Saturday, August 27, 2005

Messy garden

At the end of summer, after almost no weeding, and no lawnmowing since Richard did half of it in mid-July, our garden looks a mess. Weeds seem to grow without any water at all, and around the citrus trees, which I water weekly, they've been growing even more strongly.

But summer IS coming to an end. This morning I went out to water the trees first thing, as I usually do on Saturdays, and instead of feeling too hot to continue by about 8.30, I still felt reasonably cool. Cool, of course, is relative: the thermometer was showing about 28C, and a few years ago I'd have considered that unbearably hot. But we do acclimatise somewhat.

So having taken the photo, I got out the lawnmower which Tim mended for me last week. I just thought I'd cut the worst of the weeds. To my surprise, I managed to cut about a third of the garden in about half an hour - all the front part. The sun had come out, though, and it was too hot to continue.

The part beyond the citrus trees is almost all weeds with very little grass, and currently extremely dusty so it's not easy to cut. But there's an interesting creeping weed which provides good groundcover, and seems to stop other weeds growing through. We're encouraging this one; it only seems to grow to about 10cm high, so it's easy to trim with the lawnmower. This is what it looks like close up.


This is Cleo, the oldest of our four cats, and also the most nervous. Being almost all black, she isn't very photogenic so I was pleased to catch this picture of her this morning, sitting on the table on our patio. Pity about the hosepipe apparently running through her, but it would have taken ages to edit it out!

Cleo is about seven years old now. A friend found her in Nicosia in Summer 1998, a tiny kitten abandoned outside an undertakers'. There were some other kittens too, and some chocolate milk which a passerby had given them, but Cleo looked the most likely to survive. As indeed she has. She is the mother of Sophia and Jemima although we had her neutured shortly afterwards!

This is what she looked like shortly after we acquired her seven years ago. She wasn't a very attractive kitten at all; her thin legs and swollen belly show how undernourished she had been at one point. We've no idea how long she and her siblings had been in their box. But we're glad we found her.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Family complete again :-)

Daniel is home! After two months on the Doulos, he flew back today. Actually he left yesterday afternoon, from Durban in South Africa. First he had a short flight to Johannesburg on a local airline, then a long flight to Dubia via Emirates Air, and then this morning a shorter flight to Larnaka. We all went to meet him - the flight was on time, and his luggage arrived safely. We talked a lot, and looked at some of the photos he brought back on CD and had lunch. He's now starting to unpack.

He's planning to continue updating his blog with some photos and more anecdotes and descriptions of what he's been doing, so please do have a look at it, and leave him a comment! He's written a quick update today to say that he's back.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Long-haired trees...

A few posts ago I mentioned how the citrus trees in the streets were having their annual trim, to keep the low branches from bashing into people walking past. In the past we've referred to this as tree-haircutting.

They seem to have finished now. But the trees look very bizarre: they seem to have had not so much a haircut as a beard-trim.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

We have a Digital Camera!

Richard got home last night :-) Not at 11pm, as he should have done, it was about 5am by the time he finally got in. He did phone from Gatwick to say he'd been horribly delayed so Tim and I didn't wait up for him. Sophia, who mysteriously seems to understand almost everything we say, was apparently expecting him at 11pm however since she started making a huge fuss around that time and making the mews she uses when talking about Richard. Evidently she didn't hear me telling Tim about the delay....

This morning when he unpacked, he produced the Canon Digital Camera we ordered (this post explains why we decided on this particular model). It's a bit smaller than I expected, but heavier than it looks. That's good, because I don't like very light cameras: they're too easy to shake when shooting. It's far more complicated than our previous basic Polaroid model, with a detailed and technical user guide, which I've peeked at a couple of times without much benefit. And it required all its software to be installed from the CD since I have Windows 2000. Picasa doesn't seem to recognise it at all, which is a bit of a nuisance, but it comes with something similar that does work.

Anyway, the easiest way to learn to use something is by trying it out, so here are a few of the photos I tried taking. I'm very pleased with the colours, the sharpness even at fairly close distances, and the flash indoors. Less pleased that it seems to consume batteries considerably faster than our old camera!

These were taken on auto setting. Click the ones that don't look quite so sharp if you want to see how clear they become in the larger versions. (Note to self: try lower quality images next time. Uploading these five pictures took nearly half an hour! Oops...)

