Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Long trousers, socks and ...

Having spent an excellent week with Ann's sister and her husband, life has returned to normal. The weather is cooler and we now look to sit in the sunshine (rather than the shade we utilise for six months of the years). As I write the thunder is providing a noisy backdrop and much-needed rain is pouring down. Water is desperately needed in the next few months as the reservoirs are very, very low. So rain, rain, rain - except when we want to go out.

Long trousers and sweaters and socks have now been moved into drawers and cupboards, and the days of t-shirts and shorts and sandals are but a memory. I suppose it would get boring if we had blue skies and sunshine every day but I could put up with that today. We have just put the fire on and an extra cup of coffee is not an indulgence. Who knows? It may be time to buy some Scotch for medicinal purposes.

To say that Daisy, our rescue dog, has changed our lives would be an understatement. Two walks a day, every day, and the need to play with her and pay attention to her every need, is something of a change for us. I am certainly getting far more exercise now (perhaps part of a cunning plan by Ann) and that must be for the good. Walking in the wooded hills above Argaka, with unbelievable views over the bay, is good for the soul as well as the heart - except when it is pissing down with rain.

Daisy and Jaz are touching noses at my feet as I write, and there are far fewer spats between them as time goes on. Honey keeps her distance but the need to be in the living area when the heating is on will outweigh her reservations and we look forward to those dark nights when all five of us are co-existing cosily. Time will tell.

Regular readers of this blog will note that I haven't mentioned British politics today. I was very tempted but have decided against moving in that direction. However I may not be able to maintain my temporary silence for much longer. Perhaps when it stops raining ...

Friday, 27 October 2017

Advice - fact or opinion?

I cannot help be amused, and irritated at the same time, by the advice offered to new (in the main) expats in Cyprus. There are various forums, and Facebook pages, which are dedicated to expats and where people ask for advice. We fell into the same trap before moving here, when I researched our move and our options.

It takes time to reach the conclusion that some people basically speak out of their backsides when it comes to answering queries. They dress up their opinions as facts and send people off in the wrong direction. Sometimes it is merely inconvenient. For example people are "advised" about what to take to their Immigration interview. If the opinion is out of date or just wrong, then all that happens is that an additional visit to Immigration is called for.

However sometimes it is more important than that. Ann and I were incredulous to read on a local Facebook page the "advice" given to a woman who wanted to know whether a particular test was available at Polis Hospital. As it happens, Ann has to take the same test and it involves a trip to Paphos General. She kindly mentioned this to help the lady in question. We then sat back in absolute amazement when other people weighed in on medical matters, and some of the advice was not only absurd but potentially dangerous.

I have lost count of the number of times that seemingly intelligent people believe the rubbish that is spouted on these forums and Facebook pages. One recent arrival to Argaka comes out with the most outrageous suggestions, and opinions, and should be committed in my opinion. I offered to help a couple (recently arrived) with any advice they needed. In the end he decided he would find out for himself - from the horse's mouth - what he needed to do and would come back to me if he became becalmed. We agreed that the recent posts to his question on Facebook were, to quote his email, "utter bollocks".

And so, to those following in our footsteps, the information is out there as long as you can keep clear of the shark-infested waters of some of the expat forums. Sit back, take a deep breath, and you will soon realise who is talking out of their backsides (and it is not only the muffled voices when they are sitting down that gives the game away) and who knows what they are talking about. But even then, information becomes out of date. We would have sworn that marriage certificates did not need to be stamped when Immigration is visited. But the law in Cyprus changed in the middle of October, and so our information would have been incorrect.

It appears that it will become more and more difficult for Britons to reside in Cyprus unless they become "official" and I would urge those people we know who are currently "under the radar" to legitimise their status before Boris Johnson manages to screw up Brexit more than the current UK government appears to be doing. That means paying Social Security, registering for tax, getting your "yellow slip" - and that will mean you need health insurance - and stop defrauding this country by continuing to use your EHIC to access healthcare. And yes, I know that the business you are running will not be as profitable as it is at the moment, and that your prices will need to rise (and you will then lose the competitive edge you have over legitimate businesses). That is, or will soon be, your real cost of living in Cyprus.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Five years and counting ...

October 9th, 2017, saw us celebrate our fifth anniversary in Cyprus and what a five years it has been. We have made friends, and been abandoned by people we thought of as friends, and are as happy as we have ever been since the start of the "great adventure".

Autumn has brought beautiful and cooler weather, with sunny days where it is a pleasure to potter about doing those jobs we did not get around to in the summer. It is hard to believe that what we now consider as cooler weather would have been "Phew! What a scorcher!" in the language of the tabloids.

Daisy continues to dominate our lives, and we now have "Daisy's House" in the corner of our living area. She is reluctant to use it yet (probably because of previous bad treatment) but has popped in there for treats and to get the beloved knotted rope. She is to be spayed a week on Wednesday, and the garden should be finally made secure about a week later. After that, serious training can begin and be reinforced.

Ann's sister, and her husband, arrive at the beginning of November. So everything will be on hold as we enjoy their time on Cyprus. Accommodation and transport sorted, and we shall go with the flow. Ann is busy counting "sleeps" until her younger sister arrives.

Our lovely cats, especially Jaz, are gradually getting used to Daisy - as are we. Whoever said life was dull when you get to our age was plainly insane.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

"I see no ships ..."

In fact yesterday - on our return from a shopping expedition - all I saw was my reading glasses on the floor, in pieces and a very proud Daisy looking up at us. She had obviously become bored and decided to chew something. For years our coffee table was the depository for books, mobile phones, tablets, reading glasses and the like. No more.

