Sunday, 18 February 2018

An 'At Home' Day

It was a strange overcast dust in the atmosphere sort of day today not surprising as 9th February is the date for the coptic dust storm gale called Haboob.  You might be skeptical about the coptic chart but having lived here now seven years you cannot argue with the fact that on or around the published dates the weather behaves exactly as predicted.

It wasn't cold outside and even though our cupboards are just about bare we decided we could manage with a day at home and would do our shopping on Monday as Sheila will be away and my art is cancelled.

With that in mind we had a lazy morning - we got up and fed the cats, put the washing on, grabbed our coffees and return to the warmth and sanctuary of the bedroom to peruse the papers.  This is John's idea of heaven and, as he pointed out, all four cats were in the vicinity keeping us company.

Once the wash cycle was complete I ventured outside, it was warm and still and hazy and as I hung out the laundry I noticed a welcome visitor - one of the daffodils from the bulbs our lovely Welsh friend Mark sent us was poking its head up.  I had thought these bulbs had turned blind but this one has proved me wrong.

Bare cupboards takes fridge surprise and my culinary skills to a new level.  To be fair I had in mind that I had enough ingredients to make a curry for supper but in the meantime we still had to eat so I was planning a brunch until I realised we had no bread and no eggs!!!  What we did have was some roast potatoes left over from our trip to Paps last night and some cooked sausages, a couple of rashers of bacon and an onion so we had what I called 'Ranch Potatoes' - healthy it was not, delicious it most certainly was!!!

I caramelised the onions, fried the bacon in little crunchy bits, added the sausage and then added the potatoes until they were cooked through and crispy.  This set us up for the remainder of the day until the curry was ready - using up the chicken we had purchased from Paps last night - this was to be a 'Kings of Leon' curry as it happened - you know the one where we both start singing Woah Oh - My Mouth is on Fire!!!! and very nice it was too.

Whilst in the kitchen and stripping the fridge from anything that could be used up John asked if there was any chance of a pudding or cake or something.  Tricky with no eggs but I searched through the internet to see what I could find and found a recipe for an egg-less lemon cake which was good news as I had no eggs but plenty of lemons!

So this was what the cake looked like and it was very tasty but had quite a heavy consistency which John said would go beautifully with custard so more of a pudding than a cake but that could be because I used the yoghurt and not just milk.

If you substituted the milk/yoghurt with soya milk or similar then this would be fine for non-dairy eaters or vegans and it was a good way to use up some of the massive carrier bag of lemons that we have - we hate to throw anything away but there is only so much I can to with lemons and the freezer is full so I can't freeze any - I have the preserved, pickled and frozen!!

It has been a much milder and warmer winter than in previous years and the garden is somewhat confused - I have my fingers crossed very firmly that we will not get a late cold snap because otherwise it will be decimated.  Bulbs are coming up and some, like the daffodils, are flowering.  Plants which last year lost their leaves in the winter like the duranta have not done so - yet.  Some of the new plants which I purchased like the climber outside the back door and another climber by the roof terrace ladder are looking rather sad - and because I don't know exactly what they are I am not sure if they are supposed to look like that.  I have but them back and hope that they will survive.

It was a mega day today if you are a Sheffield United supporter because they were playing at home against their arch rivals Leeds well second to their No 1 arch rivals Sheffield Wednesday.  All set to watch the match with Chivvy Pops just getting comfortable on his lap poor Chivvy Pops got a rude awakening just a minute into the game when SUFC skipper Billy Sharp scored an absolutely cracking  goal via an overhead kick - John jumped up in excitement, Chivers shot off confused.

As you know I cannot watch John watching his beloved blades so I set up my art, having borrowed the pencils from Sheila whilst she is away, and while the light was reasonable continued with my current picture concentrating on the books which are beginning to take shape.  When the light deteriorated I retired to the conservatory to do the ironing!!!  When SUFC were awarded a penalty John couldn't watch, came out and asked me to let him know if Billy Sharp managed to score - he did and the final score was SUFC 2 - Leeds Utd 1.

Our day was rounded off by a corking curry and a fire (fed only by what John calls 'guff) that was so hot we had to open the back door at one point!!!!  Ain't we lucky!!!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Drouseians February Day Out Part 2

Wee and Tea (coffee) stop completed we left the Builder's Bum Arms and its chip fat aroma behind us and posed for yet another of John's selfies with the salt flats behind us before consulting my hastily scribbled down tour guide instructions courtesy of David Carbine.  They had been fresh in my mind and understandably two weeks' ago when we were due to make this trip, today mmmmm not quite so!

