Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas in the sun

It just cannot be beaten - sitting by the pool and waiting to go out for an eagerly-awaited lunch with friends. Just time to wish a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all who follow this blog. Once January arrives it will be time to get my head down and finish my ebook. To be honest the weather this December has militated against any sort of worthy endeavour.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Innocent until proven guilty

When injustice occurs, no-one seems to care - family or friends. Falsely accused of murder by some pompous policeman, all my friends and family turned their backs on me and not a word of sympathy. So beware ... go to Gracie Towers to take part in a Murder Mystery Evening, and despite the marvellous hospitality, they are all out to get you.

That aside, a marvellous evening with great friends and superb food. Many thanks and we shall remember the fun and games (and dodgy shenanigans) for a long time.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

This can't be Christmas, can it?

December 21st and sitting by the pool with blue sky, sunshine and a t-shirt on ... and in four days' time it will be Christmas. This is our third Christmas in Cyprus and December weather has been just heavenly. 19°C in the shade and just bliss.

Having fun over the last few days with our internet tv box, as I was thought I really needed a keyboard and mouse to control all its functions. But, out of nowhere, I found an app on the Apple Store called the XBMC official controller. I downloaded it and found a video on YouTube which showed me how to link it with the TV box.  Wow! I can now control all the functions of the box from my iPad, and bring up a virtual keyboard to type in text (useful for searching for films). The cost - nil. There are some very generous people in the XBMC world.

Becky S. returns this evening from a brief break in Paphos with her friend Alice. She flew over to Cyprus on Thursday and returns today. No doubt they both had a wonderful time. And it must have made a great break from staying with "her Olds". At least that was how were referred to on Facebook. Tomorrow we visit Gracie Towers for a Murder Mystery Evening, and who knows what other shenanigans.

The weather for Christmas Day is set fair, and we are heading to Latchi with the Gracies for lunch at Faros. And then, Boxing Day, with Scrabble, Becky planning a midday swim in fancy dress to raise money for the hospice (note: make sure the video camera is fully charged), and then Roast Pork in the middle of the afternoon. Boxing Day Night concludes with one of Becky's favourite films, Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

What a way to spend a traditional Christmas here in sunny Cyprus.

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Things change quickly and it never seems to amaze me that, when you are convinced that things are set in stone, how wrong you can be.

People change, their moods swing from high to low, and nobody ever has the bottle to say "Hold on a second but things have changed." Instead people pretend that things are the same as they always have been, and that is where misunderstandings occur.

I'm actually quite fed up with that, and I just wish people would be more upfront and honest. My New Year's Resolution is not to let things drift and to actually say what I believe and feel. In the long run we'll all be happier, won't we?

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Stormy weather

With the swimming pool overflowing with the amount of rain that has failed in the last couple of days, and with thunder and lightning (and giant hailstones as well), life never fails to be interesting. And, in a fine show, Rebecca S. swam in the pool in DECEMBER ... I hope insanity does not run in the family.

Tomorrow I drive Jill down to the hospital to pick up John, who is being discharged at last. I suspect he will be in good spirits and hospitals can be so boring - despite the bed baths. I'll drive back from Paphos and Ann will follow me up from Argaka to Pomos, so that we can deliver them both safely home. Sadly their trip back to the UK has had to be postponed but there's always next time.

The rebirth of RoADAR, with much gnashing of teeth, took place on Thursday in a mega meeting in Kissonerga. I never thought it would end. But, and I'm holding my breath here, the organisation will recover and get back to doing what it was set up to do - promoting better and safer driving in Cyprus and, perhaps, I might even be able to take my advanced driving test at last (which has been on hold since the end of July). I suspect a couple of refresher sessions with Mike will be necessary before the test. Not being overly competitive, I do want to qualify for the gold medal as my chum, Dave, only managed the silver.

So there we are. Good news and hope for the future.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Great News

I'm writing this from the Iasis Hospital in Paphos, where John and Jill have had great news this morning. John's liver biopsy shows that the cirrhosis that was identified by the surgeon last week is in the very early stages. He was told that, if he doesn't let another drop of alcohol pass his lips, it will not affect him. Brilliant news.

At the moment we are waiting to see whether the leak from the liver and bile duct clears up on its own. It is slowing down and we are all hopeful that the procedure he was facing (a stent being fitted) will not be necessary. Fingers crossed and any other bits as well.

Stormy weather was not a problem on the way down to Paphos but Ann tells me they are having a terrific thunderstorm with lightning in Argaka, but it is moving away quickly.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Mystery bug ...

I've been laid low by a mystery bug over the last day or two and it was pretty unpleasant. However all seems better today and I shall just potter around the house.

Tomorrow I am taking our friend Jill to a hospital in Paphos to collect John, who - hopefully - will be discharged. She should also get the results of the biopsy. The surgeon who removed his gall bladder last week found evidence of cirrhosis of the liver, and I just hope that it is not too bad.

Thursday brings the RoADAR meeting in Kissonerga, and an explanation of the malaise that has struck this charitable organisation. I trust that the missing money has been found and the perpetrator is in the custody of the police. Some hard questions may need to be asked.

Friday and a return to hospital with John and Jill to have his stitches removed.

And, in the near future, we shall have to try and support and  help our ex-neighbour, whose partner was found dead at the end of the last week.

Here's hoping for good news all round and a happy ending to one particular story.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Fiddling about with little black boxes ...

Our lifeline, as we tend to spend much more time indoors at this time of year, is our Android box which enables us to access live television, films, TV series and much more. The world of XBMC is very addictive, with so many plugins and addons (all promising so much and often delivering so little). As I installed and uninstalled these plugins and addons I became aware that the system was slowing down, and becoming less reliable.

So off to the forums to see what advice was on offer. The end result was to consider the nuclear option of deleting all data, and restoring the device to factory settings. But, and it was a big BUT, what would I be left with at the end of the procedure? I dillied and I dallied, and sent emails and private messages around the internet, and the advice was ... get on with it. I contacted Brian of Computer SOS in Chlorakas, where I had bought the box in the first place, and he confirmed I was taking the right course of action. He did even offer to hold my hand over the telephone if I needed it.

So ... this morning ... with a cast of thousands (Honey and Jaz, looking very disinterested) I pressed the button. Strange messages came and went, and then the tv screen went grey ... and then restarted. I managed to download the latest version of XBMC and reinstalled the plugins and addons one by one. Boy! It was so simple that I could not believe it. At the end, I have a box which is flying and all is working, without all those annoying freezes and glitches that were becoming apparent.

The world of XBMC plugins and addons is indeed strange. You feel like a child in a toy shop the day before Christmas, and all the staff and customers have left. You grab this and that, even things you never think you will use, and your little black box becomes confused. And so, to Boxing Day, when things are put away in cupboards and in the attic - perhaps never to see the light of day again.

I was strong after this and resolutely decided against installing anything new, although there is a Plugin called Phoenix which is very tempting. Perhaps tomorrow or the next day. Perhaps ...

Monday, 24 November 2014

Postage to Cyprus ...

Our electric blanket died recently and so we thought it would be a simple matter to have one delivered to us in Cyprus. Wrong. Unfortunately our usual supplier, Amazon, do not sell them directly and their resellers either will not post to Cyprus or are asking silly money. One reseller wanted £33.00 to post a package weighing 2.5 Kg, in addition to charging a substantial premium on the RRP of the electric blanket we wanted.

So cold toes in bed are the order of the day. I know it's warm at night compared to the UK but we are now in our third year here and we do feel the change in temperature quite markedly. I suppose it is one of the downsides of living here that many items are not available (or are available at quite ridiculous prices) and increasingly it is more and more difficult to get firms to post here. We understood this before moving here but it is frustrating nevertheless. On the other hand it is gloriously sunny today on 24th November, and would we really want to be anywhere else?

STOP PRESS ... Becky swam in our pool for about fifteen minutes today. It took about ten minutes to get her shoulders under the water but she did it. What a way to recover from 'flu. Go Becky Go ...

