Three Years Gone in a Blink of an EYE!!

Well it is 31st August 2019 and we have been here 3 full years today.  We boarded the plane at Stansted exactly 3 years ago on our new journey.  Can’t believe where the time has gone.

So what has this year been like???


Once again it has been a fabulous year …..

We are still continuing to learn about the island we live on….snakes, chameleons, growing vegetables and learning about all the bugs that we are pestered with during some of the humid months.

Snakes

So last week Phill stumbled across a snake skin in the garden…we are still trying to find out what type of snake it is.  The general consensus is that there are ten species of snake that are established on the island and they are as follows:

The Large Whip Snake (Coluber Jugularis) The Cyprus Whip Snake (Coluber Cypriensis) The Coin Snake or Ravergier’s Whip Snake (Coluber Numifer)
The Blunt Nosed Viper (Vipera Lebetina) The Montpellier Snake (Malpolon Monspessulanus) The Cat Snake (Telescopus Fallax)
The Cyprus Grass Snake (Natrix Natrix Cypriaca)
Pink Worm Snake  (Typhlops Vermicularis)
Dahl’s Whip Snake or Arrow Snake (Coluber Najadum)
The Dwarf Snake (Eirenus Modestus  

The Blunt Nosed Viper is the bad boy of the island’s snakes; the only potentially lethal snake in Cyprus. That said, despite an average of twenty attacks on humans each year, no one has died from its bite for nearly fifteen years. It’s easily recognised being a large fat snake, around 1.3 to 1.7m long with offset semi-rectangular markings along its silvery beige back. It is also discernible from the black spots on its head. Many bites occur through lack of care as the snake is used to remaining motionless to await the approach of the birds it preys on and its well camouflaged markings mean that walkers often get too close.  The snake is on the endangered list mainly because ignorant people see it as a dangerous pest and kill it forgetting that it is an important part of the Cypriot ecosystem. Additionally it often falls prey itself to Whip Snakes and birds of prey.

Chameleon

Another chameleon ventured into the garden last week too.  It was walking slowly along the bottom of the gate.  We managed to intercept it and look at it…..

fullsizeoutput_20a2

What a little cutie – Phill held it for a minute to take the photographs and then let it go into hiding in the hedge.

Gardening

We tried our hand at gardening this year again with the introduction of a few new vegetables including corn on the cob (well when I say we tried our hand I actually mean Phill).  We had a lovely mint plant which grew like mad over the early part of the year but due to the heat and the humidity in Coral Bay it has stopped growing and is looking a bit ill.  However, the good news is that it will recover soon.  I love having mint in the garden and is great for lots of dishes that I make including tzatziki. We had a few tomato plants too and had a few tomatoes for our salads and some chillis and peppers which also have been great for salads and barbecues.  

There are many things that we cannot grow as we slowly discover as the heat and humidity is too much for many of these plants especially in the summer months.  I wanted to grow blueberries for my porridge but alas no we were advised against it due to our location and of course we are slowly discovering what we can and cannot do.  

Phill is currently trying to grow an Avocado Tree from the seed of the avocado – it is really doing well but of course could be around 4 years before we do get fruit from it but definitely worth doing.

We are also trying to grow ginger as I use quite a bit of root ginger when cooking especially in my Indian and Chinese recipes.  So we shall see what happens – the plant is currently about 1 foot tall at the moment and looking good.  

We have had copious amounts of strawberries from our plant this year – too many to eat but we did do our best to get through them.  Next year I think I will be making strawberry jam to have with my scones and clotted cream – can’t wait!!

As always we have a problems with some of the insects that live in the warmer climate especially the Mealybug.   Every summer Phill spends considerable time treating our hedges as they seem to love the Hibiscus – unfortunately some people do not bother to treat their hedge and the bug takes over and kills it and they then move on to the next healthy plant.

Mealybugs are white, tiny little guys that form cottony nests where they are feeding.  These bugs suck the sap out of the leaves and stems of plants, resulting in stunted or deformed leaf growth, yellowing of the leaves, and leaf drop.

Archaeological Sites

We have also been visiting some of the archaeological sites, The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates  and the ancient city of Kourion.   A visit to Omodos has to be done at least once.  It is a beautiful traditional Cypriot Village which has been carefully restored and is car free (at least to tourists).  Great day out visiting it and the little art shops and cafes which are dotted around the square and the streets.

We’ve also been to the beach a few times visiting Corallia Beach, Latchi Beach and our fullsizeoutput_13b8favourite beach Kourion which sits below the archaelogical site.

Winter Months

The cooler months this year were very wet which was great as most of the dams filled and overflowed.  Definitely something that Cyprus needed.  Last year the large dams were only filled to 13% of their capacity and this year what a difference as the large one near Paphos Airport actually overflowed.  Look at the difference:-

 

Outdoor Life

Well so far it is all good here and we are really enjoying being here and lapping up the culture and the outdoor life that we so much enjoy – we can have a barbecue any time we want without thinking about whether it will be raining.  We can also go out for dinner in the evening and not think about taking a jacket, coat or even an umbrella.  