We followed the road which passed along the salt flats mindful of the signs which warned that if we ventured off road, got stuck and required a tow it would cost us 400 euros!!  We headed for the next stop which was the Holy Monastery of St Nicholas of the Cats.  My internet information told me that this monastery was founded in AD 327 and that a delightful small chapel here, dating from the 13th Century, has noteworthy icons painted by the two original nuns in residence.  The actual monastery has received a bland modern refurbishment and now is occupied by only a handful of nuns.  Apparently the cats were imported from Egype and Palestine at a time when Cyprus was overrun by poisonous snakes - what the information did not tell me was that the Monastery closes at 1.00pm (it said 2.00pm).

When we arrived the place looked deserted save for a couple of cats which ran to greet us.  Not realising that we had arrived at the beginning of what would be siesta time I was somewhat surprised to see a shadowy figure at the doorway shouting and banging on the door at us.  This sister was clearly in a less than charitable mood but when I caught sight of her shuffling away bent double I guess she was probably more than ready for a snooze.

We didn't really get to see very much as most of the areas seem to be cordoned off with more no entry signs than the green line which is a shame as the cloister gardens looked interesting.  We obviously didn't get inside the old building and everywhere else was shut up.  We gave the few cats we encountered a bit of a cuddle and regretted not having any treats with us as they all looked a bit sad really.

We continued with our tour instructions but were a bit uncertain about the 'rough' road beyond the Monastery so we when directly ahead for a while - a road which might just about have been passably in Kenny but not in The Pug and we had a 400 euro tow fee ringing in our ears so we went as far as where the man was tending his bee hives and turned round retracing our steps.  We found the track that David had mentioned which followed the RAF fencing and would have taken us to Ladies Mile Beach but the recent rain made the surface very soft and there were some rather large and menacing puddles verging on lakes in our way.  We erred on the side of caution and turned round.

On the way back to the Environmental Centre we spotted a track which led down to the waters edge and we could see pink shimmers of flamingo in the distance so we decided to park up and see how far we could walk.  It was soft and sludgy in places but we managed to get almost right to the edge before John found a very sludgy bit and ended up with a bootful and shortly afterwards Diana did the same!!!!

The weather conditions and the fact that the birds were farther away than we had anticipated meant it was quite hard to get a decent picture - in fact the end results looked more like watercolours than photos but we did manage to get a few and there is no mistaking that these are definitely flamingo.

Our plan was then to travel to the old town of Limassol and visit our friend Louise (who catered for our Silver Wedding anniversary afternoon tea) in her tea rooms at the Old Metropole Hotel.  When I made the arrangements I didn't realise it was Smelly Thursday Tsiknopempti which is the Thursday during Carnival and is the Greek equivalent to Mardi Gras and it marks the beginning of the last weekend that observant Greek Orthodox Church members are permitted to eat meat before fasting for Lent.  Limassol was chaos - absolute chaos and despite driving round and round and round we couldn't find anywhere to park remotely close to the tea rooms, in fact nowhere to park in Limassol full stop.  I was so disappointed and looking at the clock it was 3.30pm so a really hard time to find somewhere that would be open to eat - we decided to make our way back and try Pissouri.

Pissouri in the winter is almost as quiet as Droushia.  All the main eateries were shut seemingly for the season although Platea looked like it would be opening later on.  We wandered down the square and could see some people in the kitchens of the Corner Grill House.  We are not entirely convinced that they were open, we think they were preparing souvla for the family on account of the fact that it was this special day.  Anyway we were invited in and sat down to a freshly cooked meze which was pretty good and very very welcome as we were all getting a bit hungry!

It was a shame really that the day hadn't gone exactly to plan but that's the beauty of our discovery days - we can do the bits we missed another time!!!

Friday, 16 February 2018

Drouseians February Day Out Part 1

I am gutted, almost every day since we had to cancel our original trip to see the Flamingos two weeks ago we have had lovely weather, almost too lovely and then last night it rained and this morning it rained and we woke up to an indifferent start.  I checked the internet and it told me that Limassol would be fine and bright so we were good to go - it lied!!!

Our first stop was to take a look around Kolossi Castle.  I can't remember when we might have visited previously, if at all and Di and Rob hadn't been for ages so this was a good start on our Discover Day.  The Castle has been beautifully preserved with some lovely gardens which probably weren't looking at their best today but would look stunning in a few months' time.

So here we are the Drouseian Day Trippers and John with his newly replaced selfie stick!  It was rather overcast but dry and when we arrived there were about two other people there and then two bus loads of tourists arrived!!!  We had a good look around before setting off with my instructions from David Carbine as to how to find the Environmental Centre at Akrotiri.

