Friday, 26 December 2014

Our Christmas Day - breaking with our tradition

This is our third Christmas since coming to live in Turkey, and although we feel we have integrated well into Turkish life, up to now we have hung on to our traditional Christmas day. For the first two years we put up Christmas decorations, and stayed at home on Christmas day (albeit joined by friends) to enjoy mulled wine, home cooked Turkey served with all the usual trimmings, Christmas pudding and followed it with cheese and biscuits accompanied with port.

I love Christmas and back in the UK I have always spent Christmas day at home with whichever family members could make it to join us for the day. However, after last year I finally felt ready to break my old habits and to try something different.

This year we did not put up any decorations in the house. This decision was mostly made on the basis that Red would more than likely eat them all. Especially as we would be going out on Christmas day and the dogs would be alone for a few hours.

That decision alone made Christmas so much easier. No dragging the boxes down from the loft, no spring cleaning the house before they were put up, and afterwards no having to pack them all away and putting them back up in the loft. No major shopping for all the food needed to prepare the traditional Christmas meal.  Wow this is making life easy!

So we enjoyed a very leisurely run up to Christmas. I do wonder how on earth I managed for so many years preparing all of this, having a full time job and always working up to and including Christmas Eve. Maybe it's just because I'm getting old, but I don't need all that hassle any more.

I did make some sausage rolls, mince pies and shortbread so we had a few nibbles around. Oh and a trifle, can't do Christmas without my trifle! But that was it! Brilliant!

After much thought we decided to go out for Christmas Day dinner - a kind of halfway house for me, traditional food without the work. A few weeks ago we saw one of the local village restaurants were advertising a three course Christmas dinner at a reasonable price. The friends who normally come over from Kemer to stay were up for joining us, so we booked our table and hoped it would be OK.

So on Christmas morning all I had to do was prepare the mulled wine, so we could enjoy a glass or two before heading off to the Cadianda Restaurant for our dinner. I am liking this - both the lack of work and the wine!

On arrival at the restaurant we were struck by the effort that they had gone to. The restaurant and bar were beautifully decorated and oh no - more mulled wine was ready on the bar top. Well of course I had to have one, whilst David and our friends moved on to Efes.

Cadianda Restaurant beautifully decorated for Christmas

But the star of the show were the tables which were stunning. With a centre piece of a log decorated with freshly cut foliage, large crackers and they even had little gift bags for each diner with sweeties and a small gift. Mine had a Turkish Eye, David's had a turtle fridge magnet. At the end of each table there was a bag full of ideas for games and all the bits and pieces we needed to play them. Under our plates was a piece of paper with a sentence on, which we had to read and then during the day slip the sentence into our conversation without our friends noticing. Mine was 'I love blancmange'! About two hours later I did manage to slide it unnoticed into a conversation about trifle. What a great idea.

Loved the table settings 

OK so far, so how about the food? Well all I can say is that it exceeded our expectations by far. We all opted for the chicken liver pate for starter (it's what we normally have at home on Christmas Day). It was beautifully presented, a generous portion and scrummy.

Liver pate starter was so tasty

The main course - which was a choice of Turkey or beef - was served as a carvery, and was fabulous. There were yorkshire puddings, as well as cauliflower cheese, peas, sprouts, carrots, puréed swede, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, broccoli, bread sauce, cranberry sauce and gravy. Of course as at any carvery my eyes were considerably larger than my stomach, but it was so good I did manage to eat it all although I was seriously struggling by the end.

Yes I know - greedy!

We almost groaned at the thought of eating the dessert which was a choice of fruit cocktail or Christmas pudding with brandy sauce but went for it anyway. We all chose Christmas pud and it was lovely and you could certainly taste the brandy, David was the only one who managed to eat all of it, the rest of us had to bale out about two thirds of the way through. Worthy of mention, although none of us chose it was the fruit cocktail which we saw other diners having. Individually prepared in tall glasses they looked divine.

Woops forgot to take a pic until I had finished! Could not manage all the pud but did have all the brandy sauce!

The restaurant had organised live entertainment for the evening - a magician. Knowing that by now we had hungry animals to feed at home we were unfortunately not able to stay for that, but we did take our bag of games ideas home and had a hilarious evening playing them. What fun!

So well done Cadianda restaurant. I understand it was the first year that they have offered a Christmas dinner and it could not have gone better. The staff were attentive, the food was great, the decorations were stunning, the tables beautiful and the amount of thought put into preparing the day was amazing. We all agreed it was awesome and thank the staff very much indeed for a lovely, lovely day.

But the best part for me was that for the first time ever I can remember I had time to enjoy the day and that was simply wonderful!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Our visit to Kabak and the Lissya Hotel

This week we are 'on holiday' and we are trying to tick some of the things off the list of places that we have wanted to visit but somehow never have. One of these places is Kabak. We have heard many people extolling the virtues of the place but for some reason we have never actually been there.

So yesterday we set off to have a look. We used to be a bit confused when people talked about visiting Faralya and Kabak because we couldn't find these places on our map. That is because officially the villages of Kozağaç and Kirme on the Lycian way to Oludeniz, along with Faralya, Kızılcakaya and Kabak are jointly known as Uzunyurt which is indeed the name on the sign you see as you pass along the road and on most maps. The reason for this is that none of these hamlets have sufficient population for them to be officially declared villages in their own right.

