Ionia Guest House

Luxury accommodation in the Aegean countryside

Big day tomorrow

Tomorrow is a big milestone for us.  At 8am the excavator will arrive and ground will finally — finally! — be broken up in the orchard.  The first job is improving the driveway so that future cement trucks can make it up there without getting stuck.  And then it’s on to digging out the slab foundations and the swimming pool.  Exciting times.

So the next few blog posts will undoubtedly be full of construction stuff.  This post is the calm before the storm, if you like.  In the meantime I thought I should fill you in on what we’ve been doing as summer has turned into autumn.

We’re getting used to the seasonal cycle now.  As the hot weather starts to cool down, it’s time to dry and pickle and preserve things for winter.  Here’s a couple of photos showing how that works for tomatoes: boiled up with olive oil and salt and sealed into jars.  Great for making pasta sauce in January when there are no tomatoes in the shops.

Washing tomatoes

Washing and coring tomatoes

Storing tomatoes for the winter

Storing tomatoes for the winter

It also seemed like a good idea to get some last trips to the beach in, before the water gets too cold for swimming.  This shot was taken on the road to the national park, just coming up on Guzelçamlı with Mount Mycale in the background.

The road to the beach

The road to the beach

And this one is a few hours later, on the way home, looking back at the sunset.  Those hills on the right are actually the Greek island of Samos.

Dilek National Park at sunset

Dilek National Park at sunset

We’re still getting warm days with high temperatures between 25 and 30, but the summer drought has broken and the rain is starting to come a few millimetres at a time.  Here’s a sun shower we had one afternoon — the photo is looking out to the west, across our neighbour’s back garden.

Sun shower over next-door's house

Sun shower over next-door’s house

Our friend Carol came to stay for a week at the end of September, and this was of course an excuse to visit our favourite tourist spots again.  Şirince is always good for a lazy lunch and a walk around town.  I feel as though I have photographed the place to death on previous trips, so this time I tried to get a sense of the colours and textures in the souvenir shops and market stalls.

Jewellery and souvenirs

Jewellery and souvenirs

Lamps

Lamps

Olive oil

Olive oil

Silk scarves

Silk scarves

Carol flew out of Bodrum/Milas airport on a late-night flight, so we all drove down to Bodrum in the early evening to look around and have dinner beforehand.  I’m not sure that my pictures do it justice, but Bodrum (Halicarnassus in classical times) is lovely.  Development has been kept reasonable with a no-buildings-over-three-storeys rule.  Fantastic harbour.

Bodrum by night

Bodrum by night

Shop in Bodrum

Shop in Bodrum

Genuine fake watches

Genuine fake watches

Anyone who has been reading the news will not be surprised to hear that we saw quite a few Syrian refugees sleeping rough on the Bodrum waterfront.  Presumably they were looking for a boat to one of the Greek islands.  (No pictures as it seemed like the last thing they needed was a camera in their faces.)  A very sad situation that looks as though it may go on for a long time.

While we’ve been waiting for the work to start up in the orchard, it hasn’t all been swanning around the countryside and taking photos, honest.  We’ve also been doing the last of the jobs down here in the farmhouse.  With the help of our neighbour John, I learned to weld (read: “John decided that I was going to learn to weld whether I liked it or not.”)  Here’s my first welding project: a little stand to stop an old amphora from rolling across the courtyard.

First welding project

First welding project

We built another new door, this time for our bedroom.  (Note the inevitable cat flap.)

Another door

Another door, under construction

And we carried in a pallet and a half of bricks that will be used to build a raised bed and a retaining wall in the garden.

Bricks for raised bed and retaining wall

Bricks for raised bed and retaining wall

Thanks for reading.

32 Comments

  1. Awesome post Jason and great to see it all coming together

  2. Im excited to start seeing pictures of the excavation/construction – that is a milestone! I trust you have readied all the ‘before’ photos. Smooth digging :-)

    • Hi Jason and Sirem
      I heard that foundations are soon to be underway. Very exciting. Will be keen to see progress pictures. Now, about the tomatoes. Is that all there is to it – boiling in olive oil with salt and preserving them in jars or is there more to the recipe. Our tomato season is commencing and I am keen to have a go. Love your blogs.

      • Jason

        16 October, 2015 at 1:54 pm

        OK, Sirem tells me I have played fast and loose with the truth about the tomatoes. They weren’t actually boiled. They were blanched in hot water to make it easier to remove the skins. Then they were heated gently to break them up a bit, salt was added, and finally the gently mashed tomato mixture is poured into jars and topped off with olive oil to help preserve everything.

