Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Side-Antalya

So I returned to Turkey after several months in the UK..to a completely different area..where Mr Ayak was already working. Side, Antalya.


Side is a resort on the Mediterranean coast and is one of the best-known classical sites in Turkey. It is approximately 75kms east of Antalya (one of Turkey`s largest cities) and is located on a small peninsula only 800m in length.With its history dating back to the 6th century B.C., Side had one of the earliest settlements of the Anatolia region. It served as an important harbour during the Hittite period and was a significant commercial town.

I'd love to say that because of it's history, Side is worth a visit, but it has in my opinion been spoilt beyond recognition. Tourism has destroyed this town.



We lived there for three years and watched with despair as it became over-run with apartments, hotels and the worst kind of tourists you can imagine. I mean those people who have just booked a cheap package deal where they don't really care which country they're going to. It could be anywhere. They step off the plane, onto a bus, into their hotel, find their place by the pool and stay there for two weeks...apart from getting drunk every evening...then they fly home, without having seen anything of this beautiful country. The type of tourist who complains to their hotel Reception about the early morning call to prayer from the mosque waking them up...and asking "can you please switch it off?"...yes really!
So I can say in all honesty that Side is one of the few places in Turkey that I really hate.
We had 5 different homes during our 3 years there...why? Because we kept trying to move away from the noise...but we couldn't escape it until finally, with a huge sigh of relief, we left Side for good.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Voting today


Well....even though I still haven't decided who to vote in as the new Belediye Başkan (leader of the council)...I will have to make my way to the polling station today and cast a vote. You can't get away with not voting here. If you don't vote you are fined. Even if you are planning to be out of the country on polling day, you have to notifying the authorities. And in the case of a general election, polling booths are set up at every airport so you can register your vote before you leave the country.

I have a sneaking suspicion there is such a thing as the "voting police" who go round checking non-voters' fingers after polling day. Checking fingers? Well after you have cast your vote and placed it in the ballot box, a man dabs some indelible ink on your fingernail..to prove you have voted. And the bloody stuff takes weeks to fade! Mr Ayak is working at the polling station today and I have been informed that I am not allowed to talk to him when I see him or he may be accused of influencing my decision. As you can see, they take all this very seriously indeed. I wonder if Mr Ayak will take it upon himself to check my finger when he returns home this evening?

Friday, 27 March 2009

Turgutreis

So....four cold and wet winter months in Gumusluk resulted in us looking for somewhere more civilised to live. In Turgutreis we found probably one of the most luxurious apartments we've ever occupied.

Turgutreis is the second largest town on the Bodrum peninsula. It is 20 km from Bodrum, and a popular holiday destination with its 5 km of sandy beaches, waterfront restaurants and bars.

The town is named after the Turkish admiral Turgut Reis who was born there in 1485. Turgut Reis was known for his expeditions on the coasts of Spain, France, Italy, and North Africa, and for his participation in the Ottoman siege of Malta. A few kilometres outside the town centre, in Sabanci Park, a waterfront memorial with his statue marks the place where he first set sail.

The coastline consists of several inlets, with steep mountains running parallel to the coast. There are 14 Turkish islands around Turgutreis as well as the Greek islands Kos and Kalimnos.

Our first floor apartment was on a beautiful site with well-kept gardens and an enormous swimming pool. We had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, separate WC, kitchen and large sitting room. And of course the obligatory balcony which overlooked the pool.

We may have stayed there longer if it hadn't been for a difficult landlord (we've had a lot of those) who objected to the kitten, Kuci, which we had rescued from the beach at Gumusluk. She was really no trouble at all ..she went out all day..then jumped up and scratched on the kitchen window to come in at night. Then suddenly one night she didn't return. Mr Ayak was particularly fond of Kuci and sat up every night for a week just in case she should return. He also asked the bin men to look out for her, and offered a reward to small boys in the neighbourhood if they managed to find her. She never returned, and to this day I have an awful feeling that the landlord had something to do with her disappearance.

A few weeks passed and a small puppy was dumped outside the site. We smuggled her in and kept her hidden. We called her Meyzi. At this time we had rented a small cafe by the beach, and we smuggled Meyzi out of the apartment every morning, kept her at the cafe, and smuggled her back in at night. This was fine until she started to grow, and we could no longer hide her. The landlord told us the dog would have to go. So we moved further along the coast road to an apartment where the landlord didn't object to dogs.

