Sunday, 4 September 2011

Settling In

During the last week Mrs Istanbilly and I have been settling into our new place - an ideal time to move as we were both off work for a week for Bayram (the rest of the world normally calls this Eid - I don't know why the Turkish should be different but...). Anyway, the move went well and then we spent the rest of the week sorting out the place - honestly it is a lot easier to move countries than to move houses. But we are now all sorted and getting used to the new place.

As you saw in a previous blog, we have a lovely view down the Bosphorus and I have been taking a few piccies from the balcony. Regular readers will know that I enjoy available light photography so here are a couple of offerings:


This is looking towards Yenikoy

The right hand side of this photo is Yenikoy on the European side and the left hand side is the Asian side.

I enjoy watching the shipping on the Bosphorus, from the little boats that people use for pleasure, to the fishing boats and ferries, the small rust bucket cargo shipsplying their trade up to the huge tankers and container ships, it really is a fascinating water way.


This is the Ottoman Equity, a 269 metre long tanker being escorted by a tug through the Bosphorus on its way to the Black Sea


Smaller at only 135 metres long, this is the 11940 tonne MV Mega Star.

Watching these ships gliding by is very relaxing, they seem to move so serenely and they can't be heard so they seem to float in silence - quite different from the little motor boats and small ferries that are really quite noisy and can be clearly heard from our balcony.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

House Hunting

Since we got back we have been house hunting! We decided that we wanted to move from our house in Zekeriyakoy because it is just too noisy at night here. There are somewhere in the region of 20 dogs live in the vicinity and the just bark all night long! We get vertually no sleep. We have put up with it for a year but enough is enough.

So we have been house hunting, and we have found a place we like. It is in a very quite area, close to the twon of Sariyer and overlooking the Bosphorus and this is the view from our balcony:


I think I can live with that!

We move in next Friday - and we are both looking forward to a really good nights sleep!

Summer in Skopelos...

was wonderful!

What an absolutely delightful time we had, meeting up with old friends and making new ones, having visitors come to stay, our eldest son and his girlfriend coming to the island and getting engaged there. It was a really lovely time!

Now we are back in Istanbul, work has started and the holidays are just lovely memories.

But for two of our friends, Mike and Dot, the holidays don't end! They have taken the plunge and moved to the island permanently so we are hoping to hear how life on the island is when all the tourists have gone and the harbourside tavernas have closed for the winter. Skopelos will be a very different place, though I think Mike and Dot will survive and still be there when we get back next July!

Our holiday started and finished with a 9 hour drive between Istanbul and Volos, an over night stay in Volos and a 4 hour ferry trip between Volos and the island. Fortunately we have a GPS (we call it Kate) and Kate knows the way from our front door to the front door of the hotel we stayed in. Now, I know that a 9 hour drive doesn't sound like much fun, but it really was quite pleasant, the road was fairly quiet both ways (though on the way back we did get some pretty busy pre-Iftar traffic in Istanbul).

When we got to the island we drove up to the house to drop our bags off - that was a bit hairy as some of the streets on the way up are not much wider than our car! We had to close the mirrors at one point. So on the way back, we asked our good friend Reg to bring our stuff down to the port because his car is a bit smaller than ours. We brought so much stuff back to Istanbul that Reg needed to make two journeys! Ah well, Mrs Istanbilly never has quite mastered the concept of travelling light! Maybe next year.

The time in between was just relax, relax, relax! And much needed relaxation it was too. Actually it wasn't all relaxation, I did do a little bit of work - I built a new shelf for the kitchen, which rekindled my interest in working with wood so I am going to do some joint making in my spare time this year in order to get better at it because I intend to make a book case when I am there next year! We will see how it turns out.

What was it?

It was the beautiful uniform blue of the sky over Skopelos just about every day between the 27th of June, when we arrived and the 2nd of August when we left to come back to Istanbul. There may have been one day with a cloud, but the majority of the time, the sky looked just like this!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

What Is It?

This is probably the third in my (very) occasional series of what is it photos.


Here is a hint for you...

At the moment Mrs Istanbilly and I are on our beloved and idyllic island of Skopelos, Mrs I is at home but I am sat at a harbourside cafe blogging al fresco. The weather is simply beautiful, we are totally relaxed, the cares of the world are behind us and will be staying there until the middle of August. We haven't seen the news since the 26th of June and have no intentions of catching up with the world just yet, for all I know armageddon could be well and truly underway in the rest of the world, Greece may well be stony broke, for all I know, Portugal, Ireland spain and Italy may have gone the same way, but here on Skopelos... life is good.

