Thursday, 30 October 2014

Home and Away

This is Day 13 of my trip to England and it has passed very quickly.  I have spent a lot of time with Stella, Billy and Jimi and it's been very enjoyable...and tiring.


At the park


Tomorrow the boys are having a Halloween party with a few of their friends, so Stella and I are shopping for goodies today, and tomorrow morning we'll be decorating the sitting room with suitably ghoulish decorations.

Meanwhile at home, Mr A has been poorly while I've been away and feeling a bit sorry for himself.  There has also been a fair bit of rain.  In spite of this he has managed to complete the shelter to cover the kennels for Chas, Dave and Melek.

Chas, Dave, Melek and Monty

Tommy relaxing

Mr A continues to feed the village dogs every day.  There are now 13 in total.

The Milas Belediye manager visited the village last week and Mr A approached him again about the plight of the dogs, saying that those that needed treatment and neutering should be collected by the Belediye vet and taken to the shelter.   The manager suggested that they be poisoned!!   Mr A had to be restrained by men in the teahouse to stop him hitting the manager, but strong words were spoken.  How on earth do we stand a chance of getting the Belediye vet to do the job he is paid to do if his manager has this attitude!

Mr A is also feeding the industrial estate dogs every two days, because one of the men who promised to feed them is not doing so.   He is leaving sacks of food with another man at the far end of the estate who is feeding 4 or 5 dogs, but there are now around 25 dogs on the estate.

Thanks again to all those who have kindly donated, but we always need more if we are to continue long term.  Every little helps.  Thankyou.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

My personal pedicurist

Four years ago I wrote THIS POST about the state of my feet.   Ever since then I have been doing what I can to improve their condition.  They do get a bit better from time to time, but I'm afraid I get distracted and don't always remember to spend time taking care of them.

I get embarrassed about my feet and don't like anyone seeing them.  There is one exception though.... Mr A.  I think it's normal when two people have been together for a long time,  to have no inhibitions.

He, like many Turks, seem to suffer with foot problems.  There are no chiropodists here, and those with time and money to spare will get a pedicure at a hair and beauty salon.   I'm pretty certain most of these "pedicurists" don't have any training, but they do seem to do a reasonable job.

I've yet to reach the point where I am happy enough with my feet to let anyone else touch them.  Mr A has similar problems with his feet from time to time, but I did notice when he finished the job in Gumbet that they were in much better condition.  He tells me he spent time watching the pedicurists in the beauty salon where he worked early in the season, and having learned how they work, started to treat his own feet...with good results.

So last week I let him loose on my feet.  He spent two hours on them, soaking them, exfoliating them, massaging...more soaking, more exfoliation, more massage, then finally liberal amounts of aloe vera cream. He also filed down the nails, which are always quite brittle, and they look much better.

Before I went to bed I covered them in something called Fito Krem, which I got from the chemist.  It's very much like vaseline but also contains an antiseptic.  As it's quite greasy it's best to wear clean cotton socks.

The result was a vast improvement, and Mr A insists that he will continue to be my personal pedicurist from now on.  Unfortunately there wasn't time to repeat the treatment before I came to England on Saturday.

I bought some cheap canvas shoes on Sunday which were very comfortable...until I started walking in them.  Now I have some nasty blisters and the shoes have been cast aside.

I can't wait to let Mr A loose on my feet again...they are certainly going to need it by the time I return home!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Class differences

I'm not talking about the difference in class between people here.  In fact class is something I rarely refer to, except perhaps to argue the point that we were all born equal, and "class" depends on money and circumstances.  Basically we are all human beings, good and bad, rich and poor, etc.

I am referring to class in terms of air travel.  As I write this I am in fact sitting in a comfortable armchair in the  Turkish Airlines business class lounge in Ataturk airport, Istanbul, awaiting my connecting flight to London.

I'd rather the word class wasn't used for the different levels of service and price in airline travel.  It somehow gives the impression that some people are better than others.   I would prefer the labels "basic/no frills" ticket, Economy ticket, and perhaps "luxury ticket" instead of Business class.

Having said all that I am so far enjoying the luxury of a Business "ticket" thanks to my saved airmiles and a promotion, and for once finding dates that suit me.

