Thursday, December 2, 2010

Still waiting for rain

Still waiting for rain

I am feeling rather envious of my friends in the UK at the moment with their chilly conditions and early winter snow. Here in Cyprus we are the other end of that same weather system and for us it has meant a particularly dry November.

It's now been about 7 months since we had rain, by now the grass should be green, but instead everything is parched and dusty. This is not good news for our dogs either, in their brief encounters with grass they have been delirious, rolling in it, laying on it and eating it, and this year they'll be waiting longer for that pleasure.

Waiting for rain

I must admit I am looking forward to our move to Scotland more and more, and to getting the dogs away from the island and safe from the poisonings and snakes. We should be leaving in April before Cyprus really heats up and then heading to Lossiemouth via my parents (who are literally at the other end of the UK!) before driving 12 hours up to the Highlands... with the dogs!

Our UK posting is going to mean we will be reunited with possessions we put into storage 4 years ago - before we were even married! I've forgotten most of what we have, but I do know I have clothes amongst it, which is a rather horrific thought!

Returning to the UK also means we'll be able to buy some furniture of our own and I have been gently easing my husband into the idea that this will almost certainly involve thrift shops, antique markets and eBay. The biennial assembling and reconstructing of our Ikea furniture has come to symbolise the temporariness and blandness of our home, so I have grand ideas beyond the world of flatpack... we shall see if they come to fruition in the spring!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Berengaria Hotel

Berengara ground floor 
Changing rooms at Berengaria Hotel 
Berengara Hotel window Autumn at Berengaria
Berengaria top floor 
 I have always had a bit of a thing for abandoned places. It's something about the heady concoction of the silence, the decay and the history that draws me in. Handily enough, because of it's complicated history, Cyprus has a large number of derelict buildings, hotels and even old cars to explore.

Berengaria Hotel

Amongst the most impressive is the Berengaria Hotel, located 4600ft up in the Troodos Mountains, it was once one of Cyprus's grandest residences. I only found out about it by chance, but once I'd navigated through a few photos on Flickr, I was itching to visit.

It was built in the 1920s and run successfully for 60 years, but after being bought in the 1980s it fell into disrepair. It's lost its roof several times to arson attacks and the interior has been stripped out in anticipation of a renovation that's never happened, but it's still hauntingly beautiful.

The two 1960s swimming pools are relatively intact (if full of green water) and although the hotel has been stripped of absolutely everything, there were a few interesting bits of history in a derelict house in the grounds, including some of the hotels china...

Berengaria Hotel china

Its particularly fascinating to be able to compare the interior photos with what it looked like at its launch. Sadly after 25 years of neglect it seems unlikely it will ever open its doors again.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Assignment finished!


The deadline for the Guardian competition is on Sunday and I have finally finished putting the images together! It's been an amazing few weeks. I set out with a grand plan to photograph the British military at work, fully knowing how difficult that was likely to be, but friends and colleagues rallied round and I had some incredible experiences getting the shots, most of which I sadly can't tell you about! :-)

I have learned huge amounts at a galloping pace and challenged myself on many levels. I am now going to wait and hope for a review of my photos on their website, and then see what the results of the competition are... I'll keep you posted, in the meantime you can see the images here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Creations

Macbook case 3

First of all I should say that I'm going to leave you hanging on our new posting for just a little longer. We may receive absolute confirmation we are going there in a call tomorrow, so I'll wait till we hear that before I tell you more...

And whilst you wait with baited breath, I have creations to share! First off Jim baked brioche this weekend, it's a recipe from Richard Bertinet's book and the proving of the dough took 14 hours alone, well worth the wait though! I've blogged about Richard Bertinet before, we are big fans!

This weekend I have made two laptop cases for work colleagues. I made one last month, and then everyone wanted one! This one is my favourite, I think I'm going to have to make another for myself in this fabric...

And I also made an SLR camera strap, another special request from a friend. I plan to start selling these (and a few other bits) soon, so if like me, you are bored with having Nikon or Canon draped round your neck,watch this space, I'll also be doing a giveaway when the shop is up and running!

Camera strap

Monday, October 18, 2010

Still tweaking but...

Vehicle Support Specialist B&W

Photograph 2 of 6 for the competition is done! I was weighed down with tripods, reflectors and lenses (most of which I really have no idea how to use!) and in the end shot this with my least favourite lens and no extra equipment. My model was incredibly tolerant and in return I told him I'd get him a print to send to his mum!

