Saturday, 30 June 2018

The sun rises . The sun sets and we all die.

We are pretty good at accepting the first two but will do anything to avoid confronting the third. 

Two years ago today, the sun set on my life as a wife and rose the next day on Annie, the widow. Knowing it was going to happen - I'd had a couple of weeks to get my head around the inevitability of it - didn't help and  I have to be honest and say that the twenty four months since haven't soothed the pain either.  The so called five stages of grief appear to be a handy box to compartmentalise feelings that have no intention of easing into gradual acceptance. When your loved one dies, they take a lot of you with them   but the gap is filled with their own image/spirit/essence . Teo is rarely out of my thoughts. When he was alive I'm sure I could go for days without him entering my head. Now I feel as if half of my brain has been diverted and the efficient, reliable manager of pre-July 2016 is now a liability. It is like surviving a terrible car crash that leaves horrendous internal injuries that no one else can see but you feel the wounds every hour of the day and can't concentrate on anything. 

I was looking for a nice photo to put on Facebook to mark the second anniversary of Teo's death and scanning through the snaps made me realise that we had lots of different interests and spent plenty of time apart.  He was happiest thrashing a ball around a court,  I preferred lazing on a yacht with friends. Most of the photographs of us together are taken when we are doing nothing much.  Walking the dog, sitting in the garden, tackling the daily crossword and no matter how busy the bereaved keep themselves, the sad reality is that we have no one to do nothing with.  (Or should that be ' we have no one with whom to do nothing '- Teo would have known, his grammar was much better than mine) 

If you are annoyed with your spouse because they are doing nothing - go and give them a big hug and do some nothingness together.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Bougainvillea instead of BacktoBodrum

I'm not the only person who has had problems with their blogger account this month.  I haven't been able to persuade the ghost in the machine that I am really 'BacktoBodrum'.  While in Greece, it refused to accept my password - the one I have always used since the beginning yet when I try to change it and the use my current password it says  -'You have recently used this password please try another' so it knows who I am really, it's just playing silly games. I am now signed in with my gmail account on my desk top so know I will have problems again when I try to access the account on my iPad.

To mess up a common saying - a rest is as good as a change so I may be resting for a while longer rather than change the name of the blog.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Peppers on paper. Peppers on the plate.

I'm still in Hydra, glad to be out of the crazy Bodrum Bayram traffic, with plenty of time on my hands.  Luckily I packed my travel watecolour set so I've been able to make use of my free time to add to my collection of cards. Peppers are abundant at this time of the year and every day has found a plump specimen posing in the late afternoon light.

 Proud pepper

 Falling peppers

Reclining peppers

I'm beginning to see human characteristics in each member of the Capsicum family that I paint so it probably about time I return home to human friends and family and abandoned this solitary 'One woman and her dog'  island life. 
Having made friends with my 'sitters' it seems cruel to eat them, but they are the basis for so many delicious Aegean dishes. 

(The yellow pepper at the top is my 'Shy Pepper')
Red Pepper and Walnut Meze 
4 large red peppers (Bell or long)
1 bulb of garlic
1 cup walnuts
1 red onion
1 tsp chili pepper flakes 
1 tblsp pepper paste (optional) 
1 glug of olive oil

Heat the oven to 190 degrees C
Cut the peppers in halve and remove seeds, peel and cut the onion in quarters. Remove as much papery skin as possible from whole garlic bulb and cut off the top so the tips of the cloves are showing. Lightly oil a baking tray and put all the veg on it in the oven for 30 minutes.  Check after 20 minutes to make sure everything is softening without burning. 
Remove tray from oven and cover with a tea towel and allow to cool completely. 
Dry fry the walnuts over a low heat until they start to release a little oil but don't let them burn. 
Remove the skin from the peppers - it will come off easily once cooled under cover. 
Put the walnuts, peppers, onion and a glug of oil into a blender and mix to a chunky paste.
Squeeze the body of the garlic to extrude the aromatic roast garlic paste and add to the mix. 
Add salt and pepper to taste, pepper paste if you have it (I couldn't find it on the island) and a few chili flakes. Mix again and taste.  I add a tsp of chili but you may prefer just a pinch. 
Serve as part of a meze drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice,  piled on top of a baked potato, as a pasta sauce or as a dip with drinks.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Monumental Lentil

It is not unnatural to hope that our children will follow in our footsteps, enjoy the things we enjoy and learn from all those days out when we dragged them around art galleries and local monuments.  It's not unnatural to hope but it's highly unlikely to happen. My daughter had clocked up more archaeological sites by the age of 10 than most people see in two lifetimes - has she voluntarily visited any as an adult? Not to my knowledge.  However something must have rubbed off in the 19 years we spent living in the same house because she is turning into a very good cook, with a flare for presentation that is probably learnt from the pages of Instagram and Pinterest  rather than the home kitchen.
She is cooking up tasty, thrifty meals that taste as good as they look.

