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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Spring arrived then disappeared.

The rain finally stopped after two days and the sky was brighter today, although the temperatures have dropped again considerably. There was I thinking a few days ago that Spring had sprung..but winter has returned.
 
Sunday was so spring like that I got the camera out to capture the almond blossom.
 
Mr A received a call from Kusadasi to say that the latest in the endless series of jobs would start on 15th March, although he will go over there a little earlier to settle in. He also received a phone call from his boss from the hamam in Torba where he worked last year. He informed Mr A that he was heading down to Torba this weekend and could Mr A pop over to see him to discuss the possibility of working for him again this summer.
 
Mr A is a little wary about committing himself to the Torba boss, because he had been promised a winter job in Istanbul with him which should, as you may recall, have started in October. Well he was let down badly over this one, and we have been struggling through the winter ever since.
 
He has decided he will talk to Torba boss though, just to see what is on offer. He also seems to be toughening up a bit because he intends to suggest that if Torba boss wants him to commit himself for the summer, then he needs to put his money where his mouth is. Ie he will ask him for an advance now on his summer wages.
 
I don't hold out much hope of him achieving this...but you never know.
 
If they reach an agreement, he will start in Torba on 1st May. In the meantime he will work in Kusadasi selling carpets until the end of April.
 
We are still working through our list of  chores to be done before Mr A goes.   However he seemed distracted today and ignored the list completely. He has spent almost the entire day in his shed, sawing, hammering and sanding wood. You may recall the fence he built along the driveway and  the picnic table he made a couple of months ago.  He has acquired a real passion for wordwork these days, and is recycling lots of wood that has been in the old house for years.
 
This afternoon he emerged from his shed and, covered from head to toe in sawdust, he produced a magazine rack for me.   I don't really need one but he was so pleased with himself that of course I have told him it's beautiful (actually it is) and now I have to find somewhere to put it.
 
I have been busy cleaning the house today, and Mr A has just come in, shed his clothes to have a shower...and there is sawdust everywhere....oh well.

Words worth sharing



More quotes by Mary Anne Radmacher HERE

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

A picture speaks a thousand words

So much is said and written about the Turkish attitude towards the dogs and cats of the streets.

I've said many times that the only way to dispel the fear that the Turks have for dogs is to talk to the children.  They are the future and if we reach out to them, then there is hope.

My  husband found this photo and made it his Facebook profile pic. It says it all for me and him. This is what we hope will be the future in Turkey. Keep on educating the children..it's the only way to encourage future generations to care for animals.


If you want to help the street dogs of Turkey, please contact the Turkish Animal Group.  You'll find the link on my sidebar.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Repairing and Recycling

Mr A will be setting off for Kusadasi on Wednesday and as the weather has been good this week, we have been working through the never-ending list of jobs to be done.

Whilst I was working my way through cupboards, drawers and wardrobes, sorting out things to recycle or throw away, Mr A replaced the netting on the mosquito door.  Beki has a knack of being able to open this screen door from the inside by pushing it outwards, and from the outside by tapping it with her paw several times until it springs open.  It's a pity she hasn't learned to shut it behind her!   All this effort on her part had resulted in a few tears and holes in the netting.

We then lit a bonfire to burn some rubbish and bagged up old clothes which will be left beside the rubbish bins in the village.   I have learned from past experience that even the poorest Turks are very proud and it's not a good thing to embarrass them by handing over bags of clothes...unless you know them very well....so leaving them well wrapped by the bins makes sure that those who need them will take them.

The new washing machine having been installed and working well,   we needed to remove the old machine from the kitchen, down the steps and across the garden to the old house. 

Our immediate neighbour Dursune (the one with the donkey, two cows, and lots of chickens) watched as Mr A inched his way down the steps with the machine.  She had seen the new one being delivered and wanted to know what we were doing with the old one.  She asked if she could have it.  Mr A replied that of course she could but it doesn't work and will cost around 250 lira to repair.  "That's OK" she replied "I'll get it fixed"  (quite how she would be able to find 250 lira is a mystery)

So with the help of Mehmet from up the hill, the machine was transported to the small terrace outside her house.   I am pretty sure that this is where it will remain, unfixed, for the foreseeable future.  Not many people have washing machines in this village.  Those that do see them as status symbols.  Instead of installing them in their houses, they have them plumbed to outside taps and proudly on display on their terraces and balconies.

Dursune's "new" washing machine gathered a great deal of interest yesterday.  Throughout the day, women passed, spotted the machine, and stopped to chat with Dursune about her new acquisition. 

Dursune is in her 70s.  She  has never had a washing machine in her life and I believe she will have much more fun admiring it and chatting about it,  than actually getting it fixed and using it.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Good friends

I've only known Gwen and Suleyman since last year.  I met them at the hotel where they had a small shop,and where Mr A was working in the hamam.  Gwen and I hit it off immediately.  One of those friendships where you just click and feel like you've known each other forever.

Mr A and Suleyman are like chalk and cheese.  Mr A is a larger than life kind of man, quite loud and popular with most people.  Suleyman is very quiet and reserved.  But the two of them get along like a house on fire.

Gwen and I get together as often as possible.  Not always easy because they live in Aydin during the winter and in the Bodrum area for work during the summer season.  When they have made day trips from Aydin to Bodrum, they pass the road to our village and will take a detour to collect me, so that Gwen and I can spend some time together.  Gwen and I do lots of favours for each other.  There are things I can help her with because she has only lived here for three years, and she helps me out too.  It's a good, well balanced relationship.

They are now in Bitez getting the hotel that they are renting for the summer, ready for the start of the season, so I bus over to Bodrum whenever I can.   Other than that we spend a fair amount of time chatting on the phone.

