Sunday, 29 July 2012

Cyprus - A Baptism of Hypothermia

It was my first morning in Cyprus, and I had nearly died from hypothermia during the night. My extremities were blue and everything. That's what happens when you get greedy with the Air Con. Just imagine how embarrassing that would have been - dying from cold on a tropical island. It's almost as embarrassing as being run over by a wheelchair.

Anyway, I was rudely awakened by a loud banging on the door of my apartment. I opened it and was greeted firstly by a whoosh of hot air, and secondly by a small child launching herself at me like an Exocet.

"Mum, you've come!" shouted Izzy with her arms clasped around my neck and her legs dangling around my knees. [Just so you know: Izzy and her Dad, Steve, had arrived in Cyprus four days before me, and were staying in an apartment belonging to Steve's Dad (Paul) and Step-mum (Sue)]. 

That's the nice thing about children and dogs; they are always pleased to see you, even if you feed them food from packets. 

"Yep, I'm here, and we have a whole 10 days to have fun," I grinned at her. 

She released her grip from my neck and said, "you are really cold."

"I've got hypothermia," I informed her, gravely.

"What's that?" she asked, wide-eyed.

"It's means that I am suffering from extreme cold," I said. 

"But it's really hot in Cyprus," she replied, looking bemused.

"That's why today, I am mainly being ironic," I told her.

"What's ironic?" she asked. Sacre-bloody-bleu. I thought that kids should be seen and not heard.

"Never mind that, let's go over to your apartment and say hello to everyone," I replied, deftly changing the subject.

As we headed out, I was wafted by the heat for a second time. In the Cyprus summertime, temperatures constantly hover around 31 degrees Celcius (88 degrees Fahrenheit). But on a related, but separate note, I am always amazed by the fact that water boils at 100 degrees C. How much of a handy coincidence is that?

Anyway, I digress. Izzy took me round to her Grandparent's apartment and opened the door to let us both in. 

Pic.No.1 Sue (left) and Paul (right) were reading on their veranda before they spotted me

After a couple of seconds, they looked up, and saw me standing there.

Sue stood up, grinned, and gave me a hug, whilst Paul shouted in a Brummy accent; "Yow are berluddy late for breakfast!"

And so things were back to normal, albeit in a different country (they had moved to Cyprus from the UK 10 months previously).

Paul and Sue liked a healthy diet, and for breakfast they served up some birdseed-type food (which I later found out was called 'muesli') with yoghurt dolloped on the top.

After chewing for 30 jaw-aching minutes, I finally saw the end in sight.

"What are the sweet bits in it?" I asked regarding my bowl with suspicion.

"Dried fruit," replied Sue.

"Yeh, I thought I could taste vitamins," I said grimacing, "can I just have the muesli on it's own tomorrow? Or maybe a bacon sandwich?" I added tentatively.

"I'll leave the fruit off tomorrow then," stated Sue, ignoring the bacon bit.

I decided to rapidly change the subject after realising that bacon was the elephant in the room (even though I saw Steve dribble a little bit at the mere mention).

"What's the plan today then?" I asked cheerily.

"We're taking it easy because it's your first day," said Paul, "so it'll be the swimming pool this morning and the beach this afternoon."

And because I am kinder than Mother Theresa, except that I have more tailored clothes, I have got some pictures for you .....................

Pic.No.2 Izzy in the pool outside of her Grandparent's apartment. She was still excited to see me

Pic.No.3 Izzy cruising around the pool on a bloody great crocodile

Pic.No.4 After our dip in the pool, I had expressed an interest in seeing the sea (because we don't have any in Oxford), so we stopped off at 'Coral Bay' en-route to our final beach destination - the Akamas Peninsula

Pic.No.5 Another view of Coral Bay. It was picture perfect - white sands and azure seas. It was 'kept real' by the fat bloke on a sun lounger

Pic.No.6 Steve and his Dad, Paul, posing on a headland with their short and hairies hanging out

Pic.No.7 After leaving Coral Bay and en-route to Akamas I noticed that 'Health and Safety' nuts had not yet arrived in Cyprus

