God gave us a gift of 86,400 seconds today, so I’m using one of those to say “thank you”.

I received my renewal notice today from WordPress, which reminded me of my early days of blogging when I thought that the only person that would ever read my blog would be my Mum. Well I got that bit wrong, as she doesn’t!

As a new naive blogger I remember looking through all your sleek glossy blogs with the beautifully written posts and stunning photographs. I never thought I’d ever “get that good” and in so many ways I never will. I still break into a cold sweat whenever I have to insert links and it takes me the best part of the day to get it just right; and I do the happy dance whenever I manage to upload pictures into a post!

Beyond any shadow of a doubt having all of you drop by to share laughter and the odd tear has made this journey, the stuff that dreams are made of. I have so many of you to thank for being there from the very beginning when I was a stranger in a strange land, in dire need of a friend or two. As I tried rather unsuccessfully to master the art of blogging, it truly made a difference reading a “like” or a comment or two. I got a shedload more than I ever expected and I will never ever forget your kindness.

So in true Tinky Town Trashtacular style, this award goes to all of you for sticking with me, it’s been a real rollercoaster of a voyage but it’s been made all that more special by having all of you along for company.

Saw This & Thought Of You!

Saw This & Thought Of You!

Please feel free to share the love and pass it on to those extra special bloggers that make your day. No rules, no questions, simply just because you can!

For The Love Of Annie

Karen Wren runs a small animal shelter in Didim, Turkey trying to save abandoned and injured street dogs along with feeding up to eighty other hungry mouthsforest dogs on the beach, at the side of the road and in the forest each and every day. Sterling work don’t you think? There are no thank yous for this type of hero, because that’s exactly what she is although I don’t think she would thank me for saying that. Often when they are no funds, she is the one who puts her hands in her pocket to buy that much-needed dog food particularly during the leaner months when the tourists have all gone home.

About a month ago their shelter was flooded leaving dogs homeless with nowhere else to take refugeflood – imagine the horror of discovering your life long work gone overnight. But fight back they did and have cobbled together with make do and mend. In addition to the daily practicalities of running the shelter with little or no facilities and driving around Didim to feed starving street dogs, Karen has to raise funds and update their Facebook page in order to let their friends around the world know howflood 3 treatment is progressing on injured and sick dogs and equally as important, post details of pups who are looking for a new home. They rely on donations for medical care, food and funds to transport some of the dogs back to the UK where they will have a chance of a better life. Amazingly, a miracle happened this week and they won a competition which will give them enough funds to buy a vehicle, which will mean that they will no longer have to rely on lifts or taxis to rescue injured or sick animals.

Very few stories touch me in the way that Annie’s and Aydin’s have. I was reading through my Facebook feed last week, with a mug of hot tea and one of my Dad’s famous banana sandwiches,annie & aydin when the poignant picture of two very young pups caught my eye. I don’t think I will ever forget that image of the two melancholy young dogs who had been so maliciously treated, cuddling up to each other for comfort. Annie had been thrown from a tractor on a busy main road with her brother who was killed by a speeding car and was found cowering over his body. Later that day Karen also collected Aydin who had again been discarded by an evil individual who had cruelly burned his ears off when he was just a matter of a few weeks old. aydin The damage was so bad there was nothing left of one ear and the other was so badly damaged, it had to be removed too. Within seconds of being put into the back of the car with Annie, frightened Aydin snuggled up to her and they have been inseparable ever since. Annie is currently quite poorly and Aydin is also receiving regular vet treatment for his injuries, all of which is being funded from a few meagre donations and Karen’s own savings. She hopes to find them a loving home together when they are well enough so that she is able to provide a safe haven for the next injured and sick pup. Many times despite the loving care, a lot of the dogs are just too poorly or have been too abused to be saved and this is when Karen and the rest of the volunteers must possess super human strength to be able to get up and do it all over again the following day, never knowing whether the next one will make it either. Cruelty to the most vulnerable is abhorrent to most of us and yet there appears to be no deterrent, so inevitably it will happen repeatedly. So tonight before I go to sleep, I will say a silent prayer of thanks for Karen and the other volunteers like her around the globe that endeavour each and every day to make the world a better place.

