Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Snow in Cyprus!

Does it snow in Cyprus?

You may be surprised to know that it does snow, every year but high in the mountains. You can ski from around December to February (and on a good day get to the beach for a sunbathe in the same day).   There are times when many mountain roads are closed to normal vehicles and it's a very popular day out for the novelty value of seeing the snow.

We took Leo up the Troodos mountains two years ago which was fun for a short while until he got cold and told us he never wanted to go there again!

So, snow in Cyprus is a regular event, and not surprising at all,  unless it reaches the coastal areas and then everyone goes a little bit crazy.

It always amuses me when it snows in the UK and everyone (as I would!)  runs to facebook and instagram to tell the world it is snowing, when in reality they could just look out their window.

The snow panic, the rush to buy bread and milk, the chaos on the roads and the schools closing left, right and centre.

But last week WE HAD SNOW!

Not sleet, but actual fluffy white snow coming down for more than a few seconds.  Of course I dived for my phone as did many of my friends judging by the videos that quickly appeared on facebook, and stood looking out the window in amazement!

EVERYONE was talking about the snow, I heard some schools were closed in other areas, it was a real big event!

Here's the proof...

See?  Look at that snow, it even settled, erm, a little bit, for a few minutes!

It's not my picture, it was taken by a friend but was the best one I could find to prove it happened, I was mad enough to stand outside, freezing trying to video it but it really doesn't show up very well!

So, it was a bit of a non event but it was a little bit exciting and both the boys were very pleased to tell me they had seen snow at school, and I've never seen my facebook feed full of so many comments about the weather,and of course all the photos and videos where you had to concentrate hard to see the snowflakes, but it didn't matter - everyone had to share the amazement!

Apart from the snow, we have had really bad weather, high winds and rain and there has been lots of damage around.  It remains cold, and it's horrible - Cyprus just isn't set up to cope with low temperatures and the houses are insanely difficult to heat.   Right now apart from the wind blowing it feels the same temperature (if not slightly warmer) outside, even though I have the heater on.

I am wearing a t-shirt, 2 jumpers, and cardigan and my outside coat whilst indoors, and I'm still not too warm!  My hands are so cold I can hardly type!

Oh well, only a few more weeks until it sorts itself out again, and in a few months time we can go back to talking about the heat!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Project 52 - Week 2

Loukas started nursery this week, I think it might have all caught up with him.   I thought he was a little bit quiet and turned around to see he hadn't even managed to eat his lunch or even sit down before falling asleep!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 9 January 2015

Why don't you? (turn off the tv and do something less boring instead)

Why don't you turn off that tv and do something less boring instead?

Do you remember that program?  I may just be showing my age. but I always used to watch it in the school holidays, obviously not taking the advice from the opening credits!  (I assume they meant turn off the TV AFTER the program had finished!

Back in the days pre-children I swore blind that they wouldn't sit in front of the television all day, it would be on for a small amount of time each day for fun but educational programs which we would watch together and talk about to see what we had learnt...... yes I know I was somewhat deluded and had no idea what would inevitably happen.  (I also thought I would only feed them nutritious and healthy home cooked meals and very strictly ration sweets, crisps and junk food but that's a whole other blog post!) 

Between birth and about 6 months Leo had never watched a program, although I was quite a fan of inane daytime tv when he was tiny, I was still quite confident that he wouldn't be front of a screen for long. 

At 6 months we stayed with some friends of ours who had children and I remember the wonder in his face as he saw Cbeebies for the first time, he looked at me as if to say 'You didn't tell me there was cool stuff on Mum!'

Arriving in Cyprus we soon got Nilesat (the most popular TV package at the time) and one morning whilst flicking through the channels with Leo on my lap I came across 'Barney and Friends' and as it was the only English (ish!) thing I could find I stopped on it.....  

It wasn't that long after that I found something else worth watching first thing in the morning, but by then the pattern had been established and I was surprised to find my little baby was not impressed at all by a change in it. 

