Monday, 6 June 2016

Back to Blighty - Part 2 - Family time and then home again

Well there I was back in England, for the first time in four years. Still on Turkish time I was up at 6.30 on my first morning, in spite of a wee hangover from the celebration of my return the night before and anxious to see my grandchildren. I hadn't seen my 3 year old granddaughter Rosie for eighteen months and hadn't met the new arrival Harry now seven months old at all. It was a beautiful morning so I was able to make a coffee and drink it in the garden and await the rest of the family to rise.

It wasn't long before Rosie made an appearance and insisted that she had her cereals in the garden with me. How she has grown up and how she can talk!!! Rosie has always been a full on little girl, right from when she was a baby, so it was interesting to meet Harry and see that he couldn't be more different. He is a laid back, smiley, easy going little chap. Both gorgeous in their own way and very precious, a credit to my daughter and son-in-law. But of course I would say that wouldn't I?

Rosie                                                                                                                       photo credit Ross Halsey

Harry                                                                                                                photo credit Ross Halsey

The first day was spent with the children and in the afternoon we went into town to visit all the charity shops, one of my favourite pastimes! I couldn't believe how expensive they are now. The clothes were almost as much as buying from the cheaper outlets brand new. But I did manage to buy a suitcase and a bangle.

However, my visit was rather bitter sweet, as one job I had to do, was to go through 6 suitcases that I had left at my daughters house. The bulk of the contents belonged to my late mother. Things I had never had time to go through and I really couldn't put it off any longer. My mother was rather a hoarder and there was paperwork that went back decades, and thousands and I do mean thousands of photographs. She even had every single letter I had written her from boarding school, and considering I had to write home weekly for the five years I was there, it was a large bag of letters. It took me 6 days to go through it all. I didn't have the heart to throw much away, so the pictures were put in piles to be given to my son, daughter and cousins as appropriate and we made a suitcase full of family history and mementoes which I left with my daughter as custodian.

At the weekend my son and his partner came over for the day and it was wonderful to see him again for the first time in 4 years and to meet his partner (although they have been together a long time now). We also went to see a potential wedding venue for my daughter and (as I think of him) my son in law, who after almost 20 years together have finally decided to tie the knot. It was perfect, a very old privately owned property in the country with acres of stunning grounds complete with sheep, chickens and llamas and a lake, where they can set up and have the wedding that they want without the restrictions of a more formally run place. The plan is to have guests camping over a complete weekend which is a very different approach and sounds just wonderful, The aim is for this to take place next summer, I can't wait.

The rest of the week was spent shopping. In particular for shoes as having big feet I have a problem with this in Turkey where ladies shoes tend to stop at size 7, a shame as there are beautiful shoes there.

I was interested to discover that since leaving England you now are charged 5p to have a bag in any shop, so I left with armfuls of things as I couldn't bring myself to pay that.

The other changes I noticed were that the traffic has got ridiculous. Even in the more rural areas you were in a constant stream of traffic with no hope of overtaking. The other thing was that houses are being built everywhere. Thousands of them all in estates, even in the villages. I can't think who are going to live in them all and it looks as though a few years down the line England will be one large town from Lands End up to Scotland!

My daughters house is currently surrounded by mature pasture and woodland and now there is apparently planning permission for 90 more houses to be built. This is a dreadful shame as it will be devastating for the wildlife. One day a very dear friend came over to visit and as we sat chatting in the garden a deer strolled in and had a wander around. What a different world my grandchildren will see if it carries on as it is now - that's so sad.

Because it took so long to go through my mother's belongings I didn't get out and about, or to see as many friends as I had planned to, but at least I had a good time with my family. The weekend before I came back to Turkey we all went to visit my son and his family. It was great to see his new home and to meet my step grandchildren for the first time. His partner cooked us a lovely meal and it was a wonderful day. So here we all are - the matriarch and her family ....

Wonderful to have all my family back together                                                                        Photo credit Ross Halsey

So all too soon the 12 days had roared by and it was time to go home. On arrival at Stansted I was 3 kilos overweight so they told me to take some out and put in my hand luggage (which thankfully they didn't weigh). This was a tricky manoeuvre as I had to slide some stuff out of my case without revealing all my goodies. The guy got so exasperated in the end, with me saying well what does it weigh now, having taken out 1 pair of shoes, that in the end he said "Oh zip it up again, it's OK".

