Friday, 31 December 2010

Dear so and so - New Year special!

Dear 2010,

It's time to say goodbye, you've been an interesting year, definitely like none I've had before. I won't be too sad to see you go, because although you've not been too bad to us I am all for onwards and upwards in 2011. I will always look back on you with great fondness as I will forget the bad bits (and there weren't that many - either that or I've forgotten  already). You were the first and probably last year that I spent the whole time with my boy, it's not always been fun, I've been very tired at times and at times I've struggled with finding things to do. but on the whole it's been great that I've had this time with him and we've had lots of fun together.

You were the year that Cyprus became our home and we finally settled in to our apartment.

I also developed a love of blogging, when I first started back in 2009, I didn't ever expect to enjoy it this much. I've found some great blogs to read which has got me over my old magazine addiction and is saving me a fortune.

So thank you 2010 for being pretty good to us, I hope 2011 is a worthy successor to you.


Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for popping by and reading, and especially commenting on my posts. I hope to 'see' lots more of you in 2011.

Happy New Year


Dear So and So...

Thursday, 30 December 2010

New Year's Eve Memories

I love New Year's Eve, It seems that lots of people hate it but it's always been an important night for me.

I've always loved it, ever since the parties that weren't really parties that my parents used to hold every year.  My Mum called it a gathering, and that's maybe what it would have been without my Dad and the important elements of plenty of whisky and Chas & Dave.

We usually had a handful of people round, a few friends and a couple of neighbours maybe. I was always the only child and I generally allowed to stay up as long as I got into my pyjamas. (It's a good idea, partying in pyjama is the way forward I think, can literally fall into bed!)

I think these nights are where I got my love of parties  gatherings from, I loved the preparation, the fact that we used to turn the dining table round across the patio doors was a big excitement for me ( I was young, it didn't take much!) I used to help Mum put out nibbles, sausage rolls, cheesey biscuits, mince pies etc.

Dad was in charge of music and drinks, I always remember Daytrip to Bangor, - worryingly I still know all the words. Rabbit - Dad used to tell me this was my song, I was really pleased until I realised why! Ain't no pleasing you - Dad always used to sing this to Mum, and I loved the fact that Aaron once sang this to me when it was randomly played somewhere. and Sunshine Girl which was always my favourite as Dad used to sing it to me.

Dad in 1987
At midnight we always went outside, the first year I remember being a bit disappointed as I thought something interesting was going to happen - don't know what. I realise now it's a tradition of Mum's - her Dad would have been doing the exact same thing. When she was little they knew everyone in the street and there would have been plenty of people doing the same thing.  We used to open the back door too, to let out the old year I think and the new through the front. I may have just made that bit up, but I have been doing it ever since!

After seeing in the New Year on the porch, Mum would speak to Grandad on the phone. He used to always see the year in with a drink and then speak to us before going to bed.

We always sung Auld Lang Syne

In later years, (when I was allowed to stay dressed until the end!) once everyone had gone I loved to walk the dog with Dad, I always asked to go as it seemed really exciting to go out at that time of night. Inevitably though it was no more interesting than any other time of night and I was always knackered, but it didn't stop me the next year.

 This year we have some friends round and we will Skype my Mum and Dad (moved on a little from the lovely brown phone in the photo!) it will be strange as we will do it at our New Year, which will only be 10pm in England.

Whatever you are doing, I hope you have fun and I wish you all the best for 2011.


As someone who often says "You can never be too organised"  I'm sure it will come as no surprise to hear that I am a big fan of lists.  Shopping lists (obviously), to-do lists (have actually been known to write something on my list I've already done, yes I realise I need to get out more) and of course my favourite list so far.... my 101 in 1001 list

So as you can imagine I was dancing with joy quite impressed when I saw that Kate at Kate Takes 5 has started a new linky thing. She has started off by asking what everyone thinks are the top 5 things about having kids. Some are very similar to others lists but I suppose that's because they are the best things!

So, in no particular order my top five good things about having kids are.......

1.  Christmas becomes Christmas again! I've always loved Christmas but it is undoubtedly  better with kids. Not just the day but the whole run up especially as they grow up and appreciate a visit to Santa (as opposed to crying their eyes out!) and can get a bit more involved in the preparations.