Of course I then realised I could put him down and get lots of things done!

Leo at 6 months

We then progressed through the usual suspects, Thomas, and Bob, Postman Pat and Mickey Mouse. It was fine, he didn't sit in front of it all day but the TV was pretty much always on, even if we were not in front of it. 

Leo learnt a lot from the things he watched, Postman Pat was the main reason he knew his alphabet so early, and Charlie and the Numbers was an early favourite so I was more than happy to let him watch. 

Of course Louka was introduced much earlier and as Leo has grown up he has jumped the pre-school delights of  Thomas, Bob and the others, and where Leo could name every engine on Sodor, Loukas can tell you the names of all the Superheros, and thinks he is a ninja. 

We now have Netflix running through the wii. and for some reason Leo hates to watch anything other than that, even if we have the same thing on DVD.  

In fact it is often Leo who now wants to watch Pocoyo or Bubble Guppies, while Louka is asking for Ninjago or Power Rangers. They do watch less TV overall now, although it now competes with the Wii (another post coming up!)  and laptop / tablet but they say variety is spice of life!?

It's such a departure from my own childhood where constant TV just wasn't an option. Lunchtime programs, after school programs,  no dvds, I think I had a couple of VHS videos by the time I was a teenager.  

I hardly watch the TV at all these days, with just not worth the hassle it would create by trying to do it in the daytime, and in the evening I give it up to Aaron while I sit at the laptop, sometimes blogging, sometimes watching one of the small handful of my favourite programs online.

I've never been a film lover, in fact it's quite shocking the amount of 'must see' films that I've not seen,  Aaron is constantly shocked by my lack of film knowledge. Not having access to proper UK channels via the TV means I now don't 'channel surf' and I look at Netflix, get paralyzed with indecision and retreat back to the laptop. 

We are considering changing our TV setup and getting the UK channels like many of our friends now have here, I see a return to aimlessly watching things that don't seem worth the effort to watch online and maybe being introduced to things that have appeared since 2009.

I wonder how it will change our viewing habits again? 

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Let's move to Cyprus {Part two}

The story of our move to Cyprus is like many things in our lives, fairly random, and it's taken me five years to get round to writing it down. I thought it was about time considering this was the reason I started a blog in the first place!

You can read part one here - Let's Move to Cyprus

The idea of moving was talked about more and more and it was starting to feel like was actually something we could do, although we were still yet to ever have set foot in the country.

It does seem ridiculous, especially as I knew nothing about Cyprus and could only imagine it to be somewhere between Greece and Turkey (in appearance, not just geographically!)  Which makes it more strange as I'd been to Turkey and didn't much like it, and I'd been to Greece (Corfu) and stayed in a cheap and nasty apartment on a teenage drinking holiday  so my idea of a combination of the two countries didn't fill me with confidence!

My Mum and Dad however had been to Cyprus many times and as I'd imagined them moving to Spain if they were going to go anywhere, I thought that Cyprus must have something for them to only be considering Cyprus as a destination.

Different reasons of varying importance were thrown about, in no particular order....  they drive on the left, you can function without learning Greek, the health and education system were similar to the UK, the climate,  the Mediterranean lifestyle, the fact it was different enough to know you weren't in England but similar enough to not be completely unfamiliar.

But of course we had no idea until we saw for ourselves, so we booked a 3 day property trip. Not an ideal way to decide your future but with no funds to book even a short trip independently it was that or nothing.

Going on information from Mum and Dad and their experience we decided to look at the east coast of the island, much to the confusion of every sales person we spoke to. The general opinion was Paphos was the ONLY place to move to because that's where the Brits were, and because it was 'open all year'.

We went to the 'Place in the Sun' Exhibition at the NEC and walked away from several companies who just were not listening to the fact we were not interested in Paphos, one which only dealt with Paphos properties which was fair enough, but many which were convinced we HAD to be going to Paphos if we were planning on living in Cyprus all year round.

