Monday, 27 July 2015

Relaxation at the Spa, a holiday in just one morning!

I've heard it said that once you have kids, a trip to the supermarket alone feels like a treat and I have been known to agree with that on many occasions!

Working on that theory, what does a morning at a Spa feel like? Especially one which looks like this....


If a supermarket trip feels like a day on a tropical beach, my morning at the spa was a full on summer holiday!

Last week I was treated to a morning at Malama Spa & Wellness Centre in nearby Kapparis, and what a treat it was!  Once upon a time, a long time ago I used to regularly use a spa in my local gym, back in the days where I had more free time than I even began to appreciate, when a visit to the gym after work and a quick spa session didn't feel like a treat as such.

The spa itself is amazing, set in a cave with a sunken pool, and seating areas all around in little nooks in the 'rocks'.  It has a mosaic tilled jacuzzi, where I got to enjoy a glass of chilled rose - at 10am in the morning..... I told you I thought I was on holiday!

I was never quite able to decide on my favourite between the sauna and steam, but I think the sauna wins by a fraction.  I prefer the dry heat and the lovely wooden 'sauna smell' plus the fact it's a lot easier to see whats happening!

Stepping into the sauna was a bit like stepping back in time for me, the smell took me right back to the carefree days,  and also showed me how much more used to heat I am!  Where I once struggled to sit in one for more than 5 minutes before running for a cool shower I happily sat watching the sand run through the timer without a problem contemplating how it was nothing like getting in my car after it's been sat in the sun!


The treatments followed the spa, and it was fantastic,  I had the full works,  the 'Malama Bliss' package which included a back and neck aromatherapy massage, foot and leg massage, a thalgo hydra marine facial and a hand massage. 

I was impressed that I didn't actually fall asleep, which is always a worry after getting up at 6am and then having a glass of wine at 10am and I didn't want to waste of second of the experience, but I honestly cannot remember a time when I felt as relaxed as I did laying in the treatment room. 

It stayed with me for most of the day, even when I returned home to a potty training toddler!

For more info on the spa, and my morning visit my local information website:
http://www.famagustaparentsnetwork.com/malama-spa-and-wellness-centre-kapparis/


I was provided with a complimentary treatment for the purpose of this review but the opinons are all my own, and it really did feel like a holiday!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Wonderful Waterworld Fun

Nearly 8 years ago I visited Cyprus for the first time and as we approached Agia Napa I was greeted by the unmissable sight of Waterworld's high flumes as we drove down the highway. I'm such a big kid and I said I couldn't wait to go there!

Of course we had no time to visit during our property finding trips, and I knew I'd never get Aaron to visit a waterpark, but I knew that when we started living here that I would be able to go eventually, even if it meant going on my own!


It took a little longer for my first visit than I originally imagined, many reasons delayed me including small baby / lack of funds / babysitters.... yes I know it's a family day out but what is the point of paying all that money to sit at the edge of the wave pool or next to a baby asleep in a pushchair!

Last year I got my chance, I won a free ticket via the Waterworld facebook page, and announced I was going on my own, or with anyone else who wanted to join me - I was initially even going to leave Leo at home - such a bad mother!  It does sound mean but I had an inkling that he wouldn't want to do much and I knew I'd be unable to go on any of the big stuff!

In the end, good ol' Grandad (another big kid at heart)  joined us and we had a brilliant day at the end of the summer holidays, once Dad and I had eventually coaxed Leo into the play areas after announcing on arrival he no longer liked getting his face wet!


Leo had asked many times when we would go again, and when the park would open again.  I told him I would try my best to take him again this year but we would have to save up as it's not cheap. (€38 for an adult, €24 per child, plus you are not allowed to take in food and drinks so by the time you've had lunch, drinks, ice creams etc you're looking at best part of €100 for the day!)

I hadn't yet decided when we would go, but when I saw that my friends from Tempo Dance school (where I used to take the boys to Jingle Jangles music group) were going I thought it would be the perfect opportunity.   Not only did we benefit from the group discount but Leo's best friend from school would be there too. Also, it meant I had adult conversation, the chance for a rest and wouldn't be on my own with Leo - a win all round!

The big 'kids'
What a difference a year (and a brave friend) makes.... this year Leo charged straight into the water, not caring about the splashes from the fountains and waterfalls.  He played happily in the childrens area, standing under the buckets waiting for them to tip on him, and even going down the little slides.


