Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Meeting the locals

From the day we arrived we have been overwhelmed by the hospitality of our neighbours. Just after we landed it was the holiday of Eid (celebrations and feasting to mark the end of Ramazan) and all of our closest neighbours gave us plates of home-cooked food. Some of them don’t have much, but all of them insist on giving us bread, eggs, vegetables, olive oil, etc. We hope they will be happy with fig jam in return!

figs drying on a specially made wooden pallet

Figs drying on a specially made wooden pallet

As well as sharing the things they have grown, our neighbours have been keen to share their knowledge and experience. For instance, I didn’t know how to properly dry figs. Did you know that you first wait for the figs to fall onto the ground and then you pick them up and dry them in full sun for a week? Also, the ground should be recently ploughed to make it softer, so the figs are not bruised when they fall.

This means that fig picking can take weeks as you wait for them all to fall naturally. In some other fig-growing regions, the figs are chemically treated to make them ripen all at the same time. Doing it the slow, natural way is why Turkish dried figs command such high prices in supermarkets. Time will tell if I have both the patience and the back strength to collect figs every day for a month! But in any case it can’t be more exhausting than the job I was doing in Britain.

Days have been pretty hot but it cools down during the night and there is always a gentle refreshing breeze in the evenings. It is not like this in other parts of Turkey. In Konya or Antalya, you can’t sleep until about 4 or 5am as it is still hot and there is no breeze, In Istanbul, it can be quite humid so you are constantly sweating even when you are sitting still. We don’t have air conditioning here yet but we’re coping very well without it.

Relaxing at the beach

Relaxing at the beach

You can see on our local attractions page how close we are to archaeological sites and the sea. Alongside all the renovation work, so far we’ve managed several times to jump in the car and head to the beach for a couple of hours around sunset… it has been great! There are no traffic jams, no queues, and at that time of the day the beaches are quiet and the water is very inviting.

Building a new bed

Building a new bed

My parents have been staying with us for a while, and have been really helpful. Recently we were also visited by Jason’s parents: all of a sudden we are very popular with our families! :) They also helped a lot in the garden and helped Jason to build a bed… very handy as we are still waiting for our furniture to arrive.

24 Comments

  1. So good to see it all coming together. It is lovely to have time for life. I am in a similar mode in New Zealand – working, doing good things, but without that constant acid drip on your self esteem that characterises academic life in the UK. I am expecting my container to arrive in Wellington tomorrow – getting my things pos-custimes and inward transit will be like Christmas!

  2. Jealousy is currently high. What a life transformation. You must both be very content with what the future holds. Can’t wait for the experience. Mail on way.
    Us.

    • Thanks, Cliff and Diana. It’s definitely been a big change, and we’re still adjusting, but we’re making progress and it feels good. Looking forward to hearing from you about travel plans, and I hope all is well in Southampton. And thanks very much for taking care of the post!

  3. I love this blog. Really enjoying it. It makes me even more keen to convince Glen that all we need is a plot of land, a massive yurt, some solar panels and a wind turbine. He’ll probably insist on cable internet though.

    • Thanks, Donna. Talk him into the yurt, definitely.

      I have to confess the internet here is slower than we had hoped for, because we’re at the end of about 3km of copper wire. But it’s fast enough to watch Netflix so I can live with that. Get Glen to think of it as part of a retro computing experience and maybe he’ll be up for it. :)

  4. Looks and sounds very good. Glad to know you both are settling well. Hope the cats are enjoying their new surroundings :-)

    • Cheers, Sid: cats doing well and adjusting to the heat. They sleep a lot durng the day. :) I think I’d better do a cat-related blog post soon as you’re not the first person to check in on them.

      • Cool. Also, I thought I should share this with you. Here is an interesting Indian take on figs. Give me a shout if any of the ingredients seem hard to find. The person who wrote this post is a respected chef. You might need to get your hands on water melon seeds.

        http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/recipe/Anjeer-Ki-Chutney.html

        • Looks like a great recipe, thanks. The watermelon seeds should be no problem here: there are tons of melons for sale at the moment. Only tricky ingredient to get hold of might be the cardamom, but I think Sirem brought some along. :)

  5. Hi, I didn’t realise that you had to wait until the figs dropped. I pulled mine last year and wasn’t particularly keen on them in comparison to shop bought. I’ll try the turkish way this year. :) Jane.

    • It was absolutely news to us, too. Seems to be working though. Today we got about 15 kg of fallen ones and they look halfway dried already.

  6. This is all looking and sounding wonderful! Loving the blog, and excited to see what comes next… :-)

    Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it out this year — a trip back to Australia for a wedding in September is using up my remaining leave — but definitely hope to next year!

  7. This blog is such a good idea, wish you’d started it about four years ago haha!
    Hey, maybe next summer I can harvest figs in exchange for board and lodging ;) Very happy you guys are having a good time!

    • Hi, Bonny. It’s definitely been too long. (It was actually seven years ago!) And yes please: come and help with the figs next year and we’ll put you up for sure. Or come whenever. If you want to see the archaeological stuff, spring and autumn are probably better because they’re not so crazily hot.

  8. Great that you are drying the figs!! :)

  9. Hi dad, great you came. Let’s make some furniture!

    Australian standard.

  10. I wish more farmers would let their fruit ripen naturally, at least we have a farmer’s market. My grandparents used to go on about missing seasonal food, but they kept things real in Austria & since living there a couple years I now go out of my way to find the seasonal and actually ripe stuff.

    Are there neighborhood kids you could pay if you get tired of picking it up yourself?

    • Thanks. I think the problem with trying to pick figs for eating fresh is that you’ve only got a narrow window in which they’re perfect, and they’re quite fragile and hard to get to market in that state. I think the letting-them-partially-dry-on-the-tree solution is probably something that people stumbled into centuries ago.

      They do taste very good in either the fresh or the dried state though!

      And yes, good point, there are kids in town who would probably appreciate the work.

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