Driving down to Akrotiri was a real trip down memory lane for John and I as we have, over the years, been lucky enough to get indulgence flights to and from Brize Norton/Akrotiri enabling us to visit Mum and Dad regularly and cheaply.  We found the environmental centre almost by accident just as it was about to rain.

The Environmental Centre is an interesting place and from the outside balcony you can use their telescopes to view the flamingos on the salt flats although they are quite a distance away and it was raining and the visibility was poor.  We arrived just as a party of people from the P3A in Paphos were there so we hung around so that we could monopolise the telescopes once they had gone.

So battling the rain and with my lens out to the max this was the best shot I got of the flamingos but at least you can see exactly what they are!!!  We stayed for a while hoping that the weather would improve, we had instructions as to how to skirt round the salt lake and in so doing hopefully get a better view of the birds before stopping at the Monastery of the Cats and then on to Limassol to meet up with ooh la la Louise for lunch at her establishment at the Old Metropole Hotel.

We went into the pub across the road from the Environmental Centre for a coffee.  It was the most British of establishments we have been in for a long while complete with the smell of overused chip fat!!  This was quite clearly a Squaddie haunt as we were so close to Akrotiri base.  The establishment might not have been up to much but the coffee was plentiful and good although we had to ignore the barman's rather off-putting builder's bum as he cleaned the woodburner behind Rob!

Part one of our day completed...

Thursday, 15 February 2018

A lovely day...

Today was a lovely day in all respects, the weather was fine and bright and warm as I trundled off to Polis to try and sort out my new bank card which I had registered and activated but which would not allow me to use the on-line JCC payment system for topping up my phone or paying the electric - this was simply because it was new and when I tried to use it this morning I was faced with a very official page all in Greek and I just had visions of the computer saying NO and NO forever!!!

Polis is preparing for Carnival and this year's theme seems to centre around SuperHero Crustaceae!  Today a council working was studiously painting the black and white blocks around the circumference of our one and only roundabout.  This is the self same roundabout that everyone parks on when they are visiting the bank but I decided to be good and parked down the road in a more legal location!  The lovely Fitos in the bank sorted out the Greek Computer Says NO conundrum and I was armed with all the information so I can resolve the issue at home.

I had an appointment with Kate for a facial and had a little time to spare so nipped into Paps to get a few bits and pieces and had a charming man pack my groceries for me although I was a bit confused as we are now surprised to pay for plastic carriers and whilst some establishments have brought this into play Paps have not.  Generally I take my own bags but today the Pug was bereft of them.  I drove back to the square and parked up and wandered slowly through en route to Kate's.

Mr Moustakallis whizzed past me on his bike en route to his restaurant.  Papa Moustakallis has an impressive handlebar moustache and he is a regular site in and around Polis cycling on his ancient push bike.  He was originally a miner in Limni Mine where he refined copper and to make ends meet he worked as a part time butcher.  In 1978 when the mine closed he decided to start his own business with his wife opening the first real taverna in Polis which was located on the site of the old Alpha Bank in the square.  The current establishment was opened in 1997 in a building that was formerly a mill.

I had the most relaxing hour at Kate's - it is my little bit of me time which whilst we can still afford it I will continue to do.  Kate still hangs the butterfly sign that I made for her a couple of years ago.  Normally I have some reflexology on my feet whilst my face mask is doing its stuff but I have a poorly toe so today I had a full head massage and although it left me looking like Wurzel Gummidge it left me feeling fabulous and ready to face whatever the day threw at me.

It was our February Ladies Lunch and we were pleased that Mum had decided she would come along having missed several recently and Dad was taking John to Fitos.  I was having a problem with my phone charging so didn't take it with me so this is an old shot looking down from the restaurant to the bar area.  We had about 20 ladies from Droushia and the surrounding areas and I had a right old laugh sat with Marianna our Mukhtar's clerk and Kelly.  Mum and I had a lovely time and Dad thoroughly enjoyed his lunch with John tucking in to a half hundredweight of liver apparently!!!

This evening we were nipping down to the airport to pick up John W who was returning from his 70th birthday bucket list trip to New Zealand and Liselotte had nipped over to Denmark to see her Dad.  We went and parked up at Bona Mare - it was closed but from there you get a good view of incoming flights.  The flight was delayed slightly but not too bad and we got John back home safe and sound.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

That explains it all!!!!

