Saturday, 30 December 2017

Happy New Year

A New Year's resolution for all of all living in Turkey. 

Expect the Unexpected

Here's to what 2018 brings us. 

Friday, 29 December 2017

Where does Santa spend the New Year?

After a busy 24 hours whizzing around the world on the back of a sleigh coping with grumpy reindeer, overcrowded flight paths and blocked up chimneys, Santa needs a break.  Rather than head back to the North Pole, this year he was spotted on Wednesday sipping a complimentary mulled wine at The Mayor's Christmas Drink's Party for Bodrum's international residents.  Despite keeping a low profile, the local press caught sight of him and he graciously gave a short interview. General confusion reigned and the TV footage hasn't to my knowledge been aired, so I think Mr Claus has managed to keep his winter holiday destination a secret known only to a select few (to which you are now admitted - don't tell any one else).

Bodrum Mayor, Mehmet Kocadon, welcoming guests to his Christmas cocktail party.

Santa enjoying a well earned glass of wine with Ayşe and Mine.

I was very chuffed to hear that SC sometimes reads this blog so he might add a few comments himself, although he may write under the alias of 'John' to preserve a degree of anonymity. 

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

The Gift of Stillness

The best gift we can give to ourselves is inner peace. It's not always easy to find especially when others seem to conspire to make our lives difficult.  I have spent the past six months trying to follow the rule that I can not affect what happens to me or what others do but I can control how I react to it. It is a very effective method for keeping all those big and little niggles of life under control. It takes a bit of practice but I can thoroughly recommend it.

My daughter and I spent 25th December in Gümüşlük.  It was one of those lovely December days when the sun warms the air enough to feel comfortable but the chill is still licking your ankles to remind you it's winter.  The sun rays were picking up ripples in the bay turning the sea silver, and bouncing off glasses and cutlery in the restaurants making everything into a shimmering Christmas decoration.  We both sat and watched the sea feeling peacefulness envelope. To quote Lou Reed it was 'Just a Perfect Day.' 

Dog at peace

The locals were friendly and  up for a selfie. 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Bodrum turns orange

While those of you in the Christian world are wondering if you have enough Brussels sprouts or if Auntie Jean will notice that you have bought her a scarf for the 6th Christmas in a row, in Bodrum we are celebrating the mandarin orange.  And today was very orange. The municipality distributed orange beanie hats and scarves and swathed a lot of orange chiffon around. 

What has a camel got to do with small citrus fruit? Who cares - two very photogenic camels led the mandarin procession - followed by a brass band and dancing children - from the marina to the town square where stalls representing various charities and businesses were set up selling mandarin inspired goods (although some weren't anything to do with citrus but again, who cares)

These high school students were raising money to build a park specifically for disabled children. 

I caught up briefly with two famous bloggers and TV cooks, Oya Emerk and Sibel Yalçin who were off to take part in a citrus breakfast and then various cookery demonstrations. 

The weekly handicrafts stalls got their share of chiffon and orange hats and a few extra customers for their stalls ....

...and the children danced beautifully.

No this giant mandarin wasn't erected specially for the week-end festival. It's a permanent fixture. 

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Nature Hater.

“The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.”

Mark Twain

My distant neighbours enjoying a peaceful moment in my forest garden.
The locals understand, unfortunately too many people are coming in with city ideas. 

My husband frequently used to say that the more people he met, the more he valued his dog's company.  I am also coming around to the same point of view.  I couldn't write this post on Sunday because I couldn't see for the feathers I was spitting. 

