Sunday, 10 June 2018

“Phew! What a scorcher!”

I loved the very predictable banner headlines in various UK tabloid newspapers when the temperature  was set to rise above 21°C. The same photographs from Brighton beach, and the same aspiring models clad in bikinis, adorned the front page.

It all seems such a long time ago as we are sitting out a heatwave here with temperature nudging 40°C. Thank heavens for the swimming pool and air conditioning. We try not to use the air conditioning during the early afternoon but, yesterday, both of us and our pets were struggling, and the air conditioning was switched on. It’s a strange thing that you try to be economical with electricity (and prices have risen substantially in 2018) but most modern houses have air conditioning for a purpose and that is to make the hottest days more comfortable. For those following in our footsteps at some stage in the future, air conditioning in living areas and bedrooms is an absolute must. You will live to regret it if you believe the estate agent who extols the virtue of open windows and fans.

We are both waiting for the arrival of Sue and Davy on Wednesday, who are coming for a week’s holiday. They are staying at a lovely hotel five minutes away from us (as they did last November) but they will undoubtedly find it warmer this June. Whether they opt for an all-action time or a lazy, slow motion time, will depend on how they feel once they arrive. We shall fit in with them.

Bad news this week when I heard from my best friend, Mike. His lovely wife, Wendy, went to see her  doctor with pain that he thought was probably appendicitis. Into hospital to find out she had developed bowel cancer. It was operated on and the tumour was removed. The prognosis is good as they caught the cancer early. Our hopes and prayers are with them both, and I trust she makes a full recovery soon.

It is a cliché and a truism that we are advised to live each day as if it is our last. Nothing could be closer to the truth. 

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Poor Ann ...

We visited the orthopaedic surgeon today as Ann has been suffering with a painful back, after she tried to move one of our old sofas prior to the delivery of our new sofas a few weeks ago. The end result is she has fractured a vertebra in her back and will have to wear a back brace and, hopefully, the fracture will mend. As I told her today “Your sofa-moving days are over” and she has agreed.

But she has been remarkably cheerful and upbeat, and I hold her in great admiration. We have now sorted out a fabulous woman to come and clean the house, and iron our clothes, on a weekly basis. And we have also found a lovely young woman to come and do the heavy work in the garden, which we no longer want to do. What is amazing about both of these women is that they work so hard, and so cheerfully. Our next job is to sort out a “pool man” to regularly clean our swimming pool. As someone we know said, “I don’t want to clean the pool. I want to jump in and use it.”

Summer has arrived with a vengeance but we are benefitting from “Ann’s Breeze”, which drifts in from the bay and cools us off on those hot afternoons. Sheer perfection at times.

We are waiting for Ann’s sister and her husband to arrive for another visit in three weeks. Their last holiday last November was a great success. Ann and her sister needed time together and it was great to be told “Why don’t you two go down to the pub for a couple of hours?” Did any man ever need an invitation like that?

Life here is good, despite all the curved balls that come in our direction. For those thinking of following in our footsteps, do your research and jump right in. The water’s lovely.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Up the creek without ...

So Amber Rudd has fallen on her sword and the newspapers are full of sound and fury (and most of it signifying nothing). Politicians seem to have had a collective I.Q. transplant or bypass in recent years and I yearn for a man or woman of intellect to come forward because they genuinely want to serve the public.

In my younger days, when I developed an interest in politics, intellectual giants bestrode the House of Commons - on both sides of the political divide. Some were intellectuals and some had a low cunning that enabled them to survive in the pressure cooker. Harold Wilson, a man I never admired or supported, was one of those who often managed to surprise us all with his machiavellian ways and kept his party under control and the country in thrall. I remember many others - men and women of honour and integrity - Sir Alec Douglas Home springs to mind - whom one could admire and honestly believe they were doing what was right for the country.

Politicians and journalists have slid down the slippery slope, and there appears nothing will slow their inevitable descent. I, if we lived in the UK, would not be able to read a newspaper and actually believe what was being written. The era of fake news and incredible bias in newspapers has left all who value honesty and truth to despair. Journalists copy and paste from various sources without seeming to be bothered to verify their veracity, and their professionalism withers on the vine.

To live in a democracy, and to value free speech, is a marvellous privilege and one not to be taken lightly. Living a couple of thousand miles away from the UK does not lessen the pain. Prime Ministers authorise the bombing of Syria without consulting Parliament on the grounds of security. What a load of bollocks! If you believe that the Americans and French and British did not give advance warning to the Syrians, and especially the Russians, to minimise the risk of World War Three starting, then you have been listening to the BBC for too long.

People fought and died to maintain the democratic freedoms that we enjoy, and which our political “masters” are rushing to obliterate at a frightening speed. I despair for the western world, and I despair for the country in which I was born. Quo vadis!

Thursday, 12 April 2018

“Peace in our time ...”

And so it begins ... the madmen at the helms of the USA and Russia are girding their loins and are tweeting their way to a showdown in Syria and the surrounding areas. Egged on by the British and the French, and the Israelis, the temperature is rising and the prospect of war looms ever closer. May and her “war cabinet” are meeting to discuss the bombing of Syria as punishment for a gas attack that may or may not have taken place. Trump tweets away and the Russians respond in like vein. The British, in their well-known “poodle” mentality, blindly follow the aggression of the lunatic in the White House, Macron struts his stuff (whilst France is paralysed by strikes) and the Israelis stir the pot as hard as they can.