But for now, can I ask you do one thing for me today, as I know that we’re living in a world where we are bombarded with pleas to like this or that picture and donation requests, but how great would it be if some of you shared the Turkish Animal Group details or The Turkish Animal Group (T.A.G.)- Dog Adoptables; it won’t cost you anything, just a few seconds of your time and yet it will make a significant difference to Annie & Aydin, not to mention all the other Aydins and Annie that are still waiting for Karen to save them. What are you waiting for, go on make Annie’s day!

vet

A Little Bit Of Perfect

We continued driving up into the mountains, all eleven of us together with the goat, on the way to Grandad’s House in the remote village of Karatut. The weather was getting colder and the snow deeper, as we carried on up the steep dirt track roads, buildings were fewer and other traffic almost none existent. However, the scenery was breath-taking and the stuff that movies are made of. I was enchanted by the wild grey foxes who startled by the engine noise, ran alongside the edge of the tracks .

Fortunately, I was unable to see the sheer drop from the road down the side of the mountain, or I am sure I would have been holding my breath for the remainder of the journey. We eventually drove into the village which was a scattering of basic structures; although despite the village’s remoteness there were still satellite dishes dotted along the tops of the buildings. This was Turkey at it’s most traditional and a lifetime away from resort life and foreign visitors.

Most of the villagers were intrigued by the new arrivals and stopped and peered in the car windows, some of whom were known to the family. I was particularly alarmed by a smiling elderly woman who sat outside her house holding a rifle across her lap but fortuitously for us still managed to wave a greeting with her empty hand.

We carried on driving through the village and came to a halt at the top of a dirt track with no visible houses. balcony Man, women, child and goat alighted from the vehicle carrying various bags, pots and pans and then started climbing down a steep incline which led to a wooden house complete with a wraparound balcony nestling along the side of the cliff and amongst the trees like something from a Grimm fairy-tale.

Having removed our shoes, as is the custom whenever you enter a Turkish home, I was surprised when we walked into an immaculately clean small hallway leading onto a salon where again a soba oven kept the room toasty. There was a basic kitchen in one corner and in another primitive showering facilities. Tapestry floor cushions were scattered around the homely room. All the family greeted their grandfather in the Turkish respectful fashion of kissing his right hand and then touching it with their foreheads.

Grandad was a wizened old soul with a particular fondness for moonshine Raki and a twinkle in his eye, who was equally entranced by my mobile phone pictures of home as I was by the loveliness of his. Despite his advanced years he had lived in this village his whole life and now entirely alone since his wife had passed several years earlier.

As I looked around the salon, I couldn’t help but wonder how this large family managed any bathroom privacy. One of Ahmed’s brothers sensing my unease jokingly told me that the entire family showered together whilst soaping each other’s hard to reach places and then translated for the rest of the family which made them all laugh uproariously. As we continued to sit there laughing and joking whilst drinking çay , I couldn’t help but think that many of us had lost some of this family harmony and tradition and I hoped that I would be taking home, along with the usual holiday souvenirs, something a little more enduring which would remind me of these truly golden days.

The view from Grandad's House

The view from Grandad’s House

That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest.
Henry David Thoreau

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city

“Going Grandad House” Ahmed said to me the next morning so that was how I found myself in a Fiat Doblo with ten other people and a pygmy goat. We all excitedly crammed into the car, men, women and children for the two-hour journey to the remote village of Karatut to see Ahmed’s grandad. I sat alongside Ahmed in the front with two of the smaller children squeezed in next to me. Several bags of food together with some pots and pans were also packed in. As I’d already named the goat, Junie Little Legs (after my Mum), I was delighted to learn that fortunately, she wasn’t going to be on the menu anytime soon.

