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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. 
 (Img. 2672)

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.