Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sam's Special Spaghetti Sauce

Sam's home grown beef tomatoes.

Sam is the son of my dear friend Deb, and when we left Mazatos Sam was starting to show an interest in growing his own veg. So we donated our veggie box to him as it was too big to fit on our terrace. He has subsiquently planted loads of other things in his garden and has become really good at producing different varieties of Tomatoes, he also has cucumbers, maize,strawberries,spring onions, lettuce, corriander and basil.

Sam's home grown spring onions

Most lad's of his age,15 would not even be aware that veg comes from anything other than a can or a freezer bag so I find it really encouraging that he has shown such an interest and is being so successful with it. So I was delighted the other day when his Mum passed by for a cuppa and gave me a basket full of goodies from Sam's garden. What a beautiful gift.......

Our herb garden.

So I got to work, picked some basil from our herb garden, the basil Sam gave me I am going to see if I can root it and add it to our collection. Then I blanched the tomatoes until the skins split, then peeled them and chopped them. I chopped the spring onions and diced a normal white onion and some garlic, sauted this in some olive oil.

All the lovely ingredients.

I added the tomatoes, brown sugar, worctershire sauce, and salt, let it simmer to reduce down.

Home made tomato sauce.

In the evening TBH boiled up some brown pasta and grated some parmasan, re heated the sauce and hey presto.... dinner was served.

Sam's special spaghetti sauce.

What better way to end a day than sitting on the terrace watching the clouds cast long shadows across the distant mountains enjoying a meal of home grown, home cooked food.


Friday, 15 July 2011

Saving Cyprus Energy

We should all be concerving energy in order to help save this planet for future generations, and yes every little bit does help, and yes you can make a difference.

Solar lights up the staircase.

The disater on July 11th in which the Vassiliko power station was destroyed, is a prime example of just how easy it is for us to be thrown back to basics with out electricity and without water. However, it should not take something like this for people to realise that we MUST conserve energy. The world is rapidly running out of these resources and we simple cannot sustain this way of life.

Unfortunately Cyprus is very much behind the times in this instance, with energy saving only just on the frindges of conversation, talked about more recently beacause of this disaster. But in a country where there is very little water, but where solar power is in abundance to heat water, one would have thought that, it would be more aware of energy conservation.

Instead I freaquently see patios being hosed down with good drinking water, cars being washed and hosepipes gushing water down the streets, airconditioning units running day and night. TV'S balring out whilst people are asleep in front of them.

The fact is Electricity in Cyprus is the most expensive in Europe and with us now having to buy at an even higher price from outside sources, we will definately feel the difference in those energy bills. Perhaps those who manage to lower their energy bills should be rewarded, to encourage people to start taking notice, and stop waisting electricity and water.

When we lived in Mazatos our first electricity bill was 125 EURO per month. By the time we left I had got it down to 60 EURO per month. So being mindful about what you are using, saves energy for the planet and puts money into your savings account.

So here are few tips on concerving electricity and water if you have any other suggestions perhaps you would share them with us in the comments box.

1.Turn off the TV. Don't have it. Talk with your loved ones, play board games, paint, be creative. We have not had TV for nearly 2 years.

2.Use solar powered lighting wherever possible, all our outside lighting is solar powered.

3.Put in energy saving light bulbs, all our inside bulbs are energy saving light bulbs.

4.Turn lights off when you are not in the room.

5.Turn electrical equipment like TV's, DVD players, off at the wall, you would be supprised at the amount of electricity that still flows when they are on sleep mode.

6.Use fans instead of A/C units.

7. If you must use A/C keep it at 26 degrees this is the most econmical.

8.Sleep outside under a mosquito net the you don't need AC.

9.Use your gas BBQ to bake cakes, bread, cook roast's, quiches ect.

10.Put your washing on at night just before you go to bed, electricity consumption is much less then and the cost is less.

11. Stop using the dishwasher and wash up by hand.

12.Sweep and mop instead of using a hoover. Use the dirty water to water your plants.

