Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Cyherbia Fairy Folk Fest 2016

Regular readers of my blog know that we've been to many of the events at Cyherbia Botanical Park and Labyrinth and this weekend they held their 2nd Annual Fairy Folk Fest.

For the last few events we have been working there with our children's Photo Booth and although they were fun days, we didn't get to enjoy them with the boys so I was really looking forward to visiting as a guest - and walking round the maze and gardens for the first time in ages!

The event promised to be a day of adventure and enchantment and it didn't disappoint. Despite the fact that I have 2 boys who would usually think faeries are 'girlie' they loved the day - especially duelling with the knight and planting 'magic beans',well, fighting and digging in the dirt - what's not to love!

In the Herb Gardens our task was to spot all the faeries, and find out their names (they were named after the plant they were hiding by - a great way to get the kids to read the information boards that they would otherwise run straight past!)  Also in the Herbarium were 5 toadstools each with a fairy door, the task was to open the door and discover what was hidden behind,  on the worksheet were pictures to circle what you had found - this was Loukas favourite bit, he loved opening each door and was adorable as he made sure to close them afterwards so carefully.

At the Woodland Fairy's Castle we stopped to listen to her story - Holly the Winter Fairy kept the children captivated with her quest to help her Elf friend Leaf to fly.   She even got some of the kids to help her create a magic potion.

After the storytime we explored the Enchanted Forrest and the magical realms of Faerie. Our sheets explained what to do and the boys loved to follow the map. 

We saw fairy houses and spotted fairies in the trees, fought the valiant Knight and picked a gemstone from the Gemstone Cave, this we took the to Oracles cottage where the Oracle gave her special blessing and exchanged the gemstone for a gift. 

In the tea rooms we stopped for a rest, drank our fairy tea and had the chance to browse in the herb shop and the fairy themed stalls for gifts and keepsakes.

You could tell the thought that had gone into the event and the effort behind it, it was a worthwhile visit!

Linking up with Country Kids from Coombe Mill
Country Kids
from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 18 March 2016

My favourite time of year!

I love this time of year in Cyprus!  Over the last month the tourist areas have become a hive of activity as restaurants, hotels and bars prepare to reopen after the winter.  Carnival, Green Monday and the bank holidays, Easter and the anticipation of the summer season just around the corner gives us a spring in our step and a sense of optimism.

It all begins with Tsiknopempti (which literally translates to 'Thursday of the smoke of grilled meat', due to the gorgeous aroma of meat being barbequed all over the island).   It's not widely celebrated by many expats here, I knew nothing about it until the boys started school but for me it now marks the start of the celebrations. 

Last year I joined Leo at school to watch the celebrations and enjoy the BBQ laid on the for the parents, staff and children.  This year Leo is in big school and once again I went in to join the fun. It was a little strange as I was (as always) the only English Mum there, but also seemed to be the only person without a job. (and I did check if I could do anything!)  It was surprising when all parents and grandparents had been invited!

Leo was pleased to have me there though, and that's the main thing, although I wonder how long he will be happy with that in the coming years!

The kids loved the morning - and its easy to see why. No lessons, no uniform, just a morning of games in the playground, dancing, songs and a BBQ. 

After Tsiknopempti comes Carnival!

 For the last three years we have taken part in the parade which was great fun but it does mean that you miss out on seeing all the fantastic floats and groups in the procession.  This year we watched it for the first time with both boys and they loved it all. 

I love the atmosphere of carnival day, the people, the colour and the music.  The boys were dressed in their current favourite costumes of Darth Vader and Spiderman and we raided the photo booth props to accessorize with some silly hats and glasses.

The weekend doesn’t end with carnival though, as it’s a 3 day weekend with Green Monday to recover from the madness – in theory anyway!  We met friends at the beach to fly our kites and share a bbq lunch. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side and it turned out there was too much wind to fly the kites or even stand upright without being blasted with sand.  Not to be outdone, we retreated to a friend’s house and carried on the party there – a great way to end the long weekend.

Country Kids
from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall
Linking up to Country Kids from Coombe Mill

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Love the Library - and WIN with Reading Eggs!

