Friday, 29 May 2015

Now you are 6 {Leonidas}

Dear Leonidas.....

You wouldn't have known that I have written you a blog post every year since your first birthday but I realised that this year you would understand them and so I have decided to print them all out for you and give to you today.

Of course, today's the day you turn six, it's your birthday today, and that means it's party time!  I think I may be just as excited as you are this year and I am really looking forward to it - I hope you enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed planning it!

Now you are six
It's been a busy year for us hasn't it, with our new family business starting up and Daddy and I doing lots of work, I know you sometimes don't like the fact we have lots to do but you are becoming a good helper and I love that you are enjoying using your camera and want to work with Daddy when you are bigger.

You are doing so well at school, and I am looking forward to seeing you in your school play next week.  I am so proud of you trying your best to do your homework by yourself and even if you don't think your drawings are good enough, as long as you do your best then I am happy.

We know you are good at reading of course, but your writing is getting very good too, its hard to learn to write in two different languages but you are managing very well.

This year you have started to wear glasses, and they make you look very handsome, but also like a certain wizard, especially when you are holding your wand or wearing your robes.

I hope you have a brilliant birthday, and you enjoy your party.

Love you 'everywhere'

Mum xxxxx

Thursday, 28 May 2015

On this day.....

I love a bit of nostalgia and one of my favourite things at the moment is the flashback apps 'timehop'
and more recently 'on this day'  on facebook.

If you haven't gathered by now, its an app which shows you your photos and statuses from 'this' day in previous years, and via the facebook one even posts to your wall and comments on stuff.

It is strange to read things that I'd written so long ago and to think of how much things have changed, and the random rubbish I used to post too when my friends were just a small handful of only 'real life' people.

Of course, the most interesting comments (alongside the 'moving to Cyprus month) to me now are the bored, ramblings of my overdue big fat pregnant self during May 2009.

'Emma is drumming her fingers impatiently'

'Emma has washed every single item of clothing we own and it turns out that they don't all fit in the cupboard if they are clean at the same time'

I was on facebook a lot back then, although surprisingly not as much as I am now - but I can use work as an excuse these days, and it's a lot easier now I have a decent phone!

These little glimpses into the past fascinate me and I love the reminders of days gone by, sometimes it seems like a whole lifetime ago looking back on ordinary memories and pictures of something that no longer exists - a childfree life in England!

Last night, 8 years ago for example I was debating whether to go to the gym or the pub - I didn't mention which I chose but I'm fairly sure I could accurately guess!

Now if only someone could invent time travel for real!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Supporting the Opening of the Deryneia Checkpoint

Since the launch of the FPN I am often invited via facebook to all kinds of different events,  by all sorts of people, which are often only written in Greek.  As much as I try to translate if I can't figure it out I won't share it (it could be anything!)  and I usually dismiss them until if and when it becomes apparent what they are. 

Once such event was the 'ΝΑ ΑΝΟΙΞΕΙ Η ΛΕΩΦΟΡΟΣ ΤΗΣ ΕΠΙΣΤΡΟΦΗΣ'   It was only once I realised that many of my contacts had been invited and after reading an article in the Cyprus Mail that it got my interest and I realised it was an event to try and get the checkpoint in my village Deryneia opened. With the peace talks between the Cypriots leaders having just restarted I excited to see another positive step being taken towards the future and I knew I had to be there. 

I quickly put together an piece for the FPN website using information from the Cyprus Mail and the event pages on facebook to spread the word in English and in the process I realised that a simultaneous event was to take place on the other side of the checkpoint just 800m away. 