This was 1999...a difficult year in more ways than one. Early in the season there were threats to target tourist areas by the PKK which resulted in a decline in the numbers of tourists. This affected our small business which we eventually had to abandon.

Then in August the massive earthquake in Izmit, Istanbul which claimed many thousands of lives. Lots of Turks from Istanbul had holiday homes in Turgutreis, and the atmosphere was just dreadful as people queued at the public phone kiosks desperately trying to contact their relatives and friends in the earthquake area.

I left Turgutreis when I had to return to the UK because of family problems and wasn't able to come home for about 8 months. In the meantime Mr Ayak had to move because of work, and also find a home for Meyzi. So when I eventually returned it was to Side in Antalya.

My various homes in Turkey.....Gümüsluk

Since I came to live in Turkey in 1998, we have moved house 14 times...not always in different areas but we've certainly covered a lot of ground. I'm going to do a bit of reminiscing now starting with our first home which was in Gumusluk.

The peaceful village of Gümüsluk is one of the oldest settlements on the Bodrum peninsula. It stands on the site of the ancient city of Myndos whose seafront sections slid into the sea in some long-forgotten earthquake.
In 2006 one hundred archaeologists descended on Gümüsluk to start excavating the land, and so far they have uncovered further walls and mosaics.

Myndos is mentioned in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The story goes that Brutus and Cassius, kept their fleet in the harbour of Myndos in the civil war that followed the murder of Caesar. Gümüs is the Turkish word for Silver. Its not clear why Gümüslük is called by its name. Some locals say it’s due to the history of Mydus when the city used to be powerful enough to mine and mint its own silver coins. It’s also been said that its due to the common sight of ‘yakamoz’ (reflection of the moon on the water) turning the water in the bay a beautiful silver.

Today Gumusluk still has a small-scale, relaxed atmosphere thanks to strictly enforced building restrictions, designed to protect the ancient site. Gumusluk is a great place to unwind in an idyllic setting. The wonderful shelter of the bay provides a natural harbour for yachts and local fishing boats, the waterfront restaurants enjoy a reputation for excellent fresh fish. Gumusluk is popular with many famous Turkish actors, artists and musicians who frequent the bay during the summer months.

We rented the top floor of a two-storey house, which was really a holiday-let and because each room led out to an open terrace, was only really suitable for the summer months. We rented it during the winter because it was cheap and we didn't have a lot of money.

There was no hot water or heating and I had one saucepan and one gas bottle to cook with. It rained a great deal and poured in through the metal-framed windows, to the extent that one morning we got out of bed and were up to our ankles in water. The setting was wonderful...right in the middle of orange and olive groves, with no neighbours, and was very peaceful.

But although I don't mind slumming it for a while...in fact I enjoyed the novelty..I soon realised that I needed my mod-cons so after four months we moved just up the road to Turgutreis.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Great Expectations

I am looking forward to one of the most exciting events of my life.

In a matter of a few weeks I will become a grandmother for the first time. My beautiful daughter is due to give birth to a boy on or around the 20th April. She lives in the UK with her husband and I don't get to see her anywhere near as often as I would like.

I have my flight booked for 11th April and I'm hoping the baby won't arrive early, before I get there, as I am hoping to be at the birth. Well, I will be at the hospital. I think my daughter may well decide that she just wants her husband in the delivery room with her, but just in case she wants Mum in there as well, I will be ready.

The one thing that is going to be really upsetting for me is to have to return home after my grandson arrives. I'm really going to miss being around for him and my daughter.

Although I love living in Turkey, and have no desire to live in the UK again, it's at times like this that I have some regrets. Thank goodness for air travel. I have to start saving now for the frequent trips I'm sure I'll be making in the future.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Jade

I bet there aren't many people who, on first hearing the news of Jade's terminal cancer, didn't think it was a hoax. Even when she was admitted to hospital and we were told she only had a short time to live, I bet there were some people who still thought it was a hoax and that someone would find a cure and she would miraculously recover.

The problem is that there is such an obsession with Reality TV that many can't distinguish it from soap opera. People like their stories to have a beginning, a middle and an end. It mustn't drag on for too long or they will lose interest. So Jade has given them what they want. Her timing was immaculate. Just enough time for her to get married, be christened along with her sons, and make enough money to secure a good education for them. A true Reality TV professional till the end. She even managed to pass away on Mothers Day...you can't really beat that can you?

