Hasn’t the weather been awful this week? Let’s go back to Turkey! Join me in the sunshine for the second half of our holiday – there are a lot of photos so I’ll try to let them tell the story without too much rattling on. At the end of the last post, I left off when just six weeks before we were due to depart, I discovered that we had nowhere to stay for the second week.
Thanks to the plummeting value of sterling, Turkey has been very popular this year. Trawling through the usual villa sites showed nothing but blocked out bookings and so after two days of searching, I remembered a closed Kalkan Facebook group that I’m a member of and so I posted my dilemma there. Before too long I was contacted by a lovely lady called Philippa who has a stunning second home high in the Taurus mountains in the village of Islamlar. She offered to rent it to us for a week and I was able to breathe again, knowing that all was not lost.
Summer holiday destinations with teens – Turkey Villa #2
We’ve driven up to Islamlar before to eat at the trout farms there so we had some idea of where we would be going but the villa was a little further on. Let me show you what we found when we arrived. Here’s the house from behind as you drive up to it.
… and here’s the front…
… with its stunning infinity pool.
There are hammocks in shady spots for reading books…
… an outdoor space with an easy gas barbecue for relaxed eating…
…a lovely living room…
… and three high spec bedrooms each with a beautiful ensuite that were just too big to be able to photograph. There’s also a self-contained garden flat that we’d have added on to the rental if the eldest had been joining us.
We love our usual villa in Kalkan and I know quite a few of you have been there now too. We like its old colonial feel with traditional Turkish style, dark wood furniture and mature gardens. This ultra modern, architect designed house was a fabulous contrast and we were really lucky to enjoy them both in one holiday.
The youngest is always happiest in a rural environment and we could see him exhale with pleasure as soon as we arrived. It was at least 5°C cooler than Kalkan and with the doors open, the mountain breeze blew through the house so we didn’t even need to use air conditioning. There were a few other villas dotted around the mountainside but they were mostly ‘modest houses’ which means they’re aimed at Turkish visitors and their pools are screened off, giving us more privacy too.
Summer holiday destinations with teens – week 2
So we relaxed. A range of these cotton kaftans will be coming to my boutique next year by the way. I found them when we were in France and they’re great for the beach – just the right weight and length – and they’re affordable.
So, life up in the mountains was quite different in lots of ways. There are no big supermarkets just small village shops and little stalls like this as you drive along the road. We just stopped here for honey but the owner popped into her kitchen and came back with freshly baked bread for us and eggs from her hens too…
Cleverly Wrapped dress (gifted SS18); Basket (contact me); Sandals (gifted SS18)
Back in Kalkan
That evening we popped back down into Kalkan to change some money and as I was doing a quick outfit shot I didn’t have the heart to ask the boys to move – so here you have the dull life of Instagram offspring!
They were both so much more relaxed this week though so it didn’t matter.
We had a lovely afternoon at Patara Beach which is known to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Most people seem to congregate near the crowded sunbeds in the middle but if you walk for just three minutes you have the whole place to yourself like this, even in August.
Monsoon beach dress, sold out
I post a bikini picture on Instagram every year as part of the ‘proud in my bikini’ campaign which encourages women of all ages, shapes and sizes to add their ‘normal’ body and break up the Instagram notion of perfection. I usually worry about it but this year, after my breast cancer scare, I didn’t care that I was carrying a bit more weight than usual. Another good thing that’s come from that experience is that I’m being kinder to my body. I didn’t do my usual bikini diet before we left and while we were away I let it eat and drink whatever it fancied.
Despite posting with the best intentions I lost over a hundred followers, many of whom explained their departure by telling me that they were disappointed in me. Don’t worry, Instagram doesn’t upset me any more but it does make me wonder…
Bikini (now in the sale)
We spent an afternoon enjoying the waves in a sea that’s so warm it’s like a bath. The beach closes at sunset because it’s a protected turtle breeding ground and so we headed back to the villa for a barbecue.
I wore this dress a lot by the way and it’s just gone into the sale.
Dress (gifted SS19)
This is the huge balcony that fronted the master bedroom suite and we spent a lot of time up here…
… watching the sun set and then stargazing. On this particular evening I succumbed to requests for my most hated game, Monopoly. I’m ashamed to say that it ended, as always, with a personal meltdown – I just can’t handle seeing my family cheat and exploit each other in the name of fun!
