Monday, 25 July 2016

Frog Blog

Freddie Frog turned up about 3 weeks ago. He obviously realised that there was no longer anyone who knows what they were doing in charge of the pool and decided to swap a muddy village pond, where being trampled by a cow was a constant danger, for a clear blue lagoon.  He was probably a bit disappointed when the new pool supervisor allowed the water to get a bit green and murky but he stuck around. Normal transparency was regained with a liberal dose of chlorine and I expected Freddie to hop off. If the chemicals made my eyes water, surely a frog would quit.

Freddie

But he didn't, he invited two mates along.  One frog is a quiet visitor but when his chums turn up they have quite a lot to say to each other.  Jake the dog objected to their nocturnal discourse in the only way he knows how - frenzied howling and barking.  The frogs had to go if I was to get any sleep.
And so it began... I catch the frogs and tip them into the garden and the frogs hop back. So I catch them again, put them in a bucket and take them back to the pond and the frogs hop back. My son-in-law-to be, catches them and takes them to the far side of the village pond and they hop back, this time with a few more friends in tow.  This Sunday, with 8 frogs in the pool, the internet was consulted, a mixture of salt and vinegar was brewed and the pool was surrounded with this toxic potion - the frogs ignored it and carried on jumping into the water.  I added citronella oil, chilli powder and mustard to the salt solution and painted the steps but the frogs couldn't care less.

Netia in action


House guests are handed a net and invited to join the hunt

Simon successful

A couple of days practice turns the novice hunter into an expert 


But this morning there were 8 frogs sunning themselves before their morning dip.  At this rate, in a couple of months, there won't be room for me to swim.  So the appeal goes out for tried and tested remedies to make these noisy amphibians go home, before I am forced to move out just to get a good night's sleep.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Turkey - A Contradictory Country.


I chose 'contradictory' but I could have picked Erratic, changeable, unpredictable, variable, varying, changing, inconstant, unstable, irregular, fluctuating, unsteady, unsettled, uneven; self-contradictory, contradictory, paradoxical; capricious, fickle, flighty, whimsical, unreliable, mercurial, volatile, blowing hot and cold, ever-changing, chameleonlike.


I was sitting in the courtyard on Friday evening, playing backgammon with a friend when said friend's phone beeped with an incoming text.  "Are you still in Turkey? Are you OK?"  Why would he not be ok we wondered.  Thus the 'inconsistency': While Istanbul was raging and my blogger friend Terry had fighter jets and sonic booms over her apartment in Ankara, I was sipping wine, winning at tavla and contemplating  picking another bunch of grapes.
Friends who have visited me in Turkey know why I choose to live here despite all the above adjectives, those who haven't will never understand. There is no logic, little beneficial law and quite often a lot of hullabaloo, but one gets used to this state of affairs and misses the chaos when in more ordered countries.  The minute I moved to Turkey to work, I knew I'd stay - I just clicked with Turks; we laughed at the same things and I felt genuinely safe in their company. Which is why the reports of young innocent Turkish conscripts being murdered by their fellow countrymen is so hard to bear.  I want to pull out Turkey's power cable, press reset and restore the factory settings that we are all used to. Something has gone terribly wrong with the machine. 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Bodrum Live




No need to walk through Bodrum to find out what's happening, you can watch from your computer.

Click on http://www.bodrumcanli.com/ for live web cams.  I'll try and remember to wave as I walk past.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Life goes on





Photo credit - S Hardeman.


Life goes on in the village, but the blogging muse is playing hooky. 



Maybe a G&T with memory inducing rosemary and the first bunch of grapes of 2016 will entice it back. 

Thank you to everyone who sent condolence messages, emails, texts and calls.  Knowing you are all out there is a comfort and a great incentive to keep this blog going. 
xxxxx

Monday, 4 July 2016

Gone for Good.