Thirty minutes into the journey and fruit and bread was being handed round to all passengers as the family happily chattered away to each other in rapid Turkish. Most vehicles travelling that day were all as overloaded as we were and the few Turkish policemen whom we passed seemed either unfazed or full of holiday spirit.

An hour later and we had a toilet break at a village petrol station and I was horrified to discover that the public toilets were the squatty potty variety. Now as I’m no contortionist and no Olympic gymnast either, I knew that in skinny jeans these facilities were going to be an issue for me. Returning the car, I explained to Ahmed “no nice toilet” so he and his elder brother kindly walked me around the village, asking at every shop and hotel, whether they had a suitable toilet. Fortunately, three gentlemen sat outside a hotel, playing cards, took pity on me and allowed me to use their facilities. They gave me a room key and Ahmed escorted me upstairs. I was surprised that the hotel was little more than a hostel but charmed that they had provided slippers outside each room for every guest to use. I was touched by their kindness and trusting manner and thought that there wouldn’t be many hoteliers back in the UK, that would hand over a room key to a complete stranger without any financial gain.

When I returned to the car, it was to rousing cheers and applause. At this point my face must have resembled the same colour as my fuchsia fleece. So I felt compelled to execute a bow to my appreciative audience. Although, I secretly hoped that Grandad’s house wasn’t that much further and also made a mental note to watch my liquid intake, as I might not find the next lot of facilities quite as convenient!

The Little Girls Room

The Little Girls Room

Poverty Is The Mother Of Crime

Sheltering from the torrential Devon downpours in the allotment shed, Dad and I shared a drink of tea from his old thermos flask, whilst having a lengthy discussion about some of the bar boys exploiting the tourists back in good old Tinky Town.

My Dad pointed out that I have never known real poverty; as in where my next meal is coming from and whether I will have a safe haven to sleep that night. God willing I will never have to, therefore, should I be so quick to judge someone else that faces these challenges and also has the responsibility of dependents to provide for as well. Many of these young men will return home without money when the wages promised them by unscrupulous bar owners, fail to materialise. The shame of returning to a family without any funds to see them through the winter is a bitter pill to swallow and can have a devastating impact on a household when there is no other form of earnings. I am sure that the burden of providing for beloved family members may compel some to make unethical choices without considering the consequences for others. Ahmed and I know only too well the repercussions of another’s dishonesty having once lost a deposit for an apartment to a deceitful landlord at a time when we could ill afford it.

Most of these young men will never hope to earn as much money as we spend on a family package holiday. They will have worked six or seven days a week and become dependent on tips or commission as their main source of income. During the course of their sixteen hour day, holiday makers will disclose in general conversation, that they have paid a substantial amount in excess baggage charges. They may even discuss the cost of putting a treasured family pet into kennels for the duration which again would seem extravagant and unnecessary to those that simply don’t have the funds available for a bus ticket home.

Some of them will have led a fairly traditional life and will be overwhelmed when they arrive to work at a resort for the first time. A few will find it difficult to return to their villages after a summer season spent amongst the worldly and wealthy tourists. They will soon learn that declarations of love will earn them a gift from the UK on the next visit or perhaps if they are very lucky a visa to a land where the streets are paved with gold. In addition they may have noticed that drunken holidaymakers seldom check their bar bills and have ample cash to spend; subsequently they will assume rightly or wrongly, that it is unlikely a few pounds will be missed. Although, I wouldn’t be fair, if I didn’t point out that not all Turkish bar boys subscribe to the same moral code of ethics.

My only foray into a life of crime was when as a small child I took a small roll of sellotape from the village Post Office. The guilt was a heavy burden for a six-year-old to bear and I almost immediately confessed. Subsequently, I was frogmarched back to same Post Office by my Dad to apologise and hand it back in person. Funnily, enough I was never again tempted to become light-fingered and my sister to this day, introduces me to her friends as my sister “the shoplifter”.

Of course, I realise now that my Dad was simply teaching me that ill-advised actions have consequences and that my motive was one of foolishness and not necessity. So tell me then can poverty truly justify, what at the end of the day, is simply thievery?

