New job for me, farm life for Boncuk & the army countdown continues..

I haven’t posted here for¬†over 6 weeks now, I have a lot I want to post and write about but I just haven’t had time.

The main reason for that is that I FINALLY found a full time job! I started 3 weeks ago and I’m enjoying it. I’d been looking for work since December but had no luck, other than a few days for an agency. I had applied for hundreds of jobs and kept getting knocked back, even after going for interviews etc. Finally my luck changed and an agency put me forward for a 3 month placement for a really interesting company who are based inside Canary Wharf – I went for the interview and got the job. It was overwhelming at first, I’m not a ‘people’, so the first few days of travelling to Canary Wharf in rush hour was a bit of a shock, but not quite as overwhelming as the chaos that is lunchtime inside, and around One Canada Square and Canary Wharf. Thousands of people queuing up, buying, sitting and eating their lunch all at the same time – it was really horrible at first. I’ve found ‘my’ spot now where I sit everyday for lunch and read my book (oh, hello Mr Grey ūüėČ ) , and even though it’s still busy and overwhelming, the initial shock has worn off! This is the view I face everyday whilst eating my sandwich – isn’t it pretty? I work inside that middle building, on the 30 something floor – eeek. I’m actually enjoying the role and it’s such a relief to be back into a routine and earning money – the last 3 weeks have gone very quickly so keeping busy at work certainly makes the days tick by faster.
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Berkay is also being kept busy in the army. He’s finding it a lot harder than he anticipated and he can’t wait to get out and have some freedom. He’s still based in Kayseri, although there was a scary moment where he faced the prospect of being moved to a more dangerous area – thankfully he didn’t have to go. He gets a few hours off most weekends so he can go outside and speak to me on skype and he’s made two good friends there who get the same hours off as him so he wanders around the nearby shopping centres with them for hours. He says they are all the ‘oldies’ and people refer to them as such, because they’re mid twenties and most people doing their national service are a lot younger than that. I’m glad he’s made friends. He’s been in there for 5 months this week – another 7 to go, and he’s counting every single day.
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I’m still moving the marbles from my ‘days to go’ jar into my ‘days down’ one, and it’s a relief seeing nearly equal amounts in each! Berkay has a little list of days in the shape of ‘365’ that he’s ticking off one by one – bless him.

One of the things I was most worried about when Berkay went in the army was Boncuk, where she’d go and how safe she’d be. Initially she stayed with our friends for the first 2 months – and when I was there in April we took her to Berkay’s family’s village instead. Berkay’s brother promised me he’d look after her, but I was still worried because although they have farm animals and care for them, a dog is different. Turkish people don’t really like dogs like we do. They have their own dog, used to guard the sheep – they don’t feed it proper food, just bread and the occasional sheep/goat hoof when slaughtering time comes around. Needless to say, when we turned up with Boncuk, her bags of food¬†and asked Berkay’s dad to save her a bit of fish from his dinner plate so that we could get her to take her worming pill, they thought we were nuts. Thankfully, Berkay’s brother is lovely and has been looking after her nicely, sending me photo updates and answering all my ‘Boncuk nasil?’ messages! He says she loves him and jumps up him wagging her tail whenever she sees him. He even takes her for walks, which is unheard of in the village, people look at you like you’ve got two heads if you’ve got a dog on a lead but think nothing of someone walking along with a flock of sheep instead. Last week Berkay’s cousin was visiting the village and sent me some photos – I was sat on the train coming home from work when I got them and it made my whole day, Boncuk just looks so happy doesn’t she? Such a relief.
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149 days down, 219 days to go!

P.S I’m off camping this weekend, but I hope to have another post up sometime next week – I still have a lot of lovely photos of Fethiye to share. If you’re interested in more photos, join our Facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/TurkishDreams¬†where me and 3 of my friends post daily photo challenges¬†among¬†other Turkey related things! (:¬†

Army life – 1/4 of the way there.