Saturday, 22 November 2014

I just do not understand some people.

Well I really don't. I cannot understand the attitude of some British people living locally. Despite the laudable aim of raising money for those struggling during the recession in Cyprus (and specifically those in need in Argaka), our Bingo & Quiz evening is criticised from left and right. Last night we cancelled the quiz and just went ahead with the Bingo and the Play Your Cards Right game.

Why? The Fly Again was literally deserted and the word is that certain sectors of the community are not happy because we are raising money for the "Cyps" - a derogatory term for our hosts here, the Greek Cypriots. I detest this attitude and the whole, superficial attitude of some expats here. If immigrants in the UK showed that attitude to the British, they would be very quickly told where to go. "If you don't like it here, then **** off back to where you came from."

In any event a lovely lady, Carole, who was at The Fly Again with her husband, won €200,00 by playing her cards right. David took her photograph and it will be published on the pub website (with her permission). A great evening for her.

Ann and I have some serious decisions to make in the next few days. We have raised over €400,00 in the last few weeks and that's great. But we feel like we are bashing our heads against a brick wall of expat indifference and that's not why we started this endeavour. We have committed to next Friday, and will see what happens then.

Enough of negativity although this reinforces why we are very selective when it comes to making friends. Pam and Dave have shown us such kindness and consideration (even if Dave can be a pain in the backside sometimes ...), Pete and Sylvi are great fun, even though we do not see them as often as we would like, John and Jill are the salt of the earth, and David and Letitia have proven staunch friends in the time since we first met them in September. And that circle of friends is wider than the circle of friends we had in the UK. As you get older, the quality of friendship is far more important than "having lots of friends".

Friday, 21 November 2014

That's Life, I think

All sorts of things going on at the moment and this is supposed to be the quiet time of the year, when we all withdraw inside the house, follow hobbies and catch-up on all the films and TV we said we were never going to watch.

The Bingo & Quiz evenings have become much quieter, partly because it's dark and "cold" which means people are much more likely to stay in than go out. There's also a suggestion that part of the expat community may be boycotting these fund-raising events for reasons best known to themselves. Another local bar is a hotbed of gossip, and they also run a quiz evening. Who knows? Perhaps it is time for us to unveil our Bingo secret weapon, a professional caller from years gone by. You know who you are, so be prepared.

Ann's daughter Becky is gradually adjusting to the frenetic pace of life in Argaka, and we are delighted she is living with us. When you need unconditional support, then there is nothing like family. It looks as if this might be an extended stay, although one can never tell. All we can hope is that she enjoys her time here and her time with us.

Christmas gallops towards us, and I just love the snow-covered scenes in Paps - decorations, Christmas trees, and all the paraphernalia of a Dickensian Christmas. It will probably be warm enough to have a bbq on Christmas Day, although we hope to have lunch out with our friends David and Letitia, and with Becky, in one of the restaurants in Latchi. A first for us but that's what comes of emigrating in your 60s. Onwards and upwards.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Hospitals and Friends ...

Friends - love them or hate them - are friends and a friend in need ... Friends of ours called yesterday and asked for my help. John has been suffering pains in his "stomach" for a couple of weeks and, despite numerous blood tests at the local hospital, he was nowhere near to resolving the problem. So off to Paphos he was sent for an ultrasound scan. He wasn't feeling up to driving and he hates being driven by his lovely wife of forty years, Jill. So a telephone call on Monday night asking if I could help.

I was happy to drive them to Paphos and told her so. "Are you sure?" she asked. I told her I was sure but she was not convinced. We met this morning in Polis, and she wanted to be reassured it was okay. I told her again, and she responded "Well, if you're sure." Friends ...

In any event I took them to the Iasos Hospital in Paphos, a private hospital a world away from the hurly burly of Paphos General. Ultrasound scan completed, consultation with the doctor who told him that he needed to have his gall bladder removed. When he was asked if it was possible to arrange something, we were whisked in to see the surgeon (who consulted with the cardiologist) and he then spent about forty minutes talking to us and explaining the options. The end result was that John returns next Tuesday for tests and a consultation with the cardiologist, the anaesthetist and the surgeon. The operation would then take place (all being well) a few days' later. And, by the way, we'll repair the hernia you have at the same time.

When we returned to Polis Hospital ... that's a story for another day ... but that's what friends are for.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Finding time to blog?

One of life's ironies is that you don't always have time to blog when life is busy - which is just the time you need to blog.

Life has been very busy in the last week, since Becky arrived to stay. Within forty-eight hours we were at A & E at Polis Hospital, as she was suffering from a nasty ear infection. She told us that something "popped" en route (not just the normal depressurisation "pop") and this then lead to a red rash, followed by blisters, on her neck. To cut a long story short, we went to the pharmacist in Polis and bought some antibiotics over the counter (the hospital could not treat her as she did not have her EHIC), and this seemed to be doing the trick.

But on Sunday she started to feel hot and clammy, and later exhibited all the symptoms of .... 'flu. Would you believe it? In any event to bed with hot water bottle, paracetamol and lots of fluids. Today she is sleeping and that's probably the best thing for her.

I am a firm believer that, when life has not been too kind, your body needs to get rid of the unhappiness and anger and irritation and all the other bad things that you have experienced. And the way this is often displayed is through ill-health. No doubt in a couple of weeks we will all be laughing about it, but - for now - all a girl needs is her mum.

Much hospitality has been enjoyed at Gracie Towers, and I think Ann and Becky enjoyed "dog-sitting" on Saturday for Bonnie. When I arrived to watch the England v South Africa game, there was the contented sound of doggie snoring from Bonnie's basket - a sure sign of relaxation. I am happy to report the snoring did not interfere with our viewing of the rugby.

Here we are in mid-November, with the sun shining over a very blue Mediterranean Sea, and talking about where we are going to go for Christmas lunch. In all the years Ann and I have been together we have never ventured forth on Christmas Day, but this year we shall. It is surreal, and this will be our third Christmas on Cyprus, to be talking about Christmas (and seeing Christmas trees and decorations in the shops) whilst debating whether to wear shorts or "grown-up trousers".

Life has never been so good.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Easyjet 5453 is on its way ...

After all the social excitement of the last week, real life intrudes - but in a pleasant way. Becky S. is, unless she missed the plane or got on the wrong one, en route to Cyprus and should be arriving at about 13.45 at Paphos. Needless to say we are going to be there well before that time, and are really looking forward to her arrival. Although Ann has been back to the UK twice to see her, I have not seen Becky since October 2012. Far too long.

Hours in front of televisions and computers at Gracie Towers yesterday, helping David sort out internet-tv and XBMC and OTTV and lots of other addons with mysterious initials. Mostly successful but we ran out of juice and decided to finish off later in the week. A lovely supper and a couple of glasses of the hard stuff restored us all, and as long as everything is up and running before 16.30 on Saturday (England v South Africa at Twickenham) then we shall all be happy.

Talking about Twickenham, I was intrigued by a posting on Facebook by Wendy (my best friend's wife) which located her in the Royal Box at Twickenham during the England v All Blacks game. Where were my tickets, then?

Too excited to blog any more but no doubt loads of stuff to come ...

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

November ... Stamina required

My goodness, with November in full swing, stamina is required. I don't quite know how this has happened but life has suddenly become very busy.

Take this week for example. Today is, blessedly, a day to reflect and to blog, and to work on my ebook. Those snakes are taking some writing about! But then, on Wednesday, our dear friends Becky and Pam return from their short break in Limassol. So tomorrow night they are taking us out for dinner. Nothing unusual about that. But on Thursday, we are all invited to Gracie Towers for the evening. David is cooking and I am looking forward to that very much. But the sting in the tail was the kind suggestion that we could all stay the night. Stamina ... and on Friday Becky and Ann are cooking one of Becky's special curries at lunchtime as it is Bingo and Quiz night at The Fly Again.