I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.
Robert Kennedy

lira

Fertility is like a soccer match; eleven sperm trying to get past the goalkeeper

We visited many extended family members whilst staying in Kahramanmaraş and one of the most memorable was to Ahmed’s aunt and uncle who lived in another dusty Turkish back lane. Their house was smaller than the one belonging to Ahmed’s family; the courtyard housed a goat and chickens and at the end of the small brick path there was a door opening straight onto a tiny basic kitchen. Further through into the small lounge or salon as the Turkish prefer, a mattress was placed on the floor in one corner with an elderly lady reclining in the make-shift bed. The sense of family is so strong within Turkish families that there is no need for retirement homes for beloved seniors who have spent their lives helping to raise several generations. Most elderly Turkish relatives are cared for by the same families that they have nurtured. Turkish children are taught from a very early age to respect their elders and those values remain with them throughout their lives and in their respectful behaviour towards all senior citizens. To this day, I love the custom of greeting elders by kissing their right hand then placing your forehead onto their hand.

Floor cushions were strewn around the room and every inch of space was occupied by women and children of all ages, none of whom spoke much English. Before we knew what was happening, Ahmed was ushered through into another adjoining room like the prodigal son or conquering hero, to where the men were assembled. Sensing my discomfort, he threw me an apologetic smile over his shoulder, before disappearing from sight, clearly relishing his moment of glory.

I was bade to sit and then bombarded with never-ending food and drinks by the gracious host family whilst the beautiful brown-eyed children sidled up to take a closer look at me. I have always loved that about children; that their curiosity far outweighs any embarrassment or social etiquette. I’m sure this would be a far better world if that childlike wonder and trust remained with us throughout our adult lives. I answered all their questions with the help of my faithful Turkish dictionary, bought for the princely sum of £8.99 in WH Smiths. The children tried to help me with my poor Turkish pronunciation and were genuinely captivated by all my family photographs on my mobile phone.

Whilst I chatted and laughed with the children, the elderly matriarchs of the family were talking in rapid Turkish and although I couldn’t understand what was said, it was clear from the gestures and nodding in my direction that Ahmed and I were both the hot topic of conversation that evening. I never did discover whether it was in a good way either.

A new-born baby was being passed around and inevitably I was invited to hold the beloved dark-haired infant who held my gaze in the way only newborns can. A few minutes later one of the women in broken English asked me to hand the baby back so that he could be reunited with his mother. Imagine my astonishment, when he was gently passed to the reclining elderly woman to nurse.

Later that evening in the car on the journey back to Ahmed’s family home, he delighted in telling me how fertile the men in his family were and proudly boasted how they remained so, in fact, long into their twilight years. I cannot tell you how comforted I felt that I was spending my life with a man who’s biggest asset was that he was more fertile than a growbag!

mountain 2

Simple Pleasures

Last Christmas, we made the sixteen hour car journey to Kahramanmaraş to see some of Ahmed’s family.  As I slept for most of the journey, it wasn’t too much of a hardship for me and although I had suggested we stop halfway and stay at one of the many roadside inns, Ahmed was having none of it. True to his frugal roots he drove on through the night, however, we did stop at a couple of roadside cafes frequented by the many coaches taking hordes of passengers to visit their families during the holiday season.  I also soon discovered that the clothes I had packed back in England for a sunny Turkish resort weren’t equipped to deal with the very cold Kahramanmaraş weather.

Nothing had prepared me for the visit to Kahramanmaraş, as whilst I was warmly welcomed by Ahmed’s non-English speaking family to the point where they insisted I sleep in the only bed, I hadn’t realised how traditionally Turkish the town was.  When we pulled up outside Ahmed’s family home situated in a dusty little back lane the surrounding wall and double gates hid the house from view. Once inside the gates, I discovered that the house was little more than a concrete structure with one of his brothers living in an annexe upstairs with his family and another living at the rear of the building.  All his family were on hand to welcome us; his sisters and sisters-in-law wore the traditional Turkish dress although the men wore western attire.  The meals were prepared by the women folk and the whole family congregated in the small lounge with the Soba, wood stove, being the focal point and the only source of heating.  A tablecloth was placed on the floor and the entire family sat alongside each other eating their meal amidst companionable chatter and laughter. This was a very different Turkey to the one that I had become accustomed to in the sunny resort of Altinkum.

