Wednesday, February 17, 2010


PS I'm considering changing the name of this blog to 'Photobucket is a big pile of shit'

İstanbul in the snow; and the origin of the term House Work: Part 2, in which it is cold, and Our Hero axes things

So anyway, it had been cold.

I get the impression weatherwise that İstanbul has a wee-southern-jesse sort of relationship with inland and east Turkey, in the same vein as London and t'North. It apparently normally gets a few days snow each year, but usually its never very deep or very long lasting, unlike the rest of the country.

But this winter was by İstanbul standards a particularly cold one. Even so I was feeling relatively blase - yeah the outlying areas of the city got a decent few feet, and the accompanying traffic etc chaos. But the centre wasn't that deep, and crucially the ferries were running ok so we weren't going to be stranded on the island or anything.

So Monday we head home. Both a bit curious about what the island would be like - a few days ago we'd been chatting to a guy in a cafe, who said that even when the rest of İst got snow, the islands tended not to. He couldn't remember the last time it'd settled.

When we got there, well it most definitely had settled:


One entertaining walk up the hill to our gaff later, we set about ascertaining the fuel, wood, food and water situation, Withnail stylee. The house is fucking freezing - its a summer house really, so not exactly built with insulation in mind. As such the inside was about the same temperature as out. And of course no central heating. (Later we find out that this is the coldest night they've had in 31 years. Minus 9 in İst, probably not quite that cold on the islands but had to be well below zero.)

Fortunately we do have The Most Beautiful Stove, so when we got home first priority was firing that up.


I am deeply in love with this stove. Wood goes in the left hand side, heat pukes out in all directions, the right hand side is oven space, and the top is for cooking on. It's all very aga, darling. Here I am (another day I think) roasting chestnuts, for the extra christmassy feel:


Anyway, so on that day whilst getting this going, and some baked potatoes and soup on the go, we discover that the pipes have frozen. So, no water either then. I think at this point, after getting the food down us, we just think oh sod it and go to bed.

Next day I'm up early to go to school - the island is looking rather beautiful. Pine wood and snow and all very midwinter feeling.


Everything a bit warmer, too - warm enough in fact for the outside part of our pipes to defrost, and then yay verily, burst. I miss this bit but S wakes up to a nice ice-cold fountain all over the garden. She turns the water off, joins me in town, and we stay there again that night.

Next day back to the island with one of S's workmen in tow, who fixes the outside pipe, but sadly the part running inside is still frozen solid. I hoped, anyway - by now was beginning to panic that it had burst somewhere on its way indoors, too.

(S, by the way, in the mysterious ways in which her mind works, has decided that this evening would also be an apt time for an alfresco fish barbeque supper. You know, with the freezing temperatures, and no running water with which to wash down the fishy guts muck, and all. I don't have a photo of this, but if you can imagine one of those New York winter scenes of the bums standing round a burning trashcan you won't be too many miles off what we looked like. I would be the one scowling.)

The next day, Thursday, is a day off school for me. Still no water indoors, but fortunately now working fine out of a tap in the garden, and weather sunny and not raining at least. So we spend most of the day on domesticity, and the basics involved in keeping warm, fed and clean(ish). There was a *lot* of traipsing in and out with buckets of water. It turns out, that when mod cons are taken away, that crikey house work is actually, like work.

Also a fair amount of axing, which was more fun. This is me getting down with my butch bad self.


Anyway. It was all good fun and all, but bloody hell was I relieved when the next day the pipes finally cleared and lovely, gorgeous, running water came out of the taps. Am considering adapting some pagan ritual on the coming of spring and life-giving warmth, to include a bit on the glorious god of indoor plumbing.

(My ma by the way, did provide me with some much needed perspective on this, pointing out that it was only 30 years ago or so in UK when it was all outdoor toilets and no central heating for a lot of places. She didn't exactly use the phrase 'you spoilt young modern things, in maaaaaa day' but would've been fully justified in doing so...)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

İstanbul in the snow; and the origin of the term House Work: Part 1, in which Our Hero has snow based fun in snowy İstanbul (did I mention the snow?)

Finally getting round to this posting. Which will be more than usually tedious, focussing as it does on snow, which probably y'all are heartily sick of having had your own fair share in UK anyway. So I have chopped it in two, to manage the pain/prolong the agony.

Mid January İstanbul and Turkey got hit by a proper cold spell. I was in central town a couple of weeks ago when the big snow started. We'd been invited by our landlady to stay over for the weekend, which would be a nice change from the domesticity of t'island, which had been getting a) old b) cold.

Landlady's flat was bonkers - she's got this penthouse like apartment right in the centre of town, two minutes from everywhere and a view over the whole city - I reckon sort of equal levels of desirability as a park lane place, but with sea and mosques instead of ringroad and manky Hyde Park. (Is it just me or is Hyde Park just not that attractive?) View from the window on the Friday night as follows.


Anyway, on the Saturday the snow started. Rather rocking timing then that we were in a nice centrally heated flat bang centre in the middle of town for wandering about and being enchanted in.

İstanbul was, more than usual, m-m-m-magical!


Above being Galata tower in the snow...


...bottom of the same.


...icicles on the, erm, something or other. (By the way, I'm a lousy tourist.)


...and the obligitory snow-on-mosque shot.

Anyway, it was all very nice and had a lovely weekend wandering about, gawping. By Monday had had enough of a good thing, and decided to go home. Colder weather was forecast and our landlady was fairly strongly urging us to stay, but we thought 'ah sod it, how bad can it be?'


Monday, February 1, 2010


I got my haircut. Finally. Actually, got it done a few weeks ago, but only just got round to photographic evidence for y'all.


I now look like:

i) a fourteen year old boy
ii) a massive great lesbian (do I get my gay black belt now?)
iii) according to our landlady, a young Leonardo DiCaprio.

The first two I can't really complain about, as to be fair they do constitute a not entirely inaccurate description of me. But the third I am disputing - on the grounds that Leo is obviously far prettier than me...

Anyway, what do you think? An improvement over the Horrendous Lank Ponytail of Doom?