Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Bayram or Bedlam - Boon or Blight

Detail of Bodrum mosaic by Neslihan Zabci Erdal
According to the news, 220,000 cars arrived into Bodrum for the three day Bayram holiday, I made the mistake of driving in on Friday so they may have counted me too, I didn't stay long and thanked the mad whim in 1991 that made us build a house out in the countryside - way off the Bodrum peninsula.  I can at least provide a quiet hideaway for friends and family that want to avoid the traffic jams, loud music and influx of city manners (or lack of them) that take over our South Western bit of Turkey.
I'm sure hoteliers and restaurant owners will be heaving a big sigh of relief as they have at last had full hotels and tables, but if I can offer one piece of advice in this blog, it's to check the dates of religious holidays before you book a trip to Turkey and make sure yours don't coincide.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Things that go bump in the night

While Europe boils, we too have been having unseasonable weather - but no one is complaining because it has been cooler than normal and we've had late rain which is a boon for farmers and gardeners. I am neither but have been enjoying the unusual pink clouds that have been floating past the village. 

I wasn't sure how I would cope with living in the middle of nowhere by myself; daytimes are fine and I'm getting used to the solitary evenings.   Jake is not as laid back as I am, he takes fright at every bird that lands in the vines and squirrel that scurries up the pines, so he is frantically barking most of the night.  He probably thinks his name is now 'Shut Up Jake' as that is what he constantly hears from me.  I woke up at 3am a couple of nights ago to a frantic dog and was about to shout at him when I too heard the banging of metal gates.  I knew they were locked, but this sounded like someone attacking them with a battering ram.  Phone in hand, making sure I had the gendarmerie number on speed dial, I turned on the lights and looked out - nothing.  Assuming that the barking and lights had put off any would-be intruder I went to bed and read a book.  I'd just dropped off again when the whole rattling kicked off again and still no one.  It was almost light now so I went outside  and found the culprit. It's amazing that such a small animal, intent on getting through a metal gate, can make so much noise.  I put him out but in the morning he was back inside again so he obviously only knows how to enter, not exit. 
I've named him Theresa May. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Rowing ın Bodrum

I've been out in the countryside so have missed some of the exciting new things going on in Bodrum.
This has to be the best one - B.A.Y.K  (Bodrum open sea sailing club) have introduced rowing to their waterborne activities and have been offering free 30 minute try-out sessions in Bodrum Marina. (still a couple of days to take advantage of this if you are nearby). Both experienced and complete novices are welcome and hopefully a Bodrum rowing team will soon be in-training.

The Aegean is not know for its flat seas and these craft are specially built to cope with waves.
I was quite sad watching today's rowers start their lesson as Teo, my husband, was always keen to start rowing but there were no clubs near here - it has come too late for him, but let's hope there are some Bodrum folk who are just finding out that they have a talent for rowing which could have lain undiscovered.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Cooking for one

It is quite difficult to drum up enthusiasm for cooking when there is only one person in the house, but the markets are so full of great ingredients this month, it would be a shame to live on omelettes or cheese on toast which seem to be the go to quick meals for singletons.  

On Thursday I bought a bunch of small beetroot with leaves, red onions and a kilo of samphire and used them to make three meals.  I first peeled and thinly sliced one onion, put it in a bowl with half a teaspoon each of sugar and salt and rubbed the slices well until the juices started to run.  This method takes the bitterness out of the onion and leaves crisp sweet slivers. I then cut off the stalks from the beetroot and put them to one side and put the beets into a roomy saucepan of water to boil for 15 minutes, I then added the stalks to the pan and 5 minutes later added the leaves for two minutes and drained the lot together and cooled under running cold water.  In the same pan I poured a litre of water from the kettle and added the whole kilo of samphire.  While the samphire was cooking -about 10 minutes, I slipped the skins off the cooled beetroot and cut them into eighths, cut the stalks into eatable lengths and squeezed the moisture out of the leaves.  These all went to a large salad bowl.  Drain the liquid from the onions and add those too and once the samphire is cooked (test it by seeing if the green part will squeeze easily off the inner spiny skeleton) drain and run under cold water and then holding the root in one hand, use thumb and forefinger to slid the green stems off the hard white 'branches'. Add this and a good slug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the salad bowl and stir well.  

