Santa sent me a bumper prize this year: globe-trotting local lass Roving Jay paid me a whistle-stop visit. Jay currently lives in Los Angeles but grew up in the flatlands and big skies of East Anglia – she’s a Norfolk broad at heart. She parachuted in from La-la-land to spend Christmas with family but took precious time away from the rellies to join me for a natter over an Americano. Dedicated Turkophile, Jay, owns a house near glorious Gümüslük, on the Bodrum Peninsula. Readers may be familiar with her own blog, Roving Jay and her website, the Bodrum Peninsula Travel Guide. Jay has been a faithful pansyfan from the beginning and very kindly wrote a stunning review of Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey when it was first released. I have to say, it made me blush (really) and I shall be forever in her debt. Because of the vagaries of the rural bus schedule in these parts, we only got to chew the cud for a couple of hours and didn’t get around to hitting the sauce. We still managed to pack a lot into the chat. Meeting cyber friends in the real world can be a nerve-shredding experience and I was a tad anxious. I needn’t have worried. Jay was a delightful coffee companion. Anatolia aside, it turned out we have a lot in common – for a start, we were both forces brats of more or less the same generation (though Jay is younger and so much prettier).
This spring, Jay is publishing her first guidebook, just in time for the summer scrum. It’s Jay’s unique take on the Bodrum Peninsula. Unlike so many guidebooks these days, it’s a first-hand account and covers the small corner of Turkey that Jay intends to call home one day. The book is stuffed with must-sees and must-dos and is a literary and factual treat. For more information click here. Very highly recommended.
Liam and I took the dolly to Gümüslük, the pretty picture postcard bay with overpriced fish restaurants and tedious hassle from the press-ganging waiters. We were visiting friends who lived in the village. As we travelled along the pot-holed road, I was wondering what the scenery was like before the mad march of little white boxes up hill and down dale. Stunning I imagine. It’s still pretty in parts and the views from the coast road are dazzling. We turned a coastal corner and happened upon a huge supermarket that wasn’t there before. It’s a sign of the times. I see the advantage. Residents and holidaymakers alike no longer have to endure the sweaty trek into Yalıkavak or Turgutreis to stock up on booze and larder essentials. Who wants to do that in 40 degree heat? Sadly, I fear for the living of the little man in the local shop. Times are hard and, in the winter months, times are impossible. We all know the tale of the big boys who muscle in and soak up all the trade. It’s a sad story that’s oft repeated in high streets across Blighty. Still, this particular supermarket does have the most spectacular view of the Aegean from the rooftop terrace. Sütlü Americano, lütfen.
My first guest blogger is Linda from Ayak’s Turkish Delight. Linda and I share a public sector past in the social work field, a much-maligned profession, fraught with risk – damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Linda writes about her first tentative steps of her glorious Turkish journey.
I am delighted to have been asked by Jack to do a guest post on his blog whilst he is away. Jack’s blog is one I look forward to every day. It’s amusing, informative and just so different from many blogs out there.
Let me tell you a bit about me. I’m a retired Social Work Manager (in the mental health field) and I moved to Turkey from England in 1998 and married my Turkish husband in 1999. We have lived in different areas of Turkey. In fact we have moved 15 times to date.
My very first home 13 years ago was in Gümüslük. The peaceful village of Gümüsluk is one of the oldest settlements on the Bodrum peninsula. It stands on the site of the ancient city of Myndos whose seafront sections slid into the sea in some long-forgotten earthquake. We rented the top floor of a two-storey house, which was really a holiday-let and because each room led out to an open terrace, was only really suitable for the summer months. We rented it during the winter because it was cheap and we didn’t have a lot of money.
There was no hot water or heating and I had one saucepan and one gas bottle to cook with. It rained a great deal and poured in through the metal-framed windows, to the extent that one morning we got out of bed and were up to our ankles in water. We had no mod cons. In the absence of a washing-machine, I washed our clothes in a huge plastic bowl. No TV, telephone or internet. Just one very old rusty fridge.
The setting was wonderful…right in the middle of orange and olive groves, with no neighbours, and was very peaceful. It’s hard to adapt to such a basic, primitive way of life from the one I had in England but looking back at that time, I realise I learned a lot about myself and how I am capable of far more than I give myself credit for.
We stayed in Gümüslük for 5 months then moved on to Turgutreis and so began my Turkey journey, to places as diverse as Side, Antalya and Cappadocia. You can read more here.
The Bodrum Peninsula is not well blessed with decent beaches. Most are a blend of coarse sand and shingle. Some are manufactured and have to be replenished each year. When I think of the finest beaches of Turkey I think of magical Ölüdeniz near Fethiye, the pretty picture on a million tourist posters, majestic Iztuzu, Dalyan where the rare loggerhead turtles lay their precious eggs, and my personal favourite, enchanting Patara, 20 kms of secluded golden sand. However, I don’t think of Bolme Beach, a small, squalid little patch of mud and shingle near Gümüslük. Surprisingly, the august people at the Blue Flag Programme have awarded Bolme coveted blue flag status. They were clearly impressed by the tatty concrete pier with rusting supports against the backdrop of a large, ugly unfinished hotel that’s been allowed to rot for years. Or maybe it was because bathers feel safe by the omnipresence of a life guard (none), easy access for disabled people (not) or the excellent washing and sanitary facilities (er, no). I know, it must be the cleanliness of the beach. Perhaps that casually discarded used nappy wasn’t there when the inspector called. The view is fabulous though.
Thank you David for bringing this to my attention.
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Friends invited us along on our first boat trip since our emigration, sailing from the pretty but hassle-bound Gümüslük Bay. We were accompanied by the definitive nuclear family with grandparents in tow. The mini-cruise was enjoyably predictable, dropping anchor at various identical brushy islets for a dip in the gorgeous translucent waters. I showed off my still impressive diving skills learned in my distant youth. Our cheery skipper provided a simple but serviceable meal of sea bass, pasta and salad. Over lunch, Mrs. Nuclear bored us with vapid tales of her multi-gifted progeny, a spoilt and rude little runt who showed little respect to his elderly grandparents. So underwhelmed was I by the tedious litany of his talents, I asked Mr Nuclear if Master Nuclear could do something about Syria.
Without warning, the Meltemia picked up as we headed back to port. Struggling against the mighty head wind, the boat smashed repeatedly against the heaving swell, drenching us with the over-salty waters of the Aegean. We bounced around the deck like jetsam on a trampoline. Fearing a Kate Winslett Titanic moment we clung precariously to anything we could find. Our gentle cruise intended to calm the soul and relax the mind had turned into a white knuckle ride on the high seas – most amusing and, of course, potentially calamitous.