This is a bit of bougainvillea hanging down in our porch. It really needs pruning, but we'll wait till the bracts have gone brown.

One of our lemon trees is doing extremely well... these are typical of the crop we expect to be ready by about November or December.

Here's a few of the many pomegrantes which are going to be ripe all at the same time in September. We never know what to do with so many, so the vast majority end up on the compost heap. Of course we eat some, and give away what we can.

Sophia, cleverest of our cats, realised she couldn't quite reach the water in my tall glass so she started dipping her paw in and drinking from the droplets she caught. I've never seen any other cat figure out how to do that! Of course it would have been easier for her to go to her water-bowl in the kitchen...

And here she is again, determined to stop me working on the current jigsaw puzzle.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Bits and Pieces

Yesterday felt quite constructive. 'Quite' in the British sense of 'fairly' or 'somewhat', that is, not the American sense of 'very'. (We do use the word meaning 'very' too sometimes, when describing something extreme, as in 'that was quite terrifying' or 'quite incredible' - but I think that may be part of the Great British Understatement use of language).

Anyway, I did another hour or so of weeding first thing. It's a relaxing way to start the day, and although the difference afterwards is small, at least it's a step in the right direction. It's hard for me to think small: when we were first in this house, the huge expanse of garden and the vast height of the weeds (some of them at least a metre high) was so overwhelming that I couldn't motivate myself to do anything much. Eventually I remembered about 'chunking down' and doing a small patch each day. Of course I didn't win -by the time I'd done ten days' worth the first patch had become overgrown again, but it set me in the right direction. Buying a lawnmower a few years ago made a huge difference too.

Then I put on some laundry, completely dusted and vacuumed our room, and changed the sheets. Not a huge deal, of course, but in the summer just about everything takes a lot of effort. By the time I'd finished it was 11am and I was almost literally dripping. I climbed in the shower, and while it was cooling and refreshing (no need to use any hot water at all since the 'cold' tap produces lukewarm water in the summer) it didn't make me much wetter.

Then in the evening, I was removing the lid of a can of Heinz baked beans. One with a ring-pull, which has supposedly made life easier, but in my view is much more difficult than using an old-fashioned can-opener. I find them very awkward and rather dangerous. However last night I evidently wasn't as careful as usual because suddenly blood started pouring out of my right middle finger. I seem to manage to cut myself while slicing onions fairly often, but had never previously done so while opening a tin.

I ran it under cold (technically) water for a while but it didn't stop bleeding. Thankfully Tim was there - actually doing most of the cooking - so he found me some kitchen roll to dry it, and a plaster (band-aid) to put over the cut. Not that one plaster helped much; I had to use three before blood stopped dripping everywhere. I was going to blog about it later but typing was rather too painful!

I changed the dressings twice in the evening and by the time I went to bed only needed one plaster, so I guess it's healing. Except when I forget and my finger bangs against something, even lightly. Right-button-clicking the mouse or using its scroll-button is painful too; I didn't even realise I used my middle finger for those functions until this morning.

I decided not to do any weeding today, not wanting dirt to get inside the plaster or to start the bleeding again. I probably won't tomorrow either, but I hope that doesn't mean I'll forget all about it again.

Richard should have been home about 11pm tonight, but he just phoned from Gatwick Airport. Apparently there's a four-hour delay, as the plane was late leaving Larnaka. Possibly because so many people are cancelling Helios flights after the awful tragedy at the weekend, and booking others instead. Or possibly because they're taking extra care of all the security and maintenance. I certainly hope so, since according to the Cyprus Air website, it's a Boeing 737 that he'll be flying in. The type of plane that Helios use, and Richard's least favourite. Flights from Heathrow use modern Airbuses which are so much nicer.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Half-way through August

Today was a public holiday in Cyprus, I believe it's because of the Feast of the Assumption in the Greek Orthodox Church.

It was also declared, by the government, the first of three days of national mourning for the victims of the terrible air tragedy yesterday. Most of them were Cypriots. It's now thought they probably died before the plane crashed, either through lack of Oxygen, or extreme cold. A lot of people are saying Helios Air is dangerous; I had thought it was good to have a budget airline operating from Cyprus, but perhaps not if they're not careful enough about safety.

