Inside Out In Istanbul

The passion for traveling has been something that people have been doing for centuries now, but being able to document and blog your traveling adventures is just awesome.

Lisa Morrow is a great example of an expat and blogger who has documented her life in Istanbul. With her very popular blog, Inside Out In Istanbul, and four best-selling books released to date, it’s time to get inspired and discover what it’s like to live in Istanbul with my excellent interview below.

I first met Lisa in Istanbul during one of my getaways from Mersin. I must admit I was a little intimidated by her because

she was such a successful author and blogger, whereas I was just a dabbler writing what amounts to “filth” in some people’s eyes (you’re welcome, by the way).

But I am happy to report that within the first moments of meeting Lisa my fears were unfounded. Here is a woman who, like me, is doing what she loves, and blessed to be doing it in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A northern-beaches girl, a lover of Vegemite, and one of the most down-to-earth people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.

Your blog was one of the first blogs I found when I decided to move to Turkey and I think I read each and every post you wrote. When did you start blogging? And how, or perhaps when, did you make the decision to take what you’ve written and turn it into a book (or, more correctly, 4 books)?

Actually it was publishing the first edition of my essay collection Inside Out In Istanbul in 2011 that started me thinking about blogging. I wrote this book for people planning to come to Istanbul or those who’d already visited once, wanting to better understand what they see and experience in the city.

I was really new to the world of social media back then so it took me until 2013 to start my own blog. At that time most internet sites about Turkey were either commercial ones selling tours, travel insurance and so on, or personal blogs by people who had visited Istanbul but never lived here. I wanted to share the Istanbul I live in, the real everyday extraordinary of the city outside the well-known tourist areas.

For my blog I usually write short pieces capturing my impressions or put together photo essays. However my passion and I believe my forté is writing essays that combine Turkish culture and history with my personal experiences. The longer I live in Istanbul and the better my Turkish becomes, the more I have to write about, which is how my other books have come about.

Did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

Not really. I’ve always made sense of the world through words. I have to be able to accurately describe what I see and experience in writing, otherwise my understanding remains incomplete. It’s the feedback I’ve received from readers rather than the process of writing and publishing my books that’s had the biggest impact on me. Readers say they feel like they’re walking the streets alongside me in Inside Out In Istanbul. Strangers feel they know me after reading my memoir Waiting for the Tulips to Bloom. Turks no longer living in the country say Exploring Turkish Landscapes makes them feel homesick but also as though they’re back home at the same time. It’s gratifying and rewarding to hear all this and makes me want to continue writing in the same way.

Congratulations on becoming an Amazon top 10 seller with your most recent release, “Longing for Istanbul: The Words I haven’t said yet”. That’s an amazing achievement (I’m not at all jealous). Has becoming a Top 10 seller changed how you look at marketing? Do you market? Or do you rely on word of mouth or other reviews?

Thank you for the compliment. Selling is, as you know, hard work and marketing is key. Millions of books are published every year and even though books sales increased worldwide in 2021, unless people hear about your books they won’t know to buy them. Being a Top 10 seller is fabulous but statistics change all the time so I never rest on my laurels. Word-of-mouth is really important but my audience spans the globe so I do market on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Strangely, although the latter is based on visuals, it’s a good platform for authors. However reviews on Amazon and Goodreads do have a big impact. These days a lot of people want to know in advance they’re going to like your book, so a positive review, even a short one, goes a long way.

Speaking of reviews… do you read them? And how do you deal with less than favourable ones?

Many writers say not to read reviews but I do. Writing is a solitary occupation and a lot of the time it feels like throwing ideas out into space and never knowing where or if they’ll land. Positive reviews are the echo telling me a reader gets what I’m trying to do. Luckily I haven’t had too many unfavourable ones (fingers crossed saying this won’t jinx me). What I really dislike though is when a reader gives a one or two star rating and can’t be bothered to say why. Maybe they don’t like Turkey, possibly they don’t like something they think they know about me or it could be they really didn’t like my writing after all. Unless they give a reason, it just pulls down the book rating and doesn’t help potential readers decide whether to buy it or not, which is one of the major reasons to leave a review.

You recently had Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries translated into Turkish (Türkiye’yi Keşfederek Sınırlarımı Aşarken). Why did you decide to have it translated and where is it available?

Back in 2019 I was interviewed by SBS Turkish radio (in Turkish) about why I moved to Turkey with my husband Kim, also a non-Turk. After it broadcast I received dozens of messages from people telling me I was THE topic of conversation in supermarkets in Melbourne, Australia, where the majority of Turks live. This was the first time they’d heard from a non-Turk who’d chosen to live in their home country and they were fascinated about why I’d done so and what it was like. Many of them were thinking of moving to Turkey themselves, even the Australian born ones, and they really related to what I said in the program. It was clear to me I should make my books available in Turkish because there was an audience keen to know more.

