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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Ken looking at the BBQ thinking "Tucky is that you?!"

Ken looking at the BBQ thinking “Tucky is that you?!”

There’s never been any doubt in my mind that my family is a little bit country.

Easter Sunday was spent chasing the chickens away from the BBQ hoping they wouldn’t make the connection between themselves and their not so distant herb covered cousins.

Some cultures dye their Easter eggs red, others mould them out of chocolate but my family decided all that was far too main stream. We weren’t having any of it, we were going back to basics and making our eggs from scratch.

In the incubator at a tropical 37.5°c - tempted to get in there myself!

In the incubator at a tropical 37.5°c – tempted to get in there myself!

I’m not talking Nigella Lawson here, I mean straight up Old MacDonald type stuff; 18 fertilized eggs, 1 incubator and a 22 day wait. I can safely say it is by far the longest I’ve ever had to wait for eggs. I am only left to hope that it is culturally acceptable to give live chicks to people for Easter because 18 children is somewhat more than I planned on having.

The first beak came through while I was at work and apparently “I’m about to be a mum” wasn’t enough to get me out of work for the afternoon. I should have definitely used the “surrogate” excuse as opposed to the “one of my eggs have cracked” explanation I went with.

The first beak.

The first beak.

It turns out it wasn’t an issue, these babies brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘slow cooked chicken’; they weren’t ready to come out and so they didn’t.

I even tried to Google how long it takes for a chick to hatch (incidentally the number 1 suggested search when I started typing was “how long does it usually take for chicks to text back” reminding me that the days of rearing your own chickens at home are well and truly coming to an end).

As for the birth of my first chick. Well I missed it.

You know those men whose wives are in labour for hours? They sit next to a heavily breathing woman for what seems like forever, then the poor sods pop out for 3 minutes to get a sandwich and end up missing the entire birth. Well today I reach out to poorly timed men the world over and express my understanding. From this day forth “but I got hungry” will be accepted as an excuse for being absent at the birth, because missing that final moment… apparently is not that hard to do!

Tweet tweet

Tweet tweet

My first chick

My first chick

That being said of course I did have 17 more chicks to follow.

As for this one, well he needed a name that proclaimed ‘first born’ and so I named him Adam. A stroke of genius on my (the internet’s) behalf.

Ruined only by the fact there’s still a 50% chance it turns out to be a girl.

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Make a choice, change your life. I dare you.

I have been advised by my daily horoscope to take a break. Not that I needed an Oracle to tell me that. And not that I much believe in Star Signs either, but due to a complete lack of any personal wisdom I thought I’d seek outside help.

I’ve never been a believer in fate, I think we make our own decisions, and the relevant outcomes are ones we inadvertently chose. That being said, I’ve been hoping that perhaps (for maybe the first time ever) I might be wrong.

If someone could convince me that everything happens for a reason, then I wouldn’t have to worry so much, about all the choices I have miscalculated. Wouldn’t it be nice, if instead of regretting the things which go wrong, we can just assume that if they were meant to be, they would.

I’d definitely sleep better at night if I could just conclude that things happen because they’re meant to, and I have no actual control, just the illusion of it. Because the alternative, that things aren’t all tied up in fate, and that we make our own luck, involves a lot more bravery than I think I can summon. If life is, as I had originally thought, unplanned, unscripted and just plain messy, then every tiny thing you or I do, effects the way we’ll end up.

Think about it.

Leaving 2 minutes later for work, can be the difference between a collision, and a morning spent listening to mediocre breakfast music. Smoking that cigarette can be the difference between living till 40 and living till 85. Applying for that job might be the line between survival and success. Going to this bar instead of that one is the difference between meeting someone, and never even knowing they existed. And telling someone how you feel could be the difference between being happy, and not.

If this doesn’t scare you, then maybe you could share some insight, because it sure as hell scares me.

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Not Quite Resolutions

Image From http://therichkidwannabe.blogspot.com/2011/01/resolutions-for-new-year.htmlI’ve never much believed in New Years Resolutions, mainly because the turning of the year is no more likely to get me on a treadmill than bikini season or my gym instructor’s scornful “I haven’t seen you here in months” eyes. So just to be clear these are not resolutions. It’s two weeks into 2012, so we can agree that I’ve definitely missed the resolution making portion of the year.

These are not so much ways to improve myself, and lets face it why would I want to (don’t answer that) but instead, more ways to ensure I don’t reach 2013 without a single thing to show for myself aside from that increasing Jack Daniels dependency. And shoes, far, far too many shoes.

