Category Archives: Life in Selçuk

Moving Forward

What with various major life events involving unplanned trips to the UK and all manner of running around and life stress this blog and many other things got neglected.  Slowly we are getting our feet back on the ground even though we are back off to the UK fairly soon for amongst other things another bout of running around in what at times feels like a headless chicken.

Through all of this, and the moving back and forth between Selçuk and Παρακοιλα we have been crazy busy.  This now needs to stop, apart from anything else life in the Aegean through July and August is a time to slow down and relax.  Anything strenuous can wait until the heat of summer starts to subside.

In Παρακοιλα we now have the kitchen done, lovely custom hand made units, marble worktops, and German appliances.  We have also done all the essential repairs, got the electrics corrected (there was some crazy old wiring), the plumbing sorted, a garden that is ticking over nicely and external woodwork repaired as best as possible.   The rest can wait, apart from anything else the bank accounts need to recover.

In Selçuk we don’t need to do any of this stuff, it is all done, though we do need to have some inexpensive repairs done to the solar system.  Plus Ashley needs to go back to the cardiologist in İzmir for a follow up.  More on this and a bionic cardiac artery might be a subject for a future piece.

We have been asked on numerous occasions in both Selçuk and Παρακοιλα about our long term plans and to a lesser extent the why behind them.  So to set the record straight.
Are we planning to move permanently to Παρακοιλα? – No. We intend to spend time in both homes.  We might spend more of the summer months in Παρακοιλα and more of the winter in Selçuk but this is yet to be decided.  We envisage it will be a roughly 50/50 thing.
As to why, well there are a few forces in play.  The main one is our desire to protect and maintain our status as European citizens which is now largely (in so far as is possible) achieved.  The rest is as they say, “not my circus not my monkeys”.

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!

Inundation

Our garage

Our garage

We were planning on catching up on some of the trips we have not covered yet, but recent events have given an opportunity to kick off 2016 with a blog entry about living here is Selçuk. What some people may not know is we get roughly the same amount of annual rainfall as Dublin, but here pretty much all that rain happens in the three months of winter. December was unusually dry, no rain at all, pretty much day after day of unbroken sunshine. Then on Sunday night the rain arrived, maybe all the rain missed in December in one night.

We watched the road turn into a river. The river kept rising as the torrent came down off the hill. It rose above the kerb and into neighbours’ homes. And, as it rose further, into our garage. There was nothing we could do in the middle of the night, nothing could be got out against the water flow, the street was a knee deep torrent, it was hard enough standing up against it. Vodka seemed a very good idea at the time.

So, in the morning came clean up and a thick head. We got the bike out. Then phoned a friend who came around with a pump. Between the pump, buckets, mops, towels, and the help of various local children (who should probably have been in school) we got the water and mud out of the garage. A mattress we were storing has been consigned to the bin along with a load of spare cardboard we use to light the wood stove. This is all we have lost.

The Belediye (local council) workmen arrived with a JCB and a tractor with a trailer to clear the mud, stones and debris from the street and one nearby which was knee deep in mud.

The bike should be OK. We got it off the street, up by the side of the house. The Belidiye workmen helped us push it up the slope, hard work given all the slippery mud. I am going to leave it a couple of days to dry out, then charge the battery and see what happens. The water never got to the electrics or anything else sensitive, so I am hoping for nothing bad.

flood---bike-on-the-street

Before we could go inside and wash our feet, the children insisted on having their photographs taken with the bike. We’ve promised them hard copy of the photos tomorrow afternoon.

The street is a mess, there is still ankle deep mud in places. More rain is predicted, maybe it will wash the mud away. The clean up will take a few days. We’re more than half way up the hill, those lower down will, doubtless, have worse problems though the drainage around our house and a few nearby leaves a lot to be desired.

Enjoying the Arts

Piano Recital

Meanwhile back home in Turkey, we will have more to say on Kerkini and Greece later.

