Monday, September 12, 2011

Goodbye Turkiye!

Goodbye Turkiye

More than 3 years spent in this country.
More than 3 years of adventure.
A rollercoaster ride of different experiences.  
Waves of emotions.  
Lots of lessons.
Family ... love.

We're not leaving forever.  We'll be back.  I haven't even walked out the door yet and already I'm missing so much.  But it's time now for a new adventure.  Exciting.  Scary.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Almost Done!

Since returning from our Black Sea getaway, we've been flat out with all the finishing touches on our home renovation.

Afterall, it's only 3 more weeks til we leave Turkey for good ...

Actually, I shouldn't have said "finishing touches" because it has been a lot more than that!  We knocked down one concrete wall, fixed another concrete wall, installed a door into a third concrete wall, painted all said walls, varnished every outside door and window frame in the house, laid some bricks, planted a heap more plants, and after two unsuccessful previous attempts, planted grass seed for the third time (we finally got it right this time).

Now I'm just dying to show you how it's all looking!

This was the garden shed before the door.

We didn't imagine fitting a door into a door space could be such a challenge!  We spent more than an hour manipulating the door frame inside the opening while trying to get the door to close properly ... But no matter how much we adjusted the frame against the wall, we just couldn't get it to happen.  Finally, we realised the wall of the house was not straight!  It was angled out at the top and in at the bottom by what ended up being more than 20 cm!

How can the builders have gotten it SO wrong?  Anyway, with a lot of cement filler we managed to get the door installed.

This is how the shed is looking now.

All that's left to do is the paint touch ups.  That water box next to the store room also needs a door.  We're just looking for the right piece of wood to do the job.

Knocking down the wall inside the sunroom was fun.  It only took Murat a couple of hours to get the thing done and the windows safely removed.  What wasn't so much fun was picking up all the bits of broken cement!  Rendering all the broken edges wasn't so bad either.  Actually, this is always my responsibility because I like it.  Smoothing on layer upon layer of cement to create a nice finish feels like sculpting.  For me, it's kind of therapeutic.

One of the walls we'd just built for the sunroom was badly damaged by the workers installing the glass and doors into the frame.  I have no idea why they felt it was necessary to break down the wall the way they did, but they did.  Anyway, that wall was a pain in the bum to fix.  But we eventually got it looking almost like new and this is what the completed sunroom looks like now.

The next job caused a big fight between me and Murat...  Staining the outside doors and window frames.  I'm a perfectionist and Murat is ... let's just say, he's not a perfectionist.  It took me more than an hour to prepare and stain the front door thoroughly.   After I'd finished I went to find Murat to show off my work but when I found him my smile of pride quickly turned to a grimace of disbelief.   In the time it took me to very carefully stain a single door, Murat had stained five window frames.  It looked as though Kaya had done the work.  I couldn't believe how carelessly he'd painted and I got so mad.  Couldn't he see what a mess he'd made?  Didn't he care?  And that wasn't the end of it.  Later that day while I was putting Ky to sleep, he painted another window and door in exactly the same manner.  Grrrrrr.  Have you ever tried to remove dark coloured paint drips from light coloured, textured concrete walls?  Impossible!

Anyway, we eventually got the whole house done (and if you squint at the windows Murat was responsible for), the freshening up makes the house look so much better.

Front door before the stain.  Look how weather beaten it was!
The last thing we finished was the landscaping, my favourite part of the renovations.

Bottom/back of house before any work!
Over the course of several weeks we collected a huge pile of bricks which we found partially buried under a pile of dirt and broken concrete on a vacant block down the road from us.  We used some of these bricks to border our vege garden and the rest of them we used to make a garden in front of the sunroom.  In this garden we planted some lavender, oregano and chamomile plants along with a few other plants I can't name.  Then we prepared the rest of the ground and laid grass seeds.  This time we did it more cleverly so the ants were not able to steal all the seeds.

Front of sunroom before any landscaping.
I'm so happy to be seeing the new grass coming through!!

