Things I wish I’d brought, and things I’m glad I brought

Every expat in Turkey can fill an entire evening with the things they miss from home, normally food related, and will wax lyrical about bacon sarnies and PG tips teabags and crumpets and sausages and gammon steaks. I don’t tend to miss the food so much as I’ve learnt to cook most things and regular trips to pork friendly islands in the Aegean keep my freezer as fall as necessary with bits of animal that once went oink.

I do miss certain things though and here are a few

Things I wish I’d brought to Turkey :-

My range cooker, with my wok burner and my double oven and my halogen sauce warmer! Okay it’s an impossible wish but Turkish cookers just don’t have the guts I need, the burners burn butane which isn’t as hot as propane and the ovens are slow and clunky and whilst I know mine well enough to get a good result it still feels antique compared to my beautiful range cooker at home.

My dyson – because they cost an arm and a leg here and normal vacuum cleaners suck in a weak and pathetic way and the filters get clogged every day and given the dust we have here it would have been worth it.

Saucepans – Turkish saucepans are vile and the handles fall off and they cost a fortune. I miss my copper bottomed saucepans, they were brilliant and I’d had them for twenty years and they were still going strong and it grieved me to pack them up and put them in the attic.

A Kindle – although they weren’t invented when I came here and whilst I download books and read them on my computer I don’t like bringing my laptop to bed and wish I had a kindle although it would probably bankrupt me. English books are few and far between here and whilst I can get them shipped from Ebay relatively cheaply (£3.89 including shipping for Always Unreliable, the first three volumes of Clive James’ autobiography) it means I have to wait and when I want to read an old favourite I want it now (two weeks and counting until I get my hands on Clive!).

Easter egg moulds – it’s just because it’s Easter, I want Easter eggs and I can’t get them here and you can’t get the moulds and I don’t feel like engineering something. Maybe I’ll nip over to Samos next week and see if they have any there.

And here are some of the things I’m glad I brought:-

My bedding – high thread count Ralph Lauren and Laura Ashley bedding, wears amazingly well, washes like a dream, irons easily, isn’t in a colour so bright it’s going nuclear and on hot summer nights is cool and smooth and lovely. If it was desert island time I’d be hauling along my duvet!

My snorkel set and my wetsuit boots – snorkel sets here are either really expensive or fall apart in seconds so I’m glad I brought my dive masks and my fins and I’m a happy water baby for days at the Millipark snorkelling for old stuff (and the odd mobile phone). I’m glad I brought my wetsuit boots because they stop me doing the windmill wobble dance trying to get into the water on a rocky beach and I don’t have to spend a week squeezing sea urchin spines out of my feet.

My showers – they are German and easy to clean and look nice and feel nice and have hand attachments and a rainburst head and even if you could have got them here when I was building the house the cost would have been outrageous and the quality poor. Once a year I strip them down and soak them in poz coz to get rid of the limescale and they look as good as new again. They were worth the effort of packing them up and hauling them to Heathrow and the full on flirting with BA check in staff it took to get them on board the flight.

A UK extension lead – I have a four way UK extension lead that is constantly in use. Apart from using it myself when people visit and don’t have an adapter it will handle hairdryers and laptops and phone chargers without the need to rootle around plugging and unplugging things. It is ridiculously useful!

20 thoughts on “Things I wish I’d brought, and things I’m glad I brought

  1. Great post Karen. The longer I’m here the less I miss certain foods from the UK. Although I do always bring back Birds custard, Bisto and Cadburys chocolate. Anything else I can live without. I also miss my Le Creuset pans but they were just too heavy. I so agree with you about Turkish saucepans. Bed sheets here are just not big enough..and don’t get me started on quilt covers…the colours and patterns are just awful aren’t they?

    Oh and although I never had a dyson in the UK, I would just love one now. I’ve lost count of the number of vacuum cleaners we’ve had…and none of them have the power to pick up dogs hairs.

    And thanks for the comment on my blog by the way. I will most definitely take you up on your offer. It would be great to spend a few hours in your company. I assume you can see my email address on here? If so, maybe you can email me so I have a way of contacting you…thanks!

