Friday, 26 August 2016

The Joy of Cyprus ...

Tomorrow is our tenth wedding anniversary and we shall, officially, be "in the bubble". Phones, iPads, computers, and TVs off. This is what we want and that's what we shall be doing. In an emergency, send a postcard.

Whilst preparing for tomorrow I drove down to Paphos to buy some meat from Kolios' butchers. The shop was busy but the service was, as ever, excellent. I was wandering around when the electronic doors slid open and stayed open. The sound of air conditioning in the shop went into overdrive. Why had the doors stayed open ... you can probably guess. A white 4x4 had parked on the pavement and had come to rest within six inches of the door. The sensor opened the door and kept it open. The elderly Cypriot climbed out and went to buy his meat. I was trying so hard not to laugh, but I failed.

As I was paying for my meat, the girl at the till started laughing as well and then the girl packing the bags. One of the butchers started to laugh and there were smirks on all sides. I asked whether there was an official parking space where the white 4x4 had been abandoned and she gave me the classic "Cypiot Shrug", and then burst out laughing again. That is a taste of the real Cyprus.

So shopping done, I headed for home. Ann had been making a special pudding for tomorrow (it's a secret and I am not going to tell you all what it is) but you might guess when I tell you we head to go out and buy "squirty" cream today. So all ingredients to hand, the required champagne, gin, good wine and some beer (in case we become dehydrated) stored away and we look forward to tomorrow.

I met Ann on 4th August and we moved in together on 29th August, and four years' later we got married. Ups and downs there have been, but this has been the happiest time of my life. Long may it continue as I intend to live forever, and Ann should be alongside as we go ...

Friday, 19 August 2016

You just never know ...

Spitting feathers and muffling curses are not things that immediately spring to mind when I think of myself, but yesterday was an exception. Ann and I popped into Polis to do some shopping and went to a café/bar where a friend of ours works. We met another couple of friends there, by chance, and settled down for an hour. You can imagine my astonishment when I asked the owner's husband whether there was a problem with the free wifi, and received a verbal barrage of abuse.

Our friend, who works there, explained that there were problems with the wifi (which is provided for customers) and people were being kicked out intermittently. My friendly enquiry was just that ... a friendly enquiry. The volley of abuse, the tirade of "It's not my problem ... I'm just the barman" and "Ask the telecoms company" and "It works fine on my iPhone" was totally uncalled for. Obviously my expensive Samsung Galaxy phone was at fault.

What a prat and what a mistake ... I shall never, ever go there again when he is working. It's a strange thing that when his wife is working there (it's her business) the place is packed and she is just delightful. And then, the customers evaporate at about three o'clock when he starts to work. There is a moral here.

To make matters worse the guy seems unhinged, and angry, and obviously hates Cyprus. Well perhaps he should sod off back to South Africa. Oh he can't because, in his words, the "blicks" have taken over. What a sad situation and what an absolute loser ... I am not often lost for words, but this is a time when I am.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Colours for curtain hanging ...

Something of a first for me as we decided to rehang the net curtains and the proper curtains, after the painters rehung the blinds. I was chosen to rehang the first lot of curtains and, my goodness, how hot it is near the ceiling. But what a team! In no time at all the lovely regency curtains in our former dining area/current office area were rehung and today Ann rehung the golden curtains in our living area. The last one was a triumph and we sat down, in a slight sweat, to admire the work we had done. More photographs tomorrow on my Facebook page to show the end result.

It is like living in a new house, and once the outside plastering and painting is completed - then it will be like living in a new house. This has been a marvellous opportunity to throw out junk and to reorganise. I went for a siesta today, and missed the surrender of the English cricket team to Pakistan, and awoke to find that Ann had rejigged the dresser and what a difference that makes. I hope, by the end of Tuesday, that we shall be set fair. Both bedrooms and bathrooms are sorted, and a few adjustments to our living area should see the job done.

