Perking the Pansies

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.


It’s All Double Dutch to Me

It’s All Double Dutch to Me

A couple of weeks ago I popped over to the low land of dykes, bikes, canals, tall thin blonds and tall thin buildings. I’ve been to old Amsterdam many, many times before. Back in the day, Amsterdam was a blesséd escape from finger-wagging, buttoned-up Britain, and a place where I could feel totally free. I won’t regale you with ripe tales of how I expressed that freedom – this is a family show, after all. Needless to say, it rarely involved a cultural troll round the marvellous galleries of the Rijks Museum.

Here’s an ancient image of me in the naughty Nineties on one of my gayfests.


I’m standing on the Homomonument, a memorial to those persecuted for their sexuality. Opened in 1987, the monument takes the form of a large pink triangle jutting out into the Keizersgracht canal. It’s a potent symbol: the pink triangle was the badge of shame gay men were forced to wear in the Nazi concentration camps during World War Two. And we all know what happened in those places.

This time I was there on business. I was attending the 2016 Families in Global Transition Conference (#FIGT16NL), a gig that brought together people from far flung corners, all concerned with issues affecting global families. The current refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East added an extra layer of complexity to this year’s august jamboree.

Why me? You may well ask. I’m neither an expat, nor a family in transition (not anymore anyway). In fact, I was there as part of my work with Summertime Publishing and Springtime Books, specialists in expat titles. And I was asked to lead a social media workshop for writers. It was a bit of a hit, I’m told. I even got to sell signed copies of my books in the FIGT bookshop – and was more than chuffed when they flew off the shelves and soon sold out. Clearly some people like a dash of camp with their esoteric.

Here’s me flapping my hands about in the social media workshop.

FIGT Workshop

And me on the right grinning inanely in the bookshop.

FIGT Bookshop

After a hectic few days navigating through the talkers, walkers, cars, trams and manic cyclists on a mission coming at me from every which way, I landed back at Norwich Airport at ten to nine in the evening. I was home with a large glass of Pinot in hand twenty minutes later. Now that’s the way to travel.

If you’d like to know more about Families in Global Transition and their valuable work, check out their website. In the meantime, here are some pretty pictures I took of the pretty city.

The conference pictures are courtesy of FIGT.

On the Buses

Liam and I spent a few days in Gran Canaria to celebrate my birthday and to catch a few rays before the winter drizzle forced us into snug hibernation. We flew Easyjet – On the Buses with a tango tan. As usual, speedy boarding was a nail-biting chaotic scrum. Mindful of our blood pressure, we decided not to leg it to the front. As we queued to board the plane, a lumpy broad with precision-cut bottle-black hair and a particularly miserable expression, ram-raided a wheelchair-bound pensioner through the snaking crowd. “Well, excuse me,” she screamed. “Get out of the way!” Startled passengers parted like the Red Sea, us included. Presumably, the charmless dragon was pissed off about having to do some work.

Thankfully, we managed to get seats together and strapped ourselves in for the full EJ experience. The chief flying mattress was a jolly fat fellow, an extraordinarily energetic thing who cha-cha-cha’d up and down the aisle and nearly took off when indicating the emergency exits. Cha-cha-cha man tried to talk up the over-priced down-market bacon butties by announcing that they came with “an accompaniment of ketchup.”  Amazingly, the hype worked and steaming cellophane packs of soggy microwaved rubber were hurtled down the cabin courtesy of the “here, catch,” school of Sleazyjet service. Half the punters suffered third degree burns.

Next Holiday Post: Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium.

It’s a Fair Cop

One of our favourite Bodrum Belles took us to the airport for our airlift back to Blighty with Sleazyjet. We shall be forever in her debt. It was our first experience of Bodrum’s brand spanking new international terminal building. Very impressive it was too but, as with much of Turkey, not quite finished. I’ve always thought of airport buildings as the new cathedrals, built high and mighty to invoke awe in the great unwashed (or in Bodrum’s case, the great sunburned). Bodrum’s new edifice is a lofty triumph in steel, marble and fresh paint. It puts Stansted’s tired old concrete shed with its stalactites of filth dripping from the ceiling and duck-taped carpets in the shade (why do Britain’s airports have carpets anyway?). Catering arrangements at the new terminal were an expensive shambles. Much of the food hall had yet to open. Bewildered staff at the only available eatery hadn’t a clue what they were doing; thrown to the lions with no training, no doubt. This led to much tut-tutting and foot tapping from the hungry hordes.

The flight home was an uneventful affair. That was until we landed. The bottle-blond cabin crow swung open the aircraft door to the sight of a small platoon of armed police waiting outside. The corporate perma-grins dropped out of position and we were politely asked to re-take our seats. A name was announced across the tannoy. A handsome and well-constructed young man (who I’d greatly admired back at Bodrum Airport) swaggered down the aisle and joined the waiting bobbies. They handcuffed him and off they trotted. It was all done with the minimum of fuss. There was neither argument nor struggle. His pretty missus and their two young children followed him off the aircraft. She didn’t seem at all surprised by the ambush and the kids remained calm. She casually flip-flopped down the tunnel with the jolly sprogs in tow. People will do anything to get to the front of the queue at passport control.

Unfinished Business

This year, direct Sleazyjet flights to Milas-Bodrum airport start on 26th March. Low gear hassling, a fresh lick of whitewash, flourishing floral fauna and ruins un-ruined by a savage sun makes springtime in the Aegean a Turkish delight. Braving a last minute tantrum by grumpy old Mother Nature, savvy travellers might be tempted to try out Bodrum just as the town emerges from the short, sharp winter. Come by all means but, this year, give Bodrum itself a wide berth and go exploring elsewhere. This year’s spring clean is more of a root and branch demolition. Some bits I thought were completed last year have been dug up again. Why? Who knows. Will Turkey ever be finished? Probably not.

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