogs and dog owners, and our particular favourite is an elderly red setter and his owner. The dogs chat and the owners chat, and then we proceed on our way.

This morning was different. I noticed another car parked near where I normally park, and so expected to see either dogs or joggers somewhere on the track. Fifteen minutes' later three dogs came bounding up towards us, with a fat woman behind them calling "They're friendly." Well that was far from the truth. Two of the dogs leapt at Daisy snapping and barking and trying to bite her. I shouted at the woman to get her dogs under control to no avail. My heavy walking boot, with my fourteen stones behind it, came to the rescue as the largest dog was booted into the undergrowth. The other dogs made their way back to their owner.

There was a firm and frank exchange of views, and I told her that her dogs (being in a public place) should be on a lead and under control. She told me, without shame or apology, that she would do what she wanted and that we were in the forest. And off she went. Fortunately Daisy, although shaken, was unharmed. I was, and am, absolutely livid.

I noticed, whilst I was parking, that she was driving a small red hatchback (registration number EAB???) and I posted on Facebook to see if anyone knew who she was. As yet, there have been no concrete answers although one or two people have suggested a house in the village. 

The end result is that I shall carry a heavy stick on dog walks in future, and heaven help any dog not on a lead who approaches aggressively. And heaven help their owner as well. I have an easy-going approach to life, a long fuse ... but anyone or anything who threatens me or mine had better watch out. If you light that fuse, it will take some extinguishing.

As for the fat woman and her nasty dogs ... keep well out of my way.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Long trousers, socks and ...

Having spent an excellent week with Ann's sister and her husband, life has returned to normal. The weather is cooler and we now look to sit in the sunshine (rather than the shade we utilise for six months of the years). As I write the thunder is providing a noisy backdrop and much-needed rain is pouring down. Water is desperately needed in the next few months as the reservoirs are very, very low. So rain, rain, rain - except when we want to go out.

Long trousers and sweaters and socks have now been moved into drawers and cupboards, and the days of t-shirts and shorts and sandals are but a memory. I suppose it would get boring if we had blue skies and sunshine every day but I could put up with that today. We have just put the fire on and an extra cup of coffee is not an indulgence. Who knows? It may be time to buy some Scotch for medicinal purposes.

To say that Daisy, our rescue dog, has changed our lives would be an understatement. Two walks a day, every day, and the need to play with her and pay attention to her every need, is something of a change for us. I am certainly getting far more exercise now (perhaps part of a cunning plan by Ann) and that must be for the good. Walking in the wooded hills above Argaka, with unbelievable views over the bay, is good for the soul as well as the heart - except when it is pissing down with rain.

Daisy and Jaz are touching noses at my feet as I write, and there are far fewer spats between them as time goes on. Honey keeps her distance but the need to be in the living area when the heating is on will outweigh her reservations and we look forward to those dark nights when all five of us are co-existing cosily. Time will tell.

Regular readers of this blog will note that I haven't mentioned British politics today. I was very tempted but have decided against moving in that direction. However I may not be able to maintain my temporary silence for much longer. Perhaps when it stops raining ...

Friday, 27 October 2017

Advice - fact or opinion?

I cannot help be amused, and irritated at the same time, by the advice offered to new (in the main) expats in Cyprus. There are various forums, and Facebook pages, which are dedicated to expats and where people ask for advice. We fell into the same trap before moving here, when I researched our move and our options.

It takes time to reach the conclusion that some people basically speak out of their backsides when it comes to answering queries. They dress up their opinions as facts and send people off in the wrong direction. Sometimes it is merely inconvenient. For example people are "advised" about what to take to their Immigration interview. If the opinion is out of date or just wrong, then all that happens is that an additional visit to Immigration is called for.

However sometimes it is more important than that. Ann and I were incredulous to read on a local Facebook page the "advice" given to a woman who wanted to know whether a particular test was available at Polis Hospital. As it happens, Ann has to take the same test and it involves a trip to Paphos General. She kindly mentioned this to help the lady in question. We then sat back in absolute amazement when other people weighed in on medical matters, and some of the advice was not only absurd but potentially dangerous.

I have lost count of the number of times that seemingly intelligent people believe the rubbish that is spouted on these forums and Facebook pages. One recent arrival to Argaka comes out with the most outrageous suggestions, and opinions, and should be committed in my opinion. I offered to help a couple (recently arrived) with any advice they needed. In the end he decided he would find out for himself - from the horse's mouth - what he needed to do and would come back to me if he became becalmed. We agreed that the recent posts to his question on Facebook were, to quote his email, "utter bollocks".

And so, to those following in our footsteps, the information is out there as long as you can keep clear of the shark-infested waters of some of the expat forums. Sit back, take a deep breath, and you will soon realise who is talking out of their backsides (and it is not only the muffled voices when they are sitting down that gives the game away) and who knows what they are talking about. But even then, information becomes out of date. We would have sworn that marriage certificates did not need to be stamped when Immigration is visited. But the law in Cyprus changed in the middle of October, and so our information would have been incorrect.

It appears that it will become more and more difficult for Britons to reside in Cyprus unless they become "official" and I would urge those people we know who are currently "under the radar" to legitimise their status before Boris Johnson manages to screw up Brexit more than the current UK government appears to be doing. That means paying Social Security, registering for tax, getting your "yellow slip" - and that will mean you need health insurance - and stop defrauding this country by continuing to use your EHIC to access healthcare. And yes, I know that the business you are running will not be as profitable as it is at the moment, and that your prices will need to rise (and you will then lose the competitive edge you have over legitimate businesses). That is, or will soon be, your real cost of living in Cyprus.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Five years and counting ...

October 9th, 2017, saw us celebrate our fifth anniversary in Cyprus and what a five years it has been. We have made friends, and been abandoned by people we thought of as friends, and are as happy as we have ever been since the start of the "great adventure".

Autumn has brought beautiful and cooler weather, with sunny days where it is a pleasure to potter about doing those jobs we did not get around to in the summer. It is hard to believe that what we now consider as cooler weather would have been "Phew! What a scorcher!" in the language of the tabloids.

Daisy continues to dominate our lives, and we now have "Daisy's House" in the corner of our living area. She is reluctant to use it yet (probably because of previous bad treatment) but has popped in there for treats and to get the beloved knotted rope. She is to be spayed a week on Wednesday, and the garden should be finally made secure about a week later. After that, serious training can begin and be reinforced.

Ann's sister, and her husband, arrive at the beginning of November. So everything will be on hold as we enjoy their time on Cyprus. Accommodation and transport sorted, and we shall go with the flow. Ann is busy counting "sleeps" until her younger sister arrives.

Our lovely cats, especially Jaz, are gradually getting used to Daisy - as are we. Whoever said life was dull when you get to our age was plainly insane.