Life out of Cyprus - September 2003

We spent almost all of September this year in the UK, since my brother got married in the middle of the month. In our church here in Larnaka there's a retired lady whose ministry is to house-sit for people going away - usually missionaries on furlough or home assigment. She particularly likes looking after animals, including cats. So we were delighted that she was available for the whole of September to look after our house and our four cats.

We flew with Czech Airlines via Prague this time, and although we had considered going out to see a bit of the city, as we had a six-hour stopover on the way out, we decided against it. For one thing it was extremely cold (3C, we were told) and we didn't have particularly warm clothes in our hand luggage. For another thing it was before 6am when we arrived, and we'd heard that most places wouldn't open until after 9am. Finally we were all extremely tired, having got up in the middle of the night to go to the airport in Larnaka!

So we spent our time either trying to sleep (we bought some inflatable pillows which were very useful), reading, or having snacks at the restaurant; when we had worked out the exchange rate, we discovered that it was extremely inexpensive, so we made the most of it! It wasn't a very exciting airport, but it was clean and (thankfully) almost totally smoke-free. Our flights were uneventful, and we arrived in London shortly after lunch.

We rented a Kangoo car for the month from Easycar, due to their excellent prices. At one point it looked as though our car wouldn't be available, but thankfully it arrived and turned out to be reliable, spacious, and reasonably comfortable - with plenty of leg-room for Daniel.

We drove to Richard's mother in Sussex for our first few days, and were mostly too tired to do anything much, although we visited the shops more than once to look for inexpensive clothes (from Bewise, mainly), vitamin supplements (from Holland and Barrett) and also second-hand books from the large number of local charity shops. We had also discovered that by transferring ten years' worth of Barclaycard 'profile points' to the new Nectar Card, we were able to spend up to 150 at Argos! We decided to choose a digital camera, and opted for one that was actually nearer 100, the Polaroid PDC 3035. Although it's had a bit of bad press, we're most impressed with the quality (at least that of outdoor pictures) and general features.

Tim is reunited with the cat RosieThe weather was very pleasant; everyone told us the UK was experiencing an Indian Summer, so it seemed as if we'd chosen a good time to be there. Tim was delighted to be reunited with a cat who he befriended last time we were there, belonging to one of the neighbours. Richard spoke at two services at his mother's church, and seemed to be both inspiring and popular with the congregation.

After about five days in Sussex we drove up to Birmingham to stay with my parents. Richard went to several meetings while in Birmingham, and also spent a lot of time buying or collecting equipment that he needed in Cyprus but was unable to buy there. I browsed yet more shops, and managed to find very inexpensive winter jackets for both the boys - something they had been rather lacking in the past two years.

location of wedding in ReadingThe wedding was on September 14th at Reading University, and went very well. The weather was just about perfect - sunny, blue skies, 26C tempratures - and all arrangements went smoothly. It was lovely to be there, and to catch up with so many of the extended family. We saw some cousins that we hadn't seen for years, and the boys met - for the first time - several of their second cousins.

After the wedding we returned to Birmingham for another ten days or so, and during that time were able to see several of our old friends - although sadly we didn't manage to get in touch with all of them. Richard spoke briefly at our church, St Stephen's Church Centre (although it will be changing its name within the next year) and at its 'mother' church, St Stephen's Selly Park.

Richard tried to see if we could increase our luggage allowance with Czech Airlines, since he had so much equipment to bring back, but unfortunately they wouldn't allow this. So we had to find a company that would ship it, at not too great a cost. We managed to find a company online, and as their prices were based on cubic metres, we realised that we would have space for quite a few books in addition to those we had bought! So we made a quick visit to our house in Bournville, and collected several boxes of books which had been packed away there, to add to the freight.

Then we returned to Sussex for the last few days, before flying back from Heathrow. Once again we went via Prague, but this time the stopover was only about three hours, so there was no time to consider going out into the city. Perhaps next time...!

While a month seems a long time, the last couple of weeks raced past. It's almost like being in another world when we have two 'homes', although for the boys the UK doesn't seem like home at all any more. We were sad to say goodbye to our relatives, but quite looked forward to getting back to Larnaka, seeing our cats, and settling back into the various activities that had started again after the summer, in our absence.

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