December 2004

Start of December 2004
I suppose some of you may be wondering what we do when we are back in the UK.  Of course, it is not only Mal�s exam work we come back for but also a good opportunity to see the kids.  This time is no exception.  We looked after River, Sol, Tariq and Torin one Saturday whilst Ange and Rhys went out to buy their presents.  They returned with the most enormous Christmas tree imaginable! It only just fit into the living room.

Two of Mal�s exam meetings were cancelled which we were not pleased about as we could have spent another two and a half weeks in Cyprus and particularly this time of year, would have been far preferable.

Whilst in Birmingham we spent one day at the Good Food Show.  We watched Ainsley Harriott and Mal spent a lot of the day sampling the real ales.  Of course, he is starved of these in Cyprus.

It is also a time for catching up with everyone and sorting out all the Christmas presents and cards.  I have to say that I am disappointed not to be here for the kid�s nativity plays but perhaps next year.

The Wednesday before leaving we went out for a meal with Mal�s sisters, brother and partners.  We also managed a trip to Lille and the caravan park Christmas lunch, with too many courses to mention.

Torin has started his new job and loves it.  We are so pleased for him as he has fought so hard to overcome the after effects of his accident and it is so nice to see him so happy and �alive� again.  On top of all this, as the company he is working for is a �European� company, the package seems far preferable to that of an English company.  They have already flown him to Germany.

We stayed with Torin and Kay the night before leaving for Cyprus.

Torin and Kane, his beloved bulldog

Friday 10th December
Torin offered to run us to the airport and so we left in plenty of time.  They all laugh at me for getting there early but as I always say, planes don�t wait for you.

We arrived before the official check in time but the desk had already opened, so we checked in, went straight through, had a leisurely coffee and did a bit of duty free shopping.  Quite honestly, the duty free holds few bargains nowadays.

We flew with CTA and the plane left on time and was only half-full (or should I say half empty!) This meant of course that everyone could spread out and enjoy the flight.  We arrived at Ercan on time and much to our amazement (having been let down so many times before) our Hire car company was standing waiting for us with a board with my name on it held aloft. They also gave us a Christmas present!  He filled in the forms, gave them to me, and told us not to bother paying but to see his dad tomorrow! Back home at last. We drove back and then sat on the terrace.  We are talking about 11.00pm at night and it was 13 degrees.  Far warmer than the UK. I actually managed to unpack the suitcases before we went to bed and found that the glass lampshade I had packed in the suitcase was still in one piece and so were the Christmas pudding and the Christmas cake!!

Saturday 11th December
We woke up to discover that it had been raining during the night and all the swimming pool terrace was soaked.  It had stopped for a while but then continued for the rest of the day. Mal went to look at the new side garden and a couple of things have died so we will have to tell them about that.

This morning is the morning for our Internet connection, so Mal stayed and waited for them and I drove off to the KAR (Kyrenia Animal Rescue) Christmas Bazaar. I am pleased to say, it was packed, which means a lot more money for the animals.  Gwen was busy behind one of the stalls but I managed to have a few words with her, bought some bits and then went off to get the shopping.  Still pouring with rain.  I arrived home to find that the guy had not come to do the Internet connection but had phoned to say that he was ill and so would come on Monday.

After lunch, we drove down to Autumn Rent a car to pay for our month�s car rental. They phoned Osman to come to the office and made us coffee.  Three hours later, after lots of tales about the 1974 war and many other things, we left.

Back home and we heard a noise on the terrace and it was Kara, absolutely screeching at us.  She had a limp and kept holding her front paw up and from the noise she was making I thought the screams were pain.  However, I filled her bowl up with some meat and biscuits and she scoffed it down and kept giving us dirty looks as if to say �How dare you leave me for so long!� Of course, we couldn�t get hold of her to investigate the paw but she was putting weight on it.  After her enormous dinner, she snuggled up on the chair under the terrace, where I had left a cot duvet on it and went off to sleep.  She did come in for about half an hour and sat just inside the door on the mat but no further.  She was obviously pleased that we are back.

We sat and watched the Liverpool v Everton game and then I decided we really ought to start on getting the house a warmer place. So, we got all the rugs out and it really makes a difference. I also put up the Christmas tree and decorations so it is looking much more like home now.

