Our Turkish Wedding Part 1.

Back on the morning of the 27th April I woke up in our apartment to the sound of the waves on the beach, with Berkay in bed beside me. It was our wedding day! Traditionally I know the bride and groom aren’t supposed to see each other the night before, or the morning of the wedding, but quite a lot of our wedding day was a bit backwards!

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the forecast rain for the previous day had fallen and cleared ready for our day! Berkay and dad took me, mum, my stepmum and my little sister to the hairdresser in Fethiye around 10am. I had been worrying about how well this would work out since we booked her as she doesn’t speak any English, but she’s the wife of one of Berkay’s work friends so we got a good deal and she was really friendly, despite the rather large language barrier. Dad and Berkay left and went back to Calis and all the ‘boys’ had a shave and massage together, but not before Berkay gave instructions to the hairdresser about how NOT to do my hair and makeup, I did not want to have blue eyeliner and be orange! The lady done my makeup first, and other than some bright pink lipstick initially, it looked really nice, even if I do say so myself! Next was the hair, I came prepared with a photo of how I wanted it and she did that really well too.

Next, the hairdresser started on my little sisters hair while I went into a corner of the salon behind a screen and started putting on my dress. I was worried about the dress fitting right and not showing too much boobage (!) It was a little odd getting dressed in a tiny corner of a hot salon on the 2rd floor of a building in Fethiye town centre, but apparently this is the done thing in Turkey, and most brides do get ready in the salon with their friends/family. After a lot of pulling, tightening and lacing the ribbon by my mum and stepmum, we managed to get my dress on and looking exactly how I wanted it. A quick 10 minutes back in hairdressers chair and my veil was in and hair finished, complete with ALOT of pins keeping it in place, ouch.
 
At around 11.45 Berkay arrived back at the salon, now clean shaven and fully dressed in his wedding suit, to pick me up. Now, this is the backwards part of the day! While usually the bride and groom get ready separately and don’t see each other until the ceremony, we were spending the entire day together having a wedding photoshoot before our service at 6.30pm in the evening. This is normal in Turkey, sometimes they even have their wedding photos taken on a different day to their ceremony and wear their wedding outfits, do their hair and makeup etc twice, sometimes days, weeks or even months apart!

Berkay had already seen photos of me in my dress as I couldn’t resist showing him, but it was still very exciting and surreal when we were stood face to face with each other in the salon fully dressed in our wedding attire. A couple of minutes later and we were walking downstairs and through Fethiye town centre towards the car with the photographer behind us, leaving my family back at the salon.

I think my family found it quite hard to comprehend how, and why, we would spend all afternoon driving around in our wedding clothes and squashing my dress in the back of a boiling hot car. I must admit, when I first got to the car and realised how much of a struggle and how uncomfortable it would be to sit in my ridiculously tight corsetted dress squashed in the back seat, I did wonder ‘what the hell am I doing?’ but when I thought about the beautiful photos we’d get as a result, I realised it would be worth it and I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

Our photographer knew all the best places to go for photos. Berkay was driving and the photographer gave him directions. We ended up driving through Kayakoy and onto the road towards Gemiler Island. In the middle of the road high up on a cliff side, the photographer instructed Berkay to pull the car over and with a bit of help I struggled out of the car and scrambled across the dusty road and rocks to the side of the cliff. The photographer climbed up a few rocks, knelt down and snapped some photos, shouting at us what poses to do. These two photos are some of my favourites because I love how blue the sea looks in the background, it captures the true beauty of the whole Fethiye area and looks almost too perfect, like we were photoshopped in! I can 100% say we were not and actually none of these photos have been at all edited or photoshopped as we collected the CD the day after and they didn’t have time to edit them.
 
On the way to Gemiler the photographer had spotted a perfect photo opportunity in a field, so he made sure we stopped there on the way back. There’s a funny photo he captured of me and Berkay walking through these plants and me with a look of pure disgust on my face because of the amount of bees that were buzzing around my feet and all the other wildlife in the flowers that I was trying to avoid getting stung or bitten by! ‘Just sit down in the middle’ the photographer said, easier said than done with my dress on, so I settled for a half kneel-half sitting pose, but it still came out really pretty.
 
