Thursday, 28 February 2013

Ayak's animal sanctuary

So, no chickens for a while yet, but our garden is gradually becoming an animal sanctuary. Since typing half of this post last night, then being interrupted by another loss of internet, we now have two dogs turning up at the gate for food.

 Mr A already feeds a dog in the village as often as we have scraps. One of these dogs who turned up actually belongs to the shepherdess down the lane. You may recall that I stopped her from chaining him up. I wormed him and put a flea collar on him and fed him every day for a fair number of weeks, finally encouraging the shepherdess to take over.  I call him Sammy.

His companion is a bitch who has clearly had puppies fairly recently (I'm calling her Megan), but Mr A has searched and we cannot find her pups anywhere.  Judging by her condition, I'm pretty certain the puppies wouldn't have survived.

I have been feeding them every day for the last four days.  They turned up again this morning at 8am.  Sammy is looking pretty good.  I think the shepherdess has taken my advice and he is thriving.  Megan is a worry though.  I make sure that I give Sammy just a little food because I don't want to leave him out, but I give a more substantial amount to Megan.

Mr A spoke to the shepherdess yesterday and told her we were feeding Sammy and asked her to share Sammy's food with Megan when she feeds him each day, and she agreed.

I searched Milas for the cheapest dog biscuits and managed to find them for 5 lira a kilo, but when finances permit, we will buy large sacks because this is more economical.  They are small biscuits so the cats are also eating them.  They are settling in nicely in their new home by the way.

We also found bird seed for the bird table, but there are still not too many birds about.  I guess it will take a bit of time for them to find the table, and hopefully use the nesting box too.

Poppy is quite bemused by all this.   She rushes to the gate to "chat" to Sammy and Megan when they arrive, and there's lots of tail wagging going on from all of them.   Poppy also stands on the wall and watches while I feed the cats.  She's wary of them, barking but not getting too close.

I never planned all this of just happens doesn't it?   One look into the eyes of a hungry animal and I'm hooked.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Recycling the chicken house

In my last post I mentioned that we had decided not to get chickens for a while.

There were a couple of reasons for this.  I did some research on the internet to learn more about how to look after chickens.   I always thought that keeping chickens was  easy, but I was amazed to learn about all the various things you have to do to keep them in good condition.  Although I'm sure the villagers don't worry about all this, I'm new to it, so I decided to put the venture on hold for a while.  I haven't dismissed it entirely.  I just want to feel more confident about it.

I was also horrified to read that chickens encourage rats.  They eat the chicken food, as well as the eggs.  I have to admit to being more than a little concerned about this.  I loathe rats.  My fear of them stems from when I was a child and I saw another child being bitten by a rat.  I had nightmares for weeks.

We are  feeding three cats at the moment, so I feel confident that they will take care of  any rats that may be lurking in the shadows.

And talking of cats...they have taken rather a shine to the chicken house.   They clearly find it comfortable and settle in there for the night.

So the chicken house has now become a cat house!

Nesting baskets..straw removed and replaced with cushions are now cat beds

While I was searching the internet I came across a website for a company in the UK that supplies chickens along with everything that they need.

They give excellent advice, but I just had to copy the following page which I found hilarious:

Plan the Year for You and Your Chicken

National Chicken and Egg Day - Febuary 2nd
A day for thought and thanks for both the humble egg and the brilliant chicken. It is traditional to spend a few extra moments with your chickens a chance to reflect on the good times you've shared together. Perhaps you could organise a celebratory egg and spoon race, the official distance is one backgarden and the customary prize is a lemon meringue pie (see the recipe section for the recipe).
Pancake Day - Shrove Tuesday
Originating from a time long ago when women went regularly to church to confess their sins, the original and best Pancake Day Race is at Olney in Buckinghamshire. Incredibly the statistics show that to increase your chances of winning you should make the pancake using eggs produced from your own chickens as they produce a pancake with a more accurate flip.
Financial Year End April 1st
The deadline for your chickens to produce a detailed set of accounts for the previous year's production. Your incoming should be greater than your outgoings, if not cut back on expenses such as feeding morello cherries from Marks and Spencers until production targets are met.
Valentines Day February 14th
According to the legend, Saint Valentine wooed a princess by his brave and courageous acts on the battlefield but actually it was his ability to conjure up devine patisseries, tartes and delicacies in the kitchen, the finest of which were always served with a real egg custard that did the trick.
Your chicken arrival day
When did you get your first chicken? It is a date everyone can remember. So why not make a special occasion and have a proper Hen Party. Instructions are as follows: bake a cake, put the right number of candles on top, invite all your friends over and dance the night away.
Take Your Chicken To Work Day November 23rd
Tom Cruise famously took a chicken onto the set of Top Gun (1986) to help him learn some of the moves that his badly cast co-pilot Goose couldn't teach him. So make your chicken feel special and take her into work we all do. We will send you a free t-shirt if you send us a photo of your chicken at work.  Please only do this if it doesn't cause your chicken distress.
Your First Egg Day
It is always important to remember when you first became a farmer, tending your hens and collecting the precious eggs.
Christmas Day
Every day is like Christmas when you have chickens except that chickens haven't yet managed to wrap their presents. To celebrate this special day give the chickens a mince pie and bring them in to watch the Queen's speech. 


Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Work in Progress

I have had problems with my internet connection for the last three days.  It continually connected for 5 minutes, disconnected for 5 minutes....on and on.   At one point yesterday, it stayed connected for one hour...but the phone was dead.

After numerous calls to Turk Telekom and TTNet, it may actually be fixed now, but I refuse to tempt fate by confirming that.  However, I have been connected for half an hour now and the phone is working, so it looks promising.

The weather has been good so I've spent the "lack of internet" time out in the garden with Mr A.  He works...which makes a mess...I clear up the mess.  We're quite a good team.

The bottom garden now has the extended cemented base for our gazebo, four metal posts, and a small wooden fence around two and a half sides (recycled fence of course).  The next job is to get some more metal posts for the top, which Mr A is searching for these afternoon, fix them to the upright posts, then cover the top with bamboo which he will collect from the village. We will then train the grapevines to grow over the top.

The bird table has now been re-located to the bottom garden and is on top of a sturdy pole...much safer for the birds.

The top garden has now been completely enclosed with chicken wire.   We have decided against chickens for a while, so the chicken house now has another use.  More about that in my next post.

gazebo..laying of cement

gazebo base to the right...and Poppy

relocated bird table

bird table, gazebo area and steps

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Meet the Izzards

Has anyone else been watching this  programme on BBC?

"Comedian and actor Eddie Izzard embarks on a unique, epic and personal journey using his own DNA to trace the migration of his ancestors out of Africa and into Europe."

I may have overlooked this particular programme if perhaps it had been made with someone else...a geneticist for example, as the subject.  But I have always adored Eddie Izzard and his particular brand of humour and the way he views life, so I tuned in before I knew what the programme was actually about.

I'm very pleased I did because it is not only fascinating, but amazing to think that such an experiment would not have been possible as little as 5 years ago.

Well worth watching.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The real bird table

We had a lot of rain yesterday.  Too much for Mr A to continue erecting the chicken wire around the top part of the garden, so he spent the day in his shed, drilling, sawing and hammering.

I didn't venture into the shed, for fear of discovering yet more shelves.

No more shelves (thank goodness) but a lovely bird table.  Made of wood this time.  He has secured it firmly to the concrete gate post...much to the amusement of our neighbour Dursune, who had never seen one in her life, and had no idea what it was.   She clearly thinks I am quite mad, and is concerned that Mr A has lost the plot by encouraging my whims.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The "Bird" Table

Recovering well from his accident, and the resultant aches and pains, Mr A continues with his garden landscaping.  This is all dependant on the weather of course.  One day we have sunshine, the next storms and rain, but nevertheless he has achieved a great deal over the past few weeks.

He has erected chicken wire on the top of the drystone wall he built last year, around the entire front of the garden.

Posts have been put into cement and stone around the top part of the garden, to which chicken wire will be fixed.  To make this secure, he has also had to rebuild the wall right at the back where it borders Sevke's garden.  This will be the enclosed area for the chickens, when we eventually get them.

I wanted "small" steps down to the front garden.  Mr A has built very large ones.  OK I thought they were a bit much at first, but I'm getting used to them.

The concreted area under which lies the septic tank, has now been extended, to form the base for a new gazebo, and metal posts have been erected.  Mr A plans to collect bamboo canes from the village and make a "roof".  A grape vine already exists to one side of the planned gazebo and this will be encouraged to grow over the top. 

