Archives for category: Turkey

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.

 

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…

 

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…

Belly dancing

It’s easy to tell who the teacher is!

 

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…

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

Back in May myself and my loved one booked tickets to go and see those grand old rockers Aerosmith, in Istanbul. We were particularly excited as we’d seen that Slash had joined them on a few previous dates and figured that would be a sight to behold. Mind you, I’ve never liked being in the company of people who have more luxuriant hair than I do so I might have had to deal with some jealousy issues.

But, not only would we get the chance to witness pensioners exhibiting more athleticism than I could ever hope to achieve, I’d also get the chance to tick off no. 41 on my Bucket List – visit Istanbul.

So off we toddled to Dalaman airport; a quick hop on and off the plane, an even quicker apology to a guy for making him move seats and then realising he was already in the right one, a short bus journey and voila, there we were in the hustle and bustle of Istanbul. We checked into our perfectly situated boutique hotel, where I temporarily felt guilty for interrupting the receptionist as she tried to arrange her social life by text – but the guilt stopped when it was clear that we weren’t going to interrupt her at all and we could damn well wait until she was finished before she took any notice of us. Luckily the room more than made up for her lack of social skills so we dropped off our bags and, after the obligatory check of all the draws and the toiletries on offer, went for a walk. It turned out to be a fairly long walk as we turned left when we should have turned right and both of us were far too stubborn to admit that maybe, just maybe we weren’t going in the direction we planned.

Anyway, after a few hours of strolling (both in the wrong and right direction) we returned to the hotel and put on our glad rags ready to rock and roll the night away. We wandered down to the stadium and were surprised at how quiet it was. Had we got the wrong night? Had we got the wrong time? Had we got the wrong city? Well, no, unfortunately it wasn’t something as simple as that. We found out that the gig had been cancelled due to the tragic and horrifying accident suffered by the miners in Soma, Turkey. Well we couldn’t very well argue with that could we? And indeed we didn’t.

So, with thoughts of their families, friends and the miners themselves we went and sat in a cafe by the Bosphorus and passed the time relaxing while thanking the stars for our blessed lives, before returning to the hotel where we noticed the receptionist had finished her shift – hopefully she’d wisely chosen to pop out and get a personality transplant!

Next morning we woke up bright and early and set about becoming crazed tourists until it was time for our flight home. But first we had a very exciting appointment to keep. As luck would have it, all the Board Directors from my old company were attending a Board Meeting (or maybe a bored meeting!) in Istanbul. After a few emails the previous week it was arranged that myself & Ronnie would meet up with two of the big cheeses I used to work for. It was great to catch up with them, for them to meet Ronnie, and for me to finally say out loud that I thought one of my other old bosses was a bit of a knob.

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After filling ourselves up with croissants, eggs, fruit and various other goodies we said our farewells and jumped on a tram to Sultanahmet, then got off it 5 minutes later when it terminated early due to tramline works. We strolled (struggled) up the hill to where many tourist attractions are gathered within a very walkable area. We meandered round the Blue Mosque (not as blue as I was expecting), took out a second mortgage to get tickets to wander round the Hagia Sofia, then took out a third mortgage to have a couple of glasses of cay (tea) at an eye watering price of 5.5tl each (they are 1tl where I live).

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But the most exciting venue for me was the Basilica Cistern, an underground water cistern that was built, erm, a long time ago, to provide water to the city in case of siege. It’s eeriness and pure beauty was a sight to behold and even the arrival of a class of Turkish school children did nothing to take away from the aura of the place.

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And then, of course, I had to drag poor Ronnie to the Grand Bazaar, a place no female who considers herself a woman would miss out on. I’ve never seen so many shops in my entire life! If we’d been travelling with more than just hand luggage I would have spent a fortune but luckily that probably saved me from having to find space in my apartment for a load of stuff I probably, ok definitely, don’t need.

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After a quick jaunt around the bazaar (got lost again), it was then time to head back to the airport and return to our little piece of paradise in the sun.

Istanbul is a great city to visit, I would highly recommend it to anyone that thrives on hustle & bustle, or anyone that likes to pick up a quick bargain, or anyone who likes to wander around without knowing where they are going and I’ll definitely be visiting again but this time I guess I’d better pack a map!

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My sister is what I would call an accomplished horse-woman, which in my eyes is anyone who can get on a horse and not immediately fall off the other side.

In May she came to visit, along with her boyfriend, and was keen to do some horse riding in the local area. Now, as she is my little sister by 12 years I obviously have a responsibility to look after her, spoil her and make sure she gets all she desires so off I toodled down to the local tour company and before I knew it I’d arranged for four of us (that’s 1 accomplished rider and 3 idiots) to ride around the hills and valleys of Kayakoy whilst also ticking off number 56 on my Bucket List.

Now Turkey isn’t known for it’s health and safety so it wasn’t a great surprise to learn that riding helmets were optional and that there weren’t any questions beyond ‘have you ridden a horse before’. The first half of the 3 hour trek was very sedate and luckily enough the horses were trained so well that you couldn’t get them to veer away from the set path which was damn good seeing as the aforementioned set path, in a lot of areas, was just a foot wide track with a plunge down the mountain awaiting you on the left.

We then had a 20 minute break in a lovely little cafe in Kayakoy discussing our experiences so far, at which point my other half admitted that he had spent some of the trek with his arms wrapped round the neck of his horse – something I’d had the misfortune not to see.

Anyway, the second half of the trek was due to begin and we were given the option of staying with the sedate group or going with the more experienced group. Obviously, being the idiots that we are, we volunteered for the more experienced group.

I was given another horse this time, a faster horse, which I was assured was equally as obedient as the last horse. So I mounted quite confidentially only to discover, to my horror, that, yes, the horse was obedient but this unfortunately meant that it followed, nose to arse, the lead horse which galloped ahead to make sure the path was clear.

Now I’ve been informed that my horse only actually galloped for a few strides but you trying telling that to a first time rider. As far as I am concerned the ruddy thing galloped for miles, along winding paths, in between foliage, even jumping over a fallen tree at one point and, apparantly from the back I looked like an expert horse-woman, but from the front it was a different story – panic across the face, white knuckles, blisters from holding on too tight – GET ME OFF THIS BLOODY HORSE…

But I survived, I loved it, it was great value for money at only £15 for a half day and, most importantly, I got a picture of me on the horse, on a plate –  you couldn’t ask much more than that could you?

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Now, please excuse me while I hobble inside to find the biggest, softest cushion to sit on while my backside recovers…

I wasn’t planning on writing anything this week but I wanted to share this short story of what happened to me today.

Then

Then

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Demented looking dog!

Now

Now

Still demented

Still demented

The story starts in 2009, when I first visited Fethiye. I stayed with a friend, her boyfriend and their puppy, a gorgeous Black Labrador called Gece, which means ‘night’ in Turkish.

I spent many happy hours with Gece, feeding her biccies, cuddling up to her on the sofa, putting up with her snoring next to me at night – each and every minute with this friendly, beautiful, happy dog was an absolute pleasure.

Anyway, 2 years down the line and I was still visiting Fethiye but Gece had moved on with her ‘daddy’ and I no longer saw her.

Then, today, whilst at yoga class I stroked the Black Labrador that lived there and heard a friend of mine call her…you guessed it…Gece. After a bit of investigation I discovered that it was the very same Gece I knew and loved. I don’t know if she remembers me but, despite being a number of years older, she is still friendly, beautiful and happy and I am so glad I will get to see her on a regular basis again.

I know this story may not be of interest but it made me so incredibly happy that I had to share it with you, my online friends.

Enjoy the rest of your day 🙂

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