Life in Cyprus - December 2003

2nd December:

Larnaka beach looking empty in DecemberThe weather here is still not bad - Richard considers it to be chilly, and I certainly spend evenings wearing a fleece and jumper, but it's still sunny and around 15-16C during the daytime. The forecast keeps promising us some rain, but we've had hardly any so far. We could rather do with it as it's been very dry this winter.  The beach looks very empty now that there are few visitors, and it's too cold to sit outside for long. 

Still, the cats are growing their winter coats and looking a lot fluffier than they did a few weeks ago, and we've had the kerosene heater serviced at last. We barely thought about it during November as it was unseasonably warm.

The MV Doulos is in Larnaka at present, and Daniel is volunteering there every afternoon this week - mostly helping in the bookshop, but he's also enjoying spending time with young people from all around the world who are working on the ship full-time. In the mornings he's busy with rehearsals for 'The Dancing Bear', the Antidote children's Christmas production, due to have its premiŤre on Satuday. He doesn't have a huge part this time, although as there are only five actors in it, they're all fairly significant, and he's playing his clarinet at the beginning. Richard  helped to design the lighting and will be operating lights at the premiere, although as he's so very busy he won't be able to do much more than that.

Tim's also very busy, playing piano for church, for the inter-church carol-concert, and for the youth group band 'Narrow Gate' who get invited to play at various things, such as the island-wide youth evening which will be on the Doulos this week, and also once a month at the Anglican church evening service. He recently bought himself a new touch-sensitive keyboard, having saved all his birthday and Christmas money for some time now, and is enjoying playing that!

I've been trying to get organised with Christmas presents - I know some people manage to be finished by about mid-November, but early December is pretty good for me! Buying for family in the UK isn't too hard - we tend to circulate gift suggestion lists, and I use online shopping for the majority. Amazon UK does free postage within the UK for orders over £25, and also offers a gift service, so I can be invoiced here and have presents delivered to the relevant addresses. I've recently discovered another useful site too, Play.com, which sells DVDs, CDs and computer games, and which offers free postage on everything to selected countries - including Cyprus!

7th December

'The Dancing Bear' had its premiÍre yesterday afternoon, followed by another performance later that weekend and there are two more tonight! I went to the first performance, and what a delight it was. For the first time in some years, Antidote Theatre had not written the play themselves; instead they had slightly adapted an American children's production called 'The Arkansaw Bear' (sic) to make it relevant to Cyprus. 

They began with live music - clarinet, violin, accordion, melodica and percussion. The story is actually quite sad, dealing as it does with the theme of death; it focuses on a little girl whose beloved grandfather is dying, in the prologue and epilogue. The main section of the play deals with an elderly famous dancing bear who is also about to die, but is desperate to leave his stamp on the world, and so keeps running away from death, aided and abeted by a mime character, until he can teach his skill to a younger bear. Although the message is positive, one or two younger and more sensitive children have found it upsetting. Daniel's part is that of a star - the 'first star' out at night, who can grant wishes.

15th December

Work is a bit stressful for Richard at present. He's lost his administrator, there are communication problems between various groups who should be working together, and he's having immense technical difficulties with the Internet Radio Station which has a live broadcast from Egypt each evening (in theory!) with facilities and equipment in Cyprus and London. 

Just to add to our joy, it's absolutely pouring with rain at present - we woke up to grey skies and thunder, then rain so heavy that a crack in Tim's ceiling leaked for a few minutes, and although we had about an hour when the sun poked out, later on there was more torrential rain, and it got much chillier too. The cats go a bit frantic when they can't get out, running up and down curtains, 'boxing' with each other, chasing each other around the place like kittens. Usually they're out most of the day hunting or climbing trees or at least playing their chase games outside where they can't knock things over!

Life seems to revolve around the boys' different performances prior to Christmas at present. There's a showing of 'Dancing Bear' on Wednesday, then Tim will be going with a group singing carols in old folks' homes on Thursday, and helping at the church children's party on Friday. Next Sunday morning the Sunday School teachers and children are running the service at church, then the town band will be playing carols outside St Lazarus' church downtown, and in the evening there's the inter-church carol concert where Tim's playing piano. This last weekend was taken up with 'Dancing Bear' - performances in Nicosia on both Saturday and Sunday. Richard went with Daniel, and helped with the lighting and sound, which he enjoys doing, but they had to leave by noon on Saturday and 2.30 on Sunday so they've not been around much and are both feeling a bit tired.

Tim's just confirmed that his tennis lesson is cancelled today - not surprising given the weather - and is quite relieved since he's still getting over a streaming cold he had last week. He cancelled just about all his lessons last week and didn't feel he could do so again, although he didn't feel much like tennis - so at least the rain is 'good' from that point of view.

I've finally managed to get our Christmas newsletter written - even later than usual. Part of the problem was that the colour cartridge on our inkjet printer ran out some time ago and as we hadn't needed to print in colour, we hadn't replaced it. Cartridges are normally very expensive, so I'd been researching cheaper alternatives. It's possible to order refilled or compatible cartridges online, but postage costs from the UK make them less worthwhile; however to our surprise, a company called Nuink opened up just five minutes' walk from our home, doing a refilling service on all kinds of cartridge. The inkjet ones are well under half the price of new cartridges, and the lazerjet cartridge (which had also run out) around half price. We've heard that sometimes refilled cartridges don't last as long as new ones, but so far they've done very well, and it's better for the environment to be able to reuse them. If they last only half as long as new ones it's still worth doing.

I've recently found a most helpful website selling juggling equipment, Unicycle UK, since Daniel wants a contact juggling ball. When I asked what the postage costs would be, they added Cyprus into their list of countries that allow online postage calculations, and when I had difficulties using their payment facilities, the site owner phoned me in Cyprus to get details - all for one small order. Most impressive.

30th December

the town band playing outside St Lazarus churchIt was a relatively quiet Christmas, but very pleasant. Daniel played with the town band in Laraka a couple of days  beforehand, as usual.  For Christmas Day itself we went to friends in Limassol who don't really celebrate Christmas as such - they made lasagne and various salads, and we took a chicken dish for the meat-lovers. There was another family there too. 

During the afternoon the adults chatted then had a brief walk before it got dark, and the teenagers did some musical jamming, and then played a few games. In the evening we all played games together, and it was about 10.30pm before we got home, totally worn out - particularly Tim, who not only played for carol-singing in hotels on Christmas Eve (from 5.30-9.30pm) but went to the Anglican Church to play the organ for their midnight communion service.

It rained almost constantly for days prior to Christmas, and I found myself trying to dry laundry almost constantly indoors by the kerosene heater - then on Christmas morning the sun came out, and although it was chilly in the evening, it was really very pleasant during the day. Since then it's been really quite sunny, although rain is predicted for the new year. Our back garden looks remarkably green - I did get the lawnmower out about a week before Christmas, one one dry day, and cut all the greenery which was beginning to look straggly. It needs cutting again soon, but we do want to encourage what grass there is.

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