Saturday, 22 July 2017

getting ready...

Not much to report on today as it was a day at home having a bake-a-thon in readiness for the Wimbledon Tea which I am doing for Mum and Dad and Di and Rob tomorrow when they come up to watch the men's final which has turned out to be a less than trilling prospect - Federer v Cilic - not the game we would have hoped for.  So with temperatures at a million degrees or thereabouts I chained myself to the kitchen.  I am in awe and total wonder-ment as to how Louise Rance provided such an exquisite afternoon tea here almost a year ago catering for about 40 people - I am catering for 6 and am struggling.

I started by getting the table partially laid and I have to admit it is lovely to get out my cake plates and cake knife and all the lovely bits and pieces that make up an afternoon tea.

Armed with my list I started to tick off all the things I planned to provide.  We would have the statutory welcoming glass (or two) of Pimms - check! and there would be strawberries because mum had sold her kidney off on the internet to get some here as they are sooooo out of season - check! and I had managed to locate and purchase some half decent pork pies - check!  John was despatched up to my friend Tanya in the village for some of her lovely eggs and my bakers dozen included one where she wants me to photograph the contents because it could just be large, could be a double yolker or could be an egg within an egg!

I didn't think I would have time to make the scones in the morning - shame as they are always best fresh but opted for a Paul Holywood recipe for light and fluffy scones which was pretty complicated and included the addition of yoghurt but I thought he ought to know how to make a fluffy scone - apparently he doesn't as these turned out to be more like stones than scones (Dad's verdict and sadly also mine).

I did make some pastry - which is rare and actually easy - don't know why I buy frozen really other than convenience and out of the bowels of the fridge found some cheese, onion and apple and made a very passable flan type thing - in fact my taster in chief was so impressed I thought he was going to tell me not to offer it up for general consumption.

All the fillings for the sandwiches have been prepared - the bread remains reasonably fresh and I have a plan in place for tomorrow.  Mum and Dad will come up after brunch and Di and Rob will come for the tennis.

I was officially hot and bothered by the end of the day so John and I had a late night swim and went to bed with a refreshing chill on our skins - it didn't last long and I had a fitful night's sleep with lots of 'stuff' running through my head.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Flaming Friday...

No pickleball today so we were having a day at home - except we didn't!  We had invited Di and Rob to come for a swim and a bit of a BBQ this evening - we have to do this to ensure we eat outside every once in a while!!!  So as a result I wanted to go down to Paps to do some shopping for tonight and for Sunday when we are having a Wimbledon Afternoon Tea.

We have been looking after Bassam's chickens whilst he and the children have been to the Lebanon visiting family and they returned yesterday so I wanted to call round to make sure everything we ok.  To say the kids were pleased to see us was an understatement - even Amoura who is now an oh-so-cool teenager but not averse to a cuddle now and again.  They had a brilliant time and wanted to share breakfast and their stories with us.  It is so good to see them animated and happy and when they showed us a book which some photographer friends had sent them of an Orexi Supper Club filled with photographs of them and Bassam and the 'star of the show' Elena we wondered how they would react but they were so proud of it and so happy to show it to us.  Elena if by some weird and wonderful means you are able to read this you should be so proud of the children.  They all seem so well adjusted and never make it difficult to visit - your presence is everywhere, never more so than in my kitchen when I try and recreate some of your recipes!  Lovely lovely Bassam brought me a box of the fabulous Lebanese sweeties that he first started giving us when he came to build our wall - they will come out for special occasions only.

Shopping was a brief affair as it was just soooooo hot in Polis.  We were chatted to by a man in there who clearly knew us from sometime in the past but neither John nor I could recall him and we both felt rather rude that our conversation with him was so stilted, John thought I knew who he was and I thought John knew who he was!!

Back home we got everything ready for our evening. The pool was looking absolutely sparkling although the difference in temperature from that of the Veasey's and ours is probably 5-6 degrees, theirs like a warm bath ours not so - Di wasn't sure the Robster would come in but he did, fair play to him.

