A few weeks ago I, along with my sister, popped back to 1962 for a few days.

We didn’t go by DeLoean, hitch a ride in the TARDIS or slip through some sort of wormhole – we actually got there by, erm, ferry.

Ok, so I’ll confess, we didn’t actually go back in time but we did pop over to the Isle of Wight (a small island off the South Coast of the UK for those not in the know) and stayed at a caravan park for 3 nights. Not your ordinary caravan park though – this one was comprised of around 12 classic Airstreams. You know the ones – they look like silver bullets and nowadays you are more likely to find people selling hotdogs or deep fried donuts out of them.

20170430_094155We chose a 1962 Safari Airstream and what a little beauty she was. In estate agent speak she was ‘compact & bijou’ but she had everything you’d possibly need for a holiday. Well, apart from a loo which, if you don’t need one during a 3 night visit, you should probably go and see your doctor.

20170427_161513There were two double beds but one was a pull out and we were far too lazy to do that every day so, being the close sisters we are, we snuggled up in the permanent double bed. I guess we should just be grateful that neither of us were suffering from wind during the trip!

The bathroom didn’t have a loo but it did have a shower, absolutely perfect…for anyone under 3ft 8in tall! Luckily there was a shower and toilet block just across the other side of the field and nothing says ‘British’ quite as much as a girl walking across a field in shoes and a fleecy dressing gown at 8am.

The rest of the Airstream was kitted out in items befitting it’s original era, with lots of little cubby holes containing vintage crockery, books, games and the like.

Of course, we also explored the delights of the Isle of Wight over the next 4 days but that was just by chance as the real reason for going there was the sleeping accommodation which also resulted in me being able to cross off another item on my extensive Bucket List

If you are interested in checking out this unique caravanning opportunity, check out their website.

Oh and we went to the donkey sanctuary too which was pretty cool and this little guy seemed pleased to see us.

donkey copy 2

Here’s a tip for you – if a friend has recently started hiking and asks you if you fancy going for a walk, think very carefully before you say yes…

Unfortunately I didn’t think it through and jumped at the chance. Fortunately, it turned out to be one of my better decisions and the beginning of a love affair with the Lycian Way in Turkey.

Luckily for me and my traveling companions, Carol & Clare, the start of the 509km Lycian Way trail is right on our doorstep and we took our first steps of a one day hike on the morning of 26th March 2017.

1 copyThe best way to describe the first part of the walk is ‘up’. Simple as that, ‘up’. In fact, probably more ‘up’ than I’ve ever been before. Of course being generally unfit and asthmatic (thank the Lord I’d already given up smoking!) I got about 30 minutes into the ‘up’ before I felt I was going to be quite violently sick. Slightly embarrassing seeing as I’m the youngest of the 3 of us but the girls were very gracious and patient and no finger pointing or laughing was involved.

17499112_10154777516655141_2243300259631149934_n

‘Up’, ‘Up’, and more ‘Up’

Any remaining breath a hiker might have during this stretch will have no doubt been taken away by the stunning coastal views.

2 copyAnyway, when I’d got over this feeling we trundled on and ‘up’ finally became ‘flat’ and not a minute too soon I have to say!

17353302_10154777517235141_780017081510101450_n

Flat (finally!)

There was even a bit of ‘down’ which was bloody marvelous in my eyes.

3 copy

The girls demonstrating what ‘down’ looks like

We eventually stopped for a sarnie and then later on for cay (tea) and a ‘squat over a hole in the floor’ break before soldiering on to our final destination, Faralya, which marked the end of Section 1 of the Lycian Way.

4 copy

Made it! A quick refresher before our bus back home

There are loads of other things I could mention such as me thinking I saw an elephant (don’t ask) and meeting the largest Ukrainian biker any of us will probably ever meet but I think I’ll just finish off by saying that this 16km stroll taking 4.5 hours, is just the start…in fact we’ve already covered another 50km since we took these first steps but more about that next time…

 

That’s how the tour guide described my marriage prospects during my recent trip to Alaska with my mum. Luckily I like beards or the odds wouldn’t have even been that favourable.

