Friday, 28 December 2018

New Museum in Milas

The site is up and running but I still haven't managed to switch my mailing list over so I will continue to put some of the more important posts on Blogger. 
If you are a Facebook user, you can like my BacktoBodrum on Facebook page and you will see all the new posts.  
Do watch the video below - an audacious tomb raid the thieves felt so comfortable executing that they make a home movie. 
A new museum has quietly opened in Milas. If there has been a grand inauguration, I’ve missed it.  This low key start belies the exciting archaeological find in the centre of Milas, the discovery of which would make a great Hollywood blockbuster – I can already see George Clooney as the lead.
In 2010, a daring tomb raid was discovered. The thieves rented a house in the dilapidated centre of Milas,  drilled a wide tunnel down  several metres and then across until they bored through  marble and discovered a sarcophagus surrounded by elegant wall paintings.   All this went on without the authorities getting wind of it. Travelling back from Istanbul one time we met a chap whose mother lived in an old house very close to this escapade. She constantly complained to her family that she could here strange noises and they just told her that she had tinnitus. So confident were these thieves/treasure hunters that they then made a video of their discovery and it’s on YouTube for us all to see.

Who organised this raid is still unknown (or unpublished). Through all my time organising tours to the area, this part of Ancient Mylasa was referred to as a temple so it was news to many of us that there was a burial chamber here and the excavations started after the raid was discovered have pretty much proved that this is was a mausoleum dedicated to Hekatomnus, father of Mausolus  ( So should we now call all mausoleums – hekotomneums?).

Friday, 26 October 2018

All Change

New address, new layout.

From now on BacktoBodrum will be at The Blogger site will continue but I won’t be updating it regularly and I hope all regular visitors will switch over to the new address.  Sorry to give you something else to do but I hope you will stick with us. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

A foot or two in Sagalassos

The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.     
Leonardo da Vinci

I've been dragging my heals writing about Sagalassos so it’s about time I put my best foot forward and stepped up to the challenge. This will probably be my last post in Blogger as I have just signed up to Bluehost with a new address and will be switching to Wordpress so I can continue blogging on my phone. It is not proving easy to master the new format even with friend Simon doing all the hard work.  It is fitting then to dedicate this post to Marcus Aurelius,  one of the five ‘good’ Roman emperors - philosopher and stoic, whose marble head and two legs remaining from his giant statue, were discovered in the bathhouse at Sagalassos  and now sit in the Burdur Museum. 

His writings, which later became known as ‘Meditations’ are widely regarded as one of the most influential philosophical works and have inspired leaders through out the centuries. A stoic attitude will help combat the urge to throw the computer out of the widow as I fail to get to grips with Wordpress.

These photos of the excavation were displayed at the site. Oh  to have been there when the first tentative sweeps of a trowel uncovered one  toe, then the next. Although from the above photo, it looks like his knees saw the light of day first. 

Friday, 19 October 2018

On the move

This is not what I envisaged ‘Blogging on the go’ to be but it has been the only way I could get photos on to my page.  As I left the village house, my trusty German car reminded me that I had a precious cargo in the front seat and I had to stop to fix the seat belt around my desk top.  This strategy is obviously no use for travel further a field so this weekend I will endeavour to swap BacktoBodrum over to Wordpress, which hopefully can be fully managed from an iPhone or iPad. I’ve been with Blogger for nearly 7 years and it has been fine for what I wanted but a shove is as good as a push and I’m being belatedly kicked up to the next stage.  All tips and suggestions for a smooth transition will be gratefully received.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Özlem Warren in Bodrum

I'm very excited that Özlem is coming to Bodrum. Don't miss her talks in the downstairs lecture room in the Oasis Shopping Centre on Thursday 25th October.  English is at 15:00 and Turkish at 16:30.  There will be a chance to get a signed copy of her wonderful cookery book which no kitchen should be without. Further details of her Bodrum demonstrations and worldwide travels are available on clicking this link

A Cookery Dream

Özlem Warren's Blog  has been my go-to destination for recipe checking and inspiration for several years now.  I joined the chorus of her many friends urging her to put all her recipes in one place and write a book.  She has gone further than this and produced a cookery memoir that paints an aromatic picture of what it is like to grow up in a Turkish household that appreciates its Eastern Mediterranean culinary heritage. Özlem has written a book that is so lovely to look at that my copy will be kept on the coffee table, not on the kitchen shelf. 

