Inundation aboard Sunday as window drops out

Our adventure travelling north from Didim to Istanbul had been pretty uneventful so far but that was to change.

Travelling north had been uneventful so far

On our second night we anchored at Port St Paul, a quiet inlet purported to be the spot that was chosen to rest the oarsmen propelling St Paul towards Ephesus.

S/V Catabella scoping out the possibility of anchoring in Port St Paul

The main anchorage was crowded so we tried a couple of small inlets and decided to anchor in the second, Port St Nikolai, where we had a good but slightly swelly night, lit by a glorious full moon.

Who said we have a dim masthead light? A brilliant photo of the full moon on top of Sunday by Raelee
Waking up to a swell

The following day we headed for the bustling tourist town of Kuşadası – on the way sailing very close to Greece as we transversed the narrow strait between the island of Samos on the Greek side and Cam Daği on the Turkish mainland. The strait is less than a mile across at the narrowest part. We had to pay close attention so as not to stray into Greek waters!

Catabella on her way to the narrow strait between the island of Samos on the Greek side and Cam Daği on the Turkish mainland.
Greece on one side and….
….Turkey on the other

As we approached Kuşadası we could see a number of massive cruise boats in the harbour.

There were a number of cruise boats
in the harbour

Rather than stopping anywhere near those monstrously sized vessels, we decided to anchor in the shadow of the picturesque Byzantine fortress.

we decided to anchor in the shadow of the picturesque Byzantine fortress

The bay where we anchored was close enough to town to walk in and also very handy to get to the castle for a visit so we felt very happy with the location.

We were handy to get to the fortress

Later we strolled into town with the crew from Catabella and stopped first to have a look at the caravanserai, built in 1618. Here travellers, along with their camels, donkeys and mules could safely stay – protected from pirates and other vagabonds – to rest and recuperate from their long journey.

The caravanserai, built in 1618

On the roof, there is apparently a wide aisle behind the battlement and merlons designed specifically to enable the pouring of hot oil on any intruder or invader!

The caravanserai courtyard – safe from marauding intruders

We had an annoying and upsetting incident in Kuşadası when buying ice creams. The guy did the usual amusing performance that Turkish ice cream sellers are famous for, using sleight of hand to make your ice cream disappear just when you thought you had it firmly in your hand.

Raylee hanging onto her ice cream –
come what may!

His next trick was not such fun – he charged 300 Turkish Lira – the equivalent of $25 Australian (16.5 EUR) for three ice creams. We knew it should be more like 30 lira per ice cream and were left feeling very unhappy about being exploited. In the end, Sue managed to get 200 TL back but the whole situation – our first ever such experience in Turkey – left us a bad lasting impression of Kuşadası.

The colourful lanterns weren’t enough to make up for the ice cream upset!
Military WWl hero and former mayor of Kuşadası Kasım Yaman, who attached great importance to education and in
particular, to reading
Every town has several monuments to Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey
A fearsome grass shark ….
……who sadly had lost its teeth

After a wander round the town we returned to our boats only to find the most awful and uncomfortable swell had built up in our anchorage.

Wandering through the fish market
A delightful sculpture near the fish market

It was really extremely, glass-crashingly, crockery rattlingly, uncomfortable so we decided to move round to the town anchorage but it was really bad there too.

Looks peaceful enough but it was rocking and rolling out there!!

It was only 6.15pm and sunset wasn’t until at least 8.30 pm so Jonathan and I decided to make a dash for Çam Limanı just 12.5 nautical miles away. In the meantime Sue and John and Raylee, their guest, made an escape to the marina.

Bye bye Kuşadası
Making a dash for Çam Limanı

On our way to Çam Limanı the cross swell was really messy and combined with the strong wind right on our nose, made for an uncomfortable and jarring trip.

We just sat tight on the skippers seat and waited for it to be over. About two-thirds of the way through, however, Capt’n Birdseye went down below and discovered to his horror that the portside forward cabin was awash with sea water! It only took a nanosecond to discover the reason for the inundation – the large window had popped out and completely disappeared into the depths of the sea! Suddenly our trip ceased to be uneventful!

The window simply “popped out” and fell into the sea below

Feeling grateful that we weren’t on a long passage in the middle of an ocean, we pressed on, relieved that the pumps in the bilge were going for gold and that the swell wasn’t increasing.

It was almost dark by the time we arrived at the small sheltered cove in the western side of the bay. There were two gulets (traditionally built vessels used nowadays for tourism) that had lines ashore making it difficult to find a spot where we could swing freely without the danger of hitting a rocky reef if the wind changed.

After a couple of futile attempts at anchoring safely we eventually dropped our anchor a little further out and settled down for the night – all fine, just minus a window!

The following day the ever resourceful Capt’n Birdseye set about making a temporary repair using a piece of trim made of marine ply from under the window which he flipped upside down, and a shelf we no longer used which he cut up and used for strengthening. He then sealed the repair inside and out with lashings of Sikaflex (a marine version of bathroom sealant) and it was better than new!

The ever resourceful Capt’n Birdseye set about making a temporary repair
We were charmed to find the signature of the person responsible for fabricating and/or installing the shelf
Ready to be fitted!
Batons helped to secure the repair

To avoid future disaster he checked the rest of the windows and found that the one in the rear cabin of the starboard hull was also on its way to leaving the hull – so more sikiflex to the rescue!

The rear deck became a workshop

We thanked our lucky stars that he didn’t have to do any window repairs while we were on the move!

The repair in place – it worked excellently!

That afternoon we decided to move around the bay to the anchorage in front of the small village so we could go ashore later with the crew of Catabella, who were on their way from Kusadasi marina.

The beautiful clear water of Çam Limanı
S/V Catabella arriving in the anchorage

Soon after the Catabella crew had arrived we had a pleasant stroll along the seafront, admiring the sculptures of various musicians along the way and ended the day with a lovely meal in a beachside cafe.

Our boats taken from the seafront
One of the sculptures we admired
Sadly this guy’s accordion had gone AWOL

Up close and personal with the locals

After the excellent end-of-winter barbecue at Didim marina, we were absolutely ready to start the new cruising season but first we had one more “last time” thing to do – a meal at the amazing Yacht Club restaurant.

Didim Yacht Marina with the Yacht Club restaurant behind

Our cruising buddies Sue and John had suggested this as they had a guest aboard – Raylee, from Sydney – and no visit to Didim would be complete without a delicious meal at the Yacht Club.

No visit to Didim would be complete without a delicious meal at the Yacht Club

As usual we were given the best possible care by Nuri, the floor manager and head waiter. We were going to miss his warm and attentive personality!

We were going to miss this view!
Nuri was always so warm and attentive!

The ambiance and food at the Yacht Club restaurant were also going to be missed!

A gorgeous photo (Credit Raylee)

The following day we set off – our intention was to turn north towards Istanbul but as this was Raylee’s first sail on a small cruising yacht we collectively decided to head back to Iasos (our favourite anchorage in these parts) as it was a short and easy trip.

Lovely to be be sailing!

Aboard Sunday we were able to raise our new Code Zero (a large and very light foresail) and had a great ride most of the way there. Raylee took some great photos – thanks Raylee!

Thanks Raylee for the photos of Sunday sailing with the new Code Zero up

As usual we negotiated our way through the various fish farms – this time we saw some action (usually there doesn’t seem much going on!) – a boat with a big scoop, looking like a mechanical digger and scooping up something, maybe fish?

Unusual sight at a fish farm

At another farm a large group of white pelicans sat two by two waiting patiently for any fish that might have managed to escape from the farm or wild fish attracted to the smell of food.

Pelicans lining up, hoping for a feed of fish!

We were happy to see our friends Lesley and Phil from Paseafique already anchored in Iasos and later we all took our dinghies to shore for an excellent dinner at the small hotel in the village (Kiyikislacik).

At dinner in the village of Kiyikislacik

As we sat there soaking up the last golden rays of the setting sun, an elderly man drove his unruly gang of sheep, goats and cattle right past our table. Up close and personal with the locals – not something that happens every day!

Up close and personal with the locals!
Not something that happens every day!

We all had a laugh at the naughty goat who decided to have a nibble of the potted plants and the sheep who decided to take a separate route from the other animals.

The sheep on the right wanted to go
another route
Lesley (left) and I enjoying the view
Catabella and Paseafique (and another yacht) lined up in the anchorage

The following day we decided to visit the museum which had been closed on our previous visits. It wasn’t that easy to find, although the village of Kiyikislacik is really tiny with one main street and a couple of small lanes branching off. We tried following Google maps but found ourselves ending up in a farmer’s field where we met a very cute donkey. After walking straight past our turn off we retraced our steps and found the correct dusty track to follow.

We met this little donkey on our search
for the museum

As it’s called Iasos Fish Bazaar Museum we had thought we might be looking at ancient fishing implements, weighing machines and reconstructed boats but actually it was full of antiquities from the nearby archeological site of Iasos.

Apparently Italian archeologists who first uncovered and excavated this site in the 1960s, thought this area was the site of the ancient fish market but later discovered it was in fact, a 13th Century AD mausoleum.

Archeologists thought this was the remains of the ancient fish market but later realised it
was a mausoleum
The mausoleum dates from the
13th Century AD

We walked through the grand entrance to the museum and were instantly captivated by the numerous sculptures, stone carvings, urns, parts of columns and other architectural artefacts such as marbles, friezes and decorated blocks, perfectly executed Greek inscriptions and of course, the mausoleum itself.

We walked through the grand entrance
to the museum
We were instantly captivated by
the numerous sculptures
There were many architectural artefacts
We admired the stone carvings
Such perfection in this Greek writing – it gives valuable information about the history
of the Iasos site
Peering into the mausoleum
Captain Birdseye posing

On our way back to the boat we found the village butcher’s shop and as we were expecting our carnivorous Kiwi friend Jackie to join us soon, decided to go in and buy a few meaty items for her.

The village butcher

Between the butcher’s limited English, my limited Turkish and with the assistance of Google translate, I managed to ask if he had some lamb chops for sale. (Vegetarians please do not read on!)