We had drinkies up on the roof terrace before our evening meal.  We were having lemon yoghurt marinaded chicken skewers, village halloumi, honey and mustard grilled sausages with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank potatoes, pittas, salad and a selection of olives and dips - I had even made caramelised onion humus and lemon and coriander humus like I used to buy in the UK.

It was a lovely evening topped off by the fact that John could watch his beloved Sheffield United on TV as the friendly against Malaga was televised and they won!  Rob and Di got home safely and without any of the cats in tow so that is a result.  It would appear from a text I had from Persephone at 1b that Charlie likes to go visit her in the evenings.  I can foresee a tug of love when George and Pam are over!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Bad night...

Our idea to sleep in the guest bedroom which generally seems cooler and which we hoped would afford us a better night's sleep because it is easier to ignore the cats from there didn't work and so I was up and feeding Charlie, Minnie and Boo at around 5.30am (Chivers is much more civilised and doesn't put in an appearance for at least another hour or so).   The sunrise was beautiful and heralded another hot hot day.

It is amazing how the threat of visitors can galvanize you into action even in this hot weather!!!  Today we had a massive clean and tidy because Wendy and Bill said they may call in with their visitors Alison, Dave and son Thomas who are out here on holiday.  The heat has been my excuse to do even less housework than usual and John would tell you that isn't much in the first place (it really ain't my thing!!).   We finally tackled the sofas which are usually swathed in great big throws because the fabric really wasn't the best choice when it came to cats and dirt.  The cat hairs seem to harpoon themselves to the seats and stubbornly refuse to be removed and any bit of grease or dirt seems to stick to the microfibre like shit to a blanket.  We decided to use some of the Turtle Wax cleaner that Rob had used on his car to great effect and given the remainder to John and this has actually made a great difference.  Conscious that we didn't want to sit on the sofas when damp from the pool or sweaty we have still covered them with some light and easily washable throws that I already had and they will do for the time being.  The other throws got a blow and a beating and are currently residing in George and Pam's until I can make room for them.

I must admit I love it when the house is clean and tidy but am so disappointed that it lasts for such a short time, the with doors open and the cats it is only a matter of seconds before there is crap on the floors.  Still everywhere got a clean and tidy today and we did as much defurring as was humanly possible and we were exhausted and dripping in sweat by the end of it.

Not content with just cleaning I decided to go the whole hog and make a cake - choosing to try a Gin and Tonic drizzle cake rather than just a plain old lemon one and blow me we forgot to sample it when we had our visitors!  Hope it is nice because it was an easy recipe and John is partial to both a bit of cake and gin and tonic!!

As the evening went on we didn't expect to see Wendy and Co particularly as they had to return to Pissouri via Paphos but they did eventually arrive having taken a wrong turning en route.  Bill you are useless, you have been coming here for six years and you go wrong every time!  They stayed long enough to have the Wiseman tour of the property and then to have a drink up on the roof terrace and watched the sun go down before making their way home.  We assume Bill will have managed to navigate his way out of the estate and the village but knowing him they will be lost out on the Akamas somewhere!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Heat is Getting to Everyone...

Ok so we live in Cyprus and we know it will be hot in the Summer but this heatwave is taking its toll on everyone and everything.  Plants in the garden are being scorched to death even though we are careful to water when the sun has gone down.  There seems no respite at the moment but the saving grace is the pool which we moan about for taking so long to warm up but now I couldn't survive without it.

We are not the only ones to be using the pool - some visitors have gotten there by mistake and are grateful for the noodles which provide them with a safety platform.  One such visitor was a little one back-legged grasshopper which may have crossed the path of one of the cats to have sustained such an injury.  It seemed none the worse for its disability.

It dried off on the float and periodically shook out its wings until it was happy to leave - to safety I hope as we don't like to see any of the creatures here killed.  We even rescue the wasps even though we don't really like them - not so sure we would be so charitable with the huge hornets that come to drink though.

