Your Heart Is Just A Beatbox For The Song Of Your Life

A chance encounter on Twitter reminded me of one of my Turkish road trip stories when we made one of our many sixteen hour journeys from Tinky Town back to Ahmed’s family in Kahramanmaraş

You may remember Ahmed’s reluctance to spend money and subsequently on one overnight trip when our hunger pangs got the better of us we decided to stop for something to eat. Ahmed speedily passed all the brand new roadside inns and pulled up in a tiny remote village alongside a ramshackle building with a corrugated iron roof.

I was less than impressed with Ahmed’s choice of venue but not altogether surprised nevertheless at this point as I was so famished and tired that I grudgingly climbed out of the car, slamming the door behind me to register my displeasure.

On walking through the door the biggest surprise of all was hearing the golden tones of Wynonna Judd coming from a ropey old sound system in the corner of this tatty café where the only customers were two elderly Turks drinking çay, sat amongst the mismatched plastic tables & chairs. Well I thought if it’s good enough for Wynonna it’s good enough for me and if the worse should happen and I should perish from food poisoning then at the very least the last thing I would hear would be a decent tune.

The elderly Turk behind the counter sporting a white apron informed me “very, very good girl” pointing to a very old but treasured picture, taking pride of place on the wall “you know her”?

I assured him not personally but I was the very proud owner of the Judds’ greatest hits CD which I had played to death especially “Grandpa“. How could one not be a fan of Wynonna; she has the voice of an angel, is a fellow animal lover and as a bit of a wordsmith myself who appreciates a great lyric, sings some kick ass songs.

My mood lightened and I relaxed whilst Ahmed placed the order which was swiftly delivered to the table by the elderly waiter. A few minutes later calling to his colleague he turned the volume up for “Mama he’s crazy” and accompanied by the other two customers performed a traditional Turkish dance to the melody. I’ve never laughed quite so much but I’d like to think I was laughing along with them as they hopped up & down waving their white napkins in the air and singing the word “crazee” with abandon.

It occurred to me as they danced that Wynonna had probably never dreamed that when she recorded this track it would be playing in a dusty old café on the other side of the world but I felt sure somehow she’d approve of people united in laughter and music, regardless of race, culture or religion, on one crazy hot summer’s night in Turkey.

pide

The Cup That Cheers

I can’t remember a time when there has been a drama in my life and a cup of tea hasn’t been on hand to console me. In fact, tea is one of my mother’s cure-alls along with mothballs and TCP antiseptic. There’s something soothing about it and for some reason it always tastes better in a bone china cup and saucer even though being a cack-handed Carrie I’m always holding my breath & struggling not to drop or smash my mother’s finest Royal Doulton. There’s something very reassuring about a cup of tea; a bit like a hot bath on the inside or wearing your oldest and most favourite sweater.

Let’s be honest it was buckets of tea that got me through the Serial Shagger saga and subsequent indignities. I’m not denying that there weren’t a shedload of cocktails thrown in for overall fortification but ultimately it was my good friends Earl & Lady Grey that were on hand to provide comfort during the humiliating ordeal of being jilted.

When I was in Turkey, tea or çay was more than just a drink it was a social invitation to sit, share the company of another soul, engage in conversation and watch the world go by. It was considered impolite not to accept the hand of friendship being extended to you and declining the invitation may have been considered an insult by some. The Turkish pride themselves on their hospitality and with very good reason; seldom will you leave a Turkish home without having partaken in a meal of some sort. They enjoy sharing their food with guests, their home produce and laughter. Rarely have I ever left Turkish hosts where I wasn’t just taking away a sated appetite but a lesson in graciousness together with some new friends.

Come & share a pot of tea, my home is warm, my friendship’s free

breakfast

Lest We Forget

My great-grandfather William Frederick Cawley or Freddy as he was known to his friends was born and raised in Ballina workhouse along with his nine siblings in County Mayo, Ireland. Doubtless the family had a tough life and at the grand age of seventeen wanting to escape the grim poverty to which he had become accustomed he stole a horse and rode it to Dublin and when captured was given the choice of joining the Queen’s army or passage to Australia as a settler. As the mortality rate on the ships was fairly high he chose what he thought was the lesser of the two evils by opting for the military life and enlisting in the Connaught Rangers.