On Saturday when I gave the garden its weekly watering, I realised just how bad the weeds are getting. And the 'lawn' (ha!) needs cutting very badly. Richard did about 2/3 of it shortly before our anniversary party - so I suppose it was nearly four weeks ago now. Hardly surprising it needs cutting again, despite lack of rain. Around the trees there's even some grass although the majority is just weeds.

Unfortunately when Richard was cutting the grass - and intended to do the whole lot - the motor failed. This has happened two or three times before, and has been fixed by taking the lawnmower apart, cleaning out the dust and dirt (of which there is a lot during Summer in Cyprus) and spraying in a bit of WD-40. However Richard did not feel inclined to do that at the time, so it was left.

Today I asked Tim to take a look at it, since he was the one who mended it last time. He removed a HUGE amount of dirt - I could hardly believe how much was trapped under the top cover and around the motor. Unfortunately that didn't make it work again. So he removed the bottom of the machine too, where the cutting blade is. There he discovered that some fittings had come loose, so he snapped them into place again, cleaned out yet more dirt... and it worked!

Now all I have to do is to find a time when it's cool enough to do some lawnmowing. The best time from my point of view would be about 6am but I don't think our neighbours would appreciate that. I suppose it will have to be an evening, but it's getting dark about 7.30pm now and is still very warm at that time.

Still, I did about 45 minutes' weeding this morning, around the trees and amongst the flowers (those that remain) at the far end of the garden. Sophia didn't wake me until after 7am, for which I was very grateful. But by 8.30 or so it was too hot and sticky for me to do anything more outside.

The only other constructive things I did today were to get our finances up-to-date in our Quicken software package, and to make some more lemonade as we'd run out. I am so grateful to the boys' friend who suggested we freeze lemon juice when we had a glut! Usually I have to stop making lemonade around mid-June, and can't resume again until at least the start of October, sometimes later, as lemons are small and green in the shops during the summer, and even more so on our trees.

But I still have four more litres of frozen lemon juice and rind, and making it is so much easier when all the preparation of washing, peeling and squeezing has been done in advance. I don't have enough to last till the end of September, but at least for another month. Next spring I'll make sure I freeze even more.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tired, sticky, saddened

Tired because I really need my eight hours sleep every night. Unlike Cypriots I don't seem able to siesta in the afternoons. My ideal sleep-time is about 10.30pm - 6.30pm. Or maybe half an hour later at each end.

Unfortunately Sophia (Daniel's cat) has been waking me every morning about 5am. Sometimes it's to inform me that an intruder cat has stolen their food. Sometimes she just wants a lot of attention and affection. She seems convinced that it's daytime and that I should get up, so I go to feed her and cuddle her. Then I can't get back to sleep because daylight slowly appears and the cicadas get chattering.

This has happened five mornings out of seven since Richard went to the UK last week. One morning I did manage to get back to sleep, and on one occasion she didn't wake me. Which of course made me worried for a few minutes, just as I worried the first time either of my sons slept through the night.

So I reckon I've lost at least eight hours' sleep this week. A whole night's worth...and I'm TIRED.

Sticky because although we haven't had any serious heatwaves this Summer (so far, anyway) it's really humid today. Lots of people were complaining about it at church this morning. We shouldn't really, as it's actually not been too humid at all this year, compared to usual. I just looked at the weather site, and learned that although it's only 31C, there's 75% humidity at present. Ugh. No wonder I'm sticky.

Saddened because of this news story. The worst air crash in Greek history, with a plane that left our local airport this morning. Helios Air have only recently started doing flights from Cyprus. What a terrible tragedy. Somehow it feels worse when it's so close to home. As just about everyone here seems to be related to everyone else - albeit by complex arrangements sometimes - it's likely that we might know someone who's been bereaved by this disaster.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Another Friday rolls around...

... and little has changed since last week. It's still hot. The cicadas still make a racket for most of the daylight hours, but the majority of the time I don't notice them.

Yesterday I walked down to the PO box at the end of town and collected a pile of mail including a couple more DVDs from At last they're offering BBC series such as The Good Life and To the Manor Born at reasonable prices so we took advantage and ordered them! It's the only DVD/book/CD site we know which offers free postage to Cyprus.

