#25 What I love about Cyprus in Autumn-Winter

Hi all, how the devil are you? So you have probably forgotten who I am, or that I even write a blog, I almost did myself for a while there, its been far too long! The mind has been willing but the body has been …. well quite frankly, a bit lazy. Due to a combination of illness, working like a crazy thing over Summer, entertaining visitors, and of course looking after a constantly growing 12 year old son (which I could not have managed this last few months without the help of my my wonderful mum, fantastic partner and bestest Aunty ever), in the words of Arnold Swarzenegger “I AM BACK!” (Or words to that effect).

I am breaking myself back into blogging gently (“siga siga” / “slowly slowly” as they say here in Cyprus), with 5 reasons to love my adopted country, in the Autumn/Winter months, so here goes :-

1. WINTER WOOLLIES – After a long hot Summer, I adore the return of some of my favourite things which I took for granted in the UK, including but not limited to – pyjamas, quilts, socks, leggings, jumpers, blankets to wrap up in on the sofa, and all things fluffy and warm. Of course by March my favourite things will be bikinis, sea, sand and everything summery, but it’s a girls prerogative to change her mind!

Blog woolies

2. THE WEATHER – Sunny and warm in the daytime (I actually wore my bikini last week at the beach!) but chilly and cosy at night, perfect for snuggles with my boys, movie nights, and games of trivial pursuit / scrabble (and you thought my life was all rock and roll!). We are all looking forward to the first snow on Troodos, to venture up with flasks of hot chocolate, boots, gloves and hats, ready to build our first snowman of the year.

Blog snow

3. RAIN – Yes yes, I know number 2 was weather, but I definitely think that rain deserves its own place on this list. The saying “it never rains but it pours” is definitive of Winter rain in Cyprus, the heavens quite literally open and rivers of the wet stuff overflow everywhere. My boys favourite thing to do is jump in the pool with the first rain after Summer whilst I watch fondly from the window, in my PJs – nice and toasty warm thank you very much! None of that nonsense for me, but we do get fantastic storms and lots of rainbows around this time of year.

blog rainbow.jpg

3. FLAMINGOS – I love, love, love these fabulously flamboyant long-legged pink birds, and they returned to the Salt Lakes of Cyprus last week. Every day I drive past the salt lake near our village, and look out for the flamingos, the pleasure of seeing them never diminishes. Everyone in Cyprus knows when they have returned as Facebook and Instagram are flooded with photos. It seems most of the population of Cyprus has a little space in their heart for the flamingos – as demonstrated by this great photo I found on Facebook, photographer not named.

blog flamingo

4.  STRAIGHT HAIR / BLOW DRIES – Oh the joy of having ones long flowing locks, actually down and flowing, rather than scraped up in a messy bun to avoid the trickles of sweat that permanently reside on ones neck through the summer. For women (or men?) like myself whose hair resembles Hagrid or Crystal Tipps in the humidity of a Cyprus Summer, I feel like one of the models from a Loreal advert (in hair only, not looks lol), when I have my first blow dry after Summer – because I’m worth it?! Across Cyprus, similarly follicly challenged women are wandering around, swishing their lovely shiny hair. Note to self – take more swishy hair photos so can post pics on blog & admire them when I am old and even more grey than already am!

blog loreal

5. HALLOWEEN & BONFIRE NIGHT – I loved this time of year in the UK, and I did not expect the Cypriots to embrace the Halloween spirit, but they absolutely do. Every shop has outfits and accessories galore to choose from, H this year though decided he wanted to make his own. So with the help of my mum who took him shopping, and our lovely friend O who made his mask, he was chuffed to bits and pieces by the result – I think he was definitely the coolest Spider-Man in town. And due to the abundance of opportunities to wear the outfit, it was money well spent. On bonfire night we attended the obligatory firework display at our local army base but open to all. The fireworks were as impressive as ever, the kids were enthralled, and the grown ups took the chance to meet up with friends, have a couple of beers and be transported back to bonfire nights of our youth, with sparklers, bonfire toffee, and the Oohs and Aahs as the sky lit up a myriad of colours.

bog spiderman

So – a bit of randomness for my first blog post in a while, the five best things that popped into my head earlier today 🙂

Chat soon, have a great week

Love Nelly x

#23 My 3rd Easter in Cyprus

Gosh … Easter seems almost a distant memory as we moved seamlessly into May, with the advent of warmer weather, and beach days.  I am dreaming of the long lazy Summer days, and hazy Summer nights, when the beach days slide effortlessly into balmy beach nights, and I fall into bed at night, limbs warmed by the sun, smelling the sea in my hair and the salt on my skin.

Until then though, the changeable weather reminds me that we are just at the tail end of Spring, it has been a fabulous Bank Holiday weekend, but Easter itself was very mixed. I just uploaded April’s photographs and it’s hard to believe that just over 2 weeks ago, I was in Larnaca with my boys for the Good Friday Parade, and we were wrapped up in coats and scarves! This evening I wandered home from Pilates (Oh yes … My annual “Operation Beach Body” is back on!) in just my gym gear, and it was very warm, although apparently we are due thunderstorms again tomorrow.

