Friday, 30 August 2013

Removing the rose tinted spectacles

This is the third post in what appears to have become a series of gripes about this country.  Make no mistake, as far as holiday destinations are concerned, Turkey takes some beating.  But living here in this village is no holiday.

This is a beautiful area.   You've seen photos of the views from our house near the top of the hill in this village.  Scenery to die for.  Watching the sunrise early in the morning from behind the mountains can make you feel so good about life.

However, not everything is rosy.  There is another side to life in this village, which isn't so pleasant.

Rubbish. Tons of it.  Everywhere.  

We have been here nearly four and a half years.  During the first two years I had a running battle with the Muhtar to get bins installed as far as our house.  It happened eventually.  We had one placed just below our house.  I carefully wrapped all rubbish before placing in the bin, but my neighbours didn't bother.  They just emptied everything including rotting food straight into the bin.   You can imagine the smell, particularly when temperatures reached almost 40 degrees.

We never knew when the bins would be emptied.  The Muhtar would have to arrange for someone with a tractor and trailer to collect.  This didn't happen too often and we could sometimes wait 4 or 5 weeks.  Eventually in desperation Mr A would have to empty the bin and set fire to the rubbish.

It didn't work, so the bins were removed.   Apparently this village should at some time in the future come under the control of the council in Milas.  It has started in a small way because they have installed two large wheely bins with lids down in the village.  I still wrap my rubbish well, and I take it down to the bins.   When the elderly man in the old house below us died and his wife left, there was a huge pile of rubbish in their garden.  In spite of complaints to the Muhtar, it remained there for over a year, until Mr A went down and set fire to it all.  There was so much of it, it burned for days.

He needn't have bothered, because my neighbours don't take their rubbish to the bins in the village, they just dump it in that garden.

Last week, one of Dursune's large chickens was killed, either by a fox or stray dog.   She took it round to the hill behind our house and dumped it there.  I asked her not to, because this is where my dogs run and I didn't want them eating rotten chicken.  It would also encourage more street dogs and rats.  She just ignored me and left it there.

Sure enough, my dogs discovered it, and  a week later, they  brought it down to the road outside our house and started tearing it apart.  Can you imagine what state it was in?  After a week in this heat?  I'm afraid I got quite angry  with Dursune.       I'm not sure she understood me, but I tried to tell her that she should either dig a hole and bury it, wrap it up and take it to the bin in the village or burn it.  She ignored me, and left it outside.     Although I did (using a long pole) scoop it up and threw it over the wall into her garden.  She will probably not even notice the smell from the rotting chicken, because the stench from her garden is getting worse by the day.  It's so bad that I now avoid sitting outside when the wind is blowing from her direction.  Needless to say one of my dogs had an upset stomach which was probably as a result of trying to eat the rotting carcass.

I have also noticed recently that early in the morning Dursune can't be bothered to go around the side of her house to the outside toilet, but will squat and pee in the garden instead.  This seems to be a quite common habit here...another rather unpleasant aspect of Turkish village life.  

OK I'm a foreigner.  They already think I'm odd because I keep dogs as pets.  And they think dogs are dirty and disease-ridden.   In actual fact my dogs are cleaner and healthier than a lot of people in this village.

Maybe I have no right to complain?  But this is the 21st Century, not the 19th.   We have electricity and running water in this village.   The inhabitants have toilets and showers, even if some are outside.

Most of them have televisions.  A lot have access to the internet, judging by the number of members on the village Facebook page.

 I don't get it.  Why do they still insist on living this way?


Monday, 26 August 2013

Getting out of tourism

I talked a bit about tourism in my last post.   It's really not as lucrative for the average seasonal worker as it once was.  Gone are the days when you could earn enough on commission only throughout the season, to survive during the winter months with no work.

All-inclusive holidays encourage people with little money to spend.  They save all year, pay their all inclusive price, and then don't have to worry too much about spending money.  You can't blame them.  They are just not earning enough these days to justify spending more than the bare minimum on their two weeks in the sun.

Mr A's REAL job in tourism is selling carpets.  Apart from the odd few days in Kusadasi when he was offered some work demonstrating and selling to large groups from the cruise ships, for the last two or three years he has had to find other work.  People can't afford carpets.  To be honest there is such a huge amount of commission loaded onto the prices in the carpet centres, you would be better off buying a Turkish carpet from a shop in your own country.