Off the beaten track
Thankfully a new day dawned and being somewhere different gave us a whole new patch to explore for our breakfast dates. I don’t usually recommend Kalkan restaurants because if I talk about one I’ll have to mention them all to avoid offending anyone we know. I just have to tell you about this one though which is a fifteen minute drive further into the mountains. It’s called Belmuar and if you’re a Kalkan visitor it would be well worth the thirty minute drive from there.
We were the only tourists there…
… it’s run by a family who grow and make all of the food themselves. Now I’m never impressed by fancy cuisine (Yotam Ottolenghi is my worst food nightmare) but I do love anything home cooked so let me show you quickly what they brought us…
Marmaladed orange segments and rose jam which tasted like Turkish Delight. The last jam is blackberry and then there’s honey from their bees. You can see a pot of homemade yoghurt too.
Home grown figs and grapes; cucumber, tomato and water melon with freshly baked breads and homemade tahini…
Hot doughnut-type treats and tiny cheeses made from their own sheep’s milk which tasted like parmesan…
… and fresh water from the mountain spring which was the sweetest I’ve ever tasted (yes we were a bit worried about drinking it but we were absolutely fine).
The final bill for both of us came to £8. As we feasted, we watched the goatherd encouraging his unwieldy crew up the mountain…
…and before we left they showed us their two hundred year-old grainstore. The family spent last winter converting it into bijou accommodation for two.
It costs about £30 per night to stay there with breakfast too and it has everything you need including a little ensuite shower room.
M&S dress (gifted SS19 now sold out)
We’re definitely going to go back and stay. One night would probably be enough because there’s nothing to do other than walk and eat but it would be so romantic. Anyway here are the details because it really is very special: Belmuar.
Summer holiday destinations with teens – a moonlight cruise
That evening we headed down to Kalkan for a moonlight cruise on a gulet.
Aspiga kaftan (gifted SS18); Boden espadrilles circa 2003
Sailing towards the setting sun with the wind in my hair is one of my top ten favourite things to do in life…
… we stop every so often for a swim…
… and then relax on board until it’s time for dinner…
… and the sun slowly sinks below the horizon.
The evening ends with an after dinner swim beneath a blanket of stars, surrounded by sparkling phosphorescent sea.
A bit of this and that
And so the week went on, with occasional trips down to the beach clubs…
Cleverly Wrapped beach dress SS18
…where the boys finally managed some watersport fun – you can tell I’m watching from the bar with a glass of wine and a game of patience (the card game, not the long-suffering mother one…)
… and another lovely lunch.
Sometimes we went down into Kalkan for a spot of glamour in the evenings.
Mara Hoffman dress (past season); Sandals; Clutch (contact me)
Sometimes we ate at the trout farms in the village near the house (not sure why the middle one is doing his best giraffe impression)…
… where it’s lusher and cooler than the coast…
… and very relaxed (and I should add that a fabulous meal for four with wine up here comes to £40 as opposed to £140 in Kalkan). As you can see, at this point the boys had regressed to their toddler days but clearly still haven’t worked out the physics of seesaws…
Sometimes we were lazy and we just stayed in.
Swimsuit – now only £10 in the sale. It’s fab but size up two full sizes – honestly!
Dinner in the mountains
We went back to Belmuar with the boys to try out the evening menu (which was an adventure in itself because it was all in Turkish). You may have seen on Instagram that I wore my favourite skirt again #neverknowinglyunderdressed for a simple dinner in the mountains!
…the restaurant’s dogs appreciated it…
… a little too much because just after this picture was taken the big one sensed that my attention had wandered and jumped up…
… and with a sickening rip, his claws tore through it from top to bottom. Despite the ministrations of the owner’s mum, it isn’t in a very good state so my hopes now lie with my very (very) talented friend who thankfully is a dressmaker.
Summer holiday destinations with teens – a boat charter
Our last day but one and we chartered a boat so that we could get off the beaten track – that’s the wind in my dress by the way, despite all of the food and wine I’ve shown you I hadn’t quite blown up like a puffa fish.
Freya beach dress (SS18)
We spent nearly all day in the water so there aren’t many photos but it was incredibly relaxing having the whole thing to ourselves and being able to spread out.
And all of a sudden it was our last night so we had one last dinner and said goodbye to Kalkan before returning to our mountain retreat.