Anyway, I digress! Easter! A couple of years ago I made the mistake of trying to have a “big girls” night out, and failing miserable (see post #22), so this year it has been all about family and friends, BBQ’s and kebabs, long walks, and lucky days on the beach. On Good Friday we visited St Lazarus Church in Larnaca, and joined the queues of people to take a look inside at the beautiful flowers, and I lit a couple of candles, one for my Nanna, and one for Niffa’s dad, took a few photos (the girl scouts said it was allowed!), but drew the line at kissing the tabernacle, as everyone was doing it without wiping afterwards – eww! Also not being Orthodox or Catholic, so I just kind of shuffled past that bit but it was very atmospheric. It was a very kebaby type weekend, as we then headed off to Mr Kebab – for a kebab, sadly not the best kebab I ever had if I am honest although it looked great (see photo below), whilst the church service took place. Then we stayed to watch the band, and hundreds of people walk past after the service, following the tabernacle as it was paraded around the streets of the town.  Then we headed off home for an early night.

The next day we were invited up the hill at the back of our house to meet some friends for a BBQ – and yes, kebabs were on the menu! It was just a funny, chilled out day, the kids played on the park, with fire, with wild animals (well – a skink!) and in the mud – barely an electronic device in sight which was a huge novelty for H. We chatted, laughed, had a few beers, and the boys did the cooking – well, us ladies had of course already done the shopping and prepped the salads, and packed everything, but we let the boys have their glory. Niffa who has managed to dodge any form of BBQ-ing for 2 years now, has recently begun to step up to his manly duties, and he played with G at starting the coals, and poking at the food with a stick – very caveman like!

Full as buckets and tired from all the fresh air, we managed to just pack up and dodge the rainstorm which swept in suddenly but not entirely unexpectedly. We left the Cypriot families to their Easter Saturday late night celebrations (bonfires, firecrackers, red eggs and celebratory soup), and headed home for a movie, cuddles on the sofa, and an early night. Easter Sunday was a typically lazy family affair, chocolate for breakfast and lunch, and unusually for us since moving to Cyprus, a roast dinner with all the trimmings. I suddenly had an attack of mum guilt for not cooking a nutritious meal for the boys for several days, so I played at being a domestic goddess for a couple of hours. That was followed by another chilled out evening – I must be getting old! – and a relatively early night was had by all, so we were up early bright eyed and bushy tailed – ready for the beach on Easter Monday. We headed over to Konnos Bay, which boasts a gorgeous sandy beach with plenty of rocky areas in the sea which are great for snorkelling, met up with some friends, and generally lazed around for most of the day. The boys went in the sea as did I! Only briefly though, and I was on a paddleboard – well, until I fell in – but it was my first time in the sea this year, and un-seasonally early for me. A quick stop-off on the way home to take some photos at the Sea Caves at Cape Greco, and Ayia Thekla, and back to base camp.

Happy Easter? Absolutely it was.

Love from Nelly x

#20 Grumpy & Tired Tuesday!

I would say “Good Morning”, but it’s not. I awoke today in a pretty foul mood, which is unlike me, as I am usually, annoyingly cheerful in the morning once I have had my first caffeine hit of the day. But for some reason (lack of sleep?!) I cannot quite shake the grumps today, so I thought if I shared my petty #firstworldproblems with you all, I may just feel a tad better.

A-woman-yawning

As regular followers will know, I ADORE Cyprus, well most things about it, and I DETEST Cyprus bashers, especially those people lucky/brave enough to make the move, and be welcomed to live here, but some stuff just drives me CRAZY!  However lots of stuff drove me POTTY in the UK so I think it’s only fair to share the bad as well as the good.

My rant today is about the NOISE in my village – Yes, we live in a village, NOT a town OR a city, but a fairly quiet village, one would safely assume it should be a peaceful place to live – well think again! Hmmm….. So today I am grumpy, because I am tired, I did not sleep great, and I am REALLY bad at being tired. I would love to declare a duvet day, crawl back into bed, and shut world out for a couple more hours … but even if I could allow myself that luxury, I would not be able to sleep  because of my number one pet hate in Cyprus …

  • LEAF BLOWERS – For the love of God, can you not just pick up a brush and shovel? or even, heavens above, just pick the bloody leaves up with your hands?! It is bad enough listening to you cut the hedges, but what is it with gardeners in Cyprus, who after they cut the hedge, then spend the next 3 hours (I kid you not!) blowing leaves around, or sucking them up with one of these beastly machines. The noise is anathema to me, never mind nails down a blackboard, this unholy droning on-off noise makes me want to stick pins in my eyes (and quite possible the gardener’s). I am unlucky enough to have a neighbour opposite with a 14 foot high hedge all around his house, I am convinced he is a Russian Spy / International Man of Mystery / Hit Man due to the number of security cameras placed strategically around his house, although he claims to be an estate agent! His garden is so big he not only employs 2 gardeners but also a cleaner just to clean the garden! Okay neighbour, I GET that you have a huge garden, well done you,  but can you please tell the gardeners to LAY OFF the Leaf Blowers so early in the morning, or perhaps you can invest in silent ones?! Before I come over there, steal their leaf blowers while they are on a break, and replace them with a nice quiet dustpan and brush.

    Hedge.jpg

    It’s a lovely hedge, but I think a nice maintenance free fence would look just as good!

  • BIRDS SINGING – I love nature, and the sound of birds singing … most of the time, but from 5.00am – Is that really neccessary?! Give a girl a break. It’s bad enough that I have to get up for school with H at 6.30am, but come on, you have ALL DAY to tweet merrily and sing your songs. Oh and if you could also stop tapping around in the gutter outside my bedroom window, that would also be amazing too. There is no water in it! you are not actually having a bath! and if you are not careful I am going to get a big scary pretend Hawk to fly around my roof (you can buy these things on Amazon apparently), and that will serve you right!
  • dawn chorus

    You are very lovely, but I wish you would learn to tell the time!

