Bars & Restaurants, Beach, Bodrum, Bodrum Belles, Emigreys, Expats, Family & Friends, Flying, Food & Drink, Holidays, Hotels, Norwich, Parties, Turkey & Turkish, Turkey Street, Vetpats, VOMITs

Perking the Pansies

Our hobbling tour of Bodrum was something of a boozy whirlwind and confirmed I can’t do multiple piss-ups anymore. It was season’s end with flight prices to match, but the interminable limp through Stansted was a brutalising experience when compared to our little local airport. Working to a slum-it budget, we bagged ourselves a hotel in Bodrum for eleven quid a night, breakfast included. Nothing much worked in our barrel-scraped digs but the family-run gaff was clean and convenient. This was the first time we had set foot on Turkish soil since we called time on our Anatolian adventure in 2012 and we were determined to make hay. Naturally, the wedding of the year was the main event but we also wanted to share a jar or two with some of our old muckers, so we pitched our standard on a Bodrum Beach and waited for battle to commence. The onslaught came in waves and after nine hours of friendly fire, talking ten to the dozen about everything under the moonlit sky, we staggered to the nearest taxi rank. A huge hand to all the Bodrum belles and beaus who really made our day. You know who you are.

These images are as blurred as our vision was by the end of the evening.

Of course, no trip back to Bodrum would have been complete without a reunion of the Sisterhood…

… the antidote to the VOMITing sickness that afflicts the many Shirley Valentines who wash up like driftwood on the beaches of Turkey. Many of the Sisters are reformed VOMITs who’ve been through the ringer, some more than once, but have emerged to tell the tale stronger and wiser. The Sisters stick together (like birds of a feather), because men are rubbish.

Expat Glossary

So after a day trip down memory lane along Turkey Street (more of this later), we joined the Sisterhood in Musto.

Musto was top of our list and sat in a prime location on Marina Boulevard opposite the smart shopping parade. Its handsome young owner, Mustafa the Magnificent, was second cousin to our landlady and a generous and convivial host. The eponymous Mustafa learned his trade at Sünger, his uncle’s legendary pizza parlour, a place that had been dishing up margheritas to the sailing squad since the early seventies. Unlike some of his rivals, Mustafa never resorted to pressganging people in from the street. He courted the emigrey crowd with Italian seasoning, palatable wine, affordable prices and generous yolluks. It was a formula that attracted swarms of discerning diners, even out of season.

Turkey Street

mustoMusto has expanded considerably since our last visit, though I’m pleased to say the menu and ambience remain special. Back in the day, regular meetings of the Sisterhood always kept the pansies perked, particularly during the chilly winter months when Bodrum life was as a slow as pond water. Thank you Doc, Jess and Victoria.

There was a distinct autumnal nip when we got back to Norwich and the heating went on for the first time since the spring. A day or two later, Liam departed for London on family duties so I sank into the sofa to watch an ancient episode of Midsomer Murders on ITV3 with my carcinomic ankle resting on a Swedish pouffe. I was unsettled. We thought our trip back to Bodrum would be our swansong. Now I’m not so sure. Despite challenging political times, Turkey has worked her magic all over again. Blimey.


Blogging, Bodrum, Family & Friends, Food & Drink, Holidays, Marriage, Music & Dance, Turkey & Turkish, Turkey Street, Village, Weather

Back to Bodrum

Picture it, May 2012, a stone cottage in the centre of old Bodrum Town. With the house cleared and our bags packed, a young lady popped by to say farewell and to make a confession. Heart all a-flutter, she said,

I’ve just met a boy I really like. He’s called Celal but I’m worried Dad won’t approve.

The young lady in question was Esi Onursan. Readers may know of her mother, Annie, author of Back to Bodrum, the wonderful blog about the everyday life of a Bodrum returnee. As Annie herself put it…

In early 1982 I boarded a Turkish Kibris flight to Izmir – my destination was a 29 foot sloop in Bodrum’s new marina. At 22, my belongings fitted into a worse for wear sailing holdall. In 2012 I made a similar journey from Heathrow to Bodrum. Thirty years have passed and Bodrum has changed.