So Mr A has been selling the hamam experience.  The problem here is that these hamams are situated in all-inclusive hotels, and people won't or can't pay extra for a Turkish bath and massage.   And it's commission only, which is really difficult.  This has meant that he really has to be there at the hamam all of the time, or he is worried he will miss a customer.   He is working 16 to 18 hours a day, 7 days a week.   He doesn't come home very often.  It's not far...less than an hour away...but he has to consider the cost of petrol for the round trip, and the fact that if he's not there, he'll miss an opportunity to sell.   Occasionally he comes home..... brings his washing for me to do, and then returns a maximum of two hours later, with his clean clothes (usually still damp).  

We don't have much of a conversation because frankly he is too exhausted to talk, so I just leave him to relax.  He'll stretch out on the sofa and within minutes he will be asleep.

I can't wait until the season finishes.  Mr A's contract ends at the end of September.  We talked earlier this year about this being his last season, and that from this year on he would start to work on the land in the village.  We have walnut trees which will give the most profit, olives and fruit.  There won't be much to be made from it this year because it has been neglected a bit.   Father-in-law no longer comes to stay (one thing to be grateful for!)to work on the land, so there is much to be done.

We'll never make a great deal of money from the land, but hopefully enough to survive without all the stress of ridiculously long hours...and at least I will actually see my husband!

When we actually have chance to talk, I will know whether Mr A is serious about this.  Unfortunately, he finishes on 30th September, and the following day I will be off to England for two weeks.   I think though that the two weeks on his own, may well be the time for him to think long and hard and make a decision.   Fingers crossed it's the right one.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

This country is changing...

...and not necessarily for the better.

I'm not even going to get into talking about the political situation at the moment, other than to say that democracy is dying and we are heading very quickly towards a dictatorship.

People are becoming more materialistic.  They want all the latest technology and cars, but sadly most don't earn the money to pay for them.   So they get into debt or they turn to crime.

I'm afraid a lot of Turks think that foreigners are wealthy.  I suppose relatively speaking, they are better off than a lot of Turks, but many expats have worked hard and saved for their retirement in the sun, and live here on their pensions.  They're not rich, they just have a better standard of living than they would if they had stayed in the UK.   So based on this idea that Turks have, there has been a dramatic increase in burglaries in recent years.   Not to mention the way that foreigners are sometimes ripped off when it comes to buying property.

A lot of the restaurants in tourist areas have two differently priced for Turks, and a more expensive one for tourists.  Often foreigners, even those who have lived here for a long time, are charged more in markets and shops for goods.   I get the impression from people who have come to Turkey regularly for years for their holiday, are becoming disillusioned, and feel that the country and it's people are not the same as they once were.

On the other side of the coin,  some tourists (particularly British I'm embarrassed to say) come here with a strange attitude towards Turks.  They can be rude and offensive and treat restaurant and hotel staff like they are inferior.  They get drunk night after night, get into fights and generally make nuisances of themselves.  The Turks tolerate this behaviour well.  They have no choice.  They have a short summer season in which to earn as much as they can to survive the winter when there is no work.

Sadly, the introduction some years ago of All-inclusive holidays has, I feel, had a detrimental effect on tourism.   People don't leave their hotels where their food and drinks are included in their holiday price.   As a result local businesses lose out.   So when restaurants do get customers, they over-charge them.  They rip them off in the markets.  They are so desperate to earn money that they are less than honest in their attempts.

It's a vicious circle.

Something has to change for tourism in Turkey to be as good as it was years ago.  I don't know how it's possible to get things back on track, or whether it's maybe too late.

PS.  I typed this post last night, having heard from Mr A that his car which he parks overnight just outside the hotel was damaged.  Sometime during the early hours of the previous morning, someone had smashed all the windows.  This act of mindless vandalism made me stop and think about how when I first came to live here, this sort of thing would never happen.  You could safely leave your car overnight, even with the keys in the ignition, and it wouldn't be touched.

Shopkeepers would leave their stock outside their shops overnight and know that nothing would be touched.

It saddens me to even think about how much things are changing in this beautiful country.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Introducing a New Blogger

I came across Danni on Facebook.  We share interests in some of the Facebook groups, and we have had a few chats about all sorts of things.

She is 21 years old and she is a lovely, caring girl, with her feet firmly on the ground.  Mature beyond her years.

She lives with her boyfriend in Turkey, and unlike a lot of the romances between British girls and Turkish boys, she has embraced and adapted to the Turkish culture, rather than live like she is on one big holiday.

I was delighted to learn that Danni has started a blog, and thought my followers might like to take a look.   And we all love to add a blog to our list which has only just begun, so that we can follow the story from the beginning.  And this one has started well.

Here it is:  living the turkish dream

Welcome to blogging Danni....and good luck!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Time for an Update....

