Posts Tagged ‘Quirky’

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Life at the Port roundabout

July 4, 2010

It was an odd day: we were due in Larnaca to do some grocery shopping and a bunch of other errands.  As we joined the motorway one of the car’s warning lights came on and it started behaving oddly.

Quickly we amended the plan: instead of the supermarket we’d drive to the Honda garage and see what they said.  Then, perhaps, we could go and buy groceries and get other jobs done.

The garage were helpful.  The owner said:

We must attach a computer to the car to see why the warning lights come on as it could be one of many reasons.  We can not do this now, so take the car away and come back at 3pm.  Then, I will talk to your car and find out the problem.

Yes, really.  This is what the engineer said.

Now short on time we rushed around town getting as many errands done as possible before whipping round the supermarket at an indecent speed.  By 3pm we were back at the garage where the engineer was waiting to talk to the car :-)  The garage is near nowhere useful.  Actually, that probably depends on your point of view … the garage is near to the port roundabout.

Ahhh, Larnaca’s port roundabout.  Since it forms one end of the Larnaca ringroad it is important in terms of driving and residents often refer to it when giving or receiving directions.  The twinkly-eyed surgeon even mentioned it during the swimming conversation.

Larnaca's Port roundabout

The roundabout also has, well, other functions.

There are probably (hey, we’ve never counted) more gentlemen’s clubs adjacent to the roundabout than in the rest of Larnaca combined.

Barbie Girls … Skirt’s Club (naming a club after an item of clothing that isn’t worn by the staff seems rather ironic) … High Heels and so on.  The places claiming to be nightclubs, whilst attached to a hotel that rents rooms by the hour, appear slightly less seedy but probably not by much.

Generally when we drive around the roundabout even the coffee shops look somewhat dodgy.

Anyway, the garage needed to talk to the car and suggested we come back in an hour to discuss their discussion … or something.  The only place within reasonable walking distance was the port roundabout.  So, chuckling about our pre-conceptions of the place we trotted down there in the hope of getting coffee and a late lunch while we waited.

We picked the least seedy looking place.  In fact, it was rather swish and glossy and with a great view over the roundabout.  We ordered coffee and lunch and sat down to wait wondering how long it would be before someone we knew drove past and wondered just what we were doing there.

It was clear that they wouldn’t be the only ones wondering.  The clientele, who all seemed to know each other, went quiet as we sat down at a free table.  It rather seemed as if they weren’t used to strangers.  The buxom blond delivered our, incorrect, order of food and drink and was quickly followed by the manager.

He said he wanted to know if everything was ok; it felt as if he wanted to know what on earth we were doing there.

So for an hour or so we sat and ate a lazy lunch and watched the world go by.  In all honesty the food can not be recommended, but the coffee?  That is good and strong.  Not what we ordered but there you go.

In that hour the resident men came and went, grouped and re-grouped.  They had short, furtive, conversations and an excessive number of mobile phone conversations.  From time to time one of them would take a phone call and then hop into his, double-parked, car and disappear.  Ten minutes later he would re-appear and update his friends, only for the whole process to be repeated half an hour later.

Rules seemed to be there for the attention of others.  In the time we were sat there we saw an appalling amount of dodgy driving, and that’s compared to the already-dodgy standard that is normally seen in Cyprus.  More than once we saw scooters doing U turns on the roundabout rather than take the necessary two minutes to drive around the roundabout.

Interspersed with this were visits by a number of young ladies in various states of minimal clothing.  Dressed for daytime, just, but not in a way that would be considered appropriate for normal running around-town errands and the like.  Your granny would almost certainly have tutted.

We, wisely, kept quiet.  In fact we hardly spoke all the time that we were there as we were too busy taking in the sights.  After an hour or two we decided to head back to the garage to see what news there was about the car.  It would be fair to say that we heard a sigh of relief as we packed up and paid the bill.  It seems that strangers aren’t entirely welcome around the port roundabout.

Perhaps not one to add to the list of places to get a decent cup of coffee in town!

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German Lemons

May 3, 2010

There seems to be a theme to this week.

It is Sunday, the village has a decent size compliment of tourists. Most of them are German.  Blimey, these folks chatter; we can hear them coming from a street or two away.

