Friday, 18 August 2017

Sad times at the pound ...

As regular readers of my blog will know, we have been helping feed and look after the abandoned dogs at the Polis pound. Sadly there was an outbreak of the nasty "parvovirus " which killed a number of the puppies. When I went up there yesterday there was only one adult dog left, and it was on with boots and disposable gloves to feed him and give him what comfort I could. It was heartbreaking to leave him there, and he is obviously lonely and confused. Ruby and the other helpers  must be as distraught as we are, and there is almost nothing one can do. But I trust all dog owners in this area have made sure that their dog are vaccinated against this virulent virus.

August wends its way towards the end of the month, and my goodness this has been a hot summer. July and August can be really difficult to endure comfortably and we see an increasing number of our wealthier friends heading back to the UK to escape the worst of the heat. But September is just around the corner when the humidity drops, the temperature is just gorgeous and one can switch off the air conditioning and sleep,with the windows open. Bliss.

Daisy continues to flourish and is slowly - very slowly - being accepted or tolerated by our two cats. They are keen to establish that they are the senior residents here and that Daisy must accept that. Seeing the way she is with cats suggests that she may not have had much experience of them. She trots around, wagging her tail and can't quite understand why they spit at her. She just wants to be friends with everyone and everything. It can be a dog's life sometimes. But what a narrow escape from the parvovirus. If we had not volunteered and brought her home with us ...

It is sad to see the increasing number of stray dogs and cats on the island. A mass neutering programme, and probably (and sadly) a selective cull would be needed to restore the balance - and an intense educational programme so that animals were considered and treated as pets and not pests. I can't see this happening anytime soon, and so we will just continue to help where we can. When you talk about this, you can just hear the quiet voices questioning "But what about the people who are starving now?" and there isn't really an answer to that either.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Pensions ... what a farce ...

We are sorting out my financial affairs at the moment, with Ann's expertise. I can "claim" my state retirement pension early next year and we wanted to make sure that (along with my teacher's pension) I minimise the tax I pay in Cyprus, and to make doubly sure that I don't pay any tax in the UK.  All is fairly straightforward until you try to access the new Teachers' Pension website ... what a pile of  sh**e it is. I designed databases for a long time and I have never seen anything as cumbersome and useless as this website.

They (and my pension contributions pay their wages) will no longer respond to direct emails and - when you can actually access the bloody website - claim to respond within ten working days. Well that's a couple of weeks in anybody's money BUT they state you can actually ring us ... great.

And then, when we actually managed to log on, I wanted them to pay my teacher's pension direct to our bank in Cyprus. Here's an online form but it insists in telling me that my bank account number (confirmed with my bank here) is too long. Email ... we'll respond within ten days.

Now I want my state pension to be paid directly into our bank here (as Ann organised for her pension) next year and I cannot wait for that farce to begin. It's my money for heaven's sake.

Apart from all that rubbish, our new family member - Daisy the dog - has proved to be a gentle and charismatic addition to our household, and our cats are slowly coming to terms with the new arrival. Jaz sniffs her at the gate when we return from our morning and evening walks, but Honey just stares at her inside the house. But she is now prepared to snooze a few feet away. Quo vadis?

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Polis Dog Pound ...

For those who live anywhere near Polis Chrysochous, you may or not be aware that the municipality has a dog pound and someone who is theoretically in charge of it. They supply food and water, and a caged area for the strays. After fifteen days (and this is the point of this post) the dogs are put to sleep unless someone comes forward to claim them or offer them a home.

Step forward Ruby Pearl Evans from Lysos who is the dogs' guardian angel. I cannot remember the exact number but she has over a dozen rescue dogs living with her at home, and she makes the journey from Lysos to the pound twice a day to feed the dogs, play with them and clear up the mess they inevitably leave. When the dogs have been there for more than fifteen days, she then pays for food for them out of her own pocket in the hope she can find them homes before they have to be put to sleep.

My heart bleeds for these dogs (and the many thousands and thousands of dogs in pounds, and running loose) and it is a sad reflection on this country that nothing more is being done. As some of  you may know we have adopted a lovely young dog (who reminds us of Harvey in those brilliant tv adverts a couple of years ago) and she is slowly coming to terms with us and our two cats.

We have offered to help Ruby with the feeding of the puppies a couple of times a week, and I know another woman has also offered help. But I wonder whether animal lovers in the area might step forward to help. Anyone wanting to offer one of these gorgeous puppies a home (or even a foster home) would be welcome with open arms.

I realise it is no small thing to adopt a dog but ...

Sunday, 23 July 2017

It was inevitable, I suppose ...

Ann and I offered to help a local lady, who made a plea for help on Facebook, and who has taken responsibility for looking after the dogs in the Polis pound. We agreed to meet her on Thursday at the pound to feed and play with the dogs there. Ann and I had a long talk before going, and both agreed we would not take any dog or dogs home - no matter how appealing they were.

And so we arrived and were given entrance to the enclosure. There were about ten dogs there, one large male in a cage (as one of the bitches was in season) and about seven or eight very young puppies, all of whom were very excited to see us. Ann's shoelaces were a terrific attraction, and a couple of the puppies helped her to undo them. After removing the shoelaces there was a terrific tug-of-war to gain control of the aforementioned laces.

