Friday, 21 April 2017

On the fourth day ...

This nasty little bug I picked up four days ago is showing no sign of going away, and Ann reported yesterday that she was sickening as well. So we now have two sick bays in the house and the cats think we have all gone mad. A maddening cough, runny nose and extreme lethargy is a combination I would not wish on anybody and we can only hope that it clears up soon. It was this time last year that we were both diagnosed with bronchitis and I spent a night in Polis Hospital, where the treatment was excellent.

Long gone are the nights when we switched on some heating in the late afternoon as the temperature dropped. Now if we only felt well enough to sit out in the sunshine ... life would be a lot better. Our friend Savvas dropped in this afternoon and started to paint the metal structure of the carport, which seemed sensible. But it will be good to have some shade for the car again. Even in April it can take your breath away if you jump into a vehicle that has been sitting in the sun.

Ann woke me up the other morning with the predictable news that there is going to be a General Election in the UK. Well that's just fine and dandy but leaves me in a predicament. Both the Tories (for whom I have always voted) and Labour (a party I could not consider voting for) have come out in favour of leaving the EU, which leaves the Lib Dems, and I could never trust a word they said. They would be likely to climb into bed with any party who offered them a sniff of power. And so, much as I want to see the UK remain in the EU, I have got nobody to vote for and I suspect that many other expats will find themselves in a similar situation.

So, apart from a bout of ill health, and with the most important decision the British government have had to make in my lifetime leaving me effectively disenfranchised, life is good. Trump hasn't started a nuclear war (yet) and for that we should all be grateful. But I cannot remember when such an unstable character was in such a powerful position. What a world we live in ...

Monday, 3 April 2017

Another dry month ...

Following the success of November 2016, when we had a month's abstinence from alcohol, we have decided to follow that up with a dry April. It is nigh on impossible to not have a couple of cold beers, or glasses of wine, when the hot weather arrives and so this is the ideal time. And the feeling of self-righteousness is a very secondary part of this scheme.

We were sitting at Saddles this morning and having coffee, when it was apparent that the whole world was waking up, sprucing itself and generally making ready for the next six months. And so, after supermarket shopping, we often call in for a drink as a form of reward for doing something neither of us really enjoy. Did we pull the car over? Absolutely not ... our determination did not waver and we headed for home. As a reward I went to put the chlorine tablets in the pump house and skinned my head on the door frame. There are times when being good is not enough.

War with Spain ... what bright spark in the Tory party came up with that idea. I used to think Michael Howard was an astute politician but after his comments yesterday I think he ought to be sectioned. Did nobody think to remind him that there are hundreds of thousands of Britons living in Spain? Between him, the three musketeers (who don't seem able to muster a brain cell between them) and the wannabe dictator - St Theresa - I am ashamed to be British at the moment. As a lifelong Conservative voter, who never missed an election from 1970 until we moved to Cyprus in 2012, I could not ever vote for them again. And I couldn't vote for the Labour Party (alongside millions of others) and the Libdems ... not a chance in hell.

The good news is that it can't really get any worse and that, I pray, tsome politician with a brain starts to pull strings behind the scenes. Otherwise, as Corporal Fraser said, "We all doomed."

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Fuses ...

Enjoying the Spring sunshine this morning, my daydreams were rudely interrupted by Ann coming out to tell me that our freezer was no longer working. Fortunately it was nowhere near full so the "disaster" was not as bad as it might have been. We emptied the freezer, and moved stuff to our fridge.

Now my friend Savvas always makes fun of me as he says I am not a practical man. There is, I admit, an element of truth to this so I set out to find the fault. The incentive of not having to go out and buy a new freezer was a spur indeed. I checked the socket it was plugged into and that was fine. We moved the freezer out from the wall and had a look at the plug. It was one of those "sealed for life" ones but ... the fuse was visible, and with a small amount of persuasion I was able to remove it. On inspection it was fine but we replaced it and our freezer sprang into life. GCE "O" level physics has never been so valuable. For someone who has always telephoned a man to come and sort things out in his UK existence, this was a first and a triumph. Happy days ...