I live in a forest. We bought a piece of land in 1991, full of pine tress, olive trees, wild bulbs and sakiz bushes (Pistacia lentiscus). Apart from the courtyard and beds around the house terraces, it is totally uncultivated and wild. Each year the emergence of the stately asphodels - the everlasting flower said to grow in the Elysian Fields, red hot and cool pastel anemones, intricate and shy orchids and blowsy poppies is a joy to watch.  I went back to check the house a couple of weeks ago and a lot of bulbs had been dug up and left on the ground. I initially thought the wild boar had been super active but then my nearest neighbour, who, about 3 years ago, built a house near mine, on the other side of the lane, came up to encourage me to admire his work.  He had begun to "tidy" my garden because it looked like a forest.  I went over for a coffee and politely explained that yes it did look like a forest because it was a forest and had been for the 25 years I'd lived here and that was how we, and now I liked it.  He told me he couldn't understand why I wanted my garden to look like this and that it would be much better if a tractor came in and ploughed up the land, and that two pine trees were overshadowing two olive trees and that wasn't good and it upset him to look at them!!!! so could he at least take those two branches off.  I reluctantly said yes to the two branches but that he was not to do anything else.  He wife was also there and she also heard me say several times that I liked MY garden how it was and he wasn't to do any more 'tidying'.   

So when I went back on Sunday to see that all the sakiz bushes in front of my terrace had been cut down and more asphodel bulbs dug up, you can imagine my feelings.  Luckily I was so angry that I forgot the Turkish for at lot of the expletives I remembered and voiced on the way home.  
When my husband was alive the neighbour wouldn't have dared cross the gate. Is this what it is to be from now on? 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Countdown to Christmas

 The decorations have been up for over a week, a few presents are waiting to be wrapped and I have finally made a Christmas pudding. I missed stir-up Sunday by a long stretch but the pudding production hit a snag earlier this month. I got all the ingredients together, sacrificed some very good brandy to soak the dried fruit and had everything in a large glass bowl for the final stir when a moment's distraction had the bowl spinning in mid air then shattering into a thousand pieces on the kitchen floor.  It took me a while to get over the disappointment enough to be able to start again from scratch.

Christmas/Noel/New Year fairs are in full swing - I'm limiting myself to one a week and will pick up a few tasty goodies at the Gümbet Christmas sale on Saturday. It seems silly to make my own mince pies when there are so many delicious homemade ones on offer now. I have avoided shopping malls this year and can happily report that I haven't heard one Christmas song - I'm beginning to crave some Slade and Wizard to get me into the Xmas mood - but the search for a turkey and cranberries will begin mid week and then it will really begin to feel Christmassy.

Bodrum Spor had an early Christmas present this week. After a poor showing in their first season in the second league, they finally managed to grab 3 points from an away win which will hopefully give them confidence to avoid relegation back to the third league when the season starts in the new year.  I'm not a football fan but good luck to them. 

Friday, 15 December 2017

Waste not - Want not

To celebrate Mother Earth Day and Local Food Week, there was free grub on offer in Bodrum market today.  Under a banner proclaiming 'Herşey Dahil İsraf Hariç'  which I can roughly translate as 'Everything Included Except Waste' - soup, bread and mandarins were handed out to an expectant crowd. Observing the spirit of the day - the soup was 'çercöp' which is made with whatever vegetable leftovers you have on the day, usually the stalks of celery and leek that might otherwise get thrown away, and the bread was 'peksimet' - which I think we would call rusks or the sort of hard tack, dried bread that sailors or travellers would take on a long journey.  

As we are entering a time of ridiculous over consumption, this was a good reminder to buy local food, avoid imported goods and use everything up.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Bodrum Party Pooper

My daily walk takes me in front of what is left of the Halikarnas Disco.  There was a lot public grief when the owner announced that it would not be opening this year (the landowners have long been trying to get their building back) but there were no tears from me.  I can't count the number of nights, wide awake at 3 am, I imagined myself at the controls of a massive wrecking ball, knocking the source of the unbearable din to the ground.  So the above picture is the culmination of a 3 decade old fantasy.  It wasn't just that the music was loud and went on until the early hours of the morning when I had to get up early for work, it was the incessant bass turned up so loud that it penetrated walls and worked its way into your very cells - my diaphragm jumped to the cords chosen by the DJ, not my own lungs.   I should really thank this disco - it was a major factor in us deciding to move out into the countryside in 1991 - no longer being able to put up with the sleep disruption.

1983 - an after-work drink in the quiet Halikarnas days. I know it is after work because I am in my Yachtours gear. 