    1. Hi, I’ve sent you an email and it is probably nestling in your junk mail folder right now because I have a weird email address! I wrote a really long comment on your blog the other day and then deleted it because it sounded too personal so it would be nice to meet up.

      Turkish patterns and colours – they make your eyes bleed! I think everyone here must be colour blind. And the floral patterned saucepans, a bit William Morris for my kitchen 🙂 K xxxx

  2. Poor Karen, Ifeel for you where your range-cooker and dyson are concerned. It’s the veryday things people miss most, according to friends who have moved abroad. In my case these friends are mostly in France, where household equipment is more easily available, but isn’t what they’ve been used to. Because our cottage is in Normandy we can easily bring with us the things we most want (including extension leads) but it must be hard in Turkey when everything has to come so far and costs so much to do so. Perhaps you could make it a rule that all visitors have to bring you an thank-you present in the form of another extension lead – one for each room sounds ideal 🙂

    1. Don’t be too sorry for me, I muddle along and one day I’ll get my range cooker back 🙂 I hate asking people to bring anything over for me because luggage allowances as so mean these days and you don’t like to trouble people, particularly when they’re coming on holiday and I chose to live in this rather bonkers country. If I was within driving distance of the UK I’d be hauling trailer loads of stuff over! K xxxx

  3. When we move to Selcuk we’ll be bringing the Le Creuset, the Japanese steel knives and various other kitchen bits. We may well splash out on a high end German or Dutch oven and hob, although last year we did see some rather good local kit in a ship in Izmir, cannot remember the brand name.

    If the problem with a Kindle is that it is prohibitive to buy in Turkey, we are heading out to Selcuk in 3 weeks or so. Just let us know which one you want.

    1. It is worth it if you cook a lot. Even up in Izmir at Metro the prices for kitchen ware are insane, I wanted a melon baller a few months ago, they wanted the equivalent of £15 for one in the Metro which is a commercial cash and carry, my friend David who was a chef gave me one in the end as he brought over lots of stuff like that. Things like butter dishes are hard to find, so are normal rolling pins, big oil pourers, knives are not good quality either and bring a knife sharpener or steel because here everyone brings their knives to the grinder man and he destroys them.

      If you’re going to get a good oven, and they are available at a price, it is worth getting your electrics at home checked out first. My house is wired to British standard as near as possible (I have 16 circuits in the main house alone) and the oven is on it’s own dedicated circuit so even though it’s not a fantastic oven I can get it hot enough because it has the power and it’s safe and it will last. A lot of Turkish homes aren’t balanced to make sure the electrical load is evenly distributed across the consumer unit and so if you get a brilliant appliance with a load of over 3kw it will trip the system or fail to function properly or die totally when just out of warranty! Turkey is frantically trying to catch up with the power demands a modern family home puts on wiring and a lot of Turkish homes simply aren’t designed to cope with what we plug into the walls 🙂

      Thanks so much for the offer to mule a Kindle, my daughter is coming over on 2nd May and I am hoping she can slip a pressie in for Mummy although obviously not if it means leaving her hair straighteners behind!

      When are you planning on moving over?

      K xxxx

      1. I think our list of kitchen equipment to bring with us is due to grow, and thanks for the warning about wiring. Something we will need to get sorted.

        I imagine there will also be a shopping trip to Izmir. If all else fails there is always the Ikea option for sheets etc.

        If all goes to plan we should be making the move in August, yes I know this will be during Ramazan. We are visiting in early May, looking at some property.

        1. I know it sounds silly but kitchen equipment is something that is lacking here, Turkish cooking uses very different tools to us, even things like food mixers are expensive and very flimsy. Good quality heavy duty baking trays are pricey, weighing scales are hard to come by although I’ve never used scales as I’m lazy and good at guessing!

          If you want a chat when you’re over I’m not far from Selcuk and you’re welcome to come for coffee and make a list of everything you should bring because I’m bound to think of more things 🙂


          1. Thanks, we’ll take you up on that. It will be good to chat and draw up a list of essential kitchen items. Am I right in assuming the dolmus from Camlik to Kusadasi passes through Kirazli?