He still didn't fancy trying the bigger rides but I had a go on a couple with his friend, much to his Mum's delight as it meant she didn't have to!   I'm still a bit of a big girl though and wouldn't think about trying the biggest 'thrill seekers' but the kids are a great excuse!

Our favourite, as last year was the lazy river,  although going on it with a wriggly six year old on your lap, shouting 'Faster Mum, get in front' means it's slightly less relaxing than it is maybe supposed to be!

I was impressed with Leo's stamina, our group was first into the park at 10am and Leo and I left just before 6pm,  we stopped for lunch but apart from our  many attempts to get them to sit down for five minutes and have a drink, they didn't stop all day long, preferring to grab water from us like mini marathon runners as they ran past. Leo did however fall fast asleep as soon as we got in the car!

Messing about on the river!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The dark side of social media and the media bandwagon

They say that bad news travels fast and that has never been more true than now, with the high use of social media these days it takes seconds for stories to travel the world as people share and re-share news reports.

While this is obviously an effective means of sharing and raising awareness of something I can't help feeling quite alarmed at the effect this can have.  I spend a lot of time on social media, facebook in particular and I am shocked at the speed at which people rush to share something without checking the facts or the source of information, including the 'official' news outlets. 

Recently an 'attempted kidnapping' in a Cyprus hotel just 15 minutes from my house hit the headlines across the UK and I am stunned at the reaction it produced, even when it was announced that it didn't even take place. 

I watched as the story spread and was genuinely shocked and saddened by the reports and comments that it attracted in the days following. 

First of all, let me make clear that these things do happen around the world and we should be aware of our children and not live in a sense of false security, I do however assume that most of us are and take every precaution to assure that our children are safe.  Or course there are many people who do not, or they relax their watch on holiday,  but for these I'm not sure a news report or a facebook warning would actually change their ways unfortunately. 

I first noticed it when many friends on facebook shared a news report from the Cyprus Mail, it was all over my news feed within minutes. Of course I read the article immediately but I didn't share it, first of all there was really no need as EVERYONE else had but something held me back. 

I commented to my husband on why it was that bad news spread so fast, recently I have shared several positive  news stories about Cyprus and its the same few people every time who like and share them themselves. I posted a random status wondering why people only shared the bad news and asked 'Where's the positivity people?' 

I hate the scaremongering that happens and the speed at which things escalate without facts, and the fear that it creates and I wondered why it was that people seemed to want to focus on the negative. I had hesitated before posting the status but felt so strongly about it (of course saddened by the apparent bad news but wondering why people didn't equally share the good)   

I hesitated over posting it, mindful that I may be about to be shot down in flames for dismissing a serious incident, and as predicted I immediately received responses, one saying they were glad it had been shared as they live close to the hotel and now they know to watch their kids, and one saying they shared so I didn't become a newspaper article myself.  Like a big girl I backtracked slightly, apologized and went to bed. 

The next morning I got up to see newspaper reports with 'click bait' headlines
'Family flee in terror from Cyprus hotel after child abduction bid'
'Holiday makers forced to flee as families targeted by child snatchers'
'Dad tells of holiday terror as child snatchers attempt to abduct children from family hotel' 



I saw many posts in the Cyprus wedding planning groups, and on forums that I follow and they were full of panic and hysteria. I resolved not to get involved but I the more I read, the more it didn't add up to me. 

The stories were conflicting, and just didn't add up. Nationalities changed, numbers of people involved changed and people seemed to be jumping on the bandwagon left, right and centre. The police issued a statement, at first unfortunately only in Greek.  Many people here had come to the conclusion it was being blown out of all proportion and a few of us were trying to stop the hysteria that was growing. 

Then the UK media picked up the story, it was everywhere but it just didn't make complete sense. 

What most surprised me though was the unwillingness from people to consider it might have been blown out of proportion, even as the reports came saying so and anyone suggesting it  hadn't happened was told it was all a cover up by the police and government. 

'IT WAS ON THIS MORNING SO IT MUST BE TRUE'   was one comment I had shouted at me in a facebook group. 
'The BBC  / Daily Mail / Mirror / ITV had run the story so it MUST have happened' and so on.

Of course I had no idea of the facts, there were (and still are) very few people who were there and know EXACTLY what went on, but WHY is everyone so quick to assume the worst?

It makes me so sad that people don't think of the damage inaccurate stories can cause, and you cannot point this out as 'it's better to be safe than sorry' 

Once the official statement was released much fewer people shared that than the original story, I guess there's no drama there. 