I've just looked up the Halikarnas Disco's Trip Adviser reviews for the past few years and they are pretty evenly split between, to paraphrase, 'absolutely amazing experience' and 'bloody awful rip off. ' Before it 'blinged out' and started looking like an overdecorated wedding cake, it was a pleasant venue; a relaxing place to have a drink looking out over the castle and a venue for fashion shows - I even played ping pong there (how hip is that - I really knew how to have a good time).  In 2007, on a holiday from England, my then 15 year old daughter insisted on a visit to the disco and - because we all do daft things on holiday - we paid a large sum of money for entry and a warm beer. She never wanted to go back again.

Friday, 8 December 2017

December Morning in Bodrum

The North Wind has been blowing through Bodrum whisking away all the southerly haze; bringing us cold crisp mornings, an excuse to pull on woolly gloves and hats and the chance to walk on the sunny side of the street after seven months of lurking in the shade.  The sunlight is however much brighter than that of an August day and easily blinds me if I forget my sunglasses.  My morning walk check list is therefore: 
Coat, hat, dog lead, poop bags, purse with ID card, door keys, very dark glasses and stick. 
I am reasonably ably bodied and don't need a walking stick but there are quite a few new stray dogs on the streets that Jake hasn't met before and he has twice felt teeth nipping him on his bottom.  The stick is a good deterrent when pointed forcefully at the potential aggressor's face. 
The stick is what I think is now called a 'trekking pole' and is red and silver - not white. I often meet people on my walks, nearly always familiar faces but this lady was a stranger.  We fell into conversation on the harbour front and it was a good five minutes before her combined actions and words made me realise that she was under the impression that I was blind.  Now if I was a 100% true blood Turk, I would have just said "You think I'm blind don't you. I'm not"  But I came over all British and tried to think of a way of showing her I could see without having to say anything that might embarrass her.  
So if you saw me doing a rather inelegant hop and jump over the high curb stones and a wide swerve around a bench - you now know why. 

I wasn't the only one with perception confusion yesterday. The dog that has to be goaded into the water on the hottest day of the year decided to go paddling on one of the coldest.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

November in a rush

I have a list on my desk headed "Posts for November" - I could rip it up and pretend it never existed or I could just race through the subjects and call it a 'November Review'.
The beautiful picture above was taken on a wonderfully tranquil November morning. Our photography group had had to abandon several visits to Tuzla/Boğazici at the beginning of the year due to bad weather, but this day was perfect and the flamingos and cormorants  posed for snaps too.

Bodrum staged a far ranging three day motor rally in mid-November which I managed to miss completely, so no pictures I'm afraid.  Later in the month there was 'Bodrun'.  A two day event with races in all distances from 5km to 100km.  I did at least catch the very end as the long distance runners staggered back.

These lovely crocus flowers made their annual November appearance proving that we really do have a 'last spring' rather than Autumn.  The weather has been kind too. I have only fired up the wood stove 3 times and that was more for effect than necessity.

I went to two historical/archaeological talks. The first was a lecture on the two Artemisias and Ada; super powerful female rulers in Halicarnassus. School children from Gümüşlük acted out scenes from Artemis 1 and 11's greatest victories. All history should be taught like this - they will never get the two rulers mixed up ( as I sometimes do) .  The second talk was on the excavations at Gebekli Tepe which have changed everything I learnt about pre-history at university.  I went with great expectation to the  English talk but was very disappointed.  A mere 18 minutes of lack-lustre reading from a script, I wish I'd gone to the talk in Turkish which lasted over twice as long but was packed solid.

It has been a bumper year for olives. Mine are still on the trees so I have missed the chance to make high quality oil as we have had a couple of downpours.  Any olives picked now will produce greater quantities of oil but at a higher acidity.  Usually I have plenty of offers from neighbours to pick my olives but everyone has so many of their own this year, no one wants mine. My nearest neighbour tells me I have 24 olive trees and I thought it odd that in 25 years I have never counted but he has.   Any one want any olives?