The gorgeous Jay Artale (aka Roving Jay) has just published her first collection of poems recalling her impressions of Turkey with warmth and wit. I was chuffed when she asked me to write the foreword. This is what I wrote…
Eleanor Roosevelt once famously said, “The purpose of life is to taste experience to the utmost.” I can think of no-one who has adopted this approach more energetically than Jay Artale, prolific blogger, writer, photographer, serial traveller and proud Turkophile. As ‘Roving Jay’ she bounds around the Bodrum Peninsula on our behalf and has produced two definitive and impressively detailed travel guides on the area; she has launched her evergreen blog, The Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide, plugging us into the beating heart of Bodrum and its hinterland; she has shared her dazzling portfolio of photographs, capturing the colour and intricacies of Turkish life; and now we have a collection of her poetry – something she describes, modestly, as an ‘interlude’.
When I first met Jay in 2013, she was on a brief pilgrimage from her base in LA to the Norfolk flatlands of her birth. From the outset, her thirst for life – and for Turkey – was obvious. Like many people around the world, Jay was pining for a different way of living and she had her sights firmly set on Bodrum on the southwest coast of Turkey. Now Jay has made a life-altering leap, and judging by this unique collection of poems, she has chucked herself in with her usual drive and aplomb.
That ‘yearning for a change’ theme opens this collection – with the reflective and double-edged Turkish Coffee is my Cup of Tea. It will resonate with anyone who has regularly holidayed in Turkey: people watching and sipping tea or coffee at a Belediye café is pretty much synonymous with Turkish life, something picked up later with “Tulip cups with steaming tea,” in Forget Me Not. And that, in many ways, is the allure of Turkey. Approached in the right way, it offers expats an opportunity to carve out a simpler, if hugely stimulating, way of life. As we hear in Moving to Turkey, “All that clutter… anchored us down,” and “How many shoes does one girl need?” Quite.
Jay leads us through the whole gamut of feelings anyone who has pitched their tent in Turkey will recognise. We get the reality check of Our First Winter (“Rising damp, mould on the ceilings, and regular power cuts,”), the sea views of Enjoy the Dance (“skies that fall into the sea,”) and everything in between. But what makes this book is Jay’s acute power of observation, particularly when it comes to Gümüşlük, her local village. Here we get “A tiny mosque and a barber’s chair,” in A Quiet Place to Write in Gümüşlük, and “draping rods with ekmek bait,” and “eyebrows twitch at harbour boats in Gümüşlük’s Fishermen. She’s not afraid to say it as it is either, describing her pores as she hikes in the hills above Bodrum as “working hard like Patpong whores”. There is even a less than oblique reference to my own Bodrum legacy lingering “like a fart.” Ahem.
I was surprised when Jay told me about her poetry, and that’s what makes her such an interesting person to know. She is full of surprises.
Turkey Tales is Jay’s third release and is FREE on Amazon Kindle for a short time only. Click on an image to find out more about Turkey Tales and Jay’s other titles.
My tuppence-worth contribution to Roving Jay’s latest travel book, The Gümüslük Travel Guide, the first of an in-depth series about the Bodrum Peninsula from a lady in the know:
One sultry autumn afternoon, Liam and I rode the dolly to Gümüslük, a pretty picture-postcard village set among the ruins of the ancient Carian city of Myndos. This was a well-trodden excursion for us, a frequent and welcome distraction from bustling Bodrum Town. As a protected archaeological site, Gümüslük had mercifully been saved from the rampant over-development that afflicted much of Bodrum Peninsula.
As we bussed along the meandering heat-cracked road, I imagined how different the scenery must have been before the mad march of little white boxes up hill and down dale. Stunning, I was sure. Nevertheless, the hinterland surrounding Gümüslük still managed to impress; snapshot glimpses of pine-smothered hills and Tiffany blue waters cast a beguiling spell. We arrived at the small otogar perched above the village and meandered down the hill to the rows of craft stalls peddling multi-coloured knick-knacks, eclectic artwork and small pieces of fine silverware. Liam liked to potter, umming and ahhing at each stall and chatting to the hawkers. Sometimes he even bought a trinket or two. Just ahead of us, the glassy harbour gleamed beyond the quay and drew us to the water’s edge. The sheltered anchorage has been a sailors’ safe haven for millennia. This is where Julius Caesar’s chief assassins, Brutus and Cassius, moored their galleys during the ensuing punch-up with Mark Antony, something that even gets a mention in the famous Shakespearian tragedy.