2. Watching them grow and learn new things. It amazes me to see all the new words and skills that Leo learns, obviously he is a genius and no other child has done this so far!

3. Soft play, I've been wanting to go to one for years! Kids are a great excuse for playing in ball pools or going down slides, I've missed that!  ooh and bouncy castles - I loved them as a child and was quite sad when I got too big to go on. Leo is not impressed with them at the moment, but I'm sure he will 'get' them later - as long as Mummy demonstrates how they work.

4. Meeting people, Kids help you make new friends, they can give you the opportunity to go places to meet people and something to talk about to strike up a conversation. All my friends in Cyprus have similar age children as it's a good thing to have in common as it is so much of your life. It also gives you an excuse to meet up and drink tea so the kids can play!

5. It's a good excuse for lots of things..... I'm just listening to S Club because Leo likes it, I haven't mopped the floor as he hasn't had a nap. I know all the words to The Wiggles songs as he insists on watching it a hundred times a day.....I could go on but you get the idea.


Saturday, 25 December 2010

Seasons Greetings!

Happy Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my lovely readers, hope you have a lovely day. Thank you for being so supportive of my first year at blogging - I look forward to much more in 2011!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

This is love...

This week's Gallery prompt is a cracker...... LOVE.  

Every week when I first read the prompt several photos pop straight into my mind, this week the first was a black and white one of Leo and me, followed by one of our wedding photos. Then it occurred to me, who first showed me what love is....

This is my parents on their wedding day back in 1974.  They taught me by example what Love is.
They have had few days apart since meeting and would always rather spend time with each other above anybody else (well maybe expect me!)  I've never known them to have an argument, although I know that doesn't mean they haven't  - I'm sure they must have had words at least at some point in 36 years! Like me though they are not the arguing type, something else they taught me.

It is rumoured that Mum once poured a glass of vodka over Dad,  - a story I have grown up hearing and although I don't think I'm ever going to know what actually happened it would amuse me more if she did do it deliberately.

Dancing at Mum's 60th birthday party

They met on a blind date,  Mum's friend had told her she would find her a date, Mum was totally against the idea but said in jest she wouldn't mind a nice fireman. Her friend decided this was a great idea and off she went to the fire station. Unfortunately (or fortunately it turns out!) the firemen were all out on a job so she popped into the Police Station. She asked the guy on the desk if he knew anyone who was at least 27 years old (Mum was adamant she would not have another boyfriend younger than her) and would like to escort her friend to a dinner party.

Well, it was their lucky day, the guy on the desk said yes, he did know someone - He would be happy to do it, and the rest is history!

A day out in 2010

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....

I am finally feeling festive, it's taken a while but I suppose it's not bad thing , when Christmas starts in October in the shops and the adverts are on so early on UK television I suppose you can get a bit fed up with it by the big day, which when it comes down to it is just a day. Out here Christmas is celebrated but is very low key compared to the UK, and of course it doesn't seem quite the same in the sun.

I am now looking forward to Christmas day, we are spending it with some very good friends of ours, Sam, Marc and Leiarna and I'm getting quite excited. We are all ready, chicken has been brought (turkey's are stupidly expensive here so we've spent the difference on other edible goodies) we are all stocked up on alcohol and chocolates  and presents are wrapped.

Leo has a stocking and a couple of big presents (mega blocks and a wooden train set, but don't tell him!) we have some presents to take to our friends with us as well. Sam and I have brought the kids 3 presents each for when we are all together so they will have loads in total!

We put our tree up last week, can you believe we thought about not having one!

I was worried that Leo would attack it constantly, but so far he's not been too bad. He looks and prods the baubles but generally leaves it alone when asked moved away. I'm surprised as he's into everything all the time and I thought the sparkly tree would be irresistible!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Dear so and so

Dear Car,
I am not impressed, at all. It may be Christmas and a time for presents but you are a car and traditionally you do not get presents. Even if you did you'd be lucky to get a hanging air freshener or if you'd been a really good car maybe a set of new mats or something. But you haven't been a good car, you have had a slow puncture and no air-con during the hottest summer months so I am not impressed that you are demanding anything at all let alone a whole new bloody engine!!!!!!!

a very angry (and skint) pedestrian.

