Friday, 28 June 2013

Back to battling with the garden and my struggle to learn Turkish

All good things come to an end, and unfortunately so did our recently self proclaimed holiday. This week has seen us back in the garden soldiering on with reclaiming a chunk of mountain and attempting to turn it into something beautiful.

Over the past year we have tried very hard to turn the front garden into something half presentable, and spurred on by the fact that several family members were converging on Uzumlu for our wedding, we have managed (we think) to achieve this. In the last post I wrote about our garden, we were laying membrane on the soil around the pool ready to lay stone and this project has now been completed and is making our life a lot easier. I won't say it is not lacking in some respects and longer term projects are to build a köşk and an outdoor barbecue and seating area, but for the moment we have transferred our time and energy to the back garden.

Membrane down, stones laid and plants back in

Even the grass is behaving this year after last years disaster when our Alsatian ate the irrigation
Consequently, this week has seen us beginning a major task. When I say reclaiming a mountain, that is exactly what I mean, and not only are there large rocks, couch grass and weeds to contend with but also what appears to be anything that the builder didn't want i.e. broken tiles, bricks etc buried alongside the natural features. Therefore, each inch that we prepare is slow, heavy work with not much benefit to see at the end of a long day. It is of course also extremely hot here at the moment which makes it impossible to do anything other than picking away slowly each step of the way.

The back garden still mountain meadow complete with rocks ......
The plan is to have sheds built for badly needed outside storage space. At the moment we have loads of items strewn around outside, which makes the whole place look like Steptoe's yard. Other items that cannot be outside are stuffed under the stairs and in the hall, which in turn have an impact on the rest of the house, as things people would normally have under the stairs can't be, meaning they are spread around our home. We seem to live in a permanent state of turmoil and I can't tell you how glad I shall be when this phase comes to an end.

Steptoe's yard until the sheds are built!
We use part of the back garden to grow vegetables, but for the part left between the veggie patch and the sheds, I have plans of having a small courtyard around a fountain. I just love to have different places to sit in the garden, depending on my mood, the weather, sitting in the shade or full sun, and my dream is to achieve this one day. But for the moment it is digging, removing debris and laying foundations, walls and paths and its jolly hard work.

Walls and paths being laid and foundations being dug
When we married, we opted to follow the Turkish tradition of having guests pin money to us rather than having presents. Some guests preferred to give us presents and we had some beautiful gifts that we love, others were happy to pin money. We always said that whatever we were given would be spent exclusively on trying to win the garden round, so this has been a huge bonus for us enabling us to fulfil some of our projects that otherwise would have taken so much longer to achieve on our limited budget. So for everyone who contributed to this pot we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

A big thank you to all our family and friends who contributed to the 'improve the garden pot'
The one thing I did continue with during the 'holiday' were my Turkish lessons. It is really important to me to try to learn the language, and to one day be able to not just get by when shopping, but to actually be able to hold a proper conversation with local people.

However, I absolutely do not have the ability to pick up languages as many others can. I struggled at school so badly with the obligatory French lessons that I distinctly remember the teacher and the rest of the class guffawing at my feeble attempts to say any French word no matter how trivial. This lack of natural ability coupled with my now geriatric brain, which does not have the memory retention that it used to, means I struggle. Some words/phrases go into my head and stay there (just a few!) others, it does not matter how many times I am told or repeat them, five minutes later they are totally beyond recall!

Another major problem is lack of practise, as whenever I try to speak the modicum of Turkish I do know, the person I am speaking to immediately responds in English and knocks my attempt at conversation straight on the head. When we first started coming to Uzumlu, and spoke no Turkish at all hardly any of the villagers spoke any English. Now I want to practise speaking Turkish they have all learnt English! I am actually beginning to think that the only hope for me is to lock myself away in some remote Turkish village for a few months where no-one speaks English and I have to learn to cope. The added bonus of course would be that hopefully by the time I return home David will have finished building the sheds.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

A self proclaimed holiday and why just sometimes you should turn left instead of right

Last Sunday was Father's Day of course, and very kindly one of our friends, knowing all five of our children would be in the UK came over to spend the day with us as a surrogate 'child' complete with Father's Day present. As we had decided to have what was actually our first ever BBQ in Turkey and being Turkish she also brought some wonderful lamb to barbecue and some sucuk (Turkish Sausage) which was excellent! We had a fabulous day just lounging and chatting, something we don't often do.

