Now for something completely different, folks – I simply had to express my delight at watching huge, bumblebees pottering around the flowers in our garden. It’s decades since I saw a bumblebee so I was enchanted to watch this big, blue-black insect taking its time inspecting the various blossoms and sorting out which one was best. Added to the all-black bumblebee, we’ve also seen another bumblebee which has a black body and a bright yellow head. It really looked quite spectacular. I love seeing bees and insects pollinating the flowers in our garden because it means there’s a health environment here. Oh, and for all you Harry Potter fans, the old name for a bumblebee was “Dumbledore”. I came across an interview with J.K. Rowling where she said that, because the head of Hogwarts was fond of music, she envisaged him humming a lot.
What I like about bumblebees is that they take their time, check out which flower they’ll alight on for pollen, and are so unthreatening and inoffensive. When I was checking out the history of bumblebees, I was appalled to see the first thing that came up in the search was “how to kill bumblebees” What a sad commentary on our society when people want to kill this beautiful, and very useful insect. I remember talking to a neighbour when we lived high on the mountains in northern New South Wales about the local wasps. We would trap them in a glass then release them outside as it was quite clear they were flummoxed at not being able to get to the outdoors they could see because glass was in the way. Our neighbour simply remarked that they got quite aggro when they were hit by insect spray and it seemed such a lazy way to interact with insects which really only want to get out of your way.
The weather here in North Cyprus is now so warm that the cicadas start singing in the mid-morning and very seldom let up before twilight creeps in around 8 in the evening. We also have quite a few frogs croaking loudly in the paddock beside our apartment, and we also hear owls hooting in the night, although we haven’t actually seen what kind of owls you get on this island. We see quite a few pied crows here, but they don’t caw as much as Australian crows used to, and they tend to be on their own and not in the family groups we’d see back in Oz.
But we have also had a few changes on our domestic front with the arrival, as some of you know, of a white cat of Siamese origin. We had seen her around over a couple of weeks, and then she took to turning up on our patio to say hello. My husband was adamant she wouldn’t be fed or let into the house, and I just smiled to myself, as yes, that prohibition only lasted two days. Snowflake, as we then called her, settled in nicely. And once she’d checked us out, given us her stamp of approval and made her self at home, she brought in a kitten, a beautiful little snow-white replica of the mother cat. So we thought, well, what’s two cats to feed, no problem. And once the kitten had been settled in, Snowflake then brought in the SECOND kitten!
Snowflake’s name changed to Jezebel once we’d had her spayed as she was in a very evil mood when she returned home, replete with stitches and hung over by the anaesthetic. She duffed up the kittens when they were silly enough to get near her, took swipes at our legs if WE were silly enough to get near her, and generally stomped around in a very foul mood. The Snowflake moniker moved to the smallest kitten who has a long thin tail likes its mum, who is still some-
what feral and nervous, but also is into any bit of mayhem it can manage to create. The second kitten is Sweetie, who is the bigger of the kittens, has a more fluffy tail and is far more placid than her sibling. And into this menagerie has also wandered Gorgeous George, a feral cat, a real ham actor who sat at our gate and looked pitiful when the other three cats were eating their meals. So we gave into this emotional blackmail, we put out biscuits for him, and stay quite still when he comes up onto the patio when we’re sitting out there, and polishes off whatever food the three white cats have left. I call him a ham actor as he’s a big, solid, ginger cat with a large head, in very good shape, and I seriously would not want to get on the wrong side of him!
And just to round off this picture, I conquered a big fear of mine about not being able to get out of our communal swimming pool, which has a ladder and no steps into the water. Years ago I nearly got stuck in a pool when I couldn’t pull myself up on the steps, so I’ve avoided swimming since we got here. But one day I took a deep breath and decided I would jump in the deep end (so to speak), get in the pool and hope I’d get out again. Worked a treat! So now I go into the pool practically every day where I do water aerobics, run in the water and do widths of the pool (haven’t got to lengths yet!). I say “practically every day” because some days, in this very hot, humid weather, I get very painful muscles and joints from the fibromyalgia, I’m aware I need to rest so I don’t push myself.
Last but not least, the driving in North Cyprus continues to be absolutely chaotic but very good-natured, no road rage, and if you don’t have the money to pay for something, people trust you and are quite happy for you to turn up whenever you are able to pay for whatever you’ve bought. I also love the readiness of people here to have a good laugh and stuff around. It’s one of the perks of living in an overgrown village like Kyrenia. When you drive into Nicosia, the pace of living is a lot faster and it’s always a reminder to me how city-phobic I’ve become and how much I’ve come to love life in the slow lane.