Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Things that go bump in the night

While Europe boils, we too have been having unseasonable weather - but no one is complaining because it has been cooler than normal and we've had late rain which is a boon for farmers and gardeners. I am neither but have been enjoying the unusual pink clouds that have been floating past the village. 

I wasn't sure how I would cope with living in the middle of nowhere by myself; daytimes are fine and I'm getting used to the solitary evenings.   Jake is not as laid back as I am, he takes fright at every bird that lands in the vines and squirrel that scurries up the pines, so he is frantically barking most of the night.  He probably thinks his name is now 'Shut Up Jake' as that is what he constantly hears from me.  I woke up at 3am a couple of nights ago to a frantic dog and was about to shout at him when I too heard the banging of metal gates.  I knew they were locked, but this sounded like someone attacking them with a battering ram.  Phone in hand, making sure I had the gendarmerie number on speed dial, I turned on the lights and looked out - nothing.  Assuming that the barking and lights had put off any would-be intruder I went to bed and read a book.  I'd just dropped off again when the whole rattling kicked off again and still no one.  It was almost light now so I went outside  and found the culprit. It's amazing that such a small animal, intent on getting through a metal gate, can make so much noise.  I put him out but in the morning he was back inside again so he obviously only knows how to enter, not exit. 
I've named him Theresa May. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Rowing ın Bodrum

I've been out in the countryside so have missed some of the exciting new things going on in Bodrum.
This has to be the best one - B.A.Y.K  (Bodrum open sea sailing club) have introduced rowing to their waterborne activities and have been offering free 30 minute try-out sessions in Bodrum Marina. (still a couple of days to take advantage of this if you are nearby). Both experienced and complete novices are welcome and hopefully a Bodrum rowing team will soon be in-training.

The Aegean is not know for its flat seas and these craft are specially built to cope with waves.
I was quite sad watching today's rowers start their lesson as Teo, my husband, was always keen to start rowing but there were no clubs near here - it has come too late for him, but let's hope there are some Bodrum folk who are just finding out that they have a talent for rowing which could have lain undiscovered.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Cooking for one

It is quite difficult to drum up enthusiasm for cooking when there is only one person in the house, but the markets are so full of great ingredients this month, it would be a shame to live on omelettes or cheese on toast which seem to be the go to quick meals for singletons.  

On Thursday I bought a bunch of small beetroot with leaves, red onions and a kilo of samphire and used them to make three meals.  I first peeled and thinly sliced one onion, put it in a bowl with half a teaspoon each of sugar and salt and rubbed the slices well until the juices started to run.  This method takes the bitterness out of the onion and leaves crisp sweet slivers. I then cut off the stalks from the beetroot and put them to one side and put the beets into a roomy saucepan of water to boil for 15 minutes, I then added the stalks to the pan and 5 minutes later added the leaves for two minutes and drained the lot together and cooled under running cold water.  In the same pan I poured a litre of water from the kettle and added the whole kilo of samphire.  While the samphire was cooking -about 10 minutes, I slipped the skins off the cooled beetroot and cut them into eighths, cut the stalks into eatable lengths and squeezed the moisture out of the leaves.  These all went to a large salad bowl.  Drain the liquid from the onions and add those too and once the samphire is cooked (test it by seeing if the green part will squeeze easily off the inner spiny skeleton) drain and run under cold water and then holding the root in one hand, use thumb and forefinger to slid the green stems off the hard white 'branches'. Add this and a good slug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the salad bowl and stir well.  

This base will keep in the fridge for a few days and if cheese is added on day one, tuna and olives on day two and hard boiled eggs and anchovies on day three, it doesn't feel like you are eating the same meal three times. If you can't find samphire, lightly steamed broccoli or cauliflower can be used instead. 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017


