Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Sowing The Seeds.

We were at a BBQ over the weekend, and someone asked me ' so how are you? what have you been up to'

In my previous life I have no doubt that I would have very quickly responded with something like, ' Oh you know, getting the boss in and out of Kuwait for his latest meetings has been a nightmare, or finalising a holiday booking for a honeymoon couple going to the Maldives, it so sweet she doesn't even know what he has planned, or did a complete restyle on this client, she had hair down to her waiste and we cut it really short and put three diferent colours through it, she looked fantastic and loved it, but the hubby wasn't so sure.'

But in this instance, in my new life, which is much quiter, much calmer, much more focused on TBH and I

When asked ' what have you been up to ?' mmmm I was somewhat flummoxed as I didn't really know what to say, what had I been up, home making, blogging, researching the internet, learning and oh yeah.....planning, making and sowing, but it just didn't seem interesting enough to talk about in that situation at that particular time, then when I came away and thought about it, I wanted to shout hey!!!! Actually I have been really busy achieving what I have spent over 10 years working towards I have been living my dream regardless!!!!! Thanks pj great advice.

When I was a kid in Kenya, we had quite a large vegetable patch, and when I was peckish I often indulged myself in a little digging of carrots from the earth,vaguely rinsing it in under the garden hose, and crunch, biting into all it's crunchiness and goodness, or I could be caught scoffing a whole load of peas fresh out of their pods.... mmmm there really is nothing quite like fresh home grown veggies straight out of the ground.

Many years later I remember working in a salon that was next to a veggie shop that sold peas in their pods, so I went an grabbed some for an afternoon break, one of my colleagues said ' Oooh what are they' I explained and they replied ' wow I didn't realise that is what they looked like, I have only ever seen them in a tin or a freezer bag'.................... that was one of my first realisations that sadly so many people in this day and age have no idea where their food comes from or what might be in it, or how it goes from being a seed in the ground to a beautiful pretty plant giving us the fruit of it's labours.

TBH and I both love cooking, we do it quite differently however, but we both used to watch with envey these chef's who were able to go and pick their produce straight out of the garden, knowing where they come from knowing the good nutritional value that they are going to add to a meal.

We have wanted a veggie patch for years now, we did try a few herbs and tomatoes on our balcony in Dubai, but nothing really materialised, might have had something to do with fall out from the nearby alluminium smelter, but hey, in our plans to leave Dubai one of our criteria was to FINALLY be able to grow some of our own crops. We had planned on buying a small property here in Cyprus with some garden, but as that has not yet materialised, and we are currently in a rental property, so our plans for veggies subsided for a little while..... I got all despondent, thinking that because we were in a rental and it already has every little cacti and ornamental plant in place, then we wouldn't be able to grow our own stuff, that was 4 months ago, before I started to learn, and that is where the internet is so so useful. By researching and learning what others do, on float cabins, on boats, on balconies, and on large farms I got inspired and came up with a brain wave, lets make a veggie box out of old pallets,( which has been done else where).TBH gets loads of pallets at work, they are free and it is a good way to recycle them. Using these means that if we find our dream property or if should we have to move, we can take the veggies with us. So TBH got to work on a box and I will post about the making of it seperately.

That is also the reason that this is quite a long blog, I wanted to share with others the small ideas that I came up with to reuse,and recycle in order to achieve what you have been dreaming of for so long. I pondered over what or how I could make seedling box's............ then I started saving egg boxes. ( Am sure this too has been done before)

I punctured holes into the bottom of them with a knife for drainage,

Then cut them in half and placed the bottoms into the lids

I filled these with soil ( Thanks Mum for the donation) making sure the soil was really moist,

Then I proceeded to dig a small whole in the egg cup full of soil and begun to sow my seeds, Carrots, Cucumbers, Corriander, Corn,Tomatoes, Green Pepper and Rocca, so we are looking forward to a nice healthy home grown, home made salad, how fantastic would that be.

I covered the seeds with soil and gave them another sprinkling of water from my home made recycled watering can, which is basically a 4 litre fabric softener bottle, ( I no longer use fabric softner) I skeward holes into the lid and there you have it a watering can.

