Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Shaggy Dog Comes Home

Ayak and I spent two hours at the TAG dog shelter. With temperatures in the high 30s, the dog's were spending more time playing in their water bowls than drinking so Ayak and I got good and muddy as you can see from this photo from the TAG Facebook page. It  takes a long time to feed and exercise 60 to 70 dogs and Karen and Mustafa are there every morning and evening. If there are any Didim-living dog lovers reading this, Karen is looking for an assistant for one day a week to give them a day off. Karen rescued Jake from some young boys who were dragging him around the Didim streets on a string and taunting him with sticks. She'd decided he was too nervous to go to the shelter so we headed off northwards to his foster home to meet him.  I was worried that he was a lost dog and being missed, but by the time we got to Didim, his original owners had been found and didn't want him back so he'd obviously been put on the streets.  Ayak and I didn't fancy our chances of being able to find our way home by the back roads we'd arrived on so we stuck to the main road and found we were over 70 kms from home.  Jake sat on the back seat as good as gold all the way.  After 2 hours in his new village house, he began to relax and we haven't looked back since.  We took him to get his jabs and pet passport the next day and the vet confirmed that he is between 4 and 5 months old. His birthday has been officially recorded as 1st April.  After a few days, we visited Ayak's house where he met her dog Poppy and we were both relieved to see them get on so well.

Jake's had quite a busy two weeks. After every walk he brings back a pine cone to add to the ones we already have on our terrace. He's getting used to jumping in and out of the car, knows he can't launch himself into the middle of our bed and realises that chewing the fringes on the carpets is not a good idea. He's very keen to tell the cows that walk past everyday that the garden is his territory, but he's still nervous of the jeep safaris that interrupt our walk in the morning.  Yesterday, we all celebrated our daughter's 20th birthday in Gümüşlük. He didn't like the sea but overcame his suspicion of water today and took his first dip in the pool. Only a paddle but I don't think it will be long before he's dive-bombing us from the edge. 

Still time to like and post a vote for TAG on the Facebook site below.

TAG Facebook page:

Ayak's blog:

Monday, 27 August 2012

Shaggy Dog Story

I could blame this month's poor showing on the blog front on heat-induced laziness but I have an excuse:  BacktoBodrum has been busy with a new family member. We were doggy people before we left Turkey 12 years ago, but working full-time in the UK wasn't conducive to full time dog ownership so we contented ourselves with looking after other people's animals.  Now that we're back home and the renovations are just about finished, we've been toying with the idea of getting a dog but haven't done anything about it.  Ten days ago, I saw a picture of Jake on Ayak's  Facebook page and knew that this was the doggy for us.

Ayak is a supporter of TAG, the Turkish Animal Group and she reposts all their rehoming requests.  I didn't get my hopes up as Karen, who runs the group had a lot of interest in Jake, but thanks to Ayak's reference, I somehow got to the top of the list and the next day Ayak and I set off to TAG's dog compound near Didim.  I was glad I wasn't on my own, as Karen's direction to turn right at the mushroom!!  and keep going, had us driving for 45 minutes along beautifully empty forest roads, not sure where we were going to end up.  We finally got to the village next to TAG's headquarters and transferred to Karen's car which, I think she will forgive me for saying, is held together with hope, a prayer and probably a lot of dog saliva. As we bumped over the rocky track, I thanked all divine beings that it wasn't my chassis that was being grated and bounced over the boulders. Karen is one of those rare people who have found their cause and single-mindedly live out their mission, ignoring all the pitfalls and reverses that would have anyone else running for the hills.  Her aim is to save the lives abandoned dogs. She has built a refuge for some 60 rescued dogs in the middle of nowhere and every single dog in the pound is happy, exercised  and well-fed. Her aim is to re-home all of them and I urge all readers to take a look at her Facebook page.

