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Friday, 20 May 2016

Kalkan is just the same - take heart

We have just got back from Kalkan, and everyone is agog to know what it was like and if the atmosphere was any different.  The answer is no.  It is absolutely the same wonderful Kalkan.  There is no tension at all, people have been carrying out improvements, starting new businesses, and investing in the future of Kalkan.

However,  bookings are down, as people are concerned about what to expect, and so I’m sure some local businesses will suffer this year.  Our bookings for last year were the best ever, including several weeks of repeats but this year is very different. We plan to let our family and friends use it more, as there are more free weeks, and are offering discounts to those who do come.  On the other hand, there is an amazing new beach club being opened by our friend Halit and others, next door to Patara Prince Hotel, which will also have a restaurant on a deck next to the sea, and which will be open in the evenings also.  It looks very luxurious and the swimming is lovely in that spot. 

Here are some photos of our upgraded apartment, including our wonderful new windows and king sized bed with the most comfortable mattress.  To wake up there and gaze out at that view, I still can barely believe it!

We went out with my sister, and it was her first time in Kalkan.  We had a wonderful time showing her around.  Up in the mountains, bird watching, a day in Ucagiz and Kekova on a boat with other friends out there, turtles a bit scarce on the ground this time but we did see one or two.  Marvellous lunch – course after course, it just keeps coming.  Then back via Kas for a little shopping.  It is the most perfect day – following the sunset on the way home.  Wonderful.

Lynne and I were picked up by Halit and driven to Patara Beach at 6 am one morning for a 5 mile fast walk barefoot on the beach.  It was amazing.  Birds had been there before us, and the sand was marked with bird’s claw marks of all sizes.  Huge sculptural pieces of bleached driftwood dot the  beach, and we didn’t see another soul.  What a way to start the day.

On our last day we packed up and left early and spent the day with friends who have a villa in Gocek.  They also have a boat and we spent the day zooming and pottering about the numerous islands in the most beautiful conditions.  Lunch was freshly caught sea bass, shepherd’s salad and chips  on an island with just one building on it – a small restaurant with a pontoon for boats.  We were the only ones.   We fed their goats, swam (the water was so warm) saw many turtles but all too soon time to get to the airport and fly home to freezing England.

We can’t wait for September so if we can we are going to try and go back for a few days in late June. 


Tuesday, 10 November 2015


Well a whole year has passed since I last wrote, and yet I have been out three times.   Just a hectic year for us, and I sadly didn’t get round to recording each trip.   I will try and cover all I have seen and done in and around the area since then.

When you round the last bend this is the first view you get of the glorious view of Kalkan bay.

I came out for the first time without George and with  just a girlfriend in early June.  She is actually Canadian but has a house in England,  and apart from a gulet holiday had not visited Turkey, so it was an ideal time.   She absolutely loved it, and shamed me by swimming in the pool which I found far too cold.  She actually loved it so much she ended up buying an apartment!   She is an artist, but her husband is retired (sort of) and she thinks this is the adventure they both need.   She found a newly completed two bedroom apartment in a block of six, nearer to the town than we are, and plans to let it but they want to use it themselves as much as possible.   It was great fun showing her around, and for the first time I was the driver, and drove from the airport at night to Kalkan, an hour and a half’s journey.   It’s a bit scary as the dual carriageways aren’t lit, and turnings and road works sort of appear unannounced, or with very little warning.   However it was an empowering exercise and I’m glad I did it.  Parking is a bit haphazard, and the hills are very steep, but kind DB (dearly beloved) booked an automatic so I didn’t make a spectacle of myself stalling all over the place. 

The blossom was mostly over but the wild flowers were as always wonderful.  We shopped, read, partied, chose furniture for her apartment and caught up with six months news.  

The big holiday of course was September.  We had two friends staying with us who had never been to Turkey before, they flew out with us, and stayed for a week.  We had so much fun, swimming, going out on a boat for the day, always a favourite.   New restaurants, old favourites, up to the mountains, tortoises, turtles.   We had several friends staying locally so we were often a big party.  We had one hiccup when we inadvertently locked the door to the apartment when we were having dinner round the pool.   Thank goodness everything was on the table, including adequate bottles of wine.  We didn’t have a phone or any method of communication  to get help, but in the end managed to find a young man who scaled the bougainvillea, ripping his leg in the bargain and thank goodness all the doors were open onto the balcony.   Memorable evening!

