Olive fields by Noreen

Olive fields by Noreen
Mysterious, primordial world

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

December in western Turkey

There has been a huge drop in temperatures since I last posted.   Indoors as I write it's only 11c while outside it's a mere 10c and set to drop even more over the coming days.  This is really cold for me!
  I know that in America is is far colder now but their houses are insulated and the heat generated stays in and does not escape through the walls as it does here.  I'm wearing 6 layers of clothes!  It's only my nose and hands feel cold.   I try not to switch the electric fire on before 12 midday because we leave it on until 1 or 2 am.  It's a long time and the air dries out.  I tried lighting the fire in the fireplace with dried wood but the chimney is a bad design and smoke filled the room.  The price quoted by a man who could re do the chimney was very expensive and since we will not be in this house permanently,  it would be unwise to invest over 10,000TL on something that would not add to the value of what is just a summer house.  We go for walks every day so we can get fresh air and exercise. We have a Nobo electric heater in the bedroom which we leave on all night.  It doesn't get too warm because you can set the temperature.  For the past two weeks, there has been snow in the east of the country.  I pity those in rural areas having to work outdoors.  Also the animals as they try to keep warm.  Our stray cats are also feeling the cold and one in particular keeps asking to come inside.....................Yes,  you guessed it,  she has been let in!  sssssh!

I'm like my mother,  I have no bearing of the cold.  I well remember how warm she and my father would make our little cottage in the long winter month in Ireland.  As young children she would dress us in layers of clothes and we would be far far too warm in school where the had a very good central heating system.
Hopefully in January this cold Arctic air will move away.   I can work comfortably at a minimum of 16c indoors and for the past 9 months it has gone between 16c and 32c indoors!
We choose to stay here in Turkey this winter,  it maybe cold but the days are long and sunny.  We love the bright sunlight everyday and this really makes up for the cooler temperatures. I decorated a dead tree in the garden and put a set of coloured solar lights on it.

Some days if the wind is not blowing we can sit out in the sun for an hour or so after a walk in the hills.

Our daughter has come over to us for Christmas.  She saved all of her work leave from the last year so she could spend a month with us.  It's wonderful having her here.  We all went out to a restaurant on the beach front for Christmas dinner.  They lit a soba (fire) and we were warm and comfortable as we looked out at the sea.  It was such a treat not having to cook dinner.  There was a great atmosphere with music and friends.  We bought a delicious cake from a local lady who is a great baker.  We have been eating it and chocolate for the past few nights while chilling out with our books. No TV,  it's wonderful!   I wonder where will we spend Christmas next year.............

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Wardrobe clear out

The weather has cooled down.  The daily temperatures are still good,  averaging 22c but as the sun sets,  the temperature plummets.  It's time to change out of the light day clothes and into warmer winter clothes.  With this in mind,  I decided to have a clear out.  I went through the shelves of my wardrobe one by one and took out tea-shirts, light cotton tops and shorts which were starting to fade.  Also anything that was there which I didn't wear for the past year because it was a size too small went into a recycle bag. I didn't think I had so many clothes,  I definitely have enough for the next three  years.  I just need to top up with some winter clothes but I can stretch what I have to cover me for yet another winter. I've set aside a cotton top which will be handy to add to my next quilt.  My neighbour knows a woman who will be glad of the bag of recycled clothes,  she can reuse them for crafting or cut them up for cleaning cloths.  They won't go to waste!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

COOKING - not my favourite activity but we have to eat!

I have to admit I love my food!  I think about breakfast as soon as I wake.  For me breakfast starts with a glass of water and a cod-liver oil capsule,  followed by a bowl of porridge (oatmeal) with a spoon of honey and some milk.  Now I'm ready to give the cats their breakfast and then it's back to the balcony for me with a cup of tea and a slice of wholemeal bread.  This will keep me going until lunchtime when I like to have a mixed salad with tea and one slice of bread.  The Turkish breakfast is much different,  it's more like what I have for my lunch,  lettuce, egg, cheese tomatoes, nuts and fruit! The photo below is a typical breakfast with a chocolate nut and cinnamon spread in the foreground.
You can buy a light dough here which is called yufka made by the Turkish ladies and sold at the markets.  I cut it into rectangles, then put in a filling of cheese, spring onions and herbs. I then fry in olive oil. Very tasty with salad.

