Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Sea dog

October 2012

When I was a pup I was taken to sea.  I behaved very well and hoped it would be a regular treat but that was the first and last time.


I'm not itching to set sail on the 'pirate' boats that ply their trade from Bodrum harbour - if you're young, agile and two legged, I'm sure it's great fun and good value but I'm not keen on loud music.



But just once or twice I'd like to accompany the boss to a quiet bay and eat fish. She always brings me back a doggy bag but it's not the same. She's asked the captains if they take four-pawed companions, but the answer is always negative.


I can just picture myself standing at the bow, one paw on the bowsprit, fur ruffling in the light breeze...hold on a minute - what's that in the background?


I have enough trouble with these blighters on my own patch - If they are part and parcel of boat trips I think I'll stay at home.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Dance


There are a few places Jake can't go so I will reclaim my blog to take you to the last night of Bodrum's International Ballet Festival.  Before the performance started, I mentally ticked off the 3 places in central Bodrum I have recently watched shows and concerts.
1. The castle theatre, where I was now sitting with a couple of thousand permanent and temporary Bodrum residents - Always atmospheric with the castle walls tastefully illuminated as busy Bodrum harbour life carries on outside.
2. The ancient theatre - Forget the fantastic panoramic view of the castle and town - the notion that bottoms have plonked on the seat under me for over 2000 years to watch theatre and song is enough. I wish the massive speakers would be relegated to history though.
3 The Mausoleum - ideal for a string quartet - if rather removed from its original purpose

The show was Los Vivancos - Born to dance. The talented Spanish brothers, whose Flamenco morphs into tap, martial arts and things I'm too old to know the names of, to a sound track from Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Leonard Cohen, Deep Purple and others who were born after I stopped noticing new music - and gives the audience the rare opportunity to watch and listen to flute and strings being played by musicians suspended upside down.  That these fit young chaps' frequent costume changes involve a lot of bare chests and tight leather trousers may add to their ability to sell out venues world wide, but their brilliant dance routines will fill Bodrum's theatres every time.

There are usually 7 - We were well entertained by 6 
Watch their official trailer here: 



Saturday, 12 August 2017

Brunch


I think I've made it plain over the past few weeks that I don't like being left behind. This poses a problem for the boss as big hairy mutts are not always welcome at eating establishments.  One place she knows I will always be welcome (About the chicken chase - It was a momentary lapse, I don't know what came over me - it will never happen again and thank goodness I came to my senses before any feathers flew) is Etrim Carpet Village. A short drive from our house, this is one of the best brunch venues near Bodrum.  Turkish breakfasts seem be getting bigger year on year -  a simple meal of bread, boiled eggs, white cheese, cucumber, tomatoes and honey has morphed into a table heaving spread of salads, pastries, 6 different cheeses, dips, fruit and fritters. Nobody is complaining of course - this must be the best spent 25TL in the area. 


Even the jams are getting exciting -  walnut, fig, olive (yes olive!),  quince, mulberry and lemon.


Belgin serves it all up without once implying that I am in the way or should be elsewhere.  


Halfway through the meal I noticed that we were being watched so I politely introduced myself. This involved a bit of barking which my other half always interprets wrongly but I'm not being unfriendly - just testing the ground.  


Daffy knows all about fame; he spends most of his day posing for walkers who pass by on the newly opened Lelegian trail and are tempted in for a drink, breakfast or a lecture on carpet making. We both decided to stay in the dappled shade and make it really difficult for the paparazzi to catch us having a chin wag.

February Brunch
Etrim Facebook Page

Monday, 7 August 2017

And down it came


All this blogging may have gone to my head, but I am becoming a mighty powerful canine. On a trip to our local reservoir, I took a few minutes out from sniffing and snuffling to contemplate the disaster about to hit our green and fertile Karaova plain if the Autumn rains miss another year. We are really down to our last reserves and it needs a prolonged period of steady rain to fill up this water supply. Another dry winter could mean the end of the market gardens that have sprung up in the 25 years since the dam was built.  I offered up a doggy prayer to the skies that those clouds would get big enough to dump a load of water on Mumcular.
I had to wait a few days but it sure worked. 

