Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Loose Ends


In November,  I attended a talk on Ancient Halicarnassus given by Prof. Pedersen, this content has now been published in full on  H3A talks on Halicarnassus and Local Herbal Remedies and if you scroll down you can also read the full text of my talk on local herbal remedies.
In October I wrote about Melon seed sherbet, I later had a go at making it myself without any added sugar and I can recommend it as an alternative to milk. It tastes great on morning muesli.
In September, I introduced you to Bitter Gourd as a "universal cure".  Ten days ago, at a Christmas dinner, a gentleman I didn't know came up to shake my hand. He had followed the instructions to take the gourd in olive oil  and his sugar levels had dropped 10 points. He really made my evening.
The Spiralo I bought in the summer has been getting plenty of use, our consumption of wheat based pasta has dropped to almost zero and my husband is proud of his new flat stomach. (Mine is not flat, but better than it was this time last year).
We are hopeful that 2015 will not see any captive dolphins  performing in Bodrum. The premises will not be issued a licence to use live animals, it is to be seen how this is enforced.
Mumcular Market is settled in its new purpose built site, it doesn't have the character of the old street market, but the stall holders are happy (and dry in the winter).
I started the year with an ominous post about village life being under threat.  We are all now under one municipality. Nothing has changed in the village yet, except that we get our rubbish collected. There is a five year introduction period so we have no council tax to pay and the cost of our water has gone down and no one has been asked to move their chickens or cows from their gardens.

As the third year of BacktoBodrum comes to an end, I would like to thank everyone who reads my posts, especially those of you who take the time to comment.  I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Rainy Day Red

It's pouring with rain, too wet and blustery to take more than the briefest walk, so I'm in front of the desktop playing around with my latest photos.  I've only been to two photography workshops so far, but Jak's lectures have given me and my snaps a new perspective.  Writing group in 2014 has also helped to concentrate the mind and make me more observant; an exercise in choosing a colour to notice before setting out on a walk is a great way to focus the senses.  Blue is universally recognised as Bodrum's colour, but we're not short of reds either. 

Red dye called kermes was made in the Neolithic period from the dried crushed bodies of the female Kermes Vermilio, an insect living on the sap of certain trees, but especially the Kermes Oak in the Mediterranean.  The Turkish word for "red" is "kırmızı".  It doesn't take much of an etymological jump to see where this comes from.

Legend has it that the Turkish flag represents an image of a star and new moon in white reflected in the red of battlefield blood, signifying strength after war.

Remember at traffic lights: "red means stop" is a theory that is not reliably always put into practice.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Boxing Day in Bodrum

Boxing Day in Bodrum is celebrated with a party for foreign residents given by the Mayor. A tradition started 18 years ago by Tuğrul Acar, Mayor of Bodrum from 1994 to 1999.  That first party in the Marina, if my memory serves me correctly was attended by about 50. Yesterday, Trafo hosted around 300 and provided a non-stop barbecue of spicy sausage and chicken, plus a seemingly inexhaustible supply of drinks. Entertainment was provided by Bodrum Children's Pop Chorus,  and the speeches given by Mayor Mehmet Kocadon and Muğla's CHP MP Prof. Dr. Nurettin Demir were short and sweet and led up to cutting the ubiquitous celebratory cake.

The forecast rain even kept off until everyone was ready to make their way home 

  Bodrum has always marched to a different drum beat and long may this tradition last. 

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Virtual exercise. A walk in the Bodrum Hills.

I read somewhere this year that thinking about exercise was healthy, so as you prepare to stuff yourselves over the next 24 hours, I shall take you on a virtual hike into the hills above Bodrum to help you burn off all those extra calories.

