This week has been a week of birthdays, both for friends and family here and at home. Queenie’s on the 21st shared with my mother (sadly no longer with us), Maire, David’s sis-in-law at home in Dublin. Maddie - Katherine’s daughter back home in the UK. Anetta’s sister in the US. Mr Dave Cockle, now a ripe old age of 83, and finally, very close to home for us here in Turkey, one of our gang, our very own James Clune, achieving the none to shabby age of xx, but I’ll leave him to have some anonymity on his age at this stage. As the weeks go on who knows what I might have to start revealing to keep the blog going. Needless to say, all having very different birthdays to what they might have imagined.
Unfortunately for James and his birthday dinner it was my turn to cook! I did escape the Easter Sunday lunch and was half hopeful that I would escape this one, given the occasion, and that Katherine would want to cook for her hubby, but No. However, she did save me pudding duty by making a lovely chocolate fudge cake for him - complete with 73 candles.
We started with a lovely bottle of pink fizz, which had survived against all the way from Epernay and the start of our journey. The main course was a one-pot Moroccan Chicken dish, served with Madjura rice. The rice was the main issue for me, as we can’t seem to find any non-sticky rice, such as Basmati here, but with a bit of scrapping and rinsing I think I managed to pull it off! The lovely, warm hot afternoon was then passed with a variety of party games: pass the parcel; musical chairs; pin the tail on the chicken (we don’t have any donkeys, and the horses wouldn’t oblige), before we all fell into our respective motorhomes ready to start another week of Lockdown in Turkey… But first, a last-minute, drunken rendition of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy Birthday to Yer’ and a round of Raki shots with our new ‘Motorhomes in Lockdown’ community.
Last week began with real excitement for me, a trip to the big town of Kemer for shopping. David had been the week before, but I really wanted to see the town and also supervise the shop, as he seemed to have brought a lot of non-list stuff last time, including two replacement mugs brought without my approval. It was such a thrill to be outside in the bigger world, beyond our own small village and I was practically jumping up and down with childlike excitement, with cries of “Are we nearly there yet?!” ringing around the van. The market is a scaled-up version of our local one, with some of the same vendors. Everyone tries to keep their distance, but it is hard. Most are wearing face masks and we were again temperature tested as we went in. Interestingly, the main offenders of non-mask wearing are the police, but given I’ve just starting reading ‘Midnight Express’, I’m certainly not going to complain! The fish selection was much better, with varieties we had no clue about, but we did all buy some fresh tuna. Ours, for two lovely thick slices was only around £3. It cooked wonderfully on the BBQ that evening with a warm coriander and caper vinaigrette - yum. To my delight I also managed to buy some essential sandals and now have my first pair of Birkenstocks, which my feet still don’t seem to style out - it’s something to do with the monkey-like toes I have, but they do give me more stability then my ancient and worn flip flops!
David and I also got a takeaway cup of cay along with our bread, but with Ramadan having started this week we won’t be able to do that next Monday. We nearly made a very expensive wine mistake too. We headed straight to the Turkish wine section, as all European brands are so much more expensive, even that nasty sweet German stuff! We saw some Whispering Angel Rose- a very nice Provence rose: dry, delicate and delicious. The price was about £6, which is cheap by any standards. David Google-translated the label and, yes, it said the unit price was just that, so we put two bottles in our trolley. I think my cry of STOP was heard all the way back at our campsite as the lady put it through on the till … at some £25 each. The cold sweats eventually subsided for us both and we settled on four or five bottles of perfectly acceptable Turkish plonk. On loading the van up, we felt equalised in our discomfort when David realised he had inadvertently managed to acquire a new toothbrush without paying for it. Did we feel bad? Yes, of course, but it is a fairly large branded supermarket, so we decided against going back in to offer to pay for it. ‘Midnight Express’ is still playing on my mind…
As a plus, given the length of our stay on site and the curfews, our ever-accommodating landlords obliged our wishes for a freezer. Our vans all have fridges, but small freezers, so it has been lovely to get a larger freezer so we can stock up on food in case of longer curfews. Plus, of course, the weather here now is getting - and is going to get - much warmer, so ice and ice-cream are absolute requirements and certainly wouldn’t have been able to take priority in our own small freezers. Anetta did a fantastic job of cleaning the freezer (by coincidence a chest ice-cream one) and Ennis also told us that in the same area there was a large fridge we could use - excellent news, more room for wine and beers! However, the inevitable happened when it comes to sharing in communities - think back to university, shared houses, hostels etc. Rules should be put in place from the very beginning … Fridge Wars nearly broke out, as certain people within the camp commandeered shelves within the fridge immediately, some taking up more than their fair share and labelling their spots straight away. Thankfully, the war hasn’t - as of yet - escalated, but no doubt as the warmer weather comes, it will. Plus, my question is: who is going to empty it out and dispose of the rotting food which will inevitability be left at some stage. Having done it every week in my last working role as office manager, I’m not going down that road here - yuk!
Hoopla was a newly-devised game for this week, with Katherine cleverly designing the hoops to throw by plaiting some old rope we had found on site. The target was a bit hit and miss literally, with a variety of water filled wine bottles, cleaning solutions and a plastic bottle of water. James again proved his excellent hand/eye co-ordination, winning the competition with a substantial lead. Not entirely sure how often it will be repeated as it seemed quite a lot of effort, when we could actually just hurl boules around, but it passed a pleasant afternoon.
This week we also had some chicken dramas involving the dogs, an adoption and also a near dog-mance. For fear of upsetting everyone, I’ll just say that one chicken is expected to make a full recovery and one isn’t! So, all eyes are now constantly on the look-out for where the dogs might have disappeared to, and that they are on leads when necessary. On a more cheery note, Amour, a new stray dog was officially adopted by Hubert and Bianca this week. Vaccinations, dog passport and chipping all in place for this very loving and affection dog. May they all be very happy together! The dog-mance (think bromance à la Broke Back Mountain) was between our very own Oscar and Amour, with Oscar having a bit of a crush on Amour, shadowing him every time he came near or by our little patch of heaven. We all thought the romance was working out rather well … until they had an altercation over some cat food and then the love affair was over. Unfortunately, the relationship has deteriorated even further between them and it’s now paws at dawn every time they see each other!
David is now busy painting the pomegranate tress he pruned the other week. It’s not just to keep him out of mischief and quiet, the whitewash helps to keep insects away and also keeps the trees keep cool and therefore moist as the weather warms up, thus giving more and better fruit. Or, as our dear friend John said - it helped the troops see their way whilst on manoeuvres during the war. We’re yet to check that out, but if John says it – it must be true!
So, with a busy birthday week done and dusted, we await the next week with bated breath for our new adventures and wish everyone a very happy - if unusual – birthday!
Good night from ‘Sundance’
Don’t have your birthday on the Sunday when it’s Karen’s turn to cook.
Don’t buy one of the main ingredients for said lunch six days early, knowing how veg goes off so quickly here.