Tag Archives: Kayaköy

A Dog’s Life

We’ve not really posted much for a while, and there’s been a good reason. Something tragic happened in our little family and it’s taken time to come to terms with it.

We didn’t want to blurt it out but neither did we want to ignore it, and writing about other events in our lives just didn’t seem important.

Now, as we enter a new chapter, it feels like the right time to explain.

Our two dogs, Fidget and Fifi, weren’t perfect and it’s fair to say they gave us some challenges. But they were also our ‘Princess Pups’ – they enriched our lives and we loved them dearly.

Fidget

Fidget

fifi

Fifi

When we lost them back in May, it hit us all hard. Small though they were, the hole they left was huge. Without going into too much detail, high winds brought down power cables into puddles left as a result of a nearby pool being drained. On a walk one morning, the pups reached the live puddles first….

Anyone who’s lost a pet knows how traumatic it can be. It didn’t help that we were all apart at the time – Steve and Emma in the UK for Em’s exams, and me at home alone. We all agreed we couldn’t even think about another dog, that we needed time to get used to being at home without ‘the girls’ bouncing around.

Then I saw the photograph on Facebook. ‘Dave’ was a young German Shepherd who was found by holidaymakers. He was in a bad way and only had the use of three legs due to a break in the fourth that had fused as it mended. He’d been living on the streets and, although they were looking after him, they were leaving in a few days. ‘Dave’ needed a home, somewhere he could rest and recuperate.

I felt torn. Part of me didn’t feel ready to take on another dog, but I kept returning to his picture, looking at his face. “Help me,” his eyes seemed to beg.

After a couple of days I mentioned it to Steve and we agreed we would take him in, albeit on a temporary basis. Two days later, we brought him home. He was quiet and unsure of himself, but so gentle and trusting. He didn’t know how to play and was unaccustomed to treats. He didn’t like having eye drops administered – he had an infection – but he didn’t make a fuss while we did it. He’d sit patiently outside the door waiting for food. He accepted a collar and lead, but a short walk up the lane was quite enough to tire him out.

That was three months ago. And now?

The new boy in our lives - darling Dillon.

The new boy in our lives – darling Dillon.

He’s enjoying two walks a day of 5-6km each, and half the time he’s up for more. He loves shoes and regularly steals them off the racks outside the front door – he doesn’t chew them, just hides them in his secret stash. His favourite game is ‘fetch’ with a squeaky rubber ball, though more often he runs off with it to do a victory lap of the garden. He’s started to use his bad leg to walk and play, and can even jump easily – if not gracefully – into the back of our Land Rover. He loves other dogs and people; he’s kind and friendly and has the sweetest temperament, as well as a cheeky, mischievous streak. Essentially, now he’s safe and cared for, his body can use its energy to recover, rather than just survive.

We’ve renamed him, as ‘Dave’ just didn’t seem to fit. He’s now ‘Dillon’ – or Dill. We always said we’d have a dog called Dill – and anyone who remembers The Herb Garden will recall he was Parsley’s best friend.

He’s carved out his own niche in our home and our hearts, so much so that we’ve decided to adopt him for good. We did wonder if we were doing the right thing – not because we don’t love him or aren’t certain we want him, but because, in our little backwater, he’s not popular with the villagers.

His breed, the way he looks, means he’s automatically regarded with fear and suspicion. The locals are convinced he’s a vicious killing machine that will decimate their flocks and probably rip out their children’s throats. Even though he’s always on a lead and barely gives livestock a passing glance as we go by, a couple of steps towards them has people almost leaping into the bushes to escape this fearsome menace.

We do worry, when we walk him, that he’ll sniff out poisoned meat and eat it without us noticing. Somebody could even come to our house when we leave him – though we don’t, very often – and feed it to him through the gate, or even shoot him. It happens, sadly.

But we’ve decided that we’re his best option and we’re delighted he’s going to be a permanent member of the family. The girls are forever in our hearts, but there’s space for him too.

It’s good to have a dog again.

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The Tale of My Pants and “The Hounds From Hell” …

Fidget and Fifi - The

Fidget and Fifi – The “hounds from hell”

Dogs were never part of the master plan. For a start, when we arrived in Turkey just over a year ago, two cats travelled with us and they had made their utter disdain for all things canine abundantly clear.

