Friday, 23 December 2011

Happy Christmas

What a lovely surprise, my gorgeous neighbour came round last night to deliver this beautiful homemade Christmas cake and cookies. How utterly wonderful to live in a place where people still value these sorts of gifts. I was really touched.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and happy time.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas Menu

We had some friends over the other day for dinner, and I really wanted to give the eveing a festive feel, but didnt not want to duplicate the meal of Christmas day,I wanted to produce something a bit different,something that you would not really see in a restaurant here in Cyprus, then.... I found these gorgeous venison steaks.

We played around with ideas and this was the menu that between us we came up with.

Merry Christmas!

Welcome to our winter wonderland
Wild Mushroom Pate
A blend of wild mushrooms, garlic and thyme.
Main Course
Venison Melange
Slow stewed New Zealand Venison in a plum balsamic jus served on a bed of parsnip puree, accompanied by sautéed red cabbage and peas.
Very Berry Pantone and Cream
Warm crème de cassis berries ladled over a light Italian Christmas sponge and drizzled with cream.
Cheese board
A selection of cheese and biscuits
Coffee and Liqueur

We definately had a wonderful eveing and by the sounds of the lovely words of encouragement that we got from our guets the next day, so did they.....................................................................

What a beautiful home you have and how wonderfully you maintain it.You put our place to shame.The dinner was wonderful and it was so nice to see another couple working as a team like we do.You two are so in tune you are a pleasure to watch.Your table was beautifully laid and the food did you credit.The wine was very complimentary and over all the evening was an absolute delight.Thank you for making us so welcome.

Love the 2 Jays.

Here's hoping that you have a Very Merry Christmas!


Hey Dad,

This one is for you, for all the joy and beauty and colour that you brought into our lives.

Friday, 16 December 2011

My Grandfather was a wonderful artist, he used to do sculptures and calligraphy, but he also used to paint the most beautiful pictures in watercolour and oil, so when he died I felt compelled to have some of the tools with which he used to create those beautiful paintings and I had them framed and they hang proudly on our lounge wall along with some of his paintings.

I thought a lot of my Grandfather and having his brushes and paints around me gave me comfort and I realised that I had wished I had asked him to teach me to paint, I wish I had found the time back in the late 80's/90's to sit with him in his room lost in his own world of imagination and colour. I didn't.... but inspired by his things one day not long after he had passed away in 98 I sat down, got out his travel kit of watercolours and asked him to show me.................................................... This is what came out.

By no means spectacular, but I was really surprised to find that somewhere deep inside me there was a vision for shape and colour and listening to Pink Floyd's Division Bell brought this on to paper.

I can't draw to save my life and what you see here is just childs play, experimenting, as I did here when I remembered the shapes on my sarongs when I was traveling through Asia, and the lovely Aboriginal art in Australia.

I would love to be able to really paint, you know do landscapes and scenery, capturing the sunlight on a cobbled Cypriot street, or grasping the movement of poppies blowing in a field at spring time, but unfortunately that just isn't there, but, I do quite like this one that I did of sunset from Jumeirah Beach in Dubai. Seems like the paintbrush had a mind of it's own that day and just kept on swirling.

Later,with a bit of extra time on my hands, just before leaving Dubai in 2009, inspired by our trips to Cyprus and having been given two lovely Cypriot ornaments a Cat and a Mouflon, from friends who have property in Polis, I sat down one day and created this...............................

Cypriot Cat

Some what psychedelic, but full of cheer and happiness of an October day on the island.

Mouflon in Paphos Forest

Then after a trip through the Paphos forest, into the Cedar Valley and on to the Kykkos Monastery, on a day wheN we saw lots of wild Moflon, I produced this and gave it to my parents for a present. I thought it would go into the back of a wardrobe never to be seen again, but my Mum has it proudly hanging on her wall. I guess she is being kind to me.

Since then the paints and brushes have been packed up in boxes and like the rest of our stuff, has been moved from pillar to post. I haven't found the time nor had the inclination to get them out again, which is a real shame because one of our reasons for choosing Cyprus to live in was that when we used to come here on holiday the colours and brightness and change of seasons inspired both od us so much in life. So over the past 2 and a half years, the paints and the canvas have been tucked away in boxes in a corner somewhere. But every time I look out from our terrace across the incredible view that we have, there has been a niggle inside me to get out those brushes. I have ingnored that niggle as I so wish that I could paint the view, but sadly that will never be the case.

