Sunday, 25 January 2015

Protest Walk

Map courtesy of BODOSK

Last month I wrote about the renewed threat of hotel construction in the beautiful bay of Kissebükü/Adalıyalı.  Today, Bodrumites are on their way to the proposed site to make their feelings quite clear - violation of this unspoilt spot is not acceptable. The protest organised by Mavi Yol Girişimi was due to be both a land and sea based demonstration but bad weather has caused the sea trip to be postponed to a later date.  I had intended to join the boat as I'd find a 14/15 km walk on rough ground a challenge, but went along to the covered market to see off the intrepid walkers as they got on buses to take them to Çukurgöl, where their 7km walk will start. BODOSK,  Bodrum's Walking Group are organising the hike and insisting that participants are well kitted out for the uneven terrain as this won't be a walk in the park.  That such organisation is necessary just to get to this spot makes one wonder how massive construction can even be considered.

At 9am this morning, 150 were expected to join the buses with plenty others following in cars and others arriving on bicycles.  It is hoped that 100 protesters are also walking from Mazı  to meet up at Adalıyalı.

Provisions for the walk

Only well kitted-out participants accepted
I felt guilty not getting on the bus too, but a gentleman with a dog was turned away, so I didn't agonise too much while Jake and I watched the buses drive off.   Walking that distance while my 4 pawed friend stayed at home wouldn't be right.  (I noticed later that the spurned dog had gone by car)

The list of supporters is impressive and note should be taken that the Bodrum mayor has also put his name to the petition.  These days local government has little say in what goes on in their area but let's hope people power can keep the bulldozers out.

Here is a You Tube clip of how the day progressed :

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Doc Martin

I'm going to start the year singing the praise of some local heros. 
Martin Redman bought his house in Bodrum in 2006 as an investment, but after 2 heart attacks and a week in Papworth hospital, an out-of-the-blue offer to buy his three UK businesses had him selling up his life in the UK and moving to Bodrum on Christmas Eve, 2008.  Like all ex-pats living here, Martin and his wife, Jane, can only stay if they have a valid residence permit, and having negotiated his own way around the system, Martin was happy to help his friends jump through the necessary bureaucratic hoops.  But as with many things here, the minute you get the hang of something, it changes and in April 2014, a new ministerial department was established to simplify the treatment of foreigners in Turkey.  Unfortunately lack of preparation and bad communication resulted in chaos, applications for permits even had to be temporarily put on hold: the new law couldn't be implemented as the promised new offices hadn't been opened.  The ex-pat rumour mill was running on full gas and there were lots of huffs and puffs about plots to make all the foreigners leave.  Those of us that have lived here a bit longer know that this is just the way with all new laws, practice takes a bit of time to catch up with the theory.  Having helped friends in the past, Martin joined a Facebook page set up to give information to foreigners facing problems  renewing their permits but was surprised to find hiimself banned after only 24 hours.  He realised that the site had been set up to plug a company charging folk for the application service and Martin's advice had not only been too good, but free.  So Martin set up his own Facebook page and 'Doc Martin's Surgery for Expats on the Bodrum Peninsula' was born. He then spent three weeks putting all his advice into practice, checking the most convenient places to find all the translators, notaries, photocopiers and insurance providers needed for a hassle-free experience. The site explains in the simplest terms, what you need, what you have to do and where you have to go and how much it will cost in Bodrum to apply for your residency. It will also tell you how to deal with all the other bureaucratic problems that crop up from paying your road tax to getting a Turkish driving licence.  The site now has 1600 members from all over Turkey, and as each municipality has its own quirks, it has become a sounding board for folks to find others in similar situations and share sound advice. Martin is very quick to shoot down hearsay and deal only in first hand experiences.  He is also the only site I have seen where British Consular staff get involved and provide the official UK government view on situations.  So I'm nominating Martin as a local hero as he does all this on a completely voluntary basis.  I think Jane needs a pat on the back too as 95% of the visitors to the site are female so Martin has a lot of ladies hanging on his every word.  

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Sunday Flea Market

I hope I haven't given the impression from my last couple of posts that there is a festival every Sunday in Bodrum. There isn't, it just feels that way some months.  If you find yourself on the peninsula on a fest-free Sunday, I suggest you hop on a dolmuş to Bitez to peruse your way around the flea market.  It is temporarily situated just past the Courthouse, on a rough piece of ground but should shortly be moving a few hundred yards nearer the main road to the new market area.  I was lucky to visit on a sunny day, but I can imagine a wet Sunday at this stop-gap site would soon turn into a quagmire. I will update this post when the flea market moves so you know whether to wear wellies or not.

You will find an eclectic mix of traders, merchandise and shoppers  and the eagle eyed will immediately sort the junk from the valuable. There is one stall pictured here which always has high quality stock and I'll leave you to work out which.

I came home from my last visit the very happy owner of this English bone china set.  So it's tea for two at Chez-BacktoBodrum for anyone who cares to pop in.

Bitez Bit Pazarı  -  Bitez Flea Market.  Every Sunday from 7am to mid-afternoon.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Mandarin Festival

It's Sunday. It's Bodrum. It's Festival time.

This week-end it was the turn of citrus fruit to be fêted, specifically the mandarin. Ortakent, Bitez and Turgutreis all held events to honour this tasty fruit. 