Renewable Energy Systems. It sounds good on paper.  Does it look good? This is a picture of my house although you will need a magnifying glass to find it. These turbines won't directly affect me as I can't see or (hopefully) hear them from my garden but they are already changing how we live in the village. Yesterday I was driving home when a cement mixer, going so fast that it was almost obliterated in dust, nearly ran me off the road.  As it approached I pulled over and frantically waved my arm out of the window. The driver screached to a halt and backed up. Uh oh I thought, what's going to happen now. He wanted to know what was wrong.  I told him he was going too fast for such a narrow road. He said sorry, but he thought the mixers had the road to themselves.  I told him he was wrong; cows, sheep and the occasional camel and their drivers used the road. School buses and moped users used it. Dogs were walked along it and it was my way home. He again said sorry but it brings it home how the builders of these turbines have no concept of the life that has to continue around them. These hills were home to the Lelegians well over two millennium ago. We're any archaeologists on site when the massive holes were dug for the foundations?  Will the pine trees survive when the blades start turning and reduce the moisture in the air?  Will the amount of energy each turbine produces in its short lifetime justify the amount of energy needed to build, transport and erect it?  Wouldn't a solar energy plant be more appropriate in an area where it is sunny nearly every day but not nearly so windy? Would it not have been at least polite to consult local community leaders before the project went ahead?  
My only consolation is that they are better here than on the Bodrum peninsula where some are to be sited dangerously close to villages.  The sad fact is that despite protests and court cases, the construction in these contentious sites is still going on. 

Monday, 5 June 2017

Marmaris re-visited

In January 1981 I applied for a job as a cook on a 71ft ketch called Sinbad Severne.  The boat was moored in Rhodes which was handy as I had been working in Northern Greece and was learning to speak Greek. I got the job and in March, I flew out to Rhodes keen to try out my conversational skills. I'd only been there a couple of days when we upped anchor and set out for Turkey. Our first port was Marmaris and despite the decision made back in 1974 never to set foot on Turkish soil again, I was overawed by sailing into the fjord-like gulf of Marmaris. It should be on everyones' bucket list. And contrary to my first experience of Turkey, everyone I met was friendly, respectful and funny. They were 6 months into a military government and there was a curfew at night, but then as now,  everyone made us feel welcome and safe.
Last Thursday I drove to Marmaris for a wedding in Içmeler and again I was impressed by the approach. Steep wooded valleys and water gushing from the hillsides made me determined to use the word 'verdant' in my next post.
Marmaris has changed more than Bodrum in the intervening 36 years and after a 'lost period' in the 90s, it is now looking good. The the old town behind the main quay, where Sinbad Severne tied up all those years ago,  is a delight to walk around.  The castle houses a museum and winding streets house craft shops, an art gallery and cafes.  I hope all the visitors staying close to the long sandy beaches make the effort to visit the heart of Marmaris.

Jane Ecer on the walk up to her house

Friday, 2 June 2017

Welcome June

June 1st brought the British Ambassador to Turkey,  Richard Moore and his wife Maggie into town. He met local residents for an informal lunch before chatting to press and continuing on his round of meetings with Governors, Police and Gendarme chiefs

It's reassuring to know that the Consular team are all working hard to make sure Turkish resorts are as safe as possible for UK residents and visitors,  but after listening to our esteemed Ambassador, the photographers were keen to take pictures of Star, Maggie's guide dog.  I couldn't take Jake along with me as he'd have been heartbroken to realise that there was a much more famous canine than him in town.  

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Blooming Lovely

Home in Bodrum

It may be nearly June but the weather thinks we are still in March and Bodrum skies have been grey and heavy. Jake is not very happy with the thunder, being suspicious of all sounds coming from the sky, so he is reluctant to go out for long walks, which is fine by me as I'm happy to stay around my Bodrum garden which is blooming marvellous thanks to all the late rain. Unfortunately we are not getting the downpours where we need them and despite a whole day of celestial rumbling yesterday, very little rain fell out in Mumcular and the reservoir is still too empty for the time of year.  Local farmers and market gardeners are very worried about being able to water their vegetable gardens.

My small Bodrum plot is looking good; the lime tree gifted by Kath and Dave from Cakes by Kath and Dave and Kath's Campervan travels has lots of incipient G&T ingredients.

I love sweet peas and have tried unsuccessfully for years to grow them, but this year, seeds given to me by my daughter's Godmother Jeni, have bloomed beautifully.  I can only assume that the October sown seeds were confused by our unusually cold and long winter, and thought they were back in the UK.

Another garden surprise is this Hydrangea.  I bought the plants last summer for my daughter's wedding. The petals were white when I got them and they turned more and more green as summer progressed until the leaves and flowers were almost the same colour. This month they have bloomed bright pink; a colour that was banned from the wedding so I know my memory is not playing up.

