He grew up in the village and his upbringing could not be more different from my own. They did not have electricity nor running water. I cannot imagine a life without these conveniences. They cooked on fires, kept animals and farmed the land. He fondly remembers how his mother even hand-knitted all of their socks. He reminisces about how soft and comfortable they were. Furthermore, he never saw a TV until he was 10 years old! With such starkly different backgrounds it is a wonder how we ever met, fell in love and married. But we did and the rest is history.
I first went to Turkey 6 years ago soon after we married. It was an exciting time, I'd heard much about the place, the family and was keen to see everything for myself. However, I don't think I was quite prepared for it, it was just so different, but over the years I have grown to love it in a way I didn't think I would.
The touristic areas of Turkey are not hard to like. They are buzzing with people, bazaars and entertainment but the town my in laws live, it is a different story. It is quieter, more traditional and above all, boring. Well, at least for someone like me who is used to rushing around filling the day with work and activities.
This year we arrived at the height of summer and I spent months beforehand worrying if I had anything cool enough to wear. I managed to purchase some cotton skirts and blouses and these were the perfect attire for the hot weather, along with salwar, baggy trousers people like to wear in the village. Salwar are actually now one of my favourite items of clothing, especially when visiting the in laws when I spend my time sitting on cushions on the floor. Nothing could be more comfortable.
The first few days were difficult, the children had to get used to the lack of toys and activities, however, they soon learnt how to play without them. They had their cousins to play with and they thoroughly enjoyed that. I watched as, without all their usual toys and distractions, their imaginations blossomed. A stick became a fairy wand or a bat for hitting a ball. They seemed more interested in the world around them and spent more time in conversation. It made me realise, modern living isn't all it's cracked up to be.
I began to relax. I read a book for the first time in what seems like ages. I had all this time and I didn't know what to do with it. So, I just sat and watched and listened and took in all in. There was so much to take in. Their culture is so different to my own but it is wonderful to learn about the way they live and their ancient customs.
One thing I love to see is their way of food preservation. One day kilos upon kilos of tomatoes arrived and we all sat their on little stools in the garden peeling them and chopping them up. It was laborious but once you get into the rhythm of it something takes over you and you feel like you can't stop until it's finished.
Some of the tomatoes they cooked on the fire in their outdoor kitchen (they do have a modern indoor one too!) and then bottled it up for the winter. The rest they turned into tomato puree. To do this the tomatoes are placed in large plastic bags and left in the sun for a few days, then they are crushed up and placed on trays. These trays are left on the roof in the sun until the tomatoes turn into tomato puree.
Another thing I love to see is how they dry out vegetables in the sun. The insides are scooped out of aubergines and peppers and these are strung up on the roof until they go all crinkly and dry. These can then be rehydrated during winter months when the vegetable supply is not as plentiful.
Apart from spending time at home with family, we also managed to go out into the town and look round the bazaar and shops. We went to the park one evening and I was surprised to see how busy it was late into the night! People tend to go out in the evenings as it is too hot during the day. This is something I would never do in England. Although the way of life in a traditional Turkish town is so different to life in the UK, I feel there are positives and negatives to both and both are great in their own way.