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Monday, 29 April 2013

My last day

Today is Jimi's 2nd Birthday, and my last day here before returning home tomorrow. It has been a hectic but very enjoyable 10 days, which has as usual flown by far too quickly.  As promised, here are a few photos.

Cold weather doesn't stop these boys from having fun.

Jimi tucking in at Junglemania

Jimi loves food!

Tea time at Junglemania

An exhausted Billy at Junglemania

Billy's latest nursery school photo

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Time....

There's never quite enough of it.  It runs out far too quickly.  It's very precious.

I arrived in England a week ago and every day except one has been spent with my daughter and grandsons.  Very precious moments.  Exhausting but so enjoyable.

The only day I didn't see Billy and Jimi was Wednesday.  Our family attended a funeral.    A tragic death, a very sad story, but not one I feel appropriate to share in my blog. A distressing day and one that reminded us all how time is so precious.

There was a misunderstanding at Billy's nursery school on Tuesday, the day of his birthday.  He made a cake and took it in to share.  It didn't get shared and when my daughter collected him, he was in tears.  It spoilt the day for him.  It was a breakdown in communication, which was dealt with the following day, but a little too late for Billy.

Today we are having a joint celebration for Billy and Jimi (it's Jimi's birthday on Monday), and a gang of children will be joining them at something called Junglemania, where there are activities and lots of fun, along with a tea party, cake and goody bags.

I did intend to take lots of photos...honestly.  Somehow I never seem to find time.  No doubt my daughter will produce some good ones and I'll share them when I return home on Tuesday.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Off to the UK

I will be setting off to England tomorrow morning to see my family.  I am so looking forward to seeing my daughter and grandsons.

I haven't seen Mr A since last Sunday. He is working at a hotel in Gumbet.  As it's commission only and there aren't many customers yet, he has been staying in personnel accommodation to save money.  He will come home this evening and take me to the airport tomorrow morning and head off back to work.

The dogs have a routine now.  Blondie and Sammy stay in the dog area at the back of the house, and Megan in our garden, with her bed on the balcony.  After much changing around, this arrangement is working.  Blondie's confidence has grown and so has she..she's getting so big now!  She and Sammy get on well, and Megan and Poppy spend the day in the garden together..they have become good friends.

Every morning around 6.30am, I let Megan, Blondie and Sammy out and they go for a run over the hill at the back of the house.  It's impossible for me to attempt to take 4 dogs out on leads for a walk, so this is a good way for them to get exercise.  They return anything up to an hour later and I feed them.  I do the same thing early evening, and after an evening of barking (in response to dogs barking all over the village), they finally settle for the night.

While I'm away for 10 days, Mr A will be coming home every night and staying in the house, so they will be looked after and their routine won't be interrupted.

I've managed to get my camera working because I want to take lots of photos of the boys and their birthday celebrations, so I'll bore you with these when I return.

See you in 10 days time.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Is it 14 years?

It's our wedding anniversary today.  We are confused though.  We have worked out the dates and know that we got married in 1999...so that's 14 years.  However our marriage book gives the date as 2000, making it 13 years.  We are sure it's a mistake on the book.  It's not surprising to find such mistakes on official documents here, but it doesn't matter a great deal.

We hardly ever spend our anniversary together.  Mr A is usually working away somewhere, or I am on a trip to England.  It looked as if it would be the same today.  Mr A went over to Kusadasi yesterday for two days work at the carpet shop, so wouldn't have been due back until late tonight.

He's had a few days work there over the past couple of months, on a commission only basis.  They also offered him a permanent job to start on 1st May.   He has sold carpets.  Not a huge amount, but it all helps.  He should have been paid weeks ago, but as often happens here, the boss says "I have no money, you'll have to wait".

It has cost us money for him to keep going there, including the extra expense when he had his motorbike accident the last time he was there, and we had to find more money to replace the wrecked bike with a new one.  So we are not best pleased.

The boss told him last week that he would pay him this weekend.   He didn't.  So Mr A refused to stay and work today and came home last night.  Whether he will get what is owed to him remains to be seen, but I won't hold my breath.  This happens over and over again and it sickens me.  He has since phoned the boss and told him he will not be working for him this year.  What's the point?  There is no guarantee he will be paid his salary.

Today is very warm and sunny, so we decided to just spend the day relaxing together under the gazebo.  But I needed food shopping so we went into Milas first.  When we came out, loaded stuff under the seat of the motorbike, bags on the handles, and me holding on to more bags, the bloody bike wouldn't start.  

