Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Just passing through...

Thank you all for your comments on my previous post.  No time to reply individually but I very much appreciate your thoughts and good wishes.

It's hectic here, and tiring.  In my head I still have the energy I had 30 years ago, but the reality is quite different.

I'm posting now because I was woken up half an hour ago by my daughter's cat throwing up and decided to clear up the mess before someone treads in less chore for my daughter to do in her busy life..

It was Billy's birthday yesterday so here are a couple of photos

Birthday breakfast

Big boy's bike

Cheeky Jimi!
See you soon xx

Friday, 20 April 2012

A quick hello

The past few days have been very hectic and my anxiety levels hit the roof.  Mr A was in Ankara on Sunday following the death of his grandmother.  The funeral took place on Monday and I expected him to return home on Tuesday in time to take me to the airport on Wednesday morning and the dogs to Gwen in Selçuk.

As is normal in my life, most things don't go to plan.   It was very windy on Tuesday and by evening we were hit by gale force winds again.  Far worse than those last week.   Mr A didn't in fact leave Ankara until late evening, and because the weather was so bad had to drive very slowly.  It's a long journey, and I was anxious for his safety.   It was also impossible to sleep because of the noise from the wind and the damage it was causing, so I sat up all night.

I was showered, packed and ready by 5am,even though I wasn't due to leave the house until 7.45am.

I was reluctant to phone Mr A because it's difficult for him to answer while he is driving in such bad conditons but by 7.15am I had heard nothing so called him.   He was still over 200 km away so clearly was not going to arrive home in time to take me to the airport.  He phoned a friend in the village who kindly collected me from the house and took me to catch my flight.

And what a flight!  I've never known turbulence like it.  Several people were making use of the sick bags, and the cabin staff wouldn't serve drinks for fear of spilling them on the passengers.  By the time we reached Istanbul, I was feeling pretty shaken up, but at least the wind had died down.

However, even though we boarded the Heathrow flight on time, it was delayed by 2 hours.  I'm never too bothered about delays but it's not so good when the time is spent on the runway not being able to get up and walk about.

Mr A arrived home around midday, slept all afternoon, then drove to Selçuk with the dogs, then on to Kusadasi.

I finally arrived at my daughter's house, where Billy was jumping up and down with the excitement of my arrival.  I was absolutely exhausted, but getting those first hugs with my daughter and grandsons, all the anxiety melted away.

I'm still tired..those gorgeous boys absolutely wear me out.  But I'm loving every minute of it.  It's Billy's 3rd birthday on Monday, and we are taking him to Pizza Hut for tea..his favourite.   Jimi will be 1 year old on the 29th, so we are having a joint party for the two of them on Saturday 28th.  There will be lots of family and friends and I am so hoping we might get some sunshine.

I'm not sure that I will get any more time to blog, or catch up on anyone else's blogs before I return home on the 30th.   Then I think I may need a few days sleep before I get back to normal.

See you all again soon xxx

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Deaths, Anniversaries and Birthdays

It's been a week of deaths.  Three elderly people have died in the village in the past 5 days.  

Mr A was due home on Saturday as we hoped to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary.   However, he was sitting chatting to a friend in Kusadasi on Thursday evening, and on Friday the man died of a heart attack.  As is normal here, the funeral takes place the following day, which was Saturday, so Mr A didn't arrive home until late evening.

He did however bring me two huge cartons of my favourite icecream and 12 bars of Milka chocolate.  It's not Cadburys of course but it's the next best thing here.  I suspect that whilst I am trying to shed extra kilos, he is trying to fatten me up!

As Mr A wasn't due back in Kusadasi until Monday, we decided to go over to Bodrum on Sunday to see Gwen and Suleyman, and around 10am were just about to leave when he received a call from his father in Ankara, to say that Mr A's grandmother had been taken into hospital and was dying.  She has been very ill for some time, but amazingly seems to rally round and keep going. 

