Life in Cyprus - May 2003

1st May:

A lovely sunny day. I went out to do some stone-moving and weeding for about an hour - it felt quite warm, more so than recently, despite being early. About 9am drums started outside, with a sudden HUGE roll very close that made Tessie - usually our least nervous cat - come belting into the house with her ears back, running faster than I'd ever seen her run before! Then all morning she was jumpy, looking up at the least noise. It was the Mayday parade… I saw children in red coats with large red flags marching along the main road. It didn't last long.

I thought about making mespila jam but we didn't have enough sugar, so I picked some anyway and cooked them in water to freeze for future desserts. I need to use them now, because soon they'll be ripe and then very nice raw, but there'll be too many all at once! I also made some moer lemon curd, remembering this time to do it in two batches. That's about the end of our lemons - a very feeble crop this year, really. Next year's looks as though it might be better, so long as I keep watering. I hope that getting rid of most of the snails might improve it too, as well as the compost of course.

It was hot later - up to 28C apparently - the first hot day this year. Tim started cutting the grass about 5pm when it was a little cooler, and did the bit in the sun, then I did some more in the evening, though not the side bits. Dan did about an hour's juggling practice outside.

After mowing I saw hundreds of huge red ants building nests around the biggest lemon tree. Not sure what to do about them… I hope they won't do any harm. A lot of them had wings, but I didn't get stung. I really don't like the idea of pouring boiling water in the nests, which seems abuot the only organic-friendly method of getting rid of them.

2nd May

It's hotter again today, up to 30C in the shade, and apparently hotter still in Mazatos, not far away. I suppose it IS May, so it's only to be expected! I'm getting horribly bitten, though I'm not sure by what. I have a couple of bites on my shoulder despite having eaten garlic last night, and some today. Now I have a bite on my foot, and one on my finger. I've seen a few tiny mozzies around; perhaps it's them.

In the evening we went to see the premiere of 'MacBeth - the Comedy' which the Antidote people had written. It was brilliant! The theatre was packed.

7th May

I'm actually having a couple of days at home on my own, for the first time in many years. Richard is at a conference in Limassol and the boys are staying at the same place, working hard on recorder pieces for a concert they're doing (professionally!) in a couple of weeks. Tim is playing guitar accompaniment. 

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, something large flew right by my head and landed on the door. A cockroach. The first of the year. I'd been wondering when they would start coming in, and was afraid that it might happen while the family is away.  I didn't scream, just stood there frozen for a while, wondering what it would do. It crawled up the door. I managed to get out ot the room and pulled the door almost shut, remember there was an electric mosquito-killer I'd just switched on, hoping it might at least stun the roach. 

I thought about sleeping in the atrium, but realised it might well get out. So I went and slept on Tim's bed. I had to keep reminding myself that roaches 'fly to die'. Eventually I got to sleep about midnight, slept deeply, but then woke before 6am yet again. Found my bedroom door was wide open - Sophia had gone inside - and no sign of the roach on the door. Then I found a dead one near the cat litter. I hope it was the same one...

8th May

It seems so hard to get much done in this heat. I did more stone-moving and weeding, then moved some of the cut couch-grass. I was thinking of moving some of the pink 'weed' flowers to where there's compost under the couch-grass pile at the far end of the garden, but nothing much seems to grow there, and of course now it's so hot and sunny I doubt if there'd be much chance of a transplant working. 

I dug it in a bit, and disturbed a couple of snakes...not very big, slender grey with blackish markings. I came in and checked pictures online. Seems most likely to be what they call cat-snakes, which are poisonous but not dangerously so. They don't look that different from adders (which of course are extremely venomous) in the photos, but the adders are described as being much fatter, with a distinct head and tail, whereas these ones looked more homogenous.

Mid-morning I happened to notice there were a couple of little black bugs in the herb/spice/cereal shelf in one of the kitchen cupboards, so I cleaned that out and sprayed biokill. I discovered that one unopened pack of weetabix had holes chewed in it, so threw that away. Good thing I use the plastic cereal dispensers, in general. Then I thought I'd check the top shelf where I mostly keep flour. All the ones in large yoghurt pots were fine, but one rather old bag of spelt flour in a large plastic container was crawling with black bugs. Yuck. Still, it gave me the motivation to clean out the cupboards completely!

The boys got back about 3.30, having caught a service (shared taxi). Apparently they all went out to lunch so they couldn't get the 1.30 bus. They had a good time, although they were tired.

13th May

Had the second cockroach of the year this evening. I saw it as I came out of the kitchen during the evening, running out from a bookcase. Richard managed to kill it, thankfully. I guess we're at that season when we can expect at least one a week. I'm not sure how it got in - although the back door and one of the kitchen windows were open after dark, so it could have been from there.

Also we had yet more ants in the kitchen, this time running along behind the coffee machine and toaster. I sprayed them, then cleaned that work-surface completely sprayed more biokill sprayed. Then I put out roach traps in the kitchen and bathroom, , in dark place where they might hide <shudder>. We haven't had any of the roach poison to put in drains for over a year now, so I hope we're not going to be overrun with the things. I hate using poison in the septic tanks, which go in part to water some of our trees - and the shop moved so I couldn't find it anyway.

