Thursday, 31 May 2018

End of May

There are 3 hours left of May and I am feeling very guilty for abandoning my blog.  It has been a busy month, which has grazed 4 countries; spending too little time in each.  It has however been a very productive month - My small Bodrum town house feels much bigger - and so it should - it now has an extra bathroom and an impressive sun room, neither of which were even an idea on the 1st of May.

These are the builder's photos, I didn't have chance to take any. Furnishings will have to wait until September but with the backdrop of light blue plumbago, fragrant melissa, orange bougainvillea  and multi coloured lantana, it's going to be a joy to relax in whatever I choose.

Jake had 6 days to enjoy the new room and for him it was a revelation. He can monitor the activities of the local cats without having to risk their sharp claws. 

My 10 days in Sweden were also quite fruitful.  Apart from the job I was paid to do, I managed to try out a new water colour style and paint a few cards. I was very grateful for the full length blinds in my room - they were ideal for hanging my work.

And now we are back in Greece.  Ferries are not Jake's favourite mode of transport and we had to take 3, but he was so good  that complete strangers came up to us to compliment him on his behaviour. 

On board - on the way to Kos.

Although as I write this he is barking fit to bust at the three mules braying outside our studio. Time to go and quiet the affray before we make ourselves unpopular.

Friday, 18 May 2018

A question for semanticists

I've been speaking the Turkish language in one form or another for over 35 years but there are times when I'm stumped.   This sign went up outside the football pitch. I understand what it means and would translate it as 'Even if monkeys fall from trees, Bodrumspor won't go down' or 'Whatever happens, Bodrumspor will not be relegated', but I have no idea how the last three words make sense of this meaning. It literally says 'Monkey falls from tree,  Bodrumspor falls to father.'  It shows that the meaning of speech is not just derived from the meaning of individual words all put together but I'd love someone to explain the derivation of this saying.

(It celebrates Bodrumspor, the town football team, saving itself in the last game of the season from being relegated back to the third division, after its disappointing first season in the second. The women's handball and basketball teams did much better - both coming top of their divisions.)

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Yum or Yuk

It shouldn't work but it does.  Smoked fish flavour salty licorice.  Don't worry friends. If I've promised to bring you back licorice, I'll stick to the traditional slightly sweet versions but I'm putting a few bags of these in my suitcase.  

Sunday, 13 May 2018


I like a deadline. I get very little done without one. The closer the better - luckily I found a building team with a similar outlook.  Last week I decided to turn a small downstairs loo and corridor into a bathroom. Uğur (first on the left in the picture) came to measure up. I only had ten days in Bodrum so the work would have to be finished by Saturday 12th May, that gave him 9 days to knock down walls, rebuild, plaster, lower the floor, change the electrics and plumbing, tile walls and floor and put in a door and window and plumb in the new fittings including a radiator.   He didn't bat an eyelid - no problem. So we started and it looked like we were going to be finished with a day spare when the plumber said he'd seen a car he wanted to buy and he was just going to get it - no problem again we thought - but the car was in Hatay. Route planner tells me that this is a mere 1,121 kms from Bodrum, so he was gone for a while - until about 7pm on Saturday which was why my planned early night on Saturday (I had to catch the airport bus at 3:45am on Sunday morning) didn't happen but my bathroom was finished by the Saturday deadline.  This is the team photo at 10:50pm when the job was declared done. On time (just),  on budget and high quality. ( They also filled in the cracks in the living room and kitchen caused by the earthquake and replastered and repainted  a couple of damp patches, and  pruned two of my trees for me as a favour) . They managed this while building the sun room on the front terrace and knocking out my front door and making a bigger one.
This is a telephone number I'm keeping and will happily and confidently pass on to anyone with refurbishment plans in or near Bodrum.

Friday, 11 May 2018

A discombobulated dog

Pastel drawing by T Onursan

The dog is confused. For as long as he can remember, he has started and finished his daily walks through the back door. His lead hangs on the coat rack next to this door. It is one of the certainties of his life. Now his owner has opened the house to builders and apart from all the activity on the front terrace, she has had the downstairs loo wall knocked down and the backdoor bricked up.  Being Turkey, having builders in the house is an excuse for every neighbour to turn up to inspect the work and throw their opinions into the general mess and confuse the dog even more - Why are there so many unknown people in the house?   Jake's back door is now part of a shower room but this is hard for a canine brain to compute so he is still looking for the exit. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

BacktoBodrum Building

Bye bye beautiful Bouganvillea

The Turkish Lira is in decline, who knows how much value it will lose this year. Despite being offered a mind-boggling 38% a year interest by my bank (as long as I kept the TL invested for 3 years), I will put my faith in bricks and mortar and invest in my Bodrum house.  Last year I glassed in a balcony and spent many happy winter days sitting in 25 degree C heat while my living room was under 15 degrees, so a sun room on the front of the house seems a good idea.  I've been considering it for a while but one thing held me back - I didn't want to cut down the magnificent bougainvillea that has been growing for 27 years and had become a self supporting tree.  But I got over it and 4 days ago, work on the extension started. Builders Uğur and Onur wielded the saw and braved the spikes to take down the prickly monster and found that there was one branch very close to the soil which could be left and would allow my bougainvillea to grow again.  They were very keen to make sure it doesn't get too tall though as it will block the new-to-Turkey internal roof drainage system of which they are so proud.
Uğur and Onur are under there somewhere

Day 1

Day 2 Ahmet finishes the roof despite getting sunstroke on day 1

Friday, 4 May 2018

Greek sunshine on a grey London day

Paddy Leigh Fermor on a boat with a goat

While I was in London for Özlem's Book Launch I scheduled my visit to the 'Charmed Lives in Greece at the British Museum to coincide with a talk by Sir Michael Llewellyn Smith - British Ambassador to Greece 1996 to1999 - on Patrick Leigh Fermor; one of those characters who seemed to fit in enough deeds of derring-do to fill 4 lifetimes as well as leaving behind a literary legacy that will keep future generations entertained for centuries. 

Hotel by the Sea  John Craxton 

It was a cold, wet day outside but once through the doors of Exhibition Room 5, the Greek sun shone out brightly through the canvasses of John Craxton and Nikos Hadjikyriakos Ghika and warmed us up a treat.  I'm lucky to live on a sun-blessed peninsula, but if I were ever to move back to the UK, I would need a few of these pictures on my walls to keep up my spirits.

I love 'Reclining figure with Asphodels' but it did remind me that I no longer have any of these stately flowers in my garden since my neighbour dug up all the bulbs.  

I couldn't resist the book that accompanies the exhibition and carried it back on easyJet in my hand luggage, alongside 3 volumes of Özlem's cookery book. The chap sitting next to me kindly offered to lift my smallish case down from the overhead locker. It was only when I noticed his pained expression that I remembered its weighty contents.  I hope I didn't ruin his holiday.