Book Launch in Vout-O-Reenee's

Congratulations to Özlem for creating a work of art - on the page this time rather than on a plate, and to have sold over 700 hardback copies before the book has hit the bookshops, shows how many fans she has around the world.  

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Frangipani 2

This is a test to see if I can add photos on Blogger using my iPhone and Google drive 

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Good news for dog walkers

Taking a dog into a bank in the past was a bit of a grey area, sometimes we were let in sometimes shooed out but today Murat, the friendly security guard at Ak Bank, confirmed that legally all well behaved pets on a lead have to be allowed to accompany their owners into the bank. That's very good news for Jake and me as I can now comfortably do my banking during our morning walk rather than before or after.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Bodrum is buzzing but I can’t show you the pictures

Where is the photo you ask - I’m asking the same question on every forum I can find about blogging. After losing my iPad and iPhone in the same week, I decided to buy a big phone to take the place of both. As everything is backed up in iCloud, I chose an iPhone 8 Plus with all the bells and whistles and massive price tag.  I have used the Blogger app on my iPad for the past 6 years so assumed I would just carry on only to find that it is no longer available for iPhones. I can use the web version on my phone to add text but it won’t download photos.   Hours of trawling the net came up with an app only downloadable to an iPad. Friend Angela luckily had an iPad mini for sale at a non-eye watering price, so I drove over to Yalıkavak on Sunday to collect it.  I set it up, installed the app to find that despite the description in the App Store, it didn’t support Blogger.  The only alternatives I have now are to 1. Buy a Google-friendly tablet or 2. Swap the blog to Wordpress.  Or I just have to stick near my desktop which still supports the blog but as it is now over 10 years old, there is a fair chance that it will give up the ghost soon. The first option is more expense, the second is daunting.  Any advice would be very welcome. 

Friday, 5 October 2018

Paws for a coffee

A pause was needed today - a dash in the pouring rain on Monday with a rucksack full of shopping lead to a smashed iPad.  Old age (the phone, not me) caused my iPhone to black-out on Thursday resulting in confusion over a missed rendezvous, (sorry again if you are reading this!)  A miss-placed brush while painting and drinking G&T at the same time ended with the glass and now purple drink crashing down on the floor.  Today was a day of picking up pieces.  It started well with a trip to Şule's to choose a colour for my new kitchen cupboards.  The shop wasn't open but I spent a very pleasant 30 minutes in Joy Art cafe next door, drinking very good coffee with Jake by my side.  I'm very happy to find another comfortable spot that allows well behaved dogs inside.  We shall go back to sample the food. 

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Sagalassos Lodge and Spa

For once ignore the archaeological remains in this photo, I'll write about them next, but concentrate on the large orange building on the left.  This is the Sagalassos Lodge & Spa where friend Helen and I based ourselves for 3 nights to explore the treasures of Pisidea.  An inspired location at 1250 metres high and only 4 kms from the ancient site, the hotel grounds spread over 40,000 square metres of forest.  We made full use of the facilities as soon as we arrived and any lingering Lake Salda clay was washed off in the hammam and steamed out in the sauna, followed by a swim in the indoor pool with a panoramic view of the valley below. We even splashed out on an aromatherapy massage from Kaya, the resident modern-day Gaia who kneaded some life back into our tired muscles after we'd spent 6 hours walking around Sagalassos.