I've christened this one 'Esi's Monumental Lentil'  in the hope that she might be reminded of all the wonderful ancient sites around Bodrum when she cooks it next.

1 cup red lentils
3 cups water
1 ½ cup of fine bulgur
1 onion
1 tbsp Tomato paste
2 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
Red pepper flakes

Extras – lettuce and lemon to serve, parsley and fresh green onion.

Place the lentils and water into a pan and cook them till soft.
Turn off the heat and add the bulgur to the lentils and mix, put the lid of the pan back on and let it sit for half an hour.
While waiting on the bulgur lentil mixture, you can start on the second half by sauteing one onion and the garlic together in a tablespoon of olive oil.
Once onions and garlic have softened,  add the tbsp of tomato paste into the mixture and stir till the tomato paste has covered the onions and garlic then turn off the heat so as to not burn it.
Check on your bulgur and lentil mixture to see if the bulgur has absorbed the water and become soft, if not add a small amount of boiling water and wait a bit longer.
Once everything has cooled down add both mixtures together, then add in the red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper together and mix with hands squeezing it through the fingers to create a smooth paste.
At this point you may want to add in some fresh parsley and green onions to the mixture for taste.
Once mixed to a paste you can then roll it in your hands and mold until you get a small sausage shape; pile up on a plate and serve with lettuce and lemons, some tzadzikki/cacik and steamed greens. 

Monday, 11 June 2018

Hydra - Noon

After the tranquil photos of Hydra's mornings and evenings - this is what the harbour looks like mid-day. If you are planning a visit, make sure it includes at least one overnight stop or else you will find yourself part of the day tripper crowds that mill around for a couple of hours asking the price of everything, buying very little and taking photos of themselves rather than the stunning scenery. 

Monday, 4 June 2018

A New Life for a British Bike in Bodrum

Teo's bike in it's new home at The Su Hotel Bodrum

In 1981, my late husband Teo was living at the end of the King's Road in London, frequenting the World's End Pub and commuting to the City on his newly purchased Holdsworth Bike. We hadn't yet met, but I too visited that pub quite a lot on my trips to London.  When he decided to move back to Turkey the next year, he was allowed a tax-free  consignment of household goods.  Not having any such things in his newly divorced state - he headed off to Peter Jones at the other end of the road and bought a container load of white goods to make sure that his prized bike made it's duty-free way to Bodrum.  I think I noticed the bike before I noticed the tall, good looking man atop it. It was a one-off in the tiny town that was 1982 Bodrum. 
He carried on riding this bike for the next 34 years. After he died, I put it in the shed where it stayed for a year - not unloved but unrideable for anyone under 6ft 3.  
A Facebook university friend George was keen to take on its restoration but transporting the bike back to the UK was problematical. Then Zafer Küstü, patron of The Su Hotel in Bodrum took on the challenge and the bike was about to get a makeover. 
Holdsworth Bikes were painted according to their year of manufacture and 1981 was Ice Blue Metallic.  Zafer persuaded a paint shop to match the colour exactly and found an internet source for the original Holdsworth transfers which had long ago faded and were about to be painted over.  All the gearing on the bike was made in Italy and by a strange quirk of fate, there is a collector of Italian vintage bike parts living 15kms from Bodrum in Turgutreis.  Another lucky coincidence finds two UK vintage bike specialists who holiday in Torba, 10 kms the other side of Bodrum. They gave the newly renovated bike a once over and corrected any mistakes.  And finally, just to prove that the bicycle is where it is meant to be, Zafer and his wife Christine have a tall, good looking son Barış, who makes this bike look worthy of its name, its first owner and its kind restorer.

Photos coutesy of Zafer Küstü.