Sunday, 31 October 2010

At last...common sense prevails!

At last the Turkish Government have seen sense and lifted the ban on Youtube. 

read about it here

(The article says the ban was for 2 years, but I'm pretty certain it's been much longer than that)

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Silly Saturday No. 2

My goodness...I nearly's Silly Saturday again..and the day's almost over.

Here's a little rhyme for you:

When things on our blogs go bad
We're left feeling angry and sad
Who can we call
To get back on the ball?
Blogger Help is no help at all.

(Just a fun way of expressing my frustration at the lack of support from Blogger Help)

Anyone else want to add a little verse to show how they feel about problems with blogging?

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Feeling a bit helpless

I have flights booked to go to England on 20th November.  The intention was literally a flying stay for just one week.  But I miss my daughter and Billy so much, a week is better than nothing at all.  I haven't seen them since May and it seems such a long time.

My daughter has so much on her plate at the moment, and it's at times like this that I wish I lived closer and was able to do more to help.

Before she had Billy she worked as manager of a Montessori School.  She loved her work.  She loves children and I've never known such a "natural".  She has so much patience...I've no idea where this comes from.  Not me I'm sure.  I could never have found the stamina to work with young children.

After she had Billy, she decided to become a registered Childminder so that she could work at home.  She, like many young mums still has to work.  One salary these days is just not enough to survive for many couples.  She has always been adamant that she didn't want to put Billy into a day nursery...she has some experience of them and wasn't impressed, and certainly wouldn't have been happy to place Billy in that environment.

Becoming a childminder these days is a lengthy and thorough process.  I remember years ago having a couple of friends who were registered childminders.  All that was necessary at that time was for someone to come out and check that your house was safe, gather a couple of references, and that was more or less that.
Times have changed, and we have thankfully learned that children can be at risk, and that anyone caring for them on a professional basis has to be thoroughly checked out.

She attended a course every week for a couple of months.  Childminders are now registered by Ofsted so the environment in which they are cared for has to be absolutely safe.  So there were many visits to her flat to check it out, and of course she had to have police checks too.  The whole process takes about 6 months and finally she was up and running.  She was already collecting two boys (sons of a friend) from school each day and taking them to their home along with Billy, looking after them until their mother and father returned from work at around 6pm.  These two are now officially being "childminded" in my daughter's home, after she collects them from school each day.  She also has another pre-school child who attends nursery school three mornings a week, and she collects him and looks after him for the rest of the day.

It's a hell of a job for her.  They live in a top floor flat with lots of stairs and no lift.  She's pregnant with her second child, and she's up and down stairs all day with Billy and her mindees.  This week is half term and she has all of them full time.

Last Friday she received a call from the housing association offering them a house.  She had to view it on Monday (the first day of half term!) and they had to make an immediate decision, and be prepared to move within two weeks, or the house would be offered to the next person on the list.  Of course they have accepted the offer.  Not only does this remove all the stress of the stairs, but it has a garden and is also very close to Billy's paternal grandparents, who are a tremendous help to them.  Naturally there is very little she can  do this week and my son-in-law is unable to take any time of work this month.  They will have the keys on Friday and will spend the weekend making Billy's room habitable...the only one that needs some work...and then they will move the following weekend.

My daughter and Billy have both been poorly this past week and are both on antibiotics.  My daughter was so bad that she spent the day in bed on Sunday...most unusual for her.

So as I said...she has an awful lot on her plate just now.  I spent yesterday trying to change my flights, to see if I could go over sooner, ie within the next two weeks.  No chance...there's nothing before the flight I already have booked for 20th November.  It's so frustrating.  I have time to spare and could be of much more use there than here.

However, I did manage to change my return flight to extend my stay by another week.  So I will be there for two weeks rather than one.  Maybe she will still have jobs that need doing then and I'll tell her to make a list for me!

Anyone who lives far away from their grown-up children and grandchildren will I know understand this feeling of helplessness that I'm now experiencing.  You just want to be there for them whenever they need you and it's awful when you can't.

Monday, 25 October 2010

One Large Chicken

As usual, now we are heading towards winter (although the weather is still so warm I haven't yet sorted out my winter clothes), we are short of money so I am economising on food.

I give myself a kind of challenge when it comes to chicken.  It's the only meat I buy these days, and every time I have a whole chicken I try to see how many meals I can make from it.

Yesterday, I roasted the chicken in the oven and we had a leg each with roast potatoes, roasted carrots, green beans and gravy (made with the last of my Bisto until I buy some more in England next month).

Today I prepared some more meals for the next few days.  I made a sauce from chopped onions, peppers, chopped cooked chicken, some salça (tomato paste) and a stock cube, mixed it with some dried pasta and baked in the oven, adding some grated cheese for the last 10 minutes.

I made my favourite fajita-type mix which I wrote about here: Ideas for cooked chicken and this will be re-heated tomorrow and used as a filling for jacket potatoes.

Surprisingly I still have most of the two chicken breasts left, which I have yet to decide how to use...I'm pretty sure I can pad them out with vegetables and make two more meals...probably a curry and maybe some cold chopped chicken in a salad with green beans and olive oil.

I then boiled up the bones to make stock, and this I used to make a huge pot of mercimek (lentil) soup.

The dogs had the bones with their absolutely nothing is wasted.

So by my reckoning that's 6 meals for the two of us...and one for the dogs...can anyone else beat that?


