Thursday, 22 December 2011


They give us so much pleasure don't they?

I love the way they interpret a story.  A dear friend emailed me this video with her Christmas greetings.

Go it...I guarantee it will make you smile:

If you are celebrating Christmas, have a wonderful time.  Even if you're not, I wish you peace and happiness.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Living in the wrong body

I recently watched a couple of documentaries about Chaz Bono and his gender reassignment.  Some of you may recall that Chaz was born as .Chastity, the daughter of Sonny and Cher.  He has spent almost his entire life believing that he was male, and its only in recent years that he felt able to go ahead with the process of becoming who he really is.

It's a fascinating subject, and one I found difficulty in understanding until about 20 odd years ago when I worked in a private psychiatric clinic in England, where one of the psychiatrists specialised in this condition. He was very well known in the UK and often appeared on TV programmes when this subject came up for discussion.

There are genuine cases where people are literally born in the wrong body. There are also cases where people "think" they are the wrong sex, and this may be because of some traumatic event in their lives. Clearly the counselling involved before any consideration is given to a sex change operation has to be absolutely thorough. Certainly this was the case with the psychiatrist I worked with, and this counselling can go on for years before it's established that an operation should go ahead.

I have seen first hand the distress suffered by those who are genuinely living life as the "wrong sex"...and the joy and relief when they finally become the correct gender.

It's also a very distressing time for family and friends, but on most occasions they seem to be supportive.  In Chaz's case, because of his famous parents, his life has always been in the spotlight.  It has clearly been a very difficult journey for him.  One in which he hasn't always had the support of his mother.

He comes across as a charming and sensitive man, very likeable, and it's easy to feel compassion for him.  I was certainly moved to tears by the amount of sadness and isolation he must have felt whilst he was growing up.   I think he is very brave to have taken part in these programmes, and I am sure they will be of great comfort and reassurance to those people who are going through the same problems.

I've provided some links here, for anyone who is interested in watching the programmes:
The first one is the start of his journey.  The second link is an interview with Rosie ODonnell, and the third is how he is living his life today.

It's perhaps another one of those taboo subjects that people are reluctant to talk about, or maybe don't understand.   But it's life and its important, in my opinion, to recognise that there people everywhere who are living sad, unhappy lives just because they are "different".

Everyone of us deserves to be loved and accepted for what we really are. 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas...what does it mean to you?

It's that time of the year again.  Just a week to go.   I was about to write about what Christmas means to me, when I recalled that I've done this before, and really my feelings haven't changed since I posted the following on this blog two years ago:

"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 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'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"

Christmas this year, like others before, will be just another day for us.  But for those of you celebrating Christmas, I wish you a happy time surrounded by the important people in your life.

The day I'm most  looking forward to is the 27th December, when it's all over, and I'll be setting off to England to share some time with those important people in my life.

Thursday, 15 December 2011


Well it's the middle of December.  It's getting dark very early and it's chilly at night, but amazingly the days are still beautiful.

The past few days have seen temperatures as high as 19 or 20 degrees C in this little corner of Turkey.   I've been sitting out on the balcony enjoying the sunshine.  It's very odd to be wearing summer clothes during the day, changing into warm pjs at night and having to have the electric blanket on in bed.

I'm still enjoying my netbook.  However, Mr A had a problem with the laptop yesterday.   He took it into Milas and it would seem that something was stuck.  I have no idea what exactly, but it was preventing him from using it.   The man in the computer shop fixed the problem and it's working fine now, and I know it's a bit selfish of me, but I'm glad I swapped it for the netbook when I did.  I somehow think that the laptop is slowly reaching the end of it's life.   Mr A isn't too bothered because he doesn't use it as much as I did.  He visits Facebook, plays games and watches he's happy to use it for as long as it lasts.

I had a problem with Blogger today.   Nothing new there of course!   I wanted to add something to my sidebar but couldn't access the Design/Layout page.  An error code appeared and I was linked to Blogger Help, where I discovered hundreds of other bloggers with the same problem.   As Blogger didn't seem to be able to produce a solution I didn't even bother to add my complaint to the list.

One of my blogging friends, Nomad, suggested all sorts of things like clearing the cache and cookies (I still don't understand what all that means but did it anyway).  And he also mentioned using Google Chrome.

I recall Perpetua, and one or two others mentioning Chrome, but for some reason I couldn't manage to install it on my old laptop.  But I've managed to install it on my netbook and it solved the problem.  However, I don't really like the moment.   It's more a case of my reluctance to change things, and wanting to stick with what I know.  So for the time being I'll just use it for blogging and stick with good old regular Google for everything else.  Maybe I'll play around with it another day when my brain is functioning a bit better.

My recent bout of depression is gradually lifting, and I'm hoping I'll be feeling a lot better when I set off to England on the 27th.

The unexpected good weather certainly helps to lift my spirits.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


I learned how to make gözleme when I worked in a cafe in Goreme, Cappadocia.  It's one of my favourite dishes.  In the cafe we had a variety of fillings:  cheese and spinach, sucuk (Turkish sausage) grated with egg, a mix of mashed potato and red pepper.  In fact you can use your imagination and come up with lots of different ideas.  The best cheese to use for gözleme is Lor, which is a curd cheese.  It's quite dry so doesn't make the dough too wet.

Gözleme is a kind of Turkish pancake made with yufka dough, made from flour, salt and water, which is very thin and soft.  I'm not sure if you can buy it outside of Turkey.  I guess the nearest thing to it would be filo pastry...although filo is not as soft as yufka.

The prepared gözleme is cooked on a slightly domed pan (almost like an upside-down wok) over a fire or a gas hob.  We have one which is attached to a gas bottle.  You can also use a large frying pan.

The sheets of yufka dough are round and you can buy them ready-made here, although lots of Turkish women make their own, particularly in the villages.

When preparing the gözleme you fold the top of the sheet of yufka dough to the middle, and the same with the bottom.  You brush beaten egg along the top and bottom straight edges and along the curved edge on the right.  You add your filling to the middle then fold the left side of the sheet to the middle, then the right...overlapping so that the beaten egg forms a seal.  You then have a rectangular parcel.   You heat your pan and grease it with margarine and cook the gözleme, moving it around and turning it over until it's cooked.  It only takes about 5 minutes.

As my camera isn't working at the moment  I've had to gather some photos from the internet to give you some idea:

Firstly a short video of yufka dough being rolled out:

Adding the filling

Folding the filled yufka

Cooking the gözleme

.....and the result...delicious gözleme

A Brighter Day....

in more ways than one.

The sun is shining brightly today.  The sky is blue and there's not a cloud to be seen.  The temperature as I write is 15 degrees...quite respectable for December and certainly pleasant enough to sit out on the balcony.  Admittedly it was -1C when I woke up this morning, but as long as the sun is shining it helps to lift my mood.

I'm still enjoying my new Notebook.  It's so much easier now I have an English programme.  It's made me realise how much I struggled up till now, and how little I knew about the way all this works.

You may have noticed that I've changed my blog layout slightly.  New picture at the top which is the view from the hill behind our house.  I increased the size of the text which is essential for me...but might be useful for those of you who, like me, can't cope with small print.  However, I got a bit carried away with trying to change other bits of the layout and confused...and gave up.  So it will have to stay the way it is for the time being.

We have been without street lights outside our house for months now.  Lights were originally attached to the old wooden telegraph poles throughout the village.  Although the one outside our house had not been working for some time.  New metal pylons were erected to replace the old wooden poles, which were uprooted,  and the lamps went with them.