I only ever travelled this way once before, with Turkish Airlines, years ago when my father was dying, and the only ticket available to get me home quickly was in Business, so I had no choice.  It was certainly a very nice way to travel, but the reason for flying to the UK really didn't enable me to enjoy the experience.

I'm going to log the differences in service in this post, for my own reference really.  Many years ago I would always keep a daily diary of my travels, and it's good to look back years later.

In Economy on the domestic flight from Bodrum to Istanbul, which takes around one hour, passengers are given a small picnic box containing a sandwich and cake.

In Business this morning, before take-off I was served with a choice of juices.  I opted for fresh strawberry.   Breakfast was served on proper plates and dishes, with metal cutlery as opposed to that served in Economy.  There was cheese, olives, tomatoes.   Fresh fruit...melon, oranges, kiwi, grapes.   A cheese and pepper omelette, served with mushrooms.   Fresh bread rolls, and little pots of jam.   And a large cup of delicious coffee.

I was first off the plane in Istanbul, and discovered that there is a separate Passport Control for Business queues.

Now I'm in the Lounge.  It's very peaceful, has excellent free wifi, and lots of food and drinks to choose from, also free.

You can read about it HERE.    I'm on my second cup of delicious filter coffee, but after the substantial breakfast on the flight from Bodrum, I can't eat another thing....although the quality of food on offer is very tempting!

.........................I'm going to stop here to go and catch my flight to London, and will continue my experiences later......................................................................

SUNDAY MORNING...continued.

The flight from Istanbul to Heathrow was very enjoyable.  We set off an hour late, mainly because of security checks.  Even when we were ready to take off several security men entered the cabin and did a check of everyone's hand luggage.  I personally don't mind delays of this kind.  I have always felt safer in Turkish airports because they are pretty hot on security, and it reassures me.

Before take off Business section passengers are served drinks.   Our seats are comfortable, with lots of leg room, and on some aircraft can extend into beds.  On this flight that wasn't the case, but the seat did recline sufficiently, and there were also extendable leg and foot rests.   Individual screens were concealed in the large space between seats for each passenger to use for watching videos, games, etc.

In Economy, food is served in those small sectioned trays...all in one go, and drinks at the same time.  I've always been impressed with Turkish airlines food, but the meal in Business was so much more impressive.

A menu was brought to us and a drinks list.   The drinks on offer are pretty much the same as for Economy, with the addition of champagne...which I decided to have.  (I don't often get the opportunity to drink champagne, so this was a real treat).

The menu consisted of 5 courses.  Again everything served on real plates with metal cutlery.  The starter was a selection of mezes, followed by stuffed aubergine.  A choice of three main courses.  A mango dessert, a selection of cheeses, and coffee.  And it was waiter service for each course.

All in all a very pleasant experience from start to finish.

It is certainly worth doing your sums when you book flights.  It's all too easy to opt for the "cheap" deals, but always take the hidden extras into consideration.  I have often found that once you add all these things up, it can work out as much, if not more, expensive than a scheduled flight, where baggage allowance, and food/drinks on the flight are included in the price of the ticket.

I have also discovered that occasionally, if you book well in advance online, there are special promotions with Turkish Airlines.  For example, I have made a reservation for next April to visit my grandsons for their birthdays, and noticed that for just a bit extra I could fly in comfort and luxury again, because there is a promotion running at that time for Business class.  It's a non-refundable/non-changeable ticket of course, but if, like me, you are sure of your dates, it's worth paying a little extra.

One of the flights necessitates a 9 hour stopover in Istanbul airport, which I would absolutely hate if I was travelling Economy, but with Business you can spend a very relaxing day in the Lounge.  Alternatively you can take advantage of Turkish Airlines guided tour of Istanbul.   This is also free, and includes entry to museums and historic places, lunch, and transport from and return to the airport for your flight.

Read more about Tour Istanbul HERE.

And finally I've managed some sleep after being awake for 20 hours.  I spent a few hours with my daughter and grandsons last night, and can't wait to see them again today.  A busy couple of weeks ahead.

Friday, 17 October 2014


It's been a very busy week and I am finally about to sort out clothes and pack my suitcase for my trip to England tomorrow.  My flight leaves at 6.00am so I will be up very early.

My internet connection is playing up again, but I haven't the time or the patience to tackle TTNet today, so will sort it out when I return.