We watched a DVD in the evening and although it wasn�t cold enough to light the big fire, we did put the calor gas heater on for a while and the heater in the bedroom before we went to bed.

Sunday 12th December
The rain has stopped and the sun was out. Peter and Gwen arrived and so we caught up with all the chat since we have seen them last.  They were pleased to see us and us likewise. Gwen was pleased to hear that Kara has returned as she was getting worried about her. Whilst Peter and Gwen were here, a fella called Brian arrived. He has a house in In�esu which Hakan is building and is having a problem with damp which Hakan says is fine! He came up for a chat and to hear our views on Hakan.  Perhaps we are not the best people to ask at this moment in time when we still have no official access and walls may have to be moved because Hakan has put them in the wrong place!

After they left, we had lunch and as the weather was so nice, we decided to go for a walk. Just as we were about to leave, Kara arrived back and so I gave her some liver I had cooked specially! The sun was really warm. This is what we enjoy, walking with just a thin sweatshirt on in December! We walked up to the edge of Malatya, then down into Alsancak, and back up through In�esu.  It was nice walking through the villages and the Cypriot children all saying �hello� to us.

Back home and a cup of tea and sat out the front.  Now it is winter this is where the winter sun comes, so for the winter we change sides of the house.

The sun has been lovely today but because of the clear skies, the temperature seems to drop a lot in the evening.

Kara came for her dinner.  She is still limping.

Monday 13th December
The computer company are supposed to be arriving at 9 this morning.  We gave them until 11!  Mal rang them and it seems their engineer is still off sick, so maybe tomorrow, who knows.  This didn�t bode well for future service from this company and so Mal said he wanted his money back as they couldn�t give us a definite of when anyone was coming. We paid for this a month ago! It certainly sounded like they didn�t want to give us our money back and they said they would call back in two hours.  Meanwhile Mal rang the solicitor who doesn�t have any answers for us yet.

The computer company called back and said they have someone now who will come today! Of course, Mal said he was very pleased about that.  Two men arrived and they were very nice and after clambering on the roof and sorting out all the wiring, we are online! Now all Mal has to do is set it all up but at least I can send emails now!

We also put up two curtain rails and hung a big curtain behind the front door (there are a few gaps around it!) and curtains in the dining area.

Peter came round early evening, bringing some back issues of Cyprus Today for us.  He sat with Mal at the computer for a while.

It seemed really chilly again this evening but improved by the curtains going up.  Kara arrived about five o�clock.  I gave her liver and then she sat outside on the chair with a cot duvet on it for the rest of the evening.  I did leave the back patio doors open for a while but she won�t come in.  She is still limping and so Gwen is going to get me a �cat catcher� basket and eventually if we can get her in it then we will take her to the vets and see what is wrong with her leg.

Tuesday 14th December
Up early this morning and off to KAR kennels to dog walk. It was such a lovely day and so we did a long walk right round the mountains.  We had four dogs today and managed to take four back to the kennels again!  We didn�t know their names today but none of them wandered far, in fact the little black one decided that he would keep four paces behind Mal for the entire walk.

This is a picture of the kennels and the last picture is of a lovely dog obviously just been brought in, skin and bone and also with a large scar across her head.  I didn�t like to ask the story but we will have to see how she is next time we go as she was very timid.

As those that know me, will know I am very tempted!

Well, isn�t she lovely! Her name is Gizmo

Wednesday 15th December
The sun is out again and so I decide today is for weeding the new garden and cleaning the house. You have to imagine a �spring� garden that has been well watered and left for a month, now you can imagine how many weeds there are! Meanwhile Mal is on the computer all day.  The installation company told him to install Windows XP service pack 2 but this blocked file sharing.  He spends the entire day trying to sort it out.

Because it is so nice and sunny during the day, it seems to be so cold at night! So we light the fire and then it is warm.

Thursday 16th December
No Internet connection this morning, Mal called them and they said they were sorting it out.

A dog walking day again so we went up to the kennels, another four, different dogs and we did the long walk all the way round the mountain again. About half the way round the skies became very dark and it starts to hail!  We didn�t get very wet!