Dear UK friends,
You should be receiving Christmas cards very soon, did you remember us? Did you remember the last posting date for overseas?   Hmmm, are we going to be getting cards in January again? At least that means you remember us eventually then, either that or you get mine and think 'bugger'!

Thinking of you all,
your slightly further away but still on the end of a phone / laptop friends in Cyprus

Dear Santa,
We've been very good this year, any chance we could have a new engine for our car. Or if you're feeling particularly generous maybe even a whole new one. We'll leave you out a drink, or even a bottle - take your pick, we have quite a lot at the moment

Yours hopefully,
Emma & AJ

Dear Money,
I miss you, looking forward to hopefully seeing a bit more of you in the new year.


Dear So and So...

Click the image above to see all the other Dear so and So letters.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

It's going to be a very MERRY Christmas!

As you may have gathered from some of my previous blog posts, here and here,  I can often be persuaded to have a drink or three.  I'm not able to have the nights out that I once did, not until the babysitters m parents move over early next year anyway, but that won't stop me having a few festive drinks over the next couple of weeks.

One of the items on my 101 list is to fill my entire wine rack at least once! I hadn't  managed it in a year of living here as it holds 30 bottles!

Until today that is.....

We are finally full - yay!
I don't think this will happen very often as that is quite a lot of alcohol to have, but maybe we'll make it a Christmas tradition. Should keep us going into the New Year anyway (if it doesn't I think we have bigger problems!)

I'm pleased to find on offer the other day "Whisky Cream Liquer" (otherwise known as cheap Baileys!) 2.99 euros a bottle  - it's my no.1 Christmas drink.

Also in there are 3 bottles of whisky - AJ's drink of choice. One for Christmas, one for New Year and one so he still has some left for those events!  Then we have vodka and mailbu - my usual drinks, which one I go for depends on my mood! We also have white rum, for when I run out of vodka and mailbu!

Oh, and some wine, quite a lot of wine in fact - good job it's cheap as chips out here.(I think it actually might be cheaper come to think of it)

The only problem is....I forgot to buy any mixers!

What's your tipple? Do you have a "Christmas drink"?

A blog of Christmas Past

I loved Christmas as a child  (well I still do but the presents were better then) There was always the same pattern for Christmas, I suppose made easier by having a small family. Christmas day at home with Nana and Grandad  (Dad's ) and Boxing day at Granma and Grandad's (Mum's).

Decorations would usually go up on the first Sunday of December, early but it worked well as a bribe to get me to go to 'Church parade' with the Brownies. I always helped Dad with the decorating of the tree while Mum put tinsel round the room. When I say 'helped' I put the hooks on the ornaments and passed them to Dad, I may have sometimes insisted on putting one on the tree but I'm fairly sure it would have been moved if it didn't look right - the tree was always a work of art.

Me at 15, still hadn't grown out of Christmas
There were important traditions to the decorating, first you needed the Christmas Carols LP and a glass of whiskey along with the suggestion from Mum that it was maybe a bit early to drink. (Never too early when it's Christmas was always the reply!)  Then you had the obligatory swearing at the fairy lights which never worked first time.

The best bit of 'doing the tree' was the lametta at the end, throwing randomly at the tree, (and probably then watching while Dad evened it out!)

We used to put presents from other people under the tree but mine would be brought by Father Christmas and left in a pillow case at the bottom of my bed on Christmas morning.

Obviously I left a drink out for Father Christmas and a mince pie. Not brandy though as most people did - apparently he would be fed up with brandy as he got to ours and would rather have a whisky. I never noticed what a coincidence it was that Mum and Dad were whisky drinkers, how strange :)

I was a bit concerned one year when I woke up to see Mum putting the pillow case full of presents at the end of my bed. I asked her what she was doing. She looked a bit surprised but in a heartbeat explained that Father Christmas was in a bit of  hurry so he gave it to her at the top of the stairs and she was just helping. One year after opening all my presents I was a little disappointed to find that he hadn't brought something (can't remember what unfortunately) that I was really hoping for, I was sent on some errand taking me near to the patio doors where I found one more present that he had dropped on his way out.  (we didn't have a chimney - he had a magic key).....guess what, it was just what I wanted!

