Living a full life

Since the last blog post, things have been hotting up for me as the registrations for Cyprus Open Studios started coming in, resulting in intense concentration and sitting at the computer for long hours. But, it was all worthwhile as I’m quite happy with what we have achieved so far. For interest’s sake, here is the link to our website and, while you’re there, click on the BLOG button. We are, of course, also on Facebook – join us by liking the page.

But, as this is not a business posting, I better start telling you about the other things happening in my life.

Jo – Joey for many people – has settled in brilliantly. Oh, locally she is known as Johanna, which is the same as the Greek Ioanna.  She’s not looking back for one moment and is in the process of meeting new people and finding more enjoyment each day. Last evening, we watched the last two episodes of MasterChef Australia – something we’ve been watching once a week over many weeks! We’ve also been trying out new eating places each Wednesday – what fun! I’ve suddenly realised I will have to start sorting out images… there are plenty! However, I found a few… to whet your appetite.

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Wine with a view – each time!

And we mustn’t forget that the chickens need feeding and that we need to cook our own as well – the fresh produce is outstanding, especially if you can pick it in your own veranda garden!

My grandson, Schalk-Willem, has moved to the Netherlands at the beginning of this year to do his Masters Degree at Tilburg University. He is doing extremely well and will start his internship with a dream company called 3D Hubs in Amsterdam on 5 August. His girlfriend, Brittany, also moved to the Netherlands. She works for an advertising company very much involved with Facebook and lives in Haarlem, where the two of them now share accommodation and both work in Amsterdam – a short train ride away; apparently the rest of his curriculum is available online whilst he writes his thesis. We are overjoyed for them! They are really starting their own lives now.

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Schalk-Willem and Brittany – the new Dutchies, at home in Haarlem.

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Here he is part of the team that came second in a competition held in Berlin

a couple of months ago – big WOW!

Since I finished putting the COS catalogue together for the printers, I went a little bananas… I enrolled in 3 courses that I thought I’d do during the summer break. Oh, dear – it’s manic! The most important one, I think, is the Financial Freedom course, which is intense! The reason for taking this one is because in my previous life, Donald took care of all the financial dealings. Of course I was included in meetings and decisions, but I knew absolutely nothing about how the world of finance worked. That’s what I’m learning about now! And also to make your money work for you; I found out that I am termed as a ‘passive earner’ as other people earn my money for me… at a price, of course! An ‘active earner’ is one who works for a living – and long may they live!

Another course is one that was offered by the man who was – still is! – trying to teach me to do Impressionist painting. Yes, he offered an online course which, in a different way, is as intense as the financial one. I got quite stuck in the mud about The Method as it’s something I’m not happy with: other people’s methods – except when it comes to cooking! But, sometimes it helps to take a breath and stand back; during my little afternoon siesta yesterday, it dawned on me that I can do it MY way – not HIS way. As long as the end result is what it should be. As they say, the proof is in the pudding…

The third course I won’t tell you about, as it’s a little whoo-whoo, which is why I’ve decided to put it on the back burner until the winter; all about Shamanic healing methods… told you!

One thing I probably will never get my head around is the fact that my landlady and my one neighbour provide me with FOOD! Many days when I thought it was time to prepare something to eat, one of them stood at the front door – or in my kitchen – with a dish or two. I would say that 98% of their offerings have been extremely welcome; the other 2% was probably because I’m not a local, as they were acquired tastes. And I only had to say that I was vegetarian once – they remember!

Jo with my landlady, Fanula, and a few of the things that walked through my door…

We have also learned that it is REALLY bad form to object or refuse. Accept everything gracefully and if there is something that you truly don’t like, be honest. If you lie about it, you will get it again and again – and that’s a waste of good food for some!

Having moved into “the village” has been quite an experience. It is totally different from where I used to live – totally! I thought we had moved to Cyprus in 2001, but what we actually did was to move into an enclave of ex-pats who were/are isolated from the real Cyprus.


Tala village square – the square is the life of every village worth its name!

My advice for anyone who wishes to change countries is to rent a property and get to know the place before committing yourself to buying or building; find the place that suits you. Many ex-pats move to countries where they try and change everything to suit them instead of living the local life. I’m not just talking about Cyprus – you get it in almost every other country. We were quite amused when we were on the Algarve in Portugal and just about every restaurant offered classic fish ‘n chips and Sunday Roasts… it’s the same here! I must say France is quite resistant!