This base will keep in the fridge for a few days and if cheese is added on day one, tuna and olives on day two and hard boiled eggs and anchovies on day three, it doesn't feel like you are eating the same meal three times. If you can't find samphire, lightly steamed broccoli or cauliflower can be used instead. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017


Renewable Energy Systems. It sounds good on paper.  Does it look good? This is a picture of my house although you will need a magnifying glass to find it. These turbines won't directly affect me as I can't see or (hopefully) hear them from my garden but they are already changing how we live in the village. Yesterday I was driving home when a cement mixer, going so fast that it was almost obliterated in dust, nearly ran me off the road.  As it approached I pulled over and frantically waved my arm out of the window. The driver screached to a halt and backed up. Uh oh I thought, what's going to happen now. He wanted to know what was wrong.  I told him he was going too fast for such a narrow road. He said sorry, but he thought the mixers had the road to themselves.  I told him he was wrong; cows, sheep and the occasional camel and their drivers used the road. School buses and moped users used it. Dogs were walked along it and it was my way home. He again said sorry but it brings it home how the builders of these turbines have no concept of the life that has to continue around them. These hills were home to the Lelegians well over two millennium ago. We're any archaeologists on site when the massive holes were dug for the foundations?  Will the pine trees survive when the blades start turning and reduce the moisture in the air?  Will the amount of energy each turbine produces in its short lifetime justify the amount of energy needed to build, transport and erect it?  Wouldn't a solar energy plant be more appropriate in an area where it is sunny nearly every day but not nearly so windy? Would it not have been at least polite to consult local community leaders before the project went ahead?  
My only consolation is that they are better here than on the Bodrum peninsula where some are to be sited dangerously close to villages.  The sad fact is that despite protests and court cases, the construction in these contentious sites is still going on. 

Monday, 5 June 2017

Marmaris re-visited

In January 1981 I applied for a job as a cook on a 71ft ketch called Sinbad Severne.  The boat was moored in Rhodes which was handy as I had been working in Northern Greece and was learning to speak Greek. I got the job and in March, I flew out to Rhodes keen to try out my conversational skills. I'd only been there a couple of days when we upped anchor and set out for Turkey. Our first port was Marmaris and despite the decision made back in 1974 never to set foot on Turkish soil again, I was overawed by sailing into the fjord-like gulf of Marmaris. It should be on everyones' bucket list. And contrary to my first experience of Turkey, everyone I met was friendly, respectful and funny. They were 6 months into a military government and there was a curfew at night, but then as now,  everyone made us feel welcome and safe.
Last Thursday I drove to Marmaris for a wedding in Içmeler and again I was impressed by the approach. Steep wooded valleys and water gushing from the hillsides made me determined to use the word 'verdant' in my next post.
Marmaris has changed more than Bodrum in the intervening 36 years and after a 'lost period' in the 90s, it is now looking good. The the old town behind the main quay, where Sinbad Severne tied up all those years ago,  is a delight to walk around.  The castle houses a museum and winding streets house craft shops, an art gallery and cafes.  I hope all the visitors staying close to the long sandy beaches make the effort to visit the heart of Marmaris.

Jane Ecer on the walk up to her house

Friday, 2 June 2017

Welcome June

June 1st brought the British Ambassador to Turkey,  Richard Moore and his wife Maggie into town. He met local residents for an informal lunch before chatting to press and continuing on his round of meetings with Governors, Police and Gendarme chiefs

It's reassuring to know that the Consular team are all working hard to make sure Turkish resorts are as safe as possible for UK residents and visitors,  but after listening to our esteemed Ambassador, the photographers were keen to take pictures of Star, Maggie's guide dog.  I couldn't take Jake along with me as he'd have been heartbroken to realise that there was a much more famous canine than him in town.