Category Archives: Review

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”.

2012 – A Review Part 4 – October to December

October

Back in Selçuk we had the rear wheel looked at again.  As suspected it was badly worn and needed to be replaced.  The advice was to be very careful with it, don’t go too fast, and avoid all potholes, and get a new wheel as soon as possible.

October was also the month we heard about a new law which permits foreigners   to obtain a Museum Card – they give free access to pretty much every museum and archaeological site in the country.  Since buying the cards which are valid for a year we have made a great deal of use of them and strolling through Ephesus has become a regular occurrence.

We had a coLake2uple of really good days out with friends. The most spectacular was to Lake Bafa and Kapıkırı.

The broken wheel was an unplanned expense just as we started to have some alterations made to the kitchen.  New cupboards, and a cooker hood / extractor.  This involved taking out the old extractor fan and having a carpenter make new cupboards to match the old ones.  There were some delays to the work, we needed to get a second carpenter and as a result the cupboards only got fitted the day before we left for the UK.  This meant we would need to have the rest done when we got back.

Then it was off to the UK to see family and to Dublin to see friends, and to pick up a new wheel for the bike.

November

We had the kitchen finished as soon as we got back.  This involved having the extractor hood moved to the right height for the new units and the pipe properly fitted througDavlumbaz-lowered-with-fingh the wall, and getting a neighbour to help fill in the resulting hole in the wall.  It was starting to get cold, the last thing we wanted was a hole in the kitchen wall for the wind to come straight through.  Of course when the work was all done there was decorating to do.  It has very much been worth the hassle and expense, the kitchen is greatly improved.

Equally in need of attention was getting the new wheel fitted.  The wheel went on the bus to Izmir along with Hilary and Ashley carefully rode the bike.  We had a couple of hours to kill whilst the wheel was being fitted so wandered around Izmir and had lunch.

Over the month we gradually moved into the front house and then closed down the back house for winter.  We started using the high quality wood (we bought a tonne of it earler) in the soba.  We now know we must not use the extractor when the soba is lit, and so far have had no problems at all with the soba.

The local nonsense about the end of the world started.  There was talk about only Şirince and a village in France being saved from some sort of apocalypse brought about by the end of the Mayan Long Count.  It is a count, a measure of time, when it ends a new one starts, but we guessed it would be good for the local economy.

December

The apocalypse thing got increasingly out of hand.  People started to get concerned about safety.  Rumours of thousands of people converging on Şirince started.  Come the day there was a massive media circus, loads of police and emergencySirince2 services present, and access to the village was being restricted on safety grounds.  We took a stroll up there by way of the forest roads, just to see what was going on.  The village was packed but not much more than is normal for a Sunday in summer.  In the end it was all a bit on a non-event and as expected nothing else happened.

We bought two new radiators to help us stay warm.  High tech things, made in Sweden, they seem excellent.  They were also incredibly easy to fit.

We learnt that the KGS card we have for the toll roads is being phased out.  The other system, OGS does not work for bikes because it works on front number plate recognition.  A new system called HGS was being introduced, this works on a bar code recognition when approaching the toll booths.  The sticker with the bar code is meant to be mounted on a forward facing surface, a windscreen.  We now have the sticker with the bar card mounted on a card and plan to hold it forward when approaching tolls.  We have not as yet tried this out, December was cold and we had no pressing reason to hit the motorway to Izmir.

We did a lot of social things, in particular towards the end of the month.  Meeting friends in Izmir and Selçuk, evening gatherings, the usual stuff for this time of year.

2012 – A Review Part 3 – July to September

July

Come July the weather was getting really hot.  July and August are not months Boats-at-Ahmetbeylifor strenuous activity.  When we had nothing else to do we took to heading to the beach at around 4pm and cooling down in the sea for a couple of hours.  We continued to do this through August, making use of beaches at Pamucak, Ahmetbeyli, and Claros.

