Friday, 27 September 2013

Getting ready for the winter - unfortunately

Well I hate to have to say it but the weather is definitely on the turn and winter is on it's way. Our quilt is back on the bed and I'm wearing track suits or fleecy jim jams in the evenings now. The cats are coming in at night, the dogs are having their evening food earlier and we are tucked up in the house and eating dinner by 8.00 pm now instead of working outside until late and eating at ridiculous o' clock.

With such long hot summers you tend to forget that winters even exist, whereas in the UK you get constant cold spells all year round to remind you. So although you know it's going to change it still kind of catches you unawares.

I don't know how I feel about it really. Half of me thinks how wonderful not to have to spend two hours a day watering the garden. A priority for next spring has to be sorting out some irrigation, because the watering is such a waste of my time that could be put to better use. It's also kind of pleasant to be relaxing early in the evening with slobby attire on and it's good to be eating foods that you tend not to eat in summer, because you don't fancy them in the heat. Like pies, stews, soups and PUDDINGS! Not good for the waistline of course and I didn't realise I missed them during the summer - but clearly I did! The other half of me of course hates that our beautiful summer is on the wane.

The dogs have more energy too now that it is not so hot. Today we had world war three over a dishcloth! Unbeknown to me Big Red stole my dishcloth. I suddenly heard such a fracas in the garden and when I rushed out to see what was going on, Little-E and Big Red were having a major scrap because they both wanted the dishcloth. Neither of them were inclined to give in either. But the really amusing thing was that Bebek was trying to stop Little-E attacking Big Red by wrapping her front legs around Little-E's back and back legs and gripping tight in an effort to stop her advance. Ten minutes later of course with dishcloth removed all three are playing quite happily again.

From left to right Grape jam, sweet chilli sauce, pickled gherkins, courgette chutney, pickled chillis and plum jam
I have been busy making jams, chutneys and pickles to tide us through the winter so the store cupboard is full again. I have made grape and plum jam, pickled chillis and gherkins and two kinds of courgette chutney. I haven't ever tried to make sweet chilli sauce, before but it turned out well.  A few nights ago I made sweet chilli chicken and rice. It was lovey but incredibly hot, a bit less sauce next time I think.

We have also had our first two tons of wood delivered and safely stacked in our new place, built earlier this year. So that is ready for the wood burner when we need to fire it up to run our central heating. Admittedly it's not quite finished - as in no roof yet, but we've covered it with a tarpaulin and it's a great improvement on it being in a big heap on the drive like last year. We were really pleased with the delivery of wood, we got it from a guy I met when I went up to Nif, a small rural village further up the mountain from here and it is good sized, seasoned, dry oak so it should burn well.

The first two tons of wood stacked up ready to fire up the central heating
The kennel and wood store near the house are almost finished, the roof went on yesterday and it's just a bit of finishing off and some doors to go on now. We think we will probably get another two tons of wood in this one which will be well on the way to getting us through the winter, as we will probably use about 5 tons in total. This will again be a big improvement as this shed is just behind the terrace and will mean we don't have to get wet collecting it from the drive.

Today I have sown seed for lettuce, radish, celeriac, spinach and carrots, and a few days ago I planted cabbage, broccoli and another green which we are not sure what it is as we didn't understand the lady who only spoke Turkish, so we wait with bated breath to see what it grows into.

So really right now I am enjoying the change in the weather. It is nice to eat comfort food again and to wear comfy slobby clothing again. The daytime is still very hot reaching 30 degrees supposedly over the weekend  and the rain is holding off, so at the moment we have the best of both worlds. But I am not looking forward to the cold, I really don't do cold weather very well. Never mind soon be April and we'll be getting ready for summer again.

As we were not well for two or three weeks and we wanted to finish the sheds before the rains come, we really haven't been out and about much lately. But all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy, so for the next week this will change.

A few weeks ago we did someone a favour, and they have treated us to a meal out in Çaliş (totally unnecessarily, but much appreciated), so tomorrow night we are going to do one of our favourites things. We will go to Çaliş in time to catch the sunset, enjoy our gratis meal, then catch the water taxi back to Fethiye to catch the bus home - fantastic!

Sunset in Çaliş taken last time we went for the evening in September 2012

We have some friends coming over who will be staying in Oludeniz next week and we are really looking forward to seeing them again. They are ladies who we met through the blog and we really enjoyed their company when we met earlier this year. Also we are meeting three other blog readers in Uzumlu next week so will be able to put more names to faces which is brilliant.

Earlier in the week we heard through the grapevine that there are some people currently staying in Uzumlu for the first time all the way from America because they read our blog and liked the sound of the village. It's a shame we didn't get to meet them. But guys if you read this on your return to the States, we would love to hear how you got on.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Recovering from the lurgy and possibly the best English breakfast in Çaliş

Both David and I have been unwell for the last couple of weeks. We've had some kind of virus that seems to sit somewhere between a heavy head cold and flu. We have managed to get up and do the bare essentials each day, but not much more than that. At last we seem to have virtually recovered and we have restarted a normal life again.

