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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

And another year almost over


As each year comes to an end, most of us reflect on the events that have changed our lives, and look ahead in anticipation or sometimes dread as to what the new year will bring.

2009 has been an eventful year for me.  It saw the arrival of my first grandchild in April, a dear little boy called Billy.  He has brought such joy to my life, but also sadness because I'm unable to see him as often as I would like.  My daughter and son-in-law were so looking forward to Billy's first Christmas, Unfortunately the poor little chap was taken ill before Christmas and they ended up at the hospital the day before Christmas Eve where he was diagnosed with bronchiolitis.  So they have had sleepless nights as they struggled to help him with an inhaler in a steam-filled room.  It didn't help that my daughter's oven packed up before Christmas and won't be fixed until the New Year,  not to mention her washing machine which also decided to break down.  They muddled through with the help of family and friends...but most importantly, Billy is on the mend..slowly but surely...and that's all that really matters.

When I arrived back in Turkey after my stay in England for Billy's birth, it was to a new home, which I had only seen in photographs.  Mr Ayak had moved all our belongings from Selçuk to an isolated village near Milas, to a house given to us by my father-in-law.  I was apprehensive to say the least, but as soon as I arrived I was pleasantly surprised.  It's everything I could have wished for.  After 11 years in apartments, we now have a garden and a view which is breathtaking.

We have three additions to our dog family. Poor, stray, malnourished and badly treated dogs called Poppy, Milly and Monty.  All three of them, at first timid and withdrawn, now happy, confident, well fed and loved.

Mr Ayak, having been out of work for almost a year, finally secured a job in July which, although within driving distance of home, was so poorly paid that it would have cost more than he earned to commute, so he had no choice but to stay in personnel accommodation.

He returned home in October, the day before my planned two-week trip to England.  The day after I returned from England, he set off to Istanbul to work for the winter and is not due home again until March.  We live in hope that next summer things will be better, and that he will be able to work closer to home.

My two week trip to England was wonderful...spending every day with my daughter and grandson was so enjoyable but the time passed far too quickly.  I'm looking forward to my next trip in April to celebrate Billy's first birthday.

A year of ups and downs and mixed emotions, but I'd say a pretty good one all considering.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Presenting an Award


I have decided today to pass on this Award to Kaibee at "The Diary of an All-Pakistani Girl" here

She has been blogging for six months and today she made her 50th post...and it is a particularly good one.

She gives a wonderful insight into the life of a young girl living in today's Pakistan and her blog is a pleasure to read.

Well done Kaibee!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I have a fence!

It's not brilliant..but it will suffice until I can afford something better.  After the digging of the holes on Saturday, the man arrived on Sunday, which several children in tow, and put metal posts in the holes and filled with cement.  Then he went away.

Yesterday afternoon he came and fixed the chicken wire to the poles...job done...well almost.  (My friends...I'll call them L..the man, and A...the woman).   L had a look and agreed with me that there were gaps around the bottom where Monty was already starting to dig his way out, and the chicken wire wasn't tight enough.   So L tightened up the chicken wire as much as possible, whilst I put down some spare roof tiles and rocks around the inside of the perimeter in the hope that this would deter them from digging their way out.

The metal posts are very secure but at some point we may need to replace the chicken wire with something more substantial.

And I promise that from now on I will try not to mention the fence again!

The weather was glorious today...clear blue skies and sunshine. A little chilly but very pleasant.  A welcome change from the recent gales and storms.  The forecast is much of the same until Friday when we are due more rain.  So L & A and I will make the most of it and go for long walks over the next few days.  We will attempt to get M & M used to walks on leads with choke chains, so that I can manage this when my friends return home.

Today we are going to Milas market.  We will leave M & M in their enclosed section of the garden..as a test really to see if they are able to escape.  If they do...it will be back to the drawing board.



So it just remains for me to wish all my followers and blogger friends a Very Happy Christmas...I sincerely hope it's enjoyable for all of you.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

I can't help being pessimistic

OK...I'm still talking about the fence. I know it's boring, but I need to write about it because it reduces my stress levels somewhat.    Mr Ayak informed me last night that the man would be here today to erect the fence.  My friends were also due to arrive from Antalya late afternoon so I was rather hoping that the fence would be done by the time they arrived, thus enabling me to keep the dogs under control.

As I was unsure what time the man would arrive I decided to shut M & M (Milly and Monty) in the doghouse for what I hoped would be just a few hours, Beki on the balcony and Poppy in the house.  Because Turks aren't keen on dogs, it was best for the fence man if I kept  them out of his way.  Then I waited...and waited...and M & M, being unhappy at being confined, decided to start howling. 

Finally the man and his son arrived at around 3pm with his tractor and trailer loaded up with everything necessary to build the fence.   Half an hour later my friends phoned to say that they had just turned off the main road that leads to the village so I set off down the hill to meet them. 

As we were coming up the hill in my friends' car we passed the fence man coming back down the hill.  He stopped briefly to say he would be back again tomorrow.   What could he possibly have achieved in half an hour?  Not very much as it happens.  He's managed to dig four holes and left a heap of dry cement just in front of the entrance to the doghouse.

Naturally I couldn't keep M & M shut up any longer, so I let them out, and much as I attempted to control them, they immediately leapt into the pile of cement, scattering it everywhere.  Not that it makes much difference...there's a storm overhead and the rain will wash it away.   No doubt the rain will be too heavy for the work to be done tomorrow...or someone else in the fence man's family will be sick and need to go to the hospital...or the tractor will break down...or some other excuse.  He may actually turn up though...but I won't hold my breath.

On a happier note, my friends are here for two weeks, and it's lovely to see them.  They managed to get me an exceptionally good deal in Antalya on 30 kg of dog biscuits.  This so helpful.  It's difficult to find them  in Milas, and when I do discover the odd 3kg bag it's always over-priced.

They also brought their toolbox and tomorrow I will have an electric shower installed...no more cold showers for me this winter!

But best of all, they brought themselves.  They are two of my very best friends and an absolute joy to be with.  The next two weeks will, I'm sure,  go far too quickly.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Excuses...Part 2...the fence problem

I'm still waiting for the man to come and erect the fence.

As I mentioned before, he told Mr Ayak he could only do it when it's raining, as when the weather is dry he has to work on his land.   It rained...he didn't turn up.   The last excuse was that it was raining too hard and he would arrive when the rain was lighter.

Yesterday...all day...we had light showers.   He didn't turn up.

Mr Ayak phoned him last night and he said that it was difficult to come at the moment because his mother is sick and he has to take her to the hospital every day.  I actually laughed.  But anyone who read my earlier Excuses post will understand why! (If she really is sick then I will feel ashamed and apologise for laughing...but Mr Ayak also thinks it's just an excuse)

So apparently he says that it will be done by Sunday at the latest........watch this space!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Excuses

I have to laugh sometimes at the excuses the Turks make for not doing something, or not turning up for an appointment when they should.

The usual one is that they are very sick...or mother or father is very sick and they have taken them to the hospital.  OK I don't want to seem unsympathetic here, because of course it's sometimes true.  However I do recall hearing this particular one so many times, that I'm surprised the hospitals aren't over-flowing with patients.

