Thursday, 26 November 2015

Amidst all the gloom and doom ...

Some domestic good news amidst all the terrible events happening in the world at the moment. This morning I woke up and thought that my iPad was a little faster than usual. Checking the Internet speed, I found that our ISP (Cyta) had doubled our speed overnight. It had been announced that this would happen before the end of December and the local word was that it would happen, according to a little birdie, on December 1st.

But - lo and behold - our speed was doubled and it has transformed my Android TV box - as well as our browsing and streaming of music.

And then, as I am in the market for a new electric razor for Christmas, the Amazon Black Friday deals has come up trumps. I decided a wet and dry electric razor was what I wanted and Braun was my preferred make. The model I had chosen had been cut in price from £119.00 to £62.00, which was a more realistic price. My pension comes in tomorrow and that seems a good day to buy. But this afternoon, I found that Amazon was putting this model of razor in their Lightning Deals from 22.30 this evening. So, alarm set, I shall purchase when the Lightning Deal appears and hopefully save some money.

Both of these issues are totally unimportant but will bring a smile to our faces. Tomorrow we meet our friend Pam, and our friends Pete and Sylvi, for fish and chips at the Turtle Tavern in Argaka. It will be good to catch up with them all. On Sunday we travel to Pomos for a pre-Christmas celebration with our friends John and Jill. And then, it's just a matter of waiting for Amazon ...

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Peace in our time?

The events of the last few days, and weeks and months for that matter, are an uncomfortable reminder how fragile peace is. From Paris to the Turkish border, never mind the awful events around that slip off the front pages of the newspapers, 2015 is a year that will be remembered for a long time for all the wrong reasons.

Our link with the world comes from the BBC news, various online forums and newspapers, and does not give a very balanced view of current affairs. The keyboard warriors and armchair generals all seem to feel this is some sort of game. I am reminded of an animated scene in the brilliant 1968 film "The Charge of the Light Brigade" YouTube link when the masses decide that "War, War, War" is what is wanted. And it seems that certain sectors of society are talking and writing their way towards even more killing.

No one who has served in the military, especially those who have seen active service, would want the world to go down that route. But the opinion formers and politicians seem isolated from the realities of war, and talk and write of this and that as if it is inevitable.

So let us hope that sanity prevails and that "To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war", as attributed to Winston Churchill in 1954 at a White House luncheon. I, for one, will be keeping all my fingers and toes crossed.

Friday, 20 November 2015

A week is a long time ...

It's been a week, just about, since the terrible events in Paris. A fundamental shift in world security and all the horrible consequences that may follow. It has been depressing to see and hear all the comments online from the armchair strategists and the keyboard generals. If you really want to see some depressing comments, just have a look at The Daily Mail online and read any article published in the aftermath of the Paris massacres. The comments' column is full of febrile and aggressive comments, including the sensible suggestion that the West should "Nuke Mecca" to teach these Muslims a lesson.

We feel isolated here in Cyprus, although we are aware that terrorism is possible anywhere. What will happen in the coming weeks and months throughout the world God alone knows, but I hope that sanity breaks out and the awful circle of reprisals and threats and actions is somehow broken.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Shopping online with Amazon

One of the irritants about living here is the fact that not everyone will deliver goods to Cyprus, and Amazon is one of the companies that are increasingly saying that they will not deliver here. I, for years, used to buy a Nivea moisturiser for my electric shaver. Every three months they would dispatch my order until - only a few months ago - my order did not arrive. When I queried this, I eventually found out that this was because my moisturiser was considered "hazardous material". I could not really believe this but it turned out to be true.

Time and time again, when we are considering buying something - or just checking the price with them online - the indication is that this item cannot be delivered to Cyprus. This applies to Amazon itself, and an increasingly large number of their resellers. In the end I got my Nivea moisturiser on eBay (in Germany) where the reseller was quite happy to send this hazardous material to Cyprus.

I am now in the market to buy a new electric shaver and find that my preferred brand, Braun, is available on Amazon and at a good price. But some models are not available to send to Cyprus and some are, and these are all from Amazon itself. Mystifying. Do they think that some electric shavers might double up as ground-to-air missile launchers?