I knew I would get totally confused as to what seeds I had put into which box so I cut up a yoghurt carton and made the signs out of that.

It has all taken time, a long time, as with many things in life it has not been an overnight process, and we still have a long road ahead,learing what will grow,learning how to help it grow, it has taken time to think through ideas and put into practise those ideas, it has taken thinking outside our usual box,TBH and I are both creative, but not always practical at putting things together. It has been a learning curve for the two of us, helping each other to re asses, is that really the best way to do it? Perhaps if we did this or perhaps if we did that, and teaching ourselves to stop, complete a process and then move on, and in much of our veggie box/begining to grow, one idea has arisen out of another idea, as the mind works gently to find soloutions.
We have put the veggie box at the front of the property, not overly pretty, and whilst I was stood there knowing that it is the most practical place to have it as the sun will be on it all day long in both summer and winter, but wondering what ' others' would think of our veggie box amongst the ornamental perfectly placed cacti, an elderly gentleman pushing his grandaughter in a wheel chair , walked down the street, he stopped to chat and we discussed my dilema, to which he replied ' it is not whether it looks pretty or whether other people like it or not, you come first and if it serves your purpose, my dear THAT is what really matters.' What wise words! This very kind man not only taught me a lesson that day, he also gave us a very good soloution to how to cover our seedlings to prevent the cats, or Harry the hedgehog from messing up our good work.

TBH managed to make a recycled seeding cover which again I will blog about at a later stage. But the seedlings have been out enjoying the sun's good energy which is helping to make them strong and healthy,

So that hopefully in the not too distant future we will reaping the rewards and bennifits from much hard work,and many years of dreaming. So next time at the BBQ when asked what I have been doing I will feel more confident to say, I have been planning making and sowing the fruits and vegetables of our simple but beautiful life in Cyprus.

By the way, have you tried the salad, it tastes really good.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Don't Take It For Granted

I too had a home in Africa!

I have seen it so many times that it is a part of my life and all too often, especially in times of uncertainty I find myslef quoting from the wonderful Sydney Pollack movie,Out Of Africa.The story of the writer Karen Blixen's (AKA Isak Dinesen) life in Kenya.

I guess it is a family thing, we used to watch it a lot after we left Kenya and when I see it, or hear the music it gives me comfort,clarity, understanding and this week one of the lines from the movie has been very prominent in my mind.

'I had a compass from Denys, ' to steer by' he said, but later it came to me.....that we navigated differently, perhaps he knew as I did not, that the earth was round, so that we did not see too far down the road.'

With the recent knowledge that Alzheimers has decided to join my family I have begun to wonder if it always a good thing to know what the future holds for us or are we sometimes better to go through life taking each day as it comes, cherishing the memories and making the most of the here and now. We seem to spend so much time planning for a future that we cannot plan and in the mean time we forget to live for today, to enjoy the moments that we have with family and friends, to laugh at the good old days and remember special occassions. But most importantly to let loved ones know how much we love them.

Congratulations M & D for 54 years of marriage this week. I am so proud of you!

If you knew what was ahead of you would it change the course of your life? Would you make different decisions? Would you maybe say the things you haven't said, do the things you haven't done, or would you live exactly as you are today? It amazes me that all too often it takes an illness to knock us into gear and appreciate what and who we have around us, why is it that we take so much for granted.

My first day at school.

I know how lucky I have been, to have grown up in a beautiful place, surrounded by nature and wild animals, within a loving caring understanding family who have encouraged and supported me every step of the way. Sure we have had the usual arguments, but generally despite the distances we have been there for each other and I have never taken that for granted. Perhaps that distance has made me more aware of just how important family and friends are.

Now, we, our family have a new and challenging road ahead, one none of us could ever have planned for, but I have no doubt that individually and collectively we will rise to that challenge, taking it a step at a time and climbing the mountain that towers above us.

We will manage what life throws at us as well as finding much to laugh about along the way, knowing that we have each other to lean on. What was that song... the road is long with many a winding turn..... he ain't heavy, he's my brother. We must carry each other when the tough days call.

