Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Dear Leo - Now you are 9

Happy 9th birthday gorgeous boy!


For the last 8 years I have written you a letter and published it on my blog, on your birthday. This year it seems a bit silly to do it as I've not blogged for a long time yet on the other hand it seems wrong to break the tradition.

So instead I will not publish your birthday letter,  it's for you after all and not the world.
I know one day you might not thank me for all the times you've been mentioned on here, I hope you'll forgive me!  Just be thankful that I at least thought it through a little bit and I never put on photos on you in the bath!

Of course I have no need to wish you a happy birthday online as I will do doing so in that crazy thing we call real life but as you have grown up with this blog I couldn't let it go!

Love you Leo mou!







Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Ayios Saranta, The Church in the Hill

Many years ago I saw some photos online of a small church built into the rock somewhere in Protaras, I'd often wondered exactly where it was and finding it has been on my 'to do' list for ages.  Walking has never really been our 'thing' especially with several years toddlers or pushchairs and the fact they don't mix well with exploring, but now the boys are bigger it's a lot easier to go 'adventuring'.

After our successful geocaching day earlier this month, I decided to give it another go and started searching for our next geocache and was pleased to discover one very close to the church, making it very easy to find. 

We ended up going with Sam and the kids, who knew where it was anyway and was surprised to find out we'd only been a very short distance from it when we went out last time!

Church in the hill, Protaras

Church in the hill, Protaras

It's a fascinating little place and while it's only a few minutes drive from Protaras and Ayia Napa it feels like it is in the middle of nowhere once you are there. 

I didn't know anything about the church until I googled the name of the geocache,   it is called Ayios Saranta,  which translates to Saint Forty but there is very little information I could find. 
It seems that the cave has been a place of worship from the earliest centuries of Christianity, according to website Ring of Christ, and there was a large number of bones found were believed to be those of 40 early Christian martyrs. 

The church has even made it onto a list of The quirkiest churches in the world which is great,  I agree it is so unusual, and even more unlikely that this tiny church nestled in the hills in Cyprus could be listed with so many from all around the world. 

Inside are several icons, and candles lit in memory of loved ones, we had arrived at the same time as a Cypriot family carrying candles, so had waited for them to leave the church before we entered.




Although I am not a religious person it was great to finally find the church and was amazing to think that it has been there unchanged for so many years,  not to mention the amazing views of course.




As it turns out the geocache wasn't really worth finding,  other than to be able to cross it off the list.  It was broken and the log book was soaked and covered in slugs, but as we left the church and started walking we found something even better...


We found a cave!




With two Minecraft loving boys, you can imagine how excited they were to be in a cave in real life. They even 'crafted' axes and mined some more. 

A very successful day of exploring and adventuring!


The Magic of Artificial Boxwoods and Why Your Office Needs Them *Guest Post*

Guest Post by Hedgescapes.com




Are you looking to redecorate your office space? Then the artificial boxwoods are just what you need to create the perfect landscape in both indoor and outdoor areas of your office. These magical landscaping products have lush green leaves, are unbelievably realistic looking and are available in different shapes, patterns, and sizes. Manufactured to resemble the real boxwood shrubs identically, the faux boxwood plants and hedges also have 1.5 to 5 centimetre long leaves just like the real plant. Here’s why your office totally needs these gorgeous landscaping products:


They Are Easy To Maintain and Provide Care To


One excellent benefit of these realistic and beautifully manufactured artificial boxwoods is that these landscaping products are very easy to provide care to. Unlike the real boxwood plants that require tropical or subtropical climates, strong sunlight, regular watering, and fertilization, the faux boxwoods require no such maintenance and special weather conditions. The artificial landscaping products can be kept clean and fresh with a single spray of water, or even a wet duster is good enough to keep them looking brand new and lush green.


They Can Be Installed In Several Different Settings


Another excellent benefit of the artificial boxwood hedges is that these plants can be installed in a vast range of both indoor and outdoor settings, making them the perfect decorative product for your office. Here’s a list of office as well as other residential and commercial spaces that these landscaping products can be installed in:


  • Office building, office lobby, office cabins, meeting rooms, conference rooms, office building parking lots, office terraces and office gardens are also spaces where the plants can be installed in.

