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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Running out of steam....

....well petrol actually.

I can't remember the number of times Mr Ayak thinks he has enough petrol to get to wherever he is going...and then he runs out before he gets there.

I recall one of the many times this has happened...we had a car on this particular occasion.  He had just collected me from Izmir airport after I had arrived from a long and exhausting journey from England, which included a long wait at Istanbul for my connecting flight...so I was anxious to get home.   In fact it's become a habit of mine to ask him every time we set out together whether he has enough petrol.  He always says he has.   We were half way along the motorway and at a section where there were no petrol stations for miles, and it was late in the evening.   All of a sudden he says "oh no...we're nearly out of petrol".   So we took the next exit off the motorway and searched for a petrol station....and searched...and searched..until the car shuddered to a halt.   So he had to continue his search on foot, and not wanting to be left in the car in a strange place in the dark, I went with him.  Eventually, we found a petrol station, filled an empty water bottle with petrol and walked back to the car.   Then we drove to the petrol station to fill the car with enough petrol to get home.

Recently, because of the shortage of money, Mr Ayak only buys small quantities of petrol.  The journey to Milas consists of a roughly 5km long straight road out of the village, then a further 7 or 8km along a dual carriageway, the start of which is uphıll for a couple of km, then its more or less downhill from then on.  If I go with him, I am now quite used to the coughing and spluttering of the motorbike as it climbs the hill with little petrol in the tank, and know that once we reach the top, he can just glide down into Milas...whether there's enough in the tank or not.

Yesterday, however,  we didn't quite make it to the top of the hill before the bike gave up.  Because of the barrier in the centre of the road, it isn't possible to cross over the road with the bike and glide back down the hill, so Mr A decided to glide back down (the wrong way) on the hard shoulder.  Now before anyone holds up their hands in horror...I'm afraid this is a very common occurrence with Turkish drivers..going the wrong way down a road usually as a shortcut to wherever they are going.  No-one bats an eyelid...but if you're driving you really have to have your wits about you...always be prepared to swerve if you see a vehicle travelling in the wrong direction!

We were actually going to Milas to get some money for shopping, so we emptied Mr Ayak's pockets and my purse and came up with 4.75 lira.  Most petrol stations won't accept less than 10 lira for petrol, but Mr A, determined as ever, decided to try.  I couldn't hop on the next passing bus, because that would have cost 3 lira, so I had no choice but to wait while he set off (there is no way I will travel on the back of the bike on the wrong side of the road!). 

Almost an hour later he returned, having managed to glide down the hill...cross the road at the junction at the bottom, and push the motorbike to the nearest petrol station, and persuaded the petrol attendant to accept 4.75 lira.

I used to get really irritated by this but I don't anymore, the reason being that we are so short of money that I know Mr Ayak is trying to economise with petrol, the way I do with food.  So there's no point in getting angry with him.

However...when the money does eventually start rolling in..Insallah...God help him if he then runs out of petrol while I'm with him!

Sunday, 28 March 2010

The big village clean-up

There was an announcement by the Muhtar over the public address system yesterday.  I didn't hear it but Mr Ayak told me about it this morning.  Apparently there will be a visit by some Government health officials to the village sometime during the coming week.   The Muhtar said that a recent visitor to the village had been taken ill, and it was believed he may have picked up some infection whilst he was here.

Now call me a sceptic if you like, but the Turks are often prone to exaggeration or even making up stories to suit a particular event, and when Mr Ayak asked the Muhtar today what exactly was wrong with this visitor, he was very evasive.  In fact he quickly changed the subject and said that the village needed to be cleaned up because the VIP health officials were going to do a check.  So I may be wrong, but I actually think that the Muhtar has been told to clean up his act prior to an inspection, but doesn't really want to admit he hasn't been doing his job properly.

Everyone has been informed that there must be no more water running down the lanes.  This is something we are used to.  People with cow sheds hose them out and the water makes its way out of their yards and down the roads.  It's not a huge amount and dries out very quickly.  But now the villagers have been told that they have to provide proper drainage...they must lay pipes to carry the dirty water.  And the pipes must not be visible...ie trenches must be dug to accommodate the pipes and they must be covered up.

And then there is the cow manure.   My neighbour for example, just shovels it up each day and tips it over the wall at the bottom of our lane.  The pile grows bigger and bigger, until she eventually arranges for it to be collected.  OK sometimes it gets a bit out of control, and one has to tread very carefully to avoid it, but this is the countryside....this is village life...it's no big deal really.

What about the refuse collection?  Well some of you may well remember me blogging about this towards the end of last year, and how we had no rubbish bins at all at our end of the village and it took months of hassling the Muhtar before we were finally provided with one...then 5 weeks before it was emptied for the first time.  It's still a problem...our bin was full today...it's been 3 weeks since the last collection.

Now...why am I sceptic about the tale of the sick visitor?  Simply because the Muhtar knows that something like this will make the locals panic...it will get an immediate reaction.  If he just tells everyone to clean up the village, they'll probably ignore him.  But if they think they might become ill, they'll take immediate action.
In any case most of  these things are the Muhtar's responsibility...work that should have been arranged by him ages ago. 

Today has seen Mr Ayak hacking into concrete outside our gate to bury a plastic pipe which we had fitted as a temporary measure to take the waste water from the kitchen sink and washing machine straight into the garden to water the trees.  I say temporary, because it was our intention at some point to dig a trench and fit a sturdier pipe.   You could hear banging, hammering and drilling going on all over the village today.

When I walked down to the village shop to buy bread this afternoon, there were no piles of manure to be seen anywhere, and no waste water running down the lanes.  All the rubbish bins have also been emptied today.

And where was the Muhtar whilst all this activity was taking place?  Where he normally is...day after day...sitting in the teahouse doing precisely nothing.



Saturday, 27 March 2010

I should have a little more faith....

...in my husband.

I have to admit to feeling very insecure after the events of the past week and in particular yesterday.

My imagination has a tendency to become very vivid at times.  I had this picture in my head of Mr Ayak sending me off into the sunset, with FIL standing with him at the door, rubbing his hands with glee...and me turning to say "OK dear FIL...you've won...I hope you'll be very happy together".

Mr Ayak returned home this afternoon just as I was coming out of the house and down the steps.  He came through the gate and opened his arms to me.  He gave me a big hug and said "I'm sorry".

There was no inquest...it wasn't necessary.  I didn't mention his father, but Mr Ayak said "You know I love you...and my father knows I love you, so whatever he says or does will make no difference.  There is nothing he can do to interfere with our life".

