Friday, 31 July 2009

The continuing saga of Mr Ayak's jobs.

I mentioned a little while ago that Mr Ayak was working at a hotel in the area, but as it is too costly to travel back and forth each day, he is staying in personnel accommodation. This has the added advantage of saving us money on food as they feed him too.

It was agreed that they would pay him on a daily basis...definitely preferable to the "work and wait for money" situation that we normally find ourselves in. And they did indeed do this. However the amount paid was far less than originally promised. An all too familiar story.

He came back after 5 days and handed over some money...a pathetically small amount...but better than nothing. Early the following morning he set off back to work and crashed the car. I did mention this in a previous post. He went to hospital but he wasn't hurt. But the car is off the road. Fortunately the fault lies with another car involved and his insurance will pay for the repairs. This is not straightforward. The insurance claim has been submitted by the driver but has to await approval before the work can be carried out. And a week later ... approval is still in the pipeline...and the car is sitting in a workshop...waiting. Aaargh...the Turkish disease...waiting...waiting for come they are so patient?

In the meantime, Mr Ayak informed the hotel of his situation, and in view of the fact that they were hardly paying him anything anyway, decided he would have to...yet again...look closer to home for another job.

Through a friend of a friend of a friend, he secured another job. He was a little reluctant to tell me what it involved at first and would just say that it was introducing customers..acting as a go-between as it were. Then when he finally told me that it was in a bar...outside Milas, introducing clients to prostitutes, I realised that whatever you liked to call this is what it is...isn't it?
(Just as a matter of interest Prostitution is legalised in Turkey. Sex workers have to be licensed and they have regular health checks etc. )

Anyway..Mr Ayak was pretty embarrassed about the job and said that he would rather I hadn't known about it. But needs must...and he has to earn money and was prepared to do anything. He was due to start work this evening.

On Wednesday evening he had a call from the boss at the hotel, asking him to come back.....with the promise of more money. So he has rejected the Milas bar job and he set off with his packed bag again yesterday to catch 4 buses. I don't know when he'll manage to get home again. I don't know if the boss talking about more money is just a false promise.

But at least the next time someone asks me what my husband does for a living I won't have to say...well actually he's a pimp!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Extremely Adaptable Cake

I've never been much of a cake maker...oh I've had countless disasters when I've attempted to bake cakes. I can even ruin cake mixes that come in a packet.

So imagine my delight several years ago when I was given a recipe for Banana Loaf Cake which is foolproof. I have made hundreds of them over the years...and every one has been a winner.

Not only that...but this has become my basic recipe now for a variety of different flavoured cakes...because it allows itself to be adapted to whatever you have in your cupboard or fridge.

Here is the basic Banana Loaf Recipe:

100g Butter
140g Sugar
2 eggs
3 bananas, mashed.
150ml milk
280g plain flour
10g baking powder
100g walnuts, chopped

Whisk butter and sugar. Beat in eggs. Stir in mashed bananas and chopped walnuts. Stir in milk. Add flour and baking powder. Pour into a lined loaf tin and bake at 160 deg for approx one hour, or until firm to the touch and a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean.

This is a delicious cake...but now for the adaptations.

Margarine can be can be used instead of butter.

Instead of walnuts, use sultanas, or raisins, pecan nuts, dried figs or apricots, dates, chocolate chips, or chopped fresh fruit.

Instead of mashed bananas, use something else that has roughly the same consistency to make the mixture moist...for example jam, honey, pecmez (Turkish grape molasses), stewed apples or other fruit.

I have used so many different substitutes that I can't remember them all.

This morning I used strawberry jam instead of bananas....and chopped nectarines instead of nuts.

It's just come out of the oven and it's absolutely declicious.

