Completing the Circle, Back to Turkey


We arrived here, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, to be met by two delightful representatives of the school, Tuğba and Irem, and taken to our apartment on Bağdat Caddesi (Bagdad Street in English). We can see the Sea of Marmara from our bedroom balcony, and Bagdad Street, looking very much like a French Boulevard, from the front.

After all this strenuously stressful activity we needed to rest, so on Friday the company sent us, at their expense, to their resort in Şile, by the Black Sea. This place is amazing! It has replicas of the Roman aqueduct, Pamukkale's waterfalls, an ancient amphitheatre (seen in photo, below), a Venetian castle and the strange rock formations of Cappadocia! So, here we are, staying in a villa in delightful surroundings; but the best thing is that we have WiFi, as we have not had time to organise Internet connection at home yet.

On Wednesday David went to sort out his work permit and papers (while I went to find my hairdresser) and we were taken out to dinner for a delicious fish meal at a restaurant on the Bosphorus, by Tuğba, Erol and Roger.

On Thursday we went shopping at the new Istinye Park Shopping Mall; an amazing place – even David didn't mind being there as it is so light and airy! This mall has opened since we were last here, only one year ago, so I was very keen to go there; however, most of the shops can be found in our very own street, which turns out to be the Shopping-Mecca of the Asian side of Istanbul – yeah! That evening we joined Roger at his complex swimming pool for an evening of drinks and mezzes. 

Instead of spending time all our time at the pool, we have tended to spend most of it hunched over our lap tops!! On Sunday and Monday, thanks to Skype, David and I spoke to Suzi,in Australia; Clare and family then Margie, in England; Glynn in Thailand and Paddy then Jane, in South Africa. Who would have believed, even 10 years ago that all this would be possible – especially that, while speaking to them, we could see them all as well – all except Clare that is as she is still having problems with her camera!

David working hard in his new job!

Me swimming in the resort's pool


A Busy Week in Norfolk, England

This has been a frantically busy week, so this blog will break all blogging rules and be rather lengthy, and mainly of concern to our rather spread family but interspersed with snippets of general information of interest!

On Saturday (12 July) we went to watch Jessica take part in the Easton Gymnastics Club Annual Display. We were thrilled to see all the skills she has learned this year and we were very proud of her. (Jessica, front left, can be seen demonstrating the perfect arch, with her knees and feet together.)

The following day we went to Hunstanton to hear Clare play in the Breckland Brass Band, on the bandstand overlooking the sea. Although the weather had looked doubtful when we set off, it turned into a lovely summer's day (one of the very few this year) and we thoroughly enjoyed a relaxed afternoon, listening to the music and looking out over the sea.

During the band's break we went to have tea and scones in a nearby restaurant; this should have been a delightful treat, but unfortunately the scones were heavy and doughy and the tea lukewarm - how can some places get it so wrong?

On Monday, Clare suggested that we erase the memories of the scones by going to Holt, where she assured us that only the lightest, fluffiest ones are served. The word 'Holt' is the Anglo-Saxon word for wood and the majority of settlements in this area are of Anglo-Saxon origin.

 According to the Doomsday Book, Holt had an adult male population of 60, compared with the total population of 3870 given in the 2001 census. Holt is a very pretty village and we ate the perfect scones in what is deemed to be the oldest house in the village - Byfords Restaurant and Delicatessen.

That evening we joined Margie, Bernard and John to celebrate both John's Law Degree (a 2-1) and Clare's Doctorate. We had a magnificent meal at the 1 Up Restaurant over the Mad Moose Pub in Norwich - I had the Hake and it was so delectable that I took a picture of it. Mmm... my mouth waters just at the sight of it again!

Congratulations to John and Clare!

On Tuesday we went to the Norwich Road Primary School, Thetford, to watch John's Year 6 class perform their end-of-year play. John had written, produced and directed a musical based on 'Grease' - which he set in Ancient Greece. The children performed with great gusto and we were very impressed by the clarity of the words - both spoken and sung - and by the stage discipline!

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the show and we were all amazed that it had been put together in two weeks as a final end to their primary years. (I must add that these children also gained the best SATs result ever this year - yes, they were among the lucky few that actually received their results on time.) Well done, John, on both counts!

