Tag Archives: Neighbours


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.


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.


peaches1Recently we have been eating on our roof terrace.  It’s just too hot inside and the back terrace table is not big enough to house dinner (we manage for breakfast and snacks).  As it is Ramazan and our roof is very overlooked, we do not eat until Iftar.  That’s currently around 20:40 here.

Yesterday, a neighbour called us over and passed a bowlful of peaches and apples from her orchard over the wall that separates our roof terraces.  Today, as a consequence, Hilary made a slightly unplanned cake.

Our neighbours were not on their roof tonight but, after dinner and taking out the bin, Hilary found them in their courtyard and handed over half a peach cake.  In return she got a plastic bag containing over a kilo (5) huge peaches.Peaches

And, the next morning, whilst we were discreetly eating breakfast on the back terrace, a neighbour from across the road, came round with more than a kilo of peaches.

That is how things are here.  Wonderful!

Camaşir makinesi yeni gibi

Of course we are concerned about events.  Events here in Turkey, events in Syria, the health of Nelson Mandela and so on.   For us and others life goes on.  The day to day routine, work, dealing with what life throws our way.

Our washing machine was getting very noisy.  We knew there was a problem but had been ignoring it.  More recently it started to sound more like a jet taking off, loud enough that our neighbours commented on it, they asked if there was a problem with it.  Suitably shamed we decided the washing machine really needed to be properly assessed as either on its death bed or in need of life-saving attention.

There is a place in town which has loads of old washing machines outside, and obviously repairs and maintains them, so we dropped by and explained the problem.   They took our address and phone number, and said they would call in about an hour.  We rapidly did a bit of shopping and hurried home, only just in time, they arrived minutes after us.  They looked at the washing machine, pronounced it alive but in need of repair.  They said it needed a new ‘kazan’.  We nodded knowingly and later, looked it up in the dictionary.  It means cauldron.  They told us they needed to take the machine  away to investigate further, beyond the obviously worn out bearings.

We had a phone call an hour or so later saying it would be back with us in the evening, and quoting a very reasonable price.  Sure enough that evening the washing machine was returned, cleaned, polished and looking like new.  They fitted it, ran it to show us how quiet is was, explained we should run lemon salt through it at times to keep the pipes open.

Later our neighbours asked if we had bought a new washing machine.  No, Hilary said, but it is like new.

Summer is Coming

Most evenings it is staying above 18C in the house without any heating, so we decided we no longer need the wood soba.  It if gets cooler (and there probably will be some cold nights) we have plenty of other heating options, but we can dispense with burning wood.  Today we cleaned the flue, a messy task, soot gets everywhere, and put the remaining wood away.  As a result of using a wood stove the walls need a wipe down and a lick of fresh paint, this will get done over the next week or so.

Whilst we were cleaning the flue and packing wood away our neighbours decided it was a good day to gather in their garden and cook outside, their first such event of the year. We therefore had to stop work late morning to eat gözleme and be social, and then mid-afternoon another enforced break for kısır and coffee, followed by reading of the coffee grounds.   Apparently we are going to come into lots of money, go travelling on a plane and a boat, attend a wedding and so on.  Odd that, we are going to a wedding on Saturday, and we are planning a trip to Greece in the summer which would cover the boat part.  It goes to show the coffee readings are never wrong!

The swallows have returned, more are arriving every day.  For the last few days there has been one on the wire outside our house.  It might be one of the pair from last year, they nested next door and raised several broods.  Today there was a pair, singing together, investigating the nest from last year.  It is good to hear them, good to see them, and good to know the rising number of flying insects is going to be hunted and eaten.


I wonder where the concrete is

purple-plantWe had a wonderful three days traveling about in warm sunshine, a couple of days on the bike and then a trip to Izmir for shopping and seeing a friend.  We were going to do a blog post on spring flowers but it seems spring comes earlier in Muğla.  It is definitely spring.  On Monday we saw a stork over Pamucak, our first of the year.

Inevitably the warmth ended with black skies, bright flashes, rumbling thunder, torrential rain and power cuts.