On the way I saw the citrus trees beside the streets having their annual haircut, so to speak. These trees grow in all directions, and once a year some workmen come with a huge hedge-trimming tool and cut the bottom of the foliage into a neat sort of orb. It makes it much easier walking along the street when we don't have to dodge low-flying branches, but they looked rather odd since the workmen didn't trim the top of the trees.

This morning I walked to Metro, our nearest supermarket. Not that we needed a lot: with just Tim and myself here for ten days, the grocery bill is much lower. Nor are we doing any serious cooking, so rather than buying onions and packs of passata and crushed tomatoes, etc, I bought a couple of cook-in sauces and a frozen chicken pie. What a cheat! Only until the end of August, though.

Tim's out at Richard's office, trying to help one of our friends from church who's having trouble with his laptop computer. He took it to a computer shop, who said he needed a new motherboard (at the same price as a new laptop!) . When Tim heard this, he wondered if it might be a power-supply problem, or something fixable. There's equipment for doing suitable tests at the office, so they've gone there to see if they can solve the problem.

Someone asked me in a comment why we're here and what we do... I never know if people return to read replies to comments, so I'll try to address a few questions in this post. Richard is at a conference in the UK, working all hours filming, and it's his work which is the reason for our living in Cyprus. It's a media ministry, which supports Christian groups in the Middle East. Cyprus is very convenient as a base. You can read some of the detail of his day-to-day work on his new blog. He would welcome comments as he's not sure if it's too technical, too detailed, or even too general.

As to whether we've yet chosen a replacement digital camera for the one I stupidly lost (described briefly in the middle of this lengthy post - if anyone's interested) - yes! I asked on for advice on a couple of forums, and we read several reviews of various cameras. All rather overwhelming since most people seem to be pleased with what they have. We knew we wanted an optical zoom, and at least 3 megapixels, but there were still hundreds of possibilities.

We had a look locally, but there was very little choice. The few cameras we did look at were over-priced compared with the UK, and also rather old. The one useful thing we learned was that we don't like cameras that are too lightweight. That rules out a few ..

Then someone told me about the Digital Camera review and news site. This site enables a good selection of features to narrow down choices, and also has galleries of photos from various models. Browsing those, we were both extremely impressed with the Canon cameras. From the cheapest to the most expensive, their colours and sharpness were stunningly good. Other cameras still produced good pictures, but on my high-resolution monitor, the Canon models stood out as the best.

Using money we'd been given to spend on ourselves (for birthday and anniversary) we decided on a maximum budget of £200, preferably including a case and memory card. That narrowed the selection down to four possibilities. We then researched the prices online, and found Amazon UK to be the best. At least, the best for someone wanting to order from abroad and have the camera delivered to an address which is different from the credit card address. They won't send cameras outside the UK. We've often used Amazon before and their service has always been excellent. Of the four possibilities, we chose the Canon A520. It came with a free camera case at the time, it has all the feature we wanted, and all the reviews we could find were positive.

So as Richard was going to the conference in the UK, we had the camera sent to someone else going to the conference, and he now has it in his possession. The first photo on his blog was taken using it in ordinary automatic mode as a snapshot. He says he's very pleased with it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


No, that title wasn't a typo for Estimation.

And no, of course we're not actually reptiles who need to estivate (here's a good definition of the word if anyone's unfamiliar with it). But I feel as if I'm estivating at present. Two months with little physical activity, to escape from the heat of the summer. Part of me feels I 'should' be doing more that's constructive, but another part of me is counting down the days till September. I know there won't be much temperature difference between 31st August and 1st September, but somehow September makes me think of Autumn, and new school years, and time to start new activities.

We need to remember for future years what we've learned every summer, and promptly forgotten: the boys are not going to work on home education curriculum work in July and August. Tim planned to, while Daniel's away. He was hoping to spend a couple of hours every day working through several workbooks, so he would not have much left by the Autumn. But he hasn't done any at all. The mornings are too warm, the climate too sleepy, and once we turn the a/c on we also tend to turn the computers on and then the day rushes by.

Jigsaw update: I completed the first one in less than a day. It was a good start. The second was also only 500 pieces, but it was an impressionistic painting of a cat and a lot of flowers. It was remarkably difficult. Eventually we had to abandon my normal method (ie no looking at the cover picture at all while the puzzle is in process) and opt instead for the opposite technique: picking up a random piece, then finding its match on the box. Surprisingly successful, and it enabled us to get the puzzle done, though it took nearly a week.