Lots of beautiful restaurants to enjoy and lazing by our beautiful pool.  What’s not to like!!!

What will our fourth year bring for us?  Who knows but definitely lots of sunshine and fun to be sure !!

Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates

With temperatures soaring we decided to brave the heat and take a trip in the air conditioned car to visit the Sanctuary of Apollo and to tempt us all a  cool down afterwards an ice cream and picnic on the beach.  What else  !!

Getting out of the car the hot air hit us but fortunately the wind was also blowing so it took away the direct heat and helped us to enjoy the visit walking around the archaeological site.  Not quite as big as Kourion site but long enough to spend in the direct heat in the height of the summer.

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates lies west of the ancient city of Kourion (which we visited earlier in the year) and is one of the most important sanctuaries of ancient Cyprus.

Apollo Hylates was considered God of the Forest and was the protector of Kourion and is believed to have been worshiped in the area since the 8th century BC. – in the 4th century AD.

This sanctuary was built in the Copper Age and was destroyed in 365 AD due to a strong earthquake in the area which also destroyed the ancient city of Kourion.  Of course this was not the end of the Sanctuary of Apollo as much of it was rebuilt again.

Today’s ruins date back to the 1st century AD. The site of the sanctuary is a palaestra (a wrestling school or gymnasium), a gallery, a treasury, the baths, the Archaic mosque, the circular monument, the central courtyard and the temple of Apollo.

The Baths

In the southeastern part of the sanctuary is the palaestra, a central courtyard surrounded by colonnades, which was the place where the athletes practiced. In the sanctuary there are also Roman baths. Both the baths and the palaestra are outside the main sanctuary.

The majority of the monuments, as they are today, belong to the restoration that took place in the temple in the 1st century A.D. and consist of the Temple of Apollo, the pilgrimage halls, the palaestra, a bath complex and the sacred enclosure.

 

Have a look at the attached YouTube video to get an idea of the size of the area.

Definitely worth a visit.  If you haven’t had enough history just further along sits The Stadium.  Kourion Stadium is the only ancient stadium found in Cyprus and dates back to the 2nd century,  the stadium had a capacity for 6.000 spectators and was the site of pentathlon events in ancient times.

 

And of course to top it all a visit to Kourion Beach for our picnic

fullsizeoutput_13b8

How Did We End Up In Cyprus?

You may ask how did we get here well what can I say…….we both loved Cyprus and decided that we would love to have a home here so we decided to sell our home in London and purchase a property here in Coral Bay – of course it was also our intention to buy another property in the UK that we could live in too – we wanted to get away from London we both hated it – so busy all the time and not something we enjoyed especially on weekends we were always trying to get away to the countryside.  We had initially intended to move back near Stamford in Lincolnshire and had spent many weekends there viewing properties but we never seemed to find the one we wanted.    

On one visit to Cyprus we looked at another property almost identical to ours and on the same road – we loved it and could see the potential as a holiday let which is something we both were very keen to do, but we weren’t sure if it was the right thing to do so we left it – this was March 2015 – then we returned June of the same year and it was still on the market – and of course we didn’t do anything about it on this visit either.  

Back to work after our holiday and sitting at my desk in the office I thought ‘what am I doing here?  Why don’t I change my life, considering I had been in an office all my life I just needed to take the big step.  I felt very institutionalised having got up and gone to work every day since I was 16 5 days a week and worked long hours some days depending on what I needed to do.  I decided there and then “Life is for living” so I text Phill to tell him I had put in an offer on the property in Cyprus and expecting him to say don’t be stupid  – he said “how much?” So here is where it all began!!  I contacted the seller and started the process of purchasing our lovely villa which is called Villa Corrado.  Phill loves the Sopranos so if you watch it you will recognise the name.

As we were both still working we used a property manager to run it for the first year and then as my contract in finance came to an end we decided to give Cyprus a chance and manage the property ourselves and experience a whole new life in Cyprus.  

Now I can’t believe we are actually in the month of July and we have been in Cyprus just over 10 months.  We arrived in Cyprus on our adventure on the 31st August 2016. I will never forget that day we had so much to do in the UK before getting on that plane.  

I had been packing boxes for weeks and they were all lined up around the house in every available space we had.  I was just waiting for the final day to give it the extra push to get the last couple of boxes ready.  Fifty four boxes in total (contents all nicely documented) were taken from the house and that didn’t include any furniture that was going nor did it include any of Phill’s tools that were outside in his shed – there was so much stuff to go and that was even after clearing out what we didn’t want to take with us.

The removal lorry was arriving on the 30th August to take everything to the shipping agent in preparation for the container to be loaded on the 31st August.  I recall sitting outside in the driveway (sun shining and very warm) waiting for the final items to be loaded to the lorry so that the final checks could be done on the house ensuring we had taken everything, lock the doors and say a final goodbye to the house we had lived in for the previous 18 months.  

Of course it wasn’t over for Phill as he had to go to the shipping agent and unload everything in readiness for the arrival of the container at 8am the following morning to load it to our 20 foot container for its merry voyage to Limassol Docks in Cyprus.