 According to the organisers, the event will take place on both sides of the check point simultaneously.
“Such an opening will reduce the distance, improve intercommunal relations, meet humanitarian needs and improve the market potential of the economic actors in the region as it will be allowing them to trade their goods and services,” organisers said.f"We have to raise our voice, as both south and the north of Famagusta area, facing with shrinking economic climate, the shops are going bankrupt each and every day, youth are leaving the region or migrating to other countries.
At the moment we need to take additional 17 kilometers in order to reach Deryneia from Two and a Half Mile / Strovilia check point. If Deryneia crossing point opens, this will reduce to 800 meters uniting Deryneia and Famagusta with new ties. Such an opening will reduce the distance, improve the intercommunal relations, meet the humanitarian needs and improve the market potential of the economic actors in the region as it will be allowing them to trade their goods and services.

Recently, UN Human Rights Committee supported the efforts for the opening of the new crossing points and emphasized that increasing number of checkpoints contributes the intercommunal trust and dialog.
Both the local and international dynamics are emphasizing the opening of Deryneia crossing point. Now, YOU have to to push for it."

My post got lots of views and I hope it at least raised some awareness of what may happen, I had hoped that it might have got a few more expats down on the day but I saw few non-Cypriots.  It surprises me as I'm sure they would all be straight through for visits when it opens. 

Anyway, I digress..

Crowds gather to show their support.
The roadblock consists of barbed wire at the front and a short distance after that is the barrier and stop sign. Initially a cameraman and some photographers stepped through the barbed wire and joined the policemen standing casually behind it, and were taking photos and filming the crowd, but gradually everyone was able to step through the wire and join them right next to the barrier itself.

There was a good turn out on the south side, maybe over 400 people at its peak.  It was a peaceful and positive crowd, with music and even some dancing! 

We were there for just over an hour and then the crowd started to disperse, I was pleased that I went and joined the numbers, and I hope if they do it again we will see even more support and soon we will be able to walk the whole road. 

This video taken by drone not only shows the gathered crowds but allows us to see the road stretching into the distance, the road we hope we will soon be able to use.

And just 800 metres away, another crowd gathered in support of the same cause. They were also singing and shouting in the hope we could here, and I'm sure we could have done if it had been arranged to stop the music for a moment on each side.  

Same banners, same stickers, same island, and same goal......

Thank you to Hulusi Kilim for the photos from the northern side.
It would be a fantastic step forward for this crossing to be opened and it would enhance the lives and businesses of so many people and bring growth to Deryneia.   Although of course there are many bigger issues to resolve, not least Varosha itself but you have to start somewhere.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Klik Photo CY, and our Photo Booth - where it all began...

In 2014, after a few casual photo shoots for a local pub and guesthouse Aaron set up a facebook page initially for ease of sharing the photos. He has always been a keen photographer with a good eye for a photo and before long it became an enjoyable sideline for him.

The word started to spread and some work trickled in from various places, birthday parties, shop opening and product shoots to name a few,  'Aaron's Klik Photography' as it was then known started to be a 'thing'. 

Just before Christmas 2014 we rebranded to become known as Klik Photo CY and  it became a family business as we took delivery of a brand new digital photo booth.  The Party Booth as it became known was now available to hire, island wide across Cyprus!

We were starting to spread the word, and let everyone know what we were about. 

Our first events were held in local pubs, after numerous practice runs in my parents front room while we learnt the trade, building and setting up the booth, operating the equipment and testing the settings for all eventualities and locations. 

The quality of the photos was of the utmost importance to us and we tested and tweaked and tested again making sure the lighting was right, the photos were sharp and the colours were vibrant on every photo that the booth produces. 

Between us Aaron and I built our website ourselves, insistent that like with everything connected to the Klik brand it would be professional, and good quality.  With all the information you need, including prices that were clear and easy to understand, examples of our work and options to customise the whole package to each event. 

We attended our first birthday party, a themed 'Alice in Wonderland' event and it gave us the opportunity to showcase our some of our custom options. With a themed template and 6 themed backgrounds to choose from and a personalised video running on the photo booth external screen using photos from the birthday girls childhood. 

Aaron is in charge of all things technical, camera settings, lighting etc, and the design of the customised photo templates, digital backgrounds and many other things that I sneak onto his 'to do' lists.  I write the Klik Photo CY blog (obviously!) and manage the social media, bookings and more.