Mr A has always been close to her and refers to her as his mother, because she brought him up from an early age after his mother left.  He hasn't seen her for a while and because his father was pretty sure the end was near, Mr A decided to drive up to Ankara.  It's a long journey...about 9 or 10 hours..and he was hoping that he would get there in time to say his goodbyes.

Sadly, when he was a few hours away from Ankara, he received a call to say that she had died. 

All the family had gathered in Ankara and the funeral took place yesterday. 

I'm very sad for Mr A.  He asked me to phone his father to express my sympathy.  This was very hard for me to do, and I really didn't want to.  After the way he has treated me, I felt like a hypocrite having to be nice to him.   However, I did it because it was the right thing to do for Mr A.  The conversation lasted no more than about 5 seconds.  I just said I was sorry for his loss and to pass on my sympathy to the family.  He said " are you".  I said "I'm fine thanks".  He then said "See you" and hung up.  Duty done.

I'm glad I'm not in Ankara.  I find it really difficult to deal with all the weeping and wailing that goes on for days when someone here dies.  I hope I don't sound heartless when I say that I can't understand why there is so much weeping for an old lady who died at 95 years old.  She had a good life and her family should be happy that she did.

The one certainty in life is that we are all going to die.  I save my tears for those who die too young.

And to change the subject...and on a much lighter note...I'm off to England tomorrow to spend 12 days with my daughter and grandsons.  While I'm there it will be Billy's 3rd birthday and Jimi's 1st.  We have a joint party to arrange for the boys, and my daughter is also roping me into some decorating.  It's going to be a busy time..but a very enjoyable one.

Mr A is still in Ankara and due to drive back this evening, in time to take me to the airport in the morning and to drop the dogs off at my other friend Gwen's house in Selçuk, before heading back to Kusadasi until the end of the month.

It's blowing a gale here today, and more rain is forecast for tomorrow.  I sincerely hope the wind drops before my flights take off tomorrow or it will be a bumpy ride.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

All about cookies

No...not the ones we eat.  I'm talking about the cookies that track your movements on the internet, and the reason why we get so much spam and pop-up adverts while we are browsing.

I read THIS ARTİCLE İN THE GUARDİAN the other day and those of you in the UK will be pleased to know that there is new legislation afoot to reduce the amount of tracking by advertisers.

At the time I was reading the article, I didn't give it much thought.  But yesterday I was having an email conversation with a friend and cigars were mentioned.

Sure enough, a spam email trying to sell me cigars, appeared in my Junk file this morning.

Quite worrying isn't it?  Nothing is private anymore.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

This week....

The past few days has consisted of mostly sleep.  Three lots of  medication I have from my hospital visit on Wednesday all list drowsiness as a side effect.   So I've hardly been able to stay awake.

Not that I've been able to do much else.  I posted about the weather last week.  I mentioned that Summer had arrived last Saturday.  By Monday it had disappeared again.  Two days of torrential rain, followed by a blustery day on Wednesday.  By Thursday the wind had picked up and by yesterday it was gale force.

Last night I secured everything on the balcony, with my trusty washing line. This morning I ventured out to try and secure other things in the garden that are being battered.  Poppy followed me, was literally blown off her feet, and rushed back into the house.  Beki took one look from the doorway and decided against going out.

Fences have blown down again but they can be fixed.   Mr A put tomato and strawberry plants in the garden earlier in the week.  Such is the strength of this gale that the poor plants have been uprooted.  I've managed to rescue a few from around the garden and have put them in a huge bowl of water in the old house for the time being.  I fear for the trees, they are taking such a battering that I'm not sure they will all survive unscathed.

There are very dark clouds in the sky.  Rain is on it's way.  If this gale is still blowing when it does, then I face flooding in the house again.  I have piles of towels ready.

Somehow I need to get down the hill to the village to buy bread and I'm dreading it.  As Captain Oates once said "I may be some time".