We are starting on the main dual carriageway that used to run behind Bodrum, and now finds itself in places almost centrally dissecting the town.  Crossing this road is fun as the traffic lights get you to follow the green man as far as the central reservation and then abandon you to make your own way after that. We are taking the road leading up to the State Hospital,  a trip I hope none of us ever makes accompanied by flashing blue lights. At the top we turn left and walk through the hospital car park and continue the climb upwards. The view from here isn't too impressive as the eye focusses on all the  satellite dishes, water tanks and criss-crossing telephone and electricity wires that blight every Turkish town.   We keep on the path until faced with a padlocked gate, following the fence to the left there is an open gate, and after a scramble over some rubble we turn and are rewarded with the classic view of Bodrum castle.  This path is on the Carian Trail so every few 100 meters, we pass the red and white marks on rocks and trees.  We aren't the only ones enjoying the view, we pass a jolly chap in a bright red jumper, who has brought along a bottle of beer and is merrily telephoning his friends and telling them where he is enjoying his drink.  At the top of this hill we come to a fork, take the left and then almost immediate a right for some serious climbing up a 45 degree fire-break.  Hard on the knees but worth the effort for the panoramic view of Bodrum, Gümbet, Konacık and Kos.  If we had another few hours to spare we could carry on to Pedasa, but we are content to sit and drink coffee, watching Bodrum from its most photogenic angle.  It's taken 75 minutes to get up here, and the walk back will be another hour as steep slopes are almost as difficult to get down as up.  If it ever snows properly, we'll be up here with our skis.  

Our coffee break was taken somewhere on the top of the hill on the right. 

Wishing you all festive cheer this week, regardless of the pretext you are using to eat, drink and be merry. 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Kissebükü - A Memory

Thirty-two years ago I sailed into Kissebükü, although I can't recall the event exactly, the feeling is still with me.  The air was stiller than normal but charged with a indescribable energy. We slowly motored around looking for a place to drop the anchor. We were the only yacht in the bay, but we could have been the only folk in the world, reality seemed to be suspended.  As the chain rushed noisily into the sea, it felt as if we were violating a sacred atmosphere. Those of you who have never experienced this will think I've been to one too many creative writing classes and am getting a bit carried away, but I know that fellow sailors will be nodding and recreating the event and the scent of pine and the crystal clear turquoise water will be just as vivid in their minds as mine.  Once moored the peace returned, the only sound the crackle of pebbles gently sweeping up and down the beach.  A walk on shore was a revelation, tumble down buildings with apse shaped additions and strange beehive  constructions that could have been churches or tombs, "Kisse" probably is a derivation of "kilise"or "church".  I didn't realise then, but there are also Lelegian walls up in the mountains behind. This place, once discovered, epitomises why I and many more returned to or stayed in this corner of Turkey.

The good news is that a new generation of sailors is still enjoying Kissebükü. It hasn't changed.  I no longer sail but occasionally make the long drive over the rough mountain roads to enjoy the peace. Others get there by walking along the Carian Trail between Ciftlik and Mazı. 

The bad news is that the bay is under threat. Despite fighting off developers in 2005 and being granted protected status, permission has been given to build a 1000 bed hotel.  Bodrumites are up in arms.  A meeting held yesterday overflowed the building. The pouring of concrete on Kissebükü is a desecration no one in their right mind can accept.

I have added a link to a petition below.  Scroll down for the English which gives all the information you need to make your own decision.  Please sign and help protect Kissebükü. 

Would this view be improved by the addition of a 1000 bed hotel?şimi-kissebükü-adaliyali-destek-ol-sesi-ol-imza-ver-support-it-be-the-voice-give-your-signature

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Deck the halls with bows and pom-poms.

Facebook is full of pictures of well decorated Christmas trees. We don't have a tree because all our decorations are in our village house storeroom. I can't get to them as our car is in the repair shop. (I hope whoever it was who smashed the back bumper and drove off is being kept awake at night by pangs of guilt).  As a token decoration I have combined my burgeoning skills in crochet, which I rediscovered last Friday after a gap of 25 years, and pop-pom making (probably about 45 years since I practised this craft) and made myself an indoor wreath, so the house is not a completely Xmas-free zone.
Bodrum is also gearing itself up for Christmas. I stocked up with crackers at the first Christmas market and on Friday we attended the annual Christmas Carols.  There are plenty more markets, dinners and carols to come, but the last Friday's event is the most important one for long-term immigrants as it has been going for enough years to be a tradition. Many of us can still remember the first one and the hours of rehearsals we put in practicing carols.