Leaving Oludeniz past Lycia World hotel which we visited last year, the winding road climbs very steeply offering both amazing views back over Oludeniz and a fairly scary ride. The road is tarmac, but is not particularly wide and you have a very high sheer drop to one side of you. There are however, several places where you can pull over to enjoy the views and to take photographs. We actually saw a Turkish bride and groom having photographs taken by the side of the road, with the bride looking very beautiful in her stunning wedding dress.

Stunning views along the way

The road passes over the top of Butterfly Valley, famous as one of the long standing boat trips out of Oludeniz, and on into the hamlet of Faralya where there are several places to stop for a drink and/or a meal. Other than bearing right at a fork in the road, this road carries on until it finally finishes in the hamlet of Kabak. The next village along is reached by taking the left fork which goes up and over the mountain before reaching the village the other side.

People tell me that not so many years ago Kabak was totally unspoilt but that tourism is gradually making its stamp in the form of various forms of accommodation ranging from camp sites up to a new boutique hotel. Well because we are on holiday we thought blow the expense so we headed straight for the New Lissya hotel which sitting at the top of the hamlet offers outstanding views of the area.

The hotel is situated up a 700 metre very steep, single vehicle earth track which is not for the faint hearted driver! If you are visiting Kabak on public transport the staff will provide transport from the bottom if you request it beforehand.

On arrival at their small car park there is a lovely water feature set in a small cave and this is indicative of the whole site because there are interesting little bits and pieces spread around throughout the area. I loved that.

Interesting water feature at the entrance

We received an extremely warm welcome from Sabriye the hotel manager, in fact all of the staff we came into contact with were welcoming and friendly. I certainly got the impression that because the hotel only accommodates a maximum of 18 people the service would be friendly and attentive.

Loved the bits and pieces laying around the site

We were jolly hungry by the time we reached the hotel so we decided to eat before even looking round. We opted for a Turkish Breakfast and we weren't disappointed. We had a good selection of food, washed down with water and coffee, which we really enjoyed on a terrace offering stunning views of Kabak and the coastline down below.

Khavalti - yum yum

The hotel which was five years in the making opened it's doors for the first time last year, and offers 6 standard double rooms, each in individual bungalow style accommodation with their own terrace overlooking the village and the bay and 2 suites with sitting room and jacuzzi. The rooms have a mini bar, flat screen TV, air conditioning, free wi-fi, telephone, safe deposit box, hair dryer, bathrobe, free toiletries a king size orthopaedic bed and the hotel offer room service. The suites also have a fireplace and can sleep three people as there is a sofa bed in the sitting room.

The bungalow style accommodation. Each have a terrace at the front to enjoy the stunning views

The grounds are steep in places with many steps so would not suit everyone, but are well maintained with a köşk, two swinging chairs and a day bed with chiffon curtains around all facing the stunning scenery, where one could savour the beauty of the place and truly unwind. It is such a peaceful setting.

köşk with a view!

The pool area is adjacent to the well stocked bar which had several different malts on offer, several liqueurs, JD, Bombay Sapphire Gin to name just some as well as the standard beers and spirits you would expect most bars to have. We noticed when we were in the restaurant that there was also a wide selection of wines available too. They even had Cuban cigars kept in a humidor - a special box which maintains the correct humidity.

A selection of Cuban cigars 

The infinity pool is divine, I have never seen a cleaner pool, the sun deck which surrounds it is all decking and the sun loungers are wooden ones. It's a very relaxing and pleasant area.

Even the pool has a view

The hotel say that their menu includes Ottoman, Greek and Armenian meals which are known as the "Turkish cuisine", although their chefs can offer alternative dishes on request as well as being able to provide for special dietary requirements. A lot of the ingredients are grown organically in their gardens. They offer a snack menu during the day and will provide packed lunches. As the Lycian way runs literally beside the hotel, it is perfectly situated as a base for anyone wishing to enjoy some walking. 

Good selection of wines

This hotel does not come cheap with rooms which are around £240 per night (prices per room not per person) on a half board basis. Turkish breakfast was 30 tl per head and a bottle of Efes is 13tl. However as it has limited capacity the staff can offer attention to detail and cater to individual tastes and requirements. It is certainly perfect for anyone needing time out from a stressful job, a weekend away for a special occasion or to just spoil yourself. I could easily have been persuaded to stay if it were not for the fact that four hungry dogs were awaiting our return.

It is possible to visit the hotel for the day and to use their facilities, and there is no charge to do so but you would need to check beforehand as they do restrict the numbers visiting. They also do not allow children under 14 years of age. 

After a great afternoon enjoying our time at Lissya we were back on the road heading for home. Again enjoying the spectacular views that the drive provides. We decided to have a pit stop when we reached Faralya and chose a restaurant at random because they seemed to have a terrace making the most of those spectacular views. It was a fantastic choice, the Turkish people there were lovely and we enjoyed an Efes on the terrace before we reluctantly left this beautiful area. We will definitely be visiting Kabak again sooner rather than later - we loved it. Next time we will head down to the beach.