We were aware that the islands were likely to be cooler, and Hilary had never been to Santorini, so a trip to Greece happened.  We got the bus to Marmaris and hopped on a ferry to Rhodes.  A week later we came back on the ferry from Kos to Bodrum.  The trip was a lot of fun, an overnight stay in Rhodes, then on to Crete.  After a couple of days in Chania, from whence we walked SamaGorge-1ria Gorge which was amazing, we moved on to Heraklion visited the museum which is being redeveloped, and then on to Santorini.  We went to Akrotiri, the museum with the murals, hired a quad ATV, stuffed ourselves on Santorini Fava, and generally did the tourist thing.  We even managed to find a reasonably priced restaurant with ‘the’ view.

Ramazan started in July and went on into August.  We were not fasting, but many people around us were. It must have been pretty tough for those fasting, the days were hot and very long.  The beach at Ahmetbeyli was a lot quieter, it is pretty hard to swim and avoid getting seawater in your mouth.  We generally avoided eating on the roof terrace until after sunset, not really a problem, if was a lot cooler and more pleasant for eating after sunset.

August

By early August we decided that we wanted a portable air conditioning unit for the back house.  It was day after day of temperatures around 37C, and remaining really hot at night.  It took us a little while to get the unit we wanted, there were delivery problems, but eventually it arrived.  We mostly used it at night, to help us sleep.

For us the beach remained the place to be in the late afternoon, a chance to get a break from the heat.

We took another trip south to the Mediterranean coast.  To Uçağız which is spectacular.  We walked to Kaleköy, not far, but in the blistering heat i180812Bt was tough enough.  We chartered a boat to take us to Kekova and to various other places (mostly swimming places).  We shared the boat with two really pleasant French tourists who like us wanted no music.  We swam, snorkelled in some amazingly clear water, walked to Aperlae – it was a fantastic day out.

Later in August on of Ashley’s crowns fell out.  We went back to the local dentist who had fixed it the last time.  The problem was that the tooth beneath it had broken so the solution was not going to be so simple.  We were given various options and various costs for the options.  In the end we opted for having a whole load of work done, very much the same as what was planned on the NHS before we left the UK, crowns and bridges. This work went on for a few weeks, it was traumatic, but worth it.

September

Remaining on health issues, in September we became eligible to buy into the state health insurance scheme.  For us this represented very good value, because the one policy covers both of us.  It did mean that once again we had to go through the bureaucracy of state, was a couple of days of running back and forth to Tire and offices in Selçuk.

We got a phone call from the police inviting us to attend the police station in relation to Ashley’s application for a Turkish driving licence which he made last June.  We went, filled out some more forms, Ashley had a blood test for grouping, paid some charges at the tax office, and the back to the police station for fingerprints.  A day later we were called again and told the licence was ready for collection. Ashley now has 2 driving licences, his UK one and his new Turkish one.  Unlike the UK one it is for life.

Frank, a friend of ours had by chance booked a last minute week in Gumbet.  He abandoned Gumbet for a few days and came to stay with us.  We showed him around Ephesus and did a few other tourist bits.

We contracted a local builder to convert our basement into a garage.   The work was done over a weekend because during the week he was busy doing restoration work on the castle.  The window was moved, a new door fitted, and a ramp made for the bike.  It is a much more sensible use of this space and made us clear a load of stuff we had stored (dumped) in there.

Our last road trip of the year took place over late September and into October.  To Eğirdir.  We used Eğirdir as a base to visit Sagalassos, and had plansagalassos6ned at least one other trip out.  Sagalassos was amazing.  The other planned day trip ended up with us sat in the local sanayı having the rear wheel respoked.  Not what we had planned.  We will be going back to Eğirdir next year, there is more we want to see in the area and it is so beautifully located, the sunset over the lake was particularly good.

2012 – A Review. Part 1 – January to March

January

Our stuff finally arrived from the UK.  Late December we got a message from our shipping agency that our stuff was on its way.  They said that for import regulations we needed to have a stamp in our passports less than one month old, which resulted in a hastily organised and stormy trip to Chios and back.  So we went to Izmir, met the shipping agency and headed to customs.  It took all day, and in the end there was still more work to be done, a consignment before ours was being argued about.  We left it with our agents and a week or so later everything arrived.Our-stuff-arrived

We were like children at Christmas, unpacking boxes and finding great things.  Books, kilims, personal effects.  We rediscovered Madhur Jaffrey.

