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.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Turkish Vets...aaargh!

I just knew it was a mistake to trust a Turkish vet.  I thought I'd found a good one, and to give the benefit of the doubt, he is probably good with farm animals, but not so good with domestic pets.  But of course, most Turks don't consider dogs to be pets and think we foreigners are rather strange because we care about them.

I thought Poppy was recovering pretty well from her op on Friday.  She was moving about, eating, going to the toilet without any problems.  But today I noticed that her stomach was a little swollen and hot.  Mr A was going into Milas so I asked him to call in and talk to the vet.  He came back with 3 syringes containing 2 lots of antibiotics and one analgesic.  By the time he had returned I noticed that the wound had started to bleed and it looked like the stitches were not holding.  I administered two of the injections, one being kept for tomorrow.

Because I was still concerned, Mr A phoned the vet and asked him to come out.  He eventually turned up 2 hours later with a large bottle of iodine (about a litre) and some gauze.  I spread a thick clean towel on a chair so that he could treat Poppy.  He opened the bottle of iodine, placed it on a coffee table which had the only decent silk cloth I own, and promptly slopped some of the solution on it.

He then soaked the gauze in iodine and bathed Poppy's wound...then he knocked over the bottle, the contents of which covered an armchair, the fitted carpet and a cream rug.  Iodine is it's not a pretty sight.  There was about an inch of solution left in the bottle and he kindly gave me this so that I could bathe Poppy's wound kind of him!

I guess he's normally used to treating cows and sheep in farmyards, so if he spills stuff it doesn't really matter.

I am left feeling that if this is significant of how clumsy he is...then I'm not really surprised that Poppy's stitches have burst.   I have just checked to make sure that Poppy's wound is clean and I have placed some Betafix strips on it...these are similar to steri-strips which I keep handy for when I have cuts that need more than an elastoplast.   I'm hoping that these will do the trick.  At this point in time I am more inclined to trust my own judgment than the vet's.

I won't be using this vet again and I really wish I had never decided to have Poppy spayed.  I'm feeling so guilty about subjecting her to this and I hope she is going to be OK.

Men and Sheds

I've always been fascinated by the way that men need to have sheds (or workshops).   I can remember both grandfathers and their sheds, and my father, and various uncles and other men in my life.  I didn't think that this would be something that my Turkish husband would crave.  I was wrong...this phenomenon is truly international.

Whilst I was searching for a suitable pic for this post, I discovered that there's actually a book on the subject called "Men and Sheds".   This description of the book pretty much sums it up:

"It has been said that a shed is to a man what a handbag is to a woman - both contain all the essentials for surviving in the modern world and in the same way that no decent man would ever consider looking in a woman's handbag uninvited, so no reasonable woman would dream of setting foot in a man's shed."

Because of the torrential rain that has been with us since Saturday (and continues as I write), Mr A has been unable to do much of the planned work on the perimeter wall and the garden.  He informed me that he would spend the time knocking down the side wall of the front of the old house in the garden so that he would have somewhere to put his motorbike for the winter. 

He spent the best part of yesterday out there, knocking down the wall, banging and hammering away to his heart's content.

When I called him in for dinner, he said he was busy so could he have it on a tray?  I handed him the tray over the balcony and off he went.

Finally at around 6pm before it got dark, I went outside to investigate.   And that's when I discovered that shelter for the motorbike was just a small part of his plan.  

The motorbike takes up a small space in the corner of the "room".  He has transformed the rest into his own little sanctuary.   He has fixed a large board to an entire wall, painted it, added hooks and nails which now hold his tools.  In the far corner are two shelves for other tools, odds and ends.   He has made a workbench from old bits of wood, which doubles up as a table, and that's where I found his dinner tray.

He added a small gas bottle and trivet and asked if he could have our old Turkish teapot to brew up his çay, which I duly found, together with çay glasses, tea and sugar.   And he has a wire running from an extension lead in the house which allows him to use his drill and also to plug in a light bulb.

I have never seen him so happy.  He's like a child at Christmas.  I never would have believed it!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Rain, rain, go away

I'm typing this on one of the rare occasions I've been online since Saturday.  We have had terrific storms, torrential rain and gale force winds since then.

Mr A's job finished on Saturday, and because his father sent money for the dry stone wall to be re-built, he had been hoping to start work on it yesterday.

He had ordered sand and cement from Milas but because of the non-stop rain, the main village road is flooded and the truck is unable to get through to deliver.  And we are unable to get out.

The garden is flooded, and part of the wall has collapsed into the lane below, leaving much more work for Mr A to do.

