Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Race....!!

The 13th annual Larnaca race called to the barefootclan kids. We only heard about it a few days ago, and training was only for 3 days, but they were keen, keen, keen, so we went.

The first race was the 6-9 year olds, so Sam & Cara were in this together. Sean ran with Sam. 1400m up Larnaca sea front and back. Cara was over the finish line with some of the first ones.
This is Cara finishing.

Sam at the finish line.

Then Ronan's race, the 10-12 year olds. By this time it was getting pretty hot - I was only watching, but still sought the shade. Ronan said he did feel like giving
up at one point, but he kept on and finished with the middle bunch, red faced
and puffing! Maybe the poem "The Race" helped - I read it to them on the drive in this morning, when excitement and anticipation was running high. Here it is:

The Race
"Quit, give up, you're beaten!"

They shout at me and plead.
There's just too much against you now.
This time you can't succeed. "
And as I start to hang my head
In front of failure's face,
My downward fall is broken by
The memory of a race.

And hope refills my weakened will
As I recall that scene,
For just the thought of that short race
Rejuvenates my being.

A child's race, young boys, young men
How I remember well,
Excitement sure! But also fear.
It wasn't hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope
Each thought to win the race,
Or tie for 1st or if not that
At least take 2nd place.

And fathers watched from off the sides
Each cheering for his son,
And each boy hoped to show his Dad
That he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went
Young hearts and hopes afire
To win to be the hero there
Was each young boys desire.

And one boy in particular
Whose Dad was in the crowd
Was running near the lead and thought,
"My Dad will be so proud!"

But as he speeded down the field
Across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win
Lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself
His hands flew out to brace
And mid the laughter of the crowd
He fell flat on his face.
So down he fell and with him hope
He couldn't win it now ...
Embarrassed, sad he only wished
To disappear somehow.

But as he fell his Dad stood up
And showed his anxious face
Which to the boy so clearly said:
"Get up and win the race!"

He quickly rose, no damage done,
Behind a bit, that's all
And ran with all his mind and might
To make up for his fall.

So anxious to restore himself
To catch up and to win.
His mind went faster than his legs
He slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quit before
With only one disgrace,
"I'm hopeless as a runner now.
I shouldn't try to race. "

But in the laughing crowd he searched
And found his Father's face,
That steady look that said again,
"Get up and win the race!"

So up he jumped to try again
Ten yards behind the last,
"If I'm going to gain those yards," he thought
"I've got to move real fast!"

Exerting everything he had
He regained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead
He slipped and fell again!

Defeat! He lay there silently
A tear dropped from his eye.
"There's no sense running anymore
Three strikes; I'm out; why try! "
The will to rise had disappeared
All hope had fled away;
So far behind, so error-prone:
A loser all the way.

"I've lost so what's the use?" He thought
"I'll live with my disgrace."
But then he thought about his Dad
Who soon he'd have to face.

"Get up" an echo sounded low
"Get up and take your place,
You were not meant for failure here,
Get up and win the race! "

"With borrowed will, Get up" It said,
"You haven't lost at all,
For winning is no more than this
To rise each time you fall. "

So up he rose to run once more
And with a new commit,
He resolved that win or lose
At least he wouldn't quit.

So far behind the others now
The most he'd ever been,
Still he gave it all he had
And ran as though to win.

Three times he'd fallen stumbling
Three times he rose again,
Too far behind to hope to win
He still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner
As he crossed the line 1st place,
Head high, and proud and happy
No falling, no disgrace.

But when the fallen youngster
Crossed the line last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer
For finishing the race.

And even though he came in last
With head bowed low, unproud,
You would have thought he'd won the race
To listen to the crowd.

And to his Dad he sadly said,
"I didn't do so well,"
"To me you won!" His Father said
"You rose each time you fell."

And now when things seem dark and hard
And difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy
Helps me in my race.

For all of life is like that race
With ups and downs and all,
And all you have to do to win
Is rise each time you fall.