June is our time for the Arts scene here in Selçuk.  It is the International Izmir Festival.  Some events are always staged locally, which means in Ephesus.  This year, two concerts in front of the Library of Celsus and one in the Odeon, (upper theatre) so sadly none in the great theatre, but no matter, these make for great nights out.

It is all a bit haphazard with semi random seating, we never get tickets with seats next to each other, but as long as we sit in the right block it is all fine.

So this year we have a Piano recital, mostly Chopin and Debussy, a chamber orchestra doing Bartok and Liszt, and an Italian Ensemble.  The recital was interesting, and was a lovely evening with friends and a bottle of wine.  We still have the other two to look forward to.

There are also events in Izmir and elsewhere, but concerts in Ephesus are just wow.  More details can be found at    http://www.iksev.org/en

 

After a long gap…

Camels2015R That would definitely be my picture of the month for January!

I am really not sure why we have gone so quiet.  February seemed to disappear down the back of the sofa.  We didn’t do much except try to get out to the shops between showers of rain.  I guess it’s winter.  We did mean to get away this year but an unexpected trip to London in December meant that, by the time we got round to looking at possibilities, everything was either rainy or too expensive.

We have just got back from a more scheduled trip to see family in the UK and friends in Ireland.  But, whilst we work out what to do with the blog and process more photographs, here are some of the camel wrestling in Selçuk back on the third Sunday of January.  It was a glorious sunny day – quite warm – and the crowds were out and cooking, eating, drinking, playing music and dancing on the tables.  The photos, sadly, lack the sounds and smells which are very much a part of the experience.  We hope they convey some of the atmosphere.

In the Freezer

After a couple of nights of freezing weather it has now warmed up.  Enough to tempt us away from the wood stove and to venture outside for anything other than getting more wood from  the wood store.

This is what the weather did.

The bougainvillia will recover and go mad in summer, the geraniums will be cut back and some should come through again.  The aloe is probably gone and are a few others.  The chillis are dead, kind of annoying because they were a non local varieties that do best in their second year.

Fortunately we moved the ficus into full shelter.

 

Tire in the Snow

Tire-with-snowWe’ve been pretty quiet recently.  We went to the UK at short notice due to a family emergency and ended up spending Christmas there.  We’ve been back home just over a week now and are slowly getting back to normal.

Today, though, we decided to go to Tire market because Hilary needed some thread for a sewing project and because we just felt like a trip out (not to mention the late breakfast/early lunch at Haci Baba which was, of course, as excellent as always).

We met some tourists on the bus who had a wonderful app. on their phone which translated whatever language they were speaking into written Turkish.  I think the lady to whom they showed it was a bit …. puzzled by it!

We failed to take into account just how cold it would feel.  There was snow on the higher hills visible from our house and quite a lot more snow on Kaplan Dağ, as can be seen in the pictures.  We got some thread (and some almonds and some dates) and had an excellent lunch.  It was a good day out.  Then we headed back home to the warmth of the radiators and the wood burning stove.

We did find one travel site that maintains that in Turkey it is always ‘bikini weather’.  Then can, with all due respect, keep their bikinis.

Tire-market-in-the-snow

How not to do it yourself

A few weeks back we changed the lock on the back house, a good thing because the lock that was on the external door was not exactly secure. It was what is termed a vanity lock, one key fits all. So anyone could have gone to the hardware store bought a matching lock or spare key and opened the door. One key fits all.

So we changed it. However the only way the new lock including handle would fit was upside down. Not ideal, but at least the lock was secure.

With time on our hands and it being too hot to do much, we decided that correcting the upside down door handles and lock would be a good idea. At the same time we though it worthwhile getting someone to come and look at our fridge door, it seemed not to seal properly.

So we got back home with new lock fittings and an appointment one hour later for some guys to look at the fridge door.  Ashley started to dismantle the lock on the back house door.  All was going well. Famous last words: Ashley decided to show Hilary a problem with what happens when the lock mechanism is inverted so the handles will be the right way round. Hilary could not see the problem, Hilary has spatial issues. So Ashley decided to demonstrate by closing the door. Bad move.