Geoff, Lon and the Band - Friday 12th Dec 2014

Lon, Geoff and carol singers (my daughter in blue) Dec 1998

My daughter and Geoff 2014
I move to reintroduce the rehearsals for next year's concert as the audience were all struggling to be heard, despite having our vocal cords lubricated with mulled wine, or maybe it's just the years catching up with us.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Bookish Bodrum

I haven't had much time to write this week as I've been busy reading.  In what seemed like a good plan at the time, I thought it would be a nice idea to have a joint meeting between the two English speaking reading groups on the peninsula  and rather than read one book, choose a selection of extracts about Bodrum.   So I've been grazing my book shelves and raking through the internet picking out snippets that ranged from the first millennium BC to 2011 AD and bombarding the inboxes of fellow readers on an almost daily basis.  It turned out to be a good plan despite the amount of time it ate up. Memoirs always make interesting reading but when the authors are walking the same paths we tread today, the words are all the more vibrant and exciting.  So many things change that we forget that others stay the same. The overwhelming  impression that flows through the chapters set from the 1960s to the present day is the sense of welcome a stranger feels when settling in Bodrum.  This hasn't changed, a fact attested to by one of our members who has recently moved here.

As well as good readers, we are all pretty good cooks too, the plate above is just a starter, we had chicken and tomato curry and pilav plus chocolate truffle tart, quince dessert and pear frangipane pie to finish. Everyone left with a sense that we should repeat the performance sooner rather than later. I hadn't  anticipated quite how much has been written about Bodrum and with a few more weeks of intensive reading, I'm sure we can find another angle to discuss which will be a welcome excuse to meet up again. 

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Paradise hasn't been paved, it's been landscaped.

Indoor swimming pool at Mandarin Oriental
Friday saw me digging out a dress and trying to remember how to put on tights for the annual Ladies' Lunch. A great time was had by all 37 attendees and as usual, the mix of new and old faces made for great conversation. "I can't believe you've lived here all this time and we've never bumped into each other" or "So you are the "insert name" who "insert another name" met in "insert place".... you get the idea.  Numbers were down on past years due to the December rather than November date and the controversial choice of venue - The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Göltürkbükü.

Simple but well-executed lunch - sea bass and spinach
You'll find this hotel in Cennet Koyu - Paradise Bay, a beautiful inlet on the Bodrum peninsula, favourite mooring spot for day-tour boats and a local picnic area, a bay which we had all assumed to be protected as a designated area of natural beauty. Many friends witnessing the destruction/construction underway vowed never to return.  The international price of a simple lunch put off several others.   Nosy by nature, I was keen to have a look around. My monthly budget wouldn't even cover one night at list price so this would be the only time I would be crossing their threshold.  

I left the hotel with the impression that very well-off folk must get fed up with seeing bamboo sticks in vases, rolled towels, flowers heads without their stalks and their own reflection in the floor.  The staff were very friendly and attentive but the building sterile and characterless, the only clues to the country we were in were the books about Turkey on a wall and newspapers on a table. It is a shame that luxury these days is defined by a lack of warm ambience and a denial or manipulation of everything natural.

Hamam with a view

Cennet (Paradise) Bay
Regimented landscaping

 To mis-quote Joni Mitchell "They turfed Paradise and put in
some garden pots"

Lunching with Ladies 2013
Ladies's lunch 2012

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Two Worlds

Although we only move 30 kms between our summer home and the winter one, it feels like we are stepping from one world to another.  The village is focused on rural activities, Bodrum is a port. In the village, I can collect veg on the daily dog walk, in town I pass the quayside fish stalls.  Only 3 "yabanci" i.e. anyone from outside the county, have settled in the village in the past 30 years where as Bodrum is a mish-mash of locals, Turks from the cities or Anatolia and foreigners from every corner of the world. Only Turkish is spoken in the village, but not the received pronunciation you'll pick up from a language class. The local dialect can best be explained by imagining an extra "ptrrr" in the middle of every verb and changing all the ks to gs. Bodrumites used to speak like this, but it's rarely heard today. The local accent is a bit addictive and I sometimes find myself adding a few extra consonants when talking to my village neighbours. They humour me, but I probably sound as if I am doing an impression of an angry horse.  I don't recommend it but one can live a full life in Bodrum without speaking a word of Turkish.  This month I'll attend a photography workshop,  a writing group, a book club and a lecture all conducted in English.
It's sometime easy to forget on which continent we live. Last week-end, a market selling scotch eggs, cup cakes, egg tarts, crumpets, walnut loaf and Christmas cards could have been in any village hall in Europe.  This time next week we will be gearing up for the carol concert.  After a busy summer in and out of the village, it's great to be back in cosmopolitan Bodrum.