7 years together today!

Berkay & I have been together 7 years today! It feels like a lifetime, as we’ve been together basically my whole adult life, since I was 18!

I’ve written about how we met and our ‘cheesy love story’ before, so I won’t bore you all with that again, but you can click HERE to read it, if you’re curious!

From ‘holiday romance’ and ‘long distance’ love, to 3 years living in Turkey together, 12 months of the army service apart, to getting married last year and being separated just 4 days later, to applying for his visa last October, and him joining me here in the UK last November, and now buying a flat and settling in to that together, it’s been a busy 7 years full of adventure, happiness, sad airport goodbyes, visa stress and plenty of sad & happy tears. I expect the future holds more of the same, although hopefully more of the happy!

Here are some ‘Danni & Berkay through the years’ photos – I think it’s clear we don’t age well, 7 years, about 7 stone extra weight between us, 70% less hair on Berkay’s head… but still cute together, right? The first photo was taken 9/7/2010, the last photo just last week 3/7/2017.



Whenever we’re back in Turkey, we like to go back and visit the hotel we met in. If my Dad had never chosen this hotel for me and my friend to stay in, we would never have met each other! Back in May the hotel was all closed up for winter still, but we jumped over the fence and wandered around anyway, don’t worry, Berkay is still close to the boss, having worked there 10 years, we weren’t just trespassing! The hotel has not changed at all in 7 years, apart from maybe a fresh lick of paint outside and freshly grouted pool tiles, but everything else remains the same, including a lot of the staff, minus Berkay now of course. Even the famous rose bush Berkay used to pick the roses off for me and place on my sun lounger those days 7 years ago, is still there growing strong.

 
Whilst looking back at some old photos I’d taken during that holiday back in July 2010, I smiled at the innocent snaps I’d taken of places and things that would later be such important places in our lives. Not only the photos of the hotel we met in, or of the promenade along Calis we’d spend so many years walking along, the beach we’d spend so many evenings enjoying the sunset on, but also this one. This is a photo of the apartment we stayed in for 10 days when we got married last year, I’d just taken a photo of it during that week long holiday in 2010 not knowing or ever imagining in my wildest dreams that we’d be staying in one of those sea-view apartments on the left during our wedding week, taking photos on the balcony with my little bridesmaid sister, or where my dad first saw me in my wedding dress and cried, or where we’d spend our first night as husband as wife. It sounds silly really, but just seeing the photo really made me smile. Especially as my Dad actually booked that apartment for us last year, and one for him & family attending the wedding too, by accident, thinking it was a different apartment block further along the beach – it seems like fate, always meant to be! ūüôā

We won’t be celebrating today, since Berkay has been at work since 12.45 until 23.30 tonight and won’t be home til 1am, ever the hard worker! But we are off together tomorrow so plan to do something silly together, like go and watch the new Despicable Me movie at the cinema. I was telling my friend this and she looked me like I was mental ‘what, you’re going to go and see that kids film at the cinema with your husband and not take a kid with you?’ – ‘yep’ – ‘oh, bet it was hard getting him to agree to that!’ – ‘nope, he loves it too, we’re like big kids’ – ‘ahh, I see, a match made in heaven then’
Exactly, my friend, Exactly!

 

6 years together..

Yesterday, 8th July, was our 6 year anniversary. Back on 2nd July 2010 I flew to Turkey with my friend and stayed in a small hotel in Calis, Fethiye. Little did I know that during that week I’d meet Berkay, one of the staff at the hotel, towards the end of the holiday we got speaking, went out one night and the rest is history.

Who would have thought that now, 6 years later, we’d be married? Proof that a ‘holiday romance’ can work out!
We have spoken to each other every day since 8th July 2010, ¬†we lived together in Turkey for 3 years, he visited the UK 6 times, we survived 9 months without seeing each other during his 12 month army service and managed with just a 1 minute phonecall as our only contact everyday for a year. We haven’t seen each other since a few days after we got married back in April, but hopefully we’ll be together permanently before the end of the year and then we can start a whole new chapter!