Pit stop on the way home at Yoruk Evi in Faralya

If you want to visit Kabak and do not fancy the drive the dolmuş run a regular service from Oludeniz which is around 25 km away. There are several places to eat and drink both along the route and in Kabak itself. 

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The best birthday ever on board Alis 1

Wow! What a fantastic birthday I enjoyed yesterday. As this was such a big deal - the 60th, I had thought long and hard about how I would celebrate this special occasion. Then suddenly in a flash I realised that the very best thing I could think of would be to hire Ali Tugsat's boat Alis 1 for the evening and I could not have made a better decision. We have hired Ali's boat Alis 1 privately twice before and were so impressed that I wrote a piece about the Calis co-operative boats and Ali's boat in particular last year.


So with Ali's boat booked and the birthday cake ordered from the amazing cook Granny's Orange I was able to enjoy a quiet and leisurely birthday. David insisted that he do all the housework yesterday so I was truly spoilt. How nice was that?!

Our adopted daughter Aylin drove all the way from Antalya to join in the celebrations and arrived at lunchtime with pide from the village so I didn't even have to prepare any food yesterday - what a joy!

We enjoyed an afternoon of catching up and then went down to Calis on the dolmus where we all met up for a drink before we went to Ali's boat.

As always we received a warm welcome from Ali and his family. It was lovely to meet not only his mum again, but also his lovely new wife who joined us on the trip. They had gone to the trouble of putting decorations on the boat and some friends had brought balloons and banners so it was quite the birthday setting!

I extolled the virtues of hiring Ali's boat last year but I make no apologies for repeating my sentiments now, because to us he is the perfect host. His mum does all the cooking and after a swim in incredibly warm water and watching the sun go down, we yet again enjoyed the awesome food that she cooks. It is Turkish home cooking at it's absolute best. I have never had food that comes close on any other trip or indeed in many restaurants. Worth the trip for the food alone believe me.

'Mum's' cooking - Turkish food at it's very best Yum ......

.......... yum ...............

............ yummy!

Feeling rather over indulged Ali put some music on for us so we could dance a bit of the excess off before the grand cutting of the cake. We opted for mainly Turkish music and also had great fun attempting to dance to Zorba the Greek, which of course gets quicker and quicker as it goes along culminating in tangled limbs and lots of laughter along the way.

After some of the guests enjoyed a night time swim, it was time for the cake to be presented. Then a wonderful surprise when Ali set fireworks off from the front of the boat.

Here comes the cake ..........

followed by surprise fireworks from the front of the boat!

The ride back to Calis at night is always a joy with the views of the lights of Calis and Fethiye town, and was a perfect ending to a perfect day. Thank you to all my friends, Sam for her wonderful cake and to Ali and his family for making it such a special and memorable day. A great time was had by all.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Happy Birthday to me!

Well this is it, the day has arrived. I am now very old - 60 years! Where have all those years gone. I have been dreading this birthday and for the last few weeks I have been getting increasingly grumpy and difficult. I just don't know why this birthday has affected me so much.

However, after the depressing build up, now that the day has arrived the irony is that I feel fine. This morning on my Facebook page Birthday wishes have poured in from all over the world, and that has made me feel so loved and I realise just how very lucky I am.

I googled '60 years old' this morning to see if there were any words of wisdom. One I didn't like and would have been mortified if someone had sent me was: "Every wrinkle has its story. You must have a lot of stories to tell" Not really what you want to hear is it?!

But two others made me feel a lot better. The first "Who said you’re sixty? You are just a 20 year old with 40 years of experience" and the second - You are not turning 60. You are just turning 20 for the third time. Much more palatable words to hear.

So this morning I am feeling good to be enjoying my birthday in this beautiful country with the sun shining down. Tonight we have hired our favourite boat Alis 1 with the fantastic captain Ali and together with some very dear friends we shall watch the sunset over the water and celebrate together.

What more could I ask?

Well just one thing that my children and grand daughter were here to share it with me. Unfortunately this has not been possible. But this morning I received a video of my grand daughter singing Happy Birthday to you. She is only 22 months old, they must have been practising for weeks. I'm so proud.

Feeling loved! Maybe being 60 is not as bad as I thought after all!

Friday, 1 August 2014

My day out to the Charity shops

I do realise that many of you will think I am a crazy woman, but today I have had a brilliant day - visiting the local charity shops. Earlier in the week a friend mentioned that they were going to pick something up from the Embrace Charity shop on Friday. Lover of charity shops that I am I had actually never been to that particular one for some reason, so I invited myself along to have a look.

Embrace Charity shop

So this morning off we went to Günlükbaşı where their shop is based. I bought two books, a blow up boat for my grand daughter to have in the pool and a toilet seat! You see you never know where you are going to find those really useful things! I was really interested to hear about the work that Embrace do with providing funding for children with health issues. Embrace have been running for around 6 years and during that time have helped school children with eye tests, and providing medication and glasses as required. More recently they have provided hi-tech hearing aids for four children thereby transforming their lives. A worthwhile cause I am sure you will all agree.

