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.