Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Sisterhood in Yalıkavak

We Brits may have a reputation for being strait-laced, uptight and rather reserved but invite us to Happy Hour in a bar, give us a pair of maracas, bongos or a jar of pebbles and stand back and watch us keep the beat with the rest of the world.

Karen Wilson sent out the call to be at The Cafe Minör in Yalıkavak, I have no idea what we were doing but it was great fun and will search out my school recorder for the next one.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Sitting Ducks

I'm a night bird who very rarely gets up early so it was a treat to see the sun rise on Thursday.

With a flask of tea, The Hamlyn Guide to Birds of Europe and an ancient pair of binoculars in my backpack, I joined Lon and Kim on one of their regular trips to count migratory birds. 

As Autumn mornings go, it couldn't have been bettered; watching the steam rising from the water and mingling with the mist was quite magical but it very soon became apparent that we weren't the only ones looking for ducks.

We met National Park rangers on our way who warned us that there were fifteen hunting parties around the creek and lake, that they all had official permits and were bagging their self-regulated quota of duck. 

Decoy ducks had us fooled for a few minutes

So, apart from the occasional grebe, the only ducks to be counted were plastic, the others were staying out of shooting and binocular range and any survey had to be abandoned.

But on an impromptu ramble through the undergrowth, I found a this quill, so we could at least record that porcupines were around.

For those of you with busy lives, here is 17 seconds of tranquility from S. W. Turkey. 

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Moving on.

Treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.”   — Quentin Crisp
I haven't written for a while because there are a couple of subjects which cry out for comment, but committing thoughts to paper has been too depressing to contemplate so it is easier to just avoid writing anything.  But, I've given myself a good talking to, had a good look around and have convinced myself that the vast majority of the Bodrum population neither wants to legitimise child abuse nor to build on every available inch of green space, so I will avoid discussing these subjects and write about an afternoon which made me glad I live where I do. 

After the wedding, my daughter and her new husband travelled back to their honeymoon hotel in a minibus so their car was left with me.  I offered to deliver it back to them at the hotel and get a bus back to our village.  Being able to get home on public transport is still a novelty for me as for years we had none. Now there are buses from Bodrum to our village at noon and a few in the early evening.  I was aiming for the midday bus.  I delivered the car to the hotel on one side of Bodrum and power-walked to the garage on the other side of the town, picking up prescriptions and lost sunglasses on the way, and was standing at the bus stop by 11:55.   But the bus didn't pass by.  At 12:15,  I was convinced that the route must have changed and I'd been standing at the wrong bus stop so I walked back into the main garage, pretty much convinced that I would have to wait for the next bus at 5pm. No one was sure what had happened to my midday bus, but the driver of the Camlık/Etrim bus recognised me, knew where I lived and told me to hop on. Thus I was given an 40 minutes long, unguided tour of the back roads of villages I have only every driven straight through. After dropping off all his regular passengers, he drove me a further 8 kms to my garden gate and wouldn't take anymore than the regular 6 TL.  This doesn't happen on public transport in the country of my birth and I must keep reminding myself that it is the people who define a country not its politicians. 

Friday, 11 November 2016

Pomegranate skins

It is pomegranate season and the tree beside my back door is full. I've picked and juiced several oversized fruit and there are lots of small ones waiting to ripen.  Walking home in the dark a couple of nights ago, I headed a low hanging fruit as I looked down to search for my keys. It didn't fall which means it is not ready but I will use a less painful method to test their ripeness next time. I had earlier had an altercation with a low hanging bougainvillea bush so already had a sore scalp. The vegetation is out to get me. 

I've been eating this fruit for several decades, (ignoring the advice I was given as a nine year old that the seeds would give me appendicitis), always throwing the peel on the compost heap but this year I read that I should be eating all the fruit so I decided to give it a go.  The peel should be stripped of the white pith and dried either in the sun or a low oven (my thermostat has broken so I have burnt several attempts). The brittle skin can then be ground in a spice grinder.

The resulting powder is high in vitamin C, ellagic acid and other anti-oxidants, and can be mixed in hot water and drunk as a tea to help ease sore throats, coughs and gum problems,  mixed to a paste with milk or rose water and used as a facepack, or added to soups, yogurts, cerals etc.   I finally managed to dry one skin and have been adding it to my porridge for the past few days. I hope it stops me walking into trees.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

In a pickle with the Police

I am very law abiding - I'm also a bit obsessive about having the correct papers and licences. I also possibly have an OCD about insurance so after Teo died I went not once, not twice but three times to the bank to check all our insurance policies were in order.  They were, I was assured, all three times. How long have I lived here?  I really should have known better.

On the Thursday before the wedding I was driving home with the car stuffed to the brim with booze. Jake was squashed into a corner of the back seat by 4 cases of wine and I had beer in the boot and Rakı in the front, so I suppose it was sod's law that I got stopped by the traffic police for a routine check. Aware in these increasingly alcohol-averse times that I was a mobile caricature of a middle-aged ex-pat, I started to explain about the wedding but the cop wasn't interested. My compulsory road insurance was out of date.  Now I was pretty confident that it wasn't but my agent was on holiday so I rang her assistant. She was on a course in Istanbul but answered anyway but couldn't do anything until her lecture finished.  So being Turkish, I ignored my British reticence to disturb a well earned holiday and rang my agent's mobile and she, being Turkish, answered, even though she was on a beach.  She was equally sure that I was legal, having faced me three times in the past three months. She would ring back in 5 minutes. She didn't.  By this time I had been asked to step out of the car and a fine had been issued, as according to the polite policeman, the computer is never wrong and my insurance had run out (but my tax and fully comp insurance were fine, but that didn't cut any ice). By now Jake was also out of the car and we were both sitting in the roadside traffic office, tea had been provided plus the number of an insurance agent to get me the required piece of paper as my agent had suddenly remembered that she was on holiday and wasn't returning calls.  But the car was still in Teo's name as I'd been desperately trying to finish the paper work for the two houses before Esi's wedding. As Teo was no more, I couldn't buy the insurance - stalemate.  The car would be towed away.  I'm glad to say I found this situation funny, the only real annoyance was that I had had my always-messy car valeted that morning as I was picking up family from the airport later in the day. The friend I rang also laughed when I explained what had happened but did arrange a hire car for me. My son-in-law-to-be was very gracious in driving 35kms to collect me, the dog and the booze and taking me home, and my house guests very kindly drove me to the airport to collect the hire car so I could pick up my family. Even the policeman said he was very sorry to have stopped me and if he'd known about my husband he wouldn't have. (Not sure how I could have indicated my newly widowed status while driving - suggestions please below)
Eight days later I got my car back after a 90 TL fine paid at a government approved bank,  150TL notary expenses to change the car into my name, 1,850 TL for compulsory insurance (it was 500 last year, but I had to use the probate to do it as you can't change the name without insurance unless the maximum possible is charged), 85 TL for a change of log book, 480 TL for the hire car and 330TL to get my car out of the pound. Just the kind of expense one needs after a wedding! And if there is a moral to this story I think it is either 'ride a bicycle', 'don't die' or 'immediately burst into tears if a policeman stops you'.