Pic.No.8 As our journey to the Akamas Peninsula neared it's end, I noticed a wild flock of goats. They looked a bit vicious, like triffids, so I locked the car door as a precaution

Pic.No.9 After passing the killer goats, we rounded the headland, and I got my first glimpse of Akamas

Pic.No.10 And finally we dropped down into Akamas bay

Pic.No.11 The view of the cliffs from Akamas Bay. There was hardly anyone on the beach which was marvellous and probably means I am a sociopath

Pic.No.12 A double bonus was the fact that Paul had brought his off-road buggy for us to play with (anything involving petrol is generally bloody good fun). Here he is pictured with Izzy who was still grinning after 20 minutes of bouncing around all the dunes and bumps

Pic.No.13 I have to admit that I liked the 'off-roading' bit more than the 'sit on the beach' bit. Quite simply becauase there is no worse feeling than having sand stuck to your sun-tan lotion. In fact, I don't like beaches much at all. That's why I invented Astro-Sand

Pic.No.14 After off-roading, we were all treated to a beach BBQ ........ Nom nom nom

Pic.No.15 The best thing about Akamas beach was that it was littered with these things ...... can you guess what they were? (I reckon the only person who will guess is Masher)

Pic.No.16 Steve, Izzy and Sue paddling in the waves towards the end of the day .........

Pic.No.17 ....... before running away as a couple of large breakers came in

Pic.No.18 And finally, the sun started to set over a chilled day at Akamas ....

Pic.No.19  ..... lighting up a pebble sculpture that Paul had created earlier in the day ....

Pic.No.20 Izzy caught the setting sun in her hand

So dahlink, that was my first day of Cyprus. It was bloody marvellous, but if I could change one thing, I would not have sand involved. It's the devil's spawn. I don't believe that being gritty is natural.

There is more to come on the holidays, but in the meantime, I am going to grab a glass of Bolly and listen to what you have been doing this weekend ...... fire away my lovely ..............!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

I'm off to Cyprus .... it's near Iraq you know

Greetings dahlink. You would be forgiven if you cried out; "Where the blazes have you been?"

It's simple. Last week I bombed off on holiday, primarily because I haven't had one for a couple of months and secondly because I am like a delicate flower who would perish if I worked too hard without a break. I am a bit like Paris Hilton in that respect, except that I don't have that weird squinty eye thing going on.

My destination was Cyprus, a little island close to ...... well actually, I wasn't sure where it was close to because I am crap at geography. I had to look it up on a map and discovered that it was startlingly close to Iraq, Iran and Syria. Not that it put me off mind you, in the past I have discovered that holiday destinations near to warzones are often quite economical. Like Cambodia for example; lovely place as long as you avoid the landmines, but that's another post.

Pic.No.1 Cyprus is that blob in the middle of the sea towards the top left of the picture 

Why Cyprus you might ask? Well, Steve's parents live there, and he was taking Izzy over there to visit and asked if I wanted to join them.

"Sounds good," I said to him, "but what's the catch?"

"You'll have to sleep on the sofa," he replied.

"Bugger off, do I look like the type of lady to bunk on someone's sofa?"

"No, I suppose not," he said, "but what are you going to do instead?"

"I shall procure myself an apartment for the duration," I announced.

I made a quick Skype call to Steve's Father, and quickly determined that there was an apartment available for rent in the same block as theirs. Job done. Sometimes I am as resourceful as James Bond except that I don't have a lighter that turns into a zipwire.

Not long afterwards, the day of my flight arrived. Huzzar to the power 10! The trip to Gatwick airport was a bit hairy due to the fact that I had set off late, and to compound matters, there were long delays on the M40. Sacre bleu. But you will be pleased to hear that after a mad dash down the back roads, I arrived with a full 15 minutes to go before the bag-drop counter closed.

My hide was saved because a few days beforehand, I had decided to try a 'meet and greet' parking service. Bascially, you drive your car to the departures terminal at the airport, and a chap with a uniform picks it and takes it away to park it for you. I felt like a movie star except that I hadn't done a sex tape. 