The new lamps have been fitted to the pylons gradually and finally yesterday the men arrived at the top of the hill.   Mr A was quite excited (it doesn't take much!) about getting a lamp outside our house at last as it is pitch black at night and can be quite dangerous negotiating the bumpy lane.

However, the men informed Mr A that we would not be getting a light outside our house as they were only fixing them to every third pylon.  As ours happened to be the second one in sequence...the other two being much further down the hill in either direction.... it meant that we and our immediate neighbours would still be in complete darkness at night.

Our neighbour, Şevke got quite upset and started complaining bitterly to the men, who ignored her (she's a woman, so what did she expect?).   Mr A decided to take the diplomatic route.  He asked me to make coffee for the 4 men (yes 4...reminds me of the joke about how many men it takes to change a lightbulb).   I could see what he was doing, so not only did I serve coffee, but cake and biscuits as well.

Mr A joined the men and they chatted happily.

Half an hour later, the men fixed a lamp to the pylon outside our house.  


Friday, 9 December 2011

Attempting to keep up with technology.

Anyone who knows me, recognises that I don't have the brain capacity to absorb the rapid advances in technology.

I'm always quite a few steps behind everyone else.  I find it hard to keep up...probably because I don't like change.

My computer/internet knowledge is limited compared to most people.  Although I found blogger friend, Fly in the Web, to be a like-minded soul.  She and I have muddled through various techy problems together through trial and error. We once joked about producing a book for computer numpties.

I am almost completely self-taught...not easy on Turkish computers I can tell you.  It can take me hours, if not days, to work out how to do a simple task, which would take most people minutes to perform.

My introduction to the world of the internet happened when I worked in a gift shop in Goreme about 7 years ago.  The shop was quiet most of the time so I was allowed to mess about with the computer there.  And a lot of messing about took place.  I made an awful lot of mistakes, and often lost or deleted stuff.  Thankfully I had an understanding boss.

When we moved from Cappadocia to Selçuk, we bought a secondhand desktop from an internet cafe that was closing down, and used it until it finally gave up.  I replaced this with a Lenovo laptop which lasted for 2 years, which was then replaced by my current laptop...also a Lenovo.   There were plenty of models to choose from, but as I said,I don't like change, so stuck with what I knew.

I like to take my laptop with me on my trips to the UK, and also to wherever Mr A is working during the summer months, but it's so heavy and cumbersome.

Mr A's  boss at Torba last summer,  was a bit obsessed with gadgets and bought a Toshiba N250 notebook.   He then went on to buy a different model and  gave the Toshiba to Mr A.   It weighs just 1.8kg and is described as follows:

*Essential netbook computing. Offering up to 8.5 hours battery life, the ultra lightweight NB250 has a stylish gloss black textured design and features a 25.7cm (10.1" TruBrite display. Processing is provided by the latest Intel Atom processors and the NB250 has a near full-size keyboard for ease of use*

Mr A has since offered to swap his netbook for my laptop because he knows I would be better off with something more easily transportable.  But I usual scared of change.

Yesterday, however, I bit the bullet and decided to give it a go.  Mr A took it to the computer shop and had the hard drive cleaned and a new programme installed.   Windows 7 in ENGLİSH...yay!   I spent the rest of the day, evening, and until the early hours of this morning, downloading everything that I hoped I would need and generally trying to work out how to use it.  At the same time I uninstalled and deleted stuff on the laptop, enabling Mr A to take over.

I love it!  I wish I'd changed before when I had the chance.  Why on earth do I not have the confidence to tackle something new?

Of course it would seem that many people have moved on to those touch-screen notepads now...the tablet type thingy.  And as usual I'm a step behind.  It will probably be years before I attempt something like which time of course, technology will have moved on and something different will be in fashion.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Dropping like Flies

....this expression could apply to several things going on here lately.

Wouldn't you think that after the recent spate of almost all of my electrical appliances dying on me, that there couldn't be anything else left to go wrong?

Yesterday my laptop died.   I've had a feeling that the battery was pretty much useless, but as long as I kept the charger plugged in, it worked fine.

But yesterday it just would not switch on.   The battery light was flashing but that's about all.

I learned something new from Mr A.  I expect everyone else but me already knows this, but I didn't realise you could use a laptop without the battery.  Mr A removed the battery from his laptop, plugged in his charger and showed me that this was indeed true.   We tried it with mine...still nothing.   He reckoned my laptop had a virus.  I thought it had to be either the battery or the charger that was at fault.

We went to a computer shop in Milas where Mr A and the assistant discussed viruses at length.  I kept trying to interrupt to suggest they tried my laptop with either a new battery or new charger.  But no...they wouldn't listen...Turkish men always think they know best and that women are stupid.  The assistant wanted to keep my laptop for the rest of the day and try to establish what the problem was.   Hang on...I've been here before...this is when they completely wipe your hard drive, and at the same time create other problems that previously didn't exist.

So I kind of stamped my feet a bit and insisted they try plugging in a new charger.  Well...surprise worked.  The laptop came to life.  Problem solved.   Although the assistant wasn't really prepared to accept immediately that I was right, so he insisted on leaving it plugged in for an hour because he was certain there must be another problem.  I'm sure he hoped there was.  Not only to prove me wrong and have the last word...but of course he would make more money than the cost of a new charger if he took my laptop to bits.

An hour later...laptop charger purchased....and a slightly smug Ayak leaves the shop.

Talking of flies.  Although it's now winter and the flies should have disappeared, there are still lots about.  We are having unusually mild weather during the day with temperatures at times reaching 19 or 20 degrees and even though I have screens on all windows and the front door, they still manage to find their way into the house.  I'm hoping the drop in temperatures at night...down to -1 yesterday, will gradually kill them off.  It doesn't help that Beki has a way of opening the screen door from either side by forcefully pushing her nose against it, and then leaving it open to let the flies in.  I'll have to try and train her to shut it behind her.

Finally, and sadly, people in our village are dropping like flies.  I think the cold nights have something to do with it.  I've mentioned before that we have a lot of elderly people living here, so I guess it's inevitable.   It seems like almost  every day there is a call from the mosque to announce another death.   Mr A has attended two funerals in the past four days.  I'm sure he will have more to attend before the end of winter.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

An unwelcome guest returns

Ah...I bet you thought that father-in-law had turned up for a surprise visit?

Fortunately not. 

Although an equally unwelcome guest is with me at the moment....Depression.

I've talked about my depression and mental health in general in previous posts HERE.

The black cloud of gloom descends without much warning.  It brings with it extreme anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, and a great feeling of isolation.

There are triggers of course.  I can glance back over the past few weeks now and recognise little incidents that have contributed, but at the time they go unnoticed.  As anyone who suffers with this debilitating condition will know, it can be terrifying.  For me the worst symptoms are being exhausted but unable to sleep, waking in the middle of the night and bursting into tears.   Feeling like every innocent comment from those close to me are a personal attack...and worst still no communication at all which leaves me thinking that my loved ones have deserted me.  This is paranoia at it's worst of course.  And it's important to keep telling oneself that this is exactly what it is.  And that's the first small step towards recovery.

