Life in Cyprus - August 2002

13th August:

August is a bit of a strange month, really. Several of our friends are away, and many of the shops close down for a couple of weeks for their annual holiday. Temperatures on a good day are as low as 25C overnight, and no more than 32C in the shade during the daytime - the kind of temperatures that count as a big heatwave back in the UK! On a not-so-good day it doesn't get below 28C overnight, and can be as high as 38 or 39 during the daytime - meaning it must be 45 or more in the sunshine. 

The only advantage of the extremely hot days is that they tend to be less humid than the ones in the low 30s. Actually this year does not seem to have been nearly so humid as previous years. Oddly enough there have been several cloudy days, rather than the usual continual blue skies we've come to expect during the summer months. A friend who has been here many years told us that usually the first rain comes about 6 weeks after the first clouds, and the first clouds are usually at the end of August. But this year there have been clouds at least once a week since we came home. Today for instance, although hot, is breezy, and the sky looks quite grey.

We tend to live a rather closeted life during the daytime in our one air-conditioned room - large though it is - set at 28C, which feels pleasantly cool. I usually get up about 6am, the only time of day where I feel able to do things like emptying bins, sweeping the marble floors, cleaning the kitchen floor, and putting laundry in the washing machine. I usually try and do about half an hour's weeding or pruning in the garden before 8am too, although if it's too hot I leave that. It's never-ending anyway, although the front is a little less jungle-like than it was when we arrived back from England four weeks ago!

By about 9am each morning the outside temperature has usually reached about 30C, so having had some breakfast, and a cool shower, and taken coffee to Richard and Daniel, I switch on the air conditioning and collect my email! Then I stay in the a/c as much as possible until about 6pm when I cook the evening meal.  The word for what we do is 'aestivating' - the summer equivalent of hibernating. We've now finished all the frozen meals I had prepared before we went away, so I'm having to cook - but am trying to ensure nothing that takes too long in the kitchen.

So far I've completed four jigsaw puzzles, the first being so very difficult that it took nearly three weeks; however by the time we'd finished, other jigsaws which previously we thought quite hard proved to be much easier than we'd expected. I'm reading a 'Father Brown' book to the boys, so that's usually half an hour or so each day, and have also been teaching Tim a bit more knitting. Daniel has produced new publicity material for the Antidote Theatre drama group so we all helped with sorting out photographs to use; Richard did most of the scanning, and introduced Daniel to a layout program which he hadn't used before.

21st August:

Although I hesitate to say it, it really feels as if the worst of the Summer is over. We've had a couple of days with clouds, and even a few spots of rain on Saturday. The overnight temperatures are pleasantly cool, down to about 22C, and the daytime temps are no more than 32C. It doesn't even feel too humid any more. We're using the air conditioning less and less each day. Our cats are still in their summer nocturnal mode - out all night, arriving on me to request food about 6.30am, then sleeping in the house for most of the day.

Tim's confirmation, August 2002On Sunday Tim was confirmed at St Helena's Anglican church. We don't usually go there; we belong to the Community Church over the road, where there are many more families with children and teenagers. Nevertheless, the English-speaking churches do socialise and have joint services occasionally, and Tim had attended Confirmation classes with the previous Vicar earlier in the year, along with another girl from our church, and one from the St Helena's. 

Confirmations are usually earlier in the year than August, but the Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf is particularly busy with a great deal of travelling, and this was the first Sunday he could manage. Still, attending a church with air-conditioning (unlike ours) in August is no big sacrifice! There were specially printed service sheets with the three candidates' names printed on them, and afterwards they were presented with Bibles, certificates, and a book. Then we had a photo session with Bishop Clive, and afterwards there was a potluck-style lunch in honour of the confirmation, ending with a beautiful iced cake.

Yesterday Daniel was inspired to build a lens camera out of old washing powder boxes with a magnifying glass taped on the front. After an afternoon's experimenting, he showed us the result - a remarkably clear colour image of a lego boat, upside down on a piece of paper inside the contraption. I suppose this is how autonomous learning (also known as child-centered education or unschooling) works at its best, and is a far more effective way of learning physics than studying text-books and performing pre-defined experiments under supervision, with only an hour or two available, and little chance to develop one's own ideas.

Our living room, prior to repaintingMeanwhile I sorted out the last two years' worth of photographs which had been piling up. I even wrote labels for the albums, having organised them and put them in. Tim went around the house checking all the shutters, and putting new screws in three that were almost broken. Somehow the slightly cooler weather makes us all more inspired to get on and do constructive projects that have been waiting around for months.  Next month we're thinking of re-painting the house, as the magnolia (typical for Cyprus) is rather grubby and flaking, and we've been here nearly five years already. 

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