What is Turkey like in winter – Part Two

Evils in his usual winter position on my bed
All change for the season…….

The villagers change their houses radically for winter, some rooms are abandoned totally as furniture is heaved around (by the women), sobas are reassembled from their component parts which have been stored in the goat shed all summer (by the women), curtains are changed (guess who!) and layers of rugs are unrolled to cover cold floors and every draft is tracked down because everyone knows drafts cause your uterus to fall out!

Throws and velvet curtains for winter warmth

Village houses in winter become super snug, stuffy actually, and the combined body heat of the whole family in one room, the roaring soba and the constantly brewing tea means I break into a sweat within a minute of entering the neighbour’s house.  It’s something like 35 degrees in there and I find it horribly uncomfortable. 

More than that every year there are sad stories of whole families falling asleep for ever in poorly ventilated rooms where a faulty soba flue has caused carbon dioxide to build up to fatal levels. If you want to be nice to your Turkish neighbours and get them a present then buy them a carbon monoxide detector!

The stairs, screened off for winter
I don’t like a room to be too hot; I spend six months of the year trying to keep cool so the chilly evenings of winter aren’t too much of a problem for me. 

I’ve spent most of my life without central heating and I adapt to the cold better than the heat. Nick and I nearly expired from heat exhaustion in my parent’s over heated house at Christmas.  That said I don’t want to spend the winter typing in gloves and muffled in four hundred layers of wool like a particularly sturdy matryoshka doll (there is a woman in here somewhere) so we make some changes to the house, but not many (thank you, thick stone walls!).

The fluttering voile and linen curtains of summer are swopped for heavy velvet curtains in winter and we close off the stair well so the rising heat doesn’t bugger off into the attic and keep the house sparrows toasty.  We draw the curtains as soon as the sun drops below the mountains so the low winter sun that has warmed the rooms all day isn’t lost and we swop the light cotton sheets and duvet covers of summer for heavier bedding and a couple of throws and that’s about it really.

Power cuts - Cok Romantik!?
We have a soba but we rarely light it, it’s there for emergencies really, in case there is a major power outage on a really cold night and we have a good supply of candles for the sudden power cuts during the huge electrical storms that characterise the Aegean winter.  Normally though the minute I’ve lit all the candles the power comes back on and Nick insists I go around blowing them all out because he hates candles because he is the least romantic person on the planet!

So far (crosses fingers etc), this winter hasn’t been like last year.  Last year was the coldest winter in Turkey in living memory and the village wood piles struggled to keep up with the weeks of cold we experienced. This winter has been much more temperate, much more normal, and whilst we have had tremendous rain and extraordinary storms we haven’t had the cold yet other than a couple of frosts just after Christmas.

21 degrees, warm enough
It’s a showery Thursday in late January, when the sun comes out it is uncomfortably hot on the back of my neck as I sit and type this.  If I check my diving watch, which is gathering dust on the table beside me, it shows the current temperature is 21c in the living room, and that’s without any heating on at all, that’s just from the sun through the windows.  It will get colder later but by then the oven will be on and a comfort food dinner will be on the cards.

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9 Responses to What is Turkey like in winter – Part Two

  1. Perpetua says:

    I can’t stand overheated houses either, Karen, a good thing given that our old house here in Wales is so hard to heat. My mother-in-law has her thermostat set permanently on 25C and I melt. :-) I hope the rest of winter will be kind to you and of course your spring comes early…..

    • Karen says:

      It’s horrible isn’t it, it makes you feel so lethargic and sluggish and it’s no wonder the flu clobbers everyone in overheated homes. I can’t remember the last time I had a cold or flu (that’s tempting fate!). I hope the weather stays like this too, we’ve only got another few weeks and we’ll be into Spring so even if we do have a cold snap we’ll have got off much lighter than last year which was very severe. It is always nice to (briefly) see snow though, I bet you’ve had loads this winter. K xxx

  2. BacktoBodrum says:

    Don’t forget that walking on cold floors make your ovaries fail (Straight from the mouth of a gynaecologist I didn’t visit twice)

    • Karen says:

      Cool…must try that! I get so many bollockings from the neighbours; no slippers, no coat, sitting on cold ground, eating the peel on fruit, hell it’s a miracle I’ve made it to 46 without standing in a puddle of my own reproductive organs. It’s just luck that I’ve made it this far. K xxx

  3. Bill Davison says:

    Still loving your observations, recorded with brevity and wit. Keep them coming, they remind me of my visits to Asia Minor in much warmer times.

  4. caroleg says:

    In Turkey walking on cold floors is the cause of all illnesses!

  5. Victoria says:

    I hope your true words aren’t tempting fate to bring us a cold March blast before the balmy days of Spring … I am even enjoying my evening dog walks this winter (despite the many starving dogs recently released by the council) whereas last winter I was so wrapped up that the only thing showing was my eyes, and even then my eye lashes froze! Keep everything crossed that we hop straight into Spring :)

    • Karen says:

      I’m really worried about tempting fate, I just looked at the long range forecast and it’s good apart from a spot of rain which nobody minds, it’s the cold that’s tough, tough on people picking olives, tough on dog walkers :-) I was just gardening and my roses are already sprouting and my freesias are a six inches high and the pansies are going strong….fingers crossed we do hop straight into spring. xxxx