Monday, 31 October 2016

Perking the Pansies

I have stolen this post lock stock, and barrel from Jack Scott at Perking the Pansies

Well I already have his tree, why not pilfer his post - click on the link to see a much more professional delivery.

See the Tree, How Big it’s Grown

When Liam and I first pitched our yurt in Anatolia, we bought an olive sapling in John’s memory and put it in a patio pot. It did remarkably well and bore fruit in the first year – a lean harvest but a harvest nonetheless. After we decided to wade back to Blighty, I asked Annie of Back to Bodrumfame if she would take care of John’s little twig in her Bodrum garden.  Annie went one better and offered a sunny spot in the olive grove of her fabulous country pile.
Four years on and the wedding of the year presented the perfect opportunity to check on John’s tree. Little more than a twig when it was transplanted to Annie’s field, it now stands tall as a strapping sapling, framed in chicken wire to protect it from nibbling cattle.
The first snap is courtesy of Elaine Akalin.
Thank you, Teo, for planting it. You did all the sweaty work while all I did was pat it down like the Queen at an opening. And thank you, Annie, for taking such good care of it.  I’m not religious at all but a part of me hopes Teo and John popped a cork and shared a bottle on the big day.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

A morning so good I could roll in it

Our pre-breakfast morning walk usually takes us just to the end of the lane; Jake gets to sniff about and relieve himself and I get back to make a cup of coffee and decide whether it is a porridge or fruit day. Yesterday's walk started out like that but it was such a glorious morning, we kept going. The ground is crying out for some rain but I can't help enjoying these balmy temperatures where we still only need one layer of clothes, and socks are still firmly in the sock drawer.  In fact I ended up walking for an hour in my flip flops and it was only in the last 5 minutes that a vicious thorn gave me a bloody big toe.

The village vegetable gardens are almost empty with just a few red peppers and the odd watermelon hanging on, but the marigolds and zinnias, which self seed every year, are still blooming and give off that distinctive autumn scent that defies the sunshine to remind me of bonfires and misty mornings. Jake found a scent so good that he had to cover himself in it, and once I'd checked that it wasn't anything decomposed or defecated, I let him get on with it.
It was such a beautiful day that for the first time in 4 months I felt a bit of hope springing and that maybe life could be enjoyed again.  But the curse of 2016 is not going to leave us just yet - a couple of hours later my daughter rang in tears - she has been made redundant, the fate of many in Bodrum I fear. I would say roll on 2017, but I doubt it will have much good news to offer us in Turkey.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Gümüşlük - Calm and Chaos

I was in Gümüşlük this week on a beautifully calm and sunny day. There were a few late sun-seekers on the beach and one or two boats in the bay but there wasn't much going on to disturb the peace and quiet. 

It was probably after just such a day on October 22nd 1943 when the Greek destroyer Adrias hit a mine in the Gulf of Kos and lost most of its bow section, and the HMS Hurworth, steaming to aid the stricken ship, was blown in two by a second mine.  The sea off Gümüşlük was filled with oil, debris and wounded and dead sailors.  The Adrias managed to limp into harbour and this tiny Turkish coastal village became hospital, home and burial ground to Greek and British sailors. This fascinating glimpse of history has been well researched and reported by Dave and Ken in the Gülsüm Balcony Project  and I recommend a visit to their blog to read about it.

When I first visited Gümüşlük in the early eighties, there was a story going around that a British soldier, washed up on the beach after the battles off Kalymnos, had gone to ground in the mandarin gardens to avoid being repatriated to the UK.  Then and now it struck me as a great plot for a film or novel and somewhere in my folders there is a preliminary draft of a screenplay - maybe now is the time to dig it out.

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.