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

A trip to the hospital

Milas Devlet Hospital
Over the years I've wondered why the devlet (state) hospitals here are always so crowded.  I have discovered there are several reasons for this.

Firstly, of course, people get sick and they need to go to hospital for treatment.  One of the advantages of the health system here is that you can just walk into a hospital and see a doctor without an appointment, even if it's not an emergency.

This means that they never really know how many people are likely to turn up.  Another problem here is that the Turks are a nation of hypochondriacs.  This is not just my opinion. I can't tell you how many times I've encountered people who take great pleasure in telling you all about their aches and pains and almost boasting about how much medication they take.   Mr A tells me that Turks have a great fear of cancer and heart attacks and will rush off to the hospital with the slightest pain...just in case.

I spent a few hours with Mr A at Milas Devlet Hospital today.  I'm afraid I put up with various ailments for far too long, so when I eventually give in and decide to see a doctor, I often have a list of things that need sorting out.

I've had problems with my sinuses for a couple of months, which started with a flu bug, which also left me with a hacking cough.  Yesterday my face and jaw were painful and I had a stiff neck and shoulders.  Mr A came home last night and insisted we went to see a doctor today.  The village doctor was due at 11am, but when we reached her makeshift surgery in the village school she wasn't there.  Mr A phoned her and she said she would be delayed until 1pm but suggested we went straight to the hospital as she would have recommended this anyway.

It's a strange kind of system.  I used to think that I would never be able to manage a visit on my own but I actually get how it works now.  You register at reception and tell them what kind of doctor you would like to see and they then give you a strip of self-adhesive labels, printed with your details and a number, and tell you which room to go to.

You trot off down a long corridor until you find your consulting room, and a screen outside will flash your name and number when it's your turn.   The doctor and her secretary work together.  The secretary takes one of your adhesive labels and sticks on to your file.  Then the doctor examines you.

I was then sent for a blood test, where I handed over another label.  From there to the X-ray department, where 2 labels were stuck onto a large envelope and handed to me.  We waited for about 20 minutes until my name and number appeared on the screen, then I  handed the envelope to the radiographer. I had a chest x-ray and one of my face with my mouth wide open (to check the sinuses).

From there to another department to do a breathing flowchart (and hand over another label). 

By this time, x-ray and blood test results were ready for me to collect and return to the doctor, where we waited for my number to appear on the screen.  I just love the way this is all happening with computers connecting between departments, so that everyone knows where you are at any given time, so that you can be sure your number will appear on the screen at the right time.

Finally, the last of my labels were handed to the doctor, who checked all the tests and confirmed that my sinuses and chest were infected, and antibiotics and two other types of medication were prescribed.  Other than that she said my lungs were in pretty good conditon.  She also noticed from the x-rays that my arthritis is what is causing the ache in my neck and shoulders.  This could also be contributing to the pain in my jaw, although I suspect it's actually a tooth problem (which I've been putting off dealing with).  She has suggested I take up swimming which sounds like a good idea as it's gentle exercise and helps with the stiffness of arthritis.

Amazingly all this was done in less than three hours.  Even though there were so many people there, the system runs well..rather like a very efficient conveyor belt.

But that brings me to another reason why the doctors manage to get through all their patients in one day.  They're not all patients you see.

The Turks like to bring their families with them.  Wives, husbands, children, mothers, fathers, etc.  They make a day of it.  They bring food with them and sit outside in the sunshine, or visit the hospital cafe.  They gather in groups in the corridors, chatting away.   You can be mistaken for thinking you have a queue of people before you, but there's probably only one out of every half a dozen people actually needing treatment.

The doctors don't seem to mind at all when a whole family troops into the consulting room.   I can't imagine this happening in hospitals anywhere else.  Can you?


Check out Villas in Turkey

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Summer's here....I think

After the strange weather of recent weeks, it actually looks like Summer has arrived.  Somehow we skipped Spring and leapt straight from Winter on Friday  into Summer yesterday.  It has been cloudy today but very warm.   Maybe I'm tempting fate by speaking too soon...we'll see.

