Thursday, 29 September 2011

A sense of perspective

Yesterday morning I set off on the bus to visit Gwen.2 in Bodrum for the day.  Along the Bodrum road, just before the airport, the bus slammed on the brakes.  I could see traffic in front of us doing the same thing and flashing their warning lights.  There was a road traffic accident.  It must have happened just seconds before we got there.  A car appeared to have hit a motorbike carrying a man and a middle-aged woman.  Judging by the state of the car it must have been some collision.   The man was trying, with difficulty and in a state of shock, to lift himself up from the road.  The female passenger was lying lifeless some 50 yards away.  The traffic had to stop, and it was pretty distressing, particularly as I was next to the window and the woman was literally a few feet away.  I'm pretty certain she was dead.   I pulled the curtain across the bus window...I don't know why...I think it was a mixture of respect and not wanting to gawp at such a tragedy.

But the picture of the woman is still in my mind and I just can't shift it.  I suppose that's normal.

Mr A met me off the bus in Bodrum to give me some money.  He had promised to pay for tickets for a daytrip to Kos on Monday, for me and my brother and sister-in-law.

I think he was a little bemused when I got off the bus and threw myself into his arms and burst into tears.  It wasn't just the sight of the accident.  Mr A and I had had a silly disagreement on the phone the night before...so silly I can't even recall what it was about.  It made me realise how precious life is and how it can be cut short in a moment.  Mr A travels this treacherous road many times every week, and it's a terrible risk.

It puts everything firmly into perspective.  I vow from this day onwards that there will be no more petty arguments.  Life is just too short.

And I want to end this post on a lighter note, and replace the sad images in my mind with some joyful ones,  so here are a couple of pics of my lovely grandsons.
Beautiful Jimi

Billy washing his car in the sunshine

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A warm welcome

I arrived home in the early hours of Monday morning.  Mr A collected me from the airport on the motorbike.  It's amazing how much he can carry on it...a large suitcase, hand luggage and me.

As I walked through the gate to the house, the dogs greeted me with excessive enthusiasm.  I love the loyalty of dogs.   When we were driving from the airport Mr A mentioned that he hadn't managed to get any shopping, just milk and water.  I was too tired to worry about it and avoided having a moan.

When I entered our house I could see that Mr A had done all the housework and for that I was very grateful.  I put the kettle on to make coffee and on opening the fridge for the milk, found it absolutely full of food.  Everything I could possibly need to last me for ages....meat (including steak...oh what a treat), vegetables, salad, fruit, and all the basics.  I was delighted.  He apologised for having forgotten to get me icecream (he knows I love icecream) but he brought home 3 cartons on Tuesday night.  

I think I should go away more often!

PS:  Having attempted to catch up on much needed sleep over the last couple of days, I've just found time to start reading my favourite blogs....only to find that I am still unable to leave comments on the majority of them.  I still have no idea why it's possible to comment on some but not others...even when they are all Blogger blogs.  So apologies for this...but rest assured I am reading.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Last day

Where has this week gone?  It seems that no sooner was I setting off on the flight to England, than here I am about to get the return flight today.

It's been a fabulous week.  I have seen my daughter and grandsons every day...I've looked after  both boys on my own a few times, and it's given them the chance to get to know me better.

My daughter and I spent her birthday last Monday together.  The boys stayed with their paternal grandparents, which enabled us to hit the shops and to enjoy lunch at our favourite restaurant...something we haven't been able to do for about 3 years now.   It was a real treat.  I have missed far too many of her birthdays, and I don't intend to miss another one.

A get-together with both of my brothers and their families yesterday, finished off the week nicely for me.  Although it will only be a matter of days before I see my youngest brother again, as he and his wife are flying out to Bodrum on Thursday, and they will be staying at the hotel where Mr A worked before his current job.

I will see my daughter and grandsons one last time this morning before setting off and I'm dreading it, because I know there are going to be tears.  Just the thought of leaving them...even typing about it here...is making me well up.

I've made a decision though.  I have vowed to make a trip to see them every three months rather than the twice yearly visits.   It will mean making sacrifices, counting the pennies, tightening of belts...but it will be worth it.  I really want to experience more precious moments with these two beautiful boys.

