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A weekend in Istanbul

Since my last post I have been in Cyprus getting back to normal life and slowly but surely getting more of my PhD finished. I left the first smattering of snow in england and got back to a relatively warm and sunny Lapta. Very nice! I’ve been doing a lot of solo birding and practicing my Turkish which is fab!

This weekend I went on a mini adventure to meet my friend and have a change of pace. It was lovely to see him and to meet his various extended family members. We were staying in the Asian side of Istanbul, different than the last time I stayed there. We were right near the coast and the air was lovely and fresh. Loads and loads of sea birds around too! Mainly gulls and cormorants. We had a lovely sea food maze the first night with his cousin and his other cousins girlfriend. A couple of raki’s were added to the mix too, although to my surprise I didn’t get drunk! We stayed there until closing and then headed home. It was a lovely evening, and although most people don’t speak much English, I don’t even care. They tried to chat with me as much as they could and it was super helpful for my Turkish practice.

The next day (10th) is a special day in Turkish culture. It is the Remembrance Day of Ataturk, who is know as the Father of the Turks. This is the day he passed away and so the day is spent remembering him and his accomplishments. I watched a quick documentary in the morning, and I didn’t realise how much he pushed women’s rights forward. He actively encouraged women to have the right to vote and to be a more present part of communities. Anyway… in the afternoon we headed to Heybeliada island, one of the princess islands off of Istanbul. It’s a gorgeous island and home to a few extended family members. We had lovely home cooked food and I tried chatting with the Grandma in my limited Turkish. She was full of smiles. When it came to leave I got a huge cuddle which was lovely. I felt like one of the family! We then hopped on a little buggy type vehicle and had a whirlwind your by moonlight of the island. It was gorgeous. I’d love to see it in summer. We then hopped back on the ferry and then got back home. The night ended playing a street fighter game on the PlayStation, turns out I was pretty good!

Today we just chilled out, had food, chilled some more and then I had to head to the airport. He said my Turkish had come on quite well so I was chuffed. Just need to practice practice practice.

One of my highlights of the trip, although really geeky, is that I got to see my first every laughing doves. They are delicate looking birds and all around the pavements of Istanbul. So lovely. There’s lots of cats I got to fuss over too!

All in all it was a gorgeous weekend with gorgeous people and I miss it already. But back to my Cyprus home I go.

Grandma

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I usually write my blog post on a Sunday, I round up the week and reflect on what I’ve done and how I have felt. It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted. And it has made me realise how quickly something so life changing can happen. On Friday 12th October as I was flying home from Cyprus, my Grandma passed away after a brave two year fight against cancer. I was so excited on the plane home, looking forward to seeing her and telling her my latest silly adventures and I really wanted a cuddle and to tell her I loved her. Unfortunately I didn’t get that chance. She decided it was her time and when it happened it was peaceful and pain free. I have since thought that she chose that time because she knew I was coming back to be with my family and so she knew that there was a new matriarch ready to step in. Not that anyone can really take her place…

When I was younger I was very close with my Grandma. As soon as me and my sister arrived at their house I would run and jump on her knee, that was my seat for the remainder of the stay. Some evenings me and her would wrap up in blankets and lie on sun loungers outside watching the stars. She’s always spoil me and Molly with sweets and cakes and strawberries with melted chocolate. She’d sit through countless dance performances to Shania Twain or Girls Aloud or even Irish dancing!!! We’d try on her wedding dress and pretend to be princesses. She didn’t care that we eventually ruined it because for those moments we were utterly joyful.

Growing up and we still stayed close but becoming adults meant less time to visit, especially when I am always travelling. Instead we’d have phone calls and catch up. Any achievement I’d get a card from her. Every single card said “Grandpa and I are so proud of you”. Her whole life was about the family. Everything she did was for my Grandpa, Dad, Molly and Me. She was this calming presence to all of us.

It’s hard to write enough to explain how gorgeous she was.

The relationship my Grandma and Grandpa had was special and it has shown me what love should be like. She was 15 when she met my Grandpa. The rest, as they say, is history. They supported each other through thick and thin and supported the family between them. I remember being so embarrassed if they would dance together, but really it was beautiful to see them so happy. It makes me sad thinking that she won’t meet my future husband, but I have to think that she’s watching someone and smiling.

She has left a really huge gap in the family.

She was a kind, caring, loving and beautiful woman. And I am so lucky to have called her my Grandma.

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Oh what a beautiful week.

I am writing this as I listen to the Motown Party playlist on Spotify. Pretty much sums up my mood from this week, utterly joyful!

