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!

 

Two versions of myself?

Standing at passport control at Gatwick airport having just stepped foot onto British soil once again after 10 wonderful days in Turkey, many thoughts were whirling around my head.

12 hours beforehand I was tucked up in bed with Berkay in the apartment in Calis that we had called ‘home’ for 10 days. It felt like suddenly I was ripped out from that life and plonked down back into my other one again.

It’s very difficult to explain, unless you’ve been in that situation, but I will do my best. I have researched other people’s blogs and articles on the internet and know that it’s normal to feel this torn, like there are two different versions of myself, existing in two different countries, and that the two versions of myself rarely, if ever, cross paths.

I have the life in Turkey, the one I go back to every few months for a week and immediately switch back in to the mindset of ‘less is more’. While I’m there I’m happy to live with bare minimum, wait for hours for the solar panels to heat up the water for a shower, wash up the plates without the help of a dishwasher and walk for miles up and down the market to find a fruit or vegetable a couple of kurus cheaper than another stall. I sit on the floor eating food and drinking cay with our Turkish friends, I eat Turkish food, I embrace the culture and way of life of the Turkish people and slip right back into that mentality easily. I have someone there to wake up with, eat my dinner with, walk hand in hand with, and fall to sleep with. Life is simpler. Here in the UK I’m alone. Although I have friends and live with family, I wake up alone, go to sleep alone and more often than not eat alone due to everyone’s busy schedules. I travel to work alone, walk at lunchtime alone, and my only contact with Berkay is through a facebook message or skype conversation every now and then. I walk into a supermarket and spend ¬£1 on a packet of 6 tomatoes and think nothing of it, if I want something I buy it, and I succumb to the more materialistic way of life. I sit up the dinner table and eat ready meals, I put my plates in the dishwasher and take advatange of the fact I can take a shower at any time of day I want and there will be hot water. It’s a different life, and I am a undoubtedly different person.

My two lives rarely cross paths. Berkay hasn’t visited the UK for 2 years, my family haven’t seen him for 2 years either. Although they’re very supportive and acknowledge him, he’s not a part of my everyday life and to them I’m just ‘Dan’, I’m not ‘Dan and Berkay’ here. Christmas and special occasions are always when I notice it most, when his name is missing off the cards… In the UK I’m basically a single person, in Turkey we exist together.

When I knew Berkays army leaving date and I had booked my flight, I was worried about returning to Turkey, having not been there for nearly 10 months. I’d settled into the UK version of me, the version of me who has money and a job and a fairly solitary life. I was afraid of going back and worried if I’d still appreciate Fethiye as much as before. As soon as I got off the plane and into the car with Berkay it was like I’d never been away. We visited our friends and it was like I’d just seen them last week, not 10 months beforehand. When I arrived back in the UK I sat around a dinner table in a restaurant with my family and it was like a totally different version of myself, not quite 100% present, almost like an out of body experience from the outside looking in. When I got into bed the night I arrived back in the UK I had to seriously lay down¬†and think if the previous 10 days had actually been ‘real life’ or a dream. Looking back at photos I thought to myself ‘was I really there just 24 hours ago, sat on that balcony with Berkay?’ because it felt¬†so surreal once I was sat back in my room in England and existing as the ‘other Danni’ once again.

It’s entirely bizarre, and I’m aware that this post makes me sound slightly crazy – I’m not. I’m sure everyone experiences this on some level when they return from a holiday or travelling, but this is more than that. I had a life in both countries for a long time, and I still do, I spent most of my adult life living in Turkey. I have friends, family and a part of me in both countries. I guess that makes me lucky, although sometimes I really wish it wasn’t the case and that life were simpler. Although physically my body is only in one place at a time, my head is always split between the two countries, and it’s really mentally exhausting.

‚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.

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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. ‚̧

Turkish restaurant in London.

While Berkay was in England last month, we took a trip to a Turkish restaurant in London. It was amazing!

We went to the Efes restaurant on¬†Commercial Road (click HERE for their website), which was recommended by my dad. Don’t get too excited by the name ¬†– they didn’t serve any alcohol at all.

It looked quite impressive from the outside, we thought it was going to be expensive, but we were pleasantly surprised! We had a table booked for 7pm, and it was a good job it was booked because when we walked in it was really very busy!
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Berkay’s eyes lit up as soon as he walked in and saw the waiters rushing around serving plates full of all the Turkish food he knows and loves, meanwhile all I could concentrate on was the HUGE glass cabinet full of baklava that I could see staring at me! Mmmmm.

The waiters and waitresses were all Turkish and came over to us expecting us to be English – Berkay started talking Turkish to them and they ended up having a ten minute conversation as is customary when Turks meet, all the usual stuff, where are you from, what do you do, where do you work, how much do you weigh? (seriously!) I was just sat trying to chose from the menu.

When the chat was over and I’d heard the normal ‘wow you look Turkish’ that everyone feels the need¬†to tell¬†me, we¬†both¬†decided on getting the Adana Kebab. I’d never had it before, but it was a good choice, although seeing other people’s orders of Pide being bought out made me wish I had chose that instead – it’s my favourite!