On Saturday morning, despite all we had said, we returned to pick up Daisy (a three-year old bitch) to take her home for the weekend on trial. Our cats sulked and stared, whilst Daisy kept her distance and just wagged her tail. She obviously wants to be the best of friends with everyone. Our garden is not yet dog-proof and our friend Tim came round to suggest the best way to make it so. By the way things have gone, it will be off to the hardware shop early next week.

The day proceeded in a fairly predictable fashion and Daisy followed us around wherever we went. We had cool water available for her and we had bought some dog food on the way back from the pound. Daisy was found by some Swiss (I think) tourists who were lost. She was tied to a tree, and there were no houses in sight. As they were lost, they could not tell exactly where that was. She was not microchipped but was obviously from a domestic environment. Why she was abandoned, God alone knows.

She is a beautiful girl with a lovely white coat. If all goes well she will have to be speyed at the end of next week, have her inoculations, and have her anti-flea and anti-tick treatment reinforced. Then she will have to be microchipped, registered and apparently we should have a sign for the gate saying "Beware of the dog". Being British we shall, of course, obey the rules. Happy days ahead ...

Friday, 7 July 2017

The "Cyprus Syndrome"

I have come to the conclusion that there is definitely a "Cyprus Syndrome" which affects Britons living here. It all comes down to the small communities in which we live, and it may be something to do with the fact we live on the outskirts of a small village - rather than living in the centre of Limassol.

In the UK we had, and still have, friends with whom we keep in touch and who come out occasionally to visit. They all had one thing in common. They were of a similar age (although some are younger), and had similar interests to us, and - by and large - were professionally employed. British people, by and large (and there's a generalisation for you), tend to feel comfortable when they live alongside people like them. Human beings have evolved into tribal creatures and that's the way they like it. It explains a great deal about the problems immigration throws up in the UK.

But in Cyprus, with a much smaller population, quite often British people congregate and "make friends" with other Britons. Are these "friends" true friends? I am not so sure. When we first arrived we held a party at our new home, and there were a few Greek Cypriots (who all sat together and talked to each other) and some people who had offered advice or help before we came out here to live. One couple became proper friends, until his untimely death in a car crash, another couple became "friends" and we haven't heard from them for months and months and months. Other guests turned out not to be "our cup of tea", and so any relationship withered.

I believe some expats collect "friends" almost like a safety blanket. Others want to be "best friends forever" within a few hours of meeting. But when I compare them to our friends in the UK it took years and years before the friendships developed. And so the "Cyprus Syndrome" ... I wonder whether all expat communities have the same or similar syndromes? Only time will tell.

Monday, 12 June 2017

For the public good?

Regular readers of this blog will know that my opinion of politicians is not great, and events over the last few weeks have not improved this situation. Where are the men and women of stature, of integrity, of intellect with an overwhelming desire to "serve" the public? One thing for sure is that they do not exist amongst the current crop of politicians in the UK.

The latest shenanigans ... the calling of a "snap election" and then allowing the campaign to run for seven weeks ... defies belief. Every student of politics knows that, if there is a substantial lead in the polls, then that lead will wither under the glare of the media and the campaigning of the opposition parties. And so, it does not take a genius to work out, that you allow the campaign to run for the shortest possible time ... and so the Conservatives allowed the campaign to run for seven weeks and watched their lead whittled away.

Since the election I have watched in stunned disbelief as the PM scrabbles around trying to maintain a tenuous grip on power and it would seem that, at the time of writing, she is contemplating a deal with the DUP. For goodness' sake, Ian Paisley will be rising from the grave. Apart from threatening the fragile Northern Ireland peace process, has she considered what these Neanderthals claim to believe? I don't know about Ian Paisley rising from the grave, but I would imagine Margaret Thatcher turning in hers.

All the talk is about when she will be stabbed in the back. But you only have to look at those waiting in the wings (all claiming loyalty) and all sharpening their daggers. Venal, self-serving and totally without a shred of morality, they will put themselves forward for the good of the country. Utter bollocks ...

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Guilty pleasures ...

There seems to be something inherently wrong about enjoying yourself whilst the world is doing its best to tear itself to pieces. The UK is in turmoil with possibly the least competent and likeable (and nobody can mention "charismatic") politicians in my lifetime lying and making impossible promises, whilst the rest of Europe cannot quite believe the mess the British have got themselves into. Add in to the mix terrorist outrages, the continuing drownings in the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey (and that one word says it all) and the unbelievable Trump posturing around Europe, and it seems at face value that all is bad.

We went out for a drink yesterday afternoon and were hailed by a couple I recognised but can hardly call as friends - more casual acquaintances, and friends of friends. Ann went over to say hello. She is suffering from a brain tumour, and has been given months to live. He, quite understandably, looked a hundred years older than I remembered him. And yet, there they were, living life to the fullest extent they could.

It was a sobering experience and made coming home to enjoy ourselves all the more poignant. We had gin and tonic by the pool, a quite delicious lunch of cold, roast chicken, salad and the best-tasting potato salad I can remember (made even better by Ann picking some spearmint she had planted). After that we sat on the steps of the pool, until I decided that I just had to go in for a swim. Encouraged by Ann, (who refused to let me dawdle as I came to terms with the water temperature) I swam a few lengths and dried off in the sunshine.

It was a lovely couple of hours to end an interesting day, but in the back of my mind, I felt slightly guilty enjoying myself when surrounded by some much doom and gloom. I read recently that you should live every day as if it is your last, and perhaps the writer was correct. No one knows when the number 52 bus is just around the corner.