Sunday, 22 February 2015


Today I went on an excursion to Sariyer which is on the European side of the Black Sea. For a catalogue of reasons the trip was crappy and I took no photos. I did, however, enjoy the smell of sea salt and these two men in skirts protesting violence against women in Turkey.


On the flip-side a Vice-Principal of a school here in Turkey has been demoted and transferred from their school for suggesting "male harassment teams" should be created in schools to stop girls from wearing short skirts.

Let is be known there was nothing wrong with  Sariyer itself. Just unsuccessful tis' all. Am sure if The Wise Woman or someone of her ilk had been there to share the obstacles, it would have been far more pleasurable.


Perhaps I am just being grumpy.


I don't want to be grumpy.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


Right now my confidence is a little low - in my writing, in my teaching, in myself as a woman etc.  I am not depressed though. When I am depressed I don't eat and if anything I am eating too much right now. I have a serious addiction to sutlac ( Turkish rice pudding).

However I feel ,as the Turks say, a little balik etli which directly translated means fish meat but actually means ' chubby' or 'porky' although the latter is probably not approps here in Turkey.

Once in the past when I was feeling this way I went to Syria to show myself how super strong and amazing I am. This time I have decided to tackle Georgia. Not only does the landscape and gorgeous villages and their love of wine entice me  but it is also a cheapish destination for someone on my atrocious TL salary.

When I am there I plan to visit the beautiful Tbilisi , go north into the Caucuses  and east to the vineyards where I hope to stay on a winery. I feel like I need to challenge myself which must sound a little strange. Surely Istanbul is a challenge in itself. Yes and No. I understand how she works enough to get by now. My Turkish is improving  because I am engaging more with people in restaurants and shops and I can confidently ride public transport knowing I will always find my way back home. But I need to go somewhere else for a week. Encounter a different culture, different food, different scenery. I need to be alone without being lonely

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Outposts of the Beyond

I am very happy to report (if only to myself) that I have had a story accepted for publication in the third anniversary edition of the magazine "Outposts of the Beyond". The magazine will come out in July and it will be in hard copy and e-copy. Happy is probably the wrong word. Relived is closer. It is no secret that I have struggled to write since I got to Turkey. I feel as if I have lost my words and my confidence. I hope this little boost will ignite my imagination somehow.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Ozgecan Aslan

Today women in Turkey wore black to condemn and protest the vicious killing of Ozgecan Aslana twenty year old student, who was allegedly murdered last week in Mersin by a minibus driver. I say allegedly not because she isn't dead because tragically she is and not because the accused has not confessed because he has ( as far as the Police have reported but I can't say I hold their words in high esteem) but I feel it is important at this time that legal process is followed. There has already been too much talk of retribution and revenge in the media, of people being glad that the accused has no legal representation, of demands for the death penalty. For justice to be served it must also be delivered fairly. And the eye-for-an eye mentality will not bring improve Turkish society anymore than its current prevailing attitude towards women and their role.

I found the wearing of black to be a quiet, dignified gesture. And  as I saw different women, particularly young women, on the metro, working in companies, walking along the streets, dressed in black, knowing all of them carried this brutal story around in their hearts, I felt both saddened and moved.  As was the tragic footage of women carrying her coffin. Keeping the men away from her body. Violence against women is a world epidemic. Not just here in Turkey but I do know this country has particularly poor record and is not assisted by a Government whose members have openly said, among other things, that women are not equal and women should not laugh in public. I do wonder if this despicable crime will bring any real change to this country. I hope it will but with so much violence going on behind closed doors and within family units I do not feel great optimism. 

Rest in Peace dear sweet Ozgecan.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Shift in my blood

Lovers don't finally meet.

They're in each other all along.


Yesterday I finally felt my blood shift. I am ready to leave Istanbul. I am ready to part from her quivering shores. I think I have been afraid to go because I love her but now I finally understand how much she is a part of me and  how much I am part of her. 

And that we are finally free. 

I feel excited by this thought...and terrified. What next? Where next? O my two laydees are in for adventures.

Saturday, 7 February 2015


Yesterday in Ortaköy
Today is the two year anniversary since I arrived in Istanbul. I remember waiting at the airport for a car that didn't come. The driver's name was Metin and when he eventually arrived he said it was the traffic although I think he had forgotten. Now I laugh and talk with Metin at least twice a week as he drives me round town for classes.
I remember him dropping me off at the As Hotel in Taksim. My room was really shabby and dirty and as I climbed into my bed I cried and wished I had made other choices. If I could have that day back again,  I would actually make another choice. Whether the choice would have worked out I don't know but I would have liked to try. That does not mean I am unhappy I stayed here either. So many other things have come out of the choice I made. And as I look across at Three Paw and The Pirate sleeping on my bed I know which choice they are glad I made.

