Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Days of wine and plaster

Summer is here, guests are slowly starting to find us, and we keep working on construction as usual. That’s the short version.

The long version? OK. My mum and dad were here for a few weeks recently. It was great to see them and they were a huge help. And, as often happens, visitors gave us a reason to take a few days off to enjoy the local area. First stop was the village of Kapıkırı, by Lake Bafa — we mentioned it on the blog a couple of months ago. It’s such a tranquil and beautiful spot that we thought my parents needed to see it too.

Restaurant and ruined castle on the lake.

Lakeside houses dwarfed by the rocky mountainside.

We went back to the same restaurant, where the menu is fantastically simple: it’s basically either fish or köfte (meatballs). This time we were up on the terrace instead of down on the beach though.

Shady table at the restaurant.

We had a small team of professional restaurant cats lurking under the table hoping to get some scraps. (Yes, of course we gave them some scraps.) Here’s a shot of the smallest and cutest one. We didn’t actually take this little guy home, but we made sure he got the most fish. If you look at his face you can hopefully see why we have trouble with adopting too many cats in Turkey.

Kitten under the table.

Our second tourist stop was a hidden gem we’d learned about from one of our guests: Ayda Vineyards & Winery. They’re about 20km west of Izmir airport, way up in the hills. Their wine is really impressive, but we were also blown away by how good their restaurant was. And they have a few hotel rooms in case you drink a little too much for the drive home. Overall a fabulous place, and I’m sure we’ll be recommending it to future guests.

Selection of wines.

I should add that they took wine-tasting really seriously, too. Everyone gets eight glasses and a water glass!

The tasting room.

So many glasses!

I didn’t get a perfect photo of the setting so this shot of their lawn terrace will have to do. But it’s a glorious spot with views in all directions.

Terrace with a view.

Meanwhile back at our place, it was great to have the pool and the gardens so much further along since my mum and dad’s previous visit. The poolside area really feels like a comfortable place to spend time now.

Morning sun on the pool.

Lucy relaxing.

Rainy day by the pool.

Not sure if it’s clear from the photo above, but it was raining that day. It has been a strange wet summer so far, with afternoon thunderstorms a lot more common than usual. Good for the garden though.

And yes, that is a piece of wood floating in the pool. Don’t ask. (Well, since you asked: it’s the best way to straighten them out when they warp from uneven drying in the sun.)

Now for your regularly scheduled dog, cat, and flower photos.

Sleeping dogs.

Leyla at full speed.

Leyla looks concerned. She is probably thinking about biscuits.

Roses and figs.

I think that’s a daffodil? No? Maybe?

On to the serious stuff: with my dad on mixing duty and Koray on plastering duty, lots of progress has been made on the second building. The outside plastering is pretty much done. Currently the interior of room four still looks a bit rough, but room three is getting close to complete. Almost ready for guests — we just need to do the tiling, the bathroom, and the mini-kitchen area. Oh, and I have to make all the windows. Details, details.

Room four is the sanding workstation right now.

Room three is getting there!

Lathe and plaster, rear view.

In parallel with all the plastering work, we’ve made some progress on our new house. The floor joists for the second, mezzanine floor are now in, and I’ve tossed up some temporary floor boards so we can walk around up there. I sort of wish I’d planned for more upstairs windows as the views from the top floor are going to be great.

Our new house: view from the lounge/kitchen looking through to the bedroom. Upstairs floor joists now installed.

Home-made joist hangers, as seen in Sketchup!

Interior shot. This will be our bedroom one day.

Temporary floor boards so we can work upstairs.

View from upstairs looking south.

Next step is to get the big beams and columns in that will make up the spine of the house. Then to finally get a roof on it!


  1. Gorgeous

  2. Hi You Two,
    Why, on every post, do you end up with eleven out of ten?
    The standard is super and the finished result stunning.
    Keep up the good work.

    Us xx

    • Jason

      1 July, 2018 at 2:32 am

      As ever, you are very kind. I feel as though some days we are a six, on good days an eight. But I will take an eleven if you insist!

      Really appreciate the feedback though. It’s so gratifying to know that good friends are out there reading what we put up on the blog.

  3. Hi Jason and Sirem
    Your place is looking amazing and the garden superb. Really interested in the lathe and plaster work you are doing. Did you choose this method for strength or appearance or because plaster board is not used over there? Did you use a combination of lathe and plaster and straw bale? Must have been good to have the “directors of the build” with you for a few weeks providing extra pairs of hands and giving you an excuse to have some time off. I really enjoy your blogs.
    Anne xx

    • Jason

      1 July, 2018 at 2:41 am

      Thanks, Anne. The garden has benefited from the relatively wet summer and from the watering system. Spring here is just great for gardens: everything comes up so fast.

      Good questions about the lathe and plaster work. You can buy plasterboard here in Turkey, and we considered going that way. (In fact I think we did do it that way on one wall in the cafe kitchen that the guests don’t really get to see.) But what swayed us was thinking about how to get the most consistent final finish. In the guest rooms, especially in the bathrooms, there’s a mixture of underlying surfaces. Some walls are straw bale (external walls and the dividing wall between the two rooms), a few walls are brick (largely around the shower), and some walls are the kind of simple 10-cm-deep internal wall where we could have done plasterboard or lathe-and-plaster. We went for the latter option because we figured it would lead to a rustic finish that was more like the straw-bale walls. In other words, we really like the idea that a guest can look around the bathroom and not know from the plaster finish whether they’re looking at an internal wall, a straw-bale wall, or a brick wall.