And because I am kinder than Mother Theresa but without the facial hair, I have got some pictures for you .........

Pic.No.2 This was the view from the airport terminal. As you can quite clearly see, there was a British Airways Boeing 777 being loaded. And the weather in the UK was crap

Pic.No.3 Unfortunately, I wasn't flying with British Airways. I was flying with EasyJet and all that it entailed: Like ugly cabin crew clad in orange polyester flying suits. Luckily I had remembered to pack an earthing strap

Pic.No.4 During the 3 hour and 50 minute flight we flew over a spectacular mountain range which was probably the Himalayas. And the bloke in the next seat had his elbow in my rib cage most of the journey. Git

When I eventually arrived in Cyprus, it was 10pm and dark, but I was still overpowered by a searing heat as I stepped from the aircraft and boarded a waiting bus to transfer to the terminal. And unlike any UK airport, I cleared border control and picked up my suitcase in 15 minutes flat. When it comes to Johnny F, it's not all bad you know.

It had been arranged that Steve's dad, Paul, would pick me up. At least that's what I thought had been arranged. But as I entered the Arrival's Hall, I couldn't see him anywhere, and he is quite distinctive because he looks like Noel Edmunds.

I quickly formulated a plan to deal with the situation. Yep, within five minutes I had located an airport bar and was sipping a chilled white wine (paid for with my credit card because I had forgot to bring any Euros with me) whilst I pondered my dilemma. By the time I had finished the second one, I still hadn't come up with a plan and 50 minutes had passed.

Next thing I knew, I heard a Brummy voice shouting; "What the berluddy hell are you doing in the bar? I've been looking all over the terminal for yow!"

It was Noel Edmunds. I waved at him cheerily as he regarded me in a disgruntled fashion. 

"Whoops, sorry," I said, "I couldn't find you when I arrived."

It turns out that he had had trouble finding a parking spot, and narrowly missed my arrival. Which made me feel a bit vindicated for being found in a bar. 

It wasn't long before we were winging our way through the dark Cyprus streets to my squeaky clean new apartment, where I was dropped off, after arranging to meet everyone (including Izzy), the next morning for breakfast.

Pic.No.5 This is the kitchen in my apartment. Obviously there was nothing of interest in there for me, except for the fridge, which would chill the Bolly

Pic.No.6 This is the dining area of my apartment. I don't know why it has a glass top - probably so blokes could look up girls' skirts whilst they were eating

Pic.No.7 This was my living area and veranda. I checked out the TV and all 192 channels featured Syrians in various states of worship. There is only so much you can have of a good thing

Pic.No.8 This was my boudoir. I'm not sure why the picture above the bed came in two halves. It's like a touristy version of Damien Hirst's cow things: 'Mother and Child Divided', but without the Mother and Child

Pic.No.9 This was the bathroom. The disgusting thing about Cyprus is that you cannot put toilet paper down the toilet because the sewers can't cope with it. You have to put it in the bin. That takes some getting used to

After a busy day, I decided to retire ...... excited about seeing Izzy the next morning. Unfortunately I set the Air Con too cold so I didn't get much sleep. In fact it wasn't much different to being in England.

Pic.No.10 This is the view from my apartment the next morning

I would have done a blog post about Cyprus a lot sooner than this, but events conspired against me. When I did eventually get a wi-fi signal (which only worked approximately 30% of the time), I logged into Blogger to find this ...................

Pic.No.11 Johnny F had hijacked my computer and turned all the instructions into Greek. How the hell did my computer know that I was abroad?

Anyway dahlink, that is all for now ...... more Cyprus exploits to come. That's if I ever have a wi-fi signal long enough to publish anything. If I do, I will eat Ghandi's flip flop.

What have you got planned for the summer holidays? Pray do tell ..........

Monday, 16 July 2012

Great Britain versus United Kingdom ..... eh?!