  • BIN MEN – So after the Birds start their racket, and before the Leaf Blowers begin, at 5.30am twice a week we have the Bin Men. Not like in good old Blighty where you are lucky if your bin is collected once every 3 weeks, and only if you have colour coded all your recycling and place bins facing due North in the correct position on the footpath. Here in Cyprus they arrive unfailing twice a week, whistling, chatting, generally being merry, banging the bin store doors, driving their noisy trucks – come on boys (sorry to be sexist but never seen a female bin lady – or should that be refuse disposal operative – yet in Cyprus), it’s definitely too early for all that cheerfulness, knock it off please or you won’t be getting a Christmas tip from me.

    bin man

    You do a great job, but I wish you could do it quietly .. pretty please

  • CHURCH BELLS – On a Sunday? Yes, okay I will let you have that, go on – wake up all the village so they can go to church (although you do realise most of us have alarm clocks in this day and age), but at 5.30am?!! I am sure even God would quite like a lie in on this so-called day of rest, I know I would.  I am sure the bible says that on the seventh day God had a rest, or he created Madchester, one of the two. Please excuse the random nineties quote, UK Northerners will know what I mean, but nowhere does it say on the seventh day he wakes up at dawn and swings from the Church Bells like Quasimodo, making enough racket to wake the dead.  But it’s not just on a Sunday, OH NO! I am certain that our village priest colludes with the Bin Men, to fill the 5.30am weekday gap with bell ringing.  And in the village we have not one, not two, but three churches! All with Bells on ….. Grrr
  • DOGS – Yapping & Howling anytime of the day and night – like a chain reaction, one starts and the rest join in. I am tempted to get a big dog of my own just so he can join in with the others and give the neighbours a taste of their own medicine.  How does it not bother anyone else?! Perhaps they have just become immune to it. A few weeks ago we looked after a friend’s dog, the gorgeous Holly who is very good, and quiet most of the time, but  even she could not resist joining in with the barking occasionally. At first we told her to shush, be a good girl and quieten down, but after a while I thought, aw well sod it, see how they like it! It made me feel slightly better but I don’t think the neighbours even noticed!
  • Holly Dog.jpg

    H and Holly the Dog who is a very good girl and would not bark all hours of the morning and night because we keep her inside and look after her!

CATS – Fighting / Yowling – Bucket of Water – enough said !

cats chorus

  • DRUMMERS – YES you heard me correct – DRUMMERS! Last Saturday was Greek Independence day, on which most villages and schools march … with drums, noisy big loud drums. There is a drum school in the village (who knew!), that have to practice before school starts, when a big event such as Independence Day is due. But these guys like to mix it up a little, practicing up to midnight sometimes .. which for a woman who has to go to bed at 10pm due to the early starts and morning noise, is almost enough sometimes to make me commit Harikari. cyprus drummers

 

OK – Phew – Rant over, what to do now? Well off to the shops to buy some earplugs I think, then a siesta after lunch – okay that’s a Spanish word I know, note to self – must find out if there is an equivalent word in Greek. I now truly believe having a siesta is nothing to do with escaping the mid-day sun, but a chance to get some rest after the early morning rude awakenings!

But what’s that noise? Niffa in the garden trimming the hedges …. oh no he doesn’t!!  Anyway, I hope that you have a wonderful, peaceful, happy day. Next post I promise will be more cheerful – watch this space … coming soon – Reasons to be Cheerful, one, two, three 🙂

Love from Nelly x

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grumpy sorry

#18 Traditional Cypriot Food Part 1 – Meze & Meat Dishes

This post is for those people might be visiting Cyprus for the first time, and don’t understand the menu items in traditional tavernas but are too shy to ask! In my opinion you should try them all at least once, I love most of them (mind you I eat pretty much anything and everything!) except the Pastourmas which are just not to my taste. And not on this list, but don’t be surprised if you order Meze, to be served brains and/or snails, these are considered a real delicacy!

1. MEZE – Meaning to taste or snack, traditionally Meze is served for a minimum of 2 people, and consists of a variety of traditional salad, dips, bread, vegetable and meat dishes. Word of warning, not for the faint hearted Meze can be anywhere up to 44 small dishes, so go hungry, take your time, and enjoy!  A must for every visitor, at least once, to get a taste of the national dishes of Cyprus.

Meze

A small sample of Meze

 

2. SOUVLAKI / SOUVLA – Cypriot version of a kebab but waaay better than the late night Turkish style kebabs in the UK that you order after a skinful of beer at the end of the night! This is meat cooked over a charcoal grill / BBQ on skewers.  Souvlaki is smaller cubes of chicken or pork, and Souvla is large chunks of pork or lamb often on the bone but cooked in the same way, both are utterly delicious.

Souvlaki

Souvlaki

 

3. SHEFTALIA – Looks like a cross between a meatball and a sausage, they are made of minced pork with herbs and spices, and are so tender and mouth-wateringly tasty, though raw look quite disgusting as they are wrapped in caul fat, but mmmm one of my favourites!

Sheftalia - one of my favourite meat dishes

 

4. KLEFTIKO – Slow baked lamb cooked for up to 12 hours in a traditional wood burning clay oven, with potatoes, lemon, garlic and oregano. The cooking process ensures that the lamb just falls off the bone.

Kleftiko

 

5. AFELIA – A braised pork dish (yes another pork dish I know, but pork is cheap and plentiful in Cyprus), made with small cubes of meat marinaded and cooked in red wine and garlic, with coriander.