I was allowed to open one present in the morning when I woke up and the rest had to wait until Mum and Dad were up and we could open all our presents together. Oh, and of course once the dog had been walked and Mum had basted the turkey. I loved the fact that back then Mum used to cook the turkey overnight so it really smelt like Christmas in the morning!

After presents I used to go with Dad to collect Nana and Grandad, it was always exciting as it was the only time in the year they came to us. Neither drove and Grandad wasn't that well so the rest of the time we went to them.

I seem to remember that every year I got a board game from them, always something I'd wished for. (Mum used to shop for them) One year I got a magic show, I played with that for hours!

I loved Christmas dinner, although probably not as much as I do now, I may have even had tomato ketchup on it back then. I certainly wouldn't have appreciated the effort gone into preparing it.

I don't think we generally watched the Queen's speech, as this was usually when we ate. I do know however that every year I wanted to watch Top of the Pops, and every year I wasn't allowed! Thank goodness for the video recorder!

Every year it seemed, at some point during dinner Grandad would knock over his drink, it was a standing joke in the end, and the first year after he passed away somebody else did it. I think it was still blamed on Grandad bless him - just a way of letting us know he was still around.
Grandad - if you're reading from up there, maybe could you let us know you're with us without spilling wine this year xxxx

We didn't really watch television on the day, it went on a few times for Dad to check his taping was going ok. When the Christmas edition Radio Times (and TV times - remember when you had to buy two?) came out we sat down with a pen and ringed round the things we wanted to watch and tape. Dad had a little notebook and numbered videos (in cases which looked like books) and everything taped was written down, it's something that AJ thinks is hilarious now but it was a great idea - very organised!

A much loved present - Violet
I loved my Christmases as a child and hope Leo and Louka grow up with as many happy memories.

ShowOff Showcase

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The Gallery - Sparkle

I have to admit that this is not my Christmas tree, it wasn't even taken this year! We have actually been debating whether to even put our tree up this year.  We have the biggest tree in the world, brought pre-Leo when we lived in a 3 bedroom house, it was big then and we had to rearrange all the furniture to get it up. Now we live in a small 2 bed apartment and can't just rearrange the furniture we actually have to take some out.

Last year we put the tree up, well half of the tree anyway. AJ came up with the genius idea of making it sit flat against the wall. It worked and looked good, and continued looking good until New Year when we took it down. The reason for this is the fact that Leo was 7 months old, he wasn't crawling (or if he was not in the direction of the tree!) and he paid no attention to it at all.

Hence our dilemma this year. He doesn't tend to listen very often when told to stop doing things. I have lost count how many times I  have told him not to pull the books of the bookshelf or not to bang things on the TV. We wondered if it was worth the hassle of getting him to leave it alone. 

So it was decided, no tree.

Then I realised that Christmas CANNOT be Christmas without a tree, even if that tree gets ripped apart by a small person. It's hard enough to feel properly festive out here anyway. 

Tomorrow,  the Baileys will be opened, the Christmas CD played and the tree will be up...... and Christmas will begin.

Check out the other sparkly posts over at this week's Gallery

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Church on the hill

I love it when we have people come out to see us, not only is it great to see them but it means that we get out and about and do 'touristy things'. Last week we had a visit from a good friend,Leo's Godfather in fact and like AJ he is a bit of a photography fan so we tried to take him to some photogenic places.

One of these is the Chapel of Prophet Eilas,  named after the Prophet Elijah and is built on a granite hill with almost vertical sides, right in the heart of the tourist area of Protaras. There are 153 stone built steps up to the church (no, I didn't count them, I just read that in a book!) so although I have wanted to go for a while now, (it's even on my 101 list) we have put it off as it's not a buggy friendly activity! However now he's walking well we thought we'd give it a shot......

Lots of steps for little legs!
Walked all the way up with Daddy.
 I'm glad AJ was there, Leo walked up very well but had to be carried down most of the way - the steps are a little uneven in places and I would not have fancied carrying a wriggly toddler.

