Being four floors up a converted Victorian warehouse means, with the exception of the occasional determined housefly or misguided bee, we’re rarely troubled by high-flying bugs. But the other day a lone mosquito came into land just inches from my line of sight. We eyed each other up for while to see who would blink first. The feeble little Brit-bug had no idea who he was dealing with. During our Turkish days, squadrons of stealthy mozzies dive-bombed dinner parties and bled us dry during our sleep. But gradually over four years, our leathery old hides developed welt-resisting immunity. The ugly sucker staring back at me was no match for its voracious Aegean cousins. So I extended my arm and said,
Go on then, suck it and see.
Now bug off.
After several lean years, it seems that we Brits may be falling in love with Turkey all over again. You know things are on the up when the London Evening Standard Property Supplement runs a feature on the Bodrum Peninsula with our old cruising ground, Yalıkavak, and its fancy new marina, getting a special mention. This how I described our first glimpse of the whitewashed town in my first book, Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey
As we breached the brow of the hill, we caught our first picture postcard glimpse of Yalıkavak shimmering at the end of a lush valley below like randomly scattered sugar cubes on an overgrown lawn.
Chapter 3, Back to the Future
These days the sugar cubes are tumbling over every hill and, at the top end of the market, this is what you can get:
It’s the kind of dream home that costs a whole lot more than the misleading £75,000 quoted in the ad. Also, what the agents don’t tell you (and why would they?) is that if you keep all your doors and windows open after sunset, you’ll get eaten alive by mozzies. Just so you know.
Image courtesy of Daniel Tink at Scenicnorfolk
Liam answered the door of our old weaver’s cottage to a little middle-aged man wearing a bucket hat, wax jacket and supermarket denim. “Sorry to disturb ya, mate,” he said, “Been visitin’ me old girl (at the adjacent granny flats) and I’m goin’ fishin’ later but I forgot me worms. Can I dig some outta ya flower bed? Won’t make a mess, promise.” At the time I was enjoying a cuppa and thumbing through a copy of our local rag, the Eastern Daily Press (the most popular morning regional newspaper in the country, apparently). The front page headline was:
“Farmer Killed by Bull”
Only in Norwich.
Norwich’s river is called the Wensum. The name derives from the Old English adjective wandsum or wendsum, meaning ‘winding’. It’s aptly titled. The river caresses like a feather boa, arching around the town and providing ample opportunities for boozy afternoons in riverside inns when the weather’s right. So far, the weather’s been right for much of the time. The Wensum is a lazy river with a slow flow. Apparently, this is caused by a large number of redundant upstream water mills. Plans are afoot to modify the mills to enable the river to behave more naturally. In the meantime, the idle waters are a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes. We’re well acquainted with the sipping beasts of Anatolia. After four itchy years, our tough old hides eventually developed a natural immunity to their veracious appetites. Their slower, more timid English cousins don’t stand a bug in hell’s chance with these old pros. Top up, anyone?
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Living in the centre of busy, bustling Bodrum means compromise. Hubbub abounds. It comes with the territory. It’s part of the charm. We filter out the mad traffic, high-pitched horns and loud rows. We’re from the Smoke and old London Town is not so different. It’s the price worth paying for the short skip to the marina inns and eateries that serve to remind us that we’re sophisticated boys about town (or so we think). Calm country living in the middle of a muddy field is not our style. But, (here comes the but) we are wrestling with the double whammy of ferocious, veracious miniscule flies and barking mad, howling hounds. The midget midges circle us like we’re rotting corpses. The mozzie net has been re-erected above our bed as our only line of defence.
The flies will die but there’s no easy solution for the dogs. As all emigreys know, most Turks have an entirely different relationship with man’s best friend. Here in Bodrum you will see some dogs on leads but they tend to be the toy variety attached to the over-dressed well-to-do. Most mutts hereabouts perform the traditional guard and protect function, chained up outside. For our considerable sins we’re surrounded by four of them. Passage down our busy thoroughfare, even in the small hours, is constant. So too is the barking. We’re serenaded by quadrophonic yapping 24 hours a day. Have people not heard of house alarms?
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The Perfidious Turk
When you move to warmer climes, you expect to be bothered by bugs. There’s no Jack Frost to kill the critters off. Last night I was bothered by the fattest fly I have ever seen. Fat Freddie was the jumbo jet of flies and danced here and there but mostly danced around me. I’d always thought flies to be more of a nuisance than a menace until I looked up Wikipedia to discover that the humble house fly can carry over 100 pathogens. These include typhoid, cholera, salmonella, bacillary dysentery, tuberculosis, anthrax, ophthalmia, and parasitic worms. Well, fancy that. ‘Don’t mess with me, Freddie,’ I warned. ‘I’m fatter than you and I have WMDs.‘ Fat Freddie took no heed. Fearing terminal consumption and a bad case of the runs, I zapped the feckless fat fly with Raid. That was the end of Freddie.
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It’s a Bugs Life
A while ago, I bought a mandarin sapling in the Pazar and planted it in a large terracotta tub. I’m not noted for my green fingers, so googled growing mandarin trees in containers. I found that, just like me, they do well if fed and watered correctly. The trick to proper irrigation is to wait until the first 2 or 3 inches of the topsoil are completely dry, then soak until water pours out of the drainage holes. I‘ve been doing this religiously for a few weeks now. Yesterday, I stuck my index finger in the tub to check for dryness. It was time for a good drink and I duly dumped a whole load of water into the soil from my little plastic watering can. Seconds later, hundreds of small ants poured up through the inside wall of the pot, swarming hither and thither in utter panic. They were holding up their grubs with their forelegs. I could almost hear them scream,
‘Save the babies! We must save the babies!’
I felt like a serial killer.
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A Biblical Plague
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