Sunday, 17 February 2013

One man's junk is another man's treasure - mine!

Back in England we lived very near the site of a large weekly car boot sale and David was always amazed at how early I could be up and ready to go out on a Sunday morning with such enthusiasm, so unlike the other days of the week, when I went to work. On arrival at the car boot I would be out of the car and off before David had even finished parking!

Fethiye second hand sale held on the first Wednesday of each month

 Actually it's fair to say that I am obsessed with all second hand purchases. I love charity shops, car boots, auctions, for sale sites etc. etc.  Over the years I collected some really unusual things as well as other items that I wanted anyway and books oh dear I had thousands!  Sadly many of it had to be given away or sold when we moved to Turkey as we opted to travel with suitcases only, the idea being to live a much more minimalistic life here, as in NO MORE CLUTTER! Well imagine my utter delight when I discovered that there is a means to satisfy my compulsive purchasing here in Turkey too!

Calis car boot held monthly through the winter

The first Wednesday of each month hosts the second hand sale in Fethiye and during the winter months Calis holds a monthly car boot sale. I am back from there today so excited with my new purchases. This weeks treasures are a cushion, a Turkish cookery book, a backgammon board, two paperback books, some cutlery, two hair clips, condiments set, a spice jar to match the kitchen and two Whirling Dervish pictures. How did I manage to live here without these essential items - I just don't know.

Calis car boot sale

Oh and on the way home I went to collect two children's chairs that I had arranged to buy from the 'for sale site', for when grand-daughter Rosie is older and comes to stay. Two chairs? Well one day she may have a brother or sister and we don't want them fighting over one chair do we?

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Ayak's Turkish Delight - one of our favourite blogs

Before we moved to Turkey ourselves, we read everything we could find to read by people who had already made the transition that we planned to make one day. One of our favourites was and still is 'Ayak's Turkish Delight'.

Like me Ayak had worked in Social Care in the UK and is also a great animal lover like myself. She has now lived in Turkey for 15 years and during that time has moved 15 times! Her posts are scrupulously honest about the trials and tribulations of her life in a small Turkish village with her Turkish husband, and her personal approach to writing makes you feel that she is a friend you have known for years even if you have never met her.

Sometimes amusing, sometimes poignant but always honest her posts are a delight to read. I would highly recommend her Blog to anyone interested in an expat's life in rural Turkey. Take it away Ayak ..............

I was very happy to be asked by Jacqui to do a guest post for her blog. I am going to cheat a little because the following was a guest post I did some time ago for another blogger, Jack at Perking the Pansies. Jack is fast becoming a celebrated author and his first book Perking the Pansies was a great success. He recently published two eBooks (you can find out more on his blog here ) My guest post appears in one of his books so I'm copying it here and bringing it up to date (plus shamelessly plugging my friend Jack's books!)

Let me tell you a bit about me. I'm a retired Social Work Manager (in the mental health field) and I moved to Turkey from England in 1998 and married my Turkish husband in 1999. We have lived in different areas of Turkey. In fact we have moved 15 times to date.

My very first home almost 15 years ago was in Gümüslük. The peaceful village of Gümüslük is one of the oldest settlements on the Bodrum peninsula. It stands on the site of the ancient city of Myndos whose seafront sections slid into the sea in some long-forgotten earthquake. We rented the top floor of a two-storey house, which was really a holiday-let and because each room led out to an open terrace, was only really suitable for the summer months. We rented it during the winter because it was cheap and we didn't have a lot of money.

There was no hot water or heating and I had one saucepan and one gas bottle to cook with. It rained a great deal and poured in through the metal-framed windows, to the extent that one morning we got out of bed and were up to our ankles in water. We had no mod cons. In the absence of a washing-machine, I washed our clothes in a huge plastic bowl. No TV, telephone or internet. Just one very old rusty fridge.

The setting was wonderful...right in the middle of orange and olive groves, with no neighbours, and was very peaceful. It's hard to adapt to such a basic, primitive way of life from the one I had in England but looking back at that time, I realise I learned a lot about myself and how I am capable of far more than I give myself credit for.

We stayed in Gümüslük for 5 months then moved on to Turgutreis and so began my Turkey journey, to places as diverse as Side, Antalya and Cappadocia.