We went to look at our house on Wednesday as it is between tenants. We were pleasantly surprised to see it looking fairly clean and well-cared for. There are one or two minor things that need doing, but, fortunately, nothing major.
Thursday was a very special day for us. It was the day that Clare was formally conferred with her PhD in her graduation ceremony. John and David went to the actual ceremony, while Jessica and I watched it all on a large screen in a lecture theatre, which was just as well as once Doctor Mummy had been congratulated, we were able to leave and go to the restaurant for a drink.

After graduation we went to a great marquee where they were serving champagne, Buck's Fizz and canapes, where we were able to thank Clare's supervisor, Chris, and meet up with other university friends. Later, we continued our celebrations at home with a bottle of Verve Cliquot. Well done, Clare! We are very proud of you!

Friday was sorting and packing day - we needed to decide exactly what we want to take to Turkey - at first anyway - I still have until Tuesday to change my mind!!!

Our next outing was to the Horringer
Summer Fete, where Clare's band were playing on the village green, dominated by the 14th century church of St Leonard (the patron saint of prisoners).

Jessica had such an exciting time buying all sorts of different books and toys with her £2.53 that she had saved up. We do enjoy going to hear The Breckland Brass Band play, especially because the band members are such friendly people. They always greet us and make us feel very welcome. Arthur even gave Clare and me a bunch of flowers each from his farm! Thank you Arthur!

Yesterday (Sunday), David, Clare, Jessica and I drove out to The Swan Inn, Hoxne to meet David's cousin Marilyn, her husband Dick, daughter Katie, son-in-law Kelvin and granddaughter Amelia. We were so glad to catch up with them before we left for Turkey. We had such a merry lunch and look forward to meeting Marilyn and Dick in Istanbul in the not-too-distant future.

The Swan is Grade II listed and was built back in 1480 by the Bishop of Norwich and still has the original ornate ceiling beams and ancient wide-planked floors. Hoxne (pronounced Hox'n) is a lovely village close to the Suffolk/Norfolk border which has a wealth of history associated with it, but it has two main claims to fame. One, as the place where in AD 870 King Edmund, King of East Anglia, was captured and killed by the Vikings, and the other is known as the Hoxne hoard. In 1992 a local man, while helping to look for a friend's lost hammer in a nearby field, found a hoard of nearly 15000 Roman coins along with 200 other gold and silver objects buried in a chest. The find is one of the largest hoards of Roman treasure ever found and is now on display at the British Museum.

From the Left: Amelia, Dick, Jessica, Clare, Katie, Marilyn, David, Me and Kelvin.

That was our extremely busy week. Tomorrow we are off to Turkey to whatever that holds in store for us - life is nothing if not interesting!


Is This Really an Englsh Summer?

Back in Hockering, we are experiencing a typically English summer - cold and wet! Although, being in England does mean we get to spend time with John, Clare and Jessica. This year we were able to watch Jessica in action on her sports day at Stafford House - the junior department of Norwich High School for Girls. Despite this being a non-competitive event - enjoyment and participation being the main theme - the parents shouted encouragement and urged the girls on just as if it was the Olympics! Most of the events were in the form of obstacle races demonstrating the various skills the girls have learned this year. Naturally, we thought Jessica showed the best form, but she does appear to be a natural runner - see photo Jessica in the lead! Because, in the past, both the mothers' and fathers' races have brought out naughty, aggressive competitive behaviour, these races are now obstacle races - although it has made no difference to the participants will to win! Jessica was quite shocked to see that the daddies cheated - not quite the behaviour her school was trying to encourage!!

Perfect poise - as befitting a Stafford House girl!

We have also caught up with Levent and Jax - together with their beautiful baby, Rosie. We spent a highly entertaining evening with them and were treated to a wonderful steak dinner. It should have been a barbecue, but - once again - the great British weather let us down. Nevertheless we had a splendid evening, despite the weather.

We are already counting down the days to when we leave for Turkey. The problem is - what are we going to pack! Having divested ourselves of all our kutundu when we left Turkey, we have decided to take the barest minimum and make do. The apartment is supposed to be fully furnished, so we shouldn't need too much. We will see!!

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I couldn't resist this one!