However, that was before our landlord unexpectedly ambushed our daughter with a puppy while Bec and I were out shopping one day, (https://theparsleysabroad.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/puppy-love) and before another bundle of blonde fur decided to camp on our doorstep until we lost the will to stop her moving in last Christmas Eve.

We’ve done our best with them since then. They’ve had all their shots, they’ve made their dining requirements clear (only chicken with dog biscuits and gravy will do), they get walked every day and they have bossed the cats out of their favourite sleeping spots which they now inhabit in typical untidy heaps. To be honest, we thought we were doing okay …

Then in April I met the owner of the summer season accommodation and restaurant on the northern boundary of our garden while I was walking them one day.

“Are these your dogs?” he asked with the kind of smile which usually precedes some complimentary comment about how cute they are.

“Yes,” I replied as they gambolled about his legs trying to chew his shoelaces. “Sorry; they’re still just puppies really.”

“Yes, we love your dogs – but you will have to stop them barking,” he said, suddenly fixing me with a deadpan stare.

“I’m sorry – they do get a bit excited when they meet someone new….”

“No. I mean you must stop them barking all the time. I have a business next door to your house and they disturb my guests all the time. I pay my taxes. We are going to have to agree what you do about them.”

To be frank, the sudden accusation that I was the owner of two hounds from hell came so much out of the blue I wasn’t sure what to say next.

“Um … They are dogs and they are going to bark sometimes, like all the other dogs in the village,” I heard myself saying.

“No. Your dogs make all the other dogs in the village bark. Your dogs bark all the time so you have to make them stop. Maybe you come to my house for coffee and we can talk about it more…”

I’ll admit that at that point there had been two or three nights over the past six months when I’d had to get out of bed in the early hours to tap noses and wag a stern finger in front of furry faces after half an hour of yapping at shadows, but suggesting our two were solely responsible for the nightly cacophony across the whole village seemed a bit rich, especially coming from someone only resident in the area for the summer months. Nevertheless, sensing I wasn’t going to win this particular argument, I said something non-committal, made my excuses and decided to consult our neighbour – and one of the village bigwigs – Tommy later. I didn’t need to wait though. Within an hour of me returning home and discussing our dilemma with Bec, the phone rang.

“Stiv … It’s Tommy.”

“Hi Tommy. I was going to call you actually….

“Was it about your dogs?”

“Erm …. Yes. How did you know that?”

“The man near you. He called me. He says your dogs bark all the time. You will have to make them stop or he will call the Jandarma (the local police). If you still don’t stop them, he will throw poison over the fence. You don’t need this so you must stop dogs barking …”

“And how do you suggest I do that? It takes time to train dogs to stop barking. You can’t just switch them off… I’ll do what I can now I know it’s a problem but ours are no worse than half a dozen other dogs up the lane. They all bark as well. And what about the cockerels, the peacocks, the sheep, the cows? This is a village. There’s always a noise somewhere.

“While you have dogs, you will always have trouble,” added Tommy ominously.  “It’s up to you but you have to stop them barking or people in the village can make trouble for you.”

He was proved right – at least to an extent. The same complainant has since left a terse note on our gate after we had tea with friends reasoning, as it wasn’t late, the dogs would be fine on our balcony for an hour or so.  We have also had a visit from the village head man – sent by the same neighbour – who instructed us to stop our dogs barking “all the time”, even though we’ve since had considerable success with reward-based training which has limited outbreaks of barking to no more than a handful, usually provoked by lost tourists riding up to our gates on noisy quad bikes. On another occasion, I found the dogs being deliberately provoked into a frenzy before I could reach them by an old man from another neighbouring property poking a stick though the gate and waggling it about in front of them.

With this in the background and our status as “guests” in Turkey apparently at stake, we have been forced to resort to English habits and have kept the dogs inside at night almost since the summer season began.

I was therefore horrified the other night when, after Bec and I had gone to bed, our daughter returned home from a meal out with the two teenage holidaymakers she has befriended and accidentally released the dogs into the garden at midnight.

Such had been our recent success with training them, any late-night barking has been reduced to a flurry of yaps before the dogs have remembered themselves and resorted to merely wagging tails and excited sniffing of hands and shoes. However, this time, something clearly alarmed them as I heard them run full pelt into the darkness of the orchard, barking hysterically as though our lives were in dire peril.

