Friday, 24 June 2016

What the EU referendum means to me.

So the UK is now set to leave the EU, almost half the country voted to stay but the majority of voters wanted the hell out of it and now they will hit a long period of uncertainty, and debate and an endless stream of tripe in the news constantly.

I very rarely talk about or even think about politics and I've certainly never considered writing about them but as an expat blogging Brit living in Cyprus I felt I should at least say something about the biggest political event in my lifetime so far.

I've always avoided politics, having never really understood most of it and always thought it to be a load of old waffle.  (much like this blog but I'm not trying to change the world!) I did vote once, just so I could say I'd done it but I can't remember when or even be 100% sure who for.  (It may have been Lib Dem on the assumption that Tory and Labour were both talking bull and they seemed a safer vote but I couldn't be sure now)

I assume that if I still lived in the UK I'd have had more of an opinion as the majority of my friends seemed to have voted yesterday, despite not having and political preferences as far as I know before. Many people I know were sharing news and opinions (with a smattering of complete rubbish here and there) on the run up too so I guess I would have had a definite opinion and done too.  None of my friends here have spoken about it at all as far as I know, and I don't know of anyone who voted. (of course they just might not have mentioned it!)

In all honesty,  I was only vaguely aware of the upcoming referendum over the last few months.  Of course I knew about it but I don't generally watch the news or read papers - I get the gist of most stuff via facebook / twitter (but I do actually read articles rather than the headlines!) and just tend to pop over to the BBC news site if something sounds interesting.

I did go to a meeting back in March which was open to all Brits in the Famagusta area, with Ric Todd, the British High Commissioner of Cyprus.  Of course the referendum was brought up and he explained that no-one could accurately predict what would happen in the event of a vote to leave, but also that it would take a minimum of two years for any changes to come into effect. People understandably worried about the changes that may affect their pensions, and healthcare etc and many spoke passionately about the Winter fuel allowance (that's a whole other story - don't get me started on that!)  He explained that Cyprus has always had reciprocal agreements with the UK and of course people from the UK lived and worked here before Cyprus joined the EU in 2004.

It was interesting to a degree, I was, I think, the youngest there but mainly it didn't feel relevant to me.  I don't think of the UK as my home, and haven't done for a long time now.  I live in Cyprus,  I have a Cypriot residence permit and a medical card.  What happens with the NHS, schools etc sometimes feels about as relevant as what happens in any other country to me.

I couldn't tell you 100% whether I thought it best for the UK to remain or leave.  It has been assumed that I would have wanted them to remain being as that I live in another EU country, but I can't say I'm worried about what will happen to us anymore than I was this time last year.

I didn't think for a second they would actually leave but what will be will be. What has surprised me more than anything is the split I've seen between my friends and family in the UK - such opposing views and such passion.   That has upset me more than anything else, the thought that there are families and friends so divided on the issue and the thought that many people will have voted on misinformation and scaremongering rather than actual facts.

There are some amazingly stupid questions going around, along with jokes, memes and everything else. Some are funny some are annoying but ultimately no-one really has any idea what will happen when they leave, or what would have happened had they stayed.  I have seen many people today say they are sad / scared / worried for their future, or dancing with joy that they will 'get their country back'.  Seeing as it will be at least two years before the UK officially leave  I would like to respectfully suggest that everyone has a cuppa, arranges their stiff upper lip and forms an orderly queue to put their best foot forward, keep calm and see what happens.

One of the most sensible quotes I have seen on facebook today from a friend...

Ok, a decision has been made and will not be changed no matter how much the 'remainers' whinge and moan. If times are harder we'll manage it, if they are better we'll enjoy it. It's that easy. And if everyone can stop f*****g asking each other how they voted there'll be a lot less agro between ourselves

and another I saw online

The country is full of people who don't know what's going on asking people who don't understand, a question that no-one knows the answer to!

Monday, 13 June 2016

My 'Tourist' day at Nissi Beach, Agia Napa

Last month I got to act like a tourist for a week when my friend came to stay with us from England and I finally got round to having a proper trip to Nissi beach in Agia Napa.  I had been once before with Leo as a toddler but it was unsuccessful due to a temper tantrum (him not me!) and we ended up staying only 15 minutes!