Another one..."he/she is in Istanbul" ...that's it...no expansion on this, as if  being in Istanbul is explanation enough for letting someone down.  Others..."my car/tractor/motorbike/telephone is out of order".

Somehow they just can't tell it as it is.  Another example:  As a nation they really hate to be the bearers of bad news.  They will always try to gloss over something terrible....or delay reporting it.  I have heard several accounts of someone dying and the one who's duty it is to pass on the news, first says they are very ill...then waits a while before actually telling the truth...that they have sadly passed away.

Over a week ago, Mr Ayak got a man from the village to come and measure up an area to erect a fence and gate, to enable me to keep Milly and Monty in one place.  A price was agreed and he said he would do it as soon as he received the money.   The money was paid.   But it's now Wednesday afternoon and no sign of him.  Several phone calls have resulted in him saying "I'll be there this morning/this afternoon/tomorrow/etc".

When Mr Ayak phoned him yesterday he was informed that the man has to work on his land when the weather is dry, so he would build the fence as soon as it starts to rain.  OK...fair enough.  But it rained yesterday afternoon and he didn't arrive.   It's been raining since the crack of dawn today and still he isn't here.   I have just been informed by Mr Ayak that it's raining too much for him to start....so he is waiting for it to rain a little less.  But I have a feeling that it won't rain "a little less" it will just stop...and he will be back on his land again.

You might think it would be better to find someone else to carry out the work?  The problem is the cost.  This man is doing it incredibly cheaply so I will have to be patient and wait until he's ready.  But I just wish he would be honest...stop telling us he will be here when he has no intention of showing...stop making excuses about the rain....and just say "Look you're getting a cheap job...I'll do it when it suits me".  

I can accept that far better than excuses.

Cut off from the outside world

 We have gale force winds and storms at the moment.   I don't dare step outside the house for fear of being blown away.

I have had no network coverage on my mobile phone for 24 hours.  My internet connection is intermittent (I'm not sure the connection at the moment will last long enough for me to post this).  My landline...which was fixed last week..only allows me to make outgoing local calls (so that I can resist the temptation to keep ringing my daughter in England and running up a huge bill).   I did phone Turk Telekom last night to see if I could change the tariff but they inform me that I will have to go into the Milas office with my contract to do this...which is impossible to do today in this weather.

And we keep getting power cuts ...which means absolutely no contact with anyone anywhere.

In the early hours of the morning...whilst the power was still on and I was fast asleep, I heard my landline ringing.You know that strange feeling you have when you think the ringing is in your dreams so it goes on for some time before you realise?  It was Mr Ayak...frantic with worry because he hadn't been able to contact me on my mobile.  The landline is one with rechargeable batteries, so when the power goes off it goes dead. The power had been off since late evening when I went to sleep and clearly Mr Ayak had been ringing me during this time. 

So I reassured him I was OK..but it was 2.00am and I was wide awake.  Beki and Poppy decided they'd like to go outside to the toilet... It took me 15 minutes to get them all settled again.

Still wide awake, and still having power, I decided to pass the time on-line.  Whilst doing so I paid for some credit for phone calls on Skype.  I only use it normally for talking to my daughter on webcam, but I think this could be a useful back-up if my mobile network continues to be unavailable for some time.  But of course it's no good if I don't have power!

It's not surprising that I feel somewhat cut-off from the outside world...but it's made me stop and think about how much we rely on technology to stay in touch.  Most of my neighbours don't have telephones or the internet.  Some have mobile phones, often bought for them  by younger relatives, and which they can't really get to grips with.  But it doesn't seem to bother them one bit.  I wish I could be so relaxed about it.


And this post was as I suspected, interrupted by a power cut....resumed...then interrupted by the loss of my internet connection.

If you don't see me around for a while...you'll know why!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

It's not always a good idea to......

...do a blog post when you're feeling depressed....as I was yesterday.  

The post I did about the meaning of Christmas...on reading it again this morning...makes me appear to be a "bah humbug" type of person doesn't it?  It's all a bit negative.

There is of course more to Christmas than spending too much money and over-indulging. It is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with those you love. And I will be thinking about my family on Christmas Day, knowing that they will be having a wonderful time, especially Billy...and it would give me so much pleasure to be there with him.  But I feel that way all of the time...Christmas or not.

Why was I depressed yesterday?  I'm not totally sure.  It's an accumulation of feelings that come to the fore at this time of the year.  I think most of you know that it's the worst time of year for those people who suffer from depression...or any other type of mental illness.

I had an aunt who was very special to me.  She was much more of a mother to me than my own mother.  She died just before Christmas last year..a few days before I was due to arrive so I never had chance to say goodbye.  I always stayed with her on my visits.  She loved my company and I adored her.  She and my uncle spent more than 50 years together.  They were inseperable.  He died a few years ago..also just before Christmas..and she was never quite the same after that.  I miss her dreadfully.

The day before yesterday, Mr Ayak phoned me to say that his parents would be arriving here on the 27th.  I said..no they can't.  It's already been arranged for my friends to be here at that time...and this is a small house. We just don't have room for more than two guests at a time.  In any case, my father-in-law is the last person I want to see right now.  During their stay in September, which should have been a few days but turned out to be two weeks, he criticised me endlessly for the first few days and when I retaliated...quite politely actually...he didn't speak to me for the rest of the time they were here.  I attempted to speak to him but he just completely blanked me.  It was an extremely uncomfortable time for me, especially as Mr Ayak wasn't here.

I know they have to come up here to check on their land outside the village, so I know I will have to tolerate them being here from time to time.  But not now.  I have been alone here for months and have been so looking forward to the company of my dear friends.  I won't allow that to be spoilt.

The problem with Turkish families is that they assume they can turn up to visit relatives whenever they like, and stay for as long as they like.  It's not the done thing to question it...it would be considered extremely rude to ask them once they are here when they are thinking of leaving.  And as the head of the family, my father-in-law's word is final..no-one disagrees with or confronts him.  Except me.. because I will not be a typical subservient Turkish wife and daughter-in-law...whose status in the family is at the bottom of the pecking order.  I'm very annoyed that he actually phoned Mr Ayak to announce his arrival.  He knows Mr Ayak is in Istanbul and won't be here, so why on earth could he not have phoned me?  Oh..but of course he isn't speaking to me is he? And I guess he believes that Mr Ayak makes my decisions for me!

So Mr Ayak and I had a row...he said I should ask my friends when they were arriving and when they were intending to leave.  I replied that if it was not acceptable to ask his family the same questions, then why should I ask my friends.  I didn't know how long my friends would be staying.  I do now because I asked them, and of course they are not the least bit offended by it. 

The row continued and because Mr Ayak refused to confront his bully of a father, I told him that I would tell him.  I sent father-in-law a text message to say that I was very sorry but as I had friends coming to stay, it wouldn't be convenient for he and mother-in-law to come.  That was the day before yesterday, and I have had no response.

Yesterday morning I set off on the dolmuş for Milas, biting my lip very hard, because I kept wanting to cry.  It was the anniversary of my aunt's death, and I couldn't stop thinking about her.  Mixed up with these thoughts were the row with Mr Ayak, the inconsideration of my father-in-law, and Billy's dear little face.  The more I tried to think of other things, the worse it became, and by the time I reached Milas I was a bit of a mess to be honest.  The trip was a total waste of time.  I expected to find post in my postbox...but there was nothing.  I had left my shopping list at home and for the life of me I couldn't remember what I needed...so I returned home empty-handed...stepped inside the house and had a good cry.