The food is locally sourced, tasty and extremely good value and the staff friendly and helpful. Go at the right time and there are yoga classes, art exhibitions, organised forest walks and bicycles are available in a rack by the entrance.  It is also very pet-friendly. You will be met by Fox the hotel labrador and six other mutts of various shapes and sizes are looked after by the staff. I didn't take Jake this time as museums don't have the same relaxed attitude to dogs but I will definitely go back with him on my next trip to the Taurus Mountains.

Friday, 28 September 2018

A morning smile

Look who we met at Yalvaç museum.  Discovered close to Pisidian Antioch this lion made me smile too. 

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Change of view

Ağlasun emerging from the morning mist 

It's lovely to wake up to a different view from time to time.  Even better when the trip away from home is purely for pleasure and the whole day ahead will be filled with archaeological sites.  Lots of photos to come when I get back to my desk top. 

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

The hat moves on

September 2018

My husband was very fond of his hats. His nickname in Bodrum was 'Şapkalı', literally 'with a hat'.
His favourite was a panama bought from Lock & Co in London. This one was passed on to brother Tim at Teo's funeral.  The everyday caps have been passed around to friends or given to charity but one hat remained. When the panama was put away for winter, the felt fedora came out of its box. I couldn't imagine giving it to charity and it was not something my son-in-law would wear so it has been hanging around...until Monday when Tamer rang to say he was near Bodrum. They met in their first year at M.E.T.U. and remained friends, popping in and out of each other's lives in Bodrum and Ankara.  So the fedora has found another good looking head to sit upon and I know it will cut a dash in the streets of Ankara.

Tamer trying on  Teo's first panama hat some time in the 80s

Monday, 24 September 2018

Catching up

The year is 1982, my first season working in Bodrum for a flotilla company called Yachtours. At the end of each trip, the lead-boat crew of three would arrange a barbeque for the guests.  We had a massive iron grill made and we'd take it out to Papuç Bay once a week to cook up enough steak, chicken and meatballs for around 50 hungry sailors.  (This is no longer possible as Papuç Bay is now the home of Sea Garden Hotel and non residents are not allowed access). We also had to take all the drink. We usually managed all this with little fuss or bother and everyone had a great time.  I can't remember what lead up to the above photo. Skipper Jimmy is trying to rescue the provisions with Bosun Pete rowing to the rescue while Hostess Annie was was on the lead boat taking photos. I know I had all the meat on board with me so it is the grill and beer Jimmy is saving. Paul, the land-based manager, was probably on his way with replacement dry charcoal. The party went ahead without further hitches and the clients had no idea we had nearly drowned their supper.  The steel dinghy by the way was presented to us as 'The Unsinkable Tender'.   I suspect we saw that as a challenge. 

On Sunday Jimmy was back in Bodrum with his wife Joey. Paul and Eileen, like me are still living here (although only for a couple more weeks) and the old team was back together for a lunch in Sugar and Salt, just meters from the Marina where we used to work  together 36 years ago.  This time nobody got wet feet. 

Joey, Jimmy, Eileen. Me. Paul

Friday, 21 September 2018

Decorated ladies on the road again.

This year I am prepared. My bicycle has brand new tyres so I should be able to cycle the whole route. I will be filling my basket with flowers and pedalling the car-free streets of Bodrum.  The event starts at 4pm tomorrow (Sunday) in the centre of Bodrum. If you were planning to drive through at that time - forget it. It's time to get on your bike. 

Adorned, prettified, bedecked and on a bike - 2016 

Last weekend had me looking frantically for a bicycle pump. My bike had sat unused for at least six months and the tyres were flat - not in a calm, smooth, toneless, low-heeled, unfizzy, unchanging way - in a deflated, airless way.  You can see I've been reading the thesaurus again and it's all due to the Süslü women's bicycle ride on Sunday 25th.  'Süslü' is translated as 'chic' in most English language Turkish publications, but it really means adorned or decorated. Someone in a monochrome Chanel suit would be 'chic' but she wouldn't be 'süslü'. Add a pink feather boa, a pair of fairy wings and a couple of balloons and then she would be 'süslü'.  I held off writing this blog post because I couldn't think of a good word, but hopefully you get my drift. My bike was more süslü than me but I managed some fake flowers in my hair and a charity shop Christian Lacroix jacket, worthy of an early episode of Ab Fab. And why were we dressing up and riding through the streets of Bodrum? Because 4 years ago, Sema Gür, a teacher in Izmir wanted to encourage women to ride bikes, without having to invest in all the lycra and padded gussets that usually go with the sport.