I was bemused and irritated by this, I realised I was no Cyprus expert, and of course I realised that the summer season was busy and some things closed in the winter but how could EVERYTHING close?!  How did they imagine that the Cypriots live?

I couldn't believe how much they ran the area down, and one sales person even told us how she had just come back after spending several years in Cyprus because she hated it!  On further questioning it appeared it was too hot for her liking and there was too many things she missed about England - a fair point maybe, but one I'd have probably kept to myself if I was trying to sell property there!

We went on to hear again and again how there was nothing to do in winter, how ALL the restaurants and shops closed for the winter season and how Paphos had so much more to offer.

Having no desire to live in what has often been called 'little Britain' or to live in the heart of a tourist resort we decided to ignore them all and crack on with our intention to look east.

After picking a property company at random (one of the few who had actually listened to us), and looking at several websites in the name of 'research' we packed a bag and jetted off for a bizarre three days in the middle of August to look for a possible new home.

So, after our extensive preparations and endless research (that is watching endless episodes of 'Place in the Sun' and looking at a lot of random websites which were'n't a huge amount of help) and armed with an ever changing idea of what exactly we were looking for, combined with no actual money to buy a property we jumped on a plane to Cyprus.

It was the 14th August 2007, and we were soon to find out our first bit of last minute Cyprus information - the fact that the 15th August is one of the biggest holiday days in the country and everyone heads to the coast, turns out that our 'in-depth research' could have been better!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Christmas is for kids (big kids too!)

We spent Christmas Eve having a fairly normal day but we took the boys to the park in the afternoon for a chance to burn off some energy and excitement.When we got home the Christmas countdown really began as we started to track Santa and play some festive games together on my laptop.

For the third year I produced the 'Snuggle Sack' much to the delight of the boys. This year the boys had new pyjamas, we all had crisps, and chocolates to share, as well as a Christmas story and the boys stockings and our 'Santa Stop Here' sign and a new DVD.  

Earlier in the day Leo had said in a random comment that one day he'd love to have a special Hot Chocolate with cream and sprinkles, like he'd seen on a Christmas game. As we sat to watch the film asked if he'd like a special hot chocolate, with cream, chocolate sprinkles, a chocolate stick and a candy cane, you should have seen his face!   He jumped for joy and said 'Thank you, thank you Mummy, I'm so happy!'   I made us one each (mine minus the candy cane but with a large slug of baileys in it!)  and he proceeded to moan it was hot, and then decided he didn't like it at all!

With the boys in their matching pyjamas, and the film complete, it was time to arrange the treats for Santa, along with a thank you note from Leo,  and then off to bed. 

I never really know how the boys will wake, what time Louka will get up or if he will go back to sleep so I was hoping they would both sleep ok. As it happened Leo woke 3 times and on the last time at 4am I hustled him back to bed desperately hoping he wouldn't disturb Louka, he asked me if Santa had been and I replied 'Oh I don't know but we'd better get back to bed fast in case he hasn't'.

Quick as a flash Leo was back in bed and snuggled up again!

Louka slept well, coming in to us at 5.am when he then went back to sleep for another hour having n real understanding of the day.  When he woke I debated between putting on a DVD and having maybe an hour of relative peace but decided against it! 

Instead I sent him in to Leo with the instruction to tell Leo that Santa had been, I wish I'd videoed what happened because it was so funny!   Louka ran in and started hitting Leo shouting 'Leo, Leo wake up, come see, Santa here'   (He was confused as we'd put an inflatable Santa on top of the presents).  Leo mumbled something and rolled over but Louka carried on, saying again and again 'Leo, Santa, wake up'

Eventually he got out of bed and allowed Louka to drag him into the living room, still half alseep and muttering 'OK Louka, OK'   They stopped in front of the presents and Leo, still obviously not with it, said flatly 'Yes, Louka, lovely, presents, stop shouting'

I stood back waiting for the penny to drop,  it took a while but we got there in the end.  There was a sudden pause a sharp intake of breath as Leo turned and sped back into the bedroom to check his stocking.  Seconds later he reappeared shouting 'Mum, Look Santa's been, we've got presents!!'

