Tuesday, 10 January 2017

It's all about the weather

We had a really good winter last year. So this years weather is a bit shocking for those of us that don't do cold! Winter came earlier than normal and we have had our heating on since the beginning of November. Usually it's well into December before we start to use it. OK we did have some sunny days in November, and in fact we had a lovely barbecue on the beach one day and it was really warm, but in general it's not a pleasant winter this year at all. The people who only ever visit Turkey for their summer holidays would be amazed to discover just  how cold the winters can be here.

Christmas day was quite warm and we were able to sit outside for most of the day, but since then the weather has really changed for the worse. We have had an almost constant deluge through January. First rain, then sleet, then snow and now more rain and thunderstorms. Whilst the snow has not settled in the village itself, the mountains that immediately surround our house have been topped with snow for the first time in the seven years we have owned it. In fact a local man told us that it is 19 or 20 years since he remembers them being covered in snow like this year. 

The higher mountains are deep in snow, and at the weekend there was a traffic jam along the Uzumlu to Fethiye road, because of all the Turkish people taking their families up to Nif  (a village a bit further up into the mountains than we are) to play in the snow. Many Turkish families do not have cars, which means that a lot of children living in Fethiye do not get to enjoy this experience. So I was amazed and delighted to see that last week the Belediye (council) transported two large dumper trucks of snow down to the school playground for them. The staff could hardly contain the children when they saw what was happening outside and they burst through the school doors with squeals of delight, straight into it to play. What a fabulous sight that was.

But there is a darker side to the weather. The heavy snowfalls in and around Istanbul have meant that hundreds of flights have been cancelled. Two of our friends flew over last weekend and were stuck in Istanbul for two days waiting for a flight to Dalaman, As I write, more flights are being cancelled due to the continuing bad weather. Today we have heard that the road from here to Antalya is also closed (both routes), and today the storms have caused damage in Fethiye town centre with the winds bringing trees down which in turn have damaged people's cars and kiosks along the harbour front. 

Closer to home we suffered serious flooding in the garden. Last year a new villa was built opposite us and whereas before there was a ditch at the bottom of the mountain that then ran down into the field in front of us, now that option is not there. Consequently the water is running down the mountain, across the track and straight through our gate. At one point our raised beds were underwater and the water level was as high as seat height on our outdoor chairs in the back garden. 

The water is running down the mountain. Before it disappeared along the ditch. Now that has been removed it's filling the road.....

........ coming through our gate ..........

.......... and flooding our garden and the sheds!

In the foreground and also at the back the lower raised beds were completely submerged and the water level was up to seat height on our outdoor chairs

So all in all it is not a good time to be needing to travel in Turkey or even to go into town, so we are holed up at home in the warm which is definitely the place to be right now. Maybe because of early winter weather we'll also have an early spring - we can live in hope! 

Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 - gone in a flash!

I thought when I moved here that lovely as it would be, I may get bored and would need some kind of interest to keep my brain active.  Hence, I began the Fogie's blog. However, the reality is that time flies by faster than I  can remember at any other point in my life, and I have become possibly the worst blogger in the world. The irony is that I constantly write pieces in my head, whilst I'm busy. They just never seem to get written down. I take photos as we travel around and think 'they are interesting', but they never get put on the blog either! So with the enthusiasm of a new year and all it's resolutions I make a last ditch attempt to keep it running, before I have to finally admit defeat and accept that a blogger I am not!

2016 has been and gone and I almost can't believe it.

After my trip back to the UK in May of course I missed my family but it was still wonderful to be home. Incredibly the dogs had behaved themselves while I was away and in my absence David had managed to finish putting up our new fence and do some more of painting the house.

Turkish houses favour orangey colours which I like least, so when the house needed repainting I wanted a complete change. David was not convinced at all, but went along with it to humour me and now agrees with my decision, which was to paint the window and door frames dark and to change the render from yellow to light grey. But with sixteen windows and six doors it has taken ages to do the woodwork alone. The render still awaits it's turn in the grand scheme of things. For the moment he has moved on to my next 'urgent project' laying more paving and kerb stones in front of the house, which is the last piece of the garden which involves hard landscaping.

The garden which is my domain whilst David is still building and doing maintenance work, needed some serious attention on my return, so I buckled down to that. I remember over the past few years being inordinately jealous of people who moved here into new villas and had the money to have their gardens landscaped. I also remember some of your responses to that, saying that at the end of the day we would have greater satisfaction in what we had accomplished the hard way. Well. I have to bow to your greater superiority because last year I could walk around the garden and say they are from the seeds that so and so friend brought us, that is from the cutting that so and so gave us, that is the 5tl plant from the car boot etc., etc. At last we are getting somewhere and it does seem to be slowly improving.

Last year was a big year for spending time with visitors from the Uk. The first guests came in January, the first time we have had people staying with us out of season, and the last in October. We must have introduced dozens of new people to our wonderful village by now, and without exception they all love it too. It's so different from the main tourist strip which most people coming to stay in Turkey see. In September we had four family members and eight friends all either staying with us or locally at one time! We were delighted that 2016 also brought our first visit from one of our grandchildren unaccompanied for the first time. What fun we had showing him and his girlfriend around the area on what was their first ever visit to Turkey - a whirlwind tour!

Seven years ago when we bought our house next to a mountain, we said that one day we would have to go up it and have a look around. Well it took seven years but we finally did just that a few weeks ago, we took a barbecue and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon with friends. It's like a different world up there, with amazing views and I will write more of that visit later.

We loved our trip up our mountain

Another first for us was a trip around the peninsula above Fethiye harbour. We had no idea that there were so many coves for picnicking and swimming, or how dreadful the road surface was as we meandered around huge potholes and debris.

View back across to Fethiye harbour from the peninsula

Another day out we thoroughly enjoyed was to Patara. We spent the morning looking around the ruins - well worth a visit- and then lunch on the beach and a swim. 

The theatre at Patara ruins .....

... then an afternoon on the lovely Patara beach. A great day out
2016 was the first full year that we had a vehicle, and it opened up our lives more than we ever imagined. It may be old - like us - but having the Fogiemobile has meant we can get to all the places we have wanted to visit for such a long time.

So what will 2017 bring the Fogies? It's started well with a sunny morning, although it's jolly cold when the sun goes in. We are looking forward to more trips out. I am returning yet again to England in May to attend my daughter's wedding. We already have 3 lots of vistors with flights booked to come and see us again and it's looking likely that two couples who are great friends of ours will be taking the plunge and coming to live permanently in the village. Looking like another busy year already. Bring it on!

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!