What it’s like to take a 3 month old to a Bonfire Night in Turkey!

Being new parents everything excites us – probably a lot more than our daughter but hey-ho I’m sure she’ll appreciate it when she’s older and can look back at all of the photos showing her first times of everything!

In Turkey it seems that fireworks maybe banned and sparklers are pretty rare to come by so no chance of a firework display. Instead we headed to another good and old fashioned Blighty tradition at my husband’s work and this was setting fire to Guy Fawkes.

For those of you not familiar with this, he intended to blow up the Houses of Parliament but as the Houses of Parliament still stand, you might have guessed… his plot failed.

So back to the party – there were hot dogs, lots of excitable children and parents revelling in the vino and beer. The moment for Guy Fawkes was scheduled and upon us however our little lady feeds on demand so what happened at the exact moment when the Guy was doused in fuel and lighting the sky spectacularly? Our girl started crying for food and much like every mother does I obliged and she was feeding at the main moment of the event so completely missed it! She did however enjoy the embers afterwards floating up through the sky!

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Lesson learnt? Not particularly other then to just enjoy every precious moment with your little one and to share everything with them – regardless of them missing it. It still makes memories and stories to tell for years to come.

Signing off with a seasonal poem and trip down memory lane…

Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

 

I thought it was going so well…

Sadly blogging consistently is something I struggle with – I’m either obsessed with it and ‘have to’ keep up the content and planning as if it’s a job or sadly it can also fall by wayside when things get busy – and things got crazy busy! We not only upped sticks and moved to a different area in Istanbul, but we also welcomed our first child into the world. This in our foreign home country with very few English medical professionals on hand – but this is a whole different story to tell you about which will be coming soon!

Fast forwarding – we are now 14 week old parents to a beautiful baby girl which is simply crazy and we just can’t believe our luck and so in love!

I’m also really happy to be back to the blogging world and using my brain, and I’m super excited to have some fresh bits and pieces on the go so watch this space, lots of great things are in the pipeline and coming soon!

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Our First Family Car!!!

So just last week we had the pleasure of bringing home our brand new car!!! Words can’t describe how it felt! It’s been a long couple of months waiting for paperwork to be sorted and for countries to pass over the registration and even though we were told ‘it will be next week’ and even ‘it will be on Tuesday’ we had little belief in that being the case. Reason being that we’d be told this a few times and with the referendum approaching we’d sort of understand if it was even more held up (not that we’d be happy about it having already planned where we want to go and how it will help us!)However, we were proved to be incorrect (yesss!!!) and we now have a lovely Jeep in charcoal grey that is a bit of a beefy monster which Martin has bravely been driving around Istanbul in during the peak of the traffic, inpatient drivers and irrational beeping. I on the other hand can barely get in and out of the car – to the point that we might have to invest in a stool to help me in and out!

This car is so much more then a car to us and little can dampen our spirits as it has made us feel one step closer to being sorted for our bundle of joy’s arrival in August! We both couldn’t help but keep looking at the back seat thinking that it won’t be long before our ‘mini us’(god help them!) will be sitting there (probably screaming away to the sounds of the beeping and me looking panicked every time a taxi get’s so close it manages to push in the wing mirror!

So here it is, our beautiful car – it’s very much 2nd hand (at least) and has clocked up a fair few miles, probably seen a wealth of Turkey, has many stories to tell and we look forward to giving it some more. It’s fully kitted with a tape and cd player and neither of which we have music for so looks like we will have some fun tuning into the latest Turkish Radio Stations!

 

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Many road trips are planned before the baby comes and we can’t wait to fill you in on where we end up but to start with we headed to Ikea for the meatballs, a good browse and also picked up the baby’s first cuddly toy – a golden labrador… so all in all a successful first jaunt!