A late lunch was on the menu. We’d long since learned to avoid the overpriced identikit fish restaurants with their press-ganging waiters reeling in the catch of the day. As emigreys on a fixed income, we left the fishy eateries that lined the bay to unsuspecting tourists and well-heeled Istanbulers who equated price with quality. Our destination was our favourite low-cost lokanta, a ramshackle kind of place with mismatched furniture and wipe-down table cloths. Dalgiç Restaurant was set off the main drag and served our favourite fast food – freshly prepared gözleme – delicious savoury rolled pastries laced with a tasty selection of meat, cheese or vegetable fillings. Our effervescent patron attended to our needs out front while his pantaloon’d missus rolled, chopped and griddled out back. The flat-bread feast was washed down with a ripe bottle of red, a cut above the ancient Myndoan plonk that was reputably mixed with sea water and caused unending flatulence. Sated, replenished and wine-mellowed, we wandered down to the headland and waded across the partially sunken causeway (submerged by a long forgotten earthquake) to Rabbit Island. Here, as was our tradition, we tumbled over antique stones*, bunny spotted and settled down on a grassy ledge to witness one of the most sublime sunsets the Aegean has on offer.
*Sadly for visitors, Rabbit Island is off limits to waders due to renewed archaeological interest. Don’t let this put you off. The sunsets are gorgeous from every angle in Gümüslük.
Roll, roll up for your free Kindle copy of the meticulously researched Gümüşlük Travel Guide: Bodrum’s Silver Lining by the incomparable Roving Jay. This one-time offer is available for two days only – the 7th and 8th of June – so grab it while you can.
The book in Roving Jay’s own words:
Whether you visit Gümüşlük for the day; make it your holiday destination; or plan on visiting long-term, the “Gümüşlük Travel Guide: Bodrum’s Silver Lining” provides you with all the information you need to discover this Turkish location for yourself.
I’ve thrown myself wholeheartedly into the process of writing this guidebook, and as well as gathering information, I’ve accumulated a collection of memorable moments along the way.
This is the start of your very own journey down the historical and well-trodden path to Gümüşlük and I trust my travel guide will help to create some unforgettable memories of your own.
Start creating those memories. Get the Gümüşlük Travel Guide at Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com and all Amazon stores worldwide.
Oh, and I’m in it by the way, but don’t let that put you off.
The incomparable Roving Jay recently blew into town for a few bevvies, a bite and a chin wag. She was on a pilgrimage to the Norfolk flatlands of her birth and catching up with her folks. Luckily for me, she detoured to Norwich to pick up where we left off last time we met and this time, Liam joined us for a boozy threesome. First stop was a couple of bottles in the Lamb Inn, a lively little watering hole where the ridiculously low ceiling makes everyone look tall. Even me. Hair gel was being applied like Dulux emulsion. Next up, gourmet grub at Cinema City’s swanky Dining Rooms, a bar-restaurant with an old vaulted ceiling, a medieval courtyard and a mini multiplex in the east wing. Last time, the rural hit-and-miss bus schedule conspired against us and Jay flew away prematurely. This time, she threw caution to the wind, stayed for a natter and jumped into a Hackney cab at the end of the night.
Those who are familiar with Jay will know that she is a devoted Turkophile and a holiday resident of glorious Gümüslük. In 2013, she realised a long-held ambition and published a fabulous guidebook about the Bodrum area. Jay is a bit of a magpie and the Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide is a meticulously researched, first-hand account of the little corner of Turkey we called home for a while. The e-book is doing well, very well. That’s because it’s good, very good. Summer’s just round the bend so if you’re heading Bodrum-way this year you’d be mad not to pick up a copy. For more information about Jay’s must-have guide, click here.
Jay’s next big thing is a more detailed guide to Gümüslük and it will include offerings from others in the know; she was even mad enough to ask me for my tuppence-worth, but don’t let that put you off. The Gümüslük guide will be the first in an exciting series of in-depth guides of towns on the Peninsula. To find out where Jay the magpie’s at with all of this, do check out her portfolio of websites. There’s an awful lot to see.
Yalikavak Travel Guide
In the meantime, sit back and see what all the fuss is about…
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The Bodrum Peninsula on Turkey’s stunning Aegean coast is the summer playground for hundreds of thousands of discerning holiday-makers offering something for everyone – the beach bum, party animal, culture vulture or adrenalin junkie. Described as the ‘San Tropez of Turkey,’ the whitewashed town of Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassus) is the beating heart of the Peninsula where the Turkish elite come to let their hair down. ‘The Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide: Turkey’s Aegean Gem’ is the definitive book for visitors and expats alike from the marvelous Jay Artale, part-time resident and someone in the know. The book is packed to the rafters with meticulously researched facts and fun, sites and scenes, eats and treats, must-dos and don’t-dos, both on and off the well-beaten track. Need to know how to get about? Want insider knowledge on the best boat trips to hidden coves and where to find ancient sites to tumble over? Looking for the best places to eat for authentic rustic cuisine? Fancy a high-energy water-ski ride around the bay? Dying to know what bars to see and be seen in? It’s all here, and much, much more. Whether dipping in for a hint or two or reading cover-to-cover in one serving, this book should be in everyone’s suitcase.