"Quit, Give up, You're beaten."
They still shout in my face,
But another voice within me says,
"Get up and win the race."

by Dee Groberg
Medals and certificates were gratefully received. Oh, and ice cream!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot

Today we were going to walk around the Salt Lake, which is completely dried up at the moment, but we wanted to crunch salt with our feet. However, it was just too hot - I think we've slipped back into
summer - it was 31 Deg C in the shade at 9.30am as we set off. We investigated the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque, revelling in the experience of walking barefoot on carpet again - haven't felt that for a year now! By this time it was 10.45, and getting hotter, so the Salt Lake walk was abandoned in favour of the beach.

It was hot there too as there was little breeze - not like the day this photo was taken!

After a couple of hours we just had to head off for
ice cream.

We've been in Cyprus for one year now, and it
definately wasn't this hot when we arrived this time last year. Weird.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Elvish Impressions

I love the Lord of the Rings books (& the movies), there's just something about that whole fantasy thing of elves and wizards and doing what's right for the good of all! Ronan (11) loved the books too.

Imagine our surprise to find Elrond of Rivendell emerging from our shower one night! (giggle).
Ears need a little trimming, but we're nearly there!

"The man who can wield the power of this sword can summon to him an army more deadly than any that walks this earth. Put aside the ranger. Become who you were born to be." Elrond of Rivendell.

Our version: "The person who can control their thoughts and direct their attention to what they truly want - for the good of all - can summon all the good in the world to them. Put aside the fearful act of compliance. Follow your heart and become who you were born to be." The Barefoot Clan :-D

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cara's 9th Birthday

8th September & my little girl turns 9. Suddenly that seems awfully grown up. Her plan for the day was to spend time as a family with a special menu for lunch (leek & potato soup - in this heat!).

She received lots of crafty gifts so the afternoon was spent needle felting (quote: "oh, I've missed this so much"), coloring in and celebrating having lots of new creative stuff! Oh, and watching Mamma Mia on DVD.

We went out to a restaurant on the beach in the evening which was pleasant, then finished it off with a walk on the beach in the dark.

A simple enough day. Just spend time.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Barefoot in the mountains

Well, the August sun in Cyprus finally got to us and we took off to the mountains to cool off! We took shoes, but of course, within a short space of time, the clan cubs were barefoot again. Sam (6) recommends this approach to hiking because "you can feel the vibrations of the earth" . He's been talking a lot about vibrations recently - vibrations off ants, vibrations off my bed - that's why he's always in it apparently!

We went to the top of Mt Olympus and soaked in the wonderful smells of warm pine forest. I couldn't get enough of it into my lungs! It was so peaceful up there. Well, apart from the pack of wolves that ran wild among the trees, howling and yipping to each other before asking the alpha male if there was any chance of ice cream.

Then we walked the Kaledonia Falls trail, delighting in COLD water which we haven't felt for months now! Sean & Ronan stripped off and got in the freezing waterfall.

All agreed: A Grand Day Out.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Adventuring at Cape Greko

We wanted to make a new outdoor video for the business at Cape Greko, and we needed to get there early before the wind got so strong that Sean can't be heard over the buffeting on the microphone! So 5.30am saw us all in the car, heading off in the dark to Greko. We arrived 6.15, sun was just up, and we got videoing.

Then it was playtime! Cara (8) decided that today she would do 'The Jump' from the cliff top into the sea below. It's about 8m, with a BIG splosh at the bottom.

She took some time to talk herself into readiness, and caught me (camera operator) unawares and I didn't get the whole jump (see video below). Then we swam in the sea, looking at scores of fish. Ronan took a tumble on the rocks and scraped his hands and feet and we finished up with a bee sting on Cara's hand! It was time to go! We all agreed it was a grand day out.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Little Orange Pencil & Arthur and the Mouse.

See that little orange pencil in the photo? I don't know how it's managed to survive and follow me around for so long, but it's actually an old school pencil of mine. I had a pack of 3 fluorescent pencils - a yellow, a pink and this orange one. The other two are long gone, but this little one has endured all these years!
The other day, it struck me as funny that Sam (6) is using this pencil to write his first book - Arthur and the Mouse. After all this time, the little orange pencil has a proper use!

