Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom

These days you will find me on my terrace soaking in the last rays of sunshine before the grey of Mersin’s winter takes over.  I will no doubt have a cup of çay (sorry guys it’s not particularly Türk – white with two sugar) and, depending on the time of day, perhaps a biscuit (or two) to tide me over until akşam yemeği (dinner).  Basking in the sunshine is also the perfect time for me to catch up on my reading.


As a blogger I am always on the hunt for fellow bloggers and writers that live in Türkiye, telling their own anecdotes of life, love and the numerous catastrophes that befall them living in this crazy country.  One of my favourite’s is fellow Aussie, Lisa Morrow, with her blog insideoutinIstanbul.  Her blog is filled with tales and photographs of her life living in one of the most incredible cities on earth – İstanbul – so when I received a copy of her most recent book, Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom, I knew that I needed to find a comfy spot in the sun where I would no doubt be entrenched until I had finished the very last line.

Lisa’s descriptive style captures the sights, sounds and even the smells (remind me to never catch the no. 2 bus with her) of modern day İstanbul, giving me, the reader, not only a personal tour of her favourite haunts but drawing me in with little known stories of what is, without doubt, one of the most amazing cities in the world.  Her anecdotes of language barriers and Government bureaucracy or even her partner’s difficulties with something as simple as his name (Who?) was something that any expat living in İstanbul (or any other city for that matter) will recognise.

To quote the wonderful Molly Meldrum (I am now picturing anyone who is not Australian googling “Molly Meldrum” right now), “Do yourselves a favour”.  With the Christmas season fast approaching this will make an excellent stocking stuffer, in fact, I can think of one particular friend back in Sydney will be receiving it in the mail very soon.

Does anyone else have any recommendations for good Türk inspired reading?  With winter fast approaching it is time for me to hibernate until spring so any suggestions to help pass the time while in my self imposed exile will be greatly appreciated.


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Time for Baba

We have already delved into my childhood trauma of domates so today I thought I would open the door on my next therapy session – my complete retching disgust of patlıcan (aubergine or eggplant or just bleugh!).  I mean seriously even this photo of my finished recipe of Baba Ganoush cannot make it look even slightly appetizing!

babaganoush 2

Patlıcan is not a food that I would voluntarily consume.  It is slimy.  It is bitter.  Cooked it looks a bit goopy.  All black and weird and just ugh!  And just who would want to eat something that is named after an egg but is a plant?  Does that even make sense?  And while I am at it where did the name pineapple come from?  Practically everyone else in the world calls them ananas (including here in Türkiye) but again some crazy person came up with the idea of calling it a pineapple.  Salak!

The fact is that as a kid (and a teenager and even an adult) I hated patlıcan and refused to eat it.  It was running a very close second to domates as my most hated food and I was thankful that my mother did not cook anything “foreign”.  Just to clarify “foreign” also included Spaghetti Bolognese so the idea of anything really weird like eggplant in our evening meal would be practically unheard of (although I do have hazy memories of sitting down to liver or kidneys in our little orange Formica kitchen on more than one occasion).

The first time I came to Türkiye I tried “Baba” for the first time.  Wary (as it was made from a most hated vegetable) but surprised.  I loved it.  Back in Sydney I would have never made it.  I mean why bother to prepare it from scratch when you can get it home delivered by practically any Turkish or Middle Eastern restaurant for a reasonable price – and it would no doubt taste better too.  Here in the Village though home delivery is scarce (although not unheard of) but regardless I love “Baba” here because I get to make it myself – any excuse to mangal.  The Turk has questioned before whether Daughter and I are pyromaniacs.  Whenever anyone in the family is thinking about having a barbeque we are there chomping at the bit to get around the flames.  Me for “Baba” and Daughter … well I actually DO think she might be a pyromaniac but that’s for another day.

Like most of my recipes they were passed on to me by either my darling mother in law (who I still miss every single day) or my sister in law Songul.  I do not use specific quantities or measurements I just keep adding ingredients until it tastes pretty damn good.


So what you need:

2 patlıcan (aubergine), 2 biber (pepper), as many yeşil biber (green chilli) as you can handle and 3-4 domates (tomato)

4 sarımsak (garlic) cloves

Limon (lemon) juice

A good dollop of nar eksisi (pomegranate molasses) and another good dollop of zeytin yağı (olive oil).

Tuz (salt) and karabiber (pepper) to taste

To make “the Baba” you toss the patlıcan, biber and domates onto the coals of your mangal to chargrill them.

Once they are charred and soft through I peel off the skin (usually burning my fingers in the process) before cutting them up.  Some people mash or use a blender on the vegetables but I prefer a more rustic Baba plus the quicker it is finished the quicker I can consume it.  Before you go any further let the patlıcan drain for a little while to remove some of the excess juice that they build up during cooking.  Once drained I add way too much sarımsak (garlic) as well as the juice of one limon, and nar eksisi.  I season with tuz ve karabiber and finally add the zeytin yağı (olive oil) – check the consistency as it can get a little runny if there is too much olive oil.  Some people use tahini in their “Baba” but not me.  I am not a huge fan of it at any time (unless I am making hummus of course but that recipe is yet another therapy inspired post).