Next stop was Kayakoy, but not before parking the car next to a pancake house for a lunchbreak and a glass of tea. Yes, local people and tourists were sat in the shady pancake house enjoying a spot of lunch when in we strolled, dressed up in our wedding outfits looking totally out of place. So many people walking past wished us well and said ‘may God make you happy’ etc in Turkish (Allah mutlu etsin / hayirli olsun) but I felt really silly sitting struggling to eat a pancake with my big white dress on with everyone staring! It was a lovely sunny day without a cloud in the sky, but thankfully not unbearably hot so wandering through Kayakoy after our little detour was quite pleasant, if a little difficult because I was holding my dress up making sure it didn’t get caught on any sticking up stones or rocks. The first few photos were very posed, and reminded me of something you’d see in a catalogue. He had us doing all sorts of poses which had me in fits of giggles because they were so ridiculous! He had me staring into a stone window at  a random person and pretend sniffing flowers at one point.
  
 
I really love the individual photos of me and the full length shots of my dress, the photographer definitely captured the surroundings well as well with the green trees and ruins in the distance. I’m not usually that much of a fan of Kayakoy but it’s nice to have a bit of Turkish history in our wedding photos.
 
 
 
After having a lot of snapshots taken at Kayakoy we headed back towards Fethiye where I requested we stop at Asiklar Tepesi (lovers hill) as that is my favourite place to get beautiful panoramic views of Fethiye. Each time I visit Turkey we always drive up there and sit down with a drink and an icecream or something similar and admire the view so I’m glad we managed to have some of our wedding photos there.
 
By this point it was around 2.45pm and the photographer suggested we drive to Gunluklu bay, via Calis. On driving through Calis, he decided it would be a good idea to stop at the infamous half finished, multicoloured houses by the canal. Rumor has it that these old houses were owned by someone in the Turkish mafia who was either killed or put in prison and the wife/s argued over what should happen to them afterwards, so they’ve remained unfinished, unused and left to be ruined by weather and old age. Whatever the truth about these buildings is, it’s a real shame as they would have been lovely properties in a nice location and keeping them there with no plans to use them is a waste of good space. We accidentally walked around the area once and got told we weren’t allowed to be there, so when the photographer told us to get out of the car, enter one of the buildings and walk up the the top floor I was a little worried, especially with the potential ‘mafia’ link!! Regardless, we did as he said and walked inside the house, through piles of rubbish and a lot of broken glass, mindful of my dress all the time, and up the stairs to the first floor. The photographer did manage to get some nice shots but it was still a very random, slightly scary location!
 
The next stop was Gunluklu bay, the other side of Calis, past Ciftlik and Yaniklar, on the main Fethiye-Dalaman road. They took a small entrance fee and we parked up, got out and stood among the huge trees which provided much welcome shade. The trees in the background made a lovely backdrop and I love all the out of focus green blurs behind us. The only bad thing was that I got absolutely eaten alive by mosquitoes and covered in bites that swelled up, I had 3 elbows on one arm at one point and had to make an emergency stop at the chemist on the way back to Fethiye.
     
One final stop was a tiny beach that I’d never been to before, I didn’t even know it existed and I’ve forgotten the name now but I hope to go there again and find out next time I visit Turkey. It was down a long road near Yaniklar and it was really beautiful and empty.

At this point it was 4.30pm and time to go back to Fethiye, Berkay walked back to get the car and I stood waiting in among the trees for him and the photographer to come back. I think this photo perfectly captures my mood at that moment, hot, bored, stressing about the wedding that was due to take place in a couple of hours time, covered in itchy mozzie bites and worn out from lifting my dress everywhere. 

Right after these photos were taken we headed back to Fethiye and back to the hairdresser who done a quick touch up of my hair and makeup and then we set off on our way to our wedding ceremony and celebration in Calis.

Despite doing things backwards that day, and having our photos taken before actually being married, seeing each other before the ceremony, I’m so glad we did it that way. All the wandering through fields, getting a bee stuck in my veil(!!), climbing over rocks, through dusty ruins and being squashed in the back of the car with my big white dress for hours was all worth it and having these photos of all the beautiful places around Fethiye as our wedding pictures to look back on forever is just the best feeling – we certainly wouldn’t have got those lovely photos from a wedding in England, would we?

We got married!

In case you’ve been living in a bubble for the past week and don’t follow me or my blog page on Facebook, you’ll know that last Wednesday, 27th April, we got married!
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After all the worrying I did about our two families coming together and how nervous I was about being centre of attention for the day, it turned into the best day ever and I’m very proud to now officially be Mrs Değirmenci!