On the subject of creatures the air is full of the sounds of various insects including the electric whizz of the bright green Katydid - What Kaydid?  I hear you cry but yes this is not a grasshopper it is a member of the Tettidoniidae family and is primarily nocturnal.  Apparently according to Wikipedia...

...The males of tettigoniids have sound-producing organs (via stridulation) located on the hind angles of their front wings. In some species, females are also capable of stridulation. Females chirp in response to the shrill of the males, which sound like, "katy did," which is how they received their name. The males use this sound for courtship, which occurs late in the summer. The sound is produced by rubbing two parts of their bodies together, called stridulation. One is the file or comb that has tough ridges; the other is the plectrum is used to produce the vibration. For tettigoniids, the fore wings are used to sing. Tettigoniids produce continuous songs known as trills. The size of the insect, the spacing of the ridges, and the width of the scraper all influence what sound is made.

So now you know!

The cats are conspicuous by their absence at the moment - this could be because there are a lot of the Nicosian's here on holiday and they like to go visit and get spoilt by Galatia or Persephone - Charlie is waiting for the arrival of George and Pam so we are pleased he has lost a bit of weight because George and his lounza and chips will soon recitify that.

On taking a spin around the garden I found Boris squeezed down behind a pot in the shade which is good as we have to watch out for his ear and it not getting sunburned and then came across Minnie squeezed behind the front gazebo.  I have provided them with damp mats to sleep on but they have given them a stiff ignoring!!!

The 1978 Wimbledon Championship Winner was right with his assessment of the Men's game today featuring Andy Murray - he was official useless - if he was so injured he should have retired hurt - I think he thought he was going to beat Querrey in three sets and then rest up but even if he had he wasn't going to get any further if his hip is as bad as everyone is surmising.  I am guessing that the Wimbledon Championship Winner circa 1940 who resides with Mum was of the same opinion.  We just have Konta the Australian/Hungarian/Brit to shout for now!

We have friends who arrive today with their family and will be staying in Peyia - we hope to catch up with them for a drink at the very least - it has been five years and one baby girl since we saw them here last so Happy Holidays Louise and Simon - hope it isn't too hot!!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

This morning Droushia was swathed in an lovely cooling early morning mist which was soon burned off by the sun but whilst it lasted it was fabulous to sit outside and feel the chill on my overnight parched skin.  With Mr Boo having a taste of freedom I wanted to ensure he was home in one piece and untroubled by the other cats.  He was, phew, what a relief - all cats accounted for and all cats fed I could return to bed for a short while with my coffee and tablet and ease myself into the day.

John was having his first session at physio with Marios today and whilst he was there I nipped to see Sonia who is still recovering from the stroke she had in January but she is now back in Polis temporarily living with Gillian and David Carbine until she can find a place of her own.

Sonia is really making remarkable progress seeing as how her stroke was caused by a bleed which is the worst kind.  Her left side is still affected but she is being really good with her physio and given time it looks like she will make a good recovery - she is aiming for 90% and with her determination will get there.

It was a fortuitous visit because Gillian and David are going to the Romeo and Juliet ballet in Chloraka tonight.  Mum was supposed to be going with Sue but Sue felt it prudent to cancel because having recently sustained a heart attack she was concerned about sitting in the amphitheatre in this heat.

I was able to introduce Mum to Gillian and now Mum will have someone to sit with which is good news and it means someone will be able to use the ticket that Sue had purchased.

On our return John continued with his exercises trying out some in the pool these include standing on his bad leg and building the muscles.  He seemed to be quite impressed by what has been done so far - we pay for the treatment at the end and he is going to go weekly for a couple of months.  He continues to exercise when he is sat watching the television and he asked Marios about the TENS machine we have borrowed from Mum and Dad and Marios confirmed that it would be effective so he used that this evening whilst he was watching Konte and then Murray go through to the next round at Wimbledon - along with the normal running commentary I get on the uselessness of the respective players I got grunts and groans as the TENS ramped up and made his muscles twitch!