We did our usual drive round in the hills where we often find real country markets, a bit more true to their roots than a more typical English one.  This rather contented looking animal was one offering!

One of my favourite things was two days before we went home, George along with quite a crowd were watching the World Cup in a bar (there are one or two big screens, always well attended) and I could hear a wedding going on down by the Harbour.  I had seen one before and loved it, so walked down.  The wedding was between two  local Turkish families and was huge.   It was held in what is normally the car park for the harbour,  and chairs were set out with lovely white covers and big bows and what seemed like hundreds of people  watching the bride and groom who were on a mini raised garlanded platform.   There was lots of dancing.  You’ve probably seen Turkish dancing, both men and women raise their arms out to the side, but the men keep theirs higher, and they dance separately.  Turkish music, lots of drums, lovely ryhthms   so many children running round, all beautifully dressed.  Some guests were dressed in long evening dresses, some in jeans and tee shirts, it didn’t seem to matter.  The guests file up and attach money to the sashes which the bride and groom both wear and are thanked.  This all takes upwards of an hour!  Then, more dancing, fireworks, I was very tempted to join the dancing and am quite sure I would have been welcomed, buit didn't quite have the nerve!  Lovely joyous occasion, and as always so interesting to see another culture.  

As usual left in September in glorious sunshine ready to face a long and cold winter.  As I write this in November, I have just spoken to someone recently back from Kalkan.  They were eating outside earlier this week at night, without any sort of sweater or covering, and swimming.  Maybe we'll be back before long!!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Still so much to learn about Kalkan

Best Trip Ever

Just got back from a marvellous three weeks.  Three perfect weeks of temperature in the high 20s, cloudless skies, and warm wonderful sea, where the most energetic thing I do is turn over from time spent on my back gazing up at the mountains, and villas and boats, and do a bit of snorkelling.  Oh, and chasing the elusive kingfisher up the coast and when I find it tread water for long minutes watching it.

We decided this time to take some paint out to lighten the pine cupboards and bedheads in both bedrooms.  I found Annie Sloan paint which I have used before, bought it in white, and the wax which protects the rather chalky finish, and gives it a patina of age and silkiness.  At the gate, just about to board our Thomas Cook flight when George got a tap on the shoulder “Mr. Bird?  Could you come down to the hold please, we have a query with one of the items in your suitcase”  In the event, our paint was allowed to stay, but the wax was confiscated, and we then had to run the gauntlet of a hundred accusing eyes, as we were the last to board.  Luckily we left on time.  Finished the painting, but have to find an alternative to the wax to protect it.  Here’s a photo  of the chandelier in the single beds room,  which we also brought out with us  – lovely, bright, colourful, and to my  joy a touch blingy, and there’s nothing I love more than a touch of bling!



Some things have changed inevitably.  The Old Town is enjoying a bit of a makeover, and we discovered the Courtyard and White House Boutique hotel, run by Halil and Marion who have artistically managed to create the most magical place whilst still retain the integrity of such an old building.  We suggested it to two of our friends who stayed there, and loved it so much they have booked again for next year.  It is a wonderful stopping off point on your way to the restaurants and shops, for a sunset drink with the most amazing views over the old rooftops of ancient Kalkan. Just up the road from them, and past a couple of small new restaurants selling traditional food, with tables spilling out onto the pavement, and pots of flowers all round, there is a new bar called Botanic Garden which has been created from what was almost a waste piece of ground.  It is magical -  wonderful foliage, flowers, evening perfumed shrubs, hammocks, buzzy, and great before or after dinner until late at night. 

We also went out in a new find – Captain Ramasan’s boat for day trips.  He and his lovely wife do the most wonderful lunches out at sea, if you can bear to drag yourself out of the sea to towel dry and enjoy what they have cooked for you that morning, with a glass of wine  (or two).  Cake and fruit for tea, then back to Kalkan Harbour to watch all the other smart yachts and charter gulets trying to find room to tie up in an already packed harbour.  It’s nail biting stuff, you can’t believe they can moor without major incidences like taking the side of the boat out!  But they do....

