Saturday, 21 January 2017

On Temple of Mars Street

Spolia (Latin, 'spoils'), the repurposing of building stone for new construction, or the reuse of decorative sculpture on new monuments, is an ancient and widespread practice whereby stone that has been quarried cut and used in a built structure, is carried away to be used elsewhere.

This post has been delayed because my mistress couldn't remember a word.  It happens a lot these days as she is in need of a brain reboot. Usually the forgotten word comes to her a few hours after she realises that she's forgotten it and she has a note book beside her bed to record all the mislaid words, but this word has been irretrievable for a couple of weeks.  Then on Friday she went to a talk on Bodrum architecture and managed to ask several architects, archaeologists and historians, who all scratched their heads until one said he was sure the word began with 'sp' and then ' spolia' was re-found to much relief. I could have done without the word as I know that the door step I sniff daily was once adorning a temple, well over 2,000 years ago. 

I'm allowed to sniff but not lift my leg as my mistress says it takes her back 40 years to when she sat listening to Dr Ken Wardle, learning about egg and dart relief in her first year Classical Greek Architecture lectures at the University of Birmingham. I show respect and wee elsewhere.


I'm pretty good at recognising spolia now - it is everywhere I walk

The castle is the perfect example of reused blocks - there is a very good chance that the lion on The English Tower was part of the Mausoleum decoration, it certainly pre-dates the castle construction by a couple of millennia.  I will remind my companion to take her camera on our walk tomorrow and post some more pictures of spolia before we forget the word again.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

A week is a long time in paw licks

I'm extremely glad that I'm a dog. I don't have to worry about constitution-changing votes in parliament or the Turkish Lira losing value by the day. My life is measured in walks, dinners and cuddles.  One week is 21 walks - 7 dinners and hopefully 100s of cuddles.

My daily perambulations do lead me to notice that the weather is odd. This is the longest cold spell in my 5 winters but at least we have only had ice to contend with, not deep snow like my furry friends in the rest of the country, and it's good to hear that many shopping centres and individual stores have been letting stray animals shelter inside during the bad weather.

I'm very lucky on the cuddle front, apart from those I get at home, I'm stopped two or three times a day on my way around Bodrum and given a cuddle by complete strangers, usually accompanied by a selfie shot or two - it's a bit embarrassing being addressed as 'my sweet', 'my sugar' or 'my dear' all the time but I prefer that to being called a sheep, which is a daily 'joke' at the taxi rank.  I've barked back a response a couple of times but we have to keep on the drivers' good side in case I ever need to take a taxi.
Thank you to everyone who said that I looked handsome in my rain coat and suggested I get a hat - I've never seen a sheep in a hat and coat so I might consider this as a remedy to the taxi drivers name calling.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Paws for thoughts

Me, pausing to think.

I thought you all would like to see some snaps of me looking windswept and interesting. I admit the first photo is posed and has been edited and tarted up to add to the drama, but I think I look splendidly handsome and when the time comes, I will choose it as the cover of my first autobiography - working title 'Paws for Thought'. 

Cheryl Martha and us dogs
The second two photos were taken without my knowledge but sum up a good morning's walk. My two-footed companion had told me that I would be spending the day with a couple of good-looking lady dogs and I'd occupied a few hours working out some chat up lines. She failed to mention that one of the ladies was a 45 kilo Kangal and that I would be sharing MY back seat with her, or rather, as it turned out, I would be squashed into the corner of MY back seat with a Kangal's bottom pressed to my head - well there are worse ways to pass a 30 minute car journey. When we got to Gümüşlük we were joined by two more leashed canines and a couple of street dogs tagged along too. All of us are in the picture above - no prizes for guessing which is Peri the Kangal. (Only a human with a GSOH would name a Kangal 'Fairy').

