Sunday, 28 February 2016

21 again ...

What a day to celebrate my birthday ... the sun is shining, the sky is blue and the sea is calm. A bottle of champagne in the fridge, and a late birthday lunch this afternoon with friends to help me celebrate. Life can be so good.

This is my fourth birthday in Cyprus - and each one has been different thanks to Ann - and I must admit each one has been great thanks to her efforts. Goodness knows what we shall do in a couple of years to celebrate my 65th. As Ann says, "It's only a number" and I must admit I feel marvellous most of the time. The lifestyle in Cyprus and our way of dealing with matters has a lot to do with our state of mind.

We have had a couple of hiccups to deal with of late, and once again our policy of being very selective with friends has paid dividends. The expat community in such a small place like Polis can be pretty claustrophobic and everyone seems to know our business. There are times when living in the middle of a field can have distinct benefits. The idea of living in a "community" is just too awful to contemplate. For those following in our footsteps, do remember that.

Expats tend to want to form instant friendships, on the flimsiest of evidence. Perhaps it is their sense of insecurity that makes them behave like that. Good friendships are slow-burning, and we don't want to be "best friends" within a couple of meetings. If that makes us odd, then so be it. I remember my mother pointing out, at a rehearsal for the Sovereign's Parade, that everyone was out of step with me. The drill sergeant didn't see it quite like that, I can tell you.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

And so it starts ...

It would appear that normal politics, and governing the United Kingdom, will be put on hold to allow the political "elite" to strut their stuff on the stage as they do the bidding of their various masters (big business, the USA, the trade unions, etc.). The end result may well be catastrophic for the British people, and the main problem will be that it may prove impossible for the voters to get a reasoned, impartial argument. We certainly won't get that from the politicians, the BBC, the newspapers and many of the self-appointed experts. And so, for many, the arguments put forth in the tabloid newspapers will sway the uncommitted.

For those expats living abroad, it is even harder to find a balanced argument. But the one thing that may sway decisions is pure and simple self-interest. What's best for me and mine? If the UK decides to leave the EU then our right of residency in Cyprus is not guaranteed. I suspect and hope that we would be okay if the referendum decision led to a BREXIT. But nothing is certain and being forced to return to Britain would not be pleasant.

We have a right to vote in elections and referenda as we were registered to vote in the UK. Ann and I have both registered to vote again, although we shall have to make use of proxy votes as the postal vote papers are only sent out eleven days before an election, and we would never receive and return those papers in time for them to be counted. But vote we will, our voice will be heard ... I wonder how many of the many hundreds of thousands of expats living in the EU will stir themselves from apathy and do the same?

Reading the British newspapers online in the last couple of days has made for interesting reading, and you can see the political bias of the newspaper owners almost headlining the articles. There was a time, even in my lifetime, when you could read and listen to impartial and expert commentary - but sadly no longer. The "migrant fear" card seems high up the agenda as if a BREXIT will miraculously cure these problems overnight. But it will not stop the unprincipled campaigners from using this to sway people's decisions. On the other hand the government will use taxpayers' money to swing the argument in the way they did when there was a Scottish referendum. I despair ... I really do.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Decisions, decisions, decisions ...

I don't know why but decisions, like buses, tend to come in little groups. So at the moment we are having to make lots of decisions - none are earth-shattering but they are still decisions.

My 63rd birthday is accelerating towards me and Ann is keen to know what I would like to do. We have eaten out with friends, we have entertained friends at home - both have advantages and disadvantages. Going out entails driving, which is not ideal on a birthday celebration. I hate, with a passion, taking taxis and especially taxis in Cyprus. But entertaining at home means that there is a lot of work for Ann ...

As readers of this blog know, our trusty TV died and we were faced with replacing it. Demotronics did not hold out much hope and I had researched a similar-sized set for us to buy. Whilst waiting for Demotronics to make a decision, we asked a person we have met recently and with whom Ann plays Mah Jong. Well ... what a carry on ... they have a television but don't use it. But they don't normally lend things, and how long did we want to borrow it for, etc. etc. etc. We both reached the same conclusion and that was to tell them to just forget it

However another friend, and this is the difference between a friend and someone with whom one is on friendly terms, had recently bought a larger TV screen as her eyesight was no longer what it was, offered us her 32" screen for €50,00 ... well what could we say? I collected it and it is absolutely fantastic both in looks and performance. It was so good we had to take her out to lunch on Saturday as an additional thank-you. I can just imagine if we had offered her extra money for what was a very good buy for us.

Becky S., of whom we are very proud, has just returned from the island of Lesbos - where she has been volunteering at a camp for the many migrants to have landed on Greek shores. I think the experience has had a profound effect on her, and I must say I am so proud of the commitment she has shown. We hope she will come and visit us in the next few weeks.

On an entirely separate tack, I despair of the once-proud BBC. I read two articles online this morning. One was about the dangers of sunbathing, where it was stated that there is no safe way to sunbathe but - if you don't spend time in the sun - you will have a deficiency of Vitamin D. But, horror of horrors, it was stated that Aleppo was surrounded on three sides. For goodness' sake ... standards, standards, standards ...

Monday, 1 February 2016

"Just one of those days," he said grumpily.

Yesterday must have been one of those days, as I'm not normally like that. But sometimes the gossiping expats just get under my skin. Coming from Northumberland makes my comment about those from the North somewhat illogical.

Perhaps the sun will shine tomorrow and there will be free Smarties ...