Without thinking, I was out of bed, down the stairs and in the garden. At that point, my only concern was warnings of poison, the visit from the head man, and possible “trouble” from villagers who, for all I knew, could soon be at our gates with pitchforks and burning torches demanding our immediate expulsion from Kayaköy.

It was only when I hurtled onto the porch and down the short flight of steps into the garden that I wished I’d also considered some additional clothing. Dressed in nothing more than what I can only describe as saggy, unflattering but comfortable pyjama shorts, I was confronted by two teenage girls and their parents, hopping from one foot to another as two excited dogs barked around their ankles.

Presented with four complete strangers turning up at their house in the middle of the night, the dogs were giving it the works, backing off to circle them and then darting in with upturned faces to bark shrilly and excitedly at any sudden movement.

With my distinct lack of decency in mind, I tried to persuade the family to walk briskly towards the house, bringing the dogs into range where I hoped our daughter would be able to intervene and bring them in – but to no avail. It quickly became evident the only way to quell the noise quickly would be to stride masterfully up the drive and assert some authority.

It worked on the dogs. One recognised the tone of my voice and was back inside like a shot. The other retreated into the vegetable garden and rolled over on her back, showing her tummy as an apology and awaiting collection. It only took a few seconds to make the detour from the drive, pick her up in my arms with some stern admonishments and then carry her back to the house.

However, those few seconds were probably more than enough for the bemused family. I left Bec to call an apology and a farewell from the house as I strode back in, contrite dog under one arm, and unflattering bottom cleavage peeping out of the top of my shorts.

To date, I have no idea if our intolerant neighbour was in to hear the barking or if he intends to make another complaint. All I can do is hope karma or fate takes into account the excruciating embarrassment and decides that’s punishment enough…

SP

A Sign Of Embarrassment

Sign

A red-and-white sign at the top of our lane reads “Çıkmaz Sokak” and, as we knew “sokak” translates from Turkish as “street”, it was a natural assumption that adding our house number would give us the first line of our new address.

The rest was a little less obvious. With no postal deliveries made to individual homes in Kayaköy, we sort of got the impression you could more or less make up your own and if we’d gone with “The Lane Behind Cin Bal Restaurant, Follow It Until You Fall Off The End”, nobody would’ve raised an eyebrow. It seemed the only important bits were the name of the village and the district number; as long as they were included, our post would find its way to the local shop for collection.

The first indication that things are not quite as simple as that came when we were going through the residency procedure.  Our ever-helpful neighbour Tommy had volunteered to take our application forms to the village head man for the necessary sign of approval – but he was soon back:

“You have not filled in forms right,” he said. “This is not your address,” he added, pointing to the line faithfully filled in 47 Çıkmaz Sokak.

“Oh but it is … There’s even a new sign saying ‘Çıkmaz Sokak’ at the end of the road,” I said.

“I know. But it is not your address…” insisted Tommy. “You have to go to belediye in Fethiye and get it changed.”

“Eh? If it’s wrong – which I don’t think it is, by the way – can’t I just fill in a new form and start again?”

“No,” said Tommy gloomily. “Head man has seen it now so we must start with getting new address…”

We won’t bother with the details of what happened next. Let’s just say, after two days of form-filling, traipsing from one official building to another and smiling hopefully at stern-faced officials, the whole tortuous residency procedure was complete and the seals were put on our (ultimately successful) applications to live in Turkey. (If you’d like a bit more on that particular episode you could always read an earlier blog, The Day We Ran Headlong Into The Language Barrier).

However, the issue over the wrong address still baffled us – at least until our latest Turkish lesson at the weekend.

We’re on to verbs and teacher Bülent was explaining the verb “çıkmak”, which means “to exit” or “to leave”.

“Ah… So that means our road is the one which leaves the village,” I said somewhat triumphantly.

“No. Not really,” said Bülent. “‘Çıkmaz’ is not the same as `çıkmak’. I know it looks similar but ‘çıkmaz sokak’ means what you call a ‘dead end’ in English. Or maybe ‘no through road’.”

