Apologies to anyone living in Slough, but this rather unfair poem of Betjeman's came into my head as I was surveying our back garden in the village and feeling smug. I was also contemplating how wonderful it would be if humans could graze. Sometimes just looking at a lush rural scene isn't enough and I want to get in there and munch.
As I was pondering why being "put out to grass" is a negative phrase in the English language, a neighbour arrived and, as her livestock chomped their way through the vegetation (ignoring the flowers), she gave me a quick lesson in collecting wild asparagus.
I can usually find 6 or 7 stalks but never enough for a meal, but she let me into the secret - tilkişen hides in the midst of prickly plants, so always look for the spiky bush first and then focus in on the thin stalks of asparagus.
Tilkişen is usually fried in oil and/or butter with an egg scrambled in at the last minute but I posted a slightly more sophisticated recipe here.
My daughter and her partner went in search and between them, (being generous to Esi here - Celal found all of it) came up with a good haul.
There is nothing quaint or attractive about the working town of Mumcular. Before the coastal road arrived, it was the last town before the small fishing village of Bodrum and it specialised in providing bread, honey, cotton and car mechanics. When I moved to a nearby village in 1992, Mumcular still had a thriving reputation for car repairs but Bodrum had grown up enough to look after itself and Mumcular had reverted to being the backwater. But a new reservoir provided much needed irrigation water and land started to rise in price as small farms growing vines and vegetables began to appear. In the past ten years, Bodrum has grown and grown and demanded more and more public sector workers, but hasn't built anywhere affordable for them to live so Mumcular has become the favoured place for teachers, firemen, policemen etc to settle. It's only 30 minutes from Bodrum and minibuses are inexpensive and frequent. Spacious flats have been built that don't come with inflated Bodrum rents. Gradually Mumcular has grown and the one pide oven and one canteen restaurant have multiplied and now Mumcular can boast a "night life".
Throughout all the changes, the one steady regular has been the Sunday street market. It starts early and is finished by lunchtime. It's crowded and haphazard and you are likely to trip over a misplaced tent pole or a chicken on a bid for freedom. Cars aren't meant to drive through it but many will try and chaos will reign for a few minutes. Occasionally, tourists turn up to enjoy the informality but most shoppers come from the surrounding villages. It hasn't changed in the 20 plus years that it's been my local market, but if you'd like to experience one of the few remaining street markets in this area you'd better move fast because there are only a few Sundays left.
The new covered market is scheduled to open in early March and the days of flapping sunshades and mismatched tables and chairs will be no more. The items on sale will be exactly the same but the fun will be gone.
Hearts, flowers, chocolate and dance ...does this sound like your ideal St. Valentine's Evening celebration?
In Bodrum, they were all on offer in the Town Square at lunch time. Flowers are always on sale on Fridays as it's market day, but today there were flowers everywhere, and few resisted the urge to buy, although I noticed that the boxed roses were mostly ignored in favour of bunches of anemones, wild hyacinths or narcissus.
There was a much sweeter scent hanging over the town square as chocolate making lessons, laid on by the municipality, were in full swing. The unseasonably warm weather was causing a few problems as the chocolates weren't setting in their moulds and there was a lot of frantic fanning going on.
After the chocolate came the dancing. This year's "One Billion Rising" dance to highlight violence against women was well attended. Read about last year's event : One Billion Rising 2013
Sorry the photographs of the dance are not very good, but having made an effort to learn the steps this year, I was trying to dance and take snaps at the same time.
Fount of all knowledge Bodrum echo Chris and I had obviously not got the memo that this year's colour was purple, not pink.
On such a warm day, I was surprised to see so many wearing thick scarves until I saw that they were being handed out as freebies. Those that didn't get a scarf received a clock and here we are back to hearts again.
A reminder that the local elections are only a 6 weeks away.
Air travel is not on my list of favourite things, but a wait at Athens airport is ameliorated by a visit to the onsite museum. Excavations prior to the building of the airport, revealed a wonderful slice of Greek history and over 150 finds are displayed on a mezzanine floor above the check-in desks. While waiting for your steel bird to carry you off into the sky, imagine the ghosts of the Neolithic first settlers, the Bronze age warriors in their fortified settlement, the gold and ivory wielding Mycenaeans lying in their chamber tombs, the affluent Atticans at the birth of democracy, Roman farmers enjoying their comfortable farmsteads and villas provided by the ample vineyards and olive groves and Byzantine Christians worshiping in their tripart basilicas - all sharing the geography if not the time of your visit. Such informed daydreams are a great way of forgetting that you are about to spend a few hours enclosed in a metal tube. Non of the aforementioned would believe you if you told them it could fly.
I am very fond of an arch, especially a stone one. There aren't many in Bodrum so I'm indulging my passion for 'curved symmetrical structures spanning an opening' on a short trip to Hydra.
On my previous visits I didn't venture to the top of the town; using 'too hot', 'too steep' and 'too busy' as excuses, but a wander yesterday in the first sun after a massive rain storm revealed arch after arch after arch.
I like to think that I'm keeping up with technology. I manage to write this blog and get it read over the majority of continents (come on people of Antarctica - aren't you interested in Turkey?). I can work the smart TV and even upgrade the apps. I listen to The Archers via an automatically updating podcast application on my Samsung tablet, which feels kind of wrong on so many levels for a radio programme that is older than I am. But occasionally I am side-swiped by technical advances and left to feel bit like a dinosaur. My eyesight has never been good, and I've either worn glasses or contact lenses since the age of 17. I had my eyes tested in late 2011, just before I left the UK and in the past 6 months I have found myself taking my glasses off to see clearly, rather than wearing them. I had also been persuaded to try photochromic lenses as I was coming back to sunnier climes, but found they were next to useless as they don't darken when I'm driving in bright sunlight, but stay dark for ages when I walk from the sun into a dark room - cue falling down steps and walking into pieces of furniture that I had forgotten I'd moved. Time had come to get some new glasses. I ummed and ahhed about where to have my eyes tested but in the meantime saw the glasses I wanted. I am too tight-fisted to splash out on two pairs of specs, and clip-on sunglasses have the taint of the anorak about them, so I got quite excited when I saw these magnetic stick-on shades. Clip-ons finally got cool! (Italian-made - say no more)
I now had to have my eyes tested. The chap who sold me the glasses was called Teoman, he recommended an opthamologist called Teoman and as my husband is also a Teoman, I booked and appointment at Bodrum's Acıbadem hospital to see Dr. Teoman Özek. (This is probably not a good basis for choosing you doctor if you are seriously ill.)
The last eye test I had in the UK was pretty similar to the first one I had in my teens: heavy wire rimmed glasses with different lenses slipped in and out to see which is the clearest and that difficult question "is the black dot brighter on the red or green light?" (I've never been able to answer that one honestly). The Acıbadem test was like being beamed into an episode of Startrek. As my daughter is modelling above, no wire glasses, just a clicking pair of high tech binoculars which measured my eyes in seconds and then just two or three questions to check and I was off to the optician with my prescription. As I am astigmatic and need varifocal, the glasses took a whole day to make, but my daughter's were ready in 2 hours.
For the first time in ages I can see really clearly, both close to and far away and now have to concentrate on not losing my "stick ons".
Acibadem has the reputation for being on the expensive side but if you live in and around Bodrum you can sign up for their Bodrum card (all you need is proof that you live in the area) and you will benefit from at least 50% discount. My eye test, which included two types of glaucoma test, cost 110 TL (about 36 Euros at today's rate) with the card.