Living in Cyprus - May 2000

4th May: 

The weather has been cooler than average, thank goodness, with a very high amount of rain in the past week. Today is the first day when it actually felt as if Summer were coming, but there's been quite a fierce wind blowing most of the day so it's not been unpleasant. It poured with rain last Saturday morning, very surprising for almost the end of April but of course most welcome.

games at the Easter Monday gatheringGreek Orthodox (Eastern) Easter was at the end of April, and so the local churches had a joint lunch on May 1st which was Easter Monday here. We enjoyed getting together with friends including some we had not seen for a while, eating good food, and playing some games.

Water is still extremely restricted although people are saying the reservoirs look fuller than in previous years as there has been a lot of snow in the mountains, which is now melting. However the authorities are FINALLY putting in a desalination plant so perhaps they have to keep pushing the lack of water or someone might try to stop it.

Petunias doing well on our front porch The bougainvillea at the front of the house is coming into new pink bracts; The roses and petunias doing superbly well too. I've tried various other bedding plants available locally but most are rather a dead loss - other than antirrhinums, which seem to spread out and keep blooming. I have a vague memory that they might even be perennials under the right conditions so it will be interesting to see if they keep going through the summer, assuming I remember to water them sufficiently.

11th May: 

We're all enjoying the 'Spring' such as it is - and much longer lasting than usual, with yet more rain last Saturday! Only about half an hour's worth but it was quite heavy. Apparently the reservoirs aren't too bad in the mountains, so perhaps there won't be such a water problem as there was last year. We're still restricted to two days of mains water per week, but it stays on for about 12 hours each time so that's not too bad, and seems to be sufficient for me to do all the laundry and leave the tanks with plenty of water for normal washing up and showers etc.

Yesterday it felt quite hot, and our thermometer showed 26C in the shade, though the house stayed cooler still. Today it only shows 22C in the shade and isn't unpleasantly hot even in the sun. This is quite amazing, because by this time last year it was almost too hot to move, so we're making the most of it! Still, we've switched to shorts and tee-shirts now rather than long trousers and sweatshirts.

We recently said goodbye to an American couple who have been here for several years but are returning to the States. They were due to fly last Tuesday, so imagine our surprise when we saw them at Church on Sunday!! Apparently they had had a very stressful time leading up to their departure, and the check-in at the airport had been longer than usual. They had just got out of the airport bus and were about to go up the steps to the plane when the husband fainted! 

He was rushed to hospital and seen by three doctors who all pronounced him perfectly fit - I think he was just over-tired and had been too busy, and perhaps was standing in the sunshine for too long. But it meant that they lost their flight, of course, and had to put it off for another week. They said they were staying in a hotel and enjoying being 'tourists' for a change. And actually they did look a lot more relaxed on Sunday than I had seen them for quite some time.

Richard has been doing some repainting of the front door and porch area, which were beginning to look a bit untidy after so much sunshine burning away at them. When he first re-did them, shortly after we arrived, we had to use a shade of green that wasn't exactly correct because the local hardware shop said that they could only get a limited number of paint colours. However a large DIY store, rather like Do-it-all or Homebase, has opened in Nicosia, and it has the full range of Dulux colours so we were able to match it more exactly. It still doesn't look quite the same as it's somehow brighter and glossier, but perhaps that's because all the other shutters have faded. Richard doesn't want to repaint them all: shutters are a real nuisance to paint!

Our cats seem to be turning into outdoor creatures now it's getting warmer. Usually I wake up about 6am and find at least two of them on my bed, then the third appears when I go to the kitchen. This morning, to my surprise, none of them were in the house, and when I opened the window and called, only Cleo appeared for her breakfast. I wasn't too worried as they don't usually stray very far, and sure enough about half an hour later when I opened the back door, Jemima strolled sleepily in, ate a little of her food, and then wandered out again and went to sleep in the sunshine. I expect she had been there all along. 

I didn't see Sophia until about an hour after that when she must have come in via the bathroom window. Sophia is catching lots of lizards and grasshoppers so she has plenty to eat anyway, and spends a lot of her time chasing away the neighbourhood cats, some of whom seem nearly twice her size!

