Friday, 31 March 2017

And then the rains came!

Today, we had just been out and about wandering around, but as the day went on, it was clear that there was a storm brewing.

Out over the sea, the clouds were getting darker and darker.

Late afternoon the winds started to get up and the then the thunder and lightning started. It got closer and closer and there were several that strikes were very close as the noise was deafening.

I tried to capture some of them on camera, but you know how it is, never pointing in the right direction, or stopped and started the camera at the wrong time, or they just didn't show up on the videos.

However, I did managed to catch one strike that came out perfectly, out over the sea...

As you can maybe see in the video, it also looks like heavy rain in the distance and it looked like a wall of water slowly heading towards the hotel.....sure enough it rolled in and it tipped down as you can see below:

At least the kids made the most of it. also clears the air and gives everything a wash down!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

3rd School Visit and Villa Lease Signing!

Today was time for another school visit, the 3rd school on the list.

The International School of Paphos, was a larger school, probably about the same size as the current school in Qatar. We arrived in the school and waited in reception to meet the registrar and just people watched. You can get a lot of subtle signals just from how the staff/pupils come and go, the staff/pupils interact and the general buzz around the place. The Registrar took as through to her office and we had a general chat and then took a tour of the facilities. met some of the classes, met the school guinea pigs and had a good look around. The school had a lot more non-Brits compared to Aspire and TLC. Today was just a visit, and tomorrow we had assessments.

After we left, we had a good chat between ourselves and the kids, and in the end decided that we felt Aspire was a better fit for both the children. We didn't want (and they didn't want) the children to go to different schools, and taking everything into consideration, Aspire topped the list.

I drafted and sent emails to all 3 schools thanking and notifying each of our intentions.

That's the first key objective of the Cyprus visit accomplished - School Places!

Next up we headed up to the Tala villa again, this time we were also meeting the owner. We had agreed to take the villa and I had sent Demetra a copy of my passport the day before so that she could prepare a draft lease agreement.
While we waited for them arriving, we had another wander around. then it was time to do the business. Lease agreements signed and witnessed in triplicate. All done!

That's the second key objective of the Cyprus visit accomplished - Housing!

When I got back to the hotel, I set up a bank transfer for the deposit. Once that was confirmed as received by the owner, I would send the main advance rental payments as agreed in the lease conditions.

It certainly was a relief getting those two objectives met!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

1st School Feedback and Tala Villa 2nd Viewing

We started the day off with another visit to Aspire British School. We met with the principle (the girls waited in reception) and spent almost 2 hours doing a through review and discussions of the kids assessments, understanding individual needs and discussing how the school can provide the needs of each of the kids. This session was most enlightening and valuable. It certainly wasn't the half hour session I expected!
Fortunately, we came away knowing that the school was offering places for both the children in the next school year. We met with the Registrar again and she gave us the paperwork and a quick run down on the next stage should we wish to proceed once we had made a decision following visiting all the schools.
At this point, we both felt that this was the right choice, but would wait and see what the 3rd one was like and had to offer.

After leaving the school, we headed back up to the villa in Tala. We had arranged a 2nd viewing with the agent. I had a good look around, took lots of pictures and tried to image how our furniture in Qatar would fit in, which bedrooms would be the girls etc.

I think our minds are made up, this is the villa to lease......

We also did some timings from the villa to both Aspire and International, and they were both less than 15 minutes, which is great. Reckon there is still optimisation to be had in our routes, as still felt like a lot of unnecessary turns, but this will come with time as we explore the options more.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

School visits and assessments begin.

Today was the start of the school visits, two on the list today, of which the first also included assessments.

The first school appointment was just round the corner from hotel, we headed up and into the school reception. Aspire British School, is a relatively small school (compared to what we are used to in the UK and Qatar), with only 1 class per year. We took a tour round the school with the Admissions Registrar, viewed the facilities, popped into a few of the active classes and had a good general discussion about the place. Then it was time for the kids to do the assessments, they settled down into separate offices and went though maths and English question papers, we decided just to wait in the reception area, but could have easily disappeared out for a wander. About an hour and a half later, the kids were done. We had a follow up appointment with the Principle the following morning to review the assessments and feedback and determine if we had secured places/wait list or rejections etc.

Next up we headed west for the next school appointment, fortunately this was just a visit and no assessments, don't think the youngest could have handled another one. We arrived a bit early so took a drive round the coast a bit to kill some time.
TLC - The Learning Centre, is a very small establishment, with classrooms set within the main building and a number of smaller outbuildings. We met a number of staff on arrival and the principle, then had a sit down and discussion with the registrar, followed by a tour of the facilities and another follow up chat. We hadn't booked an assessment yet, and was going to wait and see what all the schools looked like before deciding if we should put the kids through more assessments.