Don't take life for ganted,live every moment, be consious, life can change in an instant, make the most of every day and be sure to stop and smell the roses, see the beauty in the little things and hug those you love, no matter what, you never know what is around the corner.

Happy weekend to you all from Hay Bale Happiness.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Charalambous The Hedgehog

Or Harry for short.... not sure why we think it is male, maybe it should be called Henrietta or someting but anyway, it came into our garden on Sunday evening, gaily strolled up the garden path right under our legs and followed the path around the house and proceeded to have a good sniff under the Bougainvillea bush in the back. Isn't it the cutest thing you ever saw.

It bought a smile to my face on what was a rather emotional day as we had had some concerning news that we needed to get our heads around and

then despite my efforts of waving an orange sarong outside the window all week Holland go and loose the world cup. I felt exactly like this by the time I went to bed, I wanted to shut down and make the whole world go away.

Do you ever feel like curling up in a ball, looking after the innner you and leaving the spikes out to fight the rest of the world? What a great natural mechanism this little creature has to protect itself.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Pesticide Poisioning and Football Fever

It was an unexpected, but eventful day yesterday, that welled up all sorts of emotions, disbelief, shock, panic,worry, anger,understanding,elation, that is a lot of emotion for one day. It begun when I was happliy going through my usual morning routine of sipping a nice cup of redbush tea whilst checking emails and reading bloggs on the internet. Then I heard quite a comotion going on outside, I went to our bedroom balcony window to investigate and found one of the local farmers, with his tractor outside our front gate, with an assistant carrying a hose connected to a spray gun. As I tried to establish in broken English what they were doing, the assistant pointed at me to close my window. In a state of confusion not really knowing what was going on I did as I was told and they then proceeded to spray the palm tree that is outside our bedroom window with some horrific pesticide............................................ as the wind was blowing quite strongly and the windows in the rest of the house hadn't been closed for this unknown event, the pesticide drifted on the wind across the front of the property and down the alley at the side and in through the side bedroom window and the window for the snug.

While I stood there in utter disbelief that this had just happened with NO prior warning what so ever, the farmer and assistant proceeded to spill even more pesticide across the road, whislt they re-loaded their hose and went on their merry way down the street to the next palm tree.

Panic!!!!!! We have 4 cats, one of which already has no tail and no back right leg due to previous accidents, lives in doors and was thankfully in the spareroom on the uneffected side of the house,so I kept here where she was, but where were the others. 2 were oblivious to the whole situation asleep in the kitchen but the 3rd Mischief was no where to be seen. The mist from the pesticide filled the outside air as I went on my mission to find her, and there she was, hiding by the pump house wretching from the acrid stench that was pollouting her little lungs. I grab her and got her inside, thankfully once behind closed doors, she calmed down and began to eat, drank some water, and snuggled up on her usual mat, leaving me sick with worry as to what effect it will have on her long term.

We don't have children and our cats get all the love and devotion that we would give children if we had them, this made me wonder what on earth would I have done if this had happened and my young baby had been sleeping quietly in the fresh mornig breeze on the patio when this cloud of chemicals came flowing into it's lungs????????

After some research, it transpires that there is a plague of Palm Weevils that have recently arrived on the island and are killing palme trees everywhere.

Surely there must be an EU regulatioin somewhere that if an area is going to be sprayed residents should get prior warning in order to get our children, pets, laundry etc out of harms way????
I spent the rest of the morning trying to dilute whatever lay on the garden paths, windowsills and in the middle of the road in the hope that neighbourhood children, cats, wildlife, will not get contaminated when they go outside again, though I fear that my efforts will be in vain and in the mean time I managed to get an awful head ache and felt quite nauseaus from what I was breathing in myself.