I am also having problems commenting on blogs again, so please don't think I am ignoring your blogs.  Again I don't have time to attempt to find a solution.

Mr A has a lot of work to do in the garden while I'm away, and is at the moment in the middle of building a more substantial shelter for the three pups' kennels, and then he will lay cement underneath to level it up and also cover the entire area at the side of the house with cement, where they go to toilet, enabling us to hose it down every day.

Sacks of dogfood have been delivered to the industrial estate for the men who have agreed to feed the dogs there.  Mr A will check on them in a week's time.  They have his phone number and will let him know if they need more sacks of food.  He will continue to feed the village dogs well as looking after our nine dogs.  He's going to be very busy!

I will as usual be taking my laptop with me, but I doubt I will have much time to log on.  My daughter and grandsons will no doubt keep me occupied and I'm very much looking forward to it.

See you all in two weeks time.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Winter feeding programme underway

This morning we went up to the industrial estate on the main road to check on the numbers of dogs currently living there.

During the summer months we had an arrangement with the cafe owner.  He continued to feed most of the dogs leftovers, and we dropped off sacks of food from time to time to supplement this.  Mr A kept in touch with him by phone to make sure all the dogs were OK.

You will of course remember the pups we rescued back in February when they were 4 weeks old.   One was adopted by the cafe owner and taken to his village, and three were adopted by people in our village.  The remaining three pups we brought home to add to our brood.  We named them Chas, Dave and Melek, bringing the total of rescues we have at home to nine.   The pups are now nearly 9 months old, and continue to grow at a rapid rate.  All our dogs have been vaccinated and have pet passports, and have also been neutered.

Sadly within the past week, the pup belonging to the cafe owner died.  He has no idea why, as he was quite healthy, but we suspect he may have been poisoned.  Unfortunately this  happens in many areas in Turkey, and it's difficult to prevent if someone is determined enough.  

The three pups adopted in the village continue to thrive.  We are also continuing to feed other dogs in the village.  We often have to search for them because they are invariably chased away from the centre of the village.  If we don't see them one day, we leave food in areas where we know they will find it.

So, there were a total of 23 dogs at the industrial estate this morning.  Most of them we recognise from last winter, but there are a few new ones.   We fed all of them.  Most were not desperately hungry, but a few were.

We had intended to have the mum of our pups spayed earlier this year, after we had taken the pups, and an appointment was arranged with the vet to carry this out.  On the day we went to collect her, she had disappeared.  Not wanting to waste the appointment, we picked up two more females and took them to be spayed instead.

We continued each day to search for the mum, but she remained elusive.   Although the cafe owner informed us that she was still around.  We learned today that she recently had another litter of pups, but the good news is that the Belediye vet was informed, and she and her babies were collected from the estate and taken to the shelter in Milas.

At the other end of the estate, we found a man who is feeding a large kangal type dog and three others.  He brings scraps from home, but it's not enough because these dogs need fattening up a bit.  So we are going to start taking sacks of food on a regular basis for him to continue.

This exercise was always going to be about getting people to take some responsibility for these dogs.  It's too easy for us to go every day and feed them, but far better when others show that they want to help them survive.

So the winter programme will be for us to feed all the village dogs every day.  No-one in our village will take responsibility for this.  We will then go up to the industrial estate once a week to check on the dogs there, administer flea and worm treatments, and to take sacks of food for those kind men who have agreed to help.  In time we hope to be able to get more of these dogs neutered, hopefully by the Belediye vet.  If not, we will arrange for our vet to carry out the operations, finances permitting.

A huge thankyou once again to all of you who have donated this year to enable us to continue this work.  It is so very much appreciated, and without your kindness it would be impossible to go on helping these animals.  

If you would like to donate, you will find a Paypal button at the top of this page.  Thankyou everyone for your continued support.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Noisy tortoises and a determined dog

I've had a week of sleepless nights and I'm feeling the strain.  I'm usually kept awake if my dogs are barking at a passing cat, but I'm actually becoming accustomed to this and can often sleep through it.

However, it's the tortoises in our garden that are disturbing my sleep these days. We've always had tortoises here since we moved to the village nearly 6 years ago.  Some were already in the garden, and I've added a couple more...rescued from being run over by tractors in the lane outside.  They have lived happily alongside each other, feeding on weeds and grapevines.  I put out water every day but other than that I leave them to it.  There are lots of gaps in the walls where they hibernate in winter,   A couple of baby tortoises arrived over time and they have thrived.