TAG is a registered charity in the UK and reliant on donations, although Karen uses her own resources when donations don't cover the costs. Can I ask everyone who reads this blog and has a Facebook account to log on to and write a post that you vote for the Turkish Animal Group to give Karen the chance to win a £2,000 donation.  If everyone who reads this blog does this one simple thing in the next few days, she stands a good chance of winning. 

I'm a believer in short posts to I'll continue Jake's story tomorrow. 

Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Long and Winding Road

Is a sense of direction a muscle that withers if not used frequently?  In our case, yes! After a cool breeze blew in a week ago, the temperatures have again soared and we've been a very inactive household for several days. Our pool pump broke down on the first day of the Bayram Holiday so we haven't even been able to swim. Yesterday we decided to drive to the coast to have a sunset walk in the slightly cooler evening temperatures. Kisebükü was the chosen destination. A pebble beach, easily accessed by sea but down some 30 minutes of winding forest roads from our house.  Hubby consulted Google maps and at 6:30 we set off.  After 30 minutes  and some heated passenger seat driving from me, we were in Mazı, which is way past the turning we wanted.  Some 15 minutes later we found the missed junction and headed off to Çocukmezarı, (which must be the worst village name in the world - Children's Graveyard, no wonder they've dispensed with a road sign!) and kept going and going and going; no sign of the sea and the road getting more and more pot-holed and crumbling. I  wanted to turn back but my other half is of the "I've started so I'll finish" school of driving so we carried on. Eventually we saw a moped and luckily my husband, unlike most of his gender, will ask directions.  The owner of the bike had an accent so local that he was almost incomprehensible to us but he managed to convey his cheerful incredulousness that we'd  driven so far away from Kisebükü.  We eventually emerged in Ciftlik from a road I've often wondered about, so at least the drive had answered one question.  We arrived home at 8:30pm without setting foot on a pebble.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The Neolithic of the Near East - James Mellaart

I've spent the last week catching up on the past month's news and a name in the obituary columns struck a cord.  James Mellaart  died in London on 29th July at the age of 86. While I was at university, he was the recognized expert on neolithic Anatolia and his text book was compulsory reading for all archaeology undergraduates. This was the man who discovered and excavated Çatal Höyük in the 60s; a site that altered the perception of the neolithic age.  I was soon sorting through a very dusty pile of books in our store room and managed to find my original copy of "The Neolithic of the Near East". That I still have it after 35 years and many moves is a triumph of hoarding that probably needs to be addressed.  
In my student days, Mellaart was a respected archaeologist, but now he appears more renowned for scandals and mysteries.  His biography is blighted by the Doruk affair. After a chance meeting on a train to Izmir with an ancient gold bracelet-wearing Anna Papastrati,  Mellaart claims to have discovered and sketched a magnificently rich collection of antiquities which he named the "Royal Treasures of Doruk".  Neither the treasures or Papastrati were ever seen again and and this incident and the seepage of finds from Çatal Höyük onto the open market, lead to Mellaart's banishment from Turkey. I don't remember reading anything about this in the late 1970s, but without the internet, we were reliant on the University library for all our research. This involved actually spending time in the building which wasn't nearly as attractive a prospect as time spent in the pub or local curry house.  I'm redressing this lack of research now by scouring the internet for articles on Mellaart's life.  If you are at all interested in archaeological mysteries, I suggest you do the same. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Back to Village Life.

It hasn't taken me long to settle back into my comfort zone. A bit of shopping, tidying and cooking interspersed with lots of reading, swimming, listening to radio 4, watching the Olympics, catching up with the blogs I follow, eating the grapes I thought I was going to miss out on, while tentatively checking my Blackberry to see if I've been called back to Scotland.  It was so hot on my arrival that I spent most of the first 3 days inside.  Easier to do now than in the past as, in my absence, two new supermarkets have opened in Mumcular, spurring Diasa to offer a new service.  All I have to do is phone in my order and they will deliver free of charge. It's a bit like having staff!  I soon won't have to leave the house at all, which in temperatures of 35 degrees plus, suits me fine.  Yesterday,  a cool breeze blew in and as we'd been so lazy, we decided to go for a brisk walk. I dissuaded 'the fit one' from an "over the mountain" hike and we settled for a "round trip to the next village" stroll along the edge of the forest.  Two and a half hours later, we hobbled back to the house with seized muscles and rubbed toes. We had to spend the evening horizontal recovering with very long G & Ts . The Olympics has got a lot to answer for.

