Kanlıdivane

As you all know I love to take my cross poodle / bishon fraise, Hurley, out on adventures. He’s 12 now and becoming a bit of a grump so we want to keep him happy and active as much as we can.

Recently Daughter and I took My Hurley Dog to the Kanlıdivane Archaeological site north of Ayaş, Mersin.

The entire archaeological site is built around a natural sinkhole. Among the highlights, there are: the Tower of Zeus Olbios, the Armaronxas Family’s Relief, the Church of Papaylos, and a temple mausoleum. The mausoleum was built by Queen Aba for her husband and sons who are said to have perished in a plague.

Like most archaeological ruins, Kanlıdivane has a rather gruesome back story attached to it. It is said that the Turkish name, Kanlıdivane, derives from the ancient name Canytelis, which translates to “bloody crazy”. Now, technically, it no doubts refers to the red colour of the walls of the sinkhole; however, I prefer the legend that in Roman times criminals would be executed by throwing them into the sinkhole: Totally plausible reaction if you ask me.

A five-minute walk up the road from Kanlıdivane leads you to Çanakçı rock tombs. These four tombs have figures carved into the walls and an inscription condemning any grave robbers that happen upon them.

Kanlıdivane has been extensively restored by the government with pleasant walking paths (although those cobblestones are not high-heel friendly so wear walking shoes), good parking, clean toilets (always a bonus) and a small café and shop.

And, yes, My Hurley Dog had a wonderful day.

The Mersin International Music Festival holds concerts here each year.

Hours:        10.00AM – 17.00PM (summer) | 8.30AM – 17.00PM (winter)

Address:     Kumkuyu, Kanlıdivane Caddesi, 33750 Ayaş Bulvarı, Erdemli/Mersin

Telephone: 0324 231 96 18

Cost:           ₺12.50 (circa 2022)

Difficulty:  1

The only way to get here is by private car. From Mersin, head west down the Mersin-Antalya yolu (D400), then follow your GPS directions into the mountains.


If want a copy of the ultimate guidebook to Mersin you can grab your copy at any of the following online retailers (and yes it is available in Turkiye):

Amazon US – Kindle or paperback

Amazon UK – Kindle or paperback

Trendyol – paperback (Turkiye only)

Akademisyen Kitabevi – paperback (Turkiye only)

Life, Interrupted

Gosh it’s been eons since I gave you guys a proper update of life here in Mersin.

Summer is upon us yet again and bloody hell it’s hotter than Satan’s asshole after a dodgy tantuni (my most recent Twitter post)! With things hotting up I intend to spend as little time as possible in front of the computer and as much time as possible at the beach… or in the pool. Yep, I live in a complex with a pool, and a beautiful garden, and 24-hour security… everything a girl could ask for… including an elevator (my knees are forever grateful!)!!

I am officially now a city girl and completely spoilt for choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t give up my time in the Village for quids. It was always one hell of an adventure. But living in the Village permanently was hard work (which for those of you who have followed me since the beginning will know all about). My relationship with The Turk was never that strong to begin with, in fact one of the reasons we moved to Türkiye was because he was so miserable back in Sydney. Surely moving back to his homeland would make life better? Pfftt!

What I’ve now learned about The Turk is that he is a glass is always half empty kind of guy. He is a very good man who makes extremely bad decisions and will always put everyone else’s needs ahead of mine and Daughter’s. As time went on life just got harder. We spent little time together to begin with, as time passed little became practically none… and I realised that I didn’t really care. COVID struck with a vengeance, then the economic crisis, and we took hit after hit after hit. It was time for me to re-assess what I wanted to do with my life.

And while I didn’t want to leave Türkiye, I couldn’t continue to live in such a toxic environment. The backstabbing and bitchiness that would go on in the Village was astounding, and wayyy too much of it was directed at me. Every day there was yet another drama and, in the end, my mental health was becoming affected. I had to make a move.

Within a week of coming to my decision I had found an apartment to rent. It’s in an amazing part of the city, close to my favourite Migros and, even more importantly, my favourite restaurant!

It’s been 18 months now since I moved out of the Village and into the city and it has changed my life. Daughter is well on her way to finishing a communications degree and recently returned from Australia. I’ve written and published two more books (including a guidebook on Mersin… you can grab your copy here). I’m putting finishing touches to my next novel, Galata and Nutmeg as well as a contemporary fiction novel set in Mersin that has blown out into an epic saga is now on its second round of edits.

So if you’re looking for me I shall be by the pool… or maybe at the beach… or maybe, just maybe, having an extraordinarily large glass of red wine at my favourite restaurant (which is now stumbling distance from home).


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Foodie’s Paradise

I’ve been thinking about food quite a bit the last few weeks. Maybe it’s the cold weather, maybe it’s the only thing I miss about living in the Village, but either way, I’m hungry.

Food in Mersin is rather unique with its mix of Turkish, Ottoman and Arabic, and a flavour all of its own. Food is always better when it is produced locally, when it is distributed locally and when it reaches the table locally. One of the biggest attributes to Mersin food is everything is fresh, straight from the pazar to the table. Here are some of my absolute favourite foods to enjoy in Mersin.

