Living in Cyprus - April 1999

5th April

We were very pleased to learn that a new Do-it-yourself superstore was opening up, just outside Nicosia, so we went to the opening with a friend, and thought it very like Homebase in the UK. We hadn’t realised how much we missed big DIY stores! We found some slatted pine shelving/bookcase things for six pounds each so we bought four: we needed two anyway, and as it’s a 45-minute drive we thought it best to take advantage of the special offers while we could, rather than make other trips. We browsed around and found a few other ‘first day’ offers that were too good to miss - such as six good quality serving spoons for just over a pound (not a pound each - a pound for six).

One of the bookcases was for Tim, and Daniel then suggested a way of completely reorganising Tim’s bedroom, so we spent a couple of evenings moving furniture, de-cluttering etc, leaving it much easier to tidy and better organised. The kittens are still living in his room but now have the run of the house during the daytime. We've named Number Three 'Tigger', since he's tiger-striped and also bouncy, but the others are still known as One and Two. 

Cleo herds the three kittens down the stepsCleo decided to introduce the kittens to the outside world, and herded them carefully down the steps, around the patio, and back inside again. We are continually amazed at what a wonderful cat-mother she is turning out to be!

We managed to find some quite nice curtain material at the thrift store, so I borrowed a sewing machine and have run up curtains for both boys, making their rooms look very much brighter. We’re hoping to find some material for the dining room as well, as that could do with something other than the white ones currently hanging there. I made them just below sill length rather than floor length and we think that also improves the look of the rooms, as the long curtains looked so tall and thin.

It’s turned distinctly cooler in the past 10 days, with rain off and on most days. This of course is very good for the garden, and everywhere looks much greener than it did, but the grass and weeds are again getting very long. They’re not dry enough to cut yet, so when it does get drier it will be a major task once more. Using a strimmer on our enormous ‘patch’ is time-consuming and very tiring, but it’s so uneven that we couldn’t use anything else anyway. More grass is springing up, so that makes more to cut!

It’s a bit odd here with two Easters to celebrate - officially it’s next Sunday, when the Orthodox church has Easter, and when Good Friday and Easter Monday will be bank holidays. However the English-speaking Churches also celebrated ‘Western’ Easter yesterday. It means we get to sing Easter songs at two services. We invited various friends to lunch on 'our' Easter and had a pleasant time.

Next Sunday some friends from the Church Centre (where we attend in Birmingham) are coming out to stay for a week. They haven’t been to Cyprus before but are doing a bit more travelling now their children are grown up and have left home. Then my parents are coming on April 27th for two weeks.

22nd April

sandcastles at the beachOur friends have just left, after a week that was mostly enjoyable, including walks along the beach and the traditional building of sandcastles. The sun shone and they enjoyed seeing Cyprus for the first time. 

Alas, the week was overshadowed with one very sad event. Our Tigger kitten suddenly got ill on Thursday evening, and was sick all night developing diarrhoea Friday morning. He refused to eat or drink so we fed him water from a syringe and took him to the vet as soon as they opened on Friday afternoon. He said that sometimes this happens to kittens - it might have been something he ate (Tigger was always sniffing at new things) or it might be an infection, or might be something congenital. He said his body temperature was very low so se wasn’t fighting whatever it was, gave an antibiotic injection just in case, and prescribed some oral rehydration fluids as well as telling us to keep him warm.

I nursed Tigger all weekend, giving the fluids by syringe and keeping him either on a hot water bottle or on my lap, wrapped in some old warm pyjamas of Tim’s. But although he seemed to be slightly better Sunday morning, se then went downhill very fast, getting more and more limp and obviously in some pain, and then died in the middle of the afternoon. 

We were all very upset, but I think we did all we could. If he’d continued, we’d probably have had to ask the vet to put him to sleep on Monday, and that would have been even worse. Tim insisted on burying him in an attractive box which he was keeping silkworms in (we moved them to a supermarket type box) and we planted some geranium cuttings over his grave.

I got almost nothing else done all weekend. On Saturday night all Richard's colleagues went out for a meal to celebrate someone’s birthday but I didn’t go because I was worried Tigger might not survive two or three hours with nobody about. Cleo kept him warm Friday night and licked him a lot Saturday morning, but by mid-afternoon she had started ignoring him completely so perhaps she knew that Tigger was ready to die, and we were simply keeping him alive artificially. I suppose we’ll never know what caused the illness.

