Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Flying back

After two and a half years reading my perspective on South West Turkey, I thought you'd like to hear someone else's opinions. Lyn, Barry, Sue and Les gamely agreed to answer my questions while we were waiting for a flight from Bodrum to Gatwick.  Les didn't set out to buy a villa in Turkey, but a chance meeting with an enthusiastic second home owner on a plane from Northern Cyprus,  led to the purchase of a villa in Gülüm Kıyı near Iassos, about an hour North of Bodrum. In the 7 years they have owned the villa, they usually manage to visit 4 or 5 times annually. When asked what brings them back year after year, all agreed it was the peace and quiet of their bay and the view from their balcony,   Gülüm Kıyı is relatively issolated and is probably more like the Turkey I enjoy in my village, rather than bustling Bodrum. Traditional food is still the norm in the restaurants and cafes, the ubiquitous frozen chip not having ingressed from the tourist resorts. They find the cost of living here lower than Spain and Italy, and the people generally friendly and welcoming. I wondered if the recent unrest in Turkish cities was giving them cause to worry, but the isolation of their villa shields them from any political uncertainty.  When asked for negative comments, they struggled to find any, eventually coming up with their bafflement at the number of unfinished buildings (we are much better at starting things than finishing them here) and the offshore fish farms around Iassos affecting the water quality.   Chosen at random from an airport full of returning tourists, I was lucky  to pick  4 true travellers; positive in attitude with an honest love of the country.  They'd been down to Marmaris and Dalyan this time and were planning a trip to Cappadocia for September.  They'd also stayed a night in Bodrum and passed on a recommendation to me -The  Avlu Restaurant.  One to try after the holiday crowds have left Bodrum to the locals. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Derek Charles Sadler 1926 - 2014

My father died on Friday.  I should be extremely sad, but I'm not.  He went the way he would have wanted, although I'm sure he felt he had a good 5 years in hand.  He spent the last week of his life doing the thing he loved most; paragliding.   There aren't many folk, well on their way to 90, who can take off from a Dorset cliff and fly like the birds he so admired.  He wasn't a religious man and his aim was to come back in the next life as a buzzard.  He had two reasons for this:
1. So he could spend his whole time following the thermals that keep the birds effortlessly flying.
2. So he could shit on the people he didn't like. (His words not mine).

He was not the sort of man who could have put up with a long drawn-out terminal illness so a heart attack in his chair at home on Friday was the best  way he could go.

If you are holidaying in Dorset,  watch out for any low flying buzzards with a gleam in their eye. Especially if you are a speed cop, politician or traffic warden.
My father and my Aunty Joy with their mother, Winifred c. 1927

Dad's visit to The Turkish Bakery

Dad's beetroot and apple bread recipe

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Up North

It was 30 degrees today.  So what, you say. Normal temperatures for July in the Aegean. But I'm in Sweden! 

Thursday, 3 July 2014

No Shit Bitch

"No shit bitch"  has become my motto for the summer months. I pass these 3 words, as I climb up the hill in Hydra, on about the 180th step I think.  I keep meaning to count the total number, but the ability to sweat, walk and remember at the same time deserts me after 150 steps. I'm also busy trying not to lose face as an octogenarian or two overtake me with a friendly "Yassou" and not a hint of perspiration on their brows. There is not much graffiti on Hydra, but I can't say the same for the mainland. I don't like to draw comparisons between Greece and Turkey, but the amount of urban scrawling can't be ignored on the a Western side of the Aegean. It is everywhere and makes for unpleasant viewing on the bus or metro ride from the airport to Athens or Piraeus. 

I'm a great fan of Banksy because his pieces make us either laugh or think but the majority of the stuff I pass by on the bus just signals a society in decline. 

Occasionally there are attempts that look as if the perpetrator has artistic tendencies but most are rather sad and depressing.  I hate mindless graffiti so I'm not sure why I'm so fond of the "No Shit Bitch" tag. It may be the beautiful turquoise shutters it's written on but it's probably just the lack of oxygen getting to my brain as I wheeze and pant up the hill. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Urban crochet

A few posts ago, I mentioned that I'd taken up knitting.  I now want to take up crochet. 

Hydra is full of surprises. 