      And yes, it’s always good to have more directors around. You know how much I like taking advice and instructions from people. :) But your brother worked very hard, so much so that we had to suggest he quit a little early some days and have a beer and a swim, as mixing the plaster is a job that puts you out in the worst of the harsh sunshine.

  4. Great to see the further progress being made. The place is really taking shape and it does look great.
    It appears that it will not be long now and you will have completed the whole project. You will have nothing to do! So what might be next on the horizon?
    Marg and John

    • Jason

      1 July, 2018 at 10:37 am


      Wow, what next? I am hoping we will be so swamped with happy customers that we will be kept pretty busy running the place, but who knows? I guess it’s possible we will decide we like building stuff more than we like running a hotel and will buy some land further up in the hills and start it all over again, bigger and better. I don’t know about that though. If we literally had nothing to do, Sirem says she would do gardening, painting, and reading. Maybe I would sit back with a nice G&T and write my memoirs. :)

      • Stuart 'Kirin' R

        16 July, 2018 at 7:11 pm

        > and write my memoirs

        I demand a competition to decide the title. I’m sure with your range of friends we can get the full gamut from the erudite to the obscene (perhaps with a dashing of humour and character insight).

        • Jason

          16 July, 2018 at 7:40 pm

          Good plan. I think I’ll just hold a slightly more extended competition to decide the text of each page as well.

  5. Jo, Debbie and Flossie X

    1 July, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    Your haven looks sooooo inviting, but I know I would come back with more kitties! Leyla has the longest tail, or is that just the angle shot? Still miss you loads, no chance I guess of you both coming back to 82???? XXX

    • Jason

      2 July, 2018 at 12:55 am


      If you come to visit, you know you don’t have to bring a bag of stray kitties back to the UK — it’s not so easy with quarantine and all that. Just leave them with us. :)

      Leyla does indeed have a crazily long tail, with a lovely bit of ginger colour right at the end of it too. Like a candle.

      And I’m not sure we’re going to make it back to 82, sorry. We’re a little bit committed to finishing the whole thing here now. Still, never say never. See where we are in a few years eh?

  6. Linda and Evert

    2 July, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Wonderful to see how everything is progressing so fast – you must be working non-stop! But it looks awesome – congratulations!
    Hope to send all our relatives to you one day!

  7. That is not a daffodil. It looks more like a gladiolus.

    Those are not cats. They are adorable pointy ear purveyors.

    • Jason

      4 July, 2018 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks, was hoping someone who actually knows about plants might chime in! And it seems I was also wrong about the cats; oh well. :)

  8. Hi Jason and Sirem,

    It’s great to see all the progress! You have been working very hard, which I believe must be killing sometimes with the hot weather. It must have been great to have your parents over for a few weeks.
    So nice to see all the pictures of the cats and dogs too. Leyla has grown so much! And I think Fluffy is just Fluffy, suits him perfectly . Why change a good name?
    We hope we will soon be able to visit you again. If not in 2018, then for sure in 2019.
    Love, Cees and Anne XXX

    • Jason

      6 July, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      Hi to both of you!

      Yes, was great to have my parents here. And you’re right, it has been hot lately. This week we switched to the Spanish-siesta plan, where we get up early and work something like 7am til 12 noon, then take a break through the worst of the heat until about 4pm, and finally a few more hours of work into the evening. It’s a bit disruptive on sleeping patterns but it’s better than collapsing from heatstroke in 40 degree weather.

      Leyla has grown a lot, especially around the tummy area. :)

      Of course we look forward to seeing you again, whenever you can make it. Hope the book and the new job are going well.

  9. Great photos! Awesome

  10. Inspirational as usual.

    Out of interest, what factor of speedup do you reckon you’re achieving on this second batch of rooms given all the lessons-learnt from the first batch? Or does it not work like that? Any significant design tweaks or cost-savings?

    • Jason

      16 July, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Cheers. And good question! ;)

      There’s definitely a speed-up. I’d say we’re going about 40% faster? Just through having done it before, being more confident, not having to stop and do tests because it’s the first time you’re tried something, etc. And there’s even some economy of materials: I think the plaster on the walls for the first building ended up a lot thicker than it needed to be, in some places at least. We’re doing a more uniform 40mm or so on the second building: no deep crevices in the straw filled with seemingly endless amounts of plaster, that sort of thing.

      Also, design tweaks, yes! Two things come to mind. Cutting the lower end of the rafters with a circular saw after they’re up, not before. Leads to a nicer line as you neatly account for any variation in the position of the ridge beam and top rail combination. And, we have remembered to do more strategic placement of wood where we may one day want to hang something on the wall, like a fire extinguisher or a coat rack. Plaster-on-straw-bale is great but you can’t really put load-bearing screws into it unless you think ahead and make sure there’s some structural stuff in there to take the load.

      • Stuart 'Quetzalcoatl' R

        18 July, 2018 at 12:30 pm

        Cheers, very interesting.

        I sawed a cupboard panel slightly shorter last week to give more clearance around a light fitting. Super proud of myself :-) No dirty power tools either.

        • Jason

          18 July, 2018 at 1:33 pm

          Nice. Doing a straight cut without power tools is genuinely impressive — that’s not easy.

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