Sunday, 23 October 2016

Drums, Guns and Rakı

I was about to write a post about how we saved money, while making my daughter's wedding that bit more personal, by collecting bougainvillea petals to use as confetti. The idea came from close friend Netia, who had done the same for her daughter's wedding and I collected most of the petals pictured in the baskets above from the bougainvillea bushes that Netia planted over 25 years ago.  But I've been diverted by a wedding that is going on close to my village house. It started last night in the groom's garden- no music, just constant drumming and shooting - all night, sometimes single shots, sometimes, repeated fire, building up to a crescendo at about 7 am this morning with 10 minutes of constant gunfire. Needless to say I am short on sleep and the dog is close to a nervous breakdown.  At dusk tonight, the drums gave way to a band but the shooting is still going on.  I've just met a neighbour on his way home who told me that the family have spent 10,000TL on bullets and that the ground around the wedding is littered with spent cartridges, and the 300 cases of rakı that have been bought for the event. This family are not rich, they sold a piece of land to pay for the festivities and the young couple will be moving into a rented flat after the marriage - a flat which could have been bought for less than the cost of the sold land.  We had free petals, they have spent bullets - I'm sure both of us think the other is bonkers.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Wedding Dog Blog

I'm used to the limelight, my lead-holder gets stopped in the Bodrum streets by strangers who have seen my photo online, but last Sunday I had my red carpet moment, although the carpet was rather uncomfortable pebbles not the best tufted weave. 

At one point I was faced by 50 humans all pointing their cameras at me so I had to throw some heroic poses showing my best side.  As the host, I felt I had to create a bit of a diversion as the bride hadn't even got her dress on when the registrar called us all to order, but even I gave up and sat down to wait like my mistress.

It was worth the wait though because the bride did look lovely and I was very proud that she'd chosen a white dress with grey shoes to match my coat. And the groom was wearing one of my master's silk ties, although he got rid of the jacket and neckwear pretty soon after the ceremony, understandable as it was a hot sunny day.

I got as close to the cake as I could but there was none going spare so I can't tell you what it tasted like, but I heard quite a few complimentary comments as I worked the tables.

The seating plan is so important at a wedding; you've got to know who your friends are. I've had Auntie Jeni pegged for a few years now so I planned who I was going to sit next to, (even though I wasn't given one of the marble place-markers that everyone else got)  - I wasn't disappointed!

Just one person missing, his jacket was there - the Anthony Price one he loved so much and had finally got thin enough to wear again. I hope he was watching from where ever he has gone.  Everyone agreed that I was a very good dog. 

My photos have got all mixed up so I'm now no longer sure who took what.  I thank Netia Piercy, Jane Baxter Gerçeksöz and Peter Dick for their photographs. 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Wedding Day - The Prep

A good friend is a connection to life — a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world. ~Lois Wyse

Malcolm, Helen, Josie, the groom, the bride, Kath, me, Dave,
Gareth and Owen 

Preparing for a wedding is said to be a stressful occupation, but if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by good friends there will be no tears of frustration, just a lot of laughter.  It is tradition in Turkey to openly invite everyone in the vicinity to a wedding, but I wasn't willing to see my only daughter off in this fashion so we planned a European style event with only close family and friends. (I may have to keep a very low profile in the village for the next year.)  It is common practice in Europe to employ a wedding planner to organise a wedding but we didn't do that either, I am extremely lucky to have a cohort of extremely talented friends who travelled out to Turkey and mucked in to make my daughter's wedding a day to remember. 

The younger generation got stuck in with wire cutters and secateurs to make the table wreaths

Dave did everything remotely technical when not chasing the dog with a broom.  

Kath turned the 12 rough layers of sponge that Esi and I baked a couple of days before into a spectacular wedding cake. Check out her blog  and you will see her other creations. 

Helen and Malcolm provided the soundtrack, sorted out the most complicated music system and stayed around to help put up the metres of tulle that I'd bought as off-cuts from a curtain shop. 

And finally Netia, who you last saw catching frogs, separated bougainvillea blooms into individual petals to create natural confetti.  
In the meantime, the groom was collecting 200 kilos of ice in the back of his car to keep all our drinks cold. 
And what was I doing?  Mostly losing the scissors. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Final Countdown

Five days left until the wedding and my daughter and I are finally getting down to some serious work. We are doing all the decorations ourselves with the exception of the bride's bouquet which has been ordered from By Bedish Bodrum.  I was drawn to this company as they are based in the first house I lived in in Bodrum. Teo had been living there for a few months when I moved in with him in February 1983, we married the next year.  I'm hoping that this link with the past will sprinkle some of the luck and happiness I had over my daughter's marriage. 

I gave rather vague instructions so the bouquet will be a surprise but if the cup of coffee I was served is anything to go by, the result will be very pretty. 


I wrote about this house in one of my first posts in 2012. Click here to read.

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.