Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Champagne cocktails ...

Many moons ago, when we decided to run a pub after I retired from teaching, our friends Keith and Roz (landlord and landlady of The Unicorn in Marden, where we first lived) bought us "The Cocktail Book". I don't know what caused us to have a look at it the other day but Ann came across the "Classic Champage Cocktail" and so - purely in the interests of research - we decided to give it a go.

The only thing we needed to buy was Angostura Bitters and some sugar cubes. Papantoniou's could not come up with Angostura Bitters but suggested a substitute brewed in Limassol (so not too far away from its South American heritage). We had bought some champagne which was, and still is, on special offer and so away we went.

Put the sugar lump into a chilled cocktail glass or champagne glass and saturate with the bitters. Add the brandy, then fill the glass with Champagne. Decorate with the slice of orange.

1 sugar lump
1-2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 measure brandy
4 measures chilled Champagne
slice of orange to decorate

Well the first one slid down smoothly , but the second one was outstanding. Definitely a holiday drink but, seeing as we have been on holiday for over three years, that's not a problem.

We were told, on good authority, that after about fifteen months reality would set in and that romantic holiday indulgences would become a thing of the past. Hmm! I'm not sure we would agree with that. Roll on tomorrow ...

Monday, 21 December 2015

Christmas Greetings ...

A lot of our friends have returned to the UK, or more exotic parts, for Christmas and we are busy preparing for our celebrations. In many ways this has been a fairly bruising year (as regular readers of this blog will understand) but we are looking forward to 2016 with unquenchable optimism.

Christmas shopping was just about finalised on Sunday when we, with tales of queues and lack of shopping trolleys in the back of our mind, drove down to Paphos. Lidl's managed to provide us with a number of items on our list and then our first visit to Kolios Butchers. What a lovely shop and we were delighted with the welcome we received and the quality of what we bought. So many of our friends have recommended this shop but we never got round to dropping in. I am afraid Pambos, in Polis, shot themselves in the foot by being so vague about the availability of meat we wanted to order and buy just before Christmas.

When Ann and I first got together and moved to a small village in Kent, I used to drive back to Hawkhurst to Wood's - a real butcher - for our meat. Yes, of course, it cost more but the quality was tangible. Having visited Kolios, we realised what we had been missing.

In any event, we are just about to retire "into the bubble" to enjoy our festive season. We shall see all our missing friends in the early part of the New Year, and hopefully Becky S. as well, but will take this opportunity to wish you all a marvellous Christmas and a truly memorable 2016.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Wet or dry?

For years I have had sensitive skin and shaving has always been something of a pain - sometimes quite literally. My Philips shaver had a built-in attachment to dispense Nivea moisturiser on the skin before shaving and this seemed for a long time to alleviate the rash or burn I used to feel when I shaved.

The Philips shaver was on its last legs, and the difficulty in getting any supplier to send the moisturiser to Cyprus - Amazon categorised the moisturiser as a biohazard for goodness' sake - meant that a new shaver was needed. To replace the Philips shaver was going to cost over £150 and that is silly money for a shaver in my opinion. Much research was done and the answer for sensitive skin seemed to be an electric wet and dry shaver.

After many hours reading reviews, the Braun Series 3 (3080) seemed to offer what I wanted but the price was still high. Amazon was offering them at £119.99 and that's still quite a hefty price tag. But "Black Friday" was approaching and I stalked the Amazon site relentlessly. It was reduced in the run-up to "Black Friday" to about £62, and then it featured in their "lightning sales" section - but you could only find out the price if you logged on at 22.00. So I waited and waited and logged on. £38 was the price and I snaffled one at that price.

Something of a delay with delivery, as I blogged the other day, but delivery was achieved on Monday of this week. On Tuesday I tried a dry shave, without discomfort, and achieved a very satisfactory result. I then bought some Nivea shaving gel (0% alcohol, as recommended) yesterday and - looking like Father Christmas with his white beard - I stepped into the bathroom. A few minutes' later, I had finished. It was the closest shave I have ever achieved with an electric shaver, and almost as good as the wet shave I had in Goa. Silky smooth and no rash, no sensitivity and just great.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

All things change ...