So clearly FIL has been telling Mr Ayak what he thinks of me, and has as I thought been trying to influence him...but it hasn't worked.  And I really don't need or want to know what has been said.  It's enough for me to know that, even though Mr A will always need to have some kind of relationship with his father, he will always put me first.

So we are back to normal, and even though I will have to tolerate FIL again in the future, I now know I can cope with it.

I would just like to express my appreciation to all my blogger friends for supporting me through all this.  You've given such good advice, you've encouraged me and believed in me.   I didn't feel able to talk to anyone about how I felt, and even though I was a little reluctant to blog about it, I am very pleased I did.  The anonymity of blogging somehow makes it easier...as if I'm not really burdening anyone.  It has helped me enormously.   Thank you.

And a change of subject

Some new photos of Billy which have really cheered me up today...hope you like them:





Not a good day

Well it was a good day yesterday because FIL has gone...but his presence is still here.  

Thursday evening was OK.  As usual I offered dinner but it was refused.  FIL wandered around the house discussing ideas with Mr A for renovating and repairing.  I was even included in the conversation at one point and didn't feel as uncomfortable as I had over the past week.

Yesterday morning when I got up and let the dogs out, FIL was just going through the gate with his bag. "Oh are you going?" I asked.  "Yes...goodbye" was the answer.  I went and called Mr A, who called out to FIL that he would see him down in the village.  Apparently there were one or two things for FIL to do on the land before setting off.

Mr A set off  for the village and was gone for a couple of hours.  Before he left everything was fine between us.  When he returned it was as though someone else had taken his place.  He came in with a bag containing a bottle of raki and cigarettes which his father had bought for him.   He opened the raki and proceeded to drink it.  Now Mr A and alcohol don't go well together.  There have only been one or two occasions in the past when Mr A has had several glasses of raki and he loses control.  He gets angry and shouts a lot...and breaks things.   He's never violent towards me but he has been known to punch the wall or a door.  

FIL knows this...it was mentioned years ago.  As a result Mr A hardly ever drinks raki.  Maybe one glass on a rare occasion, or a couple of beers...but that's it.  As he is drinking he is telling me that his father is very upset...that this is FIL's house and he doesn't feel comfortable in it when he visits....FIL says this is all my fault...that I have made him uncomfortable...that I have no idea how to treat people.  Oh he has really got inside Mr A's head and the raki was his parting shot...just to finish it off nicely.

There was nothing I could say...how could I reason with this man who was rapidly getting through a whole bottle of raki.  At one point he was crying...literally sobbing... because he thinks he has let his father down, the next minute he is angry and shouting.  He picked up a 5 litre bottle of water and slammed it down on the kitchen table with such a force that the bottle burst and the table split.   By this time the raki was finished and Mr A lay down on the sofa and went to sleep.  So I left him to it.

I couldn't have written about this yesterday, because I was just too upset.  I was also angry.  I wanted to phone FIL and tell him about the damage he has caused to Mr A and me.  Something stopped me from doing this....it's just what he wants isn't it?   I'm sure he'd love nothing better than for me to confirm that his plan had worked.

Later Mr A got up and walked down to the village and didn't return until late evening.  He was extremely subdued when he came in.  I just took myself off to bed and left him watching television. I got up later to get a coffee and he had fallen asleep on the sofa, so I switched the TV off and left him there.

I never thought I could feel such hatred for someone as I do my FIL:  He has throughly messed with Mr A's head.  He has spent every day of the past week with him...chipping away at him...bit by bit.  One minute treating him like a father should...the next minute making him feel useless....and at the same time trying to convince him that being married to me is a big mistake.

Today's another day.  I'm left to pick up the pieces.  I'm not quite sure how I'll manage it, but I'll try.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Day 5

It's Day 5 of FIL's visit, and as far as we know he will be leaving on Day 7.  At least that's what Mr Ayak believes.

However, FIL asked me if I would check the weather forecast on my laptop for the next 5 days to see if any rain was due, because that would mean no work on the land.  So does that mean that he could be here for another 5 days?   When I had chance to ask Mr A what he thought (this time when I was absolutely certain that FIL was not listening through keyholes) he said he was pretty sure it would be Friday.  "After all" said Mr A, "why do you think I'm working with him on the land? I want to get the work finished as quickly as possible".   In that case, I said, get back down there and work all night if necessary!  Mr Ayak laughed and said, don't worry, there's not much left to do and it will be finished tomorrow.

I'm making such a huge effort to be nice to FIL, because I can see how happy it makes Mr Ayak.  He visibly relaxes and smiles at me when I make attempts to start up a conversation with FIL.  FIL refuses to look at me whilst I'm talking, and I only get "yes/no" answers, which actually leaves me feeling very uncomfortable.  I am one of those people who likes to be face to face and making eye contact when I'm talking with someone, and it's normal for me to have more of a two-way conversation ....so this behaviour is quite unnerving.

I don't think Mr Ayak notices this because he is so pre-occupied with the fact that I'm making an effort at conversation, that he can't see my discomfort...and of course I'm not going to tell him how I feel...what's the point?

However, in spite of all this, I am coping with the visit much better than I thought I would when he arrived.  I think  that my decision to change my approach was definitely a wise one.  I haven't had to back down or compromise my principals, and I actually feel more in control as a result.

(I still can't wait to see the back of him though!)

It's much easier to be nice.....

...than nasty.

Being deliberately nasty takes so much effort, and in my experience it doesn't make you feel very good about yourself.  You may get instant gratification at the time..but the feeling is short-lived.

So I'm continuing to be nice to FIL.   It doesn't take a huge effort because he's out all day, and when he's here I'm usually in another room.  I still offer him food...he still declines my offers.

I learned from Mr Ayak that yesterday FIL complained about the bed he's sleeping in.  It's too hard and he's not warm enough.  So I've sorted it out.  Next to the mattress it now has a fitted sheet, then a quilt and then another fitted sheet.  On top it has a quilt and two thick blankets.  That should do the trick!

Mr A and I are both smokers.   Yes I know it's a bad habit, and we are short of money, but it helps with the stress we both have at the moment, and we have cut right back on the amount we smoke.  Sometimes we run out of cigarettes, but we just put up with it.  FIL always has cigarettes but it wouldn't occur to offer them to Mr A or I, when we don't have them, he will just smoke in front of us.  Mr A has worked every day with him on the land, often without cigarettes, but FIL hasn't once offered him one.

This morning, I was in the kitchen, FIL was out in the garden.  Mr A came in and asked if I had any cigarettes. I have about half a packet left.  Mr A said "Can I take two, because my father has run out of cigarettes?"   Oh!  What a perfect opportunity for me to be nice!  Instead of handing over two to Mr A, I went out into the garden and said to FIL "I understand you have run out of cigarettes, please have one of mine".  He took one...I could see how difficult it was for him to say thankyou...but of course he had to.

