February 2003

February Freezing Holiday!

Sunday 23rd February

Plane left on time from Stansted. We had a small plane this time with the benefit that we had plenty of legroom. About an hour stop at Antalya and eventually we reached Riverside (we were the last drop as usual) at about 11.15 pm. We were shown to our upgraded villa and told that we had a sandwich waiting there for us. Not a bad villa, right next to one of the pools and close to the restaurant. Went to bed about 1.30am (2 hours ahead of our time). Mal spent ages rigging up the PC to speakers so we could play music he had loaded on to it.

Monday 24th February

It rained and rained during the night and we woke up to rain, no, not just rain, it was pouring down and that was the order of the day. We ventured to breakfast and although we had macs on we got soaked and later in the day we went to the shop in the Riverside but it was shut so we had to ring reception and to open it for us! We bought our milk, wine and other essential things. and about 4 o’clock the rain stopped and so we were considering going for a walk, lucky we didn’t as 10 minutes later it started again. So, most of the day was very relaxing, reading and staying out of the rain, with all the heaters up full in the villa!

Mal rang Guray to check on the land progress. He said it was all in hand and that all the paperwork has gone through and Selcuk is doing all the legal paper work on it… and it should happen this week, forgive us if we didn’t get excited. It was pointless ringing Hakan yet as we would all need wellies to get on to the land so we decided to leave our visit to the land until hopefully things had dried out!

Went to the Ranch Bar in the evening for Happy Hour and when Mal went to sign for the bill they said it was now after Happy Hour (half price drinks) and so they were full price. Of course Mal wouldn’t sign the bill until it was amended to half price, after all we had all the drinks during Happy Hour!! Went to the restaurant and had soup, meze, fish and then a dessert, piggies as we are. Quite good considering. There enormous lakes (puddles) were everywhere and when we sat in the bar, Ali was saying this is the most rain for 10 years and for 9 years there has been 5 days rain a year max (global warming I presume) AND it was cold. Nice to hear from Rhys that it is sunny at home!! It seems this is exceptional weather and the amount of snow in Turkey is exceptional. Everyone talking about the decision being made on Friday about the EC and Cyprus joining it. Denktas seems to be on every channel on the TV but unfortunately it is all in Turkish. Hope for a dry day tomorrow BUT they say it isn’t changing until Thursday.

Tuesday 25th February

Woke up to a bit of sun. Had breakfast and decided to make the most of the dry weather to walk up to the land. It wasn’t until this morning, when the mountains weren’t totally covered in cloud, that we saw all the snow on the mountains!!! That is the first time we have seen any snow in TRNC.

We walked up to the land and had a few hailstones on the way but at least it wasn’t more torrential rain. Having said that, we almost had to wade through the water on the road just below the land where it has rained so much. Got to the land to find nothing, not even stakes, some nice flowers growing but no stakes, no foundations. So, OK we know that bulldozers couldn’t even go on the land because they would just sink in. Walked back down to Riverside and went in the Estate Agency there just to have a look at ready built houses (very tempting at this stage!!) Had a long chat with Tanya and her husband who said she would help us with getting Barney over here if need be. . That was useful.

Back to the villa and Mal rang Guray. Seems the papers now have to go to Guzelyurt and at the moment they are with Selcuk. So we have to go and see Selcuk tomorrow. This is getting to be the same old routine each visit. Then we called Hakan. He re-confirmed that he couldn’t submit the plans until he has the kocan confirming our ownership. However, we will meet him on Friday to get our copy of the new plans. Whilst all this is going on, the heavens have opened again and it is pouring down. Thunder and lightning too. At least we are under no illusion that TRNC is always perfect weather. We have seen it at its worst hopefully). We are just a bit annoyed because if we don’t get any nearer to getting the kocan this holiday then we could have gone on holiday somewhere warmer instead! Still, we are determined to take a ‘cypriot’ attitude this time and let things run their course, with just a bit of nudging along, hopefully. The last holiday was full of stress and we aren’t going to do that again, are we, we’re not stupid.

In spite of saying that we did get stressed and decided to ring Selcuk. Of course the office had shut. We went to dinner and tried to forget it all.

Our minds kept returning to the idea of a camper van touring Europe to find a ‘ready built’ house anywhere but here.

Wednesday 26th February

Woke up to sun, we went to breakfast and then picked up our hire car. Drove into Girne and waited to see Selcuk who was ‘busy’. Eventually he came down the stairs. We were waiting there with a planned speech asking him to explain why he was incapable of doing this work and should we get someone who knew what they were doing, to take over, and then to tell him that this was the third wasted trip over here and we may as well have stayed home etc. However, he walked towards us, shook hands and said we are to meet him tomorrow at 11am and he will have the papers. This rather took the wind out of our sails, so we said fine see you tomorrow at 11am. So, for the time being we will believe him, what else could we do – he’s a solicitor and has to tell the truth.

We then went and handed over the new compass we bought with us to the man in the watch shop who had kindly given us his when we were here last. He seemed quite amazed that we had remembered and was very grateful, if a little bemused. Perhaps we should toy with the idea of opening a compass shop!! We then went to the hole in the wall and started drawing out millions of Turkish Lira; in the hope that we will be paying the land tax this week, then on to the supermarket and then back to the villa. A bit cloudy this afternoon but at least we have seen some sun and we can go out without getting drenched through. We have decided that if this does go through this week then we will go out for a celebration meal. We are not booking anything yet!!!!