Photo 3 of 6, the military Padre has also been taken, but I'm still debating which shot to use....  Hope your Monday was also productive!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A challenge

Forces Broadcaster

A couple of months ago I was introduced to the Guardian newspaper's online camera club. Every month the camera club sets an assignment topic and you are invited to submit six photos for review and your best of the set for the competition, the prize for which happens to be the camera I am currently coveting.

This month the assignment topic is People At Work and I have decided to try and capture some of the faces of the forces community in Cyprus. The obvious place to start was in my own office with a good friend, but with that photo done there were still another five pictures to take... So I have spent the best part of last week persuading people to let me take their photos and I now have another three shoots lined up before Wednesday. Somewhere along the way the project became less about the prize and more about the personal challenge.

Tomorrow morning I will be imposing myself on our military Padre armed with a borrowed reflector, big ideas and a simmering fear that the end result will fall short of my high expectations... He leaves the island for several months on Tuesday, so they'll be no time for a reshoot. Keep your fingers crossed for me, if the results are any good I shall share them with you later in the week!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Clouds


Oh just look at that sky - We have clouds at long last! Maybe this was all the change I needed? (Well, that and a new blog banner) I can't begin to tell you how lovely it is to finally have relief from the heat.

Finally we can say goodbye to the constant drone of the ceiling fans and Hello to our 4 tog duvet! No longer do we have to bolt out of the door at 6am to walk the dogs ahead of the rising sun and turning the oven on doesn't mean several hours of torture. Yes, I love this time of year! As the days get shorter, the evenings cooler and the storm clouds more tantalising, everything is starting to come alive again...

Thank you for bearing with me, I did consider moving this blog to a new home, but for now I have decided to stay put and perhaps tweak the design a little... There are astonishingly 84 of you, and I feared I might lose some of you along the way... I'll be back again later in the week with more of an update.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Staycationing

Underwater

We have just had a fantastic mini mini-break at the Four Seasons in Limassol, just one nights stay, but such a change!  The hotel is about half an hour from us and you can almost see my office from the beach in front of it, but it felt a world away from our army quarter.

The peace and quiet of an adult-only swimming pool, seemingly illusive foods like back bacon and mini herb sausages, a proper shower, an air-conditioned bedroom, fresh orange juice, and ITV1 on tap in the room!

And of course there were the bikinis... this was my first chance to swim since my op, and after selling my old swimming costumes on eBay (can you believe people buy second hand bikinis?) a world of halter-necks and string bikinis opened up to me this weekend... and what fun it was!

Really our excuse for our hotel stay, was a lack of celebrations for both of our birthdays last month and our anniversary in June, but we've also come to the decision that we shouldn't need excuses! This is the side of Cyprus our friends and family come to enjoy and we haven't really sampled, so as the clock ticks on our second (and final) year on the island we may be trying this more often!

My only complaint about our mini staycation, is that on a "proper" holiday you get a little time on a flight home to adjust to going back to reality. This afternoon it took us 3 minutes to go from poolside, to back in our car on a dual-carriageway in our local town... down to earth with a bump!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Post Bag

Post Bag - Akrotiri 1

It's been a productive week so far, but don't worry I'm sure it won't last...

I made this bag last night for one of my colleagues birthdays. It's a design I call the Post Bag and I've been making them for friends for a couple of years. The applique on the front spells out the location of the current posting, in this case RAF Akrotiri.

Post Bag detail

The bags have been modified and refined over the last couple of years and although I still like the concept and the applique, but I think I need to jazz up the actual bag design at some stage... I'll add that to The List... about which I'll mention more in another post soon!

Hope your week is going well!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Apollo Hylates

Temple Of Apollo
Inscription
In a row

Good news for a Monday! The forecast for today is 29c, which is the first time in many months that our highs have been below 30c. So I thought I'd celebrate with some photos of an historic site close to our home .

Apollo Hylates is about five minutes up the road from us, I actually drive past the entrance twice a day and like every histroic site in Cyprus, admittance only costs €1.70.  So lots of very good reasons why we should have visited a lot earlier than 13 months into our tour, but it was this month's Episkopi Photography Club trip that finally motivated me. The project theme is "Cyprus Landmarks", which funnily enough is about the only theme I couldn't get started on whilst I was in the UK earlier this month.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The week in photos

247/365 - 4 September 2010
248/365 - 5 September 2010
249/365 - 6 September 2010
250/365 - 7 September 2010
251/365 - 8 September 2010
252/365 - 9 September 2010
253/365 - 10 September 2010

 Gatwick North Terminal / First day back / Woodstock pub quiz / Macy Dog / Breadmaking / Reclaiming the beaches / drying chilies

Friday, September 10, 2010

Maybe Baby quilt

Maybe Baby quilt

So this is the second class sample quilt which I finished earlier this week. It is designed to be a more traditional example of patchwork quilting. The patterned fabric is another Japanese import made by Kokka and mixed in with some Kona cotton and Moda Bella squares. This is quilt number nine for me this year, I can hardly believe it myself!