The butcher preparing our lamb chops

The butcher produced a half carcass and proceeded to dissect it to produce around 16 cutlets from one side for us and the same on the other side for Sue and John.

Lamb cutlets in the making

Through a series of graphic gestures we learnt that the lamb had been born and bred in the village and had spent its life wandering the Iasos hillsides, and the butcher himself had slaughtered it.

He was very happy to have made such a big sale and gave us bags of fresh home grown oregano to sprinkle on the lamb when we got round to cooking it.

Next stop was the bakery where a wonderful aroma of fresh bread wafted from the wood fired oven. We bought many delicious loaves and yummy looking rolls to nibble on.

Bread about to be baked in the wood fired oven
We bought lots of lovely loaves between us

On our way back we admired some of the street art that we had seen being painted by locals the previous year.

Street art that we had seen being painted by locals the previous year
The public toilet block

Later on we showed Raylee the fascinating ancient site of Iasos and also walked up to the Roman Villa to see the mosaics.

The ancient site of Iasos.
Walking up to the Roman villa with Raylee
One of the mosaics discovered at
the Roman villa
Raylee at the Roman villa

The following day we bade farewell to this delightful anchorage for what must surely be the very last time, finally heading north, past Didim to pastures new.

And off we go! This time it
really was “farewell”

Welcome to the Lucky Bastards Club

From Turkbuku – the little seaside village with a reputation (“it’s the place to see, and ‘be seen’”) – we headed off to one of our favourite anchorages in the Turkey’s Aegean Sea.

Yes, letting the headsail out!

Kıyıkışlacık is that delightful village mentioned in previous blogs where time appears to be standing still.

Delightful Kıyıkışlacık

On the way there we were very excited to unfurl our new Code Zero sail for the first time. This large light sail rolled out perfectly and we had a lovely sail despite the light winds – getting to a modest five knots in ten knots of wind which wasn’t bad at all.

We unfurled our new Code Zero sail!
11 knots of wind, 4.3 knots showing
on our new chart plotter, we managed
five plus knots in the end!
Our new sail rolled out perfectly

We had one scary moment when a large carrier ship and Sunday were on collision course. The ship was miles away but those things travel fast! As it got nearer we changed course slightly – and so did the boat. It ended up overtaking us ever so sedately!

The container ship was just a
dot on the horizon
Getting closer!
It ended up changing course and overtaking us

We arrived at the lovely anchorage and anchored snuggly behind the remains of the old fort at the entrance.

Arriving at the anchorage at Kıyıkışlacık

When we woke up the next morning we were delighted to hear several thrushes nearby singing their little hearts out. We could also hear the bleating of sheep and goats and the gentle lowing of cattle. What a great way to start the day!

We walked round the promontory that once was an island. Every time we walk round this headland we feel transported back in time.

There’s always something new to discover

We love strolling between the elderly and wizened olive trees, watching the sheep graze and gazing at the spectacular views, as well as finding parts of the ancient wall that once encircled the whole area.

We love strolling between the elderly and wizened olive trees, watching the sheep graze
We love to discover parts of the ancient wall that once encircled the whole area
and other structures

There are many ruins – some that look like stone warehouses which probably housed provisions brought in via the small harbour for many hundreds of years since before the current era.

There are some spectacular views
One of the stone warehouses we discovered
Another of the buildings we stumbled on
The remains of the amphitheatre
Most of the marble from the amphitheatre was dug up and used for the harbour wall in Constantinople (present day Istanbul)

Our wandering eventually reached the wonderful site of ancient Iasos – inhabited since before 500 BCE. For the first time we entered from the north.

Beautiful poppies amongst the ruins
Entering Iasos from the north for the first time

As we scrambled down into the excavated area we were very surprised to see three cows grazing amongst the ruins.

Spot the cow!
We were surprised to see cows
amongst the ruins
This must have been the mama
A curious little calf
Strolling alongside the Agora

Later, when we were enjoying a wonderful meal of fresh sea bass in the local hotel, we watched as the local cows walked slowly home from their feeding grounds amongst the historic ruins on the opposite shore.

The local cows walking homewards
in the evening

After a couple of days in Kıyıkışlacık we set off to return to Didim for the “break up” barbecue with all the other cruising yachties that had wintered their boats in the marina.

Leaving Kıyıkışlacık
We had never seen so many ships at
anchor in these parts before
Post Covid the world is a much busier place

We anchored very comfortably outside the marina and in the late afternoon took our dinghy to join the others for the BBQ.

Back at Didim Marina
We anchored comfortably outside the marina

It was a great evening although bitter sweet as we were saying goodbye to so many friends – both old and new.

Firing up the barbie
Friends old and new
It was a great evening but bitter sweet
Sad to say goodbye to this lot

Adrian, from “Aussie Anthem” who is very fond of the saying “Aren’t we all lucky bastards” and “Here’s to all the members of the Lucky Bastards Club” (there’s a story to this that is his to tell) was presented with a Lucky Bastards Club t-shirt by John and Sue from S/V Catabella.

Marianna with Adrian – president of the Lucky Bastards Club

We all loved the t-shirt and agreed we were indeed, very Lucky Bastards for meeting such wonderful people and living such an amazing life despite there being many challenges and difficult times in between times.

Good night everyone!

Tulips, terrible tailbacks, terrific get-togethers and back on board Sunday

Freshly back in the Netherlands from my whistle stop family visit of England I had four days to sort out my possessions, repack my bags and spend some precious time with my daughter Hannah and son-in-law Pieter before leaving for Turkey again.

Tulip time in the Netherlands

It had been only two weeks since Jonathan and I had returned from Australia so it was good to have a few days to take things quietly and get over the flights, train and car journeys of the past 14 days.

What a fabulous array!

I was so fortunate to have arrived back in the Netherlands just at peak tulip time. Hannah and Pieter took me (in the campervan!) to a wonderful place called The Tulip Barn in Hillegom where a very enterprising young lady had turned her family’s tulip bulb growing business into a fabulous tourist attraction.

Enterprising young entrepreneur who started the Tulip Barn
I was fortunate to have arrived back in the Netherlands just at peak tulip time

As well as having 175 varieties of tulips (a total of 400,000 individual blooms) on display, there were various objects (a swing, tractor, a motor scooter etc) in the special “tourist” fields to help create the perfect Instagram shot.

There were various objects (a swing, tractor, a motor scooter etc) in the special “tourist” fields
A wolf wandered in from somewhere to take advantage of the photo opportunities!
There were 175 varieties of tulips

This magnificent display allowed visitors to really enjoy the tulips and to take all the photos they wanted without trampling over the fields where tulips were being grown for the sale of their bulbs. Such a great idea!

These tulips were being grown for their bulbs which are distributed to nurseries and garden centres throughout the world
More tulips whose bulbs are destined for garden centres and nurseries the world over

The Tulip Barn also had a large greenhouse open as a cafe, a food truck selling great food and the winning floats from the recent annual tulip festival.

One of the winning floats

The colours and different varieties of tulips were mind blowing and so glorious that even now I can’t help smiling when I look at the photos!

The colours and different varieties of tulips were mind blowing
They were so glorious that even now I can’t help smiling when I look at the photos!

What a lovely day we had.

I couldn’t believe that these were
actually tulips!
A last look at tulips this year

A couple of days later I was on my way back to Turkey. We organised a taxi to the airport as it was a work day for Pieter and Hannah. The run in was great and my driver had grown up with boats so we had plenty to chat about so I had no time to wallow in the sadness of saying goodbye to Hannah!

I was booked on a flight leaving at 12.30 and I arrived in what I thought was plenty of time (around 9 am). This was more time than I would normally leave but we had heard of big queues and hold ups going through security at Schiphol Airport.

Nothing prepared me for how crazy this normally ultra efficient airport was that day. For a start, it took me well over an hour just to check in.

Once checked in I went to go airside and found the entrance was closed due to the enormous queue, so I had to walk to the opposite side of the terminal building to find the queue. Once there, I found the end of the line was out of sight and trailed back all the way into the adjoining terminal building.

The end of the line was out of sight and trailed back all the way into the
adjoining terminal building
It took 45 minutes to get to this point – the normal entry to go airside (there was still a huge queue upstairs for security to negotiate)

By 10.45 I was back in the correct terminal but only just, and it took me until 11.10 before I was able to get airside and up the stairs to join the queue for security.

Nothing prepared me for how crazy this normally ultra efficient airport was that day

By this time passengers in the queue were being given water (more plastic bottles destined to pollute our oceans!)

More plastic bottles destined to
pollute our oceans
My heart sank when the queue upstairs
came into view

The wait continued until midday when I finally went through security and then passport control. I arrived at the departure gate at 12.30 – the exact time that take-off was scheduled.

The wait continued until midday when I finally went through security
Almost there!

Fortunately, the plane was delayed and hadn’t even arrived at Schiphol.

After a long wait for the plane to arrive passengers were finally able to board and we took off at 3.15. The long delay of course meant I missed my connecting flight but very fortunately when I got in the long line at the transfer desk, an airport employee asked which flight I was meant to be on, took my boarding pass and immediately brought me a new one, with my name on it for the next flight. All very efficient!

I had to go directly to the gate as the 8.30pm flight was already boarding.

Poor Jonathan had been waiting for me at Izmir airport for a couple of hours – he knew I’d been delayed but had no idea which flight I was going to arrive on. What a way to spend our 36th wedding anniversary!

Spring had sprung in Didim
Wonderful colour in the marina gardens

We had a busy week of preparations ahead before leaving Didim Marina on 6 May but had some great social events too.

It was such a delight to catch up with Phil and Lesley from Paseafique who we first met on the Indonesian Rally seven years ago.

Phil and Lesley’s S/V Paseafique

We had met up with Phil in Gocek in Turkey last year but hadn’t seen Lesley since the rally ended. Covid travel restrictions had prevented her from joining Phil as planned – he had left Australia a few weeks earlier than her to do some prep work on the boat. They were separated for many long months but happily they were now both back on board and ready for a new adventure.

