Sunday, 21 August 2011

Last few things

I have checked our flights - all looks good but of course you never know until you get to the airport.

Bags are all packed and just need to be locked.

The bird is in his holiday cage and went to his Grandma's house last night. When they come out he will move to his Aunties house. He is such a lovely cute little fella that everyone wants to have him and no-one wants him to come home again afterwards. The house is quit this morning without him.

House is clean, dishes are done and all laundry is clean and dry. I am not sure what it will look like when the kids are in charge but for the moment it is all up together. I will empty the bins before I go.

I am sorting out my carry-on bag now. Book, ipod, neck pillow, mobile phone, china wall plates that my mum wants me to hang in the house and I don't think that they survive in the cases, driving licenses. Fahed has the tickets, passports, insurance and EHIC cards, along with his scuba diving log and card. He also has his medication. I have packed heart meds etc that will last a month just in case anything goes wrong.

Had a message from my friend in Crete saying her husband is dropping a box of water at the house today for us and that their restaurant is open until about 1.30am this year just in case we are hungry before bed.

All sorted! Bye for now, I am off to the sun for 22 lovely days.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Something new for the to do list

There is an article in the paper this morning about Inter railing. A single month long ticket for the under 25's to rail around Europe for a month. I checked out the website and discovered you can also inter rail when you are over 25 these days, in fact pretty much all of your life.

Last time was, I think, December 1987 (Eve, am I right?). My best friend and I spent the summer in Crete, the first of very many in my case, and then travelled around Crete, spent some time in Athens and inter railed home. We slept on the trains mostly as rooms were too expensive. We ate home prepared food each day, cooking up bacon or spaghetti in the bathroom if we ever actually got a room but otherwise it was cold meats, cheeses and bread, and don't forget the wine. We had the bes time ever. We went everywhere that we hoped except for Venice, which is still on my list. We travelled down to Southern Spain to visit my Anty, and do some serious landry, met up with my parents for a weekend in Paris. We showered every few days in Paris, where we also stored or bags. Coming all the way back to Paris meant we had lots of long jorneys which are mch better when the train is also your bed. Have to say the businessmen of Holland and Belgium get up for work way too early, getting on the trains and disturbing snoring British kids at around 4am.

It was all my friends idea and it was a brilliant idea. I would love to do it again but with the innocence of youth (too too late), hotel beds at night and the odd hot meal. Slightly less red wine maybe, so that I can differentiate between sleeping and passing out. I cant imagine my kids doing anything like this, unless I turned it into a family holiday, they really don't have my wanderlust and I think they are really missing out.

This time tomorrow we are off to the airport. Pretty sure my house is the party zone in the area for the net three weeks but they probably don't make as much mess as my husband does normally anyway. Both kids are coming on holiday with s but for shorter times because of work and study commitments so the house will be occupied the whole time. I am happy with that, no shutting down the boiler, cancelling services etc although I am moving the bird just up the road to his 'Aunties' house just to be safe.

I was intending to pack my new 'Getting Stuff Done' book bt ironically I cant remember what I have done with it. unbelievable.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Counting down the days

Last day at work tomorrow, just before holidays not forever. Next week I am going to work hard on making my other house a little more like home. It is called Villa Shamsea after my late mother in law. Shamsea is Arabic for Sunshine, so my house is a house of sunshine. Its really our family house not a holiday rental but I plan to rent it out just for a year or two to help to pay for itself. It is a design that can't get us a holiday rental license so we can only let it on a long let. Its all legal then just as long as we pay our tax (and I pay so much tax I cant believe anyone pays anymore some days).

In between days at the Sunshine Villas we plan to have a day or so of Scuba.
The kids will be searching palaces, graveyards and any archaeological remains that they can in search of something which was missed.In Crete some of these sights are so simple and undeveloped that it does feel like you could be the first person to walk there.

I like the evenings of endless family meals where we can chat for hours. This is my friends restaurant where we will spend plenty of perfect evenings.

And did i mention days of endless sunshine. Anyone who has spent this summer on the South Coast of England must appreciate such a thing. Today, in mid August, stepped out of my car into a 3inch deep puddle.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Small differences, big differences

I finally started reading 'Getting Things Done' and recommended byt he original Get Stuff Done Blogger, Moyra. I bought it weeks, maybe months ago and it has taken me until now to start reading it. That tells me i really really need it. So far it has been very sensible and informative and I am only a couple of chapters in. I have high hopes for this. Too often I buy books which promise to help me do 'something' and they turn out to be packed with padding and waffle but so far this one seems different.

On a slightly connected note we have been continuing the de-clutter. Today we had the second attic session. It took us about one hour of attic time, an hour and a half of sorting time. the boxes and bags for charity are all packed in the car. There are a few things which we want back in the house, somethings had got broken and were only fit for the bin. All together I think we are half empty in the attic. There will be some things which we always have to keep up there, out of season bedding, camping gear, suitcases. I also found that we have about eight duvets. I cant even imagine why that is. I certainly don't recall buying them. i remember when we moved from double to king-size. Our bed is double (its more sociable than king sized) but the duvet is king-sized so we don't have our bums hanging out in the cold in the winter. I have no clue where all the rest came from. next stop on my list is too have a quilt/duvet sort out. I cant see the attic and I don't go up there from one month to the next but I really do feel better knowing it is more empty. I wonder if it was the overstuffed attic which was causing me to not appreciate how much of the house was being emptied out for the last few months.