Photography by Nancy Habbas

Tantuni

Mersin has many dishes that originated from the province. My favourite and probably the best known of all Mersin dishes is – the tantuni!

Tantuni is a traditional street food dish consisting of thinly sliced beef that is seasoned with Turkish spices and herbs, usually cooked with onions and tomatoes. The combination is cooked in specially designed tantuni pans.

Traditionally, the dish is served rolled in a durum wheat wrap, with ground sumac and a lemon wedge on the side. Since every tantuni chef has his own method and secret technique of preparing the dish, it is said that the flavours of tantuni are never the same. 

Icli Kofte

Anyone who has been to a Middle Eastern or Lebanese Restaurant would have tried the similarly made Kibbe, but I know that a Turkish Icli Kofte is just that little bit better. They are incredibly difficult to make, and the few times I’ve tried have been nothing more than a disaster, but if you happen upon a local making them do not leave before you taste one (or a dozen).

Künefe 

Künefe is a crazy ass desert served here in Mersin and throughout Turkey made of cooked cheese, syrup and icecream. Künefe is well known throughout the provinces of Mersin, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kilis and Adana, although it is served in many Arabic countries.  If you do want to make an attempt of this amazing dessert I suggest you go check out Ozlem’s recipe.  She is, as usual, my go-to person when attempting Turkish food but this one looks a little out of my league.

Cezerye

Made with caramelized grated carrots, sugar, and nuts, this sweet concoction is rolled into balls and usually covered with shredded coconut before consumption. When I was in Tarsus recently, I was told that Cezerye is an aphrodisiac, so consume with caution.

Kısır

A classic Turkish salad made with thin bulgur wheat, tomatoes, mint, garlic, parsley, and either lemon juice or sour pomegranate molasses. Red pepper flakes are often added to the salad to make it spicier. A must-have for your mangal.

Sarimasakli Kofte

People may try telling you this is an Adana dish but don’t you listen to them, it’s definitely a Mersin tradition. Made from the same bulgur wheat as the kısır, they are rolled into tiny balls and boiled. After cooking its topped with a sauce made with garlic, lemon, salca, parsley and oil. Delicious.

Batkırık

Similar to kısır, batkırık is my go-to for a quick and easy meal. These are so easy to make but the secret to a successful batkırık is the sauce. Onion, cumin, salca and oodles of garlic. Mix it into the bulgur wheat before making patties. Batkırık is also sometimes made as a cold soup with tahini and water added.

Fındık Lahmacun

A specialty from Tarsus, these are easy to snack on at any time of day. Topped with mince meat, herbs, red peppers and spices, these have the added ingredient of hazelnuts before being baked to perfection.

Sıkma

When you’re driving down the D400 you’ll probably pass tiny shacks on the side of the road selling sıkma and çay. Usually made with flat durum wheat break or rolled pastry they are filled with onion, white cheese and parsley. Sıkma means handshake so I imagine these little morsels were thus named because they fit in your hand so easily.

Karsambaç

A traditional dessert originating from Camliyayla, a small town high in in the Toros mountains. Similar to a snow cone, but completely unique, Karsambaç is made with a combination of clean mountain snow (straight from the mountain) and a sweet syrup such as sugar syrup, or molasses.

Taş kadayif

Crispy on the outside, walnut in the middle, and coated in a decadent sugary syrup.

Kerebiç

A local dessert unique to Mersin, is made with semolina and is often served during Ramadan.  


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The Bane Of My Existence

No, I’m not talking about my monsters-in-law (although they would run a very close second). I’m talking about my inability to get a fecking decent hot chocolate here in Mersin.

I love me a good hot chocolate. Always have, always will. As a child, my mother would make hot chocolates with cocoa and marshmallows, and as an adult non-coffee-drinker, I would usually buy myself a hot chocolate as a treat for my morning pick-me-up. Today, and particularly in winter when Mersin’s temperatures resemble the Artic circle, a hot chocolate is my go-to to warm up my weary bones.

Türkiye is famous for its excellent kahve (coffee) and its çay (tea) served in tulip-shaped glasses. Sipping on a çay as you shoot the breeze is practically a national sport. People just don’t drink hot chocolate. And I appreciate that, in fact before Starbucks arrived in Mersin getting a decent hot chocolate was as rare as hen’s teeth. If you were lucky enough to find a place that serves them, they usually varied from bad to an abomination that will live in infamy in certain circles. But hear me out, if a restaurant has sıcak çikolata (hot chocolate) on the menu, then damn it, they should know how to make one, at least.

“If you’ve ever wondered what tar and the tears of children taste like – drink their hot chocolate.”

Moe, 2022

This quote refers to the most God-awful concoction that was purportedly passed for hot chocolate that I and my friends had the misfortune to try from a very well-known restaurant here in Mersin. I will not name the restaurant, mostly because I don’t need the blow-back, but let me tell you the story.