This year 28 cities and towns staged a 'decorated women's bike ride' and as a non political event it managed to highlight a number of important issues including the right for women to ride a bicycle - a freedom recently withdrawn in Iran. The right to wear what we want, whether it be shorts or a hijab. The demand that bicycles be given safe space to ride, rather than taking our life into our hands every time we take to the road in Turkey and the general appeal to get out of the car and on to two wheels.

Cars were stopped for our ride and we were preceded by a traffic cop on a motor bike so for once we experienced perfect riding conditions.  My ride was cut a bit short as I realised that my newly blown up tyres, unlike my enthusiasm, were gradually deflating  and I had to push my poor bike the last few hundred metres home.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Going on a 'Living'

At the end of the season, hardworking charter yacht crew used to go on a "Living".  They'd done the 'Working and Earning Money' - several months with barely an hour to themselves - so as a reward, they'd load up their boats with rakı and head off up the Gulf of Gökova to catch fish and party for a week. 
I had a bit of a "Living" on Saturday to reward myself for a busy summer spent in planes, taxis and ferries. It was only a day on a small wooden yacht popping into the bays around Kisebükü but I can confirm that being in the company of good friends, eating fish straight from the barbecue, standing chest high in crystal clear turquoise water while contemplating whether the geology of the rocky bay is art, and a drink or two with a spontaneous game of Charades, is definitely 'Living' and we don't do enough of it.  

Thursday, 13 September 2018

How times change

The culinary highlight of a trip to the UK used to be an Indian meal and a pint of Guinness (but not necessarily together).  Not any more. Draught Guinness is now readily and relatively cheaply available on the harbour front in Bodrum so after a day that started at 4am to get to my return flight at Gatwick airport, I can relax with my favourite pint in my favourite town.  I'm sure someone will let me know if a good curry is to be found on the peninsula. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Time to sit and stare

Not everyone is rushing around the Bodrum peninsula in a car or minibus - it just feels that way in July and August (and June and September). Some have time to sit and watch the idiots dash by and contemplate the madness around them.  I'm looking forward to very soon joining the ranks of those that have time to sit and stare. I will be looking outwards, not down at a smart phone, but maybe through the lense of a camera. I am very aware that BacktoBodrum Bog has been a bit 'meh' recently and the only excuse I have is that I've been working away and have missed concerts, shows, races and other events which would have made good copy.  "Can do better" has been stamped on the 2018 report card and as September marks the start of new term, I shall endeavour to get this upgraded to "Much improved" this Autumn.
Thanks to all of you who have stuck with it and keep reading.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

A local foreigner

I had a conversation with a young woman yesterday which reminded me why I like living in Bodrum. I shall translate it as best I can into English.  We had been chatting for a bit when she said,
"Are you normally a foreigner?"
The word "normally" threw me and I dithered over the answer, so she helped me out,
"I mean, when you are not speaking Turkish, are you a foreigner?"
So I told her that I had been born in England but moved to Turkey many years ago.
"How many years?" She wanted to know.
A second of mental arithmetic and I came up with the number 36.
"Wow " she said "I am 22 so that's 14 years longer than me, so you are normally a Türk and only  sometimes a foreigner."