Today, having read the Daily Mail, I realise I have a mental condition - John says he could have told me that having been married to me nearly 30 years but he was joking and I was not - at last I have an explanation as to why I (a) hate going to public performances like the cinema, theatre or concert because I am irrationally irritated by the noises other people make around me - and don't get me started on eating bloomin' nachos in my vicinity and (b) I cannot stand it if I hear people flicking their fingernails or tapping and I am constantly moaning at John about him doing that but worse (c) the sound of people eating drives me to distraction and again John gets the brunt of this because he is the only one that I feel able to complain to.  Now I know that my brain is over sensitive to these things because I suffer from something called Misophonia and it is real and it is recognised and I am not the only one.  It doesn't make it any easier for me to try and ignore these sounds but now I know why they bother me so much and not others around me.

Charlie aka Fat-Lad is a bit off colour at the moment - it coincided with John and I putting some earwash in his lugholes as he was scratching a lot and they didn't look awfully clean.  How do we know he is unwell?  He doesn't rush to the food bowl at every given opportunity and he just looks everso slightly sorry for himself.  He has put on so much weight over the winter that he struggles to get in and out of the catflap and often waits for the door to be opened rather than squeeze his bulk through.  Hopefully this lethargy will be a temporary thing but the couple of days eating less will do him no harm.

We travelled down to Paphos today with John going to try out Badminton after a long lay-off - it was a glorious day just as we approached the funny commune place near Pikni Forest we came across this interesting mode of transport which looked to be a complete home on wheels - a mash-up of a gypsy caravan and an old Bedford bus with extra racks welded left right and Chelsea - down the sides it was jazzed up with hand paintings of bees and butterflies - heading for the commune no doubt!!!

We stopped off in Peyia to do our recycling - it is the first week in February and the temperature was 23 degrees.  The days have a real warmth about them and it makes everything and everyone seem better.  We really feel like we have come out of the other side of Winter and are looking forward to what this year will bring.

I played pickleball and John managed to play badminton - I will, no doubt hear about every ache, pain and strain later this evening but I can cope with that as long as he isn't flicking his fingernails or eating!!!

Our return trip home was strange not least because there seemed to be a fug hanging over Paphos (this is not my photo nor actually of yesterday afternoon but it will give you an idea of what I mean).  As we drove up the hill away from the conurbation we could see that the fug was sitting in the valleys like a low cloud - this is one of the famous sandstorms that we get at this time of year for a couple of days.  On arrival at Droushia it appeared that we had avoided this and the electricity generation for today would bear this out.

We had picked up some lamb dish, roast potatoes and apple pie from the bakery for the grand sum of about 7 euros and can confirm that it was delicious.  We had to wait to eat it as Nickola the hairdresser and her husband Nath were coming up to buy our coffee table.  A couple are coming for the sideboard tomorrow so that will be good.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

A trip to Pissouri

It was a grey and overcast start to the week but within a couple of hours the sun had got its hat on (hip hip hip hooray) and burnt off the clouds and I opted to walk down to Sheila and Klaus's for my art morning - this is to be the last for a few weeks as next Monday Sheila will be back in Blighty visiting her children and grandchildren leaving Klaus home alone and then the following Monday is Green Monday and so we generally go off somewhere trying to fly a kite - we have yet to have a Green Monday which is conducive to kite flying - we have had rain, flat calm and hurricane conditions!

The weather so far in February has been unbelievable and my walk down through the village via the Vals and the Clampetts was very pleasant indeed.  The almond trees are in blossom - I only saw the white, no evidence of the pink as yet and I cannot remember which is sweet and which is bitter.

I was also graced with my first orchid in the field opposite the Vals and then further down there were three all together. This is the early flowering Himantoglossom Robertianum and I think this is very early even for him.

I am guessing that there is probably the first signs of asparagus in the field where I go but having lost my glasses there last year I am loathe to go back - if I do I will be wearing my new ones and not tucking them into my fleece.

It is great news that the weather is being kind as we have visitors who arrive a week today and their last winter trip over here saw only about two dry days in a whole month!

As always a lovely morning with Sheila and I am going to miss not seeing her for a few weeks but I have taken my homework home with me so if I get a quiet minute I can do some work on my picture.  I thought I would make a collage of last week's work and this week's work so that I, and you, can see how much I managed to do in my couple of hours before lunch with Klaus.  It is now beginning to take good shape but the china cup and saucer and books will probably take quite some time.

This afternoon we were taking a little trip to Pissouri although sadly not to see Wendy and Bill -  John had seen some furniture advertised and we have been looking for a solid sideboard to house our drinks.  We have a cabinet but it doesn't really match the rest of the furniture.  John had spotted someone having a house clearance and they had some pretty nice solid wood furniture at a reasonable price so he had negotiated to purchase a sideboard and a matching coffee table and so off we went taking the motorway which was its normal busy self (NOT).

