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Saturday, 31 March 2012

This week....

  The weather has been mostly good.  Warm sunshine, but it has been very windy on top of this hill so I haven't spent a great deal of time sitting outside.

Beki is now fully recovered from her ordeal.  She's back to charging around the garden, barking furiously at every cat or chicken she sees.  The tablets prescribed for her sprained leg, but mostly for her arthritis do come with side effects if used long term.  Having discussed this with Mehmet the vet, he said it was best to only give them when I felt she really needed them.  She had just two this time and they have done the trick.



Whilst Mr A was here for a few days last week  he finished off a bench seat he was making for the garden, which we have placed just in front of the balcony.






I'm not sure if I posted a photo previously of the picnic table he made a couple of months ago, but here it is;




He also made a shelf for the bathroom.  This room is tiny and very much a work in progress that's come to a halt while we decide what to do with it.  The walls are tiled two-thirds of the way up, but the rest still needs to be plastered.  We may decide to make the room bigger by using a bit of the spare bedroom, so we've done nothing further to it yet.

However, before we moved in, FIL had fixed a huge cupboard to the wall.  Far too big for the size of the room and it was dark in there and a bit claustrophobic.  So Mr A took the cupboard down and replaced it with his shelf.  It's so much brighter in there now.

The cupboard has of course been recycled.  The doors were removed and it's now become a shoe cupboard on our balcony.





And here's Mr A checking out his father's land down in the village, before returning to Kusadasi.




He's back home again today, just for a few days.  As usual, he's out in the shed again, making more useful things with wood.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Nostalgia...2. Childhood Food

Are there certain foods that remind you of childhood?

I was thinking about this today.  The last time I saw my friend Gwen, she gave me a jar of Marmite, which someone had given to her, which she doesn't like...so she passed it on to me.  It's about a year past it's sell by date, but it tastes OK, and we expats will suffer out-of-date packets and jars, rather than throw away  precious food that we can't get here.

I made a Marmite sandwich today, and remembered I had some crisps in the cupboard so added them to the sandwich.  Immediately it took me back to schooldays, when I would take Marmite sandwiches to school, buy some crisps on the way, and add them to the sandwiches.  Mmmm....delicious.

Then I started thinking about school dinners.   I absolutely loved custard, rice pudding and semolina at school.  Sometimes these puddings were like water, and other times so thick you could stand your spoon up in them.  I didn't mind either.  I just loved them.  I still adore custard and semolina today....real comfort food.

I also love home-made soup.  But the best soup I have ever had in my life, was the oxtail soup made by my grandmother.  Monday was soup day at my grandmother's house.  She would buy oxtail (which I'm not even sure you can find easily these days), and spend all day making the soup.   I would call in on my way home from school, and a huge bowl of soup would be waiting for me, accompanied by crusty bread.

I tried to replicate my grandmother's soup several times, but it never tasted the same.

So tell me....what foods remind you of your childhood?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Beki update

Mehmet, the vet, arrived from Milas yesterday morning as arranged.  He is the nicest vet I have encountered since moving to Turkey 14 years ago. 

He has no fear of dogs, as do many of the vets here, and he was very gentle with Beki.  He administered the anaesthetic efficiently, and Beki wasn't completely unconscious but immobilised.  He cut the dew claws, including the one which was causing the problem, and he also gave her an antibiotic injection.

Beki slept all day, which is quite normal, although on a couple of occasions she tried to stand up but couldn't put the weight on her feet, so collapsed again..

When she was able to stand last night, she was very slow moving around, and after a while I noticed she was limping.  It was one of her front legs that seemed to be causing the problem.  Nothing to do with the abscess that was forming under the dew claw, as that was one of her back legs.  I could only assume that she had sprained her leg whilst she was trying to stand up too soon.

I called in to see Mehmet this morning, and he agreed with me that this is probably what had happened.  In any case she is actually walking about and putting a certain amount of pressure on the leg, so clearly it's nothing serious.  I now have some anti-inflammatory medication for her, which Mehmet had already ordered in for me which will also help with Beki's arthritis.

Beki has just eaten a small amount of food.  She's a lot brighter today so I am sure she will be OK.

I am delighted to have found this vet.  His surgery is very clean and well stocked, and he also has a few boarding kennels at the rear of the premises, and is happy to board dogs when their owners are away.  I had a look at them while I was there.  There are only a few kennels, but they are clean, and the dogs there seemed happy and well cared for.  He has on occasion taken in street dogs too.  You all know how I feel about the plight of these dogs, so it's lovely to find a Turkish vet who really cares.

Mehmet has really put himself out for my dogs.  He ordered Beki's new bed last month, and it was so kind of him to come out to the village to treat her yesterday. And his prices are incredibly reasonable.  I would have no hesitation in recommending him.  In this respect, I asked him for his website and have put a link to it on my sidebar.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

A visit by the Vet is due.

I don't take much notice when my dogs are grooming themselves.  They lick and scratch from time to time, but today I noticed that Beki was constantly licking her leg.  I tried to investigate but she hates anyone touching her legs and feet. We always have a battle when it comes to cutting her nails.

 Eventually while she was sleeping I managed to have a look and noticed that the dew claw on one of her back legs has grown into a complete circle and the end has embedded itself into the flesh causing what appears to be an abscess.

I was quite shocked that I hadn't noticed it before, although it's sometimes difficult to see dew claws on long-haired dogs.  Of couse as soon as I attempted to touch her leg she cried so I had to back off.

Mr A has just phoned the vet in Milas and it's necessary for Beki to have an anaesthetic so that the vet can cut all the dew claws and the rest of her nails, and deal with the abscess.