This recipe is so simple and I try to make it at least once a week (like I said any excuse to mangal).  If there is no mangal going on outside I can make “the Baba” by cooking the vegetables in the oven (cut a few slices into the vegetable to speed up the cooking time) or sometimes I cook it using a közmatik (a great little Türk invention to cook your patlıcan perfectly on the stovetop) but I prefer the really smoky taste that they take on when cooked on the mangal plus the flames that draw me in like a Siren calling a sailor to his death – OMG maybe I am a pyromaniac!

This, yoğurtlu patlican and acile ezme always makes up part of my meze when barbequing.  A night with the family just isn’t complete without it on the table.  I can’t get enough of it!

Afiyet olsun!


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Weddings and Funerals

In my pre-village life I could count the number of weddings that I had been to on one hand (including my own).  I could also count the number of funerals that I had been to on my other hand (including both of my parents).  Now since our move to Türkiye our life is inundated with them both and honestly, enough is enough!


Thankfully this year’s düğün (wedding) season has started to slow now that we have moved into autumn although I did come home to find yet another invitation on my door step yesterday afternoon.  This one is for The Turk’s second cousin’s daughter (for feck’s sake), yet another person that I have never met in my entire life.  That’s fine although as the yabancı I am usually dragged around the room like a trophy.  Between you and me I think having the yabancı at your wedding is a sign that you have really made it.  A yabancı is a real drawcard.  Regardless a Turkish wedding reception is great fun, whether you know the wedding party or not and usually the whole village turns out for the event.

Here in the village it is not uncommon for a wedding to go for two or three days not including the nikah.  There is the kina gecesi (bridal henna party) where all the bride’s female family members, friends and neighbours get together on the night before the wedding to paint the thick ochre paste on her hands and feet.  Then you have the traditional village reception usually held in the school grounds or on the bride’s street where jeans and t-shirts are acceptable attire and, finally if finances allow, the salon reception where you will find yourself dressed up like a starlet on Oscar night with more sparkle, makeup and hairspray than you thought you could wear in a lifetime.  The latter two nights are jammed packed with earth rattling Turkish müzik coupled with pounding drums, all night dancing, fireworks and tribal yelling  – after all the more noise you make, the happier you are.  The only downside to a Turkish wedding is they are generally alcohol free.  The Turk and I have taken to hiding the little baby bottles of Angora and an opener in my Fossil handbag so if you ever see me lugging around a huge handbag at a wedding don’t shake it too much.  Desperate measures people.


Although most of the weddings are out of the way for the season a cenaze (funeral) can happen at any time of year; actually here in the Village they seem to happen all the time.  The first funeral I attended here was for my mother in law.  It was heartbreaking.  Since then, however, I seem to find myself constantly attending funerals from people in the village, again usually people that I have never met.  Of course I have to attend.  It is respectful to be seen by the side of The Turk at these events however personally I find funerals highly emotional and, even though I may not have known the person, I hide behind huge sunglasses teary eyed.  A funeral will also go on for days (7 days to be exact) and it is necessary to attend every single day, drink copious amounts of çay and, in my case anyway, burst into tears at every prayer.  Sadly I now know there is a funeral even before The Turk can open his mouth because I spot the dark blue jacket neatly hung over a chair ready to be slipped on.  At that point I usually blurt out, “Oh no!  Who’s died now!” because the dark blue jacket is his funeral jacket.

I’ve got to tell you, you run the whole gauntlet of emotions living here in the Village from the excitement of an over the top wedding, the comedy of a ridiculous family feud or the emotions of a neighbour’s death.  Even with all the drama that goes on around me I am incredibly happy with my life as it is right now – and I wouldn’t change it for the world.


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I am Human

This morning my heart weeps; the world has again been struck by tragedy. Over 150 victims killed in six separate terrorist attacks in and around Paris, France with IS apparently taking responsibility for these attacks.


As you all know I live in a country that is 98% Muslim.  Most Muslims are ordinary, peace-loving people with their own set of dreams and problems and should be treated with the same respect we give to any other fellow human being.  I live in a real community where love and support is evident wherever you go.  These are not people bred with hatred.

What many of you may not have known (due mainly to the fact that news coverage was nearly non-existent in other countries) is that only yesterday there was two suicide bombings attributed to IS killing 43 people in Beirut.  Another incident in Baghdad with 18 victims.  Türkiye also recently suffered at the hands of IS with an attack that killed nearly 100 people and injured over 400 more at a peace rally in Ankara.  I chose not to write about that terrorist attack in an attempt to fill my feed with only positive stories but I guess I can’t keep myself quiet today.  These attacks are not solely being directed at you or at me.  These attacks by IS are indiscriminate.  We are all targets – Muslim, Christian or other.

