Sunday, 28 May 2017

A short post today

It is a short blog today because somehow my day ran away from me and I am tired!  The weather is shitty again today - Summer is very very late arriving - we have had some glorious days and then it has returned to feeling like Winter - in fact had it been much colder we would have put the fire on!  I am guessing global warming is to blame because we have had it much wetter then normal, wet and miserable rather than short sharp cold snaps.

This weather obviously suits some and not others.  It is clearly good for the lilies that grow in Effie's garden next door to Mum and Dad as she gave me a huge bunch and they are absolutely fabulous.  The smell, which some people like and others not, is permeating throughout the house.  I have been vigilant in removing the stamens otherwise everything would be covered in yellow dust which stains like buggery.  It is Chelsea Flower Show time in the UK and I have been watching it on the TV - I am sorry I never got to go and see it in person.  Gardening programmes fill me with such enthusiasm although there is little more I can do with our garden save keep it tidy and replace the failed plants - sadly the bougainvillea has shown no sign of recovery having put on some new green shoots which then withered away - I am quite sad about this because a bougainvillea is such an iconically mediterranean plant and there was a beautiful one here when we took on the house which we had to remove in order to build the woodstore, until this year the replacement had done well too.  The passion flower in the front remains stoically green but not a single new leaf has appeared since it showed the first few signs of growth months back and these then withered away and the temperatures here were clearly too low for the flame vine I bought as that too has failed to make an appearance this year along with the lovely unusual hibiscus that was outside the guest bedroom.  I should learn that the more exotic plants here cannot withstand the rigors of a Drouseian Winter.

On the subject of plants I am nearing the completion of my Peony Picture.  The flowers are completed and I am working on the glass vase and the magazines underneath.

I am not sure you can see too much from this picture as it was a bit dark and hastily taken with my phone.  The magazines challenge the way I deal with perspective as I have had to redo the outline several times in order to make sure they look the right shape.  On the cover of the top one should be a picture of a woman holding a hat - I think I may adopt a bit of artistic licence on that bit as that area of the picture is a bit small to get much detail in!

I am now beginning to look for my next subject matter and I have no idea at the moment so I am hopeful that someone will come up with a picture they would like done and I will happily do it for them.

Sheila is also working on a picture of flowers which is a departure for her and between the two of us we fill the dining room with sighs as we work away.  Sheila tells me they have had some interest in their house from a Chinese family - it would seem that Klaus's spice cupboard was of huge interest to them!!!  I do hope things pan out for them and that they stay in the area as John and I would miss them terribly.

Finally I managed to drop off my photograph which I am entering into an exhibition and calendar competition in support of PASYCAF (Cancer Support).  The exhibition starts on June 10th and I will be able to pop in and see it on my way to pick up our next lot of visitors Jordan and Abi.  I would like to think that my photograph might be included on a calendar - I specifically chose a shot which could be used for an autumn/winter month.  Anyway fingers crossed I should find out shortly as the exhibition is only in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Gourmet Lunch...

Yee Ha - we woke today and the sun was shining, it was windy and it was cool but it was bright and so although we wouldn't be having our barbeque we could have our visitors here and they could enjoy the garden as much as they wanted.  Everything was ready - we were going to have sesame coated halloumi served on an orange and carrot salad served with a little jug of sweet chili sauce.  This was going to be followed by slow cooked breast of chicken in a sour cherry sauce served on a bed of creamed carrot and leek with a hassleback roasted potato and then for pud a deconstructed poached pear and ginger crumble with home made dulce latte ice cream.

For a while it was touch and go as to whether our visitors would make it as mum had an encounter with her dishwasher and came off worse and then had to make an unexpected visit to casualty but was treated quickly and so plans remained intact which was good news.

My godmother Janet is an absolute treasure.  In her world everything is wonderful - she sees the good in everyone and everything which is fabulous but she has an uncanny knack of getting her words muddled up so today she was telling us about an occasion when they were out somewhere special and Alan was wearing a gazebo and they got picked up in a limassol, obviously she meant tuxedo and limousine!!  We all had a good old laugh at that and to be fair she had a good old laugh at herself too.