Today I also looked in my fridge and found just one egg, and about 150g margarine, and of course I have all the usual things like flour, sugar and baking powder in the cupboard so I decided to make some of my  easy muffins.   I used a mixture of raspberry and strawberry jam for flavour and found a handful of sultanas in the cupboard and threw them in.  This is just the easiest muffin recipe I've ever used, and very adaptable.   I am thinking about using some of my fig jam next time with chopped walnuts.   I'd be interested in hearing from anyone with other suggestions for let me know.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

An Inspirational Woman

I just wanted to share this story with you.  I don't need to comment further...the article speaks for itself:

 Read it by clicking here

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Silly Saturday

I have decided that every Saturday I'm going to do something silly on my blog.  But I want it to be fun, and I'd like you to join in.

The inspiration came in a roundabout way from David McMahon's blog because I really enjoy his "Verse and Worse" posts, where he encourages his followers to respond in rhyme.  It's great fun.  If you've never visited his blog, take a look, you won't be disappointed in his wonderful photos, and his lighthearted look at life.  He had taken a break from blogging for a year.  Some of you may have followed him in the past, so in case you didn't realise, he's now back.

I may also use David's idea of posting verses and getting you to respond in rhyme on future Saturdays, but for my first Silly Saturday post, I'd like you to tell me about one of the silliest things you've ever done.

I'll start you off by telling you one of my silliest moments.  (I have had so many silly moments, I could fill a book).

I was on a course some years ago, and before the day started I found a vending machine and decided to grab a coffee.  I put the coins in, pressed the selection sugar....then start.   The dried coffee came out...then the powdered milk...then the hot water.  But there was no cup to catch it.  So I stood there trying to catch it in my cupped hands.....just as I noticed that the plastic cups were standing next to the machine.  I was supposed to place one under the funnel first.  Imagine my embarrassment  as I struggled to transfer the coffee in my hands into a plastic cup, kindly passed to me by one of several people who had been standing behind me watching the whole time.

So...let's all have a bit of a giggle on Saturdays..tell me about your silly moments! 

Friday, 22 October 2010

The Age of Celebrity

It's what life is all about these days isn't it?  Aiming to be be a celebrity.  It's the big dream of the young.  No driving ambition to do well at school or university (if you are actually able to afford a place!).  No desire to become a doctor, or teacher, or any worthwhile job that might enable you to change or improve peoples' lives.

Just look at shows like the X Factor, where for months on end, thousands upon thousands of people join massive queues, for a chance to audition and hopefully get a place on the show.  When they get there, and are interviewed, they all repeat the same mantra.  "It's my dream, it's all I ever wanted".  And they are devastated when they don't make it through to the finals.  Although even those that go on to win, are often never heard of again.

And take Big Brother...oh thank goodness that's finished now.  It had certainly well over-run it's course.  Ordinary people, sitting around, and doing nothing, in a house full of cameras, for weeks and weeks...just for the chance to become a "celebrity". 

What about Katie Price (formerly known as Jordan) here is someone who has turned "celebrity" into an art form.  You have to admire the woman for managing to make a career out of doing...well what is it that she does?  Oh yes...she has cameras following her and then it's called a TV programme.  She is surely the queen of celebrities.

The public seem to thrive on their daily dose of celebrity news.  Don't worry about inflation, wars, famine or whatever else is going on in the long as we have someone like Cheryl Cole on the front page then we're happy.

And talking of Cheryl Cole, brings me to the fickleness of Joe or Jane Public.   Let's build these celebrities up...put them on a pedestal..just so we can enjoy knocking them off. 

What prompted me to write this post was reading the latest "news" report on Cheryl Cole...but mostly I was intrigued by the comments on the article in question.  It's hard to understand what makes people so hateful.   They make the nastiest comments about someone they don't know...have never met.  Why motivates them to show such vitriol?  I think it's simply jealousy.   It's what so many aspire to, but know they will never achieve.  So instead of saying "good luck to him/her"...they show their resentment by posting their comments on newspapers.  Although to be fair, the public are very much encouraged by the sort of stuff written by journalists about celebrities...almost like they are encouraging people to knock them down.

And I posted a photo of Cheryl deliberately because I'm wondering if I am one of the few who actually thinks she's a nice person.  Of course I don't know her, but she comes across as being a nice girl.  And she's proof that celebrity status doesn't necessarily give you the perfect life. 

Maybe it's because I'm older and maybe wiser that I have no feelings of envy or jealousy towards celebrities.  I'll admit to thinking that they shouldn't really earn the huge amounts of money that some of them do when they have little or no talent.  But generally, I just think...good luck to them because they are living in an age where "celebrity" seems more important than anything else so they are just taking advantage of the opportunity.

I'd just like to see more younger people adopt a slightly different attitude though, to strive for more than this need to become famous.  To realise that ambition in other areas, and hard work will bring their own, more worthwhile, rewards.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

ON MY SOAPBOX DAY! Post 2 Mental Health...changing attitudes

There's not much support in Turkey for people with mental health problems or learning disabilities.  This was the field I worked in before I moved to Turkey and it's something I feel passionately about.

I have mentioned briefly about the woman who lives in the house just below us.  She has learning disabilities as far as I can establish...although the Turks will just attach the label "she has a mental problem".  People in the village are kind, they give things to this woman and her husband.  When she was sick last year, two neighbours went in and washed her thoroughly, with hot water that we provided.

When my FIL was here recently we had a discussion about this woman and mental health/learning disabilities in general.  He has a typical Turkish attitude.  He is a good muslim, he gives to those less fortunate than him, and just assumes that people like this woman, don't actually understand anything, so everyone must help.  I did try to explain that just just giving things..although kind, doesn't actually achieve much in enabling this woman to have the best possible life that she can.  That it would be better for people to spend time teaching her how to wash herself and her clothes, how to shop for food, how to cook, how to keep her house and garden clean.   FIL's response was that she doesn't understand because she has a mental problem.

