It has been the longest, coolest winter I can remember since moving to Cyprus over fourteen years ago.
Of course, we expect a few days of chilly temperatures during January and February, and a bit of rain, off and on. But this year we had two months where it was, almost continually, cold.
I should perhaps qualify for those coming from countries where severe frosts, and perhaps ice and snow are common during the winter. It was never THAT cold in Cyprus (other than in the mountains). I don't think the night-time temperature dropped below about 3C, and the daytime temperature was usually at least 8C. We had some sunshine too, in between some of the showers.
But in a country with tiled floors, windows that don't always fit well, and not much central heating, it felt cold. Very cold. I wore at least three warm layers all day long. We used our extra-thick doubled duvet for much longer than we usually do. We've used a great deal more gas (for our central heating) than ever before. There were a couple of days at the end of February when it seemed to warm up a little, only to have yet more rain and cold nights at the start of March.
We need the rain in Cyprus, of course. The reservoirs in Paphos are now full, which is great; the country should at least be well-supplied with water for 2012. And I do like the cold more than the heat of summer.
Still, it's nice to have some more reliable sunshine, and to find that we can leave doors and windows open without the entire house feeling like a fridge. A couple of weeks ago, we finally got around to buying some bedding plants to replace the ones that withered away with the heat last summer. I particularly like purple petunias:
Antirrhinums usually do well too, so I bought one for the planter outside our front door, and a couple of other rather pretty plants... unfortunately, I'd forgotten that local cats (including ours, sometimes) tend to sit in this planter so the plants already look a little squashed:
It wasn't really until March 20th (the first official day of spring) that we started to feel some real warmth. I've only been wearing one warm layer for a couple of days now, with an extra one for the evening. Today when I popped out to the local supermarket, I saw some rather attractive orange flowers:
The wildflowers are blooming everywhere too, giving the typical 'yellow' appearance to fields and waste ground:
And these, which are my favourites:
I noticed a fine display of nasturtiums too:
It would be wonderful if these spring-like temperatures could remain for a few months, before we have to shut all the doors and windows again just to keep the house a little cooler during the summer....