We enjoyed it so much, and felt it did us so much good to have the day off that we actually decided to do no more work on the garden for one whole week and declared this week a self proclaimed holiday! After the rushing about in preparation for the wedding and catching up afterwards we were more than a little exhausted, and tempers were understandably starting to get a little frayed.

So this week we have read our kindles, laid on the sunbeds, swam in the pool, eaten when we have felt like it, been nowhere (apart from my Turkish lessons) AND drunk alcohol! How decadent is that!

We feel a lot better for it, and together with our friend Eddie we decided that today we would go to Oren for a picnic. Sadly and stupidly, we had owned our house in Uzumlu for about three years before actually turning left out of the end of our track instead of right which leads to the village, Fethiye, supplies, the beach and civilisation. What a loss that was because within a very short distance of our house there is the most beautiful scenery, as we climb over the hills to Ortakoy, the village behind us. We discovered this last year when we went on an exploratory trip with relatives who were staying and we were amazed at how lovely the scenery was.

The scenery from Uzumlu to Ortakoy is just stunning
Today we decided to go on to Oren, the village further on which hosts a large trout farming industry, and there are several trout farms there.

One of the things we absolutely love about living here are the plentiful and accessible historical sites. Just a few hundred yards behind our house is 'something', if anyone can tell us what it is we would be very grateful.

Who can tell us what this is? We have seen several around here, but this particular one is very close to our house.
Next stop was to look at some tombs, which lay beside the very rural road between Ortakoy and Oren, which although we know no details look as though they were once a part of a reasonably sized settlement. If anyone knows more about this site we would love to hear about it.

These rock tombs are right beside the road
Ortakoy and Oren nestle in an extremely fertile valley between the mountains and when you see the amount of water coming through from the mountains you can see why it is so fertile. Consequently it is very much a traditional agricultural area. It must be quite successful too, because there are some fairly large Turkish houses spread around the valley. A lot of them have livestock on the ground floor of the houses, with the living accommodation above. This of course keeps the animals cool in the summer, and the living quarters warmer in the winter with the heat from the animals underneath. The down side of course is that it is a bit whiffy, but I imagine you soon get used to that. I did suggest to David that we kept goats and cattle on the ground floor of our house in the winter in order to be warmer upstairs, but he declined the idea and said he would move in with a friend for the winter if that was the case, so I guess that plan is on hold for now.

Ortakoy and Oren lay in a fertile valley between the mountains
Those that don't have stock under their houses seem instead to park a selection of antiquated agricultural machinery or equally antiquated modes of transport. We saw some incredibly old large trucks, still being used. If it still runs why replace it?

Lots of 'useful' agricultural machinery in the valley
We had packed up several different salads and the idea was to buy some trout, have someone cook it for us, then take it away to have a picnic somewhere. We knew that the trout farms were through the village itself and up a mountain track, so we headed up there. The trout farms are a sight to behold, with the incredibly fast flowing water and the sheer quantity of the tanks they have.

Just one of the many trout farms at Oren
On the way up we saw the most beautiful litter of puppies, which I got out of the car to check were OK, and although mum had a sizeable litter the puppies were in good condition, but wary of me. The puppies all barked but wagged their tails, while mum slunk away until I returned to the car. We saw a handsome Kangal at the trout farm and by the size of the pups assumed he was dad. We will try to check on them from time to time.

Wary street dogs but in good condition
Having perused the trout farms we headed back down the mountain track enjoying the beautiful views of the fast flowing river along the way. It is easy to see why the trout farms are situated where they are, and further why the valley is such fertile land.

Lovely scenery at Oren
So back to Oren in search of fish for our picnic, and we found a nice place at the junction of the road to the trout farms, where the owner spoke good English and agreed to cook our trout to take away. Of course we had absolutely no option but to sit in the sunshine by the river and drink an Efes while we waited!

No choice but to have an Efes with our mate Eddie!
We were presented with three beautifully cooked, piping hot and well packaged trout to take away, and we left Oren to find a shady place to stop and enjoy our rather up market picnic - lovely!