I chose to start with Exploring Turkish Landscapes because it covers my experiences in different parts of the country, and at different stages of my life and knowledge of Turkish language and culture. It’s available in Turkey as an ebook through D& R or internationally from Kobo and in paperback from Barnes & Noble and other booksellers.

I’m visiting Istanbul right now doing research for my next book… a literary pilgrimage, so to speak. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before you visit somewhere new?

When I first left Australia to travel to London and from there to Europe and eventually Turkey, I did very little research. The internet didn’t exist, travel guides were heavy and expensive and I preferred to party than check out books at the library. Now the internet provides thousands of websites, blogs and references and it’s easy to drown in too much information. I’ve been to all the main tourist sites in Istanbul, many several times, but these days I travel further afield. Every outing involves food in some way, whether it’s a new restaurant to try or going to a shop selling specialty Turkish foods or hard to get non-Turkish items.

Usually what happens is I’ll be on my way somewhere and spot something unexpected from a bus or the corner of my eye. A church tower or intriguing doorway I hadn’t noticed before, a sign that piques my interest or an unusual window display. Depending on my schedule (and my hunger) I might go in straight away, or just make a note or take a photo and research it when I get home. I use guidebooks and the internet to find out more and focus mainly on Turkish origin blogs and websites as they often contain more information than those written in English. However I read a lot of non-fiction books about Istanbul too, and when I come across references to places I don’t know about, I write them down and then go looking for them.

It’s the unexpected that excites me most so I prefer to visit a place first and research it later. Otherwise the joy of immersing myself in the atmosphere and discovering small beautiful details is lost in the act of looking for particular things noted in guidebooks. That’s the idea underpinning my essay ““Büyük Çamlıca Camii” in Longing for Istanbul.

Is there anywhere in Istanbul that you still want to visit, or perhaps a hidden gem that you’ve kept to yourself?

I think there will always be places I want to visit in Istanbul. My list expands all the time, partly because there is already so much to see but also because there are new discoveries being made almost everyday. Add to that long abandoned sites being restored and opened to the public and the possibilities are endless. My focus in the coming months (when it gets warmer) is to use Istanbul’s excellent public transport system to go further afield. I don’t drive in Istanbul so going to Beykoz, Atatürk Kent Park or Polonezkoy is a bit of an expedition. I enjoy it though, because being on trains, buses and ferries gives me what I call empty time, when I have the space to daydream and random thoughts often become concrete ideas.

One thing I really love about Istanbul is whether you’re rich or poor you can drink tea and eat a meal by the water, enjoying the same mesmerising views, no matter your budget. It’s very democratic in that way so my hidden gems are the places locals can go and feel like royalty, whatever their social status. Spoiler alert – they’ll stay hidden.

What surprises you most about living in Turkey?

How kind Turkish people are, no matter what’s going on in their lives. I’ve seen the Turkish economy rise and fall over the years and right now people are doing it tough. Yet that doesn’t stop them thinking of others. Last week I was on the way to my gym and an older man slipped and fell while running for a bus. He cut his forehead quite badly. I picked up his transport card as a younger man helped him up and both of us gave him tissues to help stem the blood. Two woman suggested he might need stitches so the younger man escorted him across road and directed him to the hospital. This level of assistance is normal. I tripped on a bollard once and fell over and people even crossed a busy road to help me!

Then there’s the traditional pay it forward schemes like askıda ekmek where you buy an extra loaf of bread for someone without means and the modern version called askıda fatura. People in need are carefully vetted by councils and the government so strangers can pay money towards their bills (fatura in Turkish). This level of humanity is rare in the world these days but it’s an everyday occurrence in Turkey,

I Googled you today. Not only are you an author and blogger but you also write for media outlets, like CNN. Have you got anything exciting in the pipeline you can reveal?

Yes I do. I have a feature on beaches along the Lycian Way coming out in CNN Travel in the next few months and have also had an article on Istanbul accepted by the New York Times. I don’t know when they’ll be published so watch this space!

Add your own question that you’ve always wanted asked but never has been…

I’ve always wanted someone to ask me what I find the most frustrating part of writing. The answer is finding the exact word to describe a specific moment, feeling, touch, taste, sensation etc. I want people to know how Istanbul smells, what it’s like to be bathed in urban sweat, the emotions you go through as you negotiate life in Turkey as a both a foreigner and a local, and that can be extremely difficult.

