Life in Cyprus - July 2004

1st July:

The cicadas must have known it was July this morning. After a couple of days when they only sang at dawn and dusk, we now have a full choir chattering away all day. There are also an increased number of roaches managing to get into the house, although I'm methodically spraying Biokill indoors every month (every week in kitchen and bathroom) and a more potent Aroxil spray on the outside of the house and outer window-sills in the hope of deterring them. I haven't put poison in the drains for a couple of years now; I never did like using something quite so drastic, and as I can no longer find anywhere that sells it, I wonder if it's been outlawed by EU regulations.

We still seem to get two or three roaches appearing per week, mostly lying on their backs almost dead by the time I find them. I don't think that's any more than we had in the years when I used the drain poison. When we see a roach - dying or alive - we cover it with an empty large yogurt pot and wait for it to die. I don't know why they're so much more disgusting than any other insect, but even after all this time they seem absolutely vile. One good thing about the hotter weather, however, is that the mosquitoes die out!

Watermelons are huge and unbelievably cheap in the supermarkets at present (something like 6p per kg!) and other soft fruit is just starting to appear - early grapes, although they're rather bitter still, and some plums and peaches. These are all very seasonal in Cyprus so we make the most of them when they appear.

two cyprus frappesI'm enjoying large frappes after lunch, the Cyprus style iced coffee drinks which are so refreshing on a hot day.  Daniel has become quite expert at making them in the old-fashioned style using a large glass jar with a ild, shaking the coffee and ice cubes and water until they froth together.

14th July:

Summer is here with a vengeance now. It's fine when I'm sitting in the air conditioning, set to 28C which feels cool as it also removes the humidity, but distinctly hot in the rest of the house. I tend to get up early in the summer, about 6am, to do a bit of weeding and watering outside, but this morning even at that time the temp was 30C outside already! Usually it feels pleasantly breezy and about 25C that early, so I hope it's just a brief heatwave that won't last too long. I nearly melted walking to the bread shop just before lunch. I should think it was easily 40C in the sun.

red flowers in our front yardMost of my bedding plants have died out since the weather became hotter, but some of the antirrhinums look as if they will last another year, and to my surprise one flower bed in the front garden has petunias which are still going strong. I'm not quite sure why they have survived whereas the ones in another bed about a metre away have died away. Having got this far I wonder if they'll last another season entirely.

At the end of June the boys went camping with the youth group for a long weekend, up in the mountains; I gather that went very well. They came back quite tired, although Daniel said he'd had a reasonable amount of sleep - just as well, since he (ie Dan) was only home for eight hours, since the town band flew to to the Czech Republic that night! There was a European festival in the town of Cheb, and as they're the only wind band in Cyprus they were invited. I gather it went fairly well, although it was highly disorganised and in the end they only really played in one proper concert, plus some combined efforts at playing the EU anthem.

They didn't cater for vegetarians at all, and didn't even have much fruit or vegetables, so most days Dan ended up eating rice for his main courses and not much else! However he bought some ketchup to make it slightly more tasty, and he said there were lots of stodgy puddings which were OK though a bit school-dinner-ish.

30th July:

I'm not sure where the time has gone this month. I don't seem to have done anything very productive, really. I've read a lot of books, done some writing, read and responded to a load of email. I've also started making some juggling balls for Daniel, who is probably going to be teaching a small group to juggle in the Autumn. We couldn't find any supplies of juggling equipment here in Cyprus, and importing from the UK would have worked out quite expensive.

So I did some research and discovered this site which has some printable patterns to download, and this site which has detailed and extremely helpful instructions! So far I've just done some experimenting - mostly round balls, in various types of scrap material, but it was quite fun making both a tetrahedron and a cube. Daniel mainly wants round ones for his classes, at least six per student as they'll need a set to take home to practise, and another set to have in the class, since he's pretty sure they'll forget to bring them!

Our sewing machine, although highly unorthodox (thus a 'Protestant' sewing machine, as a friend suggested!) seems to work very well making these things, and my only slight concern was the stuffing. The instructions said that millett was the best thing to use, and I easily found millet in the pet-food section of our supermarket, at only 48c per kilogram. However in this country where insects seem to find anything remotely edible, I'm a bit worried that the juggling balls may become infested with ants. We've been spraying the material with biokill but don't want to drench them or the millet might sprout!

The poor garden looks dry and brown. I give all the trees a good soaking with the hose once a week, but we decided that trying to water the 'lawn' area would take too long, and would be far too extravagant on water. Besides which it would mean that we'd have to use the lawnmower more often, and it's no fun in the hot weather.

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