Last week Mr A gave Poppy a haircut.  Yesterday it was Beki's turn.  We have never had her trimmed before.   I wasn't sure it would suit her, but she will be moulting soon and it's an absolute nightmare getting rid of the enormous amount of hair from furniture and carpets, so we thought we'd give it a go.

As expected, it took hours to do the job.  Mr A started outside, with Beki tied up to the gatepost, stopping every so often to allow her to run around the garden.  She was so patient.  Eventually when darkness descended, he moved Beki to the bathroom to finish, after which I showered her.  This is what Beki and Poppy normally look like. 

And this is how they are now:

I don't know if it's my imagination but this removal of Beki's coat seems to have added a spring to her step.  Little sign of the arthritis that has plagued her through the winter months, as she dashes around the garden.

I need a haircut too, but I'll leave that to a professional.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Nostalgia...4. My first record player

It looked pretty much like this one.  It was my Christmas present when I was around 12 years old.

I also remember the first record that I played on it.  An older cousin who knew I was getting the record player for Christmas, bought me an EP.  This was an extended play vinyl 45rpm record, which had 4 tracks on it.

It was Fats Domino.  I can only remember two of the tracks...Blueberry Hill and Walking to New Orleans.

It was the only record I had for months, so it was played over and over again..much to the annoyance of my parents.

I had a newspaper round at the time, so I started to save my money and buy more records.  The Beach Boys, The Animals, Georgie Fame, and a few years on, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

I also remember a boy who had moved in with the family next door.  It was a very sad story.  His name was Bobby and I think he was around 14 years old.  He and his younger sister Janet were from Canada.  Their parents had died in a car accident and the only relatives they had were the family next door to us in England.  So they took them in.  I felt so sorry for them.  It must have been such an awful time for them, being removed from their life in Canada and shipped over to England to live with people they hadn't even met.

I befriended Bobby, and he developed a crush on me.  He bought me a record....Bobby's Girl by Susan Maughan.   I was too young to be interested in boys and was somewhat embarrassed by the gesture, and I'm afraid I detached myself from Bobby from then on.  However, he did eventually start dating girls his own age, and he and his sister adapted to their new life quite happily.

I hadn't even thought about Bobby and his sister until I started typing this post about my record player.  Isn't it odd how something triggers a memory from the past?  I wonder where they are now?

I kept that record player until I left home.  It had a great deal of use and I have wonderful memories of sitting up in my bedroom with the window wide open to let the sun in, playing my records at full blast.  I bet the neighbours just loved me!

Friday, 6 April 2012

An Appeal

Most of you will by now know that I support the Turkish Animal Group (T.A.G).  You can read all about the wonderful work being done here in Turkey by Karen Lowrie Wren and her team of volunteers if you click on the link on my sidebar.

At the moment they are desperately trying to raise funds to buy a vehicle to transport the dogs to and from the vets and the shelter.  It's also needed to stock up on food for the dogs.

In the past few weeks there was sickness in the shelter and sadly a few of the pups died.  Happily others that were ill have now fully recovered.  However, it meant that a car had to be hired to transport the dogs to and from the vets.  A vehicle is also essential if the group is to continue to rescue dogs from the streets, in order to re-home them.

If you feel that you are able to make a matter how small...every little helps..... it would be most welcome.  Even if you can't, please take a look at the fundraising page on Facebook HERE, join the page and help to spread the word.

Thankyou xxx  

Let's talk about the weather....

...well it's a favourite topic of the British, and I'm no exception.

Although to be honest, since moving to Turkey, there hasn't been much to talk about.   Until recently.  Weather here had always been so predictable and there wasn't a great deal you could say about it other than summers are hot, particularly July and August.  Spring and Autumn are very warm and pleasant. Winter weather is different, depending on the area.  Here it can be mild most of the time, chilly sometimes, and there's a fair amount of rain during January and February.   In other areas, for example Cappadocia, where we lived for 4 years, winters are very cold with lots of snow.