Perhaps most astonishingly of all, May does not intend to recall Parliament for a debate on the matter. Everyone remembers Cameron failing to push the House of Commons a few years ago into pursuing military action, and May does not intend to fall into that trap. The UK, unless I am much mistaken, is meant to be a Parliamentary Democracy. And yet Parliament is increasingly sidelined over the prospect of war, or Brexit. What the hell is going on?

The western “powers” do not seem to understand that their meddling in the affairs of the Middle East (and the Far East for that matter) has caused untold deaths and disaster. I can’t remember anyone appointing the USA, the UK, France or Israel, as responsible for policing the world. All, in the last hundred years, have engaged in warmongering at its worst. Whether it is to impose democracy on areas of the world which are divided along tribal or religious lines, or to get their hands on dwindling oil and gas reserves, the West’s interference is neither welcome nor wanted.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Somewhere to sit Part 2 ...

A very worthwhile trip to Konia to see Mark and Yola, who were selling a couple of sofas. They turned out to be in excellent condition and just beautifully comfortable. One was a sofa bed, which it is unlikely we shall ever use but not a bad thing to have in case of emergency. The cherry on top was the fact that Mark runs a "Man and a Van" service and happily agreed to deliver the sofas for a whole €10,00. 

The next morning we received a phone call to tell us he was on his way. We needed to take our old and very tired sofas onto the drive, and achieved the first one without any real bother. Then, out of nowhere, a mini-disaster struck. Ann's back clicked and she was in a lot of pain. We abandoned the sofa and, fortunately, we had some diclofenac in the house. Siting gingerly, Ann took a couple of these wonder pills and tried to relax.

I managed to get the second sofa onto the drive and we were set for Mark and his van. On schedule he arrived and, between the two of us, moved the new sofas inside. They look fabulous in their new home and Daisy, Honey and Jaz all came to inspect them. The seal of approval was given and they settled down to sleep on "their" sofas.

We offered the old sofas to the village mukhtar, Spiros, and he will send someone round to have a look. They are in a pretty sorry condition, but - as he told us a few years ago - some people in the village have nothing. So we wait to see whether the sofas go to a new home or to the dump.

Tuesday of this week saw something of a surprise. It is the day my teacher's pension arrives in our Cypriot bank. On checking the account we found more money than expected and that was because my first ever State Pension had been paid in on the same day. I had calculated that it would be today and so the early payment was both unexpected and welcome.

I have arranged to buy a new iPad as my eight-year old iPad 2 has been struggling with some of the modern apps I have installed. That will be fantastic, and I am so looking forward to picking it up. I shall "factory reset" the iPad 2 and Ann will be able to make use of that for lots of stuff. Gosh a two iPad family. Whatever next?

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Somewhere to sit?

Our elderly leather sofas have really passed the point of no return, and so we have to replace them. They have served us well but their time has come. We head off this afternoon to look at a couple of sofas, being sold online, at what seems to be a good price. But, of course, the only test is to sit on them and so a trip to Konia is on the cards.

The dust that has been plaguing Cyprus for quite a few days is still with us. It has been affecting large parts of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and has turned areas quite orange in some countries. We are due some heavy rain on Thursday, which should clear the atmosphere. After that the weather is set fair, and we look forward to pottering around in shorts. The builders are still with us, but it cannot be long before they finish. After that, there will be a deal of cleaning and clearing up, and the decorators will have to call in for half a day or so.

Ann had the great news that her sister Sue, and her husband Davy, are returning to Cyprus in June, and staying in the same hotel five minutes down the road. We so enjoyed their last visit in November, and they must have done to return so quickly. Of course the weather will be much warmer then, and Davy will be able to bare his legs for the entire visit. I only hope Polis and Argaka are ready for this.

We haven't had the fire on for days now, which is great. Soon it will be time for the electric blanket to go back into the cupboard until November, and hopefully windows will be able to be opened at night. That is when Cyprus really comes alive. Already the sunny evenings are proving a draw, and a glass or two beside the pool is always a welcome idea. In fact I feel a barbecue coming on soon. Spring gets me like that.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Is the end in sight?

Well here we are with the builders laying tiles (or ceramics as they call them). Is the end in sight? Certainly in the early days of this great work, when drilling and hammering were ever present, we certainly felt like ending it all. The walls are replastered and painted, and the tiles have been delivered - ready for the sprint down the finishing straight. Unfortunately, with temperatures rising by the day, and no rain on the horizon, it may be October or November before we see whether this has all worked.

As an insurance we are heading off to the hills to look at another property, which appears to be ideal on paper ... will the reality be as good? If it is, then we may be faced with a very difficult decision. Neither of us want to move, but neither of us is prepared to spend another winter with damp and mould on the walls. So, and another cliché, only time will tell. But readers of this blog will be the first to find out what our decision will be.

Whatever happens, we shall just be grateful to have the house to ourselves. Daisy, in trainee guard dog mode, has become very relaxed with the comings and goings. Honey, the senior pet, often retires to the roof to look down on the world with a great disdain. Jaz, her daughter, wanders around with a confused look on her face. She reminds me of Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey. Perhaps she was a dowager countess in an earlier life?

My cracked ribs are easier by the day, which makes life much simpler. I was able to start driving again at the end of last week, much to Ann's relief. It's been thirteen days since my fall, and the doctor thought it would be about twenty days for them to completely heal. So his forecast was pretty accurate. I stopped taking the various prescribed painkillers a few days ago, and followed Ann's advice to reduce the dosage over a few days.