It’s been 3 months since Berkay walked through the gates to the army base, put on his uniform and started serving his country.

img_6507The first 2 months he was in Izmir everything felt a bit surreal, and it was really hard, but he was doing ok. We got to speak every single day over the phone and had 3 or 4 skype sessions during his few hours off at the weekend. Then, once he’d finished training in Izmir, he had 10 days holiday and I flew out to him in Fethiye for a week, I was worried how strange it’d feel being back together after little contact for 2 months, but it was like we’d never been apart. It was the first time we’d really talked about his army experiences as the phonecalls were too short to have any conversation other than ‘hi, how are you? What are you doing?’. He told me stories, and he showed me photos of his friends and the base, it made me understand it all a lot more. ¬†Reality really hits that you have a soldier boyfriend when all his life possessions are taken everywhere with him in a giant army holdall.. and even more so when he opens the bag and the stink wafts out… apparently they can only wash ‘small’ things at the base, the big jackets, trousers etc are expensive to wash so nobody bothers.. this resulted in the apartment we rented for the week looking like a camouflage explosion in a launderette, after I’d washed them all for him!

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On 13th April he made the 13 hour bus journey to Kayseri where he’s spending the rest of his army service, as far as we know, although he did say he might be moved elsewhere. He’s currently still training to be an ambulance driver and is a commando which means he gets to wear a fetching blue berret! He doesn’t get paid a penny, they’re supposed to get something ridiculous like 30tl a month, but he’s not received any yet, not even for his bus fare which he was told he’d get something for. As with everything else in Turkey, it’s all very sponaneous, no such thing as forward planning!

He’s not had a day off at the weekend since he’s been back, due to a couple of fellow soldiers having a fight and sacrificing everyone else’s days off as a result! He’s hoping he gets a day off this weekend though, when I spoke to him earlier they had just finished washing and cleaning their dorm and different areas of the base, a ‘boss’ was coming to inspect it and if it meets their standards they get their day off back!
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These photos are the official army ones that everyone has taken when they start their service, they are SO cheesy, superimposed onto different backgrounds..

We’re a quarter of the way through now, so that’s good. Even though time is not going fast, it is ‘going’. I have a countdown on the go, it tells me there’s 270 days to go! The part I find hardest is the lack of contact, even though Berkay¬†calls me everyday it’s for a couple of minutes at the most, and its hard to have any kind of meaningful conversation, I can’t tell him about my day and he can’t tell me about his, it’s quite sad, really. You all have probably heard that new song in the charts right now with the words “it’s been a long day without you my friend, and I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again” – that sums it up perfectly on so many levels. Definitely a favourite of mine at the moment.

Berkay doesn’t have a phone or internet access in the base, so when a photo was sent to my Facebook last week I was very pleasantly surprised! He had been sitting in a field with his army friends who were picking flowers and arranging them into their girlfriends names, then taking photos and sending them. His friend let him borrow his phone to send me the photo, it was so cute. I did giggle though, nothing says big, strong, scary soldier like picking flowers in a field, eh?! Bless them. He even said there weren’t enough to make the letters in my name so his friend ran off trying to find more… They are a funny breed, these Turks!
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270 days and counting.

Two Separate lives?

Since I’ve been back from Turkey in this last week, it has never been more apparent to me that I am living two separate lives. One life here, one life there in Turkey, and the two rarely, if ever, cross over. ¬†It’s quite an unsettling feeling, being pulled in both directions, feeling ties to both countries and never really feeling at peace or at home. This is my favourite quote and one that I feel will stick with me for a long time.

‚ÄúYou will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.‚Ä̬†‚Äē Miriam Adeney.

It’s 100% true and goes a little way to describing how I feel on a daily basis. Not only are me and Berkay currently living very separate, polar opposite lives, which thankfully is only temporary, but I’m also having an internal battle within myself, one that I think shall go on forever, whichever country we end up settling in.

I have friends and family in the UK, and friends and family in Turkey. The two have never met. My family has never met Berkay’s family and I doubt they ever will because neither really has the desire to meet the other, and even if they did, communication would be non-existant.¬†This is always going to be awkward, because neither really has any idea how the other lives, and their lives are so totally different that any reunion would end up being like a terrible version of “meet the Fockers” or that Turkish film ‘ay lav yu’ (watch it, it’s hilarious).