Yep. That’s right. For six months, I’ve been happily telling people we live at “No 47 No Entry”. Suddenly, all those odd or slightly pitying looks made a bit more sense. Tommy and the head man weren’t being obstructive either. By not really explaining why I had to change my application form, they were just trying to protect me from some future embarrassment.

I would like to end by recording my thanks to both – and by continuing to resist a powerful urge to crawl under something and hide.

In Praise of Wood Burners … Or Not

Wood burners are great, aren’t they?

After a long day, there’s nothing quite like flopping down in front of a cheery glow, watching the flames dance in intricate shapes while you sip a decent glass of red. Warmth radiates from the hearth and, while you wiggle your toes just a little nearer, the dog yawns and stretches luxuriously before settling again with a small sigh…

At least that’s the image most of us would have and it’s probably one the salesman would play on back in the UK where we already have central heating anyway. The thing is, in Turkey, most homes don’t have such luxuries. After all, it’s mostly blazing hot so why would you need to spend a fortune having a boiler and radiators installed, right?

Um … wrong.

Temperatures here this week have been below freezing more than once and, even when they haven’t, the sun has often been conspicuous by its absence. That means the log burner isn’t a luxury or an indulgence. It’s the most efficient and cheapest source of heat – but it also needs feeding. That means, as the summer season finishes in Kayaköy, the locals disappear into the woods with chainsaws.

At first, I quite liked the idea of self-sufficiency. We already had a huge pile of wood in the orchard so, rather romantically thinking of myself as Pa in Little House on The Prairie, I was looking forward to wielding a newly-acquired axe to cut it all to size. I reasoned that as long as I used dry days to wander down to the wood pile and chop enough for three or four nights, we’d be fine. There would be more than enough to last us through the worst of the winter.

It turns out I was wrong about that too.

I had no idea that a wood burner could have such a voracious appetite. Even before Christmas our stock was almost gone and I was wishing I’d used the warmer, drier weather in early October to head for the woods with everyone else. With no chainsaw of our own, we had to call in help.

“Yes. I fetch for you. How much you want?” asked our ever-helpful neighbour, Mehmet.

“Oh, I don’t know … As much as you can carry I suppose,” I replied, thinking he must know someone with a tractor and trailer.

Just two days later, I heard the toot of Mehmet’s scooter and, incredulously, watched him wobble down the drive with the first load of branches and small logs balanced between the fairing and seat.

“Er… thanks Mehmet, but I think I’ll be needing more than that,” I said, trying not to sound ungrateful.

“Yes, yes. I have more cut in woods. I bring it,” he said cheerily, disappearing after the few minutes it took to unload.

He was as good as his word too – even though he had to resort to the family car when the abused scooter’s drive shaft expired under the fourth load. Still, the replenished wood pile looked much healthier and I had no reason to doubt Mehmet’s assurance there would be enough to last a couple of months.

Turns out we were wrong about that too…

Just a fortnight later with the weather becoming increasingly hostile, we were getting dangerously close to the bottom of the pile again and I had to accept we were going to have to request a bulk delivery.

Reluctant to ask Mehmet to sacrifice another vehicle in the woods, we made the trip to Saffet’s place in nearby Hisarönu – a shop which not only seems to stock stuff impossible to find anywhere else but in numerous colours too.

“Yes, no problem… I can have a tonne delivered to your house; a mix of soft and hard wood,” Saffet confirmed. “You want it in bags?”

“No, that’s okay. Just get the guy to dump it on the drive. I’ll shift it under cover myself,” I said, still clinging to the Little House On The Prairie dream.

Three days later, after taking the delivery just as the light began to fade, I found myself moving a massive pile of logs from the drive to the lean-to next to the house by hand, in driving rain and gale-force winds in the dark…

Like I say, wood burners are great, aren’t they …?

Log burner

You can’t beat a decent log fire … or can you?

SP

Anyone for a Turkey dinner …?

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to relinquish your chair, dear boy,” said the gentleman in the fedora sitting opposite in a rich English accent which could have been cultivated in the halls of Eton.

“You see, there is absolutely no way on earth I could entertain the idea of eating an entire meal with my back to the door.”

“Gunfighter?” I asked with a smile.

“No, dear boy. Just something I learned in Morocco,” he replied without a hint of mirth.

As we duly swapped seats, I was thinking this was hardly a conventional introduction to the village’s ex-pat community  – albeit an intriguing one.