I thank her for her confidence but I will always be a foreigner and it is a very pleasant place to be.  The Turkish word 'yabancı' defines someone from outside. It could be outside your village, your town or your country. I have been very fortunate as 'an outsider ' in Bodrum and have always been treated very kindly. In the early days it was embarrassing to be a yabancı as we were always ushered to the front of queues or found a chair to sit on while others were standing. Refusing to comply caused more fuss so we gave in and accepted.  The influx of foreign tourists in the late 1980s put pay to that thank goodness. I've heard myself described as a 'Yerli Yabancı' - a 'local outsider' or 'Bizim Yabancı' 'our foreigner', so if I'm ever faced with the question again I will reply that I'm a 'local foreigner' and happy to be so.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

In praise of Gözleme

Gülsüm on her home ground. Try her gözleme at Bodrum's Friday market.

Looks like a pancake but contains no eggs or milk, the ubiquitous Gözleme is a one of the best snacks to eat while traveling around Turkey.  

This cheese and potato titbit set me back nine and a half lira with the lemonade and I took half home to eat later. I can't think of many places where less than two dollars or just over a pound will get you this much tasty food.

The whole family was involved at the Karaova Festival to keep up with the demand

To make Gözleme you need a large flat surface to roll out the simple flatbread mixture of flour, salt and water and a long thin rolling pin to achieve a paper thin circle of dough. 

This is then spread usually with herbs and cheese or potato and cheese and flipped over on itself as it is cooked on a metal skillet made specially for the job. A wash of butter or oil allows the dough to brown.  You know it's cooked when it stats to gözleme - brown eyes appear on the cooked surface. 

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Are you coming?

Anyone walking around Bodrum yesterday evening will be aware of the festivities happening in Mumcular today and tomorrow. 

I hope you are on your way

I am 

Friday, 31 August 2018

Festival Time

It's Grape Harvest Festival time again in Karaova. This will be the fourth year and it looks set to be a good one.  Festivities start this evening with a procession in Bodrum and continue with two days of food, craft, agriculture, carpets, wine, cheese, honey and everything else related to this fertile plain.  I was upset to miss this again for the second year running as my return from Hydra is booked for 5th September but by a strange quirk or two of fate, a serious dog bite in Italy and a 48 hour plus power cut in Hydra, I am home early. Too late to get involved in any of the organisation but in plenty of time to enjoy all the local talent on display.

Read all about the first Karaova Grape Harvest Festival

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Mooning about

Mooning around/about -English informal to spend your time lazily, moving around with no real purpose; "I wish you'd stop mooning about and do something useful!"

Not strictly true, I'm on Hydra earning a living but when I am not actively working I'm stuck for something to do. I've read a couple of books, painted a few pictures but nothing really hits the spot.  I really want to go BacktoBodrum to get on with all the renovation plans I have whizzing around in my head.  The building season doesn't officially start until the middle of October but I want to bag Ugur the builder  before he gets started on a bigger more lucrative project than mine. The decline in the value of the Turkish Lira has hit my savings hard and I want to spend the money in the bank before it becomes small change.  As someone who for the past 2 years has been telling everyone else how overvalued the TL was, I really should have listened to myself and converted it to Euros or Dollars but like a lot of folk here, I got used to living off the interest which is paid into the current account monthly and just let things ride. But hey it's only money!

The photo of the nearly full harvest moon rising over Hydra was taken a couple of nights ago. I went out with my camera to catch the sunset but was let down by a bank of cloud that spread itself over the Peloponnese just as the sun began to sink. I packed up my camera and turned around to walk home just as the moon peeped over the hill.  By the time camera was unpacked and turned on the yellow orb had risen well above the hillside. Sometimes the serendipitous shot is the best.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Baking when it's baking

It seems daft to turn the oven on when it's baking outside but I like the idea of preparing a meal in the oven without having to faff about with the stove top. Slinging a few ingredients into a dish and letting the oven do the rest of the work is a much better idea than stirring a pot on a hot day. 
These two dishes take just under an hour at 180 degrees and improve in flavour if you let them cool for half an hour before serving 

For the courgettes, choose the smallest you can find with the flower intact if possible, but they taste just as good without. Place in an oven proof dish with two or three cloves of garlic and then open a jar or a tin of achovies in olive oil. Pour the contents through a tea strainer over the courgettes, pushing the anchovies through with a teaspoon. This gets rid of all those annoying small bones and turns the small fish to a purée. Squeeze over a whole lemon's juice and put into the oven at 180 degrees C . Cover with foil for the first 30 mins. Small courgettes will be ready in 45 mins, larger will take longer. 