Today my social media newsfeed is filled with putrid spewings of hatred from people who I have long considered friends.  I have been shocked by some of the statements made.  Do you feel that way about all Muslims?  What about The Turk?  Do you feel that way about him as well?  Should he be vilified for his religion.  Of course not.  To one particular person who wrote on their Facebook that “all terrorists are Muslim” I say this to you – hate is born by people exactly like you.  You are no better than a terrorist with your rabid hatred.

Throughout history religion has been used as an excuse, or driving force, for some of the worst atrocities imaginable. From pre-history to modern history, religion is, for many people, just an excuse to kill other people. Not post 9/11.  We can go throughout history and talk of religious atrocities.  I shall name a few although honestly I shouldn’t need to.  We all learnt about them at school.  Does the Inquisition ring a bell to you?  How about those witch hunts in Massachusetts?  All about religion.  Let’s go further back in history to Roman times with Nero persecuting all Christians.  And what about Jesus?  He was persecuted for his religion as well.  Maybe we should consider the Aztecs who killed tens of thousands a year to appease the Gods.  I could continue but I won’t.

Your religion (if you have one) is only one part of who you are.  I cannot understand why we have so much hatred and violence.  The perception that people of one nationality, political affiliation, religion, or colour of skin are more superior or inferior than another. We are one people. We are all humans trying to get through this thing called LIFE. It is hard, unfair, and trying – but we all deserve a chance to live it. No one’s life should be taken by another for any reason. No one’s life is more valuable than another’s.

To those in Paris, and those affected by this horrible massacre, my thoughts are with you today.


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Looking for Lychee

Driving in Mersin is a bit of a hit and miss situation for me most of the time and I don’t mean being hit or missing other cars, dolmuş or pedestrians.  This is more of a situation where trying to find where you are going is literally impossible.  Street maps just don’t exist.  Directions are either shouted at you by a crazed local or at best scribbled on the back of napkins and my GPS in the car spends most of its time telling me I am either driving in the deniz or going through a fecking mountain.  The city itself isn’t very wide, you can drive from the beach to the foot of the hills in probably 15 minutes but to drive the length of the city can take you a good two hours from go to woe!

Mersin city

Right now our little expat group is in the midst of arranging our Christmas party and in order to do so we have been zipping around checking out a few different restaurants.  This week we went to check a relatively new restaurant named Lychee.

Lychee should have – SHOULD HAVE – been relatively easy for me to find.  It was on a main road, a road that I travelled regularly, and the restaurant looked huge so common sense tells me that it will be pretty easy to locate.  Yes?  NO!

When I say that this restaurant is located in a vortex or perhaps a black hole, you need to believe me.  When I also say that I could never go on The Amazing Race because I can get lost in the confines of a paper bag you should believe that too.  No really. My body has no internal GPS system actually I have no sense of direction at all.  This could possibly be a chronic medical condition.  It will be named “NoSense-itus”.  It is definitely hereditary and although I don’t know who precisely I can blame (being adopted and all that) but I think its a condition that should be researched so future generations are saved from this affliction.

The plan was to go to Lychee for lunch on Wednesday and me, being terribly efficient, thought I should locate the restaurant to ensure that I will have no problems finding it on the day (as I do tend to misplace myself on a regular basis).  I looked up its website.  A bit confusing, not really about the restaurant, more about some kind of food consultancy group.  What the what?  So I went to my backup plan of Facebook.  Facebook really can be considered the new Google for Mersin restaurants.  Google may not have the information (as restaurants here rarely have websites) but Facebook bloody well will because everyone loves to ‘check in’.  But on their Facebook page the restaurant’s address is noted as “centre”.  Centre?  Centre of the city?  Centre of the universe?  Centre of the vortex? What the feck is centre?

My first attempt to locate the restaurant was a complete failure.  After punching in the address into my GPS in the car I arrived at vacant land about 4 blocks from where the actual restaurant was finally located.  My second attempt, using Google maps, was more successful.  I made it to the location but still couldn’t find the restaurant.  I parked my car and even walked up and down the block but the restaurant still remained hidden in the vortex opening only to those who are worthy.

Feck my life!

“This place does not exist!” I shouted for the world to hear.

“Ummm yes it does stupid Aussie girl.”


And of course the masses were right.  After standing on the street and calling out “Abracadabra” the restaurant appeared before me, like the Room of Requirement (Muggle nerd alert).

Lychee collage

Having finally found it I just want to say, the restaurant was lovely.  The service was good, although initially the waiter was slightly traumatized by my wanting a bottle of wine with only one glass (in fact the waiter sent the manager over to check that it was my intention to drink the bottle myself.  Really?  You will consume all of this?  Ummm don’t judge me mate just bring me the bottle!).  The food was European cuisine and delicious, in fact there were way too many options for just one visit!  The cocktail list was as long as my arm and (apparently) sensational.  The prices were spot on, in fact they were downright reasonable compared to the prices at Marina (just saying).

The search continues for our Christmas party destination but Lychee is definitely now on rotation and will be visited by us ladies again soon (again assuming the vortex opens for me).