Being a grandmother is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences of my life.

Friday, 16 September 2011

I'm off....

...tomorrow morning to England to see my daughter and grandsons.

I'll be there for 8 days and I'm not sure I will bother to take my laptop with me, as I doubt I will have time to use it.

My daughter has given me a schedule for the week and every day (except a couple of hours on Wednesday afternoon) has been filled with activities, including a couple of evenings babysitting.

It's my daughter's birthday on Monday, and the boys will be looked after by their paternal grandparents so that the two of us can spend the day together.  It's been a number of years since I've been there for her birthday so I want to make it very special.

I think it will be a pretty exhausting week but I am so looking forward to it.

See you when I get back on the 26th.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Invisible Yabancı

I was having a conversation on an ex-pat forum recently about the way we yabancı (foreigners) are treated by the Turks.   It doesn't matter that I (and many others) have dual nationality, and have lived here for a number of years, we are still treated differently.

Don't get me wrong, we are welcomed warmly by most Turkish people.  Their kindness and generosity is well documented on my blog.  It's just that they seem to think we are at best incapable of organising our lives or at worst just plain stupid.   Almost every time I use my Turkish to communicate (and I am confident I am using it correctly) they make out they don't understand or that they haven't heard us.  Reading Jack's blog perkingthepansies, this morning reminded me of this, when he mentioned that it's sometimes easier just to speak in English to get a response.

I sometimes get offers of help to undertake the simplest of tasks without asking for it.  Mostly I accept it as just plain willingness to help, but occasionally it irritates me.   I have the easiest of things explained to me at great length as if I were a 5 year old.  Teaching your grandmother to suck eggs springs to mind.

When shopping in the markets, we foreigners are often asked where we come from.  When I say I live near Milas, it's almost like they refuse to accept that this is my home...it's where I have lived for 13 years.  They seem to find difficulty in accepting that I am English but have made Turkey my home.   And we all know that when you buy anything in markets, there is a different price structure for Turks and foreigners.  How long does one have to live here to be treated equally?   Why do I need to explain every time I want to buy something that I'm not a tourist...just so that I can get a fair price?

Whenever my inlaws are due to visit, FIL never rings me to tell me the date and time they are due...he rings Mr A who then (if he remembers) has to call me.  FIL knows Mr A isn't here most of the time, so surely it's best to let me know?   Of course I am aware that FIL will do this to a large extent just to annoy me, so I let it go.

Yaşar, Mr A's ex-boss and good friend to both of us, was very kind last Friday and took me to the dentist in his car, then returned to collect me after my treatment.  Later, I discovered that Mr A knew all about this because Yaşar had phoned him to let him know.  I didn't think much of it at the time.  I just thought Yaşar felt it right to let my husband know.

However, on the same day Yaşar informed me that his English girlfriend was due here this week, and that he would like to bring her over to visit me.  I invited them to come yesterday, and they were possibly going to bring Gwen.2 with them if she could get away from the shop.   I expected them to arrive at around 2.30pm.  When it got to 3.15pm  there was no sign of them.  Gwen.2 phoned me to say that she was stuck in the shop and wouldn't be over after all.  It wasn't a definite arrangement for her to come, so I wasn't concerned.  She said that she had told Yaşar and assumed they were on their way.

I phoned Mr A a bit later and happened to mention I was waiting for Yaşar and his girlfriend to arrive and he informed me that they would be late.  "How do you know?" I asked.   Well it would appear that Yaşar had phoned Mr A to tell him this.  And Mr A had forgotten to let me know.  Yaşar has my number.  He knew Mr A wouldn't be here, so why are he and Mr A making arrangements for ME?  Is it because I'm a foreigner and I'm not considered capable of sorting it out for myself?   They don't do it with Turkish women.  

I was extremely irritated by this and told Mr A to ring Yaşar and say that it was too late now for them to come as I had to go shopping, but they could come tomorrow instead....and to please tell Yaşar that if this wasn't possible, or if they were going to be late, to phone ME and not him.