If the allegations had been true then of course the story needed to be told, and investigated but it turned into a witch hunt causing needless worry to many people and damaging peoples perception of the area.  It's a shame that the British press can get away with printing unsubstantiated stories. 

Bad things can happen anywhere, at any time and surely everyone with some common sense is vigalent especially away from home,  but please people don't panic, and don't believe all you read or hear, and don't always assume the worst. 


Read the Cyprus Government response here - Cyprus rejects Child Abduction Claims

There is also a much more articulately written article than mine - Cyprus Abduction Scare - A near kidnapping or near lynching.


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Harry Potter Party - Potions Class

At our recent Harry Potter Party, the definite highlight for the children (and possibly some adults!)   was the Potions Class.

Professor Snape fortunately was unable to make the lesson so instead our very own Moaning Myrtle kindly took over on his behalf. 

Tiny Acorns Creativity Centre

We had a magical array of ingredients for our potions experiments, including Dragons Blood, Leech Juice and Floberworm Mucus!


Harry Potter Party Potions Class
Image Credit: Klik Photo Cy


Our first experiment  - Exploding Potion

Each 'student' was given a cauldron and took themselves 2 tablespoons of 'Bicorn Powder'  (baking powder) 

Next a squirt of 'Dragons Blood' (blood orange juice), a dash of 'Floberworm Mucus' (washing up liquid)  

Finally, some Exploding Fluid (40ml of white vinegar)


The kids, and the adults actually,  absolutely loved it!   The screams of joy and laughter were quite a surprise to me, but it went down so well!

It was really funny listening to the childrens reactions to all the ingredients, wondering if they were REALLY what we said they were and daring each other to taste the Dragon's Blood (whilst looking surreptitiously at us to see our reaction to the suggestion!) Best comment came from one who said 'Wow, Dragons Blood really tastes like orange juice!' 

Experiment No.2 created a magical colour changing potion

For this we used:
Aqua Vitae (Water)
Pumpkin Juice (Orange juice) 
Nagini Venom (Liquid Starch) 
Leech Juice (Iodine) 

Each 'student' started with some  water in a clear plastic cup. 
Using a pipette they were instructed to add a few drops of iodine which turned the water yellow. 

Followed by a few drops of Liquid Starch to turn the water black. 


The 'magic' part comes next as you gradually add the orange juice which makes the colour disappear!


Even I was impressed, and the kids were completely captivated by the magic.  Once again Sam excelled herself with her attention to detail and dedication to the children. 




Sunday, 14 June 2015

A Cypriot Issue and a Universal Question

With recent events in Cyprus and the renewed enthusiasm of the possibility of reunification, or at least steps towards it, I have found myself seeking out more information on all things Cyprus related. Politics have never been of any interest to me in any way before, but I'm finding myself more and more interested in Cypriot news and recent history. 

I have been searching for more information on the country, the history and the troubles.  Of particular interest to me is the stories of the Cypriots themselves, not the politicans and the soldiers but the everyday lives and the impact of events on them.  I now hear of many stories of Greek and Turkish Cypriots living peacefully not only side by side but together as friends and until recently I was not aware that had happened.  I had been under the impression that they were always enemies, and it is encouraging to hear that many people see themselves as Cypriot first, Greek or Turkish second. 

I was therefore interested to 'meet' Alkin Emirali online, a Cypriot of Turkish descent and a screenwriter writing a 'Perfect Motion' production' telling a story of how neighbouring people can both be friends or enemies and how these feuds can be unnecessarily passed through generations. 

Our Cyprus is a short drama about friendship. It reveals a human perspective that cuts through the political terrain. Through the community-spirited Mehmet-Ali, the culture and kinship, which Greek and Turkish Cypriots once shared, is illuminated. He takes us back to a more innocent and beautifully ambiguous past when it was far harder to see where Greek Cypriots ended and Turkish Cypriots began.
Despite being about the Cypriot issue, this story could easily have played out between a Palestinian and an Israeli or a Protestant and Catholic in Northern Ireland. Sadly it explores an almost universal question...
How is it that neighbouring peoples throughout history have regarded their points of difference as infinitely more important than their great wealth of commonality, and taken up arms against one another?



Writer / Director Alkin Emirali explains why he wants to tell this story....