One of today's purchases - a boat for Rosie

It seemed a shame to be so close to Çaliş and not pop in to the 3C's shop based under the Eyna restaurant on the sea front.  This charity was also set up to enhance the lives of local, disadvantaged children and over the last few years they have raised a staggering amount of money which has made a real difference to so many children's lives. Also they are responsible for organising two of my most favourite things - the winter car boots and the excellent Çaliş Christmas Fair. You see you don't just improve the children's lives that you help, you improve mine too by providing with me with the opportunity to attend these excellent events. Thank you 3C's!

I found two items to purchase a pair of trousers and a dress - very nice. I spent a long time looking at some net curtain material which would have gone perfectly with the new curtains I bought earlier this week, but unfortunately I had to accept in the end that there just was not quite enough for my needs. Of course it was impossible to go there without partaking in one of the restaurant's excellent English breakfasts and superb cups of coffee.

Eyna never disappoint with their English breakfast

Well having got this far it was obvious we should also stop at the Animal Aid Charity shop in Günlükbaşı on the way back. You all know this is a charity very close to my heart and the difference they have made to the lives of hundreds of street dogs and cats over the years is phenomenal. Here I found a pair of flip flops - unusual because being size 8 I normally have a problem buying shoes here, a swim suit and a jumper. Very happy.

Animal Aid shop - picture taken on their opening day last year

Earlier today I had requested more information about a sewing machine I had seen advertised and whilst we were riding around the lady rang, so we arranged to go on to Hisaronu to see it. It looked perfect for my needs, so we bought that too. Now I just have to dredge up my old sewing skills unused for many years and then I can do all those little jobs that need doing! Those of you who read the post on my efforts to make the cats beds last year will be thinking "Yea right" - I know! So time will tell whether this was a prudent purchase or not.

This morning I copied a video onto my personal Facebook page which had impressed me. It showed a homeless man begging in the street - you may have seen it. A young lad leant down and asked him if he could borrow the bucket that the man had beside him with his bedding roll in. The man was obviously very confused by this request but eventually he hesitantly gave him the bucket. The young lad promptly put his hat on the floor, turned the bucket upside down and began to play it like a drum. Passers by started to slow down and stop to watch him 'playing' this bucket. After a few minutes a second young man arrived and sat the other side of the beggar and began to play a guitar he had with him and to sing. More people stopped to watch. Another few moments went by and a young lady came and sat next to him and harmonised with the singer. By now many people were standing around watching this impromptu concert and were putting money in the hat that the lad had placed. When they had finished the song, the first lad thanked the man for the loan of his bucket and gave him the hat full of money as payment for the loan. As they walked away the lad got a new hat out of his bag and put on his head, leaving the homeless man with not only the money but also a new hat.

Later this morning I noticed this video on my Facebook news feed from another person who had posted it. Below it somebody had commented what a waste of time this was. It would only buy the guy a sandwich and a cup of tea for today. What good did that do for tomorrow and all the other days? That it was not sorting the problem for the homeless people. To my mind this is just the kind of attitude that does not help. The point is that these three youngsters did something. For a few moments that man felt supported and valued, was going to eat and had a new hat!

Today the lady at the Embrace Charity shop told me that each hi-tech hearing aid they supply costs 5,000 tl. Now we spent 5 tl in that shop today buying our bits that had been donated. Which means that they needed another 999 customers spending the same, to purchase just one of these aids. Yet to date they have supplied four. Can you imagine hearing birds sing or your mother's voice for the first time at 15 years of age? You see together we do make a difference.

So my message is that if you have loads of money and wouldn't be seen dead buying items in a charity shop then have a sort out and donate some unwanted items. If like us you live on a tight budget, visit them - you find some amazing bargains and all our small individual inputs do make a difference to the world.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

A totally wasted afternoon

As I mentioned in my last post, we are planning to be 'on holiday' next week, so we have been deciding where we would like to go. Obviously we can't go far as in the interests of having a modicum of  furniture left on our return we are not able to leave the pups for too long at a time. But we have thought of a few places that are not too far from home and we are really looking forward to having some time away from gardening and work.

In my wisdom and in the interests of keeping costs down I thought it would be a good idea to plan ahead and do some baking, so that we have some decent food to take for picnics, rather than having to go to the expense of eating out. So with this thought in mind a couple of days ago I made two cheese and onion flans (one of my favourites) and put in the freezer ready for next week. Yesterday I decided to make two quiches but this plan did not go quite so well!

I made two pastry cases and while they were in the fridge for a while and then being baked blind, I prepared the fillings - one mushroom and one with onions, peppers and sucuk. All was going very well. Just as I was ready to put them together and pop in the oven, our friend Eddie arrived with some curtains which he had very kindly picked up for us from Fethiye. Of course being the marvellous hosts we are, we offered him a nice cold Efes for his trouble and then sat and chatted for an hour. After he left and by then not feeling quite so much like cooking (after relaxing with an Efes on the terrace), I went back to the kitchen to carry on with my flans.

I have to say I am amazed by my own stupidity sometimes. I poured the fillings in with the eggs and milk/cream mix ready to bake. The first problem was that I had put one of the cases in a loose bottom flan tin and the liquid all ran out of the bottom of the tin and poured all over the worktop and the floor - duh! I tried to get it out to put in a better tin, but couldn't so moved to plan b which was to put that flan tin in a larger one with a solid bottom. The first one I tried was not quite big enough but I got it stuck on the huh half in and half out. As it was completely stuck I thought oh well I would bake it anyway with just the mushrooms in and we would eat it for tea because it would not be that nice. So in the oven they went.

