Monday, 29 July 2013

Dog Intelligence Test

It's very difficult to find toys to keep my dogs amused.  I have been searching for Kongs but cannot
find them anywhere here.  I will have to wait until my next visit to the UK to get them.

They are a fantastic way of keeping dogs occupied for a long time.  You fill them with biscuits, dog food, etc, and it takes them some time to get the food out.  Those of you with dogs may have used them.

Early this morning I decided to put some small dog biscuits inside empty half litre plastic water bottles, just to see how the dogs would react to them.

Blondie and Sam just stood looking at them, puzzled.  Sam eventually took his off to hide somewhere.   Blondie started to chew the bottle in an attempt to remove the biscuits.

Freddie...clever boy...immediately shook his bottle which made some of the biscuits come out.  He then tipped the bottle upside down and all the biscuits came out.

But Megan is lazy...she couldn't be bothered with it all.  She certainly isn't stupid though.  She allowed Freddie to shake her bottle and tip out the biscuits...and then she ate them.  A girl after my own heart...let the men do the work!

And Poppy?  Well she just watched them all...totally bemused.  She isn't interested in all this activity.  She prefers me to feed her biscuits one at a time.  She's just my spoilt baby!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Cancer Screening

Just lately I have experienced how important it is to have regular cancer screening.  A year ago, a close friend died from cancer.   Two blogging friends have been on their own cancer journeys.  Janice has been through the ups and downs and  treatment over the past nine months or so, and is now clear and starting to enjoy life again.  Charlotte Ann is still on her journey, undergoing gruelling treatment, whilst recording everything on her blog, which will no doubt be of tremendous help to others in a similar situation.  As always, I am willing her on to a full recovery.

A couple of days ago, I found a lump in my breast.  Then a bruise appeared from nowhere, although I hadn't bumped it.  I went to the hospital this morning, saw the doctor, had a mammogram and an ultrasound.  As usual with hospitals here, all results were available immediately.  I have nothing to worry about.  There are two small lumps but they are benign nodules.  I don't need to go back for another year.  Which made me recall that it's years since I had a mammogram.  I will make sure that in future I have one every year.

Recently my daughter went for her routine cervical screening.  In the UK the first cervical screening is done at age 25.   In my daughter's age group (she is 30) it is only carried out every 3 years.    The results were back quicker than she expected.   They showed high-grade abnormal cells (CIN3).

She then attended the hospital for a colposcopy, and at the same time the abnormal cells were removed.   Statistics show that 1 in 3 women with CIN3 cells will go on to develop cancer.  She will now have to have 6 monthly check-ups for the foreseeable future.  This will make sure that if the cells return they can be removed, and any other necessary treatment carried out.

Today, my lovely, caring  daughter posted on Facebook to make others aware of the importance of Cervical Screening.   This is what she said:

"I can't stress how important this is, if I'd missed my last one I would more than likely have had cancer by the time the next was due, if you are due your cervical screening then get it booked today, a few minutes embarrassment could mean you are able to prevent cancer rather than finding out you already have it, simples!

The cells they removed were cin 3 cells so I will be having 6 monthly check ups, still a worry but imagine if I'd missed my last smear, it's so important to go to them, mine developed so quickly from normal to high abnormalities within 3 years so imagine if you miss one?"

Since posting this she has already had messages from two of her friends to say that they have booked their screening appointments.

If you are overdue for cervical screening or a mammogram, please don't put it off any longer.  Make an appointment now.  Better to be safe than sorry.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Drummers, Dolmus Drivers and Dursune's chickens

We are half way through Ramadan now...or Ramazan as it's known in Turkey.  It's not good when Ramazan occurs in the middle of summer.  Fasting is difficult  because the days are so long, and I will never know how people manage to survive without water in this heat.  But they do, and I admire their dedication.

