Friday, 30 September 2016

Adorned, prettified, bedecked and on a bike.

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managed to highlight a number of important issues including the right for women to ride a bicycle - a freedom recently withdrawn in Iran.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.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

September rushes by

September is zooming past and I haven't hit the 'publish' button for 8 days. 

I should be telling you about road trips to unspoilt bays.

Or contradicting the gutter press that would have you believe that Turkish tourism is dead, by posting pictures of the cruise ships that regularly come to Bodrum. 

But surely a visit by Greenpeace's Rainbow Warrior is more news-worthy.

You probably didn't hear about the symposium in Milas on wall-building techniques and marble construction in Caria.

There is definitely a post to be written on meeting up with past clients in Gümüşlük who brought me a copy of a newsletter I'd sent out in 1997, and a kind fellow blogger who handed over copies of 19th century charts.

The hiatus in blog production is most likely due to me having such a great time with visiting friends, especially ones that arrive with award winning Greek wine, 

turn the terrace into a candle lit Shangri-La, 

and leave me with a wire sculpture of Jake, that will be much treasured. 

I promise myself that each of the above will be honoured with its own post.

Did I mention that my daughter is getting married in 2 weeks. Could also have something to do with the BacktoBodrum go-slow! 

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Pond

I like living by the village pond: while not a hub of activity, it is visited most mornings by a succession of villagers with their cows and if I time my dog walking correctly I can find out what is happening with my neighbours.

Before mains water arrived, the pond was vital to the survival of livestock, now walking the animals to the pond keeps the water fees down but is not practiced every day by all, leaving more murky water for the wild pigs, badgers and pine martins. 

A few years ago a jeep safari company introduced turtles to the pond and a few fish occasionally break the surface but they don't last long under the watchful eye of the heron, perching on top of the pine tree, waiting for lunch.

Late summer pond is not so photogenic but Jake enjoys his morning snuffle and sniff around it, picking up the scents of the wild.

Now the sun has set on our pond. For the first time anyone can remember, the pond is dry. I've been reading about the world-wide hottest July on record but statistics don't mean much until the effect hits locally and I contemplate the consequences of one lost water source to the surrounding wildlife.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

At home.

Today is the second day of Kurban Bayram, Sacrifice Holiday; a busy time of year in Bodrum when city dwellers take their noisy, bustling lifestyle to the Aegean and give us town and country dwellers a taste of what it's like to live in the metropolis. For this reason I choose to stay at home. Just me, the dog, a lizard and a dragon fly, (there was a scorpion too but he had to go) 
My human house guests left on Sunday and Monday so I woke this morning determined to catch up with blog reading and writing but as I clicked my ipad into life I realised that I was no longer connected to the outside world.  No emails, no daily paper and no Facebook.  All my friends have been complaining about internet and telephone providers so I had little hope of getting back on line this week - surely the repair service would be twice as slow during the bank holiday, but I phoned anyway at 9:30, reported the problem and set about practical tasks. I was halfway through vacuuming the pool when the landline rang at 11:30am - Türk Telecom checking that my phone and internet were back on line - and they were, so three cheers to TT repair guys - I can now avoid all the other essential little jobs I had lined up to fill my computer free day. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Yogurt Etiquette

Before I write about eating yogurt, I have to decide how to spell it.  Yogurt - yoghurt - yoghourt and even yojurt are all possibilities but as the word comes from the Turkish yoğurt, I'm sticking to the first-mentioned option. As a foreigner it is easy to make a big faux-pas in the eating and serving of yogurt, I bet many of you are committing this gaffe every day.  YOU MUST NEVER SERVE YOGURT WITH A METAL SPOON.  Many a time, as I started to dip into a virgin pot of yogurt with a large metal serving spoon, my arm has been caught mid swipe.  Only wooden spoons should plunge into yoğurt as any hint of metal will split the curds and release liquid. Koreans also believe that metal kills the bacteria and spoils the taste.  I've tried to find some scientific proof to back up this widely held (in Turkey) belief but haven't had any success.  The journal Flavour conducted a small study that found that yogurt tasted better from a light plastic spoon than a heavy one which is neither here nor there regarding wooden spoons, so I have conducted my own experiment and I'm siding with Turkish housewives. Yogurt stays thicker for longer if you scrape servings uniformly from the top with wood rather than metal.

