Monday, 30 May 2016

Dance in Bodrum

The first International Dance Festival in Bodrum was in the year 2000. I was a fortnight away from our move to the UK and busy with the logistics of leaving our home of 18 years and finding accommodation and a job in England, so missed the celebrations. Our proposed three years stay in GB stretched to 12 years and although we made a kesin dönüs  (definite return) in January 2012, each late May from then on saw me in the Scottish Highlands on a shooting estate, so I still missed the Dance Festival each year. But 2016 is turning into the year of unexpected change and unwelcome though these changes are, I have for the first time witnessed the parade of young dancers through Bodrum and the enthusiasm of these youngsters was very uplifting.

Jake enjoyed the attention and if we are in Bodrum for the 18th annual festival, I think he might have to dress up too.

Friday, 27 May 2016


At the beginning of May there was this ...

...a local council cafe on the harbour

Then there was this...

...the wrecking crew move in

Now there is this...
...instant landscaping.

It comes to something when a local cafe run by the municipality gets knocked down because of a complaint over its legality. Today 3 similar cafes around the peninsula are closed as a result of complaints by one of the opposition parties (no, not the one you expect it to be).  Conspiracy theories abound and complaints fly as locals lose their access to reasonably priced, attractively positioned cafes. 

One local who doesn't drink tea is unfazed by the changes....

...he sat here last month and he'll sit here this month.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Not a good argument Mr Gove

First Ukip puts out a party political broadcast telling all that watched  (hopefully very few) how horrible we Turks are and now Michael Gove is using the highly unlikely possibility that Turkey will join the EU and thus flood the NHS as a reason to support Brexit.
As one mired in all things medical I can only say to Mr Gove that no sound minded Turk would exchange the Turkish health system for the NHS. His argument would have held water before the present government, when only the well off could afford good medical care in Turkey and the seriously wealthy and prime ministers would head off to the USA for their treatments and those without funds would sell all they had to pay for care. But now we have our own state supported health system which is available to any one who pays national insurance contributions or registers as too poor to be able to pay.  (This system falls down when unscrupulous employers don't pay up, but everyone can check their status on line so at least be aware of their employers' misconduct)
We have always chosen to use and pay for private health care in Turkey and did so for my husband's first operation, but once the extent of his cancer became apparent we realised that we wouldn't be able to afford to carry on with private care and would have to continue with state funded care. At 2pm on Tuesday we were told that the tumour on my husband's lung was cancerous and we needed a pet scan to see if the cancer had spread, This was arranged for 9am the next morning in the private hospital in Istanbul and, as his cancer had been confirmed, the SGK state system would pick up the 3000 TL + bill.  The next day after lunch, the consultant reviewed the scan and told us that chemo was the only option. I rang the Acıbadem Oncology Centre in Bodrum there and then, and was given an appointment for 11:30 the next day.  We flew back to Bodrum and from then on have been patients in the SGK system but see no difference from privately paid care.   This would have been unimaginable 12 years ago. The hospital building resembles a 5 star hotel. We have the mobile phone numbers of the head consultant, the assistant doctor and the head of nursing who encourage us to ring any time we have a qualm or questions.  I suggest to Mr Gove that the NHS would not be able to match this speed in arranging treatment or the comfort of personal contact from caring professionals who do not hide in the system but are happy to communicate with their patients.   We have not had to pay for any drugs, blood transfusions, consultant fees, tests, scans, prescriptions or even the vitamin drinks and food supplements and the peace of mind in knowing that everything is covered can not be overstressed.
Looking from the outside, commentators struggle to understand why the majority of voters support the present government, but I understand it completely.  Only those with deep pockets would risk going back to the days when only the wealthy had access to good health care.

Guardian article

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Hair to Stay

It's been nearly 4 months since my last hair cut,  my tresses are showing signs of stress and my feet are a disgrace.  They mirror the inner turmoil of having one's comfy life turned upside down so a trip to Kuaför Huriye is on the cards.  When I lived in Sussex, I had my hair cut by the wonderful, talented Martin, a ukelele playing, master snipper who would roar up in his Audi TT and turn our conservatory into a hair salon, leaving me 4 hours later with golden highlights and bouncy curls.  I don't like having my hair cut and hate sitting in salons so always put off the inevitable for as long as possible but when all is changing, it's a comfort to stick with the familiar and Huriye and I go way back.  I had my first Bodrum haircut in 1982, in Ayten's salon opposite the marina  (it's still there), and junior Huriye washed my hair with water scooped from buckets in a space no bigger than a cupboard that was accessed from the street rather than the rest of the salon. Sometimes there was electricity to use the hairdryers and sometimes there wasn't.  When Huriye opened her own salon, I followed. While pregnant with her son Mustafa she carried on cutting hair which maybe explains his skill with the scissors.  Her present salon is on the harbour and any time waiting can be well spent on the flower decked balcony watching waterfront life pass by.  A wash, cut, blow dry and pedicure takes 30 minutes will set you back just under 60 TL  (20 US $). As I write this, I  take comfort looking at my polished toes and knowing that at least I have control over something in life.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

For better, for worse sickness, in health...

I met my husband in 1982, the spark of attraction was immediate and after a few dates we moved in together and have been inseparable ever since. We've driven each other mad and kept each other sane as we lived and worked together 24/7. Today is our 32nd wedding anniversary. According to Mister Google, the appropriate gift for this year is a "conveyance", which could be anything from a double-decker bus to a pair of roller skates but today I had the best present as I conveyed Teo back home.  After 20 days attached to drips, he had his first chemo session and was allowed to leave the hospital.  We are extremely lucky that a state of the art oncology centre opened 6 months ago at the Acıbadem hospital in Bodrum so we will be able to continue the weekly treatment as an outpatient.  We married in Turkey so didn't make any 'for better, for worse - in sickness, in health' vows but we're in it together - whatever the future brings. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Longing for a rural idyll

“The train whistled, and chuffed out of the station. The children pressed their noses to the window and watched the dirty houses and the tall chimneys race by. How they hated the town! How lovely it would be to be in the clean country, with flowers growing everywhere, and birds singing in the hedges! ” 
― Enid Blyton

I'm aware that in past posts I have been rude about Istanbul drivers rushing down to Bodrum in summer, turning our roads into a traffic jam of inconsiderate manoeuvres and bad parking, but after spending 9 days in Şişli last month, I understand better the longing city dwellers must feel for a simpler life and their expectations of finding it further South.  I've lived in Turkey on and off for 35 years but 9 days in Istanbul made me feel like a complete foreigner and I was very glad to come back home to Bodrum.  I did manage to take time out from matters medical to take a walk along the Bosphorus at Bebek, where Istanbul life is lived at a slower pace (a lifestyle choice available to only those with very deep pockets)  and spied a sign that it is not only those on 4 wheels who long for a bit of the countryside.