If anyone can come up with some more ideas for substitutes please let me know. I will be delighted!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Unhappy Feet

I have an obsession with my not a foot fetish...but a real anxiety about the state of my feet.
Before I came to Turkey my feet were OK...not beautiful..but pretty good. I used to enjoy buying shoes...I had quite a collection at one time. Not any more.
On my first holiday to Turkey I, like most holidaymakers, spent a lot of time barefooted, as you do. Somehow I picked up an infection in my big toe. It was very sore and swollen, and I got some lotion and dressings from the chemist which seemed to clear it up.
All was fine with my feet until I moved out here to live. I developed some kind of fungal infection under the toenails. It started with the big toe that was previously infected and gradually spread to the other nails. I had a course of treatment which cured the infection but left my nails yellow and crumbly. I've seen several doctors but although the infection is long gone,my nails have never been the same since.
After I'd been here a few years, the skin on my heels started to crack. They were particularly bad during the harsh winters in Cappadocia and I had to have antibiotics and various creams for them. But in spite of my taking a great deal of care of my feet...they still look awful. I get embarrassed when buying shoes...usually in the UK ...and I now opt for comfort rather than fashion. M & S footgloves are the most comfortable.
It is part of Turkish culture to remove ones shoes when entering someone's home, and I used to hate doing this because I didn't want anyone to see my feet.
However, over the years I have noticed that the vast majority of Turks have bad feet. Similar problems to mine in fact. It's not something that I feel comfortable about bringing up in conversation. For example, I was invited in for tea at my neighbours house this morning, and I noticed that her feet were very bad. Well I could hardly say to this woman that I don't know very well "Oh your feet are worse than mine..Why do you think that is?"
No-one mentions it or what causes it. I think the dry and dusty roads and humid atmosphere probably contribute. But also the removal of shoes when entering homes must spread infection? Some people have spare slippers for their guests to use....I do...and I wash them after people have used them, but I'm not sure others do the same. I'm happiest in winter because I can just remove my boots and keep my socks on.
Interestingly, on my trips back to the UK, even if only for a week, the state of my feet improves but never quite enough.
I'd really love to have a pedicure but sadly I just can't pluck up enough courage to expose my very unhappy feet.
(Edited to add: I can't imagine what possessed me to write a post about my feet...I was just about to delete it due to embarrassment...but then thought...oh what the hell...let it stay!)

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Ooh an Award!

I am very honoured to have been presented this award by Jazzy of

I have to list 10 honest things about myself, and then pass on the award to 7 bloggers who I feel embody the spirit of the honest scrap and whose blogs I find brilliant in content.

Here goes:

1. I gave up smoking last December but I really want to start again as I miss cigarettes and I enjoy them.

2. I wish I could split myself in two and spend more time with my new grandson.

3. I drink far too much coffee.

4. I spend far too much time on the internet.

5. I comfort eat when I'm depressed or anxious.

6. I really need to lose some!

7. I have a strong desire to be liked by everyone I have contact with.

8. I have a tendency to be paranoid.

9. I hate unpaid bills...I have to pay mine early.

10. I try to be honest at all times and only make an exception if I think the truth may offend.

And I am passing this award on to :

In Search of the Good Life

Friday, 24 July 2009

Being Positive

I thought I really ought to follow the previous post with a more positive one.

And incidentally...whilst I was just pondering on this I received a phone call from Mr Ayak to say he has just crashed the car (this is the 35 yr old car that he recently swopped his motor bike for...hmm..motor bikes, cars and mobile phones...another story for another day I think!)

Anyway, he was checked over at the hospital and he is fine. The car is damaged (I don't know how badly) but fortunately it was another driver's fault so will be repaired on his insurance.

But...not to be deterred...I am going to produce a list of some of the positive things about life in Turkey:

1. The people...the majority of whom are friendly, welcoming and generous.

2. The scenery...whether by the sea or in the countryside, this country has the most spectacular
scenery I have ever experienced anywhere.

3. Fresh fruit and vegetables...that taste like they should. And they are very cheap.

4. And talking of "cheap" the cost of living for foreigners is incredibly low. It's the ideal country
for retirement as it's possible to live very well ...even on just a state pension.

5. For me...the standard of living that I have here far outweighs anything I could achieve if I
were living in the UK on my small pension. Rental accommodation is very reasonable. In
fact so much so that I would recommend renting rather than buying.

6. Oh...I almost forgot to mention the weather! If you are a sunworshipper...the summers are
perfect for you. Spring and Autumn are glorious and winters are fairly mild...depending on the
area of course...but it's a big country with a range of climates to suit everyone.