Mr Ayak phoned a little later to ask if I had heard from his father, which I hadn't.  He informed me that he had spoken to him and that they wouldn't be coming after all.  Mr Ayak was very subdued.  I think he may have finally confronted his father and I would imagine it was very difficult for him.  I couldn't have a conversation with him because I knew I would just burst into tears.  I haven't spoken to him since, but I will ring him today when both of us will hopefully be in a better frame of mind.  He may beat me to it and ring me first...he hates rows as much as I do.

So...as I said...it's not always a good idea to write a post...particularly about Christmas...when you're feeling depressed.

It remains for me to say to those of you who will be celebrating Christmas.....Enjoy being with your family and friends.  I sincerely hope you all have a wonderful time.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

What does Christmas mean to you?


I've been asking myself this question today. 

The conclusion I reached is that my feelings about Christmas have changed a fair bit over the years.

When I was a child my parents didn't have a lot of money but my brothers and I always had a stocking containing chocolate money and a sugar mouse, small games and the obligatory orange.  We also had a pillowcase each with a couple of larger toys. I don't think my parents had enough money to go out and pay cash for these toys. I think they were ordered from catalogues and paid for weekly for months after Christmas was over.

Children love Christmas of course.  When my children were small I could afford to buy them much more than I had when I was a child.   Subsequent generations of children  have even more money spent on them.  They seem to expect it...take it for granted...that they will get all the latest toys and games.

We now have a world recession, but children will still expect...and probably receive...everything they desire, even if it means parents getting into debt to do it.

Being an agnostic, it's easy for me to ignore Christmas.   What I really mean is that I can ignore the meaning of Christmas.  Because it is a religious festival after all isn't it?  Or is it just about giving and receiving presents, and eating and drinking too much and spending more money than we can afford?  Well that's the impression one gets from watching UK TV adverts. For weeks now it's all been about brainwashing viewers into believing that they have to buy an excessive amount of food and gifts.

In the 11 years that I have lived in Turkey I've only spent Christmas in the UK on a couple of occasions when I have been caught up in this commercialised event and it's cost me much more than I can afford. 

I'm not a "scrooge".....anyone who knows me will tell you I'm not!   I love to give presents...but somehow they are appreciated much more at other times of the year. People have too much of everything at Christmas.  Apart from a couple of Christmases here when I have been reluctantly forced into celebrating with groups of ex-pats (not to be recommended), I haven't bothered about it...it's just another day.

When I spent my first Christmas here with Mr Ayak, I thought I would attempt to make it like Christmas in England....but I failed miserably.  I couldn't find a turkey so we had lamb.   No christmas pudding or mince pies.  No christmas tree or decorations.  Christmas cards had been posted to me from England but the post was erratic  so they didn't arrive until January.  And it was strange to see people heading off to work and children going to school.  It just didn't work.

For those who believe that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, it's an important time. There's no reason at all why those who don't believe shouldn't enjoy Christmas as a holiday and a time to get together with family and friends.   But I somehow think that the emphasis should be more on enjoying the company of  the people around you...and you don't need to get into debt to do that.

I have two English friends who live in Antalya, coming up next Saturday and they will be staying with me for two weeks.  This covers the Christmas and New Year period.  But they haven't acknowledged Christmas for 25 years.  So we won't be celebrating it.  But we will get a great deal of pleasure from spending time together...and that's what's really important.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Dieting


Christmas is looming. It's that time of the year when most people over-indulge.  Although I have to confess that I over-indulge all year round.

By 1st January, many of you will be feeling bloated and one of your New Year's resolutions will be to start a diet.

I've never tried Weight Watchers, although I've heard that it's pretty successful for lots of people, particularly their points system. 

I've just discovered a blog (on one of my followers' blogs) called Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes here and whether you use Weight Watchers or not, it really doesn't matter.  There are some fantastic recipes which I can't wait to try, and it would be great if they resulted on a bit of weight loss too.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Monetizing


When I'm reading blogs...my favourites...and also some that I come across by chance, I noticed that some bloggers use the google ad facility.

I've never actually clicked on any of the ads and I wonder how many of you do?

I've heard stories about people making huge amounts of money from allowing ads on their blogs, but I'm naturally sceptical and not sure I believe anyone can earn more than a few pence from them.

We all like the opportunity to earn a little extra, particularly those of use who struggle financially, and in theory this seems like a good idea, and one that I have considered.

So I would really appreciate some honest feedback from  those of you who loyally follow my blog. 

Have you monetized your blog?  Do you actually earn anything from it?  And if you do, is it as I suspect, very little and not worth doing?

And those of you who haven't...have you ever considered it?  What are your feelings about the facility? Do you approve/disapprove?  And do you ever click on any of the ads?

Your comments would be very much appreciated.

Have a good weekend all xxx

And a PS on the feeding of the dogs.  Tying them up with leads didn't work.  Both Milly and Monty screamed the place down...they just don't want to be restrained, and I frankly don't blame them. So I just kept them as far apart as possible.  Bit of a struggle...so it's back to the drawing board on this one!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Unpredictable weather


In the UK, weather is always a bit unpredictable.  You never know when you get up in the morning quite how it's going to turn out, or whether the clothes you decide to wear will be suitable.

And the forecasters don't always get it right.  Who can forget the great storms of 1987 (was it really that long ago?) when weathermen such as Michael Fish underestimated the severity of what was to come.

It's always possible to predict the day's weather here.  When you look at the sky first thing in the morning, you just know what the day will be like.  I even have a little weather widget on my laptop...and it's always spot on.  Until last evening that is.  

The skies were blue all day and the widget's temperatures were accurate.  It predicted a 40% chance of showers...well that's fine...the garden needs the water.  Apart from a deluge a couple of weeks ago, there's been nothing since.  But it didn't predict storms so it came as a bit of a shock and I wasn't prepared.

Around 5.30pm it started.  The wind suddenly whipped up into a strong gale and with it came crashing thunder, lightening and the kind of rain that drenches you in two seconds flat.

Beki and Milly bid a hasty retreat to their doghouse rooms while I rushed around closing windows and bringing shoes and washing in off the balcony.  Poppy was in the house as usual but decided at this point to cross her legs and look at me, indicating that she needed to go out to the toilet.  I opened the door...she rushed out..and within seconds she rushed back in again looking like a drowned rat...and promptly peed on the carpet...well I can't really blame her..I wouldn't have wanted to squat in the garden in this weather!

The next 10 minutes saw me rushing around the garden in my wellies (and by now it was dark) trying to rescue a garden chair that the wind had whipped off the balcony..followed by the dustbin which had, in spite of being secured by wire to the gatepost, moved about 100 metres, leaving a trail of rubbish in it's wake. The dustbin lid has disappeared completely...no sign of it anywhere.  Amazing considering it had been weighed down with a huge rock.

