Sunday, 11 March 2018


I have found a very simple method to damp-dust my house. Take a large shagging dog and completely soak him in warm water in the shower. Cover him in some coconut scented dog shampoo and then thoroughly soak him again.  By this time said dog will be so mad that he will dive out of the shower and throw himself all over the house, giving your floors and stairs and all low lying shelves and walls a jolly good wash and wipe. Next time I'll build a ramp and he can do the windows too. 

He usually doesn't mind having a bath but I think he took offence at the girly shampoo. 

Friday, 9 March 2018

More brush - Less keyboard

Another week passes with no keyboard activity. Painting is taking over.  While Bodrum Municipality was handing out free flowers and pot-plants to celebrate Women's Day yesterday (which I only found out about after the event though did notice several scooters passing looking as if they were entering the Best in the Village Garden contest), and hundreds of children were competing in BIOR, Bodrum International Optimist Regatta (it's a sailing competition, not a race to find Bodrum's most sanguine child) I was in Şüle's Workshop - paintbrush in hand.

Who could have guessed that a 4 Lira plastic pot could be transformed with a lick of Beton Effect paste.  It is now outside testing its claim to be weatherproof.

And my uninspiring chunky wooden stool looks much more attractive after its makeover.  Teo would have made a face over the flamingo and without his good taste to hold me back, I am flighting the urge to cover every free surface with pink waders.  The garden wall needs painting and I quite fancy a flock of flamingos to keep the geraniums company.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Cards for street animals

I have been neglecting my blog because I've been busy up in my little studio painting bougainvillea, olives and sweet peas (I got fed up with carrots) and turning them into greetings cards.  We sold some in the Defne Restaurant in Bitez on Sunday with all proceeds going towards feeding, neutering and treating street animals.  If you would like an original water colour card in exchange for a donation to The Bitez Street Animals or if you would like some cards to sell for a worthy charity - let me know. I love painting them but don't have room to keep them all.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Qi Gong in Bodrum

Hakan Onum.

My 6 weeks of enforced idleness came to an end on Friday and I was itching to get back into my old routine of long walks and yoga. But the bone in my ankle isn't completely fused so I still have to treat it gently.  I have been surprised how awful six weeks of inactivity has made me feel - I've luckily never suffered from depression but I think I've had an inkling of what it feels like - not wanting to get up, feeling useless at most things I've attempted -  instead of making use of my home time, I've wasted a lot of it. I had time to write a novel but I've hardly even written any blog posts. After 3 weeks of not being able to go out, I found I really didn't want to.  I'm extremely lucky to live in a town like Bodrum where there are so many good-hearted people and I thank everyone who came round to keep me entertained and take Jake for walks.
In this frame of mind (and body) it was serendipitous to see an advert for a taster lesson in Qi Gong being held just outside Bodrum town on Saturday. This name, which roughly translates as 'mastering one's vital energy or spirit' had been floating around in my head for a couple of weeks since my friend Jane visited from Marmaris - she has been doing Qi Gong exercises on her roof every morning and they have energised her,  so I was keen to sign up.
The lesson was held at Maksimum Yaşam in Konacik. Our teacher, Hakan Onum who is also  a Tai Chi and Shiatsu instructor and Feng Shui practitioner, led us in a fascinating theoretical and practical introduction to both Qi Gong (Cheegong) and Tai Chi.
I was won over by Qi Gong;  a holistic ancient Chinese exercise and healing technique that combines controlled breathing with movement and meditation. Qi Gong is accessible - if you can walk into the lesson - you can do it. You don't need lots of lycra-covered muscles or marathon-toned legs. I warmed to Hakan the minute he suggested that excessive exercise is not good for us as it leaves our inner organs starved of oxygen (I knew there was a reason I abandoned the running machine). Qi Gong can be as physically challenging as you want it to be and with a good teacher and at least 15 minutes a day practice, you will feel the benefit physically, mentally and spiritually. You also don't need to memorise long routines like Tai Chi.
I'm keen to sign up for the two month, twice weekly beginners class on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons but at a steep 600 TL a month, I am going to wait until I can attend every lesson. My Spring and Summer travel plans will make me miss too many lessons if I start now.

Hakan has a web site in English if you'd like to learn more, Vadi Ruhu and if you are in the Bodrum area and would like to sign up or find out more about Maskimum Yaşam, you can telephone Ayşe Özge Öncel on 0532 068 3748 for details in English.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Crafty Recycling

A crutch in one hand + A dog lead in the other = Empty bottles not getting to the recycling bin

A surplus of empty bottles + Chalky paint = Crafty recycling

Crafty recycling  + Too much time on my hands = Two garden vases.

