dog walking abermawr pembrokeshire

Wave Therapy

wpid-img_20141021_093903.jpgIt has, in short, been a dreadful summer, not weather wise but emotion wise and more things have gone wrong than it is fair to expect.

My Dad was already ill when I returned from Turkey; he just hadn’t mentioned it, as is often the case with gentlemen of his generation! Sadly he got worse and whilst being treated for leukaemia he developed an infection that proved intractable. He passed away at the end of the summer despite his own determination and the strongest efforts of the High Dependency Unit in West Wales General Hospital.

He put up an amazing fight and I am glad that I was here and not in Turkey and I got to spend those last weeks with him. It reminded me of who I come from; whilst sick his strongest characteristics came to the front, his determination, his belief in science and technology, his bravery, those are good traits to go forward with.

Sadness, as usual, cripples creativity and finding a way to surmount that is hard. Grief makes me quiet, makes me feel less like sharing things, it makes me feel insignificant. I sort of fade away. I wonder why anyone would want to read what I write or look at what I photograph. That feeling takes a lot to overcome.

When all else fails I go back to the sea, looking for the optimism I need.

abermawr pembrokeshire in late summer
Abermawr in late summer
There is something about the clean cold waves of Pembrokeshire, they smell right, they taste right, and I never feel more like myself than in the wave. Somewhere in the wave is me. Looking for the bright sky through the surging white foam, trying to work out which way is up!

When all else fails, the waves of choice are at Abermawr, a pebble banked stretch of quiet nowhere, slowly being gnawed away at by the relentless sea, between Strumble Head and Abereiddy, not glamorous, not the most scenic beach in the world, but the “home” beach for me.

Here my late husband proposed to me, one summer night at sunset whilst behind him, leaving a line of light across the darkening sky, a meteorite burnt up at the right romantic moment.

dog walking abermawr pembrokeshire
Shadow at Abermawr
Here I body surfed in the late afternoon waves as they buried Diana.

Here my daughter, four years old and hanging on around my neck laughed and shouted “More! More!” as big waves from an Atlantic front threw us high in bursts of spray.

Here my Dad took me on Sunday afternoons and I stood wobbling on the pebble banks, barely a year old, clinging onto him as the pointed out the distant outline of the ferry to Rosslare skimming the horizon.

All my life I keep coming back to Abermawr. So this is where I go when the sadness presses me down, so the waves can lift me up. Now it’s not just me in the wave, its Dad too, because he was all about sea and I can hear him in the low deep down rumble rush of the surf on the stones and I see him in the changing colours of the curve of the wave as it prepares to break and in the relentless, regular, march of the swell I realise we are forever moving on. That’s the trick, you keep going on.

fishguard bay and lower town pembrokeshire evening
Fishguard Bay and Lower Town

Camel wrestling in Kirazli – we do things the ole fashioned way

“I don’t really want to go.” said Nick when Mehmet, the neighbours son turned up at the door one evening last week to collect him. “I don’t get it and it’s too cold to strip down to my shorts.”

“Just go and watch” I told him, “It’s part of village life, you have to join in, I helped butcher the neighbours goat last Bayram and you have to go to Camel Training. It’s a sport, its healthy, its like cricket, I don’t get that either but you English seem to like it!”

Mutinously he went and Mehmet was of course chuffed to bits that Nick was joining in because this is his last spring before joining the army and his last chance to impress the village girls with his physicality and every moment he isn’t wrapping rope light around his battered scooter he is down in the square by the Muhtars office practicing his camel wrestling moves to jeers and catcalls from the tea shop crowd.

The ancient sport of camel wrestling is still popular here in Turkey, all winter the brightly caparisoned camels’ process proudly through the towns and villages of the Aegean before gathering at the wrestling field where happy crowds snack on camel sausages and watch the camels slobber and heave at each other.

The camel wrestling we see today is a very much watered down version of an eons old sport but Kirazli is one of the few villages that keeps to the ancient ways and here, every spring, on the first day of April, the village stages true camel wrestling, a searing spectacle of mud, flying camel dribble and half naked men doused in olive oil so the kicks slide off, because in Kirazli, in accordance with the ancient lores, it is Man -versus- Camel.

Akin to the Bull Leapers of ancient Minoan Crete the Camel Wrestlers of Kirazli are acrobats and strong men, men capable of facing down the evil eyes of the camel and vaulting and somersaulting over and around it before wrangling the fearsome beast into submission.

The Great Theatre in Ephesus - host to many thrilling bouts of Man V Camel
Once performed at the great theatre in Ephesus, camel wrestling was a crowd pleaser and the men who pitted themselves against the camels were greatly admired – The philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, regarded the manly art of camel wrestling as essential to the development of sound citizens, as he said when watching the men at their arduous training “Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character. Camel wrestling epitomises this.”*

Camel wrestling isn’t something you just take up, you kind of need to work your way up to it, most young men start with cat wrestling before moving on to sheep and goat wrestling before they take on the camels. Some never progress beyond goat. Only the bravest graduate to camels and have their day of glory on the spring fields of the valley.

A good camel wrestler is set up for life, Tunc, our village entrepreneur, was a big man in camels when he was younger and since then everything he has touched has turned to gold, the fencing company, the dolmus, the village shops. He is a hugely successful man all thanks to the reputation he gained on the camel wrestling field. Men at the tea shop still get misty eyed over the time he performed a double somersault in pike position right over the head of a bull camel and then brought it to its knees with a back flip in to grasp the tail and precision application of both feet to the rear of the beast. They say he smiled the whole time and a whole generation of village women fought each other for his attention afterwards.