Lovely news that Becky S. and "Jas" might arrive next month for a visit. Apparently he is very tall and looks like Worzel Gummidge. It would be lovely to see her and I am sure Worzel and I can enjoy a few beers to enable Ann to spend time with her daughter.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Our "Magnum Opus" begins

At 08.03 this morning Andreas and his team arrived and the great work has begun. Apparently it will take between five and six days to repair the plasterwork and repaint the inside of the house, and then another six or seven days to replaster and paint the outside of the house. They are nice guys and certainly seem to know what they are doing. So, living in something of a shambles for the next week, and then watching them outside the house, will be worth it.

We have lived here for getting on for three years and, as I suspect with all properties in Cyprus, regular maintenance needs to be done and not put off. The architect and the builder both came up to see where the problems were and I don't believe they agreed. Much of this could have been prevented if a damp proof course had been installed when the house was built about twelve years ago. But you could also argue the house would be warmer in winter and cooler in summer if more attention had been paid to insulation.

Despite all of this we are delighted to live here, and taking coffee looking over Polis Chrysochous bay is a daily joy. It's our view of course. What makes the whole experience of living here even more special is the fact that our closest neighbours live a hundred and fifty metres away, and we never hear them. We knew before we moved that the expat gated communities were not for us, but the sense of freedom that we have is worth its weight in gold. Something to consider for those following us out here is that living cheek by jowl with other people is not necessary and is affordable. The trick is finding the right property.

Cooler days are nowhere in sight yet and, if last September is anything to go by, we shall be sweltering for some weeks to come. But what on earth would the British have to moan about if there wasn't the weather to discuss? So much of the year is similar to a hot British Summer, where you can potter about in shorts and t-shirts ... and not worry about getting burnt. We sit outside on many days in January and February, and only retire indoors when the sun goes down. In fact, for months on end, it is just a matter of sitting in the sun or in the shade. There seems to be a cut-off point when you suddenly realise that shade is vital. Decisions ... decisions ... decisions

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Fresh paint ...

Antreas, who is coming to sort out the plaster and paintwork inside and outside the house, will arrive at eight o'clock on Monday. It was to have been 07.30 but that would have been a step too far. We will have to get used to not wandering around the house nearly naked for the time he is going to be here. However, despite the potential for disruption, it will be a terrific improvement and make our dream home even dreamier.

This is very much a fresh start for us, after the last year. We have put that sadness behind us and, as the cricketers would say, we are "taking fresh guard". Our life out here is normally so relaxed that even the smallest thing can send shockwaves through the system. It reminds me of the mill pond and the throwing of a pebble into it ... such a small item can cause so many waves.

The Rio Olympics will leave us totally unmoved and I suspect that the television set will get quite a rest for the next couple of weeks. There is something about athletes, with their total focus on nothing and nobody but themselves, that is slightly nauseating. I've always been a follower of team sports (rugby and cricket, and that peculiar team sport of Grand Prix Racing) where people rely on the performance of others, and have to work together for success. But, strangely, there are some people who do not follow my interests.

A welcome break for and from politics and politicians, although the sight of David Cameron and Boris Johnson in their swimming trunks rather spoils the lazy breakfast in the morning. The BREXIT row rumbles on and on and on, and UK Plc gets poorer and poorer by the second. All those who supported this madness come out with "The people have spoken", "Get over it" and "Move on" - perhaps this is atypical of their brain function, and why they were persuaded to vote for impoverishing their country.

What so many people on newspaper websites and Internet forums are saying seems to have very little relationship with reality. I envisage legions of bare-chested xenophobes, with Union Flag underpants, dragging their knuckles along the ground and, with many a clenched fist, claiming that housing will now be available, the NHS will recover overnight and that, suddenly, unemployment will become a thing of the past. Some newspaper columns are awash with hatred of immigrants, foreigners - call them what you will. "Send them all back NOW" is the Daily Mail mantra ... I know, I know, I shouldn't read such garbage. It's akin to self-flagellation. But seriously it does make me ashamed to be British at the moment.