I was awake most of last night and an email from my brother popped into my inbox at around 4.00am.  It was 2.00am his time and he was up waiting for a call to collect his daughter from a function, so dropped me a line or two.  He made some comment which would normally go straight over my head, but I took it as an attack, and responded badly.  He replied saying that he wasn't attacking me...and what was I doing up at this time?  Was I depressed again?  He understands.  He has occasional bouts of depression too.  It's hereditary in our father also suffered.  So my brother said all the right things.  He told me that it was OK to shout and rant at him whenever I felt like it...he doesn't mind because he knows that sometimes it's necessary to have someone you feel safe enough to do this to.  He knows he can do the same to me whenever he's down.

It takes an enormous amount of effort to drag oneself out of this bottomless pit.  Something I have had to learn how to do for many years.  Writing about it here really helps.

 It's essential to drag yourself out of bed...and this is really hard at times...get out, and do something for yourself.  I forced myself to do this today.  I caught the bus into Milas to get my hair cut and coloured.  I can't explain how difficult it was to do something so simple...but it worked.  It's another small step.

It's important for anyone who has a depressive personality to find someone to offload to.  My brother was there just when I needed him.  He reminded me that it's only a few weeks until I will be in England to hug my grandsons.   My brother will also be getting a huge hug from me too.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I am quite adaptable when it comes to food and drink.  There are lots of things I miss from the UK, which I can't get here, but I will just search until I find a substitute. 

One thing I cannot find though is decent coffee.  The packs of filter coffee here are bitter.  I do drink a fair amount of instant coffee.   I used to buy Nescafe Gold Blend here.  It's a well known brand of course and more expensive than the rest.  However, it tastes nothing like Nescafe Gold Blend in the UK.   I've tried all the other "gold blend" instants here, and strangely the one I've settled for is the Migros (supermarket) own brand of "gold" which is actually about a third of the price of Nescafe.

But when I say I've settled for it...that's exactly it...I honestly can't say I enjoy it.

On my trips to the UK I usually bring back a supply of filter coffee and had been using my electric filter coffee machine daily until it packed up about a month ago.  I used to have a small cafetiere which I hadn't used in a while, but couldn't find it so I've been getting by with Migros instant.

Yesterday we went into Milas to buy a new microwave oven.  We found one for 99 lira (about 34 pounds)in Migros, having compared prices eveywhere, and this was the cheapest.  (I have decided only to buy cheap electric appliances from now on, because expensive doesn't last any longer).

While we were looking for the microwave we came across a lovely little filter coffee machine for 35 lira (about 12 pounds).  It takes up very little space and is very efficient and clean. 

It makes one large mug (or two regular coffee cups) of filter coffee in less time than it takes to boil a kettle.

I'm actually very surprised to have found such an appliance in Milas, a traditional Turkish town of tea drinkers.  I've never seen a normal sized filter coffee  machine here...although there are hundreds of different types of electric tea makers.

The shop assistant looked quite surprised when I picked it up.  I think I may well be the first customer to buy one.  She took it out of the box to check it and hadn't a clue how it worked.   I have a feeling the rest of their stock will stay on the shelves gathering dust for years.

How wonderful it was to get up this morning and drink good coffee.   It's the little things in life that make us happy isn't it?

What little things make you happy?

Monday, 28 November 2011

Dicing with Death

Mr A and I had been discussing all things electrical yesterday.

I received a couple of comments on my last blog post about whether the electrical supply to our house is faulty and whether this had contributed to so many appliances giving up this year.

Mr A and I had come to this conclusion around the same time as your comments arrived so we knew we had to do something about it asap.

New electricity cables have been underway in the village for a few months.  Maybe this has something to do with it?  Mr A was about to phone the electric company in Milas this morning to arrange for an electrical engineer to come out to check our house.

By coincidence, engineers are working outside our house this morning...attaching cables to the newly planted pylons.   As you can see from the photo, they are again working without any safety equipment or harnesses.  It makes me feel quite dizzy to watch them.  Mr A asked if they would check our house today.

As they are clearly not bothered about dicing with death every day of their working lives, we were happy to let them fiddle about with the electric supply to our house if they could solve the problem.   Rather them than us!

So two engineers have now checked thoroughly and according to them there is no problem with the electricity supply to our house, or inside it.

I guess I have to accept what I've been saying for years now...electrical appliances in Turkey are crap!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

OK...enough now please!

It seems like this has been the year for my electric appliances to give up.

Already since this summer, my toasted sandwich maker broke.  I had to have a new element fitted to our electric oven.  The coffee machine, electric kettle, toaster and iron all died on me.

Today my microwave oven decided it would like to join all its friends in the electrical appliance graveyard.

It appears to be functioning in every respect, other than actually heating anything.

I' ve done a bit of googling and it would seem that the obvious problem is that the magnetron has given up.  According to various sites, this is the most important part of the microwave oven that is responsible for heating.  It's also about 95% of the cost of the microwave, so it's not worth getting repaired.  And we all know of course that microwave oven repairs are not safe for DIY.

So, I guess another trip to the shops is in order.

BUT the mobile phone is still working by the way, albeit that it needs a new battery because it's currently having to be charged every day.

I always believed when these things happened, it ran in "threes" (one of my late mother's old wives tales)...obviously that's a load of rubbish in my case.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Just 32 days...

...until I see my gorgeous grandsons again.

Playing so nicely together

Have a good weekend everyone.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A pleasant Tuesday...and more about the mobile phone.

The saga of the new mobile phone continued today.  The second replacement phone appeared to be working OK.

Again, I spent a couple of hours setting it all up and making sure it was able to do what I wanted it to.

After all this fiddling about with it, the battery had run low by this morning, so I plugged the charger in...and...nothing.  It wouldn't charge.  We had a couple of spare chargers and tried those but still it wouldn't charge. 

So off we go to Milas once more to the phone shop.  The guy in the shop told us that the person who repairs their phones had gone out  so we would have to come back later.  I suggested he call him on his mobile phone (if he had one that actually worked) and ask him to return to the shop.  I was informed that he hadn't taken his phone with him (maybe it wasn't working?).

We sat and waited for about 10 minutes, having been offered tea, as is the norm.  Mr A was getting very irritated by then.  I was already angry, but what can you do?   There was another customer in the shop about to buy a secondhand phone.  Mr A suggested he thoroughly tested it out before parting with his money.  This comment prompted the shopkeeper into action.  He took my phone and trotted across the road to another shop and asked the man there to take a look to see if he could solve the problem.  We followed and waited while he dismantled it, prodded and poked it with various tiny tools, and reassembled it.  All of which took a further 45 minutes.   It still wouldn't charge.

By this time the repairman in the other shop had returned so we crossed the road, gave him the phone, and he proceeded to dismantle, prod and poke, reassemble, etc.  Not once, but several times.  He did manage to get it to charge at one point, but only when the phone was completely dismantled.  He seemed rather pleased with himself and I honestly think he believed we would accept this!   Until I firmly informed him that I had no intention of taking the phone apart every time I wanted to recharge it.

By now another half an hour had passed...more tea in the meantime....and I had had enough.  I insisted on a refund and it was reluctantly forthcoming.

Coming out of the shop, Mr A suggests we look for a phone in another shop.  I was not amused.  I said I would rather be without a phone than have to go through this over and over again.  I repeated myself twice to make sure he got the message.  But he's a man...he doesn't listen...and before I knew it he was inside another phone shop with an identical phone in his hand, asking the price.

