I'm often asked why I live in Turkey and I can only answer "kısmet' or fate. It wasn't a planned move and I had no reason to gravitate to the Eastern Mediterranean but when I look back over my teenage years, I can see the beginnings of an attraction that may have subconsciously led me to find my way to Western Turkey. In my mid teens I was obsessed with Victorian lady travellers; Isabella Bird, Mary Kingsley, Freya Stark et al and oh how I wished myself into Rose Macaulay's novel, 'The Towers Of Trebizond'. The opening first line "'Take my camel dear' said my aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass" were just the words a young girl in the dull Midlands of the 1970s needed. One of my heroines was almost too fantastic to be true - Gertrude Bell, after gaining a First in history from Oxford, was sent to Persia to stay with her uncle, a diplomat in Tehran. There she fell in love but her parents rejected her choice and her beau died soon after, so Gertrude threw herself into Near Eastern studies. Learning 7 languages and immersed in Near Eastern behaviour, she became the only female political officer in the British army and was instrumental in founding modern Iraq. A self-taught archaeologist she eventually founded the Baghdad Museum. She also found time to be a serious mountaineer.
From my later reading, I realise that, had I met her, I wouldn't have enjoyed her company as she was arrogant, intimidating and felt contempt for most women, not considering them worthy of suffrage, but she was the bee's knees to a 15 year old me.
So I'm really exited that Pat Yale is writing a blog about her journey following Gertrude Bell's travels in Turkey. I'm hooked and can't wait for the trip to be collated into a book.