The lifestyles I myself live in both countries is so different, it’s like I have¬†two different lives, two different personalities, two different homes.¬†In Turkey I rely on Berkay for a lot of things, he pays the bills, we do the shopping together, we visited friends together, got on the bus together… in fact when I lived there there were times where I’d go days or weeks without having a conversation with another person face to face (apart from Berkay, of course). This didn’t bother me, at all. We done everything together, I hardly ever went out alone, and I liked that. Here in the UK its the total opposite. I have to do things for myself, I’m always alone, travelling on the train, bus, going to the shop, buying things, I’m in a house surrounded by people but outside these 4 walls I’m alone, and that takes some getting used to after so long.

The whole mentality of people here in the UK is different – want something, buy it. Throughout my time living in Turkey I learnt not to be this way, I wasn’t fussed about the latest gadget, I wasn’t the slightest bit ‘into’ fashion and I really never bought things to treat myself, I don’t need to, nor want to. Being back in the UK though, I can sometimes feel the urge to splurge and waste money on stupid things, I find myself falling back into this habit, one I didn’t have for so long. For example, the other day I spent ¬£9.50 on 3 bottles of fancy shampoo. At Today’s exchange rate this is nearly 40tl. When we were in Turkey, we’d walk to the furthest, cheapest supermarket and search the shelf for the cheapest bottle. Here I went online, ordered a ridiculously expensive one and had it delivered. A moment of madness, although my hair is thanking me because it smells amazing.

The most difficult thing I’ve faced since coming back, is learning how to fit in again, and it’s really not very easy at all. I spent 19 years of my life here, It should feel like home, right? It doesn’t. You see, I’ve spent such a long time away from home, from family, from friends, that when it comes to sitting around a dinner table with them it feels weird, like I’m an outsider looking in, that’s the best way I can explain it. I’ve been back in the UK for over 4 months and that hasn’t really changed. These people, friends and family, who were once all I knew, are now so distant from me because they can’t comprehend the life I had in Turkey, for them it was all one big holiday, they only saw my life through the photos I posted online and the things I told them, last year none of my family visited me in Turkey, and my friends never have, they never saw my house there, the things I saw and walked past everyday, the places I went, the things that were a part of my everyday life, and somehow that makes me feel very distant from them.

In Turkey, everyone sees us as ‘Dan & Berkay’ – we lived together, had a life together. The last time Berkay was in the UK was April last year, 2014. That was the last time he saw any of my family, so I guess for them instead of ‘Dan & Berkay’ they simply see me as just ‘Dan’, this was particularly evident at Christmas when I got cards addressed just to me. “Why don’t they write Berkay too?” I kept asking myself, it’s not their fault though, it’s a habit. He’s not here, not a part of my life in the UK so why would they include him?

Everything is different, from the places I go, to the people I see and even the food I eat. Walking in supermarkets is always a weird one for me. I remember moving back here from Turkey and going to Asda with my mum, I was totally overwhelmed by everything on the shevles that I hadn’t seen for months, years. Cadburys chocolate, British brands, salad pre washed, cut and in a packet. The same thing happened this time when I went back to Turkey and walked around Migros. Things that you’d never consider have a way of making you reminisce. “Aww, we used to use that washing powder. Oooo look, remember this drink? Oh, we used to buy that rice.” Really, really weird things that just jump out at you and say “this was your life once”.

When I got off that plane at Dalaman 2 weeks ago and walked out through the exit doors, I immediately became ‘Turkey Danni’ again, rather than ‘England Danni’, I once again had Berkay by my side doing the daily chores, going shopping together and walking hand in hand. I once again saw all the familiar places and faces I once saw everyday, and it was like I’d never been away. We went to friend’s houses for tea and they welcomed us with open arms and full glasses. We visited places we used to go to every week, the market, the beach, Fethiye. Then, a week later, ¬†I got back on the plane, landed, turned the key in the front door, walked upstairs to my bedroom, unpacked and became ‘England Danni’ again. It’s truely bizarre, and really quite sad.