Mara Hoffman dress past season; sandals; clutch (contact me)
So that was our long summer break, what more can I tell you? As I’ve been writing these posts it’s struck me that my parents never did organise another family holiday after my sulky sixteen year-old summer – I must have been bad. Oh and since we’ve been home the youngest has been bored… because his friends are all on holiday with their families!
A note on grooming
In answer to everyone who’s kindly asked how I manage not to look hot and frizzy on holiday, I refer you to the travel beauty post I did. The products I told you about are honestly the ones I use when we’re in hot climes and they make all the difference. The only other two things I did were: rinsing my hair every time I came out of the water and running this through it with my fingers (it may sound high maintenance but I spend a lot on my hair at the moment so I have to look after it and actually it only took seconds). It’s like a cross between conditioner and a styling treatment and it meant that on the beach, it dried in a relaxed but silky way.
I also took this from the summer beauty box GWP that I got from John Lewis a while ago and sprayed it on my face after applying a bit of light make-up and sun cream before we went out. It’s designed for clubbing rather than the beach but it’s brilliant.
One last tip – avoid wearing jersey. As I’ve said before, it may be easy for holidays but unless it’s been brilliantly and artfully cut on the bias, it always looks hot and limp. Just don’t do it.
Now I knew some of you would ask so I enquired whether Philippa would be open to renting her villa to Midlifechic readers and she’s agreed to let me give you her details. She’s even said that she’ll give you a Midlifechic discount if you mention that you’re a reader, it will differ according to the time of year you go.
All I can say is that I highly recommend it because it gives you the best of both worlds – just 20 minutes away from the buzz of Kalkan when you’re in the mood for it but peace and quiet too. All you can hear from the house is the sound of cicadas and the tinkle of goat bells. Plus if you’re stretching your budget out, the villa costs far less than one of a similar spec on the coast and we worked out that the prices in restaurants and shops are 75% lower than in Kalkan. Anyway, it’s up to you, Philippa’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more.
So that just leaves me with one bleary-eyed early morning picture to share from A-Level results day yesterday for anyone who hasn’t seen it on Instagram. I think our faces tell you all you need to know.
The boy did well and we’re so proud of him. As you know, he’s never found the passive classroom-based learning style of school easy. He’s a boy who needs to learn interactively and just after Christmas, a rather fabulous teacher spotted that he was having difficulty with ‘processing’ (thank you Mrs Barnes, I know you sometimes read my blog).
She had him assessed and it turned out that he has dysgraphia which is a lesser known member of the dyslexia family. It means he has difficulty getting thoughts down on paper. So even though he’s always been great in classroom discussions, when he then has to read a question and then put his ideas into writing, it takes him longer to process.
I haven’t mentioned it on here before now because I’ve been doing the maternal self-flagellation that comes with things like this. I’ve thought back to my pregnancies and asked myself what I did differently and I’ve been furious with myself for not pushing back more firmly at teachers over the years when they said that he was doing perfectly well. I’ve also been feeling heartbroken for him – that he’s had to struggle since he first started school. If he’d had an earlier diagnosis he’d have been given substantially more time for GCSEs and A Levels as well as a laptop to use and who knows what else. Plus it would have helped me to understand just why he needed so much of my time and help with revision.
I want to point it out now because schools are very hot on dyslexia but they often aren’t aware of dysgraphia which is completely different. If your child is bright but seems to struggle with written work this could be why.
So now you understand why yesterday was such a big relief for us all and I look slightly deranged in the photo. He worked so hard and not only got what he needed but completely excelled himself which has brought me some peace on a maternal level.
I’m glad he’s taking a gap year. He has a confirmed place on one of his two favourite acting degree courses for 2020 but wants to audition again for the other before he makes up his mind. In the meantime I want him to relax (a bit) and develop some of his other skills with a year of headspace to do it all in.
And on that note, he’ll be working with me next week. We’ve been challenged to experience student life as a Fresher and ‘Re-Fresher’ (it’s been a while) so you’ll see us on Instagram Stories in Manchester, living in student accommodation(!) As you know, Stories is not my comfort-zone so please cheer us on. In the meantime, thank you for reading and bearing with my erratic summer schedule – I’ll be back to normal in September.
Disclosure: ‘Summer holiday destinations with teens – Turkey’ is not a sponsored post. All travel was paid for personally
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