Of course we went up to Bezirgen .  Whilst we were bird watching ( and there was plenty to see) I spotted an iguana, which was very exciting, and the first one we had seen.  Driving back to the road, we stopped the car to watch a family of mother, grandmother and daughter making bread outside.  They called us in to the garden, and brought out seats so we could watch them (they were just sitting on the ground).  We were then given some to eat, and also to have a go ourselves.  Their rolling pins are so thin compared with ours, so not easy.  They make them fast, and mounds of them, which apparently they just keep for the week, sprinkle them with water and reheat them when they want them.  Their 10 year old daughter was learning English at school, and was really pleased that we could understand some of her sentences. 

Although we are one of six apartments in our block, we were on our own for most of the time, which is a treat.  Our son, wife and baby followed us and they were alone too.  The apartments are English owned, so it is seldom more than two owners are out together.  

We went to our friend Halit’s for breakfast with about 8 other people.  The table is usually full of all nationalities, Australian, Brits, Swedes, Turks, Russians, and the conversation is lively and informed.  Halit, true Turk, is enormously hospitable, and the table is groaning with eggs, salad, cheeses, tomatoes, breads of every kind, jams, tahini, endless coffee, apple tea, orange juice, and lunch is out of the question after such a feast.  We usually amble into his shop most evenings, either before or after dinner, and sit and have a tea or coffee with him, maybe pick up a Christmas present or two, or spoil myself, and leave him to a busy shop of customers.  He and his sister feel like family now, and we are always sad to say goodbye.  He and his girlfriend Kim are opening a furniture emporium on the road in to Kalkan ready for next summer, selling outdoor furniture.  They should do very well, and are sourcing it from the Far East mostly, so they will be off on their buying trip soon.

When I got home I decided I must make some babba ganoush which I invariably order if it’s on the menu.  I found a recipe, which involved toasting aubergines over the unprotected gas flames.  Half an hour later, lemon juice added, aubergines charred (I thought to perfection), garlic, tahini everything stirred in – George ready to taste before a supper party later that day.  Verdict – tastes like a bonfire!! 


Thursday, 24 October 2013


 Part of the joy of travel is the feeling of strangeness, the other worldness of another language, culture, food,  religion, and the ability to be able to look on your life in the real world and compare.  We have now been to Turkey so many times that it has become to feel like home.  True we are mostly with English speaking Turks (they are excellent linguists) and their language still eludes me except for menu Turkish and the absolute essentials, but I love their sense of humour, their optimism, their  ethic of hard work, and the feeling that everything is possible – although their optimism sometimes exceeds reality in this case….

We spent almost four weeks in Kalkan during September/October and had a wonderful time.  The sea was a little choppy for the time of year, but we still swam most days.  We found new places to go in the hills, unidentified birds,  and  tried to keep away from the more expensive restaurants for more excellently cooked local food, and re-discovered Patara.

George has just acquired a much better camera, and it has been a revelation.  Taking a photo of the bee hives above Islamlar, we were thrilled to discover when we uploaded it, that we could see the bees emerging in great detail. 

We did our usual trip to Kas and there I found a doorway painted in such a beautiful way with a sort of distressed whitewash that it has made us determined to come back in the winter and paint  all the pine in our apartment ourselves, or get painted.  I showed the photo to our friend Halit who said ‘Oh yes, our carpenter can paint like that for you, it’s a water based paint we can get over here’.  That was also music to my ears, as I expected I would have to pay for Annie Sloan paint or similar and ship it to Turkey.  I used to do distressed painting for a living, and I love the look of white distressed wood for sea facing rooms. 
We heard helicoptors one afternoon and watched three in unison fly low over the sea in front of us, scoop up a huge sling of water and fly off to the hills.  Apparently there was fire  on the scrub, but couldn't see it from where we were.  It was out within half an hour, but we were lucky to get this photo.

We had friends out there who had recently moved into their exciting five bedroomed villa which was miraculously built in just five months, and is the last word in luxury.  We, and their glamorous young, had a marvellous day out in a boat, and visited the beach known for its mud containing mineral properties which have been used for hundreds of year.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it!
Lunch on the boat is always awesome.  And endless.  And there's cake for tea......

Below are a few views around Kalkan


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Timeless Turkey, but never time enough!

March is the earliest we have ever been out in the year, and therefore we had to fly to Antalya as there were no flights to Dalaman at all. We hadn’t been to Antalya so decided to spend a night there and have a look round, hopefully see one or two archaeological sites we hadn’t seen before, and do  a bit of shopping for the apartment.

