Living in Cyprus - April 2001

A cooler, greyer month than expected

Richard on the phone in Lefkara, where we took our visitors for an afternoonWe started the month with visitors from the UK. To our surprise, instead of getting warmer, the sky was overcast and thundery nearly every day for a week, with more rain than we had in March. It's not always predictable. The cooler spell in April continued, and I certainly made the most of it! After a warm end of March, it was a pleasant surprise to have April so much cooler. Not that it was cold, exactly - about 20-25C most days - but certainly below what we'd expected. It continued to be cloudy some days, and there was more rain than average: usually the last rain of the season is mid-April, and then it remains dry until at least mid-September.

In the middle of the month, the day before Easter, we had torrential rain again one morning, followed by clear blue skies and warmth. This was just as well, well because that was the day when our church had the annual egg-hunt/party for local children, which always attracts quite a crowd.

Easter in Cyprus

Easter is an important time for the Orthodox Churches (which are in the majority in Cyprus) but the Protestant ones try to organise events as well. This year Orthodox and Protestant Easter fell on the same Sunday; usually they are a week apart. Our Church had a Good Friday evening service, and also an early morning service by the Salt Lake on Easter Sunday. They decided against a sunrise service, as it would have to have started around 5.30am, so instead it was at 7.00am followed by light breakfast in the church hall, followed by the normal service at 9.00. 

None of our family really liked getting up that early, but it was a lovely gathering of about twenty people; beautiful to see the early morning sun low over the lake as we sang a few songs, accompanied only by guitar, and had a short service. On Easter Monday there is always an inter-church potluck-style lunch, with games beforehand, usually held outdoors in the church grounds. This attracted about 80 people this year, and as the weather stayed fine we spent most of the time outside.

No more water shortage - but mosquitoes can be a problem

Sophia and a snake she brought into the house and ate....We're very thankful that the water shortage is over, the new de-salination plant coming into operation, and the reservoirs much fuller than we've ever seen them due to so much rain in the past few months. At least we can keep the plants and trees watered without worrying that we're adding to the water shortage across the island.

The one problem with cooler, wetter weather is that mosquitoes seem to breed faster than ever. One night I kept being half woken by a buzzing mosquito several times during the night, but not quite awake enough to get up and put one of the electric mosquito repellant pads on. We hadn't been using them routinely, as we don't really like breathing in chemicals all night, but the occasional mosquito at night can drive us almost to distraction.

Social and musical activities

The boys seem to have a busy social life, mostly involved with the church youth group during the school Easter holidays. Unfortunately they can't see much of most of their friends during term-time, as Cyprus schools give huge amounts of homework. Home education has a definite advantage there! 

Still, they keep busy with their various music activities. Daniel plays in the town band rehearsals on Monday and Thursday evenings, goes to art class with Richard on Wednesday evenings, and all three of them go to youth group on Friday evening. Their various music lessons are in afternoons, which is just as well really! If they went to school here they would have almost no time for music (all the teenage musicians in our church are home educated) or for socialising outside school holidays.

The garden: loquats and bougainvillea

The loquats (mespila, as they're known here) ripened in early April, and had gone wrinkled and 'off' by the end. They have an extremely short season, but are most delicious while they last! Some years I manage to pick some early, before they're properly ripe, and cook them - they make wonderful crumbles or jam, used rather like apricots or plums. But this year, with all our visitors, I didn't remember to do that - or have the time. The bougainvillea is a gorgeous mass of pink - it likes the sunshine, and looks terrific. The rest of the garden needs a lot of work again, however!

Problems with our strimmer

In early April, the strimmer stopped working, and Richard managed to fix it (some screw had fallen off the motor) but then it broke again, after making some rather odd noises. So he went to the small hardware shop that specialises in garden tools, particularly strimmers of our sort, and asked if they had a replacement motor. They thought they did; they said the Black and Decker rep would be in the following day, and that they would order it. By this time it had been a week since I had done any proper strimming, and the grass was looking distinctly long. Three days later the shop managed to get a motor in stock, so Richard went to collect it... but when he tried to fit it, it wasn't the same as the old one at all!

Unfortunately that was a Saturday, after lunch by the time he had discovered this, and Cyprus has early closing on a Saturday. So we had to wait until the Monday before he could take it back. The shop were quite helpful: they said they would have to get Black and Decker to fit it, but he would have to take the whole strimmer in, not just the old motor. So he took it back. They said it should be ready by 'Tuesday', which we assumed was the day after until we realised that Tuesday was a bank holiday. 

On the Wednesday Richard was working with someone else, so had no chance to collect it - and of course with two lots of rain, all the weeds had grown to about 6 inches high! Finally we did get it back, later in the week, and it seemed to work well. They didn't charge us anything extra for doing the work, so that was good (and typically Cyprus!). Having strimmed the garden - and with the weather getting warmer - I really hope I won't have to do it again until the Autumn - October at least!

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