A storm front rushed through with a mighty wind that whipped all the dead needles off the pines into the pool (the boss wasn't pleased) and for a few minutes the thunder crashed and the lightening zinged through the trees.  It probably made no difference to the level of the reservoir but I hope it is a good omen for the winter.  


I had my two girlfriends Peri and Sevgi staying, so I did a lot of manly barking outside while the ladies sheltered inside. I hope they were impressed because I don't like getting wet and if they hadn't been there I would have stayed on the sofa.


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Gated.

Jake in pastels by Teoman Onursan 
It is hot today, I am not looking my best. I prefer to see myself in print in pastels. All a hot dog wants to do is lie quietly on the tiles under the fan and wait until the thermometer drops below blood temperature.  But I am not having a quiet day; the earth has been reverberating under me again and setting all the pictures and mirrors askew and the boss has called in the cavalry - the air is full of the teeth-grinding whizz of a saw, the hiss of a welding machine and the clang of metal meeting metal. She thinks she has put an end to my career as an escapologist.


I have an idea: I hear I am getting some canine company soon - with 8 legs, some nifty acrobatic shoulder stands might be the answer.  It's so hot though, I might just agree to stay at home - the last trip to Bodrum, stuck in traffic jams and walking on boiling hot pavements wasn't much fun. I won't let on though - I saw her hand over a big wad of cash for this iron work, I should at least let her think it's money well spent.


Monday, 31 July 2017

In the Dog House


These Paparazzi style photos catch me having a good time with one of my blog readers. I was so happy to meet Audrey in The Temple Bar, Bitez on Saturday night, that I got quite carried away as you can see despite the terrible quality of the snaps.


Richard (who took me walks when my master was ill) Audrey and me. 

I've been having a hard time at home because I am apparently "A very naughty dog"  so a bit of unbridled love and attention was very welcome.


I thought I was showing initiative when I squeezed through the iron gates which appeared around our courtyard in October. I surprised myself by getting through, I couldn't do it before.  - I am now getting a pasta ration with my dog food to fatten me up.  The day after my escape, ugly chicken wire was stuck all over the gates - I'm not having this I thought to myself - this house was designed with the highest aesthetic principles in mind - this wire is an insult to the eyes - so while the mistress was at the market I ripped it off and made my paws bleed doing it.  Did I get any thanks - NO.
The next time the humans went out I was shut in the house with no exit to the courtyard. What I did next was probably, in hindsight, a bit silly and I apologise to Jane; I shouldn't have knocked all your things off the bedside table and I'm sorry I wrecked your blinds, obliterated your mosquito net and walked my bloody paws on your sheets - I hope you will still come back and thank you for the gravy bones.



Friday, 28 July 2017

Losing Touch


I have spent the best part of the past 40 hours looking for my sunglasses.  I have tidied the kitchen, re-ordered my wardrobe and shelves, sorted through my bathroom cupboard,  folded and put away my clean washing and swept under beds and sofas in my search for them.  I have even emptied the kitchen bin, bit by bit, to no avail.  I was beginning to suspect the dog had eaten them. About 30 minutes ago, I gave up searching as there was nowhere else to look and decided it was time to write my blog.  As I plugged my camera in to charge, I popped the memory card on the nearest flat surface and guess what.. I have walked past this speaker countless times in the past two days. My house guests who were probably fed up with hearing me moan about my lost lenses, have sat less that 2 metres away - how come we all missed seeing what was in front of us?
I think a study is called for - ' The impact of continuous seismic activity on the human brain.'