There are lots more positive things about this beautiful country...but you should come and see for yourselves!

Vicious Circle

Vicious Circle......Wikipedia : "a complex of events that reinforces itself through a feedback loop toward greater instability".

I've mentioned before how difficult the work situation is with Mr Ayak. The lack of opportunities compared to his siblings, particularly education, has resulted in him having to live largely by his wits. Having to find work within the tourist industry which doesn't always require qualifications, but is both seasonal and unreliable.

We have had years of him working for different people and either being paid far less than was promised, and often not being paid at all, and there is no redress because the employment laws here (such as they are) are not reinforced. There is a minimum wage apparently...but ask any Turk what it is and they have no idea. It's rare to find a job in the tourist industry that gives you a contract of employment or in fact any guarantee of what you will be paid...or if you will be paid at all.

If Mr Ayak could recover today all that is owed to him for work carried out during his lifetime...we would be quite well fact he could probably retire now.

But there's no chance. So many are in the same situation. For example its quite normal for men to work an entire summer season in a restaurant with appalling personnel accommodation and food, with the promise of payment of their accumulated wage at the end of the season. More often than not it doesn't materialise. And there's not a damn thing they can do about it. Of course if Turkey is accepted into the will have to change.......IF accepted...but that's another story!

So in the past couple of months Mr Ayak has worked for two different bosses, and he is still owed money. ...and all he can do is phone them constantly or keep turning up at their premises to ask.....all of which is costing us money in phone calls and petrol. So in the meantime he has done what he always does...gone off to work somewhere else in the hope that he will be paid. This time, although it's still in our area, it's too far for him to travel back and forth each day because we can't afford the petrol. So since Tuesday he has been staying in personnel accommodation and eating personnel food, and I will see him as soon as he has enough money for petrol and to pay the bills.

I used to get angry but there's no just raises my blood pressure. Mr Ayak gets angry enough for both of us. Sometimes to the extent that he deals with it the "Turkish way" ie if, after a certain amount of time, it's clear that the boss won't pay up, Mr Ayak hits him. It doesn't always make the money materialise (although occasionally it has) , but it makes Mr Ayak feel a little better.

A vicious circle indeed.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Brits Abroad

I was reading "Not Waving but Drowning" blog and GG has been talking about British buying/selling properties in France, and it reminded me of the things that I find irritating about the British abroad.

As far as British holidaymakers are concerned I used to get exasperated at how they expect to be able to find everything here that they would find at home and how disgruntled they become when they can't. Now I don't get exasperated...I just avoid them.

Ex-pats are often not much better. There is a tendency to want to live surrounded by other ex-pats they create their own ghettos, where they can just speak English to each other and avoid the Turks...because they are too lazy to learn a little of the language and attempt to integrate. One English acquaintance who was living in Dalaman but hoping to move to Kusadasi around the time I was living in Selcuk, asked me to look out for suitable housing. Her words were "we'd like an apartment but we don't want Turkish neighbours" !!

I recall an English couple who had started a business in Goreme. Firstly, they really didn't know the area. They had previously had a partnership in a bar in Antalya with a Turkish man which hadn't worked out, and for some reason thought they could set up something similar in Goreme which was Chalk to Antalya's Cheese. They had to rely on the goodwill of Turkish people they met to help them out because their Turkish was non-existent. I remember them calling in for a coffee one day at the cafe where I was working. They were complaining bitterly that no-one in the Post Office could speak a word of English....I had to walk away before I said something rude...they were customers in the cafe after all, so I had to remain civil. The business failed incidentally...well to be more accurate it never actually got off the ground...which came as no surprise.

And talking of post offices, my English friends who live in Antalya (NOT the couple mentioned above) were telling me that they were in their local post office recently and an English man was having a great deal of trouble trying to make the assistant understand him. My friend offered to help, and it turned out that the English man was a Turkish post office, to buy his English road tax for his English car which was currently've guessed it...England....
Words fail me!

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Maybe a moat would do the trick.......

....or an electric fence?

We are beside ourselves. In spite of our having made our garden perimeter as secure as we can, Poppy still manages to find a way out. Always whilst our backs are turned. Short of sitting and watching her 24 hours a day, I don't know how we are going to discover her means of escape.

