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Aannsha’s Blog #58 – Seasonal parties, cooking and a New Year gift

Christmas Eve with friends

Christmas Eve was a bright, clear day and I felt excited to be spending lunchtime on our pal Jens’ yacht Dilly Dally with four other friends.

Jens was preparing lunch, Ruth and Mark were taking breakfast pastries, while another couple – Dagmar and Oliver – were bringing home baked chocolate cake. Normally, I’d offer to bake something and take that as our offering, but I had a bit of a mental hiccup when I thought about the small size of our yacht’s oven and the fact that while it does have a dial, it doesn’t have any temperature settings and certainly no thermostat. I racked my brains for a good contribution, and tried to think of what else I’d take to a party at Christmas Eve back in Australia. Of course, all I could think of were salads, which would be fine in Australia as at this time of year it’s summer there. But here in Kaş Turkey we’re in the middle of winter – albeit a very mild, if often wet one.

In the end, I decided on a traditional Australian Christmas treat – Rocky Road. If you haven’t heard of this delight, it is basically a chunky block of chocolate that contains pieces of marshmallow, nuts and dried fruit – often glacé cherries. After a little consideration I realised this would be perfect. I didn’t have to use the oven, I had shore power so I could use the microwave to melt the chocolate, and I could tweak the recipe to include something a little more exotic than the glacé cherries that I don’t particularly like anyway. I hurried off the boat and up to the local Muhtar supermarket that Baz and I call the TARDIS supermarket.

If you don’t know what the Tardis is, you’ll discover from Aunty Google that it comes from the UK TV series that’s been going since the early 1960s and refers to Dr Who’s space ship – Time And Relative Dimension In Space – which is also infinitely larger on the inside than it appears from the outside. Which is very like Muhtar. You enter through a normal shop front and discover that the store opens out almost infinitely to hold a large range of items.

I found everything I needed at the Tardis and came back to the boat eager to try out my new recipe, in which I’d substituted fruit flavoured Turkish delight pieces for the glacé cherries. If you’d like a copy of my recipe, leave a comment and I’ll email it to you. As a quick note here though, if you’re going to experiment with rocky road, do include marshmallows. I made another batch using caramel pieces, caramel covered Maltesers shaped biscuits, almonds and rum-soaked sultanas that set so hard it shattered into pieces when cut. I think the marshmallow gives a lightness and springiness that, well, simply works.

Anyhow, the day on Jens’ yacht was a dream. He has a 42.5 foot Moody which was a good size for seven of us to sit around the cockpit – and later in the saloon. We visited the stunningly beautiful and peaceful bay of Limanağzı where we were joined by two other yachts who rafted alongside of us. On the way there we enjoyed Turkish pastries for breakfast including my new favourite - one that’s filled with tahini … Yum! If someone knows what they’re called so I can ask for one at the bakery next time, I’d really appreciate it!

Breakfast on  board!

Lunch was delicious as Jens prepared bulgar pilaf style, with stir fried vegies and chicken. Wine and beer flowed like nectar of the gods all day, and along with the sunshine, good company and interesting conversation, we had a marvellous day. Barry has shared this in much more detail than I have in his blog, if you’re interested.

One of the guys from the Turkish yacht that was rafted to us had a little dog that he took for a ride on his paddle board. Seeing this dog sitting on the front was really cute, and when it jumped (by accident?) into the water and had to be scooped out again had us all grinning. Mark also had us all grinning with his delightful humour and bantering.

Afternoon tea (or wine or Efes – local beer) was accompanied by chocolate cake and rocky road, which everyone enjoyed. Baz and I managed to answer two of our subscriber’s questions on the bow of Jens’ boat, and these along with lots of others at various locations will be featured in next week’s YouTube video. The funniest part of filming on Jens’ yacht was when there was a ‘tap, tap, tap’ sound coming from the forward hatch that we were sitting next to. When we opened it up, we discovered Mark standing on Jens’ bed, holding up a can of Efes beer for Baz! Cool! And that’s in this week’s YouTube video!

The sun began to set, so we upped anchor and sailed back to Kaş marina with the Turkish yacht as Ken in his yacht had left earlier to help his wife prepare for Christmas lunch. There was a light wind, so Jens took advantage of this and unfurled the headsail so we could return home without the engine. The only sound was the sea, the breeze and the chatter, including Mark’s hilarious repartee!

We all enjoyed ourselves so much that we stayed for a few hours longer on Jens’ boat, and he cooked us dinner too. Time eventually came to leave, and just in time as after all our drinking, some of us found it a tad difficult to navigate the passerelle (gang plank). Important boatie lesson learned there.

