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.