She still can't get back in so we can only imagine that she escapes by jumping from a huge height...but that it's too high for her to jump back in.

So last night I attached her lead to a length of rope, tied to the steps and put her bedding under the steps..a cosy and cool place for her to sleep.

All was warning barks from Beki during the night which usually mean "she's escaped...come quickly".

When I got up this morning..there was Poppy curled up under the steps...quite content....BUT she had company...another one of the little dogs from Poppy's family was in there with her! Well not as small as Poppy. But the worrying thing is that he is a boy and Poppy is in how do I know if they've "done the deed"?

Well I guess I'll find out sooner or later.....groan......

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Settling in

There are various things to be done when settling in a new area. Finding a doctor and dentist for example. Making sure you know where the nearest hospital is...banks, post office etc.

Naturally I've had plenty of practise at sorting out these things because we have moved so often. It doesn't necessarily get any easier though.

Add to the list...finding a good vet. Not so easy here because most vets deal with working animals and don't specialise in the treatment of dogs...and as far as cats are concerned...forget it.

Anyway Mr Ayak and I set off this morning to find a vet. We left Beki at home and took Poppy with us. We found two vets in Milas, but didn't like the look of the facilities, but the third one seemed fine. The vet was fairly my opinion usually a good sign here as their training is a little more thorough. He also had a small fluffy dog of his own in his office who looked happy and healthy, so I felt quietly confident in his ability.

Now for the shock...he examined Poppy thoroughly and decided she was in fact about 2 or 3 YEARS old...much older than we thought. I had a feeling this morning that she was coming into season and he confirmed this. In his opinion she has been quite badly treated and malnourished, which of course is why she is so small. It's also possible that she may have had pups at some time.

However, he did say that she is very strong and with the TLC that we are able to give there is no reason why she shouldn't thrive and be very happy. She's already very much a lapdog and loves cuddles.

She is still finding ways of getting out of the garden, but doesn't seem able to find a way back in which is causing a bit of a problem. We have arranged for a gate to be built at the top of the steps up to the verandah and this should be ready on Saturday. Mr Ayak built the stone wall a little higher last night but it didn't stop her...she seems able to leap from enormous heights!


Another "must find" in a new area is a decent hairdresser. Fortunately Turkey has more good hairdressers than bad, and they're very cheap...but I still hate having to search for one that suits me.

I was so lucky today. I managed to find a fantastic hairdresser. My roots were badly in need of doing and I needed a cut, wash and blow dry. He did a marvellous job for the total price of 32 lira...the equivalent of aroung 13 pounds sterling. I told you it was cheap...I don't think you could beat that price anywhere. A cut and blow dry without colouring is around 3 pounds sterling!

So that's the vet and the hairdressers sorted...just need to find a dentist and a doctor next...but as you can see I got my priorities right!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Doesn't time fly?

Time flies much too fast. Billy is changing so much and I am missing it all. He is going to be so different when I next see him.

Here are a few more pics.

Monday, 13 July 2009


This is really an edit to my "Distractions" post today....a pic that just arrived of a very timid Poppy shortly after she came to live with us...


Distraction No. 1:

Imagine the above terrace covered by a gazebo (a metal and fabric one)...we bought one from Carrefour yesterday for the equivalent of around 25 pounds. It took Mr Ayak hours to erect it..with great difficulty...and the gentle breeze is making it sway a little precariously. But it's still standing...and this is where I am sitting with my sheltered from the sun and the heat which at approx 10.45 am is already 89 degrees F. And I am gazing out at that wonderful view.

Distraction No. 2:

The dogs...yes dogs plural.

On Saturday we had a new addition to our family. She is a tiny little thing (about the size of Mr Ayak's shoe) and she arrived looking very timid...very dirty..full of ticks...and quite hungry judging by her protruding ribs. She will remain small..Mr Ayak has seen the family. A man in the village has about of 20 of them. Apparently they are well cared for by Turkish standards...but knowing what this means I am avoiding going to look at them or I will probably want to bring them all home. I've long since learned that I cannot save all the dogs in Turkey. I've rescued a fair number in my time and I have to be satisfied with that.