Both schools had a there own unique characteristics and differing approaches, but the main thing was we felt positive about them both with nothing that induces panic in us or the kids!

See what the next couple of days bring!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Property visits

On the weeks/months before coming over, I had spent many hours scouting the various property websites looking for options.

After identifying a few options and contacting the respective sites, in the end I elected to deal with Demetra from OnlineCyprus. I had previously shared with her what I was looking for and in what general area, and she came up with a few options that were available.

We had arranged to meet at our hotel and we headed out with her to visit a few.

The first one we visited was in the hills of Coral Bay, built over 3 floors with 7bed/5bath and private pool out to the rear of the property. It was certainly an option, but I felt that the garden felt a little bit overlooked by neighbouring properties. 

The second one we visited was in the hills of Tala, and this was currently top of our list. again, built over the 3 floors, 7bed/7bath, 700m2 with a private pool to the front of the property, with amazing views out towards the coast and down into the lowlands. On top of this it had a lovely outdoor dining area and the garden was private with nobody looking down into the grounds.

The third property Demetra had identified had just recently been rented out, so she took us to visit a 4th property that was still under construction, but the owner (who was the builder) said he could have the place ready for when we need to move to the country. It was just down the road from #2. The property (7bed/7bath) was definitely still under construction, built across 3 levels,  it was still open with none of the final fit fixtures or fittings in place, in fact none of the bathrooms were even in place, just a shell with the floors and wall finishing in place and the carcass of the kitchen units. The 'garden' was just a building site, but the builder showed us where the infinity pool was to be installed and which walls on the ground floor would be closed up to form the lower level living room/kitchen/4 car garage area.

We know which one we ideally wanted, but really had to finalise schooling, to make sure the location was best/acceptable for daily travelling etc.

It was great however to get out and start looking at places at last!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

St. George Beach

Yesterday while we were out exploring we came to the end of the road heading west, and ended up at the St. Georges Beach. Didn't get a lot of time for the kids to explore, and the kids asked if they could come back again.

Woke up this morning, the sun was shining and the kids wanted to go back again, so why not! After all, with blue sky, blue sea and beautiful views, who wouldn't.😏🏖

The kids had a great time exploring the rock pools, found a couple of different types of starfish, Maya must have the photo's, as I can't find them.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Touchdown - made it to the hotel!

Well we are off to a good start, could have been better, but we made it in one piece.....

Landed in Larnaca without any problems, through immigration and out to the Sixt car hire desk. Signed all the necessary paper work showed the driving licenses, all the usual stuff.

Out to the car park, over to the car pick up area and presented with a Opel Zafira, I'm sure it will do fine, its only 12 days..

Found our way out the airport, having to remember which side of the road to drive on and get used to using a clutch again, and onto the motorway no problem.

Passed Limassol.....must be heading in the right direction.

Then we arrived in Paphos, dropped down off the motorway, and then it got sketchy, the map from the car hire didn't really help much, but somehow managed to get across Paphos and headed out west. However, we dropped down onto the coast road after the hotel, so ended up miles passed the hotel.

Got myself confused where we were staying, seen a sign and thought, "oh there it is", and headed into the hotel car park....parked the car...and emptied all the suitcases out, and started walking through the car park towards the reception.

Then I spotted the hotel sign at the reception entrance...things just didn't look right. You guessed it, we are at the wrong hotel...D'Oh! Could have been worse, could have actually made it all the way to the reception desk and made a right pap of myself!

About turn, re-load the car and we are off again...

This time, heading back towards Paphos, and spot the correct hotel this time. Parks up, checks in and off to the rooms.

I was late booking accommodation, so couldn't get into the hotel originally wanted, and then trying to find family rooms/suites at a reasonable price was pretty limited, as everything was full.

However, in the end got the last of the 2 bed suites at Capital Coast Resort & Spa, turns out it was only a couple hundred metres from one of the schools which made things a bit handier.

First thing first was to head out for a wander, find some food and get our bearings.

The kids of course needed to test out the pool, now were they in for a surprise or was BALTIC! The outdoor and indoor pools were freezing. I know who will not be going in (yes, me, that's correct).

Not a bad setting
Nice Sunset
More on the hotel later....

Let The Reconnaissance Begin!

It is 4.30 in the morning, the taxi has arrived and we are all tired!

We are heading to the airport for a visit to Cyprus......

It is simple, two key objectives:

1) Schooling, visit the 3 shortlisted schools, complete any required assessments, GET PLACES!

2) Visit villas, determine locations relative to the schools, FIND A SUITABLE ONE!

Other objectives......have a look around the area, have a bit of a holiday.