Thursday, 31 October 2013

Dad's Beatroot and Apple Bread

An attachment to beetroot must run in my family. My father makes a mean loaf and his favourite recipe is apple and beetroot. I'm in Dorset with my parents for a couple of days so have had a chance to witness the production of this super loaf first hand. The dough looks a bit strange as it's rising; the damp pink is more reminiscent of the butcher's slab than the baker's counter but after 30 minutes in a 180 degree oven the crumb turns a rich gold. If you're looking for a light slice, that stays fresh for 4 days, add a bit of fruit or veg to your usual recipe.

500g strong white flour 
30 g butter
1 packet instant dried yeast (10 g)
1 small apple peeled and grated
Half a tennis ball size beetroot, cooked and grated. 
2 tblsp sugar 
 1 tsp salt  
2 tblsp olive oil 
250 ml warm water 

Rub the butter into the flour and add the rest of the above ingredients. Knead well for an elastic dough and leave in a warm place to double in size. Knock back and allow to rise for a second time, then knock back again, divide in half and put into two well buttered loaf tins. When the dough has risen for the third time, pop the tins straight into the hot oven. I've eaten more bread in the last two days than the last two weeks. It's the saving of my waistline that I'm off to Scotland tomorrow.
Happy Baking

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

October 29th - Republic Day

Flags go up all over Turkey to celebrate 90 years of the Turkish Republic.
Some are traffic-stoppers.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Bodrum Cup Silver Anniversary

In the winter of 88/89, I worked as an English teacher in a small  agency in Bodrum called Era Yachting. The mild mannered owner, Erman Aras, was one of the nicest bosses I've ever worked for; always smiling and pleasant, thoughtful and innovative, he made my 6 month placement very enjoyable.  While I was there, I overheard him discussing plans to start a sailing race at the end of the season.  As an ex-yachtie I was a bit sceptical as everyone knew that the classic Bodrum yacht called a gulet was not a sailing vessel, some of them didn't even have sails and those that did, would only hoist the canvas on a long downwind cruise and anyway, Bodrumites were seafarers but not traditional sailors.  Erman Bey thought differently and the first Bodrum Cup took place in October 1989. It has happened every year since and this October celebrated its Silver Anniversary.  Era Yachting Club went on to start Optimist sailing classes for Bodrum children, some of whom have gone on to international sailing success, and the first ever Sail Training Ship in Turkey was built in Bodrum; on Sunday, I watched it power ahead to win honours at this year's Bodrum Cup.  If Mr Aras was a Brit, he would surely have an MBE by now. 

I started to write this post on Friday, regretting the fact that due to work commitments or bad planning, I had never taken part in a Bodrum Cup, but thanks to Turquoise Secrets owner, Fiona Thomas, I enjoyed seeing the final leg from a privileged position aboard the Tall Ship Johanna Lucretia. My sailing days are over as I no longer have the muscle or agility to get around a sailing yacht, I almost didn't even get on as the Johanna Lucretia has no gang plank and despite an attempt to give me a leg up, there is no way I can haul my bottom heavy figure up 2 meters. Luckily a very nice lad in a tender whizzed me around the quay to get on at a lower point,  (to applause from a neighbouring yacht. I hope their photos don't turn up on Facebook).

No doubt now that gulets can sail. 

Owner/skipper of Johanna Lucretia,  Rodger Barton

Gulet and trandil (double ender) proving they can sail close to the wind. 

All this sail hoisted and lowered by just Rodger and Josh

Josh proving that Tall Ship sailing is a young man's  sport.

After the race at Yalıkavak Palmarina.  