(There have been two rumbles while I've been sitting at the computer)

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

It's a Dog's Life


My personal chef and walker is questioning my sensitivity. She is telling all who will listen (which isn't many as we are still stuck in the middle of rural nowhere) that she had to wake me up when the 6.6 earthquake hit on Friday morning. She wants to know why I wasn't waking her up with minutes to spare and leading her out of the house, rather than her dragging me out by my collar.  She has shown me cctv footage of street dogs in Bodrum running anxiously around the harbour, quoted 4th century BCE accounts of Greek dogs howling before seismic activity and claims that a whole Japanese town of 90,000 inhabitants was evacuated before a 7.9 quake on the say-so of its animal residents. "Dogs' hearing is so sensitive that they can pick up the sound of the earth moving prior to the destructive convulsion" she says. All I can say is that she better start trimming the hair bunging up my lugholes then.  In my defence, I spend my whole day protecting her from danger.  I bark loudly and frequently at every squirrel, dove, sparrow, bee and hornet that invades my courtyard and all get for my trouble is "Shut up Jake" often accompanied by words too rude to print.  No wonder I was fast asleep in the early hours.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Shaken not stirred


I could say 'this morning I am picking up the pieces after last night's 6.3  (or 6.8 depending which report you read) earthquake'. It wouldn't be a lie - a large iron candle stick fell over and broke this plate, so I do have some pieces to collect (and re-stick -because my mother gave it to me and I use it a lot) but I would be egging the pudding. Any earthquake measuring over 6 is of course bad news; It is very scary, especially types that try to pull the walls of your house apart and approach with a roar.  It took a while for my heartbeat to return to normal and I stayed outside counting the aftershocks.  After a few minutes, thanks to Facebook, I could relax in the knowledge that friends and family were unharmed but two people did lose their lives on the island of Kos. The change in sea level damaged plenty of boats, cars and property and a few mosques have fallen or have damaged minarets. I'm sure many people have more bits and pieces to pick up and mend than I do.  I hear from a friend that one can almost get drunk from the fumes wafting from the swanky alcohol shop on Bodrum's harbour front (order wider shelves now). The roads are jammed with folk heading back to the cities. Now this does confuse me - you flee a town which has just survived a major earthquake mainly due to its policy of building two storey structures, for a city with skyscrapers - also built on a fault line. Each to his own.  BUT the gist of this ramble is - everything is pretty much ok, which is why waking up to this headline makes me angry:

Screen shot from Daily Mail 22/7

Like my broken plate, it is not untrue but I find it totally disproportionate.  I was on Marmara Island in 1999 when an earthquake killed tens of thousands - That was a 'Killer Earthquake".  And just to be correct - it hit the Aegean not the Mediterranean. But I understand that they are both difficult words to spell, so in the middle of the night 'Med' was probably the easiest option.

We are still rumbling by the way.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Cows on the Coast



This post is for Deborah Semel Demirtaş whose 'Artist on a Marginal Coast' blog I enjoy reading. She's recently wrote about cows by the sea and I promised to send her some pictures of cattle that graze the Swedish coast.  I'm always wary of cows and these ones stare intently at me every evening as I pass by, but so far I have only briefly interrupted their nibbling. Occasionally they rush wildly up the seashore so I know that one day I will have to avoid a charging cow and I had better start researching defence techniques.  All suggestions welcome.



Tuesday, 18 July 2017

There is no cow on the ice



I've had a few messages asking me if all is well as BacktoBodrum has been uncharacteristically off-air for two weeks. I can happily reply that 'Ingen ko på isen' - 'there is no cow on the ice' which will immediately reassure all my Swedish friends that there is nothing to worry about. I've been visiting Skåne, Sweden, enjoying how different life is there to my existence in Bodrum - not better or worse - just poles apart. 


Things that are different

Licorice
I've eaten more licorice in the past week than in the last two years (ie since my last visit). Sweet, or chocolate flavoured but even better - salty - I wonder whether a licorice shop would work in Bodrum?

Berries
Giant blueberries, gooseberries, endless raspberries and who could resist a fruit called 'cloudberry'. I discovered that a handful of fresh red currents mixed into lightly picked cucumber is the best accompaniment to baked herrings. 

Cinnamon buns
OK, I can make these at home but buying them warm from the Bakery for breakfast is almost as good as taking home a fresh crispy simit.  

Road Safety
Swedes step out on to pedestrian crossings without even looking, so confident are they that cars will stop. Please don't try this in Bodrum.  I'd prefer you didn't do it in front of me in my first few days - I'm already struggling with speed limits that go from 40 to 70 to 30 to 20 in a less than a kilometre and a car that brakes for me if I'm too near to the car in front or shouts at me if I stray too far to the right or left. .  