However, the other day it was as if Grandpa and Dad had suddenly walked in the room and kicked me into action. Something told me to forget wether I am good at it or not, what is important is ' ENJOYING' what you do in life. Having the time and making the time to do the things that come from within, to allow ones mind,imagination to sence and feel the shapes and colours of life, to be able to express oneself in whatever way one feels comfortable and to release and understand ones emotion. So on Wednesday I spent the entire day engrosed in this.

Masai in Amboseli

Kwaheri Bwana Tembo

Kwaheri Bwana Tembo is now in the making, I hope to get it finished over the next week or so. It is a shame, don't you think that so often in life it takes the death of a loved one to give us inspiration,to make us do, maybe their passing allows us to open our minds and realise that one should live life for who and what we are.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend just being who and what you are. Enjoy!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Vines, Leaves and Mesphila

The last of the grapes and leaves were furociously blown off next doors vine in the big winds that we had last week

The roof of our new shed was covered as was the whole of the coutyard and I spent a fair few hours sweeping it into piles only to have to stop for a down pour of what I can only describe as slush puppy rain. The temperatures have dropped quite dramatically here in the mountians and recently at night it has been as low as 3 degrees Brr.........

Then Nico's got to work picked the last of the grapes, it was supprising how many there were and stripped the whole vine bare.

Thank fully back in late October the Mesphila ( Loquot ) tree came into bud

And now it's fragrant blossom fills the air of the courtyard.

And falls like snowflakes onto the stone adding to the feeling of cozyness in the countdown to Christmas.

The bees hum around the flowers duitifully pollinating so hopefully we will have a good harvest of fruit in the spring.

Capsicum Cat

We missed out 'AGAIN' ! there have been plenty of Capsicum on our bush this year, and we managed to have ONE in our salad in the early part of the summer........................

And when we first started to find half eaten capsicum on the balcony I thought that the tree rats had climbed the wall to steal them, either that or the rats had jumped from the neighbours tree but that is a fair distance away, we were very perplexed as to what was happening.....................................

But then we found our little theif, caught him red handed.

It is our tom cat Impi who has had the lot!!!!! Munched his way through the entire harvest and took the last of the season from bush right in front of our eyes. Along with nicking pieces of Cucumber, and running off with bits of pumpkin I think we can safely say that this one has no problem with his 5 a day.......................

Friday, 9 December 2011

A glass of bubbles for my friend Carlo please.

Our trip back to Cyprus after Dad's funeral was interesting to say the least. TBH was booked on Wed 09th November, departing Manchester 09.15 arrival Larnaca 16.00. So knowing that I was going to be in a rather emotional state I went on line and booked myself on the same flight, Wed 09 Nov, dep Man 09.15 arr Lca 16.00, sorted..... not. But naturally my CC had already been debited and my E ticket issued, when I realised that the flight number showing on my ticket was different than that showing on TBH'S.

MMMMMMMM so I called the airline in question who's agent informed me that ' yes, there were two flights of their airline departing at the same time on the same date from Manchester to Larnaca ZB 640 and ZB 552! But she said ZB 640 is full.' TBH was booked on ZB 640..............................

Problem........ it didn't tell me that on the internet, oh no it just gave me the one option, ZB 552 so basically TBH and I were booked and had tickets to fly Wed 09th November from Manchester to Larnaca departing 09.15 arriving 16.00, BUT would have been on different aircraft!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So I had to cancel TBH's booking and re-book him onto my flight because that had room and that cost us 60 Pounds. Then as TBH is 6 foot 5 inches in height, we paid for the extra leg room. Great, we were now both booked on ZB 552. Hurray.

However,we also wanted to take with us a violin of my Grandfather's ( he died 13 years ago) that is sentimentally very very precious to me. We figured that we would take it as hand baggage, but then suddenly thought that it was not ' THE RIGHT DIMENSIONS' so I called the airline and sure enough they informed me that no I could not take it as hand luggage, but I could put it in the hold for 25 ponds. No! screamed TBH it is too precious to go in the hold and it will get badly dammaged, so I asked the agent what other option I had....... ' You will have to pay for a seat'.... what I said a seat a whole seat.... for the violin???? are you serious? ' YES' replies the agent, right I said so how much will that cost me, ' 124 pounds, oh and the extra for the leg room cause you are in extra leg room seats'................................................................................