That's rubbish...I know she understands.  I don't communicate with her as much as others do but I am well aware from her body language and her behaviour, that she understands more than people give her credit for.
FIL didn't believe me...even though he knows this is my area of we agreed to disagree.

I found myself having a similar conversation last night with Mr A.   Unfortunately he shares some of his father's opinions on the subject.  But to be fair he did listen to what I had to say.   I tried to explain that it's so important for these people to be treated as human beings, and that we shouldn't just be GIVING and DOING but that we should be ENABLING.  This is the only way that this woman and others like her will ever gain self respect and achieve a better way of life.

At the moment this woman and her husband live in absolute squalor.  They never wash themselves or their clothes. They don't clean their house or garden.  They don't cook.  The rubbish piles up, causing a health hazard to them and others around them...until it reaches a point where a neighbour will just go in and light a bonfire to burn it all.  Their toilet is just a pile of bricks in a semi-circle in their garden where they squat and do their business.  Although to be honest the woman would often just come out of her house and squat in front of it.  No-one has bothered to explain to her that this is not acceptable...until Mr A noticed one day last year.  He told her that it was wrong.  He said that if her husband would build up their "outside toilet"  with more bricks he would give them wood to put on the top to make a roof...which he did.  I've not seen her squat just outside the house she DOES understand!

I would like to do more, but because I'm a foreigner and she is wary of me, she won't listen to me when I try to talk to her.  The only conversation we have is when I walk down the hill and she shouts out "where are you going?"...I tell her...but any attempts at further conversation and she scurries away.

Last night I did feel a bit like I was wasting my time talking to Mr A about what could be done to enable this woman to achieve more.  So imagine my surprise this morning to find him out in the garden talking to her over the wall.   He was telling her how to tidy up and clean her garden.  He was very patient with her and repeated himself many times, but finally she got the message, and has been spending the past hour or so having a good sort out!   A bit later I heard him talking to our neighbour Şevke, and saying wouldn't it be nice if she and some of the other women could take some time to teach the woman how to wash and to cook.  I'm hoping that they will although you can't force people to do something that seems alien to them.

You know how much I love the Turks.  They are kind and generous people...they have good hearts.  They will do anything for anyone.  They just don't have the knowledge or experience to deal effectively with mental health problems or learning disabilities.

It's difficult to change attitudes.  It takes time.  But if we can enable just one person to become independent it has to be worth the effort.

ON MY SOAPBOX DAY! Post No.1 Earthquakes

I get quite annoyed by the complacency and indifference shown by this and previous governments of this country, in doing something to prevent the devastation and loss of life from earthquakes.  Oh they talk about it...a lot...but very little action is taken.

Turkey has earthquakes every day...minor ones that are not even noticed of course...but people are always worried about the next big one.  I've blogged about it before here.

This morning I read this  article in Todays Zaman where the Mayor of Istanbul is  talking about improvements that need to be made to buildings in the city.  They've had  11 years to take action since the big earthquake that saw the loss of 18,000 lives.  But just by reading this article, it's clear to see that no-one is really taking any responsibility.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The effects of bad weather

We are having really nasty weather at the moment.  Gale force winds accompanied by storms and torrential rain.  Strangely though, it's still warm, temperatures in the 70sF.  At the bottom of the hill in the village, the roads are beginning to flood, and the centre of Milas is the same.    The rain shows no sign of letting up so I have a feeling we could be stranded anytime now.

In the early hours of this morning my UK TV website was restored...only in part, as it seems there is still major work to be done.  At the moment they have restored a few of the channels, which is better than nothing, and gradually the others will return.

However, because of the weather my signal is quite weak so the screen keeps freezing.  So much so that it's impossible to watch. 

It rained continually through the night so this morning found me mopping up water that has leaked into the house through the uPVC panels and window frames.  So we now have rolled up towels around every window frame and along the skirting boards under the uPVC panel in the sitting room.  Thank goodness we still have a pile of towels from the hamam business...I'm going to need them!  Mr A and I spoke last week about getting silicone to redo the window frames on the outside...yes we spoke about it and did nothing...and now the rain has beaten us to it.

I was just finishing the mopping up when suddenly there was a flash of lightening...only one...and there have been none since.  But that one flash was enough...yes you've guessed hit my modem AGAİN.   The phone line is also dead.  Unlike the last time this happened, when the modem expoded into thousands of pieces...this time there was just a pop...and all the lights went out except the "power" light.

We phoned my kind friend Mr Keleş at TTNet in Milas, who referred us to a colleague who told us to bring the modem into Milas to be checked.  So off we went, the car wading through water all the way there.  Waiting for us was Mr Umit...also a very helpful man.  He tested the modem and said it was not working, but there was a chance it could be fixed but would have to be sent away.   Mr A used his Delboy charm as usual and persuaded Mr Umit to lend us another modem to use in the meantime.  We then bought a better adaptor, one with short circuit protection, which hopefully will prevent the same thing from happening again.

We've plugged it in, it's working, but now we have no internet connection at all and the telephone is still dead.  We have reported it to Turk Telekom who say they will be out to repair it as soon as possible...aha!  there's that word "soon" again!

So I am now using Mr A's mobile device plugged into my laptop, and I am connected.  However this clever little thing doesn't have enough power or bandwith...or whatever...for me to run my TV website.  So still no TV.  But I am connected to the internet...even though it is very slow...and I'm very grateful for that.  At least I'm not completely cut off from the outside world.

