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!!

Army life – broken foot & time off?

Its not unusual for Berkay to call me and tell me he’s been at the hospital all day, as he’s usually driving the ambulance back and forth between the base and the hospital when people get injured during training etc, but yesterday when he called me he told me he’d been in hospital all day, as a patient, after breaking his foot!

Apparently he was doing sport, as they do everyday, and when facing one of the obstacles on the course – jumping down in and out of a ditch – he jumped in and landed on something hard which shouldn’t have been in there, and broke his foot…

Since then he’s been on bed rest, only allowed to get up (with crutches) to use the phone, having all his food bought to his bed. He says his foot hurts a lot and is like a ‘balloon’ (swollen) and he has a cast on it… I hope he’s milking it for all it’s worth!

I’m actually quite pleased he broke it. The world works in mysterious ways, 2 weeks ago he was saying how he wanted to volunteer to go to the border towns to fight against the PKK after the recent trouble there, so having a dodgy foot has definitely ruled him out of that, for the time being!

I’m not sure what it means for his holiday – he wasn’t sure if he was going to get his 10 days leave in October and we’d decided that I’d not visit anyway so we was going to cancel it and finish 10 days early at the end of his service instead, but now he might be forced to take sick leave because of his foot, not much use as an ambulance driver with a plaster cast… He may get a few weeks holiday but it’s doubtful I’ll be able to visit since it will be too late notice to get time off work, and the fact that he doesn’t really have anywhere to go – his village is around 10 hours away from his army base by car, and Fethiye is around 12 hours away, not a nice distance to travel at the best of times let alone with a painful foot in a cast.

So it looks like I won’t be seeing him til February as planned, but at least he’s safe for now, even if a little pained, and less than 4 and a half months to go! (:

A relaxing Sunday afternoon..

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Since Berkay changed his job, he now gets one day off a week. He does a week of nights, has Sunday off then does a week of days, then Sunday off, and back to a week of nights. Oh how I wish that was the case when I was living there!

His day’s off mean he can see his friends and go fishing for his dinner. He still has no money as he won’t be paid until March, so he is relying on his catch of the day to eat. He goes with our good friends, Serkan & Sibel, and their not-so-little anymore baby Cinar, who is adorable.
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They often go to the little bays around Fethiye, this time it was buyuk samanlik koyu, which another friend of his actually owns. It’s a nice place, a bit basic, but nice in the winter and popular in the Summer with Turkish families who go there for BBQ picnic’s on Sunday’s. The view’s are lovely, you can see over to Calis and Fethiye and see all the boats going back to the harbour. The drive down to the bay is beautiful, although a little frightening as you have to drive along the cliff edge, which, if you know what Turkish driving is like, can be a little scary.
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Normally I edit photos before uploading them, but these need no editing at all, as they are already perfect. Look how beautiful it is, just before sundown.
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Berkay is normally quite successful at catching fish, last week he caught an Octopus. Today however,  he wasn’t so lucky and didn’t catch anything, so he’s gone to bed without having any dinner. He’s at work at 7am tomorrow so he’ll sneak some breakfast from the buffet.
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It was another friend’s birthday last weekend, he’s only known Berkay 2 years but is really like a dad to him. From what I’ve seen, Turkish people don’t really celebrate birthdays, but his sons bought him a cake..wish I was there to get a piece hehe (:
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Despite not having money at the moment, Berkay has recently had the vet out to give Boncuk her booster injections, there are far too many ill, untreated dogs in the area that it is just not worth the risk. She’s all up to date with worming and flea treatment and injections now, so she’s a happy doggy. I can’t believe how ‘old’ she looks now, she’s lost her puppy features and that makes me sad 😦 By the time I go back in July (hopefully) I won’t have seen her for 10 months, I hope she remembers me! For now I can relax knowing she’s safe, looked after and happy 🙂
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I hope everybody had a good weekend. (:

Holiday fling or the real thing? Can relationships with Turkish men really last?

During a relaxing, carefree holiday In Turkey, it’s all so easy to fall in love with a handsome stranger with a sexy accent, romantic walks on the beach, watching sunsets together and a lot of fun in the sun, but what happens when you return home, can the relationship continue or will he forget about you as soon as you board the plane?

We’ve all seen the typical ‘Take a Break’ magazine stories about Turkish men being love rats, cheating on British women, manipulating them for their money or using them for a visa, but are they all like that? The answer is no, they’re not, and some (and only someholiday romances can go the distance and turn into loving, long lasting relationships and marriages.

A lot of things really depend on what circumstances you met in. If you met him while he was working in a bar one night and the only communication you had was while either one or both of you were drunk, the chances are it’s not going to turn into a real meaningful relationship. Drunken conversation and sex does not make a good foundation. What is more important is spending real quality time together and getting to know each other properly before moving forward, although admittedly that is difficult whilst on a short holiday. The normal rules of dating are put on fast forward, it’s easy to get carried away and fall head over heels when everything is moving quickly, you know your time together is limited and that you’ll soon be returning home so everything is rushed. First date, second date, first kiss,sex…It all happens in a blur and it’s difficult to know what is going to happen next and what it all means.