Afelia

 

6. STIFADO – A slow cooked stew made traditionally with rabbit but often also made with beef, shallots and tomatoes. Cinammon, cloves, garlic, red wine vinegar and olive oil are also used, which give it a distinctive flavour.

Stifado

 

7. PASTOURMA / LOUKANIKA – Cured spicy village sausage made with beef or pork, red wine, salt, garlic and spices. Quite strong tasting, reminds me of black pudding but spicier.

Pastourmas

 

8.  LOUNTZA – Smoked Cypriot ham made from loin of pork, it’s a sandwich filling favourite for Cypriots, often served on pitta with Halloumi cheese and salad.

Lountza

 

9. MOUSSAKA- Another one of my absolute favourites, moussaka is a spicy casserole usually made with lamb and layers of potato, aubergine and courgette, topped with a thick bechamel sauce and cheese, baked in the oven until the top is bubbly and crispy – the ultimate Cypriot comfort food.

Moussaka

 

I hope you found this post useful, coming soon I will be posting about the amazing array of vegetarian dishes to be found in a Cyprus, and there are A LOT!

Love from Nelly x

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#5 Christmas Preparations Cyprus Style

Anyone that know me knows how much I LOVE Christmas, and all things Christmassy – the tree, the decorations, mince pies & mulled wine which is always offered in my house from December 1st whatever the time of day! Praise be for LIDL’s bottled mulled wine, OK it is not quite as good as a home-made version, but still a great handy alternative – pop a mug of that in the microwave for 2 minutes and Ho Ho Ho.

Christmas music is particularly important and has to be VERY CHEESY and played VERY LOUD (well hello again Mariah & Wham), as are my sparkly snowflake deeley boppers and Elf T-Shirt, which must be worn at every available opportunity. And of course the real reason for the season should not be forgotten – PRESENTS ! Gotcha …. yes I do know that the whole baby Jesus / God thing is quite important too.

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Christmas Past – Christmas Jumpers and Angels (Sorry Niffa but I could not resist sharing this pic of us x)

I was most concerned when we moved to Cyprus in 2014 about being here at Christmas time, as without the potential of snow, roaring log fires, Christmas markets, Greggs the Bakers mince pies (THE BEST MINCE PIES EVER!), and lack of extended family to share the big day, that it would just not feel the same.  But I have been pleasantly surprised at the way Christmas is embraced by Cyprus, in a very positive way, it is not so commercial and more about family than presents (a very good thing), but it is certainly celebrated.

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St Lazarus Church, Larnaca at Night – December 2016

To ensure it truly is the happiest season of all for my little family of three, we have embraced and created new traditions including:

  • A Christmas Eve family walk on the beach … and compulsory photo in short sleeves for the folks back in freezing Blighty
  • A sack of goodies for H which contains new PJ’s for us all, a Christmas DVD and Chocolate (“Yippee” declared Niffa aka “The Grinch”, when I found this whole new way to extend the day of Christmas)
  • BBQ Breakfast on the beach (of which the Grinch does approve)
  • Inviting friends from the village to share Christmas dinner with us. This year we will be joined by my lovely mum too, which will make it even  more special
  • Boxing Day drinks & quiz for friends – Christmas jumpers & impossible questions compulsory
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Christmas Tree on the Pier at Finkoudes Promenade, Larnaca – December 2016

And in fact there ARE Christmas markets and snow – lots of both if you know where to look, and last week saw the first snowfall of the year at Troodos.

snow-troodos-1

The annual Christmas market in our village is one of the largest on the island, at which I have had a stall for the last 3 years, click here for the link to this year’s event – 2016 Traditional Christmas Market.  It is organised and run in partnership with the local council by Sarah from Mosaic Island, Larnaca who works tirelessly to make the event a bigger success every year.

This year I shared a stall with my friend Lady K who launched her Cakes & Catering business this month – the mouth watering cupcakes and biscuits you can see on the pic below to the left were all made by her.  I managed to only eat one cupcake, half a bag of fudge, a couple of gingerbread stars, and 2 cups of mulled wine – very restrained I thought given the temptations all around!

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Selling our wares at the Traditional Christmas Market 2016

And last but definitely not least, there are roaring log fires here in Cyprus, I particularly like the huge wood-burner in Caffe NERO, which is my current favourite place to grab a coffee, and curl up on their big sofas with a book, to while a few hours away.  In fact, I am off to Caffe Nero now to sample their festive offerings and catch up on some “real” work, but what will I order? A spiced orange latte or salted caramel hot chocolate … decisions decisions.

Love from Nelly x

 

 

Aside

#1 Hello World

Well I finally did it – I wrote my first Blog Post, and after several amendments (making it shorter … then longer … then shorter again), and battling with the grammar ninja that lives inside my head (don’t ask), here goes …

I moved to Cyprus in August 2014 with my partner and (then 9 year old) son, and have been meaning to start a blog, after being inspired by those written by other expats before we made the move.  It has only taken 2 and a half years, but life got in the way … in a good way.  I am now more busy than ever juggling my little family of 3, 2 businesses, and a partridge in a pear tree …but I decided this morning that it was now or never.