She also has a brilliant knack of not believing things you tell her so later in the afternoon we were discussing the butcher's wife who committed suicide on the railway line near Keinton and she kept saying it wasn't the butchers wife even though three of us kept telling her it was - it took ages for her to admit we were right and you can see her knitting her brow and questioning whether she is, in fact, right after all and it we three others that are in the wrong!!

It has been a few years since they were last here at Villa 10b and it will have changed in that time as we try and do bits to it all the time to improve it and keep it up to date.  It is nice to see your home through the eyes of others and as Alan worked for a building firm all his working life his opinion is really valued.

Undoubtedly one of the best bits of money we spent on our home is the conservatory which joins the two buildings and which provides us with a lovely light space where we can seat eight people comfortably (unlike our other lounge area).  We are looking at different ways to try and make this space more usable in the depths of winter when it is like a freezer.  John has recently put up some curtain track and I have some thick curtains that I plan to put there which should help the heat loss through the glass.  Last year I found a pretty good 'space heater' which seems to heat the space quite well and reasonably effectively and efficiently.

Six around our dining table is snug but do-able and today I decided to plate the meals so we didn't have to make space for the various bits and pieces.  Actually I was mindful of the various appetites so hopefully didn't overface anyone and by plating could ensure that the food looked quite pretty.  God bless the creator of slow cookers because they make doing a meal like this so much easier - I have two and would be lost without them.

I shall leave with a photograph of the deconstructed poached pear and ginger crumble with woefully formed quenelles if icecream which clearly need some remedial work.  The taste however was lovely - the pears were poached in a spicy wine concoction and the crumble was infused with stem ginger.

The Paphos contingency sat chatting in the warmth of the conservatory until nearly 5.00pm - it was lovely to hear them - they have all known each other for such a very long time and don't know when they will meet again - Janet did say before she came that this would be the last time she flew but now she is here and seeing how much she has enjoyed herself I think she just might come back again.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Shit Weather

There is no other way to describe the conditions today - the weather is absolutely shite.  Thunder, lightning and high winds and it is cold and I mean really cold not just relatively cold to when it is hot.

Nobody likes the weather when it is like this - not least the cats who have decamped onto our bed to keep us warm - we are not complaining at least we know where they are and what they are doing.  We feel sorry for holiday-makers who have come to the island of 340+ days of sunshine each year to be faced with a monsoon.

The garden wont need a water but it is hitting the hell out of the plants and we are having to walk through a sea of honeysuckle flowers which have been blown off and are filling the pathway to our gate.  I only cleared them up yesterday and there are twice as many there today.

We have given up bringing the cushions indoors - they have been left outside to fend for themselves - we don't really have the space for them and with visitors coming tomorrow we need to give the house a clean.

We had planned for a barbeque tomorrow but even if the weather perks up I don't think it is going to be warm enough to sit outside for Dad's liking so we had to have a rethink - I opted for something that would allow me to be sociable so a simple halloumi starter followed by something from the slow cooker and a deconstructed crumble for afters.  This necessitated a visit down to Polis and shopping at Papantonious and dodging the sometimes heavy showers to get to the car.

As Di and Rob are currently away and we are on garden watch we decided to call into their on the way down.  Their normally fabulous view was obscured by low cloud and a storm passing over  on its way to the coast.  At this point the heavens opened and having ensured everything was safe and secure we made a dash for the sanctuary of Kenny and our trip to the coast.

Normally as we drive down to Polis the weather improves and we realise what a different world it is up in the hills but today the weather deteriorated the further way we drove from Droushia by the time we got to Polis it was like a winter's day.  We ran into Paps as it began to absolutely bucket down and inside they were merrily playing Mungo Jerry 'In the Summertime when the Weather is Fine' which was wishful thinking and you couldn't help but feel sorry for all those flip-flop wearing visitors looking totally bemused by it all.