We were both exhausted that evening and all we wanted to do was get some food and relax for the evening.  We checked into a hotel in Cheshunt which was only a 20 minute drive from the shipping agent.

The 31st August Dawns

The next day arrived and we had lots to get on with……I dropped Phill off at the Shipping Agent in order for him to load the container.  There is a time constraint on how long you can take – they give you 3 hours to get it done so there was lots to do.  I was told I wouldn’t be any use so off I went to Costa Coffee for my last Cortado and a final walk around the local shops.

IMG_0503Costa Coffee CortadoThe container was at last loaded and the next thing we had to do was to drop of the Grand Cherokee at the shipping agent as my little baby  AKA Chuggy was also coming with us to Cyprus.  Felt too sad to leave him behind.

Finally everything was done and we were making our way to Stansted Airport for our 5pm flight to Paphos.  Couldn’t believe it we were on our way!!

Now all we had to do was get there and wait for the car and the container to arrive. How difficult could it be?

The Car

Well it was easy the car was a RORO (Roll on Roll Off) the ship (cars only) so a few weeks later  on 26th September we were notified that the car had arrived in Limassol and we could collect it.  Great I thought we have the car now all that remained was to have it registered with Cyprus Plates – of course nothing is ever straight forward – if we didn’t want to pay emissions duty which the Cypriots Charge we have to prove residency in Cyprus otherwise there was going to be a hefty €12,000 charge.  So we had to get our “yellow” residency slips.  That seemed to be the easy part as now we are still working our way through additional information that is required by the ministry of transport so that we do not have to pay this duty as the car is worth less than this charge.  Fingers crossed it will soon be finalised and the car can remain without having to pay this fee.  Otherwise it could be in for another sail across the ocean back to good old Blighty!

The Container

Well the container on the other hand was a different matter.  We should have got it at roughly the same time as the car albeit they were going on different ships, however, after some communication with the the shipping agent when our car arrived we discovered that the container was missing and that the docks had been checked but there was no sign of it – it was lost.  The shipping agent was advised by the shipping company at the docks in Southampton that they thought it was on its way to Singapore but they wouldn’t be able to confirm that until they had unloaded the entire container ship at Singapore on the 4th October.  When Phill told me I couldn’t help but laugh hysterically, all our worldly possessions in a 20 foot container without insurance, lost.  We started to do some research into containers lost at sea and found a number of websites some stating anything from a couple of 100 to 10,000.  The world shipping organisation states however that this figures is grossly overstated.  Phewwww!!

Having arrived in Cyprus it was of course still summer and the temperatures were high even in England when we left so we had arrived in shorts and flip-flops and of course we weren’t prepared for the cooler weather which would start to come in as it got towards December – a little shop was in order to ensure that we had clothes so did an on-line shop through FatFace – and lo and behold the package arrived a couple of weeks into October.  We were ready for the cooler climes to follow. I could tick the delivery system of my list as I love shopping in FatFace.

Anyway back to the container.  The ship destined for Singapore docked and unloaded and sure enough there was our lost container sitting in Singapore waiting for us!  Nothing is ever straight forward of course  – the shipping company asked us where we wanted the container to go – we couldn’t believe our ears – they asked if it should be returned to England or did we still want it in Cyprus – we wanted to say “What do you think?” but we were just so pleased that it had been located.  Unfortunately for us there was no direct route from Singapore to Limassol and we were also advised that it would be simpler if was sent back to the UK to start its journey again.  It was therefore put on the first available ship to the UK and then start its journey once again to Limassol from there.  

We got the container on the 3rd December just in time for our return journey to the UK on the 6th December – at least it was a happy ending and we even had jackets and scarves to wear too!

So here we are today running our property rental company in Coral Bay, living in a country that BBQs can happen every day of the year as the weather is guaranteed to be good unlike the UK.  The roads are quiet and there are no queues in the supermarket.  This laid back island is lovely…..there is so much to learn about the climate in terms of what can and can’t grow and at what times flowers and vegetables can be planted.  

Each season there is something different for us to deal with/manage – from Millipedes in the winter months to cicadas in the summer  Cyprus Cicadas.  We are learning daily – Phill especially is learning so much as he is dealing with pesticides, insecticides and herbicides.  He has been spending lots of his time learning about how the fruit trees grow and what they need to sustain fruit. Likewise how much watering is required as they shouldn’t be over watered or under watered so it is a difficult task to know what each plant requires.  However we will definitely have some fruit this season unless something terrible happens.  Just look at these trees and plants we have growing in the garden now.

We are definitely getting there.  We have around 30 grapefruit this year on the tree, a big change from last year where we only had 2 – the lemon tree has about 80/90 lemons and it continues to flower and produce more fruit each day.  The baby fig tree has at least 8 figs on it and we only got it 4 weeks ago.  The peppers are looking great too – and lovely to be able to pick for cooking.  And of course not forgetting the Basil – it had a shaky moment with too much sun but is now doing great and we love it with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.  

Why not following the blog and see what else we are getting up to as we settle into our life here in Cyprus.  Every day there is just so much to learn – we love it!!

Watch out for our next adventure in Pool Maintenance  and Cypriot Construction!!

———ΨΨΨ———