Our picnic spot .......
.... and our picnic - yummy!
We all had a fantastic day, and the moral of today's story is sometimes, just sometimes turn left instead of right!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Finally the wedding Day arrives - part 2 Our Turkish Wedding

When David and I decided to get married last August, one thing that we both agreed on was that we wanted to marry in our village and that we wanted it to be a Turkish style wedding. Hence my last post left my daughter and I arriving at the Camlik restaurant where the wedding was to take place along to the beat of the Turkish band's drum, far removed from 'Here comes the bride'.

My daughter and I arriving at the wedding to the beat of the Turkish drums
photo credit: James Dorrington
Previously when we had talked about our guest list, we had thought that probably not many members of our family would be able to make the trip to Turkey, so we were so pleased that three of our five children were able to come as well as several other family members from the UK, and David's sister and brother in law came all the way from America - it took them two days to travel each way. We also invited several people who we had met since coming to live in Turkey and were delighted that most of them accepted our invitation.

One question that many had asked was "what should we wear?" and we had replied that people should come however they felt comfortable, casual or otherwise. One of the first things I noticed on my arrival was how incredibly smart everyone looked and what an effort they had all made, and I felt very honoured indeed that they had done this on our behalf.

The second thing I noticed was that the trusty volunteers had done us proud with their preparation of the restaurant's grounds and we thank you all for giving your time so generously to do this for us.

Thirdly I saw two huge floral displays sent by two of the village businesses, something I definitely was not expecting and such a very kind thought. Thank you to you both.

The one thing I did not notice until afterwards, when I looked at the photographs was that from my arrival onwards I spent the entire day with my mouth open grinning. Obviously I must have been extremely happy throughout the entire proceedings.

The wedding vows
photo credit: James Dorrington
First were the wedding vows, which were very short but very lovely, and the lady from Uzumlu Belediye who conducted the ceremony came fully robed and made the proceedings very personal. As we were only required to say "Yes" (or presumably could have said "No" if we had wished) we proudly said "Evet" into the microphone at the appropriate moments as did both our witnesses. We did smile when she repeated the words for David having said them to me, and the interpreter's translation was "That was pretty well what she just said to Jacqui"! Having gone through the dialogue, the witnesses and ourselves were required to sign our wedding book, which she then passed to me saying "I give this record of your wedding to the bride, because it is the woman who makes the home" I thought that was lovely. She then kissed us both and within around 8 minutes we had become man and wife, and at last I could have a well earned and much needed drink of alcoholic beverage.

The ceremony was beautifully personal
photo credit: James Dorrington
David and I looking ridiculously happy at having just become man and wife
photo credit: James Dorrington
The rest of the day surpassed our wildest dreams and we would like to thank everyone who travelled near and far to be a part of our celebrations, you all made it the wonderful day it was. Also a very big thank you to Ertan and his staff at the Camlik restaurant for being such wonderful hosts and preparing the wonderful food, to Eddy at Eddy's Place for arranging the fantastic wedding breakfast, and to everyone who helped us with our wedding, in particular our dear friend Eddie who drove us miles and miles to ensure that we did all that needed to be done to organise it.

A couple of weeks later whilst speaking to the photographer he told me he had really enjoyed our wedding, I told him that we had been overwhelmed with how well it had gone, that we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and felt that everyone else had too. He said "you can see they did, it shines through in the photographs". So without any more words, I will let the photographs do the talking for me .........

Photo credit: James Dorrington
Photo credit: James Dorrington
Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington
Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington
Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington
Photo credit: James Dorrington
Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington
Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington
Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington

Photo credit: James Dorrington
Photo credit: James Dorrington

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The wedding day finally arrives - part one

Our wedding invitations and buttonholes
photo credit: James Dorrington
After months of planning the wedding day finally arrived, and we kicked off with an early wedding breakfast for family and friends at one of the village restaurants of which we are particularly fond - Eddy's Place.

We were so pleased that a group of friends who we had met through our blog were over from the UK on  holiday, and it was brilliant that they managed an incredibly early start to get themselves from Oludeniz to Uzumlu for 8.30 in the morning to join us at the breakfast. It was great to meet them and their Turkish friend who drove them here and we look forward to meeting them all again when they return to Turkey later this year.

