February. 24th.

As i suggested yesterday, today will be a long one. Firstly we had a 4.5 hour flight to Heathrow and then another 4 hour waiting time for our BA connection to Las Vegas. The flight to Vegas was aother 10 + hours, so we arrived at 6.30 in the evening local time, which was in fact the time we got our taxi from the hotel, but if you calculate in the 9 hour time difference, you can quickly see why I said a long day. I did say to Joan, that we might have been better going fron Ercan to Heathrow, staying there for the night and then getting a flight to LA the next day. Should have though of that earlier!

We were definitely knackered when we got to the hotel and unpacked, but still wanted something to eat. Airline food is not really my idea of gourmet eating, but they do thir best with the facilities available. We found just around the corner a Chinese eat in or take away place and have to say that their huge shrimps, coated in a honey and walnut coating, were absolutely delicious and you had a choice of either noodles or rice. We went back to our own hotel to find a bar for a couple of glasses of wine. A very nice way to close off the day, but both of us where glad to see a big comfy bed.

 

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February 23rd

Today we left TRNC for our long awaited trip to the USA. Starting time was 0415 am from home as we needed to leave the Toyota at Tiga Trading for service and airport parking And get the 0730 flight to Istanbul. We had booked in to an airport hotel just for one night as we are off again on at 9 o`clock with BA to Heathrow.

We had all the detail of the booking printed out, found ourselves the only taxi driver who could not find a 5 star hotel only 2,5 miles from the airport. He had to stop twice to ask the way but eventually we got there and I Ihad to ask the consiege to argue for us as I was not prepared to pay for all his wasted waiting time. Eventually he settled on the price that the conciege advised him was correct, but you might guess that he got no tip.

Because of the early start we had most of the day to waste in Istanbul, so guess what the boss decided we should do, get a taxi to one of the big shopping malls and waste time wandering round and drinking coffee. Lucky me managed to suggest that the place to do shopping was in the US, so I got away with it. We got back to the hotel mid afternoon and opted to eat then as tomorrow will be another early start and a very, very long day.

Oh yes, almost forgot to say the you might have to wait for pictures until we gat to Randy’s place next week as downloading onto this Android tablet from my old Nikon camera seems to be difficult, the only way I have discovered is to go through my desktop. If anybody has a better idea please send me an e-mail.

 

 

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February 19th

Four days ago we had hailstones making the ground look as if it had been snowing, today we have the real thing. We woke this morning to fairly bright sunshine but it was b… cold. We had been warned that we might get a couple of cold days to come, but then just as we were contemplating breakfast down came the snow. Maybe this is not the time to comment on the lack of winter fuel allowance again, but it is difficult to resist.

Warm weather plants !!!

Warm weather plants !!!

Real snow coming down.

Real snow coming down.

Time to get the skis out maybe ?

Time to get the skis out maybe ?

This morning at just after 10 o’clock I went down to Girne for a church council meeting and it is very obvious that locals have no clue  about these weather conditions and driving. They are still coming around corners a high speed and then realising that they are losing control, if it wasn’t so dangerous it would be funny, I actually saw one guy drop his I-Phone in panic.

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February 17th

This afternoon Joan was busy cooking pancakes for the Pancake Evening Quiz and Supper in the church hall. Another of those things that are fun to go to and raise essential money for church funds. Without these sort of events, organised by volunteers we would struggle to keep our heads above water at St Andrews. The evening was a good success but it is a great shame that many of our regular congregation do not attend these events.

I was on a table with Roger, Barbara and Sheila, whilst Joan joined Christine and Joan to make a table up short by the 4 man team. We ate pancakes stuffed with chicken and mushroom, prepared by Geraldine.

Looks like Roger was just stuffing his mouth when the camera clicked.

Looks like Roger was just stuffing his mouth when the camera clicked.

At the end of the evening the quiz success was totaled up and winners and losers given prizes. Our team came someplace in the top half but not on the winners rostrum.

The winning team with their bottles of wine.

The winning team with their bottles of wine.

Unfortunately the team with Joan on got the wooden spoons.