On Sunday the boys played some basketball with a couple of youngish people (ie in their early 20s!) who are out here for a year. Daniel is pretty good at basketball, and of course the taller he gets, the easier it is for him to shoot the ball into the net. Tim is also getting quite good, apparently, and gets about half his shots in too. We had a basketball hoop on an outside wall here when we first got here, but had to take it down when we put the air conditioning unit in, as that was the only place it could go, and there weren't any other free walls that didn't have a window. However Daniel, creative as ever, has managed to fix it up in one of the trees so they spent a lot of time in the evenings practising.

Last week I felt a bit under the weather, very tired and with some back-ache which I put down to having to fill up the washing machine by bottle as the in-flow seemed to have stopped working (we've now had that fixed). But this week Richard is feeling just the same, very low and tired and with back-ache, so I think it must have been some low-key virus. It's odd how these things strike here: we rarely get colds but every so often get hit with utter exhaustion and weariness, almost like flu without the other symptoms. Perhaps that's the way that cold viruses operate when the weather is hot. He's going in to work but not doing so many late-night stints, and has very little energy. We hope it won't last too long.

22nd May: 

It STILL hasn't got as hot as a normal May in Cyprus - in fact some days it's been less hot than the UK! It's currently about 25C in the shade, a little hotter in the sun, but not at all humid. The house is staying at a pleasant 23-24 during the daytime. Yesterday we went to the annual fete at the Army Base, which we went to last year with my parents when they were here. 

Tim went on some Go-karts but they weren't as safe as last year and he had quite a nasty bump into one side of the track, where there were rocks rather than tyres. He felt very shaken and said his back hurt, because he had quite a jolt. However after five minutes' rest he felt much better and walked around the rest of the fete, refusing to see the first aid people, so we think it was just a bit of a jar, and perhaps a bruise. He rested some more yesterday afternoon and is fine today.

Our loquats are finished now - the season really is very short - but we have mulberries, one white tree and one purple. Every day more seem to ripen, although we can't reach most of them. Daniel climbs the trees to reach some of the better ones and I've frozen a load. The boys don't much like them so it's a bit difficult knowing what to do: I shall make some mulberry and apple jam, as Richard likes it, but I don't have any other recipes for mulberries. I tried making apple and mulberry pies and crumbles last year but they weren't very popular. It seems such a waste not to use them, though!

We're hoping to receive the 'diagnostic' material for the boys' new home education course by the end of this week. This is in a form of various tests to see what level they're at in each subject. Their reading and comprehension is of course extremely good, and both are reasonably good at maths, but as they haven't followed this particular curriculum in the past there may well be gaps. However this isn't a problem as they tailor each course to the individual, and can provide 'fill-in' workbooks if just one or two topics have been missed. I think this is much better than most of the other American homeschool curricula, which simply allocate material by 'grade level' across all subjects and have little or no flexibility.

Having discussed this with various other people who've used it, it seems that about two hours per day will be sufficient for the ACE work so we'll still continue with the online Greek and French courses we've been following, and I'm sure both boys will continue to write for the magazines, and build their web sites and do the various other other educational things they enjoy so much. If it doesn't work out then we'll rethink a year from now, and look at GCSEs by correspondence, but as Daniel would only be in Year 8 if he were in school, and GCSE courses don't start until Year 10, it's not at all urgent.

29th May: 

It was beginning to feel extremely warm yesterday, so I expect Summer is on its way, finally. Tim is still doing well with the piano and the guitar. He plays the guitar in church now and as he loves to sing it's a good instrument for him. He has been thrilled with his new guitar, and his teacher said it was an extremely nice one. It certainly sounds very pleasant and has inspired him to work even harder at it.

Richard, as usual, is working all hours and achieving a lot. He probably won't be doing any more filming until the Autumn now, so he's not travelling as much, but he's doing just as much work trying out new technology for getting films distributed, and keeping in touch with varoius people to discuss future projects. He's been involved in a big computer venture to get their full catalogue on the Internet so that people can order videos and Arabic books on their computers, and this is quite time-consuming too.

Our cats are very friendly and playful. Cleo, the mother, is the most temperamental and sometimes disappears for hours only to return, purring and tired, determined to sleep on someone's lap. Sophia sees herself as Daniel's cat; she's the most talkative and appears to carry on entire conversations at times. She is also the best hunter and frequently brings lizards or grasshoppers into the house. She's even caught a few birds, unforunately, and a couple of mice. Jemima is the most placid, and considers herself my cat. She rarely hunts, but does try to steal food from the table! If we eat chicken, we have to shut her in another room as she's so naughty.

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