As soon as we arrived we realised we had not counted on the temperature, and I knew I had the wrong clothes for the week. We hired a car from the airport, which is only about ten minutes from the town of Antalya which was easy to find, but is HUGE. We then spent twenty minutes trying to find Kaleici, the old town, and which is inside ancient city walls. Turks are so keen to help, but (please don’t be offended Turkish friends) are not very clear in directions. I think it’s distances, they seem to have no idea, so you end up looking for a right hand turn in about 200 yards, when it’s actually a mile away. Could be their optimistic nature! Anyway two shouting matches and a ‘uey’ where we shouldn’t have, I jumped out of the car to a waiting taxi and asked him if we could follow him.  At the end of the week we realised another thing, landmarks are well signposted for a mile or two, then seem to peter out, nothing, no clues at all.  Frustrating.

We eventually found  the hotel Tuvana, which was delightful, and comprised four ottoman houses, all in the same street. Our room was above a wonderful restaurant called the Seraser.  We walked through an elegant courtyard, with a fabulous wood fire in the centre, and up stairs to our extremely comfortable room.  We had time for a little exploring of the old town before we came back to change for dinner.  George decided to stay downstairs in the courtyard for a drink round the fire, whilst I changed. There were already diners in the restaurant, which looked quite smart, so I did change and because of the temperature wrapped a new lovely scarf round me, which I had bought in Istanbul the previous September and even wore high heeled boots , which I never do in Kalkan, I descended the staircase, all eyes looking up to see who was coming down. Believe me dear readers, no-one receiving an Oscar had ever done this better. 

We had a fantastic meal.  Really really good.  The highlight was the lightest plate of mixed tempura vegetables we had ever had.  I so wish I could make this, but my batter always leaves the vegetables the minute it meets the fat, and I’m left with a soggy mess of fried vegetables.  We were the last to leave the restaurant, and when we got upstairs and I took off my artfully arranged scarf, and  imagine my horror when I found I had a hair roller attached to the outside.  George laughed cruelly at me, I was furious he hadn’t noticed, it must have given the other diners a puzzle.  There we leave any comparison with the Oscars.

The next morning I found an art shop which was thrilling. I was able to buy canvasses, paints, white spirit etc. and just put them in the car.  In all the years we have been coming I have not painted en plein air, but only from photos when I get back home, because of the problem of transporting canvases, solvents etc.  
We also saw Hadrian’s gate, triple arched, and complete with chariot grooves, and went into the quiet space of Pasa Mosque. George had his shoes cleaned in the street, it took 25 minutes and complete with new leather laces cost £5. 

By the time we left Antalya after having got lost twice – no map, no satnav – time was getting on if we wanted to get to Kalkan in daylight.  The site we had planned to see, Olympos, was 17 km off the main road, so we sadly gave it a miss. The journey was still three and a half hours, and although called the coast road the sea is for the most part some way south. However, as always plenty to see. Oranges were everywhere, and we passed through the town  which is the capital of the orange growing area,  where there were two impressive sculptures of brightly coloured oranges .

We had friends joining us that evening who were coming out to finalise plans for a villa they were having built in such a beautiful location, so we only had to cosy up the apartment which had been prepared by our wonderful team from Lycian Homes who look after our apartment.   Thank goodness we had duvets, the evening was really cold.

Many of the restaurants were closed, but those that are open are of course inside.  We have discovered one or two new ones, the favourite being Ayse’s Kitchen. Turkish food at its best, and cheapest. A wonderful selection, which you just point to -mucver, (courgette fritters) lamb tagine, humous, a marvellous white bean casserole, chicken, fried potatoes, stuffed peppers, aubergines, which with a bottle of wine came to £38 for the four of us. We will be back again and again I know.

The first three days were cold and grey, but then the sun came out, and our darling Kalkan was once again washed with sun, the sea sparkled, the little streets of old Kalkan were full of dark corners and sunlight streaming onto ancient walls. Mimosa is everywhere, white oxeye daisies, wild flowers are beginning to show in nooks in the stone.  Everywhere is fresh and new. 

