Life in Cyprus - September 2001

Early September - camping in the mountains

For the first couple of weeks, it showed no sign of being September: still 33C outside in the shade, although nothing like as humid as it was. We went camping in the mountains for a few days with the home educators' group; it was much cooler there - probably 10 degrees lower, and distinctly chilly at night, so we needed several blankets. Very dry too, so much that we got chapped lips. 

There were various activities arranged, including some simple Scottish country dancing - something I used to do years ago! We had a camp fire, and a barbecue, went on a longish hike (actually I didn't as even at the cooler temperatures the sun was too hot for me by that stage) and played some games. Our boys joined in an impromptu recorder consort with a few other people, which they thoroughly enjoyed. We had a similar weekend just before going on our trip to Europe in June, but I was too tired and stressed to enjoy that one!

Plans for new activities in the Autumn

Daniel working at the computerThe boys have started their home education course work once we got back from the camp, as their local friends return to school. They're both planning to join the tennis club when it gets slightly cooler, as they both have new tennis raquets. Daniel is also hoping to take Greek lessons this term, and may be able to playing in the local American school orchestra! The orchestra leader is Daniel's clarinet teacher. 

Daniel is also interested in joining a drama group - we know of one locally, although the time may clash with the orchestra. He's done bits and pieces of drama over the years, and has always seemed quite good at it but he's never wanted to join a group and do it more seriously until now, so I hope we can find something. There are evening groups in Limassol, but that's an hour's drive away, and he's out three evenings as it is! 

Tim reading on a warm dayTim doesn't want to join anything more this term, other than the tennis club - but as he's learning both piano and guitar, and will sing in the inter-church Christmas choir when it starts in a month or two - if it happens this year - he'll be fairly busy too. He'd like to do a bit more singing, although for this term at least the Christmas choir will give him that.


This month will go down in history as the one with the horrific attacks on the American World Trade Centre, and the Pentagon, killing over 6000 people. It shocked us, although being not far from the Middle East, terrorism doesn't seem so unlikely. People asked us what attitudes are like, and what difference the attacks have made: as far as we can see, it hasn't made much difference at all here. The Cypriots are friendly, laid-back people who seem to accept all foreigners without question.

More mosquitoes

The hot weather is continuing, up to about 30C during the daytime, but not as humid as it was. It rained briefly early in September, but not long enough to make any difference to the temperature. We didn't use the air conditioning much after the first week of the month, as it was cool enough just opening windows and letting a breeze come through. 

Of course this has the disadvantage in the evenings that mosquitoes also come in; when the weather gets like this, it seems that more of them hatch, and there are a spate of little ones that dart about too quickly to catch, so we've all been getting bitten quite a lot. However we seem to have developed at least partial local immunity, so it's no more than an itch for ten minutes or so, not the awful lumps and long-term itching that we had when we first arrived.

Late September - washing machine valve problems

We had fun and games with the washing machine this week... the pressure was never very good, and the cycle would take two hours or more at times. But since returning from the UK mid-August it had been getting worse and worse, until there was barely a drip coming through, and I would have to stand over it pouring extra water into the dispenser.

At the back of the machine there's a filter for the incoming water, which apparently is necessary in this country as bits of stone and dirt sometimes get into the tank water, and might damage the washing machine. This filter sometimes gets clogged, so I thought that might be the problem (it's supposed to be cleaned every few months) so I asked Richard to clean it out. It didn't look too bad, but when he put it back and I switched the machine on, the water FLOODED into the dispenser... for about ten seconds. Then the machine gave a cough, and the water stopped completely. We wondered if there had been some stone or something in the pipe, so Richard switched off the water and undid the filter again, and removed a little stone, then put it all back again, and to our amazement the water started working perfectly.

So I put on a load of laundry, and sat and watched. Although it filled up easily, it didn't stop! So while it was doing the water-heating and churning, more water was pouring in, and it filled up so much that it could hardly spin. Then, even when had completed the final spin, it carried on filling up so the clothes were wet again unless I removed them instantly.

Unfortunately this all happened on a Saturday, and of course nothing is open at weekends, and Richard was out all day (sailing with Daniel and some other friends) on the Monday. So he found some pliers, showed me how to switch the little lever on the pipe to the off position, and then I had to run the washing machine switching the actual water supply off and on as necessary. That worked, although it was a bit of a nuisance having to rush through to switch it off every time it started spinning, then on again as soon as it wanted to fill up, but it was easier than pouring water into the dispenser the whole time. Richard thought the valve had been faulty, and not opening properly, but somehow his clearing the filter had forced it into permanently open.

Then on the Tuesday, when I didn't do any laundry (so the water supply was switched off with the pliers) we suddenly noticed that the machine was still filling up, albeit very slowly. By lunchtime it was full enough to leak out, so I had to close the door and spin to get it out! Richard couldn't understand why that would happen, but it was a few days before he managed to get to see the man in the shop where we bought it. In Cyprus it's usually best to go and speak to people face-to-face when something like this happens, rather than phoning. In the meantime I got proficient at controlling the water with the pliers, and doing an extra spin a couple of times per day to get rid of excess.

Finally, on a Monday morning just over a week after the first problem, the engineer came. He spent about half an hour working on it, after I'd shown him in mime what was wrong (this was not the manager but a young man who had almost no English). He eventually changed the valve and showed me that it was wrong - and .. wonder of wonders! - it worked wonderfully well, with water whooshing in when it's supposed to, and not at all when it's not supposed to. Obviously the valve has a fault of some sort. I just hope the new one lasts.

However the good thing about living here, is that the entire charge for the visit, labour and replacement valve was twelve pounds! Five years ago in the UK I seem to remember being charged fifty pounds just to have the washing machine engineer in the house, even if he couldn't actually do anything.

Previous (August 2001) | Next (October 2001)