The drummer is out every night around 3am.  It's a tradition that seems to be dying out in some of the bigger towns, but it continues in this village.  I had been dreading it because it doesn't take much to start my dogs barking, and sure enough on the first night, as the drummer passed my gate, they went berserk.   I got up to try to stop them, and saw the drummer bid a hasty retreat down the hill.  They had clearly scared him off.

On the second night, I heard him further down in the village, but he didn't venture up this far and since then he has decided to keep his distance.  Having said that, my dogs will often find something to bark about in the middle of the night.  Freddie has found a way of sliding under the metal fencing into the "dog-free" part of the garden, then barking for me to get up and let him in.  If I don't respond fairly quickly, the others join in the barking to let me know.

Last week I went into Milas to collect a few things from the vet, to get a haircut, and some shopping. 

When it's almost midday and the sun is beating down, you don't want to spend any more time than necessary on a hot, stuffy dolmus, with shopping that needs to be in the fridge asap.  But it's all in the hands of the dolmus driver, and this one had errands to run.   We drove all around the back streets of Milas and through the industrial estate, where he made several stops to buy paint, wood, plastic piping, several 50kg bags of fertiliser, and finally the petrol station where he filled up 3 empty 5 litre plastic bottles with petrol.

So the journey which normally takes 20 minutes, stretched into and hour and ten minutes. I was   sweating so much I was almost stuck to the seat by the time I arrived at my stop.  But of course I'm not complaining because you know I love these drivers.  I've mentioned many times how they will put themselves out for anyone..nothing is ever too much trouble.

Dursune seems to be over-run with chickens.  Her well fed hens just seem to keep giving birth, and chicks are running around everywhere.  I am always very careful when I let the dogs out for a run, to check that there are no chicks in the lane outside the house, because I don't want the dogs chasing them.  To be honest, even if one or two are about, the dogs ignore them in their haste to run up the hill behind the house.

However, two days ago, three chicks managed to get into our garden.  I was in the house, where I usually am during the hottest part of the day, when I heard the chirping and the dogs barking.  I rushed outside, but I was too late to save one of the chicks.  Freddie, Megan and Poppy had cornered the poor little thing and killed it.   Megan had it in her mouth and I shouted at her to drop it, which she did immediately, and all three dogs backed off and allowed me to retrieve the body.  The two other chicks had managed to escape in time.   I guess my dogs thought the chick was fair game as it had entered our garden, their territory, so I can't really blame them.

I did find it very upsetting though.  I called out to Dursune and showed her the dead chick and explained what had happened.  She just shrugged and accepted it...she is a village woman after all and is used to this kind of thing.  She just said to throw the body away.   Maybe she was slightly relieved that it was one less to look after.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Whatever happened to normal telephones?

A very frustrating two days, stuck in the house, waiting for men to turn up and fix things, and missing the opportunity to meet up with a blogging friend.  I should have just gone ahead with my plans.  Gisela, when you read this, I am sorry and disappointed we didn't have chance to meet this time, but we will make better plans next time.

I had to go into Milas this morning to collect Freddie's vaccinations and pet passport from Mehmet.  I am quite an expert at giving the dogs injections these days.  It's more out of necessity as Mehmet can't always come out, and I have no transport to take the dogs to the surgery. 

I also needed to buy a new telephone for the landline.  Mr Clumsy Mr A dropped the telephone a while ago and it broke into several pieces, which he stuck back together with superglue.  It kind of works, ie you can make and receive calls, but you can't hear the person on the end clearly, and there is a continual crackling sound on the line.

I decided to get a cordless phone, for convenience, and looked for the simplest one on offer.  But phones aren't simple these days are they?   Well not to my non-technical brain anyway.  I bought one, took it home and plugged it in.   The phone language is set on Turkish (naturally) and the instructions are also in Turkish.  But there are far too many buttons and I can't get my head around what they are all for.

I googled the make and product number to get a set of English instructions, but can't find any.  So I sat and struggled through the Turkish ones.  I managed to change the language on the phone to English, but wished I hadn't because I still needed to work my way through the instruction leaflet in Turkish.

