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.


  1. I follow your garden with interest as I also put down a membrane and covered it with pebbles in April. I was hoping to eradicate the couch grass but the blighters are forcing their way through the membrane.

    1. Yes I agree with you B to B. The two things it does not seem able to stop coming through are couch grass and those turkish flowers with the small flower heads. We keep spraying the grass in the hope that one day we will win the battle. The flowers we leave because they are so pretty. It also isn't helped by the puppy who digs down in the stones and pulls the membrane up with her teethe and chews it!

  2. We hear you on the Turkish front. Was just thinking tonight it's time to pick the books up again, just to remind ourselves of everything we've learned. We never use any of it in Fethiye but it does come in handy when you're elsewhere on the odd occasion. Just gotta keep plodding. :)

    1. Apologies for a delayed reply Julia, life for the past two weeks has not gone according to plan! I totally agree with you Fethiye is not conducive to practising our Turkish! And yes plodding is the word.