Next came the powercut...I was prepared for this...any sign of a storm and the power goes off.  I did at least have the candles ready this time.  The drowned rat and I snuggled up with a blanket on the sofa, with just enough candlelight for me to read, and waited for the power to return...which it fortunately did in time for me to watch "I'm a Celebrity..." (yes...I'm still hooked).

It's now 7am and it's still raining heavily....and the widget forecasts more to come.  I've just waded out in my wellies and insisted that Poppy squat in the garden, and I've taken food out to Beki and Milly who are quite dry and content in their house.

This is another one of those times that I miss Mr Ayak.  He would have dealt with all this, while I stayed in bed...bless him.  Instead, I've just got drenched again, for the third time since last night, changed into dry pjs and returned to my bed....with the drowned rat snuggled up beside me.

It's made me think again about those poor people in parts of the UK who were so badly affected by floods recently.   I can't imagine how devastated they must be.  In comparison, I consider myself very lucky.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Beautiful Billy


OK...I'm being a boring grandmother again and posting up another photo of my darling Billy.

My daughter has been very busy this past week so we haven't had chance to chat on webcam, but we're going to attempt to catch up today.

I miss them so much.   Particularly as Christmas is almost upon us, and I just know how hard it will be for me, not being able to see Billy enjoy his first Christmas.

My daughter is taking Billy to see Santa soon, and I'm hoping to see some pics of his reaction...which I'll post here of course.

It's not a good thing to wish one's life away, but I have to admit that I'm counting the days until I visit the UK again in April...just in time for Billy's first birthday.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

X-Factor


Have you been watching it?  Why are so many people obsessed with it?  Do we have too many talent shows and reality programmes these days? 

I have to admit to being a little obsessed with X-Factor and also  "I'm a Celebrity get me out of here" at the moment.

I don't usually enjoy this type of programme.  I think it's more to do with my downloading a website which enables me to watch UK television, so it's all rather a novelty to me.  I've only managed to catch the odd glimpse of X-Factor on my visits to England, so this is the first time I've been able to watch a whole series.   And let's face it...the alternatives...BBC Prime's constant repeats and Turkish TV..leave a lot to be desired.

So...who do you think will win?  Do you really care?  Will we still have heard of them a year down the line?

Let me know what you think.

In the meantime, being two hours ahead of the UK, I'm having to prop my eyes open with matchsticks  to stay awake long enough to watch X-Factor and I'm a Celebrity...but I am enjoying it immensely!

A change is as good as a rest

Those of you who regularly visit my blog may have noticed that I frequently change the background and text colours.

I don't just do this with my blog.  I'm constantly re-arranging the furniture in my house and the contents of my cupboards.   I don't know why I do this, but the urge to change things can suddenly occur at the most ridiculous times.  It's not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night and just decide to change the layout in my bedroom or sitting room.  

Mr Ayak gets a bit cross with me when I do this, as it often means moving heavy furniture such as wardrobes, and he worries that I will injure myself in the process.  I have of course put my back out so many times doing this, and then have to put up with the discomfort for several days.

However, once done, I have an overwhelming feeling of  elation.  I'll sit back and gaze at the results, and often re-arrange things a bit more until I'm totally satisfied.  I'll be happy with the results for months...until I have the next urge to change it again.

I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with me...there must be some underlying reason for my desire to keep changing things.

Being able to change my blog backgrounds helps to satisfy this desire...and at least it doesn't give me back-ache!

And talking of blog backgrounds...I have Karen at BackgroundFairy to thank for providing such wonderful backgrounds.  If you haven't visited her site already, please do so...there's so much to choose from.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Just another one of those days


I should have realised that it would be another one of those days when I dropped and broke a mirror as soon as I got up this morning.  Ooh seven years bad luck...as my Mum used to say.  But I don't believe in all that superstitious rubbish...do I?

It's the day before Kurban Bayram and I really didn't want to go out again till after the festival has ended.  However my telephone (landline) isn't working.  It's been on the blink for a few days.  I think it needs two new rechargeable batteries..but I'm not certain.  It could of course have been dropped by Mr Ayak whilst I was away in England.  I am completely used to coming home and finding various objects broken...he's so clumsy...but I have no proof so I won't mention it to him when he next phones.

So I set off very early to catch the bus into Milas to find batteries.  I realised of course when I arrived at the bus stop that it would have been sensible to bring the whole phone with me, just in case it isn't the batteries...but I didn't much feel like walking back up the hill.

It would seem that the entire village had decided to catch the early bus this morning and after a wait of about 10 minutes it was clear that what seemed like about a 100 people would never fit into a 14-seater dolmuş.  So there was much discussion amongst the men...Turkish men do love to take control of difficult situations....and lots of phoning of bus drivers to see if there was more than one dolmuş available.  And we waited...and waited. 

In the meantime I found myself looking at a good many sheep and their owners who had gathered in the centre of the village, ready to be sold to the highest bidder...for slaughter tomorrow.   Oh how I wish I was rich...I would have bought them all up and taken them home to share the garden with the dogs!

Finally not one, but three buses arrived.  You would think it would be easy for us all to just get on the buses and go wouldn't you?  Oh no...the men had better ideas...they divided us up into women, men and schoolchildren and then each of our "groups" got on the three buses.

I searched everywhere for batteries, and finally found some but they were 15 lira.  Not being absolutely sure that it was a battery problem, I made a decision to buy a new phone which only cost me 10 lira more.

I had decided to go to the hairdressers this morning and get my hair cut, but I also wanted to change the colour...to go a shade or two darker.  I did hesitate I admit...I kept thinking of the broken mirror...but finally convinced myself that I'm not supertitious.  So I had it done.  The colour isn't quite what I hoped for but it's OK.  The cut is good...as it always is...but my hairdresser knows I don't like it blow-dried and that awful "just come out of the hairdressers" look, so he usually just towel dries and adds some gel and it's fine.  But he was a little over-enthusiastic today and I left the salon with much too much gel on my hair and looking rather like I had just stuck my hand in an electric socket!

The dolmuş home was packed and as usual we made various detours to fill up with petrol, collect fertiliser and drop someone off who didn't live on the bus route.  But what I really wasn't expecting was to have the company of a live sheep on the bus.   Oh yes...some bright spark had decided they could buy a sheep cheaper in Milas than in the village, so the poor animal was shoved on the bus along with everyone and everything else and bleated all the way back to the village.

I AM NOT SETTİNG FOOT OUTSİDE THE HOUSE UNTİL TUESDAY!!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

An award


I am absolutely delighted to accept A blogger's Best Friend Award from Fly in the Web at French Leave. Do have a look if you haven't already...there's always something interesting to read.

I absolutely love her blog and am honoured that she considers me a friend.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Kurban Bayram

Friday sees the start of Kurban Bayram (The Feast of the Sacrifice), a religious holiday that is celebrated throughout Turkey.   It's as important to muslims as Christmas is to christians.  And even those lapsed or non-practising muslims see it as a time for celebration and getting together with families.

It lasts for 4  days and it's not a good time to travel as airlines and buses are fully booked and the roads exceptionally busy, with people travelling the length and breadth of the country to spend the holiday with their loved ones.   Most businesses and shops close during the holiday, as do banks and post offices.

