Life in Cyprus - February 2005

February 10th:

We're finally having the very cold spell which usually appears at some point before the end of winter. It's no more than about 12C during the daytime, and down to about 3 or 4C overnight. So we're using the kerosene heater all day to keep the worst of the chill out. We ran it all night on Monday, but when I got up on Tuesday morning it seemed rather a waste: the door to the kitchen was open, and the bathroom windows was wide open so there was a huge draught. The cats use the bathroom window to get in and out (it's small and barred, so quite safe) and evidently one of them had pushed it open wide in the night. The cats aren't very good at keeping doors shut, either! So now I close the doors when I get up, and then light the heater about 7am but we switch it off when going to bed.

We're very glad of the electric halogen heaters we bought a couple of months ago, and are carrying them around the house as necessary to provide a bit of instant warmth. Unfortunately we didn't get around to having our air-conditioner (which has a heat setting) mended: in mid-November when we had the first cold spell, it stopped working, but Richard was away then and I didn't have the number of the repair man. Since then it hasn't been particularly cold and we hadn't thought of using it. But yesterday we reminded him and he phoned. The man came over shortly after lunch and had a look: he said it was one of two possible problems, but as it was Wednesday all the shops were closed so he couldn't get them. He said he would come back the same time today.

Rather to my surprise he really did come back: sometimes when Cypriots say 'tomorrow' they mean 'some time when I feel like it, but not today'. But he arrived just as we were finishing lunch, so Richard was at home too. He changed a part, and did a lot of testing and said it was all fine... then charged 25 which seemed very good value for well over an hour's work including a replacement part that cost about 20!

Unfortunately... when I switched it on about half an hour before supper, it still wasn't working. It was no longer making the awful noise that it was making, and Richard said the outside system seemed to be working, but there was no air (hot or cold) coming in. Oh dear.

February 12th:

This morning Richard rang the air-conditioner repairman and told him that it wasn't working. He said, 'Oh dear' and promised to come at lunchtime. But he didn't...

February 14th:

The a/c man still hasn't come. Thankfully the worst of the cold spell seems to be over for now. It wasn't anything like so cold last night, and this morning I didn't light the kerosene furnace, but it feels no colder than it did yesterday when it was on. In the afternoon Tim cut about half the 'lawn' area of our back garden, which was looking very overgrown, and I did some necessary weeding. Tomorrow we'll do some more.

February 16th:

The a/c man came this morning, with an assistant. They spent about an hour adjusting various things, testing the system out, and finally getting it to work. I actually felt warm air coming out for the first time this season... not that we actually need it at present as the temperatures are up to about 18C in the daytime but it will be good for the evenings, and any further cold spells.

He explained to me that the problem was a valve in the compressor which has been damaged. When he replaced the broken capacitor last week, he hadn't realised that it wasn't communicating properly with the compressor, due to this faulty valve. So this morning they have been adjusting it with a screwdriver, one person inside and one outside until they get it right. He said it might last a year, perhaps three years - he doesn't know. But they'll keep it going as long as they can before having to replace the compressor (which would be fairly expensive). This, he says, is one of their little tricks.

I asked him how much I owed him, and he said 'nothing'! Only in Cyprus....

Feb 28th:

This month seems to have raced past. Haven't we only just finished Christmas?! The sun is shining now but no doubt there will be plenty more rain before summer arrives. Unfortunately the air conditioning still doesn't seem to be working on heat... but thankfully the weather has become warmer so we haven't needed it! We've used the kerosene heater a couple of times recently, and the halogen heaters for quick warmth when necessary, but it won't be long before we're getting the fans out again...

Our garden is still patchy at the end of February, but pretty green (for Cyprus)After such a wet winter, the back garden is looking greener than ever. Last year I'm sure it wasn't this impressive until at least April. More and more bare patches of earth seem to get covered in grass (or at least greenery of some sort!) each year, and so long as we keep it mowed every ten days or so, it even looks reasonably tidy. I've been weeding the far end too and have finally put in bedding plants although the weeds grow faster than the new plants, even where there are stones.

our Cyprus lemon trees, doing well at the end of FebruaryfThe oranges and lemons are doing brilliantly. Partly due to the rain, no doubt, and I hope also partly due to the compost I made and then piled around them last Autumn. We're squeezing fresh oranges for juice every morning, and making lemonade every week. The end of the oranges is in site, but the lemon trees are still loaded with fruit. I'm trying to give them away but most people we know have other sources of free lemons.

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