It was mum’s 70th last year so she wanted to go somewhere different and as she isn’t hugely keen on the heat or foreign food Alaska seemed like a good choice.

The first thing that hit me when getting off the plane was the weather – after four months of searing heat in Turkey, the sight of drizzle and grey skies was a wonder to behold – for the first 2 days anyway!

p1070995So, what can I say about Alaska? It’s big, it’s roomy, it’s not highly populated, it’s a tad nippy and there’s lots of animals there that you wouldn’t invite to join you on the sofa.

The highlight for me was a visit to the husky kennels which has led to me becoming completely obsessed with the Iditarod (a 1,150 mile annual husky race across Alaska) so that’s my 50th birthday treat to myself sorted – no, not doing it (I’m not an idiot), but going to see the start of it in Anchorage. Did you know that not all Huskies are the typical fur laden, blue eyed dogs that you see on the big screen? No, me neither, but they come in all shapes and sizes, all of which are beautiful obviously.

I doubt any visit to Alaska is complete without a visit to Denali National Park – 6 million acres, 1 road. The Scottish Highlands on steroids. A 7 hour (yes, 7) bus tour only shows you a little bit of it. That 7 hours was made all the more joyful by the little baby who poo’d itself shortly after we got going (bless) – I’ve never been so glad I chose to sit at the front of the bus, and thank the lord for windows!

14388810_10154226901365141_1811242726_nOf course, the more comfortable way to see everything is on a glass roof domed train journey, watching the vastness go by as you tuck into a hearty breakfast then move on to smoothies (my mother is going to hate this picture!).

And, Alaska being Alaska, there were glaciers and icebergs to visit. Now that, I think it’s fair to say, was a pretty chilly day. Luckily though we were kept warm with clam chowder and, even more luckily, weren’t added to the ‘ships hitting icebergs’ statistics.

Speaking of ice, the icing on the cake was getting the opportunity to sit on Santa’s knee in September but if you are going to visit a town called North Pole you’d be very disappointed if it was Santa’less wouldn’t you?

p1080109All in all it was a pretty memorable trip and if you like wilderness then it’s definitely one to try.

As for me, well no bearded Alaskans caught my eye so I’ll have another look next time.

 

Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve been on here but, due to an unexpected change in my living arrangements, I now have a bit more time on my hands (isn’t it amazing how much time is spent picking up someone else’s underpants!).

One thing that has never and will never be on my Bucket List is diving. I’m asthmatic, I’m terrified of the thought of drowning, I can’t swim very well…so, what did I do in August? That’s right, I went diving…

My attempts at yoga in the last few years gave the opportunity to meet a young lady called Maria who, with her hubby, owns and runs a Diving Company here in Fethiye. Dolphin Diving to be exact. One day I was just walking past the dive boat and thought ‘ah bugger it, you only live once’ and found myself booking a ‘Try Dive’.

So, there I was on the day, crapping myself, nervously making conversation with the other divers, and convinced this was going to be my last day on earth.

After a beautiful journey to a small bay, and some basic instructions from Can (Maria’s rather dashing husband), I was sewn into a diving suit, strapped into the tanks and weighed down with a weight belt.

1-copy

Try Dive’s are really simple; you don’t have to learn about controlling anything except your breathing, the Dive Master holds your hand the whole time and all you have to do is flap your legs and look around.

The first dive was wonderful – so many fish, feeding the aforementioned fish, not drowning – you know, all that sort of stuff.

Second dive? Well, not quite so successful. Almost as soon as I got in the water I got water in my mask. I obediently did what Can taught me but forgot one crucial step and ended up with more water in my mask. So what did I do? Well, I did the thing any sane person would do, I panicked! But it was ok because my hero, Can, was there, calming me down, making sure I didn’t forget to breathe and before I knew it I was back on dry land (boat) relieving my journey into the deep.