As we don't have transport and Mr A is in Kusadasi at the moment, the vet has kindly offered to drive out to the village at 8am tomorrow...I assumed to collect Beki and take her back to his premises.  But no, he will administer the anaesthetic here in the house and deal with the problems.

I'm a little anxious about this, but I guess I will just have to put my trust in the vet and hope he knows what he's doing.

Keep your fingers crossed for Beki please...I'll let you know how it goes.

Nostalgia...1. TV programmes


I've been feeling quite nostalgic recently.  I can't explain why.  I see a photo, an article, a TV programme, or hear a song, and I find myself travelling down memory lane.

I recently posted about the TV drama "Call the Midwife" which was set in the 1950s.  It was beautifully made and a pleasure to watch.  Being a young child in the 50s, I couldn't remember much of the decade but watching the series reminded me of the family photos I have seen taken at the time.  The clothes and the hairstyles...all captured perfectly in the programme.

I am now indulging myself in a bit of nostalgia for the 1960s, my teenage years, which I do remember very well, by watching a new TV series called White Heat.

White Heat is created by Paula Milne and is broadcast on BBC2. The series follows the lives, loves and betrayals of seven different characters whose relationships are forged from the 1960’s right up until the modern day.

Charlotte, a woman in her 60s, shows up at a flat in Tufnell Park. When she was younger, she was one of seven students who lived in the flat, where one of them has recently passed away. The other five are also due to show up to help sort out their friend's belongings. Charlotte's old memories  are ignited and take us back  to 1965, when she was a 19-year-old undergraduate setting out on a journey of discovery, love and life.

Those who lived through the 60s will remember it as being the decade of change.   Again, the BBC do a wonderful job in capturing the essence of the period.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Dancing on Ice

I've always been fascinated by ice-skating.  When I was a child we sometimes went to an ice rink in Richmond.  I've no idea whether it's still there.  I was useless.  I could hardly stand up on skates, let alone move around the rink.  But mostly I was happy to watch those people who could skate.

I always enjoyed watching skating on TV, and like most people, will never forget that wonderful performance of Bolero by Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean when they won an Olympic gold medal in 1984.

18 years later Torvill and Dean are still magnificant skaters.   I absolutely love the Dancing on Ice series on TV.  It amazes me how these celebrities, most of whom have never skated before, end up so proficient after a few months training.

The final of the current series is on tomorrow, although I have to watch on catch-up on Sunday.  Can't wait!

 Is anyone else watching it?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A Day Out

Spring is finally here, and it feels like summer is about to follow closely behind it.  Temperatures were up in the 20s today, and it's now warmer outside than inside.

I went over to Bodrum today, with a list of things to do.  The first, and the most pleasant, was to meet up with fellow blogger Annie from BacktoBodrum blog.  Unfortunately it was just a fleeting visit, because of my list.  Annie is as lovely as I imagined she would be, and I very much look forward to meeting her again soon, and spending a little longer with her.

Next on the list was the Turkish Airlines office.   The other day I received a call from THY call centre advising me that some of my flights had  been cancelled, and re-booked, and that I should call the customer service centre for more information.   I did just that and discovered that they had rebooked flights for me that were really inconvenient.   One would have arrived at Heathrow in the early hours of the morning, which meant that the previous flight from Bodrum to Istanbul would leave me waiting at the airport for 8 hours.

The time of the return journey from Heathrow to Istanbul remained the same, but the Istanbul to Bodrum flight was much later, leaving me with a further 7 hours at the airport.

After much discussion, satisfactory flights were re-booked.  However, for some reason they couldn't email me the amended eticket, and I had to go to the office in Bodrum to have it re-issued.  So now it's all sorted.

Next I met up with Gwen, and together we called  into a hotel in Gumbet to collect a packet that had been left there for Mr A.  Apparently, one of his friends had returned from a trip to Belgium a couple of weeks ago and Mr A had asked him to bring some chocolate for me.  I was told it would be waiting in Reception.   It wasn't.   I spoke to Mr A on the phone and he suggested I call in to his friend's restaurant to see if he had the chocolates with him.   He didn't.  He had indeed left them in the hotel reception, so we reckoned that someone must have eaten them.  He was so apologetic but of course it wasn't his fault, and it was very kind of him to have made the effort.  He is due to go to Belgium again soon and has promised me some more.

Gwen and I stopped for a coffee, then I set off to the bus station, calling into Migros supermarket on the way to pick up some flea collars for the dogs.

In the meantime, Mr A phoned to say he wasn't required in Kusadasi for a couple of days so he was on his way home.  I met him and we returned home together.

While I was out and about I had a further call from the girl at the bank call centre to let me know that the Social Security department had sorted out the problem with paying our insurance online.  It was hours before I could try it again, by which time the problem had resurfaced.   I guess I'll have to brave the bank queues tomorrow.

I haven't seen Mr A all evening.  He has been shut in our tiny bathroom for the past 3 hours, giving Poppy a much needed haircut.   Makes a change from the woodwork!

Customer service

I think most of us get pretty fed up with having to deal with call centres when we have a problem these days.  There is nothing worse than having to press a series of buttons on your phone, in the hope that eventually, after listening to irritating music, while holding on, you might eventually speak to someone who will help you.

We gave up  Digiturk a couple of years ago, but I do recall that their customer service call centre was absolutely useless, and the operators were very rude most of the time.

I have mentioned before now that I find the same sort of "service" from TTNet and Turk Telekom call centres, and it all leaves me very bad tempered.

So imagine my pleasant surprise to find someone in a call centre who was actually extremely helpful.

In December we started to pay our monthly health insurance contribution, as part of the new legislation in Turkey.  Everyone now has to have health insurance.  If they don't pay their monthly contributions,  they may well receive a hefty fine.