I enjoyed the moment immensely.  I kind of have that smug feeling again!

Monday, 22 March 2010

An objective view

I'm  sure you must all be pretty bored by now with all this stuff going on with my FIL.  Please don't feel obliged to read anymore or comment...I won't be offended, but please know that your words of encouragement and support so far have been a huge boost to my self-esteem.   I've been getting more and more angry as the day has worn on, and it helps to write it down. 

The only way I can calm down is to take a huge step back from this situation and look at it objectively.

I'm sitting in the bedroom with my laptop, because Mr A and FIL are in the sitting-room with the air-con heater going full blast, and even passing through to the kitchen to get a coffee, immediately brought me out in a sweat.   The television is on and they are chuckling away together at some inane comedy sit-com.  Turkish humour is of the  obvious/in your face/Benny Hill/slapstick type.  Not my cup of tea at all.  They don't do subtle.  Although I do remember watching a couple of episodes of The Office with Mr A once, and having explained the humour to him, he did actually find it very funny...so there's hope for him yet!

You may recall me talking about Mr A's childhood.  His father never showed him any love..well he gave him nothing really.  Suddenly after all these years, his father decides to give him a house.  I think Mr A is so desperate to win his father's respect and affection, that this gesture must have seemed like a huge breakthrough to him.   I think he is terrified of losing the relationship that he BELIEVES he now has with his father, that he thinks he has to accept everything that his father says or does, even if that means he has to be seen to be treating me in a typically Turkish male manner.

He's been working with his father on the land since he arrived on Saturday, they've been to the teahouse together, and now they are sitting watching TV, the way fathers and sons should.  It actually makes me really sad.  It's what Mr A has always wished for, even though he's too proud to admit it.  But is it just too little too late?  And he doesn't realise, as I do, that this isn't  his father caring for him the way he should care for his son...it's all about control. 

I'm the fly in the ointment though...at least I'm sure that's how FIL sees me.  Because I won't just lay down and roll over.  I won't suddenly after 12 years become a subservient Turkish wife.  And he knows I won't.  He's trying to control his son but he can't control me, and he's not happy about it.  It means he has to up his game-plan and work a bit harder at it.  I'm sure he'd like nothing better than to have me out of the picture completely....so I'm certain he will do his utmost to turn Mr A against me.

I know things will change when he leaves, and he's no longer able to influence or manipulate his son.  One thing he fails to realise is that I know his son better than he does.

In the meantime, I'm stepping back and watching from a distance.  Let Mr A enjoy this time with his father, with no interference from me.  He needs to make the most of it because it won't last.  I'm not going to be the one to burst Mr A's bubble...no doubt his father will do that at some time in the future.  I'll just be here to pick up the pieces.

Day 3

Well perhaps I was a little premature in feeling smug.

Up early again this morning and was in the kitchen as FIL walked past me without a word.  It was only when I made a point of saying good morning, that he grudgingly replied before going off to fiddle about with the garden.

As expected, when Mr Ayak surfaced, FIL refused breakfast.  Mr Ayak went out to join him in the garden and I decided to clean the sitting room windows.  Suddenly there is FIL chatting away to me as if he was my best friend!  Naturally, Mr A was only feet away so it was obviously for his benefit.  No matter...I just chatted back.

FIL set off to the land and Mr A continued to work in the garden.  A bit later he said to me that FIL had heard my comment about switching off the air-con heater the other night....and that Mr A thinks I should apologise to FIL. (So he must have been listening at the door as I suspected...sneaky little man).   I assume that's why he is behaving like this then, I asked Mr A?   So Mr A says...look he is my father, you should apologise to him.  I said OK I'll apologise, but please tell me how this explains his similar appalling behaviour towards me last September, when I did nothing wrong?  Well I wasn't there last September was I? replied Mr A....and he is being very nice to you this morning!  

OK...I can't win this one can I?  Quite clearly FIL is very good at this game.  He's no doubt been working on Mr A...and if I'm honest, I'm really no good at playing games.  I'm just too damned honest and perhaps a little outspoken at times.  I'm not a typical Turkish wife, who must obey all the men in the family.

But I do know for a fact that Mr Ayak is very much a people-pleaser, and hates any ill-feeling..and to give him the benefit of the doubt, he is probably finding this whole situation very difficult.

Me?  I'm just so angry and hurt....and definitely not feeling smug at all.  I'm not sure how I'll last out until FIL leaves on Friday.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Day 2 of "The Visit"

Where was I? Oh yes..setting off on the bus to Milas this morning.  Unfortunately I had forgotten that it's Sunday and the buses only run every two hours.  When  I reached the village bus stop I had just missed one.  I walked down to the land where FIL and Mr A were working, and where FIL had parked his car.  Also gathered there were the man who owns the land next to ours, along with his wife and children.  This is the man who erected the chicken wire in our garden, so I know him and his family quite well.  I stopped to chat with them and FIL wandered over and was charm itself to me...clearly for the benefit of the neighbours!

Mr A came over to me and I asked him if there was any chance that his father might let him use his car to take me into Milas. I'd given up on spending a couple of hours there, but I did need some shopping, and mostly heavy stuff like washing powder, and store-cupboard essentials.  Mr A suggested I ask him.  So I did.  He said it wasn't possible as he had no petrol, and he had no money until his salary reached his bank account tomorrow...followed by a somewhat  unnecessary remark "you can wait two hours for the bus surely".   So Mr A walked back to the house to get the motorbike and I waited.  

FIL then proceeded to  ask me why we hadn't been down to the land since his last visit to check on the trees etc.  Well the reason for this is that he never asked us to because he has been paying the neighbour to take care of the land and water it when necessary.  However, he seems to be blaming Mr A and I for the fact that the neighbour and various other villagers have been helping themselves to the fruit and nuts.  I just  made sympathetic noises but refused to be drawn into an argument, and assured him that Mr A and I would certainly be making regular checks on the land in future.

He then continued to talk about how hard up he is because he has to pay for the upkeep of the land, he has to support his youngest son who is still at Uni, also his elderly parents, and that he has just had to pay for his new car with his credit card  (Haha!  I had a little chuckle to myself...so it must be true that MIL emptied the bank account!)   So I just said, well we all have problems with money and life can be difficult at times.  At last Mr A arrived with the motorbike and we set off to Milas with me on the back.

Whilst we were shopping, Mr A told me that he had had strong words with FIL this morning.  Apparently FIL said Mr A has not TAUGHT me how to treat Turkish families!   Mr A said that his wife knows exactly how to treat people, Turkish or not, and that she does everything to make visitors very welcome, and that his behaviour towards me in September was very rude.