The sun has now returned but it is colder.  This morning some men appeared and fixed a metal support to the base of our stairs.  Then the marble man came round to be paid.  We decided to do some preparations for summer, painting in the back house, and a bit of spring cleaning.  Today Ashley fixed the bracket holding the soba pipe to the wall of the terrace and did a few other bits around the place.  Meanwhile across the road, some people arrived and started measuring the empty lot (the house was demolished last year).  Then some workmen came with a load of wood beams and boards.  This was followed by one enormous concrete pump and two mixers.

There was a bitneighbours-watch-the-concre of drama around where to park the concrete pump, but eventually on the third attempt it was resolved.  Most of the neighbourhood came out to watch the proceedings.  The pump  could only be remote-controlsecured at the top of the street, so the pipe had to go right over a neighbour’s house and yard.   A man with a remote control skilfully lined everything up correctly.  Then the concrete started to flow.  When it is dry it will leave a level surface for building on.  It might take some time, the lot was not flat, the concrete-spreadingconcrete is ankle deep at one end and at least a meter deep at the other.  The wooden boards held back what must be a massive weight of wet concrete, we had visions of the stuff flowing down the street.

Our new Kitchen – Part 2

Back from the UK our priority was to get the kitchen finished.  Apart from anything else it would be getting cold soon and the hole in the wall would not aid keeping warm.

The first step was to get the extractor hood moved to the right height to fit the flue.  For this we were told we needed to go back to Beko and get their people to do it, otherwise we would invalidate the warranty.  So we did.  We went to their retail outlet and explained what was needed, in Turkish since very little English is spoken there.  There was initially some concern because there is a minimum height the hood must be from the stove top.  We managed to explain that lowering the hood would not be a problem, the hood had been mounted well above the minimum of 75cm (or standard as it is known here).  The engineers came around later that day, moved the hood to the right height, and fitted the flue.

This left getting the hole filled in, tidying the wiring, and of course there was some paintwork which needed touching up.  Ashley really must remember that even when only using small amounts of paint it is a good idea to change into decorating clothes.

We showed the hole in the wall to your neighbour.  He is a master builder so we hoped he would be able to solve the problem.  He agreed with us that it could not be filled from the inside without taking out the cupboards and that doing this would create further problems with the flue.  He looked at it from outside, the problem there being the hole is high, about 6 metres from street level.  He did not seem to think this would be a problem, agreed he could fill the hole, mentioned something which turned out to mean scaffold, and fixed a time and date.  Pretty much all of this was done in Turkish, he speaks various other languages, including German and Arabic, but not English.

Come the day it turned out that what he meant by scaffold was a long ladder which he spent an hour or so making out of planks and other pieces of wood, a bit like a siege ladder.  Once made and in place, up went a couple of buckets, and various tools.  Before long the hole was filled with a few bricks, everything cemented in, and the grille replaced.  Our neighbour then took the siege ladder apart, saving the wood for whatever task it is next needed for.

Hilary provided lemon drizzle cake which seemed to be appreciated, and we now have a draft free kitchen.

Recycling a House

Some weeks ago work started on demolishing a house across the street from us.  First of all everything removable was removed.  Absolutely everything, when finished there was nothing but walls, floor and roof.  We guess much of it was sold or recycled, wire, asbestos, ceramics, window frames, metalwork, wood, it was all taken away.

Then the demolishing started.  Initially this was guys on the flat roof with lump hammers.  They knocked the concrete roof through, leaving the metalwork in place.  This took a couple of days.  Then the metal was all cut out, and carted away, presumably for a good price.

The next step was knocking down all the walls.  Between the concrete supports was brickwork, the bricks were all knocked out , cleaned up a little and piled to one side.  Over subsequent days the bricks were loaded into trailers and carted away.  Then we assume a JCB was used to knock down the concrete framework, we missed what exactly happened, but there was at the end of the process more metal being recycled.

Eventually all that was left was rubble and some fairly substantial pieces of concrete.  We pitied the immediate neighbours who were living next door to all of this.  One of them had clearly used the abutting wall as part of their home, so they now had a huge empty space were a wall was.  With all the dust and rubble pretty much all they could do was hang a tarpaulin and wait.  It must have been awful for them.

As we were leaving to go to Ayvalık another JCB arrived.  We thought to ourselves that we had picked a very good time to go away.  When we got back the remains of the house were gone, there was nothing left, just flat ground.  The immediate neighbours had bought some new bricks and a load of cement.  They now have a new wall, have been working on this for the last couple of days.