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After writing my last post I headed out for a drive. A drive in the small jeep that has no roof and no windows. I got caught in a storm and was pelted with grape sized hail stones. My little fave didn’t know what had hit it, literally! I managed to pull over, I was absolutely soaked and frozen. A bakery nearby had it’s lights on so I knocked on the door and they let me in. They were such kind people. They opened their big bread ovens and let me stand in front to get warm. They gave me lots of tissues to try and dry off. They just wanted to help me. This was all done with little communication due to the language barrier. Before I left they made a dress for me to wear out of a bin bag. If there was another downpour, I now had a shield! This is why I love this Island, the people are just glorious.

Anyway…

The start of the week was the creation of a memory I will never ever forget and something I have wanted to do for a really long time….. SKINNY DIP! And it wasn’t a drunken escapade in the middle of the night, but a glorious bathe in the warm mediterranean sea in the warm October sun in a beautiful bay. I was very happy and had a huge smile on my face. It’s a beautiful thing to do.

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Anyway, less naked-ness. I went birding by myself this week. I took myself and the scope to Kalkanli and Korucam wetlands. Unfortunately Korucam was completely dry, but Kalkanli had a nice array of species to admire. Teal, Shoveler, Mallard, Little Egret and lots of Coot. I was so happy when I was on my solo adventure. I smiled and sang and didn’t give a damn about anything. I bloody love my life, I love everyone in it and I love being the solo weirdo that I am!

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This week I still had my auntie Karen, Jenny and Renee visiting which was lovely. Wednesday night was quiz night again and we came up from being last in the first half to coming third overall by the end!!! Silver Rocks Sunnies smashed it. I think the anagram round (in which we got them all!!!) helped a lot. And obviously our vast knowledge of British Kings and Queens……

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On the last night of their visit we went to one of my favourite restaurants, Tervetuloa. The owner, Afet, is one of the coolest women I have ever met and the meze her mother makes is to die for! Stuffed courgette flowers are a delight and a zingy citrus dip was a nice addition. Lovely! I tried a dish I’ve never had before, a traditional Cypriot dish called Macaronie. It is long pieces of macaroni pasta mixed with minced lamb and herbs and topped with a soufle type of cheese sauce. Simple but bloody delicious! Although apparently I have the stomach the size of a Cyprus warbler’s and didn’t eat a lot. I saved it for the next day!

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The morning the girls were leaving we took a drive to Horseshoe bay further west of Lapta along the coast. We expected a lovely ramble along the coast but were left pretty depressed by the sheer amount of plastic everywhere. Honestly, it is a disgrace. Baby wipes, plastic bottles, cigarette butts…. I could go on. I found a plastic bag in a bush and filled it with what I could. I couldn’t help think I was fighting a losing battle. But I guess every little helps. If you are reading this, please try and think of one way you could reduce single use plastic… Instead of plastic water bottles use a re-usable metal one. Instead of baby wipes use cotton wool and water. We share this planet and we are treating it dreadfully. It’s selfish and unnecessary.

Anyway…..

The girls headed off and so to cure my glum mood I went to Roots bar in the evening. As usual I got drunk on various shots and rum and cokes. It was a reggae party and so the atmosphere was really fun. Love that place and my little family there.

I have throughly enjoyed this week. I have smiled at lots of little things.

Here’s to another week of smiles and loveliness.

xx

 

Girls on tour

This past week I’ve had my Mum, Auntie and their friends here to stay!! It’s been so lovely to have the apartment filled with laughs! We’ve enjoyed time at the sea side, tasty meals and wavey swims!

Earlier in the week me and Mum went to Haspolat wetland for the morning. We saw so many lovely birds, I even got a lifer with a gorgeous black tailed godwit! Mum was over the moon with all the bee eaters about. She shouted “love you” to them as we left. We could always hear them before seeing them. But they are gorgeous either way. We treated ourselves to a Mardo’s ice cream on the way home!!

On Wednesday evening we went to the quiz night at Rose Garden. We didn’t win but we didn’t come last, so that was a bonus!! Haha I had my first ever egg and chips! What a simple but bloody lovely meal!!

Thursday was windy and the sea was really wavey! Me, Mum, Karen and Jane went for a quick dip to enjoy the waves. We were getting very wrapped up in sea weed and didn’t go too far out! There’s been a gorgeous kingfisher around all week. He flits from one side of the bay to the other. The wavey day was the best day. We saw him perch and fish!!! Jenny has never seen one before so it was great for her to watch him!!