Our long warm autumn seems to have finally given way to winter, even though it is still lovely and warm during the day. But once the sun goes down, it is socks and sweaters and some heating to keep us warm. It's been a busy week, with lots of tasks needing to be completed. Cyprus being Cyprus, it is easy to put things off and off ... but eventually you have to get round to things.

Various friends heading off to the UK for Christmas and we shall miss not seeing them. Our Christmas will be very different from last year, especially with no Becky S. to keep us all on our toes. Hopefully she will visit us in January, work permitting, and then we can have a second Christmas. It is eleven months since she was here and it seems much longer than that.

I had reason to contact Amazon recently as my new shaver had been stuck at a distribution centre in Gemany for about eleven days. They told me that, despite an estimated delivery date of December 9th, I should wait for 48 hours after January 6th before becoming concerned and contacting them again. Somewhat coincidentally my shaver arrived in Cyprus the next day, and I am now waiting (but not with bated breath) for it to wend its way through the Cypriot postal service.

All that being said, we shall have to start organising ourselves for Christmas next week. Shopping list in hand, we shall have a brief excursion to Paphos to buy the things that we cannot obtain in Polis. But we shall buy in Polis wherever Polis, even if it is slightly more expensive, on the principle of "Use it or lose it."

Monday, 7 December 2015

Winter Sunshine

We are currently blessed with blue skies and unbroken sunshine in our corner of Cyprus, although it is a little chilly after the sun goes down. My shorts have been placed at the back of the wardrobe - only to be unearthed for especially hot days. But one week into "winter" and all is warm and well.

Checking the stats on my blog I see that I am just a handful of views away from 10, 000 page visits and that is something I never dreamed of back when I started on this project. 

Ann is off to play Mahjong this afternoon with another couple of members of Polis Book Club and this may well prove an interest for the winter.

If only there was a slot car club here. I think the only one on Cyprus is at least 100 km away. Oh well, that's the price of living in paradise ...

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Harman Kardon Soundsticks

Many years ago, when I met Ann, I bought her an iPod for her commuting and that opened a whole new world of mobile music for us. At our first Christmas, I think, I bought her a set of Harman Kardon Soundsticks so that we could enjoy the digital music at its best.

Over the years we have bought new kit and more modern iPods and iPhones, and the Soundsticks were relegated to the cupboard. When we left our pub, when we had bought out large HDMI TV, we took that with us. Great picture but, as with many LCD TVs, poor sound. Recently I set up an Android TV box at a friend's house and appreciated the sound through her external speakers.

So, on a cool day, I unearthed the Soundsticks but couldn't see how to connect them to our TV. But, after fiddling around, and with Ann's help, we linked up our system to the TV. The result ... ok but not brilliant. However Ann suggested that we plug our Soundsticks into a headphone port and ... BINGO.

Putting the TV on mute, and switching on the Soundsticks, the irritating hum disappeared and then ... brilliant cinema sound. Bass coursing through the the building, great stereo and a whole new experience of watching TV and movies and streaming music. Brilliant ...

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Gosh ... What a week.

Gosh ... What a week. The western world, as my Scottish friend used to say, "Dithering and Swithering" as to whether the UK should bomb Syria. Armchair generals and keyboard warriors giving their advice and getting it wrong. Politicians and those who wish to be heard giving their advice and the whole country at loggerheads over the issue. Bedlam.

We are battening down for winter with lively sunny days and chilly (relatively) nights. I've been investigating better sound for our TV system, and this was because I set up a system for our friend, Pam. So, with a lovely set of Harmon Kardon speakers and sub-woofer (which I bought many years ago), we played about with wires and so on. Result ... Ann's patience was rewarded and we have a lovely cinema-sound system, with moutanins of bass, for our music, and TV, and movies. It's so unimportant in the scheme of things but ...

And the bass, watching Jurassic World ... absolutely stunning ...