But then what had I been expecting? If I’m honest, I’m not sure…

We’d seen groups of Brits gathered in bars and restaurants of course, and we’d even been told by Turkish friends that if we wanted to make their acquaintance, then they always seemed to meet in the same places and at the same time every week.

From a distance, others we’d seen in bars and restaurants up and down the harbour in Fethiye during the summer looked to be close-knit groups; mostly retired, mostly deeply tanned by years in the Mediterranean sun and, I’m afraid to say, emanating that slightly superior attitude that as a race the British tend to use, particularly towards people in the service industry.

So when it became evident that most of Kayaköy’s ex-pat community would be attending the same (and only) restaurant in the village laying on a traditional turkey dinner on Christmas Day, I’ll admit to being a little apprehensive.

But despite the slightly unorthodox introduction, I needn’t have worried. Aside from his slightly Coward-esque demeanour, I found my closest fellow dinner guest entertaining, charming and a fascinating raconteur. Another retired couple sharing the same corner of the tiny “lokanta” also proved to be kind, patient with our lack of experience “in-country” and generous to a fault.

Indeed, in such an intimate setting, it was easy to forget the temperature was mid-20C outside, that tinsel and Christmas trees had been scant to say the least and that not a single TV ad so far had tried to persuade me to buy a three-piece suite.

We pulled crackers, read out dreadful jokes, ate far too much and, after a thoroughly enjoyable few hours, waddled out the door after bidding our hosts (both Muslim and Christian) a merry Christmas.

As we left, I glanced across to the tea house next door – a bastion redolent of Turkish tradition, card games, backgammon and cigarettes – which hardly seemed to register our paper party hats and slightly raucous farewells.

Sensing that indifference, it would’ve been easy to suddenly feel a long way from home; for family and friends in the UK to seem a long way away – and I can’t deny we have missed them.

But, instead, that sudden realisation of juxtaposition, the sudden contrast, underlined many of the things which inspired us to try life in a different country in the first place.

Christmas is about family and friends, about reconnecting. But it’s also about giving thanks for what we have – and, at that moment, I was grateful all over again for that sense of adventure which brought us here six months ago.

Christmas dinner

The rest of the Parsleys tucking into a traditional turkey dinner. Merry Christmas!

SP

It’s Not Unusual – But I Blame Tom Jones

IMG_1695

The “ghost village” above Kayakoy

Perched on the side of the mountain overlooking the valley, Kayaköy’s “ghost village” attracts visitors from all over the world.

The population exchange in the early 1920s saw the original Greek settlers repatriated to their homeland, with the empty homes they left behind offered to Turks sent home in turn from Greece.

However, deterred by rumours of poisoned wells – and as they were farmers more used to level plains anyway – few moved in; gradually, over time, the old town was left to decay until an earthquake devastated the area in the 1950s.

Timber was in short supply so the local authorities allowed indigenous Turks to take what they could from the empty buildings. Today, just the walls still stand as a testament to a turbulent era described beautifully in the book Birds Without Wings.

The story has helped to ensure that, every summer, thousands of visitors head for the mountains above Fethiye to see the ruins for themselves.

And with tourism booming in Turkey, it’s not surprising that there are now at least two dozen bars and restaurants dotted along Kayaköy’s winding lanes, catering for both tourists who stay in local accommodation and the day-trippers who arrive on quad-bike safaris, on coaches or even on horseback.

Most establishments offer “gözleme” – traditional Turkish pancakes – and, of course the famous “kahvaltı”, a generous breakfast of salad, cheese, olives, eggs and spicy Turkish sausage, nuts, dried fruit and honey, often finished off with melon and sweetened tea.

After a few months here we already have our own favourite haunts – just as we did back in the UK – and a couple of nights ago we were enjoying a drink with friends in a restaurant where a group of ladies in their 50s had stayed for a week of yoga classes. The 12-strong group was saying its farewells before heading home to the UK and it had been a restrained and refined affair.

But then someone swapped the gentle background piano music for a spot of Tom Jones.

Perhaps there had been some over-indulgence when it came to pre-dinner cocktails or the sauvignon blanc, or maybe it was simply the balmy Mediterranean evening – but it wasn’t long before there was dancing and, by the time Tony Christie took over with Amarillo, even the waiters were being encouraged to throw a few shapes.