Back to the new curtains. Well not quite new, you know me by now! I had spotted the curtains on the local for sale site and they looked perfect for our bedroom. As Eddie had picked them up for us, I had not actually seen them other than in a photograph, so I thought while the flans were cooking I would take them upstairs and see how they would look. I was so impressed I asked David to bring the ladder up and hang two of them to get the full affect and to pin the bottoms because I knew they would need to be taken up. Of course busy with my splendid new curtains I forgot the flans in the oven.

Suddenly I remembered the flans, ran downstairs and got them out of the oven. They were rather overcooked - OK burnt - but still looked edible under the black crust, so I put them on the back of the worktop to cool down and went back upstairs to fold up and put the curtains in a bag ready to go to the tailors to be taken up, while David took the ladder back out to the garden. We both heard a thud from the kitchen and on running in from different directions we found that the dogs had managed to reach the mushroom flan which was by now on the floor with no filling at all just a pastry case, and they were just reaching for the other one. It doesn't say much for my pastry!

So basically I spent all afternoon cooking the dogs a flan. By now I had lost the will to live with the idea of more cooking, so we ate the other one for tea.

Thief 1 - Yes Bebek you may well lick your lips! .................

......................... and thief 2 Big Red who at least has the decency to look slightly guilty!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Busy being boring

Well how naughty have we been. No new posts on the blog since the end of May! All I can say is that we are so determined to finish the garden this year that we have been working incredibly hard in order to achieve that, but also as all we have done is building and gardening we really have been leading very boring lives, and you must all be sick and tired of hearing about us working in the garden! I am sure that most of you want to hear about our lives in Turkey not about our gardening which could be anywhere in the world.

However, we have been working hard outside and at last we are starting to see the benefits. The part of the garden that we have finished is looking fairly good, even though it has been planted on a shoestring budget. I bought a few cheap plants and when I got them home split them into three or four before planting, Most of the rest have been grown from free or really cheap seeds. I got Zinnia and Cosmos seeds which were reduced in Kipa, we saved Belle de Nuit and Nasturtium seeds from last years plants and we picked some hollyhock seeds up from the road into the village. They have all come through and have at least given us a splash of colour until we can put in more permanent plants.

Who would think just a few months ago these were new, bare beds

I wrote a while back about making our new raised beds  following the centuries old Hugelkultur method. Well all I can say is that it works. No more clay soil and the plants have loved them. Actually that is an extreme understatement because they have more than thrived. The Cosmos for instance which according to the seed packet are supposed to be 30 cm are up to 130cm! The hollyhocks grown from seed have long since been in flower and in England they don't flower until the second year.

Our carefully planted Cosmos to grow 30 cm have turned into 130 cm giants!

Hollyhocks from seeds we found in the street flowering well

The outdoor oven, barbecue and the final shed are all about half built at the moment, so we are on target to finish later this year - yippee!

Reduced Zinnia seed and some wild grass make a fairly decent display

We have spent the last three weeks tidying up and finishing off bits and pieces, we even finally have doors on the sheds we built last year. so the place does look a lot tidier now. We do have the pond to finish but the electric wiring is all in place for the fountain and the lights so we are close.

At last shed doors!

The first thing we did when we bought our property 5 years ago was to plant some fruit trees. At last we are starting to reap the benefits. This year we had in excess of 20 kg of peaches from our one peach tree. We look set to have the same from our plum tree. Our apricot tree gave us our first ever apricot - OK only the one but at least it's a start. We have four lemons on the lemon tree (which we were told wouldn't grow up in our village) and eight pomegranates which are also both firsts for fruiting.

Of course aside from our garden we have the animals. The pups are finally settling down. I don't want to talk it up but we haven't had any fights for some weeks now. This is not due I might add to Red settling down but more due to her achieving the Alpha spot that she wanted from day one of walking in the door. The others have now learnt to accept that they are not allowed to have anything. Everything belongs to Red and her rules are sacrosanct. Only this afternoon Little-E was quite happily chewing a two inch stick she had found until Red spotted her. Red launched herself at her and she had to abandon it. It doesn't matter that when Red sees what it is that it isn't actually important enough for her to claim, the point is that nobody else is allowed to have anything. Now that the other dogs have grasped the rules and regulations as laid down by Red, life is running much more smoothly. Both pups still chew things, but it is finally slowing down.

As is usual in Turkey, Uzumlu has a loud speaker system in the village which is used to make announcements. As we are some way out of the village we could never hear what was being said, so we were really pleased when a few weeks ago they ran the wiring to install a loud speaker along the road from our house. We thought at last we may hear what is going on - wrong! As soon as the 'bip bip' is heard to alert us to a new announcement the pups start to howl, and they continue to howl along with it until it has finished. Understandable with the pups being a hound type breed I suppose, but lately Little-E joins them. She looks so funny tipping her little head back and making a noise (which we don't tell her isn't actually a howl).

