At the end of March Sarah had some holiday days to use up and displayed her independence and took herself off for a few days R&R to Barcelona. She did the usual tourist sights and had agreat time.
March produced some fine growing weather, so keen (as always) I made an early start with my veggie planting. Mindful that in past years I have come a cropper with frosts, I again decided to risk it and so far (we are now into the middle of April) it has paid off. I have added to my winter sowing of onions/shallots and now have twelve assorted rows of alliums benefitting from the unseasonable warmth. Seven rows of early and main crop potatoes have joined the throng, though some of the main crop have recently decided to sprint to the surface and are poking through ahead of their earlier cousins.
I have started work in the greenhouse. The propagator brought on my tomatoes and aubergines and they were soon joined by courgettes, squash and pumpkins. Sweetcorn have also popped up in their various pots, though I have had to go to a second sowing of lettuce and cucumber as they failed to make an appearance on the first attempt.
Short rows of spring onions, peas and leeks have been sown in the raised beds at home. To date I have mowed the lawns three times! I hate to mention it, but the inedible tulips (except to badgers!) that I put in the wall bed late in the autumn, are looking magnificent. So far we have seen Muntjac, white crane, kingfishers, Red Kite and Buzzards in and around the house, but happily no badgers, yet. Perhaps they have been culled?
On the 15th March I met up with John in the wilds of Rutland for one of our walks. He had a e given to him by a friend and we followed it using a paper OS map. The scale supplied wasn’t great but we couldn’t resort to my GPS as the technology failed. I hadn’t charged the batteries. As usual, we managed to put the world to rights and afterwards enjoyed a lovely pub meal to round off another perfect day.
The following day Jim Hankers and I were picked up at 9am by Jeremy Brown and set off to a rendezvous in Bala with the rest of our party; Jim Crawford, Paul Bissell and Sean Perry. We arrived first, so waited in a small café before moving onto one of the local hostelries and more suitable refreshments. When the rest of our group turned up we moved onto another hostelry and had lunch before hitting the road again to our final destination, Pwhelli.
Earlier on in the year I had won a competition for six souls to attend a Rock Weekend and this was to be our entertainment for the next three days. After checking into the Haven Holiday Camp we found our accommodation, a six berth mobile home. Quite acceptable.
The venue had two concerts halls in which a large selection of bands (principally from the 70’s) bands played their sets from mid afternoon to well beyond midnight. Most we had heard of and were very good (wishbone Ash, Curved Air, Barclay James Harvest, Strawbs etc., etc.) Some were not to our taste but, appeared to have a large following. We took in a great number of performances, food and refreshments.
We did manage to fill the non-concert moments with appropriate activities. On one morning we went for a bracing coastal walk, on another we drove to Mount Snowdon and took the train to the top. Our destination turned out to be quite unpleasant as up there among the clouds it was blowing a gale and the sleet threatened to slice off any exposed parts. We were glad to return to base camp and the haven of our home from home. We did spend one afternoon watching a couple of back to back Six-Nations matches, washed down with large amounts of cheese, crackers, Doritos and ale.
On the Sunday, we travelled back to Harborough after first cleaning up our accommodation of the detritus of three days of hard rocking!
On return it was an early night for Mr. Hankers and myself as we were to catch a 7am flight to Paphos the following morning. He and Bridget have long since romanced about moving to Cyprus and with Jim about to retire full-time and Bridget finding her job more than she can handle, they are getting serious about this venture. Jim was keen to look at properties that they have been researching on the internet, but Bridget couldn’t get time off work to accompany him, so I volunteered to be a proxy wife. It turned out to be an eventful trip.
It didn’t start well, when Jim exceeded the motorway speed limit through two cameras before he took notice. I guess at 3.30am he wasn’t quite as alert as he would have been in heavier traffic and at a more reasonable hour. He compounded the grief when after parking, he set off for the terminal at a great pace leaving me trailing behind, struggling to catch up. I got within 10 metres of him at the boarding pass check-in desks, when as if on a mission he switched queues at the last moment to flatten a poor lady on his bulldozing route to get his pass scanned. He was oblivious to the carnage he had created, the insults the woman hurled at him and the irate husband that was on his tail. Fortunately, his card scanned instantly and he marched on through the barrier with hardly a pause. Not so the husband who was stopped, protesting vehemently at the gate as his flattened wife had their passes. Jim was lucky.