Wow ... but there is more wow. I was checking in my diary for the time of the England v All Blacks games on Saturday afternoon, and I believe David might be dropping in to watch that with me. Something to look forward to and ... unbelievably ... in the diary was Miki's Nameday Celebration on Saturday evening.

For those of you who do not live in Cyprus the Nameday Celebration to many Cypriots is the most important day of the year. We have been invited to his Nameday for the last two years and it is something else. Wall-to-wall food and drink at Miki's Restaurant for his invited guests, much fun and laughter and John and Jill, our friends from Pomos, and we have been the only non-Cypriot guests there. We feel so privileged to be asked. We did not attend the first one and only realised later what a faux pas that was. It was almost as great a faux pas as leaving some money for drinks after Antonia's birthday earlier this year. We were invited and our friends Mike and Wendy, and Guy and Hattie, were staying in Polis. I asked Miki whether it was possible for them to come with us (and offered to pay for them). Miki, as generous as ever, said we should invite them as his guests.

At the end of the evening of sumptuous food, and lots of drink, Mike suggested we leave a contribution for the drinks we had had. We left €40,00 under the ashtray. Oh boy! Was that a mistake? The next time we went there Miki came over and slammed the money down on the table. But worse was to come. Antonia came over and painstakingly explained that the restaurant was her home and we were guests, and we had left money on the table. She was insulted and we will never make that mistake again.

I suppose we find it difficult to accept such hospitality and generosity in that diffident way the English have. But one thing is for certain and that is my wallet will stay in my pocket this Saturday. And phones are off this Sunday as it will truly be a day of rest.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Eagle(s) has/have landed ...

Multiple Eagles have landed in Cyprus in the last twenty-four hours, all safely. David and Letitia arrived on Wednesday evening to start their big adventure. All arrived safely, including Bonnie the dog. A small celebratory gathering was held at Gracie Towers and I really must get to bed early soon.

Last night another pair of Eagles were delivered to Polis by Odysseas, and Pam and Becky were welcomed by a chilly evening - but that didn't stop us sitting at Mikis until early in the morning, and then by the pool at home until even earlier in the morning. I ran out of stamina but the girls seemed inexhaustible.

The weather looks set fair for the next ten days, and I am sure they will enjoy their well-earned holiday. Tonight they team up with David and Letitia for the fourth Bingo & Quiz evening at The Fly Again. It seems as if our money-raising endeavours are going to be subject to V.A.T. at either 5%, 10% or an eye-watering 19%, according to Yiannis' legal advisers and his accountant. I love Cyprus but, if this comes to pass, that will be bl***y ridiculous. However only time will tell ...

So a late night again, and I suspect we will be in "recovery mode" on Saturday. It's rather like the story of the bus ... you wait for ages for a bus (in our case for a late night) and then they all come along at once. But I suspect Ann and I wouldn't change anything. Zzz ...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fawlty Towers or Gracie Towers?

I am not sure whether Cyprus is ready or not but the Clan Gracie arrive tonight and Polis will never be the same again. The great adventure we set out on just over two years ago is being re-enacted by David and Letitia (not forgetting Bonnie the dog), and I shall picking them up from Paphos Airport this evening. It seems only yesterday that we walked into the Arrivals Hall there, looking at the brilliant sunshine and with Palm trees waving outside, and hardly able to contain our laughter as we had been completely ignored by passport control. He seemed more interested in reading the book that was on his knee.

And so their adventure begins, and to those of you waiting to follow in their footsteps ... research, research, research. Of course those of you planning to arrive in 2015 will have the benefit of my ebook to help you on your way. If only my book had been available two years ago ... but actually we didn't make any really dreadful mistakes, and we had the advice (and opinions) of people we had met or were soon to meet.

Tomorrow Becky and Pam, friends from Bexhill, arrive to stay for ten days and they were our first visitors last year. The weather won't be quite as warm as it was in early May, but we are looking forward to seeing them again. Odysseas, from Polis, will be meeting them at the airport and bringing them back to Polis - where their hire car and Ann and I will be waiting. If you are considering hiring a car when visiting Cyprus, and are staying in this area, Odysseas is your man. With very competitive rates, he will pick you up from Paphos airport, and also return you there at the end of your stay (and that service is included in the price). I reckon if Pam and Becky had taken a taxi from the airport to our house, and had done the same on their departure, the taxi fares would have been just about what they are paying for ten days' car hire. A classic win-win situation. Added to which he has given us leave to pick avocados and mandarins from his land at the end of our drive, and brought round loads of green olives (prepared by his mother) as a gift yesterday.

And then on 11th November, just after Becky and Pam return to the UK, Ann's daughter (another Becky) arrives to stay. And how many shopping days left till Christmas?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Charity Matters ...

The continuing saga about raising money for the needy in Argaka took a new turn over the weekend, with a flurry of emails from people who have faced this dilemma. With the need for transparency, we published the Argaka Aid accounts on the website ... thus showing all the money going in and out, and the amount of money raised. €300,00 in three weeks is pretty good going.

Achieving charitable status for such a small undertaking would be costly and take a long time, as other organisations have discovered. All documentation (constitutions etc.) must be in Greek, and one lady who contacted me had spent two years wrestling with this, before taking another route.

She suggested that, like her organisation (founded in 2007 and still going), we register with Paphos District as a non-profitmaking organisation. This will allow us to raise money for our cause, without infringing any laws in Cyprus. Obviously we want to be completely legal and above-board in this, and totally transparent - especially as we are dealing with other peoples' money.

So, this morning, we are holding a meeting with Yiannis at The Fly Again to discuss the best way forward. Let's hope that everything is resolved quickly and easily. Until the status of Argaka Aid is confirmed, the fund of money raised will remain untouched ... although fundraising on Friday evenings will continue.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Charity begins at home?

Three weeks into raising money for needy families in Argaka, the very reasonable question was asked last night as to what the money was going to be used for. This sparked an interesting discussion and it was suggested - in the wake of the scandal involving the mayor of Paphos - that we should set up Argaka Aid as a charity. The more we talked, the more this seemed to be a good idea.

To this end, we have posted on our proposals to set up a charity, and also our intention over the next couple of days to post our accounts for each Friday online, so that the financial affairs of Argaka Aid are transparent. The good news is that we have raised €299,60 so far.

People we talked to were very supportive of the fund-raising (with the winners of the last two quizzes donating their winnings to Argaka Aid) but were concerned that Yiannis - the owner of The Fly Again - and Ann and I were putting ourselves in a vulnerable situation. "You do know how people talk, don't you ..."

So we are currently investigating setting up a charity, and thank goodness Ann has substantial experience as a book-keeper. I nominate her as treasurer. Any objections? Carried unanimously.

Gosh! And we both said we wanted to be involved in the local community. Be careful what you wish for. No ... we really love this involvement. It's almost like not being retired.

Friday, 24 October 2014

"Stormy Weather Ahead"

It looks like the lovely autumnal sunshine is taking a break and we are in for stormy weather. Fantastic ... I said to Ann yesterday that I could not envisage being glad that the weather was not going to be blue skies and sunshine for a few days. To make matters more autumnal, both Jaz and Honey decided to stand guard over the fireplace as it sounded very much like a gecko was wandering about behind the wooden screen. How things change in the space of a couple of years.

Quiz and Bingo tonight, and then dinner with friends at the Half-way House tomorrow night, with the possibility of thunder and lightning - and even dinner by candlelight if there is a power cut. And then it's all hands to the pumps (too many clichés today) as David and Letitia arrive on Wednesday, Pam and Becky arrive on Thursday and - ten days' later - Ann's daughter arrives to stay.

As with all websites I have spent far too long playing about and not getting things finalised, but that's all the fun. Once The Fly Again website is established, then the Jewellery Workshop website needs to be sorted. And, sooner or later, I need to start designing the pages of my ebook. The writing of the contents is not that difficult but I often wonder whether my design skills are affected by OCD. Websites, snooks or even letterheads, there always seems to be an inordinate amount of "fiddling" to "get things just right".