It was ladies lunch today, held in the village at O Stathmos which is in the shade thank goodness although it was a little cooler today with some cloud around.

Bambos does good souvla and Sheila had ordered chicken and chips but inevitably it came with a host of other stuff so we had salad and dips to start and then an aubergine dish with fetta, chicken chips and a courgette and sweet pepper dish.  Cake and fruit for afterwards.  Sylvia put in one of her overly enthusiastic appearances to see the Laydeeeees - Hallo lovely Laydeeeeeees!

There were about 14 of us I think and it we spent a nice couple of hours chatting and eating under the shade of the big old walnut tree in the courtyard. We have lost a couple of ladies as they have moved and we are about to lose another one who is returning to the UK - it is always quite sad to say goodbye to people even though we might only catch up over a ladies lunch.

We spend the evening up on the roof again.  I had found a recipe for a new cocktail which contained all my favourite ingredients - all of which we had at the house.  It is called a Gin-Gin Mule and basically you crush some fresh mint leaves into sugar and then dilute with lime juice, add a measure of gin, a handful of ice and then top up with some Old Jamaica Ginger Beer.

John didn't know what I was handing him but fell in love with the drink as did I.

We were joined up on the roof by three of the cats - Boris was too busy making the most of his new found freedom.

This was a Gin-Gin Ginger-fest of the highest order.  Whenever we go up onto the roof the cats always like to join us.  It was much cooler last night - really really pleasant which bodes well for tomorrow when we have our next Drouseian Day Out.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Heatwave returns

God it is bloomin' hot again - the heatwave has returned - there is hot and there is hot, hot and then there is furnace temperatures!!!  Even here in Droushia the weather station is tipping 40 degrees in the shade.

With this in mind I am posting a photograph of my mum. me and my sister looking cool in soaring temperatures in Dubai when my nephew got married a couple of months ago.  Mum won't have seen this photograph - I meant to show it to her today after pickleball but the heat got to me and fried my brains and I forgot.  I am not sure there is much of a family likeness between the three of us and I obviously need to go on a diet looking at the other two but we scrubbed up well on that day!

So as I said I was at pickleball today - John is still resting his knee and being a good boy although he said he tested it this morning by trying to break into a sprint which didn't work.  The island is now looking very dry indeed.  It is hard to believe that this was the area ravaged by fire a couple of years ago - no sign of it now and hopefully no re-occurrence this year.

Our pickleball season finishes at the end of June for the month of August.  We are desperate to find a couple of new players to fill the Thursday session - sadly Wendy and Bill will not be returning at least not for the foreseeable future due to various injuries so I will have to advertise and hope we can get two newbies.  Our current newbie Carol is improving and enjoying it but she can only play on a Tuesday.

It was hot playing today and we were all soaked to the skin and probably didn't smell too good as a result.  Mum and I didn't do anything afterwards but went back for a cuppa with Dad who has been off colour recently - this tends to happen at this time of year and is caused by his blood pressure - fingers crossed he will be sorted soon.  We don't have a game on Friday so I will be concentrating on preparing the Wimbledon Tea we are to have on Sunday - we plan to watch the mens' final and then have afternoon tea and stickies.

We had an early tea tonight so I could sit down and watch Johanna Konta play her quarter final game against Halep.  We had a large mixed salad with roasted peppers, lounza strips and a warmed pepper brie with sweet chilli sauce mmmmm mmmmmmm one of my favourites.