Unfortunately the team with Joan on got the wooden spoons.

 

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February 14th

Another Saturday in paradise…..Take a look at these pics after the huge storm we had during the night.

Take a look at this pile of hailstones.

Take a look at this pile of hailstones

Looks just like snow
Looks just like snow

Big round hailstones, no wonder it was noisy during the night.

Big round hailstones, no wonder it was noisy during the night.

 

Next doors pool, which I emptied last Saturday

Next doors pool, which I emptied last Saturday

 

Last night, with the usual Friday gang, we went to the Veni Vici restaurant here in Lapta. we have not been here for some time and I said to Joan we should go more often as the food was lovely. They do an “Early Bird” special, where you get two courses for 25 TL, plus of course your drinks, but Joan and I never seem to eat that early, which is wrong, so maybe we will take them up on that soon. Nadine, one of the owners, collared me as e were leaving because some time ago I criticised them for charging 12 TL for a basket of bread, when you can buy a whole loaf for 1.25TL, probably a bit too critical because the food is superb.

Items of interest in the Saturday Cyprus Today. One headline suggests a crackdown on UK health care. This suggests that patients will be required to prove their nationality when registering with a UK GP in a new cost cutting exercise, which could affect expats living in TRNC. Pilot initiatives will require GPs to demand a valid European Health Insurance Card showing residency in either the UK or another EU country. The whole thing stinks. We have paid for years and years into a system but even if we were in UK on holiday we would not be entitled to GP services in UK, whilst migrant workers go into UK, get an address, sometimes with the rent being paid by the state, and can register and claim full health care. A bit like being denied heating allowance because last September it was warm here. (See pics above)

The TRNC Civil Services Trade Union is calling for a stoppage between the hours of 9 am and 3.30 pm on Monday next. This is about pay and working hours and you need to be aware of the extent of trade union control here in TRNC, bit like to old days in UK. The workers should be aware of the heavy criticism of the hours they spend just sitting around drinking coffee, getting inflated wages and pensions for doing very little work

An expat couple have gone back to the UK this weekend as a result of losing badly in one of the Gary Robb scandals. They had paid a £52 K deposit on one of his houses, lodged their contract with the land registry and paid stamp duty on their purchase back in 2004. Their property was auctioned off in 2013 for 510,000 TL (around £145,000) because  Gary Robb had failed to pay the original land owner. They have now been told that the original auction was “normal” and they were not entitled to any compensation despite their contract being registered in line with the 2008 Estate Agents Law. So there is a lesson in there. Buyer beware, if you are not Turkish Cypriot and something goes wrong, it would appear that you are granted no legal rights. The decision is what can only be called a travesty of justice and despite all the TRNC governments promises that they will sort out the property problems, they have now decreed that the buyers, in this case, should be liable for the vendors tax debts. That cannot be legally right, anyplace in the world, except the TRNC.

The foundations have this week, been laid for a massive Ercan Airport expansion. An existing runway extension, a second runway capable of handling the big 300 seater planes and a huge new terminal, are to be constructed. The upgrade is due to be completed within 3 years. Somebody clearly knows more about what is going to happen here and the comments during our meeting last Tuesday, seem more valid than ever.

 

 

 

 

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February 12th

For those of you interested on Cyprus weather, this week has been wet,wet,wet usually accompanied by thunder and lightening. add to this the fact that it is very cold, at least very cold for Cyprus. Today it is currently 4 degrees. Maybe it is time to inform the UK government and suggest they rethink their decision to stop paying the heating allowance.

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February 10th

Today at 11 pm there was a Menmeet gathering in the church hall. This was a full house meeting because the speaker was Ergun Olgen – The senior Turkish Cypriot peace negotiator. His talk was extremely interesting a gave us a lot more incite into the problems of negotiating with the Greek Cypriots for what would be a Federal State here. It was abundantly clear, just as we have always felt, that the Greek Cypriots want only one thing, total control and governing rights. Mr Olgun is of the opinion that 2015 is a critical year and without any defined solution it is likely that, by default, we will end up a divided island with independent governments. This of course has to be Internationally recognised so that Turkish Cypriots get what they currently do not have, the right to trade with the rest of the world, the right to travel and all those other rights currently denied to the Turkish Cypriots. Interesting times!