Bicycles everywhere
As above - car drivers acknowledge their presence; again - don't try this in Bodrum in Summer.
(One question - if Swedes are so health and safety conscious - explain the candles on the head on 13th December) 

Crispbread 
Big wheels of it offered with every meal, but very difficult to store - I would have to build a special Ryvita cupboard if I could buy it here. 

Place Names
I childishly delight in visiting Paarp on my way to Boarp and then on to Bastad.  (I know there are little circles on top of some vowels that change the sound, but can't be arsed to find them) 

Whipped cream with every dessert
Not so sure about the green cakes. 



Roses
Rosa Rogusa grows everywhere and has a heavenly scent.  Locals consider it a weed and prefer less rampant varieties to grow up their houses, but I love this Beach Rose and stop at every opportunity to literally smell the roses and hope to be figuratively doing the same, and writing about it, now that I am home. 



Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Cheese in a bag


How do you like your cheese? Can I suggest serving it out of a hairy goat's skin bag? If you haven't tried it you should. Tulum peynir (cheese matured in a goat's skin) is my favourite Turkish cheese. If you enjoy a mature cheddar, this is the cheese for you. Finding a cheese that was actually made in an animal skin is quite difficult now, but the cheeses matured in more commercially suitable tins or plastic vessels are almost as good. I'm not keen on cheese made from goats' milk as I can always detect that 'farmyard tang' which lingers after the first bite, so I try and find tulum cheese made from sheep's milk.  Take time to pick the one that suits you.  Cheese stalls on markets or supermarkets will let you taste before you buy, so work your way through the display until you find the one that tickles your tastebuds. İzmir tulum is my favourite; not too hard or crumbly, it is easy to slice thinly and has a full flavour. Teo loved Bergama tulum; the older the better, with a sharp aftertaste that could bite back - ideal for a rakı meze.  If you are looking for a cooking cheese, tulum will serve you well. It melts quickly and a little gives a lot of flavour. It also grates well and is a good substitute for Pecorino or Parmesan in pesto.

As pine nuts and Parmesan are so expensive in Turkey, my go to recipe for a pesto that doesn't cost the earth is: 
A cup of sunflower seeds, lightly toasted. 
4 cloves of garlic 
Two handfuls of green basil
A cup of olive oil. 

Combine these four ingredients in a blender or pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste, then add a cup of grated tulum cheese.  Keep a bowl on hand in your fridge to use in pasta or spread it on toast, baked aubergines, peppers or courgettes. 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Bayram or Bedlam - Boon or Blight

Detail of Bodrum mosaic by Neslihan Zabci Erdal
According to the news, 220,000 cars arrived into Bodrum for the three day Bayram holiday, I made the mistake of driving in on Friday so they may have counted me too, I didn't stay long and thanked the mad whim in 1991 that made us build a house out in the countryside - way off the Bodrum peninsula.  I can at least provide a quiet hideaway for friends and family that want to avoid the traffic jams, loud music and influx of city manners (or lack of them) that take over our South Western bit of Turkey.
I'm sure hoteliers and restaurant owners will be heaving a big sigh of relief as they have at last had full hotels and tables, but if I can offer one piece of advice in this blog, it's to check the dates of religious holidays before you book a trip to Turkey and make sure yours don't coincide.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Things that go bump in the night

While Europe boils, we too have been having unseasonable weather - but no one is complaining because it has been cooler than normal and we've had late rain which is a boon for farmers and gardeners. I am neither but have been enjoying the unusual pink clouds that have been floating past the village. 


