Last month I was given the opportunity to tick kayaking off my Bucket List.

Now, as we all know, kayaking is simply a case of getting into a small boat and paddling in a straight line – easy huh?

Well, actually, no.

First you have to get in the ruddy thing and if your aim is to do this elegantly I suggest you just turn around and go home right now. I did manage to slither down into my seat in an undignified fashion without falling over purely because my instructor was holding on to the kayak. And then there’s the getting into the water bit….picture a beached whale trying to get to the water line…yep, that was me.

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And she’s off…and already going backwards

Anyway, finally we were off and this is where I paddle in a straight line right? Ha! Obviously years of swimming in a circle because I’ve got one ear bigger than the other had got me into bad habits and that’s all I did – I went round and round and round and round. I tried to pretend I just wanted to look at the scenery behind me but I don’t think anybody was fooled.

DSCN0652After a bit of ‘1 paddle with the right, 2 paddles with the left’ I did manage to go in a forward motion and got a fair distance away from shore and actually managed to enjoy myself.

Since this first attempt, I’ve been another two times and my straight lines are getting a little longer although I do still occasionally like to take a second look at the cliffs I’ve just passed.

DSCN0671The ‘fun’ of learning wasn’t over with that first session though – during the last one I got a bit too over-confident and decided to kayak in between some rocks. Unfortunately these rocks didn’t want a mere mortal getting too close and, as the rocks above me started to close in I did the one thing you should never do in a kayak – I leaned sideways…

Cough, cough, splutter, splutter, eurghhh, water in my nose, eyes, ears…hat floating off into the distance.

Yes, that’s right, I capsized.

It was horrible.

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Me infiltrating enemy lines

And nearly 3 weeks later I’m still suffering from a ear/sinus infection…those rocks really, really didn’t want me taking a closer look.

But I will not be beaten. As soon as I gain the hearing back in my big ear I’ll be back on the water and I’ll be coming to get you rocks…this fight isn’t over…

On the 8th April 2017 I got up early, and by that I mean really early. I had to be on a bus at 7am to meet the girls to start our second journey along another section of the Lycian Way. You may not think that 7am is particularly early but when the bus stop is a 45 minute walk away from where you live, and you’ve got a dog to walk before you leave, then, trust me, it’s early.

But I made it and the girls jumped on my bus so we could get to last time’s finish point, Faralya, and get walking.

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I guess I found Doctor Who’s first mode of transport!

Our aim was to get to Alinca which is all well and good but there’s no public transport from Alinca back to where we are, so we made a plan to go round in a circle and end up at Kabak where we could jump on a bus home. Luckily there are two different routes so we avoided the ‘oh I remember that stick’ scenario on our return journey.

We began by walking to Kabak, a nice easy stroll once you got over the first steep incline. We planned on ending the day’s walk at Kabak beach so, instead of going that far this time, we turned left and headed inland into a forest that most probably, somewhere, has a Magic Faraway Tree in it (that’s just aged me hasn’t it!).

The walk was varied, quite heart pumping in places but generally ok but, since the book we were using was written, Alinca itself had obviously been moved further away, a lot further away. There were a few times when we nearly turned back as the famous red roofs of Alinca weren’t showing their faces. We soldiered on though and I quite literally jumped up and down when I first saw a roof that was red. At last, we’d made it.

IMG_3001We stopped at the first cafe/restaurant we found, ordered drinks, and delved into our packed lunches like marooned sailors who hadn’t seen a meal for a week.

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Nothing like a healthy lunch, and this is nothing like a healthy lunch!

After a half hour of drinking in the spectacular scenery we started our journey back to Kabak. The first part is the same well trodden path but then you get to a fork in the road that takes you on the coastal path. All I can say is I’m glad we went down it rather than up or I never would have made it. It was a killer of an incline and I know I would have, in a very adult fashion, stamped my feet and refused to carry on unless someone carried me.

The highlight of doing the journey this way was that we ended on Kabak beach, a beach that still retains a slightly hippy vibe and even on days that have gorgeous weather doesn’t get too busy.

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Of course, the relief and happiness at reaching our destination was short lived when we realised that it was too early in the season for us to get the transfer from the beach to the road. Jeezzzz….if I’d had enough energy for that foot stamping this is when I would have done it. The walk up to the main road was practically vertical and made a lot worse by the fact that you could see most of the road rising in front of you. However, after a few complaints from all 3 of us, we made it and by this time we’d decided there was no way we were getting a bus. After a 25km walk we damn well deserved a cab which a local road worker very kindly called for us.

The cab took us as far as where the girls lived and I carried on by bus as, although my heart & legs wanted a cab all the way home, my bank account didn’t.

I eventually jumped off the bus about a 10 minute walk from my house and there, across the road, like a knight in shining armour, was my landlord just getting out of his car. He waved me over and told me to wait in the car and he’d take me home – I have never been so glad to see a man I have to regularly give money to.

Anyway, that was walk number 2 which covered parts 2 & 3 of the Lycian Way. Watch this space for the next installment.

 

It’s been a little over 2 years now since I found Cookie dumped in the gutter at the local animal shelter, aged just 10 weeks old. I’m just glad I was volunteering that day and that she chose me to be her forever mummy.

Fast forward to now and it seems I’m no longer her best friend. I’ve been usurped by a puppy.

The story started about 2 months ago. I’d recently moved to a lovely rental property with a huge, I repeat, HUGE, garden, perfect for an energetic, growing dog. A few months later and it seems that the arrival of a four legged tenant in the local vicinity gave the neighbouring Turkish family food for thought and before I knew it, Paşa (pronounced Pasha) arrived – all ears and not much else.

Now, even though our gardens are not connected other than via a locked gate, it seems that Paşa is a bit of a Houdini. Apparantly 6 month old puppies can get through 1 inch holes in garden fences – who knew.

So began the daily battle of trying to stop him coming into my garden. A battle I well and truly lost. So, instead of upping my game I just gave in and went with the flow. I even started putting out a little food and water for him should be need it.

Of course, Cookie was hugely in favour of letting Paşa in. After all, what could be better than a little playmate to chase around the garden, a little playmate to box around the ears when his enthusiasm gets a bit much, a little playmate to tussle with and share (or not share) your favourite toy with.

However, little Paşa has started getting brave – first it was one foot in the door, then the other, then the bum, then the tail. He’d sneak in when I wasn’t looking and steal Cookie’s food. I’d find him sitting in the hall when I came out of the bathroom, silly grin on his face, ears flapping excitedly. And does Cookie mind? Of course she doesn’t. She loves her new friend. Unfortunately I’m not sure that Peg, my 3 legged cat, feels quite the same way!

Paşa is going to grow into a large dog as he’s partially Kangal so, personally, I’m relieved I’m on his good side.

I’m glad my baby girl has got a new best friend, even if it is costing me double in treats. But I’ll always be her forever mummy and I’m happy with that…

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.

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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.

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‘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!

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Flat (finally!)

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.”

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

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