In spite of a rather dubious weather forecast we were able to enjoy our breakfast outside in the sunshine and it was a great start to the day.

Enjoying the wedding breakfast with family and friends in the sunshine at Eddy's Place in Uzumlu
photo credit: James Dorrington

The ever patient David being given his list of things to do!
photo credit: James Dorrington
As I wrote in my previous post my daughter and I had been unwell for several days so there was lots of things I should have done but hadn't. Because I am a perfectionist, it doesn't come naturally to me to trust other people to do things to my standards and the thought of leaving other people - unsupervised- to carry on with the wedding preparations would normally freak me out completely. But I must be developing the more laid back Turkish attitude since living here, because as my daughter and I had to leave the breakfast to go on to Fethiye for the hairdressers at 10.00 am I had no option but to leave the fate of my special day totally in the hands of others. So with the kind volunteers in control of decorating the restaurant, David left with a list of things to do and our friend Eddie who had kindly offered his car as my wedding transport going to Fethiye to have it decorated, Jo and I left Uzumlu and headed off to the metropolis to have an overhaul. I was however, expecting to return to the village with a couple of hours to spare to go to the venue and do any last minute bits and pieces. Wrong!!!

I had visited the hairdressers some weeks beforehand, taking with me my wedding day hair adornments and with the help of a Turkish friend as translator had painstakingly explained how I wanted my hair to be and had made a booking for that morning. So it was more than a little shocking when we arrived that the hairdresser was nowhere to be seen, and the staff that were there seemed to be more than surprised to see us and spoke no English. We eventually pointed at their bookings diary and I opened it at the right date and triumphantly pointed at a 3 hour booking in my name. It didn't however, do me any good as for some reason the hairdresser was not there and had no intention of being there that day. After much arm waving and pointing we established that the first step was for us both to have a manicure and pedicure and this was started straight away.

I think it would be fair to say that Turkish people in general have absolutely no sense of urgency and words can't describe my frustration with so much left to do to be stuck in a chair unable to explain that they needed to step it up a notch. 11.00 am passed, midday passed, 1.00 pm passed and still we had not got beyond feet and hands, even though we had expected to be back in Uzumlu by then checking the venue was OK. With wet hair and nails, I went outside and smoked three cigarettes while I tried to call a friend to get them to print off the table plans that I had typed up at 6.00 am that morning. When I got no reply I felt utterly helpless and alternated between hot and cold sweats and total panic. By the time I had finished my third cigarette I thought there is nothing I can do about it so I will have to calm down - would it really be so terrible if people sit where they like at the wedding?

Finally make up was on and our hair was started. Obviously we couldn't explain what we wanted so we just went with the flow, and finally we left the hairdressers at 2.20 still in our slobby attire with a 25 minute drive home and the wedding vows due to take place at 3.00. So instead of being able to go to check the restaurant, we sailed past it on the way home to change and watched everyone already there waiting for the bride to arrive!

In the UK it is of course quite normal for the bride to be late. In Turkey with the council official booked to carry out the ceremony together with  a translator it is not quite so acceptable, and I heard afterwards that they were saying we can't wait much longer we have to go on to a meeting! We have never changed so fast in our lives and feeling rushed and hassled we set of to the Camlik restaurant almost half an hour late.

Finally leaving home for the wedding
photo credit: James Dorrington
Meanwhile down at the restaurant and with everyone waiting for the brides arrival the florists chose that moment to demand 650 tl more than we had agreed, and the 'discussion' became so heated that David had to take the man behind the restaurant to continue the discussion. The florist became very nasty and David had no option with my arrival imminent but to pay him and get him out of the way. So there is a company that we will certainly neither use nor recommend in the future.

The band start drumming heralding the arrival of the bride
photo credit: James Dorrington
Oblivious to this Jo and I were finally on our way, Eddie sounded the horn the whole way through the village and as we got within a mile of the venue we stopped the car so that he could phone and warn the band that we were on our way and they started to beat the drum as we came down the road. We put the car windows down as we drove the last part so that we could hear the drummer and it was the moment of no return.

Next post - Our Turkish wedding