And how many shopping days to Christmas are left?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Retirement ... a time to relax?

In retirement, there is the time to do what you want and when you want, and at a pace that suits you. I wish ...

Very busy times ahead, and whilst it's great fun to be involved in so many things, there are moments when you wish you could pause for breath. I've just finished the quiz questions, including the audio-visual clips and picture quiz sheets for the next fortnight's Bingo & Quiz nights at The Fly Again. In between arranging car hire for our friends Becky and Pam, who arrive for a ten-day stay on 30th October, we are also looking forward to welcoming David and Letitia (and their dog) on 29th October. They are, of course, moving here to live and I am due to pick them up at Paphos Airport at 20.40 on Wednesday evening in a week's time.

No sooner will Becky and Pam fly back to the UK, then it will be time to pick up Ann's daughter, Becky, who comes out to stay on 11th November. I am so looking forward to seeing her as, although Ann has made two trips back to the UK, it is over two years since I have seen her. Polis and Argaka watch out.

Over the weekend I purchased the domain name and hosting plan for The Fly Again website and I'm just waiting for that to come online. It will be a work in progress for some time to come, but - like writing - it is always easier to work with something that exists than stare at a blank piece of paper or computer screen. I'll let you know so you can check it out, and you'll be able to find it at - the more the merrier.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Wet, wet, wet

When the end of the hose comes off in summer, it cools you down and your clothes dry in a few minutes. Not so in the middle of October. The car went off-road the other day and I thought it would be a good idea to hose off the mud. Lovely sunny morning and I had just cleaned the pool, so was in outdoor mode. I squeezed the trigger on the hose and all was fine ... for five seconds ... and then Whoosh! No problem I thought and I disassembled the end, fitted it back carefully and then started again. Same result and I was soaked to the skin, and was that water cold. Ann was full of sympathy and almost choked trying not to laugh.

Better news last night at the Bingo and Quiz night. Everything went very smoothly, and the lessons we learned last week stood us in good stead. Lots of fun, and the inaugural "Play Your Cards Right" was a hoot, even if no one won. The winning quiz team, The Grumps, then donated their winnings to Argaka Aid. With two €10,00 donations earlier in the week, the donation of the €25,00 from The Grumps and €59.20 from quiz and bingo sales, over €100,00 to Argaka Aid to add to the €52,00 raised last week. Brilliant news.

We await the return of the plumber at lunchtime to see whether the mystery of the shower room cistern can be solved at the second attempt. 

Yiannis has unearthed the "eagle carrying the pint of Guinness" artwork, which is the symbol of The Fly Again in PDF format and I found the image he uses of the leprechaun carrying the pot of gold. So onwards and upwards with the website. The only problem is that the leprechaun objected to being resized and I had to threaten him with a thrashing, which had about the same effect as Basil Fawlty thrashing his car when it wouldn't start. But resize he did, and he will sit proudly on the website landing page.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

"You want to see a gynaecologist?"

We dropped up to Polis Hospital this morning so that Ann could make an appointment with the neurologist. She spoke to the lovely Chrissou, whose English is pretty good. Whether it was the glass screen between them, or whether she just misheard, her eyebrows arched as she said to Ann, "You want to see a gynaecologist?" So next Tuesday morning Ann has an appointment with, we hope, the neurologist.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

"If it ever rains again ..."

Famous last words from Ann as we were driving to Polis the other day, and it became embedded in my mind as the heading for the chapter on the Cypriot climate in my ebook. And lo and behold! The next day the heavens opened, thunder and lightning and ... proper rain ... buckets and buckets of it. The moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for. But, in reality, Cyprus looks lovely this morning with the lemon groves behind the house looking as if they have just been "Spring Cleaned". Priceless.

Busier and busier at the moment, preparing quizzes, cleaning the house after the summer dust, arranging car hire for friends who are arriving to stay on 30th October for ten days, preparing for other friends and dog who arrive the day before (and who are moving into a lovely house a few kilometres away from us), and looking forward to the arrival of Ann's daughter, Becky, who arrives on 11th November - obviously a day to remember. Adding to the ebook steadily, and also designing a website for our local pub - - which will hopefully go live in the next couple of weeks, but will be a work in progress for some time to come.

Retirement is never dull.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

First Night Nerves ...

Well we did it, and what fun it was. We arrived at The Fly Again about an hour before the Bingo and Quiz night was due to start and found quite a few people already there. Tickets were sold and by the time the first round of the quiz was ready to go, we had eighteen teams seated and ready to compete. There were also a few groups of people who only wanted to play Bingo as well.

Ann had drawn the short straw and was heavily involved in counting all the money, as the Bingo winners (one line, two lines and a full house) were paid a percentage of the money taken that night. But count it she did, and the person who was first to declare a full house received the not inconsiderable sum of €55,00. The winning quiz team - The A Team - who scored 55 out of a possible 70 points received €40,00 with the runners-up receiving a voucher for Sunday Lunch at The Fly Again.

Best of all, the grand sum of €52,00 was raised for Argaka Aid. Thanks to all who turned up and made the evening such fun. Next week we shall have a different, and more efficient, system to sell tickets which will allow us to start on time. If you didn't manage to get there last night, do drop in next Friday.

The picture round, which featured Spitting Images of famous people, produced some hilarious answers. My favourites were the teams who thought Prince Andrew was Ronald Reagan, and the other team who thought Esther Rantzen was Joanna Lumley. No doubt their lawyers will be in touch soon.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Aid for Argaka

Before we left the UK - two years ago this Thursday - we were both concerned that we would have enough to do in our retirement. Well we have never been busier, and life is getting busier by the minute.

Some time ago we both decided we would like to do something for the village of Argaka, where we have chosen to make our home. The recession is biting and many Cypriots are suffering from this, with food kitchens in Paphos. The problem is that the Cypriot equivalent of the Welfare State stops totally after six months, and after that you are on your own. Unemployment is rising fast, and many of those in employment (especially in the state sector) have had their salaries severely cut back. According to local Cypriot friends matters will get much worse before they get better.

In conversation with the owner of The Fly Again Irish Bar, very close to us here, we asked what we could do to help the needy in the village. A cunning plan was hatched, and the end result was that Ann would run a bingo night at the pub each Friday, and I would run a quiz night in parallel with that.  Money taken to play bingo and enter the quiz would be split between cash prizes for the winners, and a fund for the needy of Argaka. Additionally a "Curry and Film" night would be held once a month on Tuesday evenings. Tickets at €8,00 a head would include a traditional curry and a chosen film on the pub's big screens. Of the money taken, €3,00 a ticket would go to the fund.

We needed a name for the enterprise and decided that, if Bob Gelfdorf could have Live Aid, we could have Argaka Aid. The first night will be this Friday. I trust this will be a roaring success as it would be great to put something back into a village that has made us feel so welcome. We have been rushing around advertising the events, putting together questions and Ann has been honing her bingo-calling skills and also how the pub's version of "Play Your Cards Right" works. Think of Bruce Forsyth on speed and that's what may happen on Friday. Think of us come 8.00 pm this Friday.

Friday, 26 September 2014

I love Apple ... most of the time, I think.

Since the debacle of Apple's new IOS operating system, and the even more frantic efforts to patch the damage, I have not really been using my iPad for anything other than a bit of web surfing and, of course, Candy Crush. Thank heavens this morning IOS 8.0.2 was released and all is back to normal. As my friends know I have been an Apple user since 1989 but this last few days has sorely tested my patience. Onwards and upwards.

The most recent chapter of my book deals with snakes, bugs, insects and the like. How to identify them, what to beware of and what to do if you are bitten or bothered by them. I am waiting on my friend Dave to lend me his book on Cyprus snakes by the aptly named "Snake George", as it is the definitive guide to snakes here. I have lost count of the number of people who, having had a close encounter with a snake, cannot understand why the standard response is "What colour was it?"