And so Carlo Storioni was booked on ZB 552 Wed 09th November Departing Manchester 09.15 Arriving Larnaca 16.00 with extra leg room seat, BUT he wasn't allowed to take handbaggage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, we paid a whole seat for the violin and were not allocated a handbaggage allowance, but it doesn't end there, oh no.....

Of to Manchester we go and check in on Wed 09th Nov on ZB 552 and the check in guy says, ' oh you are lucky your flight is pretty empty , only 32 pasengers on board'

Really I reply behind a gritted smile, well there would have been plenty of room for my friend Carlo here then wouldn't there, as I hand him the violins ticket and he drops his head in shame as he issues a boarding card for the violin.

I was also carrying some of my fathers ashes, thankfully we didn't need a seat for them , however it had to be declared at the security gate so as not to have been arrested for drug smuggling. So...... with Dad boxed up in the wheely bin, and grandpa ( AKA CARLO STORIONI) wrapped neatly in bubble wrap and cradled under TBH's arm we made our way through to the final depature gate.

As we waited we could hear the ground staff preping the flight and saying ' yeah don't know why they have put two flights on, I mean ZB 552 has only got 31 Passengers on board.'

Yes I want to scream, 31 passengers and the 32nd seat is for the violin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can rest assured that Carlo Storioni remaind seated in his extra leg room seat through out the duration of the flight with his seatbelt tightly fastened................................................

Oh the joys of travel in the 21st century!

ZB 640 flew parallel to us, but I think we touched down before her.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Hey Dad,
I saw you..... The shooting star that raced across the valley and shone Sooo bright across the dark night skies when WE! finally arrived back in Cyprus this evening.
We have all had a tough 3 weeks and are exhausted from our physical, mental and emotional journey.
Letting you go is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
I miss you so very much....................................................

'When all has come to pass,

The storm has breathed it's last,

and the rain...., has washed their fears away

Love will fall on us all

and we can smile again.'

Whispers in a dream. Hayley Westernra.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Kwaheri Bwana Tembo

Hi Dad,
I am sitting here in your room with all your things around me and I am comforted by that. I have had to borrow your dressing gown as I didn't have room for mine in my hand luggaged that I haistily packed to get here on Saturday after you had suffered a massive heart attack. I love wearing it, it makes me feel like you are wrapping your arms around me, and making me feel safe and warm like you always did when I was a child. I raced to be with you Daddy and you must have heard me when I was talking to you on the flight, casue you pulled through for me and gave me the chance to be with you and hold you and love you and the smile that you gave us when you finally woke was priceless. Thank you so much for being so brave and so strong and sacrificing everything right up until your last breath so that I could have my chance to say goodbye.You have been the best father anyone could ever ask for and I am so grateful to you for everything that you have ever done and given to me over our lifes journey together. No matter the vast oceans between us, you have always been there for me encouraging and supporting me to be the woman you always knew I could become. Mum is being really brave and strong, you would be so proud of her......... she is getting everything done and is being really efficient even though her heart is broken.
You will be amazed by the support and wishes that are coming in for you from all over the world, from Dubai, Cyprus,Turkey, Bermuda, Australia, Holland, South Africa, the love is being sent and people are thinking of you. You were a very special man Bwana Tembo and you touched many peoples lives.
It is 24 hours since you passed away and I can tell you that we have all missed you every second of that time, as we will miss you every second of every day for the rest of our lives. You will always be in our thoughts and our hearts.
Kwaheri Bwana Tembo, Assanti Sana.....................................

Friday, 30 September 2011

Special Delivery

My Neighbour called out from over the wall ' ARE YOU THERE?' ' yes ' I replied ' Open the front door, Maria is here'

Ooooooh I was so excited!!! On request my gorgeous neighbour had called Maria who's husband owns a goat farm just outside the village...... and there all bunddled up in it's little package was my very own special delivery. My hands wrokd imapitiently to undo the knot on the bag........

...... and then it was free ' Hello Home made Halloumi ' I shouted with glee, mmmm the smell of the fresh mint in the bag was devine too, how awsome is this, yummy fresh halloumi chese from goats who meander through the nearby fields, made by the fair hands of a fellow villager.

As instructed I carefully removed each piece and placed it lovingly and gently into the ' Halloumi pot' my neighbour kindly given me.

