Friday, 29 May 2015

Use them or lose them ...

Ann called into our local butchers today in Polis, as there is an important public holiday on Monday. She was chatting there and it became apparent that business was not good and they were hoping for a surge of business today and tomorrow. The assistant intimated that business was not good enough and they needed more trade to survive. The thought of our local supermarket being the only outlet for meat is not comforting.

Whenever there is a monopoly, and this became apparent when the other supermarket in Polis closed, prices rise and rise. Anecdotal evidence is that the supermarket charges about 15% more than they do in Paphos, where there is competition.

So, as we found in Bexhill, if you don't use your local shops - they will close. Our butcher only sells meat from Cyprus, and so the French "beef" that is sold elsewhere is not an issue. Those of you in the area, I hope, will support your local butcher because if you don't ...

The weekend approaches fast, with England giving New Zealand a pasting at Headingly, and - as long as we do not suffer from tomorrow's promised thunderstorms - an interesting day ahead. Sunday will be the day of the pork, with crackling (thanks to a fabulous tip from Gracie Towers) and roast potatoes and ...

Those following in our footsteps will be interested in our chapter on TV, and what you can and can't do in Cyprus. And all for €0,50 a day.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Hard Times

It will come as no surprise to people who know Cyprus that it is a very hard country. Every surface in the home is hard and dropping things will have only one result - CRASH, BANG, WALLOP. Equally the land and the villages and towns are equally hard. Slip or trip and your landing will be very hard and painful.

Of course we take care but this does not stop breakages. We have recently been aware what would happen if we broke a wine glass next to the pool. It would involve draining the entire pool to clear up the glass and then refilling the pool, with all the attendant chemical balance to achieve. So plastic glasses have to be the order of the day.

A trip to Paphos for shopping was fun, and Lidl's was incredibly quiet. Of course we forgot the tinned tomatoes, which were on the list, but that's life.

The tiny flies which are driving many people to distraction appear to breed in the wheat, which is due for harvest. So, with bated breath, this irritant will be removed from our outdoor life. We cannot remember these little pests in the last two years, but they are everywhere. Savvas, our good friend, was using a pressure hose to clear up after cutting back weeds from a path and found his ears and mouth and nose to be filled with these little beasts. Enraged he turned the hose on them, and was incredulous to find them unmoved by the jet. "They just came back. Bloody Hell."

In any event we await their disappearance so that life outdoors can go on as normal. This week we go into Polis for "Dancing in the Streets" with our friends John and Jill. Only time will tell whether we actually dance in the streets.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Irony that is Cyprus

We've got to the stage when we have boiling hot water from the solar panels and we are turning down the temperature in the shower because it is getting hotter. Within the month we shall be complaining that cold showers (which we need five or six times a day) are too warm, but when we get to December we shall be moaning that the solar panels are not producing enough hot water until mid-afternoon.

Sadder is the case that a local supermarket (P**********s) is putting pressure on a Cypriot brewer to stop selling to a local shop at their previously agreed price. We have been buying 12 x 63cl bottles of Keo for a few months at €11,75 a case, but recently they have had no stock. I had a chat with the owner and he explained that the supermarket had been pressurising Keo to force them to sell their Keo at €14,50 a case (the same price as the supermarket). To hell with competition.

Rather sad ... but a snapshot of an island which does not encourage competition. I shall buy my Keo from the local shop, and would rather walk over hot coals than buy from P**********s.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

À chacun son goût ...

A lovely day ahead for Ann's birthday ... I have left her pottering in the garden, with her new SHARP secateurs, whilst I come into Polis to make final arrangements for this evening. We are dining at Finikas tonight and I popped into to see Yiannis to ensure the right table had been booked. As ever, it was. Then it was off to see Maria, who has made a unique present for Ann, which I shall collect when Ann is seated with a gin and tonic at the restaurant. And I must buy a bottle of champagne, hide it when I get home and not forget to put it in the fridge before we go out.

