Life in Cyprus - March 2003

5th March:

Yesterday the sun was shining when I got up, for the first time in ages. The boys spent some time outside in the afternoon. Tim did about ten minutes of tennis serving practice; Daniel was reading in a tree, after doing some weeding. Today it rained most of the day. We lit the kerosene heater again at 3pm, it was so cold. Just as we thought Spring might be coming at last. 

All the rain is bringing out the snails each morning, so I'm going out armed with gardening gloves and a large plastic bag, picking them off trees, and then putting them in the dustbin. Nothing else seems to make any difference. They ignore beer bait, crawl over crushed egg shells, and even when we tried pellets they only killed a few. There are hundreds of tiny snails (about half a centimetre long) on the trees as well as the larger ones, so I'm trying to get rid of them too. Currently I'm finding about 60-100 largish ones each day!

9th March:

Yesterday morning we left about 11am for Limassol. We went first to 'Micromania' the roller-blade/bike specialists, and Dan bought some bearings for his roller blades, type 5 (reasonably fast). Also some wrist pads. Afterwards we went to find Marilyn's second-hand bookshop. we found a few books for the boys, and Richard found about twelve that he wanted. Then we drove to the sea-front and ate sandwiches sitting on the rocks. The sun was out and it felt a lot warmer than Larnaka. It was the first time I'd felt really warm for ages, it seemed. Around 2pm we set off for the mountains, where the boys were going to a home educators 'critical thinking' meeting for teenagers, and Richard and I were visiting some friends. It was a beautiful place.

10th March:

The sun was shining and it felt quite pleasant, though it clouded over by about 10am. I collected another 60 or so snails from the back garden. Nothing like as many as there were last week, and I didn't collect yesterday or Saturday so I think that's encouraging. Then again it hasn't rained properly since Friday. I was a little concerned to see water on the patio shortly after Tim had his shower… the bottom step to the basement is now quite dried out, thankfully, and there are no more 'sewage' smells, but I wonder if the drain from the shower is now leaking.

13th March:

Our garden looking very green, and surprisingly tidy in MarchI'm cold. It's about 18C in the shade outside, really quite nice in the sun, but of course the house doesn't really warm up. The two-week forecast doesn't show anything above 18C coming up - rain on Sunday/Monday, and night-time temps still no more than about 8C. Amazing. I should be thankful, really, that it's not hot. I hope it doesn't go straight from chilly to summer when it finally does warm up. At present it means everywhere is so green, it's great from that point of view.

17th March:

We left early on Saturday for a home educators' meeting in Kritou Terra. We had a clear run as far as Paphos and were in Kritou Terra by 10.50, just about 2 hours after leaving. The sun was shining although it was a little chilly. We sat out in the sun to eat lunch after everyone had arrived, some of us wearing winter jackets and sun-hats. Only in Cyprus..!

A hike in Kritou Terra in MarchWe went on a gorgeous hour-long walk late afternoon once the sun had gone in, then finally left as it was getting dark. It was sad to say goodbye to the family who have been living there, who are shortly returning to the UK, but it was a lovely day out.

Today it rained all day, and was extremely windy. Most unusual for mid-March. Everyone commented on the thunder early this morning, and the storms all day long. The puddles looked brown - it's been something of a sandstorm, although I hope there's been enough regular rain as well that the sand will be washed off the plants.

24th March:

It was cold yet again when I got up. 11C outside, 13C inside. Brrrrrr. I can't believe it's still this cold in the last week of March. There was a dead mouse in the living room. I'm not sure which cat brought that in - probably not Sophia, or she would have eaten it. We put the air conditioning on to heat in the morning, and lit the kerosene heater in the afternoon as it stayed cold - drizzling with rain most of the day. After the promise of a few weeks ago we're all back to wearing three layers in the house. Tim's tennis lesson was cancelled due to the cold and wet. And meanwhile, we're told, the UK is having a heatwave.

25th March:

Today's a public holiday, for a Greek National Day. So Dan was marching with the municipal band. He tried on his new band trousers - which he was given last night - at 9.30 and found they were far too long so I turned them up… I can't imagine who could be six inches taller than Dan, but perhaps these were 'extra large' trousers or something! He still doesn't have the white belt for the uniform, nor the white feather to go in the cap. Richard and I went to watch about 11am. 

There was lots of hanging around, near the American Academy School, but eventually it started with the band marching down as far as the crossing with Hermes Street, then playing under a little shelter. It didn't rain, thankfully, though it was very cold, and I felt sorry for the hundreds of teenagers from schools who were hanging around in their shirtsleeves, the girls in skirts - no jumpers or blazers or anything!

26th March:

We had a pleasant evening out with Richard's ex-colleagues last night, at a cosy restaurant in Dhali village, about half way to Nicosia, to celebrate a 65th birthday. It was a mese meal but they knew Dan was a vegetarian, and to start with there were loads of veggie options, which everyone seemed to enjoy. The meat was all westernised, too, no snails or octopus!

I read on a mailing list list that old coffee grounds around trees is supposed to deter slugs and snails. So I tried putting today's grounds round one tree. That's easy and biologically friendly, and we have coffee every day so it's an easy enough experiment. I saw some snails today and just knocked them off the trees rather than getting rid of them. There haven't been so many lately.

27th March:

Today I cut down a load of weeds around the two smallest pomegranate trees - not that we really need any more pomegranates!! But it does look better. If I can do an hour or so gardening each day it should make a huge difference. Just using secateurs to cut down weeds helps even though a scythe of some sort would probably be better. It's a lot warmer today. The boys went early to band practice so they could play some tennis on the church basketball court.

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