Spiders, cockroaches, scorpions, sand fleas, and other "creepy-crawlies" are identified, with photographs, and advice given on living alongside them. It all sounds horrifying at first glance. But in our two years here we have seen two black whip snakes (great to have around as they like to eat the young blunt-nosed vipers), no cockroaches (except in a restaurant we have never returned to), no scorpions and - until recently - have not been bothered with sand fleas. We have had close encounters in our house with a couple of tarantula spiders but they seemed more frightened of us than we were of them. In any event Biokill was the answer.

Ants are everywhere in Cyprus and, after spending time in Cambodia in the 1970s, they are not my favourite creatures. Small ants occasionally invade the kitchen when we have left food out, and larger, black ants seem to invade the garden after dusk. Spraying once a month with Biokill (window sills, door sills and any other access points) keeps all "creepy-crawlies" at bay, as can be seen by the dead bodies you find where you have sprayed. And, best of all, Biokill is pet-friendly. And, if you find the nest, the white powder sold by the Farmers' Co-operative will eradicate the problem on a more permanent basis.

In fact, the fear many people have in their minds - especially those from more temperate climates, where only wasps at the picnic table are a nuisance - can be alleviated by living here and seeing that most of the creatures we dislike will do almost anything to avoid us.

A bad moment, as I lost today's blog post, when there was a brief power cut in Polis (as a result of the electricity authority needing to switch off the power briefly because of the fire in the dry river bed the other day) and the wifi at Miki's failed. But, IOS 8.0.2 did not fail me and when power was resumed my post miraculously returned. As Charles C. Clarke wrote "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Coming or going?

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that either people are leaving Cyprus in droves or people are moving to Cyprus in droves. What seems apparent is that Cyprus is not for everybody (thank goodness as this island would be very full) and that people leave to return "home" for many reasons. Missing children and grandchildren, advanced healthcare requirements and the death of their partner are all reasons I have seen given.

Reasons to move to Cyprus seem much more complex, and go far beyond wanting to retire to the sun. However I see posts on all of the expat forums which suggest that some, younger people view a move to Cyprus as an escape ... from what, I am not sure. Simple research will show that jobs are incredibly hard to come by, unless people possess a skill in short supply here. A command of spoken and written Greek is often essential, and more and more advertisements seem to be looking for Russian language skills as well. I have lost count of the number of people who enquire about employment and their tag line seems to be that "they can turn their hand to anything." Unfortunately there are only a limited number of opportunities for pool cleaners, odd-job men, "builders" and the like.

What is apparent is that for those not retired and in receipt of a UK State Pension (and thus access to healthcare here), and probably other index-linked pension income, it is very difficult to come over and prosper. The only recent arrivals who seem to be able to buck this trend are those that use the Internet and can therefore work from any country. One of our friends recently said that he would prefer to be poor in Cyprus than poor, wet and cold in the UK. Wall to wall sunshine (a myth) is attractive to many but does not pay the bills and put food on the table. And those who have school-age children have all sorts of other costs if they want an English curriculum education. Many people with young children plan to put them in Cypriot schools, believing that their children will become multi-lingual (and this will probably be true) but don't factor in the necessity they, the parents, having to be competent in reading, writing and speaking Greek in order to support their children at school. A conundrum if ever there was one.

My ebook will address many, if not all, of these intangibles and - I hope - ease the path of those who do move here, and also give a realistic picture of life here who might only just be considering moving. Get it right and life can be paradise, but get it wrong and you might be making a very expensive mistake. Availability will, all other things being equal, be this side of Christmas. What a present for someone ...

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Those summer nights

September is almost gone and the most beautiful time of the year in Cyprus is upon us, in my opinion. Warm, sunny days and lovely cool(er) nights - no Aircon on in the bedroom and recently no fan either. Sheet bliss ...

Even more exciting was the fact that we had about fifteen minutes of proper rain yesterday, and what a difference to our pot plants. For all the love and care and water lavished on them by Ann, proper water from the heavens made them sit up and bloom. Jim, our friend from Prodromi (who was born with green fingers, I suspect), gave us a lovely plant which has grown well and comes up with gorgeous purple flowers in the morning. The flowers last a day, and you hope for more to grow overnight. Ann took a cutting in true Cypriot fashion, which is to cut a bit off, pop it into a pot full of compost and water it. Within a few weeks it is established and producing its own flowers. 

Interesting information about tenancy agreements in Cyprus and registering for tax, which will have to be included in my book. It appears that tenants should get their tenancy agreements stamped withing forty-eight hours of the agreement coming into force. This makes the document "legal" and also is obligatory when tenants go to register for tax here. Owners show their title deeds or their contract of sale. If the tenant does not have the appropriate stamp on their agreement (a cost of €2,00 from the Post Office) when they register for tax, then they are fined and charged a percentage of the rent they have paid since the agreement came into force.

This is a recent change in Cyprus, as far as I can tell, and is a way of the government making sure that the landlords pay tax on the rent they are receiving. If your landlord is paying tax, or intends to, then there will be no problem. But, for those in the black economy, this might be problematic. As all foreign residents need to register for tax after 183 days in Cyprus, then it might be a good idea to discuss this with any prospective landlord. I discussed this with a knowledgeable estate agent in Polis, and he had heard something about it but did not yet know the details. Hopefully by the publication of my book, all the details will be to hand.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

It'll be alright on the night ...

It's been a frantic few days, with our friends David and Letitia looking for houses to rent, meeting for drinks, having a BBQ (arrival at 15.30 and heading to bed about 01.30 the next day) and sundry other social events.

The great news is that they have found a lovely property a few kilometres from us, on the outskirts of Polis. When we went round to see the house, I could understand that it had the "Wow" factor. David has negotiated with the landlord (who happens to be a cousin of our friend Androniki) to fit gas central heating, and that will ensure they are snug and warm come the winter months. All in all it has been a great few days, and we have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the adventure.

After the BBQ on Saturday afternoon and early Sunday morning, we woke up a little jaded. The good news was that we were due at friends in Pomos for a late lunch. A fabulous meal, Indian style, from Jill. The only downside of the evening was that I woke up the next day to find my feet, ankles and lower legs covered with bites - and my goodness were they itchy. The usual "bite serum" had no effect, and neither did the various other creams we keep for these frankly rare events. Eventually, before I was reduced to scratching through to the bone, I searched on the Internet and found a really interesting site in the USA, which suggested that the way to relieve the itching was to use ... a hair dryer.

With scepticism to the forefront I tried it, and found it worked. The bites were still angry and red, but the itching was gone. A few hours later I treated the areas again and managed a good night's sleep. The bites are still there today but are now manageable. When I write the chapter on all the bugs and beasties in Cyprus, some remedies like this will be quite fun.

Time to shower and change as we are due in Polis at four o'clock for drinks and a bite to eat with David and Letitia, as they fly back to Belfast tomorrow. Then the clock starts ticking until they use their one-way tickets to return here.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Hunting for that dream rental property ...

We've been busy helping friends to find their dream rental property in the Polis area, and it is interesting to see how the market has changed in the last couple of years since we arrived. There appear to be fewer properties on the estate agents' books, and - of course - when you deal with an estate agent who is on commission from the property owner, there is not much room for negotiation on price. The agent normally takes the deposit on the property (almost always a month's rent) as their commission, and obviously the more the property is rented for, the larger the commission.

They have seen properties with the help of estate agents and also properties that local Cypriots have known about. They have even seen properties where a "For Rent" sign has been placed on the wall of the house in question. Some owners are prepared to do a deal, some doggedly refuse to lower the price (with the result that the property remains empty) and others may or may not do a deal, depending on the way the wind blows.

What is also becoming apparent, at least in this area, is that many of the properties are only available fully furnished, which will not suit people with a container of their own furniture en route from the UK. Some owners will let partly furnished, and some will remove the furniture and put it in storage. What is without doubt is the fact there are many properties available for rent, and it is just a matter of finding them. Private advertisements on the various expat forums sometimes bring positive results, and Angloinfo can be a particularly good source of properties.