Mr A has up until now paid the contribution in one of the designated banks in Milas.  It has to be paid by a certain day every month, and you can't pay for more than one month at a time.  Queues in banks here are a nightmare.  Mr A came home on Sunday and was travelling back to Kusadasi on Monday morning.  I went with him to Milas and we called at the bank to pay our insurance.  The bank was packed with people both inside and out.  We took a ticket for our place in the queue.  The number was 182.  The number appearing on the screen for the next customer was 97!  So we would have been there for hours.  We decided not to wait and Mr A set off for Kusadasi.

Yesterday, Mr A went to the bank in Kusadasi, but again the queues were too long and he needed to be at work.   I have made several attempts to pay online.  The Social Security department have been saying for some time that they were setting this up, and each time I've tried to do it, the service has been unavailable.  Yesterday I logged on to my account and discovered that the system had been set up.  However, after following instructions, I received a message saying that there was a problem.

I phoned the bank's call centre, and explained the problem to the girl on the other end of the phone.  I guess I expected her to say just try again later, but she didn't.  Instead she told me to stay logged into my account and she would go through the procedure with me to make sure I was doing it correctly.  Before proceeding, she said it would take some time, so to save my phone bill, would I like her to call me back?   And she did...straight away.  

After following her instructions, and appreciating her patience when I clicked on the wrong boxes a couple of times, which took me back the the beginning, it appeared that the problem was with the Social Security office.   So...still expecting the girl to say to me "try again later", I was surprised when she said that she would actually contact the Social Security department for me and find out what the problem was, and that she would call me back.

She did indeed callme back an hour later, and confirmed that it was a fault with the Social Security system, and apologised that she couldn't help me further on this occasion.  She suggested I try again today and if there were further problems to ring the call centre again for more help.

In my opinion, this is what customer service is all about.  How it used to be in the days before call centres.  That girl should be doing something better suited to her talents...she's wasted in a call centre.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Village Photos

Our village has it's own Facebook page, which is where I often go to borrow photos for my blog.  Here are a few more for you:

What did I tell you about washing machines proudly displayed on balconies and terraces?  Just look at this one with the mangle on top!!

A peaceful day with the chickens

We have loads of tortoises in our village. Last year I discovered 5 baby tortoises in our garden with their mother.

Lots of storks too.  I just love the way they build their nests.

Collecting kindling for the wood burning stove.

Blogger problems...spreading the word

Some of you may  regularly use the Quick Edit tools on Blogger, but might have noticed that they have disappeared.   I don't use them, so it doesn't bother me too much, but if you do, the lovely Perpetua at Perpetually in Transit has come up with a solution.

Have a look HERE

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Noisy Day

Today is Mothers Day in the UK.  Here in Turkey it is celebrated on the second Sunday in May.  I advised my daughter not to post a card to me last week, as my long awaited parcel has yet to arrive, so I hated the thought of her card also going astray.  She will hang on to it until I visit in April, so I'll keep it until Mothers Day here.

It's Sunday and I was looking forward to quiet day sitting out on the balcony.  The sun was shining and the wind has dropped and at one point the temperature reached 19 degrees...very pleasant.

However, it certainly hasn't been a quiet day.   From late morning onwards, people were gathering in the garden of the house next door but one from us.  They were there to mark the 40 days of mourning of the death of the old man who lived in the house just below us.  This meant that the prayers being called for him from the mosque lasted about two hours.  

For some reason, these prayers always set my dogs barking.  It's strange because they never bark during the normal calls to prayer which occur five times a day.  Maybe two hours is just too much for them, as it is for me!   Anyway, not wishing to disturb the mourners prayers, I shut the dogs in the house.

Mr A arrived home just after midday, and as soon as the mosque was silent, he started on his woodwork...again!  This time he decided to  remove part of the wooden fence and insert a gate.  Not satisfied with one job, he then built  some wooden steps leading from the gate into the garden.   The afternoon was spent listening to the noise of the electric saw, sander, hammer and nails.

Before he had finished, wedding celebrations started down in the village, so we now had music blasting out from loudspeakers.   And when I say blasting out, I mean just that.  Anyone familiar with Turkish weddings will know just how loud the Turks like their music.

It's nearly 10pm now and the wedding is still in full swing.  In the meantime, Mehmet from up the road has joined Mr A on our balcony for a chat.   I have taken myself off to the bedroom, where it's slightly less noisy, but Mr A is shouting.  Mehmet is almost completely deaf, so shouting is the only way to communicate with him.

Maybe tomorrow will be quieter.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Music that makes me smile

Occasionally I come across video clips on Youtube of music which seems to lift my spirits.  Mr A often posts videos of music on Facebook, and in particular traditional music from Sivas where his family originated.

While I was watching some videos today, I came across this one.  I'm not absolutely sure where it comes from.  I think it's Urfa, in South Eastern Anatolia,  but don't take my word for it.

In any case, its a video that, for me, captures the atmosphere of  a traditional Turkey, far removed from the tourist areas.

Just watching it makes me smile and fills me with joy!


T



Friday, 16 March 2012

Creative Bloggers

I have just read an interesting post by Perpetua at Perpetually in Transit who writes about the conditions attached to blog awards.  One of her followers commented that it can make awards feel a bit like chain letters, and I agree with this.  It can take away the pleasure of receiving an award, when you yet again find that you can only accept it on the condition that you write some facts about yourself.

I'm always very flattered to receive an award from a fellow blogger.  Perpetua is indeed very creative in her blog, and I feel quite chuffed that she thinks I am creative too!  Thankyou Perpetua.

I'm even more delighted to pass on an award to blogs that I enjoy, and on this occasion I will follow the same sentiments as Perpetua.   This award comes with no conditions at all.  I just want it to be accepted for what it is, and to enable me to recommend some of the many blogs that I enjoy, and give you the opportunity to discover them.

