Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Don't you get bored in the winter?

One of the most frequently asked questions. Most people assume that places with an economy founded on tourism close down in the winter and become ghost towns. Maybe some do but Bodrum could never be accused of being boring.  I love October because all the winter activities start again and the cooler weather and acid bright skies generate an enthusiasm for new projects. School may be well over for the majority of us but there is still a familiar 'new term' feeling in the air. The Bodrum council has a long list of classes in languages, art, craft and professional qualifications; by the time I got back from Greece all the ones I wanted to join were full but I'll try to join in January when enrolment opens again.  But I'm not short of activities to pursue. 

October 7th marked our reading group's return to monthly meetings. We usually chat over tea, coffee and cake but our first meeting was a pot luck lunch.  Fantastic food as always with lots of intelligent comment, which makes me so grateful for living where I do. 

A few Wednesdays later it is time to decide what the photography group is going to do over the next few months. It can be quite difficult to concentrate when the view is so spectacular, but decisions are made.

And Martha Patrick is still dreaming up stimulating  prompts to galvanise our brains and get the writing muscles going. Hopefully the results of this practice will spill over to this blog.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Garova Vineyard

Two years ago I wrote about a visit to Mehmet Vuran's Garova vineyard and sang the praises of his wonderful wine.  As a hobby winemaker he was unable to sell his produce so we could only go away with one bottle as a gift. Last week I returned to Karanlık to visit his newly built winery. He now has a licence and will be producing 10,000 bottles this year and hopefully 15,000 next. The new building has a spacious balcony overlooking the vineyard, a production and storage area in the basement and ample room to host visitors.  This is an exciting development for the Karaova region as it will tempt tourists and coastal dwellers to travel inland and sample a few rural delights.  It is especially good news for me, as I now have the best wine in the region on sale within walking distance of my house. 
Photo credit Chris Drum Berkaya

November 2015 
Bonum vinum laetificat cor hominis
"Good wine gladdens a person's heart." -- Latin proverb

"Iyı şarap kalbini neşelendirir" --  Latince atasözü 

This blog is nearly 4 years old and this is the first time I've mentioned the vineyard 45 minutes walk from our house. There's a good reason. Despite walking past many times and chatting to the owner at various social events, we hadn't ever ventured inside. Considering the number of 75cl empty bottles I bag up and take out every week, this seems a serious and unexplainable oversight.  It took a visit from  a friend from my university days who, unlike me, recognises a good vintage when she tastes one, to inspire us to visit. 

Mehmet Vuran is the brains behind the establishment. He has planted several different grape varieties on his family farm and runs a hobby winery, i.e. all the produce is for home use or entertaining friends, he doesn't sell his wine. He opened a bottle of zinfandel for us and knocked us out - I get to try some serious wines when I'm at work and I can swear that Mehmet's wine was as good as any of the $75 plus wines I've tasted this year, in fact better.  I would have loaded up with enough cases for the rest of the year if I could have, but this wasn't an option.  

Helen, wine tasting in Pınarlı Belen. 
Mehmet kindly gave us a bottle to take away and we've kept it in the cupboard as it needed an appreciative audience to share it with us.  The opportunity came on Sunday and our label-less bottle got decanted into a vessel suited to its quality.  Second tasting was just as good as the first. 

Beautiful decanter thanks to Claire and Chris

So the good news is that fantastic wine is being made locally in the Bodrum area. The bad news is that you can't buy it. But the better news is that Mehmet's wine has received such good feed-back from vintners all over the world that he is considering turning his vineyard into a commercial enterprise. If he does, I'm thinking offering my services if he opens a cafe - as long as he pays me in wine. 

Mehmet writes a brilliant blog Garova Günlüğü, if you speak Turkish, it is a mine of information on agriculture, viticulture and local lore, if you don't, it's worth looking at just for the photographs. 

Friday, 27 October 2017

Blogs in Turkey

Many thanks to Leyla Yvonne Ergil for including BacktoBodrum in this list. I suggest you follow Leyla to read all the great articles she writes in English for DAILY SABAH newspaper.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Karaova Vine Harvest Festival - Evaluation

Yesterday I joined a press trip to the village of Karanlık to hear the organisers of this year's Vine Harvest Festival give an appraisal of the festival's impact. This was only the third time the event has happened in Mumcular: the first was a great success, the second a damp squib, but the third has been declared a winner. Visitor and exhibitor numbers were up by 30% and a greater variety of produce was on show. I was away in Greece but hear that I missed new businesses making tomato jam and bitter gourd remedies as well as a multitude of cheeses, carpets, kilims, olive oils and wine. I was sad not to see Travelling Joy's fig tart demonstration (click on the link for the recipe) and I also missed lectures on olive oil production and cheese making.  A procession through Bodrum on the Friday before the festival was credited for the increase in visitors, although I noticed posters and flyers up a couple of months before - unusual here where advertising is a very last minute affair.
Karaova-Der, the association responsible, under the leadership of Ali Öztürk, is keen to present their pastoral area as an antidote to the citification of the Bodrum peninsula. If agricultural and rural activities can be revived and made profitable, the next generation of villagers may not be bused out to work in mass tourism, but stay local and find employment in Eco tourism or countyside boutique hotels. 
This is of course music to my ears. When we built our house and moved to Karaova 25 years ago, most of our friends thought we were mad. It's nice to know that others are happy to sing Karaova's praises, even if it has taken a quarter of a century. 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Up and Down

Jake and I should be very fit. The last five weeks have involved a lot of steps. The top photo is half way up our bread run in Hydra. The bakery is in the corner of the harbour. We tackled these steps between 6:45 and 7:30am each day for one month; I was the more enthusiastic participant - although my calves and knees complained at first.  Every morning Jake enthusiastically bounded out of our studio but tried every trick in the book to avoid walking back up. 

These are a few of our afternoon steps; a more gentle slope down to Kamini bay, if only there was a Bakery here.  There were evening steps too, but Jake stayed at home - he'd had enough climbing by then.

So we were in good condition to embark on an archaeological marathon the day after we got back to Turkey.  This is Jake climbing the steps to the Temple of Apollo at Didyma - I was all for it but I'm sure he is thinking, "You have got to be joking".

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Normal service resumed as soon as possible

Both Jake and I are sorry for the dearth of posts - we have been so busy travelling that the iPad has been ignored.  Normal life should resume next week and we'll get fingers and paws back to the key board.