Supplies from Cadence Paints

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Shopping surprises

Sometimes living in Turkey I experience a 'shopping surprise'.  In the old days it was the appearance of broccoli and sprouts on market stalls or the arrival of cans of Guinness and bars of Cadbury's Fruit and Nut in the supermarket.  This year my lucky surprise has been the appearance of chalk based paints.  When we moved back to Bodrum 6 years ago and re-did our town house kitchen, I made-do as best I could with the paints available but now I can have the rich matt colour I really wanted, and being chalky - there is no sanding needed.  I'm working my way around the base cupboards this week and by next week I should be fit enough to get up a step ladder to paint the top.

 Cadence Paint's web site in English

Available from Şulesi Hobi in Bodrum.

This wasn't my only discovery. For years I have been stocking up with Corsodyl when I visit UK. It's the only toothpaste that stops me looking like a postprandial vampire after brushing.  I ran out last month so had to look for an alternative and found Parodontax which is exactly the same product apart from the name and price - much cheaper here.
My daughter wears size 43 shoes - Almost impossible to find in Turkey so each visit abroad I return with a bag full of footwear.  From now on I might be able to travel with just hand luggage as we have discovered Well made, reasonably priced, fashionable shoes and boots from a Turkish supplier in sizes up to 43 and 44.
I'm on such a roll, I expect to see parsnips and rhubarb in my shopping trolley next week - dream on.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018


My broken foot is mending but I am still spending most of my time at home.  Boredom has forced me to explore a few corners of the house that I rarely visit and one such expedition proves just what a lousy housekeeper I am.  A voyage to the depths of the under-the-stairs box files turned up 3,000 Turkish Lira. A momentary whoop was crushed by the realisation that these notes were long out of circulation. I cursed my carelessness and began to calculate what I could have done with this money back in the last century and I'm sorry to say the answer is 'not much' which is why they were languishing in the murky depths. This was very small change. 
In 1980, 1 US dollar bought 90TL; in 1988 - 1,300TL;  1995 - 45,000TL and 2001 1 US dollar got you 1,650,000TL.  
The dollar rate today is 3.78  (which equates to 3,780,000TL in pre-2005 Turkish Lira)
Today there is a rumour circulating that foreign currency will no longer be issued from ATM machines in Turkey and banks are offering over 30% a year interest if one agrees to keep lira in their accounts for 3 years.  I'm not an economist and could never understand how the enormous inflation rates were stemmed early this century (please explain below if you know). I'll hang to my old Turkish Lira as a reminder that for a brief period 18 years ago I was a multi-billionaire. 

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Ephesus Cats

Jake meets a local feline in the Latrine

Type "Ephesus Cats" into a search engine and you will find that the feline inhabitants of Turkey's most impressive ruin are almost as famous as its splendid library and theatre. Look for "Ephesus Dogs" however and it will be a stray labrador-cross, that gate-crashed Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony No 4 and sat down beside the Vienna Chamber Orchestra's first violinist last June, that grabs the headlines (and rightly so - obviously a music lover, he had the best seat in the auditorium). You Tube clip

Along side the hundreds of online photos of cats in Ephesus I add my own picture of my ailurophile friend Helen capturing a few more shots of a friendly feline in the bath house. . 

Most visitors assume the cats are wild and uncared for, existing on handouts from tourists. Luckily this is not the case. If you use the toilet block at the theatre (lower) entrance of Ephesus, you will see alongside feeding bowls on the wall, a discrete collection box.  Veli, who looks after the WC block, uses the donated money to buy food and medicines for the cats that live in the ancient site.  

So even if you don't want to spend a penny at Ephesus, please visit the loos and drop a few lira into Veli's money box.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Bodrum Castle - Crystal Ball Gazing

"When is Bodrum Castle going to open again?" 