As it transpired, after Mr A and I both tested and retested the phone thoroughly, we established that it worked, it charged, it switched on and off with no problems, and it seemed to be in better condition all round.   AND it was 10 lira cheaper than the previous two phones.  We bought it, and as I write, it is still working.  But call me a cynic if you like, I'm not totally confident that it will continue to do so.  Watch this space!

It was market day in Milas and we stocked up with vegetables and fruit.  I love the vegetables at this time of year...spinach, brocolli, enormous cabbages, purple carrots and green beans.  And mandarin oranges are in abundance and very cheap.

 We also needed to get some vests and socks for Mr A.  It's getting colder and we realised this morning that he was down to one vest and two and a half pairs of socks.  Before returning home, we stopped for delicious cheese and spinach gozleme.

Apart from the hassle with the phone...quite a pleasant day.

Monday, 21 November 2011

A pleasant Monday and another trip to the Dentist

You may remember that two months ago I found a super dentist in Bodrum who charges "normal" prices in Turkish lira rather than the inflated prices in Euros charged by the posh Bodrum clinics.  Instead of being fobbed off by the expensive dentists telling me that my tooth could not be repaired but would have to be expensively crowned, bridged and whatever, my new dentist insisted he could rebuild my tooth.  He made a very good job of it too.

However on Friday a bit of the filling came out, leaving the tooth very sensitive so I phoned to make an appointment to see him.  As it happened Suleyman had another appointment with the same dentist today, so he and Gwen picked me up on their way from their home in Aydin.  Mr A decided to come too.

My dentist has put some kind of fluid onto the tooth to "calm it down" plus a temporary dressing and I will return again on Thursday to have the tooth rebuilt.  He explained that there was always a possibility that this might happen the first time it was done because it was so badly damaged.  I asked if it was perhaps better to have it extracted, but he insisted that he would make every effort to save the tooth, even if it took several attempts, and that he will not be charging me for any of this additional treatment.  He says he is determined to get it to the stage where it will last at least a couple of years.  I'm very happy to have found this dentist and wish I had discovered him before.  When we were chatting I discovered that  he had been in practise in Selçuk before he moved to Bodrum, at the same time that we were living in Selçuk.  In fact his surgery was just around the corner from where we lived!   I wish I'd known.   Isn't it a small world?

Suleyman and Mr A spent some time drinking tea and chatting and Gwen and I browsed the shops.  We all met up for lunch and then Suleyman dropped us back home.   A pleasant day with good company.

Before we set off today, Mr A popped into Milas to return the "new" (secondhand)  mobile phone which wasn't working.  He was under instructions to accept no excuses and to insist on a refund.  It didn't quite work out that way (now why does that not surprise me?).  Apparently the shopkeeper said he couldn't refund the money as he didn't have any...hmmm.  Mr A stood his ground and when it was clear that no money would be forthcoming, he made a very loud fuss and refused to leave the shop.  Eventually the man gave Mr A another phone...identical to the previous one.  Only this one was brand new, retailing at 370 lira...about 130 pounds).   It must have been some fuss that Mr A made because we only paid 160 lira for the previous phone and the shopkeeper let him have the new one at no extra charge.   Result!

The phone is working perfectly.  I have worked out how to make and receive calls and text messages.  That's as far as it goes for me.  It does, however, do lots of other things.  These are the product details:

Compact modern design featuring sophisticated stainless-steel covers, glossy black finish, and rounded edges.
Integrated 2 megapixel camera with 8x digital zoom
Music player, FM stereo radio, and video player
Access your email on the go and send messages with attachments
Store music, videos, and photos with up to 2GB microSD card expandable memory.

....but of course all of that goes way over my head.  You never know though...maybe in time I'll learn how to use all these extra gadgets.

Now if someone invented a phone that could do something useful like the housework and ironing..I'd be first in the queue to buy one.

Mobile Phones

I've never really liked them but like the majority of people on this planet, I've become used to my mobile being part of my life.

I can't be doing with anything too sophisticated or clever though.  I'm not interested in iPhones or similar contraptions.  I don't need my phone to be able to do anything other than allow me to make and receive calls or text messages.

Mr A on the other hand is obsessed with them.  The more complicated the better as far as he is concerned.  So naturally it was a big decision for him to make recently, to sell his iPhone (it may not have been an iPhone..I don't really know...but it was an all-singing/all-dancing phone) to raise more money to spend on the garden.  He is now using a cheap, simple, secondhand mobile, but I'm sure that when he's working again, a newer one will be top of his to-buy list.

I've therefore had a very simple Nokia for the past 7 years that does the trick for me.  Last year I dropped it and damaged the screen.  Mr A was all for persuading me to upgrade to a cleverer model, but I managed to get a new screen installed and was happy.

Yesterday morning, I discovered that the screen on my phone was blank...nothing at all.  I used the house phone to ring the mobile and it was still working, but of course I can't make calls out or send/receive text messages because I can't see anything.

There are plenty of mobile phone shops here to choose from so we set off to Milas yesterday afternoon to look for a new phone.  We spent hours in and out of shops, with Mr A trying out and testing numerous phones...complicated ones...whilst I just kept getting sneers from the assistants every time I produced my old Nokia and asked for a similar one.  

I stood my ground and eventually found a phone which did pretty much the same as my old phone...albeit that it was a slimmer version.  It was new, the price was OK, but it had no box or guarantee with it, so I wasn't too happy about buying it.

We then retraced our steps, visited all the shops again, looking at secondhand phones.  By this time, I was getting fed up with Mr A trying out all the super-dooper contraptions and insisting that they were just what I needed.  

He produced a secondhand Nokia, which he said was a brilliant phone.  The price was good and feeling under pressure and just wanting to get a phone, I gave in and bought it.  I inserted my sim card. Tried it.  It worked.  So we set off for home.

Of course this phone has far too much clever stuff on it which I will never use..but after an hour or so I managed to work out how to phone and text, which will do for me.

However...there is a problem.  If I switch it off I can't switch it back on again.   I was pretty annoyed with Mr A for persuading me to buy this bloody contraption, but more annoyed with myself  for allowing him to talk me into it.  NOTE TO SELF:  Do not take Mr A with you when you want to buy anything in future.

At almost 8pm last night, Mr A set off for Milas to take the phone back to the shop.  I asked him to just get me a refund.   It was closed, but he spoke to a man in the phone shop next door who said it must be that the battery was dead.   So he bought a new battery.   When he arrived home, he inserted the new battery, put it on charge and guess what?  You still can't switch on the bloody phone!

And to top it all...for some unexplained reason...the screen on my old phone has now reappeared.  So I'm back to using it and Mr A has been instructed to take the new purchase back to Milas this morning for a refund and not to return until he has my money in his hand.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Norman Wisdom

I've just watched a documentary "The Unforgettable Norman Wisdom", recently shown on ITV.  It brought back  memories for me of being taken to the cinema as a small child by my father to see his films.  He was my Dad's absolute favourite performer.  A brilliantly talented man who died in 2010 at the age of 92.  He had a sad and difficult childhood, and overcame many obstacles to become one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th Century.

So I thought I would post up a link to the video HERE  in case you haven't seen the programme.  It's just 22 minutes long.

I particularly loved the scene towards the end of the video when he received his knighthood from the Queen.


Thursday, 17 November 2011

The most irritating TV ad ever...

We haven't had a television for nearly two years.  We don't miss it.  Mr A likes football and when big matches are broadcast he prefers to watch in the men-only teahouses because there's more of an atmosphere.

Any other programmes we want to see we are able to catch-up on our laptops.