Lunch with home-made yufka with cheese and herb filling.

 Ingredients for  lasagne. Cook slowly before putting in tray with lasagne sheets and white sauce.

 Chicken curry. Aubergines added to the flavours.

I only bake about once a month when we have visitors,  then I make cake! It took me a while because the flour here is different.  I've had to add much more baking powder than the recipe calls for.
I use a chocolate sauce for the icing because it is much lighter than baking chocolate and it turns out ok.

Tomatoes are on sale at the markets here and they are full of flavour. I buy a couple of kilos at a time and make pasta sauce or tomato sauce.  It's always handy to have in stock to add to minced beef or chicken.

There is such a variety of fruit in season. I love to make smoothies or just fruit juice.  So handy to have a snack after dinner in the evening to stop me eating chocolate or sweet stuff at the worst time of day!

I'm a lover of chutneys.

I make them from March onward.  They are great with cheese and also great to add to other dishes to add flavour. This one here was made with plum and apricots. 

I tried lots of marmalade recipes and some of them take such a long time to make.  I've adapted a few and found that I can make 2 or 3 jars in a short time.  This works well and Mr. D. says it's delicious!                                                                 

Sunday, 16 October 2016


Finished at last!
Throughout the spring and summer I have been working on and off on a quilt.  It the second one I've made this year and I'm happy to eventually have completed it. It's not made to any particular design. I wanted to make it like a quilt my grandmother made many years ago.  I loved the feel of the silky fabrics and the way there was no order or any specific design.  It was completely hand made. I could see every stitch made by her hand with different colour threads.  I loved that she just put it together with whatever fabrics she had.
  My quilt will always remind me of my dear friends Mary, Maura, Esin, Marie and Anna who kindly donated clothes which they no longer wanted, to my quilt project. There are two blouses in there, two sun dresses and a pair of pants! Nothing went to waste. I added some fabric to compliment the different shades of blue. I added a light filler fabric which I bought when I was back in Ireland and I bought the backing here in Turkey. 

My favourite of all my projects is of course my first love, Art.  I love to paint.  Acrylics are a better medium to work with here because of the intense heat.  Paint tends to dry too quickly.  However now that the temperatures have dropped. 29c outside in the sun this afternoon and a cool 22c indoors, perfect for me to paint.
My latest painting :        SAILING AT SUNSET

Garden seat

 This is definitely a one off!  I've no plans to build another garden seat or anything else made of concrete. I built this seat in my little garden in Ireland a few years ago. Having had two seats which had rotted with the inclement Irish weather, I decided that a stone seat would be a once off permanent seat which I would not have to ever replace! I did not draw out the plan but had it in my head.  I gathered broken blocks from a building site and with great difficulty put them in my car and over the space of two weeks had enough gathered to begin my task.  I built an extra layer of blocks at the back so that it will be strong. It looks a bit uneven at the back but no one can see that unless they go behind to look at it!  Later I got a little table so we could have tea and read a book in the nice summer afternoons. I promised myself that in future I would only work with light materials, like bamboo!  I need to remind myself I have a bad back!

Bamboo arch in my Turkish garden  

I made this arch from bamboo which I gathered on the beach and brought home on my bicycle.  It is a great support for my climbing rose bush which gives a beautiful display in spring.

So it's back to more painting for me for the next few months.  It will keep my mind occupied and hopefully the long dark winter evenings will not bother me. It's been a long hot summer here, not a drop of rain since that one shower in early May!  Everywhere is bone dry.  I can still swim in the sea. I hope to do so until mid November.  Not much autumn here at all,  as soon as December comes we are into winter.  However it's not too bad,  nice sunny days but very cold at night.