Thirdly we tried a panoramic 1000-piece puzzle with a photo of windmills in Poland. A nice puzzle, easier to do because of its shape (I could reach the whole thing sitting down) and although about a third was sky, it was interesting with clouds. I think that one took about three days.

Most recently I started another cat one, this time we think it's a photo, although I'm not entirely certain. Three black-and-white kittens on an orange rug, with some flowers in the background, and 1500 pieces. For some reason it's MUCH easier than the impressionistic cat picture. It was one of my jumble sale jigsaws, and I was quite pleased to find the pieces roughly sorted into plastic bags when I opened the box. But as they weren't all sorted, I think someone must have started the puzzle, then got bored and put it away in partially-sorted state, then decided to get rid of it.

I've had quite a lot of progress on this kitten puzzle today, not helped by two of our own cats, Cleo and Sophia, who are determined to sleep in the box halves where I have the remaining pieces. Oh for a digital camera! I've taken several photos of them but by the time they're processed it will be a bit late. Richard is now in the UK and will - we hope - be returning with our new digital camera next week.

After this, there will only be room on the dining-room table for one more big puzzle, and I'm going to tackle a 2000-piece one, a photo in Venice. I've only done this once before: when we were living in the USA in about 1993. It took weeks, and when I'd completed it I left it for ages before taking it apart again. I think it's about time to try it again.

(Ha. Updated later. Memory is a strange thing... I went to check the photo we took in 1993 and it was a TOTALLY different jigsaw in the USA, 2,500 pieces in all. I wonder what happened to it; maybe it's packed away somewhere in our UK house. The 2.000 piece Venice puzzle has a note on the back saying we completed it in 1999. Oh well.)

Sim Tower: On Sunday we bought some zip-up cases to store CDs in. On Tuesday Tim sorted through all their games, discarding a few which either didn't work or weren't any good. Today he's been trying to play some of them. Unfortunately many of them are quite old, bought when we had Windows 95, and won't necessarily work on Windows 2000. Or else they run so fast they're unplayable. But Tim likes older games better than modern ones, and was sure there must be SOME way of getting it to work. As indeed there was. He installed a MAC emulator. Now he's busy playing Sim Tower, a game to which I was horribly addicted for a few weeks, about nine or ten years ago.

Hmmm.... I wonder if Theme Hospital would work on Windows 2000.

Monday, August 08, 2005


We get a fair bit of junk mail here, usually tucked into one of the plants in the front garden. We tend to skim through it, since it includes supermarket sales and special offers, and then throw it out.

Late last week, one of the adverts we found was for a shop called 'Emporo' - from the photos it looked like a DIY/garden shop with a few clothes and even some food items. It was actually advertising a sale from July 12th, but said it was open on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays (when most other shops are shut). We looked at the little map given, and could see that although not close to our house, it was not far from some church friends of ours live. And we were invited to lunch with these friends on Sunday.... so it seemed like a good opportunity to call into this shop and see what it was like.

It didn't look very impressive from outside. Indeed, without the advert we would never have noticed it. It turned out to be rather a muddle of stock: garden furniture outside (rather over-priced), and sections inside for electrical goods (very cheap, on the whole), clothes, food (very limited selection) and general tools and so on. We browsed around a bit, and did pick up a few things that seemed like excellent value. Tim found an electric sander, something he's been wanting for a while, to sand the piano stool he and Richard built a few months ago. Richard found some very inexpensive cable ties.

I don't think it's a place we'll be visiting often, but it was worth seeing. When we mentioned it to our friends, they called it the 'weekend shop' and said they didn't think the electrical goods were much good. So I was relieved this morning when Tim tried the sander and found it very effective.

Meanwhile, I had my hair cut shorter again this morning (the hairdresser is open this week after all, she just wasn't there when I passed the shop last week. She's closing for the last two weeks of August).

Richard left for the UK in the early hours of the morning, when I was fast asleep - he's been rushing around all weekend trying to get things finished and ready to go. His blog explains some of the frustrations and general detail of what he's been doing. Thankfully none of the cats succeeded in stowing away in his luggage, although Sophia had been trying to do so when he brought home some of the equipment he needed to take.

