Friday, 26 August 2016


I haven't completely given in to sloth during these hot months, I am still paying twice weekly visits to The Pilates Studio in Avenue Bodrum to be stretched out on the rack  reformer machine.  I am a late convert to Pilates, having assumed that regular yoga would be enough to keep me fit, I looked from afar and decided that Pilates was just expensive yoga.  I am happy to admit that I was wrong. While yoga is great for keeping supple, working out on the reformer machine tweaks each muscle in the body just enough to strengthen muscles, improve posture and pull in the saggy bits that ageing lets hang loose.  My balance is definitely better than it was and I've got my shock absorbers back. 

Teacher Sevinç showing how it should be done

Experts Rachel and Michael before the big mat work out
Last month we were booked up to have a mat session with Michael King - roving legend of the Pilates World: ex-Pineapple studios in London, Houston Ballet Company and founder of The Pilates Institute UK ( *see his web page for the full story) but being just a few days after the attempted coup we had little expectation that the session would go ahead.  Silly us - this man has trained Madonna - a piffling armed uprising is nothing compared to a one to one with scary Madge and Michael was on the phone saying he would come by ferry if the airports were closed (they weren't) and we got our hour with trainer to the stars.  If he comes to your town I recommend you sign up too - even my little fingers felt the benefit. 

Michael and Madonna me 

Monday, 22 August 2016

Woof Woof

Sunday could have been a very busy day. Mumcular, our nearest town, was hosting its first traditional Bull Wrestling Festival (just how the first ever event can be classed as "traditional" is beyond me, but the semantics of Turkish has tripped me up many a time so I won't expose my ignorance any further). I was faffing about whether to go or not, then decided that two massive sides of beef crashing into each other was not my cup of tea and was able to give my full attention to the main event of the day: the Country Ranch dog show in Turgutreis.   

Jake was in with a good chance as he had a very strong support team of Marga, well-known arbiter of style and good taste,  providing him with a vanity case of costume choices, Esi, in charge of last minute grooming and Celal driving him to and from the event. 

He may be feeling a bit let down by his owner whose pocket full of dog biscuits distracted him just as he faced the judges. 

He may also be thinking that other dogs definitely had the advantage in the glamour stakes.

Hopefully he was reflecting on how it is exactly 4 years since he was picked off the street and thanks to the internet, found his way to the BacktoBodrum house.  Hopefully the two dogs above will also eventually find a home of their own.

The event was sponsored by Farmina pet foods and we all came away with some tasty samples - wild boar and apple proving a hit in this household.
Unfortunately we didn't come home with any prizes, unlike the pocket pooch above who had to make room for a cup in her bag.

(Email me at if you are interested in adopting a dog and I'll forward your messages.)

Monday, 15 August 2016

Half and Half

It's been hot, mind-meltingly hot.  The kind of heat that gives you wet patches on top of your shoulders where the sweat has dripped off your ear lobes.  The sort of hot that makes it imperative that you wring out any bra with a hint of padding before slinging it into the washing basket or you'll wake up to an Ali Baba of damp, smelly, colour mingled clothes. Too hot to think and too hot to write. Too hot to call a plumber to mend the irrigation system or to contact the myriad of other workmen needed to repair everything that is packing up in the house.  Sloth-inducing sultry heat. 
But everyone who lives here knows the saying 'August is half summer and half winter' and right on cue, today the weather changed.  High cloud appeared and the humidity lifted. When I open a window coolness enters rather that heat.  The temperatures are still over 30C but the oppressiveness has gone and energy is returning.  Today I sought and found a wrench and a screwdriver and took off the timer that has refused to allow my garden to be watered but let water leak out of all its joints, and switched it for another one - No more dribbles where they shouldn't be and hopefully, happier looking roses - I also grabbed a rake and got rid of a few barrow loads of pine needles and more importantly, I am sitting at the computer and writing my second blog post in less than 48 hours.  Time to get back to the keyboard. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Silent Witness or CSI

You will have gathered by now that I live in the countryside in the Summer;  it's pretty cut off and folk come out to visit in the daytime but I rarely have company in the evening so I've been catching up with the UK and US TV series that I've missed over the years. We only have one TV and in the past it was mostly tuned to sports channels. (The television must be wondering why it hasn't been tuned into The Olympic Games this year). I've been looking for cheerful shows, but apart from 'The Durrells' and ancient 'Ab Fab' episodes, I usually end up watching something involving a murder or two with lots of SOCOs  in their white suits milling about. With this in mind you'll understand why I almost crashed into a ditch as I drove back from Bodrum town at dusk the other night and caught sight of this out of the corner of my eye.