My husband died once before, in the Spring of 1990.  Our travel agency was doing well; we had caught the beginning of the tourist boom and had, for the first time in either of our lives, some spare cash.  Teo decided he wanted a proper motor bike so he found a Honda 650 in Izmir and went up on the bus to collect it. As he was riding home past Bafa Lake, he took a twisty turn too fast, skidded on gravel and crashed off the road into a deep ditch.  I was at home making dinner when I got a phone call (land line remember - no mobiles in those days) telling me that my husband had crashed his bike and was dead.  The dinner burnt as I sat on the floor trying to catch my breath. I was searching through the address book, looking for his brother's phone number when I heard a throaty rumble outside and a scratched, torn and muddy Teo walked through the front door.   He had been helped by a farmer on a tractor to pull the bike back on to the road and was waiting roadside for a truck to pass to hitch a ride with the bike back to Izmir. He had scribbled our home number on a piece of paper and asked the farmer to ring and tell me he wouldn't be back that night.  That piece of paper had obviously passed though a few hands before the much embellished message was relayed.  As he waited by his mangled new purchase, he decided to see if it would still start and it did, so rather than going back to Izmir, he rode it all the way back to Bodrum with buckled handlebars.  
I'd like to say that I gave him a wonderful welcome when he walked though the door, but I didn't. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was furious with him for putting me though half an hour of anguish and if I'd had a stick to hand, I would probably have hit him with it. Luckily there was no stick and he survived for another 26 years  - until Friday morning.  There will be no reprieve this time, I was holding his hand when he died. He won't be walking through the door again. 

Friday, 24 June 2016

Adversity is unavoidable, staying optimistic is optional.

It has not been a good day in the BacktoBodrum household.  In a home full of tennis and squash racquets where Nike reigned and we have the cups to prove it, (the latest only arriving on its shelf last September), the arrival of a wheel chair and walking frame is a humiliation and an insult to a life lived as healthily as possible. We held out against them but now welcome them with thanks as the only means of keeping going on our own for a bit longer. The day started badly for us, as I'm sure it did in 48% of UK homes, with the morning news.  This double whammy of bad karma had me searching through my picture gallery looking for something or anything to cheer myself up and I found it.

I took this picture on October 9th 2012 when bulldozers arrived beside our house and started digging up trees and opening up the forest.  We were newly arrived back from the UK and gossip was flying that we would be neighbours to a) blocks of flats b) a compound for a thousand stray dogs, c) an open prison and d) a helicopter landing pad.  Twenty years previously we had actively fought off an open-cast mine company but neither of us had the guts for another big campaign so we were resigned to take whatever came and decided we'd build a big wall and wear headphones,

And what happened.....

...this did. 

The Department of forestry built us a fire break and planted fire resistant fir trees,  which are almost a metre tall now,  interspersed with Oleander and a few fig and carob trees.  We are safer and have a better view.  I'm taking heart from this example; not giving in to negativity and holding on to hope. It might all come right in the end after all.  

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Bricks and Mortar ...or not.

'A little happy house is the strongest castle in the whole universe' 
Mehmet Murat Ildan 1965-
Turkish playwright/novelist



I don't see many stone built houses in villages any more; those I do find are usually abandoned like the one above. For the past 40 years, the preferred method of construction has been a reinforced concrete frame, filled in with a single layer of breeze block wall, good at not falling down during an earthquake and also good at letting damp through in the winter and the heat through in the summer - add the traditional flat roof and the winter rain will find its way in too. 


There are 6 houses under construction around our village now, a mini building boom, as that many homes haven't been built in the past 10 years but only 2 are using bricks and mortar, the other four are prefabricated.  

I remember visiting my great aunt in the early 1960s who lived in a 'prefab', and how the word was always whispered in a disparaging way even though as a child I found the strange shaped bungalow rather endearing, but 'prefab' seems to have now shaken off its shameful image and 'pre-built' houses are going up left, right and centre. 



Like my aunt's bungalow, these new prefabs have something of the children's toy house about them, but I'm reliably informed that they are well insulated, don't leak, and take less than a couple of months to complete. (My source was under the impression that I was a prospective buyer, so I welcome comments from anyone actually living in one.)


