We eventually boarded the midnight ferry from the Turkish port of Tasucu, bound for Girne in North Cyprus, and it eventually left sometime after 3.00 this morning. The captain of the ferry turned out to be a dog lover, and kindly made sure we had a position on the top deck so that we could open up the doors so that the dogs had a refreshing breeze.

The dogs are all well, if a little bored by now, and all have behaved impeccably. A credit to their owners!

As usual with this ferry journey there was a great deal of confusion and running about at the Turkish end. Everyone at the port seemed to be aware of our story, and we were approached by several truckers who wanted to express sympathy, even with very little English. We were very touched.

A Turkish agent was supposed to be arranging all our departure procedures as the situation was a bit odd. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to be around. Earlier in the evening we’d gone into town to check the exit procedure, only to find all the offices were shut. At 11.00pm, with the manifest list closing at midnight, we were wondering why no one had spoken to us. After frantic enquiries and numerous phone calls, seven(!) guys appeared. (They do everything in groups, clearly unable to make a decision without a bunch of mates around.) “Passports,” they said, so we handed them over. Then they came back. “Car papers,” they said, so we parted with those.

By 1.00am nothing more had happened, so we approached the guy loading the ship we were due to sail on. He made a phone call, two more guys appeared, and we suddenly found ourselves being bundled into a car to be whisked off into the centre of Tasucu.

As the car sped off we suddenly realised we didn’t appear to have a driver! It turned out we were being driven by a tiny man who must have looking through, rather than over, the steering wheel. He started nattering away in Turkish with his eyes mostly on us instead of on the road.

Clearly, he was lecturing us on his interpretation of the rules governing the transport of dogs in Turkey, but we have no idea if he was right or wrong. However, enough was enough, so courier M gave him a bit of advice about looking where he was going. We hadn’t just sat in Tasucu port for 72 hours only to get wiped out in a car driven by a loquacious homunculus!

On reflection, we think he probably meant well, and he certainly managed to hustle a sleepy policeman into leaving his tea and the telly to stamp our passports.

Stamping our passports involved opening up a cubicle, unlocking a drawer to locate the precious stamp and check the date, only to find there was no ink. So we waited while the policeman reversed the process and we all trotted off to another office. No ink there either, so off to a store cupboard and hey presto! a red ink pad. All this while our boat was loading some two miles away with our van waiting at the port.

At 1.45am we made it back to the port and were second to last to get on board!

Now we’re back in North Cyprus and the dogs are back with their owners. Couriers J and M are off in search of showers, coffee, beds and a washing machine! Then, after a deep breath, it’s time to formulate plan B (or is it C or D by now?) to get these seven dogs safely to UK.

Our top-deck position, with a refreshing sea breeze

Our top-deck position, with a refreshing sea breeze

The welcome party at Girne — that's Margaret and Kim waving

The welcome party at Girne — that’s Margaret and Kim waving

Our agent in North Cyprus, Mustafa, with courier M, starting the process of getting back in

Our agent in North Cyprus, Mustafa, with courier M, starting the process of getting back in

The quarantine officer at Girne reassuring Mustafa that the dogs can be released back to their owners

The quarantine officer at Girne reassuring Mustafa that the dogs can be released back to their owners