Mr A started selling the mesir macunu products again on Sunday, and it was a reasonably good start.  Yesterday, however, he sold nothing...but the weather was so bad I doubt anyone would venture out of their houses to look at his wares.   Today is even worse, but not to be deterred, he had an idea which he has put to the supplier.  He has offered to talk to shopkeepers in the bigger towns, to see if they are interested in stocking the products.  If they are, he will refer them to the supplier to place an order, and Mr A will get 10% of the cost of the order.  He has to do nothing else other than refer them.  I think this is an excellent idea, and it doesn't clash with Mr A's market as he only sells to villages.  So he has now set off through the floods to Milas again, where he knows of at least 4 or 5 shops that may be interested.

And he has taken his blanket and pillow with him just in case he gets stranded by the flooding and can't get back home!

Meanwhile, I'm still mopping up.  I'm trying to find somewhere that's not damp to dry my washing.  I'm wishing for my phone and internet connection to be restored "soon" but I don't hold out much hope.  I think it's likely to be extremely difficult for the engineers to carry out the work in this awful weather.

Even though this post could be interpreted as Ayak just having another moan about life (which you are all used to by now!) I'm actually quite happy.  Must be the effects of the bad weather!

Monday, 18 October 2010 long is "soon"?

I'm still without my UK TV website.  I haven't been able to watch any TV this weekend.

Some of you may remember that because I had subscribed to this great website, which streams all the UK channels to my laptop, we no longer needed a television.  I never watched it...Mr A wasn't bothered about watching was just taking up we got rid of it.

I always thought that I was one of those people who can live without television, but it seems like I can't.

That little sign above is what has been appearing on my screen every time I click on the link for the website to check if normal service has been resumed.  What is so irritating about it is that it refers to "scheduled maintenance".  If it was scheduled, then why was there no warning to their subscribers that this was about to happen?

I had tried to get the site on Saturday morning, and at first I had the error HTTP404 message, then later "very busy...try later".  Then eventually the little red message appeared.   Occasionally though I click on the link and get taken to another website...with the same name...which is under construction...don't understand that at all.

I have tried phoning them (thank goodness for my cheap skype subscription) but am just asked to leave a message...which I have.  I have emailed them but this morning I received a Postmaster email saying my email has been delayed.

I don't know what else to do, and I'm concerned that I am becoming a little obsessive about it!  I should probably get off the laptop and find something more useful to do!

But mostly I'm just wondering what "soon" means?   I always understood soon to be something that was hour...a couple of hours maybe.

What do you think "soon" means?  Could it be that I'm so impatient that I can't accept that it could mean days, weeks or even months?

Saturday, 16 October 2010

It's Saturday again!

Not that Saturday is any different to any other day of the week's just that Saturdays seem to come around so quickly.  A sign of getting older I think...the weeks rush by far too fast for my liking! update.  Well as brief an update as possible about Mr A because I am becoming so exasperated I'm fast losing the will to live.

He still thinks he can sell the mesir macunu products.   So (you may ask) why did he return the rest of the stock at the beginning of the week for a refund?  Well it would seem that the remaining products were ones that weren't so popular.  He found another supplier today who has more of a variety of products on offer, some of which are cheaper.  An order was placed, a price given, but then we were quite shocked to learn the cost of sending it by cargo.  Cargo costs in Turkey are usually pretty reasonable but this company charges by the kilo and its expensive.  We would also have had to pay a fee for paying the cost of the order into the company bank account, which we couldn't do today because it's Saturday.  So we would have had to wait until Monday, pay the money, and then the goods would be despatched to arrive on Tuesday.

We weighed up the cost of all this against the cost of petrol to make the trip to Manisa, and there frankly wasn't much in it, so as Mr A doesn't want to waste precious selling days waiting, he set off at lunchtime today to collect the stock.  He will make some stops on the way back to start selling, return home tonight and start again tomorrow...this time staying locally.   Ahem...which was my idea two weeks ago...but of course he knew best (which he didn't!)

And he seems to have learned a lesson from the distress he caused me last weekend when I couldn't contact him, and has just borrowed someone's phone to call me quickly so that I could call him back.

And that's all I want to say about this, other than he has tried desperately to find some other kind of work locally but there is absolutely nothing, so at least he's doing something!

I'm really annoyed today because I couldn't log on to my UK TV website for some reason.  It just keeps coming up with "host not found"  then I get the HTTP404 message so I have no idea what's happening.  I have internet connection...everything else is OK but just cannot get my TV site.  And I was so looking forward to Strictly Come Dancing and the X Factor tonight.  I've tried phoning the company but there's no-one there...perhaps they've gone bust?  Or worse still maybe this is yet another site that the Turkish government have decided to ban....who knows?

The weather has been very unpredictable today.  I set off to Milas this afternoon in temps of around skies...lovely.  Then as I was shopping some clouds suddenly appeared and it started to rain.  It stopped 10 minutes later...brilliant sunshine again.  It has been doing this all afternoon.  It's dark now and a few minutes ago I heard the rumble of thunder so I think we are likely to get a storm tonight.  I love watching storms....well tonight I'll have little TV website to watch and no television!

So...that's another Saturday gone.   Have a good weekend all xx

Friday, 15 October 2010

Blog Action Day...Water

Today is Blog Action Day 2010  organised by

I have to admit that before moving to Turkey I very much took water for granted.  It was always on was just there...I didn't give it much thought.

I've now had almost 13 years of regular water cuts.  This week in particular the water has been off every day for between 4 and 8 hours.  It's no great hardship really.  I have just adapted to a situation that the Turks have grown up with.  I'm used to it but it has made me very aware of how precious water is, and how the lack of water in other countries can mean the difference between health and sickness....and life and death.

I no longer take water for granted.