Who investigates the crime when the SOCOs are the victims? 

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Carrying on....

The country I live in and I have something in common: something momentously bad happened in July but we are both carrying on. We can almost pretend it didn't happen as life goes on.

Photo thanks to N Piercy

Lazy lunches are still enjoyed on the terrace 

Plenty of folk still want to sit in the shade on the beach

The beer, rakı and wine is still flowing and all nationalities are happy to gather for a drink and a chat

Photo thanks to S Hardeman

The sun still sets beautifully in Turgutreis and we can all still smile

We are all keeping calm and carrying on. Then a relative refuses to come to my daughter's wedding because of the presumed danger, or I find a note on the computer of what Teo planned to do on August 5th - and it hits home. Life for me and for Turkey will be forever changed. 

Friday, 5 August 2016

One advantage of living in Turkey - Dying is easier.

It's been just over a month since my husband's funeral and less than two years since my father's, so I feel I'm in a position to compare Turkey with the UK.
It seemed to take ages to arrange my Dad's cremation; we had 2 visits from the undertaker and then from the celebrant.  My mother and I drove around looking for a venue to hold the post funeral get-together and then there were dates and menus to decide on, music to choose and speeches to write and finally a 4 figure bill to pay.
It's completely different here and speaking as the shell-shocked spouse, much easier.  The above advert for the Municipality Funeral Service says it all - ACI GÜNLERİNİZDE YANINDAYIZ  - WE ARE BESIDE YOU ON YOUR SAD DAYS.  All that was required from me was a visit to the above office with the death certificate, although it could have also been done by phone. I told them the day, time, mosque and graveyard and they did the rest.  A van appeared at the house with lots of stools for visitors, which was useful as folk started turning up at the house three hours before the funeral;  an announcement had been made in both Bodrum and the surrounding villages so everyone heard the news.  The grave was prepared and the hearse arrived at the required time at the mosque. After the burial we all moved back to our house and another van delivered lahmacun with ayran to drink, to serve a hundred. And the cost of this service - nothing.
Completely different experiences but when one's existence has been turned upside down, there is comfort that others are working to make life easier for the those remaining, without an eye on making a profit.

Lahmacun is a spicy meat thin-based pizza, and ayran is a yogurt based drink. 

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Back-up plan

I only had my phone with me to take this shot, you have to look carefully for the stork. 

There were only 3 frogs in the pool when I got back from Bodrum yesterday which suggests that those I sent on an enforced holiday have not returned, but just in case they are thinking of coming back, Jake and I have a back-up plan.  I googled "frog + natural predator" and "stork" came at the top of the list, so all we have to do is persuade a stork or two to take up residence.  Jake has taken on the challenge of hypnotising a stork. 

Yesterday I had lunch in Bodrum at our fine French restaurant Evimiz. On the way I'd spotted a light weight net that looked ideal for batrachian hunting which explains how I happened to be standing next to a French chef with a net in my hand and the photo opportunity was too good too miss. I have never seen frog on the Evimiz menu but Stephane assured me that he knows how to cook them. A full size cardboard cutout of a French chef - wielding the net - next to the pool should put the willies up the boldest frog.


Check out Evimiz's delicious weekly lunch menu and contact details for booking here

(Apologies go out to my friend Liz who will be aghast at any suggestion that frogs may be harmed but this is very much a threat rather than an open declaration of war. So far.... apart from a short incarceration in a plastic bucket, no frogs have been harmed in the writing of this blog.)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Frog travelogue

The consensus of opinion indicates that I should keep my frogs and enjoy them. I would be happy to to do so if they refrained from shouting, pooing and canoodling, but they are at all three all the time to the detriment of the dog's sanity, my sleep and the clarity of the pool water.  Only Kim from SJ Travel & Yachting suggested I take them to a distant pond.   I'd been considering this too but the thought of frogs in the car had put me off.  Buoyed up by Kim's counsel, I bought a bucket with a lid and began the hunt.  There were no house guests to help yesterday so there is no photographic evidence of my prowess but I caught 4 over a period of an hour.  I actually caught 5, the fifth one was in my net 3 times but the tricky manoeuvre of transferring frog to bucket without letting the other 4 out proved too tricky for me. 