1. Get a job, one which pays more than the most minimum of wages. As much as I love my mum, I can’t spend the next 27 years living at home, which incidentally is how long it would take me to put a deposit on the very shittiest of flats with my current salary.

2. Sky dive, or bungee jump, or take up aerobatic flying lessons or pretty much anything in this general category that is guaranteed to make me pee my pants a little bit. You’re never going to be amazed in life, unless you do some things, which are a little bit amazing.

3. Succeed in getting George Michaels “Faith” out of my head. It’s been stuck there for approximately 3 years, and whilst before it was bad, now it also comes with the accompanying dance moves compliments of J.D. No not the liquor, the character, in Scrubs.

4. Visit a county, where the rain is warm. Or perhaps before I get ahead of myself, I should aim to visit a country which is not Cypriot, Greek, Greek-Cypriot or any other variation which results in me eating Feta in the village tavern owned by Stelios.

5. Slow dance. Not jokingly. Not with my God-sister while drunk. Not with my dog (who for the record does an excellent Waltz) and not with my fingers on the steering wheel whilst bored in traffic.

The list could go on. A result of a very unproductive 2011 no doubt, I am left with a million and one things I was always meant to, but never quite got around to doing. I guess I could add teaching my dad how to text to the list and losing that last pound that just won’t budge from my thighs, but like I said these’s aren’t resolutions, and I am not a miracle worker.

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I’ve lived in London my whole life. I was born over here so I suppose that makes me, if not English, then British at least. So what separates me from all my English friends? Because despite the fact we all went to the same school, watched the same cartoons growing up and all now live within about a 2mile radius of each other, there is a definite difference.

It’s our families, and while my classmates were all bought up with some level of normalcy, I was raised by a man who herded sheep as a child and the woman who chose to marry him. On face value we might seem the same as every other Londoner, but once you know how to read the signs, you’ll notice that you can actually spot us as mile off…

1. You know you’re dealing with someone who has foreign parents when it takes them 10 minutes to explain to the Fed Ex guy how to spell their surname. “No… an.. as..iou… iou… no just one iou… here let me just write if for you!” Because apparently even spell-check can’t help you out with Athanasiou.

2. It doesn’t matter if she’s 26, while she’s living at home, if you’re picking her up for a date, the chances are you’re going to have to wait around the corner.

3. Also, once they do move out, it’s of no consequence how many years they’ve been living away from home, if they’re going to visit their parents, they will be coming back with a clean basket of laundry and 6 assorted Sainsbury’s carrier bags. This is has nothing to do with being spoilt, this is just how our mothers show us love.

Quiet Sunday Dinner...

4. Cooking for Sunday dinner doesn’t involve a quiet meal for 4. No, it involves peeling potatoes until your arm goes numb; after all it’s rude to cook and not invite the whole family over. And even if the whole family isn’t coming, it’s best to cook for them anyway… just in case. Don’t worry this isn’t wasteful, what doesn’t get eaten today will be re-heated four times and eaten every night next week.

5. If while cooking together you pass them the wooden spoon and they duck, I promise this is completely normal. It’s a reflex deeply ingrained in them from the age of about 10 when they brought home their first bad report card and in turn got their first beating. Other such painful memory triggers include: slippers, brooms and their mums hand.

6. This one may be Cypriot specific but, we don’t say turn ‘on the lights’, we say ‘open the lights’. And no, despite being corrected several million times, we still don’t care that it doesn’t make any sense.

7. We have all at some point in our lives received a lecture which is a variation on the classic: “I came to this country with only two pounds in my pocket and I worked hard to build all this for you so you and your sister could have everything…” This may have something to do with the fact our parents believe we don’t recognise hard work due to the fact we have never ploughed a field.

8. “I’m going on holiday to see my family” tends to mean “see you in 5 weeks. I may have a twinge to my accent upon return and if all goes to plan I will be almost black”.

9. Despite being born over here, and having cultivated just about every British tradition going,  we still refer to everyone else as: “English People“.

Souvla Sunday...

10. Again, this may be a Cypriot specific adaptation, derived from the days where public transport was called Laki The Donkey, or perhaps it’s a result of our families missing the village days where everything you ever needed was a 3 minute walk away. Either way we all live pretty much down the same road, or at a push a couple of roads over. This essentially saves money on phone calls because you don’t need to call everyone to invite them to a Sunday BBQ, you just put the meat on and wait for them to smell it.

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Image from: http://longwood-house.co.ukSmile. No a little bit wider. Show me some teeth. Thatttts it. Feeling better
already are you? What do you mean ‘no’? You mean to tell me that grinning and bearing it doesn’t make all your troubles go away? Well there goes my theory out the window.