Saturday, 24 September 2016


With so many Greek islands so close to us here in Turkey, we decided to do something about seeing more of them. We have been to Crete on holiday in the past. We have also visited Kos on day trips but we haven’t been to Leros.  last week l was advised to book the tickets because the ferry only goes twice a week and was already almost booked out. I checked the weather forecast which was clear sunshine and no sign of rain.  All looked good!
With tickets and cameras in hand we set off at 9am last Friday to the ferry port.  We were pleased with the slight drop in temperature brought about by the refreshing breeze as we made our way to the check in area.  Then through security and out the other side to wait for the ferry. Nice bright sunny morning,  all looked ok.  
About five minutes to 10,  a very small ferry makes a speedy entry to the bay, a flaky white wash was on each side with the bow raised in the air. Suddenly we see the speed reduce and the ferry does a violent rock from side to side.  Then, much to the relief of all of us watching, it quickly levels off and pulls in alongside the pier.  As we board, I naturally head towards the steps which brings you to the top level where we hoped we would sit outside with the wind on our faces as is the norm for us when going to Kos.  The only crew member immediately said  “No upstairs! Everyone must sit downstairs”.   I wondered why but didn’t ask.    As we made our way towards the front of this stuffy enclosed cabin area.  I could smell diesel, not a good start!  it usually makes me nauseous. At 10.15am  with all seats full and 6 people standing, the engine starts up and off we go.  We head slowly out of the bay and I listen to the exuberant voices of the young couples and not so young people as they anticipate the day ahead.  Some people had been to Leros before but for most of us, it was our first time. Then suddenly we hear the engine’s power as the speed pick up and we feel the pull of the sea.  There are cheers and laughs as the first of the waves crash against the windows while the bow leaps up and crashes back down again.  Everyone grabs hold of their seat and all our attention is suddenly drawn to the windows. For a few seconds it’s  a white frothy sea monster wrapping it’s arms around us and then just as quickly, letting go.  Then we start to see not the calm of the bay but a mountainous sea of peaks and troughs. Now I know why we are not up on the upper deck!   We begin what is to be an hour and a half of a roller-coaster ride which seemed like it was going to be for all eternity.......
We were going against the waves and the captain was trying to ride over them, this meant we lunged forward and came down with a bang much like being in a car when it would go very speedily over a bump and crash back down on to the road. The ferry also tilted from side to side as he navigated his way over this terrain.  This caused quite a few of the passengers to get motion sickness.  I could feel the nausea and luckily I had a plastic bag which I kept on my lap, just in case....
  I kept looking at my watch and wondered how long more?  If only I could lie down but there was no room.  We were seated near the front of the cabin,  I thought I might do better if I could get to the cabin door which led to the control/bridge area.  I grabbed hold of a rail and with the help of a few strong arms made my way to the door.  I saw the captain,  a young man who seemed quite calm as he focused on the horizon which must have been difficult,  it kept changing by several degrees while his large window was blasted every few minutes with the white frothy sea monster!  He didn’t use the big wheel but instead he steered the ferry with a joystick.  As I stood there sucking in fresh air,  there was another huge lunge and then a drop back down,  I felt my knees buckle and I’m sure I moaned!  Immediately I felt a very strong arm wrap around my ribs,  and held me tight.  For a few moments I didn’t know who it was but felt secure and knew I would not fall.  It was the crew member.  He had leapt forward when he saw me and saved me from falling. There was a man and two ladies sitting in the bridge area.  One of the men said I could sit up there. They helped me up. The crew member said it was only 10 more minutes!  We were heading into Leros.  The sea started to get calmer and I could see the coastline from the big window.  Immediately, I started to feel better.  Thankfully, the contents of my stomach stayed where it was and we made it to Leros in one piece.   About 40 minutes later we were out of customs.  I sat and took in the cool sea air.  Later we took a short tour of the island and it turned out to be another stunningly beautiful place. On our return journey,  the captain agreed to have both myself and Mr.D sit up in the bridge. 
Will I go back?  I hear you ask.   Yes, but not by boat!!!!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016


It was wonderful to see the Irish coastline as our flight descended towards Dublin.  The weather was pleasant and we had a few days in Dublin with our daughter before we all headed to Cork to my sister later that week. One of the places we strolled around in Dublin was the Memorial gardens. Such a beautiful place in remembrance of all those who died in both world wars.