Before we ran out of steam, it was gratifying to notice that in the 20 years we've lived in the village, the view hasn't changed at all.  If the new Government initiative to sell off secondary forest land means that we start to see some development, we can't complain as we've been very lucky to enjoy this peacefulness for so long.

Can anyone help me out and identify this bush? The fruit has a single large brown stone in the centre.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Back to Booze

I'm reluctant to blow my own trumpet, but I usually cook a mean risotto. My first attempt at this dish in Sweden didn't taste as it should and a quick check on the wine I'd bought in the supermarket gave the answer. It was bereft of any alcohol. I hadn't realised that only beverages under 4% proof can be sold in the shops. If you want a serious drink you've got to plan ahead and visit the Systembolaget. The official off-licence. This rather seedy looking shop in Bastad is the only one in the Torekov area (about 15 kms away) and closed on Sundays (my day off). 

This explains the tiny bottles of gin  flavouring I came upon in the Ica supermarket. I don't know if one is meant to produce home made alcohol and add the flavouring or put a few drops in tonic water and pretend. 

The draconian restriction on buying wine meant that I drank nothing stronger than tea for 5 weeks. I was hoping when I hopped on the scales I'd be a few kilos lighter but no. This therefore suggests to me that if abstaining from wine doesn't lead to weight loss, drinking wine doesn't lead to weight gain.
I'm already putting this theory to the test as, at the last minute, my plans were changed yet again and instead of boarding a plane to Inverness I got on one to Bodrum.  A bottle of red has already been shared with my other half and I am closing the Swedish chapter of BacktoBodrum with a photo of the sun going down taken from my room on the Bjare peninsula.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Bathrobes in Torekov and Bed wear in Bodrum.

A couple of years ago, Tesco stores in Britain issued a decree stating that improperly dressed customers wouldn't be allowed into their stores. They'd better not open a branch in Torekov, where a dressing gown is the default outfit for a trip to the supermarket or a wander around town. I was initially shocked and had a giggle on seeing my first toweling clad gentleman in the check-out queue at the Ica supermarket. By the third day I was used to bathrobes on bicycles and bare ankles in the bakers.

I wondered if the whole of Sweden was like this.  It took me three weeks to open a guide book to the area and learn that Torekov is an exclusive resort, where houses are extremely difficult to get your hands on and the residents of this posh little town like to distinguish themselves from the visitors by wearing bathrobes.


When I first moved to Bodrum, the back streets were full of old chaps wearing pyjama bottoms on their way to the baker or the tea house.  I thought they were just lazy and couldn't be bothered to get dressed, but maybe they were affirming themselves as residents of this fine town, not to be confused with the over-dressed tourists. From a couple of thousand kms away, I'm trying to recall seeing anyone in the streets in pyjamas recently and I don't think they are still around, but if they are, I will look on them in a completely new light when I return.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Boatbum in Blue

Wandering around the harbour in Torekov on my day off, I had to take a photo of this Volvo Penta sign. The same white logo on a bright blue background witnessed a life-changing moment in my life 30 years ago.  November 1982, the tourist season had finished and we were winterising a fleet of Swedish Maxi yachts in Bodrum marina.  I was dismantling winches, up to my elbows in grease and wearing a fetching blue boiler suit supplied by Volvo, (with their logo boldly printed on the front and back), when our local agent walked by with a stunningly attractive, very tall stranger. Serendipity, fate, kismet; call it what you will but after 28 years of marriage, 26 years of which we have worked as well as lived together, I hope this still good-looking chap doesn't rue the day he went for a wander in the marina but is enjoying his 5 weeks of freedom.