  • Hotel lobbies, hotel parking areas, hotel gardens, hotel rooms, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, pubs, and lounges can be given a nice tropical vibe with the installation of the plant

  • Apartments, villas, bungalows, public gardens, government buildings, hospitals and old age homes can be given a vibrant and lush green vibe with the installation of the faux boxwood hedges.




PermaLeaf® Technology Used To Make the Landscaping Products Weather Proof


At the time of manufacturing of these artificial boxwood plants and hedges, a special technology called the PermaLeaf® technology is used to ensure that the finished products are weatherproof. Special UV stabilizers are impregnated into the raw materials of the faux plants that keep these plants protected from the harsh rays of the sun. The leaves of the boxwoods will not fade when exposed to excessive sunlight. Further, the high-quality colour pigments used in the leaves of the plants ensure that the boxwoods stay lush green for years on end without losing their colour.


ThermaLeaf® Technology for Fire Retardant Plants


People are often apprehensive about installing artificial boxwoods in and around their office spaces because artificial landscaping products have the reputation of being susceptible to fires. No one would be ready to take the risk of installing products in an office space that may lead to fires and destruction of the surroundings and maybe even causalities. However, in the case of these artificial boxwood hedges, you need not worry about your office going up in flames. A special technology called the ThermaLeaf® technology is used at the time of manufacturing, and this technology makes the boxwoods fire retardant. Fire retardant chemicals are impregnated with the raw materials of the boxwoods that guarantee the safety and security of your office.




Affordable And Cost Effective


Redecorating an office that is very large in size can prove to be a costly ordeal. Installing real plants in the landscape area can further increase your monthly costs because real plants will require you to hire a professional gardener to provide maintenance. In the case of the faux boxwood hedges, you need not worry about additional expenses. Also, the artificial boxwoods are very affordably priced and thus can be purchased in large numbers to fill up and decorate office spaces of enormous sizes.


Sturdy, Durable and Long Lasting


Another excellent benefit of these ambience plants is that they are very long lasting and durable. Unlike several competitors’ products that are available in the market, the artificial boxwood hedges do not spoil or deteriorate over time. These landscaping products can last for years and years on end without breaking, ruining, fade or deteriorating. Further, the boxwoods can be used and re-used as per requirement. When not in use, the artificial landscaping products can be stored away without any hassles and will remain intact even in proper storage conditions.




Lightweight and Easy To Install


Even though the artificial boxwood hedges are very durable and long-lasting, these landscaping products are not heavy. They are lightweight, and this feature makes them very easy to move from one space to another and makes the installation process also quick and hassle-free. You do not need to hire labourers and landscape artists to install these boxwoods in your office, a single person or two people are more than enough to get the landscape in place.


Can Be Placed To Provide Privacy in the Office


The boxwood screens are very tall in height. These screens can be used to provide privacy in the office. Cabins can be covered with the boxwood screens to maintain the privacy of the cabin owner. The screens can be used for partition between two cabins, or can also be used as a partition screen for the conference room or meeting room in the office.




For all of you out there who are looking to revamp your office space, the boxwood hedges and other landscaping products are highly recommended. Not only are these products affordable but also they can last for years on end without spoiling. The lush green leaves of the boxwoods have proven to show more productivity and creativity to employees and staff members. So, place your order today and redecorate your office in ways you could not imagine.


Give your office a magical, mystical and enchanting vibe with these gorgeous boxwoods. Leave customers and clients amazed at your office landscape!



Thursday, 18 January 2018

The one with the massive flashback

Facebook drives me mad a lot of the time, not mad enough to not live on it constantly of course (It's not that I *want* too, I HAVE to because of my work, well that and I'm far too nosy not to!)  It's full of rubbish a lot of the time, but also lots of little gems, funny things and random links that are a major time suck but so addictive.

Every now and again though it throws up a gem, or in this case inspiration for a blog post...

