January 2006

Sunday 1st January 2006
Quite a lazy day, sun out and so off to the beach. A bit more gardening later. The grandchildren all rang to wish us Happy New Year.

In the evening we were invited to Lynn and Stuarts for dinner, Along with four others, very nice people. Lynn prepared an excellent meal for us all. It was a really nice beginning to the New Year.

Monday 2nd January
Another warm and sunny day.  Gwen and Peter visited in the morning.  Just as they left we had a phone call from Bev and Gary, who have come for a week to buy a house in Karsiyaka. We gave them directions as they haven�t been here before and told them we would stand and wave on the edge of the swimming pool terrace. Well, Mal stood there and saw a hire car slowing down and then slowly driving past, so he did no more than wave his arms in the air to signal the car to come up the drive up the front. Well, from that height you can�t see who is in the car. The car came up the drive and a couple got out who were not Bev and Gary!  We don�t normally invite everyone to come up! Mike got out of the car and said I think you must be expecting someone else!  We explained about Bev and Gary and they told us that they had read my website and just had a drive out to see where we were, so we invited them in for a cup of coffee!  Then Bev and Gary arrived so we all sat in the garden.

The Mike and his wife left (do come again if you are reading this!)

So, we sat with Bev and Gary hearing about their house and looking at the photos.  We then had some lunch and when it started turning a bit chilly (the sun had dropped behind the mountain), I suggested that we went in and had the fire on but they said they had to go. It was very nice seeing them again, having been emailing since their last visit.  They also brought us over two jars of coffee which was much appreciated.

I was just thinking of getting dinner when I thought I saw a missing kitten (one of our neighbours kittens that was missing). We shut Rosie in and Mal went out with food and tried to tempt it, after about three quarters of an hour, he managed to get it in his arms.  Lena had left us a cat box and so I tried to open it and couldn�t, so I took the kitten, held it tight by the scruff.  By this time Rosie was barking like mad shut indoors and knowing there was a cat outside! Well, that really freaked the kitten who suddenly performed an extremely athletic somersault, sank its claws into my hand and the pain made me let go.  We couldn�t believe it, almost there and it escaped again. We kept going over it, if only I hadn�t let go, we had a towel to cover it etc etc but it all happened so quickly. At least we know that it hasn�t disappeared but now it is a real challenge to try and capture it.  We put more food out but no sign for the rest of the night.

Tuesday 3rd January
About a month ago I discovered that the Post Office in Karaoğlanoğlu had 35 brand new Post Office boxes. Post boxes are like gold dust here, so having seen them I went in and asked if I could have one.  Up until now Gwen and Peter have very kindly let us share theirs. The post officer asked where I lived and said no as they were only for residents of Karaoğlanoğlu. I tried pleading with him in my very poor Turkish and he just stood there laughing and shrugging his shoulders.  I am not sure whether it was my Turkish or the situation he was laughing at! No luck so I started driving home and the thought maybe Alsancak also have new boxes. Yes, they had, so Mal went in and asked if we could have one, filled out a form and the Post officer told us to return on the 1st January. Well, of course this was Bayram and the Post Office was also shut yesterday.  So today was the day! Of course we have been in a panic ever since thinking we would not get one.

We drove to the Post Office, Mal went in, paid 20 ytl for the year and we are now the proud owners of a post office box! Well, a wheelie bin and rubbish collection and now a post office box, we really are coming up in the world!

The next long saga is my car tax. When we bought the car, the lady said it was MOT�d for three years and taxed up to the end of December.  We took her at her word and on 31st I remembered! You have to consider that most of the tax discs here have been faded by the sun, so I started looking through all the documentation she had given us only to discover that it looked as though it was a year out of date! Well, that was it I panicked and worried about it until we knew the tax office would re open after the Bayram holiday. Peter did say the worst that could happen would be paying two years tax and a fine. I have never not paid my car tax in the UK and guess I had my UK head on, thinking how serious this was.

So, next stop was the tax office.  This is, as you drive into Girne, take the next left after the turning at the side of Caf� Dűkkan and the office is on the right hand side a short way down that turning.  Mal went in with the log book, MOT and my insurance.  He said the lady muttered a bit and said things he didn�t understand but she asked him for 66 ytl and handed over a tax disc up until 30th November 2006!  Phew! All that worrying for nothing. I have now made a note in the diary of when everything is due for renewal. It is so easy to get into the �yarin� way of living here and forgetting the important things.

Next stop the bank to withdraw the first payment for the drive and that only took half an hour as there were very few people in there. That must be the current record!

So, quite a lot achieved today.