I grew up in a house full of books, played word games with my parents and am a former English teacher (both as a foreign and second language). I know words matter and choosing the correct one can be agony. However when I do find the word that expresses precisely what I’m trying to say, it fits into place seamlessly and gives my writing an almost organic character, as if it came into being fully formed. In truth it’s the result of hours sitting at my computer, staring out windows, making notes and writing the same sentence three or four different ways to see which one works best. Nonetheless, no matter how exasperated I get, I love writing. It’s a privilege to be able to share my words and thus my world with others.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like Lisa and I me, love Istanbul, and also love Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Pomegranates And Olive

For those of you not in the know I have finally released my follow-up novel Pomegranates and Olive. Curious? I know you are, so here’s the paperback cover:

I’m not going to bang on about how wonderful Pomegranates and Olive is, even though it is, in fact here are a few of the early reviews:

Not too shabby, eh?

Anyway, like I said I’m not going to bang on about Pomegranates and Olive but instead I want to talk about purchasing your book from Amazon Turkey and why it’s goddamn bollocks!

I’ve actually sold a few books already on Amazon Turkey which is really exciting because it is Turkey after all, but after I had a very, VERY, disappointed reader write to me recently about a book that she had purchased from Amazon Turkey I decided to get in and have a look at what is really going on there.

I can purchase a copy of Pomegranates and Olive from Amazon Turkey. I will cost me 125.89TL plus 90TL in shipping fee. That equates to approximately AUD$35.00. For your average Turk (or yabanci living and working in Turkey) that’s a LOT of money. But here’s the real kicker, if you purchase Pomegranates and Olive from Amazon Turkey it comes unbound. Yes! No binding, random paper. I’m picturing that scene in Love Actually where gorgeous Colin Firth loses his unbound manuscript in the lake and his housekeeper / love of his life dives in (or more correctly falls in) to save what he can. Okay, I’ve gotten a little off track right here but the fact is that the slightest breeze will rip that sucker out of your hands and send it every which way (and probably when you’re getting to the juicy bits).

So what does the average yabanci living in Turkey desperately trying to get their hands on Pomegranates and Olive (the hilarious follow-up from Salep and Ginger which a bunch of 5-star reviews already, in case you didn’t know)? Well, if you don’t have a Kindle or an Amazon account in either AU, US, UK or CA I have ordered a bunch of paperbacks be sent to me here in Turkey. I will only charge what they cost me (plus postage) so that may make this a little more attractive. When they arrive I will calculate the total and let you guys know.

If you do have an Amazon account you can order directly and they will post it here. And remember there is no tax payable on books so why not go a little wild and buy Pomegranates and Olive AND Salep and Ginger.

For those of you interested, the link for Pomegranates are below:

Go on, you know you want to.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, love kooky, comedic and somewhat trashy romance novels and love Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Letting Go and Moving On

Well this sounds like a pleasant post, doesn’t it?

Truth be told it’s not as drastic as one might think but the end of my marriage is something that sent me into a total spiral and taught me that I’m a stronger bitch than I ever gave myself credit for.

The whole COVID bok (shit for all those non-Turkish swearers) hasn’t helped. The last twelve months have been painful for all of us. No one’s life has escaped this blasted pandemic unscathed. COVID-19 has altered everyone’s aspirations and forced people (like me) to re-evaluate their life.

And while I have no intention of going into the dirty deets of precisely why I’ve walked away from The Turk I will say this… there were more than two people in this marriage (channeling my inner Princess Diana)… but in this case there were a whole bunch and they were all HIS family!

It was fascinating to watch the change of attitude in most of The Turk’s family when they saw that the bank (aka me) was shutting up shop forever. I went from being a somewhat respected member of the family to being the outcast that people bitched and backstabbed about (one might say they always bitched and backstabbed me but now it was to my face which, truth be told, was extremely unpleasant). Honestly? I haven’t spoken to any other them other than my beloved sister-in-law, Songül, in months.

So I have walked away from The Turk and the Turkish village life. I’m now living in the city and enjoying the new lifestyle (and excellent internet). I’ve taken control of my finances. I’ve transferred the ownership of what is mine and while I may be more broke than I’ve ever been, I’m in a much happier place.

And for those who are wondering no I don’t hate the Turk. He has always put his family first… and second… AND FECKING THIRD for that matter. I guess he’s just too naïve and too trusting for his own good. We still see each other regularly as we share custody of the car and My Hurley Dog, in fact I’m waiting for him right now so we can have breakfast together. No hate, just distance.