Friends reunited!

We had some great times with them, along with Jan and Jack from Anthem and Adrian (and Marianne) reminiscing about the rally and South East Asia.

It was also good to catch up again with our friends Sue and John, from our buddy boat Catabella, before they flew off to Copenhagen to celebrate John’s 70th birthday on a cruise with their three boys and other family members.

Our buddy boat friends Sue and John

Too soon the day arrived for us to drop our lines. It was really exciting to be out of the marina and on the water once again.

On our way out of the marina
Great to be off!
Thanks D Marin Marina it’s been fun

There was enough wind – from the right direction for once- so we managed to sail much of the way to Turkbuku which was a fabulous start to the season. We even saw dolphins which felt very auspicious.

Jonathan checking out the sail
Using our new chart plotter
Seeing dolphins felt auspicious!
One of the many fish farms in this
part of the Aegean
Arriving at TurkBuku
Looks peaceful but the music was loud

Last time we went to Turkbuku it was during Covid and the place was deathly quiet with very few shops or restaurants open. This was one there was a real buzz as we strolled along the promenade.

There was much more going on compared with previous times in Turkbuku during Covid
One of the many lovely restaurants open
There were even people on the beach

Although early in the season, there were lots of lovely looking places to eat and have a drink and plenty of stores selling “resort wear” and souvenirs.

Wall decorations in the village
More tempting restaurants

We had a couple of very laid back days in Turkbuku relaxing and enjoying the transition from land lubbers to our life afloat.

This pretty lantana is a massively troublesome weed in Australia
The view from the back of Turkbuku

One day we came across a sleepy dog enjoying a snooze in the shade and then spied seven roly poly puppies and realised why she seeemed so exhausted!

Poor tired mama
Seven roly poly puppies

One by one the pups woke up and before long Mum’s peace was over and there were seven wriggling demanding bodies nuzzling her awake!

“Come on, let’s go wake up Mum”
Seven wriggling demanding little bodies nuzzle their Mum awake

Sun shines brightly for family time

I was in England for just over a week and unbelievably the sun shone brightly every single day.

Unbelievably the sun shone every day while I was in England

While I was enjoying the warm spring weather and spending time with my family, good old Captain Birdseye was back on our Lagoon 420 Catamaran, S/V Sunday, overseeing last minute projects before we were to leave Didim marina for the new sailing season.

Jonathan went back to Turkey to oversee various projects- including the installation of our new “Code 0” sail

Quite honestly, looking at some of the photos of the work-in-progress I was very grateful not to be aboard! What a big mess was caused – just for a little wiring for the new chart plotter!

What started as a simple task turned into a massive untidy mess
Glad I wasn’t around when this happened!

Back in England we (my sister Julia, daughter Hannah and I) spent a lovely day at Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells in the beautiful Kent countryside, catching up with one of my nephews, his wife and their toddler daughter, my nephew’s Mum, Stepfather and Nan. I last met my little great niece when she was just a couple of months old and for Hannah, this was the first time she had met her so it was a very special day.

A lovely day at Dunorlan Park

The beautiful park was once the private grounds of a large and very grand mansion. The big house is long gone but the gardens, laid out in the 1850s and 1860s, by the renowned Victorian gardener Robert Marnock, thankfully still remain for the public to enjoy.

This beautiful park was once the private grounds of a large and very grand mansion

We found a beautiful spot to sit under a massive tree and had an excellent picnic while catching up on family news. Later, the younger members of the group went for a paddle boat ride on the ornamental lake.

We found a beautiful spot under a massive tree
We had an excellent picnic while catching up on family news
Younger members of the group went
for a paddle boat ride

As it was the day before Easter we were able to organise a small Easter egg hunt – our grand niece’s first one ever. She loved it!

Our grand niece’s first ever Easter egg hunt

A whole series of Easter egg hunts unfolded at my niece’s (Julia‘s daughter) house the following day. Her two children and their friends enjoyed the first hunt so much that after sharing their spoils out equally and recording the number and type of eggs each one was to end up with, persuaded us to hide them again (and again!).

Sorting out who gets what!

How they managed to run around with such high energy after the long and amazing Easter feast that Julia had prepared for us I really don’t know!

And they’re off again – egg hunt #2!

One of the things I love to do when I return to Beckenham – the place where I spent most of my childhood and where Julia now lives – is to visit Kelsey Park, just a few hundred metres from her house.

A visit to Kelsey Park is something I love

This well loved and much frequented park was also once the grounds of a grand house. As with Dunorlan Park, the original stately home (built in the 15th Century) was demolished (in the 19th Century) and a later Manor House was also pulled down in 1921. The gardens were bought by the council and was officially opened as a park in 1913.

The original stately home in Kelsey Park (built in the 15th Century) was demolished – a later Manor House was also pulled down. This tree looks as though it has witnessed many changes

The park has many magnificent and very elderly trees, a beautiful lake with ducks, geese, moorhens, herons and other water birds nesting on its banks and on small islands, and always lots of bold, cheeky, grey squirrels and at night even cheekier foxes.

One of the magnificent and elderly trees
Kelsey Park’s beautiful lake
One of the hundreds of cheeky grey squirrels
Dusk and a fox walks boldly in front of us

On Hannah’s last day in England we took the train to the wonderful city of Cambridge to visit my sister Sarah and husband Martin.

My sister Sarah and me
Sarah and Martin’s garden is chock full
of colourful plants

We had a great catch up and were thrilled that Sarah’s two granddaughters were also able to join us for a delicious dinner.

The delicious dinner in Cambridge
Cousins!

The following day we had a quick walk into the centre of Cambridge before having lunch at Sarah’s son and daughter-in-law’s in their amazing new house a short drive away. There we were introduced to my great niece’s guinea pigs, and rabbits and watched her perform on the trampoline.

A typical Cambridge scene
Always so good to be in amongst the glorious university buildings

After another delicious meal it was time to leave Cambridge – Hannah making for Gatwick Airport to catch her flight home and me back to Julia’s house in Beckenham.

Time to leave Cambridge

It was almost the end of my stay too but there were still more family members to catch up with. Julia and I had a great dinner out at our favourite Tapas restaurant not too far from Julia’s house with my brother Pat, wife Marie and our niece.

Dinner at our favourite Tapas restaurant
So great to be with the family

In the early hours of that morning my eldest niece (Sarah’s daughter) and her husband crept in after flying in from an overseas holiday. They had arranged to stay at Julia’s so we could catch up and later continued the journey to their new home on the Kent coast the following day.

Julia with our niece and husband

We had a lovely breakfast together and later went for a long walk in Place Park – yet another wonderful local park that had once upon a time been the grounds of a grand house.

In wonderful Place Park

Later that day it was time for me to return to the Netherlands. I decided to try to do the trip by taking the Eurostar rather than flying as the train stops in Rotterdam where I could easily transfer to the Metro. From there, it is just a few stops on to Pijnacker where Hannah and her husband live.

I had to change trains in Brussels!

Although slightly more expensive than than the plane trip, it was a lot less hassle and quite enjoyable.

Here comes my ride

As I whizzed along – the English countryside a mere blur – I counted up the number of family members I’d caught up within the nine days I’d been in England – a total of 23! Not a bad tally, especially as some of them I had spent time with on several days.

Feeling very fortunate to have such a large and close family I sped my way to the Netherlands where I was to spend a few days before returning to Turkey for more sailing adventures.

Back in the Netherlands

Special memories made in London Town

It was extremely hard to say goodbye to our son Ben and daughter-in-law Sarah (and indeed all our family and friends in Australia) when we left Brisbane. Six weeks just didn’t go very far to make up for the long gap of two and a half years since we had seen them last. However, we are planning to go back again in November for longer so that kept us feeling a little less devastated!

It was extremely hard to say goodbye to our son Ben and daughter-in-law Sarah

The queues to go through security at Brisbane airport were absolutely massive and we were really thankful that we had left plenty of time to get airside.

The queues to go through security
at Brisbane airport were absolutely massive

We flew to Amsterdam via Singapore and Paris and we had a good flights until we reached Paris. We just made it to the gate in time to board our last flight when we discovered there was a long delay due to shocking weather in Amsterdam which apparently had caused havoc at the airport.

Fortunately we were able to let our daughter Hannah (who was meeting us at the airport) know that we would be delayed. We eventually took off and arrived safely an hour later at Schiphol.

Made it to Amsterdam – tulips
everywhere of course!

After an easy passage through customs and passport control (some new machines were being trialled and we happened to walk past at the right time) we had an inordinate wait for our luggage to appear. In fact it didn’t arrive all!

It transpired that our cases had been left behind in Paris – but that was fine by us as we had left clothes at Hannah’s and in fact had all that we needed in our hand luggage anyway. Besides, it made our journey back to Hannah and Pieter’s house via train and metro much easier!

Lovely blossom seen on the way back
from the station

Spring had really sprung in the Netherlands during our stay in Australia – evidenced by the tulips on sale at the airport and the green buds, new leaves and glorious blossom we noticed on our walk back to Hannah and Pieter’s house from the metro station.

Spring had really sprung in the Netherlands

We had a wonderful few days of absolutely overdosing on the beauty of it all.

The last of the daffodils- now it’s tulip time
The local gardens were “blooming” gorgeous
I just love the Weeping Willows

Jonathan left on his own after a few days to go to our boat in Didim Marina, Turkey. There were a few projects that he had to oversee and ensure were completed before our contract at the marina expired and we had to leave to begin the 2022 sailing season.

Time for a new chart plotter
The new chart plotter installed
Supplies for the new “Code Zero” sail
ready and waiting
Jonathan was busy overseeing the installation for our new sail

In the meantime I had planned a quick trip to England. I was very excited to see my family who live there as Covid had prevented me from visitIng since early 2020 except for a fleeting trip in the camper van to reset our visa status just before Christmas 2020. Due to lockdown restrictions on that occasion we had only managed to see my eldest sister Sarah for a quick get together in her garden.