So what better subject for my first post than to say “Hello World” and tell you my reasons for entering the scary world of blogging (and trust me I am scared!) – What if nobody likes what I write? What if nobody even reads it? What if people laugh at me? What if people think I am writing self-indulgent twaddle?  But then I decided, what the heck, it is good to be scared/brave now & again, so here goes with my personal Reasons to Blog:-

  • Family & Friends – I wanted a new way to keep in touch with those in the UK and other parts of the world, and tell them what we are up to here in Cyprus, in words and pictures.
  • Memories – Life since we moved to Cyprus in August 2014 has been a roller coaster of a journey, and I want to record as many memories as I can.  The good, the mad & the sad, the hilarious, and the precious moments that make up our everyday life.
  • Photos – See above
  • Writing – From childhood dreams of being a journalist (never fulfilled) to just wanting to write, to record those thoughts, ideas and words that whizz around inside my head. They may interest you, or you might think I am bonkers, but I hope to share snippets on a regular basis, mainly to do with our new life in Cyprus, Family, Food and Local Colour.
  • Cooking – I love to feed people, and plan to share lots of lovely recipes with you all, and will be sharing other people’s recipes as well as my own.  My food of choice is tasty, often comfort type food, on a budget but healthy.  I am no Gordon Ramsey but I feel very at home pottering around my kitchen, usually with a glass of wine in one hand.
  • Handmade Stuff – I hope to inspire my readers to have a go at handmade, whether it is to decorate your house, make gifts, or just a fun way to pass an afternoon.  I miss the days when my son was younger and we would spend hours with playdough, or making wooden spoon people together to take on a trip to the park.  So now Pinterest is my new best friend for crafty ideas, and occasionally I even manage to persuade my boy to join in.
  • Travel -My passion for visiting new places began at the age of 14 when I first set foot on foreign shores: the heat that hit me as I stepped off the plane, the smell of Summer that assaulted my senses, and the wonder of a whole new world, just blew me away.  Previous holidays had been limited to fun family time in B&B’s in Blackpool and one less fun soggy week in Skegness, but now I was hooked on Sun, Sea & Sand (Sangria & Sex had to wait until I was older!).  I plan to share travel adventures from around the world, and of course my newly adopted country of Cyprus.

So there are my reasons, and a kind of plan as to what will follow, please feel free to join me on the journey.  All constructive advice or suggestions are welcome from fellow bloggers / mums / dads / expats / expats to be / people who love wine family, travel & food.

Speak soon, Nelly x

#28 Warning ….. longest blog post ever, a glass of wine or cup of tea may be required

So 2018 has arrived, another year, another set of resolutions, a new plan to be happier, healthier, to spend more time with my amazing family and friends, to grow the business further, and try to be kinder and more thoughtful to others. In the words of Niffa’s favourite song, this year I am going to “Reach for the Stars” – yes he has terrible taste in music, but luckily for me,  great taste in women (joking/not joking).

2017 has been an absolute whirlwind of a year, with lots of giddy highs, a few tricky lows, and lots of everything in between type of days. So I have decided to share just a few of the major events of our 2017, as much to serve my dreadful memory (so in the future I can look back and say – wow – we did that?) as to let you have a little peek into life in our crazy happy home. So here goes, in absolutely no particular order:

Our precious boy became a teenager in December, how did that even happen!! And he is not even so little these days, he is almost as tall as me, but apparently still one of the shortest in his class – I think they must all be giants! Our bathroom is now a cacophony of male grooming products, you name it he has it, deodorant, face scrub, facewash, toner, body scrub, body wash, hair gel, hair mousse, aftershave (no he doesn’t shave … yet), and he still has the cheek to “borrow” my expensive moisturiser! (H step away from the Clarins!!) Celebrations included a family night out for a Chinese banquet whereupon we bumped into his drama teacher (moonlighting as a waiter, maybe it was just an act?), H going to the cinema, KFC with school friends, and lots of cuddles, cards, presents and cakes of course.

We surprised H with a 10 day trip back to the UK on Boxing day, to see family and friends, he was just a tad excited (slight understatement), as he thought he would not be going back for a visit until summer 2018. We have had snow, hot chocolates, log fires, roast dinners and lots of precious time with our nearest and dearest. In light of the fact that Niffa lost his eldest brother in October this year, this family time was more poignant than usual. We all had a great trip (apart from Niffa, after the first few days who became spectacularly grumpy, but to be fair he had a horrible cold/man flu). Yet we were very happy to return to the sunshine and warmth of Cyprus – I just wish I could pack all my friends in a suitcase and bring them back with me – not sure they’d thank me mind, but I’d be happier 😉.

The great news is that my mum is visiting again in February, flight already booked, and my BFF Miss Trunchbull (not her real name!) is coming over in March with her daughter – yippeeeee, the girls are back in town – watch out Cyprus!!! And the big boys I think are planning a trip over here for the World Cup, so Niffa will be happy with that, they seem to think they are also going to Ayia Napa …. Mmmm. The other good news is that my friendships here in Cyprus are getting stronger all the time, a couple of ladies have become very special friends this year – they must be special to put up with me, I am not known as Nutty Nelly for nothing!  Although sadly one of my first close friends from Cyprus left in January 2017, well it was sad for me, but super exciting for her and her family as they left for big adventures in Kenya (buckets were cried). Myself and my ginger friend R (who metaphorically held my hand when B left), were 2 very giddy kippers when she came back for a visit towards the end of 2017, new plans are afoot to persuade her to visit us again soon.

I also had an unexpected visit from an old friend that I went to school with, I had not seen her since we  moved to Cyprus 3 years ago – it was just the tonic I needed at the time, we laughed, we cried, we reminisced, we drank, we ate, we had a ball, it was a short but very sweet visit, ended with the promise to keep in touch more. And of course I had my annual visit from Miss Trunchbull, she is a girl in a million, my sister I never had – I miss her every day, but so happy we are managing to meet up more every year, and we now can even chat without crying … progress indeed.