There was even a comment from a reader of the Daily Mail suggesting that Mothers Day be renamed "Jade Remembrance Day"....such is the obsession. An obsession I frankly find hard to understand. Maybe it's because I can't watch reality TV programmes here. The closest I've got to it is re-runs of the first couple of series of Strictly Come Dancing on BBC Prime. Not quite the same thing really.

I don't want to appear too cynical or have anyone think that I have no sympathy for Jade. I think it's extremely sad for a young woman with two small children to be taken by this awful disease. But I don't know her personally and I can't grieve for someone I don't know. I find it difficult to grasp what has now become the "Diana" syndrome.

I do however see the good she achieved in her last few weeks, in drawing attention to the need for cervical cancer screening for young women, and this will no doubt save a good few lives. So well done Jade for that.

Of course we have the funeral to look forward to, and one would hope that we could then draw a line under it. But no doubt her two young sons will be hounded by the press for years to come, and her husband, mother and various other hangers-on will no doubt be selling their stories to the highest bidder.

And so it goes on......

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

My Blog Title

Turkish Delight....I absolutely adore it.


Turkish Delight, lokum, or loukoum is made from starch and sugar. It is often flavoured with rosewater and lemon, the former giving it a characteristic pale pink color. It has a soft, jelly-like and sometimes sticky consistency, and is often packaged and eaten in small cubes that are dusted with icing sugar to prevent sticking. Some types contain small nut pieces, usually pistachio, hazelnut or walnuts. Other common types include flavors such as cinnamon or mint.


According to the Ali Muhiddin Hacı Bekir Confectioners company of Istanbul, founded in 1777, lokum has been produced in Turkey since the 15th century. Originally, honey and molasses were used as sweeteners, and water and flour were the binding agents.
The recipe for lokum as we know it today, using the new ingredients of sugar and starch, was invented and popularized by the Hacı Bekir company during the 19th century.
Lokum was introduced to the West in the 19th century. An unknown Briton became very fond of the delicacy during his travels to Istanbul, and purchased cases of lokum, to be shipped back to Britain under the name Turkish Delight. It became a major delicacy not only in Britain, but throughout Europe.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Meet Beki

This is my dog Beki. She is 5 years old. She was dumped off the back of a truck along with 2 other pups at just 2 weeks old. Beki was clearly the runt of the litter. She was so tiny compared to the other two pups, she could hardly stand, let alone walk A local vet found homes for the other two, but told me Beki wouldn't survive. But I decided to give her my best shot so with lots of regular feeding with baby formula, sleepless nights and TLC, I proved him wrong.
She is beautiful and loyal with a sense of mischief. If I let her off her lead for a run then call her back she will often run off in the opposite direction. OK she comes back eventually but it's a game she just plays with me. As far as Mr Ayak is concerned she is obedient and comes when called.
However, there are times when she can take things seriously. One winter when we lived in Cappadocia, I was out with her on the lead in thick snow. As we were returning to the house, I slipped and fell on my back and couldn't move. I let go of the lead as I fell and Beki would normally use this as an excuse to run off. But she clearly knew something was wrong because she lay down beside me in the snow and started to lick my face. And that's where she stayed until I was able to recover, get up and make my way home.
She always knows if I'm feeling unwell and gives me lots of sympathy.
I love dogs...at times they are so much more loyal than people.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Who will get my vote?

We are in the midst of the run-up to the local elections and the campaign is driving me nuts!

Large vans covered in enlarged photos of what feels like 100s of candidates, are patrolling the streets from dawn to dusk, with loud speakers blaring out music. I get the impression that they think that the van with the loudest music represents the candidate who will win. The competition (as far as the loudness is concerned) is fierce.

For around half an hour the other day there were no less than four vans who decided to stop along the road opposite us.....all competing with their loudspeakers...absolute bedlam. Luckily the jandarma eventually came along to get them to move on. I still don't know who I'm voting for...there are so many standing..so far I'm down to 3 candidates who are promising to improve roads, and reduce electricity and water costs.

But I think the one who will get my vote may well be the one who has the quietest, least irritating campaign song.

TWO FOLLOWERS ALREADY!!!!

Two followers of my blog and I haven't written anything yet.

I now feel somewhat under pressure to make a start. I set up the page a few days ago and thought I could just sneak in quietly when no-one was looking and do a kind of test run just for me.

But there you are...my two followers...waiting patiently for me to produce something.

This first post is a test run though, because I need to work out how to use this blog. I am a pc numpty (as one of you already knows) so it may take me a little while to work out the techy side of things.

In the meantime, I am having a good think about the things in my life that I would like to share, so please be patient till I return.