Recently I saw a link to an 80's nostalgia website and this particular post was all about the 'Come and Praise' hymn book that surely every 80s kid held in their grubby little hands once upon a time.

(I couldn't find the original post, so I'm making my own!)


We used this book every morning in assembly throughout my primary school years. They were kept in a box and handed out at the door as we left the classroom to go to the 'Big Hall' for assembly.  There were many very battered copies in the box and a few brand new shiny ones. It was always a bit of a 'thing' to get one of the new ones!

I searched for 'Come and Praise' on youtube and was instantly transported back to those days,  sat cross-legged on the floor, or in later years having the privilege of sitting on actual chairs at the back of the hall - in the 4th year (year 6 for all you young ones out there!)  or in the 3rd year when the older ones were out.   Listening to whichever teacher was playing the piano to accompany our dulcet tones.

(Do schools still have pianos?  I'm guessing not,  maybe an ipod?!)

We never sung all of the hymns in there, I remember different teachers used to have their own favourites and you could usually guess which one we'd be singing by who was taking assembly.

I loved singing along with my favourites until I realised it was more 'cool' not to sing, and then instead you'd just mumble along, enough to not get told off for not singing if spotted by a teacher!

We never thought about the words particularly (well, not always but more on that in a moment) and it would possibly be too religious for schools these days?  I have no idea having nothing to do with UK primary schools since 1989!

I don't think our school wasn't a religious school as such, although thinking back we did have the local vicar come in quite often with his guitar!

Here are a few 'classics' that I came across on youtube,  I was surprised at how many of the words I could remember as they played.

Autumn Leaves

Autumn days, when the grass is jewelled
and the silk inside a chestnut shell
Jet planes waiting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well
No, I mustn't forget,
No, I mustn't forget,
To say a great big thank you
I mustn't forget


One More Step Along The World I Go

One more step along the world I go
One more step along the world I go
One more step along the world I go
From the old things to the new
Keep me travelling along with you



Cross Over The Road

Cross over the road my friend
Ask the Lord his strength to lend
His compassion has no end
Cross over the road




When I Needed a Neighbour

When you needed a neighbour
where you there, where you there?
When you needed a neighbour
Where you there?

(I most remember everyone always sniggering at the line 'I was cold I was naked'   and I think in the end they actually told us we had to skip that verse, I have a feeling that everyone 'forgot' and in the end we were not allowed to sing this hymn!)



When a Knight Won His Spurs

When a Knight Won His Spurs in the stories of old
he was gentle and brave, he was gallant and bold
With a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
For God and for valour he rode through the land.


My main memory of this is actually the poem by Allan Ahlberg which went to the same tune and changed out some of the lyrics to a teacher interupting her singing to tell off the class.

When a Knight Won His Spurs in the stories of old, he was 'FACE THE FRONT DAVID BRIGGS, WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN TOLD' 



Give Me Oil In My Lamp

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
Give me oil in my lamp I pray,
Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning,
Keep me burning till the break of day


I remember everyone singing the 'Sing Hosan -NA' bits really loudly and stressing the ending, antoher thing that drove the teachers mad!

Of course there were more,
Morning has Broken,  never did like that one much,
Lord of The Dance - can't remember how much I liked it at the time but I like it now!  I loved Michael Flatley's (he of the independantly flailing legs) Lord Of The Dance so they kind of changed it a lot for me.
Kumbayah My Lord - what does that even mean?!  (ok, just googled it, it means 'Come by Here)
and
All Things Bright and Beautiful

Were you a child of the 80s? Let me know your favourite or tell me any classics I missed!

Rocketship Education Aids The Development Of Both Parents And Students



The rise of charter schools in the U.S. has largely been a response to the continuing state of the public school system across much of the country as overworked educators struggle to work with falling budgets and standards. Despite the higher standards and educators specializing in many individual areas of research such as STEM, the sciences, and humanities, charter school Rocketship Education reveals the close community which forms across the student body, faculty, and parents; the families of students at the San Jose Rocketship Education facility have recently seen aid given to them when catastrophic flooding struck the city and caused major problems for many.