Our photo booth is great fun, and I love my new job!   We have it to hire for any event and it provides the guests with a lot of laughs and some great souvenirs of the day.  Included with the hire is the use of a huge selection of props, hats, glasses, signs and more and it not only does it make for the brilliant pictures but it is great fun getting to play with them all!

Being a family business it is also important to us that we are explaining to the boys where possible what we are doing and why. Of course they are our chief prop testers - what better way to test fun and durability than two young boys!

It is the perfect business for us, and we have such a passion for what we are doing, we make a great team and enjoy being able to work together. 

For more info find us at  or on facebook at klikphotocy

Sunday, 17 May 2015

The Cyprus Problem and why I've never mentioned it

Although I have a huge interest in the division of Cyprus, and fate of Varosha, opening of the dividing line etc it's something that I have very rarely mentioned on my blog.  The reason being is that although I try and find out as much as I can, I am by no means an expert and I wish to avoid getting anything wrong.

The subject is fraught with difficulty as you try and remember the correct way to mention it - its very confusing for someone who is essentially an outsider to remember that the difference between saying border / checkpoint,   whether you say the north of Cyprus, or North Cyprus,  the Republic of Cyprus or Southern Cyprus,  the Green Line / the dividing line / the border / the buffer zone / Atitila Line and the list goes on.

This is of course because it is a very sensitive subject and so close to many peoples hearts, even though the troubles had been brewing for years it was only 1974 that the island was divided, a long time to be separated but in living memory for those caught up in it.

I live in Deryneia a village which is split by the dividing line and about 75% of which is in the occupied area.  My balcony over looks Varosha, the town which is cut off from the world and closed to all but Turkish military and UN personnel, so every day I see the sad sight of the crumbling hotels and one of the most beautiful areas of Cyprus missing it population and tourists for 41 years.

I love Deryneia, for what was essentially a random choice of somewhere to live we chose amazingly well. It really has grabbed a bit of my heart and if we ever leave this village it will be a sad day!

But despite my reasons I can't presume to understand the depth of feeling for those who have lived their whole lives here, who have land and houses in the controlled areas and who cannot return to their town.

This week talks have resumed (again) between the politicians and there was an organised event to push for the opening of the checkpoint in Deryneia. (more on that later) and at least where I can see there seems to be a renewed optimism in the air.

Of course there is no easy solution for years of troubles but I hope with baby steps, the country can move forward as Cypriots, whether they be of Greek or Turkish descent (and us foreign supporters!)

I don't know how many of my fellow expats are interested in the situation or to what extent,  apart from the papers, mentions online tend to be avoided in the forums and facebook as more often than not they descend quickly into nit picking or full blown arguments, (this is why I've never written about it before, politics and religion and therefore the Cyprus Problem have never been my thing - random ramblings about nothing in particular is more my forte, much less likely to offend!)   but maybe they are not talking about it in case they 'get it wrong' or accidentally offend someone?  or maybe they just don't know anything about it, before thinking about moving to Cyprus I had no idea.

But my sincere intention is never to offend and really I want to shout about it, let the world know and support in any way I can, and as ever for me my blog is the place to start - so here I am, foot probably poised to put straight in my mouth but we can but try!

As ever I welcome your comments on posts on my blog, but please keep them positive and constructive,   offensive and argumentative comments will always be removed  ;) 

What we've been up to......2015 so far

You may have noticed that I have been blogging less frequently than I used to and there's a whole host of reasons why, I miss it though and it makes me sad to realise that my poor little blog has only 23 posts so far this year, previously I'd have done that many in just one month!

I've got photos taken last year saved in folders awaiting the accompanying blog post, and I am part way though writing my 'Move to Cyprus' story which came to a sudden halt several months ago.

It sometimes seems to late to post about something when that moment has passed but after recently reading through the Matter of Choice archives I realised that I would regret it if I didn't cover at least some of our adventures since the start of the year.