Palm trees cost ALOT of money so I fully understand that people want the 'weevils ' exterminated, but is this really the only way? Ok the pesticide will kill the weevils but it will kill so many other things too including the local wildlife. I spins off through the entire food chain, and last night when we were sitting having our evening drink out the front watching the shooting stars, and a tiny little hedgehog came rustling through the garden I worried that it would be picking up the dead beatles that had been exterminated that morning and now it too would carry this chemical around in it's small little body, then the beautiful big resident owl appeared on the telegraph pole, watching with beady eyes this morsel that scurried beneath him, and I realised that would also end up being poisioned if it caught the hedgehog, that had eaten the beatles that had died of pesticide poisioning.
It ends up in our food chain too, so much for our ORGANIC DATE CHUTNEY that we were hoping to produce, thankfully we have not yet started our veggie patch else that would also be contaminated, but what gets me most about all of this is that we had no choice, it was just done on private land without any interaction with the residents at all. I thought I had left that sort of society in Dubai, it is not quite what I expected from an EU country. .............. But EU fever finally lifted my dispondent spirits towards the end of the evening when across the valley we hear ' goooaaal Holland'..... so we rushed inside to read the comentry of the last 20 minutes of The Nederlands Vs Urugay semi final, YES!!!! I finally got TBH interested in footy! Despite being Dutch he is not usually into the football at all, but he actually had a smile on his face at the idea that his country will play in the final of the World Cup. We don't have a Dutch flag but I have hung an orange sarong from the balcony, just incase anyone in the village wonders who we are backing, and am hoping I can persued TBH to go and watch the game on Sunday.

Family and friends I urge you to be wearing anything that you have that is Orange on Sunday.

Come on Holland!!!!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Make Your Own Footsteps

Wednesday evening found me tossing and turning in my sleep, listening to the dogs barking across the valley and watching the moon move gently across the sky, my tummy full of butterflies and my head full of senarious at the idea of going to THE BIG CITY. You see yesterday I joined TBH in Penny Peugeot on his trip to work to sign some documents in Nicosia. It was not the signing of the documents that worried me, but the meeting of his work colleagues and boss, as we did the signing in the office, and the thought of killing time in a shopping mall until lunch when TBH could take me home............

I should not have feard meeting 'the team' they were all very friendly, including 'THE BOSS'. It is a family run business, built up over 40 years and I was greeted with true Cypriot hospitality ,a real warm and friendly atmosphere,the boss's lovely mother offering me tea, it was good to put faces to names that TBH has mentioned over dinner some eveings and to see where he works, get a bit more of a feel for the job that he does and the place in which he works, I always think it is nicer to have an image in ones mind of where someone speaks, emails or skypes you from. It is some how comforting and gives a reality to the empty void of cyber space.

So, after the signing I was droppped at THE MALL. I have never been a very good window shopper.

The idea of peering through shop windows longing for something inside never seemed very satisfying to me, I am the sort of person who likes to go get what I need and get out as soon as possible. Since I left the big buzz malls of DXB and began the jorney of a simpler life here in CY,I found myself walking around yesterday questioning how many different styles of dresses are there these days, tunic dress, maxi dress, summer dress, 2 way dress, special ocassion dress, gosh there was a time when you only ever bought a dress for a ' special ocassion' and the rest of the time you made your own. As I walked past the beauty counters in a famous department store I pondered, how many toxin filled foundations can one put on one's face at any given time, only for it to run and smudge during the heat of these hot summers days, leaving your skin unable to breath, forcing you to cleanse it once you get home with yet another designer cleansing product. And what do we really need with all this STUFF???????? Believe me, there was a time when in one particular store I would have 'popped in' and walked out with a trolly load of STUFF that on impulse I thought would make my home better, more cosy, more trendy,more luxurious, but recently I have come to realise that this follow the sheep menatailty.............

only heards us all into one direction taking us deaper and deaper into the media driven tunnel of buy buy buy,leading us to believe that buying is the source of enrichment and enlightement, buy this and it will lead you to happiness and contentment. How long does that retail therapy feeling really last, before what you bought ends up in a land fill ouzing toxins for future generations to discover whilst playing on a piece of waste ground.
Happiness and contentment come from with in, from being around and with those you love and from understanding what and who you really are, being on your own journey, carrying as little luggage as possible. I was delighted to find that over the past few months my mindset has changed enough that as I walked around the store, with every item I picked up I asked myself is it a want or a need. I left the store with nothing but a few photos, as the saying goes, 'take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footsteps' I was glad I had made my own footsteps through the day yesterday. Facing my fears of meeting new people, being in the city and out of my comfort zone, going in a different direction to the sheep.