The stories of a divided Cyprus remain largely untold.
My grandparents left Cyprus for the UK in the early 50's, before the troubles that tore the island in two. They were economic migrants who were looking for a better life than the one afforded them as rural peasants from the village of Lurucina.
I grew up hearing my grandparents speaking primarily Greek Cypriot despite being Turkish Cypriots. I heard about my paternal Grandfather and his drinking buddy the Greek Orthodox priest. I learnt that both my Grandfathers (Turkish Cypriots) were baptised in the church as well as being circumcised as Muslims.  My Grandmother told me how she was trained as a seamstress by a Greek Cypriot neighbour. I learnt that Greek and Turkish Cypriots would celebrate each other's religious holidays. 
It seemed to me that these people were not just neighbours, but such close friends that it was hard to see where one ended and the other began. In a more innocent time it seems, Cypriots were one people sharing a culture and a cuisine which was more to do with their island home and each other than either mainland Greece or Turkey.
Our Cyprus is my attempt to reconcile my family's experience of a beautifully mixed and ambiguous Cyprus with the troubles that tore an island and a people in two
Cypriot story between Greek and Turkish Cypriots

You can help bring this film to life by contributing to the crowd fund campaign  to help bring the film to life. We are here to raise £7,750 in total, but you can get involved for as little as £5, that's less than the price of a cinema ticket! 
Visit the website to find out more about the Our Cyprus project and Indiegogo campaign

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Interview with a 6 year old

For the last three years, inspired by something  I saw on pinterest I have interviewed Leo just after his birthday.

After last years 'interview with a 5 year old' I decided to avoid Louka trying to steal the limelight and interview with less distractions!




You can't quite hear the first couple of answers which were blue as his favourite colour - a strange answer when everyone who knows him knows its ALWAYS red!

His favourite toy was something random but is his light saber, wand and time turner.

I'm also not sure why he answers them all in a funny voice!

I love the fact that at the last question he looks at Aaron who was sitting opposite him - I'd assumed he would say photographer (like Daddy)  but impressed he instead said 'Klik Photo CY' with great enthusiasm, he's learning the art of promotion already.

Ah, that's my boy!


Friday, 12 June 2015

Watching and waiting - Fire in Famagusta

Today was a strange day, today we watched as part of Varosha, (the abandoned city in Famagusta which is under control of the Turkish military) was engulfed in smoke as a large fire spread through the empty city.

I noticed the smoke around 3.30pm and rushed to the balcony surprised to see anything happening in the area which has been deserted for almost 41 years. The flames were fierce and the smoke was intense and we could see that it must have been covering a large area.

ghost town of Cyprus fire
Fire in Varosha - Image credit
Since the Turkish invasion of 1974 the area has been off limits to all but a few UN personnel and heavily monitored by soldiers.

Local newspapers reported that the fire was being dealt with by Turkish Cypriot firefighters, the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci had given instructions for assistance to be sought from the United Nations, British bases and Greek Cypriot side if the TC crews were unable to cope.  Fire engines from the Republic of Cyprus (Southern Cyprus) were on standby waiting in Deryneia to assist if needed.  

Varosha fire
Varosha - Image credit 
The fire raged for several hours until eventually extinguished by helicopters dropping water from the sea across the area.

Around 7:30pm the fire was under control.   It seems that fields and wild vegetation burnt but also deserted homes and buildings in the controlled zone.

As far as I know there was no loss of life, I would expect there not to be being as no-one is allowed to enter the city.   No cause has been given for the start of the fire, the mayor of Famagusta Alexis Galanos said it was strange for a fire to break out where there is no electricity.

I've been reading the comments across various platforms with interest, so many are sad and heartbroken and hearing the news from where they have relocated all over the world, sitting watching facebook for updates.

Of course if a settlement is ever reached on Varosha there was always going to be a lot of work to do - it was always going to have to be completely torn down and rebuilt after falling way beyond repair over the years,  but to watch it burn was a very sad thing to see.

It must have been so hard for those whose houses it may have been and for the fire crews standing by in Deryneia watching their city but unable to do anything about it.

Now once again the area is quiet, we wait to hear more, and we wait to see if the recent developments will eventually bring about a solution for the city.

Here's hoping....

phoenix rising
Image credit


Sources:
in-cyprus.com
Famagusta-gazette.com
Cyprus-mail.com

UPDATE: http://in-cyprus.com/varosha-fire-destroys-ghost-town-hotel
The Golden Sands Hotel and a large area of vegetation was destroyed in Friday’s fire in the fenced-off area of Varosha.
Situated within the ‘ghost town,’ the hotel had been inaccessible to anyone but Turkish troops since the 1974 invasion. It belongs to the Archbishopric.
The fire broke out in Ayios Memnonas area and reached down to the beach. There were also reports that Turkish military barracks had been in peril.

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