The weather in Cork was sunny with some clouds but I found I needed my cardigan and scarf when walking on my favourite Co. Cork beach of Youghal.  Temperatures only about 17c but ideal for walking.

We were a little like tourists taking in a tour of the beautiful Spike Island in Cork harbour.  We had a picnic lunch on the beach and this photo below is the view of the town of Cobh from Spike Island.

Mr. D. and I walked everyday,  we didn't have to go far to see beautiful fields and watch the wheat as the breeze flowed through it making it look at times like a sea of gold just in time before it was harvested!  Field above near Carrigaloe, on the great island,  not far from the town of Cobh. Field below on the east of the great island,  near Marleogue wood.

I celebrated a big birthday this year and my sister organised a party for me.  It turned out to be a wonderful evening with family and friends.  I was given this bear from another very thoughtful lady and she new enjoys my photos of him as he accompanies me on my travels.


Photo of Fuchsia on roadsides on the Dingle peninsula.

The beauty of the west of Ireland must be seen to be believed.  No camera can really capture it.  You need to go there.  There are mountains, valleys, little roads and miles and miles of unspoilt beaches.  It always takes my breath away.....
The Dingle peninsula.

Fishing on Banna beach, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

Dunquin. DĂșn Chaoin, meaning "Caon's stronghold", is a Gaeltacht village which lies at the Western tip of the Dingle Peninsula, overlooking the Blasket Islands. We spent a lovely evening basking in the August sunshine before heading back to Dublin for our flights  back to Turkey.
 Ireland,  see you next year!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Early Summer 2016

  We had a lovely summer.  My sister and my friend Maura came to us on holiday in June.    They were both so tired due to their busy work schedule and so excited to be here at last!  It was great to see them relax and enjoy themselves as the days went on.  We invited our Turkish friends over for garden parties.  We laughed, eat lots of food, drank wine and chatted under two sun umbrellas as we sheltered from the hot afternoon sun. 
My sister in particular loved being outside with all our friends,  this is something you cannot do every day back home in Ireland. It has been six years since she was here and she really needed a sun holiday!  Our lovely Turkish friends, Dilek and Suha invited all of us over to their beach and to dinner on their balcony.  Such wonderful home cooked food and great conversation.  Everyone so happy and content.   

 We went swimming every day,  my sister would gaze at the roses and the kittens (yes they are growing big and get more cute every day!) as she swam in the pool.  Sometimes she could be seen pulling the odd weed which managed to escape my not so often garden endeavours in this heat. I had to put pressure on her to just sit down and chill out.  She is so used to working that she found it hard to sit still.   

We went often to the beach where we again sat under an umbrella to keep out of the scorching sun.  We swam in the clear waters and it was so great to have company and laughter all around me. We cooked meals at home and eat them on the balcony while we chatted away till the early hours.... We had meals out which we also enjoyed as we watched the beautiful sunsets.  

The day came for their return home.  It was as always heart wrenching to say goodbye.  I had a few rough days......  I immediately went on-line and searched for flights back to Ireland.  After much searching, I found flights to London and from there later that evening to Dublin.  I was ok,  we would be going home at the end of July for a stay of nearly 4 weeks. Things were looking up!