Well, my well has dried up now – will have to wait for some inflow! Until the next time when I catch up with you all, have a wonderful life and enjoy whatever it is you are doing. Every now and then, stop and… smell the roses – or whatever is around! Just take a deep breath. Over here, we are staying cool…

S8A5200 One of the Venetian bridges in Cyprus – you didn’t know they have been here? Oh, yes, they were!

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Jo, me, Dave and Pauline – good friends!

P.S. The image at the top is the view from Jo’s home… to die for!



Into the Village…

It’s a long time since I last posted on my blog. I’m not going to apologise although I know you missed me… I’ve missed you too!

I have been extremely busy since returning from France where I travelled with my tribe in July 2016. It feels like a lifetime ago! Yet, the memories are so vivid, and the many images  we all captured, revive precious moments.

Since then there were chaotic preparations for the Cyprus Open Studios event in October of which I am the primary organiser. Silly, isn’t it? I could be sitting in the sun, reading or painting or gardening or just do another nothing… but those who know me better, will testify that I’m not a thumb-roller. The grey cells always need something to keep them on their toes!

Here are a few shots of happy faces in my home during open studios last year:

My two partners and I then had our review meeting in November and what blew our socks off was that there wasn’t a single complaint! It was just that little bit spooky as it felt unreal… We are hoping to repeat the process in October 2017, but it really is hard work.

We’ve sent the website for plastic surgery and it came back with a brand new face – much improved from the old one! The lucky thing was I didn’t need to learn many new tricks and the logistics from last year worked just beautifully. So, with everything in place, we are now nearing the deadline for this year’s registration: 30 April which we will probably extend for a month… knowing how the Cypriot mind works! However, registration is a bit slow this year…

Besides all the above, last February I had decided to put my gorgeous villa on the market. It was a difficult decision to make as we planned every tile in the house and every plant in the garden long before we moved in during March 2001. Many, many memories were made here and we mixed a load of good with some shitty bad – and in the end, it was still hard to Let Go. However, the market was very slow and over the year I had only 5 or 6 viewings! I reconciled myself with the fact that whenever the time was right, things would happen…  BUT, in my heart of hearts, I just hadn’t reached the stage where I truly could let go.

Something I had/have to get over:

Then, about three weeks ago, I came to realise that it was time to move forward and the thought that popped up was that I could honestly be happy anywhere I lived. It didn’t depend on a piece of earth and what was created on it. But oh, the knowledge that if I moved away from here, I wouldn’t be able to say hello to fellow dog-walkers every evening, wave at passers-by as they wave hello from their cars, everyone knowing everyone else. It is something I never really had in South Africa; on the farm where I grew up, yes – everyone knew everyone’s business! But in Johannesburg, you cowered behind your high walls and in the end, dared not walk your dog in the streets in case you were being watched… Anyway, water under that bridge.

On Monday, the 3rd of April I signed an Agreement of Sale and on Friday received the non-refundable deposit. The strangest thing is that the developers bought the property back at just under the asking price. Just before the offer came in, I was actually contemplating whether to bring the price down… but then it happened all by itself.

If you have ever heard of the Law of Attraction, you will know that this is how it works.

When I first put the house on the market, I approached the owner of a property in the heart of our village of Tala to see if he would perchance consider letting to me once I had sold mine. Their home had been on the market for yonks! I explained that I couldn’t give any solid dates as it all depended on the sale of this one. This place in the village is well-known and has been used as a gallery and wine bar for years – I exhibited there one year. I fell in love with the feel and the look of the place – it’s an old village house, 4-bedroomed with a magical garden. It is about 50 yards off the village square which has just now been refurbished and is rather stunning.

Long story short – the day I signed the agreement of sale, I telephoned Andreas to find out if the property would still be available for rent. He needed time to think, he said. I was not in a hurry as the developers are letting me stay on here until 31 October – after the open studios event. But, I still fancied that property! And Andreas phoned back a couple of days later and we orally agreed that I would move in effectively on 1 October 2017… Told you I know how the Cypriot mind works; they need leeway in case of “unexpected delays”. In Cyprus, those are abundant!

Crazy old woman, am I?  I’m trying to down-size and here I’m going to rent a property with 4 bedrooms, gallery space and a built-in bar! It used to operate as a restaurant/gallery/wine bar so the kitchen has a magnificent gas cooker, which I don’t think I’ll be using much… on the square there are many excellent eating places!

The one thing that would perhaps get me down is the church bell… it’s CLOSE! Just across the square… but I’m signing for 2 years only with an option to extend. The idea is to host small events such as poetry readings, musical soirees, art discussions, and so forth in the fabulous space available. Yes, at 72.5 I might be regarded as a crazy old woman… but I feel good about it, crazy or not. They say 70 is the new 50…

And a few shots taken over several years of The Gallery:

I think that will keep you happy for a while… this last batch is where I’m (hopefully) going to live for a while as from October… je ne regrette rien!