I can’t promise I will be more present on this blog with me now working but I will pop on every now and then to let you guys know what’s up in my life or to tell you a story or two.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, can put on their big girl pants and move on with life and love Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Dog v. Nemesis

More than a few weeks back My Hurley Dog (who as you can see by his mug shot below, is the epitome of a gentleman’s gentleman) and I were in the garden with my various in-laws making bread when who should appear over the back fence but my nemesis, asshole rooster. For those of you not familiar with my nemesis he is currently a rather handsome black rooster but over the years he has been many shades of asshole and I’m pleased to say that each and every one of those noisy bastards were delicious (and don’t come at me again Karen all BBQ (mangalar) were done with the full knowledge and approval of Crazy Eyes, the owner of said asshole roosters).

One of my favourite things about My Hurley Dog is his willingness to protect his humans, and so, with a flick of my wrist, he took off across the garden after my nemesis who apparently had grown a set since our last alteration and decided to Cobra Kai his ass. Needless to say my precious poodle did NOT expect a fight, and came to a dust-screeching halt when the asshole rooster turned his beady dinosaur eyes on him. At that point, the supposed adult, me, intervened and chased my nemesis back to his side of the fence where he sat and screamed rooster profanities at both My Hurley Dog and me for a good 15 minutes.

Now I may not know many things, but one thing I know for sure is that that asshole rooster took a hit out on My Hurley Dog that day as he has had numerous attempts on his life since then. 

The first attempted assassination happened a couple of days later when we passed a flock of sheep while we were on a walk through the village. Anything larger than a fat poodle is generally given a wide berth, and sheep definitely fall into that category. We crossed to the other side of the paddock, but it was too late. They spotted us and decided that My Hurley Dog was either (a) one of their own due to his similar styling; or (b) an infiltrator that needed to be taken out. Suddenly we were surrounded. My Hurley Dog bravely stepped up to his sworn duty and protected me, barking louder than a horny howler monkey until he finally gained the shepherd’s attention who meandered over to round the little bastards up.

Were they merely being curious or were they acting on the order of a crazy asshole rooster, I guess we will never know… but then this happened.

We changed our early morning walking route to avoid that particular paddock and instead decided to loop the block. When we stay closer to home, our numerous kediler usually join us. This means it’s me, My Hurley Dog, the dog next door and one, two or three cats. I’m pretty sure the entire village calls me the Pied Piper of Stupid behind my back (or to my face because let’s be honest my Turkish is crap-tastic at best).

There we were enjoying our early morning constitutional when a mama crow swooped down low on us, no doubt warning us to keep away from her nest. The cats were enjoying that game and stayed behind while My Hurley Dog and I continued along. A few minutes later plop… a huge poop landed on My Hurley Dog’s back and then plop… another one, this time on his head. The crow pooped on him with assassin-like precision. He was most unhappy, not because of the pooping but because he knew what would happen next. A bath!

Not long after these first two suspicious incidents, My Hurley Dog joined me on a trip to the ancient city of Uzuncaburç. A few hours from here it’s an archeological site containing the remnants of the ancient town of Diokaisareia, and I wanted to take some photos of him amongst the ruins. They would be Insta-fabulous!

Anyway, the day started off well, despite the oppressive heat, and we travelled up into the mountains. We stopped for strawberries (a steal at 20TL) before exploring an aqueduct at Olba. Finally arriving at Uzuncaburç, we wandered around the theatre where My Hurley Dog sniffed to his heart’s delight before making our way down to the Temple of Zeus. 

And that’s when it happened. 

Eeks! 

Egads! 

We were set upon by a gang of Turks! Well, more correctly we were attacked by turkeys, wild turkeys. Angry, ginormous, ugly as shit, wild turkeys with their bumpy red heads and that hideous fleshy flap of skin. Bleugh! And don’t get me started on their thoroughly unfriendly behaviour (although if I was as ugly as them, I’d probably need an attitude adjustment as well).

Anyway, these nasty, evil, would-be assassins, appeared out of nowhere and chased My Hurley Dog (and me because yikes!) clear back to the car park. We darted left, they darted right and with a wiggle of their waddle they had both of us pinned against the car. There was a lot of yelling by me, My Hurley Dog, and the hapless employee who worked at the ruins as he tried to separate these disgusting, delicious, creatures from my poodle and I. Needless to say my Hurley Dog was in no condition to further explore Uzuncaburç so another trip in the future will be on the cards (for me because I’m certain my dog is not interested in visiting again).