I got asked a bloody good question today by Veronica from 'OF MICE and raMEN'. By a 'good question' I mean one that I couldn't answer off the top of my head.

The question was: 'Why is the British Olympic team called Team GB and not Team UK?'

And there was very good reason why I couldn't answer the question immediately; it's because I got an 'U' (stands for unclassified, which is worse than a Fail) in my geography and history exams at school. I couldn't see the point in learning about 'old stuff', and 'where places were'.

As you can imagine, I was subsequently very relieved when Sat Navs were invented. But I still remain resolutely disinterested in 'old stuff', and I never watch 'Time Team' much to the chagrin of one of my best chums who is a History teacher.

Anyway, I digress. I had to do a bit of research, but what I found was quite interesting. But if you already know the answer, I have included this picture of Jessica Ennis for you to splodge over instead of reading on.

Pic.No.1. She's got a 4-pack. I look like that with just my skids on too

Strap yourself in ........ basically, the full name of our nation is 'The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'.

The 'United Kingdom' bit refers to the political union of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

The 'Great Britain' bit, is a geographical term that refers to the largest island within a group comprising the 'British Isles'. 

 Pic.No.2 The British Isles. As you can see it is made up of many individual islands where it rains a lot

So as you can see from looking at the picture above, Great Britain being the biggest island in the British Isles, comprises three separate (but united) countries: England, Wales and Scotland.

But now we reach the crux of the matter. After seeing the above, you would be forgiven for assuming that Team GB only included England, Scotland and Wales. But it doesn't. It also includes Irish athletes.

Conclusion: Our Olympic athletes should be called Team UK. Quite simply because being called Team GB implies that the Irish are not involved. 

If I was Irish, I would be well pissed off and probably run amok with a catapult and conkers. 

When I looked into it, I found out that Team GB was the name assigned by the International Olympic Committee in 1908 ......... Blooper. They were probably named by someone who got a 'U' in history and geography.

Anyway, I hope that clears things up. 

Other things in the news today. Naughty George has been his usual self since summer started. Whenever the rain stops, he spends his days in the garden woofing blankly at every passer-by. The git.

Pic.No.3 Naughty George with a comedy tongue configuration

Pic.No.4 Naughty George with a comedy ear configuration

Pic.No.5 Naughty George with a comedy 'other ear' configuration

So dahlink ..... what did you get up to last weekend?

P.S. Did you know the difference between the UK and GB ...... fess up now!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

It's all about me (huzzar) and the Olympics ..........

It's been a bit exciting in the UK this year. First there was the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations, then there was the Euro 2012 football tournament (although England were pants), and if that wasn't enough to make you blow chunks with excitement, London is hosting the Olympic games this year.

Yep, in just a few weeks, London will be awash with a plethora of finely honed athletes jogging all over the place, clad in skin-tight lycra. But I will be in Oxford. Arse. My sense of pain is tangible - like standing on a plug with bare feet. 

I would have liked to have attended some of the Olympic events because it's like a school sport's day (and I like them), except bigger, and without the 'egg and spoon' race. But tickets were virtually impossible to procure because they had all been allocated to dodgy MPs and corporations with lots of wonga.

Not that I actually tried too hard to get tickets, mind. Knowing my luck, I would probably have ended up watching endurance synchronised swimming or darts (how can that be a sport when the competitors have beer bellies?).

Just as I was consigning the Olympic games to snatched snippets on the TV, suddenly an opportunity arose to get involved .... albeit in a small way. It turned out that the Olympic torch was touring the UK before arriving at the Olympic stadium. And the route was passing through Oxford.

"Izzy," I said, "would you like to see the Olympic torch, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

"What's a lifetime?" she asked staring at me intently. Sacre bleu.

"It's the amount of time you are alive before you die," I said.

"I don't want to die," Izzy replied, wide-eyed.

"Look, you are not going to die," I said in an exasperated fashion, "but do you want to see the bloody Olympic torch or not?"

"Don't say bloody, it's swearing," she pointed out.

"Sorry, do you want to see the lovely Olympic torch?" I asked with a Wallace and Gromit grin.