Other sellers charge the most outrageous P & P to deliver here. It is almost as if they would not prefer to send their stuff to Cyprus. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many packages never arrive and replacements need to be sent. I once bought some printer cartridges from Amazon, which did not arrive, and so I contacted them. They immediately sent out a replacement, which arrived just shortly after the original item had - weeks and weeks late - been delivered. Being the honest chap that I am, I contacted them and they asked me to return it - AT MY OWN EXPENSE. I told them to go forth and multiply and they, very indignantly, sent me an email telling me that I could keep the originals as well.

So we shall wait, with bated breath, to see whether they deliver my electric shaver ...

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Cyprus Rugby ... Oh Dear ...

We had a very enjoyable trip down to Paphos yesterday to watch Cyprus play Latvia. But the performance of the Cyprus team was absolutely dire. Two years' ago I watched my first international rugby match here and was impressed with the performance of the team, their hunger to succeed and their enthusiasm.

Yesterday we watched a team desperately short of match fitness and enthusiasm, with two of the most overweight props I have ever seen at any level of rugby. The end result of picking such players meant that Cyprus was down to thirteen men (effectively) within the first ten minutes of the match, as these men walked from breakdown to breakdown. By the second half they were almost invisible.

Having played rugby at a good level in the UK for many years I know the importance of being prepared for a match, and when your legs and lungs refuse to cooperate, you may as well not be there. By the last twenty minutes of the game, it was embarrassing and tackling was fast becoming an optional extra. The crowd was disenchanted and quite a few were leaving early.

I know the national team is desperately short of money but fitness can be achieved by the players' determination and dedication to improve. Training on Keo and Souvla will never be the answer. Lovely weather but, and here is a tip if you have not been to the Paphos stadium, those seats were very, very hard. Those in the know had their own cushions. If there is to be a next time for us, cushions will be top of the list of things to take.

Friday, 6 November 2015

24 hours later ...

This time yesterday I was settling down with Ann to have a glass of wine and watch some early evening TV when I noticed that the sight from my left eye was not as it should be. My vision was blurred in the left quarter of my sight. It was quite disconcerting. I mentioned it to Ann and she said that my left eye had been quite bloodshot for a couple of days.

The sight from my eye got slightly worse over the next ten minutes and was very blurred. To be honest it was quite frightening. Thoughts of visiting an "eye doctor" the next day (we could not quite work out which version of "opti....." it should be) were made.

Ann suggested using cotton pads and hot water and just wiping once across the bottom of the eye. After wiping once the pad should be disposed of, and a fresh one used. So the bathroom and some gentle wiping undertaken. I came back into the sitting room and, a couple of minutes later, admitted that the blurring had gone and all was back to normal.

For the next couple of hours I was surreptitiously checking my sight but all was well. This morning it was all a bad memory. Tonight, twenty-four hours later, all is well and cotton pads have been elevated to very important items to always have in the house.

Rugby tomorrow, which we are looking forward to. Cyta, our ISP, announced that they were doubling internet speeds for all their customers by the end of December, for the same price. Now there's a result and an early Christmas present.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Le Weekend

Ann and I are looking forward to going to see Cyprus play Latvia in Paphos on Saturday. International rugby for €10,00 a ticket, with free parking, is so unlike our Twickenham experiences. Let's just hope the Cypriots are fitter than they were the last time I went to watch them. One or two of their forwards were so overweight and unfit I assume they must have been on a Keo and Souvla diet. This windy weather is forecast to improve for the weekend, and a lovely sunny day is in prospect.

A Cypriot acquaintance of ours once said that "When you are retired, every day is Sunday." I'm not sure about that as it can be quite difficult to remember what day it is. You arise, make coffee and sit on the terrace in lovely warm weather and then have to pinch yourself that it is halfway through November and the temperature is still 24°C.

Making long-term plans for the garden has been fun recently and - in our wildest dreams - think what it would be like if Savvas ever manages to sort out irrigation water for the whole of our land. Apparently he has been promising to do this, according to his wife, for about ten years. As Del Boy used to say, "This time next year, Rodney, we'll be millionaires."

So this time next year ... answers on a postcard please.