We showered her, painstakingly removed ticks, brushed her and fed her. As it was quite late on Saturday night when we finished and it was dark she actually looked white and fluffy to me. In fact in daylight she is more a beige colour...although the skin underneath is quite dark.

The intention was to keep her outside...and encourage Beki to stay outside too. They have blankets, shady spots in the garden which are cooler than the house, and as long as they have plenty of water and each other for company they should be OK. The first night Beki was a bit disgruntled about this but Poppy was fine(yes...that's her name...we tried several and she answers to Poppy it is). So Mr Ayak stayed up all night to encourage them to stay outside. He's quite mad when it comes to dogs!

Yesterday we went out for about four hours and left them in the garden. They were fine and it was lovely to have them both running to the gate to greet us when we returned. And last night they stayed outside with no problems at all. So I'm now hopeful of maintaining a permanently dog hair-free house.

They are getting to know each other gradually. When Poppy tries to get out of the garden...Beki barks at her and discourages her from doing so. Poppy eats Beki's food...and Beki just sits and watches with a kind of maternal look on her face. Beki is so gentle and caring. I have no doubt that they will be the best of friends. This tiny mite who just two days ago looked so frightened with her tail between her so confident already...tail now up in the air and wagging furiously! I haven't any pics of her yet but rest assured as soon as I do, I will post them up.

So....I have lots to do. The house needs a thorough clean to remove the build-up of dogs hairs, the ironing is piling up, and I should do some baking.

But I'm the view and by the dogs... What can I do? Well...I'll continue to tell myself that life is short, every day is a bonus...and carry on gazing at the view and watching the dogs!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Green Fingers?

I've never had green fingers...quite the opposite. All my life I've never been able to grow even the simplest house plant. Plants take one look at my pink fingers and just curl up and die.

When my dear Dad was alive and I lived in England, he used to do our gardening for us. He loved it. He had the greenest fingers I've ever known. Everything grew for him..and I loved to watch him at work in the garden and see the results of his labours.

However...when I came to live in Turkey..things changed. My fingers started to turn green after all. Someone would give me a cutting...some straggly, half-dead looking specimen, and I would smile and thank them but not have a clue what to do with it. So I'd just poke it in a pot of earth..water it...and forget it. And it would grow. Not only grow..but flourish. I was amazed.

We haven't had a garden in Turkey until now. We had a courtyard in Goreme with a grapevine but with my newly discovered talent for growing things, I felt confident enough to grow things in pots.

Now we have this wonderful garden. This evening I have just picked the first of the grapes from the vine. We have pomegrantes growing on one of the two trees, and they should be ready soon. And the figs on the biggest of our fig trees are growing nicely. They should also be ready in a matter of weeks...if not days.

Of course I'm realistic enough to know that it's due more to the climate here than my gardening talents that plants and trees won't die when they see me...but I like to kid myself that I have at long last become an accomplished gardener!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Birthday Wishes

No...this isn't a post to wish myself a Happy Birthday. I was just thinking about how birthday greetings today are so different. Once upon a time we just sent birthday cards in the post.

In today's internet age we now have on-line cards...often animated and funny...and particularly useful when you have friends and family dotted around the world, and you're not sure whether a posted card will reach them in time...or at all. So I've had quite a few of those today.

I've had three cards from England...from my grandson (ahh!) and my brother...which I collected from my post box in Milas yesterday...and they are the important ones.

I've also had text message greetings and emails from various forums that I've joined but no longer use...and also from a Turkish bank where I have an account which only contains 2 ytl (less than a pound).

But the most useful birthday greeting came this morning when I switched on the TV to get the news. Digiturk not only wish me a happy birthday, but as I only subscribe to the quite limited economy package, they have given me unlimited access to every channel for 7 days. Now bearing in mind that I'm resting my ankle...and it's too hot to venture out anyway...this couldn't be more welcome...

Pass the popcorn.....

Monday, 6 July 2009

One of those days

Ever had one of those days when you know you should have stayed in bed?

I set off this morning on the bus in the sweltering heat, to do essential food shopping in Milas. I arrived at the bus station, walked outside and promptly fell flat on my face in the street. There were loads of people watching...oh the shame!