William's Birth Certificate

William’s Birth Certificate in Gaelic & English

After basic training my great-grandfather along with the rest of his regiment who were also little more than boys, travelled from Ireland to Devonport where they sailed to Gallipoli, in Turkey to take part in the Battle of Çanakkale which would be a military campaign lasting eight long and fierce months, fighting youths not much older than themselves with huge casualties on both sides. The Turkish suffered an estimated 87,000 casualties, the British army 21,000 and the Anzacs 11421. Most of his comrades had never ventured further than their own villages and embraced this bold adventure singing “It’s a long way to Tipperary” throughout the voyage little knowing the hell that awaited them once they landed on Turkish soil.

Freddy was one of the “lucky” ones and when the young farm boy returned home he was a very different and irrevocably damaged man with a bad case of malaria which dogged him throughout his life and which he eventually succumbed to leaving a wife and eight children behind. In the years after the war he seldom spoke of his war years apart to recount the size of the Turkish bayonets. No doubt he along with many others was probably suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but it would be several decades before it would be widely diagnosed and treatments made readily available.

So last night when I extinguished the lights, lit a candle and joined the rest of the nation in remembering the fallen on the occasion of the centenary of World War 1 in the #lightsout event, my thoughts wandered to Freddy and the thousands like him who had also made their own sacrifice returning to their homes in some cases altered beyond recognition and leaving them struggling to pick up the broken pieces of their lives.

Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours,
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

William Frederick Cawley -my Great Grandfather

William Frederick Cawley -my Great Grandfather

It’s All About Me!

I was interviewed the other week by the good folks over at PAYAway. It’s a cracking website packed full of information for anybody thinking of moving or working abroad, in fact I wished I’d discovered it before I took the plunge. Anyhoo, here it is although most you will already know the story behind my move to the beautiful country of Turkey but for those that don’t, here it is in The Working Traveller.

Most of you will also know that my beloved old Dad had a stroke last year so I’m back home in Devon because for now that’s where I need to be but rest assured as soon as the old fella’s back on his feet, I will be dusting off those flip-flops and heading back to the golden sands of Altinkum. And for those of you that haven’t yet dipped your toes in the sparkling aquamarine waters of the Aegean off the glorious Turkish coast, you should go.

turkey 10 005

Saving One Animal Won’t Change the World But It Will Change The World For That One Animal

This little cat family which we adopted in Turkey have featured in a previous post and for some reason I seem to be thinking of them frequently these days. The courageous and bedraggled mother cat used to pass me as I sat outside drinking my morning çay every day.  She was understandably nervous as not everyone was as pleased to see her as I was and it’s a hard life for Turkish street animals.  We became accustomed to each other and before long we were sharing breakfast with each other and on the mornings I was late, she used to sit at the patio door of the apartment and mew loudly until I took my place at the table. I followed her home one morning to discover her living under the steps of an apartment building with her little family.DSCI4602 Both myself and the Turkish baker who owned the adjoining shop adopted her and ensured that they were well fed every day. It was pure joy for me watching those beautiful kittens playing in the undergrowth and I was humbled that the mother cat trusted me enough to allow me to sit alongside her little family in companionable silence. It broke my heart when some callous individual poisoned this brave little soul and her adorable kittens who had all asked for so very little in their short lives. Despite this would I do it again? Absolutely in a heartbeat. You see the thing about rescue animals is that they rescue you right back.

Sometimes in rescuing animals you can lose your mind, but I guarantee you will find your soul

Footprints

When I asked for volunteers for the story/photo collaborations, I was delighted when Suzanne over at the travelbunny stepped up as I have long been an admirer of her work, particularly her Turkish pictures which remind me of sunshine days and happier times. In fact I have one of her pictures as a screen saver on my laptop to lift my spirits on blue days. I’m grateful that she agreed and I hope you like her pictures as much as I do.

On one of my forays into Didim shopping centre, I decided to browse the Saturday morning market on my own. Not always an easy task, as most of the stallholders spoke little English. This particular morning as I was struggling to understand a wizened old lady selling chillies; an American woman seeing my discomfort translated for me in fluent Turkish. She was a stunning looking mature bohemian lady who exuded style and joy. I’d seen her a few times weaving around the market in her big floppy hat and designer sunglasses, stopping for a chat and smile here and there, or to make a purchase. Her laughter was musical and infectious which matched her sunny disposition.