It’s something that will never really go away, I’ll always have ties to both the UK, and Turkey. Berkay will too.¬†At one point in the future, one of us is going to have to ‘give up’ one of our countries, and both of us will no doubt miss something from whichever country we’re not in. Any future children we have will also be torn between the two countries, both sets of grandparents, families, lifestyles.¬†As the quote above says, this is the price we pay.

Would I change it though? No way.

A week in Turkey..

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It’s the 18th of April and I’ve not updated my blog at all this month, mainly because of my week-long trip to Turkey last week during Berkay’s army break!

I was a little nervous before going, I can’t really explain why, it was all a bit of mixed emotions. Excited about seeing Berkay and Boncuk, worried about how Boncuk would react and if Berkay would still be the same person or whether army life would have changed him, happy to be visiting, and dreading coming back to England again all in one go! Oh my poor head, I never knew it was capable of that many emotions at once.

Once I got there though, all those emotions vanished and I was beaming from ear to ear, it was like I’d never been away and I was so happy to be there. It really is my home. It was my birthday while I was away, my first ever birthday spent in Turkey and it was brilliant. We also visited Berkay’s village and experienced snow there, yes snow! I had an amazing week, took thousands of photos and made lots of new memories – once I get back in to the swing of things I’ll be posting here more regularly as I have lots of new photos and material to write and share with you all!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a post, but for now, I’ll leave you with one¬†of my favourite photos from last week.

All reunited together, although very briefly.
293 left days and counting!
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An army update & going to visit!

Berkay has been in the army for 6 weeks today and although he hasn’t gone quickly, seeing the marbles in my ‘days down’ jar increasing everyday is quite reassuring and a good reminder that time is actually passing!

So far, Berkay’s not been having too bad of a time. We’ve spoken every single day over the phone, and had skype sessions on his day off for the past 3 weekends, although he’s not allowed out this weekend because there’s a chance of trouble due to a Kurdish holiday… I’m so relieved we’ve had contact everyday, even if it is mainly just a 2 minute phonecall. The fact it’s such a limited time we get to speak means it’s hard to say everything I want to, we used to live together, know what each other were doing all the time, and now suddenly we don’t really know anything about each other, living two totally separate, vastly different lives.

Aside from that, it’s been going ok. Berkay tries his best to help me¬†understand army life, he tells me things they’ve been doing, once last week they all played paintball to practice shooting terrorists and his team won. That’s a good sign, right? They also go to the cinema in the base quite a lot to watch army practice videos and to regular lessons. It all seems quite organised.

The main worry for me since even before he joined the army, was where he would be placed – he’s in Izmir at the moment for training, but once that’s finished he’ll be moving someone else… Well, finally last week he called me and sounded very excited – “guess where I’m going after Izmir?” He said…. “not the bad place! Kayseri!”. Kayseri is a big city right in the centre of Turkey, on a map it’s literally the exact centre point. It’s a long way from Fethiye – around 12 hours on the bus, so this gives you an idea of just how big the country is – its takes well over 24 hours of non-stop driving from one side to the other. We were both very relieved when he learnt he’d be sent there – it’s supposed to be a lovely place, and there was a real possibility that he could have been sent to the Syrian border, in fact he said 60% of the 400+ people he’s with in Izmir are being sent there, something we obviously didn’t want, so he is really very lucky.

We’ve also been waiting to find out the date he’ll be transferring bases and can take some leave – he asked for 10 days and it starts on 3rd April, so as soon as he rang me and told me that, I booked my flights out there. I was deliberating whether or not to go, but I think my mind was made up all along – although he’s only been in the army for 6¬†weeks, I’ve not seen him for 13 weeks and it will be 15 before the time I do, so I think it’s a necessary trip to break up the time a bit. I’m out there for 7 days from 4th April, which means flights were very expensive because it’s Easter, and the school holidays – in fact they were so expensive that I couldn’t even justify paying the extra ¬£50 (rip off..) for baggage, so all I have is 5kg worth of hand luggage to stuff my clothes in – a scary thought! It won’t be a relaxing holiday – we probably won’t stay in a hotel as it’s too expensive and Berkay wants to visit his family in their village for a few days too, and of course lots of walkies and cuddles with Boncuk while we’re in Fethiye! It’s my birthday the day before I fly back so it will be nice to celebrate that there too, I’ve never been in Turkey for my birthday!