I'm just going to list the links.  I'm not going to write anything about them.  Follow the links and hopefully you will enjoy them as much as I do:

BacktoBodrum

Costa Rica Calling

The Western Front: A One Woman Invasion

I enjoy so many blogs.  It's hard to choose so I picked these three out of a hat from some of the best ones.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Waiting

There seems to be a lot of waiting going on at the moment.

My parcel still hasn't arrived.  It's almost three weeks since it was posted in England.  Mr A has spoken to the man at the sorting office several times, who in turn has phoned the sorting office in Mugla, but no-one can find my parcel.  The man said to Mr A "all you can do is wait".   Mr A said to me  "all you can do is wait".

Last night my internet connection was lost again.   It's exactly a week ago almost to the time that the same thing happened.   I phoned TTNet again (I really don't know why I bother).  They hadn't any idea what the problem was (they never do).  They informed me they would report it to the engineers, and that all I could do was wait.   Thankfully I was re-connected again this morning.

Mr A was due to start his job in Kusadasi today.   He was advised to go over there before today, in case they had unexpected customers, so he could be called in at short notice.   He waited...and waited and wasn't called in.  In the meantime of course he is paying to stay in a hotel..what a waste of money.

So he turned up today to start work.   The boss wasn't there, so Mr A phoned him.  He informed Mr A that there was nothing for him to do this week.   Mr A would just have to wait until Monday afternoon.   So he's waiting.  Pity the boss couldn't have forewarned him.

And I find myself consciously waiting and very much looking forward to my next trip to England on 18th April, to see my daughter and grandsons.

I'm pleased to say that the weather is gradually improving, so waiting doesn't seem half so bad when the sun is shining.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

History without history books

I've always been pretty useless at history.  I don't know whether the subject just bored me or if it was because my history teachers were boring.

I'm not stupid but I didn't really take advantage of my education when I had the chance.  I was one of only 5 pupils to pass the 11 plus out of a total of 85 who sat the exam in our local schools at the time, and ended up at grammar school, which should have been a great opportunity.

It wasn't.  I felt out of place.   My parents, having boasted to all the neighbours about their daughter going to grammar school, showed no further interest in my education.  They never attended one parents' evening or ever encouraged me to do my homework.

As a result, I just floated along with very little interest in anything other than English Literature and Art.   I left school at 15 years old, a year before I was due to take GCEs, and got a job as an office junior.  From then on I had many jobs, and was eager to take on any task thrown at me.  This was the way I learned.  I taught myself to type, operate printing machines, tackle bookkeeping...you name it, I did it.   Every time I went for an interview for another job, I bluffed my way through it.  In those days you could get jobs very easily based on experience and not just on qualifications.

Much later, when my children were small, I did some Open University courses.  I also did voluntary work and that's how I entered the social work field.  From then on I managed to become qualified with funding from my employers.

One of my biggest regrets is being pretty ignorant when it comes to history and politics.  I do pick up snippets here and there, on the internet, which sparks my interest and then I'll google and learn a little more.

But I have realised over the years that it's not possible for me to absorb historical facts from history books.  My eyes glaze over.  However, occasionally I read a novel or a biography which apart from telling a story of certain individuals, actually includes history and because I am enjoying the story so much, the history falls into place.   One such example is Birds without Wings by Louis de Berniere.  A hauntingly beautiful and sad story, which gave me a better understanding of the Ottoman Empire.

I have just started to read the book I recently won in a draw...and which had quite a journey getting here!  It's Ataturk by Andrew Mango.  Ataturk has always interested me.  I had to read up on him when Mr A and I were living and working in Side, Antalya, because I spent time as a tour guide on two-day coach trips and had to find something interesting, other than the scenery, to talk to the passengers about.

The facts I learned by heart about this fascinating man, just whetted my appetite for more, but until now I hadn't managed to find a book that was easy to read.

Andrew Mango's book is a long one, and I'm only a little way into it but am enjoying it immensely.  One fact I gleaned today was that Ataturk was strongly influenced by the French Revolution and according to his French biographer, Alexandre Jevakhoff, it was his "supreme point of reference throughout his life".

I know very little about the French Revolution, so I need someone to recommend a good novel set in those times, that will keep me enthralled with a personal story,  but will teach me the historical facts without boring me.

I have decided it's never too late to learn about history, but I would prefer to do it without history books.

All recommendations will be most welcome.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Teachers and Rain

Still in my positive frame of mind I am actually very thankful that it's raining today.   OK the storm last night and strong wind meant that water leaked into the house again, leaving me with more mopping up to do.  But there's a good side to the rain today.

For the past 4 or 5 days extensive work has been going on in the village.  The electricity company are doing something to the cables and the water company are repairing damaged pipes.  This work is likely to take some weeks yet and it means powercuts and watercuts.   The Muhtar for once has given this some serious thought and instead of the village  being subjected to a lack of water and electricity every day for around 8 hours, he has arranged for the cuts to be on alternate days.  So one day we have water and no electricity, the following day vice versa.  Both electricity and water companies seem agreeable with this arrangement.

However, nothing at all can be done when it's raining, so today we have both electricity and water.  I really don't mind if the rain continues for a few more days!

Armed with my umbrella I set off for Milas this morning as I had run out of food for the dogs.  The  rain wasn't so heavy but the dark clouds in the distance indicated that there was likely to be a lot more to come.  On my way to the village bus stop I was accompanied by half a dozen children on their way to school.  The usual conversation consists of them saying in turn "Hello, what is your name?" to which I reply and ask them the same question.   They already know my name.  I already know most of theirs, but at this stage in their education, this appears to be the only bit of English they know.  Sometimes I attempt a few more words, but it tends to reduce them to fits of giggles.