I have to admit to being tempted to just go out...let them arrive late...to find me not here.   After all it would seem that I'm somewhat invisible, so maybe I should be just that.

Rant over...back to normal tolerance tomorrow, I promise!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Accident prone

Does anyone else get days where they seem completely out of sync?  I do.  Days where I burn myself on the iron or the oven, bump into doors and trip over my feet.

Today was a typical example.

I woke up early, let the dogs out and made myself a coffee to take back to bed.  I placed it on the bedside cupboard and opened the drawer to get something, knocking over the mug of coffee which shot everywhere.  Up the wall, the bed, the top of the cupboard and inside the drawers.  So everything had to come out to be cleaned and dried out, and the bedding changed (I only changed it yesterday of course).

I had arranged to meet Gwen.1 in Milas today at 9.30am.  I showered and got dressed.  I leave the dogs outside while I'm out so I filled their large water container to put in the shade. As I was carrying it outside and down the steps, I tripped and tipped the water over myself.  I was drenched and had to hastily change my clothes.

By this time it was getting late so as I rushed out I banged the top of my foot on the metal gate.  It just broke the skin but wasn't bleeding, but it is now bruised and swollen.

Fortunately, I managed to spend the day in Milas and return home without further mishaps.   However, whilst washing up about an hour ago, I dropped a glass jar in the sink.  As I tried to grab it, it smashed and sliced the top of my finger quite deeply.   It probably needs a stitch, but I have managed to stop the flow of blood with a steri-strip type dressing, so hopefully it will heal ok.

I should have stayed in bed today.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11. Ten years on.



For the husband who told his wife I love you one last time before his plane went down in a field.

For the wife who stopped in the stairs to call her husband to say I will love you forever.

For the mothers and fathers who kissed their kids goodbye the morning they died.

For the policemen who rushed in with the firemen to help get others out only to die themselves.

For all those who lost their lives and  for those they left behind.

Today.... tomorrow.... ten years from now.... we will still remember.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

7 more sleeps...

...until I fly off to England for 8 days.  This is what I am so looking forward to:

Jimi...just look at that smile

Billy concentrating



Billy off to see his grandparents




Jimi...looking very smart

Friday, 9 September 2011

Happy!!!

Yes I am very happy today because I've been to the dentist.  No...I am not cracking up.  I wouldn't normally be happy about a visit to the dentist but today I really am.

I have been struggling with a broken back tooth for years now.  When we lived in Cappadocia I had it re-filled a couple of times, but gradually bits would chip off and lumps of filling would drop out.

Most of the time I can tolerate it.  It doesn't usually ache, but sometimes the jagged edges cause me to bite my tongue and the inside of my cheek.

I have been searching for a dentist since last year who would either be prepared to extract it or to re-build it...to be honest there really wasn't much left of it to re-build.  I found a dentist in Bitez last year who filed it down as a temporary measure, in the hope that I would return to have it crowned.  He informed me that it was too far gone to re-build.

Now this is the problem I face.  Since then I have not been able to find a half-decent dentist in Milas, so for the past couple of months I have been searching for one in Bodrum.  BUT not one of them will remove the tooth.  AND they say it's impossible to re-build it and that I must have it crowned.  Oh and while I'm at it I should have that crown attached to a bridge which would be attached to another crown.  And by the way several other teeth, which I didn't ask them to look at, in their opinion need crowns, bridges, veneers, etc etc.
All of which would cost me a small fortune.

So I walked away from all of them.  OK maybe I do need more dental work, but it will be my choice as to when I have it done.

I searched the internet last night and found another dentist in Bodrum, and decided to give it one last shot.  I set off on the bus, and found the dentist's surgery at 10.20am.  I rang the bell, the door was locked and there was no answer.  A notice next to the door said opening hours 10.30 am till 7.00pm.  I waited half an hour...till 10.50am and no-one arrived so I gave up.  I went off to visit Gwen at the Gumbet hotel (I will now refer to this Gwen as Gwen.2 to avoid confusion (my other friend Gwen from Selçuk is Gwen.1).

