Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Mumcular Market

One of the pleasures of returning to the village is visiting the weekly market in Mumcular.  Starting very early on Sunday morning, it really is a Pazar pazar (Sunday market) and it attracts locals from a very wide area.  The goods on sale are no different to those found on Bodrum market, but Bodrum has a dedicated covered market area which lacks the charm of stalls sprawling in, out and through streets.

If you are looking for material to make şelva, this is definitely the place to come and if it's the finished garment you are interested in, Sunday is the day when the best baggy trousers are on show both on the stalls and walking down the streets. .

If you are a late riser, this isn't for you. By 1pm most of the stalls are packed up and gone.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The ghost of Aya Nikola Church in Bodrum.

The centre of Bodrum has been blighted for many years by a very ugly concrete edifice.  Built on the ruins of St Nicholas' Orthodox Church in 1969, the ex-Halk Eğitim (Public Education) building has always looked out of place, even when it was a busy venue for films, lectures, exams and sports activities. Later it became bazaar for books and tacky trinket sellers and recently it was deemed unsafe (just 42 years after it was built) and condemned.  I have always assumed that the pre-existing church had been completely demolished in the 60s and even heard talk of dynamite being used to blast away the walls, but it seems that the ghost of the church lives on.

I've been watching the careful demolition of the modern building over the past few months and sharing the excitement as original stonework has appeared. .

It's now evident that the 1969 construction enveloped the remaining walls of the church and careful stripping has revealed what is left of the 1780 structure.

Even in this state it looks better than the 20th century abomination that Bodrum put up with for over 40 years. 

Picture  Ibrahim Arkula - Eski Bodrum Facebook page

Construction/destruction work has now stopped for the summer and I'm looking forward to hearing the plans for the future of the site.  One school of thought is that it will be turned into an open air museum come art gallery while another group of Bodrumites want the building restored to its original proportions, not necessarily as a consecrated church, but as a monument to all the Christian inhabitants of Bodrum who were sent to Greece in the 1920s population exchange. 

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Crash, Bang, Wallop - What a picture.*

I walked past this sign at the traffic lights on Friday and thought it worthy of a quick snap.  It translates as " It's easier to wait for the traffic light to turn green than to wait for the emergency services."  It's  a message that really shouldn't be necessary as surely we all know the dangers of jumping a red light, sadly this is a lesson that some drivers here haven't absorbed.  The accuracy of this banner was demonstrated yesterday evening on our way to a birthday party.  The traffic slowed and stopped and we waited and waited as the sirens got nearer and nearer.  After the ambulance whizzed off, our line of traffic was directed past the mangled cars.  Whoever called 112  would have had no difficulty describing the exact location of the crash - it was directly in front of the banner.

(* apologies for misquoting Tommy Steele)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Jake's Bodrum

For a dog used to open pastures, forest paths and the occasional romp over an archaeological site,  a winter spent in central Bodrum might have been a bit of a let down but both dog and owner have had a great time.

Jake soon remembered which streets have drinking fountains, unfortunately a few Bodrum individuals do not have such good memories and two drinking bowls are now no more - destroyed by lackadaisical drivers parking on the pavements.

Early morning starts gave us the harbour front to ourselves except for those keeping fit on the Municipality provided machines.

It's not every town that harbours a film star.  Walking by, we can only imagine how exciting it must have been for the crew of Regina as they carried  James Bond to a deserted island in Skyfall.

Not all boats have such exciting lives, but watching this one being built in a garden was an education.

We didn't have to abandon the archaeology completely. Our daily walk starts on "Temple of Mars" Street so its not surprising that there is still plenty of history to be found underfoot.

Trial trenches in a bus car park have provided plenty of interest. There is nothing I like more than looking down newly dug holes.

Jake has made friends along the way. 

Tintin was a nameless, shaggy, matted stray when we first met her, darting from a side street to the main road and back, risking life and limb daily, until a kind lady adopted her and gave her a haircut and a home.

A rabbit took up temporary residence  on our site for a few weeks then mysteriously disappeared. I'm sure Jake's not guilty.

He would be to blame however if he was let loose amongst the chickens.  He's developed hen-hate.

Ducks are ok. This one is particularly friendly

Stray cats are usually too busy to pay us any attention 

but this domestic one is not hanging around to get better acquainted . 

Generally we've had a great time discovering the back streets of Bodrum,  enjoying the quiet time before the tourist storm.  

There has been plenty to occupy us; reading back through the winter blogs shows just how much goes on in Bodrum in the off-season.  We've come across Gerhard Schröder having lunch in the Gemi Başı Restaurant, seen a clown in full make-up driving a car,  Jake has made friends with a famous actress who says hello to him every time she drives past and knitted oranges regularly make an appearance in the town square.  The village may seem a little quiet after this. 


Monday, 13 May 2013

In transit

Time has come to move from busy Bodrum to our peaceful summer quarters. The two are only 30 kms distant from each other, but  sometimes seem to be decades, countries and climates apart.  Our Bodrum house has a tiny garden but last week the Cannas, Bougainvillea and  Lantana were throbbing with vibrant colour; a warmish damp winter has brought them on a treat.

By contrast, our village garden looks rather subdued.  The winter here is too cold to grow any of the above with any success. My bougainvillea is about the same size it was when I bought it 15 years ago. Despite growing in a south facing courtyard, every winter any growth from the preceding summer is taken down to soil level and each spring it starts again from scratch.  The same with the Lantana and the Canna gave up the ghost several years ago. Roses are the garden's saviour but it is impossible to keep them flowering during July and August, so this year I am learning from 20 years' experience of what I can't grow and admitting to myself that  cold winters and pines trees leave me very little choice: pelargoniums, rosemary and plumbago.

