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February 2011

How to make a Canadian dog happy…

How to make a Canadian dog happy…

by Clare Mansell

Whilst it’s a very springlike 17c at sea level in Cyprus, there was another fresh dump of snow in the Troodos last night, and one of our friends who works in the mountains did something he often does at this time of year, which is fill his truck with snow to bring down for the local kids!

A big mass of snow takes a surprising length of time to melt even at 17c (as we know well!) and whilst it stays frozen, the kids get to build snowmen and have snowball fights. Good cheap fun…

We met him as we were finishing our dog walk and instantly knew there was one member of our family who would be particularly excited to see the contents of his truck….

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I think she’s going to love winters in Scotland….

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Flip Flop February!

Flip Flop February!

by Clare Mansell
Flip Flop February

This week has brought a noticeable change in the weather here in Cyprus. For those in the UK, it’s pretty similar to what you’d expect weather-wise in April. There are plenty of short rain showers, but mixed in with them are days full of promise; with buzzing insects, warm sunshine and spring flowers. It’s this time of year that Cyprus can so easily seduce you, but every time I feel a pang about leaving, I force myself to remember what it’s like when the grass dies and the heat is unrelenting…

On the tipping point between the seasons we have been forced to sell our much-loved wood burning stove. We’d hang on to it till our final day on island if we could, but all too quickly the heat will return and cold winter nights will be far from people’s minds!

Without a doubt our wood burner has been the best thing we bought in the last two years. It transformed our fireplace from a useless log-guzzling heat-sapping hole in the wall, into the centre of our home. The funny thing is we’d never have considered buying it were it not for my parents, who escorted me around a long stream of Cypriot DIY stores measuring every stove we could find until we finally struck gold. Once we had ours installed, several of our neighbours also tried to buy one, but only one other person succeeded before the stock ran out.

Wood burner

So this weekend we advertised it for sale, wondering if all the sunshine would mean a lack of interest, but how wrong we were! It found a purchaser within a couple of hours and then I had to fight off phone calls from other people. It will actually be going into the home of a good friend of mine, a former pro-photographer who has spent a great deal of time over the last few months patiently teaching me photographic skills, and although it’s ridiculous to feel sentimental about a piece of cast iron, it is rather wonderful when something you love goes to a good home….

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Counting down

Counting down

by Clare Mansell
Curium ampitheatre

Somehow two weeks have flown by without an update! With only two months left in Cyprus we’ve been a little busy organising ourselves for our move to Scotland….

The dog’s flights to Gatwick are now booked, we’ve arranged our “march out” date from the house and the customary military “pre-march out” visit where the house is inspected before we leave. We’ve requested our preference of two locations to live in Scotland, arranged our removal date, started selling anything which we no longer need and filled in a hundred forms about furniture, cars and flights. This is the routine we go through every two years!

The last few months in any location are always a little odd, we’re stuck in limbo, not wanting to do as much as hang a picture or buy a large box of tea bags. I haven’t even done any sewing since Christmas as any new project will necessitate a fabric order, which is then just more stuff for us to move.

The weather however has been lovely and we are enjoying the sunshine safe in the knowledge we will be leaving just as he greenery dies off and the temperatures start to rise… I wonder what summer in Scotland will be like? Apparently in midsummer the days are very long…

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Clutter clearing

Clutter clearing

by Clare Mansell
January rain

It has been unseasonably cold over the last week or so, and uncharacteristically wet with it, the perfect weather in many respects for clutter clearing. As we approach our shipping date (in about 6 weeks) there is always the tendency to panic slightly at the prospect of squeezing our possessions into our allocated 10 cubic metres.

Approaching any military move, a great amount of time is spent agonising on whether to take particular bulky items of furniture or whether to sell them, but mostly the focus is on clearing out the accumulated small things. A few weekends ago we cleared 40 books from our bookshelves and took them to the charity shop and this weekend I have moved on to photos…. Which raises a whole other set of questions. The general opinion with photos seems to be that its sacriledge to throw any of them away, but under what circumstances is it crazy to hang onto them? Consider the following…

● Poor quality, out of focus or badly composed photos (at least 50% of everything I took before digital!)
● Photos of (gulp!) old boyfriends. Bin them all? Or keep one to remember a chapter of your life?
● Photos of a group of people you worked with one summer 20 years ago and have never seen (or are likely to see) since?
● Photos that are just downright unflattering.. of anyone?

Space is always at a premium for us and I can’t help thinking if I don’t whittle the collection down, the problem will only get worse over the years. Do you have your own rules about which photos to bin and which to keep, or is your photo collection one of those things you always think about sorting out and never get round to? I’d love to hear your opinions…

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