As always, water is pouring into the house and I have been rushing around placing towels under windows and walls to mop it up.

When Mr A was down in the village yesterday afternoon, checking to see if the road had cleared for the delivery lorry, I suddenly noticed that there was water pouring out of the fuse box and running down the wall.

Boy was I scared.  I quickly switched off the supply and waited for Mr A to return.

Whilst there was a short break in the rain, Mr A climbed up on the roof and found the leak and managed to seal it.   We left the fuse box to dry out and then Mr A bravely switched on the supply again while I waited for an explosion (ok perhaps it wouldn't explode.  I don't know exactly what I expected to happen but I knew electricity and water don't go well together).  Anyway it was fine. 

We've had much more rain today along with a considerable amount of thunder and lightening.  No more leaks into the fuse box, but until the rain stops and everything dries out, Mr A can't re-seal all the windows.

He has been outside all day between showers, dismantling the wall, ready to re-build it.  When the rain starts he dashes to the old house where he has knocked down a wall  to make a "garage" for his motorbike, and somewhere to keep his tools. 

Meanwhile, I am confined to the house, where my modem has been more off  than on, to avoid it being struck by lightening.  So I've kept myself busy making potato borek, a cake, and tomato and pepper soup.

Can't wait for the rain to stop.

PS.  Poppy is recovering well from her op on Friday.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Poorly Poppy

I've been on tenterhooks all day.  The vet from Milas collected Poppy from our house and took her to his surgery to spay her.

I never totally trust Turkish vets, but this one is the best I've found.  Nevertheless they never quite feel the same way as we do about our precious dogs.

She was with him for 6 hours during which time he performed the op, checked and cleaned her teeth and cut her nails.   Also, as instructed by Mr A and not me, he trimmed her hair.  Well more to the point he shaved her.   It wasn't really necessary but it's tidy and clean, and at least it will be more hygenic not to have her hair caught up in her stitches.  

You may remember the vet came out a while ago to the village to look at Beki and Poppy.  Beki had mastitis and the medication prescribed cleared it up in a few days.  Beki was pronounced too old for the snip, so Poppy had to suffer alone.

I hadn't paid for the vet's previous visit...he told me to wait until after Poppy's visit today.  I am totally amazed at the cost for all this treatment, which included two round trips to the village.   190 lira...which is approxımately 69 pounds.  I'm sure this will come as a shock to those of you in the UK who make regular visits to the vet with your pets.

Poppy is clearly uncomfortable at the moment, and when I tried to pick her up on her arrival she gave me a nasty nip on my finger.  She never bites so clearly she is in pain.  Poor little girl.    Mr A is on his way home now with pain relief and antibiotics prescribed by the vet.  The picture shows her snuggled up on my bed with her favourite cuddly toys.   I'm hoping for a speedy recovery for her.

It's been quite a day....I don't know who's more traumatised...Poppy or me!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

My favourite place to blog.... right here.  As from today, and until it gets too cold, this is where I will blog.

My comfy sheltered balcony

Beki likes it here too

.....and so does Poppy

Health & Safety at Work.... unheard of in Turkey.   Like everything else in life here, the Turks take huge risks every day.  They tend to believe that their fate is totally in the hands of Allah, so don't feel it necessary to protect themselves.  You only have to look at the way they drive to recognise this.

When the workmen were building the balcony roof on Saturday, there was a good deal of welding being done.  Bright lights and sparks flying everywhere, but no safety goggles or protective clothing. Goodness knows what damage they are doing to their eyes.

Early yesterday morning the power was cut...nothing unusual here of course.  The work is continuing in the village to install a new electricity supply.  Ugly metal pylons have been planted all over the village to replace the old wooden telegraph poles.  They are now at  the stage where the cables are being transferred from the poles to the pylons.   Yesterday they reached our house.

As I couldn't use the internet, I decided to sit out on the balcony and read, but found myself totally engrossed in watching the men at work.  They scale the pylons and the poles with no safety harnesses.  They work away at the top of the pylon, fixing the wires and cables, occasionally stopping, perched there, to smoke a cigarette or chat on their mobile phones.  

There is one vehicle involved in this operation.  A large mechanical digger.  It was previously used to dig the holes to plant the pylons.  It's now being used with the digging bit upside down, as a lift, with a man standing on it to take cables up to the man at the top of the pylon.