There is of course the big one - the fact that Aaron and I now run our own company, Klik Photo Cy, that of course is at least one whole blog post in itself, as is the fact that I I recently arranged the 2nd Famagusta Parents Network Fun Day.

Party time with one of our Klik photo booths.

We've been involved in the creating of the Daxi Holiday Guide to Cyprus, with me writing a section on family fun in Cyprus, Aaron doing several photo shoots and us all trying out some great local attractions in the process.  We also went to the Daxi Business Awards earlier in the year, which was a fantastic night although rather hazy looking back on it now!

Image courtsey of Costas Kyriakides

We've had our first swim in the pool, our first trip to the beach and numerous trips to my friend and the boys favourite place - Tiny Acorns Creativity Centre where we have been on a Indoor Camping adventure, Easter celebrations and made all kinds of crafts over the weeks.

Easter was a busy time, and a lovely break, with a visit to Cyherbia for an egg hunt in the maze and lots more, and family and friends BBQ on Easter Sunday followed by traditional Cypriot games in the village and a traditional English carvery on Easter Monday!'

There have been family days out, to the camel park, Agia Napa Sculpture park, Lovelock Bridge and Achna Animal Park, and I'm sure many other things I've fancied blogging about but not had the time (or inclination )

Oh, and we got Netflix - which may have contributed to the problem some what!

Monday, 27 April 2015

The one where we become video stars!

In my quest to amuse the kids (and find more content for my Cyprus information website) I'm always on the look out for places to go and things to do.  Last year we visited Dolfins Park in Agia Napa for the first time and it was a big hit with the kids so when we were offered the chance to be a part of a promotional video we jumped at the chance...

Aaron was working taking photos alongside James Ground who was filming the video to create one of the videos for the Daxi Holiday Guide to Cyprus. The guide will be published soon in print and online

The boys were excited to be part of it, and after a few arguments (as always) beforehand were warned to be on their best behaviour, I explained what we were doing as we always do with anything related to our work.  Louka is a bit young to understand but Leo enjoys hearing all about what we are doing and why we are doing it.  He takes his job as 'Mini Klik' very seriously and I love that we can make him feel part of the family business.

At first he was reluctant to actually go on any of the rides, annoying as for the purpose of the video we didn't have to pay for them, but he soon got into the swing of things closely followed as ever by his little brother.

It was a great afternoon, full of laughter from the kids and it was a great thing to be part of, as I'm sure you know I'm all for anything that promotes the East coast of Cyprus as a place to visit, and spend time in so this was a perfect fit.

Leo declined the chance to speak to the camera about his favourite bit, I can't say I blamed him - I was forced persuaded and when I opened my mouth I could barely string a sentence together - needless to say I was very relieved when I watched the final video to see that my part had been cut!

You can spot the boys a few times during the video, and if you keep your eyes open you can see Louka and I eating ice cream together - luckily it didn't catch the bit when I was taking sneaky bites of it!

Video from the Daxi Holiday Guide to Cyprus,  photos by Klik Photo CY

Saturday, 25 April 2015

73 Questions

It's been a while since I've written an 'About me' post and when I saw this on Mum Reinvented's blog I thought I'd give it a go and kickstart my blog again in the process.