We have been sitting in the garden at the new outside dining table getting on with important Sunday afternoon jobs.  A little reading, a killer sudoku or two, some daydreaming, a craft project.  The table is laden with all of the items needed for those as well as coffee cups and secateurs weighing light items down against an occasional breeze.

All of a sudden a tourist ventures into the garden.  With no preamble he asked:

Are you tourists?

Feeling a little confused as to why we were being quizzed about our status by a tourist we replied:

No, we live here.

He looked entirely baffled so we tried again.

We live here.  This is our home, our house.

Comprehension dawned and was quickly followed by the real point of his incursion.

May I take a citron?

Ahh, the great tourist obsession with lemons.  Or, as this week seems to be showing, a German obsession with lemons.

Happy to oblige we picked up the secateurs-as-paperweights and snipped a couple of clementines from the tree, complete with a handful of leaves, before allowing him to select his lemon.  Chancing his arm slightly he then pointed to a second lemon and asked if he might have that one also.  We agreed and snipped once more.

He and his companion thanked us and then disappeared down into the village with their fresh-as-can-be-citrus fruits clutched in their hand.

We chuckled as we remembered a holiday we had here in Cyprus before we relocated here in 2006.  We booked a hotel in Latchi for a few days and when we arrived found that the car park was surrounded by lemon trees.  Each tree was laden with the most fantastic looking fruit.  As we checked in we cheekily asked if we might pick a lemon or two.  The receptionist’s expression, as she said we might, was fairly transparent.

There are lemons everywhere and these tourists worry that we might miss one?  Why bothering asking me?  Could they not just help themselves?

How quickly we have become used to having our own trees, though as the regular garden pictures show we are still  besotted with them.

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Wanted, yet rejected

February 10, 2010

Today’s tale is one of two halves.

Early this year we received an unsolicited email via the blog.  Comments are very much welcome but if someone wishes to get in touch with us privately there is a facility via the About Us page.  From time to time people drop us an email via that, often old friends or colleagues who want to get back in contact.

This email though wasn’t someone we knew, instead it was from a research assistant from a TV production company.

In the UK there’s a series called A Place in the Sun where the resourceful and determined presenter puts all her efforts into finding a new home overseas for that week’s guests.  Over the course of 30 minutes the re-locators and the presenter (UK TV trivia note: for 11 years she was the cloak-wearing centerpiece for the adverts for the financial company Scottish Widows) search for and investigate potential homes.

Anyway, the UK has A Place in the Sun; the US has similar programmes.  And it was a researcher working on behalf of such a programme who contacted us.  She’d read the blog, she said, and thought it was lovely.

We sounded just the sort of people who’d be perfect for the programme they were planning for Cyprus.  How would we like to be in front of 100 million households searching for our ideal home?

How would we like that?  Ummm, not a lot really.  Not really our sort of thing.  Even the mention of 100 million households is enough to cause mild panic.  Actually, Ian just fell about laughing at the idea.  We have rats in the pomegranate tree and often go to bed in the rain.  It’s hardly glossy American TV fodder is it?  Afterall, us Brits are known to be eccentric but there are limits.

Besides that, we already have our house so we’re hardly candidates for a programme about house-hunting in Cyprus.  So we emailed a polite reply saying that we were sorry but it didn’t seem appropriate as we’d already found our house.

Back pinged the reply (have they never heard of weekends in TV-land?) from the researcher.

It really didn’t matter that we’d already found a house.  They could just fake the whole thing work around that.  They’d find a couple of suitable properties, they’d film us at those and then at the place we’ve bought and renovated and no one would be any the wiser.

Sadly that wasn’t enough to tempt us so we parted ways.  No doubt she is scouring the internet looking for suitable volunteers.

Meanwhile, in the other half of our tale, we offered up the contents of the blog to a travel-based website.  They aggregate from a number of sources providing a one-stop resource to travelers.  Want to know the best restaurant in Ramalla or where to get a pedicure in Provence?  Their site will tell you.   As part of that they include relevant blog information to provide further colour and content.  Their section on Cyprus contains 1 (that’s ONE) blog, with 2 (just TWO) entries, the most recent of which is from the middle of last year.