Mandarin candles

Once an important crop, mandarins have lost out in the popularity stakes to their seedless cousins, so a yearly festival reminds folk how tasty these local fruit are and provides an excuse for stalls bursting with colour to brighten up a winter day. 

Fertility spoons

Olive oil soaps

Painted ceramics

Bits and Bobs under a parasol

Lemon, orange and mandarin preserves with fruit teas

Massive bergamots and mandarin flower jam

Festival = balloons

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Hamsi Pilav

After watching and smelling all those anchovies being cooked on Sunday, I have to follow with a post on Hamsi Pilav. 

This is my first attempt and I wish I had bought pre-gutted hamsi because de-heading and de-back boning these little blighters takes time.  After the first ten or so, I got into a rhythm and could pull the head off and run my thumb down the inside of the backbone separating flesh from gory bits in one action. If I'd read my own blog post about Byron Ayanoğlu teaching me to do this a couple of years ago, I would have saved a few squished fish.   I bought a kilo of hamsi and lined an oiled dish with 3/4 of them, skin side down. I then sautéed 1 finely chopped onion in a little oil, added a cup of jasmine rice, a handful of pine nuts, a handful of tiny currents, a pinch of salt and one and a half cups of boiling vegetable stock.  This was simmered until all the water had been absorbed, then left to cool slightly.

Add the rice to the hamsi-lined dish

Cover with the remaining fish, skin side up and put into the middle of a 180 C oven for half an hour. 

Invert the dish onto a plate and shake out the hamsi pilav.  Mine didn't come out as cleanly as I'd have liked which is why you have this side shot, but I was quite pleased with my first go.  A bit of loosening the edges with a knife before tipping out might be a good idea.
 A kilo of hamsi will not only give you a tasty supper for 4, you will also have super soft hands after massaging them with raw hamsi.  I know they are an oily fish, but it was only when handling them I realised how oily.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Black Sea Sunday in Bodrum

I was away from Bodrum for 10 days and so managed to miss the coldest snap for several decades.  Photographs of icicles on bicycles have been doing the rounds and many a bougainvillaea  has bitten the dust.  Sunday however dawned bright, sunny and warm enough for brunch to be eaten in the garden. We weren't the only ones outside.  Nearly the whole population of Bodrum rushed out into the fresh air to warm bones that had been uncomfortably chilled for the past week.  There was plenty to occupy the senses. The Black Sea Association was celebrating all that is great about their part of the world with a Hamsi Festival.   Hamsi are small oily anchovies that  most of us rave about, (with good reason as they are a delightfully oily, savoury, crispy, fishy bite that is perfect eaten alone or sandwiched in the centre of half a Turkish loaf) and put a date in their calendar to start eating as the cold weather approaches. As the end of the year draws near, lorry loads of hamsi are exported from the North all around the country.

Ladies proving they can multi-task: frying and dancing. 

Black Sea businesses must be doing well in Bodrum as they financed a feast of biblical proportions,  feeding  hamsi sandwiches (remember each one is half a loaf) to everyone who wanted one.  This was accompanied by the staccato strains of the fiddle urging the dancing crowd to go faster and faster.  Just hearing the first notes of this music makes even those of us with two left feet start to wiggle our shoulders in true Black Sea style.  Click on the video below to get an idea.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

An Open Leter to Pegasus Airlines

I am a regular passenger on Pegasus planes, clocking up over 20 flights last year alone. I'm pretty impressed with the whole set-up: online booking is simple using an app that has all my details; the flights generally take off and land when they say they will and the fares are very reasonable.  The number of routes on offer is increasing yearly and their hub airport in Istanbul, Sabiha Gökçen, is noticeably busier every time I fly, but doesn't seem to suffer the same hiccups as its European neighbour, Atatürk Airport. With only 50 minutes between landing and taking off on Thursday, despite the longest passport queue I have ever seen, I still made my connection to Stansted with 10 minutes to spare. My trip to the UK had got off to a good start and I was settled into a good book when I noticed a bit of a kerfuffle a couple of rows ahead,  Cabin staff looked uncomfortable and then there was the announcement that everyone dreads, "If there is a doctor on board will they make themselves known please". No hands go up, a second call goes out and still no response. The unconsious passenger is still unattended.  Staff confer and look at the punter causing their unease. I am going through my last first aid course in my head ( five years ago and so very rusty ) and am just about to suggest they get this poor chap horizontal when a lady who I later learn is called Claire and is a practising first-aider in Cyprus, tells the staff to get the patient on his back.  She then spends the next 3 hours on her knees in the aisle, administering oxygen and suggesting that the plane land at the nearest airport.  Another passenger cradles the sick guy's stockinged feet on his lap for the whole trip in a bid to keep the blood nearer his heart.  The pilot declines to land and orders an ambulance at Stansted. Clare, who is neither doctor nor nurse, is  given full responsibily for treating this prone passenger whose heart rate is alternating between 48 and 88 beats a minute and is drifting in and out of consciousness, while the crew continue to try and serve food over his head. At one point I thought he was going to get a hot cheese toastie in the face to add to his problems.  So my question to Pegasus Airlines is: Do you teach your staff first aid? If you do, they obviously are not confident enough to put it into practice. If you dont, please start.  It should have been the cabin crew looking after this chap, not a passenger.  I also shall get my first aid notes out of which ever cupboard they are languishing and give myself a refresher course.