Lovely to see these tulips in a local garden
Sheep enjoying the juicy new grass near Hannah and Pieter’s house

Other than that, my other sister Julia had visited us aboard Sunday twice in Turkey and Sarah and her husband Martin had recently visited us in the Netherlands for a weekend but I hadn’t seen my brother Pat or any of my nieces, nephews or great nieces and great nephews at all since February 2020 when we had a massive family celebration at a big mansion house near Stratford-on-Avon for my Martin’s 80th birthday.

Hannah had arranged her work schedule to allow her to take a few days off, so very early one morning she and I took off from Schiphol Airport bound for Gatwick.

Everything went very smoothly and soon we were happily eating a second breakfast at my sister Julia’s place in Beckenham, a suburb in London’s South East bordering with the beautiful county of Kent.

It was just wonderful to catch up with all the family, especially with my brother Pat who had recently been involved in a life-threatening accident but despite his injuries had made a miraculous recovery.

The Kentish countryside not far from Beckenham

Among other things, he and I caught up on a marvellous walk in the Kentish countryside and saw some lovely sights including glorious bluebells in a small wood.

It’s hard to capture bluebells in a photo
The blue of these pretty flowers is much more intense in “real life””
Bluebell woods on a walk with my brother Pat
Such a delicate flower
More wild flowers!

During our short visit Hannah and I went up to London one day to meet my sister Sarah at the Victoria and Albert Museum. On the way there at Victoria station, we were amazed to see a fabulous 1930s style train with smart Pullman coaches complete with coats of arms emblazoned on the side and smartly dressed staff in crisp white jackets waiting to welcome guests aboard.

Pullman coaches complete with coats of arms emblazoned on the side
Smartly dressed staff in crisp white jackets waiting to welcome guests aboard

Peering in the windows we could see bottles of expensive champagne and cut glass flutes on the linen covered tables with exquisite tea cups and delicate matching plates accompanied by silver cutlery and white linen napkins. All so luxurious!

Linen covered tables with exquisite tea cups and delicate matching plates
Travellers really dressed up for their train ride!

Just at the entrance a group of young women were singing thirties-style songs in three-part harmony. We were very tempted to climb aboard for an “Orient Express” experience! However, we had an important date to get to so we carried on towards South Kensington.

This group was singing thirties-style songs in three-part harmony.

We had a wonderful time catching up at the amazing Victoria and Albert museum and enjoyed a wander through some of the galleries – the highlight being the sumptuous and sparkling jewellery exhibit.

It was warm enough to paddle in the shallow pool at the V and A museum
The sumptuous and
sparkling jewellery exhibit – this coronet belonged to Queen Victoria
There were some really interesting
pieces on display
I wouldn’t mind owning this
A striking spiral of gemstone rings – all from one collector – a Victorian clergyman!

Later on we met my sister’s eldest granddaughter in the fabulous gift shop and went for lunch in the amazing V and A cafe – the first museum cafe ever built!

The entrance to the cafe is under those arches on the building to the left

There are three rooms in this delightful establishment – the Gamble, Poynter and Morris Rooms, opened in 1868 and serving excellent refreshments ever since!

Each room is decorated in a different style – one is covered in pottery tiles decorated with colourful lead glazes and has the atmosphere and pizazz of a richly adorned, dazzling, Parisian cafe.

The Gamble room
Reminiscent of a Parisian cafe

Another of the rooms has fabulous blue and white tiles reminiscent of Delft tiles but painted by female students from the National Art Training School.

The Poynter Room
This room used to serve chops and other grilled meats – this is an ornately decorated cast iron and brass grill, designed by Sir Edward Poynter in 1866.
The blue and white tiles were painted by female art students- a rare commission for a woman in those days!

The third room was designed by William Morris – one of the most famous designers of the Victorian period – early in his career. Painted a deep mossy green, with stained glass windows, this room feels cool and mysterious and is decorated with signs of the zodiac which adds to its mystical ambiance.

The mystical Morris room
Somof the stained glass in the Morris Room

Later we were joined by my brother Pat and returned to the lovely cafe for tea and cake!

The wonderful day ended with some of us meeting my other sister Julia for a meal and then on to a West End Show – the Andrew Lloyd Webber version of Cinderella, a completely new take on the old fairy tale and one with several plot twists! It was such exuberant fun and we all thorough enjoyed the experience.

So good to be back in the West End!
Waiting in anticipation for the curtain to rise

It was so brilliant to see a West End show after such a long time.

It was a really well produced show
The amazing cast takes the curtain call

What special memories were made that day – I will treasure them always!

Togetherness, termites, tractors, temporary tenants and a farewell feast

What a great time we had on our short visit to Australia! We did lots of socialising – catching up with family and friends for wonderful lunches and dinners plus some excellent meals out, going on walks and having coffee dates together and attending book club meetings.

Our grandbirdie Gidget trying to extract honey – usually it comes from a spoon!

A big thank you to everyone for hosting us – we promise to have all of you back to “the doll’s house” (our small town house) when we come back for a longer visit at Christmas.

Bird life of another kind – a beautiful owl we encountered on the road one evening

Between the aftermath of the floods and most of an entire household catching Covid, we didn’t get to see enough of our extended family although we did have a fantastic family picnic day at Ben and Sarah’s new property.

Family picnic day!
We had plenty of camping chairs
to sit on for lunch

Despite there being very little furniture in the new house, as Ben and Sarah were yet to move in properly, we had a lovely shared meal there and later went down to the nearest creek on their property, just a short walk/drive from the house.

Down by the creek
The children loved paddling

There was much splashing and swimming on the part of the children and the dogs but the highlight of the afternoon for the bigger kids was to tumble into the back of Ben’s 4WD to drive back to the house.

We found a water hole which was deep
enough to swim in
Enjoying watching all the splashing
and swimming
The dogs had a great time too
A stick and water – the best combination!
Driving back to the house in the
back of the 4WD

Or maybe the absolute highlight was to be allowed to sit on Ben and Sarah’s tractor and toot the horn endlessly until it “ran out of battery”?!

Sitting on the tractor was a bit of a hit

Just before we arrived in Brisbane we had heard from the agents who were overseeing the rental of our townhouse that termite activity had been found when the tenants moved out.

Inspecting some of the damage

So we had to organise termite treatment and repairs to the affected areas. There was also a big mess left in the garage wall and ceiling (and we later found, the floor upstairs in one of the bedrooms) created by an unreported leaky shower.

We had to organise termite treatment and repairs to the affected areas
There was also a big mess created by an unreported leaky shower

In the meantime, our nephew’s family had been made homeless as their apartment was badly flooded so we offered them the townhouse while they sorted themselves out. Fortunately, they were able to stay with his parents (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law) for a few weeks and then house sit while his parents were away travelling. However, they asked whether their friends who had also been made temporarily homeless, could “camp” in the townhouse for a few weeks, which they did.

As the required repairs were quite extensive it meant some repainting would be needed so we decided to have the whole house done while we were at it. New flooring was also needed downstairs as the old marble floor had some big ugly cracks and stains. So we were busy organising trades people towards the end of our visit.

The floor was stained and had a
massive crack in it

We also decided to pull our remaining possessions out of storage and use our garage to keep them safe.

Why pay for storage when you have a garage?
The removal van arrives to unload
our scant possessions
It all fitted in very nicely
Taking a few bits up to Ben and
Sarah’s new place

In the days leading up to our return to Europe it poured with rain again and we were anxious that there might be more flooding to come. The creeks near Ben and Sarah’s new place did in fact rise but we were still able to get in and out of the property for the remainder of our stay.

It poured with rain again
The causeway was covered but passable
Just before the driveway was pretty soggy!
The sun came out again and all was well
The doggies taking me for a walk
One of the glorious views from
Ben and Sarah’s new place

Although we didn’t spend a night up there, we visited most days and tried to help them with the various jobs they were tackling such as cleaning up the garden around the house, filling holes in the walls left from picture hooks, then touching up the paint and organising food for Ben and Sarah and their friends who amongst other things, helped them with fencing for the duck/dog run.

Working bee to construct an enclosure
for the duckies
And the gate is installed!
Starting to look good!
The completed enclosure
A well deserved drink and paddle at the creek after all the hard work
Another day, another job, cleaning the big shed

The day before we left for the Netherlands Ben and Sarah took delivery of their brand new ride on mower (more of a mini tractor really!) – one well up to the task of keeping their many acres of grass under control.

Mine, all mine! says Sarah who loves mowing!
Newly mowed paddock at the back of the house
Another newly mowed paddock on
the other side!

On our last evening I was thrilled to see the sweet little wallabies munching on the grass at the back of Ben and Sarah’s “old” house. I had only seen them once before at their place – the day we finally got through after the floods had prevented us from doing so for four days. It seemed like a good omen and a really lovely memory of their beautiful home. Next time we visit Australia the place will be well and truly sold.

The backyard at Ben and Sarah’s old house looking glorious
What a fabulous colour!
Two little wallabies come to say “goodbye”
What a lovely memory to leave Brisbane with

That evening Ben and Sarah took us for a really excellent and enjoyable meal at Persone Italian restaurant at 81, North Quay – a brand new building since we were last in Brisbane.

The restaurant had gorgeous views of the Brisbane River and the city skyline and the food and service were both excellent. What a great way to end our flying visit to Australia!

Such a fabulous farewell feast!
Mucking around with Easter Bunnies

Making up for lost time

It was simply wonderful being with our son Ben and his wife Sarah after being separated for two and a half years due to Covid travel restrictions and then being delayed four days longer due to the extreme flooding event along the east coast of Australia.

So good to be together again!

Once we had settled in it was as if we had never been away and we set about making up for lost time.

Drinks in the bar with friends

We had drinks in the bar they had built themselves with some of Ben and Sarah’s best friends; had an online cocktail making (and drinking) session with our daughter Hannah in the Netherlands; met our newest great nephew for the first time and went for some great walks with the granddoggies.

Our cocktail making session
Hannah joined in on-line from the Netherlands
Met this gorgeous boy for the first time
Went for some great walks with the granddoggies

One week after our arrival in Brisbane we drove fifteen minutes from Ben and Sarah’s house to the glorious property that they were in the process of purchasing. Unfortunately the flood waters were still over the road leading to the new place and we had to contain our impatience for another couple of days.