Allowing myself only 15 minutes to get to the departure lounge before the allotted time, my heart sunk as I turned the corner and saw similar queues for the control through as I had experienced coming out 12 days ago. I did get through in time although one couple who tried to duck under the tape got stopped by security. They said "If we queue we will miss our flight" to which the security guard helpfully replied "That's your fault you should have been here earlier!"

The flight home was pretty much on time and we were soon at Dalaman where unlike Stansted we were soon through the controls and outside. The car park guys picked me and my luggage up and took me back to a now gleaming car inside and out, and after a coffee and a chat with the owner, I was on my way home to Uzumlu, back to the other Fogie, the dogs and my life.

It's hard when your heart is split between where you want/need to be and your family and friends. I miss them terribly when I am here, but Turkey feels like home!

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Back to Blighty - part one - the journey

I hadn't returned to England for four years, partly because I don't really like it there and partly because getting there means travelling on one of those 'things' that go up in the air and to say I am not keen is an understatement! However, grandchild number two (grandson number one) had arrived into the world in September and I was desperate to meet him and to see my family and friends again. So  I booked my flights and set off to stay with my daughter for a few days.

I managed to get incredibly cheap flights allowing me 10 days in England and bringing me back to Turkey the day before our wedding anniversary - perfect! That is until the airline company changed their mind and cancelled the return flight, changing my flight to one the day after our anniversary - not perfect!

I had opted to go with just hand luggage and booked two suitcases to bring back with me, in order to maximise bringing things over that had been stored for 4 years with my daughter. I am sure some people find it very easy to 'travel light'. I don't. I am known for taking more belongings with me for an overnight stay than most people would take for a month away from home.

Therefore, it took me three days of packing and unpacking my small hold size suitcase with wheels, before having to admit it was impossible. I had to ask David to search in the loft for a small holdall that was 'somewhere' up there long unused, because the wheels weighed too much and I could get more things in a bag. Finally I had a reasonable assortment of stuff, which although not nearly enough would just have to do.

The day before my flight out horrendous storms and monsoon rain came down and for a nervous passenger this is not good. That evening I saw on Facebook that someone we know had flown from Dalaman to Istanbul that night and reported it as being the worst flight they had ever encountered. Just what I didn't want to hear. So that night I lay in bed listening to the winds howling, the thunder roaring and the rains coming down. Needless to say not much sleep that night.

The following morning saw no improvement to the weather and I came down and sat on the terrace with a coffee, dreading the drive to Dalaman in these conditions, never mind the flight. However, an hour before I was due to leave conditions improved and I set off on my way. I had decided to use the parking near the airport which at 10 tl per day works out cheaper than two transfers, and it includes a full valet of the car. Very handy.

It was comforting to see increased security at the airport, Checking in was fast and efficient and we left Dalaman on time. Although the pilot told us to expect 'a bumpy ride' until we reached our cruising altitude, in fact we had a very smooth climb. So far so good. After a very smooth and comfortable flight we reached Stansted on time and there the fun began!

When I finally reached the passport control after an incredibly long walk, I headed for the automated 'e passport' machines and joined the ridiculously long queues. Tape barriers meant you spent the next half an hour slowly shuffling up and down rows 26 times before finally reaching the exit machines. Now being closer to the front you can see that the problem is twofold. One that only half the machines are actually working and two people's utter stupidity. As you approach there are explicit instructions (with pictures) to inform you that you stand on a very large mark on the ground, that your passport has to be put in one way up within marks, pressed firmly in place and that you look into the screen in front of you. Easy? You would think so, but apparently not for a lot of people.

Frustratingly I stood and watched as people put their passports in upside down, back to front and the wrong way round, whilst standing way off the mark and instead of looking into the camera absent mindedly looking around the room while the queue built up behind them. Not known for suffering fools gladly, I was already starting to huff and puff. Fellow passengers in the queue must have started to think I had some strange affliction.

Finally the tall, well dressed, intelligent looking lady in front of me got to the machine and there seemed to be some hope of escaping - wrong! She did all of the above and instead of realising that she must be doing something wrong, she alternated between trying to barge the barrier in front, before the green light was lit and coming back out and then repeating everything she had done wrong in the first place. Helpless to offer any assistance as you are forbidden to cross the line several feet behind, I stood watching helplessly, whilst my huffing and puffing was extended to talking to myself out loud. "Oh good God!", "Oh for goodness sake!", "Why are they always the one in my queue?!" Several minutes later and still watching the lady in an ever increasing loop of stupidity, I saw a member of staff coming down the row. "PLEASE help that lady, or we'll be here forever" I shouted out. Thankfully they did and it was at last my turn. It is incredible how if you put your passport in correctly, stand in the right place and look at the camera it takes a nano second to go through. I think they should include a training session on the planes coming in to Stansted for all passengers.

