Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The first sign of Christmas

We are about to spend our 5th Christmas in Cyprus, and I love it!    Many people go back to the UK for Christmas or would like to, and while I do admit it is different here I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  (Of course, it is different having my parents here, I'm sure if I had a big family in England I'd be hopping on a plane if I could!)

I can't really remember the first sign of Christmas in the UK,  only that it was probably too early. I LOVE Christmas, but I love it in December (or maybe towards the end of November, but ssshhh don't tell anyone).  Having worked in retail for many years in the UK it does dilute the excitement a little.

Aaron and I have slightly different views on Christmas - he is adamant that Christmas is a DAY, whereas I argue that Christmas is a 'season'  -  well it says so in the song!   I actually prefer the build up to Christmas now more so than the day itself - decorating, going to Christmas events, seeing Santa, writing letters, and general excitement.

I was excited to see my first Christmas tree of this year in a shop last week and that was when it occurred to me how much later it all happens here in Cyprus.  You start to hear of the Christmas events (mainly the 'expat' ones)  fairly early, and the pubs and restaurants start advertising their Christmas lunches but you don't get the onslaught of advertising and it rammed it your face everywhere you go.

Yesterday we managed to find 2 advent calenders, which is surprisingly difficult (unless you want to spend €7 on a huge one from Lidl's) This year I think will be the first year that Leo would remember about the chocolate calendar from the year before, so that's' good!

I swore to myself that I'd not start 'Christmas' before December - no music, no nothing until the 1st when I get our 'Advent box' out with the Christmas DVDs, books and CD.  Aaron of course thinks that is far too early, and still argues that the decorations should go up on Christmas Eve!

Every year we have been here we have been to the switching on of the Agia Napa lights, last year as we walked into the square I turned to my Dad and said 'Ohh now it's Christmas'  THAT was the moment it felt like the festive season had begun. This year the lights switch on is the 29th but this weekend is Leo's school's Christmas fete, 2 weeks earlier than last year and so I'm sure that's when it will all begin!   He is so excited about it, and the fact that Santa will be there, and he can also have a ride on the Red Bus.

Of course rules are meant to be broken though, so as I write this post I am listening to some fab festive tunes!  I might have sworn not to get the CD out but I said nothing about youtube!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Let's move to Cyprus - {Part One}

This month we will have lived in Cyprus 5 years, it's not that long in the scheme of things but it feels like a lifetime ago now that I was living in England and would have once dismissed the whole idea of moving here as just a ridiculous dream.

I've been blogging only slightly longer than the time I've lived here, having started the blog with the idea of recording the move. Back in the early days I posted short posts and I've often regretted not elaborating on how it all came about.  I'd only written 2 posts before we actually left the UK and then was left without internet for 3 months while CYTA attempted to locate our apartment on the map.

I'd never been to Cyprus before we thought about moving here, and I suppose that makes it a slightly strange thing to do. I touched on how it all came about in my very first blog post but I didn't consider myself a 'blogger' then and I don't feel like I really captured the story, so I thought I'd play catch up now...

There really was no build up to the decision at all, for me it literally all stemmed from a random question.

It was an ordinary evening back in 2007, Aaron and I were eating dinner, (on trays, on our laps, in front of the TV watching Top Gear to be precise) and with no prior related conversation turned to me and asked ' Do you want to move to Cyprus?'

I can remember it like it was yesterday, how I paused, lost for words, how I turned to him slowly, and the look I gave him as I replied ' Do I want to do what??'

'Move to Cyprus'  he replied, in the tone you might use to ask someone if they want to go to the pub, or have a cup of tea.

Me:  'Do.I.Want.To.Move.To.Cyprus?'
Him: 'Yes'
Me: *blank look* 'Cyprus?'
Him: 'Yes, do you want to move to Cyprus?'
Me; 'I've never even been to Cyprus!'
Him: 'Me neither'
Me:'Why would I want to move to Cyprus?'
Him: 'Why not?'

It turns out that I didn't have a good enough answer to that, because 5 years later, here we are!

I think my actual reply was all the following and something along the lines of 'because we can't / because we've never even been there / because people don't just move abroad like that'.

