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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Fight Fire with Fire by Rene Costa - Editor Steve Crawshaw - Chapter One - Early Turmoil

Fight Fire with Fire 
by Rene Costa 

Chapter One - Early Turmoil

Nicosia, Cyprus.1959. 38 degrees Celsius.

I hear a commotion outside but as I am not yet four years old, I do not understand. I go outside and see my older brother Andy, who was only five years old, strung up by a rope to the back of my father’s car. The rope is tied round his feet which goes into the car boot, and from both his arms, which goes through the open windows of the rear doors. Andy is splayed out like he was about to be crucified. There are many neighbours gathering while my mother shouted, “you are destroying our child!” My father replied, “he has to be taught a lesson for stealing!” and continued shouting.

I heard my mother screaming and crying, “please let him down!” but he continues shouting out “anyone who tries to release him, I will shoot them!” 

This is my earliest memory.

Why had my father taken this action? Let me try to explain.

My father owned a very popular restaurant/nightclub in Nicosia. Many Greek Cypriot and various other celebrities visited regularly, and business was good. Andy had taken some money from the till to buy sweets, my father had found out and used him as an example of what happens to a child caught stealing from him. Little did I know then how much my father would have such a massive effect on my life and, unfortunately, so many times, not in a positive way.

At that time, I was the youngest of four children.  Katie was the eldest at 9, sister Lefke 7 and brother Andy 5.  We slept in our L - shaped house, the restaurant/nightclub was opposite. I could hear music playing and people drinking and enjoying themselves.  We knew as a family that if our father had been drinking, he would start hitting our mother.  Many times, she led us to the empty stables at the back of the house to hide and get away from my father’s violence.  Sometimes we would take to the street and walk for hours until it was calm enough to go back. In later life I asked myself what the reason for his violent behaviour towards his own family was; he was successful, with a loving and caring wife and four children.

From the very beginning of his life, he had left home at the incredibly young age. Aged 9 worked the streets for several years hustling to survive, roaming the streets looking for food and sometimes physically fighting for a little money. He became well known in the back streets of Nicosia and people feared him. Nicknamed ‘Digrese’ (which is Hungry Tiger in English) he was in and out of hostels and so many times locked up, but that didn’t change anything. He became a loner by choice and didn’t share his problems with my mother; he always found his answers in a whiskey bottle. 

His own mother and father had divorced and gone their separate ways; the fact was, he had never felt any love from his own father as he had left him when he was about 8-9 years old, he remarried three times in total and was always busy with his new families. My grandmother had also remarried three times and as a child, my father received no attention from his stepfather and therefore, from an early age, he lacked a father figure in his life. By the time he was seventeen he was causing such bad disruptions within the household that my grandmother could no longer cope with him.  She had heard from a neighbour that a family priest who lived in Lapithos and had eight children, five daughters and three sons, was looking for a husband for his second daughter Maria.

The question was, why would my grandparents agree to marriage to a man with such a bad reputation? In Cyprus if a woman had reached age18 and was still not married, she was considered to be ‘on the shelf ‘. A meeting was arranged and before long they were courting. It became a regular thing for my father to drive from Nicosia to Lapithos village on his motor bike to pick my mother up.  Within weeks everyone could see the changes she had made in him; he was now more settled and felt for once that he had met someone that showed him the love and affection that he was craving all his life. 

Before long, the inevitable happened and my mother fell for my father`s charms and announced that she was expecting. My grandparents were mortified and acted before the pregnancy became obvious and embarrassed and ashamed the whole family. Had word got out in the village that the priest’s daughter had fallen pregnant out of wedlock, it would have caused a scandal, and so, on August 30th, 1950 my parents were married and expected their first child the following January, the rest was destiny.

Just before my fourth birthday, the nightclub burned down. I remember walking through the ashes and dust. Later in my life I heard that the assumption was that my father had burnt it down after a mad drink fuelled night. 1960 was a major turning point in my life. Cyprus had gained its independence which made it vulnerable to war as it was no longer protected by the Commonwealth. 

