Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Vegetable Spaghetti


I'm not keen on kitchen gadgets as there is not much you can't do with a set of sharp sharp knives, a sturdy mixer and blender, but I had great fun yesterday with a "Spiralo"
My daughter has been told to cut down on carbohydrates, a hard task for a working girl keen on pasta, so I bought this contraption for her.  Before I cart it back to Turkey, I thought I should give it a go. It is a multipurpose slicer, but it can very cleverly turn vegetables into long strings of "spaghetti".
I made a simple tomato sauce with 2 skinned beef tomatoes, 3 cloves of garlic, half a leek, and a glug of olive oil. Two courgettes were turned into strings in seconds, and could probably have been eaten raw, but I steamed them for 3 minutes to heat them up and soften them slightly.  A handful of grated cheese and a few basil leaves topped off the dish.  It was very satisfyiing to be able to twirl the courgette spaghetti on the fork, and with a meat sauce, would be an even tastier low carb dinner. 
I think I might have to buy another one for my kitchen. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

The Hoopoe Excuse.

It is proving difficult to write a blog about Bodrum this month as I've only been there for 48 hours in the last 30 days, but looking through my photo album has provided inspiration.  This photograph is a recent favourite.  I was siting on the terrace in June, reading a book, when this bird swooped over my head and perched on a nearby pine.  Luckily, I was reading on my ipad so I switched apps and took this shot. I hadn't seen a hoopoe for a while so was very excited to catch this one on film.  I always feel that I'm living somewhere exotic when a hoopoe visits. 
The sight also took me back over 20 years to our first weeks in the house. I was so overwhelmed by the number of birds in the garden that I used to spend most of my time with binoculars and no time with a duster or vacuum cleaner.  I'm not very house-proud anyway but with the wildlife distracting me, the house was getting progressively more untidy.  When my old friend Jane visited, she berated me for my messy house. I stood my ground, giving the hoopoes in the garden as an excuse.  She has never let me forget this and blames hoopoe-watching for anything I forget to do.  
I'm using the hoopoe excuse now - there are plenty of jobs to do in my mother's house in Dorset, but I'm writing about this beautiful crested bird instead.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Flying back

After two and a half years reading my perspective on South West Turkey, I thought you'd like to hear someone else's opinions. Lyn, Barry, Sue and Les gamely agreed to answer my questions while we were waiting for a flight from Bodrum to Gatwick.  Les didn't set out to buy a villa in Turkey, but a chance meeting with an enthusiastic second home owner on a plane from Northern Cyprus,  led to the purchase of a villa in Gülüm Kıyı near Iassos, about an hour North of Bodrum. In the 7 years they have owned the villa, they usually manage to visit 4 or 5 times annually. When asked what brings them back year after year, all agreed it was the peace and quiet of their bay and the view from their balcony,   Gülüm Kıyı is relatively issolated and is probably more like the Turkey I enjoy in my village, rather than bustling Bodrum. Traditional food is still the norm in the restaurants and cafes, the ubiquitous frozen chip not having ingressed from the tourist resorts. They find the cost of living here lower than Spain and Italy, and the people generally friendly and welcoming. I wondered if the recent unrest in Turkish cities was giving them cause to worry, but the isolation of their villa shields them from any political uncertainty.  When asked for negative comments, they struggled to find any, eventually coming up with their bafflement at the number of unfinished buildings (we are much better at starting things than finishing them here) and the offshore fish farms around Iassos affecting the water quality.   Chosen at random from an airport full of returning tourists, I was lucky  to pick  4 true travellers; positive in attitude with an honest love of the country.  They'd been down to Marmaris and Dalyan this time and were planning a trip to Cappadocia for September.  They'd also stayed a night in Bodrum and passed on a recommendation to me -The  Avlu Restaurant.  One to try after the holiday crowds have left Bodrum to the locals. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Derek Charles Sadler 1926 - 2014

My father died on Friday.  I should be extremely sad, but I'm not.  He went the way he would have wanted, although I'm sure he felt he had a good 5 years in hand.  He spent the last week of his life doing the thing he loved most; paragliding.   There aren't many folk, well on their way to 90, who can take off from a Dorset cliff and fly like the birds he so admired.  He wasn't a religious man and his aim was to come back in the next life as a buzzard.  He had two reasons for this:
1. So he could spend his whole time following the thermals that keep the birds effortlessly flying.
2. So he could shit on the people he didn't like. (His words not mine).

He was not the sort of man who could have put up with a long drawn-out terminal illness so a heart attack in his chair at home on Friday was the best  way he could go.

If you are holidaying in Dorset,  watch out for any low flying buzzards with a gleam in their eye. Especially if you are a speed cop, politician or traffic warden.
My father and my Aunty Joy with their mother, Winifred c. 1927

Dad's visit to The Turkish Bakery

Dad's beetroot and apple bread recipe

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Up North

It was 30 degrees today.  So what, you say. Normal temperatures for July in the Aegean. But I'm in Sweden! 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

No Shit Bitch

"No shit bitch"  has become my motto for the summer months. I pass these 3 words, as I climb up the hill in Hydra, on about the 180th step I think.  I keep meaning to count the total number, but the ability to sweat, walk and remember at the same time deserts me after 150 steps. I'm also busy trying not to lose face as an octogenarian or two overtake me with a friendly "Yassou" and not a hint of perspiration on their brows. There is not much graffiti on Hydra, but I can't say the same for the mainland. I don't like to draw comparisons between Greece and Turkey, but the amount of urban scrawling can't be ignored on the a Western side of the Aegean. It is everywhere and makes for unpleasant viewing on the bus or metro ride from the airport to Athens or Piraeus. 

