‘Clamping down’ should be more than just words - Paula Manoli-Gray

It is always pleasant news when Larnaka Municipality states that it will clamp down on certain anti-social behaviours (of which there are many!) But it is never a guarantee that they will put their money (or that of the taxpayers) where their mouth is, so I really, really hope that this time the new law of not allowing eyesores and illegal obstructions on pavements will be implemented.


No doubt there are business owners who are up-in-arms at the new decree that only those with prior permission are allowed to put signs, tables, chairs and decorative items on the pavements and roads outside of their establishments. After all, the sight of a board menu or an 'open' sign is a common sight in town, and within reason, the practise seems fairly harmless.


But, you get establishments who think that they own the pavement and road outside of their premises, to the point that they fill both up either to stop people parking (and thus blocking the sight of their premises), or to extend their services outside. And there are those who go a step further and actually forbid members of the public to park even in metered spaces unless they are visiting their particular shop or restaurant. Not only is this unfair and illegal, but there have been many instances when the establishment owners have actually become aggressive or violent towards vehicles parked outside 'their' premises. I have personally heard of owners returning to egged or scratched cars for refusing not to abide by the establishment's demands to move along.


By claiming the surrounding areas of their business, there are many establishments that are inconveniencing and endangering pedestrians – especially those with pushchairs and wheelchairs - by forcing them to walk on the road. It makes me very cross that any business should take away someone's right to walk safely on a pavement, or abuse them if they try to walk through the obstacle course of pot plants, signs and tables, or dare to park legally outside.


The reason that this clamping down is taking place is actually mainly for aesthetic reasons. As a tourist town, rusty signs held down by an old tire do not look nice! There is no consistency to the type of signs used, and some of them are actually hazardous as well as ugly. Good luck to the municipality, as I really don't fancy their chances of policing an entire town's pavements or finding cooperative business owners!


Personally, I live in fear of parking in a legal spot outside someone's business, as they tend to peer out and give you a dirty look if you are not going inside. I normally park and run out of the car before they spot me. This is crazy but in Cyprus, people are very territorial of surrounding areas that they think 'belong' to them.


Case-in-point is the issue of residential areas where homeowners selfishly plant massive trees in the middle of pavements, or park their car fully on the pavement. It has long been a contentious issue for me, especially as nothing is being done about it.


I for one certainly look forward to a less hazardous town, and kindly request that residential areas are next on the list!


First appeared in The Cyprus Weekly, week 03/07/15

 

Wobbly bits and genius ideas - Paula Manoli-Gray

Despite an unusually slow start, summer has finally made its grand entrance! The good news for residents of the island is that this year the summer will be 'milder' – or so the press tells us. That means it will be hot – too hot at times – but not super-unbearably-hot for the most part! Considering that it is almost July and we have yet to have to turn on the air-conditioning, we have done very well so far!


I cannot imagine there are too many people on the island who absolutely hate summer, because logically, they wouldn't chose to live here, but I am sure there are a fair portion, who – like me - still get a shock when it is time to bare some flesh!


Despite knowing all-year-round that summer is coming with certainty, and therefore sandals, shorts, t.shirts and swimwear are inevitable too, it is always a little traumatising when you first reveal a patch of white skin, or wobbly, cellulite-d, varicose veined or scarred imperfections! But the summer and the sea have a strange way of making us compartmentalise our body exposure. I personally wouldn't dream of wearing leggings, hot pants, a mini skirt or even shorts slightly above the knee, but I have no issue with wearing what amounts to underwear-in-a-purpose-made-fabric (a.k.a swimwear) at the beach. That said, I do choose my beaches with care and do not frequent those where the young and beautiful are living life like one big party, so that could have something to do with it…


…but I do adore the sea (I don't sunbathe, it's all about the water for me), and I love going early morning when the water is cold and calm and the sea creatures have not gone into hiding yet. Already this year I have found some unusual shells that I did not have in my collection, and have met a starfish, crabs and other assorted fish. And it is on one of these mornings, mulling over how we have once again topped the list for Europe's cleanest coasts, and how on earth that is possible when I am forever picking rubbish out of the sea, that I had one of those genius ideas that you know would be a winner but that you will never do.

If anyone from the municipality is reading, I would love them to take my suggestion on board because I really think it would help everyone to pitch in and keep our seas clean and safe. So, the idea is (drum roll please) Floating Sea Bins.


If there were Floating Sea Bins (moored down like buoys) with slots for throwing litter in, but that you could not take litter out of (like bottle banks), then maybe more people would care for the state of the seas by picking up any litter they found and depositing it in the bins. So far, the waters are generally clean but I have found too many tin cans and plastic bags for my liking. I do throw them out of the sea when I am close enough to the shore for my weak throw to catapult them out of the water, but most of the time I am too far from the sands to pick the litter out the sea and keep taking it out.


Floating Sea Bins… you heard it here first!


First appeared in The Cyprus Weekly, 26/06/15

Do you want flies with that? - Paula Manoli-Gray

As an advertising copywriter as well as a journalist, I am guilty of regularly extolling the virtues of al fresco dining on the island (a posh way of saying 'eating outside').

 

On many occasion I have painted a picture with words about how amazing it is to be able to eat outside in nice weather; either at home in the garden or on a veranda, or at one of the many restaurants that have lovely outdoor areas. It is a wonderful vision of intimately sharing delicious, fresh food under the sun or stars, with smiles all-round and beautiful memories created…

 

…I don't know about you, but as a resident of the island, I have rarely enjoyed a meal outdoors that has not been ruined by insects!

 

We don't eat in our own garden due to flies, mosquitoes and ants. When my parents invite us to eat on their veranda - or at the horafi where dad has a clay oven - we literally spend the entire time fighting off the flies; swatting the kids food (and sacrificing our own in the process so that our precious babies' meals are not tainted), and generally getting incredibly grumpy that we cannot enjoy what was potentially going to be another great, big, fat Cypriot feast! It is horrible. Al fresco dining is certainly not all it is hyped up to be!

 

But something that visitors do not realise is that having insects in and around your home in Cyprus is not an indication that you are dirty in any way… everyone has them, they are everywhere and that is just the way it is!

 

I sometimes read online reviews for hotels on the island where the guest from abroad has written of their disgust of finding a single, solitary cockroach or ant on the premises, and I really feel for the venue. Whilst a hoard of roaches running riot anywhere is horrible and could indeed be an indication of lowly hygiene standards, the odd roach here or there in houses and hotels is perfectly normal, and no matter how much you take care to treat against them, a rogue one will always surface. Ants too are notoriously hard to get rid of once they have taken hold and decided that your home is a good source of food! I know of people with extremely clean kitchens who simply cannot get rid of the ants, and of others whose kitchens are not so clean that have never had an ant in their life. It seems it is partly how you keep your abode, but also partly luck of the draw.

 

And as for mosquitoes, some people genuinely dread summer if they live in an area particularly bad for mosquitoes, or have the kind of blood that the critters go crazy for. No matter what precautions they take, my son, sister and mother-in-law especially appeal to the bloodsuckers, whilst hubby seems to appeal to them the least!

 

I personally do not kill insects unless it is absolutely vital, preferring to take them – or guide them – out of the house. I consider my garden to be fair game and that I have no right to deny insects any outside areas, as they are just being what they were made to be, but that said, I do yearn for the al fresco dining that I promote. And yes, whilst there are far worse problems in the world (and Larnaca), as an island built on the tradition of food and eating outdoors, that experience of spoilt fly-laden souvla really can seem like a tragedy sometimes!


First appeared in The Cyprus Weekly, 19/06/15


Summer School at Home




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