We hoped to see some tortoises, but apparently it’s about three weeks too early.  However, we did our normal trip to Bezirgan village and think we correctly identified a short toed eagle, just settled on a tree only yards away. Again we visited Pauline and Erol at Owlsland (www.owlsland.com) who were as usual, extremely hospitable and showed us all around, and their three wonderful guest rooms. If anyone wants a night of simplicity in marvellous surroundings, with a canopy of stars like you’ve never seen before, this is the place. Also included is the best breakfast with absolutely everything homemade, and supper cooked by ex-chef Erol.  We did, however, narrowly miss running over a tortoise on the way back to Antalya.

Other highlights were doner kebab at the Fish Market in Fethiye. We learn more each time we go, but apparently the reason why this one is renowned is that the owners come from the region of Turkey which is home to doner kebabs.  Therefore the lamb is the correct breed, fed on the correct grass, killed in the correct manner, and only the best cuts are used.  Along with the expertise it is a memorable meal, but George popped a chilli in his mouth from the accompanying delicious looking salad, and struggled for the next ten minutes. He looked extraordinary, red in the face, tipping water down, trying to swallow his food and not splutter it all over the restaurant. He won’t do that again!

Our friends are bridge players, we dabble, so we have had three evenings of competitive bridge late into the night. Amazingly we’re still talking.  We’re really bad, and just play by instinct, not rules. Last night we picked up two chickens which had been rotisseried at the local market, and had them with salad, and the most wonderful waxy potatoes, fried with rosemary.  Delicious.  Someone, somewhere was barbequing, and the smell of what could have been apple wood burning, was so strong and wonderful.

Talking to our sons back home, we know England is freezing, our village is white with snow, yet here we are planning a morning reading, sunbathing, and walking round getting some views for my first painting  out here. I know I won’t be able to achieve the light I want, and it will be frustrating. I’m hoping to get some photos of children, who are so beautiful, with their large dark eyes.  I do urge you to think about Turkey out of the summer season.  The Mediterranean climate is delightful, and to miss a few weeks of our dreadful winter has been a real boost.
On the way back to Antalya we did manage to drive to Olympos, and I'm so glad we did.  Also glad that we visited in the early season.  Judging from the dozens of guest houses, tree houses, camping sites, restaurants etc. it will be teeming with people in the summer.  As it was, in perfect sun we drove down the blissful valley of cedar, and spruce, wildflowers everywhere, wild iris, tall daisies, euphorbia, blossom.  The car park was deserted, but there were a few backpackers, apart from that we were virtually alone. 
I'm not going to give you a history lesson, but Olympos was one of the six most important cities in the Lycian area, and coins from 2nd  century B.C.  It has been twice used by pirates, and although there is not quite so much to see as some of the bigger sites, the extreme natural beauty of the site, which is built on both sides of a wide creek, and ends at the most beautiful site, made it one of the most beautiful I have seen.  After our visit we stopped on the way back up the hill, and had spinach and potato pancakes, pancakes with lemon and sugar, and huge glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice.  An exquisite experience. 
As always it's over for another few months.  I miss it already.  England is cold and grey. 
See you soon Turkey. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


We occasionally see British people behaving strangely in Kalkan, and thought you may like to know a few essential facts about Turkish people so that you don’t hurt their feelings, and give them a bad impression of their guests.

The first thing you will notice is how incredibly friendly everyone is.  Really helpful, attentive,  keen to show you the way or explain things.  Their English is mostly good, and everyone seems to know a few English words.  Try and learn a few Turkish words, even just Merhaba – hello, means you are trying to fit into their world, and you will get a big smile and a replying Merhaba. 

As you walk along in the evening – maybe trying to find a restaurant you think you will like, there will be someone outside each restaurant, hoping you are going to visit them.  They may speak to you, asking you to look at their menu.  Don’t just stare straight ahead, they won’t hound you.  Just say that you have already booked elsewhere, or have eaten in your hotel already, or that you will look at the menu and maybe come back another time.  But if you don’t intend to, then don’t promise.  Porky pies are no better in Turkey than they are at home!