Bob and me in contemplative mood

Those of you who read this blog regularly will notice something wrong with the three photos - the ground is brown - in January it should be green with an early wild flower or two sprouting through the long grass. Alas the expected October, November and December rain didn't fall - but it is falling now and more should come next week, which is good for the land but bad for me because I have to wear my dratted raincoat, I'd rather get wet but she who must be obeyed (but rarely is) insists. 

This photo will not be in the autobiography

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

A New Year

It falls to me, Jake the dog, to pen the first post of 2017. My two legged companion has been silenced by the massacre in Istanbul on New Year's night.  After hoping for a peaceful new year, having one's hopes dashed less than 90 minutes into 2017 will take some getting over.  We are both also sad that our friend Şenol Captain is in a coma in Aydın hospital after suffering a heart attack.

Despite looking after a dozen golden retrievers in his bus, he always had time to give me a cuddle and we are both hoping he'll be well enough to return to Bodrum soon.  His dogs are still together, being cared for in great comfort by a kind-hearted volunteer.

Hopefully your usual writer will be back in harness soon, but until that time I shall bring you photos of my days in Bodrum...

The everyday ones...

and the slightly strange ones...

with a bit of archaeology thrown in for good measure.

Happy New Year and Happy Birthday to BacktoBodrum Blog - 5 years old this week. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Well Worth A Listen

Maggie and Richard Moore with guide dog Star on a trip
to Bodrum. 

I really enjoyed listening to this interview with Maggie Moore, wife of Richard,  British Ambassador to Turkey.  Thanks to Maggie, Turkey will have its first guide dog and the ability to train more for the future. This is the first of a two part programme

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Christmas Present

The trees are bedecked in Bodrum; with fruit by day and lights in the evening. 

The Carol Service from King's College Cambridge is on the TV,  'Oh Come All Ye Faithful' is blasting out. 
The turkey is submerged in spiced, honeyed brine ala Nigella.
A be-cloved onion is floating in a saucepan of milk,
and the world's most expensive pork sausages have been wrapped in a king's ransom worth of bacon. 
There may be no church spire visible in the above photos but BacktoBodrum is ready for Christmas. 

Season's Greeting to one and all 

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Christmas Past

In September I met up with Ken Jennings, one half of the Gülsüm Balcony Project. He handed me a small piece recent history; a Christmas Greeting letter I'd sent out in 1997.  I hadn't kept a copy and could hardy remember writing it, but it makes interesting reading now.

"Inflation isn't showing any signs of slowing down.  £1 = 323,000TL.  Bread =35,000TL, 1lt petrol = 135,00 TL. "  
Taking devaluation into account that means in 1997 one UK pound in today's money was worth 0.323TL.  Today it is 4.3TL.  Somebody brighter than me please work out the real devaluation.

"The ever increasing foreign community organises a carol concert on the Friday before Christmas and this year there will be a Christmas Fair with tombola, wine tasting, children's plays, local crafts and a visit from Santa Claus." 
I do remember the hours of meetings I sat through helping to organise the first ever Christmas Fair in Bodrum with funds raised going towards the first children's library.  That library didn't survive but now there is a Festive Fair almost every day of the week in the run up to the New Year.

"A private hospital has just opened 100m from our office and another is opening in '98" 
This doesn't seem groundbreaking news but for us it was momentous. The local state hospital was scary so most Bodrumites traveled either to Muğla or Izmir for treatment - 2 to 4 hours on the road. The Özel Hospital is still going strong, the second opened, changed names a couple or more times and is now no more.

'First Choice, Airtours, Sunworld and Inspirations are selling flights to Milas-Bodrum airport"
Remember them?

"The international arrivals-departures building is due to be completed by January 98."
That building is now the domestic terminal and we have a much shinier International terminal.

"The town council now has a refuge for stray dogs and are collecting, sterilising, vaccinating and trying to find homes for strays" 
I'd forgotten the refuge opened so long ago.

"The keel was laid for Bodrum's first sail training ship"
It took a while and a lot of fund raising but it was built and is a fine sight in full sail.