Announcement on the tannoy? Not for us we only hear the dogs singing!

Yesterday Bebek came onto the terrace from the garden with something in her mouth. When I looked it was a tiny baby tortoise. Luckily she hadn't damaged it and I was able to rescue it and put it on the mountin side where I felt it had a greater chance of survival than amongst our lot!

The baby tortoise that Bebek found, which I photpgaphed beside a gardening glove to show just how tiny it was

We have only been out twice since I last wrote a blog post. The first time we went into the village because the whirling dervishes were supposed to be giving a performance but in true Turkish style it had been changed and was a child's entertainer and a traditional band. But we enjoyed it anyway.

Not what we expected but still good to see the villagers enjoying the entertainment

The other occasion was a barbecue at a friends house where we had a great afternoon meeting new friends and old.

So the reality is that for the past few months we have been boring old Fogies who have worked hard, been nowhere much and done very little. However, next week that is going to change. We have decided that we deserve a holiday. So we are going to take a week off and we are going to get out and about to some of the places that we have often spoken of visiting, but never been. So we will let you know how we get on.

The reason we have chosen next week is because next week is my 60th birthday. I can't believe it and I certainly don't like it, but nevertheless it is a fact. I have had no other decade birthday that has affected me like this one. Honestly I am gutted, and finding it really hard to deal with. I don't even quite no why, but I am. I know that the definition of an elderly or older person is actually 65, but I feel that 60 is enormous. Yes the body is slowing down, but inside I still feel in my twenties (albeit with a bit more wisdom) and this one is hard to stomach. Oh well c'est la vie! Onwards and upwards as we say.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

May just flew by ....

When we dreamt of retiring to the sun, we imagined long, hot days stretching out before us filled with ambling around enjoying the scenery, reading books, swimming and laying by the pool - wrong! The reality is the equivalent of a full time job, sorting the garden and looking after our waifs and strays - four dogs and three cats. But does it matter - no!

We should finish the major work in the garden this year Inshallah,, and we are already enjoying the part we did last year, so we are driven now by the fact that we believe it will be lovely when we have finished. We are really cracking on and are well into the second half of our planned courtyard garden as well as having finished off the part we began last year. We now have the framework over our outdoor sofa for plant support and shade, and this week we have put a fence between the veggie garden and the courtyard which will stop the dogs trampling the vegetables and again provide support for plants. It will of course take time for the plants to develop and do their job, but we reckon that in a couple of years it should be starting to look as we imagined.

Lady muck enjoying the outdoor sofa - great spot for that power nap in the afternoon!

All the compost we have dug into the soil in the vegetable garden is really making a difference. The soil structure is now quite different and we are reaping the benefits of a much improved harvest. So far this year we have frozen a huge bag of peas, we are currently freezing down broad beans and I have made two batches of strawberry conserve from our own strawberries. We have lettuce, rocket, mustard and radish ready, the tomatoes and cucumbers are nearly ready and today I plan to pick the first of the runner beans. I have planted several herbs among the plants in the courtyard garden, so we also have a ready supply of oregano, coriander, parsley, mint, thyme and dill. The peaches are almost ready and for the first year since planting joy of joys, we have one apricot on the apricot tree, so maybe next year apricot jam could be on the menu!

The first of this year's crop of lovely fresh, sweet homegrown peas.

But it isn't all work and no play. Eldest son Paul and his wife came over earlier this month and together with friends we enjoyed an excellent meal to celebrate our first wedding anniversary at The Grape Garden in the village. Unfortunately cracking open a bottle of Uzumlu wine to drink by the pool before we set off was not the best idea I ever had. Potent stuff! I was more than a little squiffy for the evening out, had to go straight to bed on our return and took two days to recover! Hence unfortunately the photos from our evening out are not up to my normal standard!

Fabulous meal at The Grape Garden to celebrate our first wedding anniversary with family and friends.

In my last post I wrote about the lovely people we have met since moving here and two of the loveliest we met because of a cat! Two years ago a couple from Scotland on holiday here found a cat in appalling condition at Fethiye Fish market. They asked Animal Aid for help and donated money towards her veterinary fees and upkeep. To cut a long story short ( I will write her story on the blog soon), she ended up with us. Understandably, the couple wanted to know how she was doing and we were asked by Animal Aid if we would email them with an update from time to time. This I did and for the past two years every time they visit their house in Ovacik we meet up for a meal there. This week we visited them again, enjoyed a fabulous meal and excellent company as always. They have undoubtedly become friends for life.

Thomas our cat that suffered quite a serious road accident has been given the all clear from the vet and is now back outside chasing butterflies again, albeit with a limp! The vet X-rayed his hip and the broken bone has mended well. However, he suffered severe muscle damage and it will take time for that to fully recover. But he is a happy boy to be back to normal living. We just hope and pray he has learned to stay well away from the road.

Thomas happy to be back outside also enjoys a siesta on the outdoor sofa between chasing butterflies

Feeling deprived by the absence of the 3C's car boots through the summer, I have been going to the second hand sale in Fethiye for my 'buying junk' fix. Yes I did manage to come home with a bag or three of 'things' I just had to have!

