What a story Jenny Gibbs had to share with us - there isn't enough space to include the whole tale but I'm delighted to write what I can of Suffolk's very own "Shirley Valentine" and how her B&B in a remote mountain village in Turkey all came about.
It all began in 1993 when the girls Jenny worked with booked a surprise "cruise" for her as she hadn't travelled before- forget the glamorous idea of a luxury liner - her "ship" was a little traditional wooden sailing boat. Having a phobia of water Jenny hardly put her head above the parapet but she finally took courage and looked out of her porthole and fell in love at first sight with the amazing sight before her - so beautiful that in a nanosecond it was decided that this was the place she wanted to live!
Fate took over and she was offered redundancy so with that she went back, caught the 1st bus from the airport in Turkey and found herself at a little guest house in an idyllic position. Somehow she found herself working all hours in the kitchen alongside the Head Chef Mustafa. Christmas was upon them - the kitchen and guest house were closing and with no more ado Jenny was invited back to his village. When she arrived it was like being thrown back in time- all the ladies wore traditional dress ( Jenny wore the outfit for us to see) and found out she was the 1st foreigner the village had seen! Wanting to experience more than just a weekend there she mentioned this to Mustafa who somewhat surprised her by saying "we'd better buy a house then" to cut to the chase on 2nd glance she found him more than a little attractive and in May 1994 they moved into a 200 year old dwelling that had been empty for 10 years!
They lived there for 6 years, renovating along the way but after visiting family in Suffolk they decided on a plan of 6 months in Turkey during the winter & 6 months in Suffolk in summer. Looking for something to do in Suffolk she was accepted as a speaker with the W.I. Which led to a 3 page spread in the local paper and a decision taken by Jenny following the incredible response, to open their house as a B&B. They got their first booking, realised that perhaps their house was slightly too traditional ( meals eaten on the floor and sleeping on the floor) so a frenzy of buying furniture began. Their guests wanted 3 traditional meals a day, visits to all the local villages, tours of all the local sites and a visit to a Nomad tribe , which resulted in a veritable banquet made by the wives of the Nomads.
Jenny and Mustafa had brought with them beautiful hand made scarves, cloths and jewellery all made by the village ladies for us to buy and by the end of the evening I'm sure I'm not the only one that felt that they had been part of this magical adventure- we can't wait to invite Jenny back to continue the saga!
The evening drew to a close after excellent home made cakes & refreshments, the raffle and Christine our Chairman bringing our attention to any other business.
Next month we will be enjoying our Annual Putting Competition so there will not be a meeting until after the summer recess on 17th September at 7.30 at Reydon Village Hall when our talk will be on the rather unusual title of "Book Folding" by Karen Brown - all welcome.