Aaron changed tack, the question became 'Why don't you want to move to Cyprus?'

This was much easier to answer, because I didn't want to leave my parents and my friends. That was the main reason, I threw a few extras in for good measure - we might regret it, it might be too hot, we might get ill, we might not be able to come home and I'm sure many other random things which popped into my head.

It turned out that Aaron had been speaking to my Dad who had thought about moving for many years but my Mum always said she didn't want to leave me.  As Aaron had once thought about moving to France (before we were married, and not with me) the idea of leaving the country was not new to him and he suggested that we all moved then neither me or Mum would be leaving the other!

I still thought he was crazy and I was adamant that it wasn't possible to just move, just like that for no apparent reason.  Surely everyone would be doing it if it was that easy?

After some discussion we established that 'Of course I wanted to move to Cyprus' (assuming I didn't hate it when I first went there!) I just couldn't see how it would be possible, not only from the logistics of it, but because we didn't even have the money to go on holiday to see what it was like!

Image credit

Part two coming soon.....

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The one where I don't know what to wear.

As exciting as the first rain after the summer is, I'm still not a huge fan despite the long hot summers I've experienced over the last few years.  Many of my friends here love the winter and relish the novelty of snuggling up with pyjamas and watching tv,  but I'd still rather take the long summer balcony evenings given the choice!

I do love my duvet though, and I do get very excited over sausage and mash for dinner - Aaron refuses to eat anything like that over the summer so winter does have some plus points!

Unlike living in the UK, there is a distinct difference between summer and winter - never in England did I pack my winter wardrobe away completely for the summer months and change my whole lifestyle as the nights drew in.

I find over the summer I get lazy with what I wear - it seems so much easier then!  Get up, pick some shorts and a top, or a dress, flip flops - sorted!

In winter, leggings, jeans, skirt or what?   Does it still fit?   Which shoes go with them?  Is it too warm for boots, will I be cold in flipflops? Why do I not have anything inbetween the two?!   Which top? Do I need a cardigan, or a coat, do I even own one?!

The  problem (admittedly a very 'first world' problem) is working out what to wear - this time of year creates a very diverse collection of clothing as you go about the place with people wearing anything from shorts and vests to jeans, jumpers, coats and woolly hats  (yes really!  I saw two children at school this morning wearing them).

What starts off as a chilly morning suggesting long trousers and a jumper can turn into a lovely 'summer' morning by 10am where the temperature heads back to the mid to high 20's.  Yet by late afternoon you get another sudden drop as the sun goes down meaning the layers are piled back on again and my good old fluffy dressing gown makes an appearance.

Another reason I'm not the biggest fan of winter is the fact that our living space almost halves when we close our balcony doors which would have been open pretty much constantly since May. It's more noticeable than ever this year with two growing kids trying to run around in a very small space. Maybe winter will grow on me when I get more than 3 rooms and a sofa that is comfortable for the cosy winter evening - I think I'll put a fireplace on the wish list as well!

It's funny though to look back - yesterday I noticed on 'timehop'  (a brilliant app which shows you photos and statuses from 'this day' in previous years) that this time last year I announced that winter had arrived. what timehop also told me was the time of the update and the fact it was 23 degrees.

However,  4 years ago on the same day I had spent a 'lovely afternoon on the beach with Leo and been in the sea - it was 26 degrees then!

It still never fails to fascinate me, the temperatures at which I now feel cold but it's certainly what you become acclimatized to, plus the fact that indoors it is usually so much colder than outside.

One thing about the season though - you do get the most amazing lighting shows, we spend many a time watching the spectacular storms from our balcony and this week was one of the best in a long time.

Photo by  Klik Photography

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

A heart of gold!

People have asked me why I blog and it's a question I still struggle to answer, I like to create a record of things we've been up to, but of course I could have started a scrapbook or even just not hit publish and shared it with everyone.

Maybe it  because I like to think that maybe I can make a difference, that is the reason I have run the 'Discovering Cyprus', 'Birth in Cyprus and 'All Greek to me' sections on this blog, and why I love running the Famagusta Parents Network - I hope it can do some good for the area and help people along the way.