Mr A's former boss, Yaşar, (who helped Mr A sort out his motorbike the other day) said he knew of a very good dentist in Konacık, just up the road from Gumbet.  He offered to take me there, and Gwen.2 came with us.  He then insisted we ring him when my treatment was finished and he would collect us.  What a kind and helpful man he is.

This dentist speaks very little English...his only words are OPEN, CLOSE, RINSE and BITE.  But that was fine.  Most important of all was that he looked at the offending remains of my tooth, and said he would fix it.  He didn't tell me it couldn't be fixed, or try to convince me that it should be crowned, bridged or whatever.  He just said he would re-build it and it would last at least two years.  And the price he quoted was an absolute fraction of what I had been expected to pay elsewhere.

He x-rayed it to make sure there were no signs of an abscess.  After 4 injections, he drilled,  filled layer by layer, filed it down to get a good bite, more drilling, all of which took about an hour.  He even matched up the filling to the colour of my teeth to get a perfect result.  And it is indeed a perfect job.  It feels so good and it looks like a brand new tooth.   He didn't then try to recommend any further treatment, he just said if I had any problems or needed any further work to let him know.

That's why I'm happy.  I now have a dentist who will do exactly what I ask him to.  I wish all those other dentists who are just interested in making money would take a leaf out of his book.  Gwen.2 has now made an appointment with him for some bridge and crown work and we have recommended him to two more people.  In my opinion he will be far more successful by not being pushy.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

It started well...

...yesterday.  In fact for the most part it was a pretty good day.  I had arranged to meet up with my friend Gwen from Selçuk.  She had never been to Bodrum so liked the idea of a day out there.  It wouldn't have been my choice.  I do like Bodrum.  The hustle and bustle, the harbour with it's magnificent boats, the views.  But Bodrum is expensive, and if you're a foreigner and not familiar with the town you get ripped off.

I set off from home just before 9am and met Gwen at Bodrum bus station at 10.30am.  We took a gentle stroll along the harbour, and stopped for a coffee.   Well the truth is we stopped at the third cafe we came across, having refused to pay exorbitant prices for a cup of instant coffee at the previous two.  We still paid over the odds but by then we were desperate for coffee so gave in.  

We checked out the cost of a day trip to Kos.  If you ever decide to do this, don't buy tickets from the agents in the town.  Always go down to the departure point at the harbour, where you will find there are usually special promotions available.  One company is currently doing the return trip for 12 Euro, which is excellent value.  I'm hoping this price will be the same when my brother and sister-in-law are here at the end of this month as we are planning a day trip during their week's stay.

It was market day in Bodrum yesterday so we decided to take a look.  The prices are ridiculous, often double what you will pay for the same items in markets such as Milas and Selçuk.  If you want a reasonably priced lunch, opt for one of the small cafes in the market area, who serve wonderful pide and kebabs.  We had pide which was delicious.  However, always check your bill before paying.  Gwen paid the bill without checking, and it wasn't until we were outside the market that we discovered she had been overcharged by 7 lira.  I was all for going back to complain, but Gwen wasn't, so I backed down rather than cause a fuss.

It was very hot, and we had walked a great deal.  Gwen was due to return on the 6.30pm bus but decided get the 3.30pm bus instead.  We had both had enough.

I caught a bus over to Torba to Mr A's hotel and stayed there until he was ready to leave work at 7.00pm. 

On Sunday I had made the trip over to the hotel where Mr A previously worked.  I've found an excellent hairdresser there called Ferdi.  He has a small salon in the hotel, and it will remain open all winter, even when the hotel is closed as he has many clients from the surrounding area.  He first cut my hair about 5 weeks ago when Mr A was still working there, and as Mr A is his friend, he only charged me 10 lira rather than the normal price.  I was delighted with the result and paid him 15 lira...still very cheap.   So on Sunday he cut it again for me.  I was expecting, and fully prepared to pay the normal price, but again he insisted on only charging me 10 lira...and I insisted on 15.