One afternoon me and Mum took Renee for an ice cream. When in Cyprus, you have to try Mardo’s!! They had my favourite flavour in! Rose!!! I haven’t seen it anywhere for so many years!! I was so chuffed.

I’ve fallen in love with two cats and have taken it upon myself to call them Carl and Felicity. They’re so beautiful!! Wish I could keep them!!

Mum left at Friday lunch time, and so to drown my sorrows I went to Roots bar for drinks! They had a really good acoustic band on and I just enjoyed catching up with friends! I met one of Paul and Michelle’s friends, Lynne. She was lovely! Shame those two weren’t with us!

All day Saturday I was hungover. Urgh.

Missing my Mumma. But I’ll be seeing her again soon! Still nice to have Karen, Renee and Jenny here! My three fairy godmothers!!

Xx

Honey Buzzards

I’ll keep it short and sweet this week.

I’ve been busy doing PhD work this week. A couple of times I made lovely banana pancakes with fried hallumi and that was the highlight for those days!!

This week I have seen hundreds of Honey buzzards on migration. It’s amazing to watch. The first big group I saw nearly made me cry!! They have spent their summer in Europe and are now heading back, from Turkey, to tropical Africa. You can look out to sea and see them all coming for the land. As soon as they get close to shore the air temperature gets warmer and they take advantage of the thermals and start to soar. They really are gorgeous.

I’ve also seen lots of grey herons migrating too. They form more uniform V shapes than the buzzards’ random groups and look very prehistoric! They’re usually heading west, parallel to the coast.

Aside from birds, I went to my first ever ballet this week at Girne amphitheatre! I watched Zorba the Greek. Wasn’t sure entirely was the story was, but the dancing was very impressive. And to be honest, being in an amphitheatre was pretty special!! I just kept looking up into the sky and watching the bats flitting above busily.

On Friday the apartment was invaded by 5 loud, laughing and lovely ladies! My mum, auntie and three friends have come out for a holiday! It’s been a happy couple of days so far and nice to have company!!

That’s it for this week.

Xx

Didn’t you know?… I yacht now.

Hello! Merhaba!

What a fantastic week I have had. It’s weeks like this that make me very happy that my life is so wonderfully weird.

I started my week boarding a yacht. Yes, that’s right, scruffy ol’ me went yachting!!! I was on the yacht with Captain Unal, Alex, Doug and Sarah. All gorgeous people. We made a really nice team. I joined the team in the evening and we went for some food at a local place. I had a salad with loads of chopped up walnuts which was really tasty. We also got a complementary plate of cooked sheep head so I gave that a try. Let’s just say…I shan’t be having it again. But still, it’s good to try new things! Our first night was spent in Les Ambassedeurs Marina in Girne. I had the double bed in the main part of the boat! The titchiest team member and the one with the biggest bed! Can’t complain eh? It was a slightly swaying nights sleep, but amazing none the less. I did wake up at one point though and completely forget where I was. Bit weird!

The next day we all woke up and had a lovely breakfast on deck before we headed off. I still couldn’t believe I was on a sailing yacht! Actually, I should explain. We were all on the boat to take part in seabird and marine mammal surveys. We had to sail along transects and count and ID anything we saw. It was a beautiful first day. The wind was on our side and so we got to do a fare bit of sailing rather than use the motor. Unal is an amazing Captain, full of character and so skilled! We saw Scopoli’s shearwaters, honey buzzards, marsh harrier…Perfect. That first day was also really nice to get to know everyone. We all had really different stories but got on well. I think my main addition to the team was my energy. I was very excited and I think Unal appreciated the buzz! We sailed west and then south the first day, all the way to Yesilmak. We anchored up in a small bay and me and Alex jumped into the sea! The sun was just starting to set, the sea was warm and we got given a wedge of watermelon each to munch on. Probably one of the best moments I’ve had all year. You can’t imagine moments like that, they just happen and when they do, you have to smile and embrace the magic. Back on board we ate tea, shared more stories and watched the stars. Scorpio, Mars and Venus were out in all their glory that night.

The second night on the boat was slightly more rocky. I was woken up a few times with big rolls from the waves, but it was quite exciting and different. We enjoyed another nice breakfast and then headed back to Girne, taking a different course closer to shore. We saw loggerhead turtles, Yelkouan and Scopoli’s shearwaters, turns, ducks, waders. Fab! Doug is a very experienced birder, he was a warden for the RSPB before he retired and so it was brilliant to get little nuggets of his knowledge. We had an in-depth discussion about hobbies and merlins. Aaah the life of a birder. We got back to the marina in the evening, Doug and Unal came back home with me to have a quick shower and freshen up. I said bye to Alex and Sarah before we left. It was weird not being with everyone, we’d had a lovely adventure. That evening I couldn’t stop swaying. The land is still and constant, the sea is constantly changing and unpredictable. My little head was a bit all over the place, I just needed a good nights sleep.