This morning Mr A went into Milas in search of another repairman to fix the washing machine.  No luck at all so he phoned the Beko man again and discussed getting our machine repaired.  Beko man quoted 250 lira, and Mr A said that he wasn't sure we could afford to get it repaired this month.  Beko man said he would repair it this evening and Mr A could pay him at the end of next month.  So we settled for that.

I was chatting to Gwen on the phone at lunchtime and was telling her about the machine and the cost of the repair.   Her response was that it was ridiculous to think of paying that price when we could get a new machine for around 500 lira.  She said why didn't I get a new machine on taksit (monthly payments).   Of course this would be the ideal solution. Years ago it was possible to get taksit on goods here very easily.   But shops eventually got wise to the fact that many people defaulted on payments, so the system was tightened up.  Now it is only possible to get taksit if you have a credit card.  That way the monthly payments are taken directly from your bank account.

Unfortunately, as I was explaining to Gwen, neither Mr A nor I have a credit card.  Gwen told me to hold on one minute, then she came back to the phone and told me that Suleyman said he would gladly pay with his credit card and I could reimburse him each month. 

It was a wonderful gesture of friendship and trust, but my immediate reaction was to thank Suleyman and refuse, because I really don't like owing money.  In fact, I have had goods on taksit in the past but always settled the debt in full way before it was due.  But Suleyman insisted because it wouldn't cost him anything as I would be paying him each month, and said he would ring Mr A to see if he could arrange for the transaction to be carried out over the phone.

Mr A went to the Beko shop and asked if this could be done, and Beko man said it was impossible to do it over the phone.  I was quite pleased because I really wasn't keen to give this man any more business.  Mr A then went to a different shop where they were only too happy to oblige.  One phone call to Suleyman from the shop at around 3.30pm  and it was all arranged.

By 6.00pm my new washing machine was delivered, installed and is now working beautifully.

I phoned Gwen a little while ago to tell her how grateful I was, and although the taksit period is for 12 months, I will be able to pay Suleyman in full within the next couple of months, once Mr A is working again. " No rush at all", she replied, "and it's a pleasure to help and you do so much for me anyway ...that's what friends are for".

Aren't they just lovely?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Goodbye washing machine

You may recall that the Beko engineer who lives in the village came out on Sunday evening to take a look at my washing machine.  It was working fine apart from one of the control buttons which was loose, and which I could fiddle with until it connected and the machine would start up and complete a cycle with no problems.

The engineer removed the outer casing and fixed the button with glue.  On Monday morning I loaded the machine, pressed the button and it started up.  It filled with water, but then things went wrong. As the washing  rotated, the machine shuddered and vibrated, moved across the room and stopped.   I unloaded, reloaded, started it up several times, always with the same result.

As I said before, and some of you agreed with me, this seems to be a common problem with repairmen.  They come out to fix one small problem and in so doing either accidentally or purposely create another. But how on earth do you prove that it wasn't just a coincidence?

The engineer returned on Wednesday evening and declared the machine dead.   Too expensive to repair.  He suggested we might as well buy a new one.   Oh and by the way did we know that his shop has a very good deal on washing machines at the moment.   And apart from the normal 3 year guarantee, you can pay an extra fee and the machine will be guaranteed for 7 years.   Mr A fell for it hook, line and sinker.  I just walked out of the room in disgust. 

What a helpful man, said Mr A, he didn't even charge us for coming out.   I responded by saying it was just as well, because if he had, it may well have resulted in my insisting that rather than US paying HIM, he might consider compensating us for killing our machine.  Of course Mr A, the most gullible man on this earth, thought I was being ridiculous.

We have discussed buying a new machine.  Mr A wants to take the engineer up on his wonderful offer.  I insist that we should go elsewhere.  It doesn't really matter anyway because we can't afford a new one at the moment.

I have reverted to what I did in the early days, when I first moved to Turkey.  We didn't have a washing machine for the first six months and I did all our washing by hand in a huge plastic bowl.  We happened to have such a bowl in the shed.  Everything gets a good soak in washing powder overnight, then I flex my muscles and wash, rinse, and squeeze.  The weather is good at the moment so a day out on the washing line and it's dry.

I'm telling myself it's good exercise, and actually I do find it quite satisfying sometimes to get back to basics.   Although I haven't tackled the bedding and towels yet...so we'll see!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Health care for all

New legislation has recently been introduced here in Turkey to ensure that every member of the population has health care insurance.

It's a wonderful idea of course, but as usual when  the government introduces a scheme like this, they do not appear to think it through before implementation.  Wherever you look for the correct information, be it on websites, forums or social security offices, there is much conflicting information.   This is nothing new...the left hand very rarely knows what the right hand is doing in this country.

It would seem that everyone must belong to the government health scheme.  At least this was the message a couple of months ago, with a deadline of January 31st for registration, failure to do so resulting in a hefty fine.  

Most of the confusion has been amongst expats, some of whom already subscribed to private health insurance but were being told they had to join the government scheme regardless.  Foreign consulates got involved and meetings were held with officials and varying bıts of information were posted on embassy websites...updated within days...changed...updated...and on and on.  One minute they have to join, the next minute they don't.  If you asked me to give you the  latest correct information, I couldn't because I've lost the plot.

Basically until now there have been two types of cover (well three if you count just paying as you go for treatment).   If you are employed with a contract, your employer is obliged by law to pay your health cover.  It's called SSK.   There have been a few times in the past where Mr A was covered by SSK, which also covered me.   Interestingly, each time this was the case, the EMPLOYER's contribution was deducted from Mr A's salary at the end of each month...not what is supposed to happen but often does. 