On the way home, we wanted to look for some things for the fire.  The first thing was a fireguard but the one we were offered was �52, although it is hand made, not what we are looking for. We then looked at a fire set of tongs etc that was also pricey so decided we would improvise! Next thing a bucket to keep some coal in.  A galvanised bucket we thought to be a good idea and so Mal went into the Yapi Market and came out with a pair of high steps! Foolishly, I had waited in the car! They didn�t have any buckets but decided we needed taller steps as ours won�t reach high enough to change a light bulb for the highest light fitting. Then we had to try to fit them in the car.  We just about managed.

We also called into �Ronnies� to see if he had any fireguards but no luck there.

Peter came round in the afternoon and together with Mal, they were doing some genealogy on the Internet. (Connection came back on this afternoon!) Peter was very happy because Mal managed to find about another three of his relations.

In the evening, a short power cut at around 6.30, which we thought would be in for the night, but no the power was back on within about 20 minutes.

Friday 17th December
There is an auction on Sunday and the viewing is today and tomorrow, so we decided we would go to see if there are any fireguards. It is �Amanda�s Auctions and the auction rooms are at Ozankoy.  We drove up there and there seemed quite a lot of people viewing. We bought a list and started walking round.  Yes, we did find a fireguard and needless to say, many other things took our fancy, so out of the 660 lots, we have marked quite a few and put prices we are prepared to go up to next to them. We will return on Sunday.

Peter arrived again in the afternoon.  He is hooked in by the Internet!

Saturday 18th December
Another dog-walking day!  This is really good exercise and we managed another entire lap round the mountain.  Today we took four large dogs.  This was fine but right at the beginning two went in one direction and two went in the other direction.  After about ten minutes of yelling, whistling and tempting them with dog chews, we had all four together going the way we wanted to go!  Hamish, one of the kennels long-term residents who just ambles about the place joined us too. By the time we were doing the �up� paths we were getting very warm. At least it didn�t hail this time.

On returning to the kennels, we chatted to Steve who was on duty today.  Evidently all of KAR had been out for their Christmas dinner last night at a restaurant I think should remain nameless, and it had not been a good experience with everyone complaining about the service, the food, everything. What a shame.

On the way back home, we did the shopping and collected another curtain pole from Fiskos, this time for the back patio door.  The weather hasn�t changed yet at night!  We did find two huge logs today by the roadside, which will be great for our fire tonight.  We considered buying a lorry load but are convinced the weather will change soon and the logs will just be sitting here until next winter!

Peter visited again.  His team is playing tomorrow, not today.

A roaring fire tonight!

Sunday 19th December
Auction Day! We arrived at the auction in Ozankoy about 9.45 and collected a paddle for the auction. We were greeted with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. As we were relatively early, we managed to get two very comfortable seats, armchairs in fact. At 10.00am, the auction commenced. At around item 337, they broke for half an hour lunch when we had coffee and a roll.

The auction on the whole was quite an experience, whilst we thought some things would go fairly cheaply, there appeared to be undisclosed reserve prices, meaning that many items went under the hammer and then not sold.

We managed to buy a fireguard, which we went for.  This was �14, a good saving from the �52 shop price.  Of course, we ended up with other things like a camel stool, a large wicker log basket, some children�s books and a nice embroidered Turkish mirror, a Turkish plate, two Turkish fancy wooden boxes.  We thought we did well and had a couple of items still to bid for but by 4.30pm we had both had enough and left.

By the time we arrived home there was our nightly power cut so Mal set to lighting the fire and we sat with the emergency lighting on.  It didn�t last for too long. The auction had taken it out of us! Quite an exhausting day surprisingly.

One of our purchases, the embroidered mirror

Monday 20th December
In the morning we went back to the auction rooms, paid, and collected all our things from the auction rooms. There is a 12 and a half per cent hammer charge and then KDV on top of that price.  We collected all our things and came back home.  A miserable day, raining all day long. The Internet is not working but we know they have problems in heavy rain.

Tuesday 21st December
What a nice surprise, the sun is out and it is much warmer.  This is more like it!

Dentist this morning. We drove into Girne and popped in and had a quick chat with Gwen in the KAR shop as it is her morning to work in there and then straight round for my dental appointment with Seda Serger. I broke part of my tooth in the UK and had a fear she would say it had to come out but no such problem.  She looked at it and said she could fill it again and grind it down a little.  She asked me if I wanted an injection and so I asked if it would hurt and she said no, so I had no injection and it was fine. This cost me 30 million TL, around �11 at the current rate of exchange.  A bargain.  For those reading this who are interested her practise is on the opposite side of the road to the main Post Office in Girne, above the Pharmacy.  I recommend her!

