Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cirl Bunting spot, Aegean

We call it the “Cirl Bunting” spot because we saw one there last year and because we don't know the local name for it. It's about ten minutes' drive from the cottage, and is a wonderful place, alive with birds in a magical coastal setting. Shrikes and buntings galore, Turtle Doves and tantalising scrub warblers. 
A highlight for me were the Rufous Bushchats (or Bush Robins if you prefer), tail-flickingly active and full of character.

On Gökceada

In 1923, under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, two Aegean islands were ceded to Turkey: Bozceada and Gökceada. Last month I was lucky enough to spend some time on the latter. Many of the original Greek inhabitants left the island, but a few village communities remain, of which the mountain village of Zeytinliköy is probably the prettiest.
Despite appearances, I was not in a grump, merely pensive, as I sat outside one of the coffeehouses in the village, tasting the local Dibek coffee (local produce, ground in stone pestle and mortar and flavoured with mastica).
I also attended the Sunday morning service in the local Greek Orthodox church, quite a marathon. Everyone was very kind, if slightly bemused, and I got quite a long way with a καλημέρα and an ευχαριστώ or two.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Gallipoli and Woolwich

Well, I went there and came back, spending most of the month of May on the Turkish Aegean coast just south of Canakkale. Highlight of the trip was undoubtedly a day visit to Gallipoli. It is ineffably beautiful and has monuments and cemeteries everywhere commemorating the Gallipoli campaign in 1915 when thousands of soldiers on both sides lost their lives.
Particularly poignant are the memorials to the ANZAC troops. The Turks simply could not understand why men from Australia and New Zealand would want to come half way across the world to fight in someone else's war (as they saw it).

And now I come home to the news that a British soldier was stabbed to death in Woolwich (London) by two Islamist fanatics, which has provoked a lot of anti-Muslim rhetoric and acts of vandalism and a surge in support for nationalistic movements like the English Defence League. Will we never learn?