In order to apply for Berkay’s spouse visa to live in the UK, we have to provide a lot of paperwork and proof of our relationship so I have been going through old photos to show as evidence – since they were handy and saved into a folder on my computer I thought I’d share some here, Danni & Berkay through the years!
 
This was the first photo we had together, and the only one for months! I think it was taken right before I left to go back to Dalaman airport. It’s really funny looking back at this photo as when it was taken I never for 1 second thought we’d end up having wedding photos taken together 6 years later! The 2nd photo was taken in October 2010, when I went back to Turkey for a week alone, to get to know Berkay better. Before that week we’d only spent a couple of hours together, but after talking to each other every day for hours on MSN for 3 months, it felt like we’d known each other forever.
 
In January 2011 I flew back to Turkey for a week and spent more time with Berkay. This photo was taken at aksazlar koyu in Fethiye, the first time I’d ever been there. Today it’s our favourite spot to go to for a BBQ!¬†The 2nd photo was taken on our 1st anniversary in July 2011, by this point I had been living in Turkey for 2 months having only actually spent 2 full weeks with Berkay before moving.¬†
In December 2011, after 2 attempts, Berkay got his visit visa to the UK granted and we went to the UK together for Christmas, followed by another 2 years living in Turkey together..
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In 2013, I made plans to move back to the UK, but not before a little weekend getaway in Bodrum, where we had some fun dressing up as sultans!
 
I moved back to England for 8 months, and Berkay came to visit for Christmas and for my mums wedding – it was during this time I realised how hard it was to be apart and how much I didn’t want to live in the UK without him while we still had the choice, so I moved back to Turkey for 6 months in 2014. The 2nd photo is taken on Berkay’s birthday in December 2014, the day before I moved back to England once again.

2015 was without a doubt the most testing year for us, as Berkay had to do his 12 month national service which I ranted, cried and moaned my way through. In April 2015 we were reunited for a week during his army leave and the rest of the year was very tough with Berkay being sent to Diyarbakir and not being able to take any of the remaining leave. This meant I didn’t see him again until January 2016.
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fter 8 very long months without seeing each other, the longest we’d ever spent apart, I spent 10 days back in Fethiye with Berkay in January. It felt like I’d never been away, and like we’d never been apart. In April 2016, we got married. Unfortunately I had to fly back to the UK just 4 days after… and we haven’t seen each other since.

I’m hoping to go back to visit in September, and then we’ll apply for Berkay’s spouse visa around then. I hope that by the end of this year we will be able to settle, rather than be backwards and forwards between both countries, or having long periods of time apart. The last 6 years certainly haven’t been easy or without obstacles, and it’s so funny looking back on old photos and thinking how different things were back then.

We’re a little older, fatter and bolder, but still just as happy… even though we act like an old married couple most of the time! We have come a long way in 6 years, here’s to the next 60…¬†
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Happy 2 years Boncuk!

The 3rd of November marked 2 years since we found and adopted our little Boncuk.

We were sat on our balcony when we heard a puppy crying, we couldn’t see where it was coming from so went downstairs to investigate, and that’s where we found Boncuk!
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She was tied to a post outside our apartment block, tied up with a piece of rope around one of her legs so tightly she couldn’t move it… she had no food or water and had just been left. We called our landlord down from his apartment asked why there was a dog outside, he had no idea either, but said we could keep it as long as it stayed outside. He later remembered¬†that a friend of a friend¬†had asked him if he wanted a puppy and he said he’d consider it… so we assume they took that as a yes and just dumped her there a few weeks later, but we don’t know for sure.