I suppose it’s important to figure out if it is love, or lust. Is it really possible to fall in love with someone in a country thousands of miles away from home where there are so many obstacles to overcome? The language barrier  is an important one. Is it really possible to ‘love’ someone you can hardly communicate with? Communication is key. Getting to know each other from 4000 miles away is never easy, but nowadays with Skype, Facebook, FaceTime, email and text, there really is no excuse not to keep in touch, if that’s what you want.

An important thing to be sure of is that you are both wanting the same thing, are you both looking for a quick fling, or is one of you more serious than the other? While on holiday, a lot of us let our guards down, we are physically and emotionally relaxed and free from all the stresses of home, this makes it oh so easy to get carried away, but in reality, when you’re 4000 miles away back at home and have work to do and bills to pay, are you still going to be as interested in your Turkish ‘lover’? If you are serious about the relationship, be certain he is too. A lot of Turkish men working in resorts see a lot of women come and go, as soon as one flight leaves, another arrives. Some men see women, British in particular, as easy and fun loving.  They assume, rightly or wrongly, that these women want nothing more than 2 weeks of fun, and the reality is he probably won’t be interested in keeping in touch until you’re back next year.

Turkish men have a reputation as being love-rats, only interested in money and a visa. Sure, some of these men are really clever, scheming, con artists who cover their tracks well, however, in most circumstances there are some clear signs that your ‘relationship’ is doomed. Don’t ignore the signs and leave your brains at the airport. If you’re old enough to be his grandmother, or great-grandmother, he’s probably not genuine. If he runs to the toilet when his phone rings, he’s probably talking to one of his many other holiday flings, or a Turkish wife. If he tells you he loves you in broken English after having known you 5 mintues, he’s probably not genuine. Once you’re home, is he constantly making excuses and too busy to talk to you? Did you do a bit of Facebook stalking and find out he actually has 5 different profiles with photos of him and a different girl on each one? These are all huge red flags, don’t fall for his charm or excuses, it’s not worth the heartbreak in the end.

A lot of women  who have experienced the above sell their stories to magazines or newspapers or create online groups and blogs ‘warning’ everyone about the dangers of Turkish men. There seems to be an assumption that all Turkish men will try their luck and manipulate British women for money. If your fella gives you a list of duty free alcohol, trainers and the latest iPhone he wants you to bring out the next time you visit, realise he is not genuinely in love with you, he is more interested in your bank balance. If every time you speak to him he mentions how his mother, father or sister’s friend’s dog-sitter etc.. is ill and he needs money to pay the hospital bill,  end the conversation and delete him from your life. He’s lying.

Turkish men are not all scheming, money grabbing rats, far from it. Generally, Turkish men are very proud; they work to provide for their families and would never ask someone for money, especially a woman. Using my relationship as an example, I don’t have a penny to my name, Berkay works hard everyday to provide for us both. When family come to visit, the most he’s ever asked them for is a bottle of Nando’s sauce.

If people try to tell you that your guy isn’t genuine, that he’s cheating on you or using you for money, most of the time they are probably right. Don’t dismiss their concern as ‘jealousy’. Take their concerns on board and be wary. If the signs are there, pay attention and take notice, if not, stay on guard but don’t turn into a bunny boiling stalker.

Trust is important. When you’re living 4000 miles away from someone, it’s going to be impossible to know what they’re doing and who they are with every minute of the day. Gut instinct will be the key, if you think he doesn’t deserve your trust or he’s acting suspiciously, move on, there is no way a long distance relationship will ever work if you cannot trust each other.

The most important thing for me is can you really make the long distance relationship work? Are you patient enough to understand that while friends and people around you may be settling down and moving on with their lives, you’re going to be back and forth only seeing each other for a limited number of days per year until you come to a decision as to where your future is? You can only visit each other so much as your job, and your bank balance permits. At some point, one of you is going to have to give up your life in your own country and move away from your friends, family , job and everything you’ve ever known, it’s inevitable and is the only way forward, eventually.

This brings us to the issue of visas. Depsite what everyone thinks, visas to the UK are not easy to obtain, if you are unwilling to try to settle in Turkey, be prepared for a long battle to get your Turkish partner to the UK, it’s not something to take lightly, it’s a long, hard process and the stress can be enough to split couples up.

There are also cultural differences, and religion pays a large part in some circumstances too.  Is he Muslim? Will he expect you to give up certain things? Will he expect you to be a stay at home mum/housewife? Is he willing to let go of some of his more traditional Turkish cultural values, and are you willing to give up some of yours? Can you come to a compromise?

If both of you are willing to make it work and put in the effort as well as having the patience, trust, understanding and communication, your relationship may well turn into something wonderful. If not, enjoy it for what it is and move on, either way you’ll have great memories.