I went off in a daydream then, imagining my 14 year old self sitting at my desk in one of my classes, gazing out the window as was my habit, and being visited by a messenger from the future. This messenger pointed to the pencil and told me that in years to come, I would be living in Cyprus, married to The Passion Man, and my THIRD (home educated) child would be using the pencil to write his first novel, which he wants to get published. (Watch this space!)

I wonder how I'd have reacted?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The heat is on.... (please turn it off again)

Phew... a heatwave has hit Cyprus from NW Africa - 37 deg C in the shade today. No work was done - it is definately a day for dipping in and out of the pool - all day spent in temperature management!!

A small watermelon snack for
Cara & I have been trying to
capture these acrobatic
dragonflies on camera.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ronan's Birthday

Well, it finally happened - Ronan turned 11. And horror of horrors - he didn't get a letter from Hogwarts, confirming the awful truth that he is actually a Muggle!

Not to worry though, we still celebrated, because after all, as Hagrid says "It's not every day yer young man turns 11 now, is it?"

He was up at sunrise (5.45am), and opened some parcels - books, books, and more books - so he was quite delighted!

We had a chilled out day at home til 3.30pm, then headed off to the beach for a home ed gathering. There were 5 or 6 families there, and loads of kids, so a good time was had by all, playing in the sea, on the beach and sharing some cake. We all headed off home after sundown (8pm), and poured 2 tired and windswept children to bed (Cara & Sam), and said goodnight to the birthday boy as he disappeared behind a book.

Sean & I reflected a while on all that has happened since 15th July 1998 when Ronan popped into the world at our house at Rossie, Montrose....

  • The birth of a son and a business (Activate)
  • The gentle arrival of Cara
  • The sudden arrival of Sam
  • Deciding to home educate (scary)
  • Moving to Crail pig farm (yuk, yuk, yuk)
  • Moving to Tayport (ahhh....)
  • Moving to Dundee
  • The death of a business (lots learned there)
  • Exploring What Next - USA? New Zealand?
  • Moving to Cyprus (making a sensible work decision)
  • Radical direction change (following our hearts not heads)
  • Conception of a new business
  • Out of money - emergency measures in place.....
  • New business nearly ready for birth - at the pushing stage now!
Gosh - did that really take 11 years!! I guess some other stuff has happened in between too!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Definately in Summer!

Sorry I haven't been updating the blog so much recently - so much to do!

Ronan & Cara have finished their theatre productions and enjoyed it immensely. Cara was Violet Beauregarde in 'Charlie & the Chocolate Factory', and Ronan was a semi-mean kid called Jed in 'School Journey to the Centre of the Earth'. You can see a little tiny bit of each show in this video which is actually a promotion for the summer school. There's some footage of oompa loompas in pink & brown (Cara became one of these after Violet gets taken off for juicing). Ronan's show is the fast moving one with the blue t-shirts and yellow chairs. I can't believe I didn't get any photos!

Cyprus is now definately in summer. Here's a selection of photos taken over the last couple of months.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

From Green to Gold

My last post was about how Cyprus had gone green, and now, only 3 weeks later,

it's gone golden! It's weird, a few weeks ago it felt so very spring like with the citrus blossom everywhere. And now, because of associations of home, it feels like it should be August - the smells of drying grass cut ready for baling, and golden hues everywhere, it's harvest time, and the map in my head says that summer is almost over! Of course, we ain't seen nothing yet as far as summer goes!

Here are some pictures I took tonight while I was out with my boys.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cyprus goes green

Fields at the back of where we live, & a big old tree with the sun reflected on it. We're staying in the house in the background.

It seems that we have finally reached the end of the winter, with not much rain expected from now until about November.

Cyprus has gone green - certainly not in the eco sense, but in colour. Everywhere there is an abundance of plants flourishing in the warmth after quite a lot of rain over the winter.