Some of my fellow bloggers have posted about water today to raise awareness......and here are some of them which I hope you will find as interesting as I did.

Heiko at  Path to Self Sufficiency

Anki at A Students Diary

Gaelikaa at Gaelikaa's Diary

Thursday, 14 October 2010


I don't know why it is that I seem to have spent my life waiting...waiting for the next thing to happen.

Sometimes I know what I'm waiting for.  It can be something I have waited for with excited Christmas and birthdays as a child, or the arrival of a child or grandchild.   Or it can be something that fills me with dread like bills when you know you don't have enough money.

I think I'm a little like my late father.  I always felt that he wasn't quite happy enough, that he was waiting to be happier.  I remember him saying to me when he was almost 70 years old that he was still waiting for his life to start.  That's really sad isn't it?

These days I wait for Mr A's latest adventure...I always hope that the next one will be the one that earns some money to make our lives a little more comfortable and to stop me worrying so much. He is also the most accident prone person I have ever known, so I'm often waiting for the next accident or incident.  I never have long to wait!

In my last post, he was on his way home.  He obtained a refund for the unused stock...and off he went.
Just outside Izmir he had an accident.  Well not him personally, but the car.  As he was turning a corner one of the front wheels came off the car and hit another car.  No-one was hurt.  The damage to the other car was minimal and cost little to repair, which Mr A paid.  But then most of the refund money was used to fix the wheel back onto our car.

So he finally came home, tail between legs (because he feels ashamed about this last venture, like others before, has not earned any money).   I sent him straight off for a shower.  He has been in the same clothes since Friday and the smell wasn't pleasant I can tell you!  He saw little point in taking more clothes with him because he was sleeping in the car and wouldn't have been able to shower and change anyway.

Neither of us felt much like talking, so we waited until this morning to discuss future plans.  We have two options.  Either he goes away to somewhere like Istanbul to work for the winter, or he looks for a job locally.  We both know that his being away from home has caused many problems between us this year, but there's not much in the way of work in this area.  However, he has been into Milas this evening to see a man about some building work.  There's nothing immediately, but if he waits a few more days, there's a possibility of some work for the winter.  If that doesn't happen, then I'm afraid I'll just have to put up with him going away again. I am again...waiting.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


"Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men."
— Joseph Conrad

Men!  Aren't they just infuriating at times?  They just don't understand women and their emotions...that's for sure.

Mr Ayak is off all over the place trying to sell his wares.  We keep in touch by mobile phone.   I worry about him driving so many miles.  It's an old car...anything could happen.

He set off on Friday morning, with his blanket and pillow, and I have been mapping his progress by phone since. I spoke to him early on Sunday  and he told me the name of the place where he was.  I was a bit concerned because it's so far away.  He's selling but he's using the proceeds to put petrol in the car and he seems to be travelling further and further away.  I don't see the logic in that frankly, but he's a man, he says he knows what he's doing.   Don't they always? (well they think they do).  I think he should be closer to home and not using so much petrol, but he reckons this stuff doesn't sell closer to home.

During the last call on Sunday he said he was in traffic.  I said "call me later when you reach your destination".  He didn't call for hours so I tried ringing him.  This was just before 4pm.  The phone was switched off.  This isn't unusual.  Sometimes there's no signal, sometimes he switches it off when he's driving.  So I left him a message.  Hours later, the phone was still off.  I left another message.  By almost midnight, the phone was still off and I was getting worried.   It was off all night.  If he had had an accident how on earth would I know?  Naturally I couldn't sleep.

Yesterday morning I phoned my FIL.  I explained that it was most unusual for Mr A to do this and if I had been in England I would have been ringing the police or the hospitals by now.  FIL was also concerned.  He phoned around various relatives (some living in roughly the area where Mr A was) and also left a voicemail on Mr A's phone.  He then said leave it a while longer.   Still nothing.  Early afternoon FIL and I spoke again and he said that we should leave it until tomorrow, then he would call the police.

Finally...early evening Mr A popped up on MSN on my laptop.  He was in an internet cafe.  His phone was stolen a little while after I last spoke to him.  I didn't ask him how this happened but I suspect, as usual, he left it in the car with the doors unlocked.  I don't know how many times I've told him not to do this!  He has reported it to the police, but of course there's no chance he'll get it back.  So we'll just have to report it to Turkcell and get the simcard blocked (easier said than done...but that's another story!)

I tried to explain to him how worried I was, and how worried his father was, that we had no way of contacting him for some 26 hours.  And do you know?  He just didn't get it.   He just said "you don't have to worry...I'm not a child, I can take care of myself".   I give up!!

So last night he was attempting to return in the direction of home.  He doesn't have enough money for petrol to get here, but says he will sell stuff on the way. 

When I switched on my laptop this morning, there was a message from him on MSN which he had sent late last night saying he had driven back to Manisa (this is where we bought the stock).  He will attempt to return the existing stock to the factory and get a refund...then make his way home.  And then he will find another job.

So that's the end of his latest adventure.  I had my doubts about it all along but he wouldn't be told.  Goodness knows what his next plan will be.  At this moment I have a mixture of emotions.  I'm exasperated by him...although I shouldn't be because I should be used to this by now.  But most of all I'm just relieved that he is safe.

I know it's going to be like this all always is...trying to find whatever work is going just to survive until the season starts again in April/May.  We'll muddle through as usual.



Monday, 11 October 2010

An Award

I am very happy to have received the above award today from gaelikaa at gaelikaa's diary.   Gaelikaa and I share many similar experiences in our lives...she in India and me in Turkey,  and I consider her now to be a good friend.  Thankyou gaelikaa.