And poured the remaining liquid from the bag over it, to keep it moist but it also makes it more salty too.

We haven't yet grilled any on the BBQ however, it did arrive just in time for our recent guests to enjoy it thinly sliced on a bed of fresh Cypriot tomatoes covered in fresh home grown basil and local organic olive oil......mmmmm what an absoloute treat!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Africa Ambiance Night

Electronic Invitation

We had a few people to thank for their kindness, generosity and hospitality over the recent months and weeks, so we decided to throw a dinner party last Saturday. TBH and I agreed on an African theme and I set about creating an invitaion. I really wanted to use some of the wonderful photographs that TBH had taken during our visit's to Africa, however I did not have time to make, print and send them, so I taught myself how to make and electronic invitation using microsoft publisher. Simple for some, but it took me a whole day, however I was really pleased with the results.

Then I put my head down to create a menu, I wanted a meal that was going to incorporate a mix of different African flavours. So I searched the internt and re read my African cook books and finally came up with this.....

Click on the photo and you will be able to see the menu.

So last Saturday I emmersed myself for the day in the kitchen grinding spices and chopping onions and tantalising my tastebuds with inviting aromas wafting through the kitchen. I was rather nervous as I had not made some of the dishes before and I am a bit of a stickler for cooking what I know I can do, but it was good to push the boundaries a little and step outside of the comfort zone.

I used Bouganvillia to decorate the table.

We prepared the house with the usual candles and solar lights and Tbh made sure there was lots of wonderful African tunes on our Ipod, Habib Kote, Johnny Clegg, Vieux Farka Toure to name a few.

The Africa Day Bed

All good lodges in Africa greet yu after your long hot journey with a cold towel and a welcome drink, and Tbh came up with teh idea to do the same. So we soaked some face clothes in water and kept them cool in the fridge in a tupple ware box soaking in eau de colone giving a wondrful refreshing start to our guest's evening. the welcome drink was a Tigoni Teaser, made of Passion fruit and Papaya juice with a dash of rum and we served freshly roasted cashew nuts sitting on the terrace enjoying the view.

Stavaravouni in the distance.

The evening flowed well as did the conversation by eased the flow of South African Chennin blanc and Pinotage which we were able to get from a local supermarket.

The dinner table.

The ingredients were not extraveganet, nor were the decorations, but with a little imagination and a lot of love in the gift of giving food, I hope that our guests had an enjoyable evening. We had a great time doing it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Day Bed Bench

We are increadibly lucky to have a large terrace with a beautiful view. Mid afternoon the wind picks up and by early evening as the sun sets behind us, the verandah is one of the best places to be during the sizzling summer heat. ( we don't have AC) So after having searched our minds for ideas, we decided we needed a day bed out there. Somewhere to lounge so to speak and to bring a certain Arabic/Swahili element to the balcony.Initially we pumped up a single blow up bed that we had, but the cats had a wee argument on there and managed to puncture it.

Then I went on line looking for second hand wooden day beds, and found nothing in Cyprus appart from the very expensive ' modern PLASTIC wicker' which would not really match with the house. Added to this we really wanted to reuse and recycle. We went to the local skip to see if we could find anything there that we could make it with, but had no luck............

So I was delighted when TBH said ' I have some pallets at work we could cut them to size and use them' and so that is exactly what he did........

Thankfully Tbh's colleague helped him with the design and the idea began to take shape.

Then we used wood glue to stick the pieces for the legs together.

And weighed them down with stones to stick whilst we put everything in place ready to be put together.

If you click on the photograph you will see that we managed to get 3 EUR stamps for all 3 legs. I thought it was quite appropriate being as we were practiacally making it for free aside from a lot of determination hard graft and sweat. ( building furniture in 33 degrees heat is hot work)

Tbh, was fortunate enough to have been able to borrow some tools from work and hence managed to screw all the pieces together and hey presto the Day bed bench was made.

We threw on a sleeping bag to give it some softness along with a throw and some cushions that we had tucked away in storage.As you see one member of the family immediately made himself very much at home. It was a great feeling to have imagined something and to have thought ' out side the box' so to speak to find a way to make it happen using recycled materials. We will try to treat the wood before the rains come and intend to use it as a plant stand during the winter months.

What do you think? Have you ever made furniture from pallets? I would love to know your ideas of what can be done using recycled materials to make furniture. Leave your comments in the comment box below.