Luckily we had a tiny lead and harness that we used for my rabbit (don’t ask…!) and it was the perfect size for the tiny puppy, so we used that to keep her tied somewhere safe. Our landlord and Berkay made a shelter for her from an old vegetable crate, bricks, plastic and some hay, and then we headed off to the pet shop to buy some dog food and a proper lead.
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We decided to name the puppy Boncuk, Berkay chose it, it means ‘bead’ but apparently is a very common and unoriginal name for pets in Turkey, I’m not entirely sure of the relevance! Funny story – for 3 months we thought Boncuk was a boy… don’t even ask how that happened…

Looking back on photos I can’t believe how tiny she¬†was. The vet estimated that she was around 5-6 weeks old. I¬†remember her running around with Berkay’s shoe which was bigger than her! She looked so sad and had the biggest, cutest eyes. I love her ‘broken’ nose – it’s always been like that, half black and half patchy pink…unique!
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Two years on, she still looks exactly the same, only much bigger, with longer legs and an extra 11kgs in weight! She still has the same facial expressions, this is her sulky face, she still does this when we give her a wash or take her to the vet!
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She was the cutest little puppy ever, and is now the most beautiful grown up doggy… but still very naughty! We love you Boncuk (:

My 1 year blog-birthday!

A year ago this week I started my blog.

I made my first post on 18th August 2013 and started out with 0 views, now here I am a year later with 125¬†posts and 190,000 views. It still amazes me that so many people are interested in what I write and my experiences. I’ve met some people I consider ‘friends’ through writing this blog, and I receive lovely messages from people almost everyday telling me how they love reading about life in Turkey from a different perspective and that it’s refreshing to read something that is honest. Some people read every single post¬†and comment on each one, I am so grateful.¬†I’m grateful for everyone that reads, likes, comments, shares… anything. It baffles me that people take time out of their day to read something that I’ve written, I’ve always been painfully shy¬†and have trouble getting my thoughts out in person, that’s one of the reasons I started this blog, so knowing that my words are read by people who I’d never normally share my ‘story’ with is a weird, but lovely feeling. I also started it to try and show I’m not just a¬†naive 22 year old girl living in Turkey with her ‘Turkish waiter’, although that’s up to you readers to judge.
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It’s been a year of many emotions, most of which I have written about on here. A lot has changed in the past 12 months, but somehow, I find myself in exactly the same position as I was in this time last year – trying to make the most of everyday I have in Turkey before its time to go back to the UK. I haven’t mentioned that much as it’s not something I’m looking forward to in the slightest, but it’s something that is inevitable, as Berkay is off to do his military service.

People in my ‘real’ life have mixed feelings about my blog. Some of them read it regularly and are supportive, my grandparents have even printed off every post I’ve made and collected them all in a folder to show their friends! (Hi Nan & Grandad, I know you’ll be reading! (: ) But I’ve had¬†others¬†say that I’m just writing posts for sympathy and that the people who comment don’t have my best interests at heart, how can they when they don’t know me? I don’t know what to say to that, but I do know that it’s often easier to open up to people who don’t know me, and that a lot of them can actually relate to my feelings since they’ve been in similar or the same situation – it’s¬†not sympathy I look for,¬†it’s empathy. But, besides anything else, I write my blog for myself, so that I can say what I need to,¬†look back and see what I was doing this time last year, or see how things have changed! I also just love sharing my photographs and experiences of the beautiful country I currently call home.

I’m going to continue writing this blog for as long as I can, I enjoy writing and interacting with people through here, and I’m proud of how far it’s come in a year. Thank you all so much for reading and being a part of it.

Here are some of my favourite posts from the past year, with many mixed emotions!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/02/09/howdiditbegin/ РExplaining how our cheesy holiday romance story began!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/08/24/one-big-holiday/ – Although this was written nearly a year ago, most of it is still true. It’s something I’m constantly trying to explain to people, but something that people constantly dismiss as ‘one big holiday’.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/09/26/movingbacktoengland/ – Not a happy post, made a day¬†before my flight back to England last September – at the time I had no idea I’d move back to Turkey 9 months later.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/09/28/back-in-england/ – An even unhappier post, trying to convey my thoughts and feelings after being back in the UK for just 24 hours.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/11/16/adaptingtotheuk/ – Written after I’d been back in the UK for 2 months and my experience of ‘reverse culture shock’ – something that is very real and that I definitely experienced.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2013/12/18/reunited/ – The moment me and Berkay were reunited again at Stansted airport after 3 months apart!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/01/06/saying-goodbye/ – And the moment we had to say goodbye after he went back to Turkey again just 3 weeks later.