So what exactly does make us happy? Bucket of chicken? Sometimes. Glass of wine, or in my case make that seven. That usually works. Falling in love? Unlikely to be honest, you spend half the time extatic and the other half suicidally depressed. Or maybe that’s just me again. Watching your team win a match? Though I’m not sure if that’s so much happiness as it is momentary elation.

Money might help. I know they say it doesn’t, but perhaps whoever these ‘they’ are have never owned an Audi R8. Don’t be under any illusion that I have, but take it from me I’d find it pretty hard to be depressed in one of those babies. Maybe I’m just more shallow than your average person (or more honest, I’m not sure).

Expensive cars aside however, I think we’ve got this happiness business all wrong. Most people seem to think we have to be happy all the time, well I personally can’t think of anything more exhausting. See what you’ve actually got to do is make sure you have enough good moments in life to out-balance the incredibly (excuse my language but it’s needed) shit ones.

These days everyone thinks to be happy we need to prove how great our lives are all the time. Its common knowledge if your facebook, twitter, bbm and linkedin statuses don’t indicate what a blast you’re having, the chances are you’re probably at home bored. And if you’re not, well everyone else thinks you are, so you might as well be.

Now call me crazy but maybe, just maybe if everyone spent a little more time living life instead of updating about it, we’d start noticing how great we’ve all really got it.

And what really makes me happy? The little things. Going to buy a pair of shoes and my debit card not being declined. A guy I like texting when he says he will. McDonald’s accidentally forgetting to charge me for my chips. Making my friends laugh, (with me, not at me). And of course, eating half the contents of my fridge and still being able to wear skinny jeans without it being ironic.

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First of all, let it be known, I can be pretty stupid sometimes.

I mean I can’t spell to save my life (in fact I have spell-check to thank for my degree) and just yesterday I had to ask my mum if Capers were those little fish things (turns out I meant sardines). So perhaps I am being slightly liberal by putting myself in the ‘Brains’ category, but for the sake of my argument, lets just go with it.

Now I’ve done my research. And most guys want both: Brains and Beauty. I don’t blame them, hell I agree with them. But let’s be honest sometimes the world’s just not that kind.

When forced to make a choice, general consensus was (insert manly voice here) “brains every time because we love a girl who can carry a conversation”. I can almost hear the world-wide sigh of relief while mascara wands are being put down the nation over. So being able to carry a conversation is sexy now? 1 point to me.

Of course that’s all very well in theory. And I know the female population isn’t exactly divided into two categories ‘hot’ or ‘not’. One man’s Angelina Jolie may be another’s Susan Boyle (sorry Susan). But the fact of the matter is I’ve never heard of a model or an actress incapable of finding herself a boyfriend. But a doctor, a nurse, a female comedian? Different matter altogether.

Sometimes we like to flatter ourselves and say that men can’t handle strong opinionated women. But then I remember my mum’s married, and they don’t come much more opinionated than her. So that definitely can’t be the problem.

The real issue is, that the men who claim they don’t like beautiful girls probably feel this way because they think, they’d never be able to get one anyway. As for the rest of them? These men who say they like to be ‘intellectually stimulated’. Well lets face it, when you’re talking to a group of girls on a night out. Which one do you remember? The one with the banter? Or the one with the great face and huge tits? Say it. Don’t worry, I won’t judge you. If I was standing next to someone with a face like Jesse Williams, no amount of wit and charm would distract me either.

You see in theory most guys do want a funny girl they can talk football to and argue about which Lord of the Rings film was better. In practically we haven’t evolved all that much from the caveman days. And nothing gets those clubs swinging like a sexy little slave girl who knows her way around the cave. And by cave I mean bedroom.

Of course none of us would ever admit to being this fundamentally shallow. When asked, 90% of us will pick ‘personality’ over ‘looks’ every time. Which is lovely. And would be even lovelier if it were true.

In actuality, pre-marriage, people don’t pick their partners based on their mutual liking for late night spooning sessions and staring into each others eyes. You pick them based on how much of a sexy-beast you’d look, standing next to them. But don’t worry about it. You can all continue to chat up the sexiest girl who’ll listen. And in turn we’ll all continue applying make-up and wearing push up bras and pretending we’re naturally this pretty.

I mean lets face it, when you start dating a new girl, your friends will ask to see a picture of her. Not hear a recent joke she’s told you. And whether you want it to or not, it starts to matter.

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Me & My Welsh Garden

There are sheep in Wales. Lots and lots of sheep. What’s a girl to do with all these sheep? Short of skinning them and making myself a cute little jumper, I’m lost for thought.