Thinking that AradippouTales would make a nice addition to their Cyprus information we went through the process to get the blog added.  This morning we had an email back telling us that we’d not been approved for inclusion.  Actually the email subject was;

Your blog Aradippou Tales has been rejected

Hardly the best way to start the day.  Apparently we are ‘certainly charming but not travel-related enough‘.

Feeling this was a little unfair we winged back a quick, polite email asking them to reconsider.  We referenced the lack of other material, the fact that information on how to get here was easy to find but that information on life here wasn’t, that the blog is used as research material by potential expats and by people visiting on cruises, that we provide colour and context to add to the available dry factual information.

Compelling arguments, no?

Well, it matters not, the email bounced back as undeliverable.  There appears to be no chance to query the decision; the email address that happily sends out the ‘sorry, you’ve been rejected’ emails does not accept incoming mail.  And a quick mooch around the site makes it clear that no other email addresses are available.  Presumably the judge’s decisions is final.

So, a mixed bag here in AradippouTales land.  On one hand we’re good enough for 100 million households, on the other we’re charming but, well, no thanks.

Still, the sun came out for a while today.  Regular readers of the blog know that is a rarity in February; regular readers of Lonely Planet won’t ;-)

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The house, MadAlex style

December 24, 2009

In previous posts there have been assorted references to MadAlex, the previous owner of this house.  During a recent sort through of house photos we realised that although we’d mentioned the interesting state the house was in when we bought it we’d never actually included any documentary evidence.

So, for your amusement and delight, below are images from the very first time we saw the inside of the house.  Think of these as an early holiday gift from us.

Before you peek though, remember, this is the house that MadAlex said would need “a little painting and perhaps some light replastering in one or two places“.

Of course MadAlex is an artist and it is clear that his perception of the world is very different to that of us non-artistic folk.

The living room

Open fires are lovely, especially in the cold weather we have up here in the hills.

Sadly this one didn’t draw properly so there was extensive smoke staining on the front of the fireplace … and the wall above … and the ceiling … and in the dining room … and the study.

The builder replaced the chimney to help the airflow and to prevent it setting fire to next door’s pomegranate tree – again.  That was one of the first of the stories fellow villagers rushed to tell us when we started work.  Apparently it was a talking point around these parts for quite some time.

Returning to soot for a moment.  Did you know, if you paint on walls that are sooty the paint just peels off again?  So, before you can paint, you have to scrub the walls and ceilings with a solution to neutralise the soot.  It is a filthy, tedious, unpleasant and back-breaking job.

Guess how we know?

The kitchen

Fitted kitchens are just so last season, no?  Really who needs more than strong coffee and food cooked in a toaster oven anyway?

On the right of the picture are industrial machine tools for cutting and stamping metal.  In the kitchen.

Once the existing kitchen units were removed the room was re-wired and re-plumbed, re-floored and re-plastered.  One doorway was blocked up and the windows were replaced.  The sink was re-located out to the garden.

And, the hole in the wall through from the kitchen to the bathroom to allow the washing machine to drain into the basin was blocked up.  Really, why bother with expensive plumbers when you could just use a hammer to knock a hole in a convenient spot and route pipework that way?

Speaking of which … behold the downstairs bathroom.  To be clear, at the point at which this photo was taken this was the only working bathroom in the house.

The bathroom

Aren’t those tiles lovely?  Sadly many of them fell off the wall when one of the builders sneezed so they all had to be replaced – such a shame.

The bathroom, just off the kitchen, was eventually split into a utility room and a downstairs cloakroom (a half bath to our north American readers).  The ceiling was replaced, as was the window.  The floor was dug up to allow new pipework to be laid as part of the re-plumbing.  The room was re-wired and re-plastered.

It’s interesting how time tends to dull the memory.

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Sorry … what?

December 16, 2009

Oxygen is the answer!

Excuse me?  “The Oxygen answer for a healthier” what exactly?

Slightly worryingly, this flyer was put into a bag with some purchases at our local pharmacy.  The advert seems to be for concentrated oxygen tablets.

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Builders at work

December 13, 2009

Sorting through some photos we came across a series taken by the builders while we disappeared off the island for four weeks during the renovations.

Note to people undertaking similar projects … its best not to wait until the morning before you leave to have vital conversations with workmen about things such as positioning of walls.  In our defence we hadn’t appreciated they’d get to that point in the project until we got back.  In their defence they had thought that they’d be able to call us if they had any essential queries.  We’d met the builders through a friend in a neighbouring village; they’d worked on his property, a lovely old village house, during which point the owner was either in residence or working on contracts in obscure locations.

