Was my summer worth it?

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I’ve had a pretty eventful summer. 
I’ve jumped into ice cold lakes, been to a rave, cleaned and emptied an entire house, been kicked out of a hotel, scaled rockfaces and bookshelves, defrosted my first freezer, been a translator, gotten lost, made unlikely friends, eaten a steak at 10pm covered in mud, moved house again, read approximately one thousand books, written approximately ten thousand articles and blogs, dived into the Med, almost been kidnapped a couple of times, stargazed listening to Czech folk music, slept in tents and cars and mansions and left my teenage years behind me. And that’s just some of the stuff I was sober enough to remember.
With all this excitement to try and draw some kind of life experience from, I don’t really know where to start. It’s been a haphazard whirlwind of rushing trains, buses and flights. Countless bags packed and unpacked, outfits changed and taxis home; always on the way to somewhere else. I’ve not really had time to take stock of it all- and now I’m about to hurtle myself into a whole host of work- of Yorker, degree and part time varieties.
So have I learnt anything? I’m not sure. I definitely feel more grow-ed up, though I’m a far cry from a proper adult just yet. I now know not to get onto a boat with creepy men, not to snigger at people sincerely singing into the middle distance, not to take pyjamas to a rave. I can more or less bake bread, I’ve memorised the rules of Fuck the Dealer, and have endured the pain of a triple figure phone bill.

I’d been joking that my mini gap-yah was a soul searching mission, that I was going off to find myself in a bookshop, south of France. I wasn’t genuinely expecting an epiphany while sunbathing in a hammock, but I think I secretly was hoping to find something out about myself. I blame reading Eat, Pray, Love. Truth is, I’m not sure I did. No- I’m not struggling with an existential crisis, I just don’t think these three months have been a life-changing event for me. Not overtly, anyway.

That’s not to say I haven’t really, thoroughly enjoyed myself. I’d do the whole “memories that’ll last a lifetime” spiel, but it’s a bit cheesy and tired so I’ll just take it for granted that you’ll all agree I’ve had a great time. Saves on me using up a load of clichés and gushing about how fabulous my life has been. You’d only get jealous.

Looking back, there is one change I’d make. I was certain at the beginning of summer that I’d do just fine on my own; and while Regina, Alex, Jerry & Kevin will always house a lovely little alcove in my heart; I don’t think I’d do it alone again. For one thing, there’s no one to take picture of me when I’m gallivanting around, but more importantly; it would have been cool to have always had someone with me, experiencing the same things at the same time- and who isn’t going to get sick of me constantly retelling anecdotes.
I’ve especially loved having Anna with me in my last week in France- someone who’s cool and funny and interesting- there to take the piss out of my accent and to have “you had to be there” moments with. I’ll forever refer to distant places as “Ain’t no man collecting your bins”, and tell people that they’ve got the wrong end of the leek.
One of the best things about my summer has been all the reunions I’ve been having. Stressed Mecca Bingo experiences with the BFF, fancy meals in London, nights out with the boys and walks round Sainsbury’s with my mum. Those are the little moments that have really stitched all the antics of my summer up together- and I don’t care how disgustingly cheesy that sounds. I love coming home just as much as I love getting my one way ticket out again.
Though I’ve come out a little battered, I’ve come out in one piece. In related news, my mum is now giving away all the kittens she had while I was off making a fuss somewhere to any good home. Back to normality; to work and studying and facing up to graduation (gulp). It’s time for the tan to fade(!)


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.