Usually my idea of a vacation involves sex on the beach (the drink not the act) and a tan, not fields and a growing addiction to Daim bars. But my family had booked a cottage for eight, and I’d be damned if I was staying at home to eat McDonalds-for-one on Easter Sunday.

I changed my mind when I saw the sign “Welcome to Wales”, or as it read: ” Chroesawa at Cymru”. Yes they have their own Language. Yes I’d forgotten about it. Yes it looks a lot like those late night indecipherable messages you get from your drunk friends.

Not that I needed a sign to tell me we’d left London anyway. The air smells different you know. I felt as though my nostrals were taking a wander through a fresh garden salad. Appealing to some I’m sure, but as a born and bred London girl, I prefer my air with a hint of pollution.

Not that I can’t appreciate a bit of greenary, and Pembroke was certainly that. Sitting in the garden of our cottage, making my way through my third bag of chicken crisps (because you can’t enjoy a beautiful view without snacks) I decided, this country-side malarkey wasn’t half bad. Plus, I’m convinced I’d live about 20 years longer if I lived out there; chances of getting eaten by wild goat aside, it all seems pretty safe to me. Not to mention stress free. At the time I was bewildered by the lack of elderly people over there, but looking back I must consider the possibility that life in Wales is probably just wrinkle free.

What? So We Got A Bit Excited By The Beach

And there was a beach. That combined with my weight gain of 4 pounds pretty much gives my trip to Wales all the makings of a real holiday. Though be warned, if you do choose to forgo Malia and make your way over to sheep-ville instead, leave your stilettos at home. Take it from me, the only site they’ll be seeing is the inside of your suitcase. It turns out these heels were not made for walking. Well, not country hills anyway.

As for the sheep. They wern’t half bad, but three hours of slow barbecuing… made them a lot better.

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Me in 5 Years?

I actually picked up 20p off the floor today. It’s come to that.

Before you judge me, let it be known I gave it a hand sanitiser bath before popping it into my purse next to that losing lottery ticket I couldn’t quite bring myself to throw away.

Who knew you can’t get a loan for a Masters? Not me. Hats off to NatWest really for allowing me an overdraft the size of Brazil. Not that I’m worried about it or anything, I love a good challenge, and digging my self out of that one, is going to be just that.

I remember earning some money somewhere along the way, but since the only thing I ever invested in was my feet, we’re back to square one. My maths is rusty at best, so correct me if I’m wrong, but with the help of my blackberry’s calculator I worked out that over the years, I’ve spent approximately £3000 on shoes.

My next pair perhaps?

Now, I didn’t want to have to whip out the finger of blame, but I’m convinced that my parents have been encouraging this unfortunate obsession on the basis that without savings I’d be forced to live with them until the age of 35.

To any other culture this would seem an inprobable explanation, but us Greeks like our kids where we can see them. Where we can ensure they are eating four square meals a day, and only bringing home acceptable suitors (wealthy bankers who grown their own tomato plants and are in possession of a stereotypically Mediterranean  long baby finger nail).

“Love grows” my Grandma tells me, “what you need is stability”. They may as well give up this pretence of happiness altogether and nudge me down the aisle, to Abba’s Money Money Money proving my fellow students right once and for all.

I should elaborate. Way back when in sixth form, I had been voted “Most Likely To Marry For Money”. I personally don’t know where they got such an idea.

Yes I’d like to be rich, who wouldn’t? (Walk in wardrobe’s don’t build themselves you know). And yes it’s probably going to take me a while (because as I’ve discovered, working in the media industry involves a lot of working for free). And okay, if I were the “sleep your way to the top” type of girl I’d probably get there a lot faster. But damn it my morals are always getting in the way of an easy life.

So until success busts a groove over to my ends, London keep dropping those 20p’s and I’ll keep picking them up. And one day, when I can spare them, perhaps I’ll drop a few back.

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“If a guy takes an hour to reply to your text, take three to reply to his.” “If you like a guy, flirt with someone else in front of him to make him jealous.” “If a guy is talking to other girls, tell him it doesn’t bother you, and then he’ll like you for not being clingy”.

What. The. Fuck.

And I thought game playing was just for children.

Image taken from: http://www.naomishow.com/

When did this happen? One moment I was 14 years old watching The Notebook, believing love was all about eating ice-cream and jumping into ponds (what, don’t judge me, that film can melt the heart of a Rhino). Next thing I know, I’m being told the best way to get a guy’s attention is by updating my bbm status so he’ll notice and think to message me.

Honestly now? Relying on status updates to get a little action. Is that where we’re at?

I have friends getting married. Like actually walking-down-the-aisle, big-white-dress, forever-and-ever, probably-gonna pop-out-a-baby-soon, married. And here the rest of us are, staring at our phones, wondering if a more attractive display picture will eventually lead to a conversation.