I have just about managed to work out how to make and receive a call.   The ring tone needs to be changed because it is currently set on a high-pitched squeaking sound, and I can't do it.  It's also very loud...and I can't change the volume either.

It has just taken me almost an hour to change the language back to Turkish.  And that's how it will stay until Mr A next pays a visit, and can set it all up.  Oh for the normal, uncomplicated telephones we had years ago!

I successfully gave Freddie all three vaccinations but I did manage to stick one of the syringes in my finger when I was disposing of it... typical me!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Plans that go belly up

You all know my daily life is pretty mundane during the summer months. Mr A is working and rarely gets home, so it's just me with the dogs for company.  I don't go very far because it's too hot and I don't often get visitors.

I am pretty happy with my own company.  I like that I can eat what I want, when I want, and stay in my pjs all day.   Problems arise, but mostly I manage to sort them out, either properly or a temporary fix until something permanent can be done.

Mr A answered my urgent call for shopping and came home with it all late last night.  He just had time for a quick coffee then he was back to the hotel.

Yesterday I was delighted to get a message via the blog from one of my followers, Gisela.  She and her son are on holiday in Turkey at the moment.  They have a car and are travelling around.  It was their plan to drive from Fethiye to Bodrum today, and on the spur of the moment she wondered if we could meet up.   We made contact and the plan was for her to come here to the village some time today, and then go on to Bodrum.  I was very much looking forward to meeting them.

When I got up this morning, I discovered that my fridge-freezer had died sometime during the night.  Sod's law it had to happen just after it had been stocked with food. With temps in the late 30s, it's really not a good time for a fridge-freezer to be out of action.

I rescued as much as I could.  Some stuff can be used within the next couple of days, some things are in my neighbour's fridge, the rest will go into the dogs before it goes off.  There's quite a mess in the freezer compartment where things have defrosted, so a thorough clean was necessary.

I phoned Mr A and he said that he would come home later this morning with someone from work who he thought could fix the fridge.  If it wasn't possible then we would have to go into Milas and buy a new one.

In the meantime, I contacted Gisela because clearly our plans were not going to work out.   It was left that she and her son would go direct to Bodrum.  I was then hoping to get over to Bodrum some time tomorrow and meet them, before they set off for Izmir early evening.

I waited for Mr A...and waited...and waited.   Finally he called and said that he was unable to get here after all but he had phoned a friend in the village who would come up to look at the fridge.  So I waited for him.  Eventually he came, fiddled about with wires at the back of the fridge, plugged it in and it started working.  It is cold inside, but the thermostat doesn't appear to be working.  It's also making a terrific noise, almost as if it's about to take off at any moment.  I don't feel confident that it will keep going indefinitely.

It's a Beko fridge, so Mr A phoned the Beko agents in Milas and they will send an engineer out tomorrow.

And as if that's not enough, some pipes around the back of the house have started leaking, and there is no way I can sort them out, so a plumber (or similar type person) is also coming out tomorrow to have a look.

Of course I am hoping they turn up early morning to fix the problems, so that I can get over to Bodrum to meet up with Gisela, but the way things are going I'm not holding my breath.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Simple chocolate brownie recipe

As promised in my previous post here is the recipe  I found on Facebook for chocolate brownies using Nutella.

It only requires 3 ingredients.  Nutella already contains fat, milk and chocolate.

1 cup (280g) Nutella
2 eggs
10 tbsp (62g) flour

Put ingredients in a bowl.  Beat together.. Pour into a pan or muffin tin. Top with hazelnuts if  desired.   Bake at 350F (180C) for around 30 minutes (less time for cupcake form, more time if the centres aren't baked through).

I changed the recipe slightly.  Nutella is quite expensive here, and there are many other cheaper versions.  The supermarkets often have their own brand of a similar spread.  I found a 500g tub in Tansas for 2.95 lira (about £1).

I approximately doubled up on the ingredients, using 500g of the Nutella-type spread, 4 eggs and 100g of flour.    Verdict:  Good result.   Delicious with cream.   A very quick and easy recipe.