David is of course back to working on our new sheds, he is currently putting on the roof, so in the next day or too they will both be watertight. Hopefully just in time before the rains arrive. We have had some fairly dubious looking days for the past couple of weeks, with black clouds and thunder sometimes rolling around the mountains, but so far it has held off over us. We know that it has not rained in Üzümlü for four months and 8 days, an easy statement for us to make, because the last rain was during the evening of our wedding day - May 15th!

Black clouds around the back of the mountains, but no rain for us - yet!
Last year I distinctly remember watching lightning and black clouds as well as listening to thunder, but still having to water the garden because it skirted around the mountains which surround us.

About two weeks ago the hot summer very noticeably began to fade,. I have put a bedspread on the bed, as the nights are definitely a lot cooler now. The day time temperatures are still very warm, September really is a very lovely month to be in Turkey and I can see why so many people visit here at this time.

We have been down to Çaliş twice in the last few days. The first time to collect a kindle to replace David's that our puppy Big Red destroyed. When he lost his kindle he was half way through a book he was particularly enjoying, so I did the magnanimous thing and leant him mine to finish it. Of course when he had finished it, I was half way through a 'real' book so he started another, and so it went on for a couple of weeks. I must say, life without a kindle is pants! No longer could I read whist eating - too complicated with one hand and the wind blowing the pages about. No longer was it easy to read in bed - it meant having the light on, being uncomfortable trying to hold it and cold having to have two hands to use outside the covers, and then having to get out of bed again to switch off the light. What a carry on! How quickly we take new technology for granted, and how much more difficult life is without it. I did not like not having my kindle at all, so I responded to an advert for one which was for sale, to discover it was one of the all singing all dancing versions with a price tag way out of our league. Luckily somebody with a basic, bog standard version had one for sale and contacted me so we were finally able to restore easy reading to our lives again at a price more suited to our pocket. What a relief.

We went down to Çaliş on that occasion late morning and it was lovely to see the beach packed out with people enjoying the sun, sand and sea. I felt quite jealous of the holidaymakers making the most of it all. Maybe next year we will have time to just while away a day on the beach.

Holiday makers enjoying Çaliş beach
Yesterday we returned to Çaliş, because - GREAT EXCITEMENT - the monthly car boots have restarted after the summer break. Oh joy! I have so missed them through the summer! Yesterday we left home at 7.30 am just as the sun was breaking through over the mountains surrounding Üzümlü, how beautiful a sight is that.
The sun comes over the mountains surrounding Üzümlü
I bought a lovely picture frame for 2tl, a little brass Turkish dish 2tl to put sweeties in - for when our köşk is built (hopefully next year) and the 'Pièce de résistance' something I have wanted for a long time - a yogurt and cream cheese maker. Years ago when I kept goats, I used to make yogurt and cheese, and I want to start doing that again. I have told David that now of course I need a goat! I don't think he has quite come round to the idea yet, but the thought is now there, so we'll see!

But there was also another reason for us to visit the car boot. We wanted to get Big Red a cuddly toy. As she constantly coverts material items to carry around, we thought it may save her stealing our dish cloth, the tea towels and other random items made of cloth that she takes a fancy to. The other day I got in some washing, folded it and put it on the table whilst I saw off a friend who had been staying for a few days. In the three or four minutes that took, she had stolen a bath towel, a T-shirt and one of my bras from the pile of clean clothes.

Big Red loving her new baby
We found her a lovely soft toy, and also bought our other puppy Bebek one, so she didn't feel left out. Bebek was not really that fussed to be honest, but Big Red loved hers and was carrying it around all day. It was around 12.30 lunchtime when we gave it to her, at 10.00 pm when I went to bed she was laying with it still.

Dark now and can hardly keep her eyes open but still cuddling her baby - Bless!
Our big mistake however, was not to get our older puppy Little-E one too, because she  coveted Big Red's from the moment it arrived. In fact this morning they had quite a fight over it. Tonight Little-E managed to steal it quietly, and peevish or what? Ripped it to shreds! Our mistake, we should have brought her one too. Oh dear! We will have to go back to the next car boot as well. Haha! what a good excuse.

Being in Çaliş early in the morning meant that it was a wonderful excuse to pop into one of the local restaurants for a snack. When we are in Çaliş in the morning we normally go to the Eyna Restaurant because they do a coffee and cake deal for 5 tl, and it is really lovely cake and good value. Eyna claim to make the best coffee in Çaliş on their display board and actually I agree with them. In my opinion it is!