But my major find has been two beautiful old carved wood chairs being sold cheaply by a hotel in Hisaronu. These are resplendent in the bedrooms as we know beyond all doubt that Red would confuse them for dog food if they were in the sitting room. Bless! She has eaten virtually all our furniture downstairs now and has made a good start on the plants in the front garden. One day she appeared round the corner with an entire honeysuckle bush trailing behind her. I could have cried as it had just got to an impressive size on our wall. I did think that she must be the most expensive puppy in the world through the cost of the damages and I may be able to get her into the Guinness Book of Records as such. But when I googled to see the most expensive puppy it was a Tibetan Mastiff sold in March of this year for $2 million (almost £1.2 million) so I can't even recoup some of the losses that way!

"I don't know what you mean - I've been picking roses again - ridiculous idea, I found it on the sofa!"

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Just a day in the village

One thing we can say, is that since moving here to Uzumlu, we have met some lovely, lovely people and yesterday when we walked down to the village it was no exception.

As always we have been working hard in the garden and last week David put a metal framework up above the outdoor settee for plants to eventually climb up and over. In the meantime however, it is a tad hot sitting on it in the full sunshine. Consequently we decided to put some screening on the top, so yesterday we walked to the village to buy some from our local builders merchant.

On our way down the hill a car pulled up beside us and a couple asked us if they were on the right road to Cadianda. We explained to them how to get there and told them they were in for a treat as it is such a fabulous place to visit and with wonderful views on the way up there. Their English was fluent and we thought they were Americans.

Anyway, we continued our walk down to the village, went to the builders and bought the screening and then as Friday is market day decided to have a wander through the market. We were pleased to see the spice man was back as he had not been through the winter and we bought some garlic salt - the best we have found around here and a barbecue spice mix (with chillies in) which we are looking forward to trying.

Market day is a social occasion too.

Market day in the village is not just about buying and selling, it's a chance to chat with people too. We asked after spice man's mother and father both of whom we know well and we stopped for a chat with another of the other market traders we know. Then we carried on up to the square and sat for a while with our friend Nur who owns the plant and dastar material shop there and along came another English friend of hers who had just returned from a long stay in the UK, who we had never met before. So we stopped and had a chat with him.

David outside the new taverna style cafe in the village

All this chatting makes you a bit peckish and as a couple of weeks ago we had noticed that a new cafe had opened up along the side of the road on our way home, we decided to stop and try it out. It kind of reminded me of a Greek taverna and it was a great place for people watching on market day sitting on the side of the street. David had a potato borek and a cup of coffee and I had the Turkish breakfast and an apple tea. The lady sat on the side of the road and cooked Davids borek and my khavalti was all village produce and we both really enjoyed it.

David had potato borek ...........

............. freshly prepared ..........

........ and cooked by the side of the road ............

............ and I had the Turkish breakfast (khavalti) which also included the most amazing egg 

We were just leaving the village for home when the couple who stopped us earlier for directions to Cadianda drove past us coming back. They pulled up and said they wanted to talk to us and went to park. We wondered what had happened. Were our directions so bad they still hadn't found it two hours on? Did they hate it so much that they needed to tell us we were mad people for saying how lovely it was? Whilst they parked we felt like naughty school children summoned to the head masters office.

But no! They had so enjoyed their time at Cadianda they just wanted to tell us about their trip. What a lovely couple they were and we stayed chatting with them for a good half hour. It transpired that they were a retired German couple on holiday in Sarigerme.  Volker and Ingrid if you read this it was a pleasure meeting you and if you ever stay in this area again, please look us up.

So finally we set off for home discussing as we walked, the lovely people we have met since we came here, when a car pulled up beside us and an English gentleman who lives in the village but whom we had never met offered us a lift home. How nice was that? It was hot and the hill is steep so we gratefully accepted and he insisted on taking us up our track and virtually to our door.

So yesterday we thoroughly enjoyed our trip to the village and meeting new friends along the way. Gosh we are so lucky to be living here.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Thomas - our gift from the mountain

On Tuesday 18th September 2012 we had family here staying with us and we had been down to show them Fethiye market in the morning. We returned home for a leisurely afternoon around the pool and at around 6 pm we all showered and changed ready to go down to the village for a meal. As we set off out of the door we discovered three kittens in our drive.

Three little kittens ........

Our first thought was that they belonged to our Turkish neighbour as we knew her cat had kittens around the age of these. So we shouted over the fence and told her we had her kittens running around our garden and that we were concerned for their safety with our dogs. She said she didn't know how they could have got out, but came to the fence to take them back. However, as she reached out to take the first one she said that these were not her kittens, so we bundled them into our Labrador's flight crate for safety and went out for our meal.

Tom - always the one wanting a cuddle!

When we returned later that night we fed them and settled them and wondered where on earth they could have come from. It would not have surprised us if someone had dumped them inside our gate knowing we were animal lovers, except for the fact that we had been in the garden all afternoon and had not seen anyone go past. We came to the conclusion that they had come down off the mountain beside our house, although there was no sign of a mother cat. Maybe someone had dumped them up there.

We had no intention of keeping them as we already had two dogs and three cats, but we took them to the vets for a check up and later when they were old enough, back again for their injections, and when they were old enough to be re-homed we started to advertise them on the local animal aid Facebook pages for good homes.