With the mechanism inverted and loose we could not refit the handle. Hence we could not open the door. So we were stuck inside the back house. Credit cards, screwdrivers, all manner of things were tried. All failed.

And in half an hour we had people booked to look at the fridge door.

Not good.

Ashley removed the iron window bars and got out. It really was the only way out. We should at some point replace those screws so the bars cannot be so easily removed but right now we are not complaining.

There is however a certain irony about having to break out of ones own home.

It got us out of the back house in time to meet the guys booked to sort out the fridge door. Fortunately the fridge in question is in the front house. They came looked at the fridge door, pronounced that it was not the door seals but that the door hinge had dropped. So they took the doors off, used some washers to raise the door, refitted everything and all is now working properly. Callout, work and stuff was 40 lira, just over a tenner UK.

Meanwhile Ashley was still busy attacking the door to the back house trying to get it open. And failing.

So we called a friend, who sent a locksmith. He arrived within half an hour. Initially he tried everything Ashley had tried, and like Ashley he failed. Ashley was watching, thinking, I tried that, but it is always better to say nothing, it would never have been believed.

Anyway, after half an hour or so, he got it open.

He then insisted on dismantling the lock mechanism, inverting parts, and reassembling, something Ashley is perfectly capable of doing. Ashley is not sure whether this is locksmith professionalism or “you stupid foreigner”. Either way, after another half hour everything was fitted, no longer upside down and working perfectly. The cost? 30 Lira. Cannot complain, and maybe there is sense in letting someone else do the work in the first place.

Fabric Mosaics

 

01-Türkçe-Afis-0101-Ingilizce-Afis-01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretty well as soon as we got home from Greece came the opening of the Patchwork Exhibition at the Belediye Museum, known rather grandly as the Selçuk Efes Collective Memory Centre.  It is, in fact, a gloriously restored old stone building on three levels.  Certainly worth a visit!

Anyway, the opening was very successful.  We’re not sure how many people came along, but it was certainly more than 100.  We were greeted and congratulated by the Deputy Mayor and received a great many compliments.

Hilary is one of four women who have been involved in this.  She’s the one who has only been doing patchwork for a year so her technique is deficient and she only has three finished pieces to show (plus one work-in-progress which she will continue to stitch during her sessions ‘on duty’ at the museum).

Some of these photos were taken by our friends Şükriye and Annette.

 

Carmina Burana at Ephesus Theatre

Concert-a

The opportunity to see any performance in the great theatre at Ephesus is not to be missed and, on Friday night, the Izmir State Orchestra were giving a grand finale performance of Carmina Burana.  Not, perhaps, our first choice of music, but a great chance for the artists to showcase their talents.

We walked to the venue, breaking our journey with a pre-theatre dinner of gözleme at Seven Sleepers.  Then, once we approached Ephesus, it became apparent that the event would be very well attended.  The carpark was even more packed than it is when four cruise ships are in Kuşadası at the same time.  People were having to park on the approach roads.

The site itself was lit up and we were swept along with the crowd – the atmosphere was festive and electric – much as it must have been in the city’s heyday.  Once we got to the theatre we found plenty of people we recognised and, much to our surprise, managed to find our friends in the crowd.

The theatre has a capacity of over 20,000 seats and, although the top part is inaccessible, it is still able to seat a great many people.  We couldn’t estimate how many were there, but it did seem like ‘an awful lot of people’.   Many of whom were watching through their phones or tablets or other handheld devices.  At least, we think, most people silenced their phones and the many children present were well-behaved.  Many of them fell asleep…

The performance started with speeches and a minute’s silence for the victims of Soma mine disaster.  The acoustics are remarkable – we heard every note in great detail.  And the atmosphere was… incomparable.