Thursday 27th February

Woke earlyish and went to breakfast early and got all excited in anticipation of the drive into Girne to see Selcuk and to at last collect the kocan. We were sitting in his reception area in plenty of time for our 11 o’clock appointment, along with eight other people. Four of them gave up and made an appointment for this afternoon. The guy Mal was sitting next to, called Peter, got chatting and he seemed really nice. Then the phone call came from Selcuk and the phone was handed over to Mal. Well, what do you know the concluding part for our paperwork could not be completed today as all the government office staff, along with most of the population of TRNC had all shut shop and joined a demo in Lefkosa. The demo is for the TRNC joining the EC. In a nutshell, the population want to join and Denktas (President) is saying no so the peasants are revolting, this was to coincide with the talks with Kofi Anan in Lefkosa. The decision should have been made tomorrow but now we understand that there is now another week’s grace.

So, we now have an appointment for 12pm tomorrow with Selcuk, after all this is not his fault that they have all left their desks for the day, its just our bad luck. The upside of this is that we bumped into Peter again outside and he gave us his telephone number and him and his wife Gwen invited us to visit. They had already given us lots of info but were offering more. They have lived here for two years and so know all there is to know about their local ways and how to get round things. They told us where they lived on the outskirts of Alsancak and so they will not be too far away when we move here. Anyway, we did a bit of shopping and then went back to the villa. We have now been told that Tuesday was the coldest day in TRNC’s weather history, it was typical that we should be here now to experience it, something we would have preferred to miss. We watched a bit of the demo on TV but found it very difficult to translate what they were chanting but presumed it was something like ‘get Denktas out’!!

Later on in the afternoon we decided to go for a walk along where Gwen and Peter live, just to see where it was. As we walked along the road, we saw Peter coming out of one of the Australian built houses and ended up back at their house!! Well, we had a few cups of coffee and found out lots more about how to get the builder to channel in for the phone line, to transport dogs through Stansted, which is much cheaper than Heathrow and lots more besides. They were really nice people and we suddenly noticed it had got dark and we had walked a long way, including through what was now a river (because of all the rain). That was fine in daylight but we did have our doubts about crossing it in the dark, Mal is a very weak swimmer. So, Peter very kindly offered to drive us back. We thanked them for their hospitality and are invited to go and see them again on our next visit. Mal came away with part of their family tree, which he said he will investigate on the net when he gets back home. So, although we don’t have the documents yet, a very rewarding day in other ways.

Friday 28th February

Sunny today, shame we have things to sort out. Arrived in Girne for our appointment with Selcuk. In fact by now we had managed to get into the Cypriot way of doing things and we were late so Mal jumped out of the car while I went and found somewhere to park the car. Proceedings had already begun by the time I reached Selcuk’s office. It seems all the paper work has been sorted out at long last and so all we had to do was hand over the land/property tax money to Selcuk. They have had the land valued at £10,000, so our tax was £600 (6% of value). This is not bad as land prices have shot up and you can now expect to pay about 20K-25K a donum. Seeing as we have one and two thirds donums and only paid 15K for the lot, we are feeling pretty chuffed. Selcuk is then going to pay it for us at the land registry and then he will prepare the new land ownership certificate. All this should be complete by next Thursday (March 6th) but to be on the safe side we said that we would arrange for Hakan to collect it from him next Friday. Well, that is the nearest we have been but neither of us will be content until we see our names and the official stamp on the Kocan. It was with a feeling of relief that we left his office.

We then decided to go for some lunch before meeting Hakan at Stringers. So, we went to Serenity in Karaglanalou. A big mistake. Our ‘snack’ turned into a full blown meze followed by chicken, chips and salad and Mal had a mixed grill. We also had a bottle of water and two fresh orange juices. He then wanted to give us Turkish coffees but we said that we didn’t have time as we had to meet Hakan. Trouble was that we left 2 hours for lunch but because there are very few people eating out this weather, he had to fire up the barby!! The whole lot was around a tenner!!

Drove along the road to Stringer’s and chatted to Julie, then Phil came in, followed eventually by Tracy who had been on site with Hakan. It was nice o see them again and we said we had stayed away because we always seemed to be ‘popping in’ to see them. It seems trade is still brisk for them, more and more Brits trying to escape the UK.

When Hakan arrived we told him the good news and asked when he could start. Obviously because of all the recent rain, there has been no building. He tried taking diggers up to Catalkoy and they ended up getting stuck. Seems as though they have had record rain too, 4 inches in Girne. He seems to think he can have it done by the end of October but we are being much more cautious on this one! We did make him promise that we will see something on the land when we come back in April. He said ‘of course’.

Although it has been warm this morning, the temperature started dropping about 5pm. so we decided to go to Henson’s restaurant. Maggie and Bob opened this last April when we were one of their first customers. They remembered us and Maggie said ‘oh yes, you sat at the bar drinking Baileys all night!’ (Me not Mal!). Good memory. They made us very welcome and Mal had a ‘special’ T Bone that they had ‘got from the other side’!! I had delicious fish in garlic. We promised to go back and see them in April and then we went back to the villa.