Fast forward to yesterday: my Hurley Dog and I were in the garden with my various in-laws making bread when who should appear over the back fence but my nemesis, asshole rooster. My Hurley Dog and asshole rooster eyed each other off. No doubt threats were made by both parties via growls and clucks, but an unwritten agreement appears to have been reached. Asshole rooster returned to his side of the fence where he could be heard muttering profanities as he rounded up his women. At the same time, My Hurley Dog came and sat beside me, practically in my lap, where he was given a piping hot piece of fresh bread as a reward for being such a good boy.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, have a nemesis and love Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Squirt, squirt

Heads up readers. This will be a post about going potty, not crazy, but the other potty, you know, in the bathroom… anyway, you have been warned.

When the world went crazy for toilet paper during COVID-19, most of us in Turkey were pretty chill about the need to stock up because we have a taharet musluğu on our toilet. Taharet is Arabic for cleanliness and musluk means tap, so I’m sure you work out what it does.

I admit that I don’t often use the taharet musluğu because, well, I prefer tissue, however, on occasion it can get a little iffy “back there” and I need to give my bot-bot an extra squirt for good measure. 

I recently had the need to use the taharet musluğu thanks to a particularly spicy Adana Kebab that was made by my BIL (who doesn’t really like me and possibly made it a little spicier than usual). I can handle it (and the aftermath), but still, I turned on the taharet musluğu to, well, I don’t need to explain what happens next… plus it’s pretty dang hot here right now, so my bottom was enjoying the refreshing spray. But then something happened, something completely unexpected – boiling hot water suddenly shot up my bum hole. I screamed in pain, it was like someone had poured a kettle on me. I jumped up and watched the steam rising from the water, not from my poopy mind you, the water! Yep, boiling water was shooting out of my taharet musluğu! I could have been maimed! My bot-bot could have sustained third-degree burns! Shit just got real… really, real!

Now I haven’t had much luck with my water recently. You might recall this post about our hot water system exploding late last year, since then we’ve had numerous “village” plumbers visit on multiple occasions to try and fix the numerous problems to no avail. Of course, it’s to no avail because these salaklar aren’t actually trained plumbers! 

We finally arranged for a plumber from the city, a REAL, honest to God, plumber! I felt like I’d won the lottery. Anyway, the plumber fixed the problem, but he also pointed out that our pipes were wrongly connected. He said that our hot is cold and our cold is hot. I’d never noticed that and it really didn’t affect me … until now!

So if you see me wandering around the village this week and I’m walking a little *cough, cough* delicately, well, now you know why!

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like-minded people who, like me, sometimes need a good squirt and also love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Mersin In The Time Of Covid-19

I had a dream last night.

There I was, waiting to pass through immigration at Istanbul New Airport. I watch, at a socially-acceptable distance, of course, as the person in front of me has his passport stamped and I step up to the counter, smiling widely as I hand over my passport and kimlik.

“Where are you going?”

“Sydney, Australia.”

Ah, yes, Australia with its 352 covid-19 cases. Australia who, along with its forward-thinking neighbor to the east, New Zealand, seem to have its shit together, despite their half-assed lockdown (Australia, not New Zealand because Jacinta Ahern is a Goddess who locked that country down faster than you could say ‘feesh and cheeps’!).

“Is it essential travel?”

“Definitely essential.”

Long pause while he stares at his computer doing secret stuff.

“What will you be doing in Sydney?”

What will I be doing in Sydney?

“First stop? I am buying clothes. T-shirts without awful prints. Blouses without ugly flowers or wildly inappropriate slogans. Bras with underwires! UNDERWIRES!!! Undies that aren’t white cotton or completely trampy (for there is no in between). Once I have filled my empty suitcase with clothes I will hit the supermarket and I will stockup on essentials like Dairy Milk chocolate and Tim Tams.

I will then eat my weight in bacon, ham and salami while washing it down with a good Australian wine (which means I’ll single-handedly be keeping the Australian wine industry afloat).”

Sensing I’m losing the agent I continue. “VEGEMITE!”

“Vegemite is a prohibited item.”

“NO IT’S NOT!!! YOU’RE NOT TAKING MY VEGEMITE AWAY FROM ME!”

I try to make a run for it but don’t get far and am tackled by two guards carrying semi-automatic weapons. They drag me away kicking and screaming while taunting me with a very Seinfeldian, “NO VEGEMITE FOR YOU!”

I wake in a pool of sweat and realizing that I am NOT actually travelling anywhere anytime soon, burst into very real tears and go make myself a cup of çay … with milk (because I’m a rebel).

All bok aside though it’s Daughter’s 18th birthday and we’re supposed to be in Sydney now celebrating with family and friends. Instead we are here in our little home on the outskirts of Mersin and wondering when the second wave will hit (and don’t kid yourself people… it WILL hit!).