Whilst I was sitting over at the Torba hotel yesterday, their hairdresser, Uğur, came out to chat to us.  He asked where I had my hair cut and I told him.  He said it was very good, but he thought it needed a little thinning out at the back.  So I let him do it.  To be honest it doesn't look very much different, but he hadn't any clients so it seemed to make him happy.   He is trying to improve his English, so has offered me free haircuts in exchange for a bit of help with his English. I told him I'm happy to help with him with his English, but I will stick with Ferdi.   I think most women would agree with me that when you find a hairdresser who suits you, you don't change unless you really have to.

We set off  for home at 7.00pm, and halfway there, the motorbike started to splutter and there was a smell of burning.  We pulled up at the side of the road and Mr A wasn't sure what was causing the problem, but it was clear we couldn't take the chance on trying to go any further on it.  We were a couple of hundred yards from a petrol station so we pushed the bike there and Mr A made some phone calls.  His previous boss is still a good friend and he offered to find a vehicle big enough to collect us and the motorbike.  However we were probably going to have to wait a while, and if I had to be dropped off at the village first, it would delay them getting the bike back to Bodrum. 

I had a bag of shopping containing fresh and frozen food...isn't it always the way?  And I was anxious to get home.  There was a taxi driver in the petrol station, and Mr A negotiated a price with him to take me to the village.  His final price was 50 lira..still expensive but we had no choice.  I didn't have enough money on me but the taxi driver stopped at an ATM on the way home...and I eventually arrived at just after 9.00pm.

Mr A and motorbike were eventually collected just before 10pm and taken back to Bodrum, where he will get the bike repaired over the next few days.  I'm hoping it's not too serious or costly, as we are counting on him coming home every night for the dogs when I go to England for a week on the 17th so it has to be in good working order and safe.

Soooo looking forward to my trip to England...can't wait!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

In the absence of....

...anything really interesting to write about, I'll just do an update.   It's still very hot here, I'm pretty bored most of the time.  Nothing very exciting happens here.   Although...I could tell you about the invasion of the sheep.  I know you're supposed to count sheep to help you sleep.  And here I am at 2am, unable to sleep but thinking of sheep will most definitely not help me sleep.

I mentioned a while ago about the black sheep that managed to get into our garden and eat most of the new grapevine.  Well he's clearly been influencing the rest of the flock.

Early Saturday evening, the flock were making their way back down the hill at the back of our house after a couple of hours grazing.  Mr A was at home, in the sitting room, and I was on my laptop in the bedroom.  All of a sudden there was the sound of rocks falling off the wall at the back of the house and the clattering of sheep surrounding the house.  Mr A and I both rushed out into the garden, leaving the dogs in the house, to find that the entire flock (about 30 I guess) had managed to get into our garden. Some had managed to get in through our neighbours garden and over the wall, and others had clambered over the wall at the back of our house.  Because areas of the garden are fenced off with chicken wire to keep the dogs safe, the sheep were in groups in different parts of the garden.  They were helping themselves to the fruit trees and generally making a mess.  Then they started to panic because they spotted Mr A armed with a stick and me with the broom..intent on removing them.   So they began to head-butt the chicken wire in an attempt to get out.

It took us a good half an hour to round them up, open the gates and get them out.  One thing is for certain, Mr A and I are not good shepherds...we are pretty useless at getting sheep to follow us like sheep.

Mr A got quite cross with the shepherdess who had obviously taken her eye off the ball.  He told her that if he found another of her sheep in our garden, we would be eating it.

Friday, 2 September 2011

An interesting post

I had some welcome support for recent posts I published concerning the appalling state of a dog shelter in Izmir.

My fellow blogger jedilost showed his understanding of my feelings concerning the reactions I had to my posts.  But his post wasn't entirely about this subject.   It's a fascinating read and another insight into why people behave the way they do...take a look

HERE

Changes

I've had a lot of changes during my lifetime...some good...some bad.  I guess that's the way life goes for most of us.

The biggest change was coming to live in this country 13 years ago.  And there have been so many changes since. Far too many to mention here.

We've moved house 15 times in 13 years, eventually ending up in this village two and a half years ago, living in the house given to us by my father-in-law.  Something that has surprised me recently is the change in FIL's attitude towards me.  At last he seems to like and respect me.  It's been a long time coming, but I think it was worth the wait.   He and MIL arrived on Monday in time for Şeker Bayram.  Many of you will recall how I used to dread their visits.  FIL's constant criticism of everything I did...how I tended the garden, my cooking, the food I bought...well practically everything really.