13. Invest in a Slow cooker, they are far more economical than an oven.

14.Collect the water that runs before it gets hot and use it to water your plants, or collect it over a few days in several buckets to clean your car or fluch your toilet.

15.Fill kettles and pots and pans for cooking with the cold water that runs before it gets hot.

16. Collect the water form your A/C units to water your garden or wash your patio.

17.Think twice about having a pool. It is very expensive to run a pump on a pool and keeping the water topped up in the summer months uses a lot of much needed drinking water.

Solar Powered Lights.

What ever you do, just do your bit.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

A Nation In Grief

It is a very sad and difficult time for people here on this beautiful island of Cyprus.

Yesterday 8 funerals took place there will be more...........

Today, now as I write a mother is preparing to bury her son's 19 year old twin brothers born together, they died side by side,tragically, on Monday.

We woke in Lefkara 17 Kilometeres away, to the massive BOOM of the horrific blast that ripped through the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base, destroying the islands main power plant, knocking out windows in neigbouring villages, and dropping debry all over the motorway.

The whole thing could have been avoided and these souls still with us, but the warnings that the 98 containers full of confiscated explosives, sitting for 2 years in the stifling heat, were on the brink of explosion, fell on deaf ears???????????????????????

No one listened to the warnings, no one cared what might happen, as they had their own agenda for the ammunition.

Now not 12 but 13 people have died as another 19 year old who clung to the edges of life has been annonced brain dead after his fatal injuries.

Why why why..............................

To all who are injured I wish you a speedy and full recovery.

To all of those who have lost their loved ones, I do not know you, but believe me my heart goes out to you, I cannot take away your pain but please know that I am thinking of you in these dark and difficult days and I along with most of Cyprus feel your grief.

May your loved ones rest in peace.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A New Dawn at Maridadi Kabisa

Sun rise from the Terrace at Maridadi Kabisa

Three house moves in less than 18 months is definatey not recomended, and that is the reason why I havent posted here for quite some time ....... we moved AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

The archway is the entrance to Maridadi Kabisa

As the saying goes be careful what you wish for you never know where the roads of life will take you.

The lane leading upto Maridadi Kabisa from the church

We were lucky enough to be renting for a very reasonable price a very large modern 3 bedroomed villa with a private pool, and yes to many it would have been a dream home but it really wasn't us. Nothing about it felt cosy, and though the pool was lovely in the summer, the sight of all the dead insects and animals (field mice and lizzards get stuck coming to drink water), and the cost of running it with the electricity for the pump and the chemicals, along with the consumption of water needed to top it up during the summer months just didn't bode well with us on our quest to live a more simple life. So we had started to think about looking for an alternative, however we had already signed the contract on the previous place for another year and were not about to break that contract as we are true to our word. Added to this my parents had also rented a property in the village for 3 months so we settled down for another year.

The Church of the Holly Cross lit up at night.

However, the bells started ringing when I signed the contract with the then landlord,as he was not worried about making sure he had a witness.......this seemed rather strange to me, I had briefly worked with him in his real estate company in Dubai and he was usually a stickler for crossing eyes and dotting t's when it came to contratcs.

A beautiful hand made plate that we Dad gave us from Bellapaix.

A few weeks later he and his fiancee ( now wife) flew in from Cairo to make arrangements for their wedding blessing. I had offered to take Natasha to the florists and the bakers and during the day I noticed that she was asking funny questions like ' how easy had I found it to fit in to Cypriot society'. I had asked them both as I did again on this ocassion would it not be worth them coming to Cyprus to live and work, ' no!' was the response, there isn't the money to be made here' He is a financial advisor of the opinion that the money here was not big enough for him. So I thought we were safe and sound.......

We had lived with mould and damp in the hallway of the Mazatos villa for over a year, and the outside storm drain ran straight onto the patio and into the pool, bringing with it pigeon poo from the roof (another reason not to use the pool) so when suddenly Al emailed to say that he would like someone to come in and fix it I knew for sure that some thing was brewing. As we all know there's never smoke without fire.....

