Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Moon shot

The last hours of July are ebbing away and I have a few photos to share but to tell the truth it’s been a bit of an incremental month — no huge surprises to report. Lots of small forms of progress though.

One big thing that happened: we had a tourist coach full of people come to the cafe for a Sunday morning breakfast. We learned the day before that they would arrive at 8am and we had to have them fed and out the door by 9 so they could travel on to Bodrum. It was about fifty people in total and we don’t even have that many chairs so we were frantically borrowing from the neighbours the evening before.

Borrowing every chair we could get.

We also had couples staying in both rooms that night but thankfully they were super-agreeable guests who were OK with having their breakfast a bit later. Anyway, it was a very stressful morning but turned out fine in the end. Nobody went away hungry and we got lots of nice comments about the cafe and the food and even the clean bathrooms. So that was good.

Breakfast is ready. Bring on the crowds.

Cafe has never been so full!

I know that one day a bus load of people might feel normal, and obviously there are loads of busy cafes where it would just be another morning. But for us it was a trial by fire that was hopefully worth it because now fifty more people know we exist.

What else? Last Friday was the lunar eclipse. We were really lucky to have clear skies and good viewing conditions; peak darkness of the moon was at around 11:30pm local time. Seemed only right to try to take a few photos. Wasn’t sure how well they would turn out as I don’t really have a long-enough lens for astronomical stuff. Happy with the results though.

Moon with earth’s shadow encroaching.

Blood moon! #nofilter #onlykiddingloadsoffilters

The moon and Mars.

And then it was after midnight and I still had all the gear out so I figured why not take more photos? I really like night-time landscape shots but I don’t take them often enough due to being terribly lazy. Here’s two of the better ones.

Driveway and gardens, looking west to Mount Mycale, late at night.

Pool in a reflective mood.

As usual we continue to build stuff. Finally got around to putting together our prototype sun-lounge. With wheels! It’s proving popular with both humans and cats so now it’s time to make five more.

Sun-lounge prototype. Cushions on order.

Building two is coming along. We’re again at the stage of building windows and door frames which feels like deja vu but it also feels good because it means we’re that much closer to habitability.

Window frames again.

We did some more concreting work up in our house, so now there’s a complete flight of stairs up to the mezzanine floor, a fireplace area for a solid fuel stove, and a big bricked-in box of about 1500kg of clay soil that’s meant to act as our thermal-mass heat storage. All of that is the brick structure on the centre right of the photo.

Fireplace and thermal-mass-box developments. Billowing sunshade for that post-apocalyptic settlement feel.

And that’s where we are right now. In one sense the place is still a construction site, but in another sense it’s not. Guests in the cafe or in the first two rooms can relax and enjoy themselves on the veranda or by the pool and the stuff we’re working on is no longer out there in the open but increasingly hidden away at the other end of the block. Which feels like progress.

Tropical outlook from room one’s veranda.

Gratuitous pool shot.

Couldn’t forget some animal representation, of course. The cats have been lazy in the heat this month and haven’t done anything supremely photogenic. But the dogs are always around and always being themselves.

Zeliş and Zeytin summing up their respective personalities in one photo.

See you next month.




  1. Greg & Trish Connor

    1 August, 2018 at 12:05 am


    We are following you from afar – NZ.
    It is encouraging to see how you are progressing – we fully understand the challenge you set yourself but you are handling it very well.
    We are keen to get over to stay with you and look forward to that. We were in Europe last year for a short while and hope to come again to your part of the woods.
    I am particularly interested in your swimming pool and have already imagined my whale like body enjoying it and the nice days you have there.
    Your cafe is interesting as well and as we are coffee drinkers we hope to enjoy both the inside and outer area of your cafe/resturant.
    I read your posts and love hearing about things there so keep it up. We first heard about you from the TV programme of your initial days.
    All the best to you.

    • Jason

      1 August, 2018 at 12:23 am

      Thanks very much. We really appreciate the long-distance support! Will get the good coffee out in time for your arrival. ;)

  2. Impressed as ever.

    What is the thermal mass heat storage for? Storing heat in the summer for later in the winter?

    • Jason

      1 August, 2018 at 12:11 am

      Now that would be cool. I think you’d need more than 1500 kg and it would need a bit more isolation from the surrounding environment though.

      Our thermal mass plan is more modest. When winter comes, we run the hot exhaust from the solid fuel stove through the big cube of clay and bricks and concrete (via a metal flu pipe, not just letting it diffuse randomly). The idea is that the hot smoke and gas heats up the mass before disappearing up the chimney and coming out not so much warmer than the surrounding air. Thus using a lot more of the energy from the burning wood for heating rather than just dumping it into the sky.

      We’re not sure how well it’s going to work, and we probably should do a test run soon, but we’re hoping that you will be able to burn a really hot fire in the stove for, say, 90 minutes and that will be enough to warm up the thermal-mass box to about 40 degrees on average. Then you let the fire go out and just bask in the gentle flow of heat from the bricks for the rest of the night.

      That’s the plan anyway. :)

      • Stuart 'Crow Fisher' R

        1 August, 2018 at 12:42 am

        Great explanation. I was wondering the same as JP too…

        Very interested to see how it performs (or doesn’t!).

        • Jason

          1 August, 2018 at 1:06 am

          We are too! If it doesn’t work at all then that’s a big block of stuff in the middle of the living room for nothing.