At least I have something to look forward to, I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Berkay’s leave dates don’t change at all. For now, I’ll keep counting down the days, sticking those marbles in a jar and keeping busy – I have a job interview tomorrow so keep your fingers crossed for me please!

15 days to go ūüėČ

Countdown jars..

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It’s difficult not to wish my life away these days. Since Berkay went into the army I’ve been ticking the days off my calendar but wanted something more visual to see the days ticking past. While I was looking around on Pinterest, I found a brilliant idea that someone had created while her husband was deployed in the US army, and decided to create my own!

These are my new ‘countdown jars’ , sat on my chest of drawers opposite my bed reminding me of how many days I have left. The ‘days to go’ jar is full of marbles, one for each day of the year Berkay will be gone, and each evening I transfer one of the marbles from that jar into the ‘days down’ jar. At the moment I only have 15 transferred over, as he’s only been gone 15 days, but as the days and weeks pass it will be exciting to see the number of marbles in the ‘days to go’ jar decreasing!
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I’m sure a lot of us have countdowns to something, a special date, birthday, perhaps a holiday to Turkey? ūüėČ You could try making your own, it doesn’t have to be marbles, it could be jelly beans, stones, seashells….I think it’s something kids would enjoy, my little sister comes to me in the evening and asks to help me with the marble and understands that it’s for ‘Berkay in the army’! Bless her.

15 days down (and boy does it feel like a whole lot longer), a whole jar full of marbles to go…

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Army life: Sore legs, phone calls & a little understanding..

It’s been 3 days since Berkay walked through those doors and started his national service.

So far he’s managed to call me once everyday, for around 1 minute each time, and although that’s been brilliant I’m trying not to get my hopes up that it will continue to prevent disappointment!

On the 2nd day, he called me in the evening and told me he hadn’t done much, just checked in, got his army uniform, been introduced and eaten. He seemed thrilled they had ‘red meat, pasta and yogurt’ for dinner, I think he’s eating better there than he did back at home in Fethiye! When I was living there red meat like steak and beef was a real treat as it’s so expensive, but since I’ve been back in England he’s not been buying food to cook for himself at all and he had been eating snall ‘pop kek’ cakes for dinner instead! He also said there are 400 people all sleeping in the same room, presumably in bunk beds or similar… it’s a good thing he’s so social, I’m sure he’s already made lots of friends, he talks to anyone and everyone.

One thing (well, one of many..) that is frustrating about the whole national service process is the fact that they aren’t paid at all for their time. This means that with Berkay having no income for year, he won’t be able to save, so it’s all down to me to save for our ‘future’, which is overwhelming at the best of times, even more so when I haven’t even got a job yet! I’ve been looking since I arrived back in December and haven’t had much luck. I had an interview on Friday morning and it seems like a job I’d really enjoy, so fingers crossed for that.

While I was on the train on the way to the interview, I had an unexpected morning phone call from Berkay. He’d previously called in the evenings so it caught me off guard, but I was so pleased to hear his voice and it put me in a good mood before my interview, even if it was a very short 30 second phone call before we¬†got cut off as the train entered a tunnel.

I had another call from him this morning, he told me he had 10 minutes of free time and had ran to the phone to talk to me quickly. He’d been running, doing push ups, sit ups and other such exercise his body isn’t used to! I have visions of a ‘an officer and a gentlemen’ style scene in my head! “I’m so tired I can’t move my legs, they hurt so much” he said, ¬†yet he still ran to the phone to talk to me, bless.

The unpredictable phone calls are a little annoying, having to take the phone to the shower, toilet, panic if Three loses signal for a couple of seconds or if I’m in a dodgy connection zone. He doesn’t get much free time and if I miss his call, that’s it for the day. People don’t seem to understand this and laughed when I mentioned it, that’s alright if you have your loved ones with you, an arms reach, a text or a phone call away isn’t it? Thank goodness we don’t have to rely on good old ‘snail-mail’ though.