Taking no chances I secured the bucket lid with tape and drove them off to the neighbouring pond which is much bigger than ours and at over 1km distant should be far enough away to prevent my froggie friends visiting.  
This morning there was only one frog in the pool, definitely the one from yesterday with Houdini-like talents.  I made a few attempts at getting him in the net, but he'd learnt from Wednesday's experience and wouldn't let me get near him.  As long as he doesn't invite any friends for a chin-wag, he can stay. 

Monday, 25 July 2016

Frog Blog

Freddie Frog turned up about 3 weeks ago. He obviously realised that there was no longer anyone who knows what they are doing in charge of the pool and decided to swap a muddy village pond, where being trampled by a cow was a constant danger, for a clear blue lagoon.  He was probably a bit disappointed when the new pool supervisor allowed the water to get a bit green and murky but he stuck around. Normal transparency was regained with a liberal dose of chlorine and I expected Freddie to hop off. If the chemicals made my eyes water, surely a frog would quit.


But he didn't, he invited two mates along.  One frog is a quiet visitor but when his chums turn up they have quite a lot to say to each other.  Jake the dog objected to their nocturnal discourse in the only way he knows how - frenzied howling and barking.  The frogs had to go if I was to get any sleep.
And so it began... I catch the frogs and tip them into the garden and the frogs hop back. So I catch them again, put them in a bucket and take them back to the pond and the frogs hop back. My son-in-law-to be, catches them and takes them to the far side of the village pond and they hop back, this time with a few more friends in tow.  This Sunday, with 8 frogs in the pool, the internet was consulted, a mixture of salt and vinegar was brewed and the pool was surrounded with this toxic potion - the frogs ignored it and carried on jumping into the water.  I added citronella oil, chilli powder and mustard to the salt solution and painted the steps but the frogs couldn't care less.

Netia in action

House guests are handed a net and invited to join the hunt

Simon successful

A couple of days practice turns the novice hunter into an expert 

But this morning there were 8 frogs sunning themselves before their morning dip.  At this rate, in a couple of months, there won't be room for me to swim.  So the appeal goes out for tried and tested remedies to make these noisy amphibians go home, before I am forced to move out just to get a good night's sleep.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Turkey - A Contradictory Country.

I chose 'contradictory' but I could have picked Erratic, changeable, unpredictable, variable, varying, changing, inconstant, unstable, irregular, fluctuating, unsteady, unsettled, uneven; self-contradictory, contradictory, paradoxical; capricious, fickle, flighty, whimsical, unreliable, mercurial, volatile, blowing hot and cold, ever-changing, chameleonlike.

I was sitting in the courtyard on Friday evening, playing backgammon with a friend when said friend's phone beeped with an incoming text.  "Are you still in Turkey? Are you OK?"  Why would he not be ok we wondered.  Thus the 'inconsistency': While Istanbul was raging and my blogger friend Terry had fighter jets and sonic booms over her apartment in Ankara, I was sipping wine, winning at tavla and contemplating  picking another bunch of grapes.
Friends who have visited me in Turkey know why I choose to live here despite all the above adjectives, those who haven't will never understand. There is no logic, little beneficial law and quite often a lot of hullabaloo, but one gets used to this state of affairs and misses the chaos when in more ordered countries.  The minute I moved to Turkey to work, I knew I'd stay - I just clicked with Turks; we laughed at the same things and I felt genuinely safe in their company. Which is why the reports of young innocent Turkish conscripts being murdered by their fellow countrymen is so hard to bear.  I want to pull out Turkey's power cable, press reset and restore the factory settings that we are all used to. Something has gone terribly wrong with the machine.