Saturday, 31 January 2015

Importing your car to Cyprus ...

A big thank-you to my friend David of Gracie Towers for detailing the interesting process and costs involved with bringing your car to Cyprus from within the EU. As we sold our car in the UK and bought another car in Cyprus, we did not have intimate knowledge of the process. Now we do and it will make another useful part of the "Driving in Cyprus" chapter of my ebook, where I also owe a great deal to Mike of RoADAR for his permission to quote from his all-embracing website about life on the road in Cyprus.

And so winter heads into February (often the coldest and wettest month of the year here) but the forecast seems set fair for the first week of the month with sunny days and temperatures of  22°C if the weather underground site has got it right. Although Cyprus always needs more rainfall than it gets, the promise of warm days in winter is a real bonus. Perhaps it should just rain at night.

Life in Argaka is getting back to normal, with Becky S. now safely in the UK and our thoughts are with her. She is minded to move to the Eastbourne area at the moment but, as always, plans may change. We are looking forward to hearing that she has settled in her new home and that the next chapter in her life is being written. Honey and Jaz (our rescue cats) miss her and still look around as if they expect to see her emerging from the guest room saying "More tea ..."

I must sit down and finish proof-reading the RoADAR constitution so that can be returned to the organisation before the AGM. It's all very well volunteering for these tasks and then real life gets in the way. The Six Nations' Rugby Championship starts next Friday and that will distract me. So I shall look into the mirror and give myself a severe talking-to.

Sad to see The Euro Shop is closing down in Paphos (and their other branches in Cyprus) as they have been an excellent source of UK goods here. We try to use the Cypriot alternative for many of the  things we use here (not much point in living here and pretending we are back in the UK)  but there are certain things we find irreplaceable. I trust someone else will take up the banner. In any event we popped down to Paphos to stock up and then had a brilliant late lunch at The Watermill at Steni. What  good food and friendly attentive service. It was a good job it was not Sunday as those ribs would have been just too attractive. As it was, we shared a vegetarian platter. Fabulous.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Returning to the UK ...

Ann's daughter, Becky S., returns to the UK on Friday and - in true Cypriot fashion - the weather has decided to change for the better, with the next seven days being mainly sunny and warmer than it has been for a while. Just as well, as the weather on the Sussex coast was hovering just above 0°C this morning.  No doubt she will be working hard on her suntan so as to show all her many friends what they have been missing. After ten weeks here, I am sure she will be glad to leave "her olds" and go back to what promises to be a little more lively than Argaka in winter.

I must admit that seeing the sun return after some wet, cold days (and, according to our friend Savvas, it has been as cold here as he can remember) is a real tonic. I say that, bearing in mind, at times during our long, long summer we sometimes wish for a cloudier, cooler day. But we would not be British if we did not talk and blog about the weather.

Plans are afoot to revamp the front garden, and also establish some vegetables and herbs in the back garden (where they will be shielded to a certain extent at times during the day). Our vegetable gardens to the side of the house were great but, as yet, we cannot reach them with the present irrigation water set-up. So our end of summer water bill was a little too high for comfort. So the garden it is, unless I can persuade Savvas to extend the Lego-like irrigation system from his land to the side of the house. He has said he will be happy to do that, but - according to his wife, Androniki, - he has been saying that for years. Only time will tell.

One of the few links I maintain with the UK is my habit of watching Question Time, which we record and watch when we feel like shouting at the TV. But, in keeping with the general decline of standards at the BBC, the last couple of weeks have made for painful watching. David Dimbleby seems to have lost the art of chairing the panel, the members of the audience have become ruder and less tolerant, and the politicians ... don't get me started on the politicians. They all appear to be as self-serving and venal as ever, and with the approaching election, seem to want to outdo their opponents in graceless and intolerant behaviour. And David Starkey on Thursday evening - words fail me.

Roll on the revolution ...

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Looking forward to ...

A strange start to the New Year and I have given myself a severe "talking-to", to ensure that 2015 is as positive experience for us as 2013 and 2014. In fact a positive frame of mind has been almost ever-present since we arrived in Cyprus.

Our big adventure, and yours if you are planning to follow in our footsteps this year or next, is to be resolutely positive about almost everything in this land of contrasts. It would be easy to make a list of the all the very best of Cyprus and the very worst of this intriguing land. Your and our research before making the move will help prepare you life here. In fact, this train of thought has been stimulated by the latest chapter in my ebook entitled "Cyprus ... what the guide books don't mention."