I have to admit to being hooked on UK soaps.  Eastenders, Corrie and Emmerdale.  But what irritates me most about ITV programmes these days are the sponsorship ads.  

The advantage in catching-up online is that usually the ads are cut out.  However, I tend to use Youtube for the soaps as they are posted up pretty quickly after broadcast.  Or I use Expatshield and go directly to ITV iPlayer.  Unfortunately in this case, the sponsorship ads still appear.

The sponsorship ad for Emmerdale, produced by an online bingo website, makes me want to scream.

They have used real people...those that use their bingo website.  Their ad is trying to tell a story.  It's all about real people getting together, doing real things like go-karting, hot air ballooning, messing about on a beach, etc.

The reality of course is that these people don't do REAL things.  They sit in front of a screen, in isolation, playing bingo.  That's what irritates well as the annoying jingle!

Are there TV ads that irritate you?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


I thought Mr A would be pleased to have finished building the fence this week and was pretty sure he would have had enough of sawing, sanding and hammering.

Not so.  He has become obsessed with making things out of wood.

Having driven the final nail in the fence on Sunday afternoon, he asked me if I would like a couple of shelves in the kitchen.

I've been asking him to put up shelves since we moved here so of course I said yes.

I now have two deep sturdy shelves built into a recess which now house my microwave oven and pots and pans, freeing up much needed work surface and cupboard space.

I didn't see Mr A at all yesterday until around 9pm.  After breakfast he set off for his shed and there he remained all day, sawing, sanding and hammering.  He is buıilding a picnic table for the garden.  He informs me it's practically finished and the "unveiling" will take place in the morning.

His next plan is to make a shoe cupboard for the balcony...and then he tells me he is going to build a table for the kitchen.

Will this enthusiasm for carpentry ever end, I ask myself?  Or will he keep going until he replaces all our furniture?   Hmm...we could do with a new wardrobe.....

Sunday, 13 November 2011


We all need to be distracted at times from ordinary everyday life and I'm no exception.

Winter can be pretty boring, particularly when you live in an isolated village such as ours.  It's easy for me to find myself stuck in the house day after day, and the longer it goes on the more difficult it becomes for me to motivate myself to get out and about.

I forced myself to get on the bus to Bodrum on Friday to see Gwen and Suleyman.  They are at the Gumbet hotel for a few weeks, tying up loose ends and having talks with the hotel owners about a contract for the shop next year.  The hotel is now closed.  No guests, just a few members of staff, cleaning up.  It's like a ghost town.  So they met me at Bodrum bus station and we set off  for Oasis shopping centre.  It's one of my favourites..but mostly for window shopping rather than buying as most of the shops are expensive.  However, they do have a Marks & Spencer and although the prices are in Turkish lira they are comparable with English prices.  I picked up a couple of pairs of leggings, which look nice with long jumpers but also double up as longjohns under jeans when it gets colder.

We had lunch in Gumbet and then I went to buy some bacon and pork sausages from a supplier that Suleyman knows.  This was the highlight of my day of course and means I can satisfy my cravings for pork products.  This particular supplier also has pork chops, but I'd spent enough so they will have to wait for another visit.

Gwen and Suleyman will be going back to their home in Aydın soon but we've promised to make the effort to see each other during the winter months.

Distractions aren't always helpful.   Mr A is still working away at the fences in the garden, but he keeps being distracted by neighbours or men who happen to be passing.  Not happy with a 5-minute chat, Mr A sees it as an excuse to down tools, sit and drink tea.  Unfortunately this can happen several times a day, and these breaks can last anything up to a couple of hours.   Of course I don't begrudge him this time but I'm anxious about things being finished before he sets off to work for the winter.   Some of it can wait, but at the moment the garden isn't secure for the dogs.  There are still areas from which they can escape.  And the forecast is rain today, so it's a mad dash to get things done.

I managed to fiddle with my camera yesterday and we took a few photos of the garden:

Mr A hard at work

The newly levelled and cemented driveway, taken from the entrance

and the driveway looking towards the entrance

Newly erected walls inside the garden and wooden fence.

All of the fences have been made from scratch by Mr A.  Measuring, cutting, sanding and erecting.  Pretty good aren't they?

I'm really proud of him and what he has achieved.  Now if only he can get through today without any distractions he should be able to complete the fencing and the dogs will be safe. by the end of the day.

Friday, 11 November 2011


...Mr A is useless at it.  I'm the one in this marriage who has to be careful with money.  Winter is particularly difficult, and I pride myself on being able to economise.   I don't waste electricity or water, and I can make a chicken last a whole week with a bit of imagination.

Mr A, on the other hand, plans one day at a time.   If he has money he will spend it.  If he doesn't have money he will sell something.  We have many disagreements over his attitude towards money.  He appears to listen and promises to change his ways, but he has a short memory.

When he has money he will go out and buy the food shopping.  I give him a list...which he vaguely sticks to...but he is extravagant..he just can't help himself.  He will come home with all kinds of expensive food which means we live like kings for a week...then it's back to homemade soup.

He is still working on the garden.  He had enough money to do the balcony roof and rebuild the wall around the garden.  This was sufficient for the time being, but because he is still waiting to hear when he can start a winter job in Istanbul, he thought he would make some more improvements to the garden.  

He has built another wall to cut off the top of the garden (to replace the wooden fence which was demolished by the tractor delivering sand and cement).  But then he decided that all the chicken wire needed to be replaced and that he would build a wooden fence.   To do this properly, he would need to level off part of the uneven driveway with concrete.  But not happy with just repairing this, he thought the whole driveway should be cemented.

I know I shouldn't criticise him for his enthusiasm.  He has worked flat out for the past month and has made such a good job of it all that word has spread around the village and people are turning up daily to admire his efforts.  But I would rather he had made proper plans and budgeted for this work to be done over a longer period of time.

I would post up some photos but my camera isn't working very well.   (I'll give it another go today). 

Mr A could take lots of pics with his iPhone of course...except that he sold it last week to pay for wood and the last lot of cement and sand.

Even though I'm not always happy about him going away to work, I can't wait for him to get the call from Istanbul so that he can start work and stop spending money that he can't afford.

Having previewed this post before publishing, I think I must come across as being very ungrateful.  I could be married to a typical Turkish man who spends the entire winter in the teahouse.  At least Mr A isn't sitting on his backside doing nothing.

Perhaps I need to relax a bit more and stop worrying about things I can't change!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


My brother just sent me this Youtube video of a laser show on the front of a department store in Berlin.

It was made in 2010 so maybe some of you have already seen it.

I can't get my head around how these laser shows work but this video is utterly fascinating:

Sunday, 6 November 2011

100 Followers...and my Sunday

Today I noticed that I now have 100 followers of my blog.  I'm amazed that people would want to continue to read something that really started out two and a half years ago as more of a personal journal.

I did keep a written diary in a pile of exercise books when I first moved here in 1998, but unfortunately these were lost during one of our many moves.

A very big thankyou to all my followers.  Your loyalty makes me very happy and I always look forward to your comments and words of encouragement.

I've just changed my header photo to this one.....

It's taken from father-in-law's land just outside the village, looking towards the hill where our house is situated.

The little black mis-shapen circle marks our house (I don't know how I managed to mark the photo, but once I had, I couldn't change it or make it neater, so it will have to stay like this!)

Today is the first day of Kurban Bayram which I wrote about a couple of years ago HERE.   So to avoid witnessing the slaughter of sheep, I've remained in the house all day, while Mr A continues the never-ending work on the garden.

