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.
IMG_1234
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 😉

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.
IMG_1287 IMG_1286
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.
IMG_1249
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.

London with Berkay – part 2

I posted part 1 of my birthday day out in London  yesterday, and as promised, here is part 2.

IMG_8340
On our way to Buckingham Palace, we found ourselves at St.James Park. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and it was absolutely gorgeous walking through the park at this time of the day. There were beautiful yellow daffodils, blossom on the trees, flowers growing, green grass- beautiful! The lake looked lovely with the water fountain and ‘duck island’ in the middle.
IMG_8352 IMG_8342
Anyone who knows me know’s I’m an animal lover – so seeing all the cute ducks, swans and pelicans was sweet, the pigeons not so much- I hate it when things fly near me! This duck was so funny, doesn’t it just look like he’s posing for the camera?! He turned around, looked at me, tilted his head then started walking towards me – I think he was hoping for food, but we had none… sorry Mr Duck.
IMG_8343 IMG_8344
Berkay was trying to get the pigeons to sit on his arm, ewwwww. A nearby man who was obviously a regular at the park spotted him and gave him a handful of bird seed from a huge sack he had, he told him to hold his hand down low and feed the birds… and he did! Look how happy he looks, he’s an animal lover too.
IMG_8348 IMG_8349
We spotted some squirrels who were surprisingly not shy at all – they were obviously used to being photographed as I held my camera literally an inch away from his face and he just sat there eating his nut…cute!
IMG_8405IMG_8353
When we came to the end of the park, we could see Buckingham Palace, or ‘The Queen’s house’ as Berkay calls it.  We made our way over and dont the typical touristy things, took a photo of the guard, took a photo of each other standing outside the gates.. thought about popping in to visit my old mukka Queenie for some tea and scones…
IMG_8351 IMG_8360
IMG_8361 IMG_8359
IMG_8358 IMG_8357
There’s something about London that makes you feel patriotic. I’m not the least bit patrotic normally, I’m normally moaning about the country, but standing outside Buckingham Palace and looking out accross The Mall, seeing all the Union Jack flags – it really made me feel..well… British.
IMG_8356 IMG_8355
We walked to St James Park station, again relying on my phone’s GPS to guide us, what a lifesaver that was – and got off at Leicester Square. It was really busy with street performers, people laying on the benches and grass, there was even a dog playing in the water fountain – sweet! One of the street performers was a magician, he had a little mouse with him… we missed most of the act, but at the end he put his little pet mouse on the floor and let everyone go and stroke it. ‘Please be careful with her’ he said … it melted my heart! Nothing cuter than a man and his pet mouse hehe!
IMG_8366 IMG_8367
The main reason we were at Leicester Square was for M&M’s world! I’ve been to the one in New York before while I was there on a school trip, but I’d never been to the London one. The smell when you walk in … oh.my.god. Chocolate heaven! After a while it all looks the same, and you get sick of seeing all the overpriced merchandise – but some of it is cute. I think I purchased the cheaperst thing in the shop – a £3.50 fluffy m&m purse. There are giant M&M statues all around the store – all 4 levels of it – making for some perfect photo opportunities..
IMG_8404IMG_8371
IMG_8386
The best part about the whole place are the walls with tubes stacked full of M&M’s in every single colour possible, chocolate ones, peanut ones, crispy ones… ahhh, I’ve just realised I still have some left over from the bag we made up – as soon as I finish this post I’m going to tuck into them!
10245446_10152729367828776_7149697722789803979_n IMG_7056
After a good 45 minutes in chocolate heaven, we walked all the way to Oxford Street – and to the massive Primark. We didn’t get much, a few bits for our friends baby twins, and a pretty awesome pug duvet cover for me. What’s the point of having birthday money if you can’t spend it eh?

We met up with my dad, stepmum, brother and sister for dinner. We all went to a little Indian restaurant near Aldgate, in London. It was really yummy.. Berkay went for a hot dish and think he regretted it later!
IMG_8375 IMG_8376
How cute is my baby sister? ❤  She adores Berkay.. and me. She follows me around like a little sheep when I come home from work. Bless. She gave me lots of birthday cuddles, and helped me show off one of my birthday presents- a sweet picture for my wall made by my step mum. A photo of me, Berkay and Boncuk and the word ‘Happiness’ – that says it all.
IMG_7308 IMG_7314