Saturday, 27 February 2016

Focussing on Strobilos

I always carry my camera with me but days go by without taking it out of my bag, so an afternoon out and about with the H3a photography group is a great excuse to focus on anything and everything to try and capture a good shot.  99% of the time I don't produce a single photograph worth looking at twice but the good company, brisk walks and local discoveries make for a good day out. On Wednesday we were at The Termera Resort in Aspat taking shots of the newly restored 13th Century Byzantine bathhouse at Strobilos and the seaside sculpture park.

It was an overcast day but we all had fun catching different angles. The island in the background is Kos which shows just how close we are to the Greek coast. 

And back home, in front of the computer, more fun can be had playing with photoshop to turn a dull snap into a moody image.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Caterpillars on Burgazada

Photo thanks to Mark and Jolee Zola

I love the power of blogging. No sooner had I written about caterpillar traps than I got a reply from Mark and Jolee Zola in Burgazada saying that they had seen something resembling my description on their daily walks. The next day they sent photos and soon after an exciting email telling how they had met Forestry Commission employees tasked with getting rid of the nests. The island solution pictured above is apparently inadequate  to treat the large number of nests this year so the only solution is to cut and burn. Unfortunately funds and man power are also insufficient so Mark and Jolee have jumped into the breach and encouraged local friends to help them provide funds to help the forestry department recruit manpower to get the job done before the caterpillars drop to the ground. The Burgazada Muhtar and a construction company have also agreed to provide helpers.  I'm eagerly awaiting their next email to hear how their island has successfully beaten the Processionary Pine Caterpillar.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Calm your anxieties in Bodrum

Last year I wrote about my out of character participation in a Heart Math group session with Joyce McKay and about how much I enjoyed it and found it a useful tool to squash those niggling anxieties that visit us all from time to time.  This year Joyce is running another workshop in Bodrum at The Karia Princess Hotel on March 5th from 11:00 am to 4:30pm at a cost of 145TL which includes lunch. 

Joyce can be contacted via her website or her Facebook page 

If you missed last April's post, here is is. 

Open Mind to Open Heart

Sitting in front of a computer for a lot of the day, trying to get words on to a page, my brain definitely rules my heart. I'm analytical by nature and can rightly be accused of over scrutinising and dissecting words, events and people.   I used to be sceptical about anything I couldn't explain but since I moved back to Bodrum I've been much more open to ideas on the edge of conventional thinking. Even so  I am probably the last person you'd expect to sign up for a day's workshop of 'Heart Math'.  Until a month ago I'd not even heard the phrase and when I did, in my pedantic way, immediately thought "where is the s?", why isn't it 'Heart Maths'.  But in a moment of improbable mental tolerance, I decided to throw my prejudices to the wind and go along and see what it was all about, and I'm so glad I did.  Under the expert guidance of Joyce McKay, we learnt a simple technique to use the power of one's heart to balance biological systems and stop stress and negative thoughts and actions in a few seconds.  I've been practicing since Saturday and the 3am anxiety-insomnia which has plagued me for years has all but gone.
You'll have to go along to one of these sessions yourself to find out what goes on as it's difficult to define the experience.  My fellow participants, all strong, sassy, funny, intelligent and thoughtful women, made the day even more rewarding. I can only really say I went into the Marina Go Hotel in the morning with an open mind and came out a few hours later with an open heart and a nice warm feeling of calm, control and purpose.   Thanks, Joyce!

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Getting rid of processionary caterpillars.

Since writing about these pests on Wednesday I've been doing a bit of research to learn how to get rid of them.  As well as Turkey, many areas of France, Spain and Portugal are plagued with these caterpillars and the standard treatment is either to cut down the nests and burn them, which is feasible only if they are in low lying branches, or to drop insecticide by plane which kills all the insect life to the detriment of every bird and animal that feed off them.  By chance I saw an article about an area near Marmaris in Southern Turkey where the Forestry Department are having success with a natural method.   If I understood the process correctly,  about 250 nests full of caterpillars are collected and put together in an open space, a moat is then dug around them and filled with water to create an island.  The stranded caterpillars can't leave and start to die and attract flies (or maybe breed flies, it wasn't clear) which feed on the caterpillars and once they've eaten all on the island, go off and eat the ones in and around the surrounding trees. I tried to find out more about this method but didn't have any success so I'd love to hear from anyone who knows more.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Dog owners beware - the Processionary Pine Caterpillar is on the move

Walking in Hydra today I came across these caterpillars, nose to tail,  on the path. The uninitiated may be tempted to take a closer look but those in the know will give them a wide berth.  These are dastardly creatures which fire dust and spines at you if you get too close. At best this causes an irritation but children and allergic adults can be taken very ill.  If your dog gets near them and shows any signs of discomfort please head straight for the vet. Dogs can sniff the spines up into their nostrils    or walk over the caterpillars and get stung. Once the dog licks its paws, the poison gets into its mouth. This can be fatal or the dog can lose part of its tongue.  So if you are walking in an area with pine trees, look up and see if there are any of the nests in the trees. If so, I'd keep your dog on a short lead and watch where you step.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