Feeling restless, I decided to move the furniture in the bedroom around...AGAIN!   I often move the bed to a different spot but today, for the first time since we moved here almost 3 years ago, I wanted to move the wardrobe to the opposite wall.  This meant removing suitcases from the top and emptying the contents, which ended up in the sitting room.

As usual I got stuck...wedged into corners..several times, simply because I don't plan properly.  I just go at it like a bull in a china shop.  But eventually I managed to get everything moved and the room looks much bigger as I've discarded a fair amount of rubbish.  Not to mention huge piles of dust from under the wardrobe.  So it's now spotless and spacious and I am content.

The rest of today was taken up with baking pastry.   Two quiches, jam tarts and a chicken pie.  And I've peeled some small onions and left to soak in salted water, ready for pickling second batch since last week.  I love pickled onions!

Mr A brought home some sharon fruit yesterday.  I've never had them before and I tried one.  It was awful.  I've been googling sharon fruit and there seem to be different types, one of which is  very astringent...clearly the ones I have.  I felt like the enamel had been stripped from my teeth.

So I am wondering if anyone has any interesting recipes for these fruit....other than jam?  Please let me know.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Who says living in the country is peaceful?

I'm sitting here trying to browse the internet and I'm suddenly aware that this morning this part of the village seems to be the noisiest place on earth.

I don't just mean the noise from the cows, sheep, chickens and donkeys.  I can live with fact I find them quite comforting.  It's everything else that's going on at the moment.

The washing machine is chugging's on it's last legs so is getting noisier by the day.

Mr A is at the back of the house removing large rocks from the wall and throwing them down into the garden with a huge thud.

The woman who lives down below our house, who has learning disabilities, is being noisier than ever today.  She is always shouting or wailing at the cats or anyone else she takes a dislike to, but today she is excelling herself.  When she starts, my dogs bark at her.  She shouts louder...they bark louder.

Mr A has just shouted at her to be quiet.   She stopped for two minutes and then started up again.  Then her husband started shouting at her.  He is partially deaf so shouts louder than most people.  They are now both shouting at each other...and my neighbour has joined in.    Oh...and wait a minute...another neighbour has arrived to find out what all the shouting is about.

I am about to take myself off to the bedroom and plug in my headphones.

I crave peace and quiet.

Friday, 4 November 2011


...or putting too much faith in Allah.

How many times have I mentioned the way the Turks put too much faith in Allah?  The way the majority drive like lunatics, believing that if they have an accident, it's not down to bad's all in the hands of Allah.  The way they don't worry about everyday problems, because they believe they have no control over their own lives.

This isn't an anti-muslim or anti-religious post.  I'm not out to disrespect peoples' faith.  But having read the following article in the New York Times today, it just confirms my belief that the people of this country bury their heads in the sand, and prefer not to take some responsibility for their own destinies:

Recipe for Disaster in Turkey’s Quake Zone

Published: November 2, 2011

Sifting through the rubble of the apartment house in which his sister died, along with her husband, her young son and five other members of her husband’s family, in the earthquake in the town of Ercis last week, a young seismologist recalled his futile warnings about the safety of the building.

.“I told them to have it tested” for earthquake safety, Muhlis Unaldi, a Boston University student of seismology, told the Milliyet newspaper, referring to the four-story apartment building the Nalbantoglu family built a few years ago.

“But they did not have it done,” he said.

Now, he added, he could see from the rubble that the wrong kind of iron bars had been used to reinforce the concrete. When a 7.2-magnitude quake struck on Oct. 23, the building folded in on itself, leaving no survivors among those inside it.

More than 600 people were crushed to death in the quake and more than 2,600 injured. It was only the latest of more than 220 strong earthquakes that have rocked Anatolia over the past century, killing some 100,000 and injuring half a million, according to government figures.

Yet, in their lack of concern about building standards in the house they poured their savings into and entrusted their lives to, the Nalbantoglus were no exception in Turkey.

Two out of three buildings in Turkey are illegally constructed without permits or supervision, according to the national chamber of mechanical engineers.

Of the 18 million buildings in the country, 40 percent are not earthquake-safe, the chamber estimates in a comparatively conservative assessment — some experts guess that share to be as high as 70 or even 90 percent.

Greed and incompetence on the part of builders, as well as corruption and a lack of oversight by authorities, are the usual suspects cited in the public debate that breaks out after every quake, only to fizzle out again without noticeable effect after a few weeks.

Yet, even with builders after killer profit and many municipal authorities on the take, the question remains: Why do Turkish homeowners and tenants put up with it?

A survey conducted by the Anar polling institute found in 2005 that, at 56 percent, more than half of Turks deemed their houses unsafe in an earthquake, while 13 percent had doubts about their home’s resilience. Yet, in the same survey, 81 percent admitted they had never done anything about it.

A study conducted by Erzincan University found that 73 percent of respondents in the province did not know whether their current house was safe or not — despite the fact that most of them had experienced at least one of the Erzincan quakes that killed 650 in 1992 and 33,000 in 1939.

So why do millions of Turkish families, like the Nalbantoglus of Ercis, agree to live in slipshod buildings on top of an earthquake fault line, without calling in so much as a safety inspection?

Poverty and inadequate legislation are frequently pointed to, but some experts believe the problem is a cultural one.

“Fatalism is deeply embedded in the culture of Anatolia,” a sociologist, Yusuf Ozkan Ozburun, said in an interview in Istanbul last week.

“It is a feature of local folk Islam, caused by a false understanding of Islam” under which man has no influence on a world controlled by God alone, Mr. Ozburun said.

His analysis is backed up by an international comparison of religious influences on cultural attitudes conducted by the Sabanci University of Istanbul in 2009.

In it, the political scientists Ersin Kalaycioglu and Ali Carkoglu found that only 28 percent of Turks believe they can influence the course of their lives — the lowest percentage of respondents in 30 countries considered in the study. Catholic countries like Poland and the Philippines scored closest to Turkey in the survey, which included no other predominantly Muslim country. In the United States, by contrast, more than 80 percent believe that man forges his own destiny, and in Japan almost 60 percent agree with that view.

The emerging picture of Turkey is one of “a society in which fatalism and a perception that life is shaped mainly by metaphysical forces are widely shared,” the scientists concluded.

.In a similar vein, an Istanbul University survey of 1,100 survivors living in tent cities after the catastrophic 1999 Marmara quake revealed that more than two-thirds saw the quake as an act of God, fate or destiny, rather than as a natural disaster, with more than half convinced that it was an intentional punishment by God.

Consequently, most Turks rely mainly on prayer for protection against earthquakes and other disasters, as the Sabanci University study found.

“This fatalism, deeply rooted in the collective consciousness, leads to the inertia and inaction we see in Turkish society,” Mr. Ozburun said.

An incurious attitude and an unscientific mind-set are also among the national characteristics engendered in Turkish society by its deep-rooted fatalism, he added, pointing out that the Turkish word for “wonder” or “curiosity” carries a negative connotation and citing a slew of fatalist Turkish proverbs.

“It came like this and it will go like this,” is one of those adages of resignation to fate.

“Citizens do worry about earthquake safety, and rightly so, but they dither between fatalism and negligence,” Tugrul Tankut, a professor of civil engineering at Middle Eastern Technical University, told a symposium on “Turkey’s Earthquake Reality” in Ankara last year.