To cut a long story short – and to protect the innocent – an hour later we’d all gone through a bit of traditional Turkish dancing, Abba, Adele, some Elvis and the inevitable rendition of Pharrell Williams’s Happy – and there was little sign of anyone wanting to go to bed.

The sight of the normally super-efficient maitre-d’ gyrating on the bar and whirling his tie around his head, a normally-reserved and shy member of the waiting staff stripping off his shirt for a particularly energetic Turkish dance and the host’s rendition of Zorba the Greek (a couple of times) are going to be with me for a while.

I have no clear recollection of how it happened but I found myself pouring drinks behind the bar so a few more staff could do a bit of dancing and then being left to blearily jab my finger at the sound system to keep the music playing.

By all accounts, the next day, all was back to normal; everyone was at work and apparently none the worse for wear.

I wish I could say the same but, for me, although one night of spontaneous excess was great fun, it also felt like something of a watershed in our own relocation. We were part of an evening which, for one reason or another, we’ll all remember.

That means, for the first time, we have an experience in common with members of the Kayaköy community – even it is a little embarrassment that, just for a couple of hours, we all forgot we’re not 20 any more

SP

Rats! My Secret’s Out …

A truculent water supply, which seems almost vindictive in its choice of times to splutter and fail, is something we’ve grown used to over the few months we’ve been in Turkey. Mid-shower is a favourite or perhaps shortly before the preparation of a meal. However, although inconvenient, enforced dry periods never seem to last all that long; besides, we’ve learned to keep a large, plastic bottle of water squirrelled away – enough to rinse hair full of shampoo, fill a saucepan or boil a kettle.

It was therefore only in passing that I mentioned the latest hiccup to neighbour Mehmet when he popped round the other day. After all, it seemed a good idea to establish if the problem was village-wide or confined to our house.

But I should have known better. Before I could assure him we had contingency plans, Mehmet was on his feet and heading for the outhouse and its wheezy, unreliable pumps. I tried to persuade him it wasn’t necessary to start tinkering with the machinery in the cobwebbed recesses of the ramshackle shed but he had the door open before I could stop him – and he immediately took a step back.

My secret was out.

As it has the last half-dozen times I’ve had cause to enter the outhouse, the large rat which has taken up residence in the tin-roofed building scuttled along a tool shelf and squeezed through a narrow hole – the entrance to its inaccessible den somewhere in the wall cavity.

We have two cats so I had been hoping, over time, they might fulfil the expected role of rodent assassins and I wouldn’t have to get involved in disposing of our latest guest. But now the rat’s existence was known to others and my own role as man of the house was once again in question.

“You see that …?” demanded Mehmet.

“Erm … what?” I asked, in the vain hope I could get away with what was coming next.

“A big rat!“ replied Mehmet with obvious disgust. “You must kill it or it find its way into your house. It eat electric wires,” he added with graphic hand gestures to illustrate sharp little teeth nibbling cables.

“I haven’t got anything to kill it with,” I countered.

In silent reply, Mehmet reached across to the shelf in the shed and lifted down a rat trap I’d never noticed.

“You put cheese here. Rat eats – and then SNAP!” Mehmet explained patiently.

To be honest I had seen similar contraptions before; it was a humane trap which, if it worked, would successfully curtail the roamings of our resident rodent – but without killing it.

“So, once it’s in the trap, what do I do with it?” I asked, in the hope Mehmet might know some quiet place where rats could be released without heading for the nearest property.

“You fill bucket with water and …” another hand gesture made it clear where the phrase “drowned rat” may have come from.

It’s now five or six days later – and I still haven’t set the trap.

It’s not that our resident Roland scares me; other than the smell, which has become gradually more potent, knowing he’s somewhere in the shed doesn’t bother me. It’s just I’m being terribly British and, although I know Mehmet’s right and there is a risk the rat could find its way into the electrics, I’m not keen on the cold-hearted killing of a living, breathing animal.

Of course, that will probably have to change; Turkish culture doesn’t include a sentimental Disney tolerance of vermin and setting the trap is on today’s to do list.

But, once it’s occupied by a furry little body, I know I’m going to have another decision to make – and, in a way, the outcome will be an indication or just how far away our old life in the UK has become.

SP