Aaron was swiftly kicked out of bed by the pair of them and the opening commenced!

At a slightly more sociable time of day my parents popped up and Leo took great delight in giving them the presents he had brought himself, after tea and crumpets (proper English crumpets!)  they left to get ready for round 2 of presents, at their apartment before lunch.

This year we had decided to go out, for the first time, for Christmas dinner, meaning my Mum not cooking for the first time in 40 years!  I was a little unsure that it wouldn't be a good idea but it was a lovely afternoon, good food, nice atmosphere and the boys were both very well behaved, I'd certainly think about doing it next year too.

We were back at my parents by 6pm for a chilled few hours before the boys got too tired to take any more and it was time to go back home.

All in all it was a brilliant Christmas!

Daxi Christmas Collection and FPN Charity Clothes Swap

Last year I became aware of a fantastic charity by the name of KEPA 'St Christopher's Centre for Offering and Love'  after being involved in the Daxi Magazine Easter Collection.  I chose to donate all the money raised at the Famagusta Parents Network fun day to the collection, and was kindly invited to the foundation for a tour.

The centre, based in Paralimni is run by volunteers and does a huge amount of work for so many members if all ages in the community. From the well equipped special needs school which helps more than 100 children with qualified teachers helping them to walk, speak, write and more, to the nursing home for the elderly it really covers everything.

The centre provide 'Baskets of Love' and this is mainly where the Daxi Easter collection was able to help out. By the donations the centre receive they are able to distribute essentials of food and drinks for families in desperate need. Since 1998 they have been delivering food parcels to the surrounding villages free of charge, and they also provide around 120 hot meals daily.

I was honored to meet the inspirational Eleni Gourounia who has dedicated her life to the foundation and its work. 
Just before Christmas, the community came together again to support the Daxi Christmas collection and a small team of us met up to collect the donations and deliver them to KEPA.

Image credit: Klik Photo Cy

It was the most successful collection yet and as well as donations of dried and tinned food, toiletries and sanitary products we also received over 100 wrapped gifts for children of the families that KEPA support.

With some help from Santa the children received their gifts after we had delivered the food supplies and it was an amazing thing to be a part of.

Image credit: Klik Photo Cy

As well as the essential food donations, KEPA also constantly collect unwanted clothes, blankets and even damaged clothes, as they are recycled raising valuable funds for the charity.  With this in mind I, as the Famagusta Parents Network arranged a 'Charity Clothes Swap' event in conjunction with 'To Posto' a local restaurant and guest house.

The idea was simple, bring along your unwanted clothes and 'swap till you drop'!

No money was to change hands and if you had no clothes to swap you could still join in by bring dried or tinned food for the collection.

There was a disappointing turn out on the day, but those who came fully supported us and made it a fantastic and worthwhile event.  Our hosts at 'To Posto' offered all attending free tea and toast and it was a very enjoyable morning.

I think everyone left with some new additions to their wardrobe, and we still had several large bin bags of clothes left to donate.

I was so pleased with my finds, a smart warm jacket, 2 skirts, a beautiful jumper and a scarf. I also managed to pick up a t-shirt for Leo and a child's Santa suit. I've had proper shopping trips in the past and come home with less!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Project 52, Week One.

Back in 2012 I took part in Project 52, posting a 'Silent Sunday' photo each week here on my blog, I watched many of my favourite bloggers completing the more ambitious 365 Project - a photo a day for a year and by the start of 2013 I had been tempted to join in.

After Aaron telling me he'd be surprised if I lasted 2 weeks I was determined to see it through, and I did, taking at least one photo every day for the entire year. It was a struggle, especially for the last few months, not so much always taking the photos but keeping up with publishing them all, they also started to feel a bit forced at the end, like I was taking them for the sake of it. 