I wasn't sure how I would cope with living in the middle of nowhere by myself; daytimes are fine and I'm getting used to the solitary evenings.   Jake is not as laid back as I am, he takes fright at every bird that lands in the vines and squirrel that scurries up the pines, so he is frantically barking most of the night.  He probably thinks his name is now 'Shut Up Jake' as that is what he constantly hears from me.  I woke up at 3am a couple of nights ago to a frantic dog and was about to shout at him when I too heard the banging of metal gates.  I knew they were locked, but this sounded like someone attacking them with a battering ram.  Phone in hand, making sure I had the gendarmerie number on speed dial, I turned on the lights and looked out - nothing.  Assuming that the barking and lights had put off any would-be intruder I went to bed and read a book.  I'd just dropped off again when the whole rattling kicked off again and still no one.  It was almost light now so I went outside  and found the culprit. It's amazing that such a small animal, intent on getting through a metal gate, can make so much noise.  I put him out but in the morning he was back inside again so he obviously only knows how to enter, not exit. 
I've named him Theresa May. 








Friday, 16 June 2017

Rowing ın Bodrum


I've been out in the countryside so have missed some of the exciting new things going on in Bodrum.
This has to be the best one - B.A.Y.K  (Bodrum open sea sailing club) have introduced rowing to their waterborne activities and have been offering free 30 minute try-out sessions in Bodrum Marina. (still a couple of days to take advantage of this if you are nearby). Both experienced and complete novices are welcome and hopefully a Bodrum rowing team will soon be in-training.


The Aegean is not know for its flat seas and these craft are specially built to cope with waves.
I was quite sad watching today's rowers start their lesson as Teo, my husband, was always keen to start rowing but there were no clubs near here - it has come too late for him, but let's hope there are some Bodrum folk who are just finding out that they have a talent for rowing which could have lain undiscovered.


Saturday, 10 June 2017

Cooking for one

It is quite difficult to drum up enthusiasm for cooking when there is only one person in the house, but the markets are so full of great ingredients this month, it would be a shame to live on omelettes or cheese on toast which seem to be the go to quick meals for singletons.  

On Thursday I bought a bunch of small beetroot with leaves, red onions and a kilo of samphire and used them to make three meals.  I first peeled and thinly sliced one onion, put it in a bowl with half a teaspoon each of sugar and salt and rubbed the slices well until the juices started to run.  This method takes the bitterness out of the onion and leaves crisp sweet slivers. I then cut off the stalks from the beetroot and put them to one side and put the beets into a roomy saucepan of water to boil for 15 minutes, I then added the stalks to the pan and 5 minutes later added the leaves for two minutes and drained the lot together and cooled under running cold water.  In the same pan I poured a litre of water from the kettle and added the whole kilo of samphire.  While the samphire was cooking -about 10 minutes, I slipped the skins off the cooled beetroot and cut them into eighths, cut the stalks into eatable lengths and squeezed the moisture out of the leaves.  These all went to a large salad bowl.  Drain the liquid from the onions and add those too and once the samphire is cooked (test it by seeing if the green part will squeeze easily off the inner spiny skeleton) drain and run under cold water and then holding the root in one hand, use thumb and forefinger to slid the green stems off the hard white 'branches'. Add this and a good slug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the salad bowl and stir well.  


This base will keep in the fridge for a few days and if cheese is added on day one, tuna and olives on day two and hard boiled eggs and anchovies on day three, it doesn't feel like you are eating the same meal three times. If you can't find samphire, lightly steamed broccoli or cauliflower can be used instead. 



Tuesday, 6 June 2017

R.E.S.



Renewable Energy Systems. It sounds good on paper.  Does it look good? This is a picture of my house although you will need a magnifying glass to find it. These turbines won't directly affect me as I can't see or (hopefully) hear them from my garden but they are already changing how we live in the village. Yesterday I was driving home when a cement mixer, going so fast that it was almost obliterated in dust, nearly ran me off the road.  As it approached I pulled over and frantically waved my arm out of the window. The driver screached to a halt and backed up. Uh oh I thought, what's going to happen now. He wanted to know what was wrong.  I told him he was going too fast for such a narrow road. He said sorry, but he thought the mixers had the road to themselves.  I told him he was wrong; cows, sheep and the occasional camel and their drivers used the road. School buses and moped users used it. Dogs were walked along it and it was my way home. He again said sorry but it brings it home how the builders of these turbines have no concept of the life that has to continue around them. These hills were home to the Lelegians well over two millennium ago. We're any archaeologists on site when the massive holes were dug for the foundations?  Will the pine trees survive when the blades start turning and reduce the moisture in the air?  Will the amount of energy each turbine produces in its short lifetime justify the amount of energy needed to build, transport and erect it?  Wouldn't a solar energy plant be more appropriate in an area where it is sunny nearly every day but not nearly so windy? Would it not have been at least polite to consult local community leaders before the project went ahead?  
My only consolation is that they are better here than on the Bodrum peninsula where some are to be sited dangerously close to villages.  The sad fact is that despite protests and court cases, the construction in these contentious sites is still going on. 