My father was then making plans to emigrate to England, and as he was a qualified electrician, the British Government had granted him a visa to come to England. He worked at the British Embassy overseeing all the technical side of things and was given inside information that an invasion was on the horizon. The Greek and the Turkish Cypriots began a civil war in Cyprus, known as Bloody Christmas, it began on December 20th, 1963. 

I have vivid memories of small explosions going off on most nights and curfews being introduced. On curfew nights we looked out our living room windows wondering what all the commotion was outside and heard the sounds of gun blasts.  We saw people being dragged out of their homes, being made to stand against the walls like in an identity parade. Some individuals were pulled out and shot before our eyes. The loud screams of people were so frightening. It was definitely not a place to bring up your children. I guess now when I look back,  I always wondered why it was allowed to happen.  
Where we lived there was another family that lived a few doors down.  They had four children too. Michael the eldest at 11,  Nitsa 9, Chris 7 and Mario 5.  We all played together, at the end of the street was a large derelict property which was bombed around 1948.  It was one big heap of rubble, hills of earth and old furniture amongst other things were thrown onto it, everyone and anyone would fly tip there from time to time. However, it was of our favourite places as it was great for hide and seek.
One fateful day, Michael and his sister Nitsa were playing there when disaster struck. Unknown to us, in the rubble there was an unexploded bomb which had exploded killing Michael outright and injuring Nitsa so severely that she lost both her legs. It was a very tragic time but in later years the family moved to England where we would reunite.
What I remember of Nitsa was that she grew up to be a very beautiful woman, but she always felt fragile because of her struggles with her disability. She had met Stephen, a lovely young man, and fell in love and for a while everything was great.

Sadly, when it came to intimacy Stephen decided he could not deal with her disability and decided to leave her.  Nitsa was devastated.  One day, it was sometime in 1973, she decided to take her own life and jumped into the River Thames where she drowned. The family could not deal with it, but Nitsa had suffered for many years and this was the way she had decided to free herself.  A very sad story.

Another friend I vaguely remember was a girl called Elena. It was very rare in Cyprus for murders to occur, so this was quite a story in the late 50's. Not wishing to become victims ourselves, we knew we could not be too careful.  How could a young girl who lived in our street get murdered while on her way to school? She was just 8 years old and was found in ditch behind a piece of land, half a mile or so from where we lived.  It was the main news everywhere and the major talking point for everyone. It was only in later years that we found out that she was murdered by her abusive father.  That event was another reason why my father wanted to leave Cyprus, ironically for the safety of his family, even though he had his own demons to deal with.  

Another of my early memories of life in Cyprus was visiting my great grandmother, Sotira, a large woman in her 80's. She would be sat in a massive bed with what must have been fifteen pillows behind her. I can clearly remember standing there looking up at her, being so little myself, it felt that I was standing looking up at a giant. She never said too much but would always keep pulling sweets from underneath her pillows for us.
We had a wonderful Alsatian dog called Wolf who was such a smart and beautiful dog, I loved him to bits, there was nowhere I would go, when Wolf wasn’t with me. 

One day, while we were playing together, I wandered off to the local winery which was about fifty metres from our house and inadvertently managed to slide into the winery but couldn`t get out again. Wolf looked at me and started barking, hoping it would attract someone’s attention. Unfortunately, it didn`t! and so he ran off home to get help. My mother, some neighbours and Wolf came back to extricate me. My life had very nearly ended as a bottle of wine! I’d walk with my siblings to school with Wolf and then walk back home again with him.

In September 1960 when we set off in the car (to move to England, but I didn't know that at the time) I also didn’t know that it would be the last time I would see Wolf. The car was all packed up, the family inside and we drove off. The last abiding memory I have of Cyprus is looking through the rear window at Wolf chasing after the car. Gradually he got smaller and smaller and eventually disappeared.  In later years I asked what would have happened to him? I know in those times, if you didn’t have a license for your dog, they would shoot it. It was a thought I hated to think about.

Fight Fire with Fire is due to be released on Amazon by the end of August.

