Tuesday, 29 December 2009

And another year almost over


As each year comes to an end, most of us reflect on the events that have changed our lives, and look ahead in anticipation or sometimes dread as to what the new year will bring.

2009 has been an eventful year for me.  It saw the arrival of my first grandchild in April, a dear little boy called Billy.  He has brought such joy to my life, but also sadness because I'm unable to see him as often as I would like.  My daughter and son-in-law were so looking forward to Billy's first Christmas, Unfortunately the poor little chap was taken ill before Christmas and they ended up at the hospital the day before Christmas Eve where he was diagnosed with bronchiolitis.  So they have had sleepless nights as they struggled to help him with an inhaler in a steam-filled room.  It didn't help that my daughter's oven packed up before Christmas and won't be fixed until the New Year,  not to mention her washing machine which also decided to break down.  They muddled through with the help of family and friends...but most importantly, Billy is on the mend..slowly but surely...and that's all that really matters.

When I arrived back in Turkey after my stay in England for Billy's birth, it was to a new home, which I had only seen in photographs.  Mr Ayak had moved all our belongings from Selçuk to an isolated village near Milas, to a house given to us by my father-in-law.  I was apprehensive to say the least, but as soon as I arrived I was pleasantly surprised.  It's everything I could have wished for.  After 11 years in apartments, we now have a garden and a view which is breathtaking.

We have three additions to our dog family. Poor, stray, malnourished and badly treated dogs called Poppy, Milly and Monty.  All three of them, at first timid and withdrawn, now happy, confident, well fed and loved.

Mr Ayak, having been out of work for almost a year, finally secured a job in July which, although within driving distance of home, was so poorly paid that it would have cost more than he earned to commute, so he had no choice but to stay in personnel accommodation.

He returned home in October, the day before my planned two-week trip to England.  The day after I returned from England, he set off to Istanbul to work for the winter and is not due home again until March.  We live in hope that next summer things will be better, and that he will be able to work closer to home.

My two week trip to England was wonderful...spending every day with my daughter and grandson was so enjoyable but the time passed far too quickly.  I'm looking forward to my next trip in April to celebrate Billy's first birthday.

A year of ups and downs and mixed emotions, but I'd say a pretty good one all considering.

I wish you all a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Presenting an Award


I have decided today to pass on this Award to Kaibee at "The Diary of an All-Pakistani Girl" here

She has been blogging for six months and today she made her 50th post...and it is a particularly good one.

She gives a wonderful insight into the life of a young girl living in today's Pakistan and her blog is a pleasure to read.

Well done Kaibee!

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

I have a fence!

It's not brilliant..but it will suffice until I can afford something better.  After the digging of the holes on Saturday, the man arrived on Sunday, which several children in tow, and put metal posts in the holes and filled with cement.  Then he went away.

Yesterday afternoon he came and fixed the chicken wire to the poles...job done...well almost.  (My friends...I'll call them L..the man, and A...the woman).   L had a look and agreed with me that there were gaps around the bottom where Monty was already starting to dig his way out, and the chicken wire wasn't tight enough.   So L tightened up the chicken wire as much as possible, whilst I put down some spare roof tiles and rocks around the inside of the perimeter in the hope that this would deter them from digging their way out.

The metal posts are very secure but at some point we may need to replace the chicken wire with something more substantial.

And I promise that from now on I will try not to mention the fence again!

The weather was glorious today...clear blue skies and sunshine. A little chilly but very pleasant.  A welcome change from the recent gales and storms.  The forecast is much of the same until Friday when we are due more rain.  So L & A and I will make the most of it and go for long walks over the next few days.  We will attempt to get M & M used to walks on leads with choke chains, so that I can manage this when my friends return home.

Today we are going to Milas market.  We will leave M & M in their enclosed section of the garden..as a test really to see if they are able to escape.  If they do...it will be back to the drawing board.



So it just remains for me to wish all my followers and blogger friends a Very Happy Christmas...I sincerely hope it's enjoyable for all of you.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

I can't help being pessimistic

OK...I'm still talking about the fence. I know it's boring, but I need to write about it because it reduces my stress levels somewhat.    Mr Ayak informed me last night that the man would be here today to erect the fence.  My friends were also due to arrive from Antalya late afternoon so I was rather hoping that the fence would be done by the time they arrived, thus enabling me to keep the dogs under control.

As I was unsure what time the man would arrive I decided to shut M & M (Milly and Monty) in the doghouse for what I hoped would be just a few hours, Beki on the balcony and Poppy in the house.  Because Turks aren't keen on dogs, it was best for the fence man if I kept  them out of his way.  Then I waited...and waited...and M & M, being unhappy at being confined, decided to start howling. 