Shopping is a marvellous experience.  Hard haggling is frowned upon, but you can ask with a smile if they will take something off.  Most will - if it isn’t enough, say so.  They probably won’t want to lose your custom, but obviously still want to make a profit. 
Turkish waiters really enjoy their job, which we are not always used to at home, to say the least.  They will look after you, and make a fuss of you, and take pride in what they serve you with.  If you have a gripe, you don’t have to make a big fuss, they will meet you halfway all the time.  You will be amazed at the quality of the food and presentation in general.  Try different things, again the waiters will help you with your choices, and  remember that you are often given quite generous portions of complimentary appetisers which can fill you up.

The loos in all restaurants in Kalkan are squeaky clean, and European, so no worries about that.  You hardly ever hear of anyone getting a tummy bug, hygiene is excellent. The sea is amazingly clean and pure.  I have NEVER seen anything on the beach or floating in the water I would not want to see.  Swimming in the sea is one of the best things about Kalkan for me, warm, clean, calm, turquoise and clear.  

The markets are fun, they are a bit more pushy than shops, but they all have such a great sense of humour -  talk back but keep walking, with a smile.  They’re only trying to make a living, and the prices are really good anyway.  I still find their mimicry of us saying 'Just 'avin a look' very funny. They expect you to bargain, but do remember they have to make a living.  Spices, leather belts, bowls, Turkish delight, all excellent gifts to take home.  And if you’re self catering, fruit and vegetables are beyond anything you have ever experienced.  Also at the market treat yourself to crepes, or flat bread cooked in front of you, then filled with cheese and spinach. 

In our part of Turkey, and particularly in Kalkan, you won’t see stag parties (although occasionally  groups of girls on hen holidays), or people getting raucously  drunk.  Although there are a fewcafes which serve English breakfast, there aren’t the long strips of restaurants offering little else.  Try Turkish style breakfasts, much more suited to their climate, and amazing.  Most offer Turkish food with English menus, which is cheap, delicious and healthy.  Pizzas are available – slightly different, but moreish.  The food is one of our delights on holiday, and I buy ingredients and cookery books every time I go out. 
Don't cram things into your case you can buy on holiday.  I don't think there is anything now you can't get there.
Just enjoy one of the best places you'll ever go to.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

September 2012 - Still Faithful to Kalkan

This has been the year of The Wedding!  Youngest son was married in our village of Betchworth in August, and now all have flown the nest.  We flew to Dalaman in early September.  The usual packed flight out, but three and a half hours is nothing.  We always try and arrive early afternoon, so that we can get to Kalkan in time to unpack, get in some supermarket shopping, bowls of fruit, honey,  yoghurt, and then hit the town for our first scrumptious meal out. 

Walking into the apartment is always a thrill.  There is our view.  Still  breathtaking.  There’s no other building in our sight as you walk up to the balcony, the sky is cerulean blue, cloudless. I know every contour of the hills opposite, in the afternoon light they are blue, at sunset, pink, violet, purple.  The sea is turquoise.  Sometimes the surface is alive with diamond lights, sometimes like a painting with swirls of deeper blue, or reflections of the sky swirled through it.  When I am back in England during the winter, I look at photos, or go to the webcam online just to remind myself how beautiful it all is, and that it’s still there, waiting.....

We now know so many people in Kalkan that walking down the street is like taking the dog for a walk at home.  It can take half an hour just to say hello and what sort of a season are you having, what’s new, how’s your little boy, so you’re married, what did you do in the winter?   These people are our friends as much as those at home, and this year they continued to show us the kindness and interest we have come to take as normal.  Turkish people are very politically aware, and love discussing their government, the EU, the Mayor, and world affairs.  Restaurants have moved premises, changed hands, chefs have moved on, new restaurants and shops have opened up.  So far Kalkan has handled its inevitable growth well, and we have no reason to believe  that this won’t always be the case, although the hills above the bay will become more built on, it’s inevitable.  The road that has been built above the town has made a scar, but hopefully this will green up quickly, and on the marvellous road that now exists from Dalaman to Kalkan, we have noticed they are quickly planting trees on both sides.  If you ask a waiter in Kalkan who was not born there, why he chose to work in Kalkan, he will shrug, point to the view and smile! 