Thursday, 25 August 2016


The night of July 15th started like any other night.  I went to bed around 10pm listened to music until about 11 then turned off the CD. I drifted into a light sleep and woke about 2am to the sound of the “calling to prayer” at the local mosque.  I took a second glance at the bright red display on my clock radio.  That’s odd, I thought to myself, “this guy is way too early”.  The first call to prayer is always just before dawn.  This was followed by an announcement from the loudspeaker from the minaret which I could not make out.  I got up and as I headed for the bathroom, Mr. D. was just finishing brushing his teeth.  He had been up late watching a film.  He said to me he had just checked the BBC world news channel for the usual headlines and that there was a coup going on, according to the BBC, the army were attempting to take over the government!!!   He then said,”  nothing for us to worry about....they have had them before  and the country always bounces back,” ,  we just had to wait and see,  it will all be over by the morning”. 
Well my reaction to this was nothing as calm. To put it mildly I was terrified.  I asked him, “what does this mean, where is it happening? Will someone fly planes over us and drop bombs?  Will we be able to get our flights?  (We had flights booked to visit family in Ireland in 10 days time)
He said it was in just two cities, Istanbul and Ankara and not all of Turkey and just go to back to sleep!

Mr.D is an expert on world history, he has read hundreds of books on the history of Ireland, England, Europe, first and second world wars, Korea, China, Russia, Japan, America, you name it and he can discuss the battles, the leaders, the dates, the kings and queens.  In a quiz, this would be his specialised subject!  So he can recognise patterns of events.  He knows what way things will go as history really does repeat itself.  So this is why he had the foresight and was not filled with fear and panic like me and so many others here in Turkey. Some ex-pats were so afraid of a civil war that they immediately sold their homes at a loss and left Turkey only to regret it a week later.

Within 4 minutes of our conversation he was asleep!  However, this did not reassure me. As I lay looking at the ceiling, listening  to the odd car horn and yacht sirens from the marina, thoughts flooded my mind.  I felt like we were sitting ducks with nowhere to hide!  I feared that enemies of Turkey would see this as a time to attack and we were all vulnerable while we waited and waited for morning.  I thought “this must be a hint of what it must be like for the people of Syria as bombs fall on their towns. There were no bombs falling here.  Still the silence of the night did not bring me any comfort. I had a feeling of lead in my stomach which made me feel physically ill.  I came to the realisation that there would be no sleep for me tonight.  At 3.30am, one and a half hours of torturing myself with my own thoughts, I decided to get up.  I looked out my windows, several neighbours also had their lights on.  After starting up my laptop, I checked Facebook,  I wanted to see some photos of my family and friends in Ireland.  On opening it, I went immediately to the messages.  There were several.  Anxious friends had seen the news (they are 2 hours behind us in Europe) and seemingly it was all over the news in graphic colour earlier and the media was replaying it making it look like it was all around the country.  I immediately reassure everyone that where we were was quiet just like any other night.  I then turned on the TV. There were images of soldiers surrendering and walking with their hands in the air.  It turned out to be just a small group within the army.  The army leaders had pleaded with them to surrender which they did.

Mr.D. woke up about 4am and joined me watching the TV.  We waited for the president to address the nation.  The TV presenter said he was now in Istanbul.  As we waited I began to relax a bit,  Please God, let it be over.  He addressed the nation around 5.20am. He reassured everyone that it was now over and asked everyone to go out on to the streets to celebrate.  Democracy had won. After the speech I looked out from our kitchen window.  Our neighbour’s lights were going out.  People could relax now.

Later that morning,  I still felt tense.  I couldn't shake it off. All our neighbours were carrying on as before.  People cut the grass, went to the beach, went shopping, restaurants were still busy.  I kept asking Mr.D. to check the news and  wondered why our neighbours did not have their televisions  on all day to see if all was still ok!  I must have seemed a nervous wreck when I asked  “are we ok? Is it really over? What will happen now?  They all tried their best to reassure me and it took me about five days before the lump of lead left my stomach.  Mr. D. says,  in future he will not give me any bad news during the night. It's now over a month since all this happened.  We did get home for our holiday and we are back in Turkey again enjoying our life in this beautiful country.