We returned from Milas with Mr A balancing several heavy carrier bags on the handle bars of the motorbike. He stopped for a coffee and sandwich then set off back to the land.  Half an  hour later he was back.  There was no sign of FIL...and no sign of his car.

Mr A did some more work in our garden for a couple of hours, then set off back to the land, where he found FIL, who had...wait for it...driven into Milas...hmmm...with no petrol and no money?

They returned around 7pm and I cooked some chicken fajitas.  FIL was sitting outside and Mr A went out to ask him to come in and eat with us.  No thankyou, said he,  I've already eaten.

I'm not angry or frustrated anymore...if anything I'm actually enjoying the fact that I have continued to be pleasant to FIL, and he is just showing his true colours...and Mr A now firmly believes that I have done nothing to provoke this behaviour.

So Mr A has at last seen the light, and is completely on my side, without my having to do anything to convince him.

Is it OK for me to be feeling a little smug, do you think?

This post is just for me....

...to let off steam.  So don't feel obliged to read any further than the next paragraph, which is answering @eloh's questions from my last post.

@eloh...you asked about womens' rights in Turkey, in relation to divorce.  I can't explain this accurately, because I get different stories from different people...and the laws are constantly changing. But as I understand it, after divorce the wife isn't entitled to half of everything, as she would be in other countries.  In fact I'm pretty sure that she will only keep what is hers...and I think she has one house in her name. I believe she would have to apply to the courts for anything else.  In the case of the death of the man, it would seem that the assets are divided up amongst the family, and the wife gets a percentage..and from what I gather, this percentage is fairly small.  FIL isn't being generous in signing over the house to Mr Ayak.  He is just making sure that his wife doesn't get more than he feels she is entitled to.   Now please bear in mind that what I've just said could be inaccurate...I've just pieced together bits of information and tried to make sense of it.

If FIL does sign over the house to Mr A, it is Mr A's intention to either sign it over to me, or to sell it and buy another property in my name.

Incidentally, Mr A heard from his cousin, that FIL had a considerable sum of money in a joint bank account with MIL, which was the proceeds from selling his car, and to be used towards buying a new one.  It would seem that MIL has cleared the account....yay!  Good for her!  This may or may not be true, as families love to gossip...but I hope it is!

I was up early with the dogs this morning, and Mr A got up shortly after.  I could hear FIL up and about and Mr A asked me to get some breakfast for them as they were going off to work on the land at the bottom of the village.  Does FİL like menemen, I asked Mr A?  Yes he does, was the reply.  So I cooked it and set the table.  I called them in from the garden and Mr A came in and sat down.  Does FIL know breakfast is ready, I asked?  Yes, he said, but he doesn't want any.  And Mr A had no idea why and suggested I go and call him.   I went out and told him breakfast was ready and I had cooked menemen for them.  He replied that he doesn't do breakfast.  So...more food wasted.

Earlier I did have a quiet word with Mr A about using the air-con.  The sitting room last night was stiflingly hot..it was unnecessary to have it switched on when we can't afford the bills. Mr A said that FIL hadn't asked for it to be switched on, but that Mr A thought he was cold so he was being kind.  OK fair enough.  I can't imagine that FIL heard the conversation because we were in the bedroom, unless he was listening at the door...which I frankly wouldn't put past him.  So maybe this is the reason for him refusing anything I offer.  In fact Mr A offered him tea that I'd made, and he said he wouldn't drink it because I might charge him for it!

Mr A is torn...one minute he is angry because he can clearly see how his father treated me last September when Mr A wasn't here...but the next minute he is defending his father and telling me I'm in the wrong.

Of course, I can clearly see what's happening here.  FIL is trying to drive a wedge between Mr A and I. They've set off to work...and I've been sitting here in tears.  Not because I'm upset...but tears of frustration and anger.   Apart from that, I have raging toothache and my back aches.

So..like I said...this post is mainly for me.  Writing it down just gets it all out and makes me feel a bit better.

It's a lovely day...I've decided to hop on the bus into Milas this morning...just to get away from it all for a few hours.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Third time UNlucky

After two "no-shows" in the last couple of weeks, FIL has finally arrived.

He turned up early afternoon, and Mr Ayak had popped out...bad timing Mr A!!

He walked through the gate, as I came out of the house and just stood there.  Someone had to break the ice, and I just knew it would have to be me.   So I said welcome, and how are you.  He answered that he was fine and asked me the same....all in Turkish and very polite.  I explained that Mr A had popped out but would be back soon.  He put his bag down and proceeded to wander around the garden examining the trees and shrubs, secateurs in hand, snipping at trees and standing back to admire his handiwork.

He had been on the phone to Mr A last night for quite some time, after which Mr A informed me that as it would seem that a divorce between FIL and MIL is definitely on the cards, FIL had decided to sign over the house to Mr A.   So I had already accepted that I would have to be as pleasant as possible during this visit to avoid rocking the boat.

So, after asking FIL if I could get him anything...tea or coffee...which he declined, I thought I would just follow him around the garden and try to engage him in friendly conversation.  He lit up a cigarette which was odd because he doesn't smoke, so I mentioned it and he said he had started because of stress.  I nodded in what I hope came across as being sympathetic (but you know, I'm not very good at this..putting on an act..but he didn't seem to notice).  We discussed the garden, the weather, the house, the dogs.  Well more to the point, I actually did most of the talking...too much in fact, which I tend to do when  I'm nervous, until I reach a point where I know I sound like a mad woman..then I force myself to stop.   He made the odd comment...no that's not quite right..he made the odd criticism.  And then Mr A arrived, so I was off the hook for a while.

I cooked a very simple meal...but he didn't want any.   He and Mr A have been chatting ever since, so I was able to politely excuse myself and take myself off to the bedroom with my laptop.

Of course I have no idea how long he will be staying, but the worst bit is over......at least I hope it is.

PS...I'm quietly seething.  I have been through an entire winter without switching on the air-con heating unit, because electricity is expensive and we can't afford it.   FIL has decided he is cold and has had it switched on all evening.....aaaargh!

A Year in Blogland

I started this blog a year ago.  I never had any intention of starting a blog.  To be honest, until an on-line friend gave me the link to their blog, I didn't really have any idea what a blog was.  It was suggested that I start my own, but I had reservations.  What on earth would I find to write about?

When I first moved to Turkey almost 12 years ago, I kept a diary.  I continued with it for a couple of years, and accumulated a fair number of exercise books.  I'd often read them, just to remind myself that even though this was a difficult journey, I was making progress.

During one of our many house moves, my diary was lost, and I never started it again.  In a way my blog has just replaced that diary.  And of course it's a lot easier to type and edit than it is to write it all by hand.