I am so, so grateful for the internet. I have met a few lovely girls whose partners are also currently doing or have already done their national service and it is such a comfort talking to them knowing they understand exactly what I’m feeling. Whether its moaning about lack of phone calls, asking about what we’re allowed to send the men in the post or panicking about the little details of army life, they’ve been a great source of information and a great help. It’s frustrating having other friends and family dismiss my thoughts and feelings. I’ve developed a random rash on my face this week and several people suggested it could be stress. “Stress?” one family member laughed, “what have you got to be stressed about?”.. well, quite a lot, actually. Sigh.

Even hearing ‘it’ll go quickly’ drives me crazy, I know it’s meant well and time does inevitably pass, but that’s just it, no matter how quickly the time nay¬†go, its still got to ‘go’, and that’s the hard part.

362 days and counting…

Army service has begun & the countdown begins..

Yesterday was the day I’d been dreading for years.

The inevitable finally happened and Berkay made the journey to Izmir to start his 12 month military service. It had been a massive obstacle for a long time, something that had been hanging over us for years, preventing us from really settling anywhere.

Every Turkish male (health permitting) has to do national service, most of them do it when they are younger, aged 18-19, but Berkay deferred it due to his college studies.

He’s 24 now and decided it was time to get it over and done with, so after spending his last week of freedom in his village in Denizli, he got on the bus and headed off back to Fethiye to visit Boncuk and meet his friend who would take him to his training base in Izmir. Its tradition for the males going off to the army to drive around in cars decorated with huge Turkish flags, so Berkay’s brother decorated his car and drove him around, beeping the horn loudly to let everyone know. It’s also common for them to fire gun shots and make as much noise as possible for their big send off, showing everyone how proud they are.
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Berkay spent the night in Izmir city centre in a¬†house belonging to a relative of his friend, and everything started to become very real. It hit me that this would be the last time I got a ‘I’m going to bed, goodnight, love you’ message¬†for a long time, something that we normally said every single night.

A fairly sleepless night later, it was Wednesday 4th February. D-day. A morning of getting last minute things sorted. Berkay went off to the shops to buy a payphone card to contact me with and a bottle of shaving gel. He somehow managed to fit all of his things into one small, black rucksack.¬†Of course the most important thing is the notebook book with my number written down in it and the wallet-sized photographs of me he took with him ūüėČ

We had a few skype calls during the day, during one of which my dad spoke to him to say ‘stay safe and look after yourself’, ‘you too look after Danni’ was Berkays response! Finally, 2 pm came and the dreaded final skype call came ringing through on my iPad. He was standing outside the army base, waiting to go inside and give his phone to his friend for safe keeping. A couple of minutes later and that was it, he was gone – inside the Izmir army base (patriotically decorated with a HUGE flag of Ataturk) where he’ll complete his training before moving onto his main posting for the remainder of the 12 months.
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A few hours later at 5.30 pm our time, he managed to get to a pay phone inside and I got my first ‘army phonecall’, I was so relieved. “I’m waiting to check in, there are so many people. There were 20 people waiting for phone but I wanted call you”…. that one phone call made me feel so much better. Bless him.

It’s so weird to think that after 4 and a half years of speaking to each other every single day, a total of 162,117 Facebook messages back and forth (yes, that is the actual number) and 3 years living together, suddenly our contact will be suddenly dramatically decreased. No more good morning or goodnight messages, no more ‘I’m on the bus going to work’ or ‘im just having a shower’ messages. No more moaning to him when I’m annoyed, no more quickly FaceTiming him to share good news or when I need his face to cheer me up. It’s really hard knowing he’s not just a Facebook message away. He will have no internet access until he gets days off or holidays when he is able to pop to an internet cafe, but neither of us have any idea when that will be. He doesn’t have his phone in there with him, a lot of people try to smuggle them in unnoticed, but if caught they can be punished with days in army-prison and forced to¬†make up the extra days at¬†the end of their service, it’s just not worth the risk. Instead we’ll have to make do with phonecalls, hopefully as regularly as possible. It’s the uncertainty that bothers¬†me, and the not knowing when he’ll call, I’ll have to try and avoid no-signal zones as much as possible! Will I miss a call while I’m stuck on the underground trains? In the cinema, in the local supermarket with no signal, at work? I’m hoping we’ll settle into a routine soon enough though.
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For now, I’ll settle for crossing the days off my calendar and going to bed and waking up with this little reminder staring at me. “Love you honey. Going to army but coming soon. Wait me”. He sent me this little post-it note along with some of my favourite Turkish treats in a package last week, all the way from Turkey. I’ve framed it and have it in my room, I love reading it over and over again!