We always hire a car now at the airport.  The holiday then starts from that moment.  This time we just drove the short distance to Gocek, where some great friends have just bought a villa.  We spent a lovely first evening with them, and the next day went out in their smart boat.  We had lunch at one of the hundreds of small islands dotted around, and swam from the boat in various different spots.( Img. 2554) As I was swimming back to the boat at one point I thought I had scratched my foot, as it stung a bit, but when I got on board I saw lots of black spines sticking out.  I had been stung by a sea urchin.  I got as many as I could out, and when we got back to Gocek went into a chemist to see what the remedy was.  I had heard you should pee on the sting, and George did offer, but I didn’t fancy it!  The chemist’s advice was to follow local fishermens’ custom, and soak cotton wool with olive oil, strap it to your foot, wrap cling film on and keep it on for about three days, when all the stings should come out.  Nice idea, but first of all, it’s not a very good look wandering round in a clingfilmed foot, and secondly I was also following an alternative bit of advice about soaking my foot in wine vinegar.  What with the oil and the vinegar I felt a bit like a walking salad dressing.  As I write this, nearly a month later, some of the spines have come out, about nine are left, but now tiny little greyish dots under the skin, which I suppose may or may not come out on their own accord.  This is the first time I have heard of anyone getting sea urchin stings, in all the years we have been coming to Turkey, which is surprising.

I had painted a boat I had taken a fancy to, from a photograph I had taken at one of the beach clubs.  I took the painting out to Kalkan and had it framed there, and now it is in our apartment.
I plan to do more over the winter, some for our house here.  From this same beach club, the Yali,
 George and I saw a kingfisher, on several occasions.  I swam following it, and saw it sitting on a rock just metres away, and then it dived into the sea, and flew away behind a rock, presumably to eat its catch.  Thrilling.  Also, at the Yali Beach Club, I had my first scuba diving lesson.  Just a taster, but what a wonderful experience.  I went down about 9 feet, I couldn’t believe how many and how beautiful are the fish, but found my ears quite painful, probably because I didn’t really relax and communicated that I wanted to go up probably more often than I should have.  I will definitely do it next year if I have the opportunity and try not to be such a wimp. 

One day walking back to our apartment we stopped a cyclist, a Brit, who was absolutely laden down
  It turned out he was cycling from Big Ben to Beijing fund raising for International Childcare Trust.  Robert is a carpenter who had decided to do this, and take six months off.  He was absolutely charming and if you feel you could give him a bit to support him, have a look at his website – he writes a blog, and you can follow his journey.  When I last looked he was still in Turkey.  http://fromheretotherebybicycle.blogspot.co.uk/  there’s video, photos, anecdotes, history, what a guy.

We did the things we always do, mostly nothing, gazing, sleeping, reading, swimming, eating.  We had friends to stay with us, and other friends came by in a yacht which they keep at Marmaris,  and took us out for the day.
 We had a barbeque for them in the evening, and they sailed on the next day eastwards for another two weeks.  We went up into the hills two or three times, in fact our favourite restaurant is up there, and this time the owner took me into his immaculate kitchens, and showed me how to make helva pudding (can you imagine that happening in England).  We also were taught how to beat the dried linseed crops to release the seeds.  It is all done by hand, and is hard work.  We just stopped to watch, and were called into the fields to help. 
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We once again had breakfast at Adams, THE breakfast in Kalkan, home made and mostly grown in his own garden, and all the time this view. 

I try and walk into Kalkan most days, and past and on to Yali Beach Club when I’m particularly energetic.  The following photos give you an idea of what this commute is like!   Better than the gym.


At this time in the morning tables are being set, pavements washed, goods set up, and everywhere ‘Merhaba’ ‘Good morning’. 

All too soon our time is up.   The last sunset
, the last meal out.   This time George the perfect organiser (self styled!) surpassed himself.  Having realised, albeit a little late as he’d pressed the OK button and committed us, that 0145 is actually early in the morning, not after lunch. He as usual took possession of the passports and tickets and told me when we were leaving and when we had to vacate the apartment.  As we were packing in the afternoon, he sheepishly asked me to have a look at the tickets – we should have been there 12 hours earlier!   We drove to the airport, but there were no flights, and all were full for the next three or four days.  We stayed the night in Gocek, and our wonderful concierge there found us flights to Istanbul the next day, where we spent a packed six hours, before bed, and a 5 am start to catch a British Airways schedule flight back to Heathrow (not Gatwick where we had started).  All in all a very expensive mistake.

This winter we have made arrangements to have all the wood in our apartment painted white.  It will look even more Mediterranean – a bit shabby chic I hope.  And as usual, can’t wait to go back.