Monthly Archives: December 2017

Things we almost didn’t mention

Ashley-building

 

I’m not sure that we have photos of any of this but….

Early on in the spring or summer we took the bike to Pamucak beach and parked it up whilst we went for a walk.  Whilst we were walking ‘something’ happened to the bike.  We didn’t notice till we were a way down the road but, one way or another it had been knocked over and the end of one of the handgrips had come off.  We rode back to the carpark and, after some digging around, managed to retrieve it.  For a while we hoped it might be repairable but it had just sheared off through the metal.  The price of those grips in Turkey does not bear thinking about.  They’re quite expensive in the UK (and we weren’t due to go to the UK for quite some time).  Fortunately they are far cheaper in America and we were expecting a visit from some friends in March.  Parts were duly ordered, delivered to our friend and put in his suitcase so he wouldn’t forget them (thank you Wes).

Then Hilary got bitten by a spider.  Hardly noticed it at first, then enough pain to prevent sleep.  She let it go for a few days, at which point her leg swolled up most horribly and red lines developed, necessitating a trip to the local hospital and two courses of antibiotics, along with some magic water to apply to the bite and instructions to keep the leg elevated.  It soon started to improve and the two courses of antibiotics cured the problem.

Meanwhile, one morning when Ashley was watering our garden, our neighbour called us in to witness his carpets floating on at least 18 inches of our watering water.  It had seeped through from our tiny square garden into the lower part of his house.  We promised to fill that bit of garden in at the soonest opportunity.  Sadly this meant uprooting the bougainvillea which had grown up to cover our roof.  Ashley dug stuff up and, in the course of so doing, decided to use his rib as a lever.  And yes, it did break.  This made the rest of the work harder than it should have been not to mention more painful.

So, in between trips to Greece, we had a great week with our friends from America, got the part fitted, destroyed our tiny square of garden and paved it over with tiling.  It looked very sad at first but we’ve got some pots on there now and we intend to buy a lemon tree in spring, so it is filling up quite nicely.

Oh, and did I mention that Ashley built us a permanent barbecue on the roof?

He made an excellent job of it and has cooked some excellent meals on it.

With all this work, it’s hardly any wonder that if he’s not got tennis elbow, he’s got something pretty similar.  But it’s not slowed him down at all.

Hilary, meanwhile, has been working on costume for Conscience, a larp based on Westworld we shall be attending at the end of January.  This has included a full set of victorian ladies underwear, including a corset.  She’s still working on designing a hat!

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Three countries in a week

Greek-visiting-dog

 

We had a busy week after we got home from the Greek trip on which we lost the camera. Hilary had some health check ups at the State Hospital in Kuşadası and we sent off for her residence permit (ours expire in different months due to a complex set of circumstances which involved an official thinking he was doing us a favour rather than making our lives more complicated). Actually getting a residence permit here in Turkey is a great deal easier than it used to be. It can all be done online and through the post and we now both have permits for two years – so no more of that hassle till 2019!

We then headed to London for a flying visit to family. Really only a long weekend but it was good to see them. Home for one day (just enough time to throw the clothes in the washing machine) then we were back to Lesvos. The very nice lady who was selling us the house had arranged to be out for a week so that we could visit the noter together and do all the legal stuff. It all went very smoothly and our estate agent took us all out for a very fine lunch to celebrate.

Next day we got the water and electricity put into our names. Then we moved into the house. The day after that we opened a bank account and got a mobile phone. Though, actually, the bank account was not properly opened as according to Greek law, you have to put 10K euro into an account to fully open it and that could not be arranged until we got back to Turkey.

We spent most of August at home. Both of our residence permits were safely delivered. Ashley updated his Turkish driving licence to the new format (an incredibly easy process). The guy in the Emniyet who told us what we needed to do didn’t know the url for making an appointment and advised us to Goggle for it. We now goggle for everything!  He also gave us a slip of paper which listed all the paperwork we needed.  Two new photos, a medical report from the family doctor, receipts for two payments from a government bank (the two payments totaled around 15 lira which is less than a fiver sterling) and his existing Turkish licence.  We have a new family doctor surgery here in Selçuk so we took the opportunity to visit her.  No one else was there and she and her assistants were very pleasant.  Because Ashley wears glasses, he also had to go to the ophthalmologist in the state hospital here and get a vision report.  We took all those things back to the Emniyet at the appointed time and, four days later, got a text message asking us to go back to the Emniyet and pick up the license.

What with the lost camera etc. this is not really a very photogenic post.  The picture at the top shows the dog who frequently visits us in the Lesbian House!

In which we almost acquire a cat

duman-and-the-tiles

Hilary has long been in the habit of feeding the local stray cats by the bin – especially in winter.  We do try not to let them become too dependent on us.  We travel a lot and cannot really take responsibility for a pet.  However, this grey cat was very friendly.  We called her Duman (with is Turkish for Smoke).  Because she was entirely grey.  We got back from our long Central American trip very late at night and there she was, on the doorstep, chatting away and…. very pregnant.

We took her to the vet who said we should bring her back four to six weeks after she had her kittens.  She had two kittens.  One was killed by one of the local tomcats.  The other…. well, she kept trying to hide it under our bed and we had to stop her from doing that because it would have been impossible to continue with that whilst we were not at home.

