I think the words ‘hanging out of my own arse’ have never been truer than on Friday 3rd June, when I woke up to messages from Captain Caveman. He was suddenly excited to be seeing me and had sent me a blurred photo of a flight he had booked for when my visa expired, in case I needed to show it at check-in. I stayed in bed to transfer money to him for the electricity and water over the next few months. I’d had some really lovely messages from friends who’d been unable to come out last night, Sue managed to bring a tear to my eye with her kind words. Mark and Kate had invited me, Matt and my parents over to their place for a final farewell in the afternoon. I had a bit of a laugh at Matt, who may also have been hungover, when he posted on a group chat to say he would be going over to Mark and Kate’s for bacon sandwiches at 1pm. Mark had also replied on the group chat to ask me or Matt to bring bread and that it might be sausages as they were having trouble locating the bacon.
My parents had the workmen in and so they couldn’t go, which hindered my plans slightly as I was meant to be cycling to Penny and Phil’s. The idea was I would ride Bluey2 to their’s, slightly before the others got the taxi to Mark & Kate’s. I could then drop Penny’s bike off and get in the taxi for the rest of the way. Instead, Matt would cycle over about 1pm, my Dad would wait in with the workmen and my Mom would come and help me pack. I would then cycle to Mark and Kate’s but drop the bike off on the way back before going out for my final meal.
As my flight had been changed it turned out I could have gone to a Jubilee party after all. I checked the Jubilee group on Facebook so I could see what time to perhaps pop in but I’d been removed already. I’m not really in to the Royal family any way but maybe they’d found out how bad we had been on questions about the Queen at the Retro bar quiz and I had got an automatic ban – it might be better to leave it to the more patriotic.
When Ma arrived her facial expressions were a treat as she couldn’t believe how far off being ready I was!

Luckily for her, I’m a list maker and I had a note of all the jobs still to do (before 1pm ideally):
1. Print out my Vietnamese visa (I don’t have a printer but Kate was going to do it)
2. Pack away all my belongings in to the various lockable cupboards
3. Store all the non-perishable kitchen items in the lockable cupboard
4. Sort out 2 loads of washing
5. Empty the kitchen cupboards of spare food
6. Empty the fridge and decide who to give what to
7. Empty the freezer and give everything I could to Mom
8. Bin anything that wasn’t going to last or be donated
9. Empty the bins
10. Do the washing up
11. Pack my suitcase
12. Pack my hand luggage
13. Charge my laptop and phone
14. Defrost the fridge freezer

My Mom suggested I should let Mark, Kate and Matt know I’d be late and that it would be better for Matt to get the bread. I messaged (not in the group) to say I would leave mine at 2pm and then Mom and I got on with it.
It was the hottest day of the year so far and it didn’t help that yesterday one of the Aircon remotes had stopped working. We had done a couple of hours without AC but we were both a drippy mess by noon. Luckily, I didn’t need any lunch on account of me only just remembering that I had eaten cheese on toast and the half portion of beef wrap from Hotel Dalyance at 3.45am this morning – more luck than judgement, really.
Ma was instrumental in helping with the pots, sorting out the piles of clothes, packing and sorting the fresh and frozen produce out with me. She also managed to fill a whole bin liner of stuff to throw away.
My Mom left looking frazzled and a bit bewildered as to why I hadn’t done all this sooner. She had a bag of store cupboard stuff, some frozen stuff and some very nice home cooked meals to see her through the week. I also ended up with a large bag of stuff for Kate, as I knew she wouldn’t have me throw stuff away, including a jar of pickled red cabbage. All I needed to do now was hang the washing out and cycle over to Mark and Kate’s for another last farewell.

I arrived at Mark and Kate’s house at just after 2pm, a hot and sweaty mess. I had the bag of stuff, including a meat pie, brown and BBQ sauce, Lurpak butter, the curry paste which Kate had made me, but I’d not used it yet, and a few other bits and bobs. Mark sorted me out with a shandy while I squidged items in to the fridge and freezer. Matt was already sipping a shandy and had brought plenty of bread for the hot dogs. We had a couple more shandies, then Mark got cracking with the sausages. He even treated us to fried onions with them and we used up some of the BBQ sauce I brought. Kate offered us all fruitcake with butter and Red Leicester cheese on but I didn’t want to upset Mark, I declined but Mark and Matt enjoyed some. I had even packed some of Kate’s fruitcake, Red Leicester and Stilton cheeses to take with me to Vietnam. I decided to change in to my swimmers so that I could get in the pool, I noticed my pink towel on the terrace railing, which was odd. I hadn’t remembered putting it in their bag last night so that I didn’t have to carry it round. Then it was time for my farewell treat; Prosecco! It was the real stuff too and it was bloody lovely, in fact we ended up having 3 bottles between 3 of us, Matt just had the 1 glass. We took some photos and we almost forgot to print off the visa, as Kate was in charge but getting a bit merry. I realised I’d still not been in the pool but it was almost time to leave. I still had to drop Bluey2 off at Penny and Phil’s, get home and get ready for dinner with my parents. In my head I’d mistakenly anticipated having time for a nap at some point today but that wasn’t going to happen. Kate and Mark kindly offered to sort out the returning of Penny’s bike and suggested I get a taxi back to mine so that I wouldn’t be too late. Matt left earlier than me, I gave him a big hug and then had 1 more glass of Prosecco. When it came to saying goodbyes I was sad, I said I’d call them from time to time, Mark and Kate said they’d keep in touch too. I got to say bye to the cats who were already glad I was going because they had ‘my’ bed to themselves. Fikri dropped me off at my apartment and we confirmed my airport pick up would be Fikri personally later, at 01.45am to be precise. I’d only just finished packing when it was time to go out.

We were booked in at our favourite restaurant in Dalyan for my last meal here. My parents and I arrived at 7.30pm and had a lovely table on the mosque square side of the restaurant. I’d already decided I would have steak and I think it was a given that we would have a bottle of wine. We love Bistro Blue because of the great food, excellent service, but also because we like the owners and staff, plus it has a lovely ambience which makes you feel relaxed.
My Dad had one of his favourite dishes, the liver and onions with bacon, served with mashed potatoes. Mom decided she would have steak with onions and chips while I ordered my favourite, the pepper steak. The wine flowed, the food was excellent and I even got some good photos for our last night together. Our evening at Bistro Blue would not have been complete without seeing Selahı get out his huge grinder and pepper Annie’s plate, which made my parents laugh more than it should have. It was a little strange that we had no idea when we would see each other again or even which country it would be in. I’m lucky that I have residency in Turkey until October 2023 but my parents and Captain Caveman are only permitted to stay for 90 days in an 180 day rolling period, which is somewhat restrictive. The residency rules in Turkey have since changed and only 6 months as a maximum is allowed now.
After saying bye to Annie and Selahı we had a wander home and, as you can probably imagine, Ma was up for a nightcap. My taxi wasn’t coming until after midnight so we went to Tez bar where I enjoyed another glass of red wine, my parents were on the spirits!
Roy, Melanie and Gareth happened to turn up and so I got to say bye to them before I went, still disappointed I hadn’t been able to say bye to Debbie (Darling) or Sue who’d have probably had me crying. On my short walk round the corner I was able to quickly say bye to Jamie too, as he was at Lukka bar.
I tried to be brave when I said bye to my parents but I was quite tearful after they had gone. As Fikri arrived to pick me and my cases up, I don’t think it had quite sunk in that I was actually going back to Vietnam and Captain Caveman!

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