I set about getting everything prepared for lunch tomorrow when Mum and Dad will bring Janet and Alan up with them.  I was kept company by the cats who are ever hopeful of some sort of treat and today they were lucky as I was cutting the rubbish off of some chicken breasts and they had that.

It was Bassam's birthday today - hard to believe that last year we hosted his 50th and the kids came for a swim and then we had a barbeque when Elena returned from hospital - we weren't sure we were going to see him today so were chuffed when Amoura phoned to see if we were in so that they could all come and visit along with Elena's old professor who said she had heard so much about us from Elena and wanted to put a face to a name.

Lola is like having a whirling dervish in your house and I was so glad I had cleaned the conservatory floor and hoovered the rugs when she stomped in with her muddy trainers and managed to tread biscuit all over the place!  She redeemed herself though but opting to sit and cuddle me saying she hadn't had a cuddle from me for a while.  I have offered to entertain her some days over the school holidays to give Bassam a bit of a break - I know that if you give her something to do on her own she is as good as gold.

Everything is prepared for tomorrow so looking forward to having everyone here - fingers crossed it wont rain.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Bad hair day...

You can tell we have been busy because both John and I are desperate for a haircut.  In fairness John has been several times to see Stelios but been faced with a massive queue and he doesn't do queues - I did get round to contacting Lumi yesterday only to find that she is currently on holiday - NOOOOOOOOO at this rate I shall end up looking like that weird guy from the 80s group Flock of Seagulls and John will look like Donald Trump!!!

We are going to have to sit down with the diary and make time along with the million and one other things that have taken a back seat whilst we have had family and friends visiting the island.  It is lovely to see them but my expanding waistline and dodgy barnet will need addressing and soon!!!

Tonight was one of those 'bus' days - nothing comes along and then everything happens at once because our lovely friend Clare was celebrating her 40th birthday and we had arranged to take Mike out for ribs at Steni before he goes home.  There was nothing for it but to take Mike with us to wish Clare all the very best and then we would have to give our apologies and head for the hills.

We dashed back from Paphos and got ourselves ready before pitching up at Palates and picking up Mike.  The sky was looking very threatening - the forecast was bad for the weekend - in fact it has been pretty poor the last couple of days.  Poor Mike is the only person staying at Palates even though Sylvia told him that from last weekend it was going to be full.  Whilst he likes the place I think he would appreciate just a little more company!!!  Anyway he got to the car looking like a native sporting a pullover - good man this is most definitely not a night for shorts and T-shirt.

I have to say Mike is one of the nicest people I, in fact we, have ever met - it was a chance meeting and we have stayed in touch and although we do not see him often we know that through this blog and our affinity with Sheffield United we are in touch and we look forward to his next visit whenever that might be.

Anyway I digress - we picked up Mike and headed off to the Oaks where our lovely, mad friend Clare was celebrating her birthday.

I told her off for not giving us enough notice to make sure we had the evening free but she said that originally she wasn't going to be doing anything.

We stayed for a couple of drinks before we had to head off to Steni.  The weather had deteriorated big style and so we had to dodge the rain and the thunder and lightning to get to the car - deep joy bring on flaming June - at this rate John will want to be lighting the wood burner again!!!

When we got to the Watermill at Steni it was absolutely packed so thank god we had booked a table even if it was one which got dripped on when the heavens opened.  The ribs did not disappoint although the service was a bit lacking - new staff who just didn't seem to quite cut the mustard unfortunately.  Still Mike loved it which is all that mattered and we ended up the evening with a coffee at the Droushia Heights and said our goodbyes until the next time.


The rain watered down the wine which is absolute sacrilege in my book - Global Warming has a lot to answer for I can tell you.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Mum is 82...

It is my Mum's 82nd birthday today and for about the third year running global warming has given us a wet and muggy day, not so wet down in Paphos fortunately so Alan and Janet's holiday isn't being spoiled but wet and windy and thundery here in Droushia - it meant we had a day pretty much confined to barracks save to check the Veasey's establishment and return the wheelchair hired for Vera.