I spent 10 glorious days in Turkey but 48 hours ago came back down to earth with a massive, painful bump as the time came to board the plane back to the UK. People say that the time I spend in Turkey must go by really fast, but it honestly doesn’t. Each time I return to Turkey it feels like I’m going home, and all my visits blur into one. It feels like I’ve been there forever, which only makes it all the harder when I leave again.

It’s never easy leaving Berkay behind, but instead of getting easier each time, it gets harder, and this time was the worst. We’d been married for 4 days and spent 10 whole days together, waking up together, eating breakfast together, walking hand in hand together, doing the washing together, eating dinner together, sleeping together.. and had just 4 days as husband and wife before I flew back to the UK and all of that became impossible again. 48 hours ago I had a husband next to me, now I find myself back in the daily 9-5 routine of work, living with my family and not feeling like a married couple at all 1000’s of miles apart.

I’m not really sure I can describe it in a way that anyone would understand, unless they’ve already been through it themselves but it’s really emotionally draining and although people mean well with their wishes and comments saying ‘you’ll be together again soon’, ‘now you can start focusing on the visa and getting everything ready to apply’ etc,  it doesn’t make it any easier and that’s really not what I want to hear.

The days after your wedding should be happy, you should be putting congratulations cards up in your house and buying toasters and kettles and things for your house together – not sat in an airport departures hall in tears preparing for that one last glance back at each other before you pass through passport control and can’t look them in the eyes or feel their touch again for several months. It should not be that way at all.

I only have 5 days of annual left to take now so won’t be able to visit Berkay again until September as I have to space the time out carefully. I think it’s even harder for us because we once lived together for 3 years straight, with barely any days without seeing each other, and then suddenly the army reared it’s ugly head and separated us for a year, and now that’s over and done with but we’re still unable to be together in the same country.

People ask why I don’t move back to Turkey but the truth is I would in an instant. I LOVE Fethiye and Calis and our life there. Sensibly and practically though, that’s just not an option. Winters out there are very hard, and although the lifestyle is more relaxed, friendlier and less materialistic, the long working hours in summer are tough too. We want to have children and having Berkay working 15 hour days 7 days a week in summer and then finding work in winter and not knowing if he’ll actually get paid that month is just too stressful, plus there’s no time for family time. I lived there for 3 years and only saw him for 3 hours a day. Money isn’t such a problem in summer, but in winter its too hard. We budgeted hard and rationed our electricity and food and while that was fine for us back then, we would never be able to have a family that way or get into debt with Berkay’s employers again through borrowing money to get him through the winter months. As I write this I’m not entirely certain if I’m trying to explain my reasons to you readers, or if I’m just trying to convince myself that it’s the right thing…

Living in the UK would be a real challenge for Berkay, and it would take a lot of adapting and hard work, but at the moment it’s our best option. I have a great job in a good location and I have no doubt he’d find work somewhere too. I earn the income requirement needed to apply for his visa at the moment and it took a lot of time to get to this point, giving it up now would be silly. I’ve saved a few thousand pounds which will be enough for us to apply for his visa and hopefully a deposit to rent somewhere here. We will be applying for his visa around September time, and hopefully have a definite yes or no answer by Christmas. If it’s a yes, we’ll start our life in the UK, and if it’s a no I’m willing to move back there and make sacrifices. We really have one shot at his visa, it costs thousands of pounds and a lot of time and effort so we really will only try once. I suppose the only thing for certain is that by Janaury 2017 we will know where our future is, be that in the UK or Turkey, and we won’t have to spend anymore time apart figuring it out as the decision will be made for us by the UK government. As soon as we hand those papers in in September-time, it’s out of our hands and into the hands of a complete stranger who has never met us and who judges our life by flicking through a pile of paperwork.

We’re married now but things regarding the future are as unstable as ever. Thankfully, we have each other no matter how far apart we are and the long distance aspect of our relationship means we never take each other for granted. Every meal together, every time we open our eyes and wake up next to each other, every time we walk hand in hand is a moment we treasure as it doesn’t happen everyday. I can’t stop looking at our wedding photos they make me smile even if looking back at them is bittersweet…

Brace yourselves for a lot of wedding posts soon!!

500,000 Views!!!

 
 This morning I woke up to see that my blog had reached 500,000 views. Half a million! Thank you so much to everyone who reads, likes, comments and shares.

I know I neglect my blog a bit lately and don’t post as often as I’d like to, but as the army draws to a close and a new year approaches, hopefully I’ll have more fun, happy and exciting things to write about soon.

Until then, thank you for sticking with me.

Here’s to the next 500,000! 

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.

“You 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.” ― 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.