There are many things that I imagined I would do (or not do) when I had children and in most cases it turns out that I was completely wrong - providing fresh home cooked meals every day, no junk food, limited tv and technology time, educational arts and crafts etc but one thing I was right about was the fact I would read to my children and try and encourage a love of books in them.

As a child I absolutely loved visiting the local library, and spent many hours there choosing hundreds of books over the years. I remember the excitement of becoming old enough to get an adult card and suddenly being able to take out 9 books at a time.  I think they actually let me get one early as I used to go through the books so fast!

When Leo was just a couple of months old I took him to a Baby Bounce and Rhyme time at the library, and although he was way to young to appreciate it I know it is something I would have continued, and I'm sure we would have been regular borrowers of children's books as he grew.

I regularly visited the library until we moved to Cyprus, spending many lunch breaks from work choosing books on all kinds of different subjects. 

I looked online for information about libraries in Cyprus and all I came up with was a library in Larnaca with a regular storytime and large selection of English books but the distance didn't make it practical to visit regularly.  I had lived in Cyprus for several years before I even realised there was a library in my village.

The books as you would expect are Greek , they did have a small shelf of English books although mainly baby books or for very young kids and Leo was not so interested in them. 

An idea started to form in my head, as it does, and after years of wishing there was a better selection I thought I'd see if I could do something about it. I approached the library and asked if they would be interested in donations to increase the English selection.  Most of the expat children here go to local Cypriot schools and are fluent in Greek but still prefer to read in English at home, I felt that a larger selection of English books would encourage them to visit and then eventually they would also become interested in the Greek books too. 

I always say I don't mind which language they are reading in, as long as they are enjoying it!

I put out a plea on the Famagusta Parents Network and on facebook for donations of good condition books for all ages of children and was absolutely overwhelmed by the response!

Thanks to the generosity of local businesses which acted as collection points and the lucky timing of an English primary school updating their school library I ended up with something close to 600 books with everything ranging from baby board books to teenage novels!!

Of course, our little village library had nowhere near enough space for all of these so the local Cypriot primary schools  have found homes for many of them to help with the children's English lessons and the surplus has gone to a couple of local charities to raise funds for them. 

My boys have had great fun helping me sort all these books out, reading tons of them in the process, although now they are all in their new locations I must say I'm pleased to have my house clear again!

We are also offering EVERYONE (worldwide - not limited to those living in Cyprus!) an extended free trial to the award winning Reading Eggs and the chance to win a year's subscription worth £39.95

Reading Eggs makes learning to read interesting and engaging for kids, with great online reading games and activities.

And it really works! Children love the games, songs, golden eggs and other rewards which, along with feeling proud of their reading, really motivate children to keep exploring and learning.

Win a years subscription to Reading Eggs

Click the link to sign up for your extended free trial  http://readingeggs.co.uk/amoc/

You can find more information on the Book Day event, and Deryneia Library over on the Famagusta Parents Network website.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Mermaids Bottoms and hidden treasure

Having been bitten by the geocaching bug we have been on several outings in the last month looking for them in the local area. The app that I use gives you a list of those local to you so it's an simple case of scrolling through until one takes your fancy.

I had my eye on one located at the beach by the Crystal Springs hotel in Pernera and thought it would be an ideal time to go searching for it while the hotel was still closed. 

As we got out of the car it started to rain slightly but I was on a mission so I decided we would carry on,  Louka was not impressed as instantly complained he was cold (despite the fact it wasn't). It didn't take long though to realised that my phone was playing up and I really had no idea where to start looking.  I was feeling a bit bad that we were out in the rain (with no waterproof clothes) so we jumped back in the car for a sandwich snack stop. 

The rain suddenly stopped as we drove away so I decided to head to the next on the list at the nearby Sirena Bay.  It sounded like it would be a really easy find - as it was entitled 'Mermaids Bottom' and from our previous visit I thought I knew just where to look. 

However there are quite a few mermaids bottoms to search!  After what we thought was a thorough investigation I was forced to give up when the boys had enough and the lure of skimming stones (or trying to anyway) on the beach became too great to ignore. 