I hope to update you by Christmas!



According to the old Julian calendar, the 1st of April was New Year’s Day before Pope Gregory XIII changed it to the 1st of January – thus the Gregorian calendar. Thought you could do with a bit of useless information. I choose to see April as a month of New Beginnings … sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

Twelve years ago my life became a boiling cauldron, spitting and bubbling away for what seemed like eons. That April, just after we arrived on the Island of Love, was one of the most soul grinding months I’ve ever experienced … but, that’s another story.

The bubbling and boiling cauldron kept bubbling and boiling for many years to come but I can now say that the fires underneath it have been extinguished and the surface is becoming like a still pond.

I set out on a journey at the beginning of March to seek out friends and family in South Africa, some of whom I have not seen since moving to Cyprus. It was an amazing journey … and probably the cheapest holiday I’ve ever had! No-one wanted me to pay for anything … which left me feeling indebted, but at the same time bursting with gratitude.

I started in Pretoria with my daughter, her husband and my grandson where I stayed for three nights. 110It gave me the opportunity to mend fences with my grandson who didn’t want to speak to his grandmother for more than two years. As that episode, like all the others, is in the past we shall say no more about that. What I do want to say is that I shall be eternally grateful for the opportunity to put things right. We still have a lot of talking to do but at least we are talking … Like every other grandma, I’m really proud of him and having met some of his buddies, I think they are OK; in fact, I’d say more than OK! They have a whole future in front of them and all I can do is wish that I can be part of it for a long time to come.

My only surviving brother turned 81 on the 11th March and for that occasion, I ‘co-piloted’ for my son-in-law as he and my daughter flew me up to one of the northern provinces now called Limpopo, to a mining town called Thabazimbe which translates as ‘mountain of iron’. 040

Don’t I just look the business?

036 Before sunrise at Wonderboom Airfield just outside Pretoria.

For as long as I can remember I wanted to make a real connection with my brother but there being fourteen years between us, made it a bit difficult as I was always the ‘little sister’.

My brother and me

Doesn’t he look just adorable?

However, this time was so different and so much better than I could have hoped for. We spent hours together as we went through old photographs and discussed things that deeply affected him for many years. He drove me around town and buggied me all around the golf course where he has been playing  for many years – and still does! Again, my heart filled with gratitude that we have had the opportunity to come that much closer. I fully and absolutely believe that we are going to continue our conversations in the future and that will bring me such joy.

My next stop, to which my beloved brother drove me 2 hours each way …was with a long-time friend who lost her second husband six years ago.

057Lee is an exceptional person, a retired psychologist who worked in the world of addiction for many years. She lives on the lakeside of a large reservoir called Hartebeespoort Dam and while there, she asked if there was something special I would like to do during my visit. What a question!

It suddenly dawned on me that there was one person I have been wanting to meet for the last 35 years; Margaret Roberts started her herb centre around that time and I followed her through magazine articles and radio broadcasts but never got around to going to the herb centre. And here was that golden opportunity as we were a stone’s throw away. As it happened, the herb centre open for the public on … Wednesdays and this happened to be one of those.

That day will remain in my mind as fresh as the herbs and flowers and fairies that we encountered. Mrs. Roberts spent – unbelievable as this may sound – more than two hours talking to us and she made me promise to  stay in contact.

055 056Well, that was an easy promise to make as we both felt that we go back many lifetimes. Needless to say, she re-inspired me to make my garden into that Eden I have always wanted it to be. I’m hoping to open it to the public in about 18 months’ time, together with putting an art exhibition together. And yes, there will be a fairy garden once again. However, things may change at a moment’s notice … watch this space!

Lee spoiled me even further by taking me to dinner at Stef’s Table – a really intimate restaurant run by Stefan and Athlone, the latter being an artist who works extensively in stained glass. What fabulous work! I was again favoured by the gods as I was shown Athlone’s workshop – a rear treat! Stef’s food is not done justice by calling it just food – it’s fit for the gods!

And up the mountain we also went. 069 064 065 068

The cable car system was replaced a couple of years ago and when you see the old wheel, your heart would stop … it was made of wood and looked infinitely fragile! The new system is ultra modern and provided me with yet another grand experience long desired.

From Lee’s place, I moved to the other side of the lake to two dear friends who live on a golfing estate designed by Jack Nicklaus, called Pecanwood. Lee stayed for dinner and we all enjoyed a lovely meal of salmon, potato chips and salad with good wine in abundance. And there was ice-cream to follow! Lee was made aware of the theatre club as well as the gardening club in the area, something she had been looking for. And again, the fact that there are no coincidences triumphed.