The view from my current home
We have now lived for the past 4 years in a traditional farming village near Milas, with views of fields and mountains as far as the eye can see. If you would like to read more about my day-to-day life, you are most welcome to visit my blog

Local shepherdess

My neighbour with her calf


Monday, 11 February 2013

The first of our animal's stories - meet Horrace

As I have said previously on our blog we are both ardent animal lovers, and we have a motley collection of animals that we care for here. To highlight the problem with abandoned animals, I thought it would be interesting to tell the story (as far as we know it) of each of the animals that are part of our family. Both those that we brought with us from England and the newer additions we acquired since being in Turkey.

We brought two cats and one dog with us from England and will start their stories with the oldest 'Horrace' who aged 20 years flew to a new life in Turkey, three months after we were advised to have him put to sleep.

Meet Horrace

Horrace appeared one day as an adult cat on David's doorstep long before David and I were together. He was emaciated but other than that appeared to be in good condition, with a good coat and skin. He looked like he had been someones cat who had been abandoned or lost. David gave him food and water as he appeared hungry, but he touched neither, and disappeared again. This scenario went on for a few days, and after several days David was able to pick him up.  He then discovered that there was a very good reason for Horrace not eating, he had a piece of wire around his neck that was so tight it was embedded into his skin. Obviously hungry as he was, he had been unable to swallow. After the wire had been removed he was at long last able to eat and drink, but has never been able to make any noise as the wire must have damaged his vocal chords. Nobody ever claimed him or asked about him, so where he came from has remained a complete mystery. The village David lived in at the time only had twenty houses so he certainly wasn't a local cat.

Horrace stayed around for many years, although every summer he used to disappear for a few weeks. David always thought he used to stay away when there were a lot of rabbits about to catch. Each year he would return again around September time and stay until the following year, although he preferred to be outside for most of the time, he would appear morning and evening for food. But in his latter years spent more time in the house in the winter months.

The years passed by and when we were preparing to move to Turkey, Horrace was a concern to us as he was assessed by the veterinary surgeon as being twenty years old, and we were worried how he would handle the flight and also how he would cope with the heat as he is a long haired cat.

Loving the Turkish summer

However, just before it was time for the animals to be seen by the vet to start their vaccinations and the paperwork for their move to Turkey, Horrace suddenly became ill, he went off his food, very quickly lost a lot of weight and was almost constantly vomiting. He spent almost all his time in his bed - not like Horrace at all. David took him to the vets, where he was diagnosed as having chronic kidney failure and he was advised to have him put to sleep. I had been expecting the worst and was surprised to see Horrace in the basket when David returned home. It was a Friday evening and David had felt that he needed to bring him home for the weekend before returning to the vets for the dreadful deed to be done on Monday morning.

All I can say is that Horrace must have heard because he got out of the basket and for the first time in several days joined the queue to be fed. Over the weekend he continued to eat and seemed to improve somewhat. On Monday morning we both went with him to the vets and explained that he seemed to be trying and that we did not feel the time was right to make the decision. More blood tests were taken and he was put on a renal diet, and the vet agreed that he was not in pain so to wait awhile.

We had already negotiated the cost to transport them to Turkey and we also had all the paperwork from DEFRA to complete. I rang both the shipping agent and DEFRA and asked for the absolute final date for a decision to be made as to whether we would take him or not. We only had about three weeks grace.

The vet visited us and commenced the rabies vaccinations and paperwork for our other cat and our dog, while we waited to see how Horrace responded to treatment and his new diet. Horrace seemed to slightly improve and when it came to D Day for our decision, it was very much a borderline call. We both felt that Horrace deserved the chance to try and the vet agreed with us, so his paperwork, micro chipping and rabies vaccinations commenced at the eleventh hour. I contacted the shipping agent and told them to go ahead with preparing flight crates for all three.

On the day of transportation, Horrace quite happily came in his basket in the car. We had to fly from Birmingham as the only airport that could accommodate the animals other than Gatwick. When we reached the cargo offices and had to transfer the animals to the flight boxes, Horrace went in his with no fuss whatsoever, and was looking around the warehouse at the forklift trucks and people with more interest than we had seen him show for weeks.

We had never flown with our animals before and I was very uncertain about the whole thing, as I don't like flying myself, and if I am honest I wondered whether Horrace would stand up to the flight at all.

Horrace newly arrived in Turkey and off out to meet the neighbours

On arrival at Dalaman we waited anxiously for the sight of the animals crates, we were very unsure where we would collect them. We had been told that the cargo office would be shut at that time of night and that they would appear in the baggage hall. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a box at the far end of the hall and headed towards it - Yes! there they were all three - alive and well and looking around.