Their logic was that if they were able to contact him in Angola, with the sound of gunfire in the background as they discussed paint colours, then we would be equally contactable.  What they failed to factor into the equation was that we were due to spend two weeks sailing across the Atlantic on the world’s largest sailing ship and for much of that time would be beyond all normal communication channels.

What, no window?

The misunderstanding, and the positioning of walls and the like, was dealt with quickly.  As a result the builders were able to get on with building out the upper floor and replacing the doors and windows while we were gone.

The photo above shows one of the builder contemplating the work needed to tidy up the window opening before the new window was fitted.  The new front door had recently been fitted.  Looking closely at the top right of the photo you can see some of the smoke damage from the fireplace … more of that later no doubt.

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A shipment for who?

December 3, 2009

A shipment for who?

A few days ago the phone chirped with a new text message.  (Yes, that’s an old phone.  A really old phone.  We like old phones … or rather we prefer to spend our money on things other than new phones which, in Cyprus, are not cheap).

It was from a Larnaca courier company announcing that they had a delivery for us and would we mind awfully popping in to collect it.  Ignore, for a moment, the concept of a courier company asking the customer to collect rather than them having to delivery.  It’s a Cyprus thing.

What had us baffled was the name used.  Surely the item to be delivered was clearly named (having since collected it we now know that to be the case) so how exactly did they manage to mangle the name quite so much?

This is MRSA Mindy Boyj signing off for the day!

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House extensions, Cyprus-style

November 30, 2009
No room to extend? No problem, we can fix that!
Seen in a village near us.
The strange thing is, this house is opposite our builders merchants and we must have been there dozens of times before we noticed this.
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Ructions over measurements

November 28, 2009

As mentioned previously the non-squareness of the walls of this house provided some interesting challenges during the renovations.  Prior to moving in they caused us to re-work plans for the utility room when it became clear that things simply wouldn’t fit due to the allowances that had to be made for the quirky walls.

Upstairs proved just as challenging, but for different reasons.  When we acquired the house the upstairs was essentially an unfinished open space with a bathroom built into one corner.  Around about the centre of the room was a supporting pillar, and half way across a 3 inch step down.  To be able to plan where and how we’d divide the space we needed at least a rough plan of the space.

We spent hours and hours measuring and remeasuring the space … and nearly came to blows.

Now, where should we put the walls?

Hey! A drop in the floor. Shall we put a wall there?

The intention was to confirm the width of the space by measuring it in three different locations;

  • Measurement #1: the inside of the back wall of the house + the depth of the bathroom
  • Measurement #2:  wall to pillar + width of pillar + pillar to other wall
  • Measurement #3:  the inside of the front of the house

All three measurements should have been the same; each was the long end of a rectangle measured at a different point, but there was a massive inconsistency, over half a metre.

We re-measured, and then measured again.  We shouted, we swore, and there may even have been a little throwing of tape measures and the like.

We were totally baffled.  If the shape was a rectangle then those three measurements should be the same.

Eventually the penny dropped.  The house shape is not rectangular, it’s trapezoid.

The front and back walls are (vaguely – let’s not go there right now shall we?) parallel, whilst the side walls extend out.  Essentially the front of the house is a little over half a meter longer than the back of the house.

No, once more, we have no idea why this should be so.

A handy trapezoid diagram
A handy trapezoid diagram

Anyway, our measurement #1 was ‘a’ in the diagram, #2 ‘m’ across the middle of the space and #3 across the front of the house ‘b’.

With hindsight it might be clear how we got to hurling insults before we figured out what was going on.

Note the water tank in danger of collapsing

Note the 1000 litre water tank in danger of collapsing through the bathroom ceiling

Incidentally, a little research for a handy diagram of a trapezoid finds that it’s not a term used in North America.  Who knew?  For any American or Canadian readers the shape in question is an irregular quadrilateral!

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In the supermarket carpark

November 21, 2009

 

There are words.  Surely there must be words to describe this.  But, right now, they escape us.

Do take a moment to appreciate the bald tire and the use of black marker pen to fill in the missing part on the number plate.