The women in the family were much to my surprise, fascinated by their visitor and later after our evening meal we all gathered around the family computer for a question and answer session via Google translate.  They apologised to me as most of them hadn’t finished their education and said that they were just mothers & wives; but I said that in my humble opinion, that was the most important job in the world whatever your nationality happened to be.  They wanted to know everything about my life back in England including my family and home and excitedly chattered amongst themselves in rapid Turkish when I answered their questions.  When I asked them what they thought was the main difference between English and Turkish women; one of the sisters-in-law paused for a moment before replying that she thought that Turkish women were more content with their lives.  We spent the rest of the evening sorting through my make-up, listening to my CDs and straightening each other’s hair with my trusty GHDs.  Although none of us spoke each other’s language, there was a lot of laughter and good-natured banter as we danced around the room to Rihanna.

As there were only one other bedroom, the majority of the family slept on tapestry floor cushions alongside the Soba. The following morning I was awoken by the curious beautiful brown-eyed children of the family wanting to meet the mysterious stranger; particularly as it was Bayram and we had followed Turkish tradition by bringing lots of sweets with us to hand out to all the youngsters.  Breakfast was served early and as the electric shower wasn’t working, the women heated pans of hot water for me and filled a plastic refuse bin which they then dragged into the shower room so that I could bathe.  Although it was very cold and the shower room little more than an outhouse, they found much hilarity in the fact that I wanted to bathe every day despite the temperature being sub-zero; even so I was touched that they had made such effort for me

I often think of that small Turkish house where the welcome and smiles were as warm as the Soba and time spent with loved family members was more precious than gold. It occurs to me as I write this that usually the ones that have the least to give, inevitably give the most and that there in that small Turkish town, a loving family shared with me the most priceless gift of all – simple pleasures.

Sometimes the simple pleasures are more meaningful than all the banquets in the world
E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

Turkish breakfast

In The Beginning (Part Four)

After waving goodbye to the rowdy hens, we made our way to the exit and pushed our trolleys through the crowds of awaiting transfer drivers all holding name signs for their passengers. We eventually found our designated courier, a young handsome and cheery Turk, who introduced himself as Erhan. He suggested we sit at the outside café whilst we waited for his “friend” who was driving the transfer bus which unfortunately had broken down. He assured us that we shouldn’t be concerned, as his friend was already en route to the depot to collect the luxury vehicle with a well-stocked mini bar and would be with us shortly. It was fair to say that now we were concerned!

Having travelled all night, fatigue was beginning to set in and to bolster our spirits we purchased some coffees and water from the kiosk attendant. When I handed over the lira, I realised that I could have financed an entire spa weekend based on the price I had been charged for the refreshments. We passed the time talking with Erhan, asking him about Turkey and in particular, Altinkum, where we would be staying.

An hour and a half later, the “luxury” transfer bus arrived. The transfer driver was a scruffy toothless elderly gentleman who his friend explained, didn’t speak any English but frankly we were so tired that we would have accepted a lift from Attila the Hun. All too soon we realised that vehicle was roughly in the same condition as it’s driver. The upholstery was stained, the ashtrays overflowing and the well-stocked rusty mini bar was padlocked. The stereo blared Turkish music and prayer beads swung from the rear-view mirror; we were left wondering whether the standard transfer vehicle would have in fact, been a donkey and cart. Leaflets advertising the local bars in Altinkum were strewn across the back seat, detailing “cockytails for half price”; oh yeah we would definitely be needing some of those bad boys sometime in the very near future.