I have no idea how many there are altogether.  It's difficult to count them, as they all look pretty much alike, and never seem to appear all at the same time.  I've just left them to get on with their lives.  But during the last couple of weeks I have been disturbed by constant banging, like someone hammering nails into a wall. I only realised it was the tortoises banging their shells together when Monty started to bark at them through the fence.

This week the banging has started during the evening and gone on for most of the night.  Who knew tortoises could be so noisy?

I've done a bit of searching on the internet, and have established that either it's a male and female mating, or two of the same sex fighting.  It seems that it's best to separate them to avoid injury.  So this morning the banging started up again and I moved one of the tortoises to the top garden.   Several hours later and as I am typing this, another two tortoises have started up.   Now I have to find a different area for one of these.    Maybe tonight I'll get some sleep.

Otherwise this week has been taken up with preparation for getting the building and maintenance business off the ground.  Mr A has completed one job for our friend David.  Felling a tree, chopping it up for firewood, along with some wooden pallets.  Yesterday we went to David's  to measure up for a carport to be built on the side of the house.  The materials were ordered in Milas, and delivered this morning.  Mr A will start work tomorrow.  We have ordered business cards and these should also be ready tomorrow.

After numerous problems with our car, Mr A was sick of paying out for repairs, so eventually took it back to the oto galeri where he bought it.  The owner has agreed to exchange it for another car and this will be collected today. Fingers crossed that it will be more reliable than the previous one.

Finally, Melek is proving to be very determined to get onto the balcony and into the house and cause havoc.   She was jumping the gate at the top of the balcony, so Mr A removed it and fixed at the bottom of the steps where it wasn't easy to jump.  One morning when I was in the shower, I turned around to find Melek behind me.  She had somehow managed to get onto the balcony and into the house.

We thought the gate was too low, so Mr A fixed another metal bar to make it higher.  We then discovered that she was crawling under the metal steps and squeezing through the space underneath.  We need to close off this space, but because there hasn't been time, at the moment there is a temporary barricade made from a table, an old sink and a chair.  It's starting to look like a junkyard.

We also need to make the shelter over the three kennels a bit more waterproof before the rain starts.  On Wednesday morning it seemed like this wouldn't be necessary.  Chas, Dave and Melek were constantly sitting at the gate to the back area where the four big dogs are and I decided to let them in.  There was a lot of bum sniffing and territorial behaviour, mostly from Megan and Sammy, but eventually they settled and played together.  We moved the three kennels inside the front of the old house, where the four big dogs sleep.  We popped into Milas and when we returned they were all fine.

After a while, Megan and Sammy lay down in front of the old house, preventing the three pups from passing them.  Every time they attempted to do so, there was growling and snapping from Megan and Sammy, and whimpering from the three youngsters.  I left them for a while but it was clear that although we can put all the dogs in this enclosed area for a few hours which would be useful if we have guests, it won't work on a permanent basis.  So it's back to Plan A with the kennel shelter.

A busy week, and only 8 more sleeps until I set off to England.  Can't wait!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Latest news on the village dogs

You may recall that several weeks ago we were informed by the Muhtar that the dogs in the village had been rounded up by the Belediye and taken to the Milas shelter, where they were to be neutered, ear-tagged, then returned to the village.

 They never returned to the village and I'm afraid we feared the worst.  Maybe someone in the village had disposed them, and  the Muhtar was lying.  Also there were still at least four dogs remaining who had either not been rounded up by the Belediye, or who had somehow managed to escape the fate of the others.

I have continued to feed these dogs, whilst waiting for Mr A to finish his job in Gumbet so that we could make plans for getting these dogs neutered.

I go down to feed early in the morning.  Sometimes the dogs are there, and sometimes not, but I leave food in different areas for them to find.  It's getting dark quite early now, so I have been reluctant to go down in the evening.  I don't relish the idea of walking past the teahouses and the glares of the men, and it's not the done thing for a lone female to be wandering around the village after dark.

Mr A has been back home this past week, preparing to start up his new building and maintenance business, and has already undertaken one job.  Fingers crossed it takes off.