In addition, a tradition of authoritarian relations between citizens and the state had led Turks to rely too much on the state instead of taking initiative for their own safety, he said.

“No one says ‘My roof is leaking, the state must come and fix it,”’ Mr. Tankut said. “But when it comes to earthquake safety, people sit and wait, saying ‘My house is not quake-safe, the state must come and retrofit it.’

“There’s no difference between the two, yet that’s the way people see it, for whatever reasons.”

Nor can lack of funds, sometimes cited as an explanation for widespread acquiescence in shoddy housing, be a viable reason, the professor said, pointing out that earthquake safety measures add no more than 3 to 5 percent to the cost of construction of a house.

“People are always asking me: ‘Professor, when will buildings be earthquake safe?”’ he told the Ankara symposium. “The answer to that is very simple: This problem will be solved as soon as people are prepared to spend as much money on their safety as they spend on pink bathroom tiles.”

As for the building laws and regulations that are once again under public scrutiny and debate after the Van earthquake, many experts do not think tinkering with them will fix the problem.

Most people were unconcerned even with existing regulations, preferring to trust that God would protect them even as they built shoddy housing in unsuitable areas, Mr. Ozburun, the sociologist, said.

Mr. Tankut, the engineer, takes a similar view. “As long as the mentality remains the same, you can change the rules and the system as much as you like,” he told the Ankara symposium. “But in practice nothing will change at all.”


Best of the Web

I was recently approached by Pocketchange Lifestyle Blog to have my blog mentioned in their Best of the Web feature.  You can see it HERE

I'd never come across this blog before and when I had a look, discovered that it was primarily a shopping blog.  Not something I would normally look for.

However, it appears to be a useful resource, particularly their TIPS CENTRE which some of you might find interesting.

Anyway, apparently they get more than 3,000 visitors a day to their blog, so I was happy to have the opportunity to possibly increase my readership, and pleased that my blog was considered worth featuring.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Men and decisions

I'm sure Mr A is no different to most men as far as making decisions is concerned.

We go through a familiar process.  He suggests something and asks for my opinion.  I disagree and suggest something better.  He disagrees.  We have words.   He then tells me he will do what he wants.  I suggest (not always politely) that it's pointless asking my opinion if he's going to do what he wants anyway.  We have more words.  He then thinks about what he's going to do and eventually does what I have suggested...only he makes out it was his idea all along.

The unfortunate thing about this process is that it often takes days to resolve and for him to finally make a decision.  It's such a waste of time and energy and I am annoyed with myself for not being able to deal with it more efficiently.  Any ideas please?

He finished rebuilding the perimeter wall last week.  He is now working on a wall to replace the fence that was demolished by the tractor that was delivering the sand.  It's looking good.

He also thought it a good idea to replace the chicken wire that sections off the front of the garden with something more permanent.  He asked my opinion three days ago.  He suggested building another wall.  The problem is that we have almost run out of stone and he would have to go up the steep hill at the back of the house to hack out some more.  That in itself will be very hard work and time-consuming, not to mention pretty treacherous trying to get it down the hill.  I suggested that as we still have a lot of wood that he use that to build a fence.  He disagreed.  

He then suggested a metal fence.  I actually agreed that it would look quite good but I thought it would be too expensive.   Of course he disagreed so I had to prove the point by getting him to ring the metal suppliers to ask prices.  It's very cheap...he said.  I asked him to measure up the area to be fenced off and I did some calculations.  It wasn't cheap at was damned expensive.

All these suggestions/disagreements/having words....has taken three days.  

This afternoon he informs me that HE has decided to build a wooden fence.

I give up!

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Versatile Blogger

I'm very honoured to have been given the Versatile Blogger Award from Jack at Perking the Pansies blog.

Jack's blogs is one of my absolute favourites and if you are one of the few who haven't yet discovered his blog, take a look, you won't be disappointed.

There are conditions to receiving this award.  I have to tell you five quirky things about myself and then pass the award on to five more bloggers.

I'm not sure I'd ever be considered quirky but I'll have a go:

1.  Over the years I've tried every colour of the rainbow on my hair.  My natural colour I think is boring mousy..difficult to remember because it hasn't been natural since my teens.  When I was around 17 years old I tried to go dark after having bleached my hair and it turned green.  I actually quite liked it!

2.  I was a bit of a groupie in my teens.  Not in a bad way... I never slept around..but my friends and I followed a lot of the groups around to local venues, mostly before they were famous.  Groups like the Stones when they were the Rolling Stones, The Animals, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames (you'd have to be of a certain age to remember these).   I once went ten pin bowling with a crowd of people including one of the Stones.

3. I own up to loving dogs more than people.  I'm not sure if that's quirky or even normal...but dogs are often much nicer than people.

4. I went to a grammar school at 11 years old, and I hated it.  Mostly because my parents couldn't afford the uniform and equipment so I always had secondhand.  My Dad retrieved my hockey stick from a dustbin.  It was splintered and had no grip so he cut up a bicycle tyre inner tube and used that....very resourceful of course but every time I used it my hands went black.

5. And following on from No. 4, I should have had a regulation black swimsuit for school but my Mum produced an old one of hers. It was far too big.  It had bones in the chest part (and I was flat-chested at the time) and these ended up almost on my shoulders.  But the worst part was the white piping down the front which had to be disguised...which Mum did with black marker pen.  Naturally when I entered the water the black ink came off and floated on top of the water.   I actually have loads of these grammar school nightmare stories...if I didn't have a sense of humour now, I could have been psychologically scarred for life.

And here are my five nominations for this award:

Nuts in May

Perpetually in Transit

Costa Rica Calling *

French Leave *


*  These two blogs are by the same person...Flyintheweb, but they both deserve the award.  However Fly, I don't expect you to complete the task twice!  Unless you want to of course.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


The wall around the front of the garden is now finished.  It looks really good.  The garden behind it is an absolute mess but it will be sorted over the coming days...hopefully.

Mr A has the dry-stone wall bug now and has decided to replace the chickenwire inside the garden with a wall.   We had put up the chickenwire to keep the dogs off part of the garden.   He has enough cement and stones to do the job.  He demolished part of a neighbours house which gave him more stones to use.  Oh don't worry...the neighbours weren't inhabiting's been unused for years, crumbling slowly and frankly a bit dangerous so he has done them a favour.  They were delighted to have the job done for them at no expense...however Mr A being the big softy actually gave them 20 lira and said thankyou for the stones!

We needed another tractor load of sand to go with the cement so Mr A arranged for this to be delivered yesterday.  Unfortunately it was dark when it arrived.  I remained in the house with the dogs and listened.  There was an awful lot of scraping and crunching and similar noises going on outside...and a considerable amount of shouting between Mr A and the tractor driver.  I didn't dare look.  I waited until the tractor had left.

The tractor had managed to uproot half of the large fig tree, knocked off branches from the smaller fig tree,  crush the chickenwire fence, and totally demolish the wooden fence  and gate that Mr A had built last year to cut off another part of the garden.

And so the amount of work still to be done increases by the day.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Turkey's Earthquake: Social Media to the Rescue (an article by Pelin Turgut)

I wanted to share with you a brilliant article about responses to the Van earthquake.