This chapter is full of the things you will, if you are at all like us, absolutely love about the island. And it is also full of the warts and carbuncles of Cypriot life. We were very aware of things like poor animal welfare, hunting and interesting driving habits but totally unprepared for the levels of political chicanery at all levels of society and the sheer incompetence of many of those who believe they have a right to rule. The "brown envelope" is everywhere and the greed of bankers, building developers and so-called lawyers is unbelievable.

If you don't buy property in Cyprus, and keep your money offshore, then you will be insulated from much of this. But it is there and increasingly apparent.

But, for all of this, we wouldn't be anywhere else. And, if you come with the right positive frame of mind, neither will you.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Voltaire and Edmund Burke ...

What a few days this has been. Whilst we were wrapped in self-pity because we have had a few very wet, cold days, the news from France and other places has brought into focus the intolerance of modern society. Religion has been at the heart of so many conflicts throughout history, although religious extremism often has little to do with religion.

The suffering across the Middle East, the killings and the sadness and misery of the displaced from Syria and Iraq, and the feeling that the western world has made matters worse rather than better by its actions (and ironically by its lack of action at times) has resulted in 2015 being a bleak place to live in.

To see UK politicians jockeying for position in what must have been the longest election campaign in living memory, and the nonsense about convicted rapists wanting to pursue a professional football career, the increasing support for UKIP (surely a disaster waiting to happen) back "home" makes for uncomfortable reading. 

When Voltaire wrote "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it" he could have been writing about 2015 and the French journalists and cartoonists who were murdered in Paris. And we then have the BBC, in its pseudo-liberal, apologist, tones not covering the origins of the story in depth for fear of offending the lunatic, religious extremists who carried out this atrocity. Where has the integrity and courage of what was once the greatest news organisation in the developed world gone? 

I feel at the moment as if I could be  writing a letter to The Times from "disgusted of Tunbridge Wells", instead of my blog.

As Edmund Burke wrote a long time ago, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." So where are the good men and what are they going to do?

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

When men were men and ...

Living with mother and daughter has its upsides and its downsides in the current cold weather. One of the great ironies of living in Cyprus is that for nine or even ten months of the year, you have free hot water on tap (courtesy of the omnipresent solar heating of water) and for most of that time all you want is a cold shower or three to cool down. In the winter months, if you are lucky, the sun will shine and hot water will be available later in the day. But, with this sudden cold snap, it is necessary to use the immersion heater. We have a time switch on ours which enables you to switch it on for 30 minutes, 60 minutes or 120 minutes. Most days a 30 minute top-up suffices, but not yesterday.

I went for a shower and found the water not really warm enough. This precipitated a barrage of criticism and banter about not having run the water for long enough and my manhood was questioned. But today, after a very cold night, Ann switched on the heater for 30 minutes and went for a shower. She emerged seconds later to switch the immersion heater on for another 30 minutes. Then, it became apparent, that Becky S. had bottled out of showering and only stuck her head under the shower to wash her hair.

An apology of sorts was forthcoming and it has been unilaterally decided that the immersion heater now needs to be switched on for 60 minutes. The delights of family life know no bounds.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Good, old Janus

Janus, the God of beginnings and transitions, is here and all of us here are looking forward to 2015. I suspect that Ann and I just hope that 2015 will be as enjoyable and satisfying as 2014, but for Becky S. (who, allegedly, took a swim in the pool this morning) it is a year of transitions, and therefore a new beginning.

I've always been a firm believer in looking forwards and not backwards, and I trust that Cyprus (its battered economy and with nepotism ripe at all levels of officialdom) continues making the slow and painful progress of 2014. I fear it will be years and years before the economy recovers and this will have a dramatic effect on the native population. Our attempt to help the local village community was rather handicapped by the attitude of the local British expat community, but we did raise a considerable sum nevertheless. Half of the money went to a fund which buys children's presents for the needy in Argaka, and the other half of the money will be used to purchase vouchers from the local supermarket to help those most in need.

The weather has finally stopped pretending it is autumn and there are clouds and rain in the forecast in the next ten days. But that is not to forget that we only have two more months of winter left, and then - no doubt - there will be complaints about the heat and the humidity from this who like to moan about everything.

Becky S. Returns to the UK on 23rd January, and will no doubt be delighted to catch up with her friends after spending over ten weeks with "her olds". Interesting times ahead for both her and us.