The second type of cover is called Bağkur and this is for people who are either self-employed or unemployed.  I did a lot of research on this back in October because Mr A was convinced he wasn't eligible but I was sure he was.   Of course I was right!  Finally on 21st December he registered with the social security department.  One month later he collected his form to take to the bank to make his first payment.  We were both covered from 21st January.

The Bağkur monthly contribution is understandably much less than the SSK contribution.  Where I actually started to lose the plot was when I kept reading about everyone having to have SSK cover, because I always believed this to be an employer contribution.  I still don't get what's happening.  All I know for certain is that Mr A has health cover, and because I am his wife, and a Turkish citizen by marriage, I am also covered.

I do feel sorry for foreigners who have settled here because there is still so much confusion.  I don't think anyone objects to paying for healthcare, but they do need to know exactly how they must go about obtaining it.

I've always been very impressed with the treatment I've received here on occasions when I've needed it.  Some of the devlet (state) hospitals are in a poor state of repair but the system, although confusing at times, is relatively fast and efficient.  You can walk into a hospital without an appointment and see a doctor. If you need to have blood or urine tests, ultrasounds or ex-rays, these are done straight away and the results produced within hours.  I've had to pay on these occasions, but the costs were minimal (although with the new legislation, people without cover now have to pay considerably more).

When we lived in Side, Antalya, I had been ill for some months with what I later discovered were 2 strains of food poisoning.  I lost weight, had stomach pain constantly, and eventually collapsed.  I was taken to the private hospital where it was established that apart from the salmonella and shigella lurking in my body, I had a large stone just about to burst my gallbladder.    Within hours I had been admitted, and my gallbladder removed and then put on IV antibiotics.  I spent a day in intensive care and a further 5 days in the hospital.  I know that the rapid response from the surgeon prevented something much worse happening to me.

The biggest surprise was the bill at the end of all this.  Around 400 pounds.  And this was private treatment.

I have used the devlet hospital in Milas once, in 2010, for a urinary tract infection which was cleared up promptly with the correct medication.  Again, I had no health cover at the time, and the charge was 45 lira for doctor consultation and diagnosis, blood and urine tests and ultrasound.

Even if I still had access to the NHS in England, I would be very reluctant to use it.  I am perfectly satisfied with the care here.

And yesterday we made a further discovery.   I did know that on the odd occasion a doctor from Milas would visit the village for a couple of hours to hold a surgery.  The problem here was that you never knew when he would be coming, until an announcement was made over the public address system to announce his arrival.

Yesterday whilst Mr A was in the village teahouse he saw a notice on one of the buildings attached to the primary school which announced that a doctor's clinic was in progress.  He went to investigate and learned that we now have a regular doctor's surgery for 2 hours every Wednesday and Friday.  This is great news for those of us without transport, and particularly the elderly, as the devlet hospital is on the far side of Milas and difficult to get to.

There will undoubtedly be more teething problems with this new health care legislation before it's running smoothly...if it ever does...but it's a huge step in the right direction in my opinion.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Want a laugh? But seriously though....

I'm sure most of you, like me, get those awful scam emails from people in Nigeria or Ghana, and elsewhere, offering you the opportunity to share in their good fortune,   I must get at least 2 or 3 a week that go into my junk mail box and then are deleted and blocked.

I rarely read them before deleting, but because my head is a little fuzzy at the moment, I opened one without realising and found myself reading it.

..............................
"GOOD DAY MY DEAR

FROM Mr. Chris Nkrumah Ashanti Regina Manager
International commercial bank of Ghana

Attn;

My Name is Mr. Chris Nkrumah I am the Ashanti regional manager of the International commercial bank of Ghana. I got your information during my search from the Ministry of works/commerce and industry. It may interest you to hear that I am a man of Peace and don't want problem, I only hope we can assist each other. If you don't want this business offer kindly forget it as I will not contact you again.I have packaged a financial transaction that will benefit both of us. As the regional manager of the International commercial bank of Ghana; it is my duty to send in a financial report to my head office in the capital city Accra the end of each year.

In the course of 2009 end of year report, I discovered that my branch in which I am the manager made an excess profit of Eight Million Seven Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars [8,750.000.00] which my head office is not aware of and will never be aware of. I have since place this fund on what we call SUSPENSE ACCOUNT without any beneficiary.As an officer of the bank I can not be directly connected to this money, so this informed my contacting you for us to work so that you can assist me receive this money into your bank account for us to SHARE.You will have 30% of the total fund.

Note there are practically no risks involved, it will be a bank to bank transfer, all I need from you is to stand as the original depositor of this fund who made the deposit with our branch so thatmy Head office can order the transfer to your designated bank account. If you accept this offer to work with me, so as I am still at the office at the moment I want this fund to move out of this country because I will be going on retirement soon so kindly be of good courage and stand for an assistance to move this fund out of the country,For your interested to assist me and 60% for me and 30% for you and also 10% for your assistance and also for more procedure and Details get back to me with bellow informations:

1. NAME IN FULL:...............................
2. YOUR COUNTRY/DIRECT HOME ADDRESS:.............
3. NATIONALITY:...................................
4. AGE:.............................................
5. Sex..............................................
6. OCCUPATION/POSITION:.............................
7. MARITAL STATUS:..................................
8. PHONE............................................
9. FAX:.............................................
10.A SCAN COPY OF YOUR INTERNATIONAL PASSPORT OR DRIVERS LICENSE
please for more details contact me Directly here Email:(nkurmah_chris@yahoo.com)

I will appreciate it very much. As soon as I receive your response I will detail you on how we can achieve it successfully.
Best regards,
Mr. Chris Nkrumah
For any Inquiry contact me:TEL/+233543753147"
.........................
I actually laughed out loud when I got to the bit about scanning a copy of my passport or driving license. 
However, laughing aside, I read somewhere recently that there are people out there who actually fall for these scams.  They end up losing their life savings.
What would make any sane person fall for this?  Naivety?  Greed?  What do you think?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Sleep and electrical appliances (again)

 I have some kind of flu bug, with sinus problems and a nasty cough.  It's left my head feeling quite fuzzy so I haven't been in much of a mood for blogging.  I do once remember my grandmother saying that sleep is good for curing most things.  I'm not sure how true this is, but I seem to have slept more in the last few days than I have for months, and I do feel a bit better for it.