A frequently asked question to which I certainly can't give an answer and no one else seems to be able to hazard a guess either.   Renovation work is in progress.  Our familiar castle view is blighted with scaffolding and cranes. A two day symposium in December, attended by archaeologists, architects and interested locals, came to the conclusion that the intended new-build museum inside the castle walls would be too small for the number of exhibits and its construction would blight further excavation and research into the buildings which preceded the castle by 2,000 years or more. The overwhelming local opinion is that a new site should be found for the museum building while leaving the existing ancient wreck exhibits un-touched and that any repairs that need to be done should be completed as soon as possible so that the castle can open to the public.  
Will the closure affect visitor numbers to Bodrum?  I assume yes, but I forget that not everyone is as interested in history as I am.  Over supper with visitor friends in October, I commiserated with them that they wouldn't be able to see inside the castle. Their reply, "Don't worry, we probably wouldn't have gone anyway" left me momentarily speechless, but castles and museums aren't everyone's cup of tea and the sun will still be shining, the food will still be great and Bodrum will still draw its fans - open castle or not. 

The above photo is taken with a long exposure app on my phone - It is not a representation of what the castle looked like last year and hopefully is not a prophecy of what it will look like next year. 

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Bodrum at Sundance

Foto: Jonas Lodahl

We are used to film crews in Bodrum making TV programs and movies for the Turkish market but we haven't had foreign film makers here for a while so it's exciting to hear that 'Holiday', by Isabella Eklöf, premieres at the Sundance Indy Film Festival today.  Eklöf's feature length film was one of only 110 chosen from 3,901 entries so expectations in Bodrum run high, especially amongst everyone involved in the tourist industry and those of us who had fun as extras.  Can Holiday do for Bodrum what Mama Mia did for the Greek Islands?

Holiday's entry in the Sundance list runs thus:

Holiday- Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden (Director: Isabella Eklöf, Screenwriters: Isabella Eklöf, Johanne Algren, Producer: David B. Sørensen) — A love triangle featuring the trophy girlfriend of a petty drug lord, caught up in a web of luxury and violence in a modern dark gangster tale set in the beautiful port city of Bodrum on the Turkish Riviera. Cast: Victoria Carmen Sonne, Lai Yde, Thijs Römer. World Premiere

Taster here:

It sounds a tale of shady goings-on but some stunning locations were chosen as backdrops so an international audience will hopefully be reminded of Bodrum's allure.  Anyone looking for the club we danced in will be disappointed - it was knocked down last month and a completely new venue will be up and running this season.

Extras - Filming in Bodrum in May 2017

Friday, 19 January 2018

Carrot and coriander with a kick

One week after my unfortunate slip I'm appreciating the benefits of imposed relaxation:  I can lie on the sofa reading a trashy novel without feeling guilty; I have had several visitors who don't usually pop in, so there has been plenty of chatting while I paint and I have been on the lucky end of a homemade Kashmiri Chicken delivery.  On the downside I usually dream up my blogs on morning walks around Bodrum with Jake. Today's inspiration had to come from opening the fridge.  There were a lot of carrots - I've been painting them and now I've cooked them.
I like carrot and cilantro/coriander soup but I decided to make it more interesting. This one has a hot and sour kick which has booted it into first position on my favourite soup list.

This recipe is for 2 servings and is medium hot, add more chillies to fire it up.

5 medium carrots
1 red onion
2 inches of ginger
1 fresh red chilli pepper
1 lemon grass stick if you have it - not essential

Chop the above and soften in a tablespoon of oil or butter

Add half a litre of chicken or vegetable stock and simmer with the lid on until the carrots are soft.
Take off the heat and liquidise until smooth

I handful fresh coriander
1 lime

Chop the coriander and add to the soup
Grate the lime zest into the soup and add the juice of half a lime
(I'm sure this would work with lemon too)
Taste and add salt if needed

Warm up and serve. So simple but very tasty.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Many a slip ....

...twixt cup and lip..

and many a trip between the pavement and street.  It was Sod's Law that I was thinking about using the rest of January to get a bit fitter and start exercising a bit more and was actually wondering whether to go and look at the nearest reformer class, when I missed the edge of the curb and twisted my ankle. I hobbled home and, good first-aider that I am, put Rice, Ice, Compression, Elevation into action.  After an hour I was hoping that the stabbing pain in that big bone that sticks out would have gone away but it hadn't. Instead that sticky out bit had tripled in size and this hospitalphobe had to admit that I needed an x-rayed. Good news - I live hobbling distance from a hospital. Bad news - it is a private one with no price reduction for state health care. I had a very short inner argument weighing up the merits of waiting an hour or so for free treatment or immediate x-ray 100 yards down the road ..... and in less 30 minutes (the longest wait was to pay the bill)  I was back home with a my foot in a cast, instructions to put no weight on my ankle for 6 weeks and a pair of crutches.  Has anyone got any idea how you use these things? I wish I had been to the gym because I think you need upper arm and shoulder strength to operate them and I'm embarrassingly lacking.  However after six weeks practice maybe I will have bulging biceps and my plan to get fitter will have come to fruition. 
Jake is not too pleased. His walks are going to be seriously curtailed. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