There's nearly always a task connected with an award and this one requires me to list 8 facts about myself so here goes:

1.  I hate the heat...even though I live in a hot climate...when it's hot I stay inside.

2.  I have been married three times.

3.  I'm useless at gardening...always have been...and wish I wasn't.

4.  I'd love to visit China and India.  Their cultures fascinate me.

5.  I believe in being completely open about my depression....and about mental health problems in general.
     We need to get rid of the stigma associated with mental health, and stop treating people with such      
      problems as if they are mad.

6.  I've always been a bit of a control freak and try very hard not to be.

7.  I love Cadbury's chocolate.

8.  I love my daughter and my grandson and miss them terribly.

And I'd like to pass this award on to the following fellow bloggers, who are just a few of the blogs I regularly visit and enjoy:



A Nomadic View

French Leave

Ploughing Through Life

Posting comments on my blog

One of my followers mentioned today that he was unable to post comments on my blog using Mozilla Firefox but WAS able to post using Internet Explorer.

Now I don't understand all this techy stuff as you know...but for those of you who do, and for those of you who have problems posting comments, I thought it worth a mention.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

My Village in Pictures

I've come across some photos taken by other people in our village and I thought I would share some of these with you.  They are in no particular order, and most were taken during the last couple of years.

To the left..the start of my climb up the hill to my house

The floods in Jan 2010. The white shed is the village milk collection point.

Just entering the village.  The building on the left is the Muhtar's office.

The road at the bottom of my hill. The dolmus in the distance is just in front of the shop and teahouse.

The village infants school

From the right. My neighbour, a friend, my neighbour's daughter and granddaughter

My next door neighbour's house

The secondary school on the outskirts of the village

View from the top of the hill behind our house

Another neighbour taking her cow and donkey for a walk...this is quite close to my house.

The Adventure Bug

I've mentioned before ( here ) about Mr Ayak's constant need for adventure.

Of course if we were financially stable, Mr A's life would be one big adventure, that's for sure.  He would no doubt want to travel the world and experience everything.

He has itchy feet.  He always has to be on the move.  Even when he's at home, he can't sit in one place and relax.  He paces up and down, goes from one room to another and can't wait for the next "adventure" to begin.

As I mentioned in the link to my previous post, I used to follow him, but I gradually got fed up with moving so much, so when we came to live in this village, I decided that I would stay put, and because there is no work in this area for him, he would go wherever he could find a job.

His going away for periods of time in previous years, when we lived in different areas, didn't bother me at all.  I like my own company.  I also had friends in those areas, so I was able to socialise whenever I wanted to.  But it's different here.  I have no friends and no social life.  OK the women of the village are really lovely, and  friendly, but I have nothing in common with them, so I'm left feeling very lonely at times.

This year has been a  difficult one for us.  I found it  hard to be alone here last winter, particularly when I fell and injured my back while Mr A was away in Istanbul.  He did fly down of course, and lost his job because of it.  The hamam business didn't work out, and on top of that (and also in some respects because of that) our marriage has suffered as a result.

Mr A now knows that I am not happy for us to spend so much time apart, and if this situation continues, then the marriage would ultimately come to an end.  Neither of us want this to happen so we've had to reach a compromise.

Working together at the hamam for the last three weeks of business proved to be the turning point.  We couldn't have managed it if we hadn't bought the car.  We know now that this is the way forward.  Anything that we have planned for next year, we will do together.

But we still have to get through yet another winter with little money, and so we come to Mr A's latest (ad)venture.  It's now one week since he began.  It got off to a reasonably good start but it's not been too good since.   Apart from Monday night when he slept in the car, he has returned home every night.  I think this is where the problem lies.  He needs to go further away to areas where he knows he can sell.  He hasn't been doing this because he is aware that I don't want to be alone, and has come home each night...and naturally has used more petrol in doing so.

I told him yesterday that it was OK for him to go further afield.  We have to shift this stock so I have to put my needs to one side for a while.  So off he set with his stock, blanket and pillow, and he phoned me last night when he had reached his planned destination.  He is in a village somewhere....with just enough money to buy a couple of glasses of tea, and no money for petrol until he sells something. He doesn't seem concerned about this.  Somehow it gives him more of an incentive to sell.

 I had to phone him at 6am because there is a market there today.  I said to him last night that although I know he is trying to earn money, I feel that all this travelling satisfies his need for adventure.  Surprisingly, he said that he felt that he was getting too old for this, and that he really wanted to settle down and spend more time at home with me.

I have come to the conclusion that if you are in a relationship with someone who has this need for adventure, you just have to allow them to get on with it.    There's no point in trying to stop doesn't work.   Eventually, it would seem, they just get it out of their system and the adventure bug disappears.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Slow progress

It's been almost a week now since Mr A started his new venture.

He has covered a huge area and hundreds of villages. 

The week started fairly well but it would seem that people just aren't buying anything these days.  They don't have money...I know how they's a sign of the times isn't it?

He has established that some villages have still not received payment for the produce they have harvested and this should happen in a couple of weeks, so he thinks he is perhaps a little early and that business will pick up.

At the moment we are spending money on fuel for the car and for the last two days he has sold nothing.  As usual he remains optimistic while I just worry.  Well one of us has to!   I wish I could be more like him with his laidback attitude to life and the belief that everything will be fine... that it's all in the hands of Allah and he will take care of us.  

And talking of Allah (or God) and religion.  Mr A and I have never discussed it in almost 13 years together.  But a couple of weeks ago we were having a conversation and I expressed my views and he said he would never have married me if he had thought that I didn't believe in God.   Well I was a bit upset at this remark at first until he went on to explain what he really meant.  He said that if the subject had come up when we first met, then maybe he wouldn't have considered getting to know me better.  But he doesn't regret not knowing  because he is glad that he married me.  So that's OK imminent divorce on the grounds of not believing! 