Christmas Day

Christmas day came and went with Barry and myself enjoying one of the best full English breakfasts I’ve ever had at Smiley’s restaurant. Despite being a Muslim country where Christmas isn’t celebrated as a whole, all the staff wished us a Merry Christmas and they even put on Frank Sinatra singing Christmas carols. Baz and I had a very cruisy day, allowing our livers to burn off the remains of the alcohol from the day before. As we lounged around we reminisced about our Christmas the previous year – and especially the one before, that we’d spent with Luke our son, who we both miss hugely.

Christmas breakfast

New Year’s Eve

What a full day that was! Jens brought his yacht around and berthed next to us in Kaş harbour – introducing us to his amiable friend George who was out from Germany for a few days holiday. Dagmar and Oliver who we’d met on Jens’ yacht, came over to show us their Ford Ranger that they’re travelling via the ‘Stan’ countries towards their goal of Mongolia. They’re an admirable couple and have already been to some countries that others of us only dream about. We were able to introduce them to another new traveller friend – English ex-yachtie Rob, who has just returned from some of the countries Dagmar and Oliver wish to travel through in his 11 tonne 4 wheel drive MAN truck, so they had a lot of information to share.

A couple of days earlier when we’d met Rob who was parked in the harbour near A B Sea, another yachtie, Jim who has his boat moored in the marina, knocked on our ‘door’ saying his wife had found us on Facebook as possible contacts in his area, as she wouldn’t be with him and wanted him to meet some friends during the festive season.

Baz and I had arranged to have New Year’s Eve dinner at Smileys with our friends from Christmas Eve, so we added Jim and Rob to our table and that evening we celebrated the last day of the year with a very fine and interesting mix of people!

But I’m ahead of myself. In Turkey, the people celebrate festivities over New Year, and it is a custom of theirs to exchange New Year’s gifts.

I made a second batch of rocky road that I took over to the staff at Smiley’s. These people have made us feel very at home there and we wanted to give them something they could all share. We know most Turks love sweet dishes, so we figured rocky road would go down well. I got my plastic dish back empty a few days later, so I’m guessing it did!

As Smiley and his wife Serpil have been very generous to us since we arrived here, we wanted to honour that. I figured a painting may be in order.

Awakening the hibernating artist within

Those who know me can testify to my lifelong history of painting and yet, even though we’ve been on our journey since leaving Australia a year ago, I haven’t lifted a paintbrush for anything larger than two small watercolour ‘sketches’. Knowing this was going to be a gift, tapped my hibernating inner artist on the shoulder and, waking to the excitement of a new project, I scoured Kaş for a canvas.

After several searches, I eventually found a less than ideal canvas in an Aladdin’s cave of a shop on the high street. Hidden in a corner was a stash of painting materials and I have to say some very tempting paints … but I was on a mission for a canvas. The one I found was not particularly thick and was stretched on some kind of laminated balsa-type wood. But beggars can’t be choosers and faced with that or nothing, I bought the canvas. As I trotted back to the boat with it under my arm, I hoped that a thick enough layer of paint on it would add to its sturdiness.

When I got aboard I was thankful that this was the largest canvas available as it only just fitted in my new ‘art studio’ aka the galley. With the canvas propped on my portable easel and leaning against the grab rail just below the window, I spent two days painting a still life based on a meal that we’d had at Smiley’s restaurant a couple of nights previously. I also incorporated the pillars of the 5th Century BC water cistern that hides beneath Smiley’s. The cistern is very coolly lit with purple and green lights, so I opted to use those as a part of the colour scheme, which did actually work well with the tablecloth and food colour scheme. Anyway, see for yourself and let me know what you think.

Esssence of Smiley's - painting by Aannsha

When we took it around to Smiley and Serpil on New Year’s Eve afternoon, they did both seem to be pleased to receive it. And despite the limited time as they were organising for an exceptionally busy evening, I noticed they’d managed to hang it above the dart board in their back dining room – so I could see it while eating that night!

Our gathering that evening was very enjoyable and that atmosphere and food plus Turkish table minstrels were everything you’d want to make New Year’s Eve memorable. Having working in hospitality myself, I am amazed at the efficiency of the table service, the calm friendliness of the staff, and that the delicious meals were delivered hot and all together to each table. A well run establishment if I ever saw one.

After eating, we moved next door to Echo Bar, which is a disco/bar in another ancient building. The band played an extraordinarily wide range of popular songs from various countries and we rocked along until the countdown to midnight.

3 … 2 … 1 … Mutlu Yillar! Happy New Year!

After dancing for another hour, Baz and I left our friends and wandered happily back to A B Sea.

What a great start to the New Year. In Turkey. With newly found friends. Not bad for two retirees in their fifties!

Look out 2019 here we come!

In next week’s YouTube video we’ll be sharing answers to questions our subscribers have asked us about our adventures and expectations, joys and challenges so far … and of course plans for the next year.

I hope you had an enjoyable festive season and wish you a successful and fulfilling 2019.

Last time we hugged Luke

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