Mr A set off to the industrial estate on foot to find someone to help, while I sat outside the supermarket, hoping desperately that all the perishable food wouldn't go off before I could get it home.

He returned 20 minutes later.  All the workshops were shut, as it's Sunday.  He phoned a friend who lives in Milas who has a truck, and he kindly came out about half an hour later to rescue us.  He firstly drove Mr A to a mechanic he knows, left him there, and drove me home with all my shopping.  What a kind friend.

After sniffing the meat and other fresh produce, and establishing that it was still OK, I loaded up the fridge and started making dinner.

Mr A arrived home an hour or so later with a huge fresh fruit gateau from the pastane and a bottle of
wine.  So at last we sat down to celebrate our years of marriage..however many they may be.

As far as jobs are concerned, Mr A has another option.  Our friend Suleyman has rented the hamam in the Gumbet hotel where Mr A worked the year before last, and has asked him to come and work there.  .  He will stay in personnel accommodation to save on petrol costs, but will come home every night when I'm in England to look after the dogs.  It's not ideal, because it's commission only again.  The season is shorter than Kusadasi, and Suleyman isn't offering much in the way of commission...but anything is better than nothing.

Unfortunately, he has to go today and settle in as the first guests arrive tomorrow morning, so our day together has been cut short.

Not an ideal day, but at least we spent some of it together...and  the sun is shining!



Saturday, 13 April 2013

Barking, Biting, Chewing and Jumping

Yes, you've guessed it.  I'm talking about my band of happy dogs.  I haven't mentioned them for a while for fear of boring you, but also because it's been hard work helping them to settle.

Sammy, Megan and Blondie have all recovered well from their operations.  Megan had the season scent for 5 or 6 days so we kept her in the garden and balcony, while Blondie and Sammy were in the dog area behind the house.

Sammy is as lively as ever...and he is the jumper.  I can get him to stop but only if I'm not holding his food bowl.  He's a big boy, so when he jumps he knocks the bowl out of my hand, no matter how high I hold it, and the food scatters everywhere.  If he is in our garden he also jumps all over the flowers and plants, much to Mr A's dismay.

Feeding time is the biggest issue.  It is impossible to feed all three in close proximity to each other.  There is a tendency to fight for food.  Sadly a habit with street dogs.  Even though they are fed twice a day, the street dog habit is hard to kick...every meal is attacked as if it's the last thing they will eat. So separating them at feed time is essential until they eventually realise that they will always be fed.

Megan in particular intimidates Blondie, who loses confidence and backs away.  When Megan bullies Blondie, Sammy joins in....I think this is mostly territorial, because they arrived before Blondie.

I have taken each dog into our garden, on their own for a while.  It seems that two in the dog area get along better than three.  Even Blondie and Megan seemed better together for a while, until Megan bit Blondie quite badly on her ear, which left her very frightened.  This was because I gave them each a biscuit and Megan resented Blondie having one.....it's all about food again.

Blondie spent several days last week in our garden and on the balcony.  Blondie is the chewer.  She chews everything she can get hold of.  She has annihilated two pairs of Mr A's shoes and one pair of mine, a blanket that was her bed on the balcony, several plastic plant pots, a cushion, and the old sofa which we put under the gazebo now has a hole in it with all the stuffing removed.

It was time to do another changeover.

For the past three days Megan has been in our garden and balcony, leaving Sammy and Blondie in the dog area.   It's working.  Sammy and Blondie get on well without Megan and Blondie is so much more confident.

Megan, although having bitten Blondie once, is such a softy when she's away from the other two.  I can control her completely.  She does exactly as she is told.   She adores Poppy and vice versa, so they spend much of the day in the garden together.

And who is the barker?  Well all of them really.  Poppy often starts it off when she spots a cat or a chicken in the lane, followed by Megan.   Then Sammy joins in, and finally Blondie.  It is particularly noisy when the flocks of sheep or cows pass by.  However, they all settle down at night and we hear nothing from them at all, which avoids complaints from the neighbours.

They are getting used to some of the people who pass by now and don't bark at familiar faces.  All in all I think we are heading in the right direction.



Friday, 12 April 2013

How to avoid...

....wearing a paper bag over one's head.  Get a much needed haircut.

Easier said than done.  I've blogged several times about haircuts.  I've had a few disasters and I've had some really good cuts, and I've taken some risks with new hairdressers.

I haven't been to the hairdressers since before I went to England at the beginning of December.  I found a good hairdresser in Milas and was very happy with the way he cut my hair.  More than a month ago I phoned to make an appointment with him, to be informed that he wasn't in that day.  I phoned again the following week, to be told the same thing.