        I will get Sirem to add a comment with some more detail!

    • Jason

      16 October, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Hehe. I have about a million “before” photos. It will be nice to get into the “after” photo business.

      Watching the big digger today is just painful after having moved some dirt around manually. The machine does a day’s work for me in about five seconds.

  3. Beautiful to read this, and the welding is inspiring! That’s a skill I want to learn too. And those tomatoes are divine XXXXX

  4. Love all of the colours!!!!

  5. Sounds like some real hard Yakka coming up, and all so exciting. What a lifestyle change for both of you. We’ll be watching your progress with great interest. It’s making our visit seem closer. It’s all so earthy and homely with you making provisions for access to the comforts of home for the cats. I do hope the earless dog gets to sit in front of the hearth after all he/she’s been through.
    It’s always lovely to see the beautiful scenery which seems so varied; but I did appreciate the colours of the artistic creations.
    Love and thoughts Dot and Dick

    • Jason

      16 October, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      Thanks very much, on all counts. The earless dog will get whatever she wants in the future, I am sure. But for this winter she will have to stay in her little dog house, unfortunately, as we don’t really have a lot of interior space once it starts getting cold. But don’t worry: her dog house is insulated, and we give her a hot water bottle on cold nights (which she appreciates!).

  6. Great news Sirem and Jason, really excited for you. All the pictures look really nice. Keep us posted.

    • Jason

      16 October, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      Cheers, Laura. Will definitely keep you informed. We look forward to the day when you and the gang get to see it for yourselves.

  7. Good luck with the building stuff!
    I’m curious: Why do you have to put the jarred tomatoes upside down?

    JP

    • Jason

      16 October, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      Thanks.

      Apparently the upside-down-jar trick is to give a good seal. The tomato mixture goes in warm, and then you flip the jar upside down, and as the air in the jar cools the pressure decreases and you effectively get a vacuum seal.

      • Not to be a smartalec, but doesn’t that work just as well when they are the right way up? :-)

        • Jason

          18 October, 2015 at 4:09 pm

          I think what happens is this: if the jars are the right way up, then sure, the drop in pressure as it cools is the same and theoretically nothing will be any different. However, when it’s the right way up the air is obviously at the top, and the seal of the lid is not perfect at the start of the process. The seal only becomes airtight once the pressure drop distorts the metal lid a bit and makes it bite against the glass. Thus a right-way-up jar will slowly leak air to equalize the pressure as things cool. Whereas an upside-down jar will get a perfect seal from the beginning due to all that tomato liquid being up against the lid.

          Happy? :)

          • It initially matched my intuition, but it seems we both think that the liquid will improve the seal. This is odd, however, as the air comes from outside in, so what’s the difference between air pushing tomato against air pressure and air pushing air against air pressure? The pressure should be the same, unless there is some surface tension in the liquid involved. I would like to get to the bottom of this (no pun intended), but will stop boring all those friends of you who have actual lives :-)

  8. Good luck with the build! I’m really excited for you and looking forward to the photos of different stages of progress. The photos are lovely and bring back happy memories. I’ll be back!
    Carol x

  9. Good luck. So it looks like next time I visit there will be plenty of things for me to build and new skills to learn. I enjoyed learning carpentry and the Turkish/Australian way of using power tools in hot conditions last time.

    I think perhaps welding, masonry and perhaps plumbing next time.

    • Jason

      16 October, 2015 at 2:03 pm

      Power tools and beer, always an excellent combination. ;)

      Welding, masonry and plumbing are excellent choices. We may have to break out the whisky.

  10. Great photos! I thought it would be colder there by now, but I just checked, and it’s 28 degrees in Izmir today. For comparison Vienna is max 12, and has been raining for a week. Sounds like October would be a good month to visit Turkey (maybe next year).

    • Jason

      16 October, 2015 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks. And definitely, yes. Really nice weather today. Probably still good for swimming — it was last week anyway. Perfect archaeology-tourism weather right now.

  11. Sandeep Banerjee

    16 October, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Enjoyed reading that a ton, Jase. Hope to be your guests some time down the road. Glad to see you’re living it up in such a pleasant place. Wish you all the very best of luck, my friend.

  12. Amazing. I’m so impressed/ jealous :)

    • Jason

      17 October, 2015 at 9:47 am

      Cheers, Steve. No need to be impressed, honestly. I only put up the photos of the projects that didn’t fail miserably. :)

  13. Excellent images as always. Evocative and pertinent. Those tomatoes look great indeed! Big hugs to both of you.

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