Friday, 31 October 2014

The Eagle(s) has/have landed ...

Multiple Eagles have landed in Cyprus in the last twenty-four hours, all safely. David and Letitia arrived on Wednesday evening to start their big adventure. All arrived safely, including Bonnie the dog. A small celebratory gathering was held at Gracie Towers and I really must get to bed early soon.

Last night another pair of Eagles were delivered to Polis by Odysseas, and Pam and Becky were welcomed by a chilly evening - but that didn't stop us sitting at Mikis until early in the morning, and then by the pool at home until even earlier in the morning. I ran out of stamina but the girls seemed inexhaustible.

The weather looks set fair for the next ten days, and I am sure they will enjoy their well-earned holiday. Tonight they team up with David and Letitia for the fourth Bingo & Quiz evening at The Fly Again. It seems as if our money-raising endeavours are going to be subject to V.A.T. at either 5%, 10% or an eye-watering 19%, according to Yiannis' legal advisers and his accountant. I love Cyprus but, if this comes to pass, that will be bl***y ridiculous. However only time will tell ...

So a late night again, and I suspect we will be in "recovery mode" on Saturday. It's rather like the story of the bus ... you wait for ages for a bus (in our case for a late night) and then they all come along at once. But I suspect Ann and I wouldn't change anything. Zzz ...

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Fawlty Towers or Gracie Towers?

I am not sure whether Cyprus is ready or not but the Clan Gracie arrive tonight and Polis will never be the same again. The great adventure we set out on just over two years ago is being re-enacted by David and Letitia (not forgetting Bonnie the dog), and I shall picking them up from Paphos Airport this evening. It seems only yesterday that we walked into the Arrivals Hall there, looking at the brilliant sunshine and with Palm trees waving outside, and hardly able to contain our laughter as we had been completely ignored by passport control. He seemed more interested in reading the book that was on his knee.

And so their adventure begins, and to those of you waiting to follow in their footsteps ... research, research, research. Of course those of you planning to arrive in 2015 will have the benefit of my ebook to help you on your way. If only my book had been available two years ago ... but actually we didn't make any really dreadful mistakes, and we had the advice (and opinions) of people we had met or were soon to meet.

Tomorrow Becky and Pam, friends from Bexhill, arrive to stay for ten days and they were our first visitors last year. The weather won't be quite as warm as it was in early May, but we are looking forward to seeing them again. Odysseas, from Polis, will be meeting them at the airport and bringing them back to Polis - where their hire car and Ann and I will be waiting. If you are considering hiring a car when visiting Cyprus, and are staying in this area, Odysseas is your man. With very competitive rates, he will pick you up from Paphos airport, and also return you there at the end of your stay (and that service is included in the price). I reckon if Pam and Becky had taken a taxi from the airport to our house, and had done the same on their departure, the taxi fares would have been just about what they are paying for ten days' car hire. A classic win-win situation. Added to which he has given us leave to pick avocados and mandarins from his land at the end of our drive, and brought round loads of green olives (prepared by his mother) as a gift yesterday.

And then on 11th November, just after Becky and Pam return to the UK, Ann's daughter (another Becky) arrives to stay. And how many shopping days left till Christmas?

Monday, 27 October 2014

Charity Matters ...

The continuing saga about raising money for the needy in Argaka took a new turn over the weekend, with a flurry of emails from people who have faced this dilemma. With the need for transparency, we published the Argaka Aid accounts on the website ... thus showing all the money going in and out, and the amount of money raised. €300,00 in three weeks is pretty good going.

Achieving charitable status for such a small undertaking would be costly and take a long time, as other organisations have discovered. All documentation (constitutions etc.) must be in Greek, and one lady who contacted me had spent two years wrestling with this, before taking another route.

She suggested that, like her organisation (founded in 2007 and still going), we register with Paphos District as a non-profitmaking organisation. This will allow us to raise money for our cause, without infringing any laws in Cyprus. Obviously we want to be completely legal and above-board in this, and totally transparent - especially as we are dealing with other peoples' money.

So, this morning, we are holding a meeting with Yiannis at The Fly Again to discuss the best way forward. Let's hope that everything is resolved quickly and easily. Until the status of Argaka Aid is confirmed, the fund of money raised will remain untouched ... although fundraising on Friday evenings will continue.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Charity begins at home?

Three weeks into raising money for needy families in Argaka, the very reasonable question was asked last night as to what the money was going to be used for. This sparked an interesting discussion and it was suggested - in the wake of the scandal involving the mayor of Paphos - that we should set up Argaka Aid as a charity. The more we talked, the more this seemed to be a good idea.

