Donald Trump: A Nation of Laws Not Men

image of angry trumpDo you have money in your wallet or purse that you can afford to waste? Probably not, unless of course you happen to be a government. Because it seems governments around the world waste money. And which country has the biggest black hole of wasted cash for numbskull ideas that were never going to work? Well, I have no idea what the answer is but I do know which country would have been top if a certain ‘politician’ had got his own way.

The new President of the United States of America, one Donald J. Trump, has certainly racked up money thrown in a black hole if only for his frequent, well publicised, golfing trips.

Thank goodness he hasn’t managed to implement many of his raving notions, in particular the wall between the US and Mexico. Apart from the devastation to the US economy, there’s the devastation to the wildlife! And for what? Some numbskull sound-bite that attracted certain potential voters. That’s what it was all about, a sound-bite. A means to appeal to a base that he knew would vote for him. It was a way into power by stealthy means.

God forbid if he had managed to get the funding, it wouldn’t have been 23 million Americans losing out on health care, it would have been many more because of the cost (probably escalating to billions over budget) of building a stupid wall.

Thank goodness, the USA is still a nation of laws and not men, though if Trump gets his way, that simple truth may soon be a thing of the past.

Resist America.

Tom Kane © 2017
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Brexit: The Long & Winding Road

flowchart image for Brexit negotiations
Source: BBC

It’s pretty obvious from the opening round of talks between the United Kingdom and the European Union that Britain leaving the EU, Brexit as it’s called, is going to be a long and winding road of negotiations. Day one has seen the beginnings of a framework created to which both parties are going to have to adhere.

Of course, there will be arguments, there will be bad feelings and there will be days when the UK will wish she had never left the EU and other days when the UK can’t wait to be rid of her European partners, but leave the UK must.

At the end of this long and winding road a deal will be reached, a deal that is impossible to foresee or predict. Will the UK be taking a ‘hard’ approach to Brexit where the deal is both parties agree to not agree? Or does the UK take the ‘soft’ approach and essentially have a partial Brexit with the EU still holding onto the UK and asserting some legal influence over the UK Parliament in return for access to the EU single market? Who knows.

One note from history should be borne in mind after the UK has finally said a teary farewell, waved her damp handkerchief one last time and then slammed the door on the European Union forever… bear in mind what French farmers and fishermen are like when they perceive things are not going their way.

French farmers hijack UK lorries.

French fishermen have been known to blockade ports with their fishing boats and French farmers have shutdown highways with their tractors to try to stop UK goods coming into France many times over the years, even while the UK was actually in the EU. In 2015 thousands of pounds of Scottish fish (take note Nicola Sturgeon) were hijacked and destroyed by French Farmers.

Maybe the way forward, if the UK is determined to saying a teary farewell to the EU, is to do it the hard way and look elsewhere for trade deals within the UK’s pre-EU stomping ground and look to the English speaking world. It’s going to be easier dealing with countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA than it is dealing with militant Gallic farmers and fishermen.

It’s impossible to tell, but you can guarantee one thing in all this, there will be winners and losers on both sides and I predict a rocky road for the UK for at least the next thirty years, a future where there is no real outcome that will satisfy both British EU leavers and remainers.

I’m pretty convinced I’ll be long gone on my own journey on a long and winding road after my death and still Britain will be experiencing the consequences of leaving the EU.

Tom Kane © 2017
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Living in Cyprus: On the Beach

image of MacKenzie Beach, Larnaca.No, it’s not a review of Nevil Shute’s apocalyptic novel by the same name. This is a review of MacKenzie Beach near the Larnaca International airport in Cyprus.

MacKenzie Beach is long and flat with lots of sunbeds and umbrellas as well as that essential to all good beaches… sand. There’s a bit of a problem with some of the ‘beaches’ in Cyprus as some can be quite pebbly. But not MacKenzie Beach. It’s ideal for families with small kids and older adults who like a kick-about with a ball or an impromptu bat and ball tournament. During the summer season there are lifeguards and many bars and eateries to the back of the beach area. You don’t even need to move if you’re thirsty or hungry, just raise and hand and someone will come along and take your order.

image of aircraft landing at Larnaca, CyprusThis beach has three great things going for it. Good long beach with clean sand for families, multiple retail outlets for purchasing food and drink and it’s close proximity to the airport – straight off the plane and onto the beach in minutes.