To celebrate my two year anniversary I am going to have a Turkish breakfast and later I am going to go to the Cat Quiz Night where I will meet up with people who represent the good points of my choice all those months ago.

Soon though I feel it will be time for me to choose again.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Everybody needs saving

It's funny how your feelings about living in Istanbul can change in a few hours. I just went out to watch some folk I know play in a band in Taksim. The bar was expensive but it was a good night out. Reminded me why I like it here. Then I walked home and this man in a grey car pretty much followed me all the way home. Not continuously. He would just turn up on corners and shout out of his car. The thing is he didn't bother me. What bothered me was the lovely lady dog I met on the street. She nuzzled my hand as we walked  and followed me all the way home. And she was gentle and sweet and afraid of the men who passed by. And then when I got to my home she curled up on the mat that is laid out in front of the building.

In Istanbul every thing needs saving. Everybody wants love. Cats. Dogs. People. Children. I don't think I can manage this city for too much longer.

delinquent swagger

So The Pirate has been with me for almost one week. Three Paw has adopted a position of stoic-miffedness but it hasn't stopped her eating or tricking me into treats. The Pirate has developed quite a delinquent swagger ( I can only assume she learnt it from her Uncle!) It means she is throwing her hips about the place in increasingly wider circles.  She encountered her first set of stairs this week too. At first she was terrified but now she 'owns' them and as they have gaps between them she can watch with her one eye everyone who is coming and going.
Piles of manly allurement
She spends a lot of time sniffing the washing of my flatmate which he lives lying about in alluring piles. At first I felt bad, thinking she might be missing her old home but then I reminded myself she is a cat and if I asked her she would probably just say ' Uncle who?'
Of course I worry about Three Paw finding her groove again but really everything is going as I might have expected. No dramas are afoot as some might expect. In fact it's all pretty rosy. Even my rabies' needles (which I am developing more and more side effects to every time I have one) will soon be over.  Only one more to go  - Thank Goodness - the headaches are killers.

Now come back story-brain :-)

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

if Money were....

Somehow, divinely, I only have two hours of teaching tomorrow ( with my gozde (favorite) student) and then nothing until Monday. Almost 4 straight days off. What shall I do with myself apart from counting coins of which I have very few until pay day. If money were no object, I'd eat a full Turkish breakfast in Besiktas with a cappuccino, I'd buy books which I would read over chocolate cake and kaymak. I'd buy fine cuts for my girls and a cushion for myself. I'd visit Pinkberry's and take a ferry over to the Princes' Islands. I'd buy toys for the Pirate and for a wee little cat I know who is currently recovering in hospital after a back-leg amputation. I'd find Jimmy the bootman and take him to lunch. I'd drink champagne with a view and visit the Pera Museum. I'd eat Gruyere cheese and fix my broken phone.
Hmmm it seems that I would do a lot of eating over these days. Maybe it is lucky I am constrained by a few coins.

So instead I shall walk.
And try to write. 

Tuesday, 3 February 2015


The other day I wrote a 3 page end-of-course report about my IELTS group. Three Pages! I am obviously channeling my writing energy in the wrong direction. Actually, I know I am. I am so stuck creatively right now it  hurts my heart when I can't think of how to put words together anymore. I have read the usual 'writer's block' stuff and I actually agree that the best thing you can do is write your way through it ( Heh maybe I should look at my epic IELTS report as a Julia Cameron 'Artist's Way' writing exercise) but it still doesn't solve that broken feeling inside of me that the words have all gone. If I am honest, they have never really found their home here in Istanbul and I think I have got a little lost while I have been here.   But you know Istanbul is a hard city.  It is draining and glorious and soul-sucking and wonderful. It is hard to carve a space between all the demands she makes and yet I cannot blame her all for this.

What I hope above all is
that some how I am reaping.
reaping stories from her streets that will suddenly, magnificently, burst from my heart
and I will wonder how I could ever have felt so blocked.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Waving, not drowning

I don't believe I have been living in Istanbul long enough to rightfully call myself a 'Stanboulli' but I like to think I've become pretty familiar with my lady, the Bosphorus. Until this weekend, that is.  Now she is displaying a swell and a mood so magnificent, I just want to applaud her for her continuing ability to confound me with her elegance, her rage and above all her capricious beauty.
After my near drowning experience last summer I kept well away from the edge, but there were a number of selfie-obsessed Turks vying for Darwin Awards down near Findikli.

The Ducks new better though. Congregating in a safe harbour further down.