To this end, we have posted on www.flyagainirishbar.com our proposals to set up a charity, and also our intention over the next couple of days to post our accounts for each Friday online, so that the financial affairs of Argaka Aid are transparent. The good news is that we have raised €299,60 so far.

People we talked to were very supportive of the fund-raising (with the winners of the last two quizzes donating their winnings to Argaka Aid) but were concerned that Yiannis - the owner of The Fly Again - and Ann and I were putting ourselves in a vulnerable situation. "You do know how people talk, don't you ..."

So we are currently investigating setting up a charity, and thank goodness Ann has substantial experience as a book-keeper. I nominate her as treasurer. Any objections? Carried unanimously.

Gosh! And we both said we wanted to be involved in the local community. Be careful what you wish for. No ... we really love this involvement. It's almost like not being retired.

Friday, 24 October 2014

"Stormy Weather Ahead"

It looks like the lovely autumnal sunshine is taking a break and we are in for stormy weather. Fantastic ... I said to Ann yesterday that I could not envisage being glad that the weather was not going to be blue skies and sunshine for a few days. To make matters more autumnal, both Jaz and Honey decided to stand guard over the fireplace as it sounded very much like a gecko was wandering about behind the wooden screen. How things change in the space of a couple of years.

Quiz and Bingo tonight, and then dinner with friends at the Half-way House tomorrow night, with the possibility of thunder and lightning - and even dinner by candlelight if there is a power cut. And then it's all hands to the pumps (too many clich├ęs today) as David and Letitia arrive on Wednesday, Pam and Becky arrive on Thursday and - ten days' later - Ann's daughter arrives to stay.

As with all websites I have spent far too long playing about and not getting things finalised, but that's all the fun. Once The Fly Again website is established, then the Jewellery Workshop website needs to be sorted. And, sooner or later, I need to start designing the pages of my ebook. The writing of the contents is not that difficult but I often wonder whether my design skills are affected by OCD. Websites, snooks or even letterheads, there always seems to be an inordinate amount of "fiddling" to "get things just right".

And how many shopping days to Christmas are left?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Retirement ... a time to relax?

In retirement, there is the time to do what you want and when you want, and at a pace that suits you. I wish ...

Very busy times ahead, and whilst it's great fun to be involved in so many things, there are moments when you wish you could pause for breath. I've just finished the quiz questions, including the audio-visual clips and picture quiz sheets for the next fortnight's Bingo & Quiz nights at The Fly Again. In between arranging car hire for our friends Becky and Pam, who arrive for a ten-day stay on 30th October, we are also looking forward to welcoming David and Letitia (and their dog) on 29th October. They are, of course, moving here to live and I am due to pick them up at Paphos Airport at 20.40 on Wednesday evening in a week's time.

No sooner will Becky and Pam fly back to the UK, then it will be time to pick up Ann's daughter, Becky, who comes out to stay on 11th November. I am so looking forward to seeing her as, although Ann has made two trips back to the UK, it is over two years since I have seen her. Polis and Argaka watch out.

Over the weekend I purchased the domain name and hosting plan for The Fly Again website and I'm just waiting for that to come online. It will be a work in progress for some time to come, but - like writing - it is always easier to work with something that exists than stare at a blank piece of paper or computer screen. I'll let you know so you can check it out, and you'll be able to find it at www.flyagainirishbar.com - the more the merrier.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Wet, wet, wet

When the end of the hose comes off in summer, it cools you down and your clothes dry in a few minutes. Not so in the middle of October. The car went off-road the other day and I thought it would be a good idea to hose off the mud. Lovely sunny morning and I had just cleaned the pool, so was in outdoor mode. I squeezed the trigger on the hose and all was fine ... for five seconds ... and then Whoosh! No problem I thought and I disassembled the end, fitted it back carefully and then started again. Same result and I was soaked to the skin, and was that water cold. Ann was full of sympathy and almost choked trying not to laugh.

Better news last night at the Bingo and Quiz night. Everything went very smoothly, and the lessons we learned last week stood us in good stead. Lots of fun, and the inaugural "Play Your Cards Right" was a hoot, even if no one won. The winning quiz team, The Grumps, then donated their winnings to Argaka Aid. With two €10,00 donations earlier in the week, the donation of the €25,00 from The Grumps and €59.20 from quiz and bingo sales, over €100,00 to Argaka Aid to add to the €52,00 raised last week. Brilliant news.

We await the return of the plumber at lunchtime to see whether the mystery of the shower room cistern can be solved at the second attempt. 