It was no hardship to be indoors - the current round of visitors means that we are feeling a little tired and a little bloated from all the glorious food we have been consuming - our waistlines are beginning to complain!  I see salads on the horizon for the foreseeable future or at least until our next lot of visitors arrive which is only a couple of weeks' time.

Tonight we were dining at Mum and Dad's favourite establishment Gabors down in Paphos and John and I were picking up Janet and Alan from Paphos Gardens en route to the restaurant.  They are really enjoying staying in this area as it gives them freedom to explore and whilst it may be a little tired and a little basic they cannot fault the cleanliness, friendliness and food - what more do you need?  I really admire them for their positive attitude - they are very much glass half full people rather than glass half empty and they see the best in everyone and everything - it makes them happy and cheerful whatever is thrown at them!

Mum and Dad were being picked up by Angela and Richard.  They are the reason that Mum and Dad came to the Island in the first place - staying at their apartment many many moons ago and therefore are the reason we followed suit.  We are all Keinton Mandeville-ites because even though John didn't ever live there (although we looked at a house to buy there once) he played for the football team.  How special to have four couples from a tiny village in Somerset all assembled around the table of a lovely restaurant in Paphos to celebrate Mum's 82nd birthday.  Not sure what the combined age was around that table but it was a fair few years as Janet celebrated her 82nd in January.  She was born on the same day as Elvis, same day and same year and is a huge fan - in fact they managed to find an Elvis impersonator near their hotel and they are going to see him again before their holiday finishes.

Gabors did not disappoint and Janet and Alan had not been before so they were really impressed by the whole experience - from the little soup tasters at the beginning of the meal to the glasses of brandy warming on a stand at the end of the meal and the carnations which we ladies were given as we left.

The restaurant has a full a la carte menu and a fabulous three course set menu which is brilliant value and the quality and choice is extensive.  I have to admit to going off piste because they do the most delicious duck salad starter which would do me as a main meal and I normally follow that with a fairly plain roasted cod dish - I had the same last night - it was lovely and I didn't have a sweet so wasn't left feeling too full afterwards.

The restaurant new we were celebrating mum's birthday so they came with a special sweet in recognition with the plate decorated in honour and also came with a gift of a clock for mum to take home.

Mum and Dad have been going for years and whilst some of the staff have come and gone John is always there at front of house and he has a real knack of making everyone feel special.

Must thank Mum and Dad for paying for the meal - it was a really lovely evening and as I said so great to have that mix of people sat around the table.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

oh oh oh it's magic - you knoooooooow

With the weather forecast for the remainder of this week rather iffy, with storms on their way which should clear the atmosphere of any dust and settle things down for the remainder of the summer, what better place to spend a long and leisurely lunch than the Magic Garden in Mesa Chorio...

...This location is always a crowd pleaser even if you have to decamp into their dining room as we did last time - even that room has a charm of its own.

Michael and Mima's home and garden provide the most beautiful setting for food which arrives and exceeds expectation in quality and presentation.  It is the sort of place that you want to survive but which you never want to be overly busy.  It feels like you are part of some super exclusive dining club when you are in there.

We have contributed to the plants in their garden as they have to ours and even today Dad was busy taking a few little seedlings of a succulent he had his eyes on and in return the purple moon flower which Dad gave them last year is giving the most magnificent display by way of a thank you.  In this little micro-climate everything seems so much  more advanced than in surrounding gardens.  Of particular interest was a tree which boasted huge yellow blooms like massive lilies and which I have tracked down and it is called Solandra Maxima - the Cup of Gold Vine which is tender unfortunately so would be no good for me up in Droushia.

Aunty Janet and Alan were well impressed by the venue and the food and I have to thank Alan for paying for our lunch today.  It is amazing that such good food and such a wide choice is available from what is a domestic kitchen.  Michael comes with his 'standard' menu which is comprehensive in itself.  In addition to that he always has some 'extras' and today there was another 'lunchtime only' menu.