One of the major areas of misunderstanding the public has when it comes to charter schools is the sense that charter schools are solely for the rich and privileged. In fact, Rocketship Education largely brings students through its doors from low-income families across three states and Washington D.C. in a bid to make sure every child has a chance of achieving success regardless of their background. To make sure the needs and challenges of each child are addressed the educators from Rocketship Education are required by the school to visit the home and family of a student periodically to make sure they understand how best to aid the development of the entire family unit.

The concept of Rocketship Education is to do more than simply develop better-equipped students at the elementary level but also to make sure parents are given the drive and appeal to push forward their children as they move through the educational system in the U.S. Established in 2006 by former public school educators, Rocketship Education has become one of the leading resources for developing parents who are now moving on with their children and attempting to create charter schools to continue the education of students as they move out of the Rocketship Education elementary school period. The main mission of the charter school system is to develop a new and exciting way of closing the education gap between rich and poor through the use of technology and highly-skilled educators.


Monday, 8 January 2018

Geocaching Day

It's been a long time since we went geocaching, maybe even a whole year but on Tuesday 2nd Jan I suddenly decided to download the app again and planned to go out with the boys the following day.

They were excited about the idea, especially after our recent 'adventuring' walk and even more so when it rained so much first thing in the morning ensuring there would be plenty of puddles to jump in!

In an unexpected coincidence, it turns out that it was 2 years to the day since we had found our first geocache, so I jokingly announced it was 'Geocaching Day' which impressed the boys even more.

There are many geocaches in the area we'd like to go and find but I thought we'd head to Protaras today, firstly because the boys enjoy the 'off road' ones more than the ones hidden in more busy areas as they get to run, play and explore, and on a day like today to jump in muddy puddles!  There are 8 geocaches in a reasonably small area in the hills of Protaras so I thought it a good place to head to, figuring we've got more chance of finding at least one.

It didn't start well as we couldn't find the first one despite the app taking us straight to where it seemed like it should be.  Once we start looking in a specific area the boys tend to have limited patience if we don't locate it quickly. They hate to leave without finding it, especially Leo but with others so close they were happy to carry on.


I was unsure if it would be possible for the boys to happily walk around all of them, given that we would more than likely end up going out of our way a few times and still have to walk back to the car, so we drove a little further, closer to the second and third on our list.

Success!
We found it without too much trouble, signed the book and took a little blue shell as our treasure, leaving a small black cat figurine in its place.


Onwards and upwards to the next coordinates and as we passed a gazebo, at Loukas request we stopped for a quick rest and a snack.



The next cache, called 'Leapin Lizards' sounded quite interesting and we found it easily once we spotted a pile of rocks which looked a little different.  It was an unusual container, to say the least!



Louka was a bit scared at first, and I have to admit it did look quite realistic hidden in the rocks, but a poke with a stick soon meant they were happy to pick it up!

This time we left a little Playmobil toy treasure map and took a Russian coin in exchange as well as signing the logbook.

It suddenly started to rain heavily so we ran back to the gazebo for cover. Luckily it only lasted a few minutes.


At this point we decided to retreat and head home, the sky was starting to look very dark and I wasn't thrilled about the idea of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain and driving down random unmade muddy roads with no real idea where I was going!

It was a successful trip though, 2 out of 3 ain't bad!


If you are looking at trying geocaching, you can find out how on the official geocaching website, www.geocaching.com although we use the C:Geo app from the Google play store (not a sponsored post, just preempting the question!)




Saturday, 6 January 2018

Winter Walks

I love going for winter walks in Cyprus, it's something we have so rarely done yet when I do bother to get out its' great, especially now everyone can walk (well, Aaron not so much at the moment but we can leave him at home!)  and generally not fall over.

We went out during Christmas week and had a lovely walk along the cliffs in Kapparis and some time on the beach. It was very warm, despite it feeling chilly at home and I even took my fleece off and sat in a short sleeved t-shirt!

