Turkey, a Land for All Seasons

Turkey, a Land for All Seasons

I was weeding out my files recently and came across a few articles I wrote for On the Ege Magazine back in the day. Memories of glory days long past came flooding back. Sadly, the magazine is no more. So to preserve my witterings for posterity, I’ve decided to re-post them. Feel free to switch channels now. This first post features the cycle of the seasons, a national obsession for us Brits.

Turkey, a Land for All Seasons

The parade of storms that recently rolled into town was a reminder (if one was needed) that Turkey is a land enjoying proper, melodramatic seasons. Here on the Aegean coast we spend six months too hot, six months too cold and six months just about right. We first arrived in Turkey to find our new foster home bathed in a glorious Indian summer and we were lulled into a false sense of meteorological security. Within a month, the pitiless winter was upon us and we were woefully unprepared. We were mugged by a posse of violent electric storms processing over the horizon, a savage spectacle crashing ashore and trapping us inside for days. The rainbows, though, were stunning.

Turkish winters mean business. Prodigious pulses of horizontal rain cluster-bomb every crack and cranny, forcing water under every window frame and beneath every threshold. Towels are requisitioned to ebb the relentless flow. Staying warm is a challenge. Think pre-central heating childhood days when a bed was too cold to get into at night and too warm to get out of in the morning. We sprint to the loo for a morning pee, wear sexless layers and revert to copulating under cover. They don’t mention that in the guide books.

Video courtesy of Euro News. This was the now legendary flash flood that overwhelmed Bodrum in 2015. Miraculously, the old stone cottage we used to rent survived the onslaught with not so much as a dribble. 

The short, sharp winter gradually gives way to a wonderful warm renaissance. Spring in Turkey is a magical time of  year, nature-wise. The hills seem to blossom overnight with a riot of flamboyant flora blanketing the usually arid scrub. We awake from our enforced hibernation, dust down our flip-flops and freshen our speedos. Smiles get broader as trousers get shorter. It’s a brief respite before the unforgiving sun burns the landscape back to its usual two-tone hue of dull green and ochre.

As the mercury marches inevitably upwards, summer slaps us about the face like a merciless wet flannel. By August, varnish peels off window sills, the upper floor of our house becomes a fan-assisted oven and sofas radiate heat like embers from a dying grate. We move slowly, a pair of damp vampires only venturing out between the hours of sunset and dawn – except when we get the chance to mess about in boats, that is.

This too passes and falling temperatures herald our Goldilocks season – not too hot, not too cold. At last, the wilting wilts. We retake possession of our town and watch the hordes climb aboard the last flight home. Bodrum in autumn is in an easy, relaxed mood. Hassle from the press gangs reduces to bearable levels and itinerant workers join the long caravans travelling back east to their winter pastures. Beware, though. Nothing lasts. Winter waits menacingly out at sea.

The Punkawallah and the Pansies

punka_wallahObsessing about the weather is a national pastime for the Brits. I guess I’m no different from my compatriots. I railed against the wind, cold and winter monsoons in February. I’m now wilting in sizzling summer and the varnish is peeling off the window sills. So far our search for a cooling solution has been fruitless. I’m touched by the concern of others towards our plight and the ingenious suggestions to douse the heat (of the wrong kind) in our bed.

  • Carole suggests an industrial fan – comes with a built in facelift as a by-product which is well worth thinking about.
  • Deborah suggests sticking our feet in a bowl of iced water – a method of torture favoured by the KGB.
  • Karyn suggests sleeping outside which would be like trying to catnap on the hard shoulder of the M25.
  • Alan suggests a dehumidifier – more bloody lira down the pan
  • Linda suggests wrapping a freezer pack in a tea towel and applying it our hot bits – get your mind out of the gutter.
  • Kym suggests retiring at night in wet socks – guaranteed to dampen our ardour and rot the mattress.
  • Hana suggests getting down to Arçelik and reviewing the problem with someone who knows what they’re taking about – what in Turkey?
  • As a last resort, Karyn suggests using child labour to fan us with ostrich feathers – How very British Raj and a practice likely to court the attention of the local Jandarma.

All is not lost. We’ve hit on an idea that might bring relief. Inşallah.