The rest of the week was spent doing PhD work and having a break at Silver rocks for a swim and to get some Turkish practice! I may have mentioned my yacht adventure once or twice….

Friday night came around and I got to see lots of my favourite people. I drove over to Esentepe to meet my Cyprus parents Michelle and Paul (and their new addition, Maisie the puppy). Always so lovely to see them both, we enjoyed a drink and a chat before heading to Roots. Anyone that keeps on top of reading my blogs will know how special this bar is to me. Some of my best nights have been in this bar, and the people there are out of this world. Ash, Hannah, Veysel, Katie, Aydn…The whole team was there and I got to spend an evening with lots of smiling faces. I did have shots and I did have rum and cokes. And yes, I was drunk. The night ended at Michelle and Paul’s, eating pizza and talking about all sorts.

Woke up in the afternoon! Had a few hours with Michelle and Paul, eating amazing bacon-y breakfast, fussing over Maisie and just enjoying the company. Headed home at about 3. I got home and made more plans. One of my favourite humans was back out in Cyprus for a few days, Sav!! I arranged to meet up with him and Alex that evening, have a BBQ at Robbo and Damla’s and have beer! We did just that. Me and Sav then went to a music festival in the old town of Lefkosia. It was an amazing setting and the stage we settled at was home to a soul band playing motown. I was in my element. Again, shots were had. When the band finished there was a spot of breakdancing. I’ve never seen it before, it was so impressive! I feel like they must scrape their heads a lot though, they’re always spinning on them! Eventually we made our way back to Sav’s place. It was a lot more difficult to find a taxi than we had hoped, but luckily my “superb Turkish skills” came into practice. I got us back. Sav just drank beer!

This morning and into the early afternoon I just enjoyed being with Sav and Alex. I made us Halloumi and salad sandwiches and after a good re-fuel was ready to make the journey back home. I drove home with the windows down and my music loud. I sang and I smiled. What a fantastic week.

I feel very cheeky this week. Is it fair that I have so many gorgeous people in my life? Not just my amazing family, but my friends. Pretty sure I’ve hit the jackpot? Anyway, I’m wrapping up this week listening to “Above the cloud’s of Pompeii” by Bears Den and I’m smiling at being in the present. It’s pretty damn good.

xx

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I’ve been back in Cyprus for 2 weeks now and I love it. The weather is still so so hot, the sea is warm and the sky is my favourite shade of blue.

I’ve been busy doing PhD work, got lots of writing to do at the minute! I also got the reviews back for my first paper I have ever submitted!!!!! The reviews are positive and so not much to edit before we send it off again. I’m starting to feel like a proper scientist!

Mum and Beth came out for a week which was lovely. We went to the coast a lot and so I got to see lots of migrating birds. It was Glossy ibises at the start of the week, but by the end it was flocks of Grey herons. One day was really windy and they fought for a while to get going. They were determined though and just came further to the shore. I got a brilliant view!

One new thing I tried this week was a visit to a casino. I have to say, I really didn’t enjoy it. I just don’t understand how people get sucked into it? It’s literally just a place to go to lose money. And i don’t have money to lose! It was interesting people watching. But the staff there don’t like you just standing around, so I just didn’t feel relaxed. At least I can say I’ve done it though. And I guess I know I’m not a gambler, which is a relief!

It’s been lovely to see friends. I have Ahmet, Mehmet and Osman who help me practice Turkish. Afet who makes the best meze on the island and who also helps me with my Turkish! Janet and Keith who are the most gorgeous brummy couple in existence! And loads more. I haven’t even been over to the other side of Girne yet…. Roots is waiting for me!!

Me and Mum have been taking a lot of plastic out of the sea. One thing really annoyed me… we had a small crowd watching us, and after we cleared a lot of it people then went to swim. But they just swam past plastic bags and things and didn’t take them out?!?! Do people not realise that they are going to end up being eaten by marine life? If you think it’s dirty then take it out and wash your hands, that’s better than leaving it for something to eat!!!! Urgh!!!!

Anyway… sorry to rant…

To sum up. Cyprus is glorious. I’m happy to be here and learning the Turkish language and eating the scrumptious food!!

Xx

Just a quick one

Another week has gone by and I’ve had some lovely family time.