We’d barely said our goodbyes to Erhan, when the minibus took off at breakneck speed. In addition to other basic comforts, it appeared that the luxury vehicle also lacked seatbelts. As we were tossed around in the back seats like a salad, I couldn’t help but wonder where were those cockytails when you needed one?

The surrounding countryside flashed past us, as we hurtled towards our destination at seventy miles per hour. As we were travelling so fast, it was difficult to appreciate the numerous roadside stalls selling fresh fruits and the migrant farm workers harvesting the olive trees which covered most of the passing landscape for as far as the eye could see. We also noticed that all Turkish drivers seemed to drive with reckless abandon and have a flagrant disregard for road safety and other road users. Our driver constantly smoked and answered his mobile phone whilst driving, pausing only to curse in Turkish at other drivers.

It was already beginning to get hot and the minibus was stuffy and smoky, and unfortunately, the luxury air conditioning didn’t appear to be working and neither did the electric windows.

As we rocketed around the winding roads, I wondered whether I would in fact, live to see my family again or in an ironic twist, I had unintentionally taken Serial Shagger’s advice literally and fallen off a cliff.

However, a short while later it seemed I was redeemed as the driver decided to put us out of our misery when he pulled up roadside and got out and opened our door. The fresh air and slight breeze was a welcome relief. Nodding and grinning, he gestured for us to step out. He had stopped the van at a shaded area overlooking a vast lake – Baffa Lake as I was later to discover. The views were breath-taking and it was beginning to get hot even though the day was still early.

As I was about to climb out, my friend grabbed hold of me and pulled me back into the van. “No you don’t! He’s going to steal our money and abandon us or worse still, kill us”. It seemed that I was going to be making Serial Shagger’s day after all. The driver seemed confused by our reluctance to leave the vehicle and after shrugging his shoulders grudgingly got back into the minibus to continue on with the white knuckle ride.

Thirty minutes later we drove into the bustling seaside resort of Altinkum where we were going to be staying for the next couple of weeks. I visibly relaxed as I knew then that our nightmare journey was coming to an end. However, once again fate seemed to have other ideas and as we drove around the town stopping to ask for directions, it was apparent that we were lost. So after a further forty-five minutes, tiredness had dictated that I take command of the situation and gesturing for the driver to stop, I got out and asked at a local café. An English couple were able to help along with a Turkish waiter who translated the directions to the driver. Confident that we were now headed in the right direction, I jumped back into the minibus.

Ten minutes later we arrived at our destination and the driver kindly assisted us to the apartment and even helped unlock the door with keys that had been left at the local estate agency office or Emlak offis as they said in Turkey.

The driver departed with a wave, a toothless smile and a generous tip; having mistaken good old-fashioned Turkish courtesy for something a little more sinister, we had felt duty bound to over compensate for our mean-spirited thoughts.

After struggling with the lock, we eventually gained access into what was going to be our home for the next couple of weeks. The apartment was fairly amazing, however, there was one thing troubling me. There was a trail of wet towels leading along the corridor to the bathroom. On closer inspection all of the beds were unmade and the wardrobes were opened; in fact it looked very much like the apartment had been burgled!

Leaving my friend guarding our luggage, I marched back to the emlak office and insisted that the man who had given us the keys some fifteen minutes earlier, return with me to the apartment. In the Turkish laid back manner, that we had become accustomed to since arriving, he climbed into his Fiat Doblo and gestured for me to do the same. He drove erratically the short distance to the apartment, chain-smoking the entire journey, narrowly missing another vehicle then jumped out of the car, gesturing for me to do the same. As we mounted the stairs to the apartment, he appeared fairly unconcerned about potentially confronting a burglar.

My friend was stood outside the door surrounded by all our luggage, whilst the man from an emlak office flashed her his whitest smile as he pushed past into the apartment. After a brief tour, he said “s’okay housekeeper holiday no come today”.

“Sorry?”

“No problem housekeeper coming tomorrow”.

Irritable from the lack of sleep, my friend asked where we would sleep tonight and the man from the emlak office sauntered into the apartment and selecting some linens from a chest of drawers passed them to us and indicated in the direction of the bedrooms.