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http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/products/childrens-ikea-products/children-3-7/toys-play/gosig-golden-soft-toy-dog-golden-retriever-art-00132798/

Also, sorry this blog entry is late – my edit i.e my amazing husband has been busy prepping for my 30th so turn around times have slowed a little but hope you can forgive us! The next blog will be following shortly and all about a top 10 gift guide for 1st anniversaries – hope you enjoy! xx

 

TURKISH FOOD! In Cappadocia

In Istanbul there is a wealth of places to enjoy Turkish culinary splendour (as you’d imagine!) and in all shapes and sizes, with the most unseemly looking establishment offering the best in dürüm (Turkish kebab) in the city and the most Turkish looking places not always being that tasty. I’ll look forward to doing a post on all of our favourite places to eat soon but this one is all about what restaurants and food we discovered and devoured on our jaunt to Cappadocia.

Cappadocia Pide House & Restaurant

Wow, this was our saviour – if you’ve read the previous blog you’ll know that we hired a car and it was this day that we stumbled into the doors of this restaurant (even though it’s only 5 minute walk from our hotel and we’d walk directly past it everyday). But you see we get a lot of Pide in Istanbul – with spinach and cheese up there as one of our favourites – so although we’d seen it and thought how inviting it looked we were determined to find something different. However, on this particular day we’d driven all over the place looking for somewhere to eat and this was the restaurant to answer our prayers!

February is mightily low season and every restaurant that we passed outside of Goreme was closed, so we found ourselves back in Goreme. We knew that we could get something to eat here. By now being very late for lunch (like 4pm) and the only way to describe the both of us as forgotten about and non charged Duracell bunnies.Carbs and fizz were the only clear answer and we couldn’t wait to dive in!

I have struggled to eat big portions or even to keep up with regular food intake, with food aversions veering their ugly head in the early stages of my pregnancy,  but right now, I was more than hungry so we were quick to find ourselves a menu and order! With us being so hungry and not really looking around to gauge portion size we went for one Pide each, but when they arrived they were huge! We had expected to be staring down at something that could resemble the shape of a rowing boat or a canoe but we were greeted with a double decker luxury yachts worth of Pide. We didn’t really speak much as we were just so hungry and dove straight in but about half way I had to give up – we could have taken away the left overs but with dinner later I knew we wouldn’t get round to eating it!

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All Pides looked to be freshly prepared and all cooked in front of you in a traditional wood-fired oven. The most traditional flavour is local cheese and spinach I believe but there are so many different varieties available including lots of options for vegetarians, as well as plentiful meaty options include chicken and pastrami. Although the restaurant specialists in Pides there are lots of other traditional options such as soups, salads and Ottoman pots, so you would be able to find something for everyone and treat yourselves after a big day of exploring this isn’t somewhere that’s going to break the bank which is great.

The restaurant is on the main road through Goreme and isn’t difficult to spot – hope you enjoy your traditional meal if you get the opportunity!

Dibek Restaurant

Ah where to start! Our hotel had recommended this restaurant as we were keen to try a ‘Pottery Kebab’, something of a local delicacy to the area,and we are a big fan of the traditional smashing of clay pots when a beautiful meaty casserole type dish appears.

We’d tried to book for Dibek straight after hearing about them but hadn’t been able to reach them, so we just turned up hoping for the best. As it was quite early we were lucky and were seated straight away and on a lovely corner area of the floor where we got to sit on lovely traditional rugs and soft cushions, opposite a beautiful open fire!

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It was lovely and so traditional here, we were next to a couple who were not getting along at all though with both of them sitting apart and staring into space. They were brought complimentary cay and they looked like they wanted the ground to swallow them up. They speedily drank their cay and darted off with the girl not even gesturing to hold the door open for the boy, in fact quite the opposite! Martin was sitting opposite them so was quite relieved when they ventured off!! Such a shame when in such an awesome restaurant!

Shortly after getting settled into our corner the menu came which was small and clearly carefully put together with every dish speaking to us so much so that Martin didn’t go for the Pottery Kebab and we instead opted to have a mixture (our own version of meze!) and went for the following:

Mercimek Çorbası (Lentil Soup) which if you’re in Turkey you have to try and it’s so much more exciting then you could think or than it sounds – The perfect winter warmer.