The next time we were in Milas, I called in to make an appointment with him.  He wasn't there but an appointment was made for the following day.  I was sure his name was Mehmet, and that's who I asked for.  I knew I had a card somewhere at home with his name on it.  The girl there said, no it's not Mehmet, it's Ahmet.

When I got home I found the card and sure enough, the name was Mehmet.  Mr A phoned to query this and they informed him that Mehmet had left the salon several weeks before.  Why couldn't they have said that in the first place.  I guess they didn't want to lose a customer and hoped I wouldn't notice.  Maybe Ahmet is a good hairdresser.  Who knows?  I cancelled my appointment on principle because I don't like being deceived.

So the weeks go by and my hair is becoming a mess.  It doesn't matter too much during the winter because I never go anywhere and no-one notices in this village, but I'm going to England soon, and I can't do the whole journey wearing a paperbag over my head.

Last Saturday we went into Milas to do some shopping.  We stopped at a pastane that we haven't previously used for tea and puaca.  We parked the motorbike in a narrow side street.  When we returned I noticed a small hair salon opposite.  I don't know why I suddenly decided to go in and ask if  I could get my hair cut, but in the past I have found that many of these tiny backstreet establishments contain the best hairdressers.  There was only one hairdresser, with no assistants, doing everything.  Washing hair, cutting, sweeping up, making tea.  And there were three people waiting patiently.  A good sign.  We were advised to come back in an hour.  So we did our shopping and then returned.

It turns out that this young guy, Umit, lives in our village and is the son of one of Mr A's friends.  And he is a really good hairdresser.  I am very pleased with the result...and it only cost 10 lira (about £3.60).

I'll stick with him...unless he decides to move on elsewhere...in which case it will be back to the paperbag until I find a suitable replacement.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Brainwashing

I recently watched a BBC drama called Our Girl.  It was about a young girl, one of a large family, from the East End of London, who decided to join the army.

It brought back memories for me.   At 17 years old, and unhappy at home, I decided to do the same thing.

I enlisted, went through rigorous medical checks and interviews, and found myself boarding the train on a cold wet day in November, heading towards the camp at Guildford, for six weeks of training.

It was my first ever time away from home and I was both excited and terrified.   The first couple of days passed in a blur.  Settling into a room with 5 other girls, collecting uniform and equipment, finding my way around, endless lectures, etc.   All this accompanied by constant shouting and what I would consider now to be bullying, by corporals and lance-corporals, trying to knock us into shape.

One of the characters in the BBC drama likened it to joining a cult.  It was certainly similar.  The object of the exercise it seemed was to remove your personality and individuality, and produce an army of women who were all the same.  Obedient and subservient.

Every morning at 6am, we were woken up by an officer shouting at us.  We dressed and stood by our beds for kit inspection.  We then hit the parade ground and learned to march.....for 2 hours.  Breakfast followed, and then intelligence tests, lectures and assault courses.

On Day 5 I woke up with a nasty bout of flu.  I could hardly stand, let alone head out to the parade ground in icy cold weather.  I stayed behind.  I sat on the floor against a radiator to try to keep warm.
A lance-corporal found me there and shouted at me.  I was ordered out onto to the parade ground, but I refused because I felt so ill.  She was completely unsympathetic and put me on a charge.   As I understood it, being put on a charge meant being locked up, but in this case, I was ordered to clean the toilets and the hallway.

I set about my tasks.  It wasn't too difficult because the areas had already been cleaned, but when this officer inspected my work, she wasn't satisfied, and told me to do it again.  I refused, saying that it was absolutely pointless to have to clean something that was already spotless.  Red rag to a bull.  More shouting, resulting in my being sent to a sargeant's office, where I was yelled at some more.

All of this of course is part of the brainwashing.  I realised at that point that I was too strong a character to be browbeaten by these people, and that the army was not the place for me.

This was only the first week of the six week period, but I made it clear that I wanted to leave.  The army don't like people giving up.  It means they've failed, so it actually took the rest of the six weeks for me to convince them that I was serious.   I was interviewed every day by every rank of officer, eventually seeing the Commanding Officer towards the end of week 6.   Finally I was out.

I don't often think about this episode in my life, but when I do I question if it was  my character that was unsuited to army life, or whether I was just too young.  I wonder what path my life would have taken if I had stuck it out?



Thursday, 4 April 2013

Unpredictable

The weather on Tuesday was glorious.  I should know by now not to tempt fate by talking about the weather, because as soon as I declare that summer is practically here, it changes.