...not that I have much to write about.  It's that time of year.  Too hot to do anything.  

I continue with my nocturnal habits.  It's the dogs' fault.  They sleep all day because they're too hot, and as soon as the temperature drops at night, they start barking.  It's not continual, fortunately, but it always seems to happen just as I've dropped off to sleep.  There's no real reason for them to bark.  No trespassers, or someone trying to break in.   They'll see a cat wandering about, or they'll hear another dog in the distance, and feel they need to join in.

They go out for a run early morning, and again in the evening, returning covered in those little prickly burrs, which are difficult to get out of the short-haired Blondie and Freddie, and impossible to remove from long-haired Sammy and Megan.   Megan has also taken a liking to rolling in something rather unpleasant...probably cow excrement....anyway it stinks.   I cannot keep her still enough to wash her, so have resorted to spraying her with airfreshener for the time being.   It's not ideal, but it will have to do until Mr A gets back.  

Freddie is systematically destroying everything in sight.  The old sofa which Blondie once chewed a hole in, and I repaired, is on the balcony and Megan sleeps on it.  However, this morning  when I got up, the seat cushions were demolished, and the stuffing all over the balcony.  I have spent several hours today restuffing it, and sewing a huge patch to cover it up.  How long that will last, goodness knows.

Mr A is still working at a hotel hamam in Gumbet.  He is on commission only, and business isn't very good. People are just not spending money.   He has been trying to save money for the winter but isn't doing terribly well.  We have work to do on the house, mainly to deal with the water leaking through ceilings and damp coming through the walls, and rooms need redecorating.   The dry stone wall needs to be rebuilt at the back of the house.  But if he hasn't earned enough money by the time he finishes at the end of September, then he will probably have to go away to work during the winter.  

Sometimes it feels like we are leading completely separate lives.  He only manages to get home once a week, and then it's only for 2 or 3 hours, whilst I do his washing, and he falls asleep.  Most of our communication is done on the phone.

This may make you smile......just when I thought he had got over his wordwork phase, he now informs me that he is going to make an L-shaped sofa for the living room, if he has time this winter. He will then get some large cushions made and fabric to cover them.

Our sofa and armchairs do need replacing, but I had set my heart on some rather lovely L-shaped sofas I'd seen in Ikea.   However, they are too expensive, so Mr A insists he will make one.  And he says it will be better than the Ikea ones, because it will have cupboards for storage underneath. this space!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Post No: 900. Looking forward to seeing my boys

This is my 900th post since I started blogging.  And what better way to celebrate than to look forward to seeing my lovely grandsons.

I have booked my flights for my next trip to England...1st to 15th October.  I had been waiting for the exchange rate to change.  The lira is quite high at the moment and has been all summer.  I was hoping it would go down so that I would pay less for my tickets, but it doesn't seem to be happening.  The problem with leaving it too late is that it's then difficult to get convenient flight times.

As it is, I am now having to travel mid week and the times aren't brilliant, but the price isn't too bad.

Naturally I'm excited about seeing Billy and Jimi as I haven't seen them since April.  Billy starts proper school in September....I can't believe how fast time flies.

Here are some recent photos of them, taken by my daughter.

enjoying the sunshine longer the baby

Aren't they lovely when they're asleep?

Billy in his new school uniform, ready for September
Billy snuggling up to his Mum


Sunday, 11 August 2013

Blog Advertising

I am trying to find ways to earn some extra money to help with the costs of feeding and caring for my 5 dogs.

When I first started taking them in, one of my followers was concerned about the cost of looking after them and suggested I had a JustGiving button on my sidebar for donations.  This isn't something I'm comfortable with doing.  It was my choice to adopt the dogs, and therefore my responsibility to take care of them.   But it is proving to be expensive.  I am fortunate in having a vet who provides treatment at a much reduced rate, but the cost of food for four large dogs and a small greedy one is proving costly.

I'm not in a position to go out and find a job, because I am miles away from the tourist areas, and I don't have transport.  There are very few choices available to me to earn money.

From time to time, I have accepted adverts on my blog, and guest posts, for which I have been paid.  The most recent was for Otorento.  The payment for the post and advert was the start of my dog fund.  One guest post and their advert for three months on my sidebar has paid for Freddie to be neutered, vaccinated, worm and flea treatments, plus one sack of food.

Maybe some of you have something you would like to promote on my blog?  Perhaps you have a small business with a website, and find advertising costs expensive.   I would feel much happier about accepting payment if I am providing a service for you.

