Life in Cyprus - October 2002

17th October:

Autumn seems to be arriving here at last; we've switched back from shorts to jeans, and are no longer using the air conditioning at all. There seem to be leaves falling everywhere, and it's no more than about 28C during the daytime, down to 18 or so overnight. Time to buy some bedding plants soon out here, since they're at their best from October till May. A couple of my petunias did keep going, just about, until mid-August but got very feeble by the end and eventually gave up. However the snapdragons are going strong, and I had some ornamental peppers which I bought a year or so ago, which seem to be reproducing themselves all over the place. Quite attractive, really, and obviously they like the climate. The bouganvillea is flourishing as ever, with a little pink and lots of new green growth which Richard has to keep pruning or it would be over the roof.

Tim's room, now re-painted with pale peach at the bottomWe're still very much appreciating the roof having been mended, so it no longer leaks during major rainstorms - of which we've already had three. What a wet year it's been! So, with a secure roof, we're continuing with the painting,  experimenting with some colour in the lower parts of the walls. Daniel's room was first, then Tim's, then the study/guest room. Last weekend we did the dining room, but couldn't manage the extra effort to do the living room the same weekend so that will be this weekend's job, all being well. 

Our living room re-painted, with green at the bottomRichard has to do most of the really tricky work, using a roller on a double extension pole to do the ceilings, first with diluted PVA to seal the places where it's cracked or damp, then with paint. I'm not strong enough to control the resulting very long roller, although Daniel is able to help somewhat. However we all help with the lower parts, and I do most of the glosswork (we're sticking to magnolia there). Inspired by the new looks to the boys' rooms, I finally finished the hems on their curtains, and we re-covered Daniel's sofa, which was extremely tatty.

We had a fairly quiet day yesterday with Richard and Daniel's shared birthday; the boys took a day off their home education work but just wanted to read and so on, nothing special. I made a very large chocolate cake for lunchtime, at Daniel's request, and in the evening we all went out to a Mexican restaurant which some organisation had taken Richard to ages ago. It was extremely good and relatively inexpensive, with excellent service. They even had a good selection of vegetarian food.

Daniel is keeping busy as ever, with pantomime rehearsals for 'Frog Prince' - mostly a couple of hours starting at 8am, as this was most convenient for everyone else so he's having to get up a bit earlier than usual. I gather it's going well. There are going to be a couple more performances of the English version of 'Nuts' in November, so Daniel will be back in that too, after taking a break recently when the group did a Greek version in various places. Tim is enjoying helping Richard with the lighting for some of the theatre group productions. He likes the technical side much better than the actual drama.

27th October:

The weather is still very pleasant, about 26C during the daytime, and mostly sunny; down to 15 or so overnight, but it's quite pleasant to get back to using quilts on the beds again. The garden is a bit wild, of course, but I'm gradually getting rid of a few of the weeds and doing some cutting with the lawnmower. We've had three lots of rain so far, but it all still looks fairly brown. The pomegranates are just about finished, and the citrus fruit not yet ripe. It looks like there will be almost no oranges - the hailstorm in April destroyed most of the blossom, unfortunately.

I'm beginning to wonder if one of our septic tanks needs cleaning: underneath part of the house there's a basement work-room, which has steps leading down from the patio. The bottom step is below the level of the room, and recently has been very wet. I cleared out a load of soggy leaves which were beginning to smell very stagnant, only to find that even in several days of sun, there was still about 2cm of water in this step. I tried baling it out, but within a few hours it had returned. 

So I observed our water usage, which of course is a lot more extensive than it used to be now we have continual mains water. I knew I had been doing a lot of extra laundry, since we had washed all the curtains (several loads) when re-decorating the relevant rooms, and of course we had used extra water for cleaning brushes and rollers, not to mention the extra showers when we were dusty and paint-covered. However I quickly realised that running the washing-machine (into the septic tank at the side of the kitchen) made no difference to the water in the step, whereas even flushing the toilet made the water rise a little. Apparently the bathroom septic tank, which - our landlady tells us - has never had to be emptied, must be full. So we phoned her to ask if she could possibly find out how we get it emptied, and arrange for someone to come, since we have no idea where to look. 

30th October

In June I described how I could no longer walk to the electricity authority showroom to pay the bi-monthly electricity bills, because the building changed without notice. In August I posted a cheque to the address I had been given, but in September, paying our annual bill for rubbish collection at the bank, I asked whether it was possible to pay electricity bills there. I was told I could, though it would cost 25c extra. Since a stamp is 21c anyway I decided this is what I would do. So this morning when I went to the bank to transfer money for this month from our UK account, I said I wanted to pay the electricity bill too. Yes, they said, that was fine. So they stamped it, and I wrote a cheque for the bill, plus an extra 25c.

Then suddenly the cashier spotted that instead of the normal end-of-month 'pay-by' date, this one was supposed to have been paid on the 29th. Consternation ensued. Apparently I could only pay it at the bank if it was before the actual date on the bill - even though there's usually about 15 days' grace. But they had already stamped the bill. Eventually after much discussion in Greek, the cashier told me that yes, they would be able to pay it. Then, to my utter amazement, she took 25c in coins from the till, and gave it to me. It seems that the 25c charge is only for bills done the official way, before the pay-by date. My paying late - if only a day - meant that I didn't have to pay this charge. 

Do I understand the logic? No. But, as people keep assuring me, 'This is Cyprus!'

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