All the children are in the same class at the first school, and this morning they all carried posies of flowers.  At first I thought it must be Teachers Day, but as I recall this takes place in November.  I asked them who the flowers were for and they replied that they were for their teacher as it was her birthday today.  What a sweet gesture and what a lucky teacher.

And finally I'll just throw in another compliment to the dolmuş drivers.   The driver of the bus on my return from Milas told me that Mr A had mentioned that I was unsure of the times of buses to and from Milas and I always seemed to be either too early or too late.   The driver had run off a copy of the timetable which hangs in the bus office, and he handed to me.

Home again and it's still raining...yay!

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Check out Villas in Turkey

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Turning negatives into positives.

I'm trying to change my attitude when things go wrong.  It's not that easy for me.  Being a depressive most of my life, my mood tends to drop when things don't go right.  But during the past few days I've been attempting to put this positive attitude into practise.

 Late on Thursday afternoon I lost my internet connection. Everything else, modem, splitter box, wires etc were fine. I switched on and off several times but nothing. So I phoned TTNet. I know I sing the praises of dolmuş drivers and post office workers,  but it's impossible to do the same with TTNet. I have never once found anyone in their customer service department to be the least bit helpful.

 This occasion was no exception. The man on the other end of the phone told me to check everything I had already checked, even though I had already told him I had. He then got me to log in to the modem page on my laptop..ran through the various boxes and told me what to click or tick. I did. We reached the bottom of the second page and he then appeared to get stuck.  There was a pause and he then informed me that he would report the fault to the engineers and someone would call me...thankyou and goodbye.  I never did get a call from the engineers.

I'd normally be seething but I found that it helped to keep a smile on my face for the entire conversation.  When I put the phone down, I took a deep breath and counted to 10....and relaxed.

The positive aspect of having no internet for the entire evening meant that I could make a start on my new book, which would no doubt have been put off for a while.  So far so good.

I also went to sleep early, but that meant that I was up at about 5am.  After a coffee, I decided to take down all the curtains and start loading them into the washing machine.  Once it started to get light, I vacuumed everywhere and washed all the floors except for the kitchen.

I still had no internet connection, but wasn't too concerned as I was using the opportunity to get the curtains sorted.   I had most of them out on the washing line by 8am,and the last load was in the machine.

I heard the washing machine click, indicating that it had finished it's cycle and opened the door.   It hadn't finished.  It was full of water which came gushing out and flooded the kitchen.   We had a powercut and I hadn't realised that this is why the machine had stopped.  But this was OK because I hadn't yet washed the kitchen floor, so it got a more through wash than usual.   You see...I'm still being positive!

The power stayed off for nearly 8 hours, but it was the perfect opportunity to sit out on the balcony in the sunshine and continue reading my book.

When power was finally restored, so was my internet connection, and everything was back to normal.

Mr A popped home on Friday on the bus and stayed until yesterday morning which was a pleasant surprise.  He did a bit more woodwork...he's obsessed with it but it keeps him happy.   He was as usual covered from head to toe in sawdust and was about to take a shower when we discovered that the water supply had been cut.   So we had to make do with my tipping bottled drinking water over him so that he could at least wash the sawdust out of his hair.

In the morning the water was still off and didn't return until the afternoon.   Mr A couldn't wait to get back to Kusadasi to have a shower so he set off early.    I wasn't bothered at all.  I did all my washing the day before and just let the dishes pile up for the rest of the day.

All these things happen here on a regular basis, and normally make me feel very stressed.  But I seem to be able to turn negatives into positives more often than I used to.

Or maybe I'm just mellowing in my old age.

    

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A Guest Post

Some of you may recognise one of my followers, Erica, who's comments I always enjoy.  She lives in Canada with her Turkish husband, Dogan, and he also reads my blog.  I asked if he would do a guest post on my blog because I'm always interested in how Turkish people cope with living in a different country.

Here is his story:

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I want to thank Ayak for giving me this opportunity to be a guest speaker about my moving to Canada from Turkey and some of my adventures. I enjoy reading her Blog and her adventurous and 'not' boring life with her husband and dogs. And her daily life, as I'm always curious as what her next action and adventure in Turkish life she will stumble upon.

I moved to Canada in 1986. It was to Montreal, Quebec to be exact with my cousin .

We both had just gone under divorces and were seeking a different and adventurous life as we were still in our 20's and wanted to see the world.

We had heard people mention they were taking in new immigrants to Canada and it had interested us.
So off we went to a new adventure and life, after thinking it over and leaving everything behind. Mind you I had a good family and good life growing up but just I needed something in my life different.
I just intended to stay maybe 3 years or so. But as you can see I'm still here for the last 27 years. Funny I think a lot of people heard about coming to Canada because at the airport on my way we met up with a few friends also who were on their way here. Some have returned and some have made quite good lives here and are very prosperous
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My idea of Canada was that it was very cold, lots of snow, moose running around, beavers around the lakes, and the Royal Canadian Mounties on horses, with lots of Cowboys, Indians and farms......well I was wrong we were in a large city of Montreal with skyscrapers. I guess I watched to many Roy Rogers movies. To this day I have never seen a Royal Canadian Mountie on a horse except on post cards.

Hardly anyone spoke any English in Montreal but French . Really it didn't matter as our English was limited anyways.

Our first day was December 26 so we were fascinated with all those Christmas lights and decorations. Never had seen any so many before. People were running around stores with lots of shopping bags and the stores were jam packed with line-ups at the registers. Well I learned later it was Boxing Day and that's when they had their big sales after Christmas. I thought to myself do people love shopping here so much.