The British will always find something about the weather to discuss, because it is so unpredictable.  I understand that those of you in the UK have enjoyed a heatwave over the past few weeks, but now snow has arrived in some parts.  That must have been a bit of a shock.

Unpredictable weather has arrived in Turkey during the past year.  Until recently you could walk outside in the morning, look at the sky, and know exactly what the weather would be for that day.  Not any more.

Spring should be well and truly here now, with the promise of Summer only days or weeks away, but for a while now we have had the odd day when it feels like Spring, only to revert back to Winter the following day.   I've lost count of the number of times in recent weeks that I have removed the electric blanket from the bed, only to replace it again the following day.  I've packed away winter clothes and unpacked summer ones over and over again, and have now reached the point where all my clothes are back in the wardrobe, because I have no idea what to wear each day.

Yesterday was a good example.  It was very warm.  Temperatures were up in the 20s.  I was out in the garden wearing a t-shirt.  By mid-afternoon, dark clouds appeared with the promise of rain, and the temperature dropped.    It rained early evening for a couple of hours, and when it stopped, gale force winds arrived, and have been raging all night.  But it was warm..too warm for the electric blanket so I removed it before going to bed.

It's now  almost 7am.  It's daylight.  It's still very windy and it's suddenly cold.  I've been outside with the dogs and I've put the electric blanket back on the bed.  This is where I'll stay for the next couple of hours until I know whether I will be wearing a t-shirt or a thick sweater today.

Crazy weather.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

And while we're talking about cars....

At 2.30 this morning I was woken up by the dogs barking.  Then my mobile phone started ringing.  It was Mr A telling me he was outside the house and could I let him in.

Half asleep, it was a few minutes before it registered that he couldn't have got here from Kusadasi at this time by public transport, and then he pointed to a car parked outside the gate.

I assumed he had borrowed a friend's car to come home but he informed me that it was in fact our car.  Well, to be precise it's almost our car.  He hasn't paid for it yet.

The carpet selling job in Kusadasi was only ever a temporary thing.  They wanted someone to demonstrate and sell to groups from the cruise ships during March/April, as their regular staff don't start work until 1st May, so Mr A jumped at the chance to earn some money before starting work in Bodrum in May.  They only have groups two days a week at the moment, hence the reason why Mr A has been able to come home for a few days at a time.

We've been without transport for some weeks now, since Mr A sold his motorbike to pay for other more important things.  He had already been approached by the boss of the hamam near Bodrum where he worked last year, to work for him again this year.  The plan was for Mr A to stay in personnel accommodation at the hotel, until he had saved enough money to buy a motorbike or car.

Recently, the boss informed Mr A that there was no personnel accommodation this year, so Mr A said that it would probably not be possible for him to work for him after all, as we couldn't afford to buy a vehicle at the moment.

The boss then offered to pay for a vehicle on his credit card, and for Mr A to repay him from his earnings.   Mr A did very well for the boss last year, so clearly he was keen to have him there again this year.

I thought Mr A would have to wait until 1st May to get a vehicle, but the boss agreed to pay for it earlier.   Mr A found this car in Kusadasi.  It's a pretty bog standard Tofaş, but in very good condition, and because it's a Turkish car it will be economical in terms of parts and repairs.

What I find quite amazing is the trust involved here.  The boss won't be paying for the car until next Monday, but the car dealer just handed the car over to Mr A yesterday without asking for a deposit.

Incredible isn't it?  I can't imagine this happening anywhere else but Turkey!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Nostalgia...3. Cars

I've had many different cars in my lifetime, but only a few bring back memories for me.  I don't have any photos of them, but I've found some similar ones on the internet.

