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?