So I set up my blog...with great difficulty..I'm not very good on all this technical stuff, but through trial and error I did it.  Then it just sat there...I just didn't know how to start.  I kept logging in to my blog, and staring at it...and that's as far as it got.  Then a few days later I discovered I had two followers...my on-line friend and his wife.  I panicked...oh dear, I will really have to write something now...so this was my first ever post:-

"Sunday, March 22, 2009


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."

................................so that was the start.   A year down the line, I have 44 Followers, and I even have quite a lot of awards (who will ever forget that wonderful feeling when you receive your first one?).  I've  made many friends through blogging, and that gives me a great deal of pleasure.  I'm also very grateful for the support I get from followers when I'm going through difficult times, or feeling a bit low.  Thankyou...you have no idea how much it means to me.

I thought I would never be able to find enough to write about...now you can't shut me up!

But this post isn't just about me and my blog.  I have a number of followers who don't have blogs of their own.  I also have a fair number of readers amongst friends, who also don't blog, and I'd just like to say to them...give it a go.  Everyone has a story to tell....and I love reading them.  Once you start, you won't regret it.

Go on...start a blog...let me know...and I'll promise to be your first Follower!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

We have a visitor

It's OK...it's not father-in-law...yet!

Yesterday, Mr Ayak's new business partner, Mehmet, arrived.

They spent the best part of the day out on the terrace with lots of paperwork, making plans for the new business.

As you know, we don't have any money at the moment, so there's not much in the way of food for us, let alone guests.

I decided to make toasted sandwiches for lunch, with cheese, salami and tomato.  My Turkish toasted sandwich maker takes half of one of our normal Turkish loaves, which is quite a substantial lunch for one person.  It works better with day-old bread so it's a good way of making sure leftovers are used.   I put the first of the prepared sandwiches into the machine, closed the lid and secured it...and the whole machine just snapped into pieces.  It's completely beyond repair.

I had nothing else to offer but the un-toasted sandwiches.  Not very appetising with old bread.  I was a bit embarrassed but I needn't have worried.   What a charming man Mehmet is...he just sympathised about the broken machine, and happily ate the sandwich...thanking me, and saying it was delicious (it wasn't!).  Mr Ayak of course ate his...because, in our present circumstances, he'll eat anything!

I baked a cake in the afternoon, and made mercimek (lentil) soup for supper.  Again it was graciously accepted by our guest who said it was the best mercimek he had ever tasted.  So he has stayed the night, and I think he will be leaving today.  I just have enough eggs to make menemen (Turkish scambled egg) for breakfast. I may not have provided elaborate meals, but he won't leave here hungry.

I've decided to talk a bit about the business.  Although I'm a little anxious about discussing it,  I have to admit to being  more hopeful at the moment.   They have rented part of a large hotel/holiday village, which contains a hamam (Turkish bath), sauna, massage rooms, etc.  Also as part of the deal, there are a few small shops, which will include a hairdressing salon, amongst other things, and these will be operated on a franchise basis...as far as I understand it.  The main part of the business will be the Hamam.  Mehmet is a qualified masseur, and he will be responsible for employing staff and running it.  Mr Ayak will have overall responsibility for the business, and will also be bringing in customers.

The hotel is run on an all-inclusive basis, so there will be plenty of customers on site, but they can also bring customers in from outside.  Mr Ayak has lots of contacts who are tour operators, so this will generate business.  His cousin has a tour agency in the same road, and he and his wife also help to run a hotel owned by her parents, and he has promised to send customers to Mr Ayak.

Mr Ayak's son from his first marriage will come down from Ankara to work for the summer, whilst on holiday from university.   There is also a tiny shop which will sell pashminas, and this can be mine if I want it.  Having worked in a souvenir shop in Goreme, I know this is something I would really enjoy.  However, I have to be certain that the dogs will be ok on their own every day, before deciding to do it.

Oh....and FIL phoned Mr Ayak yesterday to say that he will be arriving on Saturday afternoon.  Frankly I couldn't care less.  Having such a pleasant visitor here for the past 24 hours has lifted my spirits.  I can face anything now.


Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Deja vu

Yes...I've been here before...

FIL was due here last month on a specific day..and he didn't show.

He phoned Mr Ayak last week to say he would be here yesterday...and he didn't show.  Didn't even ring Mr Ayak, and his phone was switched off when Mr Ayak tried to ring him.

I aired the spare room as best I could.  The damp walls have virtually dried out but it still smells, but nowhere near as bad as it was.  I made up the bed, and did a thorough clean of the house.  You probably wonder why I would even bother, but it's more to do with a sense of pride on my part, and I don't want to give him any more reasons to criticise.  Mr Ayak spent the day continuing to dig over the garden.  Although he won't admit it, his reasons for trying to make the garden look as good as possible, are the same as mine.  Although he's had a lifetime of criticism from his father, so he ought to be used to it by now.

He's playing games.  Of that I'm sure.  Just keeping us on our toes and waiting to make a grand entrance whenever it suits him.  Mr Ayak is very edgy...snapping at me over the slightest thing. It's stress, pure and simple.  Not only because of his father, but he has an awful lot on his mind concerning his business venture and there's still so much to sort out.

So I've removed the clean bedding from the spare room and packed it away.  It's just too bad if FIL turns up today...he can make up his own bed.  He won't be fed unless he brings his own provisions, because we barely have enough food for two of us.  OK I have a knack of being able to stretch food to accommodate unexpected visitors, but I have no intention of even trying.  I'm sure he won't be happy but what's the worst he can do?  Remind us yet again that this is his house that he kindly gave us to live in?  Tell us to move out?  Well that's fine...we've moved enough times in 12 years, so one more upheaval won't hurt us.   If he decides to do that, he'll have to pay us for all the repairs and improvements we've made since last May before we even consider packing our bags.

Mr Ayak says there is no way FIL will ask us to leave because he will completely lose face.  His family will disown him, and he has already lost a lot of credibility because of the situation with MIL.

Enough about him.  There are more pleasant things to talk about.   Yesterday was sunny and warm but the temperature dropped quite suddenly mid-afternoon, but I've woken up this morning to sunshine and even though it's not quite 8 am, it's warm enough to sit out on the terrace with my coffee.

One of the goats belonging to the woman next door gave birth last week.  Just one beautiful tiny baby goat, and I spent an hour cuddling it yesterday.  What a gorgeous little creature.  If only my camera was working. I really must get it sorted because these wonderful moments pass so quickly and I need to capture them.  The only way I can attempt to take photos at the moment is with the integrated camera on my laptop, which I used for my profile pic, but I can hardly chase goats around the garden with a laptop!