4-copy

Will I do it again? I don’t know. Maybe. Possibly. Hmm, probably not. But I can at least say I’ve tried it and now go off and do something else that IS on the Bucket List.

 

Living in Turkey, you get the chance to witness belly dancing on a regular basis.

Now I can’t confess that belly dancing is very high on my list of career choices but when a friend of mine said her colleague, Lauren, was going to run a 6 week course in the art of jiggling your hips I thought, ‘hell why not?’

So, there I was, along with a handful of equally bemused ladies, standing in a gym studio, ready to show off our enviable ability to make our hips go one way whilst our shoulders go the other.

At least, that was the plan…

Unfortunately, the first hurdle I had to get over was that I didn’t have the two (sorry, three) attributes needed to be a successful belly dancer – a belly and a decent pair of boobs.

But, not to worry, I’ll give it a go.

Now, as it happens, belly dancing isn’t nearly as easy as it looks. It’s all very well being told that you need to do a figure of 8 with your hips but actually achieving something above a 6 takes a lot of concentration. In fact,  I was concentrating so much that I ended up going to sleep at night with the sound of Lauren’s voice whispering ‘figure of 8’ in my ear.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, despite the excellent teachings of Lauren who, for the record, has the perfect body for belly dancing, at the end of 6 weeks I was no nearer being a natural belly dancer than I was 6 weeks before.

However, it was a good laugh, it was actually a good form of exercise and I made some new friends. But the number 8 is now my least favourite number…

Belly dancing

It’s easy to tell who the teacher is!

 

I’ve recently spent an entire week with my mother in a confined space and, yes, we are still talking to each other.

Luckily this confined space had views, fresh air, cheesy cabarets, fridge magnet making classes and more food than you could possibly eat in a lifetime – yes, that’s right, we went on a cruise.

IMG_0124

Neither of us have been on a cruise before, or even fancied going on a cruise before, but we wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords and this, without doubt, is the best way to do it.

So, anyway, we trotted off to Tilbury (might as well start with a glamorous location huh) and boarded the MS Magellan along with approx 1,200 passengers and exactly 562 crew (133 of which were Ukrainian). We thought we’d splash out (excuse the pun) and get a cabin with a window – well, when I say ‘we’ I actually mean ‘mum’ as she paid for the whole thing – she’s a good girl.

After our first night at sea and a hearty breakfast we docked in Amsterdam and spent a very brief few hours tootling down the canals admiring the architecture and city life and marvelling at the fact that you can buy Cannabis stater kits at the flower market. I had to stop mum from buying one which now makes me wonder what on earth she gets up to when she’s on her own.

P1050884

We got back, had lunch, walked around the ship, had dinner, went to see the onboard cabaret, had some chocolate then went to bed and woke up on what was going to prove to be the longest day EVER…

It was the first of two days at sea. Now I can certainly see the appeal of a cruise for a lot of people but today was never ending for us. With neither of us wanting to participate in the aforementioned fridge magnet making class, with us both being a little too quiet and self conscious to take part in the quizzes and with mum not being able to read for more than 10 minutes without her eyes aching, we were left with little else to do. Luckily I had booked a spa treatment for myself and, of course, we had 3 meals to look forward to but the only other option open to us was to sleep so that’s what we did (we’ve both had a lot of practice after all).

Anyway, it all seemed worth it when we woke up the next morning in Norway and to possibly the most stunning scenery I’ve ever witnessed. My eyes actually hurt looking at it. We looked at the scenery from the boat, we looked at the scenery from a coach, we looked at the scenery on foot and we looked at the scenery from a train – which ever way you looked at it, it was beyond beautiful.