          Seriously though, I think physics suggests it has to at least work a bit. For me the interesting part will be figuring out how long you need to burn the stove in the early evening to get nice even heat until dawn, for example.

  3. Fabulous. Been pinging you out to my > 3k followers on Twitter at various times!

    • Jason

      1 August, 2018 at 12:24 am

      Thanks, Lorraine. That’s incredibly kind of you. I think we’re doing an OK job of sending people home happy once they come here, but we could absolutely do with a few more eyeballs noticing we’re here in the first place.

  4. Stuart 'Crow Fisher' R

    1 August, 2018 at 12:41 am

    > Billowing sunshade for that post-apocalyptic settlement feel.
    > we had a tourist coach full of people come to the cafe
    > Blood moon!

    There’s that Mad Max vibe right there (not to mention the hot dusty landscape)! Tina Turner for the rooms 3/4 grand opening please. (Let’s face it, you’re not going to get Zoe Kravitz or Rosie Huntingdon-Whiteley…) And rooms named War Boy and Blood Bag please.

    • Jason

      1 August, 2018 at 1:11 am

      If she’s not too busy running Bartertown it would be great to get her here, sure. Also, on room-naming: here was me thinking we might go with some obvious local colour like “The Ephesus Suite” or “The Magnesia Room”. Thinking small as ever, sorry. :(

  5. Is that a three legged/wheeled sun lounger or are my eyes playing tricks? Innovative! The robin reliant of the poolside furniture world…

    • Jason

      1 August, 2018 at 1:21 am

      Hehe. :) No, no Robin Reliant action near the pool please. There is another wheel on the back right corner, I promise. I see what you mean though.

  6. Great to see the continuing progress. If you keep getting 50 people in the cafe you might have to change your focus – giving the cafe expansion a greater emphasis.
    It will be interesting to see how well the thermal mass box works. It should work but may require some trial and error. Any reduction in the waste heat going up the chimney is going to help.
    We will eventually get back to see you.
    Marg & John

    • Jason

      1 August, 2018 at 7:46 am

      True: if a bus full of people turned up every morning the cafe would become a huge part of our workload! Certainly more picnic tables and a bigger terrace area would help. We’ll see how it goes. We’re stuck in a catch-22 situation with the cafe at the moment, in that there’s so much building work still to do that we can’t afford to be open every day. And then if you’re not open every day you don’t build up so much repeat business. Anyway, we’ll have to give it a proper shot when rooms 3 and 4 and the house are all done.

      Trial and error needed on the thermal mass box, definitely. We thought about using a really twisty series of tubes through the clay, but that would make it very hard to clean the pipes at the end of winter. So right now it’s basically a sideways-U-shaped run, with maybe 3 metres of travel within the clay. Using some valves so that we can either have a straight shot up the chimney (for a good draw when lighting the fire) or pushing the smoke through the U-bend instead.

      Would be great to see you back here: a lot has changed! :)

  7. Just showed a work colleague your handiwork and perused the Gallery on the website. We are now both starving (those breakfasts!) and hankering for a Turkey trip. It *will* happen.

    • Jason

      1 August, 2018 at 7:51 am

      Thanks! It’s always nice to hear the breakfast shots are making people hungry. :)

  8. Great shots of the blood moon! For us it was more where is the bloody moon: clouds rolled in for the two hours it would have been visible (then promptly dissipated once it was over). I think all of Europe significantly east of Vienna had clear skies.

    Your thermal mass heater sounds like a great idea. Like a rocket stove? Curious how it goes, we have considered putting one in outside at our place. Maybe a way to spend a few autumn evenings up the back (post-insects, pre-winter). I like the designs that run the exhaust through a brick bench, but maybe it gets too hot to sit on.

    Zeytin looks like he is very sorry for whatever transgression he may have committed. Zeliş looks like she is the one that did it but knows she will get away with it. Two different personalities indeed.

    • Jason

      1 August, 2018 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks. Yes, was surprised the moon photos came out as clear as they did. They’re heavily cropped: the size of the moon in the uncropped image is even smaller than in the moon-and-Mars shot. Sorry to hear you had clouds.

      Thermal mass plan is related to a rocket stove but not quite the same. Rocket mass heater is the same as our plan when hooked up to a rocket stove: usually people run the flu pipe under a large cob seat or something, as you say. We may yet do a rocket stove as the heating device but need to experiment with the design to make sure it doesn’t make the interior of the house smoky. Anyway, there’s room to build one in the fireplace area later. Initial plan is just to go with a Turkish soba, like a simple wood-burning stove design.

      Ah, I see my caption is misleading. Dogs’ names are the other way around. I listed the front one first but should have gone left-to-right. Yes, one looks guilty and/or sad, and the other one is permanently cheeky for sure.

  9. Jo, Debbie and Flossie X

    2 August, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    How brilliant 50 guests for breakfast, with an hour window, wow!!!! plus your staying guests and I bet you both did a splendid job. Moon pictures fab. All ‘photos of the hotel as always gorgeous and so interesting, LOVE those dogs, they are so photogenic! But miss all the cats, try as I may could not see one, can I have a request for next time please, maybe alongside you guys!?

    • Jason

      2 August, 2018 at 4:23 pm

      Yes, it was a pretty hectic hour and then it took us all day to clean up. But we did it!

      Thanks for the compliments. We agree, the dogs are lovely, but yes, more cats in future, noted. You are not the only one who demands them. :)

  10. Stunning photos and amazing progress since I last checked the site about a year ago. And the moon looks like a rockmelon!

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