I spend a huge amount of time online, between the two blogs, and the other places I write for,  as well as the other things I seem to get myself into to - being on the social team at Slimming World, setting up facebook pages, arranging coffee mornings and fun days, and nearly all of it is of no financial benefit to me  - considering we need to eat and stuff it's sometimes a wonder why I do it all.    But I do, and I love it - going to the pub is not as easy as it used to be,  television is rubbish - Arabic, Greek or buffering too much to be able to watch it  so this is what I do, and I just love it!

What really makes it worthwhile though is knowing that it is appreciated, and knowing that I've helped someone - maybe told them about a good day out, or how to find some information they need. Knowing that I am actually making a difference.

So, you can maybe imagine how excited I was to discover that I have been nominated for the 'Heart of Gold' award at the next Daxi Business Awards!!!

It's a well known fact that only bloggers comment on blogs, so the FPN website has almost none, facebook has stats, but we all know they don't mean much so generally we carry on doing what we do regardless without really knowing if anyone is interested. It's so lovely to be recognised that I am actually doing a 'thing'

The Heart of Gold award is unrelated to business. It is awarded to an individual person rather than a company of group. Someone who gives selflessly to others for no personal gain, someone who dedicates their time, resources and physical efforts to help others regardless of their own personal circumstances.  

I was really looking forward to the event anyway having attended the previous two Daxi award ceremonies, and last year sat on a winners table with our friends who won the 'Best Newcomer' award for 'Blood Brothers' Tattoo and Piercing studio in Agia Napa.  Its a great excuse to get all dressed up and have a child free evening and being nominated for an award is the 'icing on the cake' I'm up against some great people - including one of my best friends so it's definitely all about the taking part!

For more information on the Daxi Awards you can find the details on the Famagusta Parents Network website or at daximagazine.com

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Santa magic at Christmas time

I am a huge fan of Christmas, I always have been but since having kids I love it even more. 

I've always said that Christmas is a 'Season' not just one day - well it says so in the song 'Tis the Season to be jolly'!  and most of the enjoyment for me comes from the run up to the actual day.
Christmas in Cyprus is a lot more low key than in England, and that combined with the usual blue skies and sunshine means that I like to work a bit harder to create the 'Christmas magic'

Last year the boys and I thoroughly enjoyed December, starting with the ‘Advent box’ – containing the advent calendar’s, Christmas themed books and colouring pages, and continuing with many different activities, such as decorating the tree and going to the various events in the area, and of course writing a letter to Santa together. 

I remember the excitement as a child of going to see Santa and the thought that he would be soon delivering presents to all the good boys and girls all over the world and I love seeing the same excitement in Leo now.

The most magical part for Leo though came just before Christmas when he actually received a reply from the man himself, as well as a certificate confirming his place on the ‘good list’   I know these years of innocence won’t last forever so it’s wonderful to be able to make memories like this with him that will last a lifetime, like my own childhood Christmas memories.

Leo was pleased that his letter was written just for him, especially as he realises how Santa must be so busy at this time of year. Santa told him that he was busy preparing for Christmas Eve and he let him know how proud he was of him for his achievements that year.  He knew what present he was hoping for, where he lives and also mentioned a couple of his friends that he was also going to be visiting.

He even requested which drink and snack he hoped Leo would leave out for him on Christmas Eve!

The letter has been carefully kept with our special keepsakes and certificate took pride of place on display for all to see, and also served as a handy reminder that he should continue to be a good boy!

I decided to create Santa's Cyprus Postbox to offer a bit of the magic to children all over Cyprus.  We offer a choice of letters for children, including this year a version for those who are doubting the existence of the big man in red.  We also have a special 'Baby's 1st Christmas' letter where Santa introduces himself to the little one and looks forward to many years of delivering presents to them, although too small to understand themselves it will be a lovely keepsake of their first Christmas, and add to the magic for older siblings too.

Not forgetting those naughty adults you can also send a loved one a letter from Santa telling them to buck up their ideas if they want to be on the 'nice list' - so if you are fed up with hubby leaving his socks on the floor maybe it will be a nice way to get your point across!

You can order your own personalised letters and certificates, find out more by emailing santascypruspostbox@hotmail.com or find them on facebook under ‘Santa’s Cyprus Postbox’

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