364 days and counting.

Army start date and a new home for Boncuk…

This week Berkay received his army start date¬†– 4th February. That means there’s no more putting it off, in 11 days time he’ll be starting his 12 month national service. He’s been given Izmir as his training base, he’ll stay there for the first 3 ish weeks working in ‘transportation’ and then where he’s going after that we’re not sure.

He’s going to his family’s village on Saturday and will stay there until 4th Feb. Its tradition for friends, family (and pretty much every single person in the village) to visit the men before they go to the army and give them a small amount of money, they also usually have a ceremony in the town centre for all the men going to do their service as they have 3-4 intakes a year. I went to the ceremony when one of Berkay’s brothers went to the army, it was way out of my comfort zone, all the men on the outside of the square, all the men in the middle saying a prayer and going up and shaking the hands of the men about to join the army.. followed by everyone driving around in cars with huge Turkish flags draped over them and beeping their horns as they drive around the streets. Madness, passionate and very patriotic, I suppose it’s an exciting time for them, going to do their national service is a rite of passage for Turkish men, something everyone has to do.
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Obviously Berkay going in the army means we needed to find a new home for Boncuk for a year, the plan was for her to go to Berkay’s family in the village, but when his dad couldn’t come and pick them up in his truck due to work, it meant we had no way of transporting Boncuk for the 4-5 hour journey – if only the buses allowed dogs on board! I had a last minute panic about where she’d go but luckily Berkay got permission from our friends (and their landlord) to allow her to stay in their garden. They’re our best friends out there, the ones I’ve mentioned previously with the twin babies, and I’m confident she’ll be looked after well. I just hope their own circumstances don’t change, because whilst I’m sure they’ll grow to love her, they won’t ever be as attached to her as we are!IMG_0842¬†IMG_0840
After one last walk along Calis beach together, Berkay packed up the dog kennel and transported her the 20 minute journey to her new home… seeing her kennel all loaded up made me really sad but Berkay spoke with me on FaceTime afterwards and showed me Boncuk settled in her new home and she seemed happy enough. She had already made friends with the man looking after her as he’d given her a few plates of food and if there’s a sure way to win Boncuk’s heart its through a bowl of food or a game of fetch!
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I feel so sorry for Boncuk, she has no idea that she won’t see Berkay for a long time, and she is probably already wondering where I disappeared to, I hope she doesn’t think we’ve abandoned her, if I could have her here in the UK with me I would! She always looks so happy when she’s with Berkay. I also feel really sad for her that she’s going from having free reign of the hotel all winter, to being tied up in the garden.. but she’ll be safe, fed, watered and have shelter and that’s a lot more than a lot of the dogs out there have. At least we know where she is, and I can contact her new ‘foster family’ on Facebook to check how she’s doing and get photo updates.

Be good Boncuk, wait for us.. 53 weeks and counting… ‚̧juu

Saying goodbye to Turkey and hello to England..

On Sunday I packed up my life into a suitcase once again, boarded the plane alone and arrived back in the UK, this time for longer.

I’d been putting it off for weeks, but a month ago I booked my flight and tried to make the most of everyday I had left there in Turkey. Each day was marred by the constant thought of ‘this is the last time I’ll do this’ or ‘this is the last time I’ll eat this’, ‘this is the last time I’ll go here’. Those thoughts filled my head and everything just felt different, I could no longer enjoy my time there, once I’d booked my flight the countdown began and it was awful.

While everyone else was excitedly opening their advent calendars and counting down the days til Christmas, I was wishing time to go slower, hoping that by some miracle the 14th December would never arrive. Inevitably it did, of course.