If you are a secret plane watcher, you will love it here. There’s a constant stream of aircraft flying in from far and wide and if you take a walk along the beach, with the sea to your left, you will reach the airport perimeter fence where you can watch the aircraft landing and taking off.

Sunbeds are comfortable and many have Wi-Fi. The umbrellas are mostly canvas so you’re not going to get burned too easily as with some of the more modern nylon umbrellas.

There are only two downsides. It can be noisy with aircraft taking off and landing or with some screaming kids and it’s also quite windy early in the summer season. However, on a hot and sunny day, the breeze can be quite welcome.

This beach is so close to the airport and Larnaca it gets a lot of visitors, so go early. There’s plenty of parking and the cost for parking all day and the hire of two sunbeds and an umbrella it should only cost you about twelve Euros.

So, get your bather out, pack your bucket and spade and take a trip to the very Greek sounding MacKenzie Beach, you’ll have a great time.

Tom Kane © 2017
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Living In Cyprus
My Life in Cyprus

Living in Cyprus
My life as a British Expat in Cyprus.

4.0 out of 5 stars
A must read By Amazon Customer on 14 May 2017
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

I bought this as we have talked about moving to Cyprus. I enjoyed the style and the content, the ups and downs. I feel more aware of the realities and am still interested in emigrating.

 

 

 

Brexit: In the Beginning

UK and EU Flags
UK and EU Flags

The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and UK Brexit Secretary David Davis begin talks today on the impending withdrawal of the UK from membership of the EU. A hard or soft exit, it makes no difference to the person in the street because it’s happening and there is nothing we can now do to alter it.

The two sides are working to their own agendas and both want the best deal for their side. In some quarters, France’s new President has voiced this opinion, the UK must be shown to not only get a bad deal but it’s a deal that has to hurt the UK. Charming, last time I drink French wine or eat French cheese!

Britain, of course, also wants a good deal and trade between the EU and UK is top of David Davis’ agenda. Not so with the EU, they first want to work out the terms of Britain’s withdrawal and want to know if Britain will ensure EU citizens’ rights where they live in the UK and work out how much compensation the UK is willing to pay to the EU… how about a couple of Euros Mr. Barnier?

Seems the negotiators need to do some negotiating on what it is they are going to negotiate about!

Watch this space to see what happens over the coming weeks, months and indeed years as this looks set to be a long drawn our negotiation with lots of ups, downs and maybe a couple of laughs if we’re lucky.

Tom Kane © 2017
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Brexit: A Clean Break

UK and EU Flags
UK and EU Flags

It’s reported today, June 15th 2017, that Britain would be £156 billion a year better off  without a deal with EU. All fine and dandy if you’re a Brit living in Britain, but with no EU deal, where does that leave the estimated 900,000 British expats living in the EU? Will we still get health care with no deal? What about pensions? Does anybody care what happens to British expats?

There are a lot of unknowns that we expats are going to have to cope with, probably on our own. We in Cyprus have already had to deal with the the 2008 banking crisis followed by Cyprus’ own banking meltdown in 2013. At no point was there much in the way of help or advice from the UK government. So it looks like it may be down to us yet again.

I started blogging about our life in Cyprus a few years back and my four volumes on Living in Cyprus have become very popular, so that’s why I’ve started the series of blog posts about Brexit and the personal trials and tribulations we, as expats, are going to have to go through.

You can get a FREE copy of Living In Cyprus: 2015 from Amazon by clicking here.

Living in Cyprus: 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars 

By Amazon Customer on 14 May 2017

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

A must read
I bought this as we have talked about moving to Cyprus. I enjoyed the style and the content, the ups and downs. I feel more aware of the realities and am still interested in emigrating.
You can get a FREE copy of Living In Cyprus: 2015 from Amazon by clicking here.