Some time ago I was talking about bird tables.  We looked through hundreds of pictures on the internet, and I settled on this one.  "No problem" said Mr A, "I can make one exactly the same".

The strange object on the wall in the picture below is what he actually made (out of stone and cement).  It's actually rather nice in a rustic kind of way.  But it is so heavy that I can't even move it, let alone lift it.  It would certainly be impossible to put it on a stand for the birds to use.

So now it has become something entirely different.   I had been putting bread and scraps on it for the birds, along with water, but a couple of days ago I noticed that some cats had taken rather a shine to it.   They were desperately hungry, so I put some of Poppy's small dog biscuits on it.  The food disappeared in no time.

I now have three cats to feed.  (If you feed any animal once, in my opinion, you have to continue to do so).

So I now have a cat table.   Maybe the bird table will follow in due course...who knows?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Thankyou so much everyone for your very kind words and good wishes after Mr A's motorbike accident.  I really appreciated them.

I thought you might like an update on Mr A and the motorbike.

After another visit to the hospital yesterday morning, it was established that he has no serious damage, so I guess time will heal all the aches and pains.

As far as the motorbike is concerned, we had a discussion about what to do.  There seemed to be quite extensive damage.  At first the motorbike repairman estimated around 900 lira, but on further inspection this went up to 1200 lira.   It's a lot of money, and to be honest I think vehicles are never quite the same after this sort of accident.

The other alternative was to try to sell it to the repairman in it's present state.  He wasn't interested,  Mr A tried a few other workshops, and they weren't interested either.  He went back to the original man who offered him a deal on another motorbike in exchange for ours.  This motorbike is a smaller model.  Mr A at first thought it was brand new, because it's in excellent condition, but it's not new.  After much haggling the man agreed to let Mr A have the bike, but we need to pay an additional 750 lira.

After working out the the cost of repair, the value after repair, the cost of the new bike, etc we decided that this was probably the best option.  Cheaper and a lot less hassle.   The man accepted 200 lira deposit and the paperwork was signed, and he allowed Mr A to bring the bike home.  We will pay the balance next week.  I love the way people here are so trusting!

In an ideal world, we would have had the bike repaired...sold it...and bought a car.  But it's not an ideal world, so we have to make the best of it.

Mr A arrived home late last night.  He is still in pain, but he's getting better.  This morning he made an attempt to potter in the garden, but he's really not up to it yet, so knowing he hates sitting around the house, I sent him off to the teahouse.

Life goes on!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Waiting by the phone

For the second time in the past few weeks, Mr A had a day's work at a carpet shop in Kusadasi.  He only gets paid commission if he sells something, but they pay for his petrol, so it's worth a try.

Unfortunately, he sold nothing on either occasion, but they do want him to work there this year for which he will be paid a salary.   Although neither of us is particularly happy about him going away to work again, earning money is more important.  And the season in Kusadasi (because of the cruise ships) is longer than that in Bodrum.

So he set off this morning (just managing to dodge the rain) and phoned me mid afternoon to say that he was about to head for home.

A couple of hours later he phoned, sounding rather upset, to say that he had crashed the motorbike.  He was still near Kusadasi and apparently the back wheel flew off and down he went.  He went to the Kusadasi hospital and had x-rays and there were no broken bones but he is badly bruised.  He left with a prescription for pain relief.

Later this evening he was getting more intense pain when breathing so returned to the hospital.  They gave him an injection for the pain but couldn't do another x-ray until tomorrow morning.  He has a friend with a pansyon (guest house) so he is staying there tonight.

The motorbike needs considerable work. Back wheel completely wrecked, smashed windscreen, plus other damage which can't really be seen in this photo.  It will be costly....but it's just a lump of metal after all...and Mr A could have come off much worse than he did. 

I haven't had much to blog about this week, and was going to do a post this evening moaning about the state of the garden and how Mr A has yet again gone completely against my wishes.  But that all pales into insignificance now.

We haven't been getting on too well recently.  I think largely due to the stress caused by him being out of work for so long, but something like this makes you realise what's important.

So I doubt I will sleep tonight because I am stuck here, unable to do anything useful,  other than waiting by the phone, just in case he rings.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Mary Berry

Courtesy of Wikipedia
I have just watched the two part programme The Mary Berry Story which was shown on BBC this week.