Right...off outside now to enjoy the sunshine.   Have a good day!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothers Day

Today is Mothers Day in the UK.


In England, Mother's Day, is celebrated as Mothering Sunday. The date of Mothering Sunday changes every year as it falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent (40 day period leading up to Easter). So Mothering Sunday is celebrated in the month of March or April.

Other countries around the world celebrate Mother's Day on a different day and even different time of the year.  The majority of countries, including the US celebrate Mothers Day on the second Sunday in the month of  May.  This is the date on which it is celebrated in Turkey.
 
The first sunday in the month of May is Mothers Day for many other countries including Austria, The Netherlands, Portugal and Hong Kong.  Sweden celebrates it on the last Sunday in the month of May.  Then there are some countries who celebrate it on a Saturday.
 
So even though Mothers Day is on May 9th here in Turkey, the UK Mothers Day is still the one that's important to me.
 
I'm writing this post whilst waiting for my daughter and grandson to call me on skype...so that we can wish each other a Happy Mothers Day.
 
And for anyone else celebrating the joys of motherhood today....have a lovely day!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Relax......

This is really just a follow-up to my post on Psychosomatic Disorder.  This post generated quite a lot of discussion, and I happened to mention in one of my replies that it's useful to know how to deal with stress.

Some years ago, I worked at a private psychiatric clinic and one of my colleagues was a psychologist called Reinhard Kowalski.  He publishes books and I recall him producing relaxation tapes, which I found very effective.

It has just prompted me to search to see if these are still produced.  If anyone is interested, have a look at this about  Reinhard Kowalski...scroll down the page and you will see that relaxation tapes are still available.

Trying to be optimistic

The weather for the last two days has been very pleasant.

Mr Ayak was away for a few days at the beginning of the week with his partner, doing all sorts of stuff in connection with their business venture.  I've been very reluctant to get into any discussion about this, because he is so enthusiastic and I don't want to be disappointed if it doesn't work out.

He is such an optimist.   He has dreams...he tries to make them reality...and sometimes they fail.  I'm a realist.  I keep my feet firmly on the ground and try to keep his head out of the clouds so that if things don't work out, he doesn't have so far to fall.  I have a mental fight with myself over this.  I so want to encourage him and share his enthusiasm, but I just hate to see him disappointed.

But for the first time yesterday, I allowed myself to listen to his plans, because I have a feeling that it may just work out this time.   Fingers crossed.

Yesterday was a good day.  Mr Ayak has given up looking for temporary work to tide us over until money starts coming in (probably mid-May) because there is absolutely nothing going at the moment, and he is just wasting money on petrol going out to search, when it could be better spent on food.  So he has been busy digging over the garden, generally tidying up ...and we sat out in the sunshine and just enjoyed each other's company.....something that's quite rare these days.

There's always a fly in the ointment though.  If Mr Ayak has something to tell me that he knows I'm not going to like, he waits until I'm in a good mood. 

So there we were..sitting on the terrace drinking our coffee and enjoying the view...and he informs me that his father had phoned him yesterday to say that he will be arriving here on Monday.

He will be coming on his own this time, without mother-in-law.  She left him about a month ago.  I haven't mentioned it before, because I didn't know whether this was just a temporary blip.   But apparently she has asked for a divorce.  It must pretty serious, because Turkish women put up with an awful lot.   They will tolerate a bad marriage because they feel they have no other choice, so it takes a great deal of courage to walk away after so many years.

So, although you all know I've been dreading FIL's visit, I think this one will be quite interesting.....watch this space!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Psychosomatic Disorder

Definition:
Bodily ailment or symptom, caused by mental or emotional disturbance, in which psychological stresses adversely affect physiological (somatic) functioning to the point of distress. Psychosomatic disorders may include hypertension, respiratory ailments, gastrointestinal disturbances, migraine and tension headaches, sexual dysfunctions, and dermatitis.
......................................................

Some of you may have been reading my blog for some time, and perhaps will remember two posts I made on the subject of Depression here and here.  I've battled with depression for quite a long time, but I have learned how to manage it, so that it doesn't take over.

Sometimes, depression will manifest itself in a physical way.  When I was first diagnosed with depression, it was after I thought I had a problem with my heart.   I had all the classic symptoms of a heart problems, and was convinced I was about to die, but after being referred to a cardiologist for the relevant checks, there was nothing wrong with my heart at all.  I had one of those monitors strapped to me for 24 hours, to monitor my heart, and was told to make a note of times when I felt stressed, which caused my heart to beat faster.
In fact the cardiologist said that my stress levels were so high at times, that it was a good job my heart was so strong!   So I was referred to a psychiatrist, and the rest is history.

If I experience some kind of physical illness these days, I always consider that my symptoms may be psychosomatic.  Although it's difficult at times to know whether the physical symptoms are real or not, so it's important to be checked out..if nothing else, it eliminates the fact that it may be a physical problem.  Better to be safe than sorry.

I was diagnosed with IBS (although the Turkish doctors still call it "spastic colon") a couple of years ago after having a colonoscopy.  Most of the time it's fine, but stress and anxiety cause it to flare up.  I occasionally get migraine headaches...mostly when I'm feeling anxious.

The reason I'm writing about this is because it fascinates me.  The way the brain can cause you to feel physical pain or discomfort, when in fact it's really all in the mind. 

I was thinking about it this morning in particular, because Mr Ayak went away for a few days at the beginning of the week, which always leaves me feeling a bit low.  On Wednesday morning when I attempted to get out of bed, I couldn't stand on my right leg.  I had the most excruciating pain in my right hip, and if I put my foot to the floor, it was much worse.  I assumed that it may be connected to my back injury.  Or, as I have arthritis anyway, perhaps age, wear and tear was now affecting my hip joint.

So I limped around the house for two days...took painkillers and used brufen gel..but nothing worked.

Mr Ayak arrived home last night and I limped to the door to greet him.   We sat and chatted for an hour or so and then I got up from the sofa to go to the kitchen, expecting the pain to start up again...but it was gone.  Amazingly there was no pain or discomfort at all...nothing!

Of course it could just be a coincidence that my hip suddenly recovered at the time Mr Ayak arrived, but I can't help thinking that this was just another example of my psychosomatic disorder.

Odd isn't it?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Facebook

I was persuaded by my daughter to use Facebook.  It seemed a good idea at the time.  In fact for those people who use it sensibly, it is a good idea.  It's another means of staying in touch with friends and family, particularly if they are dotted about the globe.

However, it does also bring all the worst elements of society out of the woodwork.  Who can forget the recent case of the nursery school teacher who was charged with abusing the children in her care?  I don't recall her name...probably because I'd rather not.   She linked up with similarly sick and depraved people on Facebook.