Tom Kane © 2017

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Living in Cyprus: Boat Trips

image of view from hotel onto Protaras sea-frontHolidaying in Cyprus? Wondering what to do and where to go? Well, Protaras and the surrounding area are well worth exploring for a few days.

There’s plenty to see and do during the day, from lazing on the great beaches in the area, visiting the tourist attractions or why not take a leisurely boat trip and enjoy the views from the sea.

Boat Trips

image of boat dockingCyprus has some of the best beaches in Europe and a whole host of things you can do on the sea, from banana boat rides to para-gliding. A more sedate way to see the area is a boat trip. A good way to explore your options for a boat trip is to take a walk down to the sea and then take a slow walk along the boardwalk in Protaras. There you will see plenty of businesses who offer exceptionally good trips at very low rates. Check out the various options available by gathering leaflets, then sitting down for a cool drink and a spot of lunch at any of the small cafes and bars on the boardwalk.

image of a boat in harbourYou will soon see the boats coming and going to the small jetties and harbours that are stopping off points for many of the pleasure boats. There are in fact several places between Ayia Napa and Protaras/Paralimni where you can board these boats, depending on where you want to go. This picture is of the small harbour near the Golden Coast Beach Hotel between Protaras and Paralimni.

image of small pleasure craftBoats come in various sizes and configurations, from the Black Pearl Pirate Ship to quite small pleasure craft.

One advantage of visiting Protaras is it’s close proximity to Famagusta and as such the UN check-point that divides the Island north from south.

Picture from en.wikipedia.org
Picture from en.wikipedia.org

Very close to Protaras, by bus or boat, is the ghost resort of Varosha. Either way you get there can only get so close due to restrictions imposed by the Turkish held north. You can just see the barbed wire fence running from the land into the sea in this photo. The north are very restrictive and even taking photos is frowned upon with some tourists having cameras confiscated and even leading to their arrest.

Since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on July 20th 1974, Varosha has been closed off by the north and as such left untouched. The only people allowed anywhere near are the UN soldiers who patrol the buffer zone between the north and south. Other than that there is one single hotel that is in use to house the Turkish military and their families. If you take a bus tour you can get closer than by boat and some of the places you can see are quite stark. One in particular stands out where defending Cypriots in a tall building, firing on the invading Turkish army, holding up its advance, were attacked by the Turkish air force and strafed before rockets were fired into the building. The bullet holes and blast-impacts from the rockets are still there. Nothing has changed in this town since the invasion in July 1974.

To see more of this area you would need to take a bus tour with the Original Red Bus Company on one of their Double-Decker open top red busses.

Kamara-tou-Koraka
Image by www.chooseyourcyprus.com

Boat trips are great for seeing the land from the sea and many trips stop off in small coves, like Cape Greco, to allow you to dive into the clear Mediterranean sea. Some trips offer meals and drinks, so you can eat lunch after a refreshing dip in the sea.

Cape Greco is a national park with a fair amount of diverse land and sea views, ideal for taking a short stop and enjoying a relaxing swim.

For more information on boat trips go to the Explore Cyprus website.

You can most likely book your trip through your hotel and if you don’t fancy a walk along the boardwalk there are also plenty of travel shops offering trips that you can visit in Protaras itself.

Tom Kane © 2017
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Apart from many of the photos in this piece, none of this information is supplied by me and I have no affiliation with any of the listed businesses or the websites.

 

 

 

Brexit: The Commonwealth of Nations

image of British Empire stampOnce upon a time, Great Britain had an empire, the largest the world had seen.

By the early 20th Century the British Empire held sway over almost a quarter of the world’s population, some 412 million people. By 1920 it covered 13,700,000 sq miles (35,500,000 km2) which again was almost a quarter of the world’s land area.

The end of World War II also heralded the end of the British Empire with many countries, in a mostly peaceful and orderly fashion, breaking away and gaining their independence. But the Empire didn’t die, it simply changed and eventually became The Commonwealth.