Saturday, 28 June 2014


I've arrived in Hydra on the day they celebrate thrashing the Turks.  Named after Admiral Andreas Miaoulis, a Hydriot naval commander during the War of Greek Independence, Miaoulia commemorates his victory at the Battle of Elder where he destroyed a massive 130 strong joint Turkish/Egyptian fleet with only 75 Greek ships.
The town is full of visitors and the taxi boats are still bringing more people from the mainland. A navy frigate is anchored outside the harbour and the dashing officers in their formal whites are mingling with the crowd.  I've missed the folk dancing, boat races and concerts but the evening concludes with stirring speeches, rousing music, fireworks and a reenactment of the sinking of the Turkish Flagship.   Should I be keeping a low profile tonight? I won't be advertising the fact that I arrived from Istanbul today. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

An accident waiting to happen.

On Sunday we decided to swap one bit of rural bliss for another and headed off along the old Bodrum road for a spot of brunch. We didn't have far to go, but a stretch of the road was widened about a year ago in preparation for resurfacing which, as is often the case,  never happened, so an irregular raised ridge of crumbling tarmac remains in the middle of a gravel strewn track. We were taking the trip slowly, trying not to fall down the pot holes on the edge of the tarmac when we came almost bumper to bumper with a convoy of jeeps flying around a blind corner. As we were only going about 30 kmph, we stopped and the jeeps swerved by. Some of the passengers were seated, but several were on their feet holding on to the roll bars one handedly and waving. As they whizzed by, the phrase "accident waiting to happen" was unspoken but understood.
When I got home yesterday and turned on  the computer, I was sad but not surprised to read that an accident on a jeep safari in Fethiye had claimed the lives of two British women.
I've written about theses safaris before and I include the posts below.   If you are tempted to try this kind of tour when you visit Turkey, please check that the vehicle you are travelling in is equipped with seat belts and is not overcrowded.  If you've paid your money and are not happy with the safety aspects and can't get your money back, you can always contact the zabita in local council offices who will take your complaint to the office you bought your ticket from. This usually results in an immediate reimbursement. In fact, just the threat of calling in the zabita is a useful tool against all kinds of shady dealings.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Jeep Safari - At your own risk

Thank you for all the comments on my last post.  You unanimously approve of a plaster giraffe in my garden;  now I'll have to sell the idea to my (aesthetically sensitive) husband. Alan's comments on jeep accidents prompted me to check the safety record of these tours. I've found reports of 4 really bad crashes in 4 years.  Par for the course I suppose with 3 or 4 groups of jeeps going out every day from each resort, BUT, reading the feedback on forums from customers who have been on these trips, I can only think that Allah is looking after these safari companies. Common practice seems to be to overcrowd the jeeps by 2 or 3 passsengers. The small Suzuki 4x4s which are registered for 5, often have 6 or 7 passengers.  Seat belts are either unavailable or not used. I know this is true as the tourists who pass my garden wall are often standing up.  Clients are provided with water pistols so when the jeeps race side by side, they can "shoot" the occupants of the passing jeep. A fatal accident in 2008 was attributed to the jeep driver being blinded by water as he overtook a tractor.  One accident was caused by the driver jumping out of his seat and running alongside the vehicle, showing off that he could control the jeep as he ran beside. He couldn't - it crashed.  If you are still contemplating booking, UK travel insurance doesn't usually cover off-road trips so you should pay for extra cover.  My worry has always been the danger of one careless punter throwing a lighted cigarette out of the jeep as it rushes through the forest. A selfish concern I know, but they will be long gone as hectares of pine and olive trees burn to the ground.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Would you visit a dolphin park?

Yesterday I joined a group of protestors outside the Town Council building in Bodrum. Our number was small but forty thousand people have signed a petition demanding the closure of Dolphin Parks in Turkey. Earlier in the year, hopes had been raised as a draft amendment to the animal protection law promised to make these parks (and circuses using animals) illegal but in an abrupt about-face, this amendment has been dropped. The reason given is that these parks introduce youngsters to nature.  Thirty years ago I was saddened to see dancing bears in the streets of Bodrum, I wonder if the ministers who dropped this bill, think that dancing bears too encourage children to appreciate wildlife.  The dolphins in these parks look just as forlorn as the bears in their chains.  The only way to see dolphins is in the wild.  Don't visit these parks. Take a boat trip instead and you might be rewarded with the sight of these magnificent creatures in all their exuberant glory as they race alongside.  It is a crime to imprison these naturally vivacious and animated creatures to make money. And big money it must be.  Money is talking. Our mayor, initially sympathetic to the cause was "unavailable" to accept the petition yesterday.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Pernicious Periwinkle