Finally the man and his son arrived at around 3pm with his tractor and trailer loaded up with everything necessary to build the fence.   Half an hour later my friends phoned to say that they had just turned off the main road that leads to the village so I set off down the hill to meet them. 

As we were coming up the hill in my friends' car we passed the fence man coming back down the hill.  He stopped briefly to say he would be back again tomorrow.   What could he possibly have achieved in half an hour?  Not very much as it happens.  He's managed to dig four holes and left a heap of dry cement just in front of the entrance to the doghouse.

Naturally I couldn't keep M & M shut up any longer, so I let them out, and much as I attempted to control them, they immediately leapt into the pile of cement, scattering it everywhere.  Not that it makes much difference...there's a storm overhead and the rain will wash it away.   No doubt the rain will be too heavy for the work to be done tomorrow...or someone else in the fence man's family will be sick and need to go to the hospital...or the tractor will break down...or some other excuse.  He may actually turn up though...but I won't hold my breath.

On a happier note, my friends are here for two weeks, and it's lovely to see them.  They managed to get me an exceptionally good deal in Antalya on 30 kg of dog biscuits.  This so helpful.  It's difficult to find them  in Milas, and when I do discover the odd 3kg bag it's always over-priced.

They also brought their toolbox and tomorrow I will have an electric shower installed...no more cold showers for me this winter!

But best of all, they brought themselves.  They are two of my very best friends and an absolute joy to be with.  The next two weeks will, I'm sure,  go far too quickly.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Excuses...Part 2...the fence problem

I'm still waiting for the man to come and erect the fence.

As I mentioned before, he told Mr Ayak he could only do it when it's raining, as when the weather is dry he has to work on his land.   It rained...he didn't turn up.   The last excuse was that it was raining too hard and he would arrive when the rain was lighter.

Yesterday...all day...we had light showers.   He didn't turn up.

Mr Ayak phoned him last night and he said that it was difficult to come at the moment because his mother is sick and he has to take her to the hospital every day.  I actually laughed.  But anyone who read my earlier Excuses post will understand why! (If she really is sick then I will feel ashamed and apologise for laughing...but Mr Ayak also thinks it's just an excuse)

So apparently he says that it will be done by Sunday at the latest........watch this space!

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Excuses

I have to laugh sometimes at the excuses the Turks make for not doing something, or not turning up for an appointment when they should.

The usual one is that they are very sick...or mother or father is very sick and they have taken them to the hospital.  OK I don't want to seem unsympathetic here, because of course it's sometimes true.  However I do recall hearing this particular one so many times, that I'm surprised the hospitals aren't over-flowing with patients.

Another one..."he/she is in Istanbul" ...that's it...no expansion on this, as if  being in Istanbul is explanation enough for letting someone down.  Others..."my car/tractor/motorbike/telephone is out of order".

Somehow they just can't tell it as it is.  Another example:  As a nation they really hate to be the bearers of bad news.  They will always try to gloss over something terrible....or delay reporting it.  I have heard several accounts of someone dying and the one who's duty it is to pass on the news, first says they are very ill...then waits a while before actually telling the truth...that they have sadly passed away.

Over a week ago, Mr Ayak got a man from the village to come and measure up an area to erect a fence and gate, to enable me to keep Milly and Monty in one place.  A price was agreed and he said he would do it as soon as he received the money.   The money was paid.   But it's now Wednesday afternoon and no sign of him.  Several phone calls have resulted in him saying "I'll be there this morning/this afternoon/tomorrow/etc".

When Mr Ayak phoned him yesterday he was informed that the man has to work on his land when the weather is dry, so he would build the fence as soon as it starts to rain.  OK...fair enough.  But it rained yesterday afternoon and he didn't arrive.   It's been raining since the crack of dawn today and still he isn't here.   I have just been informed by Mr Ayak that it's raining too much for him to start....so he is waiting for it to rain a little less.  But I have a feeling that it won't rain "a little less" it will just stop...and he will be back on his land again.

You might think it would be better to find someone else to carry out the work?  The problem is the cost.  This man is doing it incredibly cheaply so I will have to be patient and wait until he's ready.  But I just wish he would be honest...stop telling us he will be here when he has no intention of showing...stop making excuses about the rain....and just say "Look you're getting a cheap job...I'll do it when it suits me".  

I can accept that far better than excuses.

Cut off from the outside world

 We have gale force winds and storms at the moment.   I don't dare step outside the house for fear of being blown away.