The flooded creek hadn’t receded enough for us to get to the new property

While we waited to see their new home, we organised a one-night trip to Sydney to catch up with dear friends, went to a timber yard to find a good piece of wood for their new mailbox and just enjoyed hanging out with Ben and Sarah who had taken a week off work to spend time with us.

A trip to the timber yard to buy a good piece of wood for the mailbox
The mobile dog wash – can you
see Ozzie inside?!

Finally, nine days after our arrival in Australia, the flooded creeks were passable and we were able to see Ben and Sarah’s new home.

The floodwaters have finally receded and the causeway is visible again
The undergrowth on each side of the creek was badly damaged and muddy
The floods left such a mess in their wake
Last creek crossing before Ben
and Sarah’s property
Who would of thought we were only 50 minutes from the centre of Brisbane?
The first dam and the small shed near the entrance to the property

We were blown away with the beautiful location, the wonderful views, the bubbling creeks (small rivers), the two big dams (man made lakes), the paddocks and the fabulous, spacious house with a spectacular outlook.

Welcome to Ben and Sarah’s new home
Such a beautiful location
The very well equipped kitchen
Taken on the front deck
Bathroom with a view!
The gorgeous living room with windows
on three sides
What a fantastic view!
So many beautiful trees
Down by the creek. The house is just visible at the top of the picture
The dogs love paddling in the creek
All set up for drinks by the big dam
The water looking very brown after all the rain
A very happy couple!
Down by the dam

Jonathan had great fun driving the big yellow tractor and we all loved meeting the large green frog community living around the exterior of the house.

Jonathan loved driving the big yellow tractor!
We all enjoyed meeting the
green tree frog family
Ben giving a green tree frog some moisture
Celebration time!

Now that the contract on the property had been completed Ben and Sarah lost no time getting on with jobs and soon hopped on their ride-on mower to start tidying up the immediate surrounds of the house. They also pulled up some fences around the house so they could increase the space to make a large run for the ducks and to improve the view from the deck.

Ben hitching a ride up to the shed
on the ride-on
The “big” shed up ahead
Pulling up fence posts – with the help
of the yellow tractor!

Meanwhile the timber for the mailbox was cut to size and stained and was soon sitting proudly in the shared laneway leading to the property. A beautiful front gate was commissioned and delivered.

The very smart new mailbox
Admiring the new gate

Ben and Sarah also organised a guy to come in and slash as much of the property as possible over three days. The contractor worked from dawn until 8pm each evening and managed to tame huge tracts of land. He did such an amazing job.

Before the slasher arrived
After the slasher!
The paddock was much larger than
we first thought – hurray for the slasher!
Ben’s 4WD in the newly slashed paddock
Sarah and the dogs explore!

Over the next few days we explored the hundred acres in the 4-WD and marvelled at all the special spots we discovered. What a great time to have arrived in Australia – just as the contract on the new house had completed!

Driving on the newly slashed tracks
We found some beautiful spots
Admiring the view
This was such a glorious place
So wonderful to see this amazing view!

Good things come to those who wait

After being trapped in an airport hotel in Brisbane, Australia, for two days and two nights due to a “rain bomb” event (someone described it as a “sky tsunami“) our beautiful niece was able to come and pick us up on the afternoon of the third day.

Our beautiful niece was able to come and pick us up on the afternoon of the third day.

It had been two and a half years since we had been able to return to Australia so it had been bitterly disappointing to arrive at the airport with no one to greet us and unable to see family and friends but now we were leaving the airport hotel and were on our way!

The water was going down but the road out from our son and daughter-in-law’s
was still impassable

It was wonderful to see our niece’s family in their lovely home and to be making some progress towards our final destination – Ben and Sarah’s (our son and daughter-in-law‘s) home on the other side of town.

Our final destination – Ben and Sarah’s house

By early evening we heard that the main road on the way to Ben and Sarah’s was passable by boat and that there were a couple of young guys who had been ferrying people over the floodwaters in their small vessels.

A couple of young guys had been ferrying people over the floodwaters

As our niece and husband both work from home and have three busy and active children we decided that it would be too much for them to have us to stay the night although we were so grateful for the offer.

Our friends Peter and Cathy live on the other side of the flood waters (in the same road we had lived in) and had very kindly invited us to stay until the flooded road between them and Ben and Sarah’s place was passable.

We had a great time with these guys – our longtime friends Cathy and Peter

We left our luggage at our niece’s house as we didn’t think two big bulging suitcases would be welcomed on a small craft. When we got down to the flooded road we coincidentally bumped into our nephew who for several days had been frantically trying to save his family’s possessions from their flooded apartment near the Brisbane River. He looked haggard and exhausted when we said our “hellos” in the middle of the main road!

His wife and baby son were safely on the other side of the flood waters before a massive load of water was released into the river system from Brisbane‘s main dam.

First time meeting this young man!

A delightful young man called Dan, who had been ferrying people to and fro all day, took our nephew and us across literally on his last crossing of the day.

Hero of the day – Dan the ferryman!

On the other side waiting to whip our nephew back to their place to be reunited with his partner and baby, were his Mum and Dad (my brother in-law and sister -in-law).

In the car on the other side looking back on where we had just crossed the flood waters

It was a quick but sweet reunion with our extended family in Brisbane. Then we were off to the home of our friends Peter and Cathy who we had last seen in Rome in October 2019. We had such a lovely catch up and despite having been cut off from the shops for several days Peter and Cathy cooked up a storm and we had a lovely meal together.

The next day we heard from Ben and Sarah that the water over the road out from their place had receded but it was still closed until it could be safety checked and the mud cleaned off.

The water over the road out from Ben and Sarah’s place had receded but it was still closed until it could be safety checked and
the mud cleaned off

We were impatient to see them but having waited two and a half years to be reunited we didn’t mind waiting a few hours extra.

All clean and ready to cross!

That afternoon, three and a half days after we had landed in Australia we were finally able to hug our son and daughter-in-law. Of course it was a very emotional and a very special moment.

They picked us up in a very smart looking second hand Subaru Forester which they had kindly searched for and bought on our behalf.

Our “new” car

The reason we needed an all-wheel drive was because they were in the process of buying a semi-rural property which can only be reached via an unmade road.

Ben and Sarah’s new place is only reachable via an unmade road

We were very grateful that they had worked so hard to find the perfect car for us at an extremely good price and driven many miles to collect it.

Back at their place we were greeted enthusiastically by our granddoggies and less enthusiastically by our grandbird (unless I was playing Bananagrams!) and met our cheeky frozen-pea-loving grandducks for the first time.

Granddog Lucy
Granddog Ozzy
Grandduckies Affie and Molly
Sarah and Molly love cuddles
Ozzy getting cuddles
Even Gidget wanted attention!
Gidget “helping“ me with Bananagrams
Her spelling isn’t always brilliant

We also saw all the work in the house and garden that Ben and Sarah had undertaken since we had last stayed there in 2019 – including their fantastic bar area under the house.

Ben in the bar
The bar lit up

As I looked out onto their backyard for the first time there were two dear little wallabies enjoying the beautiful green grass. What a lovely welcome!

Two wallabies came to welcome us!

That evening, as we sat in the bar enjoying a drink, Ben and Sarah received a message to say that the house they’d signed a contract for exactly nine months previously – to the day – had completed! Sadly, the vendor had passed away during the process and although his son had power of attorney, the sale could not be completed until probate had been settled.

So much to celebrate!
Happy to be together again!
Propping up the bar
Here’s to being together again!

So two wonderful things happened that day proving the old adage “good things come to those who wait”!

Good things come to those who wait!!

The weather gods say “No”!

We were back in the Netherlands once more and it felt wonderful to be with our daughter and son-in-law again!

Cafés in the Netherlands were open but we still had to show proof of vaccination
and wear a mask when not seated

It was only a short stay this time as finally we were able to return to Australia after an absence of two and half years due to Covid and the Australian Government’s “Fortress Australia” response.

MELBOURNE, Feb 20 (Reuters) – “Australia will welcome international tourists on Monday after nearly two years of sealing its borders, relying on high COVID-19 vaccination rates to live with the pandemic as infections decline.”

There had been tens of thousands of people wishing to return from around the world during 2020 and 2021 but with a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine (paid for by the individuals concerned) and scarcely any flights scheduled, the majority of people were unable to get back. Friends who had tried to purchase flights during Covid had found them blisteringly expensive and they were invariably cancelled.

We were so thankful that at last, plenty of flights were going to Australia and we wouldn’t have to stay locked in a hotel room at vast expense for two weeks on arrival.

Before we left for our long awaited reunion with our son Ben and daughter-in-law Sarah and other family and friends, we had a lovely break in the Netherlands.

A cosy Dutch cafe

Despite the chilly weather the sky was blue most days and best of all, the early spring flowers were in bloom. We went on some lovely walks, had coffee and cake in cute cafes, caught up with Pieter’s parents and enjoyed delicious apple pie cooked by his Mum, and cleaned up the van before “putting her to bed” for a while.

The early spring flowers were in bloom!
We went on some lovely walks
Pieter’s pussy cat eyeing Jonathan’s apple pie
Our camper van Frieda back “in bed”
Spring was everywhere!

We had been there only a few days when a terrific storm let rip causing all kinds of mayhem – sheets of metal ripped off the roof of a nearby football stadium, trees being uprooted, roof tiles being lifted and branches falling on people, cars and houses.

The terrific storm caused all kinds of mayhem

The wind came on quickly and before we could move the sturdy garden furniture the chairs were being tossed around the yard and we had to dash out to secure them safely.

The wind caused the garden chairs to be tossed around the yard
Chairs in the shed to stop them
getting blown away!

A stroll round Pijnacker village the following day displayed the frightening force of the wind.