I was on my way back from this meeting and the subsequent lunch at The George in town, when Pat called and invited us to dinner, together with Roger and Sheila. A very enjoyable chicken casserole with mash and veggies. Of course we all took wine so that was enjoyed as well.

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February 8th

Sunday so church visit, but this time with a difference. The service was conducted by Archdeacon Rob Jones, who was like a breath of fresh air with a totally impromptu sermon and he even got the congregation to sing in Arabic. A very enjoyable morning and we just went home to enjoy a relaxing afternoon mostly in front of the TV.

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February 7th

Spent some time today emptying the swimming pool belonging to our next door neighbours. David & Christine decided, after having a pool built, that they did not use it very much so were not prepared to pay constant maintenance so actually had it emptied some few years ago. The problem at the moment is the considerable amount of rain we have had so the pool was filling rapidly and we are concerned that the cats would venture down the steps. It took some few hours to get this water out but luckily there is a pipe laid on to the ravine next to us so the water pumps out there.

You can see here just how much water has collected.

You can see here just how much water has collected.

The problem we now have is that the newspaper forecasts a whole week of rain, so maybe I am going to have to do it again when we get back from America. Must find out when David is coming over next.

The headline in today’s paper suggests that the dangerous stray is still roaming the streets. Remember last week I told you about Bill Tutty dying after being bitten by this stray. Apparently he died from septicaemia as a result of this bite, although it is also being suggested that he did not seek the right sort of treatment. However it would seem that the local municipality is responsible for sorting out the problem of stray dogs and our’s here in Lapta is not addressing the problem, but making lots of excuses as to why. It is time that the problem of stray’s was addressed across the TRNC.

THe four Palestinians who caused damage around the harbour last week, due they said to being so drunk they did not know what they where doing, have this week paid compensation of in excess of 25,000 TL. Quite a sum of money.

Oops problems with an English owned company here. A customer has taken out a quarter page advert, inviting others who have had problems with solar panel installation company based in Karakum to meet with him and his lawyer at a restaurant in Karakum on Tuesday at 12 noon. Sounds like a shoot out at the OK coral.

According to the report, the new Greek PM is pushing for reunification of the island. What’s the betting that it is only on their terms and I would have thought he had more serious problems in dealing with the EU. I read in the press yesterday that he is demanding 120 billion euros compensation from Germany for, as he termed it, damage done. Can’t see Mrs Merkel agreeing to that one.

This evening we went to the Mandarin Oriental having been invited by the owner after a disastrous start last week. We met up with Anne and David again and we all ordered spare ribs as a starter and where impressed when they came up so quickly and where quite delicious. Unfortunately we then waited almost 40 minutes for our main course and then despite ordering 4 fried rice dishes only received three and my Tempura Prawns and Joan’s stir fried seafood dish had mind blowing amounts of very hot chilly and we deliberately asked for mild. He still needs to do some work on things but hopefully he will get it right as it is a super idea and much needed.

Impressive entrance to the Mandarin Oriental

Impressive entrance to the Mandarin Oriental

Joan with Anne & David, studying the menu.

Joan with Anne & David, studying the menu.

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February 6th

Joan is still struggling to throw off this bad cold and chesty cough, so she opted to stay away from the Layabouts evening. We had all agreed to go to Morellis where they have a nice warm central fire and good food. The warm fire is essential at the moment as it still gets quite cold in the evenings.

Morelli’s is very good despite having to drive almost into Girne, but both Roger and I chose the beef stroganoff and declared it to be good, not the best we have ever had, but never the less very good. They have a good extensive menu there with things like duck on it, which is unusual here. So all in all a very enjoyable evening but I hope Joan feels fit for tomorrow evening as we are back at the Mandarin Oriental to see if David has managed to recover his staff situation and produce some nice food.

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