Turkey had it all under control. I was incredibly impressed with how the Government handled itself when the first case was reported on 10 March 2020. And then it hit the fan. Intermittent lockdowns were put in place which still enabled much of the economy to splutter along somewhat but slowed the numbers considerably. School was cancelled for the remainder of the school year and, after a rather rocky start, online classes began. Under 19’s and over 65’s were not allowed to leave their homes but here in the Village that didn’t mean an awful lot. With no school, kids were running around like headless chooks and don’t think you can tell any of the over 65’s here what to do. Hell to the no! They’ll give you a tongue lashing that will send you scurrying under the covers (not me though because most of the time they yell in Arabic and I have enough trouble understanding them in Turkish). Edit: Before the keyboard warriors come at me AGAIN… Mersin has a large population of Arabic decent… no they are not migrants or refugees and just because “your wide circle of friends and their grandparents” can’t speak Arabic it doesn’t mean a good god-damn to me or to anyone else frankly. The Turk’s family do speak Arabic. Why? Because they can. Why do I speak Italian? Because I can. Why do you speak whatever language you speak? Because you can… so shut your pie-hole, Karen?

All right, all right, I will admit that many people did do the right thing but if you were ever out wandering around the Village at 5AM (which I often was with My Hurley Dog and a mask… me not the dog) it was like Times Square on NYE out there. Sticking it to the man! Our neighbour’s even had an elaborate birthday party for their one-year-old twins. Half the village was there, for feck’s sake. There was music and dancing and a jolly good time was had by all. I thankfully wasn’t invited and wouldn’t have gone because, you know, there’s a pretty dangerous virus out there, but that’s another very dramatic story for another time — and trust me it’ll be totally worth it.

Us yabancılar (aka Daughter and I) have been taking this shit seriously though. Daughter hasn’t been allowed out AT ALL! I am, of course, the worst mother in the whole, wide world but I’m good with that if it means she’s safe. All her friends have been out. All her friends have been doing exactly what they always do, ignore the rules and do whatever the feck they want, because they’re all spoilt, self-indulgent, brats (because that’s what they are, Karen). Daughter and I have gone weeks at a time without leaving the house relying on The Turk to do our shopping or to ensure we weren’t dead and being eaten by our numerous kediler. For those concerned we did have enough toilet paper, in fact we still have enough toilet paper. Phew!

But then the restrictions were lifted and the new cases have doubled in a week. Here in Mersin there have been clusters which is rather worrying as Mersin had relatively low numbers.

Masks are mandatory in shops and you need to get your temperature checked before entering many places now. There is hand sanitizer or kolonya available for everyone and God help you if you cough. Allergy season has taken on a whole new meaning for The Turk and Daughter, that’s for sure.

Today Turkey stands at a total of just under 180,000 cases with 22,000 currently active and nearly 5,000 deaths. And just to reiterate, mostly because too many people here don’t seem to grasp the severity of covid-19, in the past week new cases have doubled in Turkey. DOUBLED! Clearly something’s not working.

Wear a mask, wash your hands and stay safe my fram.

And one final little tidbit, Karen, Vegemite is NOT “black salt spread”. Wars have broken out over less!! (FYI this is also humor not a declaration of war).

Final edit: Yes I had a Karen come at me. It was fun. I enjoyed it immensely.

NEXT!

_________________________________________________________________________
Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like-minded people who, like me, know that to beat this we need to wear masks, wash our hands and be socially-distant and also love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Turkish Housewife For The Win!

We’ve had no electric for the last ten out of fourteen days. It’s practically medieval times here in the Village so with no electric and in an effort to save myself from going bat-shit crazy out of boredom, I’ve slapped on my şalvar, wrapped my hair (to hide the grey no less) and reverted to my less than enthusiastic Turkish Housewife mode. 

First job tackled was the salca.

All of you already know that one of my highlights since I moved to Mersin is to make the salca. It reminds me of my wonderful mother-in-law and how she welcomed this somewhat reluctant yabancı gelin into the family and started me on my Turkish life. She taught me that sometimes the old ways are better and if you’re expecting several consecutive days (try several consecutive months) of 38ºC (100ºF) Mediterranean sunshine, then your salca will be much more successful if sun-dried rather than making it in the oven/cooktop.

This year’s salca experience could have ended up being a disaster, but thanks to my sister-in-law, who is nothing if not enterprising, her quick thinking saved the day (and the salca).

My salca story started just fine. I had a shopping list: 

250 kilograms kırmızı biber (red capsicum)

100 kg domates (tomatoes)

100 kg acı biber (hot chilli)

That might seem like a lot of capsicum but it never really is.