Looking for food was very shocking on our first day. We saw in the window a sign for 'Hot Dogs', well one of our friends interpreted that people here were eating 'dogs' that were heated to go. I got very squeamish and thought how are we going to eat any kind of food here.

It was very difficult to find a job in Montreal. After 6 months in Montreal I had made some friends Turgay and Erol...both of which were from my city of Izmir.

We had heard about and decided to move to Toronto a bigger city in another province with more opportunities. There they only spoke English and right away we found an apartment for the three of us together and jobs. In the meantime we befriended some more Turkish friends and they directed us to find some Turkish cheeses, sausages, olives, etc......well you know the regular Turkish foods. So we didn't have to eat those darn 'Hot Dogs'. Hehehehe!

It was very cold here not like in Izmir.....snow, wind and ice. Wasn't too happy about that, a very big weather shock. It was sort of a very different culture here. There were people from all corners of the world, you could hear many different languages and so different from anywhere where I came from. So different that on our second day in Toronto we heard a knock on the door and there were kids standing with costumes and saying something. In their hands they had bags, well we didn't have a clue as to what they wanted. We looked into their bags and saw candy. We didn't have any so we gave them money. They were happy. So happy that all night the doorbell kept ringing, I guess word had spread that house was giving out money. Well........we were running out of money so we closed the lights and waited it out. This event was Halloween. Now on Halloween every year I have the best decorated home in the area. I get up to over 400 kids a Halloween night. I make it nice and spooky, with lots of spooky and scary characters and my daughter and my wife's nieces and nephews come to help.

What I found interesting was when going to work I would see women reading books on the buses and subways and I thought what a bunch of studious and smart women. Their noses in books totally ignoring the world outside them. Well I found out later they were reading romance novels on their commute to work. I noticed my wife had a full book shelf of them, that is how I put it together. She said she read them on her way to work on the subway....like everyone else she said
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After a while the Turkish Cafe's and Tea shops would pop up like mushrooms and there we found more and more friends. So it didn't feel so lonely and like I was away too far from home.

One day at a Disco (popular in those days) after a few months in Toronto, I met my wife Erica. I asked her to dance a couple of times and then somehow we separated on the dance floor. Little did I know that she came back the next weekend to see if she could see me again. Well we did meet up and 2 months later we were married.

The first time I went to her house I was scared for she had 2 big dogs greet me at the door barking at me and jumping. I'm not use to that having such big dogs and especially in the house. But I did get to love them and as they passed away it was very sad and I still think about them.

Later we got another dog a Siberian Husky who totally took over our lives.....it's the nature of those dogs. We loved her, she lived to be 17 years old. When my Mother and Sister came to visit from Turkey they were always afraid of the dog as they were use to them roaming the streets....but after a while they would come out of their rooms.

It was funny because people were taking bets at work this marriage wouldn't last as we both could really not speak the same language and we only knew each other 2 months. We did each have a small English/Turkish dictionary though, so that helped....my English was limited and she only spoke English. As the years went by as you can read I can do English now and my wife knows Turkish.

When we first got married we lived with my in-laws, it wasn't bad b/c they owned a big rambling house so we really didn't bump into each other. Only at the dinner table.
3 years later we had a daughter..... Who is now into Law School this year.

After a couple of years we bought our own condo on the 14th floor. Not a good idea with a child.
After that we bought a house and have been here since.

Now I'm in the home renovating business for the lastv20 years or so. I buy century old homes in a bustling area of the city and break them up into 4 apartments or so and that is my job. My wife Erica does the paperwork and helps look for tenants. It keeps me busy, with those tenants. The tenant and landlord laws sure are different here then in Turkey. So may laws, paperwork and extreme rules to follow.

I now am so use to living in Canada that when I go back for a visit I miss it here. I guess I've been here too long. I also notice the difference in people. In Turkey neighbours are more friendly and helpful. Here because it is so diverse that everyone keeps to themselves basically. Which sometimes is better.

My wife loves cooking and makes Turkish food all the time so I'm not missing any of that.
She makes boreks all the time as that is my favorite especially the spinach and cheese, actually hers are better then some women I know in Turkey would bake.


We also have a large community of Turks here so lots of grocery stores and restaurants have opened up. Any kind of Turkish food or basics you need they import . But I do miss the bazaars for they almost don't exist here. Only in the summer months some local farmers will sell their vegetables and fruits. There is no screaming from the vendors selling their wares and fruits like in Turkey, everybody is calm and you pick out yourself what you want and NO bargaining.

Canada is so vast and large that every corner you go to visit has quite different scenery with mountains, prairies, forests and fisheries and lakes with two oceans surrounding both sides. I'm quite fortune to live an hour away from Niagara Falls, one of the wonders of the world and one hour from the USA border which we love to go shopping there. Same stores and people and basically the same culture but the prices are a lot better.


In my opinion I think that Canada is a great country and the best in the world for living standards and peaceful. Our medical is free, lots of benefits we can get.


The standard for living is one of the best and highest in the world, and I'm very grateful to be a citizen.
I do miss my family and in the future hope to live there in Turkey for 6 months of the year.
Dogan.

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A big thankyou to Dogan for sharing his story.  I hope you found it as fascinating as I did. 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

From dolmuş drivers to post office workers

Yes, I'm still singing the praises of our dolmuş drivers.

Mr A, as you know, is in Kusadasi.  He has a friend with a motorbike there who needs to charge his battery.  Mr A has a motorbike battery charger in his shed...here.

No problem.  I had to go into Milas this morning, so I took the battery charger in a plastic bag and under instructions from Mr A, as soon as I got onto the dolmuş I rang him and handed the phone over to the driver.   Conversation finished, I then handed the bag to the driver.

