Bonjour, Perigueux; unexpected & inexplicable nerves.

To put it as politely as possible, I was absolutely beside myself as I boarded the plane to Bordeaux at Gatwick on Wednesday. Hysterically sending last minute texts before having to turn off my phone for the next three weeks- if I’d have received just one message that said “Don’t go, Farrah“, I would have taken it as a God-given sign and marched right out of the departure lounge. I probably would have passed out from hysteria had anyone phoned me to wish me luck or say goodbye.

Why would you be nervous here?

Having experienced a less than successful workaway situation before, perhaps you might naturally attribute this overwhelming desire to sod the plane tickets and wedge myself firmly between my duvet and sheets for the upcoming three weeks instead is down to my little drama in Turkey.

But I’d have to disagree with you. My new workaway placement had excellent reviews (more than can be said for the Turkish one), and I’d spoken to my new host a handful of times on facebook- which relaxed me (and mum) to no end. The place looked gorgeous from the pictures, I was pretty much completely prepared- as far as I ever “completely prepared” for anything- and was looking forward to my French adventure.

So why the nerves? I’d never been this way about anything like this before. I wasn’t afraid of flying- I was with BA, not Jet2 this time, far too many rich people to risk crashing or anything silly like that. I wasn’t particularly afraid my new placement would turn out to be rubbish. I’d done ample catching up and spending the highest of quality time with the family and friends. I was to return to a newly boxed up house somewhere in Holmfirth (yes- moving again- don’t mind me) and then straight onto York, where I’d return to my part time job, which I missed, frankly, and back to another year of linguistics and The Yorker business.

Honestly? I don’t know what brought it on. I was shaky and brimming with dread- though I have no idea what of. In fact, it took until I entered my stopover hotel in Bordeaux for the nerves to subside. The receptionist gave me my key and I pottered off to bed a calmer and much more normal version of myself.

It’s the first time I’ve ever felt that unsure of my plans. I genuinely felt nauseous, and utterly convinced something terrible and scarring was going to happen to me. From a rushed farewell at Clapham Junction to the shabby lift of Hotel Clemenceau, I was 100% certain that I was going to either throw up or run away. Maybe it was because I didn’t feel as prepared as I had been for Turkey- and look how that ended. Though maybe it’s because Taken is set in France.

The barn…

As quickly as the dread came, it filtered away as the lift rose to premier etage. Possibly because I hadn’t been kidnapped yet. Probably because the receptionist was gorgeous. Either way, when I woke, I ambled down to the train station and made a nuisance of myself trying to find my platform, boarded my train, and sped towards Perigueux, happy and excited.


It looks like no decent pictures for my French adventure- the camera I’ve borrowed is inexplicably shouting at me to turn it off every time I try and take a picture. Bit like when people try to wake me up early really, so I have some sympathy. Though I’d usually use much more colourful language than Panasonic have chosen. Anyway, yes. My iPod’s camera quality will have to suffice. Sorry!


Snap happy in Turkey…

I’m no pro with a camera, unfortunately. Doesn’t mean I can’t eagerly point and shoot, though, so here’s a smattering of pictures from my little Turkish seaside adventure. Click to enlarge/start the fancy viewing screen!

Aquarium bay
Fethiye harbour

Mediterranean sea! 

Sunset fishing on Fethiye harbour
Safety warning at Saklikent Gorge
Tip box at Yakapark
Looking up at Saklikent Gorge
Sunset at Fethiye harbour

Colours at Fethiye market
Watermelon display at Fethiye market

Life reminder in Kayakoy!

My Turkish boyfriends.

I have been attracting a lot of male attention while I’ve been in Turkey. I’m not suddenly a goddess (lol), I’m just a tourist wandering around with a pocketful of lira. And that, in the Turkish tourism industry, is enough to get you a few marriage proposals, if not a free Fanta.

The two stand-out creepy encounters for me have been Mamut, the shoulder-gripping waiter, and Captain Tom, the moustached boat trip guide. In between the dozens of attempts of flirting that are supposed to coax me into buying a meal/pair of Roy Bans sunglasses/a yacht, these two men really take home the trophy for pushing “sexy sells” over the limit.

Mamut is the fella that made me the paper rose. Regina had taken me back to his restaurant for some chai, and she immediately rebuked him for his overly personal way of talking and touching me. Instead of backing off, like most normal humans would do when chastised by a mother figure, he stepped up his game. He didn’t want me to think he wasn’t being genuine. He wanted me to think he was sincerely in love with me.

Now. I’m no expert, but I’m going to say it takes more than a rose made out of a napkin and a wink as he passes me my drinks at a restaurant one time to fall in love with someone. This didn’t stop old Mamut though. He sat practically on my knee and stared into my eyes. “I want to know your soul” he said. “I want you to know mine”.

Not sure whether to laugh or cry, I tried to avoid eye contact. But, no. His face was so close to mine that there wasn’t much else to look at. There was a lot of face on face action going on. I was terrified he was going to kiss me, or worse, sneeze. “I have a boyfriend” I muttered, wrenching my hands free of his clutch. Without missing a beat; “Your boyfriend isn’t here” . True, I thought. He doesn’t exist, so he’s definitely not here.