This bug arrived on Friday, which wasn't welcome as I had decided to bus over to Bodrum to meet up with Gwen.  She and Suleyman have moved over to the hotel in Bitez that they are renting this year, to start getting things organised for the season.  I felt a bit hot and headachey on the bus but tried to shake it off.

We browsed the shops, which are pretty uninteresting at this time of the year.  The tail end of sales of winter clothes means that most of the bargains are gone, and new stock in many shops has yet to reach the shelves.  Not that we were buying, but there wasn't much to look at.

We decided to walk into Gumbet to a warehouse where we have previously bought bacon and sausages.  Items that are difficult to find in Turkey, and those supermarkets in tourist areas that stock bacon charge the earth for it.  And frankly the quality is not worth the price.

On the way we stopped for lunch in one of the few lokantas open during winter.  We had chicken shish, with rice, chips, roasted peppers, salad and lots of durum bread, and çay.  The total price for the two of us was 21 lira (about 7.70 pounds).  These are the best places to eat, and you will find that their prices stay the same even during the tourist season.   You can pay a small fortune for a similar meal in the restaurants geared up for the tourists, but with a bit of shopping around it is still possible to eat cheaply and well in Turkey.

The warehouse I mentioned has now opened a small shop at the front of the premises and stocks all sorts of  expat delights such as Branston pickle and Birds custard.  I bought a kilo of bacon and 20 sausages along with 3 tins of baked beans and some Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce.  A few treats to cheer up a miserable winter.

By this time I was feeling pretty unwell so Suleyman collected us and dropped me off at the bus station to get the bus back home.

And that's where I've been ever since...sleeping most of the time. 

In between dozing I've cooked and cleaned a little and tried to keep up with washing.  One of the control buttons on my washing machine has been loose for a while.  But with a bit of fiddling and the occasional use of a small knife, I've managed to operate it.  However, it reached the point where it just wouldn't budge, so Mr A got the Beko engineer from the village to pop in on Sunday evening to take a look.   I didn't watch him work but apparently he took off the outer casing and stuck the button back in position with glue.   Yesterday morning I loaded the machine and switched it on.  It filled with water but when it started to rotate the whole machine shuddered violently, started to move across the room and then stopped.

I thought maybe I had overloaded it, so I took some things out.  Tried again and the same thing happened.   I took everything out and tried again...same response.  I washed some things by hand and put the rest of it back in the machine and closed the door, and there it will stay until the engineer can come out to take another look, which won't be for a few days as he is very busy.  

Hmm...I wonder if the volume of work is in any way related to the way in which he fixes one simple problem, but at the same time creates a bigger one.  Or maybe I'm being unfair and it's just a coincidence.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Sharing blog links

I don't have much to write about on my blog at the moment, so I thought it would be nice to share links of some blogs that I have recently added to my reading list.

Back to Bodrum In her own words: "In early 1982 I boarded a Turkish Kibris flight to Izmir - my destination was a 29 foot sloop in Bodrum's new marina. At 22, my belongings fitted into a worse for wear sailing holdall. This year I made a similar journey from Heathrow to Bodrum. Thirty years have passed and Bodrum has changed. There are plenty of very good blogs detailing the ex-pat journey through modern Turkey. The aim of this one is to catch sight of past Turkey through my experience of re-settling in modern Bodrum"

The Western Front; A One Woman Invasion I found this blog, went back to the beginning and read the first post HERE and found I couldn't stop reading so spent a fair bit of time reading all her posts up to date.

Pul Biber with everything Read about this couple HERE. They are newly settled in Turkey and I enjoy reading about their experiences so far, which often remind me of when I first moved here. By a strange coincidence, after I found their blog, I discovered that they had bought their house in Selçuk from one of my friends...it's a small world!

Janice in Caunes In her own words "After years of staring in French estate agency windows when we have been on holiday, dreaming of the unlikely possibility of living in France..... we have finally bought a house 20 minutes drive from Carcassonne, and are intending to divide our lives between Hebden Bridge and Caunes Minervois. Emotions are mixed as we embark on this adventure, hoping we can make it work, and very excited about the prospect of spending quality time in the two places we love"

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Blogging and change

...when everything is working well it's great.  When things go wrong it can become a bit of a chore.

There have been numerous niggly blips with Blogger in recent times. We've almost all experienced them.  The problem with being unable to leave comments on blogs, unless you either log in and out of Google, or use a different browser.  You try all these things.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.  And then, when you stop trying, without warning it starts to work again.

I follow quite a lot of blogs, and to save time I rely on my Reading List to inform me when a blogger has posted something new.  That's fine if it works.   But recently I've noticed that not all the blogs I follow are appearing on my list when they have published a new post.   So the result is that I miss new posts, and those people who would normally expect regular comments from me, probably think I've stopped following them.   Occasionally the list disappears completely, leaving me with a note telling me that I don't follow any blogs.   It's also difficult sometimes to manage the list...to add a new blog.  You enter the URL, follow the procedure...and nothing happens.