Once again, I was made so exceptionally welcome by Penny and Keith and my stay included a trip to the theatre – something I haven’t done since Donald and I went to Drury Lane to see Miss Saigon. Really good farce called “Don’t dress for dinner”. On Sunday morning, my host and hostess went to the cricket at Wanderers and dropped me off at another friend’s home in Bedfordview. She and her husband, John, did a trip a few years ago which left us all breathless as we followed them from … Cape to Cairo and beyond. They did it in a vehicle they nicknamed The Beast … and I had the honour to meet this glorious beast! 104This tiny woman is a bundle of fire and determination – do not take her lightly!

105 I seem to be wearing almost the same clothes all the time! That’s called ‘travelling light’!

Marina lost her husband a mere six weeks after I lost mine and we have all been rather close for many years. That Sunday happened to be exactly six months since John drowned in a diving accident off the coast of Scotland and the Monday was to be their 25th wedding anniversary. I wanted to be with her at that time and we spent hours just talking non-stop. I hope I helped to make those two days easier for her.

We had these few days to ourselves and we cried while watching “The Notebook” and laughed while watching “Something’s got to give”. We topped that with watching “Mama Mia” – again – and sang along, remembering all those old songs when we were so much younger and happier. Since John passed away, Marina had to fight all sorts of demons including two human ones – she really didn’t deserve that! However, she is a strong person and I’m sure she will win through in the end as she has goodness on her side. The Light usually overpowers the Dark. We also used a little retail therapy for comfort …

When planning my itinerary, I made provision to stay in a hotel near the shopping mall where I used to work before getting married in 1987, so that I could entertain other friends. It was wonderful to walk the halls of opulence once again, drooling over the window displays, sniffing the expensive perfume wafting from boutiques and admiring the well-dressed people going about their business of becoming even more beautiful and well dressed.

Once again, the Universe arranged a meeting between Sandy Barnes and myself as he and Thelma were in Johannesburg for one day only, picking up supplies for their home-building project many miles away on their farm in the Free State. He had a window of about one hour during which we could meet and … talk! How great was that?

That evening I spent happy hour with Graham and Vivienne, who had forgiven me for waking her up before 10.00 a.m. Oops! I was not aware of the ‘rule’ so, once again, sorry, Vivienne! It was great seeing them again and I had to promise that next time I’m in Johannesburg, I would spend time with them at Tara, their fantabulous home in Saxonwold. No problem – it would be my indulgence.

My last day in Johannesburg was spent meeting my daughter off the train from Pretoria for more retail therapy at the shopping mall and meeting my financial advisor for lunch. Brilliant company, good food and once again … no paying! What bliss …

The Gautrain, I must mention, is ultra-modern and was completed in time for the Soccer World Cup in 2010 – certainly worth trying it out which I did in the afternoon, going back to Pretoria for my final leg of my grand tour. Very impressive!

The following day was spent watching my daughter and her helpers prepare for the big cup-cake-fest; it was graduation day for the students who attended her sewing school. 136 135Joey, my daughter, is teetering on the brink of being a perfectionist to say the least. Just have a look at these photographs of the storeroom … am I right? I’m so proud of her!

 124 123Have you ever seen such order?

More time was spent meeting my grandson’s friends and feasting around tables laden with exceptional goodies. The young ones made us old ones feel young again as they laughed and joked. Great, great times spent with my loved ones.

To put the cherry on top of my journey, a sewing lesson was arranged with the people who supplied my sewing machine 13 years ago; I never had the time to take that lesson before packing the machine for the journey to Cyprus! I’m so glad I could get this lesson in as it opened up all kinds of doors …

Not only am I going to create lovely things to wear but also wonderful things to pick out of my garden, the vegetable patch to be created and, oh … don’t forget the paintings and the fairy tales to be illustrated! Lots and lots of plans and ideas for this new phase in my life.

I am so full of gratitude for each and every person who made this sojourn so very special; I shall remember it for the rest of my life and build on what I have learned from all of you. Once again, thank you – from the bottom of my heart, soul and being.

556513_385818031491651_353592343_n As I walk along the seashore I shall think of you all …

until next time.

(Image drawn from the internet – unable to credit the artist/photographer – but with great thanks for a lovely picture!)


Now that we all know we are SAFE from utter destruction, life can perhaps go on.