Monday, 5 June 2017

Marmaris re-visited


In January 1981 I applied for a job as a cook on a 71ft ketch called Sinbad Severne.  The boat was moored in Rhodes which was handy as I had been working in Northern Greece and was learning to speak Greek. I got the job and in March, I flew out to Rhodes keen to try out my conversational skills. I'd only been there a couple of days when we upped anchor and set out for Turkey. Our first port was Marmaris and despite the decision made back in 1974 never to set foot on Turkish soil again, I was overawed by sailing into the fjord-like gulf of Marmaris. It should be on everyones' bucket list. And contrary to my first experience of Turkey, everyone I met was friendly, respectful and funny. They were 6 months into a military government and there was a curfew at night, but then as now,  everyone made us feel welcome and safe.
Last Thursday I drove to Marmaris for a wedding in Içmeler and again I was impressed by the approach. Steep wooded valleys and water gushing from the hillsides made me determined to use the word 'verdant' in my next post.
Marmaris has changed more than Bodrum in the intervening 36 years and after a 'lost period' in the 90s, it is now looking good. The the old town behind the main quay, where Sinbad Severne tied up all those years ago,  is a delight to walk around.  The castle houses a museum and winding streets house craft shops, an art gallery and cafes.  I hope all the visitors staying close to the long sandy beaches make the effort to visit the heart of Marmaris.



Jane Ecer on the walk up to her house



Friday, 2 June 2017

Welcome June


June 1st brought the British Ambassador to Turkey,  Richard Moore and his wife Maggie into town. He met local residents for an informal lunch before chatting to press and continuing on his round of meetings with Governors, Police and Gendarme chiefs



It's reassuring to know that the Consular team are all working hard to make sure Turkish resorts are as safe as possible for UK residents and visitors,  but after listening to our esteemed Ambassador, the photographers were keen to take pictures of Star, Maggie's guide dog.  I couldn't take Jake along with me as he'd have been heartbroken to realise that there was a much more famous canine than him in town.  


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Blooming Lovely

Home in Bodrum

It may be nearly June but the weather thinks we are still in March and Bodrum skies have been grey and heavy. Jake is not very happy with the thunder, being suspicious of all sounds coming from the sky, so he is reluctant to go out for long walks, which is fine by me as I'm happy to stay around my Bodrum garden which is blooming marvellous thanks to all the late rain. Unfortunately we are not getting the downpours where we need them and despite a whole day of celestial rumbling yesterday, very little rain fell out in Mumcular and the reservoir is still too empty for the time of year.  Local farmers and market gardeners are very worried about being able to water their vegetable gardens.


My small Bodrum plot is looking good; the lime tree gifted by Kath and Dave from Cakes by Kath and Dave and Kath's Campervan travels has lots of incipient G&T ingredients.


I love sweet peas and have tried unsuccessfully for years to grow them, but this year, seeds given to me by my daughter's Godmother Jeni, have bloomed beautifully.  I can only assume that the October sown seeds were confused by our unusually cold and long winter, and thought they were back in the UK.

Another garden surprise is this Hydrangea.  I bought the plants last summer for my daughter's wedding. The petals were white when I got them and they turned more and more green as summer progressed until the leaves and flowers were almost the same colour. This month they have bloomed bright pink; a colour that was banned from the wedding so I know my memory is not playing up.

The sun is now coming out and the forecast for the next 10 days is sun, sun, sun - more than likely this won't change for at least 3 months. Time to take the dog out before he uses 'being too hot' as an excuse for not walking.