Has anyone tried the new Blogger Interface?  I looked at it briefly when the message first appeared at the top of my Dashboard.  Oh no...it's definitely not for me..so I quickly reverted back to the old one.  Apparently the new interface will become compulsory...so I've heard...so I'll have no choice but to get used to it.

I felt the same when Blogger changed the design layout.  It caused me great confusion but eventually I got used to it.

I have an inbuilt reluctance to change.  It's silly really because often change can be good for you.  I can recall not wanting to change from a normal computer to a laptop, but being delighted when I did.  I was sure that going from a laptop to a notepad would cause me some anxiety...it didn't...and I am delighted that I changed.  Anything that makes us think, puzzle over, tackle, and eventually succeed helps the brain cells to keep functioning.  At my age that has to be a good thing.

I should strike a bit of balance here and say that I am delighted with Blogger's spam detection facility.  It really works.  I love the way all those Anonymous spam comments offering me anything from unlocking my iPhone to viagra, just pop into my Spam box, ready to delete at my leisure.

And talking of being Anonymous, I was recently asked the name of my village.  I did explain, and it was accepted that I don't use my real name when blogging, because it allows me to post more about my life and prevent certain people, ie family members, from reading my blog.  In this respect, if I gave the name of our village, it would be easier for those people to find my blog.

When it comes to people posting comments anonymously, this is a different matter entirely.  I do allow some Anonymous comments, because I know that sometimes people aren't registered with Google, or for one reason or another can't manage to comment any other way.  These people put their names at the bottom of their comments.  And that's fine, because if I recognise them, I will publish their comments.

One thing I won't tolerate however, are people hiding behind Anonymous to post malicious comments.  I experienced this the first time I posted about the Turkish Animal Group last year.  You wouldn't believe the nastiness that seems to be generated in areas of animal welfare.  There appears to be a lot of resentment, perhaps jealousy, when people see someone doing good.  The expat forums are full of it.  The sniping, misinformation and downright malicious gossip is rife.

I had another such Anonymous comment on my previous post.  I guessed I would.  It's a bit like someone lurking behind a corner, watching, waiting, ready to pounce.  I didn't publish the comment but I responded to it.   My blog...my choice.   I know the truth about the Turkish Animal Group from my own research and firsthand knowledge.   If I had the slightest doubt about the group I wouldn't support it.   And by the way, I'm due a visit to the TAG shelter next month.  When I do, I'll post up some pictures so you can see the work that's being done.

Well I'm now off to spend some time catching up with those blogs that have disappeared from my reading list...it may take some time!

PS.  Whilst looking for a suitable pic to put on this post I came across a book Blogging for Dummies.  I wish I had discovered it a long time ago...I may still need to get a copy though!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Accepting what you can't change

Yesterday I got into a discussion on Facebook with friends who, like me, support the rescue of street dogs.  There were comments made about the way expats behave towards dogs.  For example, some of them decide they don't like living here after all, return to their home country, and just dump their pets on the streets to fend for themselves.  I know it happens, but the point I made was that they are in the minority.  They are the same people who wouldn't think twice about dumping a dog in their own country.

I have many expat friends in different areas who wouldn't dream of doing this.  They are the same people who have integrated well into the Turkish culture, and care about the plight of animals here.  They will rescue street dogs and care for them, but even if they don't they will go out and feed them on a regular basis.

One thing that constantly disturbs me is how people who come here for a holiday will feed cats and dogs during their stay, then of course when they return home, these animals are left confused and hungry.  I have said many times, and will repeat it again in the hope that the message gets across.  Please DO NOT feed dogs and cats individually if you can't take long term responsibility for them.  By all means if you have scraps of food leave them in a bag next to the rubbish bins, so that they can find the food for themselves.  Believe me...it's not a health hazard because the food will only be there for a matter of minutes before it's found.

There is also a lot of criticism of Turks in the way that they treat animals.  There are sweeping generalisations about the cruelty they perpetrate.  One thing that has to be understood, is that the Turkish attitude towards cats and dogs is totally different to  that of Europeans and others.   They see cats and dogs as vermin.  They think they are dirty.  They generally don't think it's right to have dogs or cats in your home.   Those of us who are animal lovers, have to accept that not everyone feels the way that we do.   But the majority of Turks are not cruel to animals.  Of course there are those that are, but cruelty to animals exists in every country in the world, including those countries who keep dogs and cats as domestic pets and profess to be animal lovers.

There is a fear of dogs here amongst adults, and naturally this fear is instilled in their children.  In every area where Mr A and I have lived, we do what we can to educate the children about dogs.  We introduce them to our dogs, so that they can see there is nothing to be scared of.  In this way they can be taught to respect and be kind to all dogs.   We also put scraps by the bins and leave water out, and encourage our neighbours to do the same.  And they are quite happy to do so...they just need a little encouragement. 

In just three years in this village we have seen a marked difference in attitude.   People see how we treat our dogs and they are less fearful. 

Surviving winter is the most difficult time for the street animals.  People in our village now allow dogs to shelter in their outhouses, because they are no longer afraid of them.  And even if they will never accept them as domestic pets, they still feed them.  Mr A regularly goes to a butcher in Milas and returns with several huge bags of scraps and bones and distributes them around the village.  Others are beginning to do the same.  In my opinion education is always the way forward.

The problem is a huge one.  I have rescued and rehomed street dogs over the years, but I also accept that some dogs and cats just cannot be domesticated.  Believe me I've tried on several occasions, but they continue to run away...back to the life they know and don't seem to want to change.

Karen Lowrie Wren of T.A.G.(Turkish Animal Group) does a wonderful job in rescuing and re-homing street dogs, all with the help of donations, fundraising, sponsorship, and a great deal of her own money.  I will always support and publicise the work that she does, but it's just the tip of the iceberg.