Maybe Maybe quilt fabric detail

I completed it just in time to find out the class is no longer going to run! I had four keen students and others who various reasons didn't make the sign-up, couldn't make the class timings or only spoke up when it was cancelled! There seems to have been a general learning apathy this term, GCSE courses and home furnishing also got the chop.

However not easily defeated, I am instead going underground and rounding up the aspiring quilters for some unofficial sessions, which means less pressure on me as a teacher too... As long as I get some crafting time I'm happy!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Last week in the UK...


The last four weeks in the UK have flown by, and tomorrow it is time to return to Cyprus. Apparently the weather has cooled down slightly, I'm rather counting on it!

When I return to the Med I will miss amongst other things, birdsong, grass, trees, rolling hills, rain, changeable weather, the smell of autumn in the air, seaweed, greenery, long off-lead dog walks, mud, jeans and English pubs.

England is not perfect, but there are many subtle wonderful things about it that you take for granted until you leave it, and I am learning to appreciate them more every time I come home.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First class sample quilt


Next month I am going to be teaching a beginners quilting class in Cyprus. Wherever the military are there's nearly always an adult education centre, and pretty much anyone with experience of a subject can put in a pitch to teach a course in it... and get paid!

The sign up day happens next Monday, often there are queues and sometimes courses get booked up quickly... sometimes they don't! I need a minimum of six students to make my course viable, so fingers crossed!


I have decided to teach a patchwork quilt, so that if they want, students can skip the cutting and just buy charm packs. I very much want to avoid a repeat of my dressmaking course where few of us actually completed our projects, so simple is the plan!

I'm making two sample quilts for the class. One in very bold modern fabrics and a second in more traditional paler fabrics. The former to shatter a few illusions about quilting being old fashioned and chintzy and the latter so the students aren't entirely scared off - I hope I have got the balance right!

Echino Quilt Backing


So anyway, the first one was completed today. It's made with Japanese Echino linen from my new favourite fabric store The Eternal Maker. The second quilt will be made by the end of the week, before I fly back to Cyprus on Saturday...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The week in photos

A little peak into my 365 folder, click on the photos to read the details on Flickr... 

233/365 - 21 August 2010

234/365 - 21 August 2010

235/365 - 23 August 2010

236/365 -

237/365 - 25 August 2010

238/365 -  26 August 2010

239/365 - 27 August 2010

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August Inspiration

Do you Flickr?

I've been a member for about 3 years, but have only started using it regularly in the last six months. It's a brilliant source of inspiration for everything from home decor to quilt patterns.

The grid above shows you some of the photos I've found and favourited in the last month. Click on the image to see notes on the photos and links to the originals. There are some great photographers and a world of ideas out there!

Friday, August 20, 2010

This week

230/365 - 18 August 2010
232/365 - 20 August 2010

Whilst I've been enjoying overcast skies and cooler temperatures in the UK this week, Jim is back in Cyprus where despite reaching the (alleged) mid-August cool off point, it has apparently still been stiflingly hot.

Bella our beagle was spayed yesterday, and I don't envy her being the one recovering for an operation in the humidity. There's small consolation in the fact that this should be the dogs last summer in Cyprus. We are due posting next July and have a few tricks up our sleeve that mean the dogs at least, should get an early release.

Meanwhile it's another two weeks before I'm allowed to fly back to Cyprus, but my recovery is going well. I've had a remarkable lack of pain and the worst aspects have been not being able to shower properly and being restricted to sleeping on my back. Small prices to pay.

It's been an interesting week to jump on the 365 band wagon. I missed the start of the year, so instead I'm documenting 2010 from my 34th birthday onwards. My mother has kept a 5 year diary for twenty five years, so this will be my modern interpretation.... and of course it will provide lots of photo fodder for this blog.

PS - By the way, that's my birthday cake in the photo above. You are NEVER too old for jelly babies.
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