What a load of old you-know-what! Such a lot of hoo-ha over a simple switching one light off and another one on – the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. Like John Lennon said : getting out of one car and getting into another – but he was talking about death. In a way, that was what just happened : one era died and another was born. Hooray!

This 2012-thing did release a lot of energy, good and bad. It really all depends on how each individual handles the abundance. Yes, there is such a lot of opportunity in this world if only people would stop asking : “What’s in it for me?” as opposed to : “What can I give (or do) to make this a better world?” It’s a bit like going for a job interview and instead of asking : “Have you got a job for me?” rather ask : “How can I contribute to making this company/institution/organisation/position better?”

Silly? I think not. We, the entire world, are in a pickle and we need to get out of it and make it better. Napoleon Hill* suggested that to get out of the Great Depression, the above questions should be paramount. We are all in it together and we need to get out of it … together. There simply is no way that you can reap what you have not sown and if you are looking for a good harvest, you better sow the right seeds.

Oh, perhaps this is just an old woman reminiscing at the end of a year; at the end of an era and at the ‘end’ of all she has known and been familiar with until now. Things have changed for me in 2012 – in a massive way. And the time has come to evaluate Life from all angles before moving into the new age and the new year.

I guess I can count myself amongst the lucky ones as I have good health, terrific family and friends, a roof over my head that is paid for and enough food to feed my tribe from time to time. I have a fabulous garden that needs a lot of tender care as all the happenings of 2012 made for neglect. Another lucky thing is that I love gardening and I have two splendid dogs to keep me company whilst digging, weeding, planting and sowing. However, right now the garden is a sodden mess from an unusually high rainfall for December. This normally happens around end-January and during February of each year. But I guess the Universe had to have a house-cleaning exercise to herald in the new era. I wonder if it rained on other planets too …

I do look forward to 2013 as I will be visiting my homeland again after an absence of eight years. I look forward to the adventure of doing things solo although there will be many of those things that will hurt like hell; but an adventure it will be nonetheless. I’ve not done many things on my own; it’s a whole new learning curve and in many instances, a steep one. Sometimes the answers elude me and then … kaboom! They are right there where they always were, just waiting to be discovered!

One of these things that bothered me was the watering of my eyes after having had cataract removals, once in 2008 and once in November this year. I’ve tried everything to stop this irritating thing! And then this morning, it came to me : my body tried, on both occasions, to reject the foreign body (implanted lenses). It’s as simple as that and since that light went up, the watering seems to have subsided … if I were a meerkat, I would’ve clicked my tongue. Now I have to re-programme my mind in order to accept and welcome these wondrous lenses that enable me to see the beauty around me as well as enabling me to do what I love most : creating artistic things, especially painting.

That was just one of the things that bothered me. Yet, there have been so many things that trilled and surprised me and most of that came down to the kindness of people.

My darling Donald’s passing in August brought home to me the circle of friends we have built up since we arrived here in Cyprus in 2001. And the great thing about friends is that we retained those we left behind … both in South Africa and the rest of the world. And all along our travels, we found more of them – friends, that is!

It has also become clear to me why, traditionally, widows/widowers are supposed to be in mourning for a full year. It takes that long to re-learn how to live on one’s own! One has to go through each annual event such as birthdays, Easter, the seasons and Christmas without your partner, before being able to finally let go and moving forwards. I have only just completed a third of that time and come to realise just how much more I have to learn. The festive season is a time to be jolly and unite with family and friends. Well, most of my family are many miles away and although the friends are extremely supportive and loving, they all have their own families to celebrate with. No, I’m not complaining, honest! And I will be with dear friends. It’s just another life lesson on the curve and that’s OK – I’m good, as our American friends would say.

We, here in Tala (my village), are in the process of founding an arts centre as the community is large and there are many artists living in the area. We had our preliminary meeting last week and guess who the secretary is? Moi! Having had quite an extensive background in running my own art gallery in South Africa for some 10 years as well as being active in the Open Studios activities here, I’m really happy to be able to bring my skills to the table and help make this project a success. I’m also not asking what’s in it for me … I’m hoping to serve the community.

Paphos town, our municipal hub, won the honour of being elected Culture City 2017 and it’s time to start thinking and planning. Interesting times lie ahead and I’m already beginning to get really excited. Lots of things are already going on in preparation for the big event but imaginative planning needs to be fine-tuned. I’m really looking forward to this!

Finally, I would like to say to each and every one of you who have been right by my side – literally and figuratively – during the dark days in August, the most heartfelt Thank You for being there for me. I shall NEVER forget!

I also wish you and your loved ones the most blessed festive season
and the absolute best for 2013.
Go forth and prosper!
May the Force be with you!!