The wind lifted tiles from this lovely old building just a few metres from
Hannah and Pieter’s place
Fortunately the interior was unharmed
Beautiful shiny Italian coffee machine

At Pieter’s parents commercial greenhouse several windows were blown in and there was shattered glass, bent frames and gaping holes in the roof.

Shattered glass in Pieter’s parent’s greenhouse
The wind caused bent frames and
gaping holes in the roof
What a mess!
Saying hello to one of the horses
at Pieter’s parents

In nearby Delft there were piles of roof tiles and other debris littering the pavement. Wild weather and very frightening for anyone caught outside!

Piles of roof tiles from the high winds
Despite the damage caused by the wind, life goes on in beautiful Delft
Business as usual in Delft!
Love the second hand shops in Delft – clogs anyone?!

Our time in the Netherlands slipped by very quickly and after a farewell meal at the local restaurant it was time to fly off to Brisbane, Australia.

A farewell meal at the all-you-can-eat
sushi place

We were very excited to be on our way at last although we were getting a little apprehensive about what the weather gods were going to throw us next! After deep snow in Cappadocia and cyclonic winds in The Netherlands, what was Australia going to produce weather wise?!

Farewelling Hannah and Pieter at the airport

Before we even took off on the first leg to Singapore we started to get an inkling about what was ahead! Ben and Sarah told us that intense rain had been falling for the previous few days over a widespread area of SE Queensland and Northern New South Wales. On that day alone 175 ml (approx 6.9. inches) had fallen between midnight to 3pm!

News about wet weather didn’t deter
us from celebrating our first trip
to Australia since 2019!

We arrived in Singapore to hear that the rain was still coming down relentlessly. There was flooding too – including a creek near them that had risen so much it flooded the road they needed to take to get to the airport (the other way was flooded too!)

No way through!

Later on, while we were waiting to board our flight bound for Brisbane, Ben let us know that the main route to the airport from the Western suburbs was flooded over, so even if they could have got through the local flooding they still couldn’t have reached the airport.

Flooding on the main road

There was still a back up plan – our lovely niece who lived on the “right”side of the flooding had offered to come and meet us.

We took off from Singapore hoping against hope that the floodwaters would have receded by the time we arrived in Brisbane. After all, we had waited for the moment when we would fall into the arms of Ben and Sarah at Brisbane airport for more than two long years!

Sadly, when we landed at Brisbane we received the grim news that not only Ben and Sarah were unable to meet us but our niece was also stuck as the road she lived on was threatening to flood too!

Rising creek levels in our niece’s road threatened to block the way
So much water!!

Fortunately for us, Ben and Sarah had the presence of mind to organise a hotel near the airport for us to stay in until the flood waters had receded. Who would have believed that after two and a half years wait we would end up in a hotel – effectively in quarantine! We sincerely hoped it wouldn’t be for two weeks!

Bad news about the flooding- people dead and others missing

The rain just kept coming and that evening Jonathan got absolutely drenched (despite borrowing a massive umbrella from the hotel) when he ran to buy takeaways from the Italian restaurant that was almost next door!

The following day the rain let up for a little bit and we began to hope that the flooding would recede. However, Brisbane’s water catchment dams were so full that the water authorities were compelled to release huge quantities of water to avoid the dams breaking their banks. Naturally this combined with the extreme quantities of rainwater that had fallen, meant the Brisbane River and was even more unruly and dangerous.

Dark clouds loom and threaten more rain

Fortunately, by the second afternoon we heard that our niece and her children would be able to come and visit us after all as the flooding near them hadn’t become worse and they were still able to get out of their road!

So great to see these guys after two and a half years – the children had grown so much!

It was so wonderful to see them after such a long time! We all went for a walk down to the nearby Brisbane River. It’s usual, rather easy going, flow had turned into a raging torrent with all sorts of debris floating down towards the sea – pieces of wharf, jet skis, and all sorts of building materials.

There was all sorts of debris floating down towards the sea – pieces of wharf, jet skis, and different types of building materials

Our niece very kindly offered to collect us the following day and take us to her place while we waited for the roads to Ben and Sarah’s to be passable again.

A rainbow from our hotel window giving
us a bit of hope

Finally we would be on our way to start our visit to Brisbane properly! Thank goodness our hotel “quarantine “ was two days and not two weeks!

Road trip Turkey to Germany

We left Viaport Marina near Istanbul having paid a deposit for an annual contract, and started the long trip back to the Netherlands in our campervan.

The long trip back to the Netherlands
We asked for water and this delightful young man happily obliged although at first he misunderstood and ran inside and brought out a bottle of the clear stuff!

After our night on the side of the road in a lonely and rather desolate location, we headed for the Turkish border with Bulgaria.

The Turkish border with Bulgaria

When we arrived there we suddenly realised we hadn’t suspended our Turkish phone accounts so we decided to turn round and visit a phone shop in the nearby city of Edirne.

We discovered (with the help of a lovely Turkish lady who had lived in London for a long time) that the SIM cards would still work for three months without us having to top them up, making our turnaround totally unnecessary! We were very pleased that we had retraced our steps however, because Edirne turned out to be delightful.

Saw these ancient structures in Edirne – maybe water storage cisterns?

Edirne is famed for its many mosques, domes and minarets. The Selimiye Mosque is particularly stunning and one of the most important monuments in the city. Built in 1575 it was designed by Turkey’s greatest master architect, Mimar Sinan.

Edirne is famed for its many mosques, domes and minarets.

Wandering along the pedestrian-only streets was very enjoyable – there was a bustling atmosphere, with numerous baklava shop windows to peer into and great sights to discover such as the gorgeous doors of the sixteenth century Rüstempaşa caravanserai (roadside inn).

Wandering along the pedestrian-only streets was very enjoyable
The baklava shop window displays
were amazing
We couldn’t resist!
One of the gorgeous doors of the sixteenth century Rüstempaşa caravanserai
Another of the beautiful doors to the caravanserai
Yep, this was definitely the Rüstempaşa caravanserai
The caravanserai from the car park

Stopping off for a tasty savoury pastry with Turkish çay at a tiny cafe, we watched the world go by until we realised time was ticking by and we should get back to our road trip.

Watching the world go by while we ate a savoury pastry accompanied by çay

We set off for the border again after enjoying our last experience of Turkish culture for a while.

A typical Turkish roadside scene

There were no problems at the border going into Bulgaria – we didn’t even have to show a Covid vaccination certificate! However we did have to drive through a special disinfection station which sprayed our van from every possible angle!

Good morning Bulgaria
Being sprayed to help stop the spread of Covid
On the road again

Towards late afternoon we caught sight of some snow on the side of the road but apart from that the weather was pleasant.

Snow on the side of the road

We stayed that evening in the same tiny little van park in Sofia that we’d stopped at on the way to Turkey.

Back in the tiny campervan site

The owner was on holiday in Austria but he was able to see us on his smart phone and unlock the gates for us remotely.

The wonders of modern technology opened this gate for us!

There was quite a lot of ice on the ground in the van park but nothing compared to the deep snow and compacted ice we had encountered last time.

Around 10am we left the van park and by 11.45 we were already approaching the Serbian border. Before we arrived we had to drive over the most appalling piece of “highway” that we’ve ever come across.

The appalling highway

It was unsealed, muddy, narrow and had diversions over huge potholes. It seemed that there had been no progress with the roadworks since we had encountered them a few months earlier.

Didn’t seem to be any progress since we last drove on this “highway”

Fortunately we weren’t held up too much and were soon across the border and in Serbia where the roads were in a lot better condition.

Welcome to Serbia!

Just as the sun was setting we arrived at the beautiful Lake Palić where we had spent the night on the way to Turkey, a few months previously.

A lovely camping spot at Lake Palić

We were able to go for a wonderful long walk around the peaceful lake while the setting sun produced a stunning light show on the glassy surface.

Such a beautiful sunset over the lake
The setting sun produced a stunning light show

The following morning we arrived at the Austrian border after just over an hour’s drive.

Jonathan heading off to buy a “vignette” to allow us to drive on toll roads in Austria
Another day, another country

We were planning to visit Vienna but Austria was still in the midst of lockdowns and travel restrictions so we decided against it. Instead we kept driving and found a good spot to stay the night a little further upstream of Vienna on the shores of the glorious Danube River.

A pretty scene in Austria

The river was lovely but it was biting cold so our evening walk was a short one!

The River Danube
Looking down from the flood protection dyke by the River Danube

Driving for long distances day after day could become boring but we keep ourselves entertained by listening to podcasts, recorded books and by noticing the quirky and /or interesting architecture, historical buildings and other landmarks that pop up along the way.

Driving back to the highway

In Austria we were intrigued to see the thought put into decorating the roundabouts (traffic circles).Within 15 minutes we saw one with a jet plane rising over it, one with some massive anchors on display, another with a mini arboretum in the centre and yet another with (strangely) a mini silo advertising a sugar museum.

We were intrigued to see the thought put into decorating the Austrian roundabouts
Giant anchors on this roundabout
A mini arboretum on this one!
A strange thing to put on a roundabout!

The last country we drove through before arriving in the Netherlands was Germany. We spent the night at a delightful campsite near Würzburg in the Bavaria region.

We arrive in Germany

We were able to camp right on the banks of the wide River Main and watch the massive barges carrying massive loads, ply their way along this important corridor.

We spent the night on the banks of
the River Main

Apart from having difficulty with getting water (the pipes were frozen) we had a good night and woke up the next day excited at the prospect of arriving at of destination of the Netherlands the following day.

Apart from a frozen hose pipe we had
a great night
The Netherlands at last

The end of one road trip and the beginning of another

After driving through snow for what seemed like weeks, it was such a pleasure to set off from the seaside town of Side on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, in bright sunshine with a completely dry and ice-free road.

Driving out of the ancient ruins at Side in the bright sunshine

We were on our way to Finike where we had wintered over the previous year (2021). We thought it would be good to show the marina to our travel buddies Jan and Jack, maybe rest over for a night or two and catch up with friends we had made last year.

On our way from Side
We stopped off to buy delicious strawberries

After a lovely couple of days of rest and relaxation in Finike we recommenced our journey back to Didim 466 kilometres north.

