Every Little Helps

The Bodrum Bulletin has just updated its annual grocery price check, comparing Britain with Turkey. This exercise was first started in 2009 using the same basket of goods from Sainsbury’s (in the UK) and Migros (in Turkey). The headline is that the price differential between the two countries has been gradually eroded since the survey started. In 2009 the British basket cost 26% more, whereas today the difference is less that 10%.

As with all things, the devil is in the detail. Buying habits vary from person to person and the comparison is affected by the prevailing lira to pound exchange rate. Nevertheless, it does indicate a direction of travel during these recessionary times. We residents all know that booming Turkey is no longer the low cost paradise it used to be. To add to the depressing trend, the Turkish Government has just hiked the price of gas by nearly 19% and the price of electricity by just over 9%.

A year ago, I set Liam a challenge. I wanted to know the cost of living for our kind of life in Britain, Spain and Turkey. He calculated  our average monthly spend on the typical stuff we consume –  food, booze, fags, essential trips back to London, rent, bills, healthcare, insurances, etc. He also used Migros for the Turkish grocery shop, comparing it to Tesco’s in Britain and a major Spanish chain. At the time, the results showed that living in Spain would cost a fifth less overall whereas living in Britain (outside London) would cost a third more.

The same analysis today (excluding Spain) paints a completely different picture. Our British living costs will be on par with our Turkish expenses. This is almost entirely due to the low rent we expect to pay in Norwich and the fact that we’re (almost) a smoking-free family. This isn’t the reason we’ve decided to leave our foster home but, as they say at Tesco’s, every little helps.

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Hot Pipes and Wonky Erections

The good burghers of Bodrum have been ripping the town apart with giant yellow diggers. No pain, no gain. It’ll all look fine and dandy by the start of the season. The town will be freshly dressed to impress, with newly-laid tarmac accessorised with fancy paving, modern street furniture and lush landscaping, just in time for the Easter early birds (we hope). If last year is anything to go by, it’ll never be quite finished – a few edges will be left a little on the rough side.

It isn’t just the posh promenade that’s getting the makeover. The little local square near our house has been furnished with brand new playground equipment for the little ‘uns – a multi-coloured medley of swings, slides and metal tubes in bright primary hues. During the height of summer, the kiddies risk being permanently soldered to the glowing pipes in the 45 degree heat.

The old lamp posts along our street have been replaced by a row of elegant green lights. We’ve been without street lighting since the old lamp post blew up a few weeks ago – so the new light next to our garden gate is a welcome illumination. It was installed by five burly men. Well, one did the erecting; the other four supervised. It’s not the straightest erection I’ve ever seen. I should know. I’m a bit of an expert.

Fried Alive

After a romantic evening of candlelight and cards, we fell into bed and prayed to the electricity fairy for a constant supply. Our landlady returned the next day with the sheepish pixie spark in tow. He fessed up that he was to blame for the dodgy circuit board. It had been completely mis-wired and caused a whole series of intermittent power surges. It was good to know we could have been fried alive in our bed. He fiddled his final fiddle and all seemed well. Sockets and switches worked as they should, and this time, nothing blew up. Our landlady, worried we might move out in a huff, assured us that we were model tenants (if only she knew) and agreed to replace the extinct appliances. The modem transformer was quickly substituted, brand new circuit breakers were supplied and a new circuit board for the water heater was ordered. It’s just as well there was enough sun to supply the solar panels; otherwise I’d have been forced to use a bucket of cold water to flannel-wipe my pits and sponge down my important little places. Another cross to bear in a Moslem land.

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Bang, Bang

Our electricity supply continued up and down like whore’s drawers. Strangely, the power seemed to mostly misbehave during daylight hours when our consumption was relatively light. The main circuit breaker tripped at random so there was no obvious explanation. Once again, our formidable landlady swung into action and sent her little pixie spark to re-check the fuse box. He fiddled with the fuses and re-knitted the wires like a lazy carpet weaver. Progress was slow but steady. He flicked the kitchen light switch. The electric heater fired up. He plugged in the kettle. The air-con beeped. He smiled a satisfied smile and returned to his fiddling. Finally, through a tortuous process of trial and error he concluded that the root of the problem was a power surge in a circuit running along one side of the house. To test his theory he plugged in our modem. Bang went the transformer. He plugged in the TV. Bang went the independent surge protector. He plugged in the bathroom water heater. Bang when the circuitry. As a flume of smoke filled the house, bang went our tempers and we threw the pixie out.

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