Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Well Worth A Listen

Maggie and Richard Moore with guide dog Star on a trip
to Bodrum. 

I really enjoyed listening to this interview with Maggie Moore, wife of Richard,  British Ambassador to Turkey.  Thanks to Maggie, Turkey will have its first guide dog and the ability to train more for the future. This is the first of a two part programme

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Present

The trees are bedecked in Bodrum; with fruit by day and lights in the evening. 

The Carol Service from King's College Cambridge is on the TV,  'Oh Come All Ye Faithful' is blasting out. 
The turkey is submerged in spiced, honeyed brine ala Nigella.
A be-cloved onion is floating in a saucepan of milk,
and the world's most expensive pork sausages have been wrapped in a king's ransom worth of bacon. 
There may be no church spire visible in the above photos but BacktoBodrum is ready for Christmas. 

Season's Greeting to one and all 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas Past

In September I met up with Ken Jennings, one half of the Gülsüm Balcony Project. He handed me a small piece recent history; a Christmas Greeting letter I'd sent out in 1997.  I hadn't kept a copy and could hardy remember writing it, but it makes interesting reading now.

"Inflation isn't showing any signs of slowing down.  £1 = 323,000TL.  Bread =35,000TL, 1lt petrol = 135,00 TL. "  
Taking devaluation into account that means in 1997 one UK pound in today's money was worth 0.323TL.  Today it is 4.3TL.  Somebody brighter than me please work out the real devaluation.

"The ever increasing foreign community organises a carol concert on the Friday before Christmas and this year there will be a Christmas Fair with tombola, wine tasting, children's plays, local crafts and a visit from Santa Claus." 
I do remember the hours of meetings I sat through helping to organise the first ever Christmas Fair in Bodrum with funds raised going towards the first children's library.  That library didn't survive but now there is a Festive Fair almost every day of the week in the run up to the New Year.

"A private hospital has just opened 100m from our office and another is opening in '98" 
This doesn't seem groundbreaking news but for us it was momentous. The local state hospital was scary so most Bodrumites traveled either to Muğla or Izmir for treatment - 2 to 4 hours on the road. The Özel Hospital is still going strong, the second opened, changed names a couple or more times and is now no more.

'First Choice, Airtours, Sunworld and Inspirations are selling flights to Milas-Bodrum airport"
Remember them?

"The international arrivals-departures building is due to be completed by January 98."
That building is now the domestic terminal and we have a much shinier International terminal.

"The town council now has a refuge for stray dogs and are collecting, sterilising, vaccinating and trying to find homes for strays" 
I'd forgotten the refuge opened so long ago.

"The keel was laid for Bodrum's first sail training ship"
It took a while and a lot of fund raising but it was built and is a fine sight in full sail.

"I'm sure that you will all be happy to hear that Mustafa has got married...I'm sure you will join us in wishing him and his wife Tülin a happy life together" 
Mustafa and Tülin are coming up to their 20th wedding anniversary in 2017, with daughter Aytaç at university and son Erdoğan a star pupil at secondary school and to round off  - here is a photo of the happy couple at my daughter's wedding this year.

Erdoğan, Celal,  Esi, Mustafa, Tülin and your truly. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Olive oil

"Good oil like good wine is a gift from the gods. The grape and the olive are among the priceless benefactions of the soil and were destined, each in its way, to promote the welfare of man"

I agree entirely with the words of 19th century horticultural scientist George Ellwanger but it turns out that most of what I know about olive oil is wrong.  I have the handicap of growing up in a country where I learnt that olive oil was only good for ear ache and thus sold in tiny bottles at chemist shops so didn't start eating olive oil until I was just into my 3rd decade. I did however make up for lost time and have had my own olive trees for over 25 years, but at a recent oil tasting session I learnt that:

1. The colour of the oil bears no relation to the quality only the variety of olive.
2. You can not tell the acidity of an oil from its taste.
3. Oil should be stored below 20 degrees C. Keep your oil in the fridge in the summer.
4. Good oil should burn the back of your throat, this shows that the health-giving antioxidants are still present.
5. To taste oil, pour into a glass and warm in both hands, sniff to detect scents of hay, apple, blossom etc. Roll around the mouth and pull through teeth to get the full flavour and feel the antioxidant 'burn'.
6. An olive starts to oxidise 5 seconds after it falls to the ground so olives shouldn't be knocked from the trees with sticks but collected in mechanised 'vibrating combs', stored in boxes not sacks and taken for immediate cold pressing. 
7. If you buy oil in large tins, decant into 1 litre or smaller glass bottles and keep them in the dark. Oil lasts for up to a year. Never buy in plastic bottles. 
So now I know that I have been buying and eating inferior olive oil for over 3 decades. To make up for lost time, I went out last week and bought a bottle of newly pressed wild olive oil and it's so good I've been pouring it on my porridge every morning. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Christmas presents

It's that time of year again, not my favourite I admit and this year I have little enthusiasm for Christmas shopping. My email inbox is already full of pressure to spend money.  Wouldn't it be nice if everyone ignored this big business push to empty our wallets and just bought items made by hand; artifacts made with love, care and thought, that support local communities rather than offshore bank accounts. I've made a start by buying myself a pair of earrings - you can see them on the board below - eucalyptus wood tipped with Bodrum blue resin. I know I will treasure them because they have a story. I saw where they were produced, know the hands that made them and met the dog that does her best to interrupt the creative process. You don't get that with

Salih Çakır makes this tactile jewellery in his workshop a few paces from his home in Bitez mandarin gardens, working alongside his wife, Aysel, who produces ceramics. Last year I bought two of Salih's olive wood chopping boards, one for me and one for my daughter and I think I have used my board almost if not every day since.  Salih started making furniture and will take on creative home decor projects but it is his wood and resin jewellery that is attracting attention in Turkey.

Each piece starts as a lump of coloured resin fused onto wood, the rough shapes are cut and then each piece is sanded down with increasingly fine sandpaper until the wood and resin shimmer. Each pair of earrings take several hours of work over 2 days so output is small and each piece is original.

Once the summer arrives you won't find Salih and Aysel in the workshop though, they will be on the beach with their kiteboards. Salih was Turkish Kiteboard Champion from 2011 to 2014 and Asian Champion in 2012, so if you are interested in a pair of earrings to match mine you should take a look at Lignum Design's website before the sun and breeze call the woodworker back to the sea.

Salih will be at the Trafo Christmas Fair in Bodrum on Sunday 11th December

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