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Monday, 30 November 2009

Beautiful Billy


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 28 November 2009

X-Factor


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

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

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

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

Let me know what you think.

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

A change is as good as a rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Just another one of those days


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

An award


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

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

Monday, 23 November 2009

Kurban Bayram

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 22 November 2009

No such thing as isolation here!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 20 November 2009

Priorities

"Action expresses priorities"
Mahatma Ghandi


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

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

...is another one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ghandi and Mark Twain were so right!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Television


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 13 November 2009

Self Pity

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


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Rain


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Home Sweet Home


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Stuck in Istanbul


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Finding a decent coffee


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 5 November 2009

This is a very nice Award...


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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

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

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

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





Monday, 2 November 2009

Less than a week to go


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

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

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

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

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

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

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