And to my horror, the digging bit is also being used to loosen the old wooden poles, pushing them violently to remove them from the earth.  We had one such wooden pole in our garden.  The digger pushed it back and forth to make it loose, then a man stood on top of the digger to tie a chain around the pole.  He remained there while he and the digger attempted to pull the pole out of the ground.

At one point as it came out of the ground it swung precariously towards our balcony roof.  I had fleeting visions of our wonderful new roof being demolished in one fell swoop.  Needless to say I rushed back into the house for my own safety.

Finally, with me holding my breath, the pole lurched the other way and fell into the lane below.  By 6.00 pm they had packed up and left, and eventually power was restored at around 7pm.

Before the workmen arrived this morning, Mr A had arranged for a man in the village to come and cut down the mulberry tree.  We have decided it has to go.  It has never produced fruit.  We cut it right back last year because it was touching the electricity and telephone wires, and also blocking our view.  It grew back again even stronger...but still no fruit.

The man arrived and cut off all the branches with an axe and then produced a chainsaw to cut down the trunk.   He was so old and shaky, and could hardly hold the chain saw.  I couldn't bear to watch and retreated to the house, hoping I wouldn't hear screams that would signal a nasty accident.

A bit later he was still having trouble sawing through the trunk and phoned his son for help.  He arrived and proceeded to try to push the trunk back and forth while his father used the chainsaw.   Eeek...his legs were so close to the chainsaw it brought me out in a sweat.  

They still couldn't uproot the tree, but I actually laughed out loud when the man's wife arrived...a stout little old woman...who gave the trunk a huge shove and it promptly fell over!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

I feel like I'm on holiday.....

....simply because my brother and sister-in-law arrived in Bodrum from England in the early hours of Friday morning.  They have visited before and have stayed with us on previous occasions.  They decided this time to stay in a hotel.  As I mentioned in a previous post, by coincidence, they booked the hotel where Mr A was working before his current job.  I still make regular visits there to see my friend Gwen.2, and other members of staff I know quite well.  The hotel is also where my hairdresser has his salon, so all in all I've become a bit of a regular there.

Mr A is still on good terms with the owners and management at the hotel, and is considering going back there to work next year.  He also pops in regularly, and was there to greet my brother and SIL on their arrival, making sure they had a good room, and putting some cold drinks in their fridge.

As they are only here for a week, my brother and SIL decided on a hotel in the tourist area. Because our village is so off the beaten track, if they stayed here it would mean they would spend too much time travelling and not enough time chilling out.   They were, however, keen to see our house and we arranged for Gwen and her husband Suleyman to bring them over for lunch on Sunday, and we all had a lovely time.  My brother tells me how pleasantly surprised he was to see our house and where it is situated, particularly the magnificent views.

They are loving the hotel, and intend to return next year.  He is hoping to persuade my other brother and his wife to come too.  I hope he would be lovely to have them both here.

Yesterday my brother, SIL, and I did a day trip to Kos.  This is when I really started to feel like I was on holiday.  I spend too much time on day-to-day living.  Life can become pretty mundane at times so it makes a pleasant change to do touristy things.   We had a very enjoyable day.   We walked and browsed around the tourist shops, and also popped into the hotel where my brother and family have stayed in previous years so he could catch up with the family who run it.  The Greeks, much like the Turks, always remember people, even if they haven't seen them for years, and made us very welcome.

We had a delicious lunch of swordfish at a restaurant in town, then made our way back to the ferry for the return journey, calling in at Duty Free to pick up a bottle of Jack Daniels for Mr A for his birthday on Saturday.

The holiday ends on Thursday and I'll be sorry to see them go.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Our newly covered balcony

Mr A's father sent him some money last week...yes you heard it right.  Apparently it was to be used to rebuild the dry-stone wall that surrounds the garden.  I'm highly suspicious about FIL's actions.   Sending money to Mr A is totally out of character.

However, Mr A did his sums and worked out that he could re-build the wall himself at a fraction of the cost of hiring workmen.  He will be finishing his job within the next couple of weeks as the season comes to an end, and will make a start on the wall.  He also has to remove all the silicone from the uPVC extension and re-seal it.   He made a decision to use the remaining money to get our balcony covered.   Not only will it provide shade in the summer but it will give us some extra shelter in the winter, so we can leave our shoes outside without them getting wet.  I'm not sure whether FIL will approve, but frankly I don't care if he doesn't.

On Friday evening he went into Milas to get a quote, and being satisfied with the price, arranged for the workmen to start yesterday morning.  They arrived at 9.00am and worked flat out until 8.00pm in the evening.

Making a start

Taking shape

Sealing the roof

And the end result