Of course, when you see a house that ticks all the boxes, there is a temptation to just offer the asking price. Head v. Heart comes into play here. Have you made a second or third visit (late at night, early in the morning or on a weekend) to check on barking dogs, neighbours who party 24/7 or to find out whether the local quad/motor bikes enjoy racing past the house at all sorts of times? What is your gut feeling about your prospective landlord? Is he or she likely to allow you your privacy? And will they sort out minor repairs when problems crop up? It may be their house but it is going to be your home.

All in all a tricky business and there is always going to be an element of luck in it. What we all hope and pray is that it is good luck and not bad luck. The property section in my guide (both buying and renting) I hope will help you on your way.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Form S1 - Medical Care

A lot of discussion on the various forums regarding the decision of the UK government to stop issuing the S1 Form to people relocating abroad in the EU. This gave UK citizens in Cyprus up to two years of health cover in the Cyprus system, paid for by the UK. This has now been stopped.

Considerable concern and opinion being voiced, but I should point out that if you are in receipt of a UK State Pension you and your spouse are unaffected and will continue to be so. It is only those not in receipt of the State Pension who are affected. This will, in effect, mean that private health insurance will theoretically be necessary from Day 1, although your EHIC will cover you for emergencies. Just as well my guide is not in paper form. I can just imagine having the first print run pulped, and starting again.

Writing going well and the recent drop in temperatures will make life easier.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Aircon solved ...

Got my aircon sorted out on the car today. I went round in circles yesterday and ended up at the official Suzuki dealer. They advised me their service was very expensive and I should visit Nικος who sorts out all their aircon. He rang him and gave us his business card to introduce us as well. To find Nικος, you drive from the new Lidl on Mesogi down to the Time Out kiosk, turn right and take the first left after Zorbas. Take the first left and Nικος is at the end of the road.

Telephone: 26 938416
Mobile: 99 620082

Diagnosing problem, making a replacement aluminium pipe and regassing.

Time: 2 hours
Cost: €60

Brilliant ...

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Aircon Saga ...

Drove down to Paphos this morning to try and sort out the car's aircon. The first place we went to (recommended by a friend) did not understand what we wanted and then directed us elsewhere. The second place couldn't help and we then went to a well-known aircon centre. They wanted €100-150 to investigate the problem ... I don't think so.

We then had a brainwave (sort of) and went to the Suzuki dealership. He advised us not to use them (as they are horrendously expensive) but to go to an aircon specialist they use. He rang the guy and then gave us directions on how to get there. In passing, he commented that the place wanting €100-150 was run by a "knobhead" and was the only place in Paphos which used the illegal aircon gas, outlawed some years ago.

Turning up at his recommended place, which was clean (unlike the others), busy and welcoming, we showed the owner the business card from the Suzuki dealer. We brought the car onto the forecourt and his apprentice looked at it. He said it just needed gassing, but we told him there was a leak. Out came the special goggles, and the magic torch (just like watching C.S.I. on tv) and ... there's the leak. Consultation with the boss. Don't weld the hole, but have the pipe replaced as if there is one leak there may be another in six months' time. They would make a pipe, fit it and regas the car. It would take two hours. Price ... €70.

Tomorrow morning at nine o'clock. With luck, job done.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

I love Filmon ...NOT

I've spent the weekend wrestling with TV and the apparent changes that Filmon has made to their method of streaming. Almost all channels, when streamed through XBMC, kick you out after about three minutes. The developers of the XBMC addons are tearing their hair out and getting nowhere fast. Unless things change, all UK TV in Cyprus will have to be paid for by subscription.

I've investigated NTV, and persuaded them to give me free access to their service for 24 hours. Initial impressions - absolutely brilliant. Rock-solid and many channels in high definition, with the added bonus of Sky Sports and BT Sports in HD, and Sky Movies (although we have sourced these from Mashup). For €14.50 it seems to be a no-brainer, although we shall wait until we see whether the Filmon debacle is resolved.

Cloudy this afternoon and lovely and cool, with tomorrow being the first day of autumn.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

"It won't last till Easter ..."

Florence and Brian (late of the Wellington Arms, Hawkhurst, Kent) admitted to those fateful words when I introduced them to Ann in 2002. Four years' later, at our wedding, and there were hand-painted Easter eggs at our wedding breakfast in Canterbury for them. They saw the joke.

Eight years' later, on our wedding anniversary, they would now doubt be astonished and pleased to see we are retired, living in Cyprus and are perhaps happier than we have ever been in the last twelve years.

Tonight we celebrate and tomorrow ... well tomorrow is tomorrow, and the alarm clock won't be set. The cats may well come and knock on the door and demand breakfast, but they might just have to wait. Food on demand most days, but probably not tomorrow.

That's all I have to say today, but normal service will be resumed tomorrow (late), but a big thank you to our friends who have wished us well.

Monday, 25 August 2014

"The cheese has melted."

Now there was a first. We were watching TV waiting for supper to cook. I had grated some cheese to sprinkle over the top of our supper, and Ann suggested covering the grated cheese with a plastic lid. I assumed this was to stop the cats having a nibble, but Ann told me it was to protect the cheese from her ... she must have had that desire to munch through the cheese. Fifteen minutes later and supper was served. Ann took the cover off the cheese and it had all melted. I have no idea what the melting point of cheese is, but it had reached it. Just wondering how warm it was inside the house at ten o'clock last night. Great supper though.

Off to Polis this afternoon to see the air conditioning guy, as recommended by Mikis, and to - hopefully - get the aircon in the car working.

Our eighth wedding anniversary on Wednesday and we are looking forward to a lovely meal at Finikas in Polis.

I am now writing a couple of new chapters in the book, leaving them half-finished, and moving on to the next section. Then a few days' later, going back to the unfinished chapter, checking the details and continuing with it. This seems to keep topics fresher and more interesting to write about.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

It's a wonderful life

There are some days when you wake up and count your blessings, and this is one of them. Sitting on the terrace, with Polis Chrysochous Bay calm like the proverbial millpond and looking at the Akamas in all their beauty, with a cup of coffee in hand, it was one of those moments. Cyprus is a marvellous place to live, despite its problems and faults. We feel privileged to live here and that's a fact.

The decision to move here was not the easiest and took a fair bit of courage as well. To some of you reading this blog, who are possibly enduring the same feelings we had in the year before we moved (and we moved a year earlier than we planned), you are probably wondering how hard it was and how difficult to cover all the bases. I suppose that is one of the reasons I decided to write the book. If it helps one person to decide "Yes, I can do this" it will have achieved its aim.

Writing the different chapters has been quite an experience, taking us back to those early days (Ann is always being asked about the fine details of what we did, and which forms we filled in and what was needed). Without the help of one particular forum, this would have been so much more difficult. In putting together all the parts of our experience, with some "Hot Tips" (but I don't want to call them that - too redolent of the Macintosh Bible and images of spent matches), I hope the ebook will be a work of reference for those that decide to follow us to Cyprus.

One of the downsides of living here has been the reliance we have on the BBC for news. We have all the TV channels we could want through the wonders of our Android TV Box, but - they say distance lends enchantment to the view - I have become very disenchanted with the BBC. With their political correctness, the standard of both reporting (nowhere near as objective as it once was) and presentation, it no longer epitomises all we were brought up to admire. With reporters (far too many with incomprehensible regional accents) who do not seem to be able to say anything without "Um" or "You know" or "Err", it is increasingly irritating to watch. I do not wish to sound like some latter-day Victor Meldrew, but I find the decline of the BBC so sad.

Still breakfast beckons, and some writing awaits. The Belgian Grand Prix this afternoon and a Skype call from one of my closest friends this evening, and who knows what else.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Sweaty keyboard

Been very hot and humid over the last few days so,I have taken a few days off  from blogging, and writing. But back to normal tomorrow. The aircon in the car needs to be regassed, which will be a relief. Miki has recommended a friend in Polis, who sorted out Antonia's car.