It was a couple of weeks later when we decided to give it another go, and we roped Aaron in to help. Starting again at Crystal Springs, we walked around the bay twice before realising we'd been going in the wrong direction but we eventually narrowed it down to an area on the rocks. 

Getting closer!
The problem with rocks is that they all look the same but soon enough I spotted one that looked out of place, and had a piece of coloured string tied around it.  I picked it up and sure enough it was hiding the geocache!

Encouraged by our success we went back for a second go at the mermaids!  Would you believe that I found it in minutes, in what I am sure was a place I had searched before. 

Hint: It wasn't this one!

Not only did we find the cache but inside we found our first 'geocoin' - a trackable item that gets moved from cache to another with a tracking number on it so you can follow its journey. 

We found out that the coin started in the Netherlands and made its way via several caches to France onto South West England before being placed in the cache in Cyprus. So far it has travelled 3349.4 miles.  We will soon place it in different cache so it can continue its journey. 

Sirena Bay Cyprus

Friday, 4 March 2016

Flashback Friday

My Mum recently sent me these photos as she realised that she was the same age in these photos that I am now, and coincidentally Leo is about the same age I was. 

They were taken in Son Bou, Minorca in 1984 on our family holiday. 

My earliest memory of going abroad is probably this holiday,or the one after it as we we went to the same place.  I can remember several things from them although I guess many of the memories are due to the photos I have seen so many times over the years.  

In the picture above I am holding a little toy monkey which was called Pepe for some reason. I don't remember how or where I got him but I know I carried him around the entire holiday. No idea what happened to him afterwards though as I don't remember having him at home. 

It was also the holiday of the 'Whisky Cake' a story which has become a long running joke over the years. Mum had ordered whisky cake in a restaurant after having it a few days previously elsewhere. The first time the waiter had poured a splash of whisky onto the cake as he served it, but the second place didn't stop at a splash and kept pouring looking at Mum - eventually she realised she was supposed to say 'when'.    The cake was swimming in the stuff!

Taking 'selfies' before it was even a word - either that or I was just really short,
can't imagine I'd have framed the picture so well though!
It was also the holiday of the 'hand' also known as the best inflatable in the world and my first go on a waterslide!

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

February Flashbacks

Here's a little glimpse into what we've been up to in February inspired by the photos on my camera roll - aka how to be a lazy blogger!

It seems that we mainly went to the beach, although in reality I realise that I don't tend to take photos of us all vegged out in front of the tv so my folder of photos does not always reflect real life!  None the less, I have actually lost count of the number of times we went out, either for a little walk or to have a run about on the beach (the boys, not me obviously. I don't 'do' running!)

Most of the trips out included geocaching hunts, it gives us a location to head for and a 'reason' to go, although we went all that successful, especially on the first attempts.   We found quite a few over the month though and most importantly had loads of nice afternoons out in the process.

The boys are starting to get better at amusing themselves, making up games with stones, or bits of wood and random objects found on beaches.

We sat on the beach and Leo got his feet wet for the the first time this year, far too cold for Louka though but he enjoyed digging and trying to make castles.

There is one question that is always asked whenever we go anywhere.... 'Is there a playground?'

We weren't expecting one when we had a walk to discover this little beach and they were almost convinced that exploring was as good as playing.

Until we discovered an actual playground of course!

The funny thing is, they were occupied for longer on the beach than in the playground but they never seem to realised this!

Leo and I also spent several afternoons in our local library as I am in the process of helping to improve the English section and arrange a book day event for early April.  He enjoyed visiting and sat happily doing his homework while I arranged books.

February wasn't all fun and games, as it included a double trip to the eye doctors and glasses for Louka. Leo lost two baby teeth on the same eventful Monday morning  and just a week later Leo hurt his neck and we had to spend a night in hospital.

All in all though, the good outweighed the bad. Aaron and I started back at work properly with our first wedding of 2016 and a birthday party, the boys were very excited as they love it when we work and they get to go to Nana and Grandads.

As we go into March we are now in spring cleaning mode as I delcutter the apartment and Aaron starts a complete repaint before the summer season starts and we won't have the time.

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