We all arrived safely, and all three ate well and looked around their new home. After a day inside we opened the doors and Horrace was the first cat out to look about. He loved the Turkish summer, and his condition improved so fast that we think someone must have served him the elixir of life on the plane. Horrace has continued to flourish and is currently on a normal diet and in better condition than he has been for a long time,but even more incredibly he can now make sounds!

Horrace today - alive and well and living in Turkey

We appreciate fully that as he is now in his twenty first year he can't go on forever, but bringing him with us to Turkey was the right call and we are so very, very glad we gave him that chance.

Monday, 4 February 2013

The day the camels came to town

Last week the local ex pat forums were buzzing with the news that camel wrestling was coming to town. Some people were advocates of the event others were very much opposed on the basis that it was not a safe environment and they felt it was animal cruelty. Their opinions on the subject led to quite a debate.

Consequently we were in two minds as to whether we should give this event a look or not. On the one hand we love the traditional Turkish culture, but on the other we are animal lovers and therefore find any kind of animal abuse abhorrent. In the end we felt we should see for ourselves and make our own minds up.

So yesterday we set off to have a look. We have been told that it was originally held as a one off event to raise funds for Karaçulha school but proved to be so popular that it has become an annual event, 2013 being the third year it has taken place. It started at 10.00 am so we arrived just before that and already cars were parked along both sides of the road and hundreds of people were milling about. We just had time to have a look at the trade stands around the perimeter before the camels started to be led towards the ring to parade. It seemed somewhat bizarre to see the highly decorated camels walking down the dual carriageway amongst the traffic.

Majestic camels wandering down the dual carriageway amongst the traffic
We crossed the road to the area where the camels were being prepared, and stood for a while watching.  I have never seen such large camels. The paraphernalia on the camels was magnificent, and their owners seemed to have a real affinity with their stock.

The owners seemed to take such pride in their camels and their dress
On the way into the arena we passed the food stands selling sucuk - spicy sausages made from camel meat which were being cooked on charcoal barbecues - well of course we had to try it. It was served in a half bread with onions, tomatoes, and lettuce, was really spicy and absolutely delicious. A definite thumbs up from us.

Sucuk sellers grilling their sausages on coal barbecues

We then paid our 5 lira entrance fee and went into the wrestling area. It is clearly a very popular sport here because the area was packed. In typical Turkish fashion, seating was provided on the flat roofs of adjacent buildings and on flat bed lorries that had been parked around the edge of the ring. The ring itself was surrounded by some fairly sturdy crash barriers and the concrete had been covered in a thick layer of sand.

Various announcements were made, prayers were said and then the national anthem was played. This was the first time I had heard this at a public venue and I found it very moving because you could tell in those few moments what a patriotic culture the Turkish people are.

Then the first camels arrived in the ring, and the wrestling began. I was surprised how quickly it was all over. The camels pushed each other with their necks, and as soon as one was gaining the upper hand a team of men rushed in to separate them. I would imagine that these camels and their equipment is worth far too much money for them to jeopardise either being damaged. I can only liken it to arm wrestling - a test of strength. There certainly didn't appear to be any cruelty that I witnessed anyway. The sand in the arena was raked between each bout. The owners seemed very concerned at the well being of their camels.

The camels are surrounded by people ready to step in if the pushing gets out of hand

Camel wrestling began among ancient Turkish tribes thousands of years ago and is a traditional Turkish sport. Certainly if yesterday is anything to go by it remains extremely popular still today, the area was crowded and the spectators were fervent enthusiasts.
So to speak as I find I thought the event was well organised, the safety of the camels was paramount to all. It is clearly a much loved local sport. I didn't feel the camels were put under any duress and I saw no sign of any cruelty. I loved the camels' colourful dress and the utter pride that the owners had walking beside these beautiful creatures. Fantastic atmosphere and part of the Turkish culture. But that is only my opinion and all to their own.


Friday, 1 February 2013

Snow capped mountains around Fethiye

On the way home from Fethiye this morning I couldn't resist stopping to take this photograph of the snow capped mountains around Fethiye. We had been shopping in the sunshine without needing to wear jackets, yet all around us the mountains are now well covered with snow. It defies logic. The photograph was taken from Çatalarık on our way back to Uzumlu.