The other two kittens are doing very well, scampering about and play-fighting and starting to enjoy human company. We’ve called the blacker, fluffier one Jemima because she waddles sometimes (like Jemima Puddleduck) and the tortoiseshell one is Sophie because she seems to be the cleverest, and ‘sophos’ means ‘clever’ in Greek. 

We had them drinking Lactol at the weekend and eating plenty of solid food in preparation for Cleo having her operation to be spayed on Monday - we don't want to delay it again! They were fine when she was gone, though I think they missed her as they ran around crying in the evening and kept us awake half the night running around continually over and under the bed chasing each other!

Cleo apparently caused total chaos in the vet’s by tearing apart everything inside her cage before she was sedated for her operation. The veterinary nurse is a friendly English girl; she apparently moved Cleo FIVE times, then tried letting her out for a bit, out of sympathy, and she raced around like crazy knocking things over.

Cleo was supposed to be in for three nights but on Wednesday morning I had a phone call from the nurse saying that she’d apparently recovered completely from her operation and was ‘not impressed’ at being in her cage. So Richard went to collect her. We’d been told that she was likely to be very sleepy for several days, and heard from other friends that their cats took weeks to recover from being spayed, as well as rejecting their kittens (if they had any). 

Well... Cleo looked around for her kittens as soon as she got home and licked them all, then spent all afternoon feeding them and purring. Other than having her scar and shaved patch, we wouldn’t know she’d had anything done, although she’s not quite as wild as normal. Richard thinks that perhaps she was frantic to get back to her kittens all the time she was at the vet’s.

I don't know how people can think kittens are ready to go to new homes at six weeks old: ours are now eight weeks old, and while they're able to eat and drink without Cleo, and are more-or-less housetrained, they still have a very strong emotional tie to her. Cat mothers must be devastated to have their kittens taken away so young. I don't know when we'll find homes for our kittens, if at all.. somehow losing Tigger made us all the more attached to the others. And the two or three people who were possibly considering having a kitten don't seem very eager any more. I hope we'll keep them ourselves.

We spent a couple of afternoons working on the garden before our friends came, cutting the grass and pulling up yet more of the weeds and so on. However it rained heavily one day when they were here, and of course we didn’t do anything in the garden last weekend, so it’s now looking like a jungle again. Unfortunately it’s started getting hotter so I can’t spend very long outside, but I’m hoping to get at least the grass cut down slightly. It’s possible that we’ve had the last rain of the year now, although there’s occasionally some in May.

Tim has decided to give up his Cubs as he was feeling rather too old for it - in the UK he would have moved up to Scouts at ten and a half, but here they tend to move everyone in the Summer, and only then if they want to! He was also finding it a bit too disorganised and chaotic, and his fully bilingual friend had left. He really enjoyed being in Cubs at first because he liked being with other children, but now he does so many other things he was beginning to feel that he never had a rest!

On Sundays they have Sunday School and then usually play for at least half an hour with the other children in the church grounds, and we have an inter-church ‘potluck’ on the last Sunday of each month, usually followed by all the older boys (ie Tim’s age upwards) spending a couple of hours together either here or at another friend’s house. 

On Monday afternoons their Canadian friends come here for about an hour and a half while their mother is at her Greek class, and the four of them are building a wonderful den in the back garden as well as doing various other things together. On Monday evenings Tim goes to the Greek choir. On Tuesday lunchtimes Tim goes to sing in the local American school choir, and on Wednesday afternoons the boys have their piano lessons here, followed by an hour and a half’s basketball session in the church grounds with some other church children, taught by a refugee from the Middle East who’s a basketball coach.

On Thursdays Daniel has his clarinet lesson in the afternoon and Tim gets something of a break from all his activity, then on Fridays Daniel has church band practice at lunchtime and youth group in the evening, while Tim has his guitar lesson in the afternoon! On Saturday mornings they go to their art class... which is why Cubs on Saturday afternoons was just too much. We’re still trying to get details of a recorder consort which takes places in Limassol, which both boys would like to join, and we keep intending to get passes for the swimming pool which is just about half a mile from here, but somehow time rushes by filled with activity.

We’re hardly having any lemons this year, although our orange crop was excellent in December and January. Perhaps it was too dry last year when the lemon blossom was out. We’re having a few, but not enough for the lemonade we drank all Spring last year. However our loquats are just ready now and very tasty!

Cyprus diary March 1999 | Cyprus diary May 1999