Gozleme – which is one of our favourite dishes in Turkey, It’s a traditional savoury flatbread made with yulfka dough and filled with various toppings that’s then sealed and cooked over a griddle. We went for their recommendation which was filled with a local cheese – it had a bit of a goats cheese taste and just thinking about it make me want some now – writing this blog is certainly making me hungry!

Kurufasukye (White Beans) We opted to have this as a vegetarian dish so it had white beans and tomatoes which were cooked in pottery in a traditional oven and was a great option to bring all of our choices together.

To start with we were also given lots of lovely fresh bread, a small salad, artichokes and red cabbage so it’s fair to say that after all of this lovely food we were well and truly full to the brim and after graciously accepted a cleansing cup of cay we rolled ourselves back up to our hotel – a steep 10 minute walk up a hill – ouch!!

Seten Restaurant

For our first wedding anniversary I was keen to book us into a romantic and treat of a restaurant, not that we’d done badly so far! I’d stumbled across Seten online and it looked like it had the perfect ambience and described itself as having ‘a mix of culinary treats and visual delights’ so it was the perfect choice. I emailed them and booked us in, telling them that it was our first wedding anniversary and that we’d love a quieter table. They confirmed our table quickly which was great as you really don’t always get this, with phoning, or popping by much more favourable here.

It was a freezing night when we went looking for Seten, armed with good old Google maps open we still managed to get lost, but in peak season you shouldn’t have a problem as daylight will be on your side until later in the evening. When we arrived we were shown to a lovely table tucked away in a more private room and we were the only diners in there to begin with but soon followed a couple who were celebrating a birthday!

For food we both opted for the chef’s soup of the day which was Yoğurt Corbası (yogurt soup). This was delicious and I was relieved as I’m still coming round to the idea of having yogurt as a more savoury offering. We then both moved on to casserole type dishes with Martin now opting for the Pottery Kebab and mine was a fairly similar dish, Lamb in a Clay-Pot. Martin’s kebab was filled with lamb, pearl onions, garlic, pepper, tomatoes with local spices cooked in Cappadocian pottery and broken into in front of you – quite the Turkish experience and mine was made with lamb, peppers, tomatoes, garlic and pearl onions and served in a clay-pot so quite similar mine was!

We also opted for homemade ice-cream and when having our dessert the next table who were celebrating a birthday were sung to and offered a sparkling treat but sadly no one had said congratulations on our anniversary. It seemed like an anniversary wasn’t something big to them so we were a little disappointed but we still thoroughly enjoyed the restaurant and would recommend it. It’s definitely the ‘treat meal’ of a holiday with prices being slightly steeper then others and Martin would fully recommend the Pottery Kebab here!

There are other restaurants we tried but these are the ones that really stood out to us as something very special and for different reasons.Hope this gives you a good starting point for eating out when you’re here!

Next blog will be a bit about first Wedding Anniversaries including a little gift guide for those celebrating their first year together or their first year of being married so watch out for this one!
Thanks for reading and please subscribe if you want to read more, it would be lovely to have you!

Caro x

Our 1st little anniversary jaunt to Cappadocia!

So before I start I’m excited to say that I’m going to become a vlogger SOON – it’s about time I join the Youtube crowd as who doesn’t love to watch videos on something whether it’s football updates, family tips, travel experiences, beauty hauls and the list continues but I’ll spare you! So watch this space, I’m still learning but hope to be a fully pledged vlogger soon!

I thought it would be a great to do a top 10 of things to do in Cappadocia based on what we’ve done and what we wish we could have done. I know everyone feels funny about Turkey right now and with good reason but anywhere you go and anything you do has risk associated with it and Cappadocia really should feature on every persons European section of their bucket lists. So I hope this can whet your appetite a bit!

1. Stay in a Cave Hotel

Staying in a cave hotel is a must and will provide you with a unique. mind-wondering experience. Whilst visiting some of the restaurants here, many of the workers were telling us that they lived in caves and plan to bring their families up in the same way. It takes you away from the modern idea of what you think you need to make a happy home.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that staying in a cave hotel would be basic and your mind might fill with the idea of lack of heating, modern amenities and cold showers however, a cave hotel can rival any luxurious hotel with it’s open fires, power showers, spa baths, in room saunas and delicious, traditional breakfasts.

