It has been quite busy at my end; three weeks in South Africa and then we had Christmas in Antalya bringing 2015 to a very nice conclusion. Then barely in to 2016 and I spent a week in London with the family. Daisy continues to grow, charming as ever but increasingly deploying a disarming cunning in pursuit of getting her way.
I collected her from Nursery one day to take her out for lunch. She greeted me with breathless excitement
“Grandad. I’ve got cup cakes.”
“That’s nice Daisy. We can have those after lunch!”
“Mummy says we can have them on the train” says Daisy
And as soon as we are ensconced in the carriage, out comes the foil wrapped package and Daisy is soon nibbling all the icing, lost in cupcake heaven.
Ping! Incoming text from daughter “Btw dad do not let Daisy have the cupcakes before lunch as she will not eat anything else”
The little minx!
Dark and cold but for a week, great.
London Zoo for a day (so wonderfully Victorian), the Tiger Who Came to Tea at the Lyric, lunches on the South Bank and Tosca at the Royal Opera.
When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. That still works for me but, like Istanbul, I prefer it in small doses.
We completely lucked out with the snow and had a brilliant time. And what was truly so great NO AİRPORTS! No security checks, belts off, boots off, laptop out and so on. Just throw it all in the back of the car and 4 hours door to door, through fabulous scenery too. Still a challenge staying upright and the heart is in the mouth at times but when it is good it is very, very good.
Mountains, beautiful coastline, culture and history by the trolley load,Turkey has so much to offer. But with the lunatics knocking at the door, the going, as my title forewarns, is getting tough. And when the going gets tough, according to Edmund Blackadder, the tough hide under the table
Which is where everybody seems to be right now. A tide of bad news stories have made Turkey look a scary place to go for your family summer holiday; the fact that it is the gateway to Europe for a million plus war weary Syrians (over 40 drowned recently in the Aegean sea near Bodrum), a huge bombing last year in Ankara and now another in January in the old city of Sultanahmet, the beating heart of Istanbul tourism, not to mention continuous curfews and attacks in Kurdish areas near the Syrian border.
All of which seems to have cast a general blight over Turkey. If we say we live in Turkey, the reaction nowadays is always one of disbelief, shock, horror where a year ago it was “That sounds amazing!”
But in reality the sun still shines 300 days out of 365, the locals are as friendly and welcoming as ever, the food is great, the harbour restaurants have been rebuilt to a high standard after last years fire and Kalkan’s entrepreneurs are investing in new and exciting ventures.
This is a big country. It has three different climates (and we have the best one down here). But when you are looking from a distance you have a very different perspective to somebody on the spot.
Reminds me of working as a Deputy Head in Southall, West London in the early 1980s. At the time there were riots breaking out in places like Brixton and Southall; a pub got burnt down because a notorious skin head band (the Four Skins of course) were booked to play. We lived 2 miles away in Hanwell and I was out walking the dog, when a car pulled up and a woman wound down the window.
“Excuse me,” she said “we are thinking of buying a house here but we are worried about the trouble. How near are we to Southall?”
It seemed hilarious at the time because Southall and Hanwell are two miles but two worlds apart. The idea of it being risky in Hanwell seemed ludicrous. But you need to live somewhere to know.
Istanbul is 520 miles from us here in Kalkan, 100 miles further than Edinburgh is from London. And as for the Kurdish heartlands by the Syrian border, they are so far away you cannot make a comparison. Really! Lands End to John O’Groats is only half the distance; these are distant places, far off events.
But they cast a long shadow; even regular English visitors are not rushing to book this year. Owners Direct and Holiday Letting statistics suggest a 50% fall in interest in January. For the first time we have no repeat bookings.
If it was me in England choosing a destination, I would probably feel the same. We did once book a family holiday in Egypt the year after the massacre of 62 people, mainly tourists, at the Pyramids in 1997; an event which caused a huge slump in visitor numbers. A brave decision then? Except that because the holiday was advertised as on the Red Sea I thought I had booked a holiday in Israel. I had not realised that Israel had ceded the land to Egypt some years ago!
Bit of a shock then when the paper work came through. That is why it was so cheap then!
There is a dawning realisation amongst the Turks that people might really stay away this year, whereas a few weeks back the answer you got was much more relaxed.
So time to spread the message; to boldly go and hang the consequences for the rules of grammar. Fortune favours the brave and there will be a lot of hoteliers and owners ready to agree a discount to fill their calendars. And when you get here you will no doubt find a lot of offers and keen pricing as restaurateurs jostle for business.
So spread the word. Summer is coming and it’s going to be fun. Get yourself a deal and put up two fingers to the fanatics and their grim philosophy that they would thrust on the rest of us.
You can check out our villa, Villa Gizem, at https://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/accommodation/p8008802 We have already reduced our deposit to 10% and we will certainly consider offers.
“We love death as westerners love life, so we will win ” the Jihadists say.
Prove them wrong. Come and join the party but safety first; drive carefully on the way to the airport and do not forget the sun cream.
See you on the beach. Nobody ever got a tan under the table.