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/03/31/reunited-again/ – Another ‘high’ on the rollercoaster, when Berkay visited England again in March, just in time for ….

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/04/01/weddings/ – My mum’s wedding. Interestingly, someone who regularly read my blog messaged me after I wrote this post and said ‘OMG your mum married my nephew!’ It’s a small world!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/05/10/moving-back-to-turkey/ – The moment I decided I was moving back to Turkey!

https://livingtheturkishdream.com/2014/06/06/back-in-turkey/ – Being reunited with Berkay and our doggy and my first time back in Turkey for 9 months.

Who know what the future brings? I do know that I’ll be documenting it all on here.
Happy 1 year birthday www.livingtheturkishdream.com, and here’s to many more! (:

Settling in?

So, I’ve been here in Turkey for 5 weeks now, where on earth has the time gone?

It’s been a while since I done¬†a personal thoughts & feelings post, I’ve been focusing more on writing about days out and things to do and see. When I started this blog it was just going to be something personal, a kind of diary to look back on, but as time has gone on, more and more people read and as grateful as I am for the nearly 160,000 views I have, I’m less comfortable with sharing now, you can’t trust anyone on the internet and writing posts sharing personal thoughts and feelings gives people a lot of information to judge you on.

I do want to be as honest and as real as possible though. That being said, I thought it was time to do a post about how I’ve settled back into life here in Turkey and what I’m missing about England.

The first night I was here alone as Berkay had to work, and it hit me that I’d be spending a lot of my time alone again, I started to question whether I’d done the right thing and that maybe the grass is always greener on the other side… I also didn’t feel as ‘safe’ in this house, it’s much more central than our old one and there are more people around, it’s not as private.

The first few weeks I was here, I didn’t want to be in the house much, I was always bugging Berkay so we could go out and do something, walking, swimming, pointless trips to Fethiye… I think I wanted to spend as little time as possible in our house so that I didn’t get attached again, if it feels like home it’ll be harder to leave…

Well after being here 5 weeks I’m well and truly settled, our house DOES feel like home, there’s nothing I like more than sitting on the balcony with Berkay after dinner and just playing backgammon or watching a film. It’s just like the old days. I feel totally safe in our house and love it here. It took some getting used to living in a basic house again, no bath, no walk in shower, just a wet room with a tap and shower on the wall that makes the entire room and toilet seat soaking wet after each use! Not being able to flush the toilet paper took some getting use to again too!

I honestly do not miss England. I miss my family sometimes obviously, but I speak to my mum and grandparents everyday on Facetime without fail. I miss my little sister the most because we’re so close, no matter my mood she always cheers me up – I’ve been facetiming with Dad and seeing her, she always says¬†‘are you coming home yet Dan’ or mentions something about me coming back so I think she misses me too (:

I thought I might miss English food, a nice roast dinner, Cadbury’s chocolate, Monster Munch, ham sandwiches but I don’t really – although I am now drooling at the thought of all of the aforementioned! I love a lot of Turkish food so it doesn’t bother me much – perhaps the only thing I do miss is being able to chuck a ready made jar of sauce on the pasta or get some easy to cook, ready flavored Birdseye chicken out of the freezer. Everything has to be made from scratch – not much frozen food exists here!

I do not miss work at all, but I do miss having structure to my days. Anyone who knows me knows I have to have plans, I have to know what I’m doing and at what time, I’m not very spontaneous!

I’ve fallen into the habit of adapting to Berkay’s work/sleep pattern again. He works from 8pm – 9am everyday and sleeps either during the morning or the afternoon. I’ve started following that and not sleeping all night which is really bad – I’m still awake the same amount of time as anyone else, just all night instead of all day, which sometimes is a blessing as I don’t feel the unbearable heat. I’m still reliant on Berkay most of the time, when I lived here before I never went out without him. This time I walk the dog on my own and walk along Calis seafront a couple of times a week when he’s gone to work and just sit on the beach alone and watch the sunset. I love that.