As I was just too tired to argue, I took the proffered bed linen and selecting the large double room, stripped and remade the bed into which I fell almost immediately into a deep slumber. The rest could just wait until later!

didim beach

Buy Me A Shot I’m Tying The Knot (Part Three)

It hadn’t taken me long to find someone who wanted to share two weeks of sun, sea and sand. One of the girls from work, who’d recently divorced was only too happy to lock up her lonely bachelor flat for a couple of weeks and accompany me to sunny Altinkum.

So a week later we were transported to Bristol Airport via a National Express coach, bursting with excitement and anticipation. We checked our luggage in and sailed through security without disappointingly requiring a body search; leaving us free to do a spot of shopping.

An hour or so later with our wallets considerably lighter, we sat in the café bar outlet in the departures lounge waiting for our flight to be called. My friend and I couldn’t help but laugh at the antics of our fellow passengers. A large hen party from South Wales, dressed in skin-tight pink neon tee-shirts sporting the words “Mine’s the Barman”, matching feather boas and Stetsons danced around the bar. You gotta love class.

My friend and I had made our duty-free purchases and were now sat alongside the boisterous ladies; who were now indulging in tequila shots whilst cheering each other. That was one hangover I was glad that I wasn’t going to be having.

Their laughter was infectious and I nearly joined them in singing along to the old Wurlitzer jukebox; although the acappella version of “I will survive” left a lot to be desired but what they lacked in tone, they made up for in volume and enthusiasm.

Our flight was called and we all grabbed our hand luggage and boarding cards making our way to the boarding desk. In true Thomas Cook style we boarded the plane fairly quickly and took our assigned seats. We discovered that we were sat next to the Hen Party who all introduced themselves as they were going to be staying in the same resort. A few of them had been to Altinkum before and knew the area well and were able to recommend some bars & restaurants. We got chatting and shared the confidences that you do with holiday friends that you think you may exchange the occasional Christmas card with or request as a friend on Facebook.

Never!” the bride said after I had shared my sorry jilted story with the girls. Nothing like a shedload of alcohol and a group of liquored up girls for a self-indulgent pity party.

“Was he a munter?” one of them asked of Simon. “Or was she?”

Another butted in “I know the type, bloody BOBFOC” as I was looking puzzled she continued “you know body off Baywatch, face off Crimewatch”. Well actually I didn’t but if the red swimsuit fit….

When they suggested that I indulge in some Turkish lovin’ to help me move on, I couldn’t help but point out that I needed another man about as much as I needed another wedding. Fortunately, before we were able to continue that conversation, the ever efficient cabin crew dressed in their ill-fitting polyester uniforms, started to dispense duty-free and the hen party became distracted with making purchases.

My friend took the opportunity to rummage through her possessions in the overhead locker dragging out a best-selling paperback and her iPod. “Are you not going to stretch your legs; you don’t want Kankles” she informed me.
Kankles?”

“It’s when your ankles swell up to the size of your knees”. Attractive visual I thought; not only jilted but jilted with the ankles of a rugby player; I’m going to be beating off men with a stick at this rate. Not wishing to add to my catalogue of less attractive features, I decided to take the scenic route to the Loo; where I had to queue for ten minutes. Once inside having completed my ablutions, I just couldn’t resist uttering the immortal words “to infinity and beyond” before flushing.

Upon my return, the party girls were giving their numerous drinks orders to the cabin crew who were struggling to keep up with all the requests. There was a good deal of banter exchanged by both parties and abundant amounts of alcohol purchased and consumed. I was encouraged to try all sorts of various concoctions to choruses of “one for sorrow, two for joy, three and you’ll never sleep with an ugly boy”. As that ship had already sailed, I focused on the drinking task in hand. However, it was after the raspberry Sambuca, when my lips became numb that I realised I was never going to be a real Lambrini girl; particularly, when the feeling only returned in my facial muscles, some two hours later.

