Friday, January 11, 2008

All rather stressed at present!

Life in Cyprus isn't all palm trees and beaches. Living here is mostly fairly relaxed, compared to some other places in the world, but it's not without its stresses.

1. Since the start of the new year, the weather has become cold. Very cold at night. Last night Tim got out another blanket, and I had a hot water bottle. That would be fine if our central heating was working, but it isn't. It's been getting worse and worse for the past week. A week ago we had to reset it about once a day. Yesterday we had to reset it about once every half hour. Resetting it means going outside, downstairs to the ground floor, and into the boiler room. Which is cold. Even colder than the house without central heating.

We have various instructions about the boiler left by the people who sold us the house, but they're mostly in German or French, and have got damp so are not very readable. We don't know anyone who knows anything about central heating, other than the guy who sold us the house... so Richard will text him tonight. Probably. And find out if he or a colleague can help. In the meantime, we're wearing a lot of clothes, running an electric heater, and - when it gets really cold - running down and resetting the system.

2. Tim is applying to university in the UK, and has to get his UCAS form in by Tuesday. He started this a couple of months ago - it's all done online, and stores the information as he goes along - but we're not good at time management in our family and he's particularly expert at leaving things to the last moment. He has been wondering who to use as a reference, and thought of his Vicar, since he's been the church organist for the past couple of years. He asked him this week, and in principle he agreed.

Today I took a look at the requirements. I thought they would just need the name and address of a reference, for character purposes. But no. They need an actual reference typed or pasted into the online form. And it's not just a simple acknowledgement that the candidate is a good guy who can probably do the courses he's applying for. They require information about character, motivation, ambitions, attitude, and commitment, plus details of interests, hobbies, outside activities...

Usually it would be a school teacher, but that's no good for the home educated. He's only known his current piano teacher for a little over a year, and they don't talk about much other than music. He helps in a local primary school, but only since last October, so that's no good. We wondered if I could do it, since I was home educating - but after writing to three or four people who know more about these things, the consensus is that parents can't do references on UCAS forms.

So he's going to ask the youth group leader, who he knows quite well (and ask her for a meal, if she'll do it, so she can type it in this weekend!) or else let the vicar know it's not just a theoretical agreement for something in the future, but necessary immediately.

Tim has no idea if he'll be accepted at any of the five courses he's applying to. He has several other ideas (plans B to J, as far as I recall) in case none of them accept him. He's fairly relaxed about believing that if God wants him to do one of these courses, then he'll get a place - and if not, he'll do something different. He hadn't realised until now that if he'd completed the form in, say, November he would have heard whether he'd got places or not by the end of last year. Ah well.

3. Daniel is due to come home on furlough after two years on the MV Doulos. He should have been coming in about mid-February. In February, the Doulos will be in Papua New Guinea, and it appears to be an extortionately expensive place to fly to and from. The Doulos pays for his flight to the UK (where he will go at first, to de-brief, and perhaps see one or two of the extended family) so when they realised the high costs of flights from PNG, they suggested that all those due to leave then (ie everyone who joined with Daniel) should either extend for a couple of months, or leave from the Philippines in mid-January.

It worked out well for Daniel to leave in January. But then they couldn't find any flights. Or else they found them, but couldn't book them as he would be required to show the credit card used for the bookings. So, last weekend he emailed that he would probably go with the ship to PNG and leave from there after all, which would cost about three times as much as flights from the Philippines.

Today I had another email from him, saying it looks as if a flight has been found after all, so the AV department has to change its schedule, and he has to pack... and he would let me know when he knew for sure. But he hasn't, so we still don't know.

When he has confirmation either way, we will have to book him a flight to Cyprus, and a coach from whatever airport he flies into (to the office in the UK), and hope that he gets the e-ticket in time. And that he doesn't need to show the credit card used for the booking...

4. I said we weren't good at time management. Every year we decide we're going to fill in our UK tax returns as soon as we get the notification (around May). Every year, we remember about it a few weeks before the deadline (January 31st). We still haven't done it. Richard will be travelling to the USA next week, and I'd really like to have it done before then, particularly if Daniel's going to be here in a fortnight. I'm just not quite sure when we'll have a free evening...

5. Jemima never did return.

Ah well. Compared to many, our stresses are minimal. I am very thankful for what we have, and that UCAS forms and tax returns can be done fully online these days. I'm also thrilled at the thought that we should be seeing Daniel soon - if not two weeks, at least within the next six weeks. He hasn't ever seen this house.

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