Thursday, 5 May 2016

One Good Reason to be Cheerful!

I used to love joining in with Mich's Reasons to be Cheerful but it's been such a long time that I have - joined in that is, I've been cheerful of course!   When I noticed the other week that it was going back to her blog this week I realised there was no way I couldn't join in...

Tomorrow sees the arrival of my oldest friend,  my playgroup buddy from the age of 3, school friend, college, (no not college that didn't really last very long!) and general drinking / partying / getting into trouble friend!

Almost two years ago she turned up on my doorstep in Cyprus for a surprise visit and it was just brilliant to catch up after all the years and show her my new home - especially as it was her first trip abroad and not only her first solo flight, but her first time on a plane at all!

This year the trip was planned, and like a kid at Christmas I've been counting down since the flights were booked!

I've been searching for some old photos of us, but all I can find is the really early ones, the cute primary school photos and the birthday parties.  The teenage years and early adult years are very few as it was in the years before digital cameras and smart phones.....  thinking about it, this is probably a Very Good Thing.

So while if I stopped to think about it I could come up with more reasons to be cheerful, this week they are all based around one.....

As you can imagine, I'll be quiet on the blog next week.....  plenty of catching up to be done with my girl.  
R2BC at Mummy from the Heart

Monday, 25 April 2016

Summer Sunday Afternoons

I'm sure it comes round quicker every year but it seems that summer is now pretty much here in Cyprus, the weather has been improving slowly and steadily over the last few weeks,  getting a little warmer interspersed with a few storms or windy  / cloudy days.  I tried to be organised this year and actually sorted through our summer clothes a bit earlier rather than wondering where my shorts and strappy tops are when it 'suddenly' tops 30 degrees outside!

We've been out and about a lot more this winter than in previous years, and recently had several trips to the beach but not armed with swimsuits and towels so far. Leo and I have both been ankle deep in the sea but Louka will not go anywhere near it - far too cold for him yet!

I think it's pretty much time now though (watch the temperature plummet now I've said that!) 

Last week we went to a new beach for us and met up with several friends, it was a perfect afternoon and the kind I'd dreamed of before we moved here. 

On a quiet beach on the outskirts of Agia Napa, we have may just have found one of our local hangouts for the summer.

The kids were happy playing on the beach and refueling with milkshakes / crisps / ice cream / hot dogs (not all of the above of course - there were quite a few kids!) and the adults happy enjoying a drink or two and some rare uninterrupted conversation. 

If you are local you can find the facebook page for Stekkis No.1 Snack - but sssh don't tell everyone, I'm liking having the beach to ourselves!

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

Friday, 22 April 2016

Butterflies and birthdays

Last month my lovely Mum celebrated her 70th birthday in style with over a week of celebrations and well deserved birthday treats.  Starting off with a celebratory meal with friends, continuing with a 3 day break in Paphos with my Dad and then for birthday No.2 at home with us.

Of course we couldn't miss the chance for a family celebration as we didn't see her on her actual birthday, so when they returned home we surprised her with a butterfly birthday tea!

Apart from teddy bears (which was our party theme several years ago) butterflies are my Mum's favourite thing, so with the help of the boys we created decorations, food and a birthday cake all with a butterfly theme. 

With a party tea, music, presents and board games we had a lovely afternoon.

Among the presents was a slate ready for Mum to choose a photo to be printed on it, so an impromptu family photo shoot took place...

Another of our presents was a voucher for afternoon tea, for Mum and I.  Something that I had been meaning to do for ages now, it made the perfect birthday treat and as an added bonus gave me a childfree afternoon in the process!

I booked us in for the following week, concluding the birthday celebrations in style...

afternoon tea kama

Happy Birthday Mum!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Back to blogging on the balcony

I started this blog in 2009 for no reason other than it seemed a good idea at the time, I didn't really expect anyone to read it, I knew nothing about twitter, pinterest, SEO and I had no plan.  Gradually I 'met' other bloggers and joined some linkups and forums, people were reading and I got into the habit of writing regularly, although I've done a few reviews and sponsored posts over the years as and when the opportunities arose, I have only ever blogged for me, for something to look back on one day and as a hobby to pass the time - when you live with only Arabic TV for 4 years you need something!

It's been a long time now since the best days of this blog, once Loukas was born, and I started the Famagusta Parents Network things slowed down, and of course in 2014 we started our business, I have often thought about stopping the blog, it seemed a bit silly to be posting once a month or less and then what should I be writing about if its that infrequent?

I started watching more TV with the arrival of Netflix, and then our amazing android box (seriously Arabic TV is really BAD!) and I got a new full size laptop - suddenly it was not as easy to move around the apartment and balcony with my little netbook and write as and when I fancied.

But I just can't bring myself to stop this blog - so many opportunities have come about from it in different ways and I would just miss it too much.

Today I met a real life stalker blog fan at business meeting and I was really touched to find out she has been reading my blog for years!  So tonight I have dug out my old faithful - the little netbook that it was all created on, and I am now sat back where it all began, on the balcony with a beer rambling away and trying to get back to basics.

This is my blog, not my business one, I will stop trying to analyse what I am writing, and how I am saying it and try and return to 'my voice' ...... the random ramblings of an expat Brit in Cyprus.

I hope you stick around and join me!

Konnos Bay

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

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

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