It is written by TIME's Turkey correspondent Pelin Turgut. (Pelin is the daughter of my blogging friend Claudia at A Seasonal Cook in Turkey


Turkey's Earthquake: Social Media to the Rescue

"The last devastating earthquake Turkey experienced was in 1999, back when it was still largely an analogue world, email was in its infancy and Mark Zuckerberg was just another high school dreamer. As a reporter I had to lug a satellite phone around to dictate bleak daily missives from disaster-stricken western Turkey (20,000 people had died, entire avenues were wiped out) because there was no other means of communication. Official relief took days to arrive. And when it did, it was often inadequate and poorly planned.

Contrast that to yesterday's disaster. Hours after a 7.2 earthquake struck Van, in eastern Turkey, technologies whirred into motion that would have been unimaginable back then. Google has already reconfigured the person-finding tool it used in Haiti and Chile, allowing people to both request and post information about the safety of loved ones missing in the rubble. (Their system is currently tracking some 2,000 records.) Hashtags like #van, #deprem (earthquake in Turkish) trended instantly, and are being tweeted hundreds of times per second as people share information on how to help and what to donate. Groups like the Red Crescent (the Turkish equivalent of the Red Cross) and AKUT, a search-and-rescue organization have enabled one-click SMS donation services. On Facebook, users share updated information on aid requests – winter clothing, insulin, diapers — as filed by people on the ground in Van and have started pages listing bus and freight companies that are delivering aid packages free of charge.

The sheer number of people with their eyes on the wire creates pressure on companies to respond –and quickly. ‘Van needs drinking water. Still waiting for a water company to step up!' read one tweet on the #van page. Shortly afterwards three water firms announced pledges of shipments to the region. Under similar pressure, several airlines have lowered fares to Van while a heater company said it was sending 1,000 electric heaters to the region.

Then there are the homegrown initiatives. Ahmet Tezcan, a Turkish reporter with close to 16,000 followers, posted a tweet offering his spare flat to a family in need and suggesting others do the same. Within hours, 20,000 people had emailed the ‘My house is your house' (#EvimEvindirVan) campaign, offering their homes or spare rooms. The campaign's success has been such that the Istanbul governor's office has taken charge. There is now a 24-hour hotline where people can apply to stay or host.

Social media is not, of course, a substitute for the long-term and difficult work that undoubtedly lies ahead in Van where thousands are now homeless and winter is fast encroaching. One telling tweet asked for Kurdish-speaking volunteer psychologists (the region is largely Kurdish) to get in touch. Nor should it make us complacent as to the impact of our efforts. But as a reminder of what human kindness can achieve, it too has its place."

Earthquake in Turkey today

Today we have news of a major earthquake in Van in the east of Turkey.  The latest news reports up to 1000 fatalities.   

My heart goes out to the people of Van tonight.  This is such a tragedy.  The worst earthquake here for a decade.

Some of my blogging friends in Turkey have already posted about this, but Karen at Being Koy has repeated some information she first circulated in 2006 about being prepared for earthquakes.  It's great advice...please read if you live in a country such as ours which is always at risk from earthquakes.

Here's the link:    Earthquake Preparedness Guide

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Books worth reading

I recently received an email from Julia Terentyeva at The Browser drawing my attention to an interview with Norman Stone, the British academic and author who lives in Ankara.

The interview is very good, and so are his choice of five books...which I have already added to my "to read" list.

So I decided to share the link with my followers, who may also find this of interest.

Monday, 17 October 2011

A day off

Mr A has been working flat out for nine days knocking down and rebuilding the stone wall that surrounds our garden.  It's back-breaking work, made more difficult because the rain had knocked down some of the wall, taking parts of the garden with it.

The rain hasn't really stopped him.   He has found other little jobs to do in the house when it's tipping down, and he's also been fighting against time and the weather to re-seal all the uPVC windows and panels.

As you can see, he's making a very good job of the wall.  There's still a long way to go though.

Yesterday morning the sun came out and we decided that he should take a day off, so we set off to Bodrum on the motorbike to meet up with Gwen and Suleyman (who run the small shop in the hotel where Mr A used to work).

It's coming up to the end of the season at this hotel so this was probably the last chance of seeing them before they shut up shop and move back to their house in Aydın for the winter.

There were still guests at the hotel, but when we turned up at the shop it was closed and empty of stock.  I phoned Gwen to let her know we were here and 5 minutes later she appeared.  She was angry and upset and started to explain that there had been a huge row between her, Suleyman and various bosses the previous night.   At that point one of the bosses appeared and Gwen asked to talk to him.  Unfortunately, her Turkish is non-existent and Mr A got roped in to translate.

Without going into detail, it would seem that Gwen and Suleyman are owed money by one boss, who refuses to discuss it.  The previous evening had ended up with crockery being smashed and lots of shouting.  The biggest problem as I see it, is that there are simply too many chiefs and not enough indians at this particular hotel.  Too many people interfering in things that are none of their business.  Exactly the reason why Mr A decided to leave when he did and move to the hotel in Torba.

When Suleyman arrived, more discussion ensued, by which time Mr A couldn't seem to extricate himself from the situation without appearing rude.  But in a way he seemed to succeed in acting as mediator.  All sides calmed down, and agreement was reached, and hands shaken.

We took the first opportunity we could to get away, and as dark clouds were looming in the sky, we set off on the motorbike for home.   Unfortunately the dark clouds opened on our way and we arrived home drenched and muddy.

So much for  Mr A's day off!

Friday, 14 October 2011

One of those weeks

It doesn't rain but it pours.  Literally.   The rain has now stopped leaving a lot of damage in it's wake.  The lanes leading down the hill from our house are an absolute mess.  Soil has been washed away leaving jagged rocks, making it almost impossible to go up or down on the motorbike, and it's treacherous to walk on too.

Part of the dry stone wall surrounding our garden was knocked down by the force of the rain, taking a large chunk of the garden with it.  Mr A had already planned to completely build the wall anyway, but this damage has made the task harder.

Drying out the house is taking time.  The window frames need re-sealing and the forecast is for more rain on Sunday or Monday, so we are running out of time.

Poppy is improving slowly.  I am continuing to use the Betafix strips to cover the wound, because it's still partly open.  Although it's not oozing anymore so any infection I think has gone.   I think it probably should have been re-stitched but I'm reluctant to let the vet anywhere near her again, unless I absolutely have to.

And my ongoing battle with electrical appliances continues.   Turkish appliances just don't seem to be made to last.   This week my filter coffee machine stopped working.   The toaster blew up.   And when I plugged in the iron to do some ironing, the red light came on but it remained stone cold.

I searched the old house for a previously broken iron, and Mr A attempted to dismantle and fix both of them, but failed.

So we made a trip into Milas last night to get a new iron, the most essential of the broken appliances.  Fortunately Carrefour had a promotion on electrical items so there was 20 lira off the normal price for the iron.   We also noticed a grill/toast maker on offer. (Similar to the George Foreman grills you can buy in the UK).   We dithered a bit over whether to buy this or not.    I used to make a lot of toasted sandwiches until my sandwich maker broke a couple of months ago.  It was sent off to the manufacturer to be repaired because it was still under guarantee.  They couldn't repair it and wouldn't replace it because they said it must have been bad handling on our part that caused it to break.  Of course this came as no surprise...Turkish guarantees are not worth the paper they are written on.

So this machine in Carrefour would be ideal for toasted sandwiches, but also for grilling other food, as we don't have a grill on our we bought it.  It works...and so does the iron.  For how long?  Your guess is as good as mine.

It really has been one of those weeks...let's hope next week is better.

Have a good weekend everyone.