Okay so admittedly that’s not what I want. Come on, I’m 21. I’m too selfish to get married yet. My idea of a sacrifice is eating canned food for three weeks so I can afford the latest Carvela seven inch wonders. The biggest lifelong commitment I plan to make any time soon, is to my bank, when I ask them to extend my overdraft by another thousand pounds.

So I’m never going to be the clingy “I found love after one date” kinda girl. Hell I’m the “I’ve been on five dates and I’m still not sure about him” chick. I suppose that’s my own doing. Indecisiveness is a horrible quality. To date, there is no found cure.

Back to the point.

I may hold my cards close to my chest, but there’s nothing expert about the way I play. Most of the time I’m bluffing, and the rest, I’m just trying to distract you so I can take a peak at your hand.

It seems I’m not very good at games. And judging by my other single friends, neither are they. No we do not want to bare your children (baby induced stretch marks are soo last season). No we’re probably not going to marry you. And I can’t speak for the others on this last one, but I’ve never been very good at the whole, Lady and the Tramp style spaghetti eating (I’m Greek we don’t share food) it may be romantic but you’ll have to do without. Though if you’re nice I might give you my very last rolo, heck some day I might even buy you a packet of your own.

In the mean time I don’t mind a game or two. After all it bores me when things come too easily. A bit like out-eating the diabetic kid at the Mars bar eat-a-thon. Though, if this is what we’re doing now, could someone please hand me the rulebook and let it be known, that I don’t like to lose.

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Image by Miranda Athanasiou 2010

My parents came back from Cyprus yesterday with two suitcases full of food. They seem to think you can’t buy limes and halloumi cheese in England.

It’s all part of being Cypriot you see. Sainsbury’s: culture at your doorstep, so you’d think… but no no, why buy olives when you can take a mere four hour flight to the Cypriot mountains and pick them fresh from your own trees.

Then of course comes the olive oil. With that many olives, you can’t not make olive oil.

And then once you make the olive oil you convince yourself if goes with everything. The other day my dad made me a chicken sandwich, only instead of butter he used olive oil. “Really, are we doing this now?”

He looked so proud “you can really taste the olives can’t you”. Well you would hope so George. Two days ago they were still hanging merrily on a tree.

And lets not forget the pitta bread now. Not one or two packets, but twenty. Twenty packets of pitta bread somehow stuffed into their hand luggage and flown over because this particular brand isn’t sold in the UK. And what’s better about this brand? The pitta’s are about three times the size of the ones sold over here, and heaven forbid we eat less, when we have the possibility of eating more.

I’ll give them this, when it comes to Mediterranean eccentricities, my family are top notch. Like having a son- kind of a big deal, to most men I’d assume, but to Cypriot men in particular.

While my dad has always claimed having two daughters is more than enough to deal with, the fact he calls my dog his “son” makes he feel he’s not being entirely honest with us.

My Brother. Image: Athanasiou 2010

So fair enough, he lavishes a little attention on the dog; he treats him like an addition to the family. He makes him eat salad with his barbequed chicken so he stays a ‘healthy boy’; it doesn’t bother me. And I’ll give it to him, Patchy is the better behaved of his three children.

Though I did feel using my £40 shampoo and conditioners to bath my four-legged brother was a step too far. What can I say; nothing is too good for a Cypriot man’s son.

Of course this is all just the tip of the very Greek iceberg.

We talk about seven times louder than other people. Not because we have a problem with our hearing but because we like to talk over each other. Why wait your turn to talk when you can just go right ahead and speak over the person who’s already talking? That’s just wasting valuable eating time.

Don’t get me wrong, I think being Cypriot is kind of fun. It’s helped me master the art of competitive eating (when Sunday lunch consists of 30 people you eat fast or you don’t eat at all). Not to mention the money I’ve managed to con out of my uncles who are always up for a bet: “if I eat these 5 hot chilli’s you give me £40 each”.

Fine so I had my tongue on ice for the rest of that week, but baby I was rich.

Marriage is another biggie. I think my grandma is trying to set me up with a cousin; a second or third cousin, but a cousin all the same. Getting married, having Greek babies, learning to make little filo-pastry pies: all very important on a Cypriot girl’s agenda.

I hope it doesn’t break their hearts when I announce the idea of marriage before I’m 30 (pretty damn scary) and as for babies, we’ll I’ve never been a fan.

Perhaps I should break it to them over a nice spinach and olive pie. You know, to ease the blow.


My Big Fat Greek Wedding: another insight into Cypriot culture.

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