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The Mother Clucker

Some people just like to ruffle feathers.  I get that.  Not me though.  I’m definitely a “keep it cool” kind of gal but every once in a while I am pushed just that little bit too far and then BAM! feathers are flying like there is a fox running amock in the henhouse.  When these BAM! moments do happen I believe they are moments that should be captured for future generations to study and enjoy (even if I do say so myself)!

hen and chicks

We recently changed Daughter’s school from the local village school to a private school in Mersin.  Although not the point of this story but changing schools in itself has caused a plethora of problems for us starting with the fact that Daughter now has a kimlik and her original yabancı number can no longer be used when dealing with Government departments.  Seems simple enough eh?  In fact shouldn’t it be an automatic update?  Perhaps, but it is Türkiye so it did prove to be three times more difficult that it needs be.  The Turk has spent the past two weeks getting her ID number changed which encompassed 2 trips to the village school, 4 trips to the özel school, 3 trips to the Nufus and one set of paperwork to Ankara!  And even today Daughter’s information is still wrong as it still shows that she has been absent for the first 10 days of school!  Ugh!

But that is not the BAM! moment.  This is the BAM! moment.

I went to a Parent/Teacher Meet and Greet recently at the new school.  This means that all the parents sit at his or her child’s desks and each teacher comes into the room and spends 10 minutes introducing themselves and giving us a little bit of information about their lesson plans before we have a mingle and introduce ourselves.  Seems pretty simple right?


And let me tell you why it is not simple.  Let me tell you why these things always end in tears, or with a head on a stick.  It is because of that one particular parent and it doesnt matter whether you are living in Sydney or Mersin, there is always that one particular parent that sends you closer to the edge than you have ever been before.  That one particular parent that is now and shall be forevermore known as – The Mother Clucker.

The Mother Clucker is usually female and can be easily spotted when you enter a room.  She will be that one parent smiling brightly at the teacher from prime position, pen in hand ready to make notes.  There are different levels of Mother Cluckers too.  There is a lower level Mother Clucker who has not yet found her wings (so to speak) but what you really need to be fearful of is the top tier Mother Clucker.  These Mother Cluckers will have already made copious notes to discuss with each and every teacher and even before the Meet and Greet begins she can be heard cluck, cluck, clucking her important opinions to gain support from anyone who glances sideways at her.  She will, of course, volunteer to be the Class Parent and she will, no doubt, want to discuss every insignificant detail because even the little things are important too.

This year’s Mother Clucker was, once upon a time, a school teacher so obviously she knows how things should be done.  She has an opinion on every single subject and she wants her voice heard, in both Türkçe and English.  Cluck.  Cluck.  Cluck.  So what should have been a 1 hour Meet and Greet became a 2½ hour battle of wits between this obnoxious, know it all, top tier Mother Clucker and the poor teachers who, one at a time, were put through their paces, whether they wanted to be or not.

I sat throughout most of the cluck, cluck, clucking quietly.  A lot of it was in Türkçe so I was oblivious to her clucking but every now and then she would speak in English (teacher dependent), to show off her language skills no less.  I laughed once at the look on the poor Music teacher’s face when the Mother Clucker explained that her child did not want to play the particular instrument that he was assigned (well either does my kid lady but shut the feck up!).  I rolled my eyes when she wanted to discuss how Din (religious studies) should be taught (Daughter will no doubt dramatically fail that subject again this year too) but I had to step up when she started having an opinion on how English should be taught.

Here’s how it went down –

Mother Clucker:  You need to teach the children songs.  Like Old Mcdonald Had a Farm.  I was taught Old McDonald Had a Farm.

Me:  (Cackle)

English Teacher:  (American accent) We have a great program laid out but no I do not think that is the way to go.  Children today do not relate to that type of teaching.

Me:  Seriously?  Old Mcdonald?  You’d be better off teaching them Beyonce!

(Every single set of eyes are turned towards me)

Mother Clucker:  Ah, you must be Daughter’s mother.

Me:  (Nodding).

Mother Clucker:  (the underlining does not quite put enough emphasis on Mother Clucker’s true tone of bitchy but just go with it) Your Daughter obviously knows English.  You should sit outside.  Your opinion is not valid.

Me:  Sit outside?  You didn’t sit outside when the Turkish teacher was speaking and honestly I’d much rather be sitting at home but I can’t because you won’t SHUT UP!

Like I said I’m definitely a keep it cool kind of gal.  Aren’t I?  Hello?  HELLO???


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Silifke Kalesi

Why does every archaeological site have a tale of woe overflowing with horrendous suffering and devious behaviour?  Yes, yes I realise that most archaeological sites have been there for eons and so, of course something resembling the Red Wedding would have happened at some point over the course of thousands of years, but after visiting Silifke (ancient name: Seleucia) I realise that this little town, apart from being as dull as dishwater today, seemed to have had more than its fair share of woe in its many years of existence.