We had a great day but the poor skipper, Rodger was doubly handicapped, first by the race committee and secondly by having only one able bodied crew member to handle over 300 sq m of sail, but he still managed  a 4th place on the final leg.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Exercise that writing muscle in Bodrum

I write this blog because I enjoy writing. Sometimes I'm happy with the result and press the publish button, other times I write a couple of paragraphs, edit down to one and then push delete. I started blogging because I wanted to exercise my writing muscle. I know from experience that composition begets better composition and a blank page will never get filled if you just stare at it. I carry on writing this blog because I have "met" so many creative, original, expressive  and slightly bonkers "friends" and am now a blogger groupie and proud of it.  Recently however, I have felt myself getting a bit stale and hackneyed and in need of a better workout. SO, I am very happy to announce the start of a new writing group in Bodrum. Calling ourselves a Writing Circle, we will meet twice a month for a couple of hours a session  and practice our craft, be it prose or poetry, in an atmosphere of mutual creative criticism.  It is not a class as there is no teacher. Neither is it an English lesson as we will not be correcting grammar.  My fellow co-ordinator Martha Patrick and I are looking forward to our first meeting on Monday afternoon where we will write briefly, share our work and decide how we want our writing circle to develop. 

Martha is a student of the Amherst Writers and Artists method which I am looking forward to hearing about. Pat Schneider, founder of AWA, encourages writers with these words in the introduction to her book, Writing Alone and With Others:

Whether your purpose is artistic expression, communication with friends and family, the healing of inner life, or achieving public recognition for your art - the foundation is the same: the claiming of yourself as an artist/writer and the strengthening of your writing voice through practice, study, and helpful (as opposed to damaging) communication with others. . . . 'A writer is someone who writes,' wrote William Stafford. . . . Every one of us is a writer. You are a writer. You are an artist. Accept it, celebrate it, and practice it for the rest of your life.

If you would like to join us please leave a message below or email

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Seasonal perfection

It is such a wonderful time of the year.  The morning mists hanging over our village briefly turn us into a magical kingdom. 

I wish I could make myself get up this early every morning just to watch the transformation. 

Walking the dog through the scent of newly-damp baked earth, pine resin and wood smoke is bliss.  If we could capture this fragrance in a  bottle it would spread happiness wherever sprinkled. 

(tomatoes have come down in price too - hurrah!)

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Bayram Best Wishes

The Muslim world is celebrating the first day of Eid and the majority of families in our village are settling down with their roast or braised lamb or goat with their nearest and dearest.  We are relaxing with a G&T and wondering what to cook for dinner. My daughter is not with us as she works in the tourist industry so today is just an ordinary working day for her. We do however have my Mum staying so we can at least say that we have had a "family day".   I went to the market on Sunday with the intention of filling up the fridge to last us through the holiday period but after my first couple of purchases, I was so incensed at the prices that I  ended up buying only half of my list.  Tomatoes were 1.5 TL a kilo last week but 4 TL this week.  My usual bunch of flowers had gone up 100%. When I questioned my lack of change from a 10TL note , the trader smilingly told me that it was a religious festival so of course the prices rise. I know religion has been blamed for most things but I haven't heard it used as a reason to fleece the general public.

While on the subject of fleeces, we passed a trailer load of sacrificial fleeces on our evening walk.  Animals can no longer be ritually slaughtered in gardens and public places which is good news as I hated the sight and smell of streets running with blood. Now each village or town has designated slaughter areas with a butcher on hand to dispatch the animal quickly and hygienically. Quite a queue had built up around ours and an enterprising neighbour had set up tables and chairs and was serving tea.  One tradition hasn't changed though; the fleeces in this area are still all donated to benefit the Turkish Aeronautical Association (Türk Hava Korumu) founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk  not just because the chief of staff of the Turkish Airforce is a local boy made good, but this is where fleeces have always been sent.

Friday, 11 October 2013

All Change in April 2014

Moving abroad is fraught with anxieties wherever you choose to settle and the bureaucracy involved in gaining and then maintaining a residency permit is high on the stress-inducing list. In Turkey, permission to stay is granted via local passport police and their "creative" interpretation of the rules is the source of much invective on the ex-pat forums. In some areas $500 a month is considered enough to support an application, recently in Bodrum $1000 a month has been required.  Some places accept proof of monthly pension payments, others require you to have the whole amount in the bank for the length of the permit, and so on with the other criteria. 