I have had no network coverage on my mobile phone for 24 hours.  My internet connection is intermittent (I'm not sure the connection at the moment will last long enough for me to post this).  My landline...which was fixed last week..only allows me to make outgoing local calls (so that I can resist the temptation to keep ringing my daughter in England and running up a huge bill).   I did phone Turk Telekom last night to see if I could change the tariff but they inform me that I will have to go into the Milas office with my contract to do this...which is impossible to do today in this weather.

And we keep getting power cuts ...which means absolutely no contact with anyone anywhere.

In the early hours of the morning...whilst the power was still on and I was fast asleep, I heard my landline ringing.You know that strange feeling you have when you think the ringing is in your dreams so it goes on for some time before you realise?  It was Mr Ayak...frantic with worry because he hadn't been able to contact me on my mobile.  The landline is one with rechargeable batteries, so when the power goes off it goes dead. The power had been off since late evening when I went to sleep and clearly Mr Ayak had been ringing me during this time. 

So I reassured him I was OK..but it was 2.00am and I was wide awake.  Beki and Poppy decided they'd like to go outside to the toilet... It took me 15 minutes to get them all settled again.

Still wide awake, and still having power, I decided to pass the time on-line.  Whilst doing so I paid for some credit for phone calls on Skype.  I only use it normally for talking to my daughter on webcam, but I think this could be a useful back-up if my mobile network continues to be unavailable for some time.  But of course it's no good if I don't have power!

It's not surprising that I feel somewhat cut-off from the outside world...but it's made me stop and think about how much we rely on technology to stay in touch.  Most of my neighbours don't have telephones or the internet.  Some have mobile phones, often bought for them  by younger relatives, and which they can't really get to grips with.  But it doesn't seem to bother them one bit.  I wish I could be so relaxed about it.


And this post was as I suspected, interrupted by a power cut....resumed...then interrupted by the loss of my internet connection.

If you don't see me around for a while...you'll know why!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

It's not always a good idea to......

...do a blog post when you're feeling depressed....as I was yesterday.  

The post I did about the meaning of Christmas...on reading it again this morning...makes me appear to be a "bah humbug" type of person doesn't it?  It's all a bit negative.

There is of course more to Christmas than spending too much money and over-indulging. It is a wonderful opportunity to spend time with those you love. And I will be thinking about my family on Christmas Day, knowing that they will be having a wonderful time, especially Billy...and it would give me so much pleasure to be there with him.  But I feel that way all of the time...Christmas or not.

Why was I depressed yesterday?  I'm not totally sure.  It's an accumulation of feelings that come to the fore at this time of the year.  I think most of you know that it's the worst time of year for those people who suffer from depression...or any other type of mental illness.

I had an aunt who was very special to me.  She was much more of a mother to me than my own mother.  She died just before Christmas last year..a few days before I was due to arrive so I never had chance to say goodbye.  I always stayed with her on my visits.  She loved my company and I adored her.  She and my uncle spent more than 50 years together.  They were inseperable.  He died a few years ago..also just before Christmas..and she was never quite the same after that.  I miss her dreadfully.

The day before yesterday, Mr Ayak phoned me to say that his parents would be arriving here on the 27th.  I said..no they can't.  It's already been arranged for my friends to be here at that time...and this is a small house. We just don't have room for more than two guests at a time.  In any case, my father-in-law is the last person I want to see right now.  During their stay in September, which should have been a few days but turned out to be two weeks, he criticised me endlessly for the first few days and when I retaliated...quite politely actually...he didn't speak to me for the rest of the time they were here.  I attempted to speak to him but he just completely blanked me.  It was an extremely uncomfortable time for me, especially as Mr Ayak wasn't here.

I know they have to come up here to check on their land outside the village, so I know I will have to tolerate them being here from time to time.  But not now.  I have been alone here for months and have been so looking forward to the company of my dear friends.  I won't allow that to be spoilt.

The problem with Turkish families is that they assume they can turn up to visit relatives whenever they like, and stay for as long as they like.  It's not the done thing to question it...it would be considered extremely rude to ask them once they are here when they are thinking of leaving.  And as the head of the family, my father-in-law's word is final..no-one disagrees with or confronts him.  Except me.. because I will not be a typical subservient Turkish wife and daughter-in-law...whose status in the family is at the bottom of the pecking order.  I'm very annoyed that he actually phoned Mr Ayak to announce his arrival.  He knows Mr Ayak is in Istanbul and won't be here, so why on earth could he not have phoned me?  Oh..but of course he isn't speaking to me is he? And I guess he believes that Mr Ayak makes my decisions for me!