We have been together getting on thirteen years (we met on August 4th) and it struck me the other day that, if you intend to retire to Cyprus (or anywhere else for that matter), it will only work if your relationship is solid. Being together for much of every day (especially if one or both of you have been working full-time until retirement) is quite a shock to the system, and I believe that a fresh start in a new country will only paper over the cracks in a flawed relationship. I see expats all the time, sitting in restaurants and bars, and not saying a word to each other. Either they are using a mobile phone or an iPad, or reading a book, and never a word is passed between them.

À chacun son goût, as the French would say, but not our way at all. I read much about preparing for retirement before we arrived in Cyprus, and it has been more difficult for Ann as I had retired a number of years before we left the UK. As the Beatles sang:

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I'd been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

You'll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you

I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight
If it's not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck & Dave

Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I'm sixty-four?

My dearest love to my dearest love ... Happy Birthday.

Monday, 11 May 2015

"Some people think it's all over ... it is now!"

Well after the excitement of the General Election, life seems to have returned to normal. The Pound is making ground against the Euro, and goodness knows what would have happened if there had been a Labour/SNP coalition (formal or decisions being made in smoke-filled rooms). I can't help feeling sorry for UKIP (much as I despise their policies) - and that would be the case for any minor or new party - who managed to have about four million people voting for them and that gave them one seat in Parliament. Something, somewhere, is wrong here and needs to be looked at once the dust has settled.

Here in Argaka the news that our nearest bar/restaurant appears to have been sold is sad. Santa Barbara had the most stunning setting and a cool glass or two there as the sun set was never to be forgotten. Local rumour has it that the site has been bought for "development" by a group of local doctors. A sign of the times perhaps?

Ann's birthday tomorrow and she received some beautiful coloured solar lights for the garden from our friends John and Jill. Of course she opened them at the end of last week and they now sit in pride of place in the garden. With new hanging baskets, and some lovely plants for pots, the garden is enormously satisfying to sit in. Tomatoes are coming on apace and peppers and chillies are showing signs of life.

Each day the pool is getting warmer and warmer and I am well into my stride with my swimming. Ann braves the Roman steps each day and even she said last night that the water was distinctly warmer yesterday evening. I reckon by the end of the week that our pool will be open. Jaz and Honey come and inspect the pool regularly, and Jaz loves it when the pump comes on. She seems as fascinated by it now as she has done for the last two years.

For those following in our footsteps, we still believe it is the best decision we have made for years. We agreed that, at any time in the first twelve months, either of us could turn around and say that this was not the right decision. After eighteen months, Ann reminded me that we had never had that discussion. It literally never crossed our minds. στην υγειά σας.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The real reason to live in Cyprus

6th May and I have just remembered why we came to live here two and a half years ago. After a very, very busy social weekend, we caught up with all the jobs we should have done and decided to just live "in the bubble" today. I was pottering in the garden, with clear blue skies above and a benevolent sun shining down, and the pool was looking just that little bit too inviting.

And then, I was in and swimming ... perfection. The water cool, the sun warm, and the breeze just apparent. And to think, for the next five to six months we can do the same. The slightly tedious matter of keeping the pool clean and not being able to use it, the expense of the chemicals - all fade into distant memory. We thought long and hard about whether to have a private pool, and the more we thought about it, the more we realised it was part of our dream. And we have never regretted it for a minute.

Heaven alone knows what will happen tomorrow in the UK General Election but if that poisonous puppet of Alex Salmond is able to influence the government, we are all doomed.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

International Rugby in Cyprus

Just heading off to Paphos with my chum, David, to watch Cyprus v. Lithuania. So different to going to Twickenham as we park (free parking) just outside of the main gate, wander up and pay €5,00 or €6,00 and sit where we want. As Cyprus holds the world record for the greatest number of consecutive victories in international rugby (I believe some team called the All Blacks are second), we await the onslaught with excitement.

There is a breeze here in Argaka and, as the temperature in the shade is about 24°C, I trust the players in Paphos enjoy the same conditions.

Yesterday a fabulous lunch and very relaxed afternoon at Gracie Towers, and tomorrow we are at Pomos to have lunch with John and Jill. I never realised doing nothing could be so exhausting.