You can say that again.

bodrum castle4

Picture it, October 2016, a country pile on the outskirts of Mumcular…

…surrounded on three sides by an arc of dense pine-forested hills and on the fourth, a swimming pool overlooked a dusty olive grove. The house itself was centred round a striking dome-capped circular room, an architectural nod to the traditional yurts used by ancestral Turkic tribes as they migrated west from the Asian Steppes.

As I wrote in Turkey Street.

Esi was about to marry Celal, the boy she thought her father wouldn’t approve of. It was the perfect day for an alfresco wedding. Mother Nature, an unpredictable old bag during autumn, smiled benevolently. The guests gathered, the I dos were brief but perfectly formed and the newlyweds were drenched in petals of purple bougainvillea. Esi glowed and Celal beamed. Breaking with tradition, the village world and his wife were not invited. No doubt, tongues will wag for months to come. Instead, the congregation was selected, Brit-style. Annie provided a generous table and bottomless wine cellar. We ate, we drank and we made merry with friends old and new under the canopy of a small copse delicately decorated in lace and silk. Speeches were pointed and poignant. This was a bittersweet wedding. Esi’s father, Teo, wasn’t there to give her away. He had died a few months earlier.

But not before giving his approval.

Here are a few images that caught my eye from the hundreds on Facebook.

Ageing, Health

Warts and Wisdom

I recently had a lumpy growth on my ankle. It looked exactly like the ‘wisdom’ wart I’d had on my head a few years ago. Clearly I’m getting wiser as I get wider. I had the wisdom to have that ugly bugger sliced off.

So off I went again to the doc. She said,

Looks like a wart to me but best get it checked out.

I got a call from the local hospital the next day and a few days on, I was flashing my warty ankle at the dermatology top dog. He said,

Looks like a wart to me but best get it sliced off.

A week later I was flashing my warty ankle at the dermatology underling for the slicing. She said,

‘Looks like a wart to me but best get it to the lab.’

I felt rather guilty as I hobbled aboard the bus taking me home. Not to put too finer point on it, the National Health Service is facing a number of difficult challenges right now. The care I received was fast and faultless but just a bit over the top for a simple wart. But what did I know?

Two weeks later, I received a letter.

The shave excision from your right foot showed a slow growing type of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma*.

So. I’m not so wise after all. And it turns out I need a bit more dug out. At this rate I’ll be hobbling all the way back to Bodrum.


*Basal cell carcinoma is a non-melanoma type of skin cancer that rarely spreads and is easily treatable. It’s probably the result of me prancing about barefoot and barely clothed in the Far East during the sixties. Serves me right, I suppose. Had a fabulous tan though.

Bars & Restaurants, Beach, Food & Drink, Gay Bars, Holidays, Hotels, LGBT, Overheard, Shopping, Waiters, Weather

More Postcards from Gran Canaria

Following last week’s delivery from the Royal Mail, here’s the second batch of postcards to land on the mat.

Mad Pedro

The staff in our global holiday village are delightful, particularly Pedro, our mad barman. He services us with charm and generosity and rings his little bell every time he gets a tip. It’s like a royal wedding at Westminster Abbey when we’re around and the bigger the tip we give, the bigger the drink we get. As Pedro said to Liam:

Ah, you Engleesh with your happy hour. It’s always happy hour in Pedro’s bar!

Loose Talk

Regular readers will know I’m a dedicated eavesdropper. Here’s a small selection:

And I’ll tell you one thing for nothing. As soon as I get home, I’m back on the tramadol.


 We went tut Benidorm in January. It were great. We ‘ad beach to ourselves.

Oh. How come?

It were rainin’.


Me son’s got an apartment in Bulgaria.

Nice. Wotsit like?