I was initially surprised at the sight of the trees surrounding the chapel, on first glance they appear to be covered in rubbish. In fact on closer inspection it can still look like that but in fact they are draped in tributes to lost loved ones.  There was a mixture of laminated letters and photos, plastic bottles with messages inside and hundreds of bits of rag (I assume from the departed's clothing) tied all over. I spent quite a while looking at the lovely tributes.

The views from the top are great as well....

Friday, 10 December 2010

Tis the season to be.....sunny?

It's 2 weeks till Christmas, I'm sure you didn't need to be reminded, I had to write it down just in case I forgot. I have always loved Christmas including the whole run up to it but this year it seems to be completely passing me by.  

I took some photos of the Christmas decorations in our village the other day, maybe this will help you see why it seems a bit strange for me now.....

It turns out, it's quite difficult to feel Christmassy when the sky looks like that. Add that to the lack of mentions of Christmas on the television and the fact that I no longer go shopping  so am not getting the "high street Christmas chaos"

Last year we had a hungover quiet Christmas, it was Leo's first and being only 6 months he had no clue that anything was different about that day. We had been out on Christmas Eve and had consumed a few too many Christmas spirits, lucky really we had no plans for the big day!  We did have a nice day but it was strange, I put it down to the fact we were so far from 'home' and had not settled in, after all we'd only been here a month!

This year, we are looking forward to spending the day with some good friends of ours. They have a 2 year old so it will be nice as the kids play very well together.  So, it's not that I'm not looking forward to it, I'm just very unexcited compared to normal. I kind of want to be shopping and wrapping and being cold looking at lots of Christmas decorations, it's what I feel I should be doing!

I've been reading lots of different Christmas blog posts so I might have to join in, I will be festive if it kills me!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

A Year in Status

As I've said before, I love Facebook and when I saw this post over at Alexander Resisdence I HAD to join in.

There is a facebook application doing the rounds at the moment called 'My Year in Status' which makes a collage of your statuses for the year.  It's very strange to look back over a years events as reported on Facebook, so many little things that I had now forgotten.  It's been an odd year and I really enjoyed looking back at it in this way.

After doing that I found a status statistics application, I liked it as it reminded me I recently got back into my skinny jeans (although they seem to have shrunk again a little bit!)

Your Most Popular Status (last 60 days)

has just got back into her pre-pregnancy skinny jeans, ok I can't sit down or breathe but they do up.... and I can walk in them :)
You wrote this status on 09 November 2010 at 05:34 and you got 13 likes and 3 comments.

It game me the following statistics, interesting but a little bit unnerving that it can bring up so much information so quickly..... what else do they know!

Your Statistics

Statuses so far
Word count
Average words per status
Average word length
Days since first status
Average statuses per day

Your Favorite Words

  1. leo used : 91x
  2. going used : 51x
  3. got used : 43x
  4. time used : 32x
  5. really used : 31x

I realise I now look like a bit of a geek but I enjoyed having a look, it appeals to the same part of me that is completely list obsessed!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

The Gallery - White

This week's prompt over at Tara Cain's Gallery  is White, a good choice as lots of people have had an abundance of white stuff around recently. I'm sure there are going to be some gorgeous photos come up this week.

But I did roll my eyes when I saw it, (yes, I am aware I do this every week, I have no idea why as I love the Gallery!)   as I'm sure you can imagine snow is the first thing to come to mind for this prompt and snow is not much of a possibility here. We haven't even had the first snowfall in the Troodos mountains yet.

I will always choose sandcastles not snowmen, swimming not ice skating and sunbathing not skiing, I'd much rather be buried in sand than make snow angels. Snow does look incredibly pretty, but I don't like the cold and the chaos it brings with it. For that reason I'll choose white sand instead of snow every time!

Nope, it's not Cyprus, Cyprus may have lovely beaches but they are not Caribbean white!
This was taken in Antigua, AJ and I went in 2006 for my friends wedding, I was one of her bridesmaids, and in a very convenient coincidence  we even wore white dresses....


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

A walk in the park

Throughout the summer I had been talking of my plan to get out and explore Cyprus a little bit more, although I was waiting for the temperatures to drop a little so we could enjoy the exploring without getting heatstroke!