And, my goodness, don't we need some happy days with the lunatics running UK Plc deciding to trigger Article 50. I see that the people of Cornwall have finally woken up and smelled the coffee. Having voted overwhelmingly to leave the EU, the people have realised that this will mean an end to the grants and general agricultural funding on which the county relies. The Welsh have also seen the light dawn, and many of  "the people have spoken", "move on" and "suck it up" brigade will increasingly rue the day they decided to destroy the UK's financial future, and possibly cause the breakup of our country.

However the clocks go forward this weekend, and the weather is set fair. The Six Nations' Rugby Championship is over (and what a disappointing weekend that was) but the Grand Prix season is about to begin. I wonder how long it will be before we are able to swim in the pool?

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Coptic Storms?

I suppose people are equally divided when it comes to whether Coptic Storms, and thus the Coptic Calendar, are a reality or are coincidental here in Cyprus. Thursday saw the arrival of El Hossum, the equinox gale which is apparently meant to last for eight days. Clouds of dust we very apparent on Thurdsay and Friday, and this morning we woke up to what (according to Ann) looked like the set for a zombie apocalypse.

Garden furniture everywhere, masses of debris in and around the pool and out heavy-duty car port tarpaulin in shreds ... all that was missing were the walking dead. Thunder and lightning, and seeming inches of rain, and the believability of the Coptic Storm Calendar was becoming more and more real. We remember back to our first year here, when we had been told about the Coptic Storms. One afternoon, I think it must have been in November, and the temperature literally shot up by seven or eight degrees within a few minutes, the skies darkened and the wind swirled from every conceivable direction. We watched the live weather feed from the Argaka weather station, and the wind changing direction every few seconds and gusting to 90 kph. The only thing we could do was shut the curtains and drink some wine.

On a more parochial note we have been enjoying the Six Nations' Championship on television. Side-bets on the outcome of each weekend's matches were going in my direction until Emgland played against Italy and the infamous "ruckgate" controversy. I had England to win by at least sixty points, whilst Ann was much more measured and had England to win by a much more conservative amount. Well, and it hurts to say this, she was right and I was wrong. If I ever hear the end of that ...

Our friend Jill has been quite ill with cellulitis, and it is nothing to do with having excess cellulose. We went to see her on Thursday in hospital in Paphos, and she was not in a good way. She had been taken from the private clinic in Polis by ambulance immediately she was examined and has been on intravenous antibiotics since. Her leg was badly swollen and discoloured and we felt very sorry for her. When she is released from hospital she will be out of action for some time, which will give John the opportunity to learn how the oven, microwave and washing machine work. Time will tell how well he copes ...

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

I'm a lumberjack ...

Exciting times here at home when I put on my check short, my boots and entered the world of the lumberjack. We have two large palm trees in the back garden and this is the time of year when they need cutting back. They are both very different and the one I decided to tackle has great swirling fronds. The general idea is to cut back the ones that dip down to the ground and leave the ones at the top of the tree to point upwards.

Grasping my trusty saw I advanced gingerly - not knowing whether the serrated edge of the blade would cut through the tough fronds. Ann advised, and what a good piece of advice it was, that I should wear thick gardening gloves as the spikes on the fronds are sharp and potentially lethal. The saw was up to the job and twenty minutes' later the offending fronds were stacked in the back garden, ready to be transported to the garden waste over the fence.

The other tree is too tall for me to attempt and I shall need to get some help in for that. Our friend Savvas was here the other day and he burned all three garden rubbish piles, which was a great help. We are reluctant to set our own fires, even at this time of the year, as we have seen the havoc our neighbour Demetrious reeked on the land behind his houses.

Through an Internet contact (all related to IPTV) we met, completely by chance, a couple who are moving from Malta to Argaka. David, my contact, was in one of the local bars with his wife and another couple and there was something familiar about him. My phone searched Facebook and there was David's photograph so I went up and introduced myself. The other couple have since been in touch and will make contact before their move in mid-March.