So if you think you may like an advert on my blog, and/or a guest post introducing yourself, please let me know.  It is a very inexpensive way of advertising, and a way in which we can be of help to each other.

You can leave a comment here with your email address.  All comments are moderated, so it won't be published, and I will then email you with further details.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Bayram and a brave cat

Today is the second day of Seker Bayram (Eid al-Fitr.).  It's the holiday that follows Ramazan, the month of fasting.   It's traditional for familes to buy  new outfits to wear.  Many poorer familes may only buy a new outfit once a year, and this will be used throughout the coming year on special occasions.

It's a time of feasting, and in particular the eating of sweets, chocolates and all sorts of other sticky syrupy things like baklava.  Children will turn up at the door, and will be given sweets after having kissed the hand of the adult and raised to the forehead as a mark of respect.

Although I bought sweets in readiness for the onslaught of children, none of them turned up.  I suspect it's more to do with my dogs than anything else.  Children rarely come up this far and I am sure they have discussed amongst themselves that the strange yabanci (foreigner) keeps dogs as pets, so they steer clear.  Never mind, I'm sure I can manage the sweets myself!

And talking of being a yabanci.  It's at times like this that I really do feel like a fish out of water.  It's very much a family time.  Younger members of families travel all over the place attempting to visit as many relatives as possible.  For me it's just another day.  Mr A is away of course, and we have no family visiting (not that I am wishing for a visit by the in-laws!!).  Both Dursune and Sevke have family visiting them.  Dursune's grandchildren are sleeping on her flat roof so this is making the dogs bark every time they move.  None of us are getting much sleep.

Another thing that happened yesterday morning made me feel like an outsider.  The Muhtar, accompanied by a man with a big box, went around the village visiting each house and handing out a small gift.  It was most likely some sweets or cake.  Every house, with the exception of mine!   I happened to be in the kitchen looking out of the window and saw him give gifts to Dursune and Sevke, glance briefly at my house, hesitate,  then walk on.  Naturally I'm not bothered at all by missing out on a gift, I just feel a little sad that after 15 or more years here, I will always be considered an outsider.

You may recall my mentioning the cats that took up residence in the chicken coop some months ago.  They have mostly disappeared, with the exception of one handsome cat.  He is  white with a few grey markings.  I leave food and water for him every day in the chicken coop, but he never comes near me.   The dogs don't like cats and if they see him they bark furiously.  He knows he is safe at the top end of the garden though and the dogs can't get to him, so he will stretch out in full sight of them almost teasing them.

When we had the new metal fencing erected along the driveway, it was mainly to keep the bottom part of the garden dog-free.   Unfortunately there was a slight gap at the bottom and Freddie was able to squeeze himself underneath during the night and had great fun chewing and trampling on plants.  Last week the metal man came and put another bar along the gap, so  Freddie is unable to get underneath.  He now spends his nights searching for anything else to destroy, eg a plastic dustbin, water bowls, a huge pot of herbs, shoes, etc.  He then takes great pleasure in barking at my bedroom window around 5am to wake me up.

The cat has discovered that the bottom garden is now safe.  He has spent the entire day lounging in the shade under the gazebo.   The dogs spotted him and started barking, so he got up and strolled slowly away.  Ten minutes later he strolled back...unnoticed by the dogs...spread himself out and has remained there ever since.   He is indeed a brave cat, completely unperturbed by 5 dogs.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Happy Blogger Award

I am finding it very difficult to think of things to blog about at the moment.  I blame it on the heat, which has forced me to stay inside the house, so unless I sit here and describe the furniture, there's very little else to write about.
So I thought it would be a good opportunity to give out a blogging award with absolutely no strings attached.
We all love receiving awards.  It makes us feel good.  But then we have to think about having to fulfil certain criteria, like disclosing five unusual things about ourselves, and then it becomes a bit of a chore.
So I am giving this award to just a few of my favourite Bloggers, for them to post on their sidebars....and that's further action required.
Erica at Sweet on You
Annie at Back to Bodrum
Annie at Being Here
Janice at Janice in Caunes
Maggie at Nuts in May
Hilary and Ashley at Pul Biber (with everything)
Kelleyn at Traveling Bug
Charlotte Ann at Ploughing through Life

Saturday, 3 August 2013


 This is an old story.  One I have come across several times before, but it has a message that sticks in my mind.


In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organised by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognise talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . ..

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Enjoy life NOW .. It has an expiry date
Here is the link to the full article in the Washington Post.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

How to ruin a Beatles classic

...get a Turkish singer to sing it.

I love Turkish music and Turkish singers.  But they really should stick to what they know best.