P1050894 P1050900P1050918P1050911

After 3 days of starring wide eyed at mountains, lakes and waterfalls, we reached Bergen – a lovely city within walking distance of the port and a delight to walk around. But of course, our first trip was up to the top of a mountain to…you guessed it…look at the scenery.

P1050951

All too soon the holiday was over – apart from one more DAY AT SEA…oh dear god.

P1050935

But we made it, and after getting off the ship, catching a train to London, meeting a friend for lunch, catching a train to Gatwick, catching a plane to Turkey and getting a lift from the airport, I finally made it back to my own personal paradise In Fethiye.

And you know what, no matter how stunning or beautiful a place might be, there really is no place like home…

Hello all.

Sorry, it’s been a while. I promise you haven’t missed much.

But now I’ve got something to tell you – I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but I’ve recently started volunteering at the local cat shelter (Kedi Evi). Myself and a number of other dedicated volunteers do one or two shifts a week and spend a good four hours scooping up crap (there’s no polite way of putting it, sorry!). We must have over 60 cats there now so that’s a lot of crap!

Kitten season has just finished and we’ve been overwhelmed by the number that have turned up on our doorstep but, unfortunately, if we don’t take them then who knows where they will end up!

cats 1

cats 2

We’ve also got a couple who have been with us so long that they’ve become mascots of the Kedi Evi with Mr G (below) being the daddy of all cats.

Mr GAnd, yes, we’ve also had the old cat up a tree scenario but that meant firemen so you didn’t hear any complaints from me – until they turned up that is and I realised that I might get tall and dark but handsome obviously had a day off!

firemenAnyway, I’ve gone off theme a bit so where was I?

Ah yes, well, last November my beloved Munch passed away, aged 17, leaving a gaping 4 legged hole in my life.

10636150_10152744019350141_8171196177627068866_n

But all that changed when, one day back in May, I turned up at the Kedi Evi and found a gorgeous, almost new, bundle of fluff that had been abandoned outside the gate. I took one look into those big, sad eyes and knew there was a good chance that hole was just about to be filled.

There was only one aspect of this plan that I hadn’t bargained for….this cute, soppy eyed bundle of fluff was a puppy, a 10 week old puppy to be exact.

A DOG! Bloody hell, I don’t want a dog. I’ve never wanted a dog. I’ve still got one very old, very grumpy cat who will not now, not ever, accept a dog into the household.

But I picked this puppy up and it put a paw on each of my shoulders and buried it’s face in my neck and that was it, I was smitten, I was in love. I called Ronnie and asked “Can we keep it just for a few days until it finds a forever home?” (yeah right). He said ok, as long as it really was just for a few days.

Well, luckily for me, the puppy’s charm didn’t just work on me and it was love at first sight for Ronnie. It’s taken Scooby a little longer and there have been a few claws in nose incidents but we’re getting there.

Day 1 and she’s already pinched Scooby’s bed:

11048728_10153230424425141_7998993234083172172_n“He’s behind me isn’t he?”

11112217_10153259983150141_4028450535096947750_nAll that’s left for me to say (whilst I wince and rub the tooth marks on my arm, leg, other arm, head etc, etc, etc) is “thank you for choosing me Cookie, there is absolutely no doubt you’ve changed my life for the better.”

cookie 1

Hang on…..what’s that rumbling I can hear in the background? I think it might be Munch turning in her grave…

Yep, that’s right, I’m a penguin….or at least I was for a majority of the first week of December.

As you may know, I do voluntary work for the 3C’s Children’s Charity in Calis and I obviously had a weak moment when they said ‘Hey Sian, fancy dressing up as a penguin for the Christmas fair?’. My first reaction should have been ‘What? Not on your nelly. I don’t even like Christmas.’ but instead it came out sounding something like ‘Yeah, sure, I’d love to and I think I’ll call myself Percy.’

But it wasn’t just dressing up on the day was it? Oh no, before I knew it I found myself embroiled in a strict fitness regime.