“How was it?” I asked Nick when he returned a few hours later muddy and grinning.

“Actually it was mental but brilliant” he said, “Those camels are massive and they stink! But if I was a few years younger I could really get into it.”

“Just stick to impressing the village ladies with your window cleaning skills.” I advised him, “I don’t think our insurance covers us for camel inflicted injuries.”

It took me three washes to get the olive oil out of his shorts and he smelt like a well dressed salad for days but at least it masked the smell of camel.

We’re off down to the camel wrestling ground this morning to watch Mehmet and the boys pit themselves against these great beasts, it will, as always, be one helluva sight and will be followed by the traditional tortoise roundup this afternoon (you can read about the tortoise roundup here – The Tortoises of April ) These are busy but fun days in Kirazli.

*no he didn’t, well not all of it!

The Seven Links Project – reflecting on blogs

Dear Jack, that washed up pretty boy over at Perking the Pansies laughed at my workload and decided to nominate me for the Seven Links Project which was started by Katie at Trip Base

The idea is for bloggers to reflect on their work and share their thoughts by linking to posts in certain categories and so the whole blogging community learns a little. As I have “reflective practice” running through my bones like a stick of Blackpool rock (along with “Do your homework”) I had to comply and so put other stuff aside to think about the posts I have made.


1. The Blogger is nominated to take part by another blogger
2. He/she publishes their 7 links on their own blog. One Link for each category
3. They nominate up to five more bloggers to take part.

My most beautiful postThe Character of Trees

I love this post, for me it sums up the benefits of living in this beautiful place for a significant amount of time, you get to learn the little things, the things that take years to notice and they become your seasonal landmarks. Writing stuff like this makes me happy and if I’m happy I write more and that’s really essential for a blogger, write depressing or angry stuff all the time and you’ll lose the will to write, this is meant to be fun.

My most popular postItalian Grape Cake

In terms of hits my flipping grape cake recipe is top of the list. I think there must be a lot of people in the world with too many grapes on their hands and so searching for a recipe to use them up. Every day this post brings in hits from the search engines from all over the world. It is a good recipe though. Lesson learned be accurate in your keywords and people find you because you have what they need.

If it comes down to just comments then this is the most popular – . Things I wish I brought and things I’m glad I brought

My most controversial postPimp my Dolmus

When I wrote Pimp my Dolmus everyone I know seemed to love it, and then it was published in the media and it got a bit of flack for being disrespectful, which only goes to highlight that the comments on your blog may not reflect the whole picture – never believe your own publicity!

That said, I didn’t think it was disrespectful and any country so far up its own arse as to find this offensive either hasn’t got enough to moan about or is desperately insecure neither of which should apply to Turkey. I think the point is though, as bloggers we acquire followers and they learn about us over time and get to like us and see the different facets of our writing and our personality and one post taken in isolation can give a skewed impression of us, so we sometimes need to understand that.

My most helpful postNew Residency Permit costs

At the time when there was a lot of confusion over the residency permit costs and a few rumours about possible duration and citizenship issues I wrote this and it is read regularly and is high in the search engine rankings. I think it is a clear post, it covers the essentials and it debunks a few myths and I even tried to answer an extra question from one of our Canadian cousins in the comments – helpful me!

A post whose success surprises meEasyjet and Aerlingus announce new flights to Turkey

Last night I was number 1 on Google Ireland for the search term “Aerlingus direct flights to Turkey” – I’m pretty sure Aer Lingus itself should be top of the list but who argues with the Google algorithm when it works in your favour. Anything to do with flight routes or specific transport information seems to rank well and every day this post brings in hits.

A post I feel didn’t get the attention it deservedHow to be koy, buying in the villages in Turkey .

Given how often every day “village house for sale” comes up in my search stats this should be required reading for a lot of visitors to my blog particularly as I made it as detailed and clear as I could and I don’t know of anywhere else where this information appears. However this post rarely gets read and I really believe most people just want to look at pictures of houses and dream rather than learn the procedure involved in buying them. Sometimes we can be too informative.

As a result I don’t often give advice on property buying or indeed anything legal related in Turkey as despite a romork load of direct experience in everything from real estate to company running to inheritance law I find most people don’t want to go to the effort of reading and absorbing how to do it and would prefer to listen to someone less experienced who is Turkish and who doesn’t have breasts – this is me, all teeth and tits and British to boot; I don’t look like I should know how to do the things I’ve done.

The post I am most proud ofMy Beloved Husband

I am proud of the eulogy I wrote for my husband. I’m proud of it because I got it right at a time when I should have been nothing more than a puddle of tears and it really does fit him and the man he was. He was a very British man and he believed that when things are tough that is when we should perform the best, and I believe that too, we don’t panic, we don’t have hysterics, we get the job done and so if I can produce something like this when times are very tough indeed then I’m good at what I do.

Sometimes I think I should take it down and that it shouldn’t be here and I should stop inflicting this on people but then I think he was all about the internet, he loved it so much, and he built this site and he is me and so it stays.

The second part of this mass blogger reflection on our work involves nominating other people to share their feelings and findings about their sites, so I nominate these lovely people to share what they have learned.

Linda – Ayak’s Turkish Delight
Terry – Adventures in
Annie – Moving On
Perpetua –Perpetually in Transit
Kerry – Earth Laughs in Flowers