Saturday, 30 November 2013

It's Always Movember in Hydra

I don't know how many of you or yours have taken up the challenge to grow a moustache in November, but if you need a bit of inspiration for next year's growth, head off to the Greek Island of Hydra where a well developed tache is de rigueur.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Mighty Wind

While I was paddling through the flooded Bodrum streets on Monday, a mini tornado whizzed between  our village and the next, lifting up and scattering olive trees as it passed.

It's path was fortuitously narrow as it whipped across the valley like a giant chain saw leaving the trees next to the fallen ones completely untouched.

I was particularly saddened to see this garden affected as I remember the young olive trees being planted and they have lost 75% of them. Luckily the fruit trees were unharmed.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Rain stopped play.

My front garden on Monday.

On my first trip back to the UK after my first winter in Bodrum c.1983,  I bought a pair of knee-high rubber riding boots. I was extremely proud of them and especially loved the leather lining.  Did I have a horse?  No.  Did I ride?  No.  Were they the most useful foot-ware I ever bought? Yes.  I still have them and wish my legs were svelte enough to get into them.  They were the only boots that were high enough to ford the rivers that Bodrum roads turn into after a heavy rainfall.  I was under the impression that we now had super drainage around the Bodrum peninsula and that the days of the flash flood were over, but mother nature knows better.  On Monday between 77 and 85 kgs of rain fell in a hour (that's over 3 inches in UK terms) and the drainage systems gave up the ghost.  There are pictures of what looks like a tidal wave running down Bodrum's main street.  

Photo credit to Bodrum'un Bilinmeyenleri Facebook page. 
On Monday morning, I drove into town from the village with plans to visit the bank, help my daughter move house, enrol at the gym and walk to this week's writing circle.  I arrived early so I could fit in a walk around Bodrum with Jake.  We got to our car park just as the first rain drops started and then were stranded indoors for the next 3 hours as the water level rose steadily around our town house. The electricity went off, followed by my mobile phone network and smells started emanating from the dog suggesting that a trip outside should be sooner rather than later.   I had to don my much too short wellies and the dog had to practice the paddle that forever has been named after his species as we braved the weather for a toilet break.

My front path turns into a very attractive pond.
I did eventually get to the b-fit gym at about 6pm and signed up for the next 4 months. I should concentrate on the lower leg region to hopefully be able to squeeze back into my riding boots ready for the next downpour.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Is this the end of Indi-Bindi?

Even if you haven't a clue what "indi-bindi" means, you've got to feel a little upset that something with such a wonderful moniker is almost no more. According to the sign below, it is forbidden except at designated  spots.  "Indi-bindi" sounds good, it's a phrase foreigners pick up easily and slips off the tongue with satisfaction. But we've got to get used to a life without "indi-bindi".

"Attention Passengers! Indi-Bindi is forbidden except at bus-stops"
For the uninitiated, 'indi'  means 'got off' and bindi means 'got on' but it is so much more than the sum of these words.  For the purpose of explanation, I'll concentrate on the Bodrum peninsula, but the transport system I'm about to describe is nationwide.  You wouldn't believe it to look at Turkey now, but when I first arrived in the early 80s, very few people had cars; they didn't need them as public transport was well developed. Coaches for intercity journeys and jeeps for village to Bodrum trips. (It's still well developed - but now everyone wants a car) . The jeeps gave way to minibuses that operated on the same "dolmuş" system.  The minibuses waited in the centre of each village until every seat was filled and then they set off to Bodrum. As they pottered along anyone could get on or off as they pleased.  If you were waiting by the side of the road the accepted sign  that you wished to board was to stick out an arm horizontally in front and waggle your fingers up and down.  If you wanted to get off, you yelled at the driver and he slammed on the brakes.  'Dolmuş' means 'filled' and quite often lived up to that name.  I was once on a 12 seater heading to Bitez, with 23 heads on board when the driver spied a police road block ahead, swung the wheel to the right and took us bumping, yelling and swearing over 500 metres of rocky field before he swung back on to the main road nonchalantly ignoring the complaints of his bruised cargo.  It could never happen these days as the main road is totally lined with shops. Such a manoeuvre would take the bus straight into a supermarket aisle or shopping mall fountain.