It's  also not a good time for people like me to set  foot outside the door.   During the four-day festival, lambs are still traditionally slaughtered and the meat distributed to the poor and needy. This is mostly done in professional abattoirs, but some of the ritual slaughters take place in public places, by untrained hands and this can be extremely traumatic for the animals, as I have had the misfortune to witness in the past.  There are a lot of sheep in this village and I fear there will be a lot of slaughtering taking place on Friday.

The ritual slaughter is in  remembrance of  the ram that Abraham sacrificed in place of his son Ismail (Isaac).

Naturally, I embrace the culture of  my chosen country, and I accept and often enjoy their festivals...but I'm afraid this isn't one of them.

Come Friday you will find me behind firmly closed doors, with the curtains closed, and music on fairly loud to drown out any unpleasant sounds....looking forward to the following Tuesday when it will all be over for another year.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

No such thing as isolation here!


I've spent too much time at home with this blasted flu bug, so yesterday I decided to venture out.  I did attempt to do this a few days ago, but got as far as the village...thought about getting on the bus..but feeling a little weak, decided to return to the house.

The weather is glorious at the moment. Temperatures during the day are in the 70sF, so there was no excuse for me not to get out and get some fresh air.

So I set off for the village and the bus to Milas.

I've seen no-one but my two immediate neighbours for the past two weeks, so it was with some surprise (and pleasantly so) to come across several village women on my way to the bus stop, who in turn greeted me, asked how I was, told me to take care and to get well soon.  I had similar comments on the bus from people from the next village, who I often see on my trips into Milas.

I spent a short time in Milas before catching the bus home.  The bus driver greeted me with "Hoş geldiniz" which means welcome, but is normally used when someone returns from a trip, asked me if England was good, and also said "Geçmis olsun"...get well soon.

So it would seem that news travels pretty efficiently around here.  It doesn't come as a big surprise. I experienced this a little when I lived in Goreme.  It's the way Turkish people are.  Some might consider it nosiness, but I have learned that it's more about the way they take an interest in each other and that they care about those around them.

I have to admit to feeling exhausted on my return home, but at the same time I was very happy to learn that I don't, as I thought, live in isolation here.  It's a very comforting feeling.  These are people I don't really know, but it has made me realise one thing.  That I will make much more of an effort in the future to get to know them better.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Priorities

"Action expresses priorities"
Mahatma Ghandi


It's one of those quotes that sticks in your head.  I remember seeing it somewhere years ago, and on Monday it came rushing back to remind me how true it is.  

"Action speaks louder than words..."
Mark Twain

...is another one.

I have been suffering with flu since I returned from England almost two weeks ago.  Last Sunday evening I was particularly poorly.  I couldn't breathe properly, constant coughing had left my entire body aching and my heart seemed to be beating much too fast, making me feel like I was about to pass out.

Mr Ayak phoned me from Istanbul, as he does each day, and informed me that he would ask his cousin who lives some 50km away from us, to drive up and take me to the hospital.  Not wanting to make an unnecessary fuss (and I hate putting people out), I insisted I would leave it overnight in the hope I would feel better in the morning.

Monday morning came...and so did Mr Ayak.  He caught the 7am flight down from Istanbul, having borrowed the money from his boss (with enough to pay for medical treatment), and by 9.30am we were at the hospital in Milas.

Medical treatment here is fast and efficient, it never fails to amaze me.  Without having an appointment, I was able to see a doctor, who did blood tests, monitored my heart, checked my lungs and blood pressure.  My heart is OK, blood pressure a little high but only to be expected, and my lungs are OK except for congestion caused by a particularly bad bout of flu.  So I now have medication to deal with the problems.  Slowly but surely it's doing the trick.  I'm still feeling weak but I know I'm on the mend.

On leaving the hospital, Mr Ayak collected some shopping from the supermarket, then insisted I have some lunch, as I hadn't been eating much...and then we returned home.

Having made sure I was OK, he then got a lift back to the airport in time to catch a flight back to Istanbul just before 2pm.  I can't imagine achieving all this in any other country in one morning!

I moan about Mr Ayak.  I more often than not take him for granted.  Don't we all do this at times?  But then something like this happens to make me realise why I fell in love with him all those years ago.  He was there for me when I needed him, he proved to me that he can get his priorities right when it counts.

Ghandi and Mark Twain were so right!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Television


I remember the first time I watched television, but I can't remember if it was our television or maybe a neighbour's.  All I do remember is watching the Queen's Coronation in 1953.  I was very very young at the time and I do recall rows of chairs in a sitting room and lots of people gathered to watch the event.  Those who could not squeeze into the room were outside watching through the window.

I can't check it out with anyone...whether it was our television..or our sitting room..because my mum and dad are long gone and one of my brothers would have been a baby at the time, the other not yet born.

But it was very exciting.  A few years later the memory becomes clearer when I can recall such wonderful programmes as Watch wih Mother, Andy Pandy, The Flowerpot Men,  Muffin the Mule, Noddy and Big Ears (when political correctness didn't exist and there was nothing wrong with calling him Big Ears...and a golliwog was a golliwog...just a word with no racist undertone).

We only had one channel of course, the good old  BBC.  Transmission was only at certain times of the day, and it was very much a family past-time, to gather round the box and watch together.

Other channels were introduced over the years, and then satellite and cable TV arrived.  Now we have a vast choice of programmes to watch 24 hours a day.

I'm not good with too much choice...I find it difficult to make decisions at the best of times.  So when I first moved to Turkey I wasn't unhappy at having very little choice of English programmes to watch.  I could only get BBC World...which is very similar to the UK BBC24....just rolling news interspersed with current affairs programmes.   If the wind was blowing in the right direction I could occasionally manage to get a Greek channel, which showed films with English subtitles.  But it was sufficient for me.

Then Digiturk arrived and there was more choice.  We had movie channels, reality TV, Discovery, History, sports channels, etc, where one could change the language with the click of a button on the remote.  And we had BBC Prime.

I guess I've always been loyal to the BBC,  who give us good dramas and documentaries, so I've never bothered with all the other channels on offer.  But the problem is that BBC Prime just appears to have bought up old dramas, documentaries, comedies, etc, for transmission worldwide.  Everything's out of date, nothing is current.  Oh except for Eastenders..if you can count being two weeks behind the UK episodes as being current.

When I arrived back from England last week, I discovered that BBC Prime has now become BBC Entertainment.  Oh...I thought...maybe it's all going to change.  Maybe they've had a bit of a shake-up and we are suddenly going to get some of the same stuff that the UK are getting.  No such luck...it's still constant repeats of old programmes.  I just wonder how many times people can be forced to watch repeats of Only Fools and Horses, Cash in the Attic and the Antiques Roadshow, without their eyes glazing over.

Sometimes they introduce a new series (well "new" being about 2 years old)...I watch and enjoy, and eagerly await the next series, only to find that they have no intention of showing subsequent series.  But they will of course repeat the first series endlessly...aaargh!

Recently someone gave me a link to a website which I could download to my laptop which shows all current UK TV programmes.  I haven't used it much, but I have to confess to becoming intrigued by the X-Factor and such daily programmes as Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women...I know, I know...not as intellectually stimulating as a good BBC drama or documentary, but very enjoyable!