I used to just wait it out until they eventually left..and of course I never knew how long they were likely to stay, and it's considered rude to ask.  Turkish families "share" their homes.  Everyone is welcome to come and stay as long as they like.  I never really had a problem with this in principal.  Goodness knows I need the company, but FIL always made me feel uncomfortable so I could never relax and be myself.

The last couple of visits have seen a gradual shift in our relationship.   He still criticises some things, but I have realised that he is actually like this with everyone, so it's not just me.   These days he is much nicer to me, he now takes an interest in what I have to say and this week we have spent many pleasant hours together.  I don't cook for them anymore.  I stopped this over a year ago when I was criticised for my cooking.  They take their food down to the land and prepare it while they work.  It's fine..one less chore for me.  However, two days ago he came home with 4 beautiful fish which he handed to me, saying they were for our supper.  One each for them, Mr A and I.   I thanked him and said I had already eaten earlier and wasn't sure Mr A would be home that evening, and would he like me to put them in the freezer for them.  He said, please put them in the freezer for you and Mr A, and would you be so kind as to cook two fish for mother and I?  Good grief...I nearly fainted!   He was trusting me with cooking their fish for them?   I said I'd be happy to.

I cooked and served up the fish and he complimented me on how well I had cooked them!

MIL has been wearing a really nice long-sleeved, full length kaftan in the evenings when we've been out on the balcony, perfect for protection against the mosquitoes.  I told her how nice it looked.  FIL immediately asked me if I would like one, what size I wanted, and they would get me one when they returned to Ankara.

I'm overwhelmed with all this niceness!

Something clicked this week.  Mr A and I have been having a few problems recently and after many arguments he said something which made me stop and think.  He says I try to change him. He thinks I've always done this.  I think he is right.  I am a control freak and I don't even realise when I'm doing it.  But what really stood out was when he said "You are doing exactly what my father used to do, many years ago.  He tried to change me, to make me into something I'm not.  I couldn't stand it, so that's why I left Ankara for good".   And to be fair Mr A doesn't try to change me...unlike a lot of Turkish men and their wives.

Maybe FIL and I have more in common than I thought.  I think he and I both know we can't change Mr A, but  FIL has gradually backed off and stopped trying so hard.  As a result his and Mr A's relationship has vastly improved.   I am attempting to follow his example.  However, we both seem to be finding a way of getting Mr A to make small changes, sensible ones, without him feeling he is being controlled.  I call it subtle manipulation.    So far so good.

And talking about change on a more practical level.  We no longer have a rubbish bin.  In fact there are now NO rubbish bins dotted about the village.  Ours hadn't been emptied again for weeks.  Mr A spoke to the Muhtar last week.  The same day the Muhtar arrived at our house with two men, who took away the bin containing the rubbish, and the bin wasn't returned.   He explained that after Bayram the rubbish would in future be collected by Milas belediye (council) with the usual large dustcart, which be unable to come up the winding lanes leading to the top of the hill.  So from Monday onwards it will be a trek down into the village to dispose of our rubbish.

Mr A's recent job change is going reasonably well, although he isn't terribly happy there, and is uncertain about committing himself to the boss for winter in Istanbul.   There are other possibilities in the pipeline...aren't there always?  Mr A changes jobs as often as he changes his socks...well most of you already know that.  I'd be happier if he settled down a bit more, but I've said before he's a nomad at heart.  He was like this when I met him.  I doubt he will ever be any different.  I guess I have to learn to live with it.

I'm attempting to stop my controlling ways.  There are some things we shouldn't try to change and others that we should make an effort to do so.

ETA.  I take it all back... I was wrong!   FIL has just spent the past hour having a go at me for not being a good daughter-in-law.  I have just been criticised for everything I do or say.   He is a very devious man.  He's good at this.  Having spent the past few days being extremely nice and lulling me into a false sense of security, he then throws all this at me when I am completely unprepared and unable to give any sensible responses.   Ah well...all change again.