The fields are full of almost-ripe grain, the citrus trees are in blossom, with their gorgeous smell wafting all through the villages, and there are wild flowers everywhere.

I've been struck by the colours, which seem so much more vivid against a bright blue sky.

It almost seems as if all the plants are racing to get in their glory now, while the going's good, before the heat of the summer dries everything up!

Temperatures are in the twenties and I can sense it getting gradually warmer, week by week.

Below: the barley field with the sun just disappeared behind the hills.

Flamingos Gone

I thought I posted this ages ago, but I can't see it on the blog so I must've forgot.

All winter flamingos have been living on Larnaca salt lake. They migrate there from Africa, arriving about November and leaving again in March.

Here's a pricture of them with the Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque in the background.

And here's a closer picture of them.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A little green visitor

I realised with shock as I looked at the blog to write this, that I haven't posted anything here for over a month. Oops.

We've been so busy with a new business, researching and writing webpage content, that I haven't got around to the blog. There hasn't been much to write as we've not been doing anything very interesting. Just living, working, eating, sleeping! Not very interesting reading!

But today, we had a visitor looking in the patio doors at breakfast, who caused quite a stir! Here's a photo of the praying mantis that was goggling in at us!
It hung around quite a while (long enough for everyone to have seen enough of it), and then flew off up into a tree in the garden.
This week has seen a sudden increase in the temperature in Cyprus. Three days ago it went from an average of about 17 deg C to 28 deg C overnight. The wind has dropped, and the kids are in the pool! They are still in wetsuits as the water is cold, but they can come out and lie around like seals to warm up again.
Thankfully last week we missed the tornado that moved over Larnaca, cascading huge hailstones which made dents in car roofs and cracked some windscreens. Here's a video on YouTube if you want to see!
We've also signed up to stay in this house for another 6 months. The main reason is because we've been just too busy to spend the time looking at properties. So we're still out in the sticks of Mazotos, escaping the hailstones, but wondering just how bad the sheep are going to smell over the scorching summer!!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Day out at Cape Greko

Our last family day out took us to the East of the island. We went right out past Ayia Napa to Cape Greko which felt very exposed. We followed a sign for 'sea caves' and Sean found what he's been looking for.... a place to leap from the cliffs into the sea! We explored some of the caves, and Sean took the kids into 'a Dragon's Lair' - a large cave accessed by walking in the sea.

Sean took the chance to make a 'Passion Man' video for his website, joined by Ronan this time.

Not the most relaxing day out for me, (on top of a cliff with 3 children), but definately one connected with nature's elements!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Birthday Time

The first of our family to have a birthday in Cyprus was Sam, who turned six at the end of January. We celebrated by having a trip to the beach to see huge waves crashing in (it was very windy), and we huddled in a little gulley in the rocks to eat some of the new season Cyprus strawberries that are appearing in the shops.

We got home just in time to avoid a downpour of rain, so we watched Wallace & Gromit in the afternoon. For educational purposes, we'll watch it in Greek next time! I wonder how Wallace's accent will translate into Greek?

This year's cake theme was 'dinosaur'. Sean & Ronan were tasked with making the cake, and I think Sam was impressed! It has become a bit of a tradition to make a marshmallow/toffee/rice crispy cake for birthdays in our house. The kids like it better than sponge, and it's wonderful for molding into shapes.
It's particularly good with a lovely cup of tea, as the toffee goes soft and gooey with the heat of the tea, and the marshmallowy, creamy flavour floods the mouth, leaving the crunch, crunch of the crispies on the tongue. (drool, drool, off to skim just a little slice off what's left in the cupboard....!).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Stavrovouni Monastery

This morning, the electricity suddenly started going on and off - lights flashing, phone beeping, speakers crackling! Weird. Then it went off. Completely.

We decided to get out for the day, as there wasn't really any way of knowing how long this was going to go on for, and it was lovely and warm outside but chilly in the house. So we threw some food in a bag and drove off to the Stravrovouni Monastery.