The arrival of books and stuff brought about a trip to IKEA in Izmir, we needed somewhere to put all the stuff which had arrived.  We had also used some cushions from IKEA furniture as packing for our boxes so we needed to go and get the chair frames.  We survived IKEA and had the shopping delivered, assembly then needed to happen.

We learnt a great deal about using a soba safely.  For a start the importance of keeping the chimney reasonably clear, tools for this are easily obtainable.  It is a messy job but pretty essential.  Equally important is having a carbon monoxide alarm just in case things to go badly wrong.  We have learnt more since like do not use an extractor fan in the same room as a lit soba.

We obtained some local private health insurance.  Our entitlement to NHS was over, or about to end.  We probably could have gone back to the UK and got treatment, both of us worked in the NHS, we knew what to say and what to not say, but we felt it was a far better plan to get something locally especially since we were starting to plan to buy a motorcycle.

February

It snowed twice.  Once early in the month and once at the end.  We knew it got cold in winter, and that it is possible to go skiing in mountains an hour or so away, but had not expected snow this close to sea level.  There were children and adults on the street playing snowballs – some of the children had never experienced snow before.  The snow did not hang around, but parts of the month were bitterly cold.  Due to the cold we had to buy more firewood, a friend recommended a place in the sanayı, the wood was more expensive but better quality.  Unsurprisingly the better quality wood caused fewer problems with the soba.

On a warmer day when the sun was shining we took a trip down to Pamucak beach.  We were rewarded by flamingos-clearseeing flamingos on migration.  They were spectacular to watch but sadly not keen to allow us close enough for decent photographs.

Continuing with the theme of getting a motorcycle we had the steps to the side of the house turned into a ramp and paved, and a new gate fitted.  We had longer term plans to turn the basement into a garage but were not in a hurry to do this.

March

After the possibility of buying a bike in Usak fell though we had a couple to go and look at in Istanbul.  We adore Istanbul so a trip there was never going to be onerous, but it did involve a lot of hanging about in the cold and rain, and one evening as we were walking across the hippodrome the rain turned to sleet and then to snow.  After we saw the bike we liked we spent a lot of time hanging out in coffee houses whilst paperwork was being attended to.  Finally everything was in place so we took a trip with the owner to a Noter to do the sale.  It was lots of messing about, the first Noter did not want to do it, the second one was far more helpful.  A translator was needed, so more hanging about waiting for one to arrive.

Eventually it was all sorted, we became the owners and Şadi had a load of money.  By way of celebration we had lunch with Şadi at his place of worA-tight-squeezek and he pointed out to us various staff from NTV.  Given how cold it was we then arranged for Bosphorus Harley Davidson to ship the bike to us and headed for the airport to get a flight home.

We then had to sort out loads of paperwork for the bike.  A dossier of documents to take to the police in Izmir, to have foreigner plates made up linked to my name and the vehicle.  We had the dossier made up in Selçuk, there are people who specialise in this work – very much recommended.  Once we had the plate from Izmir there was basic insurance, and some more comprehensive cover to arrange.  It was a lot of running around.

We did a couple of really spectacular walks with Zirve Dağcılık.  One trocks-scaleo Nazarköy and one to the mountains between Lake Bafa and Milas.  We had done some  walking earlier in the year, on our own and nearer to Selçuk.  The weather was warming up and the rains less frequent, so conditions for walking were getting better and better.

We arranged to have a couple of our kilims repaired.  This took longer than expected but eventually they came back.  The work was good.  We then took a load to be cleaned, they had been used in London where there was no decent and realistically priced service to get them cleaned, then they got packed in our boxes, stored and transported.  With the sun shining it was time to get them properly cleaned.  It made a massive difference, and revealed colours we had never seen before.