While sitting on the beach watching the boys compete to throw rocks the furthest into the water I thought how amazing it was to be there, in December and how it was better than being indoors.
I thought we need to do this more often,

I thought I need to remember that it's always worth going out

I thought with a smile,  I should write it down so I don't forget




Louka had not wanted to go out when it was first suggested, moaning first about getting dressed, then having to put on shoes etc, I tried to be encouraging and eventually gave up and said' just get in the car, we're going out and you'll enjoy it once we're there'. Leo wasn't overly enthusiastic but just went along with the idea.

It would have been worth it if we'd made it there and back without any moans but it was all worth it when I heard Louka running down the path say 'This is SO MUCH FUN'

They both enjoyed 'adventuring'  -  more fun than merely going for a walk.  We weren't out that long, as walking is not really their thing and they've not got to have walked far before they are 'soooooo tired' and the moaning kind of outweighs any joy gleamed from being out and about,  but it's a start!

So, note to self,   don't forget to get out more!





Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Hello 2018

Hello 2018! 

How are we here already? 
I realise it just makes me sound very old but seriously, how can we have reached a year that once sounded so far into the distant future to me that I couldn't have even imagined it.   Of course, once upon a time 1999 seemed like a long way away, but I feel like I've lost a decade somewhere,  if I think 10 years ago I still have to check myself to think it was actually 2008 not 1998!

Last year Aaron was thinking it very funny to constantly tease me about the fact I would be turning 40 in October,  I generally tolerated it as I was ignoring the actual age thing and excited about the forthcoming celebrations.  I did assume that the jokes would stop once I became a 40-something but he still continues,  I wouldn't mind but he's older than me!

So, I'll be 41 this year,  meh,   it's ages away and who actually cares. 40's the new 30 anyway (thanks Pitbull!)  I guess that makes me a proper adult (or was I supposed to be there already?),  it's still not quite as I imagined, I thought I'd have it all figured about by 30 once upon a time!!

What's the plan then for 2018?    Where to even begin?
Work, work and more work, I love love love what we do together, and the new directions we are also going in but I've got to make a plan to keep up with it all. It's not going to be easy but nothing worthwhile is - (who said that? Sure I read that somewhere!)   It's fine though, I've got this!

Family, health, diet, fitness, housework, blogging?, friends,   yep! Let's get juggling!

I don't 'do' resolutions, especially in January, but I like the idea of a 'word' for the year.  I'm sure I've picked one at least once before but having looked back through previous January posts I didn't think to mention it on here it seems!

Going with the first word that popped into my mind, and that made sense the more I thought about it is 

Focus.



On what?  Well, everything!
All of it, but one thing at a time.  I want to pause and plan and then get on with it all.  

(and I still really want to blog, I'm just not that great at juggling the three websites, so this is always the one that has to give!) 




Wednesday, 27 December 2017

End of an era

This month saw the end of an era, as my last article was published in Daxi Magazine. I've been writing for Daxi for almost 7 years now and after several months of debate reluctantly decided it's time to stop.




A lot has changed since I started, and my day to day life has changed considerably in that time.  Back then I was blogging regularly,  often 4 or 5 times a week and it was easy to adapt a post a month into an article for the magazine, for a couple of years now my blog has taken a back seat as the business got bigger, and my boys are no longer babies and as easy to write about.

I always have things in my head I'd love to write about, but finding the inspiration and the time to get them out just doesn't happen as easily now.  This year is the first since I started when I'd not managed even one blog post in a month as I missed the whole of November.

Over the last year, I have thought many times of closing this blog completely but can't help but think it would be a shame to take down 8 years of writing, some of which is quite good, and I do like be able to look back at the early days of living in Cyprus, and the boys baby / toddler years.  I always come back to deciding just to leave it here in case I decide to start again, so I'll leave it here, for now at least until inspiration strikes again.   I'm not ready to give it all up just yet!

Loukas 5th Birthday

You know you're a bit behind on blogging when you post about your October birthday before finishing one about Louka's in August,  but as always it's better late than never!
















And you know that blogging is much harder these days when you just fill a post with photos!
(I uploaded the photos many weeks ago and never got round to actually writing it,  seemed a shame to just delete the draft!) 

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