Maybe it's an expat thing or perhaps it's because we are close in age but it turns out we are quite similar, I cut and pasted the questions and as I wrote my answers in place of hers there were a surprising amount of similarities! 
1. What’s your favourite movie?
I'm really not a film fan and I'm forever saying 'No, I've not seen that'  to hundreds of 'must see' films.   It's quite rare for me to see a film more than once if at all so anything I've watched many times has to be classed as a favourite - so I'd have to say Back to the Future, or Shaun of the Dead as the first that come to mind!
2. Favourite movie in the past five years?
I'm really struggling with this one, I watch so few films these days(even less than I once did!)  as I'm always online in the evenings, and if I sit on the sofa more than half an hour I tend to fall asleep. 
3. Favourite Hitchcock film?
As before, I'm really not a film fan, so I've not seen any Hitchcock films that I can think of!
4. A book you plan on reading?
I’m in the middle of 'Watermelons, a fish and a bible' I was really looking forward to reading it but it didn't immediately grab my attention which surprised me for a book set in Cyprus and I've not got round to finishing it. 
5. A book that you read in school that positively shaped you?
Forever by Judy Blume – I don’t know about ‘positively shaping’ me, but it’s certainly the one that sticks out in my memory.
6. Favourite TV show that’s currently on?
How I Met Your Mother, ok it's not currently on but I've only just discovered it and I'm watching nothing else while I plough my way through over 200 episodes on Netlfix.  (they are short enough that I tend not to fall asleep as often!) 
7. On a scale of one to ten how excited are you about life right now?
Probably an big fat 10 due to the FPN Fun Day this weekend and all the developments with our new photo booth hire company.  The boys are now almost 6, and 2.5 years old so they are becoming a bit easier to take out and I'm loving the fact that we have moved on from the 'baby days' 
8. iPhone or Android?
Android. I always wanted an iphone but now I have a decent Android I have changed my mind!
9. Twitter or Instagram?
As much as I have tried I still can't really get into twitter although I do give it a good try ever now and again.  I don't use Instagram as much as I used to but guess if I had to pick one it would be IG. 
10. Who should EVERYONE be following right now?

Erm... I have NO idea.   So I'll say you should be following me - on here if you enjoy my blog,  on the FPN if you live in or visit Cyprus, and on Klik if you like photos!
11. What’s your favourite food?
Chinese food, or steak, or cake.....aargh don't make me choose!
12. Least favourite food?
Peanut butter.   I've hated it for years and once I accidentally ate a bit of discarded toast from the kids that was covered in it,  everyone thought it was hilarious as I ran to find something to eat to take the taste away -  serves me right for eating the kids food I guess!
13. What do you love on your pizza?
Pepperoni, ham, beef - basically the toppings of a Pizza Hut Meat feast!   Halloumi is a great addition to though!
14. Favourite drink?
Cocktails – Sex on the Beach or Pina Colada, or a beer or vodka and coke depending on my mood. 
15. Favourite dessert?
As long as it doesn't contain nuts, coffee or too much fruit it's probably a winner!
16. Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
17. Coffee or tea?
Tea, can't stand coffee in any way, shape or form!
18. What’s the hardest part about being a mum?
Trying to balance keeping the kids happy and disciplining them,  and not having enough sleep!
19. What’s your favourite band?
I’m not really into ‘proper’ bands. I was a Take That fan if you include boy bands.
20. Favourite solo artist?

I couldn't pick one that I like more than others,  I've always been a fan of various songs rather than one specific artist. 
21. Favourite song?
Oh it's impossible to pick just one!   I usually go with 'Hold On' by Wilson Phillips. 
22. If you could sing a duet with anyone, who would it be?
David Tennant, but the singing would not be the aim of the meeting!
23. If you could master one instrument, what would it be?
I gave up with musical instruments after attempting to learn the recorder in school.
24. If you had a tattoo, where would it be?
I've got on on my leg already but I am vaguely thinking about another one day as this one was supposed to be for the 'three' of us, and incorporates Leo's birthday, so I guess I need to even things out a bit!
25. To be or not to be?
To be,  why would you answer anything else!
26. Dogs or cats?
27. Bird-watching or whale-watching?
Whale watching
28. Best gift you’ve ever received?
A weekend in Paris. 
29. Best gift you’ve ever given?
I'm not sure, I guess it depends on the opinon of the recipent!    I'd say the most unusual and one that took the most thought was a printed list of 60 memories from my childhood that I gave to my Dad on his 60th birthday. 
30. Last gift you gave a friend?