We didn't take the normal (road) route up, we decided to try the track, which would have been perfect for a 4x4 truck of some kind, but a bit of a hairy experience in a Mitsubishi Charisma!! We did hear some scraping and crunching from underneath as we negotiated summits of hills and where there were deep ruts (yeek!). Of course there were no signs, so whenever we reached forks in the road, we just guessed. One such guess took us on a detour through a fruit farm, winding through tracks lined with oranges and lemons, eventually meeting the farmer in an olive lane. He was very friendly (probably thought we were mad), and he showed us the way to the road again, and unlocked his back gates to let us through!
The white, bare trees in the photo are fig trees.

The views from the Monastery car park were lovely, we could see from Larnaca and the salt lakes over to Nicosia and the North beyond.

The electricity was back on by the time we got home, the woman in the village shop reckons it was an accident ("usually a digger accident"). Seems like it happens fairly regularly then!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Junk recycling

I am very grateful for some warmer weather the last few days. The kids have been doing lots of exploring on the rough ground near our house. There is a den underway in a tree over the wall, Cara found a 'spot' for sitting, and they also found a large pile of compacted sand to shape. It was probably left behind by the builders, just like so many other things left lying around in Cyprus!

We are on a hill, and although the half dozen properties on the hill are all well finished, with landscaped gardens, you only have to step outside the boundaries and look down the slopes to find all sorts of discarded junk. Bits of wood; dead palm trees; sheets of corrugated iron; plastic pipes; cardboard boxes; paint pots. There's even a rowing boat! Sometimes it feels like we are living on the top of a midden. It's not just here though, we're seeing lots of junk all over Cyprus!!
As ever though, there is a plus side. For the creative explorers in our family, it's more like treasure island. The kids are forever finding things to make into other things, so the (lovely landscaped) garden gradually fills up with bits of junk!! Just look at this wonderful vaccum cleaner that Cara & Sam made to save me from the task of sweeping!!

Sam also made a sling shot today. A lovely big tree outside our garden was cut down on Saturday for firewood, leaving behind lots of branches with perfect V shapes. A saw and a piece of strong elastic allowed Sam to make a catapult, while Ronan & Cara cycled off into the village to a previously spotted tree which had cast down lots of little round nut-like things which were perfect for firing in the sling shots. It's now not safe to bend down around here!
All in the name of Home Education of course!!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year for 2009

Best Wishes

I wish you the best

The very best
Of Everything

The best bed
To sleep in
And Food to eat

People To be with
Best cold
And Best heat

Best times
Best clothing
Best thoughts
And dreams

The best
Of the best
The very best
Of Everything

by Gary Revel

Wishing you a Happy and Prosperous New Year - I hope 2009 is the best year yet for you!

The Crunch hits Cyprus

I can hardly believe it! Here's how it happened....

Out for my morning walk (to set myself up for a day with my 3 noisy, er.. exuberant children), I crossed a field and dropped down into a little valley, as yet untouched by the sun's morning rays. Following a rough track made by offroad vehicles, I was reflecting on how chilly Cyprus felt this morning - about 7 or 8 deg C, when I heard it.... CRUNCH! I looked down to see that I had stepped into a muddy tyre rut which was FROZEN at the bottom.

Imagine my horror as I realised that it must have been below zero during the night - in Cyprus - by the sea - not even near the Troodos mountains. Now this was all a bit too much for a Scottish lass on the run from the cold. Moving to Cyprus was a major step in my Mission to escape chillblains, white numb winter fingers, sore ears from the wind and an overwhelming urge to hibernate from November to April. My Mission had seemed to be complete, but encountering that frost has exposed gaps in my plan. Cyprus (by the sea) is not supposed to get this cold according to the books, so that brought me to my next conclusion..........HELP!! it's following me!!

This theory was confirmed later in a conversation with another expat who admitted that he'd never felt Cyprus so cold as today in all the years he's been here.

OK, so the forecast for tomorrow is 11 deg C, and getting warmer over the weekend, which is a huge improvement, but I'm still considering moving on to Egypt!