   About 20 years ago I was given a root of periwinkle, vinca minor.  At the time I had a large raised bed to fill and thought the blue flowering creeper would be a pretty addition to the border. I've tried to remember who gave me the cutting and luckily for the donor, I can't remember.  Fast forward 2 decades. I've spent the last few days trying to dig out the massively invasive tangle that has taken over half the bed, devoured strawberry plants, bottle-brush bushes, and just about ever other plant except oleander on it's way.  

I had two goals for the two weeks I'm back in Turkey and the first was to make some space for colour  in the garden by purging the pernicious periwinkle. It can't be pulled out and so entrenched is our patch, that I know I will never get shot of it completely, but by digging down about 6 inches and getting rid of the almost solid root mass, I have, at least, opened up some space for new plants, although I'll have to be vigilant to stop the vinca living up to it's name and conquering the garden again. 

So what did I buy when I got to the nursery ?  More vinca, but this time the non invasive rosy periwinkle. I also bought a couple of hydrangeas, and three rose bushes as a present from my mum.
The car boot was  full of flowers but disappointingly, the plants look very sparse in the massive, periwinkle-free border.  (plants in the car are the opposite of groceries.  I'll have just a few bags of shopping in the boot, but when I try and put them away in the kitchen cupboards, there is never enough room) 

Did you know that herbal healers in Madagasca used the flowers of the Rosy Periwinkle to treat diabetes?  Scientists investigating this, discovered that the plant contains vinblastine which is now used to treat childhood leukaemia, increasing the chance of survival from 10% to 95%, and vincristine which is used to treat Hodgkin's disease.   A word of warning if you are contemplating self medication; in some countries the plant is know as the "flower of death", as it is poisonous when used incorrectly, an overdose is potentially fatal.  A less dangerous use is to make a poultice of the leaves to treat wasp stings. I might see if it works on my mossie bites too. 


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Catch up

After almost three weeks with only sheep, goats, deer, and rabbits for company, I am sitting in front of my desk-top marvelling at how good internet access is in a small backwater in South West Turkey.  My mobile phone is by my side and apart from a glitch that has deleted my whole contacts list, it has a full signal. A couple of days after I arrived in Scotland, my blog disappeared and all attempts to access it were met with a message telling me that BacktoBodrum had been deleted and the name was available  for reassignment.  I'd been a bit suspicious the day before I left Turkey;  I usually average 200 to 300 views a day, so a couple of days of 1000 plus views from the Ukraine were very out of character.  My only internet access in The Highlands is via a satellite dish which is as speedy as the dial up modems we were so excited about late last century.  The only way I knew to recover my blog was to ask for a text to be sent to the number I'd specified when I set it up.  A mobile number! The nearest mobile signal was an hour's drive away. The mobile was Turkish and I'd never used it in the UK, so even if I set off in the Land Rover to find a signal, there was no guarantee it would work.  I went to bed that night pretty sure that my blogging days were over and cursing myself for not copying the last year's worth of posts. 

When I next got a chance to check my emails, I found that my gmail account had also been suspended so I had to resort to putting a plea for help on Facebook. I tried to post a couple of times but despite the post appearing on my timeline, it disappeared a few minutes later.  I had been well and truly hacked.  Luckily FaceTime was still working on my iPad and I got my husband to post my plea for help on his page.  To cut a long story short, with lots of help from friends, I managed to prove who I was by luckily remembering the answer to those seemingly pointless questions I answered two and a half years ago (first best friend and first pet's name and most common 4 email addresses).  After a fretful 24 hours, my blog and email account reappeared and I changed all my passwords, something we should all do on a regular basis. 

On a lighter note,  at the end of my trip, I spent  an hour trying to develop a taste for whisky in the Tomatin distillery.  I tried my best but could manage only the tiniest sip of the three single malts on offer. The smell of scotch has always made me feel sick.  I felt extremely guilty leaving this expensive brew in the glass. The tour was fascinating but my tastebuds failed to appreciate the finished product. I think I'll stick to the grape and give barley a miss.