With all this work we've done, it's going to be really hard to leave ...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our Black Sea Break

We just spent an amazing 3 weeks in the mountains inland from the tiny town of Pazar on the Black Sea coast of Turkey.  Hubby's family reign from this area and still have several properties scattered throughout the mountains from both his mother's and father's sides of the family.  Both families were (many many years ago) dairy farmers.  Due to the extreme temperatures of the area, the farmers would gradually move their herds up and down the mountain from one property to the next with the changing seasons.  The families still retain land from each of these grazing pastures.

In the weeks we were there, we visited several of these properties, some with the original houses still standing, others with no more than a few bricks on the land.  Without exception, every place was incredibly beautiful.

Words and pictures cannot adequately describe the beauty, the atmosphere, and the smells of these places.  But hopefully these photos will give you at least an idea of why I'm so in love with this part of the world.

The first place we visited was my mother-in-law's hilltop property called 'Sugidap'.  Unfortunately, the original house was left to the elements and over the years the house collapsed and one by one, every brick was taken by thieves. The MIL loves this place so much that she's started rebuilding there.  To maintain the authenticity she brought a 'serander' (grain storage house) from another property and is having it remodelled into a holiday house.  As much as possible she intends to keep the original look of the serander, combined with the style of the original house.  I'm very much looking forward to see the finished product in a few months.

Next was my father-in-law's house in 'Badara'.  The home has been pretty much kept in it's original condition.  It's hard to believe the colours have withstood more than 100 years.

We also stayed a few days in some other relatives' homes.  This one belongs to FIL's sister's husband's family.

This one, I call the bat house because on the first day we stayed there (which was also the first day anyone had stayed there for over a year) we were "attacked" by bats!  Really!  I woke several times in the night to bats flying around the room.  But scariest of all, early in the morning I awoke again (for the last time that night) to a baby bat on my pillow, another crawling on my leg, and one of the parent bats dive-bombing right into the bed!  Ewwwwww....

We took a few day trips up the mountain to see some of the other properties.  This one is called 'Cupendos'.  And honestly, it is a little paradise.  One of the most beautiful places I've ever seen in my whole life.  Imagine this: a lush green meadow scattered with wild flowers and mossy boulders, a white-water river gushing along one side, enormous mountains covered in pine trees towering all around, birds, bees, and peace.  Sound nice?  Well it's even better than that!

I love this place.

Another beautiful place we visited is called 'Ayder'.  Another lovely valley.  This one backed on one side by the great Kackar mountains, complete with waterfalls and rainforest, and on the other side grassy hills.  A really pretty place.

The last place we visited is called 'Merze'.  It took two hours to drive to this plateau up above the clouds high in the mountains.  The air was so clean and the air was so fresh.  But I found it difficult walking around without feeling a bit dizzy.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We came back to this!

We were away for 3 weeks and we came back to a mixed bag of changes in our garden.

The dead and dying:

We're hoping these tomatoes can be saved.  The woman looking after them said they were diseased... but the disease seems to simply be dehydration! 

We bought these lavender plants just before we left.  We were sad to see they'd passed away ... :(

I think these eggplant (or are they capsicum..?) plants can be saved.
These dead basil made be particularly sad because I'd been especially loving to them ;-( 

The disappointing:

What happened to all the lovely lush grass I hoped would be beautifying this area?
Our beautiful log slice path is full of ugly dried out split wood ... Lesson learned = treat the wood to prevent drying out!

The progress:

Yay!  The conservatory was completed without (too many) problems.
I think it's looking quite good!  I can see the potential now!
It was a surprise to see that our front fence had been rendered with slate (along with the entire neighbourhood).  Not exactly what we'd envisioned ... but once we replace the ugly green wire with horizontal lengths of wood, I think it will still look lovely.

The live and proliferating:

At this rate, it won't be long before the grapes vines are growing all over the pergola!

I was a little concerned about whether the fig would get used to it's pot, but it seems I had nothing to worry about!

Tomatoes everywhere!

These tomato plants are so full of little balls of goodness!  

A couple of regular looking cucumbers ...  I also picked several cucumbers as big as Murat's forearm!


'Pazar', a type of spinach.


And blackberries!  I cannot wait for these!
The first gifts from our garden this summer!  Thank you.