We guess that at some point building will start on the new house.  The word is that permission has been given for a two story house, so consistent with the street, and will not block the view from our roof terrace.  Of course we will have to wait and see what really gets built.  Of note is that during the demolishing virtually everything other than concrete rubble got sold and recycled.  We would not be surprised if somewhere along the line the rubble got sold and used for something.


Mulberry Sauce

Our neighbour very kindly gave us a large bowl full of mulberries, dut in Turkish.  These were of the white variety, in our view not as tasty as the red or black ones which make really nice jam.  We did consider trying to make jam with them but in the end thought better of it.  We thought about making some sort of fruit cordial but without very fine filtration it would remain cloudy so rejected that idea.  So we thought why not turn them into a fruit sauce, the sort that could be used to glaze meat or added to stews.  We tested out the result as a glaze for chicken along with some pul biber and the result was delicious.

The recipe
None of the quantities are in the least bit critical.
Wash large bowl full of mulberries, a kilo or so, and put into a pan along with a small quantity of water.  Bring to the boil and simmer in a closed pan for an hour or so, until all the fruit has gone soft.  Pour the berries and liquid into a sieve and crush the berries to obtain as much liquid as possible.  Strain through a finer sieve.   Return the liquid to a pan, add some lemon juice and sugar, we used juice of one lemon and half a tablespoon of sugar to approximately a kilo of fruit.  Reduce the liquid by 75% or more.  Bottle and store until needed.

Locally the raw syrup would be reduced down further, and thickened to the consistency of molasses.  This would be dut pekmez.

Our neighbour has a whole tree full of white mulberries so if anyone has any good recipes or things to do with them….   It would be appreciated.

Building Season

It is definitely building season.  In summer it is too hot (and, in some tourist areas, building is forbidden) and in autumn and winter it can be very rainy.  A house almost precisely across the road from us is being demolished.  The method for this is to stand on the roof and hit it with a lump hammer till it caves in.  All metal work and bricks are being carefully preserved – they will be recycled when the house is rebuilt (we have heard that they want a 2 storey house).  The roof has gone now and they have started on the walls… 

We have written about noise here before.  The demolition is a rhythmic thumping – fairly loud, but not particularly bothersome.  Next door, though, they are using a circular saw to carve channels in the walls of their newly built third storey so that they can run electricity into the space (and, we think, plumbing).  This is the wall that is right up against our back house.   It is a horrible, horrible noise and it’s been going on for most of the past two days.

We have been going out as much as possible.  Lunch on the beach at Pamucak today and going out for a beer in the evenings has not really been too great a sacrifice.

Spring cleaning part I

Following disappointment over the bike in Uşak, we are looking at other possibilities and have arranged to see a couple of bikes very soon.  Flights to Istanbul and hotels have been booked.  This is very exciting!  We are also very much looking forward to being in Istanbul, it is a wonderful city.

Last week we had three days in a row of warm and sunshine.

The buds on our neighbour’s fruit-of-some-sort tree are green, there is blossom on it, the birds and busily making more birds, and at least two storks have arrived and are maintaining nests on the aqueduct.

We are busily maintaining our home.  The back house, which we did not heat all winter, is being painted on the outside and in.  The living room and bedroom have been painted; wall hangings have been washed and put back in place.  Pictures have been repositioned.

The sun was warm; our neighbours were out and about, making the street a lively place once more.  Sitting inside we could hear several conversations and at least one radio playing Turkish music.  On Sunday there were drums – possibly a wedding but not, on this occasion, a nearby street wedding.

We both had solar heated showers – the water pressure is lower than the boiler heated shower and it’s hard to adjust the temperature, but the water was warm enough and we were warm enough.  One evening this week we didn’t need to light the soba.  Well, maybe we don’t need to light the soba, it’s just more comfortable with it lit.

We’ve seen  Mars, Venus  and Jupiter in the sky just after dusk, and on one occasion Mercury as well.  There are loads of bats in the evenings.  Later after nightfall, Orion is riding high.

And now for the last two days it’s been  grey again.  At least it’s not so cold and, although the grey is dismal, we still get the feeling that winter is over.