Cheap but those Bulgarians…you wouldn’t trust ‘em.


Of course, we normally go to Goa, don’t we Jean? All-in for a tenner a day – and that includes two packs of fags and enough booze to sink the Ark Royal.

A Yumbo Cocktail

We’re just a short mince from the Yumbo Center, the largest of the many tacky shopping and entertainment centres dotted about Playa Del Ingles. As I wrote back in 2012 after our last trip…

The Yumbo Center is the throbbing epicentre of gay Canarian low-life. The Yumbo is a naff treat for all the senses, a crumbling multi-layered open air shopping and sex emporium. It started to fall apart as soon as it was built (some twenty five years ago). By day, it’s an over-sized pound shop patronised by ancient slow-lane Germans in busy shirts and socked sandals. But, at the stroke of midnight, the racks of tat are wheeled away, the garish bars throw open their doors and the entire place is transformed into a gaudy cacophonous neon-lit cess-pit of drunken debauchery.

Gran Canaria Sex Emporium

It was one of my most popular posts ever. Can’t think why. Strangely, we’ve only ventured into the Yumbo Center once so far – and then only during the day to do a bit of shopping for that must-buy momento. The venues come and go but the place never really changes – apart from the newly installed lift for the mobility-challenged. It’s true, we did stop for a daiquiri or two – for old time’s sake and to survey the footfall. Our immediate neighbours were an over-waxed Franco-German gay couple with plucked brows, precision beards and perfect pecs. They could have been separated at birth. Must be like shagging a mirror. When they weren’t fiddling with their iPhones (to check Grindr, presumably), they communicated in Globalish*. Our barman was pretty. And pretty useless. Just like every gay bar around the world.


Geordie Shore

Mercifully, the heatwave has broken. I’d started to lose the plot and I was a hair’s breath away from garrotting the leathery old early birds who always get the brollies. With plunged temperatures, Liam bundled me out of the apartmentos for an excursion to Puerto de Mogán, a marina resort on the south-west coast of the island. We went by public transport, by far the easiest way to get around. Naturally, the bus stop was like a multi-national rugby scrum. You’d think people were fleeing a war zone. Why do we Brits bother queueing?

Set on a steep-sided valley, Puerto de Mogán is built in faux Spanish colonial style and very pretty it is too. But the epithet ‘Venice of the Canaries’ is over-egging the pudding a bit. There’s just the one ‘canal’ – more of a creek really. Still, we ate tapas in a lovely marinaside restaurant followed by coffee and cake in an inviting backstreet bakery. The port’s like a mini version of Bodrum in look and feel, particularly with the dripping, multi-coloured bougainvillea. Sadly, the relaxed ambience was marred by a gang of pissed-up Geordies stalking the streets and waving empty Peroni bottles. My dad was a Geordie. He’d be spinning in his urn.

Back to Bodrum

All in all, it’s been a splendid week, with batteries, scent and cigs (for my mother) recharged. Next trip: back to Bodrum for the wedding of the year. Now that really is something to write home about.

*Globalish is the cut-down version of English used by air traffic controllers, international conferences and dating apps which is totally lacking in elegance, colour, nuance or wit.

Ageing, Holidays, Hotels, Weather

Postcards from Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria was just what the quack ordered. We bonked, drank, slept, drank, ate, drank, swam, drank. You get the picture. We also giggled more than we’d done in ages – at ourselves and at the exhibits around us. Here are the postcards never sent.

The Barbarian Hordes

Few would describe Gran Canaria as pretty. The volcanic rock moored off the coast of Africa gets little rain and looks like an overbaked chocolate biscuit from the air. Closer up, it’s like a giant quarry on a tea break. Nevertheless, year-round sunshine, cheap booze and even cheaper fags (of both the smoking and shagging varieties) attract the northern tribes of Europe, all in desperate need of vitamin D. Our billet for the week is a welcome oasis set among the concrete with well-tended gardens, attentive staff and a refreshing salt water pool. The only fly in the sun lotion is the scarcity of parasols. This isn’t especially helpful as we’ve landed in a heatwave and are fairly keen to avoid third degree burns. Our continental cousins are notorious for reserving their sunbeds at the stroke of midnight so, to inject some fairness, our Spanish hosts stack and chain up (yes, chain up) the sunbeds overnight. Come dawn, it’s like feeding time on the Serengeti, a daily spectacle we witness from the safety of our terrace. We’ve decided not to play. Just like Brexit.