Silifike 1

I had passed through the town many times over the years but have never been tempted to stay for more than a toilet break or a glass of cáy and so, after reading up on its gruesome history, it was decided that a trip to Silifke to explore would be a great day trip from Mersin with just the right amount of gore to keep Daughter (growing up in an age of The Walking Dead) interested.

The town’s main attraction is Silifke Kalesi (Silifke Castle), an imposing structure atop a hill allowing a 360 degree view of the surrounding valley.  The Kalesi dates back to Byzantine times and was used as a defence and garrison against the Arabs before it was passed through the hands of many including the Armenians, the Cypriotes and finally the Ottomans in the late 1400’s.  It has been attacked many times, destroyed and re-built but the walls and some of its towers remain today as an example of Byzantine architecture coupled with 13th century Armenian influences.

silifike 2

Historical tale of woe No 1:

In 1226, Philip of Antioch, was murdered while imprisoned at Sis Kalesi (near Adana). His distraught (and no doubt traumatized by the fact that she was married off at the tender age of 12) widow, Isabella I, Queen of Armenia, sought refuge in the Kalesi. The regent for the Armenian kingdom, Constantine of Barbaron, arranged for his own son, Hethum, to marry Isabella (poor underaged girl cannot even grieve in peace before being married off again) and demanded that Bertrand de Thessy, the castellan of Silifke Kalesi, return her at once. The Hospitallers, who would not suffer the humiliation of surrendering Isabella, nor dare to fight the assembled troops of Constantine, eased their conscience by selling him the Kalesi with Isabella in it.

It makes it kind of hard to want to aspire to be Queen.  I think I am quite happy to be a pleb, thank you very much.

Archeologically speaking the outer walls of the Kalesi are in really good shape but inside has been reduced to rubble.  Daughter enjoyed terrorizing me by climbing the walls and hanging over the edge taking ridiculously dangerous selfies and I admit that the view from the top, overlooking the town and valley, was gorgeous, but is it worth driving all the way to Silifke?  Meh.

Silifike 3

The town of Silifke itself also does not warrant spending any of your precious time.  The otels are mostly old and not particularly welcoming so no need to stay the night and there is not a lot of activities for the visitor after you have explored the Kalesi.  There is a small museum which is filled with sculptures, coins and other artefacts. There is also an ancient church by the name of Ayatekla just south of Silifke in the small village of Burunucu.

Historical tale of woe No. 2:

St. Thecla was the first women to convert to Christianity by St. Paul (who you may recall originated from the town of Tarsus, east of Mersin).  She took refuge in a cave before simply vanishing into thin air.  Poof!  Was she simply murdered or was she afforded a miracle and ascended straight to heaven’s door?  We shall never know.  A shrine was built to remember her on the site and then the basilica was added in the 5th century.    There are also several cisterns cut into the rock which suggests that there was probably a sizeable settlement in the past.

Ayatekla Church

There are many hiking trails outside of Silifke following the Göksu Nehri (Blue Water river) and many little picnic spots to while away the hours.  You can go white water rafting on the river in the mountains outside the town although I believe from my nephew it is more of a relaxing jaunt rather than a thrill seeking white knuckle ride.

Historical tale of woe No 3:

Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, the Saleph of the Armenian Kingdom, drowned while either trying to cross in the strong current or while taking a bath.  There are two stories going round, I kind of like the idea of him drowning while bathing.  It’s definitely more amusing to me at least.

silifke 4

Having now visited Silifke can I give you an honest opinion?  Yeah?  Don’t hate me Silifke lovers but honestly spend an hour, photograph the view and the walls and then hop back in your car.  Either continue on the D400 towards Taşuscu (where you can catch the ferry to Northern Cyprus) or further on to Antalya (becoming a lot easier now with the tunnels slowly being completed) or perhaps hop on the D715 up into the mountains to visit the waterfalls at Mut (they also have their very own fortress and even a monastery further up the road at Karaman).  Don’t get me wrong it is definitely an interesting day trip and for the history buff there will be more than enough to keep you engrossed but for the average Joe (or in this case Janey) it didn’t hold my interest for too long.  Perhaps I am a simpleton.

For those of you wanting your fill of castles and archeological sites but still within a day’s drive of Mersin you can visit the famous Maiden’s Castle Kiz Kalesi or Korykos Kalesi and, coupled with Elaiussa-Sebaste and Cennet ve Cehennem, you will definitely have a full couple of days exploring without the need to travel quitte so far outside of the city.


Need to Know:

Silifke Kalesi is off the D400 three hours west of Mersin.  There are no buses to the site itself so you will need to either drive or walk.  If you intend on walking it is almost 86 metres above sea level so good hiking shoes are a must.

Entry is free.

There is a small café at the bottom entrance of the Kalesi although it was closed when we visited.


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The Art of Salça

When I first arrived here in Mersin I threw myself into Village life.  I helped harvest the nane and maydanoz from the bahçe.  I helped make the peynir (which was a story in itself) and I helped my mother in law make the salça.