Maridadi Kabisa's 2 Kleftiko ovens in our courtyard.

I felt VERY uneasy and instinctive fear of being unsettled raged within me, so I suggested to TBH that we start looking for an alternative just in case and so the search began...........we retraced our steps through surrounding villages,looked at the usual villas and appartments on new developements, we searched websites for something inspiring, but nothing was hitting any buttons for us. We both knew that since leaving Dubai we had wanted something alternative, something different, something not so main stream. Something that would lead us closer to living the simple life that we have craved for so long.

Maridadi Kabisa ..the stairs leading from our courtyard to the terrace.

Then things blew up in Cairo where Al and Natasha lived and though, as I had instinctivly known they were planning to move to Cyprus for some time........this was now their excuse to regain their property and we were given 3 months notice 2 months into our years contract. ( Apparently the land lord has to honour his contract to it's end but I did not find this out until after the event) So it was now imperative that we found somewhere.I put an add on Anglo Info Cyprus asking if anyone had a Traditional Village House in certain villages. A TVH wasn't something we had ever thought about before, but it is amazing what you find behind those walls and padlocked doors. Luckily it did not take long for us to get a reply. Would you like to come and see a place that I have in Lefkara.

Maridadi Kabisa upstairs terrace and bedrooms.

With much excitment we went to view the property and fell in love as soon as the doors were opened. A courtyard downstairs is home to 2 mespilla ( Loquot ) trees which give much welcomed shade in the stifling summer heat. Archways and beemed ceilings give typical Cypriot character, and the four poster beds with traditional mosquito nets are incredibly romantic. The view is to die for and as we stood out on the terrace overlooking the mountains a rainbow crossed the skies. I knew I had found my croc of gold.

The view from Maridadi Kabisa looking out over the village and mountains.

So.... once again we packed up boxes, scrubbed up floors, bleached out cupboards and polished up windows. In the process I insisted that we get rid of even more' STUFF' letting go of more of our previous life, donating clothes to charity shops, giving multiple unread books to second hand book stores and passing on that huge frying pan that I only used once on a camping trip.

For some reason this was an incredibly stressful move, perhaps due to the previous landlord turning rather nasty over the return of our deposit. It put a hudge strain on TBH and I tested our patients, pushing our limits. Thankfully with my parents unconditional love and support we raised above it and we are now settling into our beautiful new home.

View of the village from the church.

Lefkara is wonderful, central to all major cities, it boasts it's own police fire and ambulace department, a small hospital, a post office, a supermarket, 3 banks and it's infamous lace and silver shops. It is everything one would wish for in a medetarranian mountain village with red roofed houses, cobbled alleyways, trailing grape vines and traditional taverna's. Adamos is our favorite, not just for his delicious Cypriot food with a twist, like his Drunken Chicken( grilled chicken with a creamy ouzo flavoured sauce) and home grown olives, but he has such a fantastic character. Some of our best afternoons are sitting with him hearing stories of the olden days.

We walk down to the nearby fruitaria for locally grown fruit and veg and there we can also buy fresh village eggs, which have glourious golden yolks.

Fresh village eggs.

We continue to try to grow some of our own veg on our balcony, cucumbers,tomaotes, peppers, melons and pumkin are in troughs as we speak.

Cucumber trailing the balcony.

There is an array of herbs potted in the courtyard, thyme, sage, mint, and basil and the local lavender gives off a beautiful aroma.

It is fabulous to be submerged in Cypriot culture and we have the most wonderful neighbours, friendly and so incredibly helpful. The other day we were gifted a jar of home made apricot jam, with apricots grown in her daughters garden,not only did it taste fabulous,but the gesture itself meant the world to me. What better way of being welcomed than with a gift of food made from the heart.

Apricot jam from our adorable neighbour.

There is still much work to be done to achieve a more simple sustainable lifestyle, but finally after 2 long years we feel as though we are now really living our Cypriot dream. We have finally found home and we call it Maridadi Kabisa, it means absolutely beautiful in swahili, and that is what we think our home is.