So Mr Ayak and I had a row...he said I should ask my friends when they were arriving and when they were intending to leave.  I replied that if it was not acceptable to ask his family the same questions, then why should I ask my friends.  I didn't know how long my friends would be staying.  I do now because I asked them, and of course they are not the least bit offended by it. 

The row continued and because Mr Ayak refused to confront his bully of a father, I told him that I would tell him.  I sent father-in-law a text message to say that I was very sorry but as I had friends coming to stay, it wouldn't be convenient for he and mother-in-law to come.  That was the day before yesterday, and I have had no response.

Yesterday morning I set off on the dolmuş for Milas, biting my lip very hard, because I kept wanting to cry.  It was the anniversary of my aunt's death, and I couldn't stop thinking about her.  Mixed up with these thoughts were the row with Mr Ayak, the inconsideration of my father-in-law, and Billy's dear little face.  The more I tried to think of other things, the worse it became, and by the time I reached Milas I was a bit of a mess to be honest.  The trip was a total waste of time.  I expected to find post in my postbox...but there was nothing.  I had left my shopping list at home and for the life of me I couldn't remember what I needed...so I returned home empty-handed...stepped inside the house and had a good cry.

Mr Ayak phoned a little later to ask if I had heard from his father, which I hadn't.  He informed me that he had spoken to him and that they wouldn't be coming after all.  Mr Ayak was very subdued.  I think he may have finally confronted his father and I would imagine it was very difficult for him.  I couldn't have a conversation with him because I knew I would just burst into tears.  I haven't spoken to him since, but I will ring him today when both of us will hopefully be in a better frame of mind.  He may beat me to it and ring me first...he hates rows as much as I do.

So...as I said...it's not always a good idea to write a post...particularly about Christmas...when you're feeling depressed.

It remains for me to say to those of you who will be celebrating Christmas.....Enjoy being with your family and friends.  I sincerely hope you all have a wonderful time.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

What does Christmas mean to you?


I've been asking myself this question today. 

The conclusion I reached is that my feelings about Christmas have changed a fair bit over the years.

When I was a child my parents didn't have a lot of money but my brothers and I always had a stocking containing chocolate money and a sugar mouse, small games and the obligatory orange.  We also had a pillowcase each with a couple of larger toys. I don't think my parents had enough money to go out and pay cash for these toys. I think they were ordered from catalogues and paid for weekly for months after Christmas was over.

Children love Christmas of course.  When my children were small I could afford to buy them much more than I had when I was a child.   Subsequent generations of children  have even more money spent on them.  They seem to expect it...take it for granted...that they will get all the latest toys and games.

We now have a world recession, but children will still expect...and probably receive...everything they desire, even if it means parents getting into debt to do it.

Being an agnostic, it's easy for me to ignore Christmas.   What I really mean is that I can ignore the meaning of Christmas.  Because it is a religious festival after all isn't it?  Or is it just about giving and receiving presents, and eating and drinking too much and spending more money than we can afford?  Well that's the impression one gets from watching UK TV adverts. For weeks now it's all been about brainwashing viewers into believing that they have to buy an excessive amount of food and gifts.

In the 11 years that I have lived in Turkey I've only spent Christmas in the UK on a couple of occasions when I have been caught up in this commercialised event and it's cost me much more than I can afford. 

I'm not a "scrooge".....anyone who knows me will tell you I'm not!   I love to give presents...but somehow they are appreciated much more at other times of the year. People have too much of everything at Christmas.  Apart from a couple of Christmases here when I have been reluctantly forced into celebrating with groups of ex-pats (not to be recommended), I haven't bothered about it...it's just another day.

When I spent my first Christmas here with Mr Ayak, I thought I would attempt to make it like Christmas in England....but I failed miserably.  I couldn't find a turkey so we had lamb.   No christmas pudding or mince pies.  No christmas tree or decorations.  Christmas cards had been posted to me from England but the post was erratic  so they didn't arrive until January.  And it was strange to see people heading off to work and children going to school.  It just didn't work.

For those who believe that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, it's an important time. There's no reason at all why those who don't believe shouldn't enjoy Christmas as a holiday and a time to get together with family and friends.   But I somehow think that the emphasis should be more on enjoying the company of  the people around you...and you don't need to get into debt to do that.