Great to catch up with friends in Finike (Jan and Jack pictured with Jill from Eucalyptus)

It was lovely to see the snow sparkling on the mountains as we drove along the coast road and a great relief we were no longer inching our way down the steep and slippery mountain roads!

The snow sparkling on the mountains as we drove along the coast road

We stopped in the lovely little fishing village of Uçağız that sits within the series of stunning sheltered anchorages in the massive Kekova Bay.

The lovely little fishing village of Uçağız

We were keen to show Jan and Jack the fabulous seaside restaurant run by excellent chef and welcoming host Hassan and his lovely family.

Caps from yachties and other travellers decorate Hassan’s restaurant in Uçağız

Unfortunately, virtually every business in Uçağız was closed but by a stroke of luck Hassan and his wife happened to be in their restaurant and when they saw us they instantly recognised us and welcomed us inside.

Luckily, Hassan and his wife happened to be in their restaurant

They had no food to cook but generously made us tea and gave us juicy, refreshing oranges to eat.

Jack and Jan enjoying Hassan’s oranges

This generous welcome to travellers is so typical of Turkish culture. Wherever you go, even if you are complete stranger, you are fed and watered and made to feel really special.

We continued on towards Fethiye, another favourite place of ours. On the way we came across a very typical Turkish scene – a herd of goats wandering along the road.

A very Turkish scene!
The traffic will just have to wait!

A little later we were surprised to see snow at the roadside and even more surprised to see a large number of families having picnics in the snowiest spots. It was obviously a really unusual event!

We were surprised to see snow at the roadside and even more surprised to see a large number of families having picnics!

The snow soon disappeared and the rest of the journey unremarkable and soon we were in beautiful Fethiye, parked on the sea front just over the road from the hotel Jan and Jack had selected.

Parked in our favourite location- near the water and boats!
Always love Fethiye
Just a short walk into town

That evening we walked into the town centre for a really good meal and some great live music at a restaurant called Piraye.

We had a good evening here
Jan in one of the many lanes of the covered market

It was great to arrive back at the marina the following day and we were relieved to find Sunday shipshape and looking good.

Last leg

We had a lot to do in the following week before getting back in the road to drive back to the Netherlands.

One of the exciting developments was getting Sunday measured up for a new very light and large foresail that would enable us to sail more successfully in light winds.

Measuring up for the new bowsprit

Although a spinnaker style sail, it would be on a roller for ease of use and to enable this a new bowsprit needed to be installed.

Securely tied on for the job!

We also needed to organise some other jobs such as finally fixing our wayward passerelle once and for all. Two unsuccessful attempts to stop the leaking hydraulic fluid had been made and we decided that new parts would have to be ordered from Greece where the passerelle (electronic gangplank) was made.

Our wayward passerelle

In order to avoid the dreaded Turkish customs process (we had heard of people waiting for many months to obtain boat parts) we had the bits sent to our daughter‘s home in the Netherlands.

One day we had a visit from a very curious cat who examined everything very carefully and wandered round “Sunday” as though she owned the place.

A little visitor to Sunday
She was very curious
Our guest wandered all over the boat
Finally she decided not to move in!

We were sad to be leaving the marina for a couple of months as we had met a great group of people there, however we were excited about our drive back to the Netherlands.

A birthday dinner for Marianna
on “Aussie” Anthem
Our last night- Jonathan made a friend
at the restaurant!

Our first stop was Viaport Marina in Istanbul. We were planning to make this marina our base in the coming year as we were hoping to go on the Black Sea Rally.

Our trip to Viaport Marina near Istanbul

John from our buddy boat Catabella joined us on this leg as he and Sue (who was off visiting family) were also planning to make this marina their winter base (in fact Sue did the research to find it!)

Nearly there

We were pleased to have this opportunity to view the marina and it’s surrounds before making a decision on whether to take out a contract for a year.

We travelled over the Izmit Bay Suspension Bridge at the easternmost edge of the Sea of Marmara which connects the Aegean Sea to the Black Sea.

About to cross the Sea if Mamara

Less than half an hour later we were parked in front of the Crowne Plaza Hotel. John was hoping to stay the night there as it was just a stone’s throw away from the marina but unfortunately it was closed. We found a good hotel for him a little further away.

We parked near The Crowne Plaza

There were quite a few snack bars and restaurants behind the marina but they seemed to be more international pizza and burger style eateries rather than the more traditional cafes that we prefer. However, there was also a really well stocked supermarket, an aquarium, a water park, a lion park, a “big wheel” as well as a range of outlet stores.

The big wheel at Biaport Marina

The marina is only 20 minutes from Istanbul’s second airport and there is a metro station 15 minutes away from which you can travel to the centre of Istanbul.

The staff at the marina office were very charming and welcoming and willingly showed us round the marina in the pouring rain.

Jonathan in the administration office
at Viaport Marina

We were quite impressed by the cleanliness of the water, the ample turning space and good facilities, including a self serve laundry. The security seemed to excellent and there was access into the supermarket using your finger print.

We were quite impressed with the
marina facilities

Having received a good offer for year’s contract which included a month on the hardstanding and a bonus of an extra two months, we decided to sign up and pay a deposit.

We decided to make Viaport Marina our base for the next year

Later on that day we started our long 3,000 kilometres (approx 1,800 miles) road trip to The Netherlands where we would stay with our daughter and son-in-law before returning to Australia for the first time in two and a half years.

A rainy start to our long trip

It was pouring with rain when we set off that afternoon so we decided not to make for a specific destination but just to drive as far as we could go by early evening.

We turned off the toll road after driving about three and a half hours and found ourselves in a very rural area with tiny villages dotted between large tracts of agricultural land.

We found ourselves in a very rural area with tiny villages dotted between large tracts of agricultural land
Then we drove past this – we couldn’t work out what it was! Still a mystery.

It was difficult to find anywhere to pull off! No car parks, no sports centres, no parks, not even a lay by!

This was the only spot we could find to park but it wasn’t ideal – the place felt very uncomfortable

After meandering along miles of country lanes we came across a very isolated, gothic looking, building at the end of a very long and lonely road. If it had still been raining, it would have evoked The Rocky Horror Show. It was absolutely miles from anywhere and definitely felt very creepy.

This place felt very creepy

The sign swinging in the breeze read Bakucha and on googling the name we found the following: “Set on a leafy 200-hectare wine estate, this tranquil hotel is 23 km from the town of Lüleburgaz and 23 km from the D565 road.” We were tempted to go in and get a bed for the night but turned around and followed the lane back to a spot (the only one!) we had spied earlier next to what looked like an electricity substation.

We were tempted to go in and get a bed
for the night

Thankfully we had a reasonably good night there but I did wake up twice to the sound of an engine running and peeped out of the bathroom window to see headlights from a stationary vehicle just metres away. This was definitely unnerving as we were so far from anywhere and we didn’t know if the cars belonged to curious locals or someone with ill intent.

Waking up next to a sun station – nice!

Fortunately, we woke up the next morning in one piece with everything intact and were soon on our way heading for Edirne near the Turkish border with Bulgaria, feeling that somehow we’d “dodged a bullet”.

Fortunately, we woke up the next morning in one piece

Stuck in the snow in arctic conditions

We woke to a silent world – it had snowed again! This was the fourth day of snowfall in Cappadocia and each morning the blanket of snow became thicker and icier.

Göreme’s Main Street under a blanket
of snow and ice

Although we were very warm inside the camper, outside was a different story – it was minus six degrees Celsius in Göreme and our home on wheels looked more like a odd shaped snowball than a mighty van!

Our home on wheels looked more like a odd shaped snowball than a mighty van

We had to work hard to open the door to get outside as a snowplough had been along earlier and pushed a great wedge of icy snow against the side of the van.

There was a big pile of snow against the van
My footmarks from exiting the van

Once out, we trudged up the hill (with a bit of slipping and sliding) to Jan and Jack’s cave hotel for another delicious Turkish breakfast.

Snowy plant pots at Jan and Jack’s hotel

The view of Göreme from their terrace would have been stunning regardless of the snow but with the thick layer of sparkling white sprinkled over the cave dwellings it looked truly magical.

The magical view from
Jan and Jack’s hotel terrace

When we got back to the van we realised that we were pretty stuck. Snow was banked up against our wheels and it looked pretty unlikely that we’d be able to get out.

We were stuck!

Fortunately we had thought to buy a spade in Konya where we first encountered snow. Named “Jack’s shovel” as he’d been the one to find it (in heroic fashion of course) it was put to good use against the ice and snow. Another one was borrowed from a local hotel and even with two shovels going hard, we were still unable to get the van going .

Jack working on getting our van’s wheels cleared of snow

We were wondering if we would be stuck there until the snow melted! With the temperatures predicted to go down to minus 14 degrees Celsius that night and minus 15 the following day/night we were becoming a little anxious about the welfare of our camper van. It really wasn’t built for these arctic conditions. The windscreen wash was already frozen and that morning we had discovered we couldn’t get rid of our waste water as the emptying mechanism had frozen solid too.

Minus 14 or 15 degrees Celsius is too cold for our van
Snow drifts and icy paths in Göreme

After some time of trying to dig our way out a friendly local stopped to help out. Somehow he managed to get the attention of a young snow plough driver who sped up to us, did a couple of balletic “doughnuts” in the snow and almost in one movement, gracefully jumped off his snowplough and attached a strap to the rear underside of the van. Sadly, there are no photos of this gallant rescue!

A snowplough similar to the one
that rescued us

Before Jonathan had time to release the handbrake our young rescuer hauled the camper out of the snow – it popped out like a cork from a bottle!

We made the decision to leave the snowy wilds of Cappadocia and head for the warmer coastal climes. Although there were still more sights we wanted to visit we’d managed to see the main highlights and it just wasn’t worth risking anything else going wrong with the van.

We decided to leave the snowy wilds of Cappadocia

We set off at about 11.30 and discovered that the roads were even worse than they had been on the way there. The route out of Goreme had some quite steep hills with severe bends in places. We were a little anxious that we would not manage to negotiate these before getting to the main highway which we hoped would be a little bit more manageable. Jonathan took it very carefully and fortunately we managed the obstacles with nothing untoward happening.