Moobs and Boobs

Our fellow sun seekers are a mixed bunch – Dutch, Germans, Austrians, Irish and Brits, but almost without exception, they have one thing in common: fat. Acres of it. Europe has an obesity crisis. We eat too much and move too little (me included). And the more mature ladies do love to let it all hang down. Who says a burkini is such a bad thing? Not me. Their menfolk are no better, wobbling to the bar, moobs a-swinging. It ain’t a pretty sight. Rest assured, I only take my top off when I’m prostrate.

An exception to the pageant of lard-arses and bingo wings is an elderly German who is in remarkably good shape and wears the tightest of trunks. He swings low in an entirely different place. We call him Melonballs. His pool pal is a round, leather-skinned hausfrau with the gravelly voice of a 40 a day habit and hair like a cockatoo. Funny really. We’re sure Melonballs is the one who’s had a cock or two.

Windbags and Wankers

All over Europe there’s a certain kind of man of a certain kind of age who is loud, opinionated and stupid. It’s our misfortune to be trapped with a classic specimen, an Austrian wanker who has cornered every Brit round the pool and lectured them on the dire consequences of Brexit (for them, of course). He’s no better than that old windbag Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, whose pompous utterings nearly made me vote to leave the EU. The Austrian bore got short shrift from me. We call him Franz Ferdinand and are praying someone will shoot him. Not literally, you understand, but you get my drift.

More postcards next week…

Crime, Norwich

Our Rapacious World

Back in 2014, stencilled slogans appeared on the pavements along Gentlemen’s Walk in central Norwich. Highlighting the menace of domestic violence across the realm, there was nothing gentlemanly about the stark facts conveyed by the messages. This year, the initiative has been rebooted with a particular emphasis on rape.

Rape Statistics

Rape Crisis Helpline

Assuming Britain is no worse than any other country and considerably better than places where rape is legal within marriage or where it is used as as weapon of war, my brain just aches at the grim level of sexual violence across the world. Depressing really.

Bodrum, Books, Holidays, LGBT

Every Dog Has Its Day

Playa Del InglesLiam works like a dog and every dog must have its day in the sun. And where better to laze round a sun-kissed pool lapping up a large glass of chilled white than the island named after man’s best friend? So we’ve picked up a last minute bargain to Gran Canaria, flying from our very own little international airport right here in Norwich. Liam and I are well acquainted with the volcanic rock that is Gran Canaria. It’s been a firm favourite with the fairies for decades now.  It was in 2012 that we last rolled out the sun towels there. At the time I wrote:

Now I’m older, wiser and firmly married, I’m content to observe the boozin’ and cruisin’ from the safety of a bar stool and shady sun bed. Notes will be taken and reports will be written. No doubt the odd geriatric German will wave his crumpled old do-da at us on the beach, flopping out from a well-clipped grey bush. My wrinkly old British do-da will remain safely under wraps.

Jack and Liam Go to Gran Canaria

So you can imagine what it’s like. According to Going Local in Gran Canaria by Matthew Hirtes, that nasty old fascist, General Franco, banished gay soldiers to the island which may explain the island’s evergreen appeal to the rainbow brigade. A place of exile is something Gran Canaria has in common with Bodrum, a place which…

…has always provided refuge to the exiled and the unorthodox…

As I mentioned in Turkey Street.

And talking of Bodrum, we’re popping over in October to attend a wedding, so some good news coming out of Turkey for a change. Salud!