Saturday, June 27, 2020



Harty’s have been handcrafting personalised wooden gifts since 2004 from the suburbs of Manchester.
We are a family business run by Arran and Helena. One being the muscle and the other the brains...although we’re not sure which one does which...HARTY’S website is just one of the many adventures we’ve taken together.


All our products are handmade and where possible we use reclaimed wood to ensure that we are as environmentally friendly as we can be. The majority of the wood we utilise is discarded and destined to be thrown away to rot. We see this as an opportunity to give wood a new life. We especially like to make things personalised and unique, that way it’s yours. Just like carving our own names into a tree trunk when we were young falling in love, your wooden gifts can last a lifetime.


We like to think of our customers as friends we are yet to meet, or even part of our family. You may even get a Christmas card if you’re lucky... and we strive for 100% excellent customer service from start to finish, because that’s what friends are for!


Over the years we have created a range of items for our own home (furnishings, kitchen items, shelves and personalised gifts for each other) this then extended to other close friends, including commissioned pieces, and as someone once said... “If you can work doing something you love, you’ll never work again”. 


So here we are, sharing our story, and our handmade wooden gifts with new people. We hope you get to enjoy the beautiful things we create as much as we enjoy making them.
We hope that you enjoy our story, our website and browsing our unusual wooden gifts.

Visit Arran & Helena at Harty's!  

Evergreen Insurance Services!

Evergreen Insurance Services

Evergreen Insurance Services is part of Surrey Independent Advisors, who have been providing insurance services for both individuals and businesses for over 20 years.
However Evergreen is a story about a personal mission and real passion. David Gardiner, the driving force behind Evergreen, has a love of the natural world and the idea of Evergreen germinated one day when he took his ideas for the creation of ethical products to Colin Duxberry and Chris Browne the directors of Surrey Independent Advisors, while he was seeking a new management role in the business. He told them about his concept for his brand and they immediately bought into the concept.
All three of them wanted to grow a business with transparency, honesty and integrity. They believe that business should not be all about the ‘bottom line’ and that they felt that they should do more.
They wanted to create a new approach for the insurance sector – a new world of insurance.
We give as much as 25% of the total commission back in the process, helping many great projects and programmes all over the world.
Which charities and partners can I give to? You have to choose from our partner list, companies where we have agreements in place. However we are constantly looking for environmental programmes, charities and conservation parties to team up with to create a list that you can choose from. Help us by nominating one you care about!
At its heart, Evergreen is an insurance company. We were set up to provide insurance solutions for our client’s needs but to also to “give back” to charity.
We are as passionate about providing great insurance solutions coupled with outstanding service as we are about the natural world and want to help raise much needed funds to protect our precious environment.

Evergreen Insurance - helping the environment and helping you ...

Oh For The Love Of Fibre - Sustainable slow fashion.

All things wool created with love in the heart of Scottish Highlands. 
From raw fleece to finished product!

The world of woolly goodies hand made in the heart of Scottish Highlands


Pull The Wool From Your Eyes And Visit 

Suitcase Trains!


Based in the Midlands surrounded by beautiful countryside and the west coast mainline, It's no wonder we were drawn to create our suitcase trains. Coupled with the love of anything vintage how could we not put the two together!
We are always hunting down vintage suitcases ready for commissions, offering either small cases or larger steamer trunks. Sizes do vary as each case is as unique as the build.
We have a large amount of trains and rolling stock in our goods shed, so can provide layouts with a controller and everything you need to get running straight away all at competitive prices.
Take a look through our pictures and videos on our social media and please feel free to give us a toot.

Hedge Buddies - Feeding your garden visitors!


Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

All products supplied here have been used in the 
Hedge Buddies garden for the past few 

Various types of seeds and grains have been tried 
and tested during that time. 

The straights and mixes supplied are guaranteed to be no waste, 
good quality bird food that will encourage all types of wild birds 
to flock to your feeders year round. 

Let’s not forget hedgehogs, we’ve also got something for them. 

UK hedgehog numbers are half of what there were in 2000 and 
need all the help we can give them, so it made sense to 
include them in our offering. 

Make a hog friendly patch in your garden and you might have them 
visiting too.