In need of a peg

Waiting on my own for a ferry to Hydra at Piraeus may not be the best way to celebrate St. Valentine's Day, but this view should stir the romantic soul. This harbour entrance is the gateway to so many wonderful Greek islands that even those who find travelling a bore, can't fail to have their wanderlust excited just a bit....
That's how it should be but unfortunately this view has a very unpleasant surprise.  Such is the severity of the homeless situation in this area (not refugees, homegrown vagrants) that you need a peg on your nose when standing where his photo was taken because all the greenery and flower beds that separate the port from the main road are used as toilets so the stink is quite unbearable.   It was quite a relief today when the ancient hydrofoil fired up its engine and covered us in diesel fumes. 

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Bodrum Bunting

Who needs flags!

I'm still in an orange mood after my marmalade making marathon. These juicy fruits were snapped in Dereköy on Tuesday, which was one of those Spring days that makes the heart leap with the promise of a new season.  The almond blossom was making its first appearance, the birds were singing and the grass was so vibrantly green that I could have been tempted to graze. I was lucky to be on foot so could appreciate every shade and scent as I walked to my Greek session.   

Monday, 8 February 2016

The Marmalade Dilemma

It's marmalade time. Bodrum is full of citrus stalls which were a constant reminder that our cupboards were bare of preserves and that stocks needed to be renewed. But making marmalade creates a lot of steam so should ideally be done on a warm day when all the windows can be left open. This year so far, warm sunny days have been in short supply so the minute the temperature rises I want to be out walking not cooking. Inevitably the job was done on a cold wet day and the house got an extra dose of humid air that it could have done without.  My orange seller was so pleased that I wanted turunç, sour seville oranges, rather than sweet ones, that he threw in 2 kilos free and I was forced to make double quantities this year, So many golden jars twinkling at us from the shelf have proved too tempting as we've already got through 3.  I may have to have another boil up later this month.

I'm a great believer in the right tools for the right job and having a maslin pan, thermometer and metal funnel saves a lot of faffing around with scales and measuring jugs.

My recipe is simple: 15 sour oranges, 2 lemons, 3kg sugar.

I scrub the fruit well in case they have been sprayed with pesticides and put them in the pan with 4 litres of water. This is boiled for 2 hours and left to get cool.  I usually do this the night before.
I then scoop out the dimpled fruit into a bowl leaving the water in the pan and have another large bowl with a sieve on top near at hand.
I cut each fruit in half and use a spoon to scoop out the pips, flesh and pith into the sieve. With a pair of scissors I snip the remaining translucent peel into the maslin pan of water, which is full of orange flavour from the 2 hours of boiling.
Put the pan back on the heat to boil and scoop as many pips as you can from the sieve and tie them in a muslin square and pop it into the boiling water.  Pour the liquid from the bowl under the sieve back into the boiling pan.  Boil until you have 3 litres in your pan (see why the preserving pan with litre marks on the inside is so useful).
Take out the muslin square then add the 3 kilos of sugar and stir until dissolved and using your thermometer, boil until the mixture reaches 120 C/220F.  I find that 30 minutes at this temperature is enough to make it set, but test on a cold plate before you pour it into jars.   I wash my jars and put them into a cold oven and bring it up to just under100C for 10 minutes and pour the hot but not boiling marmalade into the hot jars to avoid cracking.  Oven gloves or asbestos fingers are mandatory for the bottling.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Digging deeper in Bodrum

I have mentioned before that I am drawn to newly dug holes.  I think the friends who graduated about the same time as I did will agree that a BA in Ancient History and Archaeology will not make one's c.v. irresistible to employers, but it certainly triggers a life long inability to walk past a recent excavation. Bodrum is one of the best places to live for someone with this habit as almost every hole uncovers a little gem of historical interest. Most of the time I don't know what I am looking at but am just happy to see whatever it is is still there.

Behind the police station there is a building plot that has dug into a necropolis of Halicarnassus. When I walked past in the Spring the archaeologists working on the site were reluctant to allow observers too close, but now the excavation is finished, the sarcophagi and other graves are unprotected  and easily viewable from the path and the sheeting that should be covering the mosaic has long ceased to serve that purpose.

A more recent "hole" has appeared on my daily dog walking route. An old house has been knocked down and before the foundations of the next can go up, the ground below has to be investigated.

I imagine the plot owner is cursing but these dressed stones look too substantial to have been cut in the past 1000 or so years and whatever is down the second ditch is worth covering up.  Seeing all the new buildings around this site makes me wonder how much was bulldozed and quickly removed to make sure construction wasn't held up in the past and grateful that this is less likely to happen now.