My all together favourite thing about ditching all this junk is that Fahed is just as keen as I am. He has always liked to keep everything, even if it is truly rubbish (pile of old Radio Times magazines anyone?). He had no toys, not even a bike as he was growing up and he had issues with ownership of stuff for years because of this. He obviously equates possessions with security. Before his depression was diagnosed he spent huge, by my standards anyway, amounts of cash on stuff we really didn't want or need. Now he is all together happier and healthier he gets £150 a month pocket money which he either squirrels away for when its needed or spends it on me. He never breaks even the food budget anymore. This coupled with his inability to turn any work away has really made us a lot better off now than we were ten years ago. So a special three cheers for our GP for persevering with getting his meds right and making his life considerably more liveable.

Friday, 12 August 2011


I had lots of good things planned this week. We visited my sons girlfriends family last weekend for a barbie. We took along food and drinks like we would for a family barbie and found we were the only ones that did so. oops, i assumed everyone spread the load a little like we do but apparently not. On Tuesday evening I had an early dinner with the 'girls' at work as one of them was retiring. On Wednesday it was my sisters 60th birthday. We had surprise dinner planned for her. All went well until my dad passed out part way through. He was out for a while and although it went on like some kind of endless nightmare. We finally got him back from the hospital last evening. They think his blood pressure was too low, probably because his BP tablets have recently been doubled in strength. They also found an irregular heart beat. I thought we had lost him, it was truly a nightmare. My poor dad just keeps apologising for spoiling the party and making us worried. My sister told him that the best present she ever had was for him to be okay. I haven't slept for days and am existing on caffeine. Every time i close my eyes to sleep i see it 9over again, as I was directly opposite dad at the table.

Roll on sleep and a weekend with the family.

Monday, 8 August 2011

I actually start to see the difference

Bags and boxes leave the house for new homes weekly now. And finally i think I start to see the difference. There are piles of tools, household items and cases everywhere as we maximize how much we can take to the Crete house with us this year. I don't like to buy things that I already own so instead I get good at packing suitcases. I think once we have closed up the cases then really we do see a difference.

We still have some shopping to do, mostly tools, but overall we progress. My friends kids want a skateboard (the boy) and wool for knitting (the girl)to be brought over. We normally take colours, stationery etc for them too. I need a really large fan for the sitting room. I have a bid on for a new ceiling fan with lights from Germany. They will deliver straight to Greece more cheaply than sending it to here. Wish me luck with that one.

For my eldest sons bedroom I bought a second hand ceiling fan with lights from eBay. I picked it up from a house near my sister. For Jamal's room we are going to re-use the fan from the sitting room here. We can use it as the bird thinks it is a perch and I don't want to kill him. We bought a new light fitting yesterday, from £79 down to £30, which has metal branches and leaves. We thought maybe the bird likes it but not so far. He is very unhappy with us. Its a good deal though and it all works out well and avoids waste.

I would like a chandelier for our bedroom. I have never had such a high ceiling before so i feel like being a little indulgent. But i would like someone to be selling one quite cheaply on eBay because even when i feel indulgent I prefer not to spend too much actual cash.

I have a dinner with work colleagues tomorrow evening when one of my dearest work mates retires for the second time. On Wednesday we have a surprise dinner for my sisters 60th birthday. For me this is a really socially busy week. I will enjoy myself but at the back of my mind I know I should be wrapping Ikea

lamps in bubble wrap! I guess that can start again on Thursday.

Saturday, 6 August 2011


Like Laura I am discovering that focus comes easier when there is less to focus on. I know it is obvious but it is only obvious once it has dawned on you.

I feel better since we made the decision about our property. By the end of summer we hope to have sold up in Syria. Whilst we are in Crete we will get all the work done on our main house (yeah, we will, honest) and we will start looking for a builder to do the concrete work on the old house.

Our immediate neighbor in Crete is an old lady who is the cousin of the guy we bought the house from. She was quite tearful when she saw how the old house was falling down. Fahed promised her we would rebuild and it would look great again. I considered building four apartments and digging into the hillside more to built two stories but we have decided against this. We will follow the old foot print exactly. The internal layout wont be the same but the house will be in keeping with its situation. And I am pretty sure the old lady will love it. Legally we have enough room for 4 houses on our plot in total. That's not the plan but we see in future.

In the virtual world I have been adding blogs to my reader a lot lately. Most evenings I have about 40 plus waiting for me. I notice I don't really read them and that a few actively wind me up! So last evening I had a clean out. I would rather concentrate and read fewer. Tomorrow (or later) I will update my blogroll too. Because I use Google reader I tend to forget about the blog roll. Whilst i am getting organised I guess I should really tag my posts too. Oh ear, my house keeping skills are so bad.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Big change of plans

We made a decision. We are going to sell our land & bits in Syria and develop the property in Crete instead. Fahed spoke to someone in Syria last night (at 3am Syrian time, what sort of hours do you have to work out there??) who said that property just isn't selling because of the civil unrest but also we don't know what will happen going forward. That means that values of obviously dropped. The drop seems to be something 75%. I think I was right to undervalue the property in my net worth calculations
over the years.

Our land has an old house on it. It already has drains and power so there is not quite as much ground work as the main house. We would need a large retaining wall at the front to ensure we dont slide off into the village. The new house would be in the same shape as the original building, built into the hillside. We will use concrete for the invisible bits and face the front in stone. Inside will be rendered walls but the arches, windows and doorways will be faced in stone.

My sister in law is happy to buy the land from in Syria, and so she should be at this price. She is visiting Syria herself in September so it should all start happening quite soon.

The money we receive should be enough to do the basic structure and ground works. The heavy saving we intended to do this year to develop the Syria land, with a view to selling, will now go to the next stage of the development of Villa Aziza.

I am sad to be bailing out on Syria but it is the obvious sensible move to make.

Some photos of the old house just to get in the mood.

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