Nature is a much better gardener than I am and the uncultivated garden is at its best when we are not here. Despite the very dry April there are still masses of delicate pink wild orchids and  a few lingering poppies. A downpour today may bring out a few more. It certainly gave the pomegranate trees a good wash and brought out the vibrant colour of the flowers.  In Turkish "my pomegranate flower" is a term of affection which gives me an idea for another post... 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Kaya Köy - Cultural Connections part 2

When travelling in South West Turkey in April, expectations are not great.  April is the month when the hotelier suddenly wakes up and realises that the tourist season is upon him and starts frantic repairs. The term "tadilat nedeniyle" is used  as an excuse for everything;  favourite restaurants being closed, roads dug up, WiFi not connecting and telephone lines failing - all "because of repairs". So when 3 intrepid Bodrumites set out in search of literary titillation, we were only looking for food and a pillow to rest our heads after the Kayakoy walk, talk and cocktail. But we struck lucky. After a great meal of pit-roasted lamb at Cin Bal, described here by my friends at "Turkey's for Life" blog, we headed back to our pre-booked Doğa Apartment for a very comfortable sleep in a beautiful, well appointed stone building, full of character and style with the modern addition of lashings of piping hot water.

On Sunday morning, after a wander through the pretty gardens and a discussion with Ali, the owner, about the history of the farmstead and his plans for a small vineyard, we set off to find an equally scenic breakfast spot. More by luck than judgement, we ended up at Gemiler Beach and sitting in this tranquil spot enjoying a simple breakfast, I realised that I had last visited this spot 32 years ago. 

We were back in Kaya in time for the midday handicraft market with stalls ranging from ebru, the art of marbling paper, to finely produced British scones. A kind of eastern bazaar meets the Women's Institute.

The highlight of the a day full of delights, was retracing our steps back to Gunay's Garden to listen to Victoria Hislop talk of her love of Greece and how her  third novel "The Thread" set in Thessaloniki, uses the theme of people forced from their homes because of their religion. 

We sadly had to set off back to Bodrum  that evening, missing the rest of the event.  Next year, we'll be booked in for the whole week and hopefully will be meeting up with some of you reading this now.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Technical Hitch

It had to happen; 16 months of uninterrupted blogging has hit a blip.  On Thursday our telephone line went down taking the internet with it.  As our household relies on a permanent link to the outside world almost as much as a regular supply of oxygen, panic soon set in.  Ringing the fault line told us that there were unspecified technical problems (we'd worked that one out ourselves) and a sweep of the neighbours showed every other house to be without a dialling tone.  Husband set off to find the man in charge and brother-in-law was instructed to send warning shots from Ankara.  We managed without for 24 hours then I set off to explore Bodrum's free WiFi spots. This involves drinking a lot of coffee and beer. I politely enquire if WiFi is on offer, a positive reply is exchanged for a beverage and then a password, which in each case DOESN'T WORK! In one cafe, a waiter took the WiFi sign down while I was sitting in front of it.  Eventually a kind employee found the staff password and plugged me into the business internet. By this time I was so wired with coffee and beer that thinking straight was not an option.
I even ventured into Starbucks having forsworn this establishment and found that, despite large signs to the contrary, their wifi is as dodgy as their tax situation. After 48 hours off line, I have read a book and a half, which shows me how much good literature I'm missing in my addiction to the screen.

As I walked down to get my daily internet fix for today I came across this scene in one of Bodrum narrow lanes. There's always someone worse off, especially if you leave you car badly parked on a bus route.  (The owner of the van came back later and was completely unaware of the traffic chaos he'd caused.)

Normal service will hopefully be resumed very soon.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Kaya Köy - Cultural Connections - Day 1.

If you have read  "Birds Without Wings" you will recall that Ibrahim the Mad could mimic the bleating of his goats; the surprised, the nanny looking for her kid,  the perplexed, hungry or a billy in rut, so had  you stumbled upon the scene of 120 or so assorted foreigners and a few Turks standing on a rocky outcrop trying to imitate a goat that has nothing to say, you would not have been surprised.  As part of the group, I was in seventh heaven. How many times can you walk around the inspiration for a favourite novel with its author.  Louis de Bernieres turned out to be a charming and playful host while showing us around Kayaköy, the deserted village on which Eskibahçe in his wonderful novel set in early 20th century Turkey is loosely based.  As a book club stalwart, this novel has probably been responsible for introducing Ottoman and Turkish history to more people than all the university history departments combined.

The spot where "Birds without Wings"  was conceived

This tour was organised  as part of Cultural Connections Kaya 2013. Advertised as an "Art, Literature, Music and Food Festival", it would have been hard to resist but with the authors Louis de Bernieres, Jeremy Seal, Victoria Hislop and Sofka Zinovieff,  and the TV and music producer Mustafa Oğuz and screen writer and director Çağan Irmak topping the bill, this festival looks like it is going to start nipping at the heals of the likes of Hay, Oxford and Charleston as a literary draw.  Organised by Jane Akatay and Rebecca Keskin who epitomise the saying "if you want something doing ask a busy woman" and using Günay's Garden restaurant  as a base, this year's event runs from 27th April to 3rd May and I suggest you add it to your 2014 diary now as it's bound to get bigger and even better.

Günay's Garden - The beautiful setting for the opening cocktail.  

Louis de Bernieres with William Buttigieg MBE,  who cut the ribbon to open the festival.