“Call me Nia” she said “Back home it’s actually Lavinia, but that’s not so lovely is it” she giggled “But then that’s the beauty of being an expat, you get to start over. I’m guessing you’re not a holiday maker judging by your purchases so if you live here I’m guessing………….it must be for a Turkish man.Let’s catch a çay over there in that café and you can tell me all about it. I’m a romance junkie so I’m dying to hear your story”.

Over çay I learned that she had lived on her own on the outskirts of Altinkum for several years tending to her animals and garden. She was an American with a family back home but divorced and to her regret, she said that she’d never had any children but as she had travelled the world so much, she’d never settled down long enough to start a family. She had flown to Turkey after the breakdown of her last marriage, become enchanted by its magic and somehow never left.

 

“Dallas, life isn’t all about playing safe, but of course, you already know that or you wouldn’t be here. It’s about finding what makes you happy and doing it; and if you happen to find someone along the way that you love and loves the same things you do, then you’ve found the secret to happiness. Even if it’s only for a short while but grab it with both hands whilst you can and when it’s over move on with thanks in your heart for the love you’ve received”

I thought then that perhaps that was a maudlin thing to say but didn’t dwell on it too much as Nia soon had me laughing with tales of her Turkish neighbours. She told me that she lived on the outskirts of Maveshir on the sea front and suggested that I visit her.

So a few days later, Ahmed dropped me off at her house on his way to the Cash & Carry. We stopped en route once or twice for directions and when we pulled up, I was amazed to see that she lived in one of the whitewashed beachfront villas that I had so admired. The surrounding gardens were also lovingly cultivated and full of the colourful Mediterranean flora and fauna that I had become accustomed to. As I opened the gate I was greeted by two street dogs that Nia had adopted and as with many a rescue animal, I never failed to be amazed by their trusting natures despite their often poor treatment at the hands of humans.

Nia was gardening and shouted a greeting so I made my way to the front of the villa to where she was tending her plants. The view was breath-taking and I felt that I arrived in a Mediterranean oasis and each time a breeze blew past me, I caught the heady fragrance of the surrounding flowers and citrus trees. I envied Nia her little Turkish paradise and as she finished up weeding her little vegetable and herb plot, her face was aglow with pride and contentment. I could tell that she was completely at ease with her surroundings and had clearly found the secret to her joy.

I followed her inside where she suggested we sit down and indulge in some of her homemade lemonade. The villa was every bit as stunning and stylish as the outside, framed pictures filled the walls of her villa, which was simply but tastefully decorated. She seemed to have had her picture taken with nearly every Head of State over the past twenty years not to mention a few celebrities. One of her ex-husbands had been a diplomat she explained and they had travelled extensively. She laughed when I enquired about ex-husbands and explained she had three but the real loves in her life she had somehow never got round to marrying. She admitted she was a free spirit and had married to keep her old Bostonian family happy but regrettably it hadn’t worked out and neither had any of her other marriages but she remained on good terms with all the men that had been an integral part of her life. She confided in me that she lived here alone but she said that although it had taken her a lifetime she had at last found real peace and didn’t miss her old lifestyle at all.

I saw her frequently over the next year or so; often we’d meet up for a çay and a chat. She had a way of making shopping expeditions so much fun and I was grateful for her continued friendship. As summer rolled into Autumn she cancelled a few of our outings claiming a migraine but the next time I saw her, I knew that it was something far more serious although she laughed it off with her usual charm. I noticed that she tired easily when we did meet up and our days out would be cut short as she excused herself on some pretense or other. As we took leave of each other at the end of another successful shopping trip, she hugged me fiercely and said

“Remember Dallas, we pass this way only once and life is far too brief to spend one moment being bitter or regretful”.

Of course, I didn’t know it at the time but that would be the last time I saw my good friend. A short while after she disappeared from my life as quickly as she had swept in without fuss or ceremony. I heard that her family had come and taken her back to Boston; her phone was disconnected and her villa deserted with the “For Sale” sign hanging forlornly outside. All traces of my vibrant friend were just an echo now and I wondered whether the next owner would cherish it as much as Nia had. Hellos and goodbyes are such an integral part of life in Tinky Town and many friends pass through and touch your lives for such a short time but with such heart which makes them hard to forget along with the lessons which they taught you.

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same

― Adlai E. Stevenson II

turkish garden

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

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