The signal isn't always good enough  so it's all a bit hit and miss at the moment, but I realised last night that because this site has more to offer, I haven't switched on my TV since the day I returned from England. 

So I think it may well be time to cancel my monthly Digiturk subscription and get rid of the television altogether.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Self Pity

"Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world."
- Helen Keller


We all do it from time to time.  I've been feeling very sorry for myself for the past three days as I am suffering with a flu bug, and I'm on my own...Mr Ayak having left for Istanbul to work until March.  You know what it's like?  You're feeling very ill and there's no-one around to sympathise, to  make you hot soup, to tuck you up in bed.  So the self-pity sets in...the poor me syndrome.

There's a sure way to put a stop to it.  Just look around you...look at the news to see how people in this world are REALLY suffering...it puts the flu bug firmly into perspective.

Maggie May, one of my followers, and someone who's blog I really enjoy, was diagnosed with cancer yesterday...and the news hit me in the face with a jolt.  She really has something to feel sorry about, but I'm getting the impression that she has a strong fighting spirit which will see her through this difficult time.

My thoughts and love are with her today...and not with myself...some things are far more important than wallowing in self-pity.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Rain


We don't get much rain in this part of Turkey.  As usual it's been a long, hot dry summer.

However when it does rain...it sure does rain!  I woke up this morning to the quite frightening sound of rain beating down on the roof.  It sounds like the Charge of the Light Brigade up there.

The garden is completely waterlogged.  I'm just relieved we are living on a hill so I know that it will eventually clear.

In the meantime, at least the dogs are dry.  I mentioned before that Mr Ayak had converted part of the old house in the garden into a house for Milly.  Before he left for Istanbul yesterday, he cleared another part of the house for Beki.  There are a few leaks in the roof but there are also plenty of dry areas so both dogs are fine.   Poppy stays in the house with me.

I donned an old mac of Mr Ayak's and literally waded across the garden half an hour ago with food for Beki and Milly.  By the time I returned to the house I was absolutely drenched....soaked to the skin.  An attempt to get Poppy to go outside to the toilet failed.  She jumped out of the house... and after a couple of seconds, jumped back in again, looking like a drowned rat.

As Mr Ayak was setting off  late yesterday to work in Istanbul for the winter, we went shopping in Milas to stock up with all the heavy items I need, to save me struggling on the bus with them, together with enough food to last me and the dogs for about a week.  I even put extra bread in the freezer in case I didn't feel like trotting down to the village every day.   So I am housebound for the time being...but at least we won't starve.

I'm making the most of this situation.  I've now come back to bed, with my laptop, lots of new DVDs that I brought back from England, a large coffee and some delicious Scottish shortbread (which I also brought back with me...which was to be saved for Christmas but never mind!).  

And, apart from regular dashing out to the doghouse to feed Beki and Milly, here I will remain until the rain stops!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Home Sweet Home


I left the hotel in Istanbul at 5.00am, having had breakfast at 4.30am, and after another flight delay of just half an hour, arrived in Bodrum/Milas at 8.30am...relieved to find my luggage already waiting for me.  I have a feeling it managed to be loaded on to the flight I missed the night before...what a pity we can't just jump on the luggage trucks and go straight to the plane!

I arrived home to an enthusiastic welcome from the dogs and MrAyak...and also to an empty fridge, a pile of Mr Ayak's ironing, a water cut followed an hour later by a power cut.  I unpacked and sniffed the bacon and brie that I'd packed in my suitcase on Sunday night, and am pretty certain it hasn't gone off.  Although I have risked eating it already with no ill effects....there's no way I will throw bacon in the bin!

The power and water finally came back in the evening so I set about catching up with my washing.  The sun is shining today, it's a little chillier, but it's only 9.20am and I was still able to sit outside for my early morning coffee.

I'm always happy to be home, but I feel a little unsettled this time.  I miss Billy and my daughter so much it hurts.  If only there was some way I could split myself in two and be in both places.  I bought lottery tickets when I was in England in the hope that I would win and be able to buy myself a private jet that could whisk me off to England whenever I feel like it.....but it's just a dream of course.

For the time being I'll have to settle for the webcam and look forward to my next visit in April, which will be Billy's first birthday.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Stuck in Istanbul


It's Sunday night...10.30pm here...and I should have been home two hours ago.

The flight from Heathrow to Istanbul was delayed, so I missed my connecting flight to Bodrum by about 10 minutes...as did about a dozen other passengers.  There are no more flights to Bodrum tonight so Turkish Airlines have put us up in this hotel in Istanbul.  I've just had dinner with a couple of very interesting men (all the other passengers are men...I'm the only woman).  One of them has a yachting business with boats all over the world, and the other guy is a yacht designer who has come over with him for a week to put the finishing touches to a new yacht moored in Bodrum marina.  Oooh...how the other half live!!  Lovely guys...both of them.

Dinner was delicious.  I've just logged on to the internet and will shortly have a long leisurely bath before raiding the mini-bar.  Although I don't think I should overdo it as breakfast is at 4.30am and the bus will collect us at 5.00am for our 7.00am flight.

I was very annoyed at first, because we were told by the ground staff on leaving the plane that the Bodrum plane would wait for us...but it didn't...and we waited around for quite a long time for the bus to the hotel.  But I'm now quite relaxed, and am enjoying my stay in a very nice hotel, courtesy of Turkish Airlines.  I haven't stayed in a decent hotel for years so it's actually a good way of rounding off my trip to England.

OK...the bath and the mini-bar are waiting for me so I'll wish you all a pleasant evening and hope it is as nice as mine.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Finding a decent coffee


I'm not a tea drinker, apart from the occasional glass of Turkish çay, but I do love coffee.

It's very hard to find decent coffee in Turkey.  The best I can find in the supermarkets is Jacobs filter coffee for my machine and cafetiere, and Nescafe Gold Blend when I want instant.

However, neither of these taste the way they should.  Gold Blend tastes nothing like Gold Blend you buy in England, even if it is supposedly made by the same company.  And the Jacobs filter is quite bitter....although better than anything else I can find.

So when I come to England I usually try to take back some decent filter coffee, to keep me going for a while.

There are lots of coffee shops in the town where I stay on my trips to England and I've always looked forward to frequenting them and enjoying real coffee.

However, I'm very disappointed this time.  I don't know what's happened but the quality has really deteriorated.  It's either too strong, too weak, or worst still luke-warm.  I haven't managed to drink one decent coffee in the two weeks I've been here.  Have people suddenly forgotten how to make coffee? 

I did have a good one at Starbucks in Istanbul airport on the way here two weeks ago...even if they do charge the earth for it.  I'm so desperate, I'll ignore the cost and look forward to another one on my return journey tomorrow.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

This is a very nice Award...


...and I received it from MelRoXx ......thank you so much Mel.

I'm not sure, but I suspect the award is given to bloggers who are loyal to other bloggers.  

I have been a little distracted of late, and haven't been able to find the time to catch up with all the latest on the blogs I follow, so I'm not sure I deserve this award at the moment, but I will certainly try to live up to it in future.

I'm passing this award on to some of my loyal followers...just a few of them for now...more later:

Amagerica
Kaibee
French Fancy
French Leave
Gaelikaa
Maggie May
Heiko
truestarr
siobhan


And also a thanks to two followers who don't blog but take the time to follow my blog and comment...Ann and Astro.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

More photos (hope I'm not boring everyone!)