Religion came up in conversation with FIL whilst he was here.  He is a deeply religious man..he attends mosque regularly, and even when he doesn't he stops to pray at the correct times.   It's hard to explain to someone like this that you don't believe, that it's the way in which different religions have been in conflict for centuries that has caused me to feel this way.  However he did agree with me when I said that I felt quite strongly that the praying was not so important as the way people lead their lives.  You can lead an honest and unselfish life, always caring for others, without being religious.

I've just surprised myself by writing the previous two paragraphs...because I rarely get into any discussion about religion.  It's a personal issue as far as I am concerned.  I respect people for their beliefs, and accept that it must be a great comfort at times to have this belief, but I hope that people respect my views too.

And that's enough on the subject I think!

I've been hunting around for cheap flights.  I desperately want to see my daughter and grandson sometime soon.  I finally found flights with Pegasus to go to England on 20th November.   Just for 8 days...but better than nothing.  Of course I can't afford it...but sometimes there are more important things in life than money.  I can't wait!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Wonderful News

I am delighted to be doing this post to tell you that I am to become a grandmother for the second time.

My daughter is expecting her second child, a brother or sister for Billy...due 26th April.  Three days after Billy's 2nd Birthday.

This  is the pic of the first scan which was done today, and everything is fine.  I did know a couple of weeks ago, but was sworn to secrecy until today.

Well done my darling daughter.  I'm so happy for you.  

Hotmail Problems

Is  anyone else experiencing problems with Hotmail at the moment?

I am signed into Windows Live but cannot open my Hotmail Inbox.  I am getting pop-up boxes every time a new email arrives but cannot open my mailbox, either by clicking on the mailbox icon on the top right hand corner, or by any other means.

There was a problem reported by Windows concerning this, but it has since been reported that it has been rectified, so I'm at a loss as to why I can't open my mailbox.  I have tried logging in to Mr A's Windows Live account and  can open his mailbox with no problem.


Update:   I've just been able to open my mailbox so I assume this was definitely a Windows Live problem.

Isn't it frustrating to see pop-ups telling you that you have new emails but you can't actually read them?

Anyway normal service has been resumed (at least for the moment) although I'm aware that there are still some of my followers who aren't able to post comments here.  I'm afraid I've given up complaining to Blogger...they very rarely respond or actually deal with the problems.

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Travelling Salesman (or Mr A's current adventure)

We packed the stock of Mesir Macunu into the car.  We have small and large jars and also some packs of toffee type sweets (also made from the same recipe).  We also had 5kg of mesir macunu lokum (turkish delight) and we weighed this out into 200mg bags.

Mr A set off on Saturday to tour the local villages with his wares.  On Sunday he went a little further to Mumcular (on the way to Bodrum) where he knew there would be many people attending a market.

It was my idea to start locally, although Mr A had doubts about how well the products would sell in this area.  He sold a few items, at a good profit, but not enough to get excited about, but there are other areas where he knows it will sell better, which means travelling further.

So today he set off on a trip which will probably take about 4 days. He has taken a blanket and pillow with him and will sleep in the car to save money.  I packed up as much food for him that wouldn't go off, and some extra clothes.  I'm afraid personal hygiene won't be at the top of his list of priorities over the next few days...but it won't be noticed in the villages, where people don't worry too much about such things!

 He headed towards Muğla and then on for about 40km, stopping at villages along the way.  It's been a slow start, but it's still early days yet.  I think it will take a while yet before we actually start making money on this venture.  Apart from the cost of petrol, in each village he has to pay the Muhtar for an announcement to be made on the public address system announcing his arrival.  And he also has to buy tea in the teahouses...because it's a good place to start.  He told me this evening that he thinks he must have drunk around 20 glasses of tea today and he's getting a bit sick of it...but needs must!

I have been trying to print off leaflets detailing the benefits of mesir macunu with a printer that has no instructions with it, and a shortage of paper.  I just can't get the hang of it so tomorrow I will download instructions from the internet and pop into Milas to buy some more paper.

I'm keeping my fingers and everything else crossed that the car keeps going and that Mr A manages to clear the current stock in as short a time as possible.  We really need this to work!

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Professional complainers and a Road Trip

We've all met professional complainers I'm sure.  Those people who will always find fault in everything, or who are so used to complaining about everything that it becomes a habit.

We get them here in the tourist industry of course.  They complain about the flights, hotel accommodation, food, etc etc.  Sometimes there is justification and matters have to be dealt with, but often it's just petty moaning for the sake of it.  I once mentioned in a blog post how some tourists in Antalya  complained to their hotel manager about the early morning call to prayer from the mosque, and requested that it be "switched off" do you deal with that kind of complaint?

Yesterday morning we arrived at the hamam and made the decision to close the business.  There are  no more new customers at the hotel, and it's time to call it a day.  As we were busy packing up, a young girl came down to the hamam.  She and her friend had the full packet of treatments earlier this week. I remembered her because she and her friend haggled over the price.  I reduced it slightly but they weren't satisfied so Mr A did it for half price.  The treatments usually take around an hour in the most an hour and 15 minutes.

The girls first complained that the sauna was too hot.  They then complained that the water in the hamam wasn't hot enough.   At the end of their massages (Mr A did one and Turan the other) they said that they felt they were being fact their treatments lasted almost 2 hours.  To pacify them we explained that they had in fact had longer than normal, but if they were not satisfied they could return later in the day and we would give them another face mask and massage on the house.  They didn't return.