The couple didn't live a million miles away from Wendy and Bill and it was quite a sad story as to how they came to be selling up and returning to the UK - apparently their kids hadn't spoken to them since they moved out two and a half years ago and so they had spent all their savings going back to the UK to keep a relationship going with them and their grandchildren.  It had put a tremendous strain on their finances and they felt that if there was any chance of them salvaging their family they had to go back.  What a shame and I really felt quite guilty about us benefiting from their misfortune but the sideboard was exactly what we had been looking for and the matching coffee table is fabulous.  It just remains for me to advertise our existing cabinet and coffee table to get rid of them and recoup some money.  I advertised both on the internet and within a short period of time had takers for them both so hopefully they will take them when the see them.

The cats have now lost the space where we put the two custom build beds that John made.  This will confuse the hell out of them and Charlie in particular is less than impressed as he has recently been sleeping in one of them for most of the day.  He and Minnie decided to stage a sit-in on top of the garden door - it didn't last too long - hunger got the better of them and they backed down pretty rapidly.

Monday, 12 February 2018

It's just another day for you and me in Paradise...

We were out for lunch today - a thankyou from Mum and Dad for the things that we do for them - we don't expect it because that is what we are here for but it is nice to be appreciated all the same.  So we traveled down to Emba mid-morning to start our 'game' then we would be off for lunch and then back to see who was winning-most and who was Charlie!!  The roads were quiet - the tourist areas and the Mall are open as usual but everywhere else is closed and I kind of like the fact the Sunday, in general, remains a day of rest.

This is the Fredster, Mum and Dad's cat of unknown age or origin, but who adopted them and fell on his feet.  This time last year he was a shadow of his current self having been beaten up not once but twice by a neighbouring feral who didn't like him.  He spent a lot of time before during and after Christmas recovering from his wounds and had since become a house-cat.  He may sometimes enjoy the novelty of the great outdoors but he has only escaped a couple of times and then returned.  He is normally to be found very firmly attached to Dad's lap and Mum said he pined like nobodies business yesterday when Dad went walking in Arodes and left him home.

We were dining at the Paradise in Chloraka today - I don't know that John and I have been there before but Mum and Dad used to frequent it years and years ago.  They had been recently for lunch and enjoyed it so Mum had decided (as it was her turn this week) that we should all go en masse for lunch.

We were a little concerned when we arrived that it said CLOSED - it was only because we had arrived just before 12.30 in readiness for 1.00pm and as we walked towards the steps the woman came out and greeted us - panic over!!!

We were the first there but then that comes as no surprise as we are always early!!!  We had a table by the window right next to radiators - we swapped with Mum and Dad because John rarely feels the cold and neither do I depending on circumstances!!!  It was also furthest away from the entertainer which makes conversation easier.

We were entertained by a guy called Joe Mac - John and I agreed that his music would be right up John's mum's street as it was easy listening with a bit of country and western thrown in.

We joked with Mum and Dad that John and I probably reduced the average age of the clientele by about 20 years but we didn't care - this was about family time and it is good to see Mum and Dad still wanting to go out and enjoy themselves.

We knew a couple of the other diners as Carol from pickleball was there with her sister and a guy which I guess must be her sister's husband or partner or maybe just a friend.

We didn't pay the bill so I cannot tell you exactly how much it cost but the price of the set Sunday Lunch (1, 2 or 3 courses) was very reasonable and if you are planning on going one word of warning you need to pre-book if you want chicken - not sure why but rules is rules!!

The photos above show you the starters we chose, John had a nice fresh salad with tomatoes and feta and I had a selection of fishy dippy thingies!

Mum, John and I had pork for our main course and Dad had beef - the mains came with a big old plate of roasties, yorkies, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower.  Too much to eat in two courses to have a sweet!!!

We returned to Emba to finish our game before a very quiet and uneventful trip back to Droushia.  It had been a lovely day all round and we had enjoyed it and we would be back home in time to unwind and spend some time with our four felines before retiring to bed.

We were greeted by Mrs Minniver on our return - she was clearly hungry as she couldn't wait for us to get in and get the door opened.  The other three were all sat waiting glad to have us back home.

It had been a lovely long weekend - good weather and a chance to get a few jobs done, to socialise and to spend time all together.  I haven't said it for a while but I will say it now - ain't we lucky?  yes I think we are - exceptionally so!