I remember all the help and advice my late friend Dave Travis gave to us over our first months on Cyprus. It is comforting to have people who are able to tell you how things are done and where places are when you first come to a new country. The couple from Malta are experienced expats but, as people never tire of saying, "This is Cyprus".

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A couple of days of sunshine ...

It's amazing what a couple of days of sunshine does to the system. We moved outside immediately and bask in those precious rays, and the temperature outside is much warmer than inside. It is a peculiarity of the way many houses are built on Cyprus that there is little or no insulation. So, in winter, the heat dissipates quickly and, in summer, the houses get very hot. Surely the opposite should be the case but it is not.

It also doesn't take much for us to start thinking about the garden. Local farmers are ploughing and planting at the moment and that again stirs memories of previous years and the planting we have done. Our friend Savvas says that you take sunshine, add water and anything will grow. Not quite true as I think we overwatered our Aloe Vera plant, and it seemed not very well at all. But Ann decided to move it to "sick bay" over the winter and it has made a miraculous recovery. The other moot point is how far to cut back plants. Conflicting advice abounds and we are slowly learning to make our own decisions.

I am looking forward to the next few weeks as the Six Nations' Rugby Championship is due to start on February 4th, and that always cheers up the bleak midwinter. Apparently this weekend is due to be very chilly (in Cypriot terms) and so we shall batten down the hatches and keep warm and dry. If necessary I shall follow my grandmother's advice and "throw another servant on the fire".

And then, in the blink of an eye, it will be Spring (one of our favourite times of the year) and pottering around in shorts and t-shirts (whilst keeping trousers and a sweater to hand for when the sun goes in). 

News from the UK becomes more depressing by the minute. I have never seen such a collection of intellectually-challenged dimwits in government, led by the "I'm not really a wannabe dictator" PM. The rule of law may well have won the day in the Supreme Court yesterday, but the Tory threat to flood the House of Lords with hundreds of new peers to ensure the Brexit debacle is kept on track is undemocratic in the extreme. The House of Lords may not be perfect but it is a damn sight better than  a dictator in Downing Street.

Roll on October when we are entitled to apply for permanent residence here. I, for one, am ashamed at the direction my country is heading and cannot see me ever returning.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Here and there ...

What a strange month January is turning out to be ... submerged by rain, with local dams now overflowing and then the promise of sunshine. Out we go into the garden to tidy up, clean the pool and generally think about Spring and then "All change".

It is hard not to feel despondent about 2017 and what is happening to the world. The insanity that is Brexit and the utter madness that led to the Americans electing such an obviously unstable man as Trump leaves me breathless. Of immediate concern is that complete lack of intelligence and forethought, and a situation exacerbated by that buffoon Boris Johnson, that the UK establishment is showing in its dealing with the EU.

No one wishes to see the UK kowtowing to Brussels, but there is a sense of unreality in the way that the intellectually-challenged Theresa May thinks she can dictate to the EU. It may have passed her by that the UK is a small island off the coast of mainland Europe and it is the other twenty-seven countries that will dictate what happens. Listening to the bluster and bluff coming out of Westminster you could almost sense that this was in the heyday of the British Empire. "Wake up and smell the coffee."

On a brighter note we are both well and enjoying life, although I yearn for the time when sweaters, socks and long trousers can be banished to the wardrobe. There is something profoundly depressing when you have to reach for a coat (and gloves) when you decide to go out. The cats still have their winter coats and Honey looks as if she has been inflated with a bicycle pump.

Argaka looks deserted with most of the bars and restuarants closed for a Winter break. But the weather will change and people will slowly creep out of hibernation, and smile at the sunshine. My 64th birthday is approaching with almost indecent haste and we must decide how to celebrate it. I suspect good food may well be on the cards. It's just a shame I wasn't born in May or September as the weather is perfect for dining outdoors. I suppose if the Queen can have two birthdays ...