Living in Cyprus - January 1999

12th January

Richard took a week off after Christmas, and it rained for most of it. He spent some time with the boys doing computer things, and some art with Daniel, and also sleeping! We went to Nicosia one afternoon and Daniel spent all his Christmas money on a compressor for the airbrush and another nozzle so he could produce different effects. Then he spent all of New Year’s Eve learning how to do some of the various techniques.

On New Year’s Day the sun came out so we went for a good walk along Kiti beach: that’s the unspoilt one where there’s a lighthouse. It’s too cold to sit for long on the beach, and all the umbrellas and beds have gone away for the winter.

Since then Richard’s been extremely busy planning for this year’s major project. Yesterday four people arrived from Jordan: a pastor and his wife and two young men. They’re going to play the main characters in the videos. Also two of Richard’s old ex-BBC friends arrived, who are now working as freelancers in the UK. 

Just arranging all the flights, accommodation etc was fairly complicated and the filming schedule around Cyprus has been a major headache! They’ve had to find places that look reasonably Middle Eastern, but with all the recent rain, everywhere suddenly looks green and lush. Last night they and all Richard's colleagues had a potluck style meal here so everyone could meet; it didn’t go on very late as some of the folk who had flown in were extremely tired after an early morning start.

Today it’s sunny, which is good as they’re out filming at various locations in Larnaka and Limassol. They’re going to be working right through the weekend so they get as much daylight as possible, since the two people from the UK are only here till the middle of next week. On Saturday night they’re going to film an Arabic style meal at our house; one of the visitors is organising that. I’m not sure quite what they’ll have to do to our dining room to make it look suitable, but at least it’s big enough with high ceilings to take lights etc, and they can do the filming from the living room area. As it will all be in Arabic I won’t have much idea what’s going on but all the visitors from Jordan speak extremely good English too.

Daniel reading by the kerosene heaterThe boys and I are back into our normal routine again, on the whole, doing ‘homeschool’ things in the mornings and various other activities in the afternoons. Daniel’s clarinet teacher says he’s at Grade 4 standard now, although he’s not going to take an exam this time. The Larnaka Band are planning a big trip to the USA in the Summer so Daniel won’t be joining them before then; however with the church band each week he thinks he has enough playing to do at the moment.  He likes nothing better than to curl up with a book in front of the kerosene heater, and snuggle with Cleo. 

Each day Daniel and I stand back to back to see if he’s reached the same height as me; he’s grown enormously in the past few months and there’s very little difference now. If he wears trainers and I’m just in socks he’s taller, but when we’re both in socks I’m still about half a centimetre taller. It won’t be long before he overtakes me, however. His feet are now size 9, bigger than Richard’s.

our garden looking bare but fairly tidyIn odd moments I do try and get out to work in the garden, but it's an ongoing and mostly unrewarding task. At least it looks reasonably tidy when it's been cut, and I do like having fresh lemons and oranges to pick, but it's quite exhausting just trying to stay on top of it.

28th January

It’s been an odd couple of weeks. The filming went very well on the whole, despite a few minor hiccups: for instance, one session where the white pickup truck got stuck in some mud for some hours, and one morning when one of the essential cast members got lost in Larnaka while everyone else was waiting for him somewhere else! There’s a little more filming that needs doing, but Richard will be able to do it in Jordan, where he’s flying in a couple of weeks to start the editing. He really needs an Arabic speaker, obviously, for editing the programmes and it’s easier for him to go there than for them to come here again.

Turning our dining room into an Arabic one was interesting! They borrowed some bright curtains which they pinned up to our curtains to make a sort of bay window effect. They borrowed some Persian table linen from one colleague, some plants from various places, several ornaments from a friend at Church who used to live in the Middle East, and other things from other places! It was quite amazing when it was complete, and even the Jordanians said it was realistic. 

The wife of the pastor from Jordan cooked a superb meal, with rice, cauliflower and chicken which ended up all in one pot with the rice at the top. It was taken to the table in the pot then turned upside down on a platter so the rice was at the bottom and the chicken at the top. She actually cooked three large pots of this so we all got to eat it after they’d finished the filming, and it was extremely tasty.

On the Sunday the crew and cast all went to Paphos at the other side of the island to film there, and we took down all the ornaments, curtains etc so they could be returned to their owners. Then when Richard got back in the evening he said they were filming here again on Monday night - not a meal but a conversation in the living room, so we needed to put everything back again as background, so it looked like the same house!! They did this because they’d got a whole day behind due to rain, and filming one sequence indoors rather than out meant that they could do it after dark.

Anyway, it was a disruptive week for us all, though enjoyable, and the boys didn’t get much sleep as the filming went on till nearly midnight both times. In our house all noises echo around, and of course they needed lights on too. The boys slept late the following mornings and didn’t do much ‘schoolwork’. Joining in filming like that is pretty educational anyway - the cameraman got Tim to help him with his wiring, and Daniel went with them on the Sunday to watch and see what happened.

Then just as we thought we were back to normal, Tim caught a nasty flu-type virus, starting with being extremely tired and aching all over. Last Saturday he was sick all afternoon and felt really rotten with a high temperature - he was much the same all day Sunday. We were getting a bit worried, but on Monday he could drink juice and water; however by then he was congested and snuffling and feeling almost worse! He’s slept off and on all week and got through two entire large boxes of tissues. He’s eating now and mostly back to normal with just a bad cold, but feels very weak and rather miserable, especially when it keeps him awake at nights.

We’ve all been feeling a bit tired so we’re hoping that the rest of us aren’t going to go down with this bug. I felt achey and exhausted last Friday but that was all, and now Richard is extremely tired and a bit snuffly so he’s been taking mega-doses of Vitamin C in the hope of warding it off. He thinks he may be tired because he’s been doing so much recently. But several people in the church have had the same kind of thing, though mostly not as bad as Tim.

Cleo the cat is still a strange mixture of wild and tame, sometimes snuggling on laps and purring loudly, trying to chew our jumpers; other times she scampers like a lunatic around the house, exploring any cupboard that happens to be open and pulling things down from shelves. When we’re outside doing gardening she comes and joins in, racing up and down trees and trying to help with weeding. 

We realise that she’s really a wild Cyprus cat at heart and has been tamed only by being brought up in a family, so in a way it’s not really surprising. She spends most of her days outside now, but we keep her in after dark although she sometimes tries to dash out if Richard comes in late. We're intending to get her spayed soon - she must be about six or seven months old - but with the disruption of the filming, and then all feeling so tired, it's not something we've even thought about since Christmas.

Now that it’s cold we keep all the doors and windows shut during the daytime, so when Cleo wants to come in she jumps up on one of the windowsills and bats her paw on the glass until we hear her and let her in! She seems to have just learned that light patches of sunlight on the ground are warm, because every so often she flops down under our feet. Daniel realised that she apparently does this deliberately anywhere on the floor that’s lighter than the rest - so sometimes it really is in a patch of sunshine, but sometimes it’s just at the edge of the shadow of a table. When that happens she waves her tail around as if she can’t understand why it’s not warm for her!

Cyprus diary December 1998 -  Cyprus diary February 1999