We stayed at the Imperial Cave Hotel which was a small boutique hotel where smiles and friendly conversations came naturally to staff. Upon our arrival they organised a log fire for our room which we got to enjoy with a fruit hamper and some Cappadocian wine! The hotel is in central Goreme so perfect for getting around. Every morning the hotel provided a yummy village breakfast which is enough to make your mouth water at just the idea of it.. eggs anyway you want them, fresh breads, borek, jams, olives, local cheeses and meats, salad-y bits plus juices, coffees, and cereals. The perfect way to get you ready for exploring!

 

http://www.imperialcavehotel.com

2. Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride

This was a must for us. Martin is scared of heights but wanted to do it as we’d had many recommendations and we felt that it would kick off our anniversary trip perfectly particularly because it ends with a glass of bubbly! It might not be for everyone though particularly in light of the recent crash. If this is the case for you, don’t feel disheartened as locals and visitors also get up early and trek to viewing points to see the balloons in the sky at sunrise which is very special too!

The morning kicks off with an early start but it’s so that you catch the sun rising so it’s worth it! We also got to have some breakfast before heading to the balloons which helped with any nerves. The staff briefed us on what to do in the event of a bad landing which we practiced and were happy with so we all got ready and the ride began. It was smooth and we felt fine (I felt sick with my pregnancy but this luckily subsided – Martin didn’t appreciate it when some tourists starting jumping up and down though!) The ride lasted about one hour and was utterly breathtaking and an experience we’ll never forget.

We couldn’t fault the company we went with but there are lots of companies to book with so find one that you’re happy with as there really is so much choice and prices to suit all.

http://voyagerballoons.com

3. Hire a car and explore!

This could lead to anything with there being so much to do, whether you fancy checking out the viewing points, finding pottery, exploring the unique landscape and bits that aren’t covered in the tour guide or anything else! Everything feels pretty well sign posted too so you should be okay finding your way around but if not – ‘borrowing’ someones wifi is pretty easy when parked outside their house (which is what we had to do!).

Car rental is easy and you can pretty much turn up and hire a car. In Goreme most of the rental places are next to the bus terminal in the centre of town and offer good rates. They also give you a map and will mark out your route if you tell them where you’d like to go. In peak season consider booking in advance and if you’re hiring on a Sunday as this is the Turkish day of rest and there maybe fewer cars to rent unless pre-booked. This was the case for us and it felt like we ended up with the owners car of the car rental shop but it was fine!

 

4. Visit a Pottery Studio

Cappadocia is known for many amazing natural wonders including it’s love, talent and history of making pottery. The old city of Avanos in Cappadocia overlooks what I’ve read to be the longest river in Turkey called the Kizilirmak (Red River) (don’t quote me on this!) and it separates Avanos from the rest of Cappadocia. It’s the place to visit here for local pottery as it’s full of beautiful, family ran ceramic studios. You’d be forgiven for spending hours getting lost, learning about the individual creations and browsing the lovely pieces to find something to take home – this is what we did!

Pottery has been made for centuries here with some techniques going back to the Hittites times in 2000 BC and we were lucky enough to stumble across Chez Galip, one of the oldest pottery studios here (though my phone decided to navigate us too a police station and not his studio to start with) The Chez Galip Studio is family ran, where they traditionally use a kick wheel for their creations and gather their materials from local sources including the old river bed (red clay for Hittites designs) and the mountains (for Iznik designs).