Friday, 12 July 2013

My versatile kitchen

Firstly, before I write this post, I seem to have deleted my previous post about waiting for the vet visit.  Goodness knows how I managed to do it.  I blame the heat which seems to have affected my brain.  If anyone knows whether it's possible to retrieve a deleted post on Blogger, please let me know.

This afternoon my kitchen became an operating theatre.  I cleared everything out, leaving the kitchen table in the centre which doubled up as the operating table.

Mehmet arrived, as usual out of breath and rushing from one job to another.  The poor man always seems to be working.    So to save time, instead of him having to take Freddie and Poppy to his surgery and then return them back to the house, we decided to carry out the procedures here.

It was fascinating to watch him castrate Freddie.   He works quickly and efficiently.  I would have liked to have taken photos of the operation (for those of you who are not squeamish) but I was too busy acting as his assistant.   After the op, we transferred Freddie to the sofa on the balcony to let him sleep off the anaesthetic.

The kitchen then became a grooming parlour for Poppy's haircut.  Again, Mehmet made a wonderful job of cutting her hair.   She does have some kind of skin allergy at the moment and has been chewing her feet and scratching.   (Mehmet thinks she is possibly allergic to chicken), so her hair is very short now which will make it easier for me to apply cream to her feet.  He also cut her nails. 

He is reluctant to sedate her to clean her teeth, because she is getting older and he is concerned about her reaction to sedation, so he has suggested I try cleaning the teeth with hydrogen peroxide, which should help to break down the tartar.

Freddie is now awake and has wobbled around the garden, bucket on head.   He's a bit unsteady on his feet  but he has had his first wee, so I know everything is working properly.  Mehmet tells me he is about 18 months old...older than I he won't be growing any bigger. 

The kitchen has now been thoroughly cleaned and is back to normal use.  I am about to make some very easy chocolate brownies.  The recipe uses just 3 ingredients and this is the first time I've tried it.  I'll see how they turn out and post up the recipe later.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Not the best month for birthdays

Today is my birthday.  Since moving here 15 years ago, I've cursed the fact that it occurs during the busiest time of the year in tourism, which generally means that I don't see Mr A.  Unless of course I make the journey to wherever he is working, and he can fit in a few minutes with me.  But this heat makes it difficult to attempt the bus journeys, and it's a Sunday which means the village bus only runs every two hours.

It would be nice if it was a little cooler, and I could at least sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine.  But no...this intense heat finds me in the bedroom either on the laptop, or napping.  Anything that needs doing like housework, washing, ironing, watering the garden, etc, has to be started around 5am, because by 8am it's far too hot for any kind of physical exertion.

I had just one birthday card today, from my brother, and that's only because he gave it to me when I was in England in April.  I love my brother.  He is so thoughtful, and his cards are wonderful.  Carefully chosen for the most appropriate words, that always make me shed a tear.  There may well be other cards on their way (I know of two or three that are) but they could arrive any time with the postal service the way it is here.

Mr A, like many men, isn't good at remembering birthdays.  It only happens if the date happens to come up in conversation up to a week beforehand (what I mean is that I usually drop a casual hint!).
But this year I didn't say anything.   And I wasn't expecting him home until next Wednesday, so I just resigned myself to today being just another normal day.

At around 10.30pm last night, I was in bed reading and Mr A phoned.   "I'm outside" he said.  What a surprise.  I got up and unlocked the door, and in he came with a present, a birthday cake and a bottle of wine.   The present is a practical one, and not something many would consider suitable for a birthday present, but I am delighted with it.  It is a lightweight upright vacuum cleaner that I have wanted for some time now, but it wasn't on my list of priorities.

My daughter had sent him a message yesterday saying "Don't forget it's Mum's birthday tomorrow".  How sweet of her, but apparently he had remembered because he bought the vacuum cleaner three days ago, not knowing which day he would be able to get home.

