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!