My very first car was  a Hillman Minx.  I was in my early 20s.  My father-in-law from my first marriage, was a manager of a garage in those days.  They really only dealt with expensive cars, so I would never have been able to afford one from him.  However, he knew I was looking for an inexpensive runaround, and when a customer offered this car in part-exchange for a new one, he thought of me.

It cost me just £50.  I ran it for two years, then sold it for £150!

My second car was the one I really wanted, and again my father-in-law found it for me.  A lovely 1960s red Mini.  I can't remember how much I paid for it, but again I ran it for a few years and sold it at a profit.

After the mini came a couple of cars which were so boring, I can't even recall them.  One day I discovered that a friend of a friend had a car for sale that I just fell in love with.  It was a black Triumph GT6.  These were only produced from 1966 to 1973, so this was really a collectors item.  It was immaculate and I just had to have it.  At this time I was in my late 20s, working as a Studio Manager for an industrial photographer.  I had an expense account, and the freedom to wine and dine new customers.  Somehow this car seemed to fit the image I had of myself at the time...oh the vanity of youth!

I should have known better.  The GT6 cost a fortune in repairs.  Eventually it just died and I had to give up on it.  But I did enjoy the thrill of it while it lasted.

In my 30s I had my children, and so followed a stream of sensible cars, fitted with child seats, and enough space to carry all the paraphernalia associated with being a mother.

When my kids were in their teens, I started to think about a car that I really wanted.  It was a car that I hadn't often seen, but every time I caught a glimpse of one, I immediately fell in love with it.  I found a Citroen garage and my first 2CV.  By this time I was well established in the social work field, and I had many comments from friends about the 2CV being a typical social worker car, and that I just needed the open-toed sandals to complete the image.  I hadn't even thought about this.  I just loved this quirky little car.  My first one was blue, and I called her Bluebell.  In fact, she was the only car I had ever thought of as female, and the only one I had ever named!  My son refused to travel in Bluebell.  Typical teenage boy, embarrassed at his mother's choice of car, which he thought looked like an upside-down pram.

I had Bluebell for a year or so, and would have kept her for longer, but one day as I was passing the Citroen garage I saw that they had a slightly newer model in red and white.  I traded in Bluebell for the red and white one.  The soft top was getting a bit worn and faded and I decided to have it replaced.
I wanted to personalise it  so the top was made in red and white stripes. It was beautiful and I wish I had a photo of it.  My son was pretty disgusted with it, and said it now looked like an upside-down pram with a deckchair on top.

I've had many other cars since then, none of which stick in my memory.  The above are the ones that make me nostalgic.

Did you have a favourite car? 


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Sunday, 1 April 2012

Saving Face

Saving Face is an amazing  film about acid attacks on women in Pakistan.  This film, directed by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and Daniel Junge, won the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject), making Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Pakistan's first Oscar winner.

**The film follows London-based Pakistani plastic surgeon, Dr. Mohammad Jawad, as he journeys to Pakistan to perform reconstructive surgery on survivors of acid violence. Saving Face also broaches the subject of the under-reporting of acid violence against women due to cultural and structural inequalities towards women from Pakistani Muslim men. 

The film also features two women attacked by acid and their struggle for justice and healing. The Acid Survivors Foundation of Pakistan, which is featured in the film, had documented over 100 acid attacks a year in Pakistan but estimates far more due to lack of reporting.

Obaid-Chinoy has also stated that the film is "a positive story about Pakistan on two accounts: firstly, it portrays how a Pakistani-British doctor comes to treat them and it also discusses, in great depth, the parliament’s decision to pass a bill on acid violence". Obaid-Chinoy has also said that the film assisted in the trial and conviction of one of the perpretrators of acid violence on a female victim. **

This is one of the most moving documentaries I have watched for a long time.  If you haven't already seen it, you can read more on the Saving Face website HERE which also shows a short trailer.

Or you can watch the entire documentary online by clicking on one of the links  HERE

** ....** quoted from Wikipedia