Until the Turkish government accept that the only way to tackle this problem is for them to fund a mass neutering programme throughout the whole of the country, then the problem will only get worse.

In the meantime, most of us, expats and Turks alike, do what we can to make life for these animals a little easier. 

At the same time however, we have to realise  that this is a different country with a different culture, and at times we have to accept what we can't change.

If you are interested in the work that Karen does, and/or you want to help in any way,  you can visit her website HERE

Monday, 13 February 2012

This beautiful country

It's another horrible, grey, rainy day. It started off well and was dry enough for me to go to Milas to do some shopping and then the clouds opened. But I shouldn't be dismayed by this weather because winters here are short, compared with the warmth of Spring and Autumn, and the long hot summers.

Occasionally I stop dead in my tracks, look around me, and realise how lucky I am to live in this lovely country. It's all too easy to forget the positive side of life here when I'm in the depths of winter but I remind myself that summer is just around the corner.

I have been lucky enough to experience different areas of Turkey, all beautiful, but in often vastly different ways. For those of you have come to my blog fairly recently, you might like to have a look at some of my old posts which show you these areas, and my journey and experiences since I moved here. You'll find the links here: My Turkey Journey 

Turkey is a great country for holidays. If you've never been, give it a try. You won't be disappointed.

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Saturday, 11 February 2012

This week's events

The weather has been awful, but I've talked enough about it this week and won't bore you further, except to say that yesterday it was dry. Although still cold, the sun came out and the skies were blue.

It was a great opportunity to fling open all the windows to dry out the house, and to finally be able to put washing out on the line.

Mr A arrived home yesterday morning.   This wasn't planned of course, as he was due to work in Istanbul until April.  However, on Wednesday he was laid off along with a couple of other men.  The reason:  the extreme weather in Istanbul seems to have prevented people from getting out and about, hence they had no customers.  Mr A being last in was obviously first out.  They did at least pay him for the time he had been there...something that doesn't always happen, so we are grateful for that.

He spent Wednesday evening and all day Thursday looking for another job, but found nothing, so he packed his suitcase and caught a flight back home yesterday morning.

I had mixed feelings about him coming home.  Part of me was pleased to see him, but I was also feeling disappointed at how this happens so often, and that we have spent so much money recently on new clothes for him, and the cost of transport to Istanbul twice, and to Denizli for a previous job opportunity that didn't materialise.

The cold weather in Istanbul has taken it's toll on Mr A.  He spent most of his working days outside the carpet shop trying to find customers.  He has returned with rather a nasty chest infection and is dosing himself with quite a lot of medication prescibed by a doctor in Istanbul.

There is yet another job lined up, in Kusadasi, to start around 1st March, or possibly sooner.  He will just have to sit and wait for the call.

Because I have been somewhat confined to the house this week due to the weather, I was unaware of things going on around me.  Mr A spent some time talking to one of our neighbours yesterday and we discovered that the old man in the house just below us had died this week.

I have mentioned him and his wife before.  He was not very bright, and almost deaf.  His wife has learning disabilities.  They lived in appalling conditions in the only room of the house that wasn't falling down.  It is an abdolute hovel, with no washing facilities or toilet.  They had a makeshift toilet in the garden which consisted of a pile of stones built in a semi-circle to provide protection.

The woman is very fond of cats and would feed all the strays, certainly better than she fed her or her husband.  Most people in the village have done what they can to help, including Mr A and I.  I have given food and clothes, and Mr A helped them to build their outside "toilet" a bit higher and provided wood to make a "roof".  He also built them a new gate, and occasionally went down there to make bonfires to burn their rubbish.  Mr A has also constantly expressed his concern about their plight to the Muhtar (village head), and he has done what he can.  But most of the time this couple resisted any help that was offered.

It's sad when someone dies, and I'm sure this woman is suffering the loss of her husband.  However, you may think I'm harsh in saying I'm glad it has happened.  This man was always ill.  He died peacefully in his sleep.  The woman has now agreed to go and live with her brother on the other side of the village.

They are both now in a better place....thank goodness.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Laughter is cheaper than medicine



It's all too easy to get depressed or miserable, especially during winter.  I have to stop and give myself a shake up sometimes when my moaning and complaining creeps into my blog.  One sure way to snap me out of my mood is to go through the photos  I have of my gorgeous grandsons.  Thanks to the wonders of technology I can see these just hours or sometimes minutes after my daughter has taken them, because she uploads them on Facebook.

And talking of Facebook...there's actually a page called Laughter is cheaper than Medicine.  I subscribe to it because the pics they post, which then appear on my wall, often make me smile:







What do you do to shake yourself out of a miserable mood?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

TV programmes

I have mentioned before that we don't have a television.  We got rid of it almost two years ago and I haven't missed it at all.   I was paying a monthly subscription to Digiturk and the only English channels of any interest to me were BBC World (24 hour news) and BBC Prime.  The problem with Prime was that it showed endless repeats.  Home makeover programmes, comedies, dramas, etc...but years old.

The only "current" programme was the soap Eastenders and that was two weeks behind the UK. So we cancelled the Digiturk subscription and got shot of the TV.

I discovered a website on the internet which streamed live TV from the UK and I took out a monthly subscription which was a fraction of the cost of Digiturk.  This worked well for several months until suddenly one day the site crashed and was out of action for over a week while maintenance was undertaken.  Unfortunately when it was up and running again it had so many problems with some channels being unavailable for several days...usually when there was something I particularly wanted to watch...so I cancelled the subscription to that too.