"Mindless Pap"

My internet has been off which means I've had no access to TV, newspapers, The Archers or Facebook.  My house is cleaner than it's been for ages, I have painted more and read a real book and I slept better with no wi-fi in the house.  I feel a bit disappointed that Türk Telecom have connected me up again.  I mustn't slip back into my usual W.W.W. grazing that steals so much productive thought.
My favourite Stoic, Epictetus, was writing nearly 2,000 years ago but this scarily prescient quotation could have been written for the social media age

“Most of what passes for legitimate entertainment is inferior or foolish and only caters to or exploits people's weaknesses. Avoid being one of the mob who indulges in such pastimes. Your life is too short and you have important things to do. Be discriminating about what images and ideas you permit into your mind. If you yourself don't choose what thoughts and images you expose yourself to, someone else will, and their motives may not be the highest. It is the easiest thing in the world to slide imperceptibly into vulgarity. But there's no need for that to happen if you determine not to waste your time and attention on mindless pap.” 
― EpictetusThe Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness

Monday, 8 January 2018

Two plus Four equals Six

I wrote the below  post 4 years ago and I hope I still wear my rosy spectacles despite the unwelcome change in my life and unsettling events in the country.  If we learn to accept that change is inevitable we will all be happier for it. Two days ago we packed away the fake Noel decorations and now nature has provided a much fresher alternative which carries the welcome scent of Spring.  We can't hang on to the past, life goes on and there is plenty to enjoy.

 No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.                                                            There is nothing permanent except change.
                  Heraclitus of Ephesus 
              (c. 500 BCE) 

Two Years

I picked a bunch of anemones from the garden to celebrate BacktoBodrum's second birthday

When we left Bodrum in 2000, we moved to East Sussex and my daughter started at Mayfield primary school.  On her first day we parked at the bottom of the hill, walked through the picturesque main street  and followed the crowd through the car park to the playground gate. As we turned the corner, an amazing vista of "England's green and pleasant land" was spread out before us.  As someone who felt a bit starved of "Englishness" after 19 years in Turkey, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of it all.  I couldn't help but turn to the mother beside me (who on reflection did look a bit like Cruella Deville) and say "Wow, isn't that fantastic."  She turned and with a withering glance said "No, it's ******* boring." Thus my bubble was pricked.  My new eyes on an old scene were not appreciated.
Returning in 2012 to Bodrum I was determined to keep my "new eyes" open and enjoy every aspect that Bodrum has to offer. It's very easy to get depressed about political inconsistencies and obsessed with the march of construction over Turkey, but I'm determined to try and see each new day with new eyes and bring the good things about living in Turkey to your attention. So I will continue wearing my rosy spectacles with just the occasional moan as a balance.
 Wishing you all a slightly belated but optimistic New Year. 

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Camel Parade

I wasn't the only one taking my animal for a walk in Bodrum today. The streets were full of camels.

Some car drivers weren't sure whether to overtake or undertake and a few just decided to ignore the giant beasts in their way which caused some haranguing.

I was happy to watch from the sidewalk and take photos.

       ....not too close though as there was a lot of foamy saliva being flicked about. 

The camels were happy to pose.  Tomorrow they will wrestle to prove which of them are the most virile so a disdainful stare and a macho stance is required.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Ancient Wisdom

New Year's day dawned bright and sunny and the pavements and cafes in Bodrum were packed and, although Jake and I had a job to negotiate the crowded quay, it was great to see Bodrum being enjoyed by so many people.  Apart from walks, I spent the day at home catching up with a weeks' newspapers and magazines. As usual at this time of year, current affairs had been abandoned in favour of lists and dietary advice; most of it preachy and contradictory in nature.  I mentioned in my Christmas post from Gümüşlük Beach that I had been trying to incorporate some ancient philosophy in my daily life and the more I learn the more relevant it becomes.  In answer to all the bloggers, vloggers  and diet gurus telling me to give up dairy, meat, carbs, fruit, wine and the kitchen sink,  I give you Epictetus,  who was born in 55 CE in Hierapolis (modern-day Pamukkale  - a few hours drive from Bodrum). 

"Preach not to others what they should eat but eat as becomes you and be silent"