We were quite concerned about the situation when we went to Berlin for a few days so we built a kind of blanket fort on the terrace.  Sadly it was not enough protection as we never saw the other kitten after we got back.  Duman was fine though, so we took her to the vet.  She had her inoculations, she had her internal and external parasites dealt with, she was spayed.  The vet phoned us to come and collect her but, sadly, when we got to his office, she had died.  He was as distressed by this as we were.  He thought it must have been a reaction to the anaesthetic.  Whatever…. We never bought her home.

This year has been very tough on the feral cat population.  There has been a devastating viral disease (feline infectious peritonitis) which has killed a great many of them.  However, this winter there are a lot of kittens about.  The population is very resilient. But I am very wary of ‘adopting’ a street cat again.  I don’t seem to be very lucky for them.

In which we lose our camera… (and other disasters) Though the trip was a lot of fun.

WP_20170705_14_52_28_Pro

Towards the end of June, during Bayram, we went to Greece again.  This was a rather mixed adventure. We did, of course, have a wonderful time, but a couple of not very good things happened.

The first day we rode up to Cannakale. A longish ride but, once we got past Izmir, a pleasant one. There’s a really great place right above Assos where we stopped for tea and to admire the view.  Canakkale itself was, as ever, a lively and interesting place to spend an evening. Come morning we headed for the border. There were a load of cars parked up in a sort of queue but we just rode past them. It was very hot and there was a longish wait to get across the border but, really, no hassle. Though being stuck in very hot sunshine for an hour or so was not all that pleasant. Other travelers reported waiting eight hours or more at that crossing so we were lucky.  Once over the border we had a smooth run to Loutra near the Evros Valley and Alexandropolis. Our hotel room was overlooked by a huge tree occupied by a large colony of Spanish sparrows who were a constant source of entertainment.

Dadia-vulturesThe village has three hotels and one restaurant (semi-attached to our hotel). We took several walks around the area seeing bee eaters and a whole load of different raptors, although it was not really the best time of year for birding in the area. We rode over to Dadia forest and walked up to the hide for viewing the vultures. Got some wonderful photos. On our last night, we gave some mosquito repellent to some fellow guests which, somehow or other, led to several bottles of wine, ouzo, cheese and dancing till the early hours.

 

Next morning we headed to Chalkidiki where we had arranged to meet up with some friends from the UK. We had booked a hotel in Afitos which is absolutely lovely.  OK, it’s a holiday resort and totally geared up for tourists, but that has distinct advantages. We found a bar with a wonderful view…

We met up with our friends and had a very good lunch and a long natter. Then it was off to Kerkini.

Well, we love Kerkini. We met up with Vassilis who is an expert on the local wildlife. His nickname is Πελικανος. We took a boat trip with him in the early morning out to the drowned forest and where the pelicans are. We took lots of wonderful photos. We went to where he told us the bee eaters were.  You can see Ashley searching for the bee eaters in the picture below.  We took lots of wonderful photos. We went out to where he told us the rollers were. We didn’t see rollers but…. On the way home we had a luggage malfunction and lost the DSLR. And all the photos. Except the ones I took on the pocket camera.  Which is why there are no high quality photos in this post.

We retraced our steps to the place of the rollers (still saw no rollers) then Ashley went out again on the back of Vassilis’ bike. And they saw rollers (but I was in the hotel with my Kindle).

That, sadly, was not the end of the bad stuff. The bike made a horrible clunk as we were leaving Chalkidiki. And, by the time we got to Kerkini, there was obviously something wrong. Vassilis called in a friend of his who is a mechanic and, between Vassilis, his friend and Ashley, they managed to shorten the clutch cable. But it was not right. When in neutral, the bike kept creeping forwards…

Next day we rode to Kavala. It was very, very hot. We arrived many hours before our ferry was due to sail and sat in a bar, drinking coffee, then in a restaurant where we had a meal. There was a huge air and naval show going on and it was entertaining to watch the jets flying formation and the helicopters making whirlpools around the harbour.  The show continued whilst we queued for the ferry and as we left the harbour on the ferry.

We didn’t have a cabin. We had booked airline seats but the lounge was very noisy so we attempted to sleep in the bar area. Got off the ferry at Lesvos and stayed for three nights at our usual Studios (Shine Studios – really well equipped and tastefully decorated studio apartments with lovely owners, highly recommended) whilst we waited for space on the boat back to Ayvalik. We went to visit the house again. At this point we were waiting for the formalities to be done and the vendor to fix a date to come out to Lesvos to visit the notary together and finalise the sale.

The bike got us to Mytilini, onto the ferry, off again and as far as just before Menemen. At which point Ashley decided it was not safe to ride it any further. We phoned Harley Izmir who were not able to send a recovery vehicle to us till the next day. The guys in the petrol station we stopped in phoned a friend and we got recovered to Harley Izmir.  Not cheap, but necessary and very efficient.

We sat for an hour in the café at Harley Izmir awaiting a diagnosis. It was a broken clutch bearing. Which was replaced and, after about 90 minutes, we were on our way.

There was an incredible amount of traffic on the way out of Izmir (did I mention it was really, really hot?), but it thinned out just before the (toll) motorway. We’d planned to do stuff after we got home but, really… we were pretty totally exhausted. So dinner out then bed.