The studio is a short drive from Avanos and tucked away on acres of beautiful land (but sign posted!). When we arrived we were greeted by kittens running around having a great time and a lady who we believed to be the daughter of Chez Galip. We were offered cay (turkish tea) and got to watch the making of a traditional Hitties piece by the kick wheel method. This was followed by watching an artist hard at work designing an Iznik piece. We were then given free reign of the show room where we brought some lovely pieces and at great rates due to being out of season! This was one of our favourite afternoons and Chez Galip is very much worth taking some time out to go and see!

http://www.chezgalip.com

5. Book A Tour

In Cappadocia most sites are spread out so on our tour we spent a lot of time on a bus where everyone slept! Also, to begin with we managed to get on the non english speaking tour bus which we laughed at but it really wasn’t obvious so do watch out for this if theres more than one! When on the correct bus we were off and had a super guide who spoke great english. He actually had to go back and forth between Turkish for half of the bus but managed to keep us all equally entertained and clued up on what we were seeing.

The tour company was called Gorgeous Tour Travel Agency and I believe they offer lots of different tours but what our understanding the most popular tours are the Red and the Green tours. We opted for the Green Tour which took us to the following places:

x Goreme Panorama
x Derinkuyu Underground City
x Selime Kathedral
x Inlara Canyon
x Pigeon Valley
x Onyx Art Factory

We also made a pit stop very near to the Onyx, it was local Turkey specialist supermarket selling local products including apricots covered in chocolate (these were to die for, we brought a few packs!), pumpkin seeds, Turkish teas, Turkish delight and lots more- much of which was local to Cappadocia so definitely worth a look and will help you to learn a bit more about the region and it’s culinary delights!

http://www.gorgeousturkeytours.com

6 Go for a Turkish Bath

You’re going to be doing a lot of walking and a Turkish bath is the perfect way to recover! We are blessed to live here and have access to Turkish baths, plus we are expecting our first baby (many a blog post coming up about this!) but it wouldn’t have been right for us on this trip but it shouldn’t stop you!

For anyone who doesn’t know what a turkish bath is, it’s a cleansing and relaxing treatment that begins with relaxing in a room filled with hot steam (you can wear your swimwear, well most of the time!) Then you’re often separated with men staying where they are to be washed and women going to more of a private room where you are often asked to remove your top and your washed down – please don’t feel embarrassed or shy as you’re often getting washed down by a older, weathered turkish women who shall we say is ‘blessed’ in the chest department! anyway! Then you can opt to have a relaxing massage in another room. A great treat for the end of your trip!

7. Try Cappadocian Wine

Something we didn’t get to get stuck into but hear that it’s amazing is Cappadoccian wine! We understand that the Hittites were involved with developing Turkey’s vineyards more than 7,000 year ago and throughout the Byzantines era and the Ottoman Empire Cappadocia wine has been popular, not always amongst Muslims but pretty steadily with christians and jews. Proven by many underground cities and rock villages considering wineries as a very important part of life.

My OB/GYN at our hospital in Istanbul recommended us to try some – so I had a sip and it did go down pretty well but the way to really do it would be to check out the winery vineyards – we have friends over there doing exactly this right now. But for some inspiration Time Out looked pretty great:

http://www.timeout.com/travel/features/693/winemaking-in-cappadocia

8. Visit an underground city

We visited Derinkuyu, the deepest Underground City and were a little apprehensive about going underground to any city even though this was one of the main reasons for coming to Cappadocia! This was due to the worry of air pressure changes and tight spaces (Martin is tall and I almost fainted on the hot air ballon due to air pressure changes!) but we were both fine! Yes, air pressure changes momentarily and we found it important to take a few deep breaths to acclimatise but they have made sufficient ventilation shafts to allow fresh air to circulate on all floors and whenever your in a tunnel you’re never to far from a more open space so it really did feel fine.

It was amazing to let your imagination take you away and picture families living here, attending church, being able to house their animals, to cook, socialise and even be buried here. It was also fascinating to see rocks carved into circular boulders to stop intruders in their tracks and to see other tunnels open up as a result of blocking in the intruders. Not that this happened in the Flintstones but this is what it reminded us of!

9. Visit Zelve Open Air Museum

So on our first day after the Hot Air Balloon we regrouped, had more food, more cay and headed out! We decided to make our own way to Zelve, I’d heard that tours don’t go there because there’s just to much to cover and they wouldn’t be able to fit as much into the day – this made us want to go even more so off we went!