So when this girl appeared yesterday morning, she said that her friend had a bruise under her eye and that Mr A had caused this when he massaged her face.  I know that this is impossible.  He doesn't massage underneath the eyes because it is a sensitive area.  The girl insisted that it was his fault.  Mr A asked where the girl was, and could her friend bring her to the hamam so that we could have a look. "Oh she's too upset to come here" replied the girl......oh right!  The moaning and complaining went on for some time, and finally Mr A, actually feeling pretty stressed anyway at having to close up the business, finally snapped.  He raised his voice and said that he could not accept that he had injured this girl and without seeing for ourselves, why should we believe what she was saying.  The girl then became very insulting and said she was disgusted at our attitude and would not be spoken to in this manner.  Mr A apologised for raising his voice, and said he would refund the "injured" girl's money as a gesture of goodwill.  The girl said she thought they should both get a refund (even though she had been perfectly happy with her treatment).  OK...said Mr A we will refund your money as well.

The girl wanted the refund in English sterling and I explained that I didn't have any on me at that time, but had some at home, that we were leaving yesterday but would ensure that the money was returned as soon as possible.  I said it may be in the evening (last night) but I couldn't promise because we were off on a long road trip but that it would be returned before they left the hotel.  She still muttered on about our attitude and let slip that they were getting used to this, having had a similar experience with a waiter in Gumbet on another occasion where they had complained about the service....oh do you see what I see here?

We packed up and took our things back to the house, and then set off for Manisa. With a couple of stops it took us 4 hours.  During this time, the moaning girl had cornered Turan before he left and got him to ring me on my mobile so that she could talk to me.  She moaned again about the situation and asked when I would be there with her money.  I explained again.  She then rang another 3 times saying the same thing. Each time I explained that we would make sure they had their money before the end of their holiday.

We found the factory in Manisa and negotiated a good price for some stock for Mr A's selling business.  The guy we dealt with speaks excellent English, a bonus for me, because I can now deal with ordering and delivery of stock and leave Mr A free to sell. 

Then we set off on the long journey home.  We stopped after an hour and as Mr A was getting back into the car he leaned on his seat and it collapsed.  Funnily enough we had just been talking about how overweight he is and that he needs to start dieting...this incident confirmed it!   As we were trying to fix the seat, the bloody girl rang yet again.  I told her that we were stuck trying to fix our car and that it was unlikely Mr A or I would be able to return to the hotel last night.  "A likely story" she said "I could have told you this morning that you had no intention of refunding our money".   I asked her if she was accusing me of lying and she said yes.  I had the call on speakerphone.  Mr A heard every word.  He took the phone from me and said to the girl "Madam it is very clear to me that you have accused me of something I didn't do.  You are now accusing my wife of being a liar.  We have done all we can to please you but it's not enough.    I believe this is just an attempt to get your money back and that you are not being honest with me.  I have now decided that I am not refunding your money...not one penny.  So I'm afraid you will just have to live with it"

Not entirely satisfactory of course.  I would rather this hadn't happened on our last day of business.  It's left a bitter taste.  Mr A is upset by it all, particularly because no-one...all season...has ever complained.  Quite the opposite.  We have had much praise for the treatments from very satisfied customers.

Unable to fix the seat, Mr A had to drive with it propped up by the boxes of stock.  we'll need to get it fixed today.  We finally arrived home just after midnight, fed the dogs and immediately fell asleep.

So today is the first day of our next adventure!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Power cuts

So much for catching up with chores yesterday.  The power went off at around 9.30am and didn't return until 12 hours later.

The water went off at the same time but returned early afternoon.  What was very strange though was that I managed to get my internet connection about an hour before the electricity came back on.  I don't know how that could have happened...perhaps there was just a little power coming through at the time.  Who knows?

Mr Ayak returned home and discovered that the power had returned to the rest of the village and it seemed that it hadn't reached our house for some strange reason.   I didn't mind too much.  I was happy sitting in the dark because at least I was connected to the internet.  But...typical man...he comes in...switches off all the trip switches and then back on again..thinking this might do something.  It lost me my internet connection and we still didn't have electricity.  He phoned the electricity company and eventually power was restored.

The in-laws left yesterday lunchtime.  They have to make a detour on their journey to visit the elderly grandfather who has been in hospital.  I am amazed at these grandparents, who are in their 90s and are still hanging on to life.  I spoke to grandfather on the phone when we made the usual phone calls during Şeker Bayram.  He and grandmother get quite emotional when they have phone calls and usually end up in tears...bless their hearts.  We haven't seen them for such a long time, and we really must try to make the journey soon.

Mr A earned some money yesterday acting as a taxi service for one of the guests at the hotel, who had to make a round trip to Torba to collect his son.  Mr A had to leave home at 6.30am yesterday to do this.  He then did the same trip early evening.  Other than that he only had two customers at the hamam yesterday.  There's nothing so far booked for today or tomorrow, and just one customer on Sunday, so I think we will be closing then.  It's really not worth spending money on fuel to get there now.

The temperature is dropping at night now and I can feel winter just around the corner.  I love this time of the year.  The days are still very warm and it's lovely being able to sit outside without suffocating in the heat.

I can't believe it's the 1st October today.  This year has flown by.  I am desperately missing Billy and my daughter and we are hoping to scrape enough money together for an air ticket so that I can go over to see them within the next couple of months...another case of wait and see.

I'm posting this early because more power cuts are due today...and I need to switch on the washing machine and get out the vacuum cleaner before we set off for the hotel.  I should make a start on the rapidly growing pile of ironing too, but it'll just have to wait!