Once we hit the main road the driving was a little easier for a while but then we would come across parts that hadn’t been cleared or recently gritted and it started to feel very precarious once again. We inched our way forward just concentrating on making slow and steady progress.

Once we hit the main road the driving was a little easier for a while
Then we would come across parts that hadn’t been cleared or recently gritted
We inched our way forward just concentrating on making slow and steady progress

We stopped for a rest and some lunch in a roadside restaurant with a lovely warm log burning stove.

Sitting next to this log burning stove was so cosy and warm

Continuing our journey we admired the beautiful snow scenes but as we made our way down the mountain range, the windscreen wash remained frozen and the poor visibility contributed to the “extreme” driving conditions. We cheered with relief every time it became one degree warmer!

The snow scenes were very beautiful
The windscreen wash remained frozen and the poor visibility contributed to the “extreme” driving conditions
We cheered with relief every time it became one degree warmer
It felt very precarious much of the time

Soon the sun became lower in the sky and we watched the dying rays turn the mountain ranges a beautiful luminous rosy pink and orange.

The sun became lower in the sky
We watched the dying rays turn the mountain ranges a beautiful luminous rosy pink and orange.
The light was beginning to fail
The mountain ranges glowing in the setting sun
The view of night fall through
our filthy windscreen

We arrived in Side, a coastal town on the southern Mediterranean coast of Turkey, pretty exhausted. As it had been a very tiring day Jonathan and I decided we would have a night in a hotel so we could enjoy a longer shower than normal and be able to roll out of bed for breakfast in the dining room.

Jan and Jack found a place to stay in the “old town” which sounded interesting but when we arrived to the entrance of the old town we were told we weren’t allowed to drive the van in there! By this time it was dark and we very tired and hungry.

The entrance to our hotel
There was a lot of building and restoration work going on in Side

Fortunately we quickly found a massive car park nearby where we could leave the van overnight. To our relief there was a taxi rank in one corner and we all piled into a cab. We told the driver the name of our hotel and he took us to a place that wasn’t even in the old city and looked very closed!

Our extremely dirty but now ice-free van

Eventually we managed to convey to him that where we were staying was within the old city. We entered via the gate we had tried to go through earlier and found ourselves driving through an ancient city gate with ghostly ruins looming in the dark.

There were excavations still happening in Side
Roman columns in a Side street

We were soon out of the ancient city and right in the village near the harbour but our driver seemed to be completely lost. He sped around the deathly quiet streets as though he was a race leader in the Monte Carlo Rally.

The small Side harbour

We were trying to navigate using Google Maps but the driver was going so fast that we kept missing turnings. It was late, it was dark, we were hungry and tired and if it hadn’t been for sharp eyed Jan catching sight of the name of our hotel I think the driver’s days would have been limited!

Even though it was warmer down by the coast than in the mountains, it was still bitterly cold. There had been a fall of snow that day – the first in the area for many years.

Despite the sunshine it was bitterly cold in Side

Thank goodness there was somewhere open for dinner a short walk away – probably wasn’t the best meal we’ve had and it was expensive by Turkish standards but we were grateful nonetheless.

Unfortunately the reversed cycle air conditioning in our room was less than functional and our bed (which we had to make) had very few coverings. As a consequence we shivered all night! If the van hadn’t been parked such a long way away we would have gone back to enjoy its wonderful heating!

The route to our breakfast

We woke up feeling a little grumpy but soon our moods were lifted by the most marvellous breakfast at a restaurant close to the small fishing boat harbour.

Feelings of grumpiness were demolished by the fantastic breakfast

After stuffing ourselves with food (eggs, pastries, pizza, pancakes, salad, olives, cheese, fruit and lashings of bread with every jam, preserve and spread you can think of) we waddled around the harbour wall, admiring the beautiful fishing boats and watching the fishermen mend their nets.

We took doggy bags and ate some of
this food for lunch
Couldn’t fit in another bite!
Admiring the beautiful fishing boats

Later we walked to the edge of the village to catch a taxi. Beyond the taxi rank we could see archeological remains and were tempted to stay longer and wander round the ruins. However, by that time we had organised a taxi so decided to keep that for another day.

Beyond the taxi rank we could see archeological remains
We were tempted to stay longer and wander round the ruins
Taken from the taxi on the way back
to the car park

The highs and lows of Cappadocia

There was so much snow in Goreme, Cappadocia, that we couldn’t find a suitable place to park our campervan for the night. We ended up stopping outside a small supermarket just off the main road in a spot kept reasonably clear of snow by the steady stream of cars arriving and departing.

Snowy Göreme

Once we had parked safely we were fine – although the temperature was well into minus temperatures we were lovely and warm thanks to our very effective diesel heater.

I was awakened the next morning by a most peculiar and really loud whooshing noise – and it was literally just above my head!

I quickly jumped out of bed and peered out of the window to see what was making the strange sound. Just above the roof of the shop next door was a massive hot air balloon rising gracefully upwards! It must have been very low as it drifted over the campervan roof – no wonder it sounded so loud!

I was awakened by a loud wooshing noise just above my head
No wonder it was noisy – the balloon must have been very low when it went over the van.

Cappadocia is the capital of hot air ballooning in Turkey but because of the snow there were only a few balloons out that morning.

We met up again with Jan and Jack after breakfast and decided to head for the Derinkuyu – the largest excavated underground city in Turkey.

On the road to Derinkuyu

This very ancient and sprawling network of caves – carved into the soft volcanic rock – probably dates back to the 7th or 8th Century BC and was expanded during early Christian times.

The sprawling network of caves probably dates back to the 7th or 8th Century BC
The cave network was expanded during early Christian times.

The city was fully formed by the Byzantine era when local people used it to escape the Arab incursions from 780–1180 AD.

The city was fully formed by the Byzantine era

Reaching a depth of around 85 metres, (approx 280 feet) the city is on at least five levels (probably many more) and even connects with other underground cities in the Cappadocia region.

The city reaches a depth of 85 metres,
(approx 280 feet)
The caves connect with other underground cities in the Cappadocia region

I thought I might feel claustrophobic but I was fine most of the time even though I did feel a bit nervous as we travelled deeper – especially going through very narrow tunnels where we had to stoop low so as not to hit our heads or backs.

I thought I might feel claustrophobic but I was fine most of the time
I did feel a bit nervous as we travelled deeper – especially going through very narrow tunnels

We had a very good guide who explained that the city was not inhabited all the time but was used mostly during time of attack or unrest to keep women and children safe.

We had a very good guide
Our guide explained that the city was used mostly during times of attack

Having said that, there were stables, wine and oil presses, food storage areas and even a Church and a morgue so people must have spent a fair amount of time down there!

There were there were stables, wine and oil presses and food storage areas in the caves
There was even a Church

It was fascinating to see the different areas of the underground city and imagine what life was must have been like down there.

It was fascinating to imagine what life must have been like down there

One thing I was surprised about was how fresh the air was – even on the lowest level. This is because there was a 55 feet deep ventilation shaft that ensured fresh air could enter. There would have been many of these when Derinkuyu was in its heyday.

There was a 55 feet deep ventilation shaft that ensured fresh air could enter. Here spiders webs hang from the shaft – frozen solid

I felt relieved to be back above ground even though it had snowed again and it was bitterly cold.

There was more freshly fallen snow when we came to the surface
This is the top of a 55 feet deep ventilation shaft
Despite the snow, business must still go on

Before we left Derinkuyu Jonathan and Jack decided to use an ingenious method to unfreeze the van’s windscreen washer. Despite having antifreeze in the reservoir, and being reasonably close to the warmth of the engine, the fluid inside had frozen solid (we think the garage in Izmir helpfully topped up the reservoir with water after the “cat-astrophe”).

Jonathan and Jack decided to use an ingenious method to unfreeze the van’s
windscreen washer

They started our trusty generator and plugged in the fan heater Jan and Jack had brought along in case of cold hotel rooms. The fan heater was wedged to allow maximum heat to the reservoir without melting the plastic. Genius! Unfortunately it didn’t work. The ice remained completely solid.

A curious puppy came up for a look

Apart from having to drive with a filthy windscreen, the van was behaving brilliantly in temperatures well below any vehicle’s comfort zone.

We drove back towards other “must see” sights such as Love Valley with its phallic “tower-shaped” rock formations but the snow prevented us from getting there. The roads had been ploughed but all the side lanes and entrances were blocked.

The phallic “tower-shaped” rock formations of Love Valley

Likewise we were unable to access the Goreme Open Air Museum to see the fabulous Byzantine frescoes in the Churches and Monasteries that are carved into the rocks.

We were unable to access the Göreme
Open Air Museum

We did manage to find our way to a magnificent lookout perched high in the hills where we could see for miles across the valley with the ubiquitous rock formations of Cappadocia below.

We could see for miles across the valley
Jonathan and Jack pose for a sweet picture

We were the only people there so we had the magnificent snowy vistas to ourselves. There was a lonely coffee caravan so of course, we had to patronise it. Further on we found a row of tourist shops and cafes but again, no one was there.

The lonely coffee van
Further on we found a row of
tourist shops and cafes – completely deserted
The imposing valley where snow dominated everything!

Retracing our steps to the road we kept going towards the small town of Urgup and on the way we happily encountered the Turasan winery which had been recommended by several yachtie friends.

We happily encountered the Turasan winery

We spent a very pleasant time by the fire tasting some excellent wine! And of course, we bought a few bottles to take away too.

We spent a very pleasant time by the fire tasting some excellent wine
Jack looking the part!
Cheers everyone!

It was quite late in the afternoon by the time we reached Urgup itself and we made the decision to find a museum to look round (it was getting seriously cold).

We made the decision to find a
museum to look round

We looked up “museums in Urgup” and followed the route on the map which took us up a narrow (snow covered) lane to a small cave-like entrance. we made the decision to find a museum to look round