With only hand luggage, at least I escaped the carousel experience and headed off to find the short term car park where my daughter had told me to wait for my lift. I left the terminal building following a very large sign which said 'short term car park'. At the bottom of a long ramp the walkways split into two at which point there is no longer any mention of a short term car park, it has now changed to red, orange and green car parks. To cut a long story and lots of walking short and having tried them all I finally found my lift which was just as well as I had no means of contacting anyone and could potentially have sparked the film The Terminal 2 by having to live in the airport for 12 days.

My son in law picked me up and an hour later I was giving my daughter a great big hug. The children were already in bed asleep so we had a great evening catching up over a glass or three of duty free alcohol and I must confess to having to be helped to bed by my daughter at almost 1.00 in the morning.

Finally I'm back in Blighty.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

We're back and here are some winter photographs

It's over seven months since I last posted on our blog. I don't know why. Our last post was a sad one written when we lost our cat Inca. Since moving here four years ago, we have sadly said goodbye to all three animals that came with us from England. Our dog Tyson developed a serious and terminal illness, our cat Horrace died of old age and then in June we lost Inca suddenly and unexpectedly. Also along the way we suffered the demise of two other cats that we had adopted here. Peggy who lost her life at only a year old to cancer and the street cat Çingene who came to us with chronic kidney failure for short term terminal care but in fact enjoyed life for another three years. Maybe it was having to write yet another piece about losing one of our animals that pushed me away from writing more for a while, who knows?

However, a lot of people have told us that they miss seeing the blog, and actually we miss it too. Therefore I will endeavour to put pen to paper (as it were) again.

Obviously over the past seven months we have done an awful lot of things, so it is hard to catch up in one post. Last year we enjoyed the most amazingly hot summer which just went on and on and on. We spent quite a lot of the time with family and friends who were over for their holidays. It was both great to see them, and great to down tools from our projects and spend some time out and about again. Something we have very rarely had the time or money to do. It was wonderful to spend time with people we love and miss since moving here and to show them around our beautiful part of the world.

Even in winter the beauty of our surroundings is undeniable

Our biggest highlight of the year, was when I discovered I had a small pension which I could take and this allowed us to buy a car. It is only an old Turkish car, but it has made a difference to our life which is immeasurable. No more struggling back up the hill to our home with all our shopping in tow, no more missing bargains in town because we can't get there, and if we want to go out even just to the village, we can without the worry of how to get home again or being put off by the long walk back. The freedom it has given us is incredible.

The Fogiemobile

In between visitors and with the benefit of having the car we have been able to get out to buy building materials as we need them and other bits for the house and garden, so although we have not finished by any means we are a lot further forward than we were. I know I say it every year, but we really do expect to be virtually finished with our landscaping and building this year. We'll see!!

I have said before that the hardest thing for us about living in Turkey is missing family and friends, and nothing brought this home more than when my daughter gave birth to a healthy, bonny boy in September. Up to now my daughter had visited every year since we bought the house six years ago. Due to her pregnancy she was unable to come last year, and I missed her visit so much. We don't have the budget to be able to fly back and forth to England so as yet I have not met Harry my grandson, but I am so looking forward to meeting him in May when I am returning to England for a short while.

This year we have enjoyed the warmest, driest winter since moving here. A complete contrast to last winter which was extremely cold and fraught with long term electricity and water cuts making me thoroughly miserable for the best part of three months. Even so we will be glad when it's over and we can start to spend the majority of our time outdoors again.

Winter sunshine in Hisaronu ....

...... and a deserted beach in Oludeniz ......

........... but still the paragliders come

We are really looking forward to 2016. Hopefully we will finally finish the garden. We have family and friends already booked to come out to see us. In fact we have already had friends out to stay for a week in January. Our first winter guests and with the weather being so kind we had a lovely time and were able to venture out and about. It's very different here in the winter and very beautiful.

But we really look forward to the freedom the Fogiemobile will give us. We can't wait to set off exploring, having afternoons at the beach, popping down to Calis to watch the sunset. Ooh so much to do. We'll let you know where we go and how we get on. I'm glad to have kick started the blog again, it's good to be back!