Making salça (paste) is a bit of a pain in the ass to be honest.  It is messy work – so messy – but the end result is rewarding to say the least.


Since my mother in law passed away making the salça is the one thing I continue to do each year as a bit of a celebration of her life.  I remember how happy she was that first year with me and my SIL sitting together, covered in flies and literally surrounded by kırmızı biber (red capsicum).  I remember my BIL delivering the 100kg of biber that morning and me going “seriously?”.  It was a very long day (and half of a very long night) cutting and cleaning the kırmızı biber before making the paste.  The next three weeks were spent checking my precious biber that had been mulched to ensure that they dried sufficiently to make the paste and finally salting to ensure perfection.

I have continued with the tradition for the past two years since my MIL’s passing.  This year was a little different however.  This year my SIL’s family decided to ‘help’ me and so, without my knowledge, set about preparing the biber for me.  I was devastated.  They don’t get that of course.  They were merely being helpful but to me they ruined the one piece of my mother in law that was something I treasured.

The Turk gets so frustrated with me each year and can usually be heard yelling “why don’t you just buy it at Migros?”.  Yes it is messy and a little smelly.  Yes my clothes are ruined (in fact I have a salça making outfit) which is stained a very attractive red colour and yes the roof top is also stained from an initial overflow of mulched biber but the end result is totally worth the hassle.


Here is a shot of my MIL that first year.  She was one happy lady with the end result.

I have been asked for a receipe but I really don’t have a one to provide to you.  Like most of my recipes it relies on knowledge handed down by my MIL (or SIL) to me.  Basically we get a butt-load of bibers (photo 1) which are then cleaned and cut up (keep the seeds in unless they are seriously rotten).  A little old lady will then magically appears with a machine (seriously every year this woman arrives on my doorstep – the biber faerie – as if by magic) and all our bibers (or domates) are put though the machine to mulch them.  We then transfer the liquid up to our roof where it is salted and mixed.  It will stay in the first receptacle (photo 3) which is basically for pieces of wood with covered in plastic.  Once the liquid is partially dried (usually takes about a week) it is swapped into the huge plastic bowls (photo 4) where it stays for 2-3 weeks and is mixed 5 times a day to ensure it doesn’t burn in the sun.  100 kilos of biber make about 15 kilograms of salça which is about 5 containers which, of course, you then give to your numerous family members leaving you with two jars.  These will last me 12 months.

A recent incident with an overturned horse cart filled with domates also enabled me to use my salça skills to make some top notch tomato salça.  Double high fives for me today!  The final salça still to be completed is my hot chillies.  They are still drying (a longer process to ensure that they are as spicy as feck) but should be ready next week (if the weather stays warm – which it will after all it is Mersin).

The memory of my MIL will continue to live on in our meals with her salça – also known by me as Nene Salça.  It didnt matter what she cooked it was always superb – no doubt thanks to her salça.

Quick addition to this post – for those of you wanting to see my salça pants (also known as village pants) this is the only photo I could find.  They are now put away until next year but perhaps a sneaky paparazzi can crack a few shots before my security guards chase them away LMAO!  I did learn that day why I should wear long sleeves AND long pants when cutting up the biber.  I was literally covered in bites so now I’ve got a very attractive top that in no way matches my pants but works just fine.  Thank you to Daughter for showing my how to copy my Instagram photo – I am so computer illiterate.  I put this photo on Instagram because I thought it was hilarious.  The men sit there drinking their cay while the women work their asses off.

biber pants


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The One Where Everyone Finds Out

I had been sitting on this post for a few weeks now.  I had to ensure that there was no potential to offend the family with this one.  After all I seem to offend everyone at every opportunity *waves hello to the Powers That Be*.

I hope you find it as amusing as I did … at the time.  Now it’s just old news.

aria shhh

So anyway … The family had been keeping a secret.  Oh I knew all about the secret but because it was a secret I kept it a secret.  I mean I still told my yabancı friends here in Mersin all about the secret and we giggled about the potential fallout but I kept it from you guys didn’t I?  I did not make it public because it was, after all, a secret.

But the secret is now public and it was monumental!  Families ripped apart.  Friendships destroyed.  Worlds colliding!  Not really, but whatever.

You’re chomping at the bit now aren’t you?  Tell us Janey!  What is the secret?

Well … you might recall this post I wrote about a year ago now about young love in the Village.  A bit of a Romeo and Juliet type sitch.  True love, blah blah blah denied to them by their heartless parents.  After a lot of tears and a lot of threats Romeo and Juliet finally got their parent’s blessing and they ran off and had their nikah.

For the uninitiated a nikah is a ceremony between the bride and groom and is performed before a state appointed bureaucrat or sometimes a religious leader.  It is a very simple ceremony.  No more than 10 minutes in total and then you are legally married.

Anyway the nikah took place and everyone was happy, everyone was in love.  Romeo returned to his family home and the Juliet to hers as is the custom here in the Village.  The wedding party (reception) would take place a few weeks later and at that time the newlyweds will live as husband and wife.