I think there is a problem with the camera.  My daughter tried taking some photos with it today and they are also coming out blurred, like some I had taken yesterday.  There seems to be a delay as well...so this is why the images don't appear to be quite what I think I have taken.  However, as some of my followers have mentioned, children perhaps aren't the best of subjects to practise on when you are as useless with a camera as I am.

The Christmas present I had ordered for Billy arrived today.  Having decided that he will probably be overwhelmed with gifts this year, and bearing in mind I won't see him at Christmas, we decided to give him my present today, so here are a few pics of him enjoying it (taken on my daughter's mobile phone)





Monday, 2 November 2009

Less than a week to go


I was hoping by now to have mastered the art of using my digital camera.  I think I have mentioned before that cameras and I really don't see eye to eye.   It's a lovely camera....I can take photos with it, but unfortunately they are either blurred or the image I think I've snapped isn't quite what I thought it would be.

So I'm cheating with this one of Billy ..it was taken a couple of weeks ago by my daughter.  But I am determined to get the hang of it eventually.

The time is flying by..as I thought it would.  In spite of dreadful weather at the weekend, I had a really good time.  My daughter cooked a wonderful meal for me and her in-laws on Saturday evening.  We had a  very enjoyable Sunday afternoon at my brother's house...my daughter, son-in-law and Billy, and my nieces, along with my niece's little boy, Matthew, who was born a month after Billy.

My sister-in-law always produces lots of lovely food, and my brother never allows anyone to have an empty glass...in fact he tops you up when your glass is half empty....so a merry time was had by all.

My daughter and I took Billy out for a long walk today, and visited the grave of my mum and dad.  Although neither my daughter nor I are religious, we both  feel that my Dad watches over us.  I sometimes feel his presence, I can't really explain it, but I think it's more to do with how much I loved him, and still miss him. Often when I have a problem, I have a conversation with him in my head, and it's almost as if he comes up with a solution.

Billy seems to be getting to know me now, and I am enjoying his company.  He is such a happy little boy...a real joy to be with.

Less than a week to go until I return home...it's going to be so difficult to leave.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Two weeks in England


It's now Thursday.  I arrived on Sunday and much as I expected, the time is just flying by.

I have spent every day so far with Billy and my lovely daughter.  I have to admit to being quite anxious about Billy's first reaction to me.  After all I haven't seen him since he was four weeks old, and of course he couldn't possibly remember me.

But my fears soon disappeared....when I received a lovely smile from him.  He is such a happy little boy and it's a real joy to be in his company....and to give him lots of cuddles.   I feel so much love for him.

I have a busy weekend ahead.  I'm off to the shops on Saturday with my shopping buddy Janet.  We are good at shopping together.  Mostly it's window shopping as she's usually as hard-up as me.  But we like the same shops, and we both know when we should stop for coffee, and when we've had enough and it's time to go home.

My daughter has invited her inlaws and me for dinner on Saturday evening...which I am looking forward to.  They are really nice people...My daughter has married into a lovely family...and because we live apart, I am relieved that she has become part of a  family who care a great deal and watch out for her.

On Sunday my brother has arranged a family get-together, which will be my chance to meet my neice's baby boy who was born a month after Billy.

My brother has given me a digital camera.  I'm very excited about this, but being a technophobe, I'm still trying to digest the instructions....so I have no pics to share at this point in time..so bear with me whilst I continue to learn how to use it.

More later.............

Friday, 23 October 2009

Time


Time has a habit of going very slowly when you are looking forward to something...and it goes too fast when that eagerly awaited event arrives.

This last couple of weeks, leading up to my visit to England has been going far too slowly, and I know that the next two weeks will absolutely fly by.

My daughter and I can't wait to see each other on Sunday.  I love and miss her so much that I have a permanent ache in my heart.  I often shed tears just thinking about her...in fact I'm doing so now...even writing about her overwhelms me.  Two weeks with her is just not long enough. If it wasn't for the fact that Mr Ayak will be going away to work again as soon as I arrive home, I would stay in England for the whole winter.  But I have 3 dogs to take care of.  Of course I love my dogs, but I often think about how much  easier life would be if I didn't have them.

Billy is 6 months old today. From .....




to......                                                                                                                                  





in just 6 months...

Where does  the time go?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Billy enjoying solid food!

Cucumber

Carrots

and rusk



Never book cheap flights!


I almost always travel to and from the UK with Turkish Airlines.  They are reliable and the service is good, but they are a bit more expensive.  The other disadvantage is that all flights go via Istanbul, so there's always a wait at Ataturk airport before the connecting flight.

When I was in the UK in April/May I had to cancel my original flight which was to return to Izmir, and re-book a flight to Bodrum as Mr Ayak had moved house whilst I was away.  It was more economical to book a return flight, so the return journey is the one I will make on Sunday.  I planned to stay for two weeks so needed a return flight for around the 8th November.  In July a friend told me about a cheap one way from Gatwick to Bodrum with Thomas Cook so I booked and paid for it.

Last Friday I received an email from them telling me the flight was cancelled and if I wanted a refund would I telephone them.  I emailed back to say that I had no intention of incurring costs by phoning England, so as they had cancelled they should phone me.  This seemed to prove difficult for them to comprehend, as they just continued to send me emails asking me to ring them.

To cut a long story short...I started to get angry and several emails later, I eventually received a phone call from them, gave them my card details for them to credit my account with the refund.  The girl on the other end of the line then informs me that...ooops she had debited the amount...not credited it.  But she reassured me that she had put through another transaction for twice the amount.

So...my bank account now shows the debit but not the credit.  More emails later, including one confirming MY cancellation of the flight, and several auto-replies telling me that my query would be dealt with in order of departure date (errr...what departure date?)...I finally received an email 10 minutes ago at last apologising and reassuring me that a credit transaction had now been made.  Oh...and they will give me 30 pounds compensation if I would like to telephone them to implement it!  So I have just replied saying...no I will not be telephoning...please just send me a cheque.

I've managed to re-book a flight with good old Turkish Airlines...and I'll stick with them in future.

Do you think I might be done for libel if I say I wouldn't advise anyone to book anything with Thomas Cook?  Oh well never mind...I'll take a chance on it.

Monday, 19 October 2009

This time next week...........

.........I will be having lots of cuddles with my beautiful grandson Billy












Saturday, 17 October 2009

Isolation


I've always craved isolation.  After years of working with people and their problems, and coping with the hustle and bustle of living in the UK, and also some of the busy tourist areas in Turkey, I've found the perfect place to live.

Anyone who has read any of my posts since we moved to this village in May, will know that achieving this idyll isn't without it's problems.  But they are problems that are easily overcome...and they do nothing to spoil the joy I experience when I wake up each morning to the wonderful view and the sounds of the countryside.

An incident last night though, stopped me in my tracks, and made me consider another aspect of isolation...that of risks and danger.