I dropped into Polis Hospital yesterday to pick up my repeat prescriptions. It was pretty deserted, there were three doctors on duty and I was in and out within fifteen minutes. I asked the lovely Chrissou at registration whether the cardiologist was still at the hospital. Dr Agamemnon is a man I respect and it was good to hear that he will be there until the end of August. I asked her what would happen then. She said another cardiologist had been appointed. She then smiled a beaming smile and said "We shall see ..." What was less good was the doctor I saw had not more than a couple of words of English. We communicated almost by sign language. That's okay as far as repeat prescriptions are concerned but not when you are describing symptoms of an illness you might have. That is indeed a case of "We shall see ..."

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

A sad anniversary ...

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the death of our good friend, Dave Travis, who was killed in an accident on the road between Polis and Steni. Sad times and we shall hope that the succeeding year/s will not affect us so deeply.

Last night, on a brighter note, we went to our friend Steve's 65th birthday party at Platea Meze House in Polis. They were over forty of us present and it was a jolly and fun occasion. The food was delicious although the meze was too much for even the most robust eaters. We sat with people we knew and it was a very pleasant evening. Except that, the service was amateurish and slow ... you would not believe how difficult it was to get a drink. This is a relatively new enterprise but I fear for their future. Our meals were paid for by our hosts and we were responsible for our drinks.

At the end of the evening the waiter, eventually, brought a bill but it was a bill for the whole table - and two of those couples had paid and left. He wanted €69,00 from us for a bill that was eventually calculated at €18,00. It was suggested that we had had nine bottles of Keo - yes that was me comatose on the floor. What a bloody farce ... we shall not be returning.

On the bright side Paula and Steve had a lovely evening, and we met a lovely Cypriot/American couple, who were just not what they seemed. Brilliant fun and something to be repeated at another venue.

The guy who is going to sort out the inside and outside plaster work is on his way, and his decorating skills will be challenged. But it will be great to get our home back to its pristine state. What the cats will think of this invasion remains to be seen?

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The price of living in Cyprus ...

After a pretty steamy and hot July, we have reached the month of August and it is hot, hot, hot. Someone once told us that July and August are the price you pay for living in Cyprus. By common consent the summer of 2016 has been the hottest since we arrived here in 2012. Ann met someone outside a kiosk months ago who told her that, according to NASA, the eastern Mediterranean was going to be very hot this year. Thanks NASA.

It may seem ironic that we, who emigrated to live in a warm climate, are complaining about the heat. But our Cypriot friends are suffering just as much as us, and everyone is looking forward to September and that wonderful time when you can sleep with the windows open (fly screens closed) in a gentle breeze, without air conditioning. Most of the year is perfect as far as I am concerned but a hot summer is to be endured, not enjoyed. Last night we went for a late swim in the pool, and that was just great.

How to endure this weather took us some time to work out. The first thing to realise is that, if you have your windows open, that just lets the hot air in. We always have windows closed, blinds and curtains closed on the sunny side of the house, to control the environment. A couple of fans are always on during the day to circulate the air, but there comes a time when the temperature in the house is in the low thirties. Last year and this year we learned pretty quickly just to switch the air conditioning on, and keep it on until we went to bed. Air conditioning in the bedroom is a must and we switch this on about three quarters of an hour before we go to bed. Another thing learned is that if you switch the air conditioning off, the room heats up much more quickly than it cools down.

Of course electricity has fallen in price quite considerably since we arrived and this keeps the cost down. But, as one of my friends said, there is absolutely no point in coming to live here and being uncomfortably hot in the process. Two things to remember for those following us out here to live. The first is that fly screens are an absolute must. In spring and autumn, open windows are the way to go and you don't want to have all those flying things invading your space. The second is that air conditioning is essential. Just remember those cheap Mediterranean holidays when your hotel room was sweltering and you couldn't sleep. And imagine that for months on end. Air conditioning in your living space is almost as important, as you may find that you retire indoors in the middle of the morning and don't venture outside until late afternoon. Be cool and enjoy your retirement.

If your electricity bill is too high, then have your air conditioning units serviced. Ours have been much more effective this year. When the guys came to service them, the gunk, and dust, and dirt they removed was quite something. And then, if your electricity bill is still too high, eat baked beans on toast until your next pension payment comes through. As we have found, eating in this weather is something we can often do without. Drinking, on the other hand, is a different matter altogether.