Got back just over a day ago, and I have to say I cried in the car on the way back home from the airport. The gloom descends very quickly and not just because I had such a good time back home.
Funnily enough we very nearly didn’t make it on to the plane. I thought that I’d left enough time when booking the taxi to Birmingham airport but and accident on the M6 meant that all traffic got diverted onto the M42 we were using and clogged it all up. The plane was supposed to leave at 11:30 and we only got the the airport at 10:45. Luckily for us the plane was delayed and thanks to the Christmas day bomb attempt the heightened security meant that there was a further delay while we all had to sit at the gate while the sniffer dogs went over all the bags before the gate was allowed open for boarding. We did have a bit of a problem at check-in though, as Husband had been rather over confident in assuming that TA staff would realise we would need upgrading, so he had to be sent off to get all that sorted. As for the worry about the quantities and weights of luggage we’d brought, they couldn’t care less so it all got tagged and put through no bother and no extra payments.
The next worry was Fatso. The extra long taxi journey had meant he slept rather a long time and so there was very little chance he would sleep on the plane, with someone who is not a good traveller, this was less than desirable. Fortunately Turks loving babies meant that the cabin staff cooed all over him and didn’t complain as he blocked the aisle and rolled around having fits of irritation. Smelly on the other hand is never a worry and true to form was really good, apart from insisting on eating pasta which was the only veggie option and there was only one, so no dinner on the plane for me then. He only complained on the Istanbul-Ankara leg when the only food was a beef sandwich, until the other male crew member had the foresight to get something from the economy food.
Christmas was brilliant, and it was even a white Christmas for the first time in years. The main downside was that it was so cold, unusually much colder than Ankara at this time of year. But it seems that the whole of Northern Europe was suffering while further south the weather was unseasonably warm. We stayed at Sisters for the first part of the holiday, and she lives in a very old listed cottage so just read–freezing and horribly inefficient heating system. It suited the boys down to the ground though, especially Smelly as he got to spend a lot of time with much loved and much missed cousins. Sister also lives in a village with the worst bus service in the world so I was really glad to have managed to sort out a really good deal on car hire before we left Turkey. We also got upgraded so that was fantastic.
I was amazed that we did managed to get all the stuff we hoped to done. We were able to meet up with Ifan’s old friends for playdates. On Christmas eve we managed to feed the (Rein)deers at Wollaton park, and thanks to the snow they were all out looking for food, at least the male ones were. They looked so majestic with their big antlers and standing proudly in the snow. Only one was savvy enough to stay while the kids threw carrots at them, with varying degrees of success. All the others started to walk away but this one stayed and feasted on the carrots adding some variety to his diet which in the cold weather was masses of sugarbeet. Fortunately a friend had brought a sledge along and so after the carrot flinging we trooped off to the big hill in front of Wollaton Hall. It is a big hill, and so I was a bit worried about them hurtling down it, but they tended to veer off sideways and so not go too far down. It wasn’t till husband appeared after his trip to collect the Halal turkey, that Smelly and he went straight down the hill to the bottom at great speed. Smelly isn’t a speed freak so I was surprised when his comment was only ‘it was a little bit fast’, Husband on the other hand thought it was fantastic and my friends knowing him were not in the least surprised that he was the one to take the sledge to it’s extreme.
I managed to get a few shopping trips in and sorted the Christmas stockings out fairly quickly. I was rather glad to have bought all the main presnts over the internet before arriving in the UK. I think I was also rather lucky in getting them all delivered on time too. One advantage of not living in a Christian country is that we don’t get all the mad run up for ages and so Smelly wasn’t as hyper as a lot of the other children were. Even so it was really nice to be able to do the mince pie, sherry, and carrot thing for Santa and Rudolph on Christmas eve with Smelly and see him get into it all. Even nicer were his ‘woo hoo’s’ in the morning as he went through his Santa sack and it was enough to keep him going for a while so we didn’t have to race to open the rest of the presents immediately as I know his cousins would have done. Christmas day turned out to be really nice but there were a few wories along the way. First a text from Sister to say that traffice on the M1 was at a standstill due to a major accident and the air ambulance being called to the scene. Then Husband wasn’t back at the time he’d been instructed, with Christmas falling on a Friday even that hadn’t stopped him going off to Friday prayers.
Boxing day was back at Sister’s house with even more mayhem as all the cousins were together, 6 kids going bonkers this time. I managed to avoid the obligatory Boxing day walk, I just didn’t want to go out this holiday, it was just too cold, and for someone used to Ankara winters it seems really weird to say. Anyway, then it was Husband’s birthday so we all trooped off to sisters again because we could invite Husband’s Turkish friends who live in the same village. It was nice to finally get some rest over new year but as soon as that was over it was back to sorting out a few last minute playdates and a shopping trip to get some much needed new clothes. Trouble was as soon as I hit the shops I lost all interest and ended up rather inevitably with yet more skirts.
Then it was back to packing again, and madly worrying about how we were going to get the trampoline, swing car, tent and tunnel packed, and that was just Fatso’s presents, then there were mine, Husband’s, and Smelly’s plus Sant Sack items, new clothes and all the stuff we brought with us in the first place. I lost all ability to cope and ran away leaving it all to Husband again. Then there was the worry of whether it would all fit in the taxi, I had ordered an estate but wasn’t willing to pay another £15 for a larger car, so it was a case of fingers crossed. In the end the driver was very understanding and we got it in as well as the kids.
Of course as soon as we were leaving my thoughts began to turn to next year. Mum’s house isn’t that big, and the boys will be bigger. As it is we’re all pretty packed together in one room, and Mum had made a real big effort to make us space, even putting rather a lot of stuff up in the loft. As family grows it just gets progressively harder to stay in other people’s houses for more than a few days, and it’s just not like being in your own home, so it did make me start to regret having given up 182 and wondering whether it would be workable to rent a place next year, even to the extent of wondering if I could just rent and furnish 182 all year round so that we have a base to return to. But then that just leads to thoughts of why not just stay in the UK altogether. Along with the gloom that descends on my return here that suddenly seems a really good, if not totally unpractical idea. But it was soooo good, being able to walk out the door and stride along a properly laid footpath and not feel like everything was a battle or I’m dependent upon other people.
I’ll just have to see how it all goes here for now. I’m seriously doubting that Ican manage another 4 and 1/2 years here, but we plan to be back in the UK in the summer. Hopefully with regular, and lengthy, trips home I should be able to cope and soldier on. Yet, as I look out onto our snowy hill (there is no snow in the rest of Ankara lower down by the way), it just seems so bleak. Time to get out and reconnect, but even that has a tinge of sadness as the people know who are kindred spirits in the hatred of Ankara and dubiousness of the rest of the country are already planning their escape, and once they go that leaves me with nothing more than having to fix on the false smile and lie about how wonderful everything is. Or…. maybe…. I should just join the escape planners. Not so easy when the other half si not of a mind to join your plan.