Lovely meal out on Thursday evening and a late swim, which lead to a very cool night's sleep.

I see the Argaka gossip machine is in full flow, having met a friend at Saint Barnara's tonight. Haven't people got anything better to talk about?

Onward and upward ... tomorrow is another day.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Reasons to be cheerful

Family and Friends

It was great to hear from my step-daughter, Becky, today with her news and a possible outlet for my blog in her local online paper. That's "blue sky thinking" for you. Even better was the news that her passport might be renewed at some stage soon and that a visit might be forthcoming. I would criticise her for being dilatory about not renewing her passport except for the fact that my passport expired in October 2013 and I've done nothing about it yet. It's at times like this that I realise how much I miss people back in the UK.

After my break over the weekend it's back to writing again. I realised, when I sat back and read some of the chapters and part-chapters, that there was an awful lot of text and that might make the book too wordy. So, with diagrams and breaking the chapters into "bite-size chunks", and adding photographs where appropriate, it is starting to look more digestible. Although the aim will be that readers will be able to dip in and out of the book to find the information and opinion they are looking for. Thank goodness that an index and a table of contents are the last things you include. That bit will be more like hard labour.

I've been rereading the two online diaries I published on one of the forums. One covered the last eight weeks of our preparations in Bexhill before moving here, and the other was our first four weeks in Cyprus (finding a house, immigration, healthcare and the like). Lots of lists there that I must check to see whether things have changed in the two years we have been here. In any event, enough blogging and on with the real work of the day.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Heatstroke supplement

Wow ... it has taken a couple of days to get over Thursday's heatstroke and I wouldn't want to go through that again. Thanks for the emails and PMs. I am feeling better now.

Perhaps a supplement on First Aid for things like heatstroke might be beneficial in the guide. Literally sources of information that may affect people who retire out here, as a handy reference. Any suggestions - other than heatstroke - more than welcome.

Back to writing tomorrow, and reorganising the mammoth section on Healthcare Entitlement. I may include links to enable downloads of all the relevant forms which are required by the about-to-arrive and the newly-arrived. Anything, basically, which will make the great adventure somewhat easier. After all, we are moving out to Cyprus to live life in the slow lane - with no more stress than is necessary.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Heatstroke is not very pleasant ...

Went to the picnic site at Argaka yesterday with our friends Pete and Sylvi. Aircon on the way there and sitting in the shade whilst we enjoyed a great BBQ and picnic. But, after a few hours, did not feel at all well and was very ill. Ann drive me home and I was burning up, but ironically no sweat. Cool bedroom, wet flannels applied to the body and sips of cold water. I was so hot it was unbelievable. Fell asleep with the aircon on and a fan in the room, and slept for fourteen hours. When I got up I went for a cold shower, and it was like an arctic blast to the body.

However, have done very little today and just watched the cricket on TV. Gradually cooled off and I assume the body's thermostat is now working properly. Three cold showers and sitting in the fan's draught now, and feeling just about human.

I'll take a few days off and just take it easy. Heatstroke is no laughing matter ...

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Entitlement to healthcare

Of all the subjects I have researched there seems to be more no nonsense on entitlement to healthcare than almost anything else. I hope after a couple of days of writing, editing and checking (and then rechecking) that my guide will be informative and easy to follow. Breaking it into "Bite-size chunks" has been the order of the day, with a few flow charts to follow.

If you are receiving a State Retirement Pension, then follow this path. If not, and you are receiving a private pension, then turn right here. Self-employed and go here. Employed then turn left at the crossroads. You have to pay into the Social Fund unless (1) go here and (2) go there and (3) You will need evidence of private health insurance before you go to Immigration (go to chapter 4).

All good clean fun, but a bit mind-boggling.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Normal service resumed

After the excitements of the end of last week, normal service is resumed. Ann appears to have suffered no lasting ill-effects from her accident on Thursday evening, although it has made us think very carefully about our health out here. We now keep copies of our medical cards in the car, as there can be no treatment in A & E without it. I think a €10 note will have to be clipped to the cards as well - no money, no treatment. I can just imagine looking for a cashpoint at night, when on the way to A &  E.

One of the sad things is that Cyprus did train some paramedics but, since the financial crisis, there has been no money to employ them. So calling an ambulance is the equivalent of calling a taxi, as ambulances are sent out with only a driver on board. For anyone injured and requiring specialist care at the scene, especially with neck or back injuries, the consequences don't bear thinking about.

In Paphos, there are private ambulances with trained paramedics but that would be absolutely no good for anyone injured in our area. I am not sure what the solution is, or even if there is a solution. Plans for a National Health Service here are being considered by the Government at the moment, at the behest of the Troika, but I cannot see there being the money required to set it up. The long-awaited income from gas is years (and I suspect years and years) away, and until then Cyprus will struggle to provide the services it needs and that are desperately needed.

In any event, after a weekend off, I am delving deep into the minefield of the chapter "Driving in Cyprus", and taking - I hope - a reasonable standpoint between dispelling some of the myths about driving here, and being realistic in my assessment of the actual situation. In this chapter I am indebted to Mike Moorby of RoADAR Cyprus for his help and advice (

Anyway enough blogging - time to get on with some work.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Might have been tragic ...

Pottering about in Polis yesterday and we went to lunch at Saddles, where we fell into conversation with a lovely couple from Hailsham, and their three young boys. We had a couple of drinks with them, and Ann turned to see what was going on. Somehow she fell, the chair tipped and she landed heavily on the cobbles.   (We learnt months ago that when you fall here it is always hard - tiled floors, cobbled streets or sun-baked earth). We were very concerned and Mark took charge as he obviously knew what he was doing. All sorts of checks for neck and spine injuries, and movement and feeling in extremities. After an age, or so it seemed, he felt it was safe for Ann to regain her feet. Local people were concerned and all wanted to phone for an ambulance. However we decided against it, especially as ambulances here do not have paramedics on board, and would have taken Ann to the hospital ourselves if there had been need.

Once home, air conditioning on, paracetemol administered and a rather sleepless night for me. Ann woke up this morning, with a sore coccyx and a slight headache - but no sign of concussion or other injuries. Accidents do happen when you are least expecting them, which is probably why they are called accidents. Anita phoned this morning to check on Ann, and there has been a general feeling of relief that all was okay.

So not really in the right frame of mind to work on the guide, but perhaps an extra chapter on A & E - and how to avoid being taken there.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Class 3 Aliens

Just reviewing our Immigration file whilst writing Chapter 6 of the guide. I had quite forgotten the care and attention that Ann lavished on our application, and which resulted in our successful 11 minute interview before our "pink slips" (yellow, actually) were issued. Sorting out maps and possibly photographs to help others find the Immigration Department, which is nowhere near the place marked on the map we were given by the Cyprus Tourist Board. What memories!

Some interesting questions and suggestions made on one of the expat forums, where I have been allowed to post a link to this blog. One quite relevant one was perhaps to name the book "Our Experience of Retiring to Cyprus", which - as it will inevitably be personalised - may be a more accurate title. Many thanks to all of you who have contacted me with suggestions.

I was very disciplined this morning and wrote for an hour, had a break for lunch and then wrote for another forty minutes - before an afternoon nap was taken. If I can write for between an hour and two hours a day, the chapters (or at least their first drafts) will soon begin to take shape. Being something of a perfectionist, I hate errors, spelling mistakes, typos and want everything to be "just perfect".

I've asked a couple of people to write prefaces or introductions to chapters already planned (they are experts in their field), and they have graciously agreed. Whereas I am aware that rules and regulations change here quite often, the beauty of an ebook is that a second edition or subsequent editions are only a download away.

If any of you are on Facebook or any other social media, please do share this blog with your friends and contacts. The more the merrier, and when I get down to the "nitty gritty", opinions and suggestions form near and far will be so valuable. Tweet away to your hearts' content. You never know who might come and join us here in Cyprus ...

