From Cirali,Turkey, to sizzling Hastings

Don’t think I’ve ever experienced this. Get on the plane in Antalya,  temperature in the high 30s, get out at Gatwick at 5.40pm – felt almost as hot.  I know it isn’t in the high 30s here, but the heat has a clammier, claggier quality that is just as enervating. As ever, we had a lovely time in Turkey. Cirali feels like our second home.

Cirali – Early morning

Cirali – late evening. Mount Olympos in background

      I have written so many blog posts about Cirali – this is our fifth visit, and our third year in the Yavuz Bungalows, kept by the lovely Derya and his folks. It suits us just fine. Right on the beach, an informal restaurant with good, home-cooked fresh food, handy for the village, quiet, comfortable, clean little houses, privacy, nature, trees….. who could want for more?  Well, fortunately, plenty of people would miss night-life, ritzy shops, swimming pools etc etc so they wouldn’t come to Cirali in the first place.  Many would not want to the be the only English people in the place, either. Derya told us we were the first Europeans he had staying this year…  We have enough Turkish to join in with the basic greeting rituals, talk about the weather, ask for what we need and tell people how we feel – we even went to lessons back in Birmingham – much good it did us. Our language skills never improve though. I did attempt to learn one new word every day this time, but I’ll have forgotten again by next year.
      As before, friend Shaun was with us for some of the time. This year we didn’t even do our  usual trips to ancient Phaselis or low-life Russian-glitz shopping destination Tekirova, but we did two boat trips, one with Shaun, and a new, longer trip for just Battleaxe and Philosopher.
      Last year when we came to Turkey, the country had just gone through a Referendum giving Erdogan more powers, and this year, on 24 June, they had a general election.  People had asked us if we were worried, going there at election time, but of course not, Cirali is scarcely near the middle of Ankara… Anyway, the election was for the make up of Parliament, and for President. If he won, Erdogan was set on making his power yet more absolute. The liberal/socially progressive parties did have strong hopes and strong candidates, but as so often across the world, the conservative populist vote won out. Only narrowly – by 52% to 48%. Sound familiar?  Why does this keep happening…..???  Cirali is clearly a liberal place, along with the rest of the more affluent coastal strip and the big cities. We watched the results come in on a big screen in a restaurant in the village, and then on the telly back at Yavuz. The Turks watched in silence – none of the groaning/cheering that you’d get from a British audience. Is it because already they fear public displays of anti-Erdogan feeling are risky?  Or were they just resigned? Or what?  A few people did express their views to us, but by and large we felt it was not our place to question them.
      Nothing much seemed to have changed in Cirali over the year. The economy is on a downward slope, so things were noticeably cheaper.
     We did notice that although the vast majority of women (including me) are still cavorting about in bikinis, a few more young women are choosing Islamic dress. It must be a choice, because in family groups, mum would often still be in a bikini.  These young women clearly make a great deal of effort to find high fashion swimwear. No baggy burkinis, rather very tailored, fitted and colourful stretchy type garments. Think a wet suit – shocking pink or bright blue – with a hip-length tunic on top, worn with a big sun hat when not in the sea. Sometimes the leggings were just to the knee, and the top had short sleeves. I quite envied them. No worrying about skin cancer, layering on the Factor 50, sun-faded hair colour, escaped wobbling bulges etc…. Here is an example from the internet – clearly I couldn’t photgraph real people.

Fashionable modest bathing attire….

      We saw groups of girls, clearly friends hanging out together, where some were in modest swimwear, and others were in bikinis. Overall, we felt (and sincerely hoped) that tolerance still prevailed…
      Our days in Cirali follow a peaceful pattern – leisurely breakfast at 9 ish, down to the beach mid-morning. Stay there until 2, leisurely lunch, then retire to the orange grove surrounding our huts, to read or snooze until about 6, shower etc, walk up to the village about 7, cruise the shops, see the sights, have a walk, maybe campari soda in a bar, eat around 8, return, play scrabble or watch the footie in the Yavuz bar area with a final drink…. bed about 10.30-11…. such a hard life.

View of the beach from our restaurant area
View from my hammock
Philosopher outside our little house

     We did go for an evening walk up the beach to ancient Olympos… last year we couldn’t go becasue it was too far for Philosopher with his bad hip. Interesting as ever… Derya found us a book in English bout the city – this is a translation of a tomb inscription – there’s a poem in there somewhere.


     I won’t bother with describing our boat trips – not even the long one. It was sold to us (even by Derya) as a great opportunity – a trip to the ‘Turkish Maldives’ – sparkling blue sea, white sand beach etc…. It took 2.5 hours to sail to the island in question, and when we got there the sea was so rough…. I have a whacking great bruise on my leg from bashing it on the lurching, swaying ladder at the back of the boat. Madives? I don’t think so.

Distant beach across the waves…..

    I’ll finish with nature instead. One of the pleasures for me of the afternoon snooze session in the orchard is the visits from the local birds. The peahens are very tame and very attentive mothers. They communicate with a wide range of honks, clicks, grunts and purrs… I always thought they were very dim and boring, but not so. Chickens, jays….. tortoises. Loads of hedgehogs scuttling about at night….

Big old tortoise

Two fine fellows – but what a racket they make….

Pea hens and families
Turkish jay
Beautiful butterfly

    Get back to Hastings and it is absolutely scorching – no rain since well before we left here over two weeks ago, and none forecast for the future.  Thanks to the efforts of neighbours, our garden looks remarkably well.
    Yavuz already booked for next year. Inshallah……

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