With 52 countries who are members of the Commonwealth, countries span the globe from Africa to Asia, the Americas to Europe and across the Pacific. Its people are diverse, as are the member states with some of the world’s poorest, richest, largest and smallest states. That’s a combined population of 2.3 billion people.

This is the new audience Britain will be able to do business with on its own, with no interference from the EU, after Brexit at the end of March 2019. These are the countries Britain used to trade with prior to joining the EU. Though the EU has trade deals with many countries, non of the EU member states have as strong ties with the UK as the Commonwealth member states do. Most are ex-British Empire countries, which used to be part of the Empire and, indeed, the original criteria to be a member state of the Commonwealth is you had to have been part of the British Empire. Membership criteria has changed over the years with new members, Mozambique is a good example, who are member states that were never part of the British Empire.

New trade deals with Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even the USA (not a member of The Commonwealth) are already being lined up by Britain in anticipation of leaving the EU. In terms of trade only, the UK may be able to replace the single EU market with exclusive deals between Commonwealth countries and of course non-commonwealth countries such as the USA and China. Such trade deals, over time, may see changes with Britain’s shopping habits where we buy New Zealand Chardonnay with Australian Jindi Brie Cheese, Canadian Syrah with South African Gruyere and maybe even Chinese or American luxury cars rather than German Mercedes and BMWs.

The future for Britain may have looked glum after the Brexit referendum in 2016 and after last weeks disaster of an Election, but if history proves anything, Britain will always bounce back despite overwhelming odds against it.

Tom Kane © 2017
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Brexit: A Hard or Soft Divorce?

image depicting divorceDivorces, as a lot of couples know, can be aggressive and hard fought, with a lot of bickering between the aggrieved parties. But on occasions, they can be civil and rather than an acrimonious outcome some couples even go on to be good friends long after the divorce papers have been signed. Whether it be for the sake of the children, their pets or even the CD collection, divorce can be civilised.

Make no bones about, Brexit is a divorce between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Negotiations start within days of my posting this piece and soon, for at least the next two years, it’s going to either be a hard fought battle or a civilised affair. But divorce it is and there will be two outcomes. A soft Brexit will mean the UK will still have access to the single European market. A hard Brexit will mean the UK will walk and there will be no real agreement between the two parties.

In real life having to live your life either in the UK, or as an expat, how will our divorce from the EU affect the public. Unfortunately, even before the negotiations start, Brexit is already having an impact on life in Britain in one of the key areas that effects the public and is most cherished by the UK public, the National Health Service, better known as the NHS.

In a time when the USA is battling between their two political parties to provide (or not) health care to its public, we in Britain have had universal health care for over half a century. In the main it works, but at peak times of usage, like the winter, operations can be cancelled and resources are badly stretched. Since Britain joined the EU we have had a large influx of EU medical workers coming to Britain to work for the NHS. But that now looks set to stop, or at least stutter to a trickle as it’s been announced EU health workers applying for jobs in the UK is down by a staggering 96% and may stop altogether. People are not going to commit their future to a country that may or may not uphold their rights or may simply kick them out in March 2019.

Even here in Cyprus, we Brits, if retired, get free health care in the main, though there are some parts we have to pay for. Take my wife, Jo, who lost most of the sight in her left eye due to an occlusion, blood clot to you and me, that wiped out her ability to see well in that eye. It will never get better and she has to live with that on a daily basis. But her care is still ongoing, she still has to be checked regularly to ensure her eye problem isn’t getting worse and indeed not starting to affect her right eye. That treatment is ongoing and mostly free. During the height of the initial work on her eye she had drug therapy which we had to pay for, at 200 Euros an injection. But laser treatment was then chosen as the drug therapy failed. The laser treatment would have cost thousands, but it was free because we are UK/EU citizens living in Cyprus, a member country. All that could stop in March 2019.

We, my wife and I, are not getting any younger and the clock for leaving the EU is ticking and the stress will now begin to build on us if agreements between the UK and EU are not made. Yes, we chose to live in Cyprus, but that choice was based on several factors, the main one being the health care. That free healthcare is still available to us, but the referendum in 2016 has now set a ticking time-bomb in motion and the magic-carpet of free health could soon be pulled from under our feet.