Creepy, yes, but not even in the same league of our mate Captain Tom. That’s his name by the way. First name Captain, second name Tom. It’s a good job he has a boat really, otherwise he’d sound a bit bloody stupid.

Captain Tom did those boat excursion days out, and I’d been listening to his sales pitch one evening when considering booking a trip, when he took a turn from salesman to love interest in a movement so swift I’d barely noticed it happening. Politely declining his offer to take a private moonlit cruise, smoking shisha and touring the bays of Turkey, I almost tripped over myself trying to scuttle off. He told me the tour started at half eight tomorrow morning. He refused to let me pay for the ticket, but I insisted. You don’t want to owe anything to a man that’s just casually tried to sail off with you in plain sight of all passers by

The next morning, having been comforted and reassured by my friends and family, (“Have you seen Taken, Farrah? This is Taken.” ) I set off to do some minor espionage before my trip. I’d wait (behind a bush, presumably) to see if there were any other customers getting on the boat. If not, I’d scarper. 20 lira to not be kidnapped is a bargain, really. In any case, it didn’t work, because as I was trying to find a suitable place to stake out the boat, Captain Tom saw me and waved me over for some tea in a nearby cafe.

Whilst lecturing me on “living in the moment” and “don’t worry about boyfriends, you’re on holiday” and so on, I quietly sipped my chai and wondered what he’d do if I just got up and ran right now. Thankfully, doing a runner wasn’t necessary, as a family of six called and asked for directions to the boat.

The relief! A family! You can’t be kidnapped on a boat full of tourists from Somerset! Freedom! From that point I took a uninhibited attitude to Captain Tom. I don’t have to be extra nice to you in case you steal me now. Ha! I immediately took advantage of this by pretending I had a gay sibling when he was midway through a lengthy explanation of the “disgusting” gay couple he’d had on board once. I’ve been making up a boyfriend all week, a gay brother was no issue. Doing my bit for the LGBTQ community, really. You should have seen his face. Backtracking in your second language is much more awkward. That’ll teach him to be so openly homophobic.

Having taught Captain Tom a thing or two about berating people’s sexuality, I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of my day. The boat trip was lovely, by the way. Got on well with the Somerset family, and Captain Tom’s creep levels dwindled. Afterwards, on the way back to the hotel, I passed my favourite waiter Mamut. He wanted to know why I didn’t wait for him. Fuck this, I thought, I’ve nearly been kidnapped once today, I’m not having it again. Instead of politely coming up with an excuse and trying to shrug off his embrace, I writhed out of his grip and told him straight- “Because I didn’t want to”, I said, all but shouting, and stalked off.

Later, in a restaurant that evening, a waiter wrote his number on the back of my bill. If this trip has taught me anything, it’s that if I’m ever in need of a husband, Turkey wouldn’t be a bad place to start looking for one.

This is what not being kidnapped looks like- on board Captain Tom’s boat.

Haggling and heckling- my paisley green trousers.

Tuesday is Market Day in Fethiye. I love markets; they’re the most exciting way to see a town in action. People arguing about that extra couple of pounds. Stallholders competing for custom by shouting out the prices of their products, money being exchanged, flurries of colour and smells and sounds. Everyone seems to be having fun. Bartering, haggling and heckling. Handfuls of spices, sheaths of fabrics. Handmade trinkets and “Off-The-Lorry” pots and pans. Ugh, I love it. So much so that I resent shopping anywhere but markets when I‘m abroad.  

Up early (to catch the worms), I zipped into the market area to immerse myself in it all. I’d been saving my lira for today,  and was prepared to spend every last penny. First buy was a handful of peaches from the food bit, to keep me going through the beating heat and rush of the day. 

Okay. I’d never ever normally do a fashion related post. Seeing as everything I own is from H&M, you’d be better off browsing their website than having a look at which t-shirt&jeans/skirt combo I’ve gone for today. But I’m riding on a bit of a high right now, so you’ll have to excuse me. And with all due respect to H&M, I don’t think they’ve ever designed a pair of trousers as exciting as the ones I’ve just bought. Plus, in my defence, I’m not sure this counts as fashion.

Paisley! Green! With red bits!

Not sure when I plan on wearing them- they might raise a few eyebrows in a syntax lecture- but how could anyone feasibly resist a pair of trousers like this? (Don’t answer that, please. I love them too much.) Even the guy selling them couldn’t quite believe my delight at finding these treasures. They remind me a little of the Peru-pants Max Wartelle and Sam Graham came back wearing from South America this time three(?!) years ago. Utterly useless aesthetically, but wholly lovable. 

More, ahem, conservative buys included a pair of coral pink shoes, a hipster tie-die dress that I’m going to get Nana Kelly to alter, and another handmade cushion cover. A few hours later, I rushed back and bought the same pair of shoes in a different colour. I had honestly intended on buying souvenirs for my loved ones, but I got swept up in the paisley-green excitement of the day and forgot about my nearest and dearest. Sorry mum. Sorry friends. You get to see me dressed in those badboys as a booby-prize.