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. 

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Who would wish to be anywhere else?

My first two years in Bodrum were spent sailing the Gulf of Gökova.  Thirty five years later, there is still no better place to be. 

Crystal clear water that flickers all shades of turquoise as the sun hits. 

Unspoilt bays 

Grilled fish, salads, fruit. 

A boat party of 10 -  born in America, England, Holland, France, Germany, Turkey and Sweden - all living in Bodrum and all agreeing that we couldn't be in a better place.  As another relative cries off travelling to Turkey, I wish the newspapers would publish stories like this.

Friday, 26 August 2016


I haven't completely given in to sloth during these hot months, I am still paying twice weekly visits to The Pilates Studio in Avenue Bodrum to be stretched out on the rack  reformer machine.  I am a late convert to Pilates, having assumed that regular yoga would be enough to keep me fit, I looked from afar and decided that Pilates was just expensive yoga.  I am happy to admit that I was wrong. While yoga is great for keeping supple, working out on the reformer machine tweaks each muscle in the body just enough to strengthen muscles, improve posture and pull in the saggy bits that ageing lets hang loose.  My balance is definitely better than it was and I've got my shock absorbers back. 

Teacher Sevinç showing how it should be done

Experts Rachel and Michael before the big mat work out
Last month we were booked up to have a mat session with Michael King - roving legend of the Pilates World: ex-Pineapple studios in London, Houston Ballet Company and founder of The Pilates Institute UK ( *see his web page for the full story) but being just a few days after the attempted coup we had little expectation that the session would go ahead.  Silly us - this man has trained Madonna - a piffling armed uprising is nothing compared to a one to one with scary Madge and Michael was on the phone saying he would come by ferry if the airports were closed (they weren't) and we got our hour with trainer to the stars.  If he comes to your town I recommend you sign up too - even my little fingers felt the benefit. 

Michael and Madonna me 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Woof Woof

Sunday could have been a very busy day. Mumcular, our nearest town, was hosting its first traditional Bull Wrestling Festival (just how the first ever event can be classed as "traditional" is beyond me, but the semantics of Turkish has tripped me up many a time so I won't expose my ignorance any further). I was faffing about whether to go or not, then decided that two massive sides of beef crashing into each other was not my cup of tea and was able to give my full attention to the main event of the day: the Country Ranch dog show in Turgutreis.   

Jake was in with a good chance as he had a very strong support team of Marga, well-known arbiter of style and good taste,  providing him with a vanity case of costume choices, Esi, in charge of last minute grooming and Celal driving him to and from the event. 

He may be feeling a bit let down by his owner whose pocket full of dog biscuits distracted him just as he faced the judges. 

He may also be thinking that other dogs definitely had the advantage in the glamour stakes.

Hopefully he was reflecting on how it is exactly 4 years since he was picked off the street and thanks to the internet, found his way to the BacktoBodrum house.  Hopefully the two dogs above will also eventually find a home of their own.

The event was sponsored by Farmina pet foods and we all came away with some tasty samples - wild boar and apple proving a hit in this household.
Unfortunately we didn't come home with any prizes, unlike the pocket pooch above who had to make room for a cup in her bag.

(Email me at if you are interested in adopting a dog and I'll forward your messages.)

Monday, 15 August 2016

Half and Half

It's been hot, mind-meltingly hot.  The kind of heat that gives you wet patches on top of your shoulders where the sweat has dripped off your ear lobes.  The sort of hot that makes it imperative that you wring out any bra with a hint of padding before slinging it into the washing basket or you'll wake up to an Ali Baba of damp, smelly, colour mingled clothes. Too hot to think and too hot to write. Too hot to call a plumber to mend the irrigation system or to contact the myriad of other workmen needed to repair everything that is packing up in the house.  Sloth-inducing sultry heat. 
But everyone who lives here knows the saying 'August is half summer and half winter' and right on cue, today the weather changed.  High cloud appeared and the humidity lifted. When I open a window coolness enters rather that heat.  The temperatures are still over 30C but the oppressiveness has gone and energy is returning.  Today I sought and found a wrench and a screwdriver and took off the timer that has refused to allow my garden to be watered but let water leak out of all its joints, and switched it for another one - No more dribbles where they shouldn't be and hopefully, happier looking roses - I also grabbed a rake and got rid of a few barrow loads of pine needles and more importantly, I am sitting at the computer and writing my second blog post in less than 48 hours.  Time to get back to the keyboard.