Probably like many of you, I have grown up with Mary Berry and her recipes.  The first cookbook I bought when I married my first husband was The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook which was published in 1970.  I used it religiously for years.  I have probably made at least 90% of the recipes in it.

I can't believe she is 78 years old.  She looks so good for her age.   And she is still working.  I haven't watched The Great British Bake Off, on which she is one of the judges, but I think I may indulge myself with back-to-back episodes during the rainy days this winter.

I left a lot of my cookery books back in England.  My daughter still has them. In fact, I might check to see if she still has the Hamlyn book, as the programme has made me feel quite nostalgic, and I'd like to bring the book back to Turkey with me so that I can work through the recipes again.

Has anyone else watched the programme?  What did you think of it?  (If not, you can still get it on BBC iPlayer)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

It's Valentines Day.....

tomorrow, and a very appropriate day for this CAMPAIGN.  

It is estimated that 1 in 3 of all women on the planet will experience violence at some time during their lives.  It's a horrifying statistic.

Tomorrow people in towns and cities all over the world will be dancing to show their support.

Happy Valentines Day.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Misguided sympathy

This post is probably going to make me sound like a heartless cow.  I'll take the risk because it's a subject that annoys me no end.

We are constantly bombarded with newspaper reports of celebrities who have died or who are dying through alcohol or drug abuse.  

Follow this with endless Facebook and Twitter statuses containing an outpouring of grief and sympathy.   Why?  Did they actually know the person in question?  Of course not.  They somehow think that this is how they are expected to react.

The former footballer Paul Gascoigne is apparently at death's door in the US.  Here is just one article picked up from the Sun newspaper

This article is being shared all over Facebook with the usual overly sympathetic comments.  OK he was a brilliant footballer in his time, but people are putting him up on a pedestal now, making him out to be some sort of hero.   I find it sickening.

The reality is that this man has squandered his wealth and opportunities over the years.  He has been convicted for drunk driving, and he used to beat his wife.  He has entered rehab countless times and it has always failed.   His so-called celebrity friends who are rallying round now with donations towards his treatment are the same friends who encouraged him to drink over the years, along with the non-celebrity acquaintances who were happy to join him in getting drunk.  Delighted to help spend a weak man's money.

I know alcoholism is a disease.  I'm not completely unsympathetic.  I bet there are lots of alcoholics out there who would have jumped at the chance to enter rehab if they had had the sort of money that Gazza has wasted.  Some people cannot be saved from alcoholism but there are plenty who have recovered by sheer determination, quietly, without the help of rehab or other costly "cures".  They are the ones to be admired.

It's sad to see anyone waste their life in this way, but I have little sympathy when it's self-inflicted.  I'll save that  for those dying of cancer and other incurable diseases, through no fault of their own.  They don't have a choice.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Why ask for my opinion?

Men can be infuriating.  I know it's not just Mr A, because I also have two brothers, and friends married to men who are similar.  They ask our advice...they listen...then don't follow it.

Whenever Mr A undertakes a new project he asks my advice.  He appears to listen to my opinion...even agreeing with me.  Then  he does something entirely different.

Remember the shelves?   We have more shelves than necessary in the house and when I went to England in December I expressly asked Mr A not to put up any more.  While I was there, he phoned me to say he was moving the phone and modem.  I had already moved them a week or so before I left, to a more convenient location, which also necessitated moving heavy furniture, so that the phone was sitting nicely next to a comfy armchair.

He said he was going to put a shelf on the wall to accommodate the ugly black electric generator (which was sensibly hidden behind said comfy armchair), the phone and the modem.   I asked him not to.  I almost begged him to leave them where they were.   Next day he sent me a photo on Facebook, of the shelf containing the generator, modem and phone.   I asked him to put everything back where it was...he didn't.

When I returned home I almost laughed hysterically at the shelf, which was so high up on the wall that one would have to stand on a chair to use the phone.  Eventually a week or so later, everything was returned to it's previous place...although the bloody shelf is still there!

Mr A has been "landscaping" the garden for several weeks now.  Every day he asks for my opinion on where certain things ought to be, where to build fences and steps, what size should they be and what materials should he use.  Each time he asks and I give my opinion,  he promptly does something different.