We left, very relieved that this was all I needed doing. Then on to pay the electricity bill and a look around the shops. We also had to pay our annual payment for the house insurance.  We went into the offices and we were told that the renewal had been sent to Stringers.  We called in on the way home and paid our insurance and it also gave us a chance to have a word with Tracey and Phil and to wish them a Happy Christmas.

Back home and although the ground was sodden from all the rain, it was easy to pull the weeds up, so out I went to weed.

Still no Internet.  Peter called up again to do a bit more of his genealogy with Mal.

Log fire again tonight but something wasn�t quite right, probably damp wood, but we had a house full of smoke. Even so, we settled back and watched Polar Express, which got us in the mood for Christmas.

Wednesday 22nd December
Another dog-walking day.  Very cloudy and the weather doesn�t look too promising but we risk it anyway and head for the kennels.  It drizzles a bit on the way but manage to do the whole long walk without getting at all wet.  In fact, we get really warm.  It may still be cloudy but it is a lot warmer.

So, we start with four dogs, before we even get to the proper paths, Chocolate, named by Mal tugs my arm and disappears with his lead attached.  I manage to get the other three on the right path while Mal goes chasing off after him.  Eventually Mal gets him, we take his lead off, and he manages to slip his collar!  He chases all over the place, just like a greyhound while we are trying to capture him to put his collar back on. After a while, we manage this and keep all four dogs with us on the same path.  Success. Or so we think. We then see an enormous 4×4 heading up the track towards us.  Three dogs completely freak out and run off and only the little Cyprus Terrier is left! We put her on the lead as the vehicle passes but there is really no need, as these dogs tend to stay at your heel the entire walk anyway.  We were slightly concerned and as Mal said there is a bit of pride involved here, if we take four out, our intention is to return the correct number back to the kennel! We called and called the other three but only two returned. One of these was Eminem, who we knew was a terrified dog and has taken months of coaxing even to go near anyone.  He did stay with us for the rest of the walk but after being scared by the 4×4, he kept a distance behind us. We could not get him back on the lead though.  So, we returned two on leads, one off the lead and one lost completely.  We do know from experience that they all return to the kennels and sure enough, he had returned on his own!

This is the troublemaker!

Mal with three of the dogs

This was not an easy walk today with all the extra chasing around! Still enjoyable though. We need to get some shopping but decide that we ought to leave it until later as we are covered in slobber from the dogs and mud from the walk.

Peter arrives again in the afternoon to do more of his genealogy investigation with Mal.

In the evening Mal and I went out for dinner to Dűkkans. We had a nice meal and it was all very Christmassy.  They had all their decorations up and the Christmas lights were all on along the main road into Girne.

Thursday 23rd December
This is the day we have planned to go to the South, from our bid won at the auction of promises.  Mal and I did wonder whether we had been foolish doing this two days before Christmas when obviously in the south of the island, they celebrate Christmas.

We arrived at the Lefkoşa check point, showed our passports, had a paper visa stamped, they checked us on their computer and then on to the Greek check point where Shirley just waved her insurance document at them and without looking they waved us through.  Shirley was driving us and Margaret came too. No problem!

Our first stop was Marks and Spencer would you believe. A three-storey building with identical things as in the UK.  I am sure the pricing labels were the same but of course, the Cypriot pound is around 20% more, so obviously you are paying 20% more for goods there. Mal bought some slippers as we have been unable to find any in the North, I am sure he has three pairs back in the UK, and I paid with my M&S card!

We then went on to Orphanides, a large hypermarket, which we felt, would be heaving.  No way, just like M&S just a very few people in there.  We purchased things like pork chops, pork joints, Oxo cubes and some Greek food and wine. Mal was totally inspired when he found some Belgian beers and roughly the same price as in the UK!  I think Oxo cubes in the North are about 4 times the UK price and are about half this in the south.  I shall have to remember to put some in the suitcase the next time we are in the UK. When we finished our shopping, we sat and had a coffee and then went on to a diy store.  They had some dog leads on offer and so I bought some to take to the rescue when we go on Christmas day.