We enjoyed the cake....chocolate with layers of cream and crunchy honeycomb, with white chocolate curls on top, and covered with caramel and pistaccio nuts, and a glass of wine.  Delicious.

This morning my daughter skyped me and she, son-in-law, Billy and Jimi all sang Happy Birthday to me.  It was just lovely.  The only fly in the ointment was that there was something wrong with either my microphone or her speakers, because they couldn't hear me, and try as we might we couldn't solve the problem.  But at least I could hear them.   "Give Nanny a kiss" my daughter said.  So the boys both kissed the laptop screen several times which was both funny and touching.

Today I'll eat some more cake and drink more wine.  I'm on my own, but it hasn't been such a bad birthday after all.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Trying to be clever

It's so hot at the moment and difficult to sleep.   I was up at 5am this morning and it was still dark but I needed to be outside to cool down.   I left Freddie in our garden/driveway area last night.  The night before last when I encouraged him to come in, he spent in the dog area at the back with Sammy and Blondie.  However at some point he jumped the fence and I suspect these two are just a bit too lively for him while he's still settling in.

This morning Freddie was on the other side if the new metal fencing, in our "protected from the dogs" part of the garden.  I'm not sure how he got there.  Either he managed to squeeze underneath because he is still small and thin, or he somehow managed to jump the chickenwire fence at the end of the garden and get in that way.  Anyway, he was just sitting there waiting for me to let him out.

He hasn't ventured onto the balcony yet.  Megan regards this as her territory and positions herself at the top of the steps to deter Freddie.  Of course Sammy, Blondie and Poppy come onto the balcony whenever they want to.  Megan sulks about this but puts up with it.

Freddie has found his own space.  In Mr A's shed.   I've put a piece of carpet down for him to sleep on, and he is quite happy there.

Now...the title of this post...about me trying to be clever.  Did you notice my new header picture?  I've seen collages on other peoples' blogs and I really wanted one for mine.  However I am not computer literate, as many of you know, so I hadn't a clue how to go about this.

I did find this one though and it does the collage bit for you.  You just have to add the photos you want to use into a folder on your computer (this actually took me hours to do) and once done the procedure is straightforward.   I have downloaded this tool and it's on a month's free trial (hence the writing at the bottom of the collage which I wish wasn't there).  But I doubt I will purchase it at the end of the month.

But if any of you know an easy way to do a collage with my photos (and I mean very easy), which doesn't cost anything, could you please let me know?

Friday, 5 July 2013

And then there were 5!

OK, I know I said no more dogs after I recently took in Megan, Sammy and Blondie.  Along with Poppy, four dogs is quite enough for me to manage.

However, another dog has appeared on the scene.   When my three large dogs go out for their morning run, he is waiting for them.   They run and play together.  

I've tried to toughen up.  I know I shouldn't rescue any more dogs.   I have managed to ignore him for two weeks.  I didn't feed him, difficult though it was for me, but he wouldn't come anywhere near me anyway.

Last night I spent almost an hour outside the gate coaxing this little lad to come close enough to take some biscuits from my hand.   Eventually he did, and then I managed to encourage him into the garden.   There was a fair bit of rough and tumble with all the dogs....only to be expected when a newcomer invades their territory.   He is still a little wary of the others, but I think he will settle down.

So let me introduce you to Freddie:

Freddie...the new boy

And so that the others don't feel left out, here they are, relaxing after their breakfast and morning run.



Wednesday, 3 July 2013


It's the start of the grape season.  Those that grow in our garden are delicious.  Green, sweet and seedless.   I am amazed at how easy it is to grow grapes and how fast the vines spread.

This is the original grapevine, attached to the old house in the garden.  It is now three times the size that it was when we moved here just over four years ago.

This is a cutting we took from the original vine, and 18 months ago was a tiny twig in a yogurt pot. Look at it now.  It is shooting up and will eventually cover the gazebo.

And from this cutting, we took 10 further cuttings, which are spread around the garden.  These are just some of them.

And here are the first of the grapes, ready to pick.