A few days after the nikah Juliet arrived to prepare their home.  They built right next door to us – and when I say right next door I mean RIGHT NEXT DOOR.  Their building is flat against our building – see my thoughts on this particular crapfest here.  God only knows what approvals (if any) were gotten for this building but it does again beg the question why were we fined for building a second storey when they (and fecking everyone else around us) have obviously built without approval.  OK I am getting a little off track here.

The newlyweds borrowed our car (yes we are officially known as a hire car/taksi service for half of the fecking Village) so they could go and purchase cleaning supplies.  When they returned a mere FIVE hours later (!!!) she was screaming.  She was crying.  She was calling him every name under the sun.  Senden nefret ediyorum!  I hate you.  I hate your mother. I hate your father.  I hate the world.  The wedding is off!

Hold on a minute.  The wedding has already happened hasn’t it?  Ugh why is everything so confusing in Türkiye?

She disappeared into the sunset and has yet to return BUT the family kept it a secret.  In fact they still handed out wedding invitations in the hope that she would come to her senses.   Romeo arrived on her doorstep and begged her to go through with the wedding.  Nope.  Vito arrived on her doorstep and begged her to go through with the wedding.  No way Jose!  Juliet was standing her ground and, to be honest, I was impressed that she held out when many others would have caved.  She cannot marry him.  She does not love him and, frankly, she hates Vito’s wife with the passion of a thousand fiery suns (at this point she got some brownie points from The Turk because he hates her too).

A few days later Juliet updated her Facebook status to single.  This shit is serious.  Social media serious!

But the family still continued with the farce of the wedding proceeding.  They went and paid for the wedding salon and for the DJ.  All was well.  The secret was still a secret.  There was a LOT of whispering in the village of course – gossip is pure gold to these people – but still the family forged ahead with the secret until the very end because that’s what families do.

Until the incident.  Yes there was an incident and it will probably not surprise you that The Turk is smack in the middle of it all.

For those of you who live in Türkiye you all would have been to the party where the furniture is delivered to the newlywed’s home.  It’s probably got an official name to the party but I dunno what it is.  It usually takes place a few days before the wedding and gives everyone a chance to bring presents and help them set up.  This is a huge deal in the Village and the neighbours all began to question when this was going to take place, after all the wedding party was on the weekend.  At this point I said to The Turk that they may as well come clean and get on with it.  The wedding is obviously not going to take place.  Hayir!  There is still a chance of reconciliation.  I rolled my eyes.  Ain’t gonna happen!

Three nights before the wedding date Juliet’s father and other various family members arrived outside with a large truck full of furniture that Vito had purchased for the newlyweds and unceremoniously deposited said furniture onto the driveway!  Well didn’t the shit hit the fan at this point!  All of the men in our family ran outside ready to fight (including The Turk who had had a few drinks and was feeling a little feisty).  About now Sensible Janey says,  “Go and stop this before someone gets hurt” but Fun Janey says “Relax.  Grab a bira and let’s watch the show.”  I went with the latter and in fact invited my sister in law to come up and watch with us from the terrace.

The outsiders

I just need to paint this picture for you.  Do you remember the rumble scene from The Outsiders. You know between the Greasers and the Socs. In the rain.  Patrick Swayze in a wet t-shirt?  Rob Lowe who seriously never ages?  Tom Cruise before he got his teeth (and his nose) fixed?  It was dramatic and very, very hot wasn’t it?  This was NOT that.  This was two groups of middle aged men, none of whom resembled Patrick Swayze or Tom Cruise, and all of them who, frankly, should know better.  We have The Turk who, of course, recently had heart surgery.  We have Vito who back in March fell down some stairs (while drunk) and ended up nearly breaking his back.  We have the older, slightly balding, brother who feels that negotiation is the key to any argument (although he is not very good at it) and we have the younger brother who, although I love him dearly, really is a bit of a simpleton.  Along with these four middle aged dumb asses we have Romeo and his brother.  On the other side of this tense situation was a truck, a load of furniture and four very much middle aged men.  Similarly these men would never be confused for Patrick Swayze or Tom Cruise and no doubt their own medical histories, but these four men were surly and grim, and oh so ready to protect their daughter/niece/cousin’s honour, if necessary.

SIL, Daughter and I took our seats on the terrace just in time to witness The Turk grab one of the surly, grim visitors by the face and physically push him away.  Yikes!  I know I should probably have run downstairs and pull the leash on The Turk’s behaviour but I knew better than to get involved.  Keep the feck away and get ready for the fallout!

The neighbours all started to arrive because The Turk’s foul temper is legendary and no doubt this was going to be some great entertainment for all.  There was a lot of yelling and hand gesturing.  There was the occasional jostling; a hell of a lot of swearing and “he said, she said” but by the end of it all the secret was no longer a secret and the wedding was officially canned.