Wednesday 4th January
As the drive work has been started I had to get up early and move the car across the road, so as we were up we drove up to the waterfall with Rosie and went for a lovely early morning walk in the mountains, taking a different route this time.  Poor Rosie is on her last tennis ball and it is in a very poor state.  As usual, the next visit to the UK will be half a suitcase full of things for Rosie (all much cheaper in the UK) and as for her favourite, pigs ears, I have never seen them here!

It was very windy and so I started cleaning inside but then realised that all the dust from below and the piles of cement they have left for the drive were getting everywhere.

Peter came up in the afternoon and in the evening we watched �Nania�.

Thursday 5th January
Cloudy and windy again but still no rain!

We are still trying to catch the kitten by putting tuna, salmon and chicken outside.  We haven�t seen the kitten since the failed attempt at catching her but we have had many other animals enjoying the food, including last night a dog who wanted to come in and have some more.  It had a collar on, so belonged to someone but it is a dog we haven�t seen before, so perhaps word has got around the villages that it is good grub here.  We escorted the dog back out of the garden!

Later I drove to Tempo, in Karaoğlanoğlu to get some bread and other shopping.  My bill came to 28.87 ytl. I handed over 29ytl, the cashier took the money, shut the till and served the next customer.  This is really getting too much now.  I stood there with my hand open, asking for my change. She did no more than open the till, hand over the change and shut the till again.  Not a word of apology and this time no excuses that they were short of change.  This time she HAD the change. I know I keep banging on about this but can you imagine every time you pop into Tesco�s they short change you?  I don�t think any of us would walk out and say nothing and this is happening all the time here.

Of course by the time I got home I was furious as they are taking us for idiots. So Mal is going to put it on his website (www.consumerpressuregroup.com) and we will see just how often this is happening.

More weeding in the garden, we are now thinking we should be watering the garden as there has been so little rain.

When it was feeding time we heard the kitten again! Mal went out with more food but this time Lena had been hand feeding it, managed to get it in a box and the athletic kitten then bashed the door open and escaped again! Perhaps it will be third time lucky.

In the evening we decided to go out for a meal. Having seen the Paradiso (next door to Serkos in Alsancak) does a �Thursday Night Buffet Night�, we decided to go there.  We went in and they told us as they hadn�t had enough bookings they weren�t doing it but we could have a take away instead. We declined and decided we would go somewhere else we have not yet been.

So, just along the road, Capitano, the fish restaurant. I love fish and so thought this would be a real treat. We ordered our drinks and my brandy sour was awful.  In fact, I only drank a bit of it. Mal makes them far better! The service was slow however we ordered a fish meze, well this is a fish restaurant and we have previously had some delicious fish mezes. It was awful. The 7 cold dishes were mostly pickled vegetables with a smattering of fish in three of them. Then we had ONE small prawn each, ONE mussel each and a couple of minute sardines, all dripping in fat. A couple of rings of calamari each and then the main fish course which I couldn�t tell you what the two ounces of fish was when you managed to get it off the bone (overcooked) and a small dish of some sort of fillet of white fish in a vary bland sauce. They never came and asked if we would like more drinks and so after a very disappointing meal at the cost of 66ytl, we declined fruit, paid the bill and left.  We will not be returning.

Back home and I had a real brandy sour!

Friday 6th January
Clear blue skies and very warm sun.  That is Rosie�s cue to sun worship!

Below us the Russian house has changed colour! They seem to have been working on it quite a lot so perhaps it will be finished some day soon!

The houses at the end of the garden seem to be progressing as well.

There are a lot others near to us but they don�t appear to be selling and yet the building still continues!

Mal watered the garden in the afternoon as we haven�t had any rain.  Rosie decided she was going to play and starting drinking the water and then running round the garden like a greyhound and true to form, then rolled in the mud, ran indoors and rubbed up against everything. I am actually in the middle of a big clean as we are heading back to the UK on Sunday. I wonder why I bother, mud marks everywhere now.  Still, she enjoyed herself.

A four hour power cut didn�t help today.

Saturday 7th January
Cloudy and rain forecast. According to the Cyprus Today this is beginning to be the driest winter for thirty years.

Mal and I both feeling fed up at the thought of leaving our home and leaving Rosie.  She is well looked after in the kennels but we still don�t like leaving her. But Mal has exam work to do for OCR, so off we must go.

Gwen and Peter came round in the morning and Stuart visited in the afternoon.

Sunday 8th January
Both of us very gloomy at the thought of going back to the UK!  This was not helped by the rain which was pouring down. I took Rosie for her walk and then we took her over to the kennels.  She always seems excited at going over there.  I think she likes it with the other dogs.  But I wasn�t!  I hate leaving her.