Leo and I painted a canvas for my Mum's birthday using his hand prints to make a sun and with the text 'You are my Sunshine' 
31. What’s your favourite board game?
Articulate  - so many funny moments have come from that over the years.
32. What’s your favourite country to visit?
I'd have to say England now as I get to see my old friends.
33. What’s the last country you visited?
England, the only country I have been to since I left it 5.5 years ago. 
34. What country do you wish to visit?
I'd quite like to visit some little Greek islands but since living in Cyprus I have no real desire to visit anywhere else, not yet anyway. 
35. What’s your favourite colour?
I haven't really got one. 
36. Least favourite colour?
Again, I guess it depends on what it's relating to but generally I don't have one. 
37. Diamonds or pearls?
38. Heels or flats?
Flats without a doubt!  I live in flat boots in the winter and switch to fit flops as soon as it warms up.  I avoid heels whenever I can even though I know they look better - as long as I'm not stumbling over! 
39. Pilates or yoga?
40. Jogging or swimming?
41. Best way to de-stress?

Watching random rubbish on youtube or messing about on social media. 
42. If you had one superpower, what would it be?
To be able to travel in time. 
43. What’s the weirdest word in the English language?
I had no idea so I turned to google, and this jumped out at me.
Tittynope  - apparently it means a small quantity of something left over. 
44. What’s your favourite flower?
Again, I've not really got one.  (I didn't actually realise I have so few opinons!)  I like flowers, but I couldn't name half the ones I see around. 
45. When was the last time you cried?
I couldn't put a date on it, but its been quite a while now. 
46. Do you like your handwriting?
No, I write too fast and it's because of that it's not often legible to anyone other than me. 
47. Do you bake?
Yes, I much prefer baking than creating savoury dishes. 
48. What is your least favourite thing about yourself?
My lack of patience. 
49. What is your most favourite thing about yourself?
I like to think I am a good friend.
50. Who do you miss most?
My friends in the UK
51. What are you listening to right now?
Aaron watching something or other on the TV,  I never really pay attention to what it is!
52. Favourite smell?
Bacon, or souvla cooking, or pretty much any yummy food!
53. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone?
My Mum
54. Who was the last person you sent a text to?
Aaron who was doing a food shop, adding on things I had forgotten to put on the list. 
55. A sport you wish you could play?
I used to wish I could play lacrosse as I loved the social life that went with being on the team but I was rubbish at it!
56. Hair colour?
57. Eye colour?
58. Scary film or happy endings?
Always happy endings
59. Favourite season?
Spring - the weather starts to warm up with the excitement of summer still to come, before we have had too much of the heat. 
60. Three people alive or dead that you would like to have dinner with?
My Nan as I never met her, My Grandad as I would love to speak to him as an adult and get him to teach me Greek (he could speak many languages!) and Aaron's Grandad, as he speaks so fondly of him and I never met him. 
61. Hugs or kisses?
62. Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
The Beatles
63. Where were you born?
Kent in South East England.
64. What is the farthest you have been from home?
65. Sweet or savoury?
66. Lipstick or lip gloss?
The only thing I ever use is the long stay lip colours with the gloss that goes on top as everything else seems to come off by the time I leave the house. 
67. What book have you read again and again?
Lightning by Dean Koontz
68. Favourite bedtime story?
There are so many, I always come back to The Monkey Puzzle or The Gruffalo as they are a nice easy read and the boys love to join in, although I am really enjoying reading the Harry Potter books to Leo, it's just taking rather a long time to get through them!
69. What would be the title of your autobiography?
It would have to be 'A matter of Choice'
70. Favourite sound?
I was going to say the sound of the kids snoring as it means they are asleep but in all honestly its really the sound of them laughing, even thought it often signifies trouble!
71. Favourite animal?
Dog - I grew up with dogs, and Aaron and I had one before we moved to Cyprus. I would love another one day when we have a bit more space and we can convince the boys not to be scared!
72. Who is your girl crush?
I wouldn't say I have one.
73. Last photograph you took?

It's a typical 'in the moment' photo rather than one for the family album.

I was deep in planning mode for the FPN fun day this weekend and I was in my element - sat in front of my laptop with a colour coded spreadsheet, a big to do list and a vodka and coke!

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