When I had taken them to the vets for their injections the vet had a kitten the same age as ours recovering from a broken leg, so I went to the vets with three and came back with four, as it seemed a little churlish not to have her with ours for company. It suited us as the two tabby females were very close and the Tom was an odd one out, so it meant he had company too. Consequently we tried desperately to re home them as pairs so they could stay together.

Because we didn't intend keeping them we didn't give them names. But the two tabbies we referred to as the princesses, the tom as Tom and the new addition as Peggy because of her peg leg. After a few weeks the animal aid group arranged for a lady in Calis to have two and she chose Tom and Peggy. I was a bit upset as I was rather hoping to persuade David to keep Tom as he was always the 'in your face' affectionate one. He was always the one hanging on the crate door when you went past and loved to climb all over you when he was out whereas the girls were more self contained and aloof.

Anyway, we took the two down to Calis and left them in their new home. A little while later the two princesses also went together to live in Calis with some lovely people, where it was obvious they would be greatly loved and cared for. So we congratulated ourselves on having managed to re home four abandoned kittens.

The Princesses went  together to a lovely home in Calis

Unbeknown to us at the time however, Tom was to return! Animal aid had received a report that there were two abandoned kittens in Calis and when they went to catch them they were none other than Tom and Peggy. Peggy was suffering from colitis and was quite poorly and Tom had a large abscess on his neck. Both cats received veterinary treatment and we agreed it was only fair that we had them back again.

So both of them were back with us by Christmas 2012. We were offered homes for Tom but we refused to let him go without his best friend Peggy who was a poorly little thing and we subsequently lost her last year to cancer at only a year old. So Tom stayed and became Thomas and he is a very, very special cat.

Tom and his best friend Peggy were both back with us by Christmas

Both David and I have had many cats over the years but Thomas is unlike any of them. He is incredibly affectionate and loving and his trust in us is unconditional. He will jump on our laps, flip over on his side and totally trust us to stop him falling off - which he would if you didn't catch him. He has obviously missed Peggy greatly as our other cats are older and don't play. But he has made an independent life for himself and he is always busy. He checks the banks and the mountain for butterflies which he loves to chase (and eat if he catches!), he terrorises both next doors cats and our other cats, he is always busy. But if he is passing he will expect a quick cuddle before he goes off on his next adventure. We love him dearly.

Thomas asleep with Little-E

Last summer he opted to stay out at night, as does one of our other cats, so when he did not re-appear one night last week as we locked up, we were not too concerned. We just thought Thomas thinks its time for his summer schedule. However, we were concerned when he was not about when we got up the next morning. Thomas can't manage long without food! Funnily enough David had told me only a few days before that he had seen Thomas up on the road, and I had said "Oh no I hope he doesn't get run over".

David set off and scoured along the side of the road calling him, he went all around our property and up into the mountain calling him for an hour or more - nothing! We were very concerned because it was so unlike Thomas not to be around. A couple of hours later we heard a feeble "meow" and when we ran out we found Thomas laying on the front doormat. To this day we do not know how he got there. We saw nobody and nobody has since told us that they found him, but it seems incredible that he could have got home himself.

He was talking to us pitifully and we carried him in on the doormat to assess his injuries. He did not seem able to move his back end and he had several cuts and grazes with one on his back leg which was down to the bone. It was obvious he needed immediate veterinary attention but of course we have no transport. This is the first time we have been in a muddle through our lack of having a car.

First I tried to hire a car but the local car hire guy was away, so couldn't help me. I rang everyone living in the village whose number I had and nobody could help me. The frustration and feeling of helplessness was unbelievable. I put a plea on the village news page on Facebook asking if anyone could help me, but got no replies. After around 2 hours Thomas also had swelling on his head which concerned me and as a last ditch attempt before we tried to find a taxi, David managed to find our friend Eddie at a friends house. He came straight away and finally we managed to get Thomas some help.

Our wonderful vet Serkan looked him over and x-rayed him and thankfully his spine was not damaged as I had suspected. He did however, have internal injuries, cuts, bruises and a broken hip. He gave him several injections and we returned home for him to be caged to allow his hip to heal, which the vet felt was preferable to an operation.

We had tablets to give him which wasn't a problem. But after a few days he still hadn't eaten or drunk anything much or been to the toilet, so we had to return to the vets with a very poorly boy. Once there he suffered the indignation of having a feline style enema which produced some bloody faeces, presumably from his internal injuries and we returned with two anti- inflammatory injections for him to be given two days apart and some glycerine to put up his bottom to help him poo every third day.

Two days later he had his first injection and started to eat a little food. The following day was scheduled for the glycerine. Thomas however, must have heard me say this and had other ideas because when I went armed with my plastic glove and glycerine I discovered he had managed to go to the toilet on his own!

It is now twelve days since we found him in such a sorry state on our doorstep and he is much, much better. He is eating, drinking going to the toilet unaided, starting to weight bear on his back leg and most important of all is wanting a cuddle and purring again. We are optimistic now that he will make a full recovery, which fills our hearts with joy because this is the third time he has got himself to our home and we can't imagine a world without Thomas!