Peter drove us to the airport.

CTA flew us back.  We were an hour late leaving but the pilot caught up half of that on the way back. Arriving at Stansted there was an enormous hold up with everyone arriving from TRNC or Turkey being questioned because of the bird flu and also a lot of people were being pulled over in Customs. Eventually we were through and Torin and Karen met us. Back to their house.

Monday 9th January
We stayed at Torin�s house and in the afternoon went to visit the grandchildren.

L-R: Tariq, Sol, River and Torin
It was really good to see them.

Tuesday 10th January � Friday 13th January
Birmingham, where Mal attended his exam meetings. I shopped, having been starved a little in the TRNC! At least we had the luxury of a hotel for this time.

We drove back to our mobile home in Margate in the evening and it was freezing! All the fires on and we went out for a meal. We went to The New Inn, in Minster in Thanet, where we used to live (the village not the pub!) The landlord knew what we were going to order, as Mal always has the HUGE mixed grill, that�s a good landlord to remember after all this time.

Back to the caravan and it was still feeling chilly in there, after all it has been empty for a long time.

Saturday 14th January
We warmed up at last! Mal went to the office to collect all the post, there were literally sacks of it, all his exam papers. He spent the rest of the day trying to get it all in some sort of order. I went out to do some food shopping and after the shops in the TRNC was quite amazed that all the shops I went in, kept giving me my penny change!

In the evening there was a farewell party on the site, in the clubhouse, bumper bingo, buffet and reduced price drinks and disco!  Certainly know how to live in Thanet!

Sunday 15th January
Mal spent the day sorting out all his exam papers but I managed to drag him out to Broadstairs for Sunday lunch.

Monday 16th January
The site where our mobile home is closes tomorrow for 6 weeks and so we rent a lovely cottage in St Nicholas at Wade.  So, we moved into it today, at least then we have 24 hours to realise what we have left behind and can go and collect it and turn all the services off. We are again beginning to feel like gypsies and I get a bit fed up with keeping track of everything we need where ever we go.

In the afternoon we drove to Canterbury to stock up on food.

Tuesday 17th January
Back to our mobile home to collect the bits we had forgotten and shut everything down.

In the evening we went for a meal with Steve and Shirley (Mal�s brother and wife).  We went to the Bell Inn at St Nich�s, just along the road and it was an excellent meal.  It was really nice to see Shirley and Steve too. Hopefully they will be coming out to Cyprus in September.

Wednesday 18th January � Monday 23rd January
During this time we visited Birmingham for another of Mal�s exam meetings. One of his ex colleagues was staying at the same hotel and Mal just grinned as he told us how awful his old school was! Mal was very sensible getting out when he did.

We also visited my friend Paula. On the Sunday Mal�s sons came to visit us.  We are getting through catching up with people gradually! In between, Mal continues his exam work. The weather was cold and FROST�.haven�t seen that for a long time. They have been forecasting weather from Siberia at the end of the week, we can�t wait!

The cottage where we stay

Tuesday 24th January
A cold day. The highlight of the day was Mal receiving yet another �threatening� email, supposedly from a solicitor in TRNC, telling him to remove things from his website and from my diary within three days or he will face prosecution. I am not happy after all this is a diary, my opinions, am I not allowed to do this in the TRNC? Well, I know neither of us will be happy living in the TRNC under what they are suggesting is a dictatorship. We will not let it rest.  AND they want to join the EU?!!! Mal has asked what they are asking to be removed and why.  We await their reply.

Wednesday 25th January
Mal had a break from his work in the afternoon and so we went into Canterbury.  Mal took some photos, it is a lovely city.  I think when I worked there and walked through the cathedral grounds every day, I didn�t appreciate it as I should have done!

In the evening Steve (Mal�s brother) came round.

Thursday 26th January
Back up to Birmingham for three days of meetings for Mal.

Friday 27th January
I shopped whilst Mal worked! I have been buying all the forthcoming birthday presents. The Bullring and shops in Birmingham city centre seem surprisingly empty.

Saturday 28th January
Had enough of the shops so I walked to the Jewellery Quarter.  They have such nice shops and if anyone is looking for good jewellery, this is the place to go. I bought my sisters 60th birthday present.

Sunday 29th January
Today was Chinese New Year, it is now the year of the dog, so off I went to Birmingham�s China Town. It was a lovely atmosphere there and a full programme of events.

I really enjoyed it.

In the evening after Mal finished his meeting, we drove back to the cottage.  As it is Chinese New Year we decided to have a Chinese meal to round off the day!