Since then I've found a couple of websites that upload TV programmes after they have been transmitted so I can watch my favourite programmes free of charge, usually the following day.  It's great because if I don't have time to watch, I can catch up whenever I want to.   With the awful weather we've had recently, there's nothing better than having a pyjama day and watching back to back episodes of series like Masterchef!

I love the dramas and documentaries produced by the BBC and there are two that I am particularly enjoying at the moment.

"Protecting our Children" is a 3 part documentary about social workers in Bristol working in the area of child protection. It's of  special interest to me because social work was my career before I moved to Turkey.   Social workers generally get such bad press, particularly in the area of child protection.  Although in recent high profile cases they may well deserve the criticism thrown at them, it's rare to find someone praising the good work that they do.

This programme in my opinion, is realistic and sensitively done, and is well worth watching.   There's also  this article in the Guardian about the programme which I found interesting.

"Call the Midwife" is a lovely drama about midwives in the 1950s.   The BBC do period dramas so well.  The costumes, scenery and continuity is first class.   You might also be interested in this article in The Telegraph  in which Monica Fitten tells of her experiences as a midwife in the 1950s.

Has anyone watched either of these programmes?  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Wonderful washing line

Months ago when my balcony washing line broke I asked Mr A to bring me some from Milas.  He found some that was really strong.  It was made from wire, coated in plastic.  Very thin but very strong.

It has lasted so much longer than the normal stuff we buy, which is basically string that eventually frays and snaps.   He bought several bundles of the stuff and in recent days I have been very grateful for it.

I secured the outlet pipe from the aircon unit on the roof, and tied all the balcony furniture to the railings.  In spite of the force of the wind, nothing has budged.

Yesterday, I went out and repaired the fence with it.  I did search for nails to do it properly but couldn't find any long enough.  But this washing line has done the trick.  It doesn't look very pretty but it's very secure and should last until Mr A can do a more professional job on it.

Anyway...what else can I use washing line for?  Certainly not for drying washing in this weather!  The rain continues...where is it all coming from?  At least the wind has dropped so no more water is getting into the house.   Oh for just one rainless day, so I can open all the windows and get everything dried out.  And the smell...don't you just hate the smell of damp?

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Crash...bang...flooding and flying furniture

After a couple of sunny and relatively warm days, I woke up yesterday morning to blustery weather.  The skies were grey but no sign of the rain which had been forecast.

As the day wore on, the wind got stronger.  I decided to pop down to the village to get vegetables.  It's market day here on Monday.  Although I use the term "market" loosely, as it just consists of two vegetable stalls, run by village women who compete with each other to get customers by shouting loudly and glaring at each other.   I like to be fair, so I usually buy something from each stall.  And I always end up buying more than I  really need because these women are so persistent.

By the time I had reached home the wind had become gale force.    It can be quite terrifying at the top of this hill.  It feels so exposed.   I let the dogs out into the garden to run around but poor little Poppy was almost blown off her feet so I had to rush out and rescue her.

The following hour or so had me running around the garden   retrieving chairs, a table, shoes, and dustbin...all of which had been scooped up by the wind and blown off the balcony.   The plastic pipe from the aircon unit on the roof  had come adrift and was flapping about and crashing into the bedroom window.   There is no way I intended to risk life and limb by going up onto the roof to secure it. 

Temporary measures were called for and I found some washing line in a drawer which I used to tie the pipe from the roof onto the outside tap...the only secure object I could find.  It's not ideal of course but it will have to do for now.  Fortunately I had enough washing line to also tie the chairs, table and dustbin to the balcony railings to stop them being lost forever.

No sooner had I settled down indoors with a cup of coffee there was a terrific crashing and crunching noise from outside.   Part of Mr A's carefully constructed wooden fence had been blown down with such a force that it had flown about 50 yards, crashing into the side of the house.

Then came the rain, viciously beating against the house .....water pouring in through most of the window frames.   Within 10 minutes of placing towels underneath to mop up the water, they would become soaked and have to be replaced.   Again, the sitting room carpet is saturated, and I have had to move furniture to one end of the room.

By the time darkness had descended, there was a terrific storm with thunder and lightening overhead.  I rushed around disconnecting the modem and pretty much all things electrical.  I needn't have bothered because 10 minutes later there was a powercut.

The dogs and I have been up all night.  No lighting or heating.  Every room in this house is wet or damp.    Beki is terrified of thunder and is a nervous wreck.  Me?  I'm sick to death of it and would rather be anywhere else than here right now.  A Caribbean beach would do nicely!

Finally the power came back on at 5.30am, after the storm had subsided.  It's still dark outside and I am dreading daylight when I will be able to see the mess inside the house and outside that I will have to deal with.

Please let there be sunshine today to lift my mood and give me something cheerful to write about.

.......................

Edited to add.   It's now 9.45am.  The wind has dropped but now we have a hailstorm..damn great lumps of ice falling from the sky.  Whatever next?  

Monday, 6 February 2012

Fun in the Snow

‎"Look Mummy it's snowing, look - big snow!!"

"The colour white!!"

"Grass is hiding!!"

These were Billy's excited words yesterday morning.  His first real experience of snow. Oh how I wish I'd been there to watch their excitement.


Watching the snow fall

I'm ready

I'm ready too


Such fun   

I love this snowman


 

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Don't you just love it when.....

you have a day when everything goes right...for a change.

Today has been one such day.  For a start the weather has been lovely.  Temperatures hit 19 degrees C at one point, a far cry from the past week or so which has seen constant rain and minus temps at night.

There's one tiny fly in the ointment though, so I'll get that out of the way.  It's likely that Mr A will not be home until around 17th April.  Not even for a flying visit.   I was checking flights on line yesterday, as I do most days, with a view to booking my trip to England in April.  The prices had come down in the last couple of days.  A sure sign that they are likely to start rising again between now and April (something I have learned before to my cost).  So I took the plunge and booked to go on 18th April, returning home on 30th.   This means I will be there for Billy's birthday on the 23rd and Jimi's on the 29th.