While we were waiting for it to be served, we got the typical bowls of bread, salad and dips bought out to the table, this is something I love most about Turkish food – bread is ALWAYS on the table, it was all free too.
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We also ordered Lahmacun as I’d never tried it and wanted to, I figured it was almost like Pide, and only cost ¬£2.50 so it was a no-brainer! I suppose it’s like a really thin pizza, it was yummy.
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Before we even had a chance to finish the¬†Lahmacun, our main dinner was bought out – Adana kebab. It was a big portion, two long pieces of spicy minced meat grilled¬†over charcoal, rice, grilled tomato & pepper, and of course the big bowl of salad, bread and dips that we had left over from earlier. It was only ¬£10.50 each. It probably sounds weird to say, but it all tasted so …. Turkish. Even the salad tastes exactly as it does out there, how do they do that, what’s the secret?!
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The food was gorgeous, and left us absolutely stuffed. After a while, a woman dressed in traditional belly dancer costume came to offer us¬†Turkish tea and of course we couldn’t resist. I thought it was cute how everything was Turkish, even down to the bottles of water and sugar cubes…
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Despite being stuffed, I knew that I couldn’t possible leave the restaurant without having some baklava. ¬£4 for 3 pieces it said – I would have quite happily paid more. They bought it out on a little dish, two normal pieces, and one chocolate, but you really can’t beat the normal one, especially with a glass of cay.
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Once we polished off the baklava, and Berkay had told his life story to another of the waiters, we asked for the bill, expecting it to be around £30-35 after having two kebabs, two cokes, water, two teas and baklava Рbut they had only charged us £22. I guess having long conversations and telling life stories to waiters sometimes pays off! We would have happily paid more, because it really was delicious. It made me miss Turkey all the more.
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On our way home, we decided to take the long, scenic route as it was our last night together and neither of us could face going home to pack his suitcase yet. I put my GPS on my phone and used google maps to walk from the restaurant to London Bridge station¬†and posed to take photos of Tower Bridge on the way. It took about 45 minutes. Funny story – on the way to the station we got stopped by some foreign tourists looking for a hotel, normally my shy-self would have just said ‘Sorry, don’t know’, but I was feeling especially happy after my Turkish good, so I got my phone¬†GPS back out and typed in the name they wanted – as it happened it was only a 2 minute walk away and they were really grateful – it’s nice to be helpful. (:

We had a lovely last evening together and Berkay now says this restaurant is his new favourite – even better than Nandos! Anyone who knows how much he loves Nandos will know this is a big deal!

Now I just can’t wait to get back to Turkey and eat this food more often. Eeeeeek.

7 more days…

So, it’s currently 10pm on Wednesday, which means that this time next week, providing there are no long delays, Berkay will have landed at Gatwick and we’ll be together once again! (:

I guess that’s a good thing about being apart, ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ and all that? Not entirely true, but being apart means that when we are together again its always new and exciting. There is no better feeling than waiting in the arrivals section of the airport as close to the doors as possible, watching as the doors slide open and waiting anxiously for their face to appear. Knowing ¬†that their imminent arrival means the months apart is about to be erased in that single split second moment when you’re reunited.¬†When you’re waiting it feels like a lifetime, and when their face finally does appear through the doors, the feeling is indescribable.

I read a quote recently, ”Airports see more sincere kisses than wedding halls. The walls of hospitals have heard more prayers than the walls of churches.‚ÄĚ How true is that?¬†Has anyone seen that tv programme that was aired a few years ago? ”Hello, Goodbye” (Click HERE to read more about it, with a brilliant description of the other side of airports!) ¬†I loved that programme. A simple concept, cameras placed at the airport in arrivals and departures, filming couples, families and friends saying goodbye to their loved ones as they set off on a journey somewhere, or, the best part, filming when others have been reuined after long periods apart. Airports are emotional places, there’s no denying it. Most people see airports as exciting places, the minute they step foot in one their holiday begins. Its the first stepping stone to sitting on that beach, beer in hand and sun on your face… But for me it’s bittersweet, the excitement of arriving, and the heartbreak of leaving again. When I moved to Turkey it was always exciting coming back to England, seeing family, then there were always tears from everyone when we left again, and now obviously it’s the same, only Berkay is the one coming and going. I’m not one to show my emotions in public, rarely cry in front of other people, yet the airport is always the one place that gets me.

For now, I’m just looking forward to 18.35 next Wednesday when Berkay will once again land on English soil (: 7 more sleeps and counting.

I hope to update my blog a lot more when Berkay is here, and I’d like to do something special when I reach 100,000 views, if anyone has any ideas? Perhaps another giveaway, something better?
I’d also like to say a massive thanks to everyone commenting or sending me facebook messages after reading my blog posts. I know I’m terrible at replying, I just don’t have time at the moment. But I read every single one, and welcome and appreciate all comments. I promise to reply in the next few days. ‚̧