I've had quite a few emails from Daniel too - and as the Doulos is now berthed in South Africa, they have an ADSL connection to the Internet. That means he was finally able to send us a few pictures, which I've now posted on his blog. When he returns in a couple of weeks, he hopes to bring a CD with a lot of digital pictures from other people, as well as films of his own to be processed.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday again

Yes, another week has whizzed by. At least summer doesn't drag here, despite not much happening. As I sit here in my tee-shirt and shorts in the air-conditioning (albeit not as effective as it should be) listening to the cicadas chattering outside, a frappé just waiting to be finished next to me, I realise life is good. Despite frustrations, now and again, we're thankful to live in this pleasant and safe environment with so many modern comforts.

On Fridays we usually do our weekly supermarket shop. Mostly we go to Metro, but having discovered recently that Chris cash'n'carry supermarket is well laid-out with a good selection of products, reasonably priced, we decided to try going there once a month - or maybe every other week - as a variation.

This week some of our regular junk mail told us that Chris supermarket had special offers on some things we would buy anyway, so we went there today. It's the first time we've done an ordinary grocery shop there, and once again I was impressed at the way the shop is laid out. Things are mostly very easy to find, and there's a fair amount of choice with more pre-prepared and frozen products than Metro. We bought a couple of the ready-made mushroom quiches for a quick meal, for instance.

On the other hand, I couldn't find fresh broccoli or cauliflower anywhere, although there was a good selection of soft fruit (grapes, nectarines, peaches etc). Not necessarily a problem since directly over the road is a huge fruit-and-vegetable shop, but we didn't have time to visit that today. More significantly, I couldn't find any free-range eggs. I won't buy battery farm eggs, so that's a point against Chris. Ah well, we have enough eggs to last us until next week's visit to Metro.

[It occurs to me after posting that the ready-made quiches almost certainly used battery eggs. A dilemma which hadn't occurred to me at the time. Not much I can do about that, really. It's only two months of the year when it's too hot to make real quiches, which of course we make with free-range eggs.]

Yesterday Tim went with some of the youth group to the Waterworld park in Ayia Napa. Someone had been able to get a substantial discount so they went in for £7 each. Usually it's twice as much. Although some of our visitors from the UK had been there, none of us had ever felt tempted before. We're not really keen on either theme parks or water, and most people we know who visit come back very badly sunburned. The whole park is outside, and it's only open in hot months of the year.

However Tim used factor 30 sunscreen (left behind by one of our guests) several times, and returned without a trace of burning. He said it was great. The only problems were that they had to queue for up to half an hour for some of the rides, as the place was so crowded, and that the food was pretty poor quality. Nobody is allowed to take food into the park (though most people take drinks in their bags) as there are three or four restaurants. Unfortunately the food is mostly poor-quality junk, and vastly over-priced.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Annual break

As with many European countries, just about everyone in Cyprus has a two-week break during August. Or so it seems. Hotels and restaurants keep going, of course, and tourist shops. But a lot of regular stores close down, and those that don't often shut for two or three hours over lunchtime.

Yesterday I wanted to buy some vitamins, and had to search awhile before I found a pharmacy that was open. I guess they stagger the actual dates of breaks; after all, it's important that some pharmacy is open all the time. There's a published rota in the papers for evenings and weekends, so perhaps there is for August too. This morning when I went to make an appointment for a haircut, the hairdresser was closed. The art shop where I regularly do my church photocopying will be closed from this Saturday for two weeks, so I have to make sure I get there on Friday for once, and then find somewhere else for the next fortnight.

I think it's a good principle to have an annual break, so families can get into the mountains to cool down and spend time together, or perhaps take holidays abroad. But equally it seems strange to do this at the season when there's likely to be the most tourists, in an island that relies heavily on tourism for its economy!

Still, visitors keep pouring in and the beaches seem full, even though we're told numbers are low. Probably because the Cyprus pound is such a strong currency at present. Nobody seems to know why, everyone we speak to says it's ridiculous, and very bad for the country since it puts tourists off. It's much less expensive to go to Greece, or one of the Greek islands where euros are used. Or somewhere like Turkey, or even North Cyprus.