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So 2017 kicked off with a trip to the Far East (I did say this post would be in no particular order – welcome to my mind) which was a huge exciting adventure to celebrate 10 years of putting up with love and happiness with Niffa. Some of you may have read my post about planning this trip #10 Asia here we come!  It was an incredible experience taking in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore, such amazing experiences – temples, mountains, tuk tuks, fish balls, markets, beaches, cold beers, rooftop bars … this list could be endless.  H stayed home with Nanna as this was a strictly adults only trip (yes I felt guilty, but he adores his Nanna and was thoroughly spoiled whilst we were away!), and to ease the guilt we are planning a big family trip away next Christmas.  We are still undecided where, but research has begun …. it will be somewhere far flung, hopefully hot and sunny, and with a few adventures thrown in for good measure.

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2017 was also the year I found out that I had hypothyroidism and Hashimotos disease, (an auto-immune disease, not a type of sushi) after months and …. well to be honest, a couple of years of feeling exhausted, my symptoms exacerbated to include painful achy joints, pins and needles in my hands and feet, lethargy, unexplained weight gain (I knew I was a size 10 person living in a sometimes size 14 body!), anxiety, and brain fog amongst other even less pleasant symptoms. I even bored myself some days with complaints about feeling exhausted, so goodness knows how my poor family and friends felt. I had put all these symptoms down to a variety of reasons for so long: Getting older (I’m only 40 something …); working too hard (some may say that’s debatable); time of the month etc etc.

Luckily after what felt like hitting a brick wall of exhaustion and sadness, Niffa put his foot down and dragged me practically kicking and screaming to see the doctor.  Long story short, after a scary ultrasound to check for cancerous nodules which was thankfully clear, I now take a combination of medicine and health supplements which help hugely, but some days are still an uphill struggle.  My advice to anyone is if you gave long term symptoms, don’t try and be a tough Northern chick, go and see a doctor! I’m attaching some pics which give an idea of what was happening to me (and apparently a LOT of women), for as soon as I told my doc the symptoms, she knew immediately what was wrong before blood tests proved it. Niffa, H, my mum, aunty, and true friends were complete stars, and amazingly supportive during the months it took to get me back on my feet, and I am so grateful for them. Of course I carried on working, and told very few people what was wrong, because I am a stubborn Northern girl.

 

Another highlight of 2017 was taking H camping to Polis.  We went with some lovely friends, whose son happens to be one of H’s best friends from school, and their very beautiful daughter. I’m not really a camping type of girl (helping runs cubs for 2 years and having 4 hours sleep a night at camp, kind of put me off), but we wanted to do something H would love and remember.  And safe to say, we all had a fab time.  The campsite is in a wood, next to a beach with a little taverna, the campsite facilities are old and basic, but is cleaned regularly and has all you need. Highlights included watching the sunset from the beach each night, cooking meals on the bbq (why does food cooked outside always taste better?), swimming, sunbathing, and more swimming, a trip to the baths of Aphrodite, lunch in Laatchi harbour, sleeping under the stars (well … in the tent, but still), and just having precious family time together.

2 nights was enough for me though, so we had booked a hotel in picturesque Pissouri for the final night, for a proper shower and real bed.  Our short stay involved a wander around the cute cobbled village, followed by a hearty dinner, a dreamy nights sleep, and a trip to the water park in Limassol on the way home – H’s favourite day out.

So to work – yes of course I do work! I can sum 2017 up in 3 words – Weddings, weddings, weddings.  We worked our little socks off from May to October, served hundreds (may be even thousands) of Ice Creams and Sorbets, at mainly weddings, and also some christenings and parties across Cyprus.  We met so many fantastic couples, planners, venue staff and suppliers, that by the end of the season, we felt like one of the family. To get an idea of what we do please visit our Business Page and feel free to give us a cheeky little like. My aim for 2018 is to reach 2,000 likes by the end of Jan so I am now shamelessly just putting it out there – I only need about 40!

Right – I have to stop now – or this blog will become a book! Well ….. just one last thing that happened this year, was that H learned to sail, passing his RYA Level 1 and 2 course, making me a super proud mummy, and Niffa an even prouder evil step-daddy. So I HAVE to share one last photo! That’s my boy 💖

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Thank you for reading, and for your patience, I truly hope your 2017 was as memorable as mine, and wish you good health, love and happiness in 2018.

Love from Nelly x

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#27 Teenage Kicks

Last week my little boy (I really must stop calling him that!) became a teenager, and in the words of his Aunty C, it doesn’t seem so long ago that he was a baby and she was pulling an apricot out of his bum! (That’s a whole other story). Whilst wrapping his presents on Monday night (last minute.com as ever!), I cried; yes I cried … like a baby, because my baby is no more! H – I miss the baby days, the cuddles I didn’t have to ask for, rocking you to sleep in my arms, the smell of Johnson’s baby bath, Sudocrem and talcum powder, and I miss bath times, and pushing your pram in the park. But I don’t miss the sleepless nights, colic, or trips to A&E with asthma/whooping cough! I miss the toddler times, watching Bob the Builder & Thomas The Tank engine, playing with trains and cars, Play-dough and bubbles. But I don’t miss the mess, or the 4.45 am wake-ups! We taught you to tell the time at age 3 in the hope you would stay asleep until 6 or 7am but that didn’t work, neither did putting your clock back or keeping you up late. For almost 2 years you woke at 4.45am EVERY DAY! It’s a good job we love you!