Berkay had been able to get the day off work so we could spend the day together, we done a lot of our favourite things, had a lovely Turkish breakfast outside on the balcony, played backgammon with a cup of coffee, walked Boncuk along the seafront and had a gorgeous BBQ outside. The hours ticked by and once I was all packed and ready we went to the beach to watch one ‘last’ sunset. (See what I mean? Always ‘lasts’ on my mind!) It reached 5.30 pm, I took my case and walked out of my front door for the ‘last’ time (again…). “Bye house”.

We went and waited in the hotel garden for Berkay’s friend to arrive, he was taking us to the airport in his car. I played with Boncuk and explained to her what was going on, although of course she’s clueless and is probably still waiting for me to go back and play ball with her and wondering where I am now. We saw our friends car drive around the corner and then it hit me, it was time to go.

Berkay took my suitcase to the car and I sat on the steps cuddling Boncuk, telling her to be good and that I’d see her again soon. I gave her a little treat and she ran off with it, bouncing around all happy and none-the-wiser. She was so happy with her little treat that when I climbed over the fence and walked away she didn’t even come to say bye. She usually stands with her paws up on the fence, crying or howling as¬†we walk away, but not this time. At least one of us wasn’t!

A 45 minute minute car journey later and we were in Dalaman. Our friend hadn’t had dinner so we stopped at a √áińü k√∂fte¬†place to kill some time and eat and then carried on to the airport.

My flight was the only one flying out that evening so the airport wasn’t very busy but the queues to check in were very long as the flight was one of the last ones direct from Dalaman before Christmas and it was full of expats flying back to the UK for the holidays. We queued for around an hour, but I didn’t mind as that meant delaying the ‘goodbye’ further. Eventually the inevitable happened, I got to the front of the queue and after trying to reduce the weight of my case from 25kg down to just 20, I was all checked in and ready to go.

After a tearful goodbye and a cuddle, I walked through security and passport control where they stamped my passport with an exit date stamp, that was it, the point of no return. I looked back and waved at Berkay and he blew me a kiss, cheesy! Then that was that, I walked around the corner and found my gate, which was full of people already waiting. I spotted a Facebook friend who had previously told me she was on the same flight with her husband and daughter, she too has a Turkish husband and has faced the same teary goodbyes. I went over to her and she asked if I was ok and gave me a big hug, at which point I burst into tears. Poor woman! Still, I felt better after that and I didn’t have to wait very long until we started boarding the plane. The plane was full of young children and before take off there were alot of screaming babies, they looked exactly how I felt on the inside!

On take off I said ‘bye Turkey, bye Berkay, bye Boncuk’ and had one last look out of the window, I even gave a little wave.

Before I knew it, the plane was landing back in Gatwick. “Welcome home” the pilot said. Not really home for me though. I got through passport control quickly and retrieved my baggage. I saw my friend again and apologised for crying on her, “it’s ok I know how it feels” she said, which was reassuring. ¬†Then I walked out through the doors and saw my mum and dad waiting for me with more hugs, along with a cheddar cheese and HP sauce sandwich and packets of pickled onion monster munch, yum!

I can’t tell you how strange it is to be back here. The moment I walked into my room again it just hit me, but it was like nothing at all had changed. My calendar is still stuck on the page of June, the month I left. Everything is the same here, yet different.¬†It really does feel like I’ve never been away, like the past 6 months were all just a dream, like I wasn’t really there. I have to keep looking at photos of our house to remind myself that it wasn’t all a dream.

It upsets me that I’ll probably never step foot in my house again, a week ago I was there, sleeping next to Berkay, waking up next to him, eating breakfast together on the balcony, making dinner in the kitchen, watching films in the living room… now all traces of us are removed from that house, and someone else is living there.

Berkay is now living under the hotel (which is still closed for the winter) in a concrete room which is used for staff accomodation during the summer. Boncuk is staying there with him for now and will go somewhere else once he’s in the army, we’ll get her back again once he’s finished in February 2016, which seems like a lifetime away.

Forget about the arrival of 2015 in 2 weeks time, roll on 2016 when we can finally settle and live together without the worry of these goodbyes again, that’s what I say!

See you soon, Fethiye. ‚̧