"Yes please," she said, grinning back.

So at 5.15pm on Monday, we drove into Oxford towards the route of the Olympic torch. The closer we got to the official route, the more we noticed that the roads were jammed with the parked cars of other spectators. Crikey, loads of people had turned up to watch the Olympic torch! That's patriotic that is. It made me want to sing the National Anthem but I didn't because people would stare.

Luckily we found a parking space in the Lidl carpark right next to the action (because I am raggy like that), and it wasn't long before we met up with Steve (Izzy's dad) who had decided to join us. And because I am kinder than Mother Theresa, except that I don't like kittens, I have got some pictures for you ....... enjoy ......................

Pic.No.1 The parade started on Watlington Road, Oxford. There were loads of coppers on motorbikes flashing their blue lights. Shouldn't they be catching career criminals like speeding motorists?

Pic.No.2 The crowds lined the route as far as the eye could see ....... and I was gobsmacked that the Olympic route was through the ugliest suburbs of Oxford, avoiding all the amazing bits altogether. Whose idea was that then?

Pic.No.3 Izzy and Steve waited for the Olympic torch to pass by

Pic.No.4 The Olympic parade eventually appeared, headed by a bus. I reckon if it was headed by a lycra-clad athlete aloft a dobbin, they would have drummed up more spectators .... probably

Pic.No.5 The crowds thronged around the vehicles in the parade

Pic.No.6 A couple of buses containing scantily clad women dancing to the Olympic theme tune passed by. Steve kept his hands in his pockets and looked shifty

Pic.No.7 Yet more buses and floats passed by, blaring out jingoistic music ..... including a Lloyds TSB bus (yep, Lloyds TSB was a bank bailed out by the government after the financial crisis). Luckily they didn't get tomatoes thrown at them because that would have been a waste of food because I have tomatoes on my shopping list

Pic.No.8 The police were heavily in attendance throughout because of terrorist threats. Apparently Al Qaeda favour Coca Cola buses as a target of choice

Pic.No.9 Woo hoo! And finally the Olympic torch runner appeared ..... that's the bloke in the white outfit. He had pointy knees

Pic.No.10 The money shot. The Olympic torch runner flanked by two rather dishy support runners. Woof.

Pic.No.11 The route of the Olympic torch was constantly filmed by a van full of paparazzi driving in front of the runners ..... and then it was all over

Pic.No.12 A close-up of the Olympic torch that I nicked from the internet. It had 8000 perforations in it, each representing one of the 8000 people who carried the torch en-route throughout the UK to London. Each runner had their own personal torch, and a lot of them flogged them on Fleabay after the event

Watching all those people doing athleticky type things had made me feel hungry, so I suggested to Steve that we take Izzy to a local Nepalese restaurant for dinner. I hadn't tried it before, and even better, it meant I could avoid having to cook something in my kitchen.

Pic.No.13 This is Steve and Izzy outside the 'Everest Nepalese Restaurant'. It was in an obscure suburb of Oxford

Pic.No.14 At last! A picture of me. It was too long in coming. Here I am inside the Everest restaurant, and I was initially suspicious of the fact that it was quite empty. But to be fair it was 6pm on a Monday evening

Pic.No.15 This is what Nepalese scoff looked like. It was quite similar to Indian, but with Chinese and Tibetan influences, in particular the mo-mo that I had as a starter (it was a spicy lamb dumpling - bloody lovely it was)

Pic.No.16 Izzy was impressed with her Nepalese curry. Good girl - she's never afraid to try new stuff .... or pose for the camera

So was the food good? Well yes, it was above average; tasty and a bit different. But the downside was that the bill came to £68.00 ($109.00). Holy Mary Mother of God! It was a lot on the high side for an impromptu evening out ..... which, I suspect, is the reason that the restaurant remained mainly empty for the duration we were there. It's a shame because I would probably have gone back there ........

Anyway dahlink, enough of me ..... what have you been up to this week, and are you doing anything Olympic over the next couple of weeks?

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