Mr A is entitled to one day a week off work, but he's not planning to take them because he thinks he may be tempted to spend money, and he needs to save as much as possible for a vehicle, be it car or motorbike.  He will need this when he starts working in Bodrum this summer.  He would have worked until the end of April in Istanbul, but will now save up all his days off and return on the 17th, to look after the dogs when I  to go to England.

The sun shining this morning spurred me into action.  I needed to somehow get a new gas bottle.  The small one I was using has something wrong with the connection to the trivet and I can smell gas, so I've disconnected it.  And I can't possibly manage without one until Mr A returns.

I went down to see the village shopkeeper to ask him where I could get a gas bottle, or if he knew someone who would collect one from Milas for me and deliver it to my house.   He scratched his head, chatted with a couple of men outside the teahouse, then told me he would get one for me.  I was delighted and said I would happily pay for his petrol if he could bring it up to my house.

You might be thinking that this all sounds so easy, and why didn't I think of it before, but you need to understand that not only is my Turkish limited (I can only converse in the present tense) but the village dialect is almost impossible to understand.  It's essential on these occasions to have hands that one can use for a kind of sign language.

I set off to Milas to get shopping and some money to pay for the gas.  The cost of the bottle was 67 lira and the man agreed on 80 lira which would also cover the cost of petrol...a pretty good deal.

I called in at the post office to check my box.  I had been waiting for a parcel from England which should have arrived well over a week ago.  I had checked three times previously and nothing.  Having organised the gas bottle, I was feeling more confident so I went off to the sorting office and asked about my parcel.  Two men searched for me and eventually it was found in a cupboard.  It would seem that because the parcel was too large for my small postbox, they should have left a slip of paper in the box telling me to collect it from the office.  Unfortunately they had forgotten to do this and the parcel had been in the cupboard for some time.

My gas bottle arrived about an hour after I returned home.   The dogs will be delighted because now I can cook their pasta and chicken livers perfectly.   The last lot of pasta I cooked for them on the small gas bottle turned out like chewing-gum...and they turned up their noses in disgust.  It won't be wasted of course because the street dogs and cats will think it's a real treat.

This afternoon I cleaned my cooker..my least favourite job but it was long overdue.

I also lit my very first bonfire.  Bonfires scare me a bit and I tend to keep away from them. But I had been sorting out old paperwork this week and as I don't have a shredder, burning it seemed the best solution and again I felt I needed to start doing more of the jobs that I usually leave for Mr A.

If the weather is good tomorrow I may tackle Mr A's shed.  It's an absolute mess because he has been sawing wood in there and everything is covered in sawdust, and his tools are all scattered about.

I seem to have set myself a challenge...to eliminate Mr A's "jobs to do" list.  He will get quite a shock when he comes home.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

When Mr A is away....

....everyday life can sometimes be a little difficult.  It's when I realise how much I rely on him for certain things.

It's been very windy for the last couple of days, and the roof of the old house has been keeping me awake.  It's a pitched roof but there is some corrugated iron at the front and it's been banging all night.  Early this morning I had to get the ladder which Mr A recently made during his wordwork phase and climb up to sort it out.  Not an easy task as the ladder seems to weigh a ton.  Anyway I struggled up and down a few times with some heavy rocks and placed them on the iron which will do the trick for now.

The mosquito screen door also kept blowing open and banging in the wind because the catch was loose.  I attempted to tighten it but it just wouldn't work so I've had to remove it completely...again not easy because the screws holding it were so tight.

As it's been so cold, I decided to switch the aircon on heat setting in the sitting room...two days ago. Because we haven't used it for so long, I'd forgotten how to reset it and I've lost the instructions.  It's taken two days to work it out...finally I cracked it this morning.  Of course if Mr A was here he would have done it in 2 minutes.

I struggle when I have to carry anything heavy, because I have arthritis in my hands, so am always grateful that Mr A usually gets our shopping from Milas.  But today I needed things so set off on the dolmuş.  Oh what a treat....a little old (very smelly) lady sat next to me.  She proceeded to tell me she was off to see the doctor as she was unwell.  She needn't have mentioned it because she coughed, spluttered and sneezed all over me for the entire journey.  No doubt I'll get whatever she's got within the next few days.

I should only have bought what I really needed but saw a small electric fan heater that we need to replace one that no longer works, and an electric kettle...both at bargain prices, so these added to the weight of my shopping.

I missed the bus home by 2 minutes...I saw it disappearing into the distance, and had to wait an hour for the next one.

Finally...home.  I started to boil up pasta and chicken livers for the dog...and joy of joys...the gas bottle ran out.   These huge bottles are delivered everywhere else in Turkey...but not to this village.  The village shop used to keep them, but not anymore, so this is another thing that Mr A usually deals with. I only buy one about every 6 months as it's only used for the gas hob, so I never remember when it's likely to run out.   So I've found a very small gas bottle in the old house but it's taken me some time to fix the connection and trivet to it so that I can use it for one saucepan at a time.

Thank goodness I bought that electric kettle this morning, because I only had a hob kettle.

So...Mr A's job in Istanbul started on Saturday.  They aren't getting many customers because of the heavy snow and icy conditions, but hopefully things will pick up.  He will get one day a week off but of course it's too far and too expensive for him to come home for just one day.   He thinks that next month, once he's been paid, he may be able to save one of his free days and take two together, in which case he will fly home for a brief visit.

No doubt he will be expecting to relax once he gets here.   No chance...I already have a list of jobs for him to do!

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