This situation will soon (hopefully)  just be a bad memory. A new Foreigners and International Protection Law was passed in April this year and The Directorate General of Managed Migration (DGMM) is responsible for implementing this law which comes into force in April 2014.  Mr Atalay Uslu from the DGMM has been touring the foreign embassies and consulates to find out about the foreign demographic living in Turkey and is open to suggestions on how the new laws can be formed to make life simpler for non-native residents.  He hopes to wipe out the discrepancies and anomalies in the present system and has already announced that Migration Management offices, run by the civil service with English speaking staff and a standardised rule book, will be set up all over Turkey and abroad. Offices are set to open in Aydın in  December 2013 and in Bodrum, Marmaris and Fethiye by April 2014.  These offices will also be offering Turkish language courses.  

This good news was imparted at a Consular meeting chaired by Ms Deniz Korkmaz, the Bodrum Pro Consul and Ms Joanne Pietsch, Consular Network Co-ordinator, based in the British Consulate in Istanbul.  The Bodrum Mayor, Mr Mehmet Kocadon, also made a cameo appearance to remind us what he looks like.  About 40 people attended to hear what's new and what's not but I won't bore you with the details here. If anyone is keen to know exactly what was discussed you can email and I'll give you a summary. 

If you have questions or suggestions you can contact Deniz Hanim at 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Now it's Time for Bikes - Şimdi Bisiklet Zaman

I arrived back safe and sound but chilled to the bone on Saturday.  Winter temperatures were blowing down from the North sweeping away all remnants of summer and leaving us shivering.  I avoided seasickness  by copious consumption of dried ginger from Hydra to Piraeus, keeping completely horizontal from Piraeus to Kos and completely vertical from Kos to Bodrum.  It seems I can control by nausea  as long as I don't bend in the middle.


Our village house is not suited to the cold so we decamped to Bodrum on Sunday where I had planned to take part in a bike ride from the town centre to Gümbet. The event was advertised on Facebook calling riders to meet in the centre of Bodrum to  remind the local authority that despite plenty of bikes in Bodrum we don't have cycle lanes. 

Or if we have a cycle lane, it is used as a parking lot for pizza delivery scooters. 

There was a serious amount of lycra on show and I realised that there was no way I'd keep up with these keen cyclists; I hadn't even remembered my bicycle clips, so I took a few photos and watched them set off in convoy following a cop on a motorbike.  My Raleigh "ladies'" bike only has 3 gears so I wouldn't have got half way up the hill but I wished them luck in their campaign and hopefully the mayor can get these scooters moved so that we at least have a few hundred yards to cycle safely in Bodrum. 

P.S.  If you are heading for Bodrum, the temperatures are now racing back to normal. It should be 28 or 29 degrees C by the week-end. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Stormy weather

I'm on a brief visit to Greece and managed to just miss the storms that hit Bodrum on Tuesday. I flew out early in the morning an hour before the thunder and lightning rolled in. I haven't escaped the stormy weather unfortunately and as I'm sitting in my hotel listening to the gusts of wind blast around Hydra, I'm anticipating a rough trip back to Bodrum tomorrow. I leave here at two on the flying dolphin and remember from trips to Kos that when it's very rough, these vessels can be really uncomfortable. Despite being introduced to sailing at the age of five and choosing to work as a cook on yachts, I get seasick easily so I'm not much looking forward to tomorrow, especially as I'm taking ferries to Kos and Bodrum rather than flying. The last time Teo and I took a ferry from Piraeus to Kos together, we left the harbour in the evening, retired to our cabin to get a good nights sleep, were at sea for  12 hours and woke up in the morning to find ourselves back in Piraeus. The ship had turned back to avoid a storm.  Fingers crossed it's not that rough tomorrow.