I tried to persuade the bosses that penguins are meant to be cute and a tad chubby but apparantly I needed to be in peak physical condition to jump on and off vehicles, chase stray children and generally act bouncy for 3 hours outside Santa’s grotto.

Before I knew it I was doing all sorts…

Yoga:

2014-11-20 14.38.47

Working out at the gym:

2014-11-20 14.36.34

Going to exercise classes:

2014-11-28 10.09.24

Not to mention helping decorate Christmas trees with my colleagues:

2014-12-02 10.50.01

Photo shoots with the same colleagues:

2014-12-02 10.51.56

And flirting with the Zabita (local council law enforcers):

P1040543

Now, that jumping on and off vehicles thing I mentioned before – well that involved joining Santa and the rest of his helpers the day before the Christmas fair and driving around Fethiye and Calis much to the amusement (bemusement?) of the locals, advertising the fair and Santa’s grotto – this was going to be the biggest Christmas Fair ever with over 230 stalls, musical entertainment and local bars & restaurants opening so it was definitely worth promoting.

truck 2

I’m glad to report that on the day of the fair everything went swimmingly. Myself and the Fairy Godmother stood guard at the gates to Santa’s grotto and attempted to restrain over 160 excited children. Although, to be honest, we had a harder time restraining adults who wanted to rush to the front of the grotto to take photos of their little darlings with Santa.

koray

All in all it was a good day. Stall holders made money, the charity made money, bar owners made money, children went home smiling and I went home a few pounds lighter thanks to Percy.

P1040545

Recently the legendary Glen Campbell released his final track ‘I’m Not Gonna Miss You’ where he talks about his battle with  Alzheimer’s. My mother’s love of ‘our Glen’ meant that I grew up with an appreciation of country music which led, in turn, to my own passion for the genre.

So, it should come as no surprise that a visit to the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville was no 83 on my Bucket List and, of course, I couldn’t go without my mum.

We stayed at the Gaylord Opryland Resort which, as you’d expect with any hotel with the name ‘land’ in it, was like Disney on speed. The ruddy place was enormous although I did feel a sense of being let down at the lack of Gay Lords prancing around but hey ho.

P1030920Anyway, during our stay we had a night planned at the Grand Ole Opry. For those of you who don’t know, the Opry stages a live radio show showcasing the music of old (very old!) and new country singers. Ma and I, along with a number of the other travellers within our tour group headed off to the Opry and waited with bated breath to see what acts we would be introduced to. It was whilst waiting that I started making conversation with an English couple who were on our tour only to discover that the lady didn’t like tattoos (of which I have 5) or Americans (erm…).

P1030928

Luckily I was saved from pointing out the obvious by the start of the show, and what a show it was.

P1030945

There was a gent on the mic who read out the ads in between acts, 2 hosts and about 20 acts. Quite a few of the acts were old timers who surprised me by not only living through their sets but by how much energy they put into them. Considering how much I groan just when I’m getting off the sofa nowadays, I can definitely say they put me to shame.

P1030963

There were of course some younger acts too including one of the cast of the TV series ‘Nashville’ and a rather pleasant looking chap called Chuck Wicks that had my mum considering trading in Tim McGraw for a younger version.

P1030967

All in all it was a cracking night and it turned out it was also one of the last times that George Hamilton IV would play live as he passed away just last month.

And if that doesn’t make you feel a little weepy then check out Glen’s last single…

Every so often I like to write a little post about someone who has done the same as me – given up everything they’ve ever known and moved to a new country for a new beginning.

So when my friend, Sue, invited me to lunch I figured it was as good a time as any to have a chat with her about how she ended up here in Fethiye after spending most of her life in Alberta, Canada.