So to give you an idea of what was on offer John had sesame seed crusted halloumi with salad for starter and Dad and I had deep fried camembert with a sauce and salad garnish - the others passed!  Janet and I had a beautifully fresh prawn and avocado salad for main, John had slow cooked shin of beef, Dad had kleftiko, Mum had cod and chips and Alan had chicken breast cooked with a pineapple sauce.

I forgot to take a picture of the puddings,  John had a glass filled with a banofee concoction which he said was fabulous and Dad and Alan had white chocolate baskets filled with icecream and topped with a mango coulis.

mmm mmm mmmmmmmmm - it was lovely - this is one of our most favourite places for lunch and we have to thank Sheila and Klaus for introducing us to this exceptionally unique culinary experience.

Monday, 22 May 2017

So in love with this village...

We don't need visitors to make us appreciate how lucky we are to live where we do but when you see it through their eyes it really makes us doubly appreciate what a lovely village Droushia is and how fortunate we were all those years ago to have sent Mum and Dad off looking for our 'forever home' and them spotting the sign for Courtyard Villas for sale - the rest is history and this is where we live - the journey was not without its ups and downs and fraught moments during the purchasing process but we made it and as we now enter our seventh year here we count our blessings.

Case in point was tonight as we were walking into the village to catch up with Mike, Diana, Robster and Vera for a meze in Finikas.  We passed the Simeon Estate gates which were open.  Until recently this dwelling was rented by a German couple but they have now left and we have seen it advertised as a holiday rental but weren't impressed by the photographs nor the cost.  When the gates are closed all you can see is a pair of old traditional wooden gates and poking above the wall the top of an impressive weeping willow tree.  We have on occasions stood on the well which is outside and peeked into the garden which is lit at night and looks charming.

There was someone working in the garden as we peered through.  That someone was the owner who cordially invited us in to take a good look round and told us about the property and when it was built.

He didn't mind where we went and was more than happy for us to take photographs.  He was getting the place ready for the season and having been in and looked around we thought it was absolutely delightful.  It would sleep six so three couples could share without being on top of one another.

For a family the cost of rental would be rather high but split between couples would work out as quite reasonable.  I have had a look and if you were coming for the next week the cost would be about GBP850 which split between three is good - obviously it increases towards the height of the season but having seen it in person we were pretty impressed.  Very private, very traditional and with so much outside space if you were sharing then you wouldn't be on top of one another.  Only trouble was at this time of the year the whole garden was in shade and so therefore the pool could be pretty cold.

We met Mike under the vines of Stathmos where the local men were playing Tavli - such a traditional scene which wont have changed in the village for years.  There was some good natured banter between our table and the men playing Tavli - we asked if Barcelona Man was still the champ but it would appear that Bambos was winning today.

We had some pretty lethal Tonic and Gin - can't say Gin and Tonic because it was 9/10th Gin - one can of tonic shared between three of us was still three quarters full after we had filled our glasses.

It was so lovely sat there watching the sun go down listening to the guys socialising and catching up with what Mike had been up to.

I was more than happy when Diana text to say they were running late because there was no way on earth I could neck down a drink of that strength so we didn't have to rush it and wandered down to Finikas when we were ready - not much later than we had booked for and we knew it wouldn't matter to Philipos and Marina anyway as she would cook most of the food to order anyway.

We had a fabulous evening and we think that both Mike and Vera enjoyed themselves too.  The food was excellent as always and far too much.  Sitting in the courtyard was wonderful - as our friends Kim and Steve said - traditional Cyprus at its very best.

Vera returns home tomorrow - Robster and Di will accompany her back and stay for a few days before returning to Cyprus - we will be on watering duties once again.

Mike John and I ended a magical evening with a carafe of wine at the Heights with an accompanying platter of fresh fruit.  I know I say it all the time but Ain't We Lucky???