We then made our way back to the border where the procedure was reversed, they stamped our visas and let us go on our way. They didn�t even check to see what we had bought.  There was talk of them only letting you bring back goods to the value of 50 Euros.  Don�t ask why Euros as they have Cypriot pounds! So, no problems at all and no queues anywhere, not at the checkpoints or in the shops.  How different this is to the UK, two days before Christmas. AND it had been sunny and warm all day.  This is the way to do your last minute shopping!

Friday 24th December
It may have been sunny and warm yesterday but boy did it rain last night and it didn�t stop all day.  We watched the corner of the garden flooding and stayed indoors otherwise we would have got drenched. Also at 12.30, the power went down!

At 2.30, I went off to Lemar supermarket to do my stint at the �supermarket beg�.  This is where volunteers man a stall with an empty trolley by the side of it, looking for the generosity of the shoppers.  If they feel so inclined then they can buy any pet food and put it in the trolley on the way out.  The stall has goods on it to sell for KAR (Kyrenia Animal Rescue) and also information about the kennels and animals they have rescued and a donation box.

I was manning the stall with Gwen and I think people were donating because it was such a miserable day and they felt sorry for us! Derek and Eunice came towards the end and Mark their son was with them.  He also used to work with me in Luton, so it was nice catching up with him.  He has come to stay with his mum and dad for Christmas.  At 5.00pm, we packed the stall away and went home.

I arrived home and still no power. Then of course, there is the big debate whether we wait for dinner or alter our menu and cook on the gas hob rather than the electric oven.  By 7.30, we decided to change the menu.  Of course, you can imagine, we just finished the last mouthful and the lights came back on.

We watched a DVD for the rest of the evening, not having any Christmas entertainment on Turkish TV!

Saturday 25th December � Christmas Day
Well, a different Christmas Day, very quiet without the kids and I was a bit tearful at first but we had made a decision to go to the kennels and dog walk.  Gwen and Peter had said they would come up but we told them we would be out in the morning and then Peter was managing his Alsan�ak football club in the afternoon.

The dog walk as usual was lovely and surprisingly warm and dry after yesterday. Today we took four dogs and Hamish and the other resident dog came with us, so in fact we had six and returned six.

The right hand picture is Hamish at the back and �almost� a black lab!

Poor Joanne, the Manager of the kennels had drawn the short straw and was working Christmas Day. On our return to the kennels, we made a fuss of the other dogs tied up outside.  Gizmo (left) is still there, still trying to put some weight on and the one in the picture on the right is such a nice dog.  He is out here because the other dogs decided to chew his ears, in fact quite badly!

We left and drove back home and cooked our Christmas lunch. It seemed strange having all the shops open in Girne on Christmas Day.  In the afternoon, we spoke to all the big kids and the little kids.

We decided to watch another DVD in the evening, Forest Gump in fact! Then much later Tristan called from New Zealand, bless him. Of course, by this time he has to be on Boxing Day!

Sunday 26th December � Boxing Day
Wow, what a warm day.  Gwen and Peter came to visit today and we sat outside in the sun.  I know I put the thermometer directly in the sun but it went up to 33 degrees! We had a very lazy day after they left and then in the afternoon we realised that the football may be on.  What a surprise, we watched the Chelsea game and this was followed by the Manchester United game and a bit later, Liverpool.  This is a bonus and all on free TV!  I know this probably sounds so sad but we do like to watch our football! After all, we have to make up for the lack of English programmes.  We had considered paying for Digi-Turk and then we would have Eastenders every night and many more but we thought we could cope without that!  So, our evening was then spent watching a downloaded version of The Last Samurai.  A good film.

Monday 27th December
We had reserved tickets for our return to the UK in January with CTA via Ankara Travel.  We were told the price was �240.  Meanwhile I had seen an advert in Cyprus Today, offering tickets for �159 return with TWI.  I had emailed and what with all the power cuts and the Internet going down as well, it had taken a few days to get a definite booking.  I finally received an email confirming our seats had been booked and for the ten days we will be returning to the UK in April.  These of course were more because the �159 offer only went up to 27th March but the price was still cheaper than CTA, considerably. Their office is in Lefkoşa and so we drove there to pay for and collect our tickets.