          2. I think it is every other one, you need to check with the driver, Kirazli is straight on at the other side of the railway crossing and Kusadasi is the road on the right so ask which way they are going. Just drop me an msg once you know when you’re coming. K

  4. Karen,
    Mustafa and I will be moving into our new apartment next week (insallah…) and I’m dreading shopping for bed linens already. Any suggestions as to where to go for ones that won’t make me dizzy/want to put on my sunglasses when I look at them?? I have little faith based on what I’ve seen so far… I’m afraid M will want to strangle me if I drag him to TOO many places searching! 🙂 (he just said “yok” ha) I truly don’t understand the patterns and colors here!

    1. Hi, Ikea isn’t too bad for bedding if you are close enough to get there and they are good for kitchenware that won’t make you physically sick. Some of the markets are okay if you have time to rootle around as some stalls sell seconds from British companies that have their stuff made here – I think M&S will only use Turkish cotton now – there were some nice white sheets at Selcuk market a couple of weeks ago but they were only singles. Over in Soke on the road to Milas there is an outlet mall and there is a bedding company there that sells Laura Ashley seconds if you can cope with being followed around the store by the assistants eager to pounce on you. And you can get stuff made easily, all towns have a tailors section and if you can get the material they will make anything you want. I’ll never understand the patterns here, or why stuff is so shiny! K xxxx

  5. Hello, I live in Turkey around 6 months of the year and decided the most imortant thing I will bring with me this trip is a Kindle, yes it is hard to find anything worth reading and all the bookswap places are full of Mills and Boon. They cost £110. I think it will be the best money I’ve spent in a very long time. I enjoy your keen observations on life in Turkey and always miss my little house and laying on my terrace on the swing seat sipping a G&T. Keep on going please this is the best Turkish life blog out there.

    1. Thank you for saying such nice things about the blog, I always think I’m being boring because I’m not living the party life with loads of excitement. I miss my books so much, I wish I could have brought them all here, it is awful when you suddenly decide you want to re-read something and it’s impossible to get your hands on. I brought some I couldn’t be parted from and I read them in rotation and I get sent new ones I really want as birthday and christmas presents, and I guess that makes them more special. K xxxx

  6. Great post! When my husband and I lived in Turkey we had our “things we miss about Canada” list taped to the wall, and would add to it whenever we started reminiscing. Besides hockey (apparently Turkey has a national youth team??), steaks and bacon (we bought some at Macro once – for the equivalent of 15 dollars!!), not to mention family and so on, we even added things like sidewalks and squirrels!
    Conversely, now that we’re in Canada, I keep thinking of what I miss about Turkey. Warmth, sunshine, family, hills that lead down to the sea, THE FOOD, the Pandora bookshop, history, friends…….

    I hear you guys on the atrocious patterns in bedding and the like. You have to keep hunting until you find something plain and simple. I should ask my uncle on your behalf where he gets all his snorkeling and scuba gear from…

    1. We have squirrels here, and woodpeckers – I can see one systematically tearing up the tree by the mosque from where I’m sitting now – but I can relate to missing normal sidewalks as I have a particular skill in falling off the huge sidewalks here into oncoming traffic. Warmth is good though and after a cloudy start it’s another lovely day here and I may risk the pool this afternoon, without a wetsuit! K xxxx

  7. We brought over my heavy Anolon anodised pans which are fab. Well, Liam says they are as I hardly venture into the kitchen these days! Every time we go to London we buy a small warehouse full of deodorants, mouthwash, tootpaste and shower gels. I wasn’t expecting it would be so expensive to wash here! Jxx

    1. Toothpaste is cheap enough here in the village but be careful of the weird flavours – apple toothpaste, it’s just wrong! But shower gel and deodorant (and Clarins) you need a mortgage for which explains why I never get on a dolmus. K xxxx

        1. It’s an easy mistake to make, a green dot on the tube makes you think it’s going to be mint, and then when you clean your teeth with it! Yuck, just so wrong! K xxx

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