While we are on the subject, metal shouldn't  be used for honey either and if you are lucky enough to have caviar to present - only a mother of pearl, gold, animal horn or a wooden spoon will do. (I'm hoping someone will read this and explain why as the caviar comes out of a metal tin).
If you now feel the need to increase your wooden spoon collection you can buy handmade in most markets or take a drive around Turkish villages and ask for  the basket maker as they usually whittle spoons as a sideline.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Vine Harvest Festival 2016

I was expecting great things from the Second Vine Harvest Festival in Mumcular. This year's organisation had lots of support and for once, it was advertised well in advance - several months as opposed to the usual several days - but it turned out to be a great disappointment.  I've included 2015's post so you can compare last year's setting with this year's.  Who ever thought it was a good idea to move all the stalls from a shady park to one side of a dual carriageway should seriously consider resigning.  I apologise to every one who I encouraged to attend. I very rarely recommend events in advance but I so enjoyed the previous festival that I thought it safe to flag it up a few days in advance on the BacktoBodrum Facebook Page

Raşit, our local basket maker, made a brave attempt at a picnic but I wasn't tempted to join them on the curb side. 
The pictures speak for themselves but don't show the traffic congestion caused by shutting off half of the main road on market day.  Hopefully there will be a rethink for 2017

Vine Harvest Festival  2015

I have just spent a very pleasant morning in Mumcular at a festival of regional crafts, food and drink and a celebration of Mother Nature's benevolence to make us forget about the deluge she doused us with on Tuesday. On this warm sunny Saturday, it's hard to imagine the torrential rain 4 days ago.
I didn't have my photo taken at the Bağbozumu Hatırası stand above but was happy to snap away as others did.  Hatıra is a memento or a reminder and the festival organisers' aim is to keep these local crafts current and not let them be consigned to a distant memory.  The best way to encourage these activities is to give them a commercial outlet and encourage the next generation to learn from their elders. Most visitors landing at Bodrum airport head straight to the Bodrum peninsula and bypass all the villages and countryside on the way, thus missing out on the local heritage.  Steps are being discussed to divert some of these tourists inland.

I leant to spin 30 years ago, I was itching to try again. 

It's a subject close to my heart as I organised trips to these villages starting back in 1984 and all my clients really appreciated the chance to visit a local houses and sample home cooking and to watch wool being spun and dyed in preparation for carpet weaving.  It certainly influenced me as I decided to sell up in Bodrum and move out to the Karaova plains myself.

Sylvie, owner of Sylvie's Goats, producers of organic cheese. 

The festival continues tomorrow, Sunday, with talks, a cookery contest and a film.  If you are reading this within driving distance of Mumcular, I suggest you drop in to sample local wines, cheeses, pastries, syrups, honey, olive oil and preserves and if you are reading abroad, pop ahatıra in your diary to visit Mumcular/Karaova when you plan your next trip to Bodrum.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Turkey Tales

I'd like to recommend this collection of 16 poems to anyone who has loved and left Bodrum, is still living on the Bodrum Peninsula or has an idea in their head that one day they too will sit on a bougainvillea strewn terrace, sipping iced rakı and grazing on samphire and olives as they watch the sun sink behind the islands.

Jay is well known for her informative guide books and you can click on her Roving Jay byline to the right of any BacktoBodrum post but her ability to paint evocative pictures with her words is a real joy to discover.

With Jay's permission I can give you a little taster here:

A market man, who smiles with his eyes; his
hands caked in dirt, then wiped on his thighs.
Both gnarled and rough he waves them about.
Then a smoke-clad voice delivers his shout. 

The ebook is available on Amazon and if you are quick, is free to purchase until Sunday.