Life is Fun! It's Christmas in Istanbul!

This is the gingerbread house at the Swissôtel. 
It is made out of slabs of real gingerbread, and lollipops. 

We've had a wonderful Christmas. On Christmas day, we went to the Swissôtel for lunch. The meal was magnificent and the service was excellent. The food was set out in a mouth-watering display and our table overlooked the Bosphorus - it couldn't have been bettered.

The food was beautifully displayed. This is just a fraction of what was on offer. 
(Notice the exquisitely carved water-melon and the ice sculpture.) 

Some of the desserts on offer at the Swissôtel. 

On Boxing Day, we walked by the sea of Marmara, played on the fitness machines, and watched Jessica having fun in the playground The sea was quite rough, but the weather was mild for the time of year. We are very lucky to have all these facilities close by.

David, Clare, Jessica and John, try out the fitness machines. 

Jessica enjoyed the playground. 

My birthday came and went. Clare and I shopped, we went out to dinner at Kirpi, and returned home for champagne and ice-cream. A most satisfying way to spend a birthday.

Jessica, David and Clare, wishing me a happy birthday. 

Clare and I have had great fun shopping, Jessica has been a happy girl and John has had a good rest, ready for the ofsted monitoring visit to his school. Now we are off to England to celebrate the New Year. Happy New Year to you all, and may this be the best year ever!

Me, practising to be a photographer.


The Goose is Getting Fat

Clare and Jessica in a festive mood.

Merry Christmas from David, Me, Clare, John and Jessica, here in Istanbul.

Clare, John and Jessica are here to spend Christmas with us. Jessica is so excited about Christmas. We have watched Father Christmas's message for Jessica online (thank you Jane), and we have tracked his progress through the world (thank you Suzi). Technology is amazing!

Clare and I have had such fun shopping in Istanbul. We are so lucky to be living in Bagdad Street, although I am not sure that David and John agree with us. Apart from the shopping there is always something going on that keeps us amused. Today it was the dancing Santas!

Santa and Mrs Claus dance the tango. 

Santa's band, courtesy of the local municipality.

Tomorrow we will catch a ferry to Europe and have Christmas brunch/lunch at the Swissôtel, overlooking the Bosphorus.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the coming year be the best ever.

John shows us the festive lights in Bagdad Street.

On Wednesday, Clare, John and Jessica depart for England and I will go with them, as David is off to Australia on a teacher recruitment drive. This already promises to be a busy year!

By the way, if you had a poinsettia for Christmas you might like to read, "How to keep a poinsettia going after Christmas".


Christmas is Coming to Istanbul!

Our lovely weather in Istanbul has come to an end and winter has arrived. This week we will be getting ready for the arrival of Clare, John and Jessica, who are going to spend Christmas with us. Although this is a Muslim country, and Christmas is not widely celebrated, there are Christmas decorations in the shops and there is a Christmassy feel about. This is helped by listening to the Christmas Carols on Classic FM, our favourite radio station.

While we all put up the Christmas tree and pull out the decorations, here is a Christmas story for you: The Christmas Miracle. I wrote this after a conversation with Mother Isabel, one of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters of Saint Theresa. She was the Director of the Divina Providencia Children’s Home in Santa Tecla, El Salvador, when we were there. She was constantly worrying how she was going to feed the children in the orphanage, This story is really my Christmas wish for her.

Elizabeth Coughlan


What is a webinar?

I have attended two webinars recently. Both were in America (remember that I am in Istanbul). One was a meeting to view proposed changes to the Helium website (an online writing group that I belong to), and the other was on writing for the web (given by an American university). So, what is a webinar?

The word "webinar" stands for "web based seminar". A webinar is not merely a viewing platform, but is an interactive seminar, where participants can ask questions and get immediate feedback from the presenters. Both the ones I attended gave powerpoint presentations, although I understand that video can also be used. You can also see the presenters in real time as they speak. There were even buttons for applause and laughter! I tested them out before the university webinar began and got and instant response, "Thank you for the applause, and the happy start to our webinar, Ellizabeth."

It was surprisingly easy to log on and take part, but the great thing is that I can now go back and review the university webinar as many times as I like. I will definitely consider signing up for more courses soon. It's definitely the way to go!

We have had glorious weather in Istanbul lately. There are still people sitting out in the pavement cafés, it is so warm. Although, now that they have brought in a smoking-ban for restaurants, I suspect that no matter how cold it gets, people will still try to sit outside rather than do without a drag.

Over the four-day holiday, David and I have been for daily power-walks along the sea shore. We really are very lucky to have such a lovely place to exercise. I hope the weather stays fine for Clare, John and Jessica's visit over Christmas.

Elizabeth Coughlan

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