But now we are on a new journey, we can chat to one another in whole sentences, go for walks and meals together, and when Niffa and I can disconnect you from things electronic, you are great company and an interesting young man. You can be quite the philosopher, with questions ranging from the deep and thoughtful, to the frankly ridiculous but never boring. I love our random chats about what we would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse (I would steal a super yacht, you would climb a mountain), to what would happen if there was no such thing as friction and / or gravity.

H you have (rather suddenly it seems) become a man-child.  You have shot up in height (and attitude) in the last few weeks, and sometimes smell less fragrant than you used to, despite constant reminders of deodorant and showers (and the present of matching shower gel and aftershave from one of mummy’s friends). You alternate between being my sunny, smiley boy and a grumbly, growly, prickly teenager but least you haven’t quite started grunting at us … yet.

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You are an unfathomable dichotomy – most days I can’t get you in the shower, and when I do, I can’t get you out of the shower.  You refuse to go to the barber without threats/bribery/a combination of the two – yet when you eventually have a new haircut, you sneak hair gel into your school bag and spend more time than me, preening in the mirror.  You want your independence and to make your own decisions, but you still hold my hand when your friends aren’t around, and we still have loads of cuddles. You are a gangly, jangly bundle of raging hormones, wrapped up in a handsome, funny, smart, kind and polite young man.  You drive us crazy, in good ways and bad, you sulk and occasionally slam doors but are quick to calm down, say sorry and make up. But these years will sometimes be tough, hormones are flying around, and little things might often seem like big things, but I just want you to know that daddy Niffa and I love you very much, and we are super proud of you, every single day.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY GORGEOUS TEENAGE BOY – WE LOVE YOU ALL THE WORLD XXX

PS I Just had to share a few more photos, some old, some new xxx

 

 

#26 Black & White 10 Photo Challenge

I was inspired to create this post after seeing recent posts on Facebook, challenging people to post 10 black & white photos in 10 days with no words, people or animals. But those who know me well, also know that I subscribe the the theory of why use 10 words when 50 will do, and being a tad impatient, I am putting all my pics up in one go.

So my ultimate aim was to embrace the ethos of the challenge whilst channelling my inner rebel, so I have put my own spin on it. Therefore there will be words … but just a few, and perhaps some animals & people in there.

I ermmm may also have broken the 10 pic rule, but you know … rules are made to be broken. So I hope you enjoy, and perhaps take on the challenge yourself, on Instagram, Facebook or your Blog page if you have one.

Love from Nelly x

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H Larnaca Nov17

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Fishing Boats

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Parrot Lady Larnaca Nov17

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Karpaz Peninsula

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Karpaz Donkey

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Ayia Thekla Beach in November

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Sunset in the Karpaz

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For all the young people out there, this is a JUKE BOX, it plays RECORDS!

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You are never too old to chase pigeons! St Lazarus, Larnaca

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Meze

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Love getting Notes from H, this is an old one from when we lived in the UK, it popped up on time-hop today

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Camper Van Envy

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Brain Food Breakfast, Pilchard anyone?

 

#24 Look How Far We’ve Come My Baby!

This week was mine and Niffa’s 10th anniversary. Who would have thunk it … we keep saying to one another! Ten long long years ago, 1 slightly nutty Nelly met one sad single man (my words not his!), and amazingly we are still together – stronger than ever – very much in love (when not bickering) – and quite bloody smug about it … thank you very much! And to those friends who told me he would have got less for murder … blah blah blah I say.

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At a wedding on 31st May – our actual anniversary – perfect photo opportunity!

I won’t waffle about the details as those people close to our hearts know our story, but in short Niffa met me when I was pretty vulnerable and quite certifiably bonkers (he would say nothing has changed), almost a year after the breakdown of my marriage which had left me devastated. I was bringing up my 18 month old baby H by myself (with very limited input from his dad), although supported by my amazing mum, friends and family, and working full time to pay the mortgage and bills. Niffa had to chat me up twice before I agreed to go out for dinner, and we “dated” twice a week for a couple of years before we ever even talked about living together, but we had a ball along the way and still are doing so now. He put my heart back together, he makes me laugh, he takes me special places (don’t be rude – I mean travelling!), he often makes me mad (I never said he was perfect), he is a wonderful step-dad to H, and I love him dearly for that.

Through a strange year where I have found myself in a near permanent state of exhaustion, with bouts of depression, anxiety, weight gain, and aches and pains in places I never knew existed, Niffa has been my rock. He has unerringly stood firm when I have spent days either sleeping, crying or shouting at people – loving and supporting me. Don’t get me wrong, the above has been interspersed with fantastic, energetic, sunny, happy days – when I am the old/real me! But it’s been a real tough year, dealing with the above, setting up 2 new businesses (because 1 just wouldn’t have been enough right?!), and H starting high school and becoming a teenager almost overnight although he’s still only 12 and a half!