After a lunch with a group of my yabancilar friends, a few of us decided to hang around enjoying the pleasant ambience of the restaurant. We would frequent this place regularly. The food was pretty good and the prices were always reasonable. At this point I should mention that there was in fact a Starbucks located directly across the street but we chose to stay put, mostly because we couldn’t be assed standing in the queue.

Hot chocolates were ordered.

Within minutes a glutenous concoction in a small white mug was delivered to each of us. It was thicker than mud, hotter than the sun, and as stomach-churning as kokoreç (well-known Turkish offal dish) on a good day. Honestly? It resembled the packet pudding that is so often served in Türkiye and tasted like it as well. After a polite explanation as to how a hot chocolate should be made, the apologetic waiter retreated to re-order. We stared longingly at the people sitting in the sunshine opposite us, no doubt sipping on their perfectly made Starbucks hot chocolate, until our waiter returned with attempt number 2. I crossed my fingers for him and for us, I even prayed to all the deities available to me that it would be good.

It was not good.

Am I a Karen? Have I become an entitled expat who expects the niceties from my homeland having no regard for local custom? I took a Buzzfeed quiz to check whether I am, in fact, a Karen and can thankfully report that I’m only half Karen… the other half is pure Janey with a little bit of bitch thrown in for good measure.

And while I’m just having a little whine for comedic purposes it doesn’t take away from the fact that I just want a fecking decent hot chocolate!

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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.

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The Legend of Shahmaran

It’s well known that I love me a good legend and while in Tarsus recently I came across a doozy.

This is the story of Shahmaran and Camasb.

Camasb is a young man who lived in Tarsus. While out foraging in the forest he explores a cave where he finds Shahmaran. Shahmaran is a mythical creature, half snake and half woman. He falls in love with this exquisite creature (no judgment) and they live together for many years in the cave. Eventually Camasb decides he wants to return home but promises he will never share the secret of Shahmaran.

Many years pass and the king of Tarsus becomes ill. The only treatment for his condition requires the flesh of a Shahmaran. Camasb double-crosses Shahmaran (well, duh!) and discloses her whereabouts. Shahmaran is killed but before she dies she gives a dire warning to the vizier “blanch me in an earthen dish, give my extract to the vizier and feed my flesh to the sultan”. The king eats her flesh and survives while the vizier drinks the extract and dies.

Personally, I think that Camasb deserved that extract more than the vizier who was only doing his job.

If you visit Tarsus there is a hamam called “Shahmaran Hamam” where, it is said, she was killed. I’m not sure that’s a great endorsement for any hamam but that’s not for me to question.

A statute of Shahmaran remains in Tarsus today to commemorate her sacrifice to save the King.

If you visit Kırk kaşık Bedesten (Forty Spoons undercover market) you can find a range of souvenirs of Shahmaran and many vendors ready to tell you her story.

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How much have you integrated into Turkish culture?

I had an interview with an UK-based blogger recently and he asked me this question. I’m not usually lost for words (in fact you can rarely shut me up), but I was in this case.

How much have I really integrated into Turkish culture?

After over eight years here, I don’t think I’ve integrated that much. I still crave bacon and a variety of different countries food (that usually includes pork). I still struggle with Turkish but I can at least order a bottle of red wine so that’s progress. And Oh.My.God I still roll my eyes at the inconsistency of the bureaucracy here.

However, I respect this country and abide by the laws when I am out. I wear a mask (and at the rate we’re going probably always will), rarely speed (total bollocks but then to be truly Turkish you must speed, am I right?), never litter (why is it so hard for someone to put something in the bin?) and always pay my bills on time.

I may have jumped into my life here in Turkey with blinders on but now that I am truly out in the world with no buffer (aka The Turk) I think I am beginning to really come into my own. It was easy to integrate in the beginning. I was the new plaything for the family and was lovingly introduced to every facet of Turkish life. I worked in the kitchen perfecting my baba ganoush, and learned to accept tomatoes despite a lifetime of hate. I love, love, loved making salca and harvesting the olives, and I loved nothing more than sitting with my mother-in-law drinking Çay and listening to her and her friends make fun of their husbands, but after the breakdown of my marriage I found living in the village stifling. Why after all these years, you might wonder? It was fun, don’t get me wrong. It was a completely different way of life. Definitely a slower way of life and a much healthier lifestyle. But as time went on the dust that never goes away, the constant electric cuts, the non-existent internet, the village dramas, the weddings (or funerals) that I have to attend even if I’d never met him, her or them, and last, but certainly not least, his fecking family who I’m quite certain have a voodoo doll with my name on it squirrelled away somewhere, sent me so far over the edge that I found myself in freefall. Now I’m living in the city and I’m loving every second of it, despite COVID lockdowns and restrictions, despite my sometimes dire financial situation and despite the fact that our swimming pool hasn’t been opened this season (which is the real kick in the pants).

So now I’m going to ask you, how much have you integrated into Turkish (or other) culture? Let me know in the comments below.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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