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Who would have thought it?

I'd never have believed that sitting in a gentle breeze, gently tapping out my thoughts on my iPad could be such hard work. I've decided (well Ann helped me decide) that discipline is what is required when it comes to writing. So space cleared in a cool area of the house, and no distractions, and my office was open for business. Plans laid out and I know what I wanted to write and even how I wanted to write it. But I suppose it's been a fair while since I have had to concentrate on anything for a period of time.

This morning just about finished the outline of the chapters, with sections of what I want to cover. After yesterday's Disclaimer, I wrote the introduction and a page about the author. And then, with a great intake of breath, the magnum opus was started. I had been researching the minutiae of Immigration to ensure that we had all the notes and letters and copies of documents, and receipts for payment ready. So Chapter 6, Immigration, was the starting point. It's going to take some time but a start has been made. I can't remember who said that staring at a blank piece of paper was the most difficult part of writing, so write anything ...

The pool beckoned after all the hard work, and just as I was about to change, the phone rang and another old friend whom I have not seen for a couple of months suggested a mid-afternoon drink at Mikis. Thanks Dave, that's just the reward I needed after this morning's hard labour.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Teething troubles

I gather that one or two people have found the first line of the blog in Greek rather than in English. I believe that, if you are viewing the blog in Cyprus (for example), then Google and Blogger default languages must be set to UK English, as they will automatically default to the language of your location.

I spent hours this morning researching the wording of my Disclaimer Page, which - even for ebooks such as this - in this litigious age is important. But that's one task out of the way. The rest of the time was spent using an iPad app called Popplet, which allows mind-mapping to be reasonably painless. Great if you keep changing your mind. After that it was whipping MS Word into shape with styles and formatting, so that the editing process will not be haphazard.

At the moment it's all fun, but writing does certainly take it out of me - probably because I haven't written anything remotely serious for years. But even worse is handwriting ... it's almost as if I have forgotten how to write. I suppose the only thing I have handwritten in years is my signature. And it's not just me - Ann is equally bad. Perhaps it's time to return to school.

I have always read you need discipline to be a writer and that's so difficult with the pool a few metres away.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Old friends

It's been great catching up with old friends recently. Only a couple of weeks ago my best friend, Mike - and Wendy, Hattie and Guy - came to stay in Polis and we enjoyed many happy hours with them. One of the only downsides to living "abroad" is that it takes a special effort to see old friends.

Today I heard from my old friend from Marlborough House days, Malcolm, and again it was super to catch up with news and views from my past. It would be even better if he and Philip come over to Cyprus next Easter, for a proper meeting.

Skype, email, mobile phones and the like have transformed modern life (not always for the better) but there is nothing like seeing friends face to face, over a cold beer or two, and putting the world's problems to rights.

It seems as if the whole world is on the brink of something nasty with Syria, Israel and Hamas, Ebola, Ukraine and any number of other conflicts. At times like this we count our blessings and hope sense prevails.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Clouds ... and Autoglym

Cloudy start to the day ... brilliant. I needed a cloudy day to apply the next coat of Autoglym to the car. Full of enthusiasm I made a start. Cool breeze and all systems go. Roof and bonnet waxed, and ready to polish. And then the sun sneakily appears from behind previously impenetrable clouds, the temperature jumps and - although the job was completed - I was anything but cool and collected by the time I had finished.

A cold shower has never felt so good. Off to Polis to visit the butcher and have a BBQ either tonight or tomorrow.

Not a day passes when the list of topics for my ebook increases. At this rate it will be a series rather than one volume. A Greek Cypriot once told me that when you are retired, "Every day is Sunday." Hmm ... Sunday the day of rest?

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Miki's Tavern

It would have been rude not to, wouldn't it? Hot, hot day and a letter needed to be sent to the UK. The Post Office is across the square from Miki's and so a cold beer was the order of the day. Perhaps a little lunchtime snack, a snooze at home and then a swim to cool off. Whoever said retirement was boring.

Yesterday we met the Argaka Mukhtar, Spyros, whom I asked to witness a form for the International Pension Service. He arrived, complete with stamp (official stamps are all the rage here) and - without breaking stride - I was offering to create a new website for the village. A lot of time and money is being spent to improve the village, and the planting of new palm trees along the coast is just the first step. A super duper, all singing and dancing website, to promote the village and to be the focal point for enquiries and information will help. After all, we are now "villagers".

The deputy Mukhtar, Yannis, runs one of the local bars and Ann was chatting to him to see what voluntary work she could do to help some of the most needy people in Argaka. Running events at the bar, with a guaranteed percentage going into a pot to help the poorer villagers, will be challenging. Ann has agreed to run a bingo evening, and I shall run a quiz evening through the winter months when all the tourists have gone home. The "Fly Again" remains open during the winter whilst most of the other bars and restaurants close, and so is worthy of support. A "Pamper Evening" for the ladies is planned (which Ann ran at the High Beech Hotel when she was manager there) could be a tonic in those relatively chilly evenings.

It is a chilling fact that many Greek Cypriots, the elderly and the unemployed particularly, are suffering from the economic chaos on the island. The Troika's demands will bring even more widespread poverty, and it is acknowledged that unemployment in the public sector has not even started yet. Many of our Cypriot friends realise the worst is yet to come. Expats, those with pensions and other index-linked income from the UK (and other parts of the EU) are insulated from much of this, and - if we can - we will try to help.

Spending a lot of thinking time and some mind-mapping in preparation for my Retirement Guide to Cyprus, and every time I put my thinking hat on new topics spring to mind.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

I suppose the question we asked ourselves a couple of years ago simply "Did we want to live our golden years (yes, I know - a dreadful cliché) in the sun? The answer was a resounding "Yes."

For my wife Ann, it was a very brave decision as she had never been to Cyprus before. I had, and had holidayed on Greek Islands for years before we met. Why Cyprus? In the 1970s there was a BBC holiday programme (name long forgotten) that described Cyprus as the island with the most perfect climate in the world, and that statement stuck in my head over the years.

The research into life on Cyprus in the 21st Century was all-consuming at times, and the information we picked up (and the ill-informed opinions promulgated on some of the "expat" forums) was what caused me to decide to write a retirement guide to the island.

Nearly two years down the line, and with solid experience to inform us, the idea grew and grew. We had kept and published a diary of our preparations before coming to Cyprus, and also a diary in the months after we arrived. But, what was missing, was reliable information (not tarnished by sometimes ill-informed opinion) to help those who would follow in our wake.

In the coming weeks and perhaps months, that information will be organised and checked so that our retirement guide will hopefully be a reference work for those who wish to retire to the sun, with the minimum of stress.

Cost of living, the political situation, the banking crisis, simple "How do I do this?" guides, and "Where do I go to do this?" and "Who do I see to get this done?" will be a part of my ebook. Renting or buying? Buying a car, or importing a car. The health service as it is and what it is likely to become. Tax, pensions, learning to speak Cypriot Greek, driving (and the advanced driving course I have undertaken) and a whole myriad  of other questions will be dealt with.

And not forgetting that things change and will change as a result of the Troika, this ebook will be updated as and when important changes are made.

Moving to a new country is a terrific adventure ... so I hope you will benefit from this venture as much as I will enjoy doing it. Feel free to comment and ask questions. The water is lovely. Come on in.

Retirement in Cyprus

Well I intended to start writing this blog some months ago but retirement soon gets in the way. In any event we have been in Cyprus for nearly two years and the time has just flown by.

So here goes ...

The bottom line of all of this is that I have decided to write a guide to retiring to Cyprus, and will publish it as an ebook. We have discovered so much, had so much advice and help, and realised that a successful retirement is all about having the information to hand.

With that in mind, over the next couple of months, I have set myself the task of writing my guide to retiring here, bringing together all the information we have needed to establish ourselves in a new country.