Baked aubergine slices are healthier than the traditional fried ones and taste just as good. 
Slice as many aubergines as you want into a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons full of olive oil and a tsp of salt and pepper.  Rub the oil into the slices with your hands until they all coated all over. Spread in a single layer over a baking tray and bake in a 180 C oven for 15 minutes.  Remove, flip all the slices and put back for another 15 mins but check after 10 - they should be evenly soft, lightly coloured but not going  black.  With aubergines, overcooked is better than under. At the same time as the aubergines are cooking, have a tray of peeled chopped beef tomatoes, drizzled with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and 3 crushed garlic cloves in the oven.  When the aubergine slices are cooked, the tomatoes can be mashed with a fork to provide an accompanying sauce.  Top with a few basil or parsley leaves and you have two tasty dishes with minimum effort. 

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Six years on.

Six years ago Linda Kaya and I set off towards Didim with very vague driving instructions, which included 'turn right at the mushroom', to pick up a small terrier who'd been abandoned on the street and was bring taunted by children.  Neither of us could have imagined that this scared little puppy would turn into 'Dog of the World, Jake': Happy traveller and socialite who can't pass a bar or restaurant full of chatty folk without pulling his mistress inside. Who will try every trick in the book (sudden interesting smell he has to investigate, need for one more pee, urgent cat investigation - to name three) to avoid going home to bed. 
As a travelling companion he can't be bettered and I am ever grateful for his company over the past 6 years.  Hope we have many more happy travels Jake 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Sunshine in a bowl

A bowl full of apricots and a bottle of dessert wine. Baked together in a low oven for  45 minutes and served chilled tastes of summer in the Aegean.  

Friday, 10 August 2018

Bumpy rides

This may look idyllic but at two o'clock this morning when Jake and I were speeding across the straight in a tiny sea taxi, it felt like hell.  After a stomach churning 3 hour taxi ride from Piraeus, twisting through the Peloponnese, unsuccessfully trying to persuade the driver to either stop sending texts while whizzing round bends or to actually stop and send the texts, we were a bit wobbly of stomach and legs and I was surprised to still be in one piece. We got to Metochi without having realised just how hard the Meltemi was blowing but the wee boat dancing up and down alongside the rudimentary concrete jetty suggested it was 'hoolie' strength and I felt even sicker at the prospect of trying to get my 25 kilo dog aboard.  Jake was a star - at one point he had two legs on the boat and two on land with his middle doing a belly dance but we both managed to tumble in.  I then had to lie down and deliver myself to fate clasping my poor shivering hound's neck while we rocked, rolled and corkscrewed at great speed through the waves.  This has happened before, although not in the pitch black, and each time I have vowed to never make this journey again. And yet...

Two minutes off the boat, I would have been down on my hands and knees kissing the ground if there had been any chance of me being able to get up again but Jake was sniffing around, wagging his tail in recognition and ready to head off up the hill as if he'd just stepped out of his own front door. Dogs make great travel companions, no recriminations. 

Friday, 27 July 2018

Back to Bodrum

I knew I had to remember something when I set out for the village house to get it ready for my 4 weeks summer holiday.  The vacuum cleaner went in the boot, the dog's bowls and basket got ticked off, swimming costumes packed.  What did I forget ?  My tripod.  So will just have to remember how spectacular the moon eclipse is here without any light pollution.  Only wobbly images captured on my Nikon's moon setting.