Anyone who knows Lefkoşa will know that the street maps are not excellent and apart from that, once you hit the traffic, half the streets aren�t named. A challenge.  I have to commend Mal whose navigational skills leave a lot to be desired, by his own admission but today we managed to go straight there. I had gone in thinking I would just adopt the Cypriot way of driving and if in doubt, half mount the pavement and hold all the traffic up, everyone hoots all the time anyway, so what the hell.  This was not even necessary.

We walked into the office and spoke to Ilksen Yeşilada, the Manager, a very nice man.  He asked one of the girls to prepare the tickets whilst we chatted about his daughter and the fact that she was applying to London Metropolitan Uni to study Business Studies.  (Mal�s subject of course!) Mal showed him sites to view on the Internet. We then paid for our tickets and Ilksen told us if we were returning regularly then he would give us a discount. A good morning�s work.  We were going to shop in Lefkoşa but as the sun was out we decided to come back home.

In the afternoon, Peter came up again.  He came to clean the pool but only got as far as the computer and Mal and Peter again went into the genealogy sites again!

Tuesday 28th December
We rang Karen in the morning, as it is her birthday and wished her a Happy Birthday.

We managed to get a bit of weeding down even though the ground is so soggy and then sat in the sun for a while as we have a nice little sun trap at the front of the house.

As you can see in the right hand picture a bit of building is going on behind us! Or should I say in front of us, as this is the front of the house. Of course we tend to think of the other side, the swimming pool side being the front as that is where we look down to the sea.

In the afternoon, we went to Gwen and Peter�s as today is Gwen�s birthday so we took her present and card down and stayed for a while.

Wednesday 29th December
Another dog-walking day.  I make no apologies to anyone who has no interest in dogs! We love it and feel at least we are doing a little to help Kyrenia Animal Rescue. For more info:

We collected all the food from the supermarket beg from Gwens yesterday and had it all loaded in the car ready to take this morning.  I understand usually Margaret Ray (chairperson of KAR) usually sorts all this out but unfortunately, about a week ago her husband David had an accident in his car, went off the road and is in quite a bad way in hospital. We wish him well.

It was a lovely day for our long walk around the mountain, so after unloading all the car, we set off with another four dogs. The brown and black one was a real �jump up you� dog and so we were both covered in mud by the end. She also took to Mal and as it was getting near the end of the walk, she kept looking at me with those �take me home with you� eyes.

Today’s collection, and just to show that I do go on these walks too!

Two new additions outside the office

This is Steve having five minutes cuddle with Skippy in the office. Skippy was found after an accident and as you can see, still has one front leg in plaster, the other one has been taken off. She is just like a circus dog and has learnt to run around the office on her back legs even though she can now use three! Aaaaaaaaaaaah!

And of course, Gizmo is still there trying to put on weight!

On the drive home, in spite us being covered in mud, we could not resist stopping to take this photo! Take a look at what is on offer under the petrol prices!!

We believe they mean the coal that they are selling (super coke).

Thursday 30th December
Sunny again today. We had a cup of tea in bed and around 7.30, our doorbell rang.  Mal grabbed for some trousers and the pair of us were imagining who our early morning visitor was, maybe Mustafa from the land behind or his brother in law, perhaps even Hakan (no chance!)?  Mal returned and couldn�t stop laughing.  He was greeted by a man holding a shoebox with a slit in the top of it and he was saying ��őp�ű (pronounced chopchew)� Christmas�.  A good thing Mal has been studying his Turkish.  It was the dustmen calling for their Christmas box!  He either didn�t have the heart or could not recall enough Turkish instantly to tell him that we don�t have a rubbish collection. Instead, he put a couple of million Turkish Lire in his box. My word, hasn�t taken them long to catch on has it?!

We planned to go to the �First ever North Cyprus Craft Fair� in Lefkoşa. The exhibition centre, where it was being held was easy to find.  We had heard there were about 80 stalls and a lot of the stall holders had come over from Turkey, which meant things should be cheaper, as they are in Turkey.  The fair had opened a day late because the Turkish Cypriots had complained that they could not compete and the Turkish should be taxed.  When we arrived, I have to say we were a little disappointed. It seems that a lot of them have given up the ghost and returned to Turkey.  We did however buy a few bits and pieces including a wall hanging for the winter lounge.  We didn�t stay long as it was not as huge as we had imagined.

