Sunday, September 5, 2010

And where's your house?

I decided that the best way to get to know people would be to learn turkish. İ purchased a Linguaphone PDQ Turkish course and made a start. However İ discovered that there were turkish classes in Dublin in the Sandford Institute, so crazy as İ am, İ began to drive 100km each way to the classes.

My work colleagues were teasing me before İ started and said everyone will be asking 'and where is your house?'

Well, they couldn't have been more wrong. İ was the Granny of the class and everyone was asking 'and where is your boyfriend?' However, at the end of the term there were only two of us left so İ guess the house was a better motivation to learn turkish than the boyfriend. Four years later İ'm still learning turkish and İ still have the house!

Mum's visit to Turkey

My Mum was 79 when she came to Bodrum in the middle of the blaring August heat but she was game for anything. My "Çılgın kız" genes had to come from somewhere.
I had not as yet braved driving in Turkey - it was to be a few years yet before I drove at 50kmph in towards Bodrum with my heart in my mouth - so we went everywhere by dolmuş.

We set off on a two day bus trip to Ephesus and Pammukale. The heat was intense but she wandered around taking it all in......under the shade of an umbrella. There should have been a health warning on that umbrella as I think several individuals nearly lost an eye.

She also swam in the Pool of Cleopatra in Pammukale and came out looking like a 69 year old. She revelled in the fact that everyone wanted to know her age, she had snow white hair and proudly proclaimed she was 79 to a chorus of Maşallahs

There was just one dodgy moment on the holiday. We went shopping in Bodrum and in one shop we were asked where were our men. İ said İ had left mine at home as he hated shopping but Mum told them that unfortunately her man was dead. This immediately led to being asked her age as the owner had a grandfather who was also on his own.

Mum asked his grandfather's age and on learning he was 75 she said he was too young for her. She was then told, that in Turkey there is no problem with an older woman and a younger man........everyone knew it was just for the sex! İ didn't know where to look, needless to say there was no sale made here. My mum was of a different generation.

June 2005 - At last

Finally the house was ours. Military permission was granted and we owned our own little bit of heaven. We went out for three weeks and after a few days we were ready to move in. Kelebek arrived early in the morning and so did our table tennis table. That morning everything happened at the one time. Our patio furniture arrived and so did our white goods from Beko.

The service from Beko was unbelievable. One group came and delivered the goods, opened and removed the packing.....which they took away with them and then another person came to plug in the appliance and give instructions on how to use the item.

Kelebek was the same. Everything was assembled, packaging removed and the place tidied up. Ali loaned us some allen keys to assemble the patio table and chairs and we had to wait for a day to get the table tennis tabl;e up and God what a delay!

We quickly settled into life in our new home and before we knew it our three weeks were up.

However I had a cunning plan. I really thought my mum should see our new home so I invited her out for two weeks in August and of course I had to accompany her.

Saturday, September 4, 2010


We were told that it should take 2-3 months to get military permission to buy our house. So with that in mind I booked a holiday at Easter to furnish the house and get it ready for the summer.

That was before I realised what 2-3 months actually meant. January came and went and so did February. I now had to book a hotel to stay in as it looked like the house was not going to be ours in a hurry! So this time we booked the Delphi Hotel in Bodrum. The location was great but the hotel looked if it was only just opening.

Several things stand out in my memory about this holiday. The weather was mixed, in the shelter it was warm but here was a cool breeze. There was a swimming pool but it was full of green water and old mandarins that had fallen fron the trees.

Under the trees, middleaged men sat playing Tavla, there was a tournament in progress.

We asked if there were sunbeds so we could sit in the sun and they looked at us in horror, it was March, they were still wearing fleeces, were we crazy! However in fairness, they dragged them out and cleaned them. Next day, of course, there were a couple of Germans staying at the same time and they got up early and claimed them.

We spent our holiday looking at furniture and eventually met Ali from Kelebek who was very helpful. He said he had a wife in Dublin but they had no plans to live together!! His main concern was that his Easter egg would arrive!

We arranged what furniture we wanted and as soon as our permission arrived and we completed the sale we would send them the money and we'd arrange delivery. So the holiday wasn't wasted.

A couple of other memories that spring to mind are walking along the seafront in Yalikavak in warm sunshine, a portent of things to come.

I also remember Orhan. He worked in one of the many hairdressers that we passed everyday and he would always run out to chat to us. He was trying to improve his english. One evening his boss was there too and we got a demonstration on removing facial hair with thread. I could feel the pain as I watched his bosses eyes water while Orhan went to work!!

We returned home and still the house was not ours!