Yiannis has unearthed the "eagle carrying the pint of Guinness" artwork, which is the symbol of The Fly Again in PDF format and I found the image he uses of the leprechaun carrying the pot of gold. So onwards and upwards with the website. The only problem is that the leprechaun objected to being resized and I had to threaten him with a thrashing, which had about the same effect as Basil Fawlty thrashing his car when it wouldn't start. But resize he did, and he will sit proudly on the website landing page.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

"You want to see a gynaecologist?"

We dropped up to Polis Hospital this morning so that Ann could make an appointment with the neurologist. She spoke to the lovely Chrissou, whose English is pretty good. Whether it was the glass screen between them, or whether she just misheard, her eyebrows arched as she said to Ann, "You want to see a gynaecologist?" So next Tuesday morning Ann has an appointment with, we hope, the neurologist.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

"If it ever rains again ..."

Famous last words from Ann as we were driving to Polis the other day, and it became embedded in my mind as the heading for the chapter on the Cypriot climate in my ebook. And lo and behold! The next day the heavens opened, thunder and lightning and ... proper rain ... buckets and buckets of it. The moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for. But, in reality, Cyprus looks lovely this morning with the lemon groves behind the house looking as if they have just been "Spring Cleaned". Priceless.

Busier and busier at the moment, preparing quizzes, cleaning the house after the summer dust, arranging car hire for friends who are arriving to stay on 30th October for ten days, preparing for other friends and dog who arrive the day before (and who are moving into a lovely house a few kilometres away from us), and looking forward to the arrival of Ann's daughter, Becky, who arrives on 11th November - obviously a day to remember. Adding to the ebook steadily, and also designing a website for our local pub - www.flyagainirishpub.com - which will hopefully go live in the next couple of weeks, but will be a work in progress for some time to come.

Retirement is never dull.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

First Night Nerves ...

Well we did it, and what fun it was. We arrived at The Fly Again about an hour before the Bingo and Quiz night was due to start and found quite a few people already there. Tickets were sold and by the time the first round of the quiz was ready to go, we had eighteen teams seated and ready to compete. There were also a few groups of people who only wanted to play Bingo as well.

Ann had drawn the short straw and was heavily involved in counting all the money, as the Bingo winners (one line, two lines and a full house) were paid a percentage of the money taken that night. But count it she did, and the person who was first to declare a full house received the not inconsiderable sum of €55,00. The winning quiz team - The A Team - who scored 55 out of a possible 70 points received €40,00 with the runners-up receiving a voucher for Sunday Lunch at The Fly Again.

Best of all, the grand sum of €52,00 was raised for Argaka Aid. Thanks to all who turned up and made the evening such fun. Next week we shall have a different, and more efficient, system to sell tickets which will allow us to start on time. If you didn't manage to get there last night, do drop in next Friday.

The picture round, which featured Spitting Images of famous people, produced some hilarious answers. My favourites were the teams who thought Prince Andrew was Ronald Reagan, and the other team who thought Esther Rantzen was Joanna Lumley. No doubt their lawyers will be in touch soon.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Aid for Argaka

Before we left the UK - two years ago this Thursday - we were both concerned that we would have enough to do in our retirement. Well we have never been busier, and life is getting busier by the minute.

Some time ago we both decided we would like to do something for the village of Argaka, where we have chosen to make our home. The recession is biting and many Cypriots are suffering from this, with food kitchens in Paphos. The problem is that the Cypriot equivalent of the Welfare State stops totally after six months, and after that you are on your own. Unemployment is rising fast, and many of those in employment (especially in the state sector) have had their salaries severely cut back. According to local Cypriot friends matters will get much worse before they get better.

In conversation with the owner of The Fly Again Irish Bar, very close to us here, we asked what we could do to help the needy in the village. A cunning plan was hatched, and the end result was that Ann would run a bingo night at the pub each Friday, and I would run a quiz night in parallel with that.  Money taken to play bingo and enter the quiz would be split between cash prizes for the winners, and a fund for the needy of Argaka. Additionally a "Curry and Film" night would be held once a month on Tuesday evenings. Tickets at €8,00 a head would include a traditional curry and a chosen film on the pub's big screens. Of the money taken, €3,00 a ticket would go to the fund.

We needed a name for the enterprise and decided that, if Bob Gelfdorf could have Live Aid, we could have Argaka Aid. The first night will be this Friday. I trust this will be a roaring success as it would be great to put something back into a village that has made us feel so welcome. We have been rushing around advertising the events, putting together questions and Ann has been honing her bingo-calling skills and also how the pub's version of "Play Your Cards Right" works. Think of Bruce Forsyth on speed and that's what may happen on Friday. Think of us come 8.00 pm this Friday.