We had an interesting job getting there, our hotel pointed us in the direction of the buses but we’d just missed one so we decided to hop in a cab but of course our driver wanted to take us everywhere else on route. Luckily with our bit of Turkish we managed to say no enough times to make him stay to plan! As we relaxed and though we got off lucky he insisted on waiting to take us back we said no again and luckily he wasn’t there when we emerged later though we were sure he would be, trying to take us somewhere else!

Zelve Open Air Museum was once home to one of the largest communities in the area, it was a cave village where Christians and Muslims lived together in harmony – until about 1924 when the Greeks left due to the exchange of minorities between Greece and Turkey. The Muslims continued to live there but by the 50s erosion became a real concern and they were moved. Old Zelve is now a ghost town and erosion continues but you’re able to walk around many of the areas, and you’ll need to allow a good couple of hours to explore the three valleys. You’ll get to see some of the oldest Cappadocian architecture and art, dwellings, wineries, mosques and churches and you really can begin to imagine a bustling village life!

10. Visit Goreme Open Air Museum

On our last day we managed to squeeze coming here and we were so glad we did! It literally took our breath away. We walked there and back which was lovely, taking in the fresh air and being joined by local dogs running next to us! On the way there we stopped for a drink and something to eat, there was a sort of walk way just off the main road with a few cafes and touristy shops. We got to enjoy some fresh juices and lahmacum which if you haven’t tried it before you must! It’s basically Turkish flatbread that you can have many toppings on but traditionally lamb or vegetables (I believe!) so basically the Turkish answer to pizza!

We then ventured into the museum and were greeted with a complex filled with monasteries, side by side and all meaning different things. We saw halls where benches and tables had been carved out of rock for people to go to for eating and talking after church. We got to look at all of the spectacular paintings inside the churches that have managed to last for such a long time – some paintings looked like they were done by children, some looked like a lot more care and attention had been taken. We’ve honestly never been anywhere like this and were overwhelmed with the amount to see, the amount to do and the idea of what roles each of the churches would have played! You really don’t want to miss this and it was one of the first two UNESCO sites in Turkey!

So as you get the idea, there is so much to see and do and for everyone. It can be the perfect solo hiking trip, romantic getaway, family exploring time or history buff heaven! There are some very lovely restaurants too so I’ll do a little blog on these right after this one as it would be even longer if I carried on and way to much for you!

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to subscribe & share if you have enjoyed it and want to keep up to date with what we get up too!

Caro X

New Years Eve 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey

I was so excited to write this post with New Years being such a special celebration for the Turkish and for them to be truly deserving a lovely time after the terror they have faced throughout 2016. I felt sure that they were looking forward to a new and brighter year just like we were too and they should have had this.

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The night started off quietly, we were off to our friend’s house party in this lovely bohemian neighbourhood called Cihangir. With the party not kicking off until 10pm, we had plans to have a nice dinner out but settled for ordering pide (Turkish pizza!) as quite frankly, Martin was in a full on gaming session and I was taking ages getting ready (typical!). It was a lovely, chilled out dinner where we could do a bit of reflecting on our past year and get ready to welcome in 2017.

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We left ours at 10pm and headed to the Metro, it was quiet. We proceeded to Taksim which is where there are normally lots of people and sometimes trouble. So we were feeling a bit apprehensive, but when we arrived we had a full body and bag search, looked around and it was so quiet. People really were just passing through, making their way to celebrations but there weren’t very many people doing this. It had an eerie feel and very much felt like Istanbul’s soul had perhaps tucked itself in bed for the night. It was sad to see but we were happy to see that at least some people were smiling and heading out to their celebrations.

We arrived at our friends and had a lovely time bringing in the new year surrounded by many amazing friends. It was a poignant time for us thinking about how ill my mum had been this time last year and how we’d spent last year crying into the new year at the thought of a bleak future for my mum. Overall though, I was in good spirits and looking forward to a new year filled with exciting and positive times for our family, friends and hopefully Turkey and here’s the moment the clock hit 12am!