Two weeks have now passed since the secret came out and Romeo doesn’t seem too distraught by the break up (although he does update his Facebook status with some very deep, quite disturbing statements).  He has already replaced Juliet with a newer model (who apparently is, in fact, a model) so kudos to him.  Juliet has been seen out and about (although she will no doubt never set foot anywhere near this place again).  The Turk sheepishly went to visit Juliet’s family and apologised for his unruly behaviour and the gossiping ladies of the Village have more than enough to keep them busy for the next few weeks.

I still bring up The Turk’s unruliness at any opportunity and he still tells me to get fecked regularly.  So all is good in the world.


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My Kedi Cat and My Hurley Dog

Two years ago today my SIL and I travelled to Istanbul to collect two of my most precious family members – My Hurley Dog and My Kedi Cat.  They had just flown 29 hours from Sydney to Istanbul via Malaysia.  Like all long haul travellers they were tired and grumpy and the last thing they wanted to do is spend the next 11 hours sitting in customs in Istanbul while we fought to get them released.

This is their story.

Kedi 3

I have mentioned before that both of my pets were rescue animals and I had no intention of leaving my fur-babies behind when we moved to Türkiye (well I had half a mind to leave My Kedi Cat behind but that’s because he hates me).  I spent many hours dealing with both Australian customs and Turkish customs ensuring I had covered every base before I finally arranged for them to be flown over. I wanted them to have an easy flight and a simple transfer into my custody at Istanbul Customs.  I was certain I had crossed every “T” and dotted every single “I” but when arriving at customs in Istanbul it was, as expected, a fecking nightmare!

My SIL and I arrived in Istanbul from Adana at 6.30am and I had arranged a return flight for 5pm.  I assumed that this would be more than enough time to collect my two fur-babies, do all the custom rigmarole and have heaps of time to get our flight home with my fur-babies in tow.


Every single thing that could have gone wrong did go wrong.  It began with the Veterinarian not arriving to sign my babies off.  Why didn’t he arrive you wonder?  It was raining.  Poor love.  After a lot of yelling by my SIL (God bless my SIL) he was finally roused into work but did not arrive until after 3pm so basically we sat in customs for nearly 9 hours.  We weren’t allowed to leave, even a toilet break was frowned on.  We had to sit there in case the Vet arrived so we could point out our pets.  They were the only two fecking animals in customs so obviously they were fecking mine!!!!!  I spent a lot of that time in tears.  I could hear My Hurley Dog howling through the customs door but I wasn’t allowed to see him.

After being examined the Vet then questioned whether My Kedi Cat had rabies as he was vicious.  In fact the Customs officers back in Sydney had put a sticker on the cage – “Handle with Caution.  Dangerous Animal”.  After I explained that My Kedi Cat was always vicious – frankly the cat is a bit of a shit – and finally they were signed off.  But that wasn’t the end of it. There was still more paperwork and more money handed over (grease the wheels guys) before finally my two fur-babies were released into my custody.

I know a lot of expats bring their pets with them and I wonder whether flying into the more regional airports would be an easier option.  I expect that if I had taken a direct flight from the UK and arriving into, say Bodrum, then the customs guys would be quite used to nervous yabanci and would deal with them swiftly.  Perhaps but then really Istanbul is one of the biggest airports in the world.  They really should have their shit together!  It’s a domestic cat and a fecking poodle for Christ’s sake!  I know I should be thankful that my babies arrived safely because many do not.  While arranging for my babies to travel I read of many cases where domestic animals pass away en-route due to the stress and being mistreated by airport staff.  The thing is that flying is stressful for us humans I can only imagine what my fur-babies throught was going on.  Being put in cages and stuffed into a very noisy, very cold cargo hold before finally being delivered into my very relieved arms.

After collection we made our way to Domestic to catch our flight to Adana which, of course, we missed thanks to the lazy Vet.  The following flight was already booked with animals and they too would not let us on.  Finally a flight was made available at 11.30 that night that would allow My Hurley Dog in cargo and I would carry My Kedi Cat on my lap in the cabin.

Got home at 3am the following day.  My Hurley Dog was ecstatic and showed his excitement freely.  My Kedi Cat bit me and hid under the bed.  I chose to sleep on the couch for the next few days – just in case the cat tried to kill me in my sleep!


Two years on and My Hurley Dog and My Kedi Cat have settled into life in a Turkish village.  My Hurley Dog has not made many friends with the village dogs as they are all a lot larger than him.  They are farm dogs and not prepared to deal with My Hurley Dog’s precious, precious ways but he does have lots of people to hang around with.  He gets fed at every door (although not usually allowed in every door) and more often than not gets a pat on the head from visitors.  On the other hand My Kedi Cat who, back in Sydney, was a very high maintenance cat seems to fit right now.  He disappears each evening with Evil, my Stairwell Cat, and returns the next morning covered in dirt, mud, thistles, whatever.  He drags himself onto the bed and sleeps until evening.  In fact the other night I was taking My Hurley Dog for a walk and I found him in a dumpster.  So yeah – he is now a Turkish Cat.  It’s called assimulation people!


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