I was ridiculously cross and Ann said we should just go and buy some more. So down to our local kiosk, and I spent a whole €4,00 on a new pair. Lesson learned, I trust. Daisy looked dramatically unimpressed when I told her that I was taking the cost from her pocket money. To misquote some tv comedian, her look was "Talk to the paw."

Temperatures have fallen now that Autumn has arrived. A welcome breeze, and with the weather reminiscent of a warm summer's day in England, it is pleasant to just potter about doing things. Air conditioning in the bedroom has now been switched off (until next June, we hope) and John Lewis announced it was only ninety days till Christmas. Ye Gods.

I suppose all this talk of seasons is irrelevant. We know when summer is over when we look to sit in the sunshine when we visit a bar, as the blissful shade leaves one felling a little chilled. How times change when you live in a country which has a climate, rather than weather.

The Walking Dead, or the UK Conservative cabinet, seems to be lurching towards another disaster. What will eventually happen is anybody's guess but, here in Cyprus, Brexit still provokes monumental arguments on the expat forums. People I once considered intelligent and well-balanced scream and shout at those who disagree with economic suicide, and I very rarely intervene. My blood pressure is just about ideal and I do not want it to rise.

Happy Days are ....

Friday, 8 September 2017

Brexit ... a sad tale for those who care ...

Living a couple of thousand miles away from the UK does not lessen my sadness when I see what a mess the UK government is making over Brexit. The EU does not emerge with much credit either.

As these negotiations affect millions and millions of British and EU citizens, there does not seem to be a common purpose in sight. "To hell with the consequences" and "don't even look beyond tomorrow" spring to mind when one reads the various commentaries in the mainstream media. Of course I understand that all the media is influenced by their owners, their political persuasion and their desire to appeal to their audience. Just as in the run-up to the referendum, there appears nowhere to turn to for unbiased and accurate information.

As an interested observer it appears that both sides are hellbent in insulting and offending the other side, and nowhere can I find any evidence that the UK and the EU want to work together for the common good of its citizens. The leaking of the briefing papers from both sides is absolute evidence of this. On the British side, and all the opinion polls support this, the educated metropolitan elite are very much against the idea of Brexit - as are big business. And so, in the heart of government and the Civil Service, there exists a hard core of saboteurs who ardently desire the UK to remain in the EU. Off the record briefings, leaks of confidential papers and sheer intransigence all conspire to wreck the process.

From the sidelines, and this is not as a result of the media musings, it seems as if SS Great Britain is heading for the rocks and the Officer of the Watch is having forty winks. What on earth are the government doing? It is almost as if they are sleepwalking to disaster.

The latest - but not the last - confrontation is what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. Both parties want their border to be open and allow seemless movement of people and goods. But the EU have stated that a border there must be, and it is the UK's responsibility to sort it out. But, and the devil lies in the detail, it must not disturb the fragile peace brought about by the Good Friday Agreement. If ever there was a Catch-22 situation, this is it.

The pound (and the dollar for that matter) plunges against the Euro, and the ECB's unbelievable policy of quantitative easing continues to distort the market and will eventually bring the whole Euro scheme down - to the economic destruction of the world economy. That will make us all poorer ... but, by then, it will be too late. The western world is addicted to debt and cannot bring itself to go cold turkey. There are times when I wish I was thirty years younger but this is not one of them.

Monday, 4 September 2017

The Great Escape ...

This weekend marked the sixth week of Daisy arriving to live with us. Our plan is to "dog proof" the garden in the coming weeks but normally she is on the lead in the garden, or when we go for walks. In a moment of madness Ann and I went to sit in the garden to have a drink and I suggested we let Daisy join us, without her lead on. All was well for a while, and she pottered about investigating all the areas she had not yet visited. I was not concerned when she went up to the gate (which was shut) until she slipped between the bars and was off down the road like a flash. Her tail was wagging wildly and she was obviously having the time of her life. Imagine Mel Gibson in Braveheart shouting "FREEDOM" and that was Daisy.

Grabbing her lead I set off in hot pursuit along the track after her. She disappeared into Odysseas' Land (where we often walk) and disappeared from sight. I was making rapid progress down the track, when she reappeared out of the olive trees. I whistled and she came charging towards me, sat down - looking enormously pleased with herself - and graciously allowed me to attach the lead to her collar.

When we returned home Ann did remark that that was fastest she had seen me move since we arrived in Cyprus. So, until the "dog proofing" of our garden, Daisy will remain on the lead. Our cats looked on with disdain, as if wondering what all the fuss was about.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Hello Autumn, my old friend ...

Summer 2017 was a summer to remember and some of the old hands on the expat forums have been saying that this is the hottest summer they can remember. Certainly July was the hottest July for the last thirty years, according to the government. But the last couple of days have been just as hot but the humidity has fallen. This is, in our opinion, just great. We have been able to sit by the pool, as the sun goes down and it has been idyllic.

Old friends Alan and Alison came for dinner last night. They drove up all the way from Anarita and met us at Santa Barbara. Then they followed us up to the house to meet Daisy. That was an eventful five minutes and then Daisy settled down and spent the majority of the evening on Alison's knees. A lovely and relaxed evening, with good food and great company. This is Alan's only night off in the week and we were delighted they chose to spend it with us.

They stayed until late, and then Ann and I sat on the terrace for a while - and then into the arms of Morpheus. Daisy is zonked this morning, as she was very much the centre of attention last night. But a terrific evening, and our guests are so easy to get along with. They are the same as they were when we first met them at the late Dave Travis' birthday party, and that is something we demand in people these days. I, and we, cannot stand people who blow hot and cold. Consistency in all things, as espoused in Jane Eyre, is what we admire.