Excited, I hit the pazar and negotiated in my best Turklish to get a reasonable price, and when that didn’t work The Turk stepped in and got me the best price. 

I got cracking-a-lacking on the domates and had them chopped up and blitzed early on Saturday morning so by the time my SIL got home that afternoon I had already carried buckets of mulched domates up to the roof and had poured them into my rather dodgy (but does the job) plastic sheeting/slab. SIL did bring reinforcements for the kırmızı biber (her mother and sister), and thank goodness because without them we could have been there all night. The 100kg of acı biber are a little dicier (no pun intended). We split them into two – 50kg cleaned for salca and 50kg cleaned and cut for drying.

By 8:00 PM everything was sliced, diced, blitzed and shattered (and that was just us).

And then, and to quote the great Annie Lennox, here comes the rain again.

First rain of the season. Yah! NOT!!!

FARK!

3:00 AM and SIL banged on my door sending My Hurley Dog and me into hysterics. Once I realised we weren’t under attack, I followed her up to the rooftop. There we were in our pyjamas (or in my case my undies and a singlet because it’s still stinking hot here in Mersin) running around in the bucketing rain, trying to save our kırmızı biber from washing away. We MacGyver’ed the shit out of my sun-lounger and some plastic to fashion a make-shift tent and even though the roof resembled a crime scene with the overflow of sauce mixed with rainwater on Sunday morning, our salca and sliced acı biber were saved and able to be returned to their rightful place in the sunshine.

It might have taken a little longer this year to dry out (thanks to said bucketing) but we now have enough tomato paste and capsicum paste to feed an army, or at least feed the family through until next September. I might sound like a typical Türk but I could never go back to store-brought salca now. I mean just look at that kırmızı biber salca (capsicum paste) beautiful dark red colour. Trust me when I say it tastes amazing!

And because I never want to find myself with a pickling emergency I also perfected my pickling this past week. After a few trips to the supermarket and buying out every single bottle of üzüm sirkesi (grape vinegar) they had in stock I pickled the hell out of any vegetable that was lying around including salatakık (cucumber), soğan (onion), havuç (carrot), lahana (cabbage) and yet another 5kg of acı biber. I’m pretty sure we’re sorted for hot chillies to keep us warm on cold winter nights.

And just because I’m Aussie I got a fabulous recipe from a local chef who makes the most amazing pickled beetroot so I was back to the Mezitli pazar last weekend to pick up pancar and yet more vinegar for testing out his recipe. Finally I can get some decent beetroot for my burgers.

Thankfully the electric is now back (and hopefully will stay again for at least a few days).

Finger’s crossed because seriously if I lose my electric again today, I can’t be held responsible for my actions. Seriously! Watch this space!

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like-minded people who, like me, has never met a pickled vegetable that I didn’t like and also loves Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Nemesis 3.0

It’s been a while since I have mentioned my nemesis. Just to remind you my nemesis has reincarnated a few times over the years but has always taken the form of a rather large and loud cock-a-fecking-doodle-doing rooster.

There was the large red cock that terrorised My Hurley Dog so much that he refused to go into the yard for a good month. That red cock ended up as a fricassee. Then there was the big black cock (what am I writing?) who made it his personal mission to ensure I never slept more than two hours a night. Now I don’t know what happened to him but when he disappeared there was nothing left of him but some feathers and a beak. I’m guessing an alien abduction was the most likely cause of his demise. Then there was a cute little brown cock. He was a sweet-looking little guy but despite his tiny stature, he had a hell of a set of pipes on him! I swear you could hear him in the city. My BIL mangaled his ass and I must say he was delicious.

The owner of all of these reincarnated nemeses in their various forms, previously referred to as Crazy Eyes, had been rather quiet of late. I hadn’t seen her, or her mother or those five unruly boys (no doubt the reason for her crazy eyes), but last weekend she reappeared in a big way and worse still she brought with her yet another big black cock. She has gotten much smarter though. She knew we entered under the cover of darkness and Seal team 6’d her roosters so she has re-housed her new black cock and his six bitches onto the roof of her house. The fecking roof! Now, this new black-feathered evil dinosaur is even closer to my window.

My nemesis started this morning at 3:36AM. Precisely. He hopped to the end of his coop (read that as Crazy Eye’s roof), stared into my opened window and screamed at the top of his lungs “HEY, JANEY? ARE YOU AWAKE? JANEY? HUH? JANEY? WAKE UP! WAKE THE FECK UP!”. I swear to you this is no lie.

