Life in Cyprus - November 2004

9th November:

dramatic clouds in the November sky in CyprusAs has happened for the past couple of years, the weather finally does seem to have broken this last weekend. Storms and heavy rain were forecast for the entire week, and although we've probably only had about half an hour of rain so far, it's distinctly cooler. Quite a relief really after such an extended summer. The skies are alternately blue with white clouds and grey, there's a distinct chill in the air particularly when we're in the house with the windows open, and it somehow 'feels' autumnal. 

Of course we now have to get used to switching on the electric water heater in the morning for showers, and later in the day for washing up if the sun doesn't come out. We get so accustomed to the excellent solar heating during the summer that it takes us a few weeks to adjust to not having constant hot water!

Richard is in the UK for a month, visiting various churches and having some important meetings; he's also finding time to catch up with relatives and friends. We're in touch by email, something that's more difficult when he travels in the Middle East - and I've managed to organise books etc from to be sent to the addresses he's staying at in the UK for various extended family Christmas presents. Online shopping makes life so much easier, and orders over 19 are currently postage-free within the UK, so it makes life a whole lot easier - and less expensive! - to send things there. I don't think I've ever been so far ahead with Christmas preparation!

Although it's hard to imagine that Christmas is only about six weeks away, I've remembered to make a Christmas cake (Delia Smith variety) and will feed it with brandy a couple of times. Richard LOVES Christmas cake so  I always do one. I've also made a couple of Christmas puddings and cooked them in the electric steamer. I only did them for about five hours, so they haven't gone as dark brown as they should; still, they look well-enough cooked for the first steaming, so I'll keep them in the fridge (last year one went mouldy when I left it at room temperature) and then do a few extra hours before we actually use them. Not that we have any idea yet what we'll be doing for Christmas Day.

I was planning on doing this Christmas cooking right at the beginning of the month, but there was no dried vegetarian suet in the supermarket until this week. No doubt more and more imported Christmas items will appear in the next few weeks. I was going to make some mincemeat too, but realised we still have some of last year's in the fridge, and it still smells fine.

11th November:

This morning I had a minor crisis here that felt like a major one at the time.... last night when I went to bed there was a bit of an odd smell in the bedroom but I thought it was just the septic tank outside the kitchen, which does sometimes pong a little. It's not yet cold enough to have the windows all shut at night, so one of the bedroom shutters has mosquito netting - and it's the one which overlooks the septic tank opening.

However my diagnosis was wrong. This morning I noticed a rather large number of flies buzzing in and out of the window when I opened it - more than I'd expect for this time of year. Suspicious, I peered under the bed from the other side and saw a lot of feathers plus a large grey object right underneath where my pillow is. I guessed it was a dead bird and psyched myself up to getting rid of it.... only to realise when I went to look at it from my side that it was actually an enormous mouse. Possibly (shudder) a rat. NOT what I wanted when Richard is away for the next few weeks! But to my huge relief, my wonderful son Daniel offered to get rid of it... and did so. 

One of the less pleasant sides of Cypriot life, I suppose.

16th November:

It's POURING with rain outside now. Absolutely pelting down. The cats are not impressed. Cleo came in unhappy and damp, and Sophia was sitting on the steps to the back garden complaining bitterly. Then I heard a very wet Jemima crying on the garage roof, wanting to get down but aware that there were huge puddles all over the driveway! Eventually she managed it via the adjoining wall with the neighbours although she still ended up running through the puddle to get in.

So far there haven't been any leaks in Tim's ceiling so that's encouraging. Maybe it really was just leaves as the builders told us, although I don't understand how leaves could possibly make the roof leak, unless they were somehow channelling the rain and stopping it falling off.

21st November:

Last night there was a huge thunderstorm and it's been pouring with rain almost all day - we've waited for it long enough, as it was still quite warm and sunny a week ago. The house is feeling distinctly chilly and we're all wearing warm jumpers. The kerosene heater was serviced this week, so if it gets any colder we'll be turning that on. Someone said we're getting the tail end of the recent UK cold spot where they had quite heavy snow for a couple of days.

Tim made us some mince pies that turned out very well - he was in a baking mood, and although he isn't too keen on mince pies himself, he enjoys making them. He says he'll make another batch just before Richard gets home (December 2nd) so it doesn't matter if we finish the first lot.

Our orange tree in Cyprus, doing very well in NovemberThe citrus trees in the back garden are covered with fruit, and I'm particularly pleased to see that our orange tree is doing well this year, after producing almost nothing this time last year. It probably helped that Richard pruned it fairly drastically in the spring, and I gave it quite a bit of compost; I also watered it more thoroughly than usual during the summer.

26th November: 

It's been really, really cold the past couple of days - a bitter wind outside, and rain alternating with wintry sunshine, but I checked the forecast and it's supposed to be sunnier and a bit warmer next week so hopefully it won't be quite this bad by the time Richard gets back! Unfortunately we've run out of kerosene, and the air conditioner doesn't seem to be working on heat, so we're wrapping up warmly and using our one electric halogen heater when necessary. The cats are going scatty inside as they're bored... Tessie keeps trying to 'play' with the others and of course they either get angry or scared and she gets most disgruntled.

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