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.