Back home and the sun still out and much warmer. Peter arrived in the afternoon, having had a tooth taken out this morning. With him, he brought some post for us.  There was a Christmas card from my niece Julie and our Christmas present from Susie and Ken. Thanks both of you! That was a real surprise as it was posted in the UK on 20th December and we fully expected it to arrive on our return out here.  The post office has excelled this time!

Mal and Peter did more genealogy on the computer.

Kara arrived for her dinner, note that she never comes in the morning so that we can capture her and take her to the vets. Her leg seems to be improving.

It has done nothing to dull her appetite!

Friday 31st December � New Years Eve
Quick trip to the supermarket in case everywhere is shut tomorrow. No Internet and so Mal called and they told us they were fixing it.  When it was back on Mal sent them an email listing all the times the service has been down, seems like every time we want to go on!   We now have radio through the computer, so are able to listen to Radio 2 and Magic.  It is good to hear some proper English news rather than the 8.00pm Cypriot-English version of the news on BRT2.

Peter here again in the afternoon, he has become addicted to finding out more and more of his family history and they have managed to get back to the 18th century.

From the middle of the afternoon, we tried to top up our phone ready for the New Years Eve wishes. It was obvious that the network was completely clogged.  In desperation, we tried to ring Rhys and say Happy New Year because we knew we wouldn�t get through later.  Eventually I managed to get through but he couldn�t hear a word.  He called back about half an hour later but a hopeless line

In the evening, we had discussed what we wanted to do.  We had thought about going for the whole sit down do but we have done that before here and as a lot of Turkish come over for New Year, it is always very �tiara and tinsel� and then the singers come on and sing Turkish songs that everyone joins in with except us Brits.  So, having seen a sign at the Corner Bistro that they were having an open buffet, we decided to walk down there.  It is about 2 miles away but of course all down hill (on the way there). So, we left about 8.30.  We decided not to take the enormous torch and so took the medium sized one and that packed up before we reached the end of our drive.  Back we went and we end up with a tiny one. Where is the moon when we need it?  Bear in mind, we have no streetlights which we love except when we have to walk somewhere at night!

Firstly, we went across the road to the doghouse to give them a bottle of bubbly to wish them Happy New Year. It must have taken us about 10 minutes to find out how to get in, with the thought of all those Alsatians coming charging out at us. In the end, we climbed over a railing where the gate will eventually be, knocked on the wrong door and then Willy appeared from the other door after lots of shouting at dogs and shutting them away!  Lena came out too and thanked us and they asked us in for a drink but we explained that we were on our way out.  Lena made us promise that we would go over another time for a drink.  We agreed we would, after all, they are our neighbours and we would like to have them as friends in spite of the rocky start about the �dog house�!

We proceeded down the road, with the minute beam from our tiny torch, about as much good as a chocolate fireguard. We walked through In�esu and past A�menya restaurant.  I was staring in there at all the Turkish and mainly at the waiters who all had Father Christmas hats on! The Cypriots seem to have it all muddled up and Father Christmas�s seem to be popping out from everywhere for New Years Eve. I find it amusing.  Bang, there I am on the floor.  I know I wasn�t looking where I was going and it was dark etc etc.  Twisted my ankle, grazed my knee and hurt my back.  Never mind it is New Years Eve.  On we go to the Corner Bistro, standing outside we read their notice properly.  The open buffet started at 19.00!  It is now 21.00 and everyone is seated at tables.  We decide this is not what we are looking for and so head back up to the Ranch Bar at Riverside.  When we got in there, the bar was empty and didn�t look very promising but a few at a tine the Brits came down from the restaurant because they didn�t want any more �tiaras and tinsel and Turkish sing a longs!

We had a few drinks, in fact quite a few Brandy sours, which made the walk back up the hill much more enjoyable and this time the moon was out. AND in spite of all the brandy sours, I stayed upright all the way home. Mal however managed to walk into a road sign (??!!) and bent his glasses!

It must have been the invigorating walk but by the time we arrived back home we were starving.  Mal kept joking that we would stop at the chippie on the way home and it really started my taste buds going.  So, our first meal of 2005, in the early hours was egg and chips and we loved it!

Mal and I leaving the Ranch Bar!

The chef cooking our egg and chips!