In the wake of the murder of 17 year old Ashley Hall, by Peter Chapman, who used Facebook for "grooming" thousands of young girls,  Facebook are refusing to implement the "paedophile button" (shown above) which other networking sites have been happy to install.  Read more about it here.

Now I have just read a report in the Daily Mail  here about a man who has mistakenly been accused by thousands of Facebook members of being Jon Venables.   This man has a wife and 4 small children, and he is living in fear for their lives. The police have even had to install a panic button in his house.

 As long as I live, I'll never understand why people would start these awful rumours.  For a start, Jon Venables is in custody...the man who is the subject of these rumours is not.   How much more stupid can people be?

 There exists a vigilante mentality amongst human beings which I frankly find horrifying.

Facebook has a lot to answer for in my opinion.  Maybe it's time it was closed down.





Tuesday, 9 March 2010

An interesting day

It's market day in Milas on Tuesday, so I set off  for the 11.00am dolmuş.  When I arrived at the village bus stop I found a gaggle of schoolboys, around 13 or 14 years of age, waiting to get on the bus.

They all said good morning to me ...in English.  I was briefly reminded of how I would have felt in England getting on a bus with about eight schoolboys of this age.  I hate to generalise, but English schoolboys, en masse, can be somewhat unruly, and often downright rude and bad mannered.  Not these young boys...when the bus arrived, they all stepped aside to allow me to get on first.  One of them asked the driver if he could put one of his music tapes in the player, so they could listen to it on the way to school in Milas.  He said of course (can you imagine an English bus driver being so accommodating?), but the young boy turned round to me and asked if I minded if he played his music.  Naturally I didn't mind at all, and it was really quite pleasant listening to Turkish pop music on the journey.

On the way to the market, I passed my hairdresser's salon and Atilla, my hairdresser, waved and asked if I'd like to come in and drink tea, which I did.  On the spur of the moment, I not only decided to have my hair cut much shorter, but also to change the colour.  A couple of months ago, I was blonde, but I was a bit fed up with the roots growing through, so I changed it to mid-brown.   Today I decided on something completely different.  My hair is now short and spiky and bright red!  I love it....it's really cheered me up!  I'm not sure what Mr Ayak will think..he's away for a couple of days...although as is typical with many men..he probably won't notice!

I came out of the salon just in time to see a procession of beautifully adorned camels...10 of them...walking gracefully through the town, accompanied by men playing flutes and a drum.   I'm not sure why this procession was taking place, but as the camels all had advertising posters fixed to their sides, I think it was to promote the opening of a new car showroom.  Anyway it was a beautiful sight, and the music was wonderful.  This type of basic Turkish music always moves me.  It gives me goose bumps!

I popped into the supermarket to pick up a few things, then caught the bus home.  It wasn't until I was half-way back to the village that I realised I had  been so distracted by my new hairdo and the camels, that I'd completely forgotten to go to market!  Ah well...there's always another Tuesday.

Tuesday


















Seeing these images this morning makes me weep.

But they also make me very angry. The experts give constant warnings of impending earthquakes, but this bloody Government do nothing about it. It's just too late to talk about it after the event. Have they learned nothing from the disaster of 1999, when 18,000 people lost their lives?

This from Todays Zaman this morning:

"The high death toll from the quake is considered by many to be due to the construction of adobe buildings, which is prevalent in the region. Speaking at a meeting held at the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) headquarters on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his grief over the Elazığ quake. “Those we have lost are the cause of our worst grief. Adobe-style construction is the architectural style of the region.

Unfortunately, the price of this style has been very high for Turkey,” he said. The prime minister also said he instructed the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ) to launch a project to reconstruct the region. “I ask our citizens in the region not to enter damaged houses since aftershocks are continuing,” he added, expressing his condolences to the families of the victims.

Erdik also said yesterday that the quake was not that strong relative to the potential strength of an earthquake in the region. He said the area where the quake occurred was at the intersection of Turkey’s two major fault lines, the North Anatolian fault and the East Anatolian fault.

Many experts also said a high-magnitude quake has long been expected along the East Anatolian fault line and complained that their warnings had been ignored.
Professor Naci Görür from İstanbul Technical University’s (İTÜ) mining engineering department said the area Elazığ is located in is earthquake prone. “This was discussed in recent meetings. However, I saw that our people are not well-informed about quakes. Our people and administrators are not taking warnings seriously,” he said.

Professor Mehmet Önal from the Malatya-based İnönü University also told the Anatolia news agency that 25 foreshocks had been reported in the last 20 days. He said yesterday’s was the major quake, saying it is not possible to determine whether another major quake will follow the aftershocks.

Another professor at İTÜ’s Eurasia Institute of Earth Sciences, Okan Tüysüz, said a magnitude 6 earthquake should not have resulted in such high death toll. “The buildings in Turkey are unfortunately not prepared for quakes. A magnitude 6 quake does not even damage buildings in a developed country,” he added"

Monday, 8 March 2010

Update on Turkish Earthquake

Our power lines have been down since just after I posted on my blog this morning. 

I'm now back on line, and have just checked for the latest news on this morning's earthquake.

The following is a report by Todays Zaman newspaper:

"A strong earthquake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6, hit eastern Turkey on Monday, killing at least 57 people and knocking down houses in at least three small villages, the Government said.

Mayor Bekir Yanılmaz, of the town of Kovancılar said the victims were from the villages of Okcular, Yukarı Kanatlı and Kayalı, where the quake toppled stone or mud-brick homes and the minarets of mosques.

The government's crisis center said around 71 people were also injured in the quake which occurred at 4:32 a.m. (0232 GMT, 9 p.m. EST) in Elazığ province, about 550 kilometers (340 miles) east of Ankara, the capital, and caught many people in their sleep.

It was centered near the village of Başyurt, and was followed by more than 20 aftershocks, the strongest measuring 4.1, according to İstanbul's Kandilli Observatory seismology center.

Emergency workers were trying to rescue four people from debris, Gov. Muammer Erol said.

CNN-Türk television said the dead included four young sisters trapped in the rubble.

"Everything has been knocked down, there is not a stone in place," said Yadin Apaydın, administrator for the village of Yukarı Kanatlı, where he said at least three villagers died.

Authorities blocked access to Okçular village, where most of the deaths occurred, to facilitate the entry and exit of ambulances and rescue teams on the village's narrow roads. Relatives rushed to the village for news of their loved ones.

The quake was felt in the neighboring provinces of Tunceli, Bingöl and Diyarbakır where residents fled to the streets in panic and spent the night outdoors.

Some of the injuries occurred during the panic, when people jumped from windows or balconies. TV footages showed people bringing in the injured to hospitals by cars and taxis.