As he is now mere feet from my window I immediately woke, moaned, cried a little, hugged My Hurley Dog and, when this ugly ass cock-a-doodle-dummy kept this shit up for a straight forty-five minutes I gave up on sleep and went and watched the news.

So I now have a mission (if I choose to accept it) and that mission is to find myself a big-ass rifle and, if I haven’t accidentally shot off my own head in the interim, I am going to sniper the shit out of that bastard cock-a-doodle-don’t!

I be hella grumpy when I don’t sleep.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, have a nemesis and love Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Breakfast at Melemez

Anyone who has visited Turkey has no doubt indulged in an authentic Turkish kahvaltı (breakfast). Tables of food filled with kőy (village) grown or locally sourced products lovingly prepared by your Turkish host.

Here in Mersin, there are many, MANY places to get a Turkish breakfast but, like most things, the challenge is finding the best spot to indulge. One such spot I got to experience recently is Giritli Cemilenin Yeri Kahvalti. This lokanta is in Melemez, a village not too far from my home, and is unlike anything I had ever visited before in Mersin because Melemez is, in fact, a Greek village.

Settled in the late 1800s by Muslim Cretans, they brought with them their Greek colours, Greek lifestyle and even, bless them, their Greek wine-making skills.

Following the distinctive Greek signage into the small village the lokanta succeeded in whisking me away to my distant memories of Crete with its eclectic style but, as usual, I thought only with my stomach and what excited me the most was our breakfast table literally groaning under the weight of all our breakfast choices.

Along with a variety of cheeses, crisp cucumbers and baskets of freshly baked bread there was green and black olives, village eggs cooked to perfection, sun-ripened tomatoes, home-made fig and apricot preserves, pekmez (grape molasses), creamy yogurt and more borek (cheese pastries) that you could possibly consume. We were welcomed like family and the owner even suggested we finish off our breakfast with a sampling of his home-made wine (a breakfast tradition that this token Aussie could totally get behind!).

Weekends get busy in Melemez with visitors coming from all around to enjoy the unique village and their weekend market, where the locals sell their products including şarap (wine), zeytin yağlı (olive oil), salca (tomato paste) yumurtular (eggs) and turşusu (pickled vegetables), is usually teeming with people. The roads can also be busy, but this is probably due to the four feet kind of traffic rather than a four-wheel kind.

Credit: Moe

A Turkish breakfast is meant to be savoured and time will slip away from you but before you leave Melemez behind take the opportunity to wander around this picturesque village. Being with two photographers (who are prepared to get down and dirty when they need to) we got to meet quite a few of the locals who were glad to show us their homes, their gardens and even their ovens (as you do).

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like-minded people who, like you, love fabulous Turkish breakfast and you also love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Ugly Expat 911

Expats are few and far between in Mersin, and over the years I have met some very *ahem* exciting characters.  Some I see once and then block them from my mind and social media in the hope of never passing paths again, and others are my closest friends and allies here in this crazy city hahaha.

new expat

The thing with having such a small group is that when you do meet that character that you just don’t gel with it can be nearly impossible to escape from them.  You see them at the same events, hanging out at the same restaurants and you bump into them at your local pazar/beautician/dentist – but of course you introduced them to said pazar/beautician/dentist!  You dumb ass!!

This happened to me recently, and I found the whole experience quite exhausting.  I was my usual friendly persona, welcoming said expat with open arms and introducing said expat to other members of the group and beforementioned pazar/beautician/dentist; however, I realised pretty early on that I had nothing in common with said expat.  I found said expat’s behaviour towards others in the group appalling and said expats behaviour to the locals ludicrous at times.  Oh, and I also realised pretty early on that said expat was batshit crazy!

Said expat found themselves in a bit of a jam as well while here in Mersin and when the situation imploded (which of course it did) it was all hands on deck.  However, despite other members of the group giving sound advice and being a listening board said expat decided to do the absolute opposite to the advice that was given and found themselves in an even more precarious position.  I don’t know everything, in fact, I don’t know a lot, but I do know that when a situation is shitty, it’s time to leave.  It’s not the time to include as many people as possible in your personal drama.

I think the thing that frustrated me the most about said expat was the fact that she felt she was so entitled to her opinion and expectations and also expected all of us to drop everything to deal her every problem.  Oh, and said expat never said thank you.  Not even once.  Rudeness!

Said expat has gone now thankfully.  I hope said expat never comes back to Mersin or if she does come back then hopefully she doesn’t contact me again – of course she probably won’t because I have already blocked her on my social media and she was banished from the expat group due to her nastiness.

Ugh, I’m getting too old for this shit.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, sometimes feel like a bit of a Dementor and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.