I attempted to follow them through the gate (pretending I didn’t know who the rude man was who had disrupted their journey). I showed my boarding pass at the gate and it was rejected by the scanner. On the second scan I was told I had already been through. At this juncture I should mention that I was the one that booked the flights, hire car and hotel for this escapade and as usual I printed out two copies of all the important documents needed. One set for myself and usually as a precaution, the other for Sue. However, on this occasion, Jim held the spare set. In his madcap rush through the gate he had shown my boarding pass. I gave his name to the staff and they broadcast over the intercom that he should return to the gate. He didn’t. Next I tried to phone him, but he had changed his mobile number with a new phone so unknowingly I woke Bridget up from a deep sleep back in Harborough.
I and security eventually resolved the situation by scanning Jim’s boarding pass through the system and then taking the priority route through to passport control. Unfortunately, I was delayed by a more than usual thorough search, as my passage had been flagged up as a possible undesirable. The same had been happening to Jim as his passport did not match his boarding pass (served him right).
Just as I finished putting myself and belongings back together, we met again. I was angry, but he was oblivious as to what had gone on, and at first refused to believe me. Eventually the penny dropped over breakfast in one of the cafes and he became decidedly reluctant to leave the sanctuary of our table, just in case we came across some irate fellow travellers. I was hoping that they would be on our flight.
The rest of the flight went off without incident, as did picking up the car at the airport. I drove to the Souli hotel in Latchi on the other side of the island and check-in went smoothly into our mountain-view room. However, Jim preferred a sea-view rather than that of mountains, so after a couple of room inspections we changed.
The week was filled with meeting Estate Agents and inspecting one property after another. We soon got to know what were the right questions to ask and rejected many that because of the Cypriot/Turkish conflict, did not have their title deeds. Some of the properties we saw were stunning and very reasonably priced, though all had one issue or another to overcome. The housing market in Cyprus has collapsed and prices are rock bottom, most have been unsold for more than 4 years. Ironically, it is the Russians and Chinese that are buying, though they prefer to buy land and then build themselves.
All the properties were owned by Europeans.
Two houses stood out. One, just outside Polis that was good to move in straight away. In Cyprus all furniture etc. comes with the sale. The other was just a 2 minute walk from the beach and had a pool. I liked this one. It was very quiet and great for their two dogs, near to the essential amenity of a bar and restaurant, as well as being just a short walk into the main town of Polis.
The food in the hotel was good, huge portions and very reasonably priced. The village red wine was very quaffable.
Our stay wasn’t all property inspection, we did manage to find time to indulge in more holiday-like activities. One evening we dined out with some friends of Jim who had a property in the mountains. Later on in the week we visited them for Sunday lunch, but that turned out to be cheese and crackers. The view of the island from their Cypriot nest was to die for.
One morning we played tennis at the hotel. Winning the one and only set played did not make up for the pain I suffered when I twanged my ham-string, sprinting for a drop shot that failed to get over the net! Later on in the week, we hired a couple of bikes and cycled down the coast, checking out a few properties that we had seen earlier on the way. On returning the cycles, Jim loudly remonstrated with the establishment for a flat tyre he had just before we returned them and was given a very angry refund.
Another day we drove out to Aphrodite’s Bath. Sue and I had visited there many years previous and much had changed. There was now a car park and a much less treacherous path to the little waterfall and pool. Afterwards, we decided to climb the mountain behind, passing through small herds of wandering, nibbling, bell tinkling goats on our way to the summit. It was close to sunset when we set off back down, often having to stand aside for the now much larger herds purposefully making their way upwards along our route to their lofty sleeping quarters.
During the week we managed to watch on the hotel’s (I am sure , illegal) satellite TV, both England’s matches against Germany and Lithuania and also Leicester Tigers v Saracens. The evening we watched the rugby, we helped an elderly couple celebrate the husband’s 77th birthday. It was very late when his wife went to bed leaving the very inebriated gentleman in our care. Much later, when he fell off his chair, we carried him up to his room and left him laying on his bed. Unfortunately, when we saw them again at breakfast he was sporting a rather nasty black eye, which he had acquired when attempting to visit the loo later that night. Oooooops!
I did most of the driving. We soon found out by the second day that Jim is quite incapable of concentrating long enough to stick to the ridiculous and rapidly changing speed zones on the island. His one 60 kph excursion into Polis, oblivious to a series of 30 and 50 kph zones convinced him that he should hand the keys over to prevent the popular spot fines the local constabulary enjoy issuing to hire cars.
The return journey to the airport did not end well. On the route into the car park to drop the car off, I was following the arrowed signs for’ hire-car drop off’ when Jim told me to turn right and go through the barrier into a carpark we were passing. I pointed out that the large sign at the end of the road was indicating that we should proceed down there. He said, “I have done this before, trust me.” I turned right, took a ticket from the machine and passed into what to me seemed the long-term carpark. It was!!! As I sat in the car I watched him wander around the carpark looking for a machine to pay the fee so that we could get out. When he returned to say there wasn’t one, I pointed out that it would be in the terminal building, he would have to go there. Quite a long time afterwards he returned with the ticket and we made our way silently to the drop-off point. With fingers tightly crossed, check-in and the flight went according to plan and we were soon winging our way back to the UK.
Jim and Bridget have since sold their house and booked a flight in late April to look further into the properties around Latchi.
Since returning from Cyprus I have seen quite a bit of Sarah, Lee and Mia. Besides coming to visit us, they did on one hot, sunny afternoon do a BBQ for us and the Rothwells up in Braunstone. On another occasion I travelled up with Charlotte and the boys and did a few carpentry jobs for them while Charlotte helped sort out the garden for the summer. Quite an exciting adventure was had by Sarah when she had a go at Paragliding. I think she has been bitten by the bug and is now talking about qualifying to go solo and buying her own motor and wing.
During the Easter holidays we have been entertaining Lucas and Ellis, allowing Charlotte to carry on with her gardening work. The boys were stacked up with homework from school, Sue helped Ellis and I guided Lucas with his project on Internet Safety.
On the 8th April I organised a day out on the train to Twickenham to see the Clash between Tigers and Bath with Jim, Jim, Sean and Paul. It was a gorgeously hot day and apart from the final 10 minutes of the match when Bath got their noses in front, it was a successful trip.
On Good Friday we had the whole family down for an evening meal of Lamb Kofta and Spicy Pasta, Jamie brought Ashton. The Braunstones stayed over night as Sarah had won a Gallones Ice-Cream Parlour competition to be taken the next day. The prize being for four people to eat as much ice-cream as they could in one hour. Sarah, Jamie, Lee and Charlotte were the lucky ones, but Ashton, Ellis and Lucas accompanied them too. Afterwards, they looked very sickly (serves them right).
On Easter Sunday we all drove over to Charlotte’s for a magnificent meal incorporating a huge leg of lamb that had been marinated with lots of tasty ingredients. There wasn’t a scrap of food left (it was that good!) Prior to wolfing down the Easter fayre the family went for a walk with Mia and coming across a pitch, a game of footy had to be played. The result was irrelevant other than Jamie twisted his knee again and I pulled my hamstring, again! While we were torturing our bodies on the field of combat, Suraj was back home building a bike shelter at the side of the house. On our return journey Charlotte spotted two sections of discarded, new fence panelling. Ideal for a bike shelter roof. And that proved to be the case. Both panels were up and looking good before the Yorkshire puddings were gravied!
Sue and I have managed to see quite a few films recently, either at the Odeon Cinema or at the local Harborough theatre, though during the Easter break, she hasn’t been attending many of her U3A group activities. She has been out for coffee with Doreen and Lynne on a few occasions when time permitted.
We have seen quite a lot of Jamie and Ashton, both of them regularly turning up on Friday nights and on other occasions also. He has been very busy with his binary trading venture. He has created a business called Binary Destroyer that seems to have quite a large following world-wide and also appears to be quite profitable. I wish I knew more about it. No doubt he will have time to explain it to me on the coming flight to New Zealand.