After a busy day in the garden yesterday, he went down to the teahouse last night to relax with his friends.  He was pleasantly fact discover 4 of the original village dogs, complete with ear-tags.  So the Belediye had collected them after all.  They had been returned to the village yesterday.  As usual, Mr A had dog food in the car so was able to feed them.

This is very promising.  As soon as Bayram is over, we will be trying to get the un-neutered dogs done.  If we have problems getting the Belediye to do this, we will use our own vet.  I just want all these dogs to be safe and healthy.

Mr A was told a story by a friend last night.  He said that about four years ago a man in the village shot his own dog because it was sick, rather than get vetinerary help.  Apparently, as the story goes, the man was reported, taken away, and put in prison for 6 months.  I have doubts about whether the story is true, but even if it's not, the story has spread, and seems to be acting as a deterrent to others who might consider shooting the dogs.

We have also been up to the industrial estate, and found 9 dogs still there.  These are some of the same dogs that were there when we started feeding them last winter.  They are looking healthy and we know this is because the cafe owner kept his promise to continue feeding them with his leftovers.  We will be dropping off sacks of dog food to him on a regular basis from now on to supplement the leftovers.  We are of course expecting more dogs to appear.  This is how it goes, and we want to be prepared.

We are now into October and will be starting up the feeding programme in earnest.  Winter is the harshest time for the street animals and we aim to make sure that the village and industrial estate dogs are fed every day throughout the coming months.  This cannot be done without your help, and I am so grateful for your donations, which have enabled us to continue.   It is an ongoing project of course, so donations, no matter how small, are always welcome. (See the Paypal button at the top of this page.)

You could say that I am quietly optimistic today!

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Time for a new start

Many of my regular blog readers will recall my posting about Mr A and the work he does around the house and garden, usually during the winter when he has no job.

He has built beautiful stone walls around the garden. These are not easy to do.  He has to climb the hill at the back of the house and break up the hard rocks with a pick axe, then transport them down to the house with a wheelbarrow.  This can take weeks of backbreaking labour.  This before he can even start to build the wall.  You can of course order the stone from somewhere and get it delivered, but this is beyond our means, so Mr A does it the hard way.

He has built fences, shelves, a bird table, picnic tables, a long wooden bench...even a magazine rack...all from recycled wood we found in the old house in our garden.  Some of these things haven't been successful, but some have.  It's all trial and error...and of course practise.

You know by now how much I hate Mr A working in tourism.  16 or more hours, 7 days a week, with just commission.  Not to mention the fact that I hardly see him all through the summer.  I then see far too much of him during the winter months.  It's not a normal life.

I've received comments from readers suggesting Mr A takes up all this DIY work as a full-time job, so over the past few weeks we had discussions about how we could set about doing this.   He already has some tools which will suffice for the time being.   He finished paying off the car this summer, and when he was making the final payment to the oto galeri man, he noticed a chainsaw sitting in the corner of the yard.  He asked if it was used, and the man said it wasn't.  Mr A asked if he could buy it, but as the man was so delighted to receive the final car payment, he actually gave it to Mr A.

His boss at the hamam knew of Mr A's plan to start his business at the end of the season and he gave him a heavy duty drill, which has never been used.

Finally, we invested in a welding machine.  We knew how much we could afford to spend, but the machine was more expensive.  However, Mr A being a good haggler, not only managed to get the price down but got some other bits and pieces thrown in.

Next job was to set up a Facebook page, which I did a couple of days ago and this has achieved 50 likes so far.

My friend David has given Mr A his first two jobs.  Today Mr A will be cutting up some wooden pallets for firewood, and felling a dead tree, which will also be cut for firewood.  Thank goodness for the chainsaw.

Next week, Mr A will be measuring up to build a carport on the side of David's house.

Thankyou David for giving Mr A the start he needs, but also the confidence to tackle his first paid work.  Fingers crossed, more work will follow in due course.

Apart from building stone walls, he can undertake exterior house painting, garden clearance, and pretty much any of those jobs that you don't or can't tackle yourself.

If you live in our area (near Milas), the Bodrum peninsular, or even a bit further afield (Mr A is happy to travel), then look for Kaya Building and Maintenance on Facebook.  (You'll find the link on my blog sidebar).