SueThe first thing I learnt about her is that when she invites you to lunch you say yes – and make sure you wear lose fitting clothes. There’s me strolling down to meet her at her home, expecting a sandwich, maybe some ice cream if I’m lucky but, blimey, how wrong I was. There on the table was a chef prepared meal including salad, a chicken thingy with mushrooms and cheese (not sure that’s the technical name for it but hey ho) and some chips in honour of my British upbringing.

lunch

Anyway, after stuffing myself and getting away with gently suggesting I take a doggy bag home with me, we began the interview and this is what I found out…

Sue originally discovered Fethiye after being on holiday in Marmaris in September 2012, where a friend suggested a gulet trip that departed from Fethiye. She admits to being a bit reluctant but ended up falling in love with not only the area but the boating lifestyle. Soon afterwards she started looking at ways she could orchestrate a move here and how she could make a living legally.

Like most of us, myself included, it was a bit of a pipe dream but then tragedy struck and her house in Alberta completely burnt down on Christmas Day of 2012. Not only did Sue lose everything she owned, she also lost some of her beloved pets.

As if this wasn’t enough to persuade her it was time for a change, a few weeks later she suffered a series of detached retinas and lost a significant amount of vision in both eyes so couldn’t continue her Project Management career that she’d worked so hard to establish.

Now, at this point, I think a lot of us would have said ‘oh **** it’, settled down with a large bottle of vodka and locked ourselves away from the world.

Well, not our Sue, she saw this as the opportunity she had been waiting for – after all, aside from family and friends, what was there now to keep her in Canada – no home, no job, no pets, no nothing.

Of course, we can’t forget the issue of her not now being able to see particularly well. Before coming to Fethiye she had to have extensive operations that involved something like fluid being removed from her eyes and replaced with Freon gas (must admit I cringed and stopped listening at this point!), and a dreadfully long recovery which included many, many months of “face down” bed rest, starring at the carpet of the hotel where she had stayed since the house fire.

The upside of this was that it gave her time to consider her options – it was either that or watch Jeremy Kyle – and she came up with the idea of buying a gulet, living on it and offering week long cruises around the gorgeous coast of Turkey.

Swiftly moving on to January 2014 and we now find Sue the proud owner of the Neşko gulet thanks to a travel agent in Istanbul and his contacts who helped her find the boat. It wasn’t in great condition mind you. So with the help of some great Turkish friends she renovated the entire vessel, installed new bathrooms, air con, seating – you name it, it was replaced. The same friend introduced her to Kamil, who is now her Chef and she also employed a Captain, Master Sailor and a Cadette and on April 1st 2014 the gulet hit the water for the first time. It didn’t sink, which I think is always a good thing for a boat and they took their first paying passengers in May this year.

Nesko

The most popular cruise route, and Sue’s favourite, is the Blue Cruise from Fethiye to Kekova, where her guests have seen turtles, dolphins and colourful fish as well as some stunning scenery.

Of course she doesn’t quite know what she’ll be doing in the future but for now, sailing on the open seas and sharing this wonderful country with visitors from all over the world is enough to keep her smiling. And, let’s face it, when you think that a mere 17 months previously her whole life was a smouldering pile of ash, I reckon the girl’s done good.

If you’d like to know more about Sue’s gulet cruises you can visit her website or Facebook page.

Me? Well I’m hoping she’ll get so much business from this blog that I’ll get a free trip but, in the meantime, I’ll settle for another one of those chicken thingy’s…

Crew

Linda & Johns Asian Honeymoon Adventure

34 days exploring Vietnam and Cambodia

mid20chronicles

Finding my way, sharing my finds

Information...Super, Flyaway!

Travel tales and tips to get even the biggest homebody out of the armchair and into the open

The Parsleys At Large

The trials, tribulations and triumphs of a family moving & living overseas

toemail

Pictures of toes, pictures of feet, making the world a better place, one foot at a time.

living the turkish dream

English girl. Living in Turkey. Life, love & long distance...

Nine Years in Norway

An American's Reflections

Finding a Focus

A fledgling photographer's first steps