"The best cup of coffee in  Çaliş"
On this occasion however, I did not feel like anything sweet and went for the full English breakfast for 10tl - superb! What a treat! They also do an XXL breakfast for 18tl. I can't even begin to imagine what it must include, because I was actually satisfied two thirds of the way through the standard breakfast, but of course ate it all. It is so very rude not to clear your plate! Seriously though if you find yourself in Çaliş in the morning, you will do well to have a better value or more substantial breakfast elsewhere.

Wow! My kind of breakfast - yummy!
The other advantage of visiting the Eyna Restaurant is that they are home to the charity shop for the 3 C's ( Çaliş Children's Charity) who raise money to enhance the lives of local disadvantaged children. They do a great job and have helped numerous children with their fund-raising. So if you are in  Çaliş take a visit to their shop where you may well find a new outfit to wear or a good book to read on the beach. Or if you are returning home after a holiday and struggling for suitcase space, take them anything you can't fit in and donate to a good cause.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Being responsible pet owners, but not feeling good about it today

Today Little-E has gone off to the vets to be spayed. As we don't have transport ourselves a friend took her down to Fethiye for us, and I felt dreadful when he took her away. I know it's the right thing to do and that all responsible dog owners here should ensure that their dogs are neutered, whether they are male or female, but I still don't feel a nice person to be putting her through the upset.

Little-E looking so trusting, something I feel I've betrayed today
Earlier this year as many of you are aware, we had to have three of our pets put to sleep due to age and illness, and Little-E and Kizzi both watched them leave the house and return wrapped up and lifeless, to be buried in our garden. It was obvious at the time that they knew and we said then that they must be dreading going out in the car because when their friends go they never see them again. So we wonder what she was thinking as she was driven away.

Because we consider our pets family members, we probably credit them with more insight than they actually have, but right now knowing that doesn't make me feel any better, and I have a wonderful chicken and gravy tea waiting for her return, if only to assuage my guilt.

It will only be a couple of months before we have to go through it again with the sisters, we have recently taken on - Bebek and Red. They are settling in a treat now and seem to be really settled and happy with us. I am not saying they don't have their moments. they are like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead that my mother used to tell me about (I can't imagine why!). When they are good, they are very, very good, and when they are bad they are horrid.

Bebek can't bear to be apart from me, even if I have only been upstairs for five minutes she will greet me as though I have left her in the kennels for a week. If I have been away from her she climbs up my front to have a cuddle, and she will put her front legs round me and bury her head in my neck. She is my little shadow, and follows me everywhere that she can. She can still get through the terrace railings and also over the wall out of the back garden when she chooses to, and she does this most evenings while I water the back garden. But she doesn't any other time and comes straight back when I call her. So she must be here because she chooses to be, not because she has no options. Bebek is the cuddly 'baby' of the two and her name has transpired to be spot on.

Bebek being a baby!
Red favours David with her affections really, probably because I have had to reprimand her so many times! She is obsessed with anything made of cloth. Given half a chance she will drag off tea towels, dish-clothes, mats or any other cloth she can lay her hands on. On one occasion I took my dress off as I got into the pool (to be modest with all the workmen about) and when I got out it had gone! Good job I had a bikini on and wasn't skinny dipping, I could have been in there for hours. When retrieved it had three holes in it.

Red is also besotted with food and is never far away if I'm cooking. The other night the pups were coveting the apple and mulberry crumble David was eating for his dinner, and suddenly to our astonishment Red had the gall to jump on the coffee table to ensure she was the closest for any spoils that may happen by. Not acceptable, but I did have to delay telling her to quickly take a photograph.

"and when she is bad she is horrid"
But her major claim for infamy was destroying David's kindle. Well she has been blamed anyway as she was laying beside it when David got up in the morning. He had left it quite high up, so somebody quite tall had reached up and got it down!!

They are both very protective of the property and will bark at the slightest unusual sound, or anyone being about. Usually this would be a comfort, but as there are two teams of workmen in the field opposite us building new houses, it is a constant battle to keep them quiet. Fortunately their barks are quite different from each others, so I know exactly which one is kicking off without even looking and can shout accordingly. One wonders which the neighbours and workmen find the most wearing the pups barking or me shouting at the pups!

Our cat Thomas continues to tease the dogs by laying wait under the sofa throws and grabbing them as they go past. When they prepare the counter attack he will run out of the window, or he has discovered that if he lays under the shelf on our coffee table that they can't reach him. He will wait until they are looking under one end then will tear off out from the other end. I think they help to fill the loss he suffered by losing his pal Peggy earlier this year.

Thomas the pup's tormentor
The kennel we are building is not yet finished, so it was with some trepidation that we went out for five hours last week to do our monthly shopping, leaving them alone in the house. When we returned, the place was perfect they had done nothing wrong at all. But that has definitely not pushed me into a false sense of security for next time!