It's a gorgeous beach, and recently voted one of the top 5 in Europe, very busy in the summer and packed full of tourists every day.  As I prefer to visit quieter beaches when I take the boys out it's not one that I fancy taking them to, so I thought my visitor gave me the perfect reason to go and explore.

We went on a Wednesday morning, not that the day of the week matters to anyone on holiday, it was heaving with people by mid morning, all ages and families with kids were there but there was a distinct younger crowd  - after all it is known as the party beach of the town and THE place to go.

Nissi beach viewed from the island
We sat and had a drink when we first arrived and I commented that it was like a whole different world - miles away from my usual Wednesday morning of school runs / supermarket trips or work.  You forget that only 10 minutes down the road people are oblivious to these every day activites going on and are happily holidaying in their own little bubble.

It may be busy this time of year but you cannot deny it is a stunning beach, with its white soft sand and clear blue sea.

I was adamant that we had to go onto the island, after all its the where the beach got its name (Nissi means 'island' in Greek)  I've seen pictures that suggest at certain times of the year you can walk over to the island without getting wet but at this time we had to wade over (just over knee deep for me)

Again it was quite busy with people walking up and down the hill, selfie sticks and people posing everywhere you looked but we were rewarded with the view from the top.

We were about to head back to the beach for a spot of sunbathing when we found this little cove in the rocks on the island.

One end of the beach is the 'party end' and the other is quieter without DJ's and loud music, the island is at the lively end and it was nice laying listening to the music (but not as loudly as it would have been on the beach - we are getting old apparently!)

We stayed a couple of hours then we had to go in search of shade, it was a lovely morning and I'm glad we went but I think I'll leave it until winter before returning - then we'll have the beach to ourselves!

Linking up to #CheckOutThatView 

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

A Star Wars Party

Leo turned 7 last month and we celebrated in style with a Star Wars party.  Although Leo hasn't actually seen all the films he has played the Lego Star Wars game on the Wii many many times and is a bit of an expert at it so he loved the idea of a Star Wars theme. 

I am somewhat ashamed to say that I'd never properly watched the films myself  (I had tried several times but they never grabbed my attention) but who needs the exact details when you have pinterest on your side!

It had been a very busy week for us work wise but I'd been surprisingly organised and got most things ready in advance of the day itself. It was a small party with just my/ his closest friends and so I was very relaxed about the whole thing luckily. 

There was a big countdown to the day by Leo, I'd given him little tasters of what we were going to do but he mainly wanted it to be a surprise so on the day they played inside while I prepared food and set up the 'Jedi Training Area' outside. 

Jedi training star wars partystar wars party game

Our Jedi's in training had to negotiate their way across the lava pit, practise their balance and test their endurance by surviving the asteroid belt.  

It was a huge hit with the young Padawans and they went back several times to do the course again. 

Next up on the training schedule was 'Shoot the Stormtrooper' 

shoot the stormtrooper

nerf gun party game

As predicted this was loved by all,  and even some of the adults couldn't resist having a go too!

star wars party game

After these activities our Jedi's were ready to receive their light sabers, just in time to fight the Storm Troopers that had invaded the balcony. 

This turned out to be one of my best ideas yet (by 'my' idea I mean - one found on pinterest obviously!)  - having something to hit greatly reduced the amount of times they hit each other!

star wars theme party

Next up was a mission to free Han Solo frozen in carbonite (ice).  I printed and laminated a lego Han Solo picture for each of the kids and froze them in old butter dishes, gave each of them a water pistol and let them get on with it.  Of course they ended up wet but it was warm and they had loads of fun in the process.

Han solo party game

By this point they were all hungry, and as the balcony needed to dry out we all went inside for food. Leo loves a party tea, especially when the food gets named to fit the theme, of course 'Ham Solo' sandwiches are so much better than regular boring ham aren't they. 

Star wars party food

star wars party food

After refuelling we finished off the games with 'Pin the light saber on Yoda' and the obligatory pass the parcel. 

pin the lightsaber on Yoda

Once the games were done, I handed over the ipod to Leo and they proceeded to party and dance on the balcony whilst the adults retreated to the safety of the little balcony. The party was a huge success, and I was quite pleased with the result considering how quickly I'd thrown it all together! 

Leo ended the day by saying he couldn't wait until his 8th birthday party!

Star wars party birthday cake

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