Living in Cyprus - August 1999

4th August:

It's been really not been too bad here, heat-wise: no more than 32-33C during the daytime and dropping to 25C or so overnight. It's not even too humid, at least compared to July. With the air conditioning on for the main part of the day in the living/dining room, the computers are fine and we can get cool easily, but even the kitchen isn't too unpleasantly hot at the moment. 

Jemima trying to stay cool on some CDsThe cats sprawl on the (tile) floors, but struggle to stay cool enough. They are quite creative about finding new places to lie, to try and get good air flow, however. This picture shows Jemima lying across some CDs in a rattan bookcase.

There hasn't been any rain since mid-April, and there's not likely to be any more until the end of September, so I'm watering the trees and the bougainvillea in the garden about once a week when the mains is on. It's now on three days per week rather than two, which is a big improvement.

eating yogurt ice creamsOne of the good things we have discovered in Cyprus is yogurt ice cream! It's made while we watch, with a selection of frozen fruit, whizzed in a machine with frozen yogurt. Extremely delicious, although, alas, a little more than we want to pay for regular consumption. Wonderful for an occasional treat, though!

30th August:

Our enormous garden is slightly less of a jungle than it was! I’ve been doing half hour of weeding in the back garden, early each morning before the rest of the family wake up, for about three weeks now. There was such a mess of weeds that I knew it had to be tackled in manageable small amounts. It makes a surprising difference; now about three quarters of the garden is relatively weed-free. The weeds are shallow-rooted and mostly come up very easily, but there are still thousands more.

I was glad I got going when I did, because we had our first day of rain last Wednesday, much to everyone’s surprise! It was about a month earlier than usual. At first there was just about ten minutes of light drizzle, which did nothing other than dampen the dust on the roof and make everywhere smell rather musty, but then later in the afternoon there was a good hour of steady rain, and a bit more later on. It’s been sunny and cloud-free since then, but a couple of degrees cooler and considerably less humid.

The boys decided they wanted to start back with ‘home school work’ last week as they were getting a bit bored - everything shuts for August, so there aren’t any holiday clubs or sports coaching or arts centre courses like there are in the UK over the summer. So we did a week, then a colleague asked if they’d like to do some ‘work experience’ in her office sorting some photos and slides, and entering them into a database. They went in on Friday to see if they could help, and apparently had a great time. So they’re going in most mornings this week too to see if they can get it finished.

Daniel keeps on growing, so he’s now distinctly taller than I am, and starting to catch up with Richard. His feet are size 12 now! Shops here don’t measure feet, so we had to try ourselves to find some sandals to fit him, since the ones he had a couple of months ago had become too small. We found some that fit in continental size 46, and on returning home discovered that is size 12 in English sizes. We hope they don’t get any bigger as 46 seems to be the largest available in Cyprus. I imagine this is because people are generally smaller. Someone else said that it’s not possible to get ladies’ shoes here over about English size 6.

The boys are still doing a lot of music: Daniel took his clarinet to Troodos and played most days there, although when we returned to Larnaka he said it was too hot to play in church. Apparently it’s difficult to get the breathing right when it’s hot and humid. However he played his recorders during the services for a few weeks, then yesterday went back to clarinet. Tim has been playing his guitar and teaching himself lots of hymns and choruses. His sense of timing is still a bit shaky but he seems to be learning new chords and fingerings quickly. They’re looking forward to music lessons starting again in a few weeks.

It looks as if we’ll be staying here long-term now; certainly for another couple of years before we review the situation again. Richard is really enjoying the work, he’s finding it’s creative and fulfilling, and filling a big need as well for Arabic video in the Middle Eastern church. I’m enjoying being here too, most of the time, now I’ve got used to it! Richard is in Egypt this week, at various meetings/discussions and also doing one day’s filming to go in the last editing of the video teaching course they started in January. Although he enjoys travelling and meeting people, he was tired before he left - he had been trying to finish everything he would otherwise have done here! - and has a very hectic schedule.

We’re continuing with the home education for the time being, although Tim is eager to go to secondary school in September 2000, so we’ll have a look round in the Spring. There isn’t the formal round of school viewing as happens in the UK and he’ll have to take some kind of entrance exam, but I don’t think it’s too difficult. There are two private English-speaking secondary schools local to us, and also the Army school which is further away (and a lot more expensive). There are also some quite good English-speaking schools in Nicosia, which is about an hour’s drive from here. There are buses, and some children from Larnaka go to school in Nicosia, though it seems a lot of travelling, particularly combined with the amount of homework they seem to get.

Daniel is very much enjoying the freedom of learning at home in his own way, freed from the distraction of other people and the limitations of the bell ringing! He’s taught himself a lot of computer programming and graphics as well as doing regular curriculum work. We find that in about three hours we can cover at least as much as he would have done in school. We’re going to investigate correspondence GCSE courses during this year; apparently in the UK lots of home educated children take GCSEs and A-levels so we’ll have to see if it’s possible from here.

We've been going swimming in the sea around once a week, since we came back from Troodos: not very energetically, however. It's too hot to go in the early afternoon, and the beach is pretty crowded most of the week, but on Sundays there's usually a bit of a lull - that tends to be the day when the current week's tourists depart, and the new ones arrive. So we've been driving to McKenzy beach on Sunday afternoons about 5pm, and having a leisurely swim for about an hour.

We’re hoping to be in Birmingham for Christmas and the Millenium, probably in our house as the people living there return to Australia in January. They said they’ll be sending their sea freight back at the end of November, so they’ll go and stay elsewhere after that - meaning we can be there for December and January. It will be good to sort through our things and see what else we want to bring back.

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