"I'm sure that you will all be happy to hear that Mustafa has got married...I'm sure you will join us in wishing him and his wife Tülin a happy life together" 
Mustafa and Tülin are coming up to their 20th wedding anniversary in 2017, with daughter Aytaç at university and son Erdoğan a star pupil at secondary school and to round off  - here is a photo of the happy couple at my daughter's wedding this year.

Erdoğan, Celal,  Esi, Mustafa, Tülin and your truly. 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Olive oil

"Good oil like good wine is a gift from the gods. The grape and the olive are among the priceless benefactions of the soil and were destined, each in its way, to promote the welfare of man"

I agree entirely with the words of 19th century horticultural scientist George Ellwanger but it turns out that most of what I know about olive oil is wrong.  I have the handicap of growing up in a country where I learnt that olive oil was only good for ear ache and thus sold in tiny bottles at chemist shops so didn't start eating olive oil until I was just into my 3rd decade. I did however make up for lost time and have had my own olive trees for over 25 years, but at a recent oil tasting session I learnt that:

1. The colour of the oil bears no relation to the quality only the variety of olive.
2. You can not tell the acidity of an oil from its taste.
3. Oil should be stored below 20 degrees C. Keep your oil in the fridge in the summer.
4. Good oil should burn the back of your throat, this shows that the health-giving antioxidants are still present.
5. To taste oil, pour into a glass and warm in both hands, sniff to detect scents of hay, apple, blossom etc. Roll around the mouth and pull through teeth to get the full flavour and feel the antioxidant 'burn'.
6. An olive starts to oxidise 5 seconds after it falls to the ground so olives shouldn't be knocked from the trees with sticks but collected in mechanised 'vibrating combs', stored in boxes not sacks and taken for immediate cold pressing. 
7. If you buy oil in large tins, decant into 1 litre or smaller glass bottles and keep them in the dark. Oil lasts for up to a year. Never buy in plastic bottles. 
So now I know that I have been buying and eating inferior olive oil for over 3 decades. To make up for lost time, I went out last week and bought a bottle of newly pressed wild olive oil and it's so good I've been pouring it on my porridge every morning. 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Christmas presents

It's that time of year again, not my favourite I admit and this year I have little enthusiasm for Christmas shopping. My email inbox is already full of pressure to spend money.  Wouldn't it be nice if everyone ignored this big business push to empty our wallets and just bought items made by hand; artifacts made with love, care and thought, that support local communities rather than offshore bank accounts. I've made a start by buying myself a pair of earrings - you can see them on the board below - eucalyptus wood tipped with Bodrum blue resin. I know I will treasure them because they have a story. I saw where they were produced, know the hands that made them and met the dog that does her best to interrupt the creative process. You don't get that with

Salih Çakır makes this tactile jewellery in his workshop a few paces from his home in Bitez mandarin gardens, working alongside his wife, Aysel, who produces ceramics. Last year I bought two of Salih's olive wood chopping boards, one for me and one for my daughter and I think I have used my board almost if not every day since.  Salih started making furniture and will take on creative home decor projects but it is his wood and resin jewellery that is attracting attention in Turkey.

Each piece starts as a lump of coloured resin fused onto wood, the rough shapes are cut and then each piece is sanded down with increasingly fine sandpaper until the wood and resin shimmer. Each pair of earrings take several hours of work over 2 days so output is small and each piece is original.

Once the summer arrives you won't find Salih and Aysel in the workshop though, they will be on the beach with their kiteboards. Salih was Turkish Kiteboard Champion from 2011 to 2014 and Asian Champion in 2012, so if you are interested in a pair of earrings to match mine you should take a look at Lignum Design's website before the sun and breeze call the woodworker back to the sea.

Salih will be at the Trafo Christmas Fair in Bodrum on Sunday 11th December

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Lignum Design on