I had to have stern words with John who is super critical of any 'British' sports people.  I don't remember exactly when he won Wimbledon - he says it was in 1978 (he would have been a child-genius) but he moans and complains at every shot - I didn't expect Konta to beat Halep and when she lost the first set (albeit on a tie-break) I thought her days were numbered but would not have described her as 'bloody useless'.  Mum has to suffer the same with Dad who must have won his Wimbledon final in the 1940s.  Anyway I was chuffed to bits when Konta came through to book her place in the semi-finals against Venus Williams.    She didn't grunt and was cool, calm and collected and kept focused on the job in hand.  I have to say I was absolutely shocked by Nadal's attitude in his game yesterday when he was too lazy or too up his own arse to place a bottle lid in the bin next to him, giving it to a ball boy to do instead.  So glad Nadal lost.

The best bit about last night's game was a jubilant Chelsea Pensioner grabbing a 'selfie' with Konta and punching his fists in complete joy thereafter.  Such a fabulous juxtaposition of new and old and Konta only to happy to oblige.  Good luck for tomorrow Johanna - do your best - that is all anyone can do and don't listen to John William or Ronald Ernle as they shout at you telling you you are useless!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

So I am going to bore you with some more photographs of our trip to the Anassa yesterday.  It was a lovely place to visit, not sure that I would want to stay there myself even if I could afford to because it did remind me of The Village in the 1960s series about Prisoner No 6 but for an evening out it was very very pleasant indeed if not a little expensive and John and I really have to thank Rob for inviting us to spend Di's birthday with them and for kindly paying for our cocktails.

The architecture and the general ambiance of the place gave it an 'Italian' feel.  I coul have asked Kelly and she could have told me if they were full - I am guessing at this time of the season they are - but they certainly didn't skimp on the staff to client ratio and all the staff were delightfully polite and helpful without any kind of obsequiousness (great word that).

The setting sun cast a golden glow over the terrace as we tucked in to our second round of cocktails created by the resident mixologist (got to love that as a job description).

Every tipple we chose was greeted with the comment 'excellent choice sir' or 'excellent choice madam' but then they aren't likely to whisper in your ear ' I wouldn't chose that if I were you Sir because it tastes like SHITE!!'

An experience like this is all the more special because it is a real treat for us - you cannot beat a bargain meal at Fitos but just occasionally it is really nice to dress up and sample the high life.

I am guessing that the Anassa has changes somewhat from when Mum and Dad stayed there for their Golden Wedding Anniversary courtesy of Jane and John.  That was 12 years ago and they weren't overly impressed because they weren't made to feel special unlike when they stayed at the Elysium for Mum's 80th.

So for once we had a nice photograph taken of John and I - for which I have to thank Di. Personally I prefer to be on the other side of the camera but this is a nice shot of the two of us.  I am glad I made the effort to put on a frock - I have only worn this once before because it isn't my usual 'thing'  I don't normally do shoe-string straps but this looked ok.

John reckoned that an alien spaceship had come down in the night and whisked me away and replaced me with some sort of avatar because I spend several hours this morning ironing even though it was hot and as a result John has all his t-shirts and polo shirts and some of his short sleeved shirts all washed and ironed - hence we did not look like the Clampetts or disgrace the establishment looking like the Hicks from the Sticks.  We hadn't realised that there was going to be entertainment so that was a bonus and the duo were very good but then I like to hear live performances irrespective of the type of music.

I would certainly like to go again at some point for a special occasion - John and I will just have to save up first!!

So just a short report on today.  Art at Sheila's and I am still challenging myself with the glass fishing floats at the bottom of the picture.  Sheila finished her special commission which she is pleased with, and rightly so, and will be able to deliver it for scrutiny to the commissioner later this week - hopefully they will be pleased with it too.  Sheila has started her next picture using acrylics this time so it will be interesting to see how that progresses.  I said today that I hope they don't suddenly sell their house as I can see my picture keeping me busy for the foreseeable future.

Finally Boris can put a line under his traumatic encounter with the Tarantula.  We were able to take him down to Polis this afternoon for the stitches to be taken out of his ear.  I have to say that Dr Inna's sidekick did a fabulous job as you cannot see any evidence of the nasty necrotic hole that was there previously.  Boris has been completely unphased by it all save for being confined to barracks and having to use cat litter.