We had gale force winds yesterday and even though the temperatures were still around 80 degrees F, I had to keep all the doors and windows closed to avoid all the dust and debris flying around.  Mid evening I could hear a crackling sound outside, didn't take much notıce at first as I thought it was the trees in the garden being battered by the wind.  It continued and I decided to check on Beki and Milly to see if they were ok.  When I went outside I could see a fire raging at the bottom of the hill..a pretty large one at that.  For some reason all the street lights were out so it was difficult to see whether it was a house or something else burning.  But most worrying was that it was spreading rapidly and the wind was blowing in my direction.

I phoned Mr Ayak and he was about to jump on the motorbike and head home, but apart from being an hour and a half away, I was very concerned about his safety on a motorbike in this weather. 

I gathered up the dogs and put them in the house, then I unravelled the hose pipe in the garden, in readiness. I'm not sure how effective this would be, but I knew I would have a damn good go at protecting my precious dogs and me!

Three fire trucks arrived and at the same time Mr Ayak called me to say he had phoned someone in the village and they had said that the fire was under control.  Trees and hedgerows were burning and they were quite close to houses, but the firefighters had responded very quickly...and eventually the fire was extinguished.

I suddenly realised my position...we are almost at the top of the hill.  If the fire had continued to spread in this direction, I would have had no means of escape.  I need to think carefully about this...I need to be prepared in future.

For me, isolation is bliss, but sometimes it comes at a price.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Passing on an Award


I received this Award last month details here and I duly passed it on to two other very enjoyable blogs.

At the time I was browsing and adding other blogs to my reading list and knew that I would be back to pass it on to others.

So I have pleasure in presenting it to the following blogs, recently discovered by me, that really add sunshine to my day.  If you haven't already discovered them for yourselves, do have a look:

The first one is Prospero's Cellphone here

and the second is Path to Self Sufficiency here

A very nice Award


This a lovely award which I am very pleased to accept from Chaitra at recipesforthelife here

This is Chaitra's first award and I'm sure those of you who have received numerous awards can remember the excitement at receiving your first, and the pleasure you experience from knowing your blog is read and appreciated.

Well done Chaitra...and I hope this is the first of many.

And a big thankyou for passing it on to me.

This award says "Hope..Courage...Faith".  I'm going to pass it on to just one blogger at the moment who I think deserves this award because he possesses these qualities...It will be his first award and I know he will be very pleased to receive it....my good friend Amagerican at Amagerica here

A few more pics of my village and surrounding countryside












Updates and Stuff


After 31 hours without water, it finally returned at 4pm yesterday.  My neighbour tells me the work is not yet finished so it could be cut off again at any time.  So in record time I managed to have a shower, load up the washing machine, wash the dishes, and fill as many containers as I could find with water...so I'm now prepared.

We had one of the daily powercuts last night...of course it's getting dark much earlier now, and till now the power has gone off in daylight. Last night however it was dark and I couldn't remember where I'd put the candles...so spent half an hour searching with light from my mobile phone and a cigarette lighter.  The candles are now dotted about the house in readiness for the next cut.

Milly, the newly rescued pup, is settling in very well.  In fact so well that she is rather over-confident, and runs rings round the other two. It makes no difference that she's so much smaller than Beki...it doesn't stop her leaping on Beki when she's trying to sleep, jumping all over her and biting her tail.   Beki tolerates her up to a point but then gives her a little nip to encourage her to back-off.  Poppy on the other hand is still quite a fragile little thing. She likes to play with Milly for a few minutes but when it gets a little too boisterous she comes crying to me to pick her up.  Poppy is so tiny..she's not very strong and she doesn't eat very much. I worry about her.  Two or three years of ill treatment before I rescued her has taken its toll.  She stays in the house with me, day and night, and is happiest when she is as close to me as possible.

Mr Ayak is due home within the next few days as his job will be finished.   As I am off to the UK on the 25th I'm really happy to have a few days with him before I set off.  He is intending to build up the wall surrounding the house and garden whilst I'm away, to prevent Poppy from getting out, and other dogs getting in.  As soon as I return on the 9th November, he will be off to Istanbul where there is a promise of a job for the winter.  I miss him so much when he's away, but we have no choice, he has to go wherever there is work.

So it will be a lonely winter but at least I won't spend Christmas alone because my very good friends from Antalya are travelling up to spend it with me.  I don't usually celebrate Christmas here anyway, nor do my friends, because it's just another day here..but we decided we would make it special this year.  My friend used to be a chef and she has already been making christmas puddings and christmas cake, and lots of other goodies...so it should be very enjoyable.

I continue to talk to Billy on webcam most days and he certainly seems to recognise me now.  His latest "trick" is to blow a raspberry when you say "Hello Billy"...very funny.

I can't wait to see him and smother him (and my lovely daughter) in kisses and cuddles...... 10 more sleeps to go!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Water


I have now been without water for 24 hours.   I am in desperate need of a shower.  I have dishes piling up in the kitchen needing to be washed and my laundry basket is overflowing. 

This is a  normal occurrence.  I am pretty used to it after more than 11 years. 

I wouldn't mind so much if I had some kind of warning that this was about to happen...or indeed for how long.

In most areas the water supply is the responsibility of the Belediye (local council) so they do tend to put out a warning announcement over the public address system.  But in some villages, particularly isolated ones such as ours, it's different.  The water for this village comes from a spring somewhere in the mountains through pipes that have probably been neglected over the years.   The responsibility for the water supply is down to the Muhtar who is the "head" or "chief" of the village.  This position is usually handed down from father to son...so some muhtars are better than others..and some are not really up to the job.

For example, the muhtar should also organise refuse collection with the Belediye in Milas.  He has, up to a point.  However, there are only rubbish bins down in the centre of the village, but it's not collected from the houses on the hillside..of which ours is one.  This is because the roads, which are narrow, bumpy and potholed, are not easily negotiable for a large truck.  

The maintenance of the roads is  down to the Muhtar too.  The road from the village out to the main road is about 5km long, and this was recently re-surfaced.   There is talk of re-surfacing the roads up the hillside...but apparently they've been talking about this for years so I won't hold my breath.

When we moved here Mr Ayak spoke to the Muhtar about refuse collection and he promised to send a tractor up to us every Sunday to collect our rubbish.  Well we've been here since May, and in spite of constant reminders, it's never happened.

Back to the water problem.   Late yesterday afternoon, Mr Ayak phoned me and I told him about the problem.   He phoned the Muhtar at about 5pm who told him that pipes were being repaired in the village and the water supply would be switched back on within the hour.   It didn't happen.  Mr Ayak tried phoning the muhtar again late evening but there was no reply.  He also tried a couple of other acquaintances in the village, but was unable to contact them.  So we could only conclude that the workmen had probably decided to finish for the night, without having completed the work.  

I had asked my neighbours earlier if they had any idea when the water would be back, but they just shrugged their shoulders.  They are so laid-back, they just don't worry about it.  Some of them probably remember the days when they had no running water, so they manage somehow.  To be honest, most of them are not too concerned about washing their dishes, their clothes or themselves on a regular basis...so they're happy to wait it out.

So at the moment I have no idea when the supply will be switched on again...but one thing is certain...I have learned never again to take water for granted.

Update:  Mr Ayak has just spoken to the Muhtar who tells him that the pipes are still being repaired and they THINK the water will be back on again today!   Oh dear...when they say they "think" something will happen..it usually doesn't.