Last night by contrast it wasn't peaceful at all. About 10pm we heard cars honking and vehicles driving around noisily. Possibly a wedding, although they're not usually that late or in the middle of the week. Usually the driving-around-Larnaka-honking happens mid-afternoon, after the service and before the reception.

This time it continued for about an hour - eventually I got to sleep, but we did start to wonder if Cyprus had won some great sporting achievement. Or perhaps Greece, since the two countries seem to support each other. Last year when Greece won some football cup (I think it was the European soccer championship) the Cypriots went wild. I don't know what it could be, though. None of us is interested in sport, so I had a quick look at the BBC news site sports section, and nothing leapt out at me.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Trying to be productive

It's difficult in the summer. Everything slows down, including me. In previous years I've managed to wake up about 6am and start the day with some weeding, but this year Sophia (Daniel's cat) keeps waking us in the night. As she did with him last year. She's adopted us temporarily in his absence, it appears, and while flattering it's also rather a nuisance. It means I don't wake in the morning until about 7am, and that's with the cicadas chattering so I don't feel rested.

Anyway, I'm managing to do a couple of hours of housework/pottering when I'm up and past the needing-coffee stage. Opening shutters, cleaning, bin-emptying, laundry, mopping, whatever. Then I take a cool shower (bliss!) after which I switch on the a/c in the living room where the computers sit for the summer.

But oh, how easy it is to find the hours rush by as I read email and forums, catch up on other blogs, follow links to more links, and end up doing nothing constructive. Of course after an hour or so my arms or eyes will get tired, so I take a break, but it's only to pick up whatever novel I'm reading, or to put a few more pieces in the current jigsaw. Occasionally I make a brief foray out into the rest of the house, but not for more than about five minutes at a time until the evening when I cook. Even that's minimal at present. At lunch-time we eat cold food anyway.

What's worse, I have several useful things to do on the computer, which I've listed. Catching up on my web-sites, checking links, making modifications. Ensuring the accounts are up-to-date. Sorting out my online photos, and scanning some more. Doing a back-up and defragmenting. Writing review for the much-neglected Ciao and Dooyoo sites. Or even updating a few of the old ones, where information has changed.

Do I do these things? Well, I didn't last week. Yesterday I did catch up on two weeks' worth of accounting into Quicken. Today I started by creating yet another two blogs to get my mind organised - I'm not sure how I'll manage to keep up with so many, but I hope to. Then I spent some time updating my old books site with all the fiction I read up to the end of 2004 (which I had written long-hand in a notebook) and including some links to my book reviews blog.

But all that took most of the day, or at least most of the time since 11am when I turned on the a/c.

Tim's out tonight at 'Lighthouse', a church group for international students. He leads the singing on his guitar, and also enjoys playing games and so on at the beginning. He commented as he left the house at 7.30 that it's already beginning to get dark earlier. He's right. It's now 8.15pm and totally dark. Last week Tim had to put on his sun-hat to go to Lighthouse. A couple of weeks ago it was still reasonably light at 8.30. One thing I miss about the UK is the long light evenings in the summer. Then again, it's just as well it gets dark early because at least the temperature cools down a bit after the sun has set.

Monday, August 01, 2005


After I'd posted yesterday's update, and switched the computer off, I suddenly clicked. No, I wasn't playing with my mouse! My mind was wandering idly around the universe, as it does, and for a moment I started thinking like Cypriots do. Their humour isn't like British humour, though it's compatible. Irony and satire work pretty well. But there's also a tendency to extreme exaggeration for the sake of making a point.

So, how would a Cypriot say, 'Our steaks are superb?'

I can imagine the restaurant owners brainstorming:

So good you'll come back next day.

No, that doesn't have a ring to it... how about...

So good you'll love them even if you don't like steak.

Hmm, that's the idea we want, but it's too long-winded.

Ah, I know... So good that even a vegetarian would love them! (Lots of laughter).

But then - and this is also fairly typical here - the idea gets passed to the person making the web-site, and he doesn't quite understand what the owners are trying to say. He also wants to make it a bit snappier, and as the web-site is for the restaurant itself, not the steaks, he changes the wording slightly. So it reads:

A steak house that even vegetarians will love.

Which, to the average meat-eating Cypriot, probably makes the point brilliantly.

Silly me for thinking it meant that it served vegetarian food...