If you can’t beat them – join them

Cypriot drivers probably don’t study the highway code. In fact I don’t think they know any code, even if it was the ‘rough track code’. They either drive at a snails pace on single track roads, or pull out in front of you without warning. Traffic lights are pretty much decoration and overtaking happens when you feel like it, even if it’s a blind bend or the brow of a hill.

The trouble is this kind of attitude rubs off after a while. We have a set of traffic lights for some road works which are gradually migrating up the road towards us. I’ve sighed and muttered as I’ve watch a series of local drivers totally ignore the red light and drive ahead, only to come face to face with the oncoming traffic whose lights are on green. The cars mount the pavement or pull into people’s drive to try and pass, but all seems normal, no-one is shouting, “didn’t you see the red light?”

Earlier today I approached the lights and realised they weren’t working – no lights at all. I hesitated but decided to carry on and hope no one was coming. Further on two cars were heading straight for me at a fairly slow speed – “oops”, I thought, as one of them kindly pulled over for me to pass, while the other motioned for me to slow. I was expecting him to wind the window down or ask me to reverse, but no, he simply  pulled across in front of a shop entrance to let me through. The queue at the other end was quite long but they all seemed chilled. So far so good. Returning by the same route later in the dark, there was a red light showing…but I had a suspicion the lights at the other end might still be broken…so I just drove through. A few cars on side roads waited for me to pass and when I reached the other end I glanced back at the lights which were green as a car approached from the other direction. Lucky break. But I didn’t think much about it, except, “what a waste of time those lights are.”

It’s happening. I am becoming a Cypriot driver – with no respect for traffic lights! Whatever next? I won’t be bothering to indicate when I turn off or decide to suddenly come to a halt up on a pavement. Next week I’ll be stopping in the middle of the road to chat to my mates in another truck while a queue of cars waits behind me.

Well, I suppose the best advice is – if you can’t beat them – join them.


even more important than a Sunday roast…

Apparently Sunday roast dinners for the family are dying out in the UK (Mail 3rd Dec). As upsetting as this is, it also signals something even more disturbing, if it’s true. It could also mean the end of ‘eggy tea’ as we know it!

This has been a long tradition in our household, passed down now to our children, who even since leaving home, send messages to say they are just having ‘eggy tea’ with lots of smilies. ‘Eggy tea’ in case you hadn’t guessed involves soft boiled eggs – that is dippy eggs – and piles of toast. This event is usually enjoyed around the table or on special occasions in the lounge in front of the fire, when the toast tastes even better cooked over the fire with a fork. A pot of tea is also an essential and marmite and honey or jam for extra slices of toast.

Somehow this mini custom helped ease our family more gently into the semi-gloom of Sunday evening – when Monday morning loomed and homework needed to be finished, school bags packed, those forgotten ingredients found for DS lessons, gym kit unearthed from the dirty washing and general prep for the working week.

Sitting down to a Sunday roast meant that ‘eggy tea’ was on the cards and there were long faces if the main meal was put off until the evening, as there were cries of, “what about ‘eggy tea’?”. It didn’t really matter if it was a roast or a casserole just as long as it had vegetables and could be classed as ‘dinner’, to ensure ‘eggy tea’ with toast could follow on – sooner than later.

Even here in Cyprus, I have had that cheery feeling as I prepared Sunday lunch, realising there was an option for ‘eggy tea’ later. Last Sunday I left for church with the roast pork sizzling in the oven, and as I drove back home an hour or so later, I found myself looking forward to ‘eggy tea’ by the fire – a highlight of the weekend.

Unfortunately, last Sunday didn’t go quite as planned as a break in a pipe (I discovered later) left us with no mains water for more than 24 hours.

It may seem no big deal, but having no water in the taps very quickly becomes a nuisance. Buckets had to be filled from the swimming pool to flush the toilets and jugs of water left by the sinks to rinse hands. You never realise how many times you run a tap, until it doesn’t work. Washing up became a nightmare of filling kettles and pouring in the right amount of cool water from the huge container on the table. Every drop was suddenly precious, as there was a limited supply to last us. When the water eventually started flowing – a shower felt like a luxury and filling the washing up bowl with hot water from the tap was also a treat!

Domestic problems always seem to arrive as soon as one particular person disappears on a course or a deployment. Apart from the water being cut off, the next day one of the toilets stopped working properly and immediately after our friendly elf-like plumber left having fixed it…the other toilet broke. I decided it couldn’t be very hard, as Billy the plumber had made light work of the problem in just 10 minutes….an hour or so later, bubbles, rubber pipes and little bits of plastic shaped like butterflies had all been tampered with, but it still wouldn’t flush properly. So I thought I’d look for an answer on google – surely google has all the answers?

It turns out there are too many different types of toilet cisterns to be practically helpful, and a lot of the paraphernalia was under water or upside down, so Billy will have to be summoned again! In the meantime, I’ll leave the lid off the cistern and pour in buckets of water to flush the toilet… why do I feel like I’ve been here before?

Despite all this hassle, I am consoling myself that it will be the weekend soon and in this household Sunday roast and ‘eggy tea’ are staying on the menu.

photo egg