Daniel did his clarinet grade 5 exam this morning and said it didn't go very well. Today was hot but not as bad as yesterday when it was about 35 in the shade during the afternoon, and very humid. We had the a/c on yesterday and some of today, although thankfully it was cooler in the evening. It cooled down before it got dark, so I did have the windows open until about 7pm - I wish we could keep them open longer but the insect problem gets very bad after dark. The mozzie nettings over the shutters do help with keeping insects out, but don't let in as much cold air as the wide-open ones, obviously.

This morning I did some weeding in the front garden, but by 9am it was too hot to be outside. Richard put the sprinkler on the front half of the 'lawn' last night for about an hour, and it did look less brown today. I hope he can do that about once a week and we'll see if it makes a difference. I'm thinking about trying to cut the grass on Saturday mornings, since that's the coolest time of day - maybe 8am wouldn't be too unsociable. It should be mostly shady.

16th May

Not so hot today, though still feeling like summer. In the afternoon it clouded over and looked as if it would rain - but there were only a few drops, unfortunately. It' was cooler again this evening, though I had to shut the shutters etc to keep bugs out. I'm a bit itchy with bites around my ankles - that's what comes of wearing shorts, I suppose.

17th May

The boys are in Limassol again, practiding for the recorder consort, then playing in it tomorrow night. So Richard and I have had a weekend to ourselves. We cut the 'grass', then he put the sprinkler on after we'd fniished moved it all evening so I hope it'll look a little greener. It was beginning to look rather brown.

Unfortunately, we've discovered smelly water on the bottom step down to the basement again. The bit of tank from the sink in the bathroom had stopped leaking, so I wonder if it found its way to the old bit of tank that was supposed to have been closed off. Sigh. We may talk to the local plumber and see if he has any ideas.

18th May

- We decided to go to the Sunday market for a look around after church - for the first time in ages! It was rather hot and there seemed to be mostly clothes stalls.. but just as we were leaving we saw a rattan stall with laundry baskets, so bought one at 13 to replace the old ali-baba one which was falling to pieces more and more each day. We then went out to lunch at the Monte Carlo restaurant - very nice place, not too pricey - but unfortunately very little choice for me while not eating meat or sea-food. I had the one vegetarian option - which was actually very nice, a bit of pasta with loads of vegetables, although I was nearly ill when a waiter carried past a whole dressed lobster for another table. It looked like a giant upside-down cockroach :-( We were amused to see that the restaurant seemed to be segregated - Cypriots by the windows looking over the sea, mostly eating mese of some sort and drinking a lot of wine; while the tourists were nearer the door, overlooking the road!

We went out for a short walk along the seafront about 9pm. It was rather too crowded for me, though, so we didn't stay long. The flower festival was earlier but we didn't go to that as we'd seen it a couple of times before.

19th May

- Today I decided to lift the freesias, as the foliage had mostly died. I did that, then trimmed the dead bits off all the porch plants. Also I did a little weeding and sweeping in the front, and some weeding at the side, outside the study window. The boys got back about 1pm, really tired. I think they had a good time, although the concert was a bit disappointing - with almost no audience feedback, as they were just eating. By the end apparently the smoke was almost making them choke :-(

21st May

About 7am I started the sprinkler in the back garden, and took the wheelbarrow to the front so I could do some serious weeding! Got all the dead lily leaves onto the compost heap, and cut down lots of other stuff that was getting straggly - till about 9am. I only got about half the relevant bit of grass watered in that time, since the sun came out over the rest, so I watered the trees with the spray attachment. I'm a little concerned that once again there are hardly any tiny oranges on the orange tree… very odd, since there was no hailstorm this year, and loads of blossom a month or two back. Maybe we should have watered even more?

bougainvillea in our front garden, May 2003The bougainvillea is stunning at the moment - deep pink flowers everywhere. The bedding plants are still surviving too; it'll be interesting to know how long they go on, so long as I keep remembering to water them. The patio ones look less healthy than the ones in the beds, oddly enough. The climbing plant has started up our wall outside the study, and no doubt will soon cover it. I wish it would grow on the back wall! 

The pomegranetes look terrific with their scarlet flowers. Having had such a snail-rremoving policy, and also having given them compost, cleared them of weeds, and watered them more regularly, there are far more flowers than usual, which may mean even MORE pomegranates... I hope we can give some away as it seems a pity to waste so many - although they really are attractive plants.

25th May

Friends from the UK arrived in the night, out for 'half-term' week. They didn't get up to come to church with us, but there was a joint communion later on, followed by potluck lunch, so they came to that - the last one until September as it will be too hot in the summer months. Thankfully the heatwave earlier in the month seems to have died away, and it's now really quite pleasant, probably 28C during the daytime, down to 18 or 19 overnight. The boys had a music practice in the afternoon so Richard took our friends to McKenzy beach - and to our surprise it clouded over, and there were even a few spots of rain!

29th May

sailing in the Mediterranean with our friendsWe're just back from a sailing trip which our friends treated us to, Two nights on a yacht, and daytime sailing - we left from Limassol and got as far as Pisouri. I'd not been sailing before, so it was a new experience... I didn't feel seasick at all, thankfully, though I didn't particularly enjoy it either. 

However, Richard had a wonderful time and I think the boys did too. One of the yachting staff had to come with us as 'skipper' since our friends didn't have quite the required amount of experience, but this wasn't too much of a problem, other than his smoking. There was some quite rough water at one point, and although we'd hoped to get as far as Paphos we decided it was better to have a more leisurely sail than to push on rapidly and then struggle to get back in time for the last 'service' home.

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