I've been without a car for a while so this didn't help, but I do need to leave the house at some point each day for the sake of my sanity. We have a park which you can see from our balcony, very handy indeed!

Monument in the park, although I'm yet to find out exactly what it's for.
We sometimes meet a few other  Mums and kids there but Leo and I often just pop over for half an hour just before cabin fever sets in.

It's a great park for Leo, he loves to explore and run away from me, and there are lots of little pathways and different sections for him to tire himself out in to do this. There is also an aviary which he likes to look at. (not a particularly bird friendly one but Leo likes it!) 

Deep in thought!

He has just discovered the playground recently, he spent about 20 minutes walking back and forth across this bridge.

and then eventually realised there was a slide at one end but was a little unsure about it.

I now have my car back, a fact I am eternally grateful for, as much as I like the park there are only so many times you want to walk up and down the same section of slope following a toddler. There are a whole host of places I would like to see so I will try and remember my camera so I can share them with you.

Next on my list is the chapel of Prophet Elias, the church on the hill in Protaras, I've been wanting to go there for a while but needed Leo to be able to walk up a very large flight of stairs as there is no chance of getting up to the top carrying a buggy...... there are 153 steps!

Monday, 29 November 2010

The Gallery - Celebrations

There is a possibility that some in  my situation would find this weeks Gallery prompt a little tricky.  Given that I have recently blogged about my wedding, Leo's Christening, and my birthday, not to mention a whole year in Cyprus and Leo's birthday, you would be forgiven for thinking that I'd run out of celebrations to write about.

This is me though and for those that know AJ and I, you will know that we never need a reason to celebrate. I have been going through old photos - (a most enjoyable pastime of mine!) and have still managed to change my mind several times. I've still got so many to choose from so I thought I'd go festive.

This was taken on Christmas Eve back in 2005. A group of us, pre-babies had decided to go out in our local town and thought we'd dress up just for the hell of it!
Note that AJ (the biggest fancy dress fan EVER) still manages to be different!)

We certainly made an entrance as we all walked into the pub.....

Santa Claus is coming to town!
It was a brilliant night,  back in the day Christmas Eve was for drinking and partying and not for helping the real Santa deliver his presents to our little ones.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

What a difference a year makes.....

This post was published way back in 2010 but I'm sharing it again Jenny & Lauren's Flashback Friday

This time last year it was our third day  in our new home,  and our apartment looked like this....

Our bedroom!

We were very lucky that are stuff arrived so fast, as we only had the contents of 3 suitcases which is not that helpful when you have a 6 month old baby. Also in the container of our things was Leo's cot, hence why he spent his first night in Cyprus like this....

He seemed slightly confused when he woke up but not too bothered! 

Unpacking didn't take too long, although a year later I'm still occasionally moving things about that weren't quite right. I think we settled in reasonably quickly considering we didn't just move a few miles down the road. We were very lucky in meeting people very quickly, and in the fact that AJ joined the local pool team straight away helped this as well. 

The first few month were strange, especially for me once AJ started work, I didn't have a car to start with and the weather wasn't always great for walking around aimlessly.  It seemed strange that there was an empty apartment waiting for my parents and it seemed a lifetime until they would arrive. 

But, it didn't take long in the scheme of things to become home. The sun came out, and it got warm - much harder (not impossible but harder) to be unhappy when it's lovely and warm outside. I started to meet even more people and have a few things to do during the days. I also got used to looking after Leo on my own and doing my own housework again (there's big advantages to living with your parents for a year!)

It's been an interesting year, sometimes great, sometimes hard but overall a good one I think. I don't have any desire to go back to the UK, and I am one of the few people out here who doesn't call the UK home. It will always be the place I grew up and I will at some point go back for another visit ( although I feel no need to rush back!)  but Cyprus is now my home and we have no plans to live anywhere else. 

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Gallery - Black and White

I loved seeing all the posts on last weeks Gallery so this week I thought I'd  continue in a similar vein but using the prompt for this week which is Black and White.

I give you two generations of happy families.....

and jumping forward about 30 years (30 did that happen!)......

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