Tom Kane © 2017
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The Indie Author: A Dedicated Copywriter

image of a medieval scribeBefore printing was invented, medieval scribes copied books one letter and one image at a time, but in so doing created their own, often risque, artwork.

When you think of the term copying these days, you naturally think of photocopying. But before the onset of modern machinery, in fact even before the invention of the printing press, the Dedicated Copywriter was a young man, probably in his teens, who had a good eye and who was probably a young monk.

This was a time in history where if you wanted a copy of a book, probably the bible, you would need to wait for the book to be copied, one letter at a time, one picture at a time.

In Medieval times, there was no such thing as mass production, books were copied slowly and painstakingly by a scribe. He worked from first light until the sun went down, often in extremes of heat and cold, with a quill pen and ink that sometimes were of such poor quality, he would make complaints, in the book he was producing, called marginalia. These we remarks monks jotted down in the margins of their manuscripts. They tell a story of the lives scribes led and how they suffered for their art.

Though their copy work was almost entirely of religious books, this didn’t stop the scribe making sometimes witty jokes about farting or even tales of a sexual nature. Small graphic images, extremely decorative, but also potentially of a sexual nature were often added, as with an image of a nun who seems to be picking odd shaped fruit from a tree. But on closer inspection we can see she is picking penises off of a phallus tree.

These scribes did hard back-breaking work, but it seems they also delighted in writings and drawings that were often funny and sometimes even x-rated.

Tom Kane © 2017
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Living in Cyprus: Scorpion

image of a scorpionIn Cyprus it’s the start of the holiday season and planeload after planeload of people are arriving for their annual break. These visitors are essential to the islands economy, but they’re not the only visitors we get this time of year.

Being a hot country during the summer months, we tend to see evidence of snakes around and about and as one is the deadly Blunt Nosed Viper, you always have a little knot of fear in your head that makes you think twice about up-ending large rocks. As an ongoing project I’m building a rockery in our garden so I tend to stop rock moving about now.
But it’s not just snakes, we get frogs in the swimming pool quite often, lizards in the house as well as countless invasions by flies and ants. Hornets are a regular visitor to the pool area as they like a drink of water every now and then. And we have black Mud Wasps toward the end of summer trying to build a small mud nest to lay their egg in and stuff a paralysed spider in their for the grub that hatches to enjoy. It can be a cruel world out there. But one visitor we had last night was most unwelcome.
I had been to Paphos, a good hour away, to pick up my wife from the airport as she had been back to England to visit her mother. By the time we got home it was about eleven at night and quite dark. Our two English Springer Spaniels, Harvey and Holly were very pleased to see my wife, but Holly stopped her greetings and went off to examine something in a corner, under one of our windows. She was extremely lucky I called her away from whatever it was she was sniffing, they are always picking up slugs, Harvey even tries to eat them. So when Holly left the corner I went to see what it was she was looking at. It’s the very first (and I hope last) time I have seen a Scorpion. It was a Cyprus Scorpion about 3 inches long (8cm) and had a yellowy-brown body. The sting is a bit like that of a bee, so I’m told, but tell that to poor old Harvey. He was stung by one a few years ago and he had a bad reaction to it with his head swelling up so bad he looked like the Elephant Man. A very quick visit to the vets sorted him out, but even so it’s not an experience I want to repeat. So tomorrow I’m hoping the scorpion will have moved on to pastures new, if not he’ll find himself ejected from the property before you can say the word scorpion.

Tom Kane © 2017
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my book coverA Pat on his Back
The hilarious story of Tom Kane’s move from the UK to living in Cyprus.

5.0 out of 5 stars

A humorous and interesting tale of a British expats struggle to make a new life in Cyprus by Ken Coston

If you want to forget your troubles for an hour or two while living through the humorous exploits of someone else’s misfortunes then this is the book for you. I chuckled in some places, worried in some places and was sad in others. Overall, it’s a fun read and well worth the very low cover price. Tom Kane has a style of writing that is very endearing.