I decided not to attempt it again for 2014, and I found I hardly took any photos during the year to what I had in previous years.  Now, armed with a new phone which has a decent camera I'm planning to change that. 

Although I have bigger plans this year with blogging I'm not ready to take on the daily challenge again, but I did miss the photographic record it created so I'm going back to Project 52, no theme, no pressure on myself, just my favourite photo of the week.

I love this photo, the perfect entry as it was taken first thing on January 1st.

A new dawn on a new year.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 2 January 2015

A busy Christmas season and family fun

Happy New Year!

I'm really excited about 2015 but before we get too far I'm taking the chance to look back over Christmas and the festivities leading up to it.  We had a great time and there was so much going on this year, a big difference from when we first arrived in 2009. I didn't have my 'blogging head' on this month so have fewer photos than previous years but I enjoyed it all in person without seeing it all through the camera.

The festivities started early this year with Leo's school fete in the park opposite his school which was the last weekend in November. It's the third time we've attended now and as ever was a really enjoyable afternoon.  Like previous years our highlight was the trip on the Red Bus with a present from Santa, but Leo also enjoyed the craft tables and the games which were set up all around the park.

There were also pony rides and a few small fairground rides but he wasn't interested in any of them! As it got dark everyone gathered for the switching of the Christmas tree lights. The tree was cleverly made from empty plastic bottles, and looked very effective with the changing colour lights woven through it.

Next up was the Agia Napa Christmas lights switch on, something we've been to every year that we've lived in Cyprus and usually the first sign that Christmas is coming. Every year the municipality puts on a great free show with music and dancing, free wine and traditional delicacies plus a visit from Santa in a horse drawn carriage.  We all went, Aaron and I with the boys and both my parents and had a lovely evening finished up with a meal in Pizza Hut.

The following week we made our annual trip to the British army base of Agios Nikolaos and their primary school fair.  It's always very busy as people travel quite a long way to go but its nice to have a bit of 'Britishness' every now and again.  The boys saw Santa, played games and ate far too many sweets and cakes but a nice time was had by all!

My favourite Christmas event happened the following weekend, Christmas Avenue which is held in our village. It's the 3rd year of the event this year, and while it seems to be declining each year as opposed to improving it was still a fun day.  Rides on the mini train, children's crafts, bouncy castle and plenty of free treats and drinks, as well as music, dancing and fashion shows meant we stayed there all day wandering up and down, meeting friends and getting into the Christmas Spirit (quite literally with the freebies on offer!)

Leo took part in his school play on the 9th December and played his part of a dancing Christmas tree very well.  It was the first time he had to speak by himself and despite being quite nervous beforehand he did really well.  It still amazes me to hear him speak so well and learn his lines so quickly in Greek.

With the opening of Tiny Acorns Creativity Centre there was plenty of Christmas activities to attend, and we attended their opening party as well as a afternoon dedicated to making decorations and of course the lovely Christmas Celebration with fun, games and a visit from Santa and one of his elves.

This year Paralimni municipality did very well with their Christmas events, with an ongoing programme for the whole of December called 'Christmas Wonder'. The boys and I went to the town square on the Sunday before Christmas to see what it was all about.  It was the first time I'd taken the boys on my own to something so busy, and without the buggy too but I was pleasantly surprised how enjoyable the afternoon was.

We had a ride on the red bus (yes, another one!) and saw a magic show plus lots of characters in a parade which they loved and they happily met them afterwards to give them high fives and cuddles, oh and get free chocolate cake from them which may have helped!  There was also real snow in the square, although not for very long!  The snow freaked both the boys out and we had to leave that area fairly quickly but that was fine by me as I realised it would have made them wet and cold at the start of the afternoon!

I can't believe how much we managed to pack into one month and I haven't even included Christmas Day!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays CornwallWhat Katy Said

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