When the driver gets to the bus station, he will hand the bag to the Soke bus driver.  When the bus reaches Soke, the Soke driver will hand it to the driver of the bus going to Kusadasi, where Mr A will collect it.

If you've lived in Turkey for a while you will recognise that this is a very common occurrence.  Drivers will take things from one town to another for you at no charge at all.  So within a couple of hours, Mr A will be able to lend the charger to his friend.  

And while I'm at it, I'd like to also praise post office workers, and in particular those in the sorting office in Milas.

Last year I had a friend in England who would occasionally send me a parcel of chocolate.  Some parcels are too big to fit in the small postboxes, so you have to collect them from the office. The first time I received a parcel I collected it from the office, and told the man in charge that I would receive more from time to time.  From then on he always recognised me and knew my name. I mentioned one day that the parcels contained chocolate, so he made sure that he always put them in a cool place awaiting my collection, particularly in the middle of summer.   As a thankyou I would open my parcel before leaving the office and give him some of my chocolate.

I have a new reciprocal arrangement with a friend in London who sends me filter coffee and I send her spices and herb teas.   The post from England to Milas normally takes a week.  A month or so ago my parcel was delayed.  It was just over two weeks before I found it at the post office.  There is a new man in charge of the sorting office now, and it transpired that a slip of paper should have been put in my postbox to inform me that my parcel was waiting in the sorting office.  It didn't happen on that occasion but the man located my parcel and was full of apologies for the oversight.

A new parcel was posted on the Monday of last week.  I was in Milas anyway this Monday so checked in the sorting office, in the hope that it had arrived.   As soon as I entered the office, the man immediately addressed me by my name (what a memory, after one meeting over a month ago!) and told me there were no parcels for me.  I wasn't too concerned because post can be delayed at times.

So while I was in Milas today I was certain my parcel would have arrived by now, and again when I entered the office, the man greeted me by name and informed me that there was still no sign of my parcel.  He started to tell me something but he was speaking very quickly and I didn't entirely understand what he was saying.  I asked if he minded if I rang my husband to talk to him, and not only was he happy to wait for me to do this, but he offered me a chair and got someone to bring me tea.

After a conversation with Mr A over the phone, Mr A told me that the man would look out for my parcel, phone Mr A when it had arrived and also arrange for it to be delivered to our village, and that he would let him know when this would happen.  So I thanked the man and with a smile on his face he told me he was happy to help.

Haven't I always said how helpful people are in this country?  Sometimes it's all too easy to take it for granted, and writing this post is my way of making sure that I don't.

You may be interested in a post by Annie at Back to Bodrum blog, if you haven't already seen it.   Another lovely story about dolmuş drivers.  You can read it HERE

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Expat Interviews

I was recently asked to give an interview for Turkey Expat Forum.

You can read it HERE along with interviews by other fellow bloggers in Turkey, and I'm sure some of them will be familiar to you.  They are all great interviews and worth reading.

Ricky Carbis who runs the forum recently did a guest post on my fellow blogger Natalie's Turkey Travel Blog entitled I Love Istanbul and here are five reasons why.  It's a great read with some beautiful photos.
 

The travelling book saga...continued

I recently wrote about the book that I won HERE so I'll just update you.

At last I have the book in my hand.   This book was originally posted by a bookshop in Istanbul.  My postbox address in Milas  was type-written correctly on the package, so I have no idea why it ended up in a cargo office in Fethiye.

The woman at the cargo office who kindly phoned my friend in Fethiye because she recognised my name, also took further initiative and forwarded it on to their office in Milas, the same day, at no extra cost.

Of course if the book had been delivered to my postbox at the Post Office it wouldn't have been a problem collecting it, because it's in the centre of town.

I had no idea where this particular cargo office was situated, so I phoned Mr A to ask if he knew.  He was certain that it was in a road behind the Tansaş supermarket in the centre of Milas, so I set off to collect it yesterday morning.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a different cargo office entirely, and I was actually on the phone to Mr A whilst I was in the wrong cargo office.  I handed the phone over to the girl behind the desk and she spoke to Mr A to give him directions to the correct cargo office.

It turned out that it was on the outskirts of Milas, and by this time I had decided that I really couldn't be bothered to walk miles to get there, or to find a bus to take me.  So I went to the dolmuş station to get my bus back home.

The bus was crowded, and I managed to get the last available seat right at the back, and we set off.  Mr A phoned me and asked where I was.  I told him and he asked me to pass the phone to the driver.  Oh what a performance...passing the phone to the passenger in front of me, who passed it on until it reached the driver.  They had a few words which I couldn't hear, then the phone was passed back to me.

Mr A told me that the driver would take me to the cargo office but that I must be careful as he would have to pull up while I crossed a very busy road to the office.

So...we reached the cargo office.  I got off the bus and diced with death across two dual carriageways to the cargo office, where I collected my book, and took my life in my hands crossing back over the road to the bus.   It took me some time, but no-one minded at all.  I thanked the driver and of course he replied "you're welcome".

I know I've often mentioned the way that the drivers are happy to make detours to drop people off or to collect things for them, but this is the first time I've had it happen to me,and I did feel a little embarrassed about keeping everyone waiting.

I shouldn't have worried.  On the way back to our village, we made two further detours.  One to collect a man and two containers of something or other, and another miles away to one of the other villages in the area which doesn't have a bus service, to drop someone off.

I just love our dolmuş drivers!

The book that I almost didn't receive looks good.  I can't wait to read it.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Sunday buses

It's nice to get out and about on a Sunday, but it's not always best to go by dolmuş.

