As you might guess from the nature of Richard's work, we're all committed Christians. We started life as Anglicans, and our 'sending church' in Birmingham is Christchurch, Selly Park (previously known as St Stephen's Church Centre). Tim has returned there, now he lives in Birmingham again, and we still visit them whenever possible when we're back in the UK. We are also thankful for connections and support from St Stephen's Church, Selly Park, and St Andrews Church, Burgess Hill.
Here in Larnaka we all used to attend services and other activities at Larnaka Community Church, primarily because it had other families and excellent children's/youth work. You can read about our decision to stay with this church rather than one of the other English-speaking congregations in some of my early journal pages. For some years, Daniel played clarinet in the music group, and Tim played guitar, then took over as pianist.
When Tim was about sixteen, he decided to move to St Helena's Anglican church, and a year later became their main musician, playing organ/piano regularly, and running the choir, until he moved away from Cyprus to attend university.
We started home educating in late October 1997 when we moved to Cyprus. We thought we would continue for a few months, while we settled in. However we all enjoyed it so much that we continued! I have a web site devoted entirely to home education, which includes plenty of information about the legalities in the UK, suggestions for getting started, resources, and further links. It's called Home education in the UK. I also wrote a chapter in a book called Free Range Education (otherwise known as FREd) which was published at the end of 2000.
You can also read in detail about our early forays into home education when we moved to Cyprus, in the home education diary pages of this site. Although we are now empty-nesters, we are involved with the Cyprus home educators; I started a mailing list to co-ordinate the group, and we still attend group gatherings.
Some people love dogs. We love cats. Our first, much-loved cat Toby went with us to the USA when we lived there in the early 1990s, and died there at the age of 15, shortly before we returned to the UK. We were then cat-less for a few years until we came to Cyprus. We adopted Cleo in the Summer of 1998 and then kept two of her kittens, Sophia and Jemima, who were born in February 1999. Tessie arrived on our doorstep in December 2000 to complete our feline family. Sadly, Jemima vanished in November 2007, so we now have just three cats. Their personalities are distinct, and we cannot imagine life without them.
We are all enthusiastic readers. The boys, in particular, used to get through several books every week. Unfortunately the only library near us has very few books in English, and there is only one reasonably stocked book shop with English books locally. So we were very glad to discover a variety of Internet book shops, where we can browse at our leisure and order by using a secure link with a credit card.
When we first came to Cyprus we were extremely pleased with the service of the online book shops: The Internet Book Shop (iBS) and Books Online (BOL). However BOL became a book club exclusively for people living in the UK, so is no longer any use for us in Cyrpus. The iBS is now part of WH Smiths, and as such remains excellent as a bookshop - however we found that postage charges increased rather drastically making it a less viable proposition. So nowadays we tend to use either Amazon (UK) which has excellent discounts, when we can get things sent to friends in the UK and thus take advantage of their free postage, or the Jersey-based Play.com which sells books in addition to their superb range of DVDs, CDs and videos at highly competitive prices, and free postage in Europe. More recently I have used The Book Depository, which sells only books, but also has excellent prices and free postage.
For second-hand books, I can recommend Peakirk Books (UK) or the Advanced Book Exchange (mainly USA so postage can be high to Europe, but it's possible to select only books being sold in particular countries). For a lengthy list of personal recommendations, look at my books site, where I have reviewed every book I have read in the past ten years. There are over 1000 reviews there now.
Some years ago, while living in the USA, we were introduced to a personality type indicator called Myers Briggs which categorises people based on four pairs of preferences, resulting in sixteen types. We have found this very useful in understanding each other, and in seeing how we all learn in different ways. To read a summary of these, see my article Understanding Myers-Briggs, or - related to children and home education - Personality types. Our types are: ENFP (Richard), INFJ (Sue), INFP (Daniel) and ENTJ (Timothy). To find out more about this system, and to take an online test with summaries of what the results mean, see one of: Myers Briggs site, the Team Technology site, or the excellent BestFitType site
Another useful personality system is that of the Enneagram which divides people according to motivation rather than preferences, and uses nine types rather than sixteen. I found this rather harder to understand at first, but considerably more useful in seeing why we do what we do, rather than merely looking at the surface level. 'Enneagram' simply means 'nine-pointed star'. Although there are possible historical links to New Age teachings which are not compatible with our Christian beliefs, the Enneagram itself is just a simple tool which can be used in any way one chooses.
While it's harder to ascertain Ennea types than it is to find Myers-Briggs types, it currently seems as though our types are Three (Richard), Nine (Sue), Four (Daniel) and Eight (Timothy). One of the most helpful online Enneagram tests is at the Eclectic Energies site (despite the strange nature of the rest of the site, which I don't recommend!) while the most comprehensive set of information and links is probably at the Enneagram Institute.
We keep in contact with friends and family around the world via email. I belong to about twenty yahoogroups lists as well as a home education mailing list on a different server.
Our family all love chocolate. Our house in the UK is less than a mile away from the Cadbury's chocolate factory in Bournville. Those 'factory smells' of Birmingham aren't all unpleasant! For a wonderful site dedicated to the history and production of chocolate, look at the Cadbury's site.
At the start of 2001, Daniel decided to join a local youth theatre group, Antidote Theatre. Little did we know the effect that it would have on our lives in subsequent years! Daniel was given a main part in a play which was entered for an International competition; the premiere had to be filmed, so Richard organised that. They won the competition, meaning a trip to the UK to perform in the National Theatre in London, and Richard got more involved, helping with co-ordination and stage managing the production.
Since then Antidote have moved location twice and most recently have converted an old cinema to a theatre/workshop, and again Richard has been heavily involved with the necessary work to instal suitable lighting and sound. Daniel designed and maintained the Antidote web-site for a year, and is worked for them part-time when he was eighteen.
As a family, we've always enjoyed board games. As the boys entered the teenage years, the ones we played most often were Rummikub and Mahjong. When they left home, we made some new friends and began playing more Scrabble, and also - new to us at first - Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne.