Friday, 21 October 2016

A walk to school

When I was at school walking was the only option to get there and back,  it wasn't far and my Mum didn't drive so there was no debate about it.   My boys schools are both local,  one more so than the other but we have always driven so far.  Loukas is in walking distance but it would mean leaving earlier and as we leave at 7;30 anyway its quite precious time!  Also his little legs mean what would probably be a 10 minute walk gets much longer, and I'm also very lazy when it comes to walking anywhere!   Leo's really is close but as I drive Louka he just gets dropped off on the way past.

It had been mentioned about Leo walking on his own at some point this year, to much debate from different people.  As I said, it's really not far (you can see the top of his school from our balcony)  but he does have at least one road to cross, and there is no pavement for some of the way.

Many of his class mates walk without adults, and have been doing so in the first year too and they all walk much further than he would have to, so the other day Leo walked to school.

As it happened he wasn't quite alone but it was a start!

walking to school

It had been a last minute decision,  he had been reluctant to go to school after a minor incident the day before and wanted me to go in and speak to the teacher, I thought it would work out better for him if he at least tried to sort it out himself and suggested it.     There was a bit of a debate which ended up me saying that I could hold his hand, put his socks on and do everything for him or I could say,   get up, get on with it and get out  (the door to school!)

There was a sudden change and he excitedly asked if he could really do that,  and go on his own.  After a moments hesitation I said yes and just ran over the 'rules'  - where to cross, which side of the road to walk on etc.  

All was well until Louka realised what was going on and he was not impressed, practically begging to walk as well.     Oh, it was far too early in the morning for this!

Eventually I decided it was probably a good thing to not be so lazy,  and Louka is always very early for school anyway so being late wasn't an issue.   I also predicted that he would only want to do it once!

So, off Leo goes,  with Louka and I walking a short distance behind.   We were not 'allowed' to talk to Leo and he ran to get a bit ahead of us. It was good to see him taking care crossing the road and walking nicely,  although of course he knew I was watching!

There was a slight tantrum from Louka when we reached Leo's school as I wouldn't let him walk across the playground as a short cut, as that would have meant going into to Leo's school and doing the one thing I'd been trying to avoid!  As it is I only ever drop him at the gate and don't get out of the car so it would have been worse than usual.

It was soon averted by a game of  'Eye Spy' and we continued our walk.

Deryneia Cyprus

At first it was going very well,  with Louka telling me he loved walking and 'this is very fun Mummy' but he gradually started to get slower and the novelty wore off even though we were going downhill!

By the time we got to school he announced that he always wants to go in the car to his school!

Of course I then realised that I had to still walk home.....

Deryneia village
I love this old building, its been like that since we moved here!.

I also remembered that I love our village, and took time to notice what an interesting and picturesque walk it is.

Traditional Cypriot taverna

The old.....

the new......

and the traditional.....

Just as I was thinking it was still a little to early in the year to be walking as I was starting to get a bit too hot and bothered and wishing I'd brought a bottle of water, I was 'rescued' by a fellow school mum on her way home who stopped to ask me what was wrong with my car!

Since then Louka has been happy to be driven,  and Leo has decided that he prefers to walk home rather than walk there.   He's got another couple of years of having the option before Louka joins him at big school and walking will be the norm!

Country Kids

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The one with the random ramblings

It seems that many posts on my blog over the last year or two have had a similar theme but it turns out I'm not the only one thinking the same,   my long standing fellow blogger and friend 'TheBoyandMe' also feels the same.  I've just read her latest post 'I miss my blog' and it struck a cord with me. 

I keep saying I miss my blog, but what I think I mean is I miss the blogging days, the time when it was a joy to write and create posts without much (or often any) thought to what I was writing or why, when there was no thought of how I should 'pimp' the post on pinterest or what time to publish and share for the best results,  when I didn't stop to think about what images to use or how I should edit them,   before I was working and distracted by other online activities and when we only had a few Arabic tv channels to watch. 

I realise the problem is over thinking,   where once I'd sit down and type as I 'spoke' now I try to think about what I'm saying too much. As an example, already in this post I have re-written the first paragraph several times and almost given up with the post already!

I used to write on my little netbook so I could do it anywhere, curled up on the sofa or sat on the balcony.  I used to carry it from room to room stopping and writing anywhere at anytime, often with a baby asleep in my lap.  Now the babies are 7 and 4 and haven't napped for many years, the netbook is on its last legs and only works plugged into to mains,  it also takes ages to boot up and as I have the patience of a 3 year old I tend not to use it.  Instead I now use my main laptop which means I am sat at the dining table so I can use the mouse, the same place I am sat to work so it feels less fun to continue that in the evening.   

I used to document almost everything we did, and often did things just so I could blog about them afterwards, which I felt was a good thing  but as TBAM said it does get tiring after a while and can start to feel forced.  I have a huge folder of photos of things I would like to blog or have already blogged about but it all seems like too much hard work. 

I miss the commenting and the interaction between the blog community,    every now and again I decide to go on a commenting spree but it also feels forced,  like I'm now doing it for the sake of it.  Things have changed,  and the few bloggers I was / am friends with I now interact with outside of blogging on facebook and instagram usually.  Our blogs have changed over the years but of course they have, we started blogging with babies and toddlers and now our 'inspiration'  has gone to school.   You'd think it would make it easier wouldn't you, but for some reason it's the opposite!

I was so determined that this year wouldn't be the year with the least blog posts,   in 2014 and 2015 I wrote 67 and 60 blog posts respectively and so far this year I've written 34.   There is still time but its looking unlikely, even though I've probably got at least 30 posts drifting around in my head!    I am quite impressed though to have just realised that since 2010 I have not missed a single month,  even this year I still managed to get one blog post up in September,  not quite the same as July 2012 which had 29,  but I was very pregnant with one child at nursery then so I spent most of my time sat down in an air conditioned room!

My tagline for this blog was always the 'random ramblings of an expat Brit in Cyprus' - where did I stop being so concerned about them being random?

So now in the interests of not over thinking I am going to hit publish, with no accompanying image and no actual point to this post. (although I should probably just reread it to check it at least makes some sort of sense!) 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Daxifest Charity Music Festival

Last weekend was the second Daxifest - a charity music festival and great family day out to raise much needed funds for local charities KEPA and the SBA Food Project, both of which feed and look after underprivileged families in the area.

We attended the first festival held in Achna last year, it was a brilliant day out,  although was not as well attended as the organisers had hoped.  As with most events, especially the first one, and especially in Cyprus of course it was not perfect but they took into account the feedback that came in after the event and made great efforts to improve for this years festival.

The promotion of the event, stall prices,  location, entrance fee,  Cypriot entertainment and more were all looked at and amended as the feedback suggested.  So this year I was sure it would be an absolute smash hit - not only a fantastic day out but a huge amount of money raised for the cause.

We had a stall with the Klik Photo Booth so we were there from the start,   Aaron set up and I joined him just before the gates opened, but my heart sank as I looked over and saw hardly anyone enter as the festival started.     Ever the optimist I figured it was early and the crowds would soon arrive.

But sadly they didn't, at least not any near the thousands that were hoped for.

Photo by Steve Barns

The presenters, performers and everyone involved in running the event did an amazing job,  working solidly for over 14 hours in the blazing sunshine.

The Organisers had worked solidly for months beforehand, advertising and planning but despite all their best efforts the event not only didn't raise any funds for the charities it also ran at a loss to the company.  

Seeing the post on facebook on Monday from the CEO of the Daxi Group, Natalie Reed sharing the news  broke my heart.   I've never met anyone who so tirelessly works for the community in so many ways and I know how gutted she will be feeling over this. not just because the very valid worry about the deficit in company funds, but the fact they are not able to give the money they planned to.

But why?    Where the HELL was everyone?!
It's not often that I rant online, in fact I usually go to great efforts not too as I have a fairly public profile on social media with writing a blog, running a business and a community website but sometimes it has to be done.

People say so often that there is nothing to do here, yet when someone actually gets off their arse and does something nobody goes!     I've seen it happen to so many events, groups, and activities over the years.

€10 entrance fee (ALL of which was going to charity) - for 14 hours of live entertainment, stalls,   food, drink and children's area - BARGAIN.

It was in Ayia Napa - an easy location, good venue to get to and with FREE bus transfers from all over the place.

It was advertised EVERYWHERE -   I cannot understand how anyone could have missed it, or forgotten about it,  unless they really couldn't have cared less.    It's not something I could usually say but I don't see how they could have advertised it any more!      If you want to know what is going on in the area LOOK OUT FOR WHAT IS GOING ON!      Pick up a Daxi magazine,   go on facebook,   look out for leaflets in shops,    follow the Eastern Cyprus Forum   or the Famagusta Parents Network.

I understand that not everyone can afford €10 entrance,  of course I do, especially when you add food and drink to that for a family.   I've been there and struggled to find enough money to buy a bottle of milk.        But that's not everyone,    and even then  what did those people do to help?

Did they share the event or tell their friends about it?  or did they continue sharing pointless posts and viral videos.   I love facebook more than most but it can be an amazing tool or a big pile of crap!

 I know that many people were working, and it was a 'school night'  but plently of people managed to work round that to support their community.

Since the event, I heard people say 'Oh I wish we'd gone now, seeing the videos and photos of the event'     or 'We'll definetly go next year, as it looked good'   Well, its too late now, there won't be another Daxifest.

It makes you wonder why the minority bother,   but we do and we keep trying to raise the profile of the area,  create events,  help businesses and charities and have some fun in the process,    and hope that we can make even a small difference...... but what could happen if EVERYONE does it?

You can still help.....  
Natalie has set up a Just Giving page,  PLEASE donate if you can.....

Monday, 12 September 2016

The First Day

The new school year starts here!

Starting Cyprus school

It's been a long summer holiday,  13 weeks of lazing around,   swimming, playing, watching tv, broken up with some great days out and a lot of late nights, and a surprising amount of lie ins!

The boys went off happily enough to school this morning,   Leo was equally pleased and not impressed about the end of the holidays,   Louka didn't really seem to have an opinion either way,   I'm sure that will change once he remembers he has to go every day.

It's not as big a change as last year, which saw both boys starting a new school.  This year is just a change of class,  Leo into 2nd class and Louka into Prodimodiki (pre-school)  rather than the nursery class.  So new teachers for them both but the same building so hopefully they won't take as long to adjust.

We were pleased to discover that Louka has the same teacher that Leo had when he was there,  which made it all feel a bit easier too.

I've enjoyed the summer overall,  its not always been easy going with two constantly hungry and bored boys, plus trying to keep up with work but it I wouldn't have changed it.    Now though I am eager to get on with my massive to-do list and move on.

We've had a lot of fun over the holidays,   and I've taken surprisingly few photos compared to previous years but I've got a good selection and I hope to blog about some of our adventures over the next few weeks,  for now though I must get on with the cleaning now I can crank up the music and not have to mop round the kids!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Now you are four... {Loukas}

Dear Louka, 

Now you are four!!   Happy Birthday little man!

The day has come, today is your birthday!   You have waited such a long time for your special day haven't you, asking so many times when it would be your turn but we are finally here, you are now four years old!

I loved it when you said last week with such awe and wonder ' I just can't believe it when it will be my birthday'  like you could never imagine that it would finally come.  You don't remember your birthday last year so it must be so much more exciting for you after seeing Leo's and everyone elses come and go over the last year. 

You have changed so much in the last year,  your vocabulary and general knowledge have increased dramatically.   You have done brilliantly with your swimming, being able to swim a short distance without your arm bands, and even swimming underwater to pick up toys!

The skill you have at playing the wii astounds me,  not only the days of me helping you have gone but now you can even beat me!

You can be very chilled out, I love to see you floating around the pool on your back in your own little world, and you can be quite and thoughtful (but only when you want to be)

Of course you can be very argumentative and incredibly impatient but you are also very very cute and get away with it far more than you should. 

Leo is your hero,  your big brother and usually your very best friend, whatever he does you want to do, whatever he says you repeat and you can be so brilliant together, of course this doesn't always go smoothly and there are daily arguments and fights along the way.  Within minutes they are forgotten though and all is well with you both again. 

You seem to have grown up so fast, like I blinked and missed it. Suddenly you are one of us, talking about anything and everything, opinionated and funny,   a real little character and your own person. 

Louka mou,   I hope you have your best birthday ever, and it is everything you hoped it would be and more!

Love you more than chocolate cake...... Mummy xxx

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Five Year Meme - Update

I was browsing through some old blog posts this evening in an attempt to find some good 'uns to share over on facebook in the absence of me actually having the chance to write some new stuff, and I came across a post from July 2010 called 'The Five Year Meme'.  In it I answered a few questions about what my life was like and where I wanted to be in five years time so I thought it would be a good time to update it (albeit a year late!)

Us five years ago. 

Where were you five years ago?
Five years ago I had lived in Cyprus for less than a year, I had a 14 month old baby,  and knew very few people in Cyprus. We were living in the same apartment as we are now, but had no plans to have a second baby.  Aaron was working 6 days a week in Limassol for a Kitchen company, with one and a half days of a week, early mornings and late nights.

I was happy but not yet settled, I loved Cyprus but hadn't found my feet and I was desperately looking forward to a 3 week trip to the UK in the August.  I was not working but I was blogging frequently and loving my new hobby.

I had met my best (Cyprus) buddy and we were living in each others pockets, seeing each other every couple of days and slowly with her help I started to put down some roots and feel like it was my home.

Where do you want  to be in five years time?
Five years ago I said I would love to be living in a villa now, although realistically I knew that wasn't going to happen in that time frame. I said that our apartment would be too small as Leo grew up and that was before I realised we would become a family of four!

In five years time I will be Mum to a 12 year old and a 9 year old and my goal is to be in a bigger property within the next five years. 

I also hope Aaron and I continue working well together and achieve our business goals. 

What are five things on your to-do list today?
Only five???
Sweep the floor/ feed my ever hungry children / check emails / out the washing in, out and away! / write this blog post!

What are five snacks you enjoy?

Again,  only five??
OK,  pringles, chocolate,  cereal, cake, and if I'm being healthy (which isn't very often!)   then cucumber sticks and homemade red pepper houmous. 

What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Like I said 5 years ago,  I'd be totally confused with that much money and wouldn't even know where to start!   But the same answer still applies,  pay off any debts, help close family and friends etc.

I'd expand our company - I certainly wouldn't give it up as I love it too much but I'd employ staff to help and achieve all the things we would love to do. 

I would renew our wedding vows and have the most amazing party to celebrate - without worrying about a budget and keeping guest numbers down. 

I would get private healthcare and never have to go to the General hospital and wait for hours ever again. 

I would have a huge villa built for us, and pay for all my friends to visit whenever they want to, I'd  go on holidays to show the boys different places, I'd  hire a personal trainer to motivate me into getting fit, but most of all I'd just like to not have to think about money,  how much there is and where it has to be spent,  what 'luxuries' to spend it on and what to go without.    I don't care about designer wardrobes and big flashy cars but I'd love to be able to go to the hairdressers or pop online and just buy clothes, gadgets, toys or anything without thinking about how much they cost!

Us now (we have NO photos of the two of us not taken in our photo booth!) 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Aged 7, Leo loves.....

Another yearly tradition which started when Leo was 3,  in addition to the 'Interview'  is the Leo / Loukas loves...' post.

All these years have passed and still 'Raff' is on there,  with the addition these days of 'Bunny'  his two best 'friends' as he calls them and bed time toys. 

New additions for this year are taekwon-do and geocaching, and he is increasingly enjoying photography 'like Daddy'  mainly using his Nintendo DS and playing with the filters and special effects making some great creations. 

Of course his main love and most common way to spend his time is attached to a device (much like his mother!)  so video games are high on the list, but swimming always comes up tops!

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