The sun is now coming out and the forecast for the next 10 days is sun, sun, sun - more than likely this won't change for at least 3 months. Time to take the dog out before he uses 'being too hot' as an excuse for not walking.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

So are we friends now?

The mistress has returned from her travels and I am BacktoBodrum. I was quite enjoying my sojourn in Ortakent; my digs there are very comfy, no pesky stairs to negotiate, easy access to a garden with grass which is very important as I nibble it every day to sooth my dicky tummy, and a man about the house (much as I love continuous female adoration and tummy tickling, every dog likes a bit of masculine play-fighting).  The daily walks there are also superior to Bodrum - we skirt the golf course every morning and if I wasn't on a lead. I'd be very tempted to run over to the greens and lift my leg on those white poles with flags on.
I'd only been back in Bodrum a couple of hours when Nasty Dog who lives on our site came up to me and started trying to make conversation, I whipped round quick as a flash so that I could face him eye to eye to ask him what he was playing at. He was the resident dog when I first came to live in Bodrum nearly 5 years ago, and in all that time he has only ever growled or snapped at me and made it plain that we were not ever going to be on first name terms.  Now suddenly he is all over me.  I can only assume he has read my blog and realises that I am fast becoming a local celebrity.  That leaves me to quote the following:
'Fame is a bright flower, but weeds abound mostly around it ' *
Chew on that doggy!

*Edward Counsel - Maxims 

Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Magic of the Island

No need of a book - Happy to stare at the view in
Marina Taverna in Vlychos, Hydra. 

After a week spent in England socialising with family and friends, my liver is enjoying a much needed rest in Hydra.  I've swapped my usual glass of red wine for a pot of tea and dinner is a simple Greek salad. If I can keep this up for 10 days I might fit into my summer clothes. 

The ferries and hydrofoils have been hit by a 4 day strike so the island has been particularly quiet; not good for the tourism trade, but great for those of us who arrived on the Monday and don't have any urgency to get off the island.

I usually take a book with me when I eat out but Greek menus make good reading. I've never encountered a quote from an ancient historian in a Turkish or British restaurant, and my tea tastes much better knowing that any attempt at world conquest will have a cool yet sunny touch.

I'm not just sitting around in tavernas; getting to them involves the up and down of 200 to 300 steps. Despite my many visits, I still miss-judge where I am and yesterday found myself on a steep staircase where every narrow polished stone step sloped at 45 degrees.  Edmund Hillary would have been proud of me.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Lost and found

This is a photograph of Bodrum taken in 1974.  In March of that year, a group of school girls from Rugby High School got their first taste of Turkish Delight and weren't very impressed. We had already had our bottoms pinched in Italy and were getting used to the amount of attention a gaggle of 15 year old girls attracted in the Eastern Mediterranean, but we were unprepared for the Bodrum men and boys who took every opportunity to put their hands up our skirts. So time-consuming was the effort needed to avoid this that I can't remember where we went or what we saw in Bodrum. Our PE teacher, Miss Munden, a wonderful woman whose ample derriere, in my memory, is always encased in a grey tracksuit, was driven almost to distraction by this unwelcome intrusion and spent a lot of time shepherding the more delicate souls (me included), trying to keep our honour unsullied. I vowed never to set foot in Bodrum again - so much for that resolution.  
I have only one other memory and it has stuck with me for 45 years. As we were about to leave, Miss Munden realised that someone was missing and I can still see her dashing around Rasit's cafe shouting, "Pauline Garratt,  Where's Pauline Garratt?"  until the eponymous young lady turned up, as cool as a cucumber,  on the back of a scooter.  I was so impressed. How I wanted to be Pauline Garratt that day.  She'd been off to see the Mausoleum. 
I lost touch with Pauline 40 years ago, but her name comes to mind every time I walk through the square by the castle, so it was fantastic to find her again last Saturday, and she still the sort of person who would be up for any petty rule breaking. 

So glad to have found Pauline Garratt. 

She is sure there were a few of them that nipped off to the Mausoleum, but I only recall her name  echoing around Bodrum.  She does remember coming back on the moped though, which is reassuring as I had begun to wonder if I'd made the whole thing up. 

Forty years on, the RHS class of 1977 is still looking good and one afternoon wasn't enough time for all the stories we have to tell.  We must do it again soon.

* It may have been 1973, long enough ago to be forgiven for not being sure.