I have two English friends who live in Antalya, coming up next Saturday and they will be staying with me for two weeks.  This covers the Christmas and New Year period.  But they haven't acknowledged Christmas for 25 years.  So we won't be celebrating it.  But we will get a great deal of pleasure from spending time together...and that's what's really important.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Dieting


Christmas is looming. It's that time of the year when most people over-indulge.  Although I have to confess that I over-indulge all year round.

By 1st January, many of you will be feeling bloated and one of your New Year's resolutions will be to start a diet.

I've never tried Weight Watchers, although I've heard that it's pretty successful for lots of people, particularly their points system. 

I've just discovered a blog (on one of my followers' blogs) called Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes here and whether you use Weight Watchers or not, it really doesn't matter.  There are some fantastic recipes which I can't wait to try, and it would be great if they resulted on a bit of weight loss too.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Monetizing


When I'm reading blogs...my favourites...and also some that I come across by chance, I noticed that some bloggers use the google ad facility.

I've never actually clicked on any of the ads and I wonder how many of you do?

I've heard stories about people making huge amounts of money from allowing ads on their blogs, but I'm naturally sceptical and not sure I believe anyone can earn more than a few pence from them.

We all like the opportunity to earn a little extra, particularly those of use who struggle financially, and in theory this seems like a good idea, and one that I have considered.

So I would really appreciate some honest feedback from  those of you who loyally follow my blog. 

Have you monetized your blog?  Do you actually earn anything from it?  And if you do, is it as I suspect, very little and not worth doing?

And those of you who haven't...have you ever considered it?  What are your feelings about the facility? Do you approve/disapprove?  And do you ever click on any of the ads?

Your comments would be very much appreciated.

Have a good weekend all xxx

And a PS on the feeding of the dogs.  Tying them up with leads didn't work.  Both Milly and Monty screamed the place down...they just don't want to be restrained, and I frankly don't blame them. So I just kept them as far apart as possible.  Bit of a struggle...so it's back to the drawing board on this one!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Unpredictable weather


In the UK, weather is always a bit unpredictable.  You never know when you get up in the morning quite how it's going to turn out, or whether the clothes you decide to wear will be suitable.

And the forecasters don't always get it right.  Who can forget the great storms of 1987 (was it really that long ago?) when weathermen such as Michael Fish underestimated the severity of what was to come.

It's always possible to predict the day's weather here.  When you look at the sky first thing in the morning, you just know what the day will be like.  I even have a little weather widget on my laptop...and it's always spot on.  Until last evening that is.  

The skies were blue all day and the widget's temperatures were accurate.  It predicted a 40% chance of showers...well that's fine...the garden needs the water.  Apart from a deluge a couple of weeks ago, there's been nothing since.  But it didn't predict storms so it came as a bit of a shock and I wasn't prepared.

Around 5.30pm it started.  The wind suddenly whipped up into a strong gale and with it came crashing thunder, lightening and the kind of rain that drenches you in two seconds flat.

Beki and Milly bid a hasty retreat to their doghouse rooms while I rushed around closing windows and bringing shoes and washing in off the balcony.  Poppy was in the house as usual but decided at this point to cross her legs and look at me, indicating that she needed to go out to the toilet.  I opened the door...she rushed out..and within seconds she rushed back in again looking like a drowned rat...and promptly peed on the carpet...well I can't really blame her..I wouldn't have wanted to squat in the garden in this weather!

The next 10 minutes saw me rushing around the garden in my wellies (and by now it was dark) trying to rescue a garden chair that the wind had whipped off the balcony..followed by the dustbin which had, in spite of being secured by wire to the gatepost, moved about 100 metres, leaving a trail of rubbish in it's wake. The dustbin lid has disappeared completely...no sign of it anywhere.  Amazing considering it had been weighed down with a huge rock.

Next came the powercut...I was prepared for this...any sign of a storm and the power goes off.  I did at least have the candles ready this time.  The drowned rat and I snuggled up with a blanket on the sofa, with just enough candlelight for me to read, and waited for the power to return...which it fortunately did in time for me to watch "I'm a Celebrity..." (yes...I'm still hooked).

It's now 7am and it's still raining heavily....and the widget forecasts more to come.  I've just waded out in my wellies and insisted that Poppy squat in the garden, and I've taken food out to Beki and Milly who are quite dry and content in their house.

This is another one of those times that I miss Mr Ayak.  He would have dealt with all this, while I stayed in bed...bless him.  Instead, I've just got drenched again, for the third time since last night, changed into dry pjs and returned to my bed....with the drowned rat snuggled up beside me.

It's made me think again about those poor people in parts of the UK who were so badly affected by floods recently.   I can't imagine how devastated they must be.  In comparison, I consider myself very lucky.