I suggested some steps down to the lower garden...not too wide or too big, just sufficient to walk down safely.  He agreed.    But what has he done?   He has started to build steps that are so big that they are taking up practically half the width of the garden.  I could see what he was doing when he measured out the area.  I tried desperately to stop him, but he just carried on.

I don't know why I didn't think to use some reverse psychology.  I should have told him to build enormous steps, then maybe he would have built small ones.   Who knows?

Apologies to any men reading, who are NOT like this.  But ladies, please tell me,  is it a man thing?  Do you have the same problems?

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Anger management

After the phone was "fixed" last Friday, the line went dead again early on Saturday.   After some shouting by Mr A on the phone to Milas, he was promised that it would be fixed on Monday (yesterday).

The engineers turned up at around 9am.  They informed Mr A that it would only take an hour to sort out.  I assume they mean an hour of Turkish time which is likely to be more like two hours.

As soon as they started work on the telephone line, I lost my internet connection, so I busied myself cooking. Mercimek soup, a chicken casserole, some cupcakes filled with lemon curd.

An hour passed, then two, then three, and still no sign of phone or internet working.   One of the engineers came to our gate and asked for a hammer.  For goodness sake, do Turkish workmen ever carry tools?   Actually they usually don't.  You'd be amazed at some of the things they ask for.  For example they will request a ladder for something that needs doing on the roof.   Like the time the solar panels and tank were faulty.  Wouldn't you assume that specialists in this field would have a ladder?

Mr A had been off collecting some sand and returned at 2pm, assuming that the phone would be  working.  It wasn't and he started to shout at the engineers.  He then came into the house and started shouting at me...well it was more shouting TO me about the useless engineers, at which point he checked the phone...found it to still be dead and promptly threw it on the floor, and it broke.

Which brings me to the subject of anger and how to manage it.  Mr A is by nature a fairly placid man, but in the past year or so (particularly since his grandparents died, although I'm not sure this is connected) he seems to have a very short fuse.   He gets angry at the slightest thing, and will often smash a plate or cup or anything else to hand.

He is always remorseful afterwards, but then sinks into a depression which can last for days.   I have tried to encourage him to see a psychiatrist, but there is still such a stigma here about such things.  Sadly, there is a high rate of suicide amongst men in Turkey, so I feel certain that their male pride prevents them from getting the help they need.

In England we're more open to mental health issues.  There are anger management classes which would be ideal for someone like Mr A.  But there is little on offer here.

He has promised me today that he will "think" about seeing a psychiatrist.  He admits that he has a problem and it's making him unhappy.   I'm hoping he'll keep his promise. 

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Normal service...

.....has been resumed. (Whatever counts for normal around here).

The water started flowing properly on Day 4 (Thursday) late afternoon.

The phone line started working again on Thursday evening.  

I do like to attempt to sort out problems myself when it comes to the phone and internet.  It should be pretty straightforward because when you phone TTNet customer service you have the option to talk to someone in English.  Although the level of English understanding by the customer service reps varies enormously, and I often find myself having a conversation in half English/half Turkish.

If I need to deal with a telephone problem, there is one man in Milas Turk Telekom office (who happens to be the manager) who speaks reasonable English and he has been very helpful in the past.

So when the phone line went dead, a week ago last Thursday, and it also had an effect on the internet connection, I started off with TTNet in Istanbul.  Over the course of a week I made several calls, and of course got a different person each time, meaning I had to keep repeating myself, in "Turklish", because they don't seem to keep a record of previous conversations.

Even though I had been promised that the fault had been reported to the engineers, nothing was being done to fix the problem.  I tried to get hold of the manager at Milas, with no success.

Finally, Mr A took over.  He deals with it his way...which is quite different to mine.  I always try to be polite and civil on the phone, even when I'm seething, because I've always believed (at least when I lived in England) that this was the best way to get things done.   I worked in a call centre many years ago, and I have to admit to being much more helpful to polite people, and actually putting the rude, offensive complainers to the bottom of the list.

Mr A shouts....on the phone.  He gets angry, and shouts some more.   He shouted at TTNet.  He shouted at Milas Turk Telekom.   I hate listening to it.  I'm pretty sure the whole village could hear him shouting and I was sure it would do no good at all.

Clearly, people respond differently to shouting here.    My being polite for almost a week had no effect at all.    Mr A's method and internet fixed within a day.