There I was sitting out under the gazebo in shorts and t-shirt, lapping up the sunshine.  A couple of hours later,the wind started to blow and in no time at all it had reached gale force.  We had an old sofa under the gazebo covered with a throw, and also four plastic chairs and a table.  The sofa throw was suddenly whipped up into the air and carried across the garden,.closely followed by the chairs.

We rescued them and put them safely in the shed, and then removed chairs and table from the balcony, together with anything else that wasn't fixed to the ground.

We had  attached another old throw over the top of the gazebo as shelter from the sun.  It was so firmly fixed that we were unable to remove it.  The sofa was also too heavy to move, so it was safe to leave where it was.  

And then a storm was added to the gale force wind, and down came the rain.  It lasted all night.  Yesterday was spent cleaning up.   The sofa was drenched, and the throw on the top of the gazebo had been reduced to shreds.

Sammy and Blondie had slept in the shed, and Megan in the shelter.  Unfortunately, they started barking at around 5am, because they could see another dog up the hill at the back of the house.  

Our neighbour, Sevke,  has spent most of today moaning at me about the barking.  I apologised and was very polite at first, but after a while I was just sick of it.  They don't bark at night as a rule, unless someone passes by, and it's just briefly.   There are however dogs barking all over the village, all night long.   I told Sevke that if she had a problem with dogs barking, then she should not only complain about mine, but that she should mention it to the owners of all the other dogs in the village.  She shut up.  Just as well, as I might just have mentioned that when her family visits, their loud chattering on her terrace until 2 or 3am keeps me awake.   I'll save that one until the next time she complains.

I do sometimes feel that as the only foreigner here I'm an easy target.  It seems acceptable to complain or criticise me, when they totally overlook unacceptable behaviour by other villagers. Mr A says I should take no notice, but it does affect me, and it only ever happens when he's not around.

And talking about being unpredictable, I mistakenly thought that neutering would settle the dogs.  It has definitely worked with Megan and Blondie, but Sammy seems to have become even more lively.  Apart from his constant attempts to mount Megan, he is dashing around all over the place, almost like he is trying to prove that removing his testicles, doesn't make him any less of a man!

Something a little more predictable, was an email Mr A received from his father.  I am not going into detail but suffice to say he was quite insulting about me.  He thinks he can control his son's life, and probably hopes that he can drive a wedge between Mr A and I.   I have sent him an email telling him a few home truths.  I have said all the things that I've been storing up and festering over for years. Of course I showed it to Mr A first, and he had no objections.  It's probably easier for me to be blunt with his father than he can.

A bit of a shitty day really, but I refuse to be browbeaten by anyone.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Sunny days

It's a beautiful Spring day here and we are making the most of tidying up the garden and sitting under the gazebo.   Summer is well and truly on the way and it won't be long before it will be too hot to do anything but water the garden.

The dogs are recovering well from their ops.  Sammy is still trying to get to Megan so I think the scent of the season that was about to start before her op may last for a while yet.  Mehmet was so busy that his van wasn't available to bring Blondie home until yesterday afternoon.  It's a shame because she is such a timid dog and those few days away from us has meant starting from square one again to get her to trust us.

She escaped once yesterday, but returned a little while later.   I don't think she has had as much food at the vet clinic than I would normally give her.  She really needs building up so I am feeding her often at the moment.

We are playing a game of musical chairs dog shelters at the moment.  On Sunday Megan was on the balcony while Sammy was in the area at the back...until he managed to break through the fence and head for Megan again.  I was awake all night, popping out constantly to check on them.

We left him in the garden yesterday morning and put Megan in the area at the back...she gave a sigh of relief.  I'm sure she was happy not to have him pestering her constantly to satisfy his sex drive.

When Blondie returned she stayed in the garden with Sammy for a while, then went to the back area with Megan.   Apart from her one escape, she has remained with Megan ever since.   Sammy has made a few attempts to break in to their area, but is now stretched out under the gazebo.  We will just keep swapping them around until things settle down.

I had a visit from my friend Karen yesterday.  Karen is the woman who founded and runs the Turkish Animal Group charity.  She currently has more than 80 dogs in her care, awaiting adoption, and she still continues to go out every day to feed dogs in the forest and on the beach.  I don't know how she does it!  She has given me loads of useful advice.  There's really nothing she doesn't know about dogs.

I can't believe we actually chatted for 4 hours.  The time just flew by.  A very pleasant afternoon.