Feeling a little shaken I shuffled around the supermarket, only picking up a few items without much thought as by this time my ankle was beginning to swell.

I limped to the nearest bus stop..only to see my bus pulling away before I could reach it....leaving me to wait almost another hour in the scorching heat for the next one.

By the time I reached our village, my ankle was very swollen and it was extremely difficult to climb the hill to the house. When I finally reached home I just collapsed in a sweaty heap. The butter I had bought to make a cake had melted and leaked in my shopping bag, the yoghurt was definitely off, and I stupidly bought a bar of chocolate...I daren't tell you what a state that was in!

I am now sitting with my ankle elevated and strapped up and feeling very sorry for myself. Mainly because it's my birthday tomorrow and I had hoped to bus into Bodrum to do some window shopping. Perhaps it's just as well I won't be able to go...I might be tempted to get my credit card out again...and that just won't every cloud has a silver lining I guess.

Should have stayed in bed...........

Before and After and Work in Progress

This is the new enclosed terrace which has created another room for us...together with the rustic verandah built by Mr Ayak. It's still a work in progress as you can see, but it's too hot to do anything and we don't have any money anyway!.

The second pic is of the old dilapidated house in the garden which we hope to renovate some time in the future.

And the third pic is just a reminder of how the house was before we enclosed the terrace.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Street Lighting

Two men in a truck turned up yesterday to add a street light outside our house.

We have a telegraph pole at the bottom of our garden and this is where they decided to put the light.

The light? A normal, for domestic use, fluorescent tube. It is now strapped to the side of the telegraph pole. Oh how I wish I had a camera!

And before they "installed" it...they knocked on my door to ask if they could check to see if it was working. Which they inserting two live wires into one of my sockets.

......only in Turkey ..........

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Goreme to Selcuk

I'm a firm believer in fate. The move from Goreme to Selcuk happened incredibly quickly, due to a series of coincidences or whatever you would like to call them...
Mr Ayak had secured a job in Selcuk. We talked on the phone about the possibility of me moving there. But I was happy in Goreme and a bit uncertain about moving to a town I didn't know...and had only passed through once years before on a trip to Ephesus.
So here I was...on a Sunday...pondering about it, when there was a knock on the door. It was my landlord. He had come to tell me that his son was getting married. I offered my congratulations..then he told me that he would need me to leave the house as he wished to give it to his son and new wife.
As I have mentioned before...rental accommodation is very difficult to find in Goreme and it was very unlikely that I would be able to find something else.
About an hour later Mr Ayak phoned me and I told him my news. "OK"...he said..."just move to Selcuk now. I'll find a house to rent and organise removals".
A little while later he phoned to say that he had found a company who had a truck up in Kayseri (60km from Goreme) that had just made a delivery and was due to drive back empty to Selcuk the following day. This would cost about half the normal price to travel the 900km to Selcuk.
There was obviously no time for Mr Ayak to get up to Goreme to help me pack up and if I decided to do it, I'd have to do it alone. No time to think it through...I just did it. To this day I am certain that if I had had the time to give it more thought I would have talked myself out of it!
So.....I was up all night packing up the contents of my house, and the truck arrived the next morning. My landlord found some men to load my belongings on to the truck. And we set off.
The journey...all 17 hours of it...was an absolute nightmare. The truck cab was quite small. I had to put Beki in a small space between me and the driver. Beki was moulting at the time. Because she was nervous, she dribbled and farted. The driver had very strong body odour. He also didn't speak a word of English.
17 hours!! I can't believe I survived it. I just kept telling myself that I'd never have to do anything like this again so I just had to get through it.
To be fair...the driver was very kind. Bearing in mind that most Turks don't like dogs..he was very tolerant of Beki..even taking her for toilet walks when we stopped for refreshments.
We arrived in Selcuk at 6.30am on Tuesday morning. The battery on Mr Ayak's mobile phone had died and I couldn't contact him. The driver and I sat in the truck on the outskirts of Selcuk wondering what to do next. Finally an hour later Mr Ayak phoned from a borrowed phone and came to meet us.
Then we set off to the house he had rented for us.......