Mr A set off to Kusadasi yesterday (Saturday) in readiness for the start of his latest job selling carpets.  This should start on 15th March but he's been asked to be available until then in case they have unexpected group bookings.  Naturally he won't start earning a salary until the official date of the 15th, but if he manages to sell anything before then, he will earn commission.  So it's better for him to be there twiddling his thumbs than here.  And it stops him spending dawn till dusk sawing and hammering lumps of wood.  

There is a wooden object that is a work in progress, a bench seat for the balcony, but that will have to wait until he's back here.

Silly man packed his suitcase before he set off, and I asked him if he had everything, and he said he had.   Actually he hadn't.  In fact he had left half a dozen essential items at home.

As it was sunny today, although still chilly, I decided to bus over to meet him and take the rest of his things.   To save a bit of time, I got the village dolmuş to Milas, then the dolmuş to Soke, which isn't too far from Kusadasi, and it saved me getting another dolmuş from Soke.

I boarded the earliest village bus, along with a dozen more people, each laden with various large containers of olives, bags of vegetables, and other things.  Sunday is the day for visiting family and the villagers never go empty-handed, so it was a tight squeeze.

I only had to wait 2 minutes at Milas for the Soke dolmuş to leave, and there were just two other passengers.   We set off at a snail's pace, collecting more and more passengers on the way, each loaded down with goodies for their families.  At one point I was forced to hang on to a large plastic container of olives between my knees as there was no other space for it.  You know, you just don't have a choice about such things in Turkey.  You just do it.  They would think you very odd if you didn't.

We gradually shed passengers as we approached Soke, until there was only one elderly lady (with lots of bags) and me.  Just before the turn-off  to the otogar, the bus driver took a left turn towards the industrial estate, while he was chatting away to the woman about where she lived.   We were in fact making a detour, which added on another 10 minutes, so that she could be dropped right outside her house.

Finally I arrived at the otogar much later than planned (almost a 2 hour journey rather than the 1hr 10mins quoted by the driver).    And because the bus from Milas to the village only runs every 2 hours on Sunday mornings, and there are only two in the afternoon...2pm and 6pm, Mr A and I had less than an hour to grab a coffee, before I set off on my return journey.  I arrived in Milas in time for the 2pm bus with just minutes to spare.

Söke isn't a particularly attractive town, unless you want to visit the large shopping outlet on the outskirts, or if you have time to see the historical site of Priene about 15 km away.   However, the journey can be pleasant, particularly the drive past Bafa Lake

I may go over there again some time.....but never on Sunday.

.

Friday, 2 March 2012

This could only happen in Turkey!

Something very odd happened yesterday.


I'll start at the beginning. Some weeks ago I won a copy of a book about Ataturk. This was a giveaway from a blog called Captivating Capadoccia run by an American man, who lives in Capadoccia with his family. I follow his blog and we are also friends on Facebook.

I gave him my postbox address in Milas and was asked if I would like the book in English or Turkish. I opted for English even though this meant I would have to wait a little longer for it to be sent to me.

On Thursday morning I had a phone call from a friend in Fethiye. Well she is more of an acquaintance really. She is a journalist and we've never actually met, but last year she interviewed me on line for an article about expats which appeared in Hurriyet Daily News. She kindly sent me some custard as a thankyou for giving the interview! So of course she had my real name and also my address.

She was phoning to ask me if I was expecting a book in the post. The only book I could think of was the one about Ataturk..but how did she know?

She had just received a call from one of the cargo offices in Fethiye...the one that she had used to send me custard last year. They had a book parcel in their office with my name on it, and someone remembered the name and that she had posted a parcel from there to me last year.

Clearly, my book has been sent to Fethiye by mistake instead of Milas. What an incredible coincidental chain of events.

She is going to ask the cargo office if they will release the parcel to her and has kindly offered to send it on to me. It's a book that she wouldn't mind reading so if the cargo office let her have it, I'm happy for her to read it first before forwarding it to me...as a thankyou for taking the trouble.

This is an enormous country, with many different cargo companies...thousands of them in towns all over Turkey. But what are the chances of something like this happening?


I'm tempted to say....only in Turkey!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Making the dogs comfortable

I've always enjoyed moving furniture around. Those of you who have followed me for some time will already know that I get bored and restless and suddenly jump up and start moving. It can be any time of day or night...yes I have been known to start shifting wardrobes and armchairs at 3am. When the mood takes me I just go with it.


The problem that I face once I've started is that I get myself trapped in corners with heavy furniture all around me..simply because I don't plan it before I begin. It can be exhausting...particularly so in the height of summer when the temperatures are well over 40 degrees. I literally sweat buckets...it's a good way to lose weight!


I recently bought a lovely big comfortable dog bed for Beki from our new vet in Milas. The poor girl suffers with arthritis in her back legs and I've always allowed her to sleep on our bed for comfort and warmth. Sadly she can no longer jump up onto the bed, so the dog bed, covered in a soft blanket, is perfect for her  .   It's in our bedroom which is fine, except that Poppy insists on sharing it with Beki. This has resulted in the two of them fidgeting and arguing and pacing up and down all night...which isn't good for any of us.


Our sitting room furniture, which we have had for a long time, consists of a 3-seater sofa, a 2 seater sofa and 2 armchairs. Far too much for our small sitting room, so we have had to shuffle it about and move either an armchair or small sofa elsewhere in the house. This year we moved the 2 seater out onto the balcony which is great for lounging on and gazing at the view, but apart from taking up too much space, the sun and rain are going to ruin it if it stays there any longer.
  

Two days ago I resisted an urge to move furniture myself and instead supervised Mr A in moving the sofa into our bedroom. With a bit of shuffling around, everything fits and Poppy has settled herself on the sofa. Beki is delighted to finally have her bed to herself. Now, finally, we are all getting a better night's sleep.
 


The things we do for our dogs!
 
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