All in all, I’ve settled back in and am still determined to make the most of every minute here. On Tuesday 8th Berkay and I have been together for 4 years. That’s really crazy, it seems like just yesterday we met, but then again sometimes it feels like we’ve been together so much longer, we’re like an old married couple, yet we’re not old and we’re not married. (;

I cannot believe it’s July already, how scary. More than half way through the year and I only have a few more months in Turkey… it’s not going to be any easier leaving this time than the last.
I’ll leave you with a few photos of the beautiful sunsets I witnessed in Calis last week. ‚̧

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3 years ago…

3 years ago yesterday, I had just made the biggest move of my life, and was now sitting¬†in my new house, 2000 miles away from ‘home’.
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On the 26th April 2011 I moved to Turkey, to live with Berkay, despite only having actually spent a total of 2 full weeks with him. What a crazy move. Do I regret it? Hell no.

I can’t even remember the day I got on that plane, not a single second of it. Perhaps it was over-excitment, worry, fear? I couldn’t tell you, because I honestly can’t remember a thing.

When I moved there, none of my family had met Berkay. My mum flew out with me, so she could meet him and judge him for herself… over the week that she was there, he proved himself, issues arised which left mum’s partner-at-the-time ¬†in hospital, and without Berkay to help, it would have been even more stressful for them. Although she was still worried about leaving me there, and the end of the week I think she felt much better knowing I was in safe hands with Berkay.
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^^.Photos taken during my first few weeks living in Turkey.^^
Moving to Turkey wasn’t as I had expected it to be – I knew Berkay would be working all day everyday, but I hoped that sometimes I’d be allowed to go to the hotel he worked at and sit there for a few hours – even just to be nosey at the guests and do some people-watching. ¬†His boss didn’t let me – so I ended up home alone for most of the day. He worked from 7.30 in the morning til 10/11pm at night. He used to get 4 hour breaks in the day, so we’d go to a pool somewhere or eat lunch at home together. Thinking back on these days now makes me smile… even in just the 2.5 years that I was there things changed a lot.

I was at home alone most of the time, I talk to people who assume that because I was in a resort, I had a party lifestyle, met up with fellow expats or girls who were out there for the summer season, and spent all day on the beach or in bars. NOT TRUE. In the years that I was there, the most I spoke to fellow expats was when recognizing them from their Facebook photos as they were walking down the street and saying ‘Hi’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rude, and I don’t dislike these people, I’m just stupidly shy.

How did I deal with the loneliness? By buying a pet. I’d only been in Turkey for a couple of weeks when we went to the pet shop looking to buy a hamster, and Berkay persuaded me to get a rabbit instead. We named her Abbie. Sadly she died a year ago…we really loved her!
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When I first moved to Turkey those 3 years ago, I honestly don’t think I really missed anything about England. I’m not someone who gets homesick, which is weird, because normally I really hate change. ¬†It took a lot of adjusting to living in the house – I’d never lived alone before and our house wasn’t a luxury holiday apartment, no central heating, air con, double-glazing windows or¬†constant running hot water like I was used to at home! Of course I missed my friends and family, but I had 24/7 access to the internet, so was always able to contact them.
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This is my favourite photo from my first few weeks in Turkey. I’ve mentioned it before. It was taken on a trip to Oludeniz, it’s like I’m looking out to sea, miles away from home. You really feel small when you stand beside the big, blue ocean. The world is a big old place, and there I was, 18 years old and exploring another part of it.

Although I’m no longer living there, (actually I moved back to England¬†exactly 7 months ago today) the two and a half years I spent in Turkey were the best of my life so far – somehow I feel a stronger connection to there than I do to England. Some people can’t understand why I decided to move there in the first place, some don’t understand why I want to go back, others belittle the experience and assume it was easy because I was living in the sun and not working.

Whatever anyone thinks, I’m pretty proud of myself for getting on that plane 3 years ago, it was the best decision of my life so far, I don’t think I’d still be with Berkay today if I hadn’t.

click¬†HERE¬†to read a previous blog about the house I was living in, and¬†HERE¬†to read about how life in Turkey wasn’t just one big holiday.