I’m actually going back to Cyprus this evening for a while. Need to keep on learning Turkish! And I do miss the gorgeous bird life out there.

Sometimes it’s nice to just have those weeks where everything is standard and normal and comfortable. I really enjoyed this week because of that. I got lots of hugs from lots of different family members. Laughed a lot, drank whiskey and ate Brie.

The best part of my week was seeing my two gorgeous nephews for the day. They are so squishy and cute!! I don’t get to see them much so it’s nice when I do!

That’s all for now. I guess I’ll have more sunny tales to tell next week.

X

Thankyou, Mother Nature.

Another week has gone by. The house finally feels like normal again after the burglary which is nice!

I’ve been on a couple of lovely walks this week. I love being outdoors. I get to practice IDing tree species which is actually really nice. Thing is, birds move, so sometimes you just get a glimpse. But trees stay still and you can really study them and get a feel for their characters. My favourite tree is Rowan, but I think I also have a soft spot for huge oaks!

I’ve seen lots of family members this week. That’s what I love about being home. I get lots of hugs and lots of tea and lots of laughs.

I had a fleeting visit from one of my best friends, Sav. It was a dramatic visit as we actually ended up assisting a woman who kept fainting and had hit her head. The cafe rewarded our good deed with a free lunch!

Today I’ve been bird ringing. We met just after 5 and had a solid 8 hour session. The highlights were tree pipits and a Whitethroat. Although the goldcrests and tree creepers always make me happy. We had a mini forage about half way through for blackberries and whinberries to put with some meringue and cream. A proper summer treat on such a humid day!

A side note to my bird ringing day. The Whitethroat we caught was a lovely bird. Elegant looking and a bit different to what we usually get. When we were getting the different measurements, we noticed it had built up a good fat store. This means this bird is nearly ready for its big journey back to Africa. The bird was a young bird, born this year and it is about to make a journey over thousands of miles. I find moments with such animals grounding and calming. Lately I’ve been feeling pretty anxious. Life seems to be throwing a lot at me and my family but this bird put a few things into perspective for me. It is small but so strong and determined. It gave me a burst of positivity! I think it’s nice to find positivity from nature and what surrounds us. I know it might sound like a hippy rant, but I believe it. We are surrounded by beauty in all sorts of shapes, sizes and forms. I’m very thankful for our gorgeous wildlife. I wish that Whitethroat so much luck on its big journey ahead!

Anyway, that’s all for now!

X

This week, I’m not a fan of people

Been back from my European for nearly two weeks now. A lot has happened in that space of time. Some good, some bad.

I’ve seen lots of family which, like always, was lovely. I got to meet the gorgeous new addition to the group, my little nephew Arthur. It’s been sunny and warm and gorgeous.

I’ve finally had the time to go bird ringing with my favourite ringing team! I even got a ringing tick in the form of a beautiful Whitethroat. This bird is a warbler species that has a lovely chestnut/brown tail and a deep cream throat. It made me very happy. It was also really nice to catch some of my old favourites that I don’t get to see (or barely see) in Cyprus. Robins, wrens, blue tits and dunnocks. Whilst there I eve had a go on Ingrid’s air rifle! I won the target practice.

So most of my time at home so far has been lovely. Enjoying walks in the countryside, learning the tree species and laughing. I even met my old school friend Jack for a long awaited catch up!!

But…

I’m not sure about karma, but something took a turn. Firstly, my debit car was frauded. All the way over in Haiti. They stole £350. Luckily I can get this money back, but still. Who does that?

I carried on with my week. Enjoying the sunshine, dealing with the slight inconvenience of a frauded card. And the … A few days ago I went home to find the house had been burgled. When I say burgled I don’t mean a quick dash inside to grab some bits, I mean every single draw, every nook and cranny, every possible place had been turned over. The whole house ransacked. I rang the police and they were lovely. The poor men tried to deal with my crying and shaking! I gave the poor cat some cuddles and waited for forensics. Now, what hurts me, is how on earth people have the ability to do this to someone’s home. Someone’s nest. Somewhere someone should feel safe. They took my most precious jewellery, pieces that have such sentimental value they are priceless to me. My room feels dirty now. I tried to find nice things amongst all of this. It came in the form of a beautiful moth. It took my mind away from the utter chaos for a moment.

I just want to end with a negative rant about humans. We are destroying the planet. We are destroying each other. We do selfish, hateful things. Yes there are people around us to fill our lives with love. But there are some damn evil people in the world. I don’t like it. This week I’m annoyed, fed up, pissed off. My emotion is urgh.

Luckily it’s Sunday, next week is a new week.