Kandilli Observatory's director, Mustafa Erdik, urged residents not to enter damaged homes, warning that they could topple from the aftershocks, which could last for days.

Television footage showed rescue workers and soldiers at Okçular lifting debris as villagers looked on. Two women sat on mattresses wrapped in blankets. Turkey's Red Crescent organization began setting up tents in the region.

Earthquakes are frequent in Turkey, much of which lies atop the North Anatolian fault. In 1999, two powerful earthquakes struck northwestern Turkey, killing about 18,000 people."

13.50 Turkish time (11.50 GMT)

Monday

Spring seems to have disappeared.  We were woken up very early this morning with the sound of gale force winds again.  We've been busy moving things to prevent them being blown away, and tying down anything that can't be moved.

We have realised now that the uPvc extension can't possibly remain as a permanent fixture, and will have to be replaced with a solid wall as soon as we can afford to do it.  Neither of us have ever lived on a hill before, where we are so exposed to the elements, and it's really quite frightening at times.

We have also woken up to the news of another earthquake, this one in the south-east of Turkey, measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale.  The latest report is that 38 people have been killed, and I've no doubt this figure will rise.

The Governor of the area said the victims were from the small villages of Okcular, Yukari Kanatli and Kayali, where the quake knocked down houses and minarets

CNN-Turk television said rescue teams dispatched to the area were working to save six people trapped under rubble.  At least four of the victims were children.

The earthquake in Elazig province occurred at 4:32 a.m. (02.32 GMT)  It was followed by an aftershock measuring 4.1.

The quake was felt in neighboring provinces of Tunceli, Bingol and Diyarbakir where residents fled to the streets in panic and spent the night outdoors.

I'll never forget the horror of the 1999 earthquake in and around Istanbul, when 18,000 people lost their lives.  Earthquakes are just an accepted part of life here.  People don't even talk about them until they happen.  They are philosphical about them...and about life and death in general.  Everything happens  because it is the will of Allah..that's how they see it.

I don't pray because I'm not religious...but my heart goes out to the people of those small villages in south-east Turkey today... villages  probably much like this one...they must be devastated.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Sunshine Award

This is a lovely award isn't it?  Very appropriate for the start of Spring.  It was presented to me today by Jes at Prospero's Cellphone

Thankyou very much Jes.

Apart from linking this award to Jes and her blog, I need to put it on my sidebar and pass it on to 12 other bloggers who bring sunshine to my life, with links to their blogs.

If you don't mind, I am going to do something a little different here.

 I would like all of you who regularly read and take the time to comment on my blog, to accept this award.  You all manage to bring sunshine to my days...with your lovely comments, and also through my enjoyment of your wonderful blogs. Please add the award to your sidebar..with my very best wishes...but don't feel obliged to...I won't be offended if you don't.

I won't do individual links because I have them listed on my sidebar.  Have a look and if there are some there that you haven't already visited...give them a try..I know you won't be disappointed.

Here's wishing a good weekend...hopefully with some sunshine...to all my blogger friends.

The Hamam


Mr Ayak's proposed  business venture has come about because of the job he was doing late last summer near Bodrum, and for part of the winter in Istanbul.  It will involve a Hamam amongst other things.

I am still reluctant to raise my hopes that this venture will succeed, because there are so many pitfalls to be faced in setting up a business in this country.  So until it's up and running...I will say no more.

But I will talk about the Turkish Hamam.   Even though this is my twelfth year in Turkey, I have only been to one Hamam.  A very old, original one, between Turgutreis and Bodrum, which I believe no longer exists.

The Hamam or steam bath has been popular in Turkey for thousands of years, many of them surviving from Hellenic and Roman times.


The Ottomans perfected the hamam, or Turkish bath which, like the Roman bath, had three rooms: the grand, steamy hot room (caldarium) for steam-soaking and massage; the warm room (tepidarium) for washing with soap and water; and the cool room for resting or taking a nap, after the bath with a cup of Turkish coffee or a glass of tea.  The cool room sometimes consists of small cubicles (as did the one I visited) with a bed to relax on.

Hamams were social centres, and the only baths in Turkey until the mid-20th century when people latched on to western-style  plumbing and installed baths and showers in their homes.

Today modern Turks may shower in the morning before going to work, but many still try to find time for a weekly visit to the hamam.  They sit around, wrapped in wonderfully soft Turkish towels, drink tea and chat with their friends.

And of course the hamam has become very popular with tourists.  It's often suggested that when you arrive in Turkey for your holiday, that you try to fit in a visit to the hamam on your first day.  It's a wonderful way to exfoliate your skin, before getting down to the business of working on your tan!

I don't know why I haven't made visits to the hamam a regular part of my life here.  Mr Ayak and I just never seem to get round to it.  He did of course enjoy the benefits of the hamam last year, and will continue to do so if his business venture succeeds.  And naturally I  also hope I'll have the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful experience on a regular basis in the future.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Spring is here at last

I love Spring.  It's my favourite time of the year.  clear blue skies and sunshine, but temperatures that make it very pleasant to be outside.  I always make the most of this, before summer arrives when it is so hot that I am forced back into the house again.

And the house needs this weather too.  At last I can open all the doors and windows and try to dry out the many damp patches..and get rid of the awful smell that accompanies them.

Maybe the millipedes will make their way outside too.  We haven't been over-run with them, but I keep finding them on the ceilings and walls.  Disgusting little creatures.  They don't do any harm...but I hate them and having to dispose of them.  Within a few days it won't be damp enough to encourage them into the house...I hope.

January and February have been so stressful and depressing.  With the lack of money, we are struggling to survive.   Mr Ayak has done his absolute best to find local work, without success...apart from one day on a building site which he hoped would turn into weeks, but it wasn't to be.  And he still hasn't been paid for that day's work which was almost two weeks ago...nothing new there!

He continues to meet up with his partner to make plans and prepare for their business venture, which will hopefully get off the ground in April, but I guess it will be some time before we see money rolling in.  When we do, he has vowed to pay off my enormous credit card debt, which has risen sharply over the winter,  and without which, we'd have starved.

Even though father-in-law didn't show up last month as he said he would, I know it's only a matter of time before he lands on us for another visit, with his constant criticism and desire to control our lives.  But no matter...I'm ready for him!

The start of Spring not only lifts my spirits, but it gives me confidence to deal with whatever is thrown at me.  It's a feeling of anticipation too...the promise of better things to come.  I'm optimistic today.  It can only get better from now on.


PS.   I've stopped moderating comments.  It's just one more hassle.  If any spammers turn up...fine...go ahead...you'll just be deleted anyway!