Buying a house. October 2004

In the early "naughties" one of my favourite occupations was coming home from school on a cold winter's day and curling up in front of the fire and watching the latest offering from "A Place in the Sun" It was a favourite daydream of mine to imagine being lucky enough to own a home abroad. Then at the end of August 2004 I saw an ad in the local paper for apartments in Alanya for 25,000 euro.
This set me thinking......owning a place in the sun might indeed be possible and choosing the right moment I broached the matter with Sean. I think it was the fact it was Turkey and we had had two wonderful holidays there but I got the green light to begin investigations.
The poor man hadn't a chance. Before he knew it he was booked on a last minute package holiday to Bodrum with the warning that if we started looking, knowing me, there was no way we would come home without a house.
We had been to a property exhibition and chose Bodrum as the place to start our search because the property there is low rise.
We stayed in the Mert Hotel and apartments. I will remember it forever and with fondness. The first thing was that the lock on the door was broken, two men came to repair it and after much discussion, about two hours later the job was done. The furnishings were memorable, purple walls with lime green sofas but the bed was comfortable, and a spray of flowers left on the duvet every evening. If it wasn't for the barking dogs and the crowing roosters it would have made for a very comfortable stay.
I had appointments made with several local emlaks to view. Criteria, low rise building, swimming pool, three bedrooms and a reasonable budget. We had put a holding deposit on one particular house. It was in the Yalikavak area, on a hill looking out west to the sea. The setting was magnificent but there were a couple of problems. One was there was a pole in the wrong place in the living area, making the division of the living and eating space difficult but the main difficulty was there wasn't any sign of a small market in the vicinity. This meant car hire was going to be a necessity. It would be a major trip to do the weekly shopping but this could be overcome if there was somewhere close by to get bread and milk.
We saw so many houses in the first three days, I took copious notes and photos. Eventually we narrowed it down to three, the one we had come to see, a new build which was just at the planning stage and a resale.
The resale was bigger than we had planned but it deserved a second look. We have four daughters, so a lot of space could be a good thing. Most importantly, there was room for that all important item on my shopping list, a table tennis table!
We went back to see it on our own and walk around the area, it was on a small complex, 4 bedrooms, three terraces with great sea views from two of them and situated in a small village that was mainly Turkish. Our own little bit of heaven. We got somebody to look at the building and check it out for us. We also checked the tapu. everything was present and correct. Six years ago I hadn't heard of an iskan and didn't realise this was something that was necessary. So the deed was done. We made our offer, and it was accepted. All I had to hope now was that they didn't contact my parish priest for a reference when they were doing the military checks!! I"d have no hope as he regularly thanked God that there were no women priests. He used to tell me that if I was his curate his life wouldn't be worth living.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


My love affair with Turkey started back in 1998, when Sean, my other half, and I went to Marmaris on a package holiday. It was our first holiday abroad together since we had got married 17 years earlier and we were too busy, or should I say too poor, rearing four daughters to travel.

In spite of the extreme heat, we had a wonderful time, we did all the tourist things, including a jeep safari and also did a two day trip to Ephesus and Pammukale. We watched a concert rehearsal in an amphitheatre and shopped til Sean dropped. As you may guess, shopping is not his favourite activity.

However, it was when we returned in 2002, when we returned again with our four teenage daughters and my niece, that we really fell in love with Turkey.

Two of our girls had done their Leaving Certificate exams and so had my niece, so we decided to bring them to Icmeler, near Marmaris, for a holiday while they awaited their results and university placements.

We had arrived on a night flight and our youngest wasn't feeling very well. We checked into our apartments and decided that we would have a lazy day at the pool instead of going to bed. We would then go out for a meal and have an early night.

This we duly did. We came back to the apartment but stopped at a little shop to buy cold drinks. Our youngest promptly threw up all over the place outside the shop. The shopkeeper immediately rushed out to render assistance in the form of lemon cologne! One whiff of this and she came to.... very quickly!

The shop owner "Lovely Jubbly" as he soon became known to us became Laura's champion for the rest of the holiday. Everytime Sean went to the shop, he came home with a lollipop or fruit for Laura. She had become a favourite, in spite of leaving him a present he didn't want on their first meeting!

However, this is not the amazing story of the night. We arrived back at our apartment and Sean discovered his credit card was not in his pocket. Doing our best not to panic, 5 girls and no money, we made our way back to the restaurant in case he had left the card there.

Unfortunately, they had not seen it and were a little concerned in case we thought they had taken it. Sean, explained he had it in a seperate wallet in his pocket and it must have fallen out.

We were asked about where we had been, having explained we had taken the dolmus (local minibus) and gone straight back to the apartment. The owner, took off his apron and showed us to his car and drove us to the bus station. There, having ascertained the time and place of pick up we were told that particular driver had gone off duty and lived in a village 5km away in the hills.

The restaurant owner then insisted on driving us there, found the dolmus owner in the local cafe. He then went to his dolmus and opened it, and there on the floor under the seat where we had been sitting, was Sean's card. We were then driven back to our apartment.

This story sums up the warmth and friendliness of many turkish people and why I love the country so.

About me

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired
and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
and run my stick along the public railings
and make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
and learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
and pay our rent and not swear in the street
and set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
(Jenny Joseph – b.1932 – poem written 1961)

This poem is the best way I can describe myself. I have spent the last 32 years living and teaching in a small village and I'm waiting for the day to cut loose.
As the poem says, though, I have started a little in advance so the shock will not be too much for others to bear when that day comes.

Birth of a blog

I have considered myself to be many things, among them a çılgın kız - crazy girl - as many of my turkish friends call me, well, girl is a little bit of a euphemism. However, I never thought I'd see the day that I would become a blogger.

I know I can talk up a storm but writing was something I left to my husband and more recently my daughter. But after writing an account of a holiday in Turkey I have been encouraged to create a blog and so never one to refuse a challenge this is it.