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Then and now …. actually the sad face was put on for the camera …. but the note was all his own work 😂

I put my troubles and tiredness this past year down to a busy lifestyle, and possible early menopause (I diagnosed myself from google – incorrectly as it turns out!), too much exercise (aches), too little exercise (weight gain), stress (depression) etc. And of course being a Northern lass I don’t need to see a doctor or take pills, and sleep is for wimps! I was though starting to bore myself, never mind Niffa, with my grumbles. So after eventually finding a great GP, and having numerous blood tests, last week I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism – an underactive thyroid gland. I then needed an ultrasound to check for any signs of strange shaped nodules (dr code for cancer) but luckily there were none. I am now on tablets to correct my thyroid hormone levels (am expecting to wake up in the next few weeks a size zero super-model with tons of energy and never needing to diet again!), and am now also being tested for Hashimotos Disease (an autoimmune thingymabob not a sushi dish!). So it’s an ongoing process of diagnosis and treatment, but finally there’s an explanation for why I’ve been feeling so bloody terrible, which is a relief in itself. The doc made me laugh, telling me that 20 years ago I would have been put in a mental hospital because they did not know then how much hormone deficiencies affect the mind as much as the body – so thank god for advances in science, I could’ve ended up in the bottom block! Now I’ve just got to fight this thing, get the treatment I need, and get this Nelly back on track!

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Niffa has held my hand through it all, and promised to love me for at least another ten years. He’s still on probation though as far as I’m concerned, but baby …. look how far we have come together! Through the bad times as well as the good, I love you all the world.

We celebrated earlier this year with a Far East cruise, where we skipped, cruised, ate and drank our way through Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore.

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So this week due to my health, and the fact that wedding season has gone crazy busy – 6 weddings in 4 days this week, we haven’t celebrated yet, but plan to do so today with my mum and H. A day trip to Ayia Napa is planned, beach, water sports, crazy shark, funfair, probably burgers at Hard Rock Cafe, maybe a cocktail or two, and bed. A perfect family day out. What better way to  mark our ten year anniversary than with two of the most important people in our lives.

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Lets hope I can stay awake long enough to enjoy our day out!

love from Nelly x

 

 

#22 My first Easter In Cyprus

I have mixed feelings about Easter in Cyprus, ever since the first Easter Saturday in 2015 when I went out with friends who were here on holiday. I had been told it is a time of great celebrations, yet all I saw was that nobody was around, and the shops and restaurants were closed (shallow – yes I know …. as a puddle … sometimes)! Nothing exciting happens on Easter Saturday until after midnight, when, like Cinderella I am either in bed asleep or have turned into a pumpkin.  The celebrations all seemed to be in March when Carnival takes place, not around Easter weekend itself.  I am not a particularly religious person, and have mixed personal feelings and beliefs about this holy festival, but at the very least it’s a long Bank Holiday weekend so I expected much merriment and eating, drinking and dancing.

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Kalo Pascha – Happy Easter

2015 was my first Easter in Cyprus and the greatest disappointment ever, as my 2 very special girlfriends And I geared up for a BIG Saturday night out, having persuaded Niffa to look after not just H, but their children as well, four kids altogether! Trust me, that was a miracle in itself of all our persuasive powers. I had to say yes to a week in Napa for him and the boys to wangle this one night of babysitting! We spent hours getting ready, hair and make-up just so, all children fed, watered and in bed, pre-going out cocktails, loud music. It was going to be the party to end all parties, we were even going to go clubbing … yes … at our age … I know!! So when finally deemed gorgeous enough, off we headed into Larnaca

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All dressed up and nowhere to go!

The traffic was quiet, bonus I thought! Not really, it was like driving into a ghost town, 80% of the bars and restaurants were closed … at 9pm on a Saturday night, what on earth was going on?! I know, let’s go to Makenzy Beach area – the coolest place to see and be seen, it’s a bit noisy for us old folks and you can’t hear yourself think as my mum would say, but it will be fun I promised them. Imagine my face as I pulled into the car park which has around 3,000 spaces and saw only 2 or 3 lonely looking vehicles … it was like we had stepped into the pilot episode of the twilight zone. Yep – ALL the bars and restaurants here were closed, it was like the unfunniest April Fools Joke but this was no 1st April, I peered around looking for the hidden cameras but there were none. Very confusing.com

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Where is Everybody?!

It’s Easter Saturday! Bank holiday weekend! Surely everyone should be out, in the UK it’s the second night of three nights of partying – we only wanted one! My friends were horrified, come on, let’s gets this party started, we decided to go back to Finikoudes and just head to any open bar. We found one, but there were very few people in it, and no life to speak of, even the trendy, very expensive back street cocktail bars where they have mixologists instead of bar staff, were shut. A swift drink, then a decision, let’s head back to the village, grab a kebab and a few bottles of wine somewhere, and just have a good girly catch up. So feeling dejected, wearing our finery like cloaks of mourning we traipsed into the first, empty, small bar “so where is everyone?” I asked the barman after ordering our drinks, “Oh, it’s Easter Saturday” he said, “everyone is at home with family, they will be off to church shortly for a couple of hours, then there will be bonfires, and fireworks and feasts later on. In fact if you could drink up, we are about to close, thanks”.

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So that’s where everybody is ! 

So, that was that, even the kebab shops were closed (at this point I could have cried!), so we ended up back home by 10pm, only 2 hours after we had set off, sober, hungry, make-up off, PJ’s on, and in bed by 11pm (after picking Niffa up off the floor  from laughing at us), dreaming of parties and fireworks and feasts. Whereas all good Greek Cypriots, Christians, and other Orthodox religions were in either in church, or at home with their families, but were gearing up for the Easter Celebration of Christo Anesti. At this point I realised I still had a lot to learn still about this little island, where religion, tradition and family is still so important.  And Easter (Pascha) is so much more than a long Bank Holiday weekend, and Chocolate Eggs on Easter Sunday.

Love from Nelly x

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