Full of cocktails and well-intentioned advice, I slept for the rest of the flight and was only awoken by the cabin staff reminding me to fasten my seatbelt as we were preparing to land. With big sleep hair and a face full of drool, I tried to rouse myself and realised that it was only in movies that the heroine woke looking daisy fresh and airbrushed to within an inch of her life. Real life was a totally different matter judging by the startled expression on the face of the woman sat next to me. As we were coming in to land, I would have to wait until later to freshen up but even then there was only so much restoration work that Estee Lauder could do.

As we disembarked, we thanked the perma-tanned cabin crew and filed slowly off the plane to passport control, with the required visa fee, a crisp ten pound note tucked safely into our passports. At the desks the clerks quickly scanned our passports before stamping them with that all important visa; and then it was on to baggage collection.

Although tired, we joined rest of the passengers in the usual scramble for luggage; and as the hen party loaded their bags onto the trollies, the bride turned to me and said with a wink “Now remember angel cakes, what happens in Tinky Town, stays in Tinky Town. Gotta go love, got a coach to catch” she yelled over her shoulder whilst rushing off in the direction of a clipboard waving holiday rep.

And if you’d like to read the rest of the Honeymoon Stories, you’ll find them here & tales about life in a Devon village here

hisoronu

In The Beginning (Part Two)

“Another”? Carla mimed at me across the public bar at the local Taverners Pub. Well! It’d be rude not to!

I’d been dragged along to Karaoke night by my best friend having spent a week moping around the house after calling off my wedding to my fiancée, Simon “I’ve been shagging anything that moves”. My family tiptoeing around me, along with my mother mouthing the word “jilted” to anyone who’d not heard of my misfortune; that would be the ones living on Mars of course. In fact, she’d delighted in the opportunity to showcase her Women’s Institute award-winning baking skills for the constant stream of visitors to the house. I wasn’t sure I could face any more sympathetic looks and insincere condolences but as my well-meaning friend had pointed out, I wasn’t the first to have been shafted in the love department.

As she sauntered across the bar bearing two large G&Ts, I pointed out to her, that if her dress had been any shorter, it would be doing the walk of shame on its own. “It always pays to look your best; you never know when you’re going to meet Mr Right”.

As I’d already that night met Mr Bobby Bullshit, Mr Fred (I can make your bed rock) Flintstone and nearly married Mr Wrong On So Many Levels; I was clearly having a wardrobe malfunction of my own; so who was I to be offering fashion tips.

“Are you having a good time cupcake, cos if so, tell your face will you”! Carla muttered putting her drink firmly down on the table “Look pet, I know what happened was awful but its time you moved on. You were Simon’s equivalent of Gillette; the best the lying cheating barsteward could ever hope to get, but as with most men he didn’t appreciate what he had. He always thought he was God’s gift to women and frankly if that was the case, God has a bitchin’ sense of humour. So instead of wallowing, let’s start with what are you going to do now you’ve got a couple of weeks’ leave from filling shelves? Be a shame to waste it. Get yourself off somewhere for a bit of sun, sea and sangria. I’d come myself but it’s a really busy time for me and it’s a competitive business when you’re a mobile hairdresser”.

As I pointed out I had used every bit of my overtime money to pay for a honeymoon in Turkey, I was now broke; the best I could hope for was a ropey old deck chair at my Dad’s allotment and a glass of his dubious homebrew.

And it was then that a plan started coming together for me; why not go on the honeymoon? I could change the name on one of the flight tickets if I could get someone to go with me and the apartment in Altinkum was already booked and paid for. It would be better than holding my own pity party in my Mum’s imposing lounge whilst trying not to spill any red wine on her shag pile carpet.

As I unveiled my idea to Carla we toasted my holiday plans and continued laughing and joking until I was asked to dance by a heavily tattooed and medallion enhanced individual; who pointing to his head and then his feet, he said “up there for thinking, down there for dancing”.

As appealing as the offer was, I declined and retired home to pack my suitcase.

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