I'm a great fan of Banksy because his pieces make us either laugh or think but the majority of the stuff I pass by on the bus just signals a society in decline. 

Occasionally there are attempts that look as if the perpetrator has artistic tendencies but most are rather sad and depressing.  I hate mindless graffiti so I'm not sure why I'm so fond of the "No Shit Bitch" tag. It may be the beautiful turquoise shutters it's written on but it's probably just the lack of oxygen getting to my brain as I wheeze and pant up the hill. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Urban crochet

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I'd taken up knitting.  I now want to take up crochet. 

Hydra is full of surprises. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014


I've arrived in Hydra on the day they celebrate thrashing the Turks.  Named after Admiral Andreas Miaoulis, a Hydriot naval commander during the War of Greek Independence, Miaoulia commemorates his victory at the Battle of Elder where he destroyed a massive 130 strong joint Turkish/Egyptian fleet with only 75 Greek ships.
The town is full of visitors and the taxi boats are still bringing more people from the mainland. A navy frigate is anchored outside the harbour and the dashing officers in their formal whites are mingling with the crowd.  I've missed the folk dancing, boat races and concerts but the evening concludes with stirring speeches, rousing music, fireworks and a reenactment of the sinking of the Turkish Flagship.   Should I be keeping a low profile tonight? I won't be advertising the fact that I arrived from Istanbul today. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

An accident waiting to happen.

On Sunday we decided to swap one bit of rural bliss for another and headed off along the old Bodrum road for a spot of brunch. We didn't have far to go, but a stretch of the road was widened about a year ago in preparation for resurfacing which, as is often the case,  never happened, so an irregular raised ridge of crumbling tarmac remains in the middle of a gravel strewn track. We were taking the trip slowly, trying not to fall down the pot holes on the edge of the tarmac when we came almost bumper to bumper with a convoy of jeeps flying around a blind corner. As we were only going about 30 kmph, we stopped and the jeeps swerved by. Some of the passengers were seated, but several were on their feet holding on to the roll bars one handedly and waving. As they whizzed by, the phrase "accident waiting to happen" was unspoken but understood.
When I got home yesterday and turned on  the computer, I was sad but not surprised to read that an accident on a jeep safari in Fethiye had claimed the lives of two British women.
I've written about theses safaris before and I include the posts below.   If you are tempted to try this kind of tour when you visit Turkey, please check that the vehicle you are travelling in is equipped with seat belts and is not overcrowded.  If you've paid your money and are not happy with the safety aspects and can't get your money back, you can always contact the zabita in local council offices who will take your complaint to the office you bought your ticket from. This usually results in an immediate reimbursement. In fact, just the threat of calling in the zabita is a useful tool against all kinds of shady dealings.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Jeep Safari - At your own risk

Thank you for all the comments on my last post.  You unanimously approve of a plaster giraffe in my garden;  now I'll have to sell the idea to my (aesthetically sensitive) husband. Alan's comments on jeep accidents prompted me to check the safety record of these tours. I've found reports of 4 really bad crashes in 4 years.  Par for the course I suppose with 3 or 4 groups of jeeps going out every day from each resort, BUT, reading the feedback on forums from customers who have been on these trips, I can only think that Allah is looking after these safari companies. Common practice seems to be to overcrowd the jeeps by 2 or 3 passsengers. The small Suzuki 4x4s which are registered for 5, often have 6 or 7 passengers.  Seat belts are either unavailable or not used. I know this is true as the tourists who pass my garden wall are often standing up.  Clients are provided with water pistols so when the jeeps race side by side, they can "shoot" the occupants of the passing jeep. A fatal accident in 2008 was attributed to the jeep driver being blinded by water as he overtook a tractor.  One accident was caused by the driver jumping out of his seat and running alongside the vehicle, showing off that he could control the jeep as he ran beside. He couldn't - it crashed.  If you are still contemplating booking, UK travel insurance doesn't usually cover off-road trips so you should pay for extra cover.  My worry has always been the danger of one careless punter throwing a lighted cigarette out of the jeep as it rushes through the forest. A selfish concern I know, but they will be long gone as hectares of pine and olive trees burn to the ground.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Would you visit a dolphin park?

Yesterday I joined a group of protestors outside the Town Council building in Bodrum. Our number was small but forty thousand people have signed a petition demanding the closure of Dolphin Parks in Turkey. Earlier in the year, hopes had been raised as a draft amendment to the animal protection law promised to make these parks (and circuses using animals) illegal but in an abrupt about-face, this amendment has been dropped. The reason given is that these parks introduce youngsters to nature.  Thirty years ago I was saddened to see dancing bears in the streets of Bodrum, I wonder if the ministers who dropped this bill, think that dancing bears too encourage children to appreciate wildlife.  The dolphins in these parks look just as forlorn as the bears in their chains.  The only way to see dolphins is in the wild.  Don't visit these parks. Take a boat trip instead and you might be rewarded with the sight of these magnificent creatures in all their exuberant glory as they race alongside.  It is a crime to imprison these naturally vivacious and animated creatures to make money. And big money it must be.  Money is talking. Our mayor, initially sympathetic to the cause was "unavailable" to accept the petition yesterday.