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When we found out about the attack at Reina nightclub we really weren’t sure what had happened with ideas involving a rich kid going crazy and opening fire, and we were all wondering if it wasn’t this, would there be attacks anywhere else… it was scary. Some people at the party worked for news teams and quickly darted off when the news broke. We hung around for a while but decided to make tracks at about 2.30am. We could’t get a taxi, they all kept telling us our road was closed (we live off of one of the main roads though Istanbul, it wasn’t closed!) they just wanted bigger fares, so we walked all the way home and got pretty soaked. We walked through some dodgy areas and didn’t feel very  safe at all but it was the only way and we got home fine. There was a lot of police presence too so that made us feel a little better, (the crazy Turkish taxi drivers did not, with several near miss accidents we thought we were going to witness!)

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We woke up today (New Year’s Day) full of sadness for the victims of this most recent attack. All young innocent people who just wanted to celebrate the turn of the new year. They deserved this, their family and friends of friends deserved this, everyone deserved this but now the country starts the new year so grimly. New Year really should be a positive and joyful time when you reflect on the past and look forward to turning the next page of your book creating new adventures. To have just been hit by a fresh bout of terror is just horrible for Turkey and our thoughts really are with our beautiful country that we call home but we know that they will keep fighting and we are so proud of them and their courage.

Today we will be glued to updates in the news, wishing Happy New Year to all of our amazing family and friends and be thankful for everything we have. I also just want to say  Happy New Year to everyone reading this and please make sure that your family and friends all know how much you love them.

Look forward to writing a more positive blog on this amazing country soon. Take care and hope you’ve all had lovely New Years Eves and Days.

Caro x

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Christmas with the Hoggs, Istanbul, 2016!

Christmas Day was always going to be strange – we very sadly lost my beautiful mother in January 2016, so with our first Christmas without her Martin and I were keen to look after Dad and do different things to create new, special memories. Martin took Dad to see a Besiktas football game on Christmas Eve (this was where the bomb had gone off recently) so we were apprehensive but security was ramped up with no vehicles allowed near the stadium and increased search points which made us happier! They enjoyed the game whilst I stayed at home and planned Christmas cooking times and filled Christmas crackers with personalised silliness. When did I become such a housewife?!

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Christmas Day itself was chilled out with Dad relaxing with a Christmas film, a G&T and a festive Santa jumper on whilst Martin and I cooked this huge, 7.5kg bird and felt excited to be hosting our first Christmas and it being our first Christmas as Mr & Mrs. We were also feeling very sad to be missing my amazing Mum :(. We did a big toast to her whilst sipping her favourite, champagne. This happened a few times throughout the day, both silently to ourselves and out loud.We also lit a candle ironically called ‘Mum’ throughout the Christmas period and placed this opposite my Dad at the table.

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My Mum loved Christmas, she loved heading into London to buy Christmas decorations and to look at the lights. So we were sure to treat ourselves to some new decorations this year and for this I headed straight to Liberty for the pink bauble that I know Mum would have approved of. We also marked it being the first year of us being married with a personalised decoration you’ll also see below – this was from Not On The High Street and fairly cheap and cheerful which was great!

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So going back to the Christmas dinner, with the turkey being so God dam big we desperately needed a second kitchen and luckily our neighbour Guy was away so the bird took up the whole of his oven which makes him a complete angel in disguise as without him we wouldn’t have had any of the trimmings and believe me, there were a lot of trimmings!

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All day I’d been saying let’s keep the blinds closed and not go outside, that way it would still be Christmas but post our huge Christmas dinner that only just managed to fit onto our BIG wedding plates, Dad and I (post naps) had to get outside for a little walk. As soon we stepped outside it was busy, dodging people on their way home, doing their New Year shopping but you know what, it still felt like Christmas as I was with my Dad! So it just goes to show you that as long as you have family with you, you can celebrate Christmas just about anywhere!

I’d be really interested to hear anyone else’s experiences of Christmases abroad so please comment below and get in touch and I really hope that you all had super ones :).