On my 6 km drive to the nearest town I counted 10 prefabs including the first 2 storey one to go up, each one in sufficient land to grow vegetables and fruit trees.  Not so pretty but a welcome sign that folk are coming to live on and work the soil,  especially as I have to sell our plot of land. Any takers? 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Canine Cushions


Some of us match our cushions to our curtains and some of us have other ideas. 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Choice Words




Turkish neighbours are usually very friendly, at least until they fall out with each other and swear vengeance, but even then they usually communicate by insult. Silence rarely reigns. When we started building our house in 1991, our nearest neighbour lived on the corner of the lane, a good 400 metres away and well out of sight from where we had chosen to build our house.  She was an old woman, wrinkled and weather beaten and long widowed, who would sit on her step and watch the world go by. I would greet her every time I passed on foot  and occasionally wave from the car and she would totally ignore me every single time.  I have continued to wish her good morning and good evening in the intervening two and a half decades but she has never once replied. I realIse that I may have looked strange to her,  a tallish blond  with funny foreign ways and a pampered pooch in the days when dogs had to work for their supper, and we had decided to build a house on what she obviously considered her side of the village, (her house being the only one on the left side of the road until we came along) but my neighbour, who is now next door but three, never let on to anyone why we had been sent to Coventry before we even moved in.  This evening, I walked past with the dog lead in one hand and a black bin bag in the other - the municipality has given us a rubbish collection service now and the bin is next to her house. My neighbour was on her step again, looking exactly the same as she did the first time I passed,  I smiled as usual and wished her good evening and shock, I got a good evening back!  I almost did a comical double take but she was still talking. "Is your husband dead?" she asked, "when did he die?"  No, he's at home, I replied. He's watching the football .   "I heard he died" she insisted. "No, no" I countered, lost for anything to add to this exchange and carried on to the bin.  As I passed her on the return, she wished me a good evening and I threw back "Are these the words I've waited 25 f***ing years for?  Of course that was only what was on my mind, my  lips just mouthed "Same to you". 
I've lived here long enough to know that tact is not a common Turkish characteristic. Did she finally decide that we had had something in common after all this time and communication could begin? As conversations go, I don't think it was worth waiting 25 years for. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Appreciating Pines


It's quite hard to appreciate pine trees if you live with them.  Pines are pushy. They never let you forget they are there.  For a start they drop needles; which other tree's leaves are so pointed and intrusive that they push through socks, slippers, flipflops and hardened soles to dig into flesh. When I say 'drop' I mean chuck down kilos at a time.  I have just raked our terrace and filled and wheeled away 12 barrow loads of pine needles and there is still about the same amount left, hiding cunningly amongst the stones so I can't get them without taking all the pebbles off the surface.  Pines are also amazingly fecund. I come back to our village house after a few winter months and the terrace is filled with baby pine trees which have to be pulled up one by one if we are not to be engulfed triffid-style in a few years. In April, pines also blow out yellow pollen which turns to an oleaginous sludge when mixed with water and makes the garden look as if a phantom yellow paint splasher has been at work. I now know that this pollen is a miracle panacea should you be a gentleman a little short of testosterone, but I'm not, so I just get annoyed at the mess.  And as a final coup, if your garden is shaded by pines, you can forget growing anything else. A couple of years of pine needles will stunt the hardiest rose. 

 

There is only one way to appreciate a stately pine - lie directly underneath, preferably on a well cushioned lounger, not on the pine needle studded gravel and look up at the morning sun filtering through the highest branches and listen. As the sun warms the tree, each pine cone opens at its own pace with a muted crack - it's the sound of the tree waking up. And being the Aegean, as the day warms, the breeze rouses itself and swooshes through the branches reminding the cicadas that it's time to accompany the pine cone orchestra.
I forgive pine trees all their bad manners as long as I have my hearing but the moment I'm as deaf as a post, those pines will be off to the garden post factory.