Fast forward 30 years and the dolmuş system is alive and well but operating under rigid regulation. For a start, there are many more routes and minibuses - so many that I can't see how a living can be made except in July and August.  There is a timetable ! An anathema to the last century's drivers.  Even if the bus only has 2 passengers, that bus has to leave.  And to add insult to injury, passengers can't be picked up or dropped off willy-nilly en route, they have to stand at bus shelters  i.e. no indi-bindi.   In the old days, a driver would spy a potential customer ahead and drive like a maniac to overtake the two buses in front so that he could screech to a halt to collect the now very intimidated (if foreign) potential fare in front of the competition.  This practice has now been outlawed.  All well and good you may say - surely this is an organised system?   But if we'd wanted to live in an orderly country, we would have moved to Switzerland.
I watched a confused octogenarian trying to flag down a minibus in the centre of Bodrum as the drivers whizzed past.  A couple helpfully yelled out that he had to walk to the bus stop which was 100m ahead which he eventually did, but I felt his bafflement and the question "when did dolmuş stop picking up people?" hung in the air.
Luckily for me - "indi-bind" is still the rule in our village, at least until the bus hits the main road and we actually now have a service to Bodrum from the end of our road.  6 TL (roughly 2 quid) gets you the 35 kms to Bodrum (4TL if you travel regularly). I reckon our village is about 20 years behind Bodrum so we should enjoy our indi-bindi while we've got it.

p.s. I've always thought it should be 'bindi-indi' because surely you have to get on before you can get off.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Cream Teas and Baskets.

Cast a quick glance over these photos and I think you'll agree that the overall impression is of people having a good time.  This is why I count myself lucky to be a member of Bodrum's  H3A; a group of residents whose main aim is continuous enjoyable education. This learning can take the form of lecturers, travel, wine tasting, art classes, reading groups, opera visits, singing, creative writing, backgammon tournaments and more.  They are ever open to new experiences.

Following my two basket-making lessons in the summer, I hoped the group would be interested in a trip to our village to watch Raşit in action and on Sunday the idea came to fruition with 32 H3A members meeting on my terrace to hear a bit about our village's fight with the mining/cement company, walk along the edge of the forest to enjoy the view of the agricultural plain and watch Raşit make a start on a basket.

Helena modelling a finger protector/extender used when the harvest was literally brought in by hand. 
Raşit had tidied up his long defunct teahouse especially for the occasion and now finds he has a perfect workshop which may well end up as a village craft centre. There is already talk of some weaving  and wooden spoon turning afternoons in the Spring.

After witnessing a Turkish traditional craft, we finished with time-honoured British one - A cream tea.

Those not familiar with the concept were relieved to find that the cream went on the scones - they had been anticipating it going in the tea!

From Bush to Basket

Baskets Galore

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Lunching with Ladies

We are very lucky us ladies of the Bodrum peninsula: firstly because we live in such a beautiful part of the world and secondly because for the second year running, despite the downpour and clouds that were forecast for the day, the sun shone down on us as we lunched together at the Ramada Resort Hotel.  Cardigans and jackets had to be cast aside and sunglasses fished out of our bags as we abandoned our dessert dishes and headed out on to the terrace to enjoy the November sunshine.  This was the 14th annual ladies lunch; arranged as an end of season get-together for the busy working women of Bodrum to give everyone a chance to reconnect with old friends and make a few new ones.  Jane, the brains behind the day, is my daughter Esi's Godmother and this year Esi helped give out the 15 prizes for the entrance ticket raffle.  Last year I won a massage, this year my luck was in again and I'll be nipping along to the swish new AciBadem Hospital for a free check-up. I wish I had as much luck with my premium bonds.

Last year's Ladies Lunch

Thursday, 14 November 2013


Walking the dog on Monday, I couldn't help but notice that everyone was out in the fields either cutting back old growth, ploughing or  sowing seed. This made me feel doubly guilty as I came back to our garden to be faced with a raised bed that has been promised great things over the past year but has only had a watering system installed, which has made the weeds very happy but has done little to improve the garden.  So the computer was abandoned and I spent Tuesday digging over the heavy clay and Wednesday planting 11 small rose bushes.  (Why 11? because I bought 10 and was given an eleventh rose bush and a lavender plant on top).  I hope the liberal application of mature manure and lots of water will  produce the long anticipated rose bed.

After completely relining and retiling our leaking roof last week, lots of other little jobs are lingering but have been put on hold until we can visit the D.I.Y. store. My neighbours seem to manage very well without  throwing cash at problems.  If they need a gate, they build one with whatever is to hand.

Who says ladders have to be straight?

I was especially impressed with this impromptu scarecrow that went up on Monday to protect newly scattered spinach seeds. As the breeze gently lifts the skirt it does look like a ghostly farmer seeing off the wild boar.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Back to Bodrum

It's been ten days since my last blog.
(hints of my brief convent education here!) 
 This is the longest I have gone without at least posting a photo. 
When I left you I was in Dorset, eating too much of my Dad's home made bread. 

Then 5 days in the Scottish Highlands 

trying to photograph goats and rainbows and eating no bread at all. 

A night in Athens, shame everyone was on strike, and the bakers were all closed by the time I got there.

A few days in Hydra, where no one needs to strike as winter is an excuse for doing very little.
The sesame bread rings were impossible to resist.  

And now home with a busy week coming up; the second writing circle meeting, the annual ladies lunch and a H3A group coming to our village to watch basket making and eat cream teas at my house. 
 I'm sure I'll have plenty to blog about very soon and I shall be eating cake rather than bread.