With a strong emphasis on being environmentally friendly and 
having an absolute love of all things nature, all products supplied 
are in packaging that is sustainable, renewable & compostable. 

Birds find food sources by watching out for where they can see 
other activity, so be patient if you are only getting one or two types
of bird coming to your feeders.

We used to have a small selection of birds and now we get a wide 
variety, including migrating birds that are only stopping over on their 
way to their breeding sites. 

All products are hand mixed and packaged at time of order 
ensuring you get fresh tasty food for your visitors.

Allergy Warning
Peanuts are stored and packed in the same location as all 
other products. 
Whilst utmost care will be taken to try to prevent cross 
contamination, all products may contain trace nuts.
Fly Over To Hedge Buddies 

Natura Emporium - Natura self-care range and handmade gifts!

Dr Nichola Cosgrove

Natura Emporium | Amazon Handmade
Nichola works solo so everything that is researched, designed, fabricated, marketed, dispatched and the after care are all done by her.

Visit Nichola At Here Natura Emporium

Digital Six Guns

Digital Six Guns
Joseph is a mild mannered, creative, adventurous, designer by day and an entrepreneur / consultant by night. He has a passion for fine art, architecture & technology and procures inspiration from the intricate detail of the Renaissance, simple lines of modern minimalism, the gorgeous curves of the Ferrari, the beauty of the American classic car and the all encompassing expressiveness of the comic book.
Daily fascination? To meld a juxtaposition of the explosive + ornate with the crisp + clean. Dangerous Beauty.
His latest endeavor, co-founder and 15yrs as a design exec at V-MODA, allowed him to gain insight into both the artistic and business sides of building a company. To create a brand from the ground up. To expand into other countries and open a design center in Milan. To see what it takes to go head-to-head with mammoth entities like Apple, Bose, Sony, Sennheiser and Beats. To work with HBO - True Blood, Microsoft, XBOX and Amazon and to create with and for top celebrities, producers, DJs and musicians.
Imagine Your Ears On V
Check Out The Full Gallery Here Digital Six Guns

Welcome to The Magick Cauldron!

Welcome To The Magick Cauldron!

Our beautifully scented soy wax candles are handmade with love and a little bit of magick to help your spirit soar to wherever you long to be!  Light the wick to unleash the magick…
The Magick Cauldron is a mother-daughter partnership making hand-crafted, luxury, scented candles and Wiccan decor.  We started this venture because we are candle-lovers, but were disappointed with mass-produced offerings, so we set out to create lovingly hand-made fragranced and decorated candles.
Keep your home smelling wonderful – unlike many big-brand candles, ours really do give off their wonderful scents all the way to the very end of their burn!  Transform your home into your own little oasis of calm with some of our lovely soy wax scented candles!
Our candles make perfect gifts for birthdays, as a welcome to a new home, as a thank-you present, and many more occasions – and of course for you (it’s always fun to spoil yourself)!
We have five fragranced candle ranges (follow the links on the right side-bar):
Our Main Range is available as jar and tin candles. Each candle is lovingly decorated with a variety of herbs, flowers and glitter.
Our Essential Oil Range is available as tins and tree of life ceramic pots. Each candle is fragranced with essential oils and decorated with dried flowers, making them 100% natural.
Our Zodiac Range is available as jar candles. Each star-sign candle has a unique scent, decoration, gemstone, and coloured organza bag.  These make beautiful gifts for your friends or for yourself.
Our Seasonal Range is available as jar and tin candles. We will have special scents for Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and other occasions.
Our Wiccan Range is available as jars, tins and cauldrons. Each candle is topped with a mixture of herbs, flowers and crystals.
If you’d like to find out more about the Cauldron’s creators, visit The Magick Cauldron

Welcome To Ammonite Studio!


Welcome To Ammonite Studio!

If you're looking for totally unique, artisan made bentwood rings that are ideal for any occasion then well done, you're in the right place.

  • The Fells Bentwood Ring For The Outdoor Lover

The Standing Stones Bentwood Ring

Take a look at their diverse range of handcrafted rings that are ready to order now, each one made to your specifications.