So what is it???

Answer in a few days.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Back on Blogger

It would seem that blogger is no longer banned in Turkey, that is good 'cos it means I can start writing drivel again - if I have got any drivel to write. Actually it will be nice to be able to post some pix again.

But not today!

What will be nice is that I can start reading other blogs again!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Curioser and curioser

I have just got back from my trip to Geneva - well, I got back yesterday actually, but what is one day between friends.

Anyway, I decided to check to see if my blog is still blocked - now, this is the interesting bit: is definitely still blocked takes me to my dashboard from where I can edit blogs and even write new blog entries (like this one).

But just goes into some kind of limbo - I don't get a message telling me it is blocked but, at the same time, I can't get into my blog - so I can't check this post or look at other people's posts.

Now, the result of all this is that, when I click publish post for this post, the only people who will really know for sure if I have managed to make a post are you, dear readers - I can't get on the site to see it for myself!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Back in Blogger

Well, it is nice to be able to get back into Blogger. I am currently sat in a hotel in Geneva (I am here to do an Accreditation Visit on a school over here) and I took advantage of being away from home to get back into my blog.

Why did I do that here? Because, for some reason, the Turkish Government has decided to make Blogger a banned site.

I have no idea why. I am sure that nothing on Waiting for Skopelos is subversive, but they seem to think that I shouldn't have access to it. Shame, I wanted to post some pictures of the snow we had the other week, but I put them on facebook instead. Maybe it was subversive snow...

... or maybe the TG just doesn't like anything to do with Google - You Tube was banned when I arrived here last August...

Funny isn't it, I thought Turkey wanted to join Europe where freedom of speech is an absolute right...

Oh well.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

No 1 on Google

I have just discovered that if you search google for "Skopelos Blog", Waiting for Skopelos comes in at number 1!

I'm quite chuffed with that, but then you know what they say about little things pleasing little minds!

Friday, 19 November 2010


A couple of weeks ago on a bitterly cold weekend at the end of October, Mrs Istanbilly and I took a drive down to the Gallipoli peninsula. Now, you may or may not be aware, Gallipoli was the scene of a major battle in the first world war. On the 25th of April 1915 allied troops landed at various beaches along the western edge of the Gallipoli peninsula. If you don't know anything about it why not read more here

My Grandfather was one of the troops who died in this ill-fated conflict. I wanted to go there for two reasons - 1. I had been told that it is a remarkably beautiful place and 2. I wanted to see where my Grandad died.

We took a drive down - it is about 5 hours from Istanbul and it was pouring rain down all day! We got there, checked into our hotel The Gallipoli Houses where we quickly settled down with a bottle of wine waiting for dinner.

The next day it was bright and clear but windy and very cold, but out we went to visit various places of interest. I have never been to Flanders but I imagine that it is similar - around every corner is a war memorial or cemetry and we visited quite a few of them.

Helles Memmorial

This is the Helles Memorial and is at the southern tip of the peninsula. There is a wall around the memorial and the names of all the allied soldiers and sailors who died but have no known grave are engraved on that wall. My Grandfather is amongst them but I couldn't take a photograph of his name because the section of wall that he is on is currently being refurbished. Oh well... I will go again.

We didn't just visit the allied cemeteries, obviously there are many Turkish cemeteries and memorials as well.

This was taken at the Cannakale Martyr's Memorial.

Cannakale Martyrs Memorial

Every grave stone has the names of 10 soldiers on it and there is just row after row of them.

This is Soğanlı Dere Şehitliği (Soganlidere Cemetry)

Soğanlı Dere Şehitliği

The grave markers are in the shape of heads with Turkish helmets from the time on them. Each head represents a village/town/city/area where the soldiers came from.

The next day was a little warmer and we went to the western side of the peninsual to visit ANZAC Cove. Gallipoli is very important to the ANZAC's and every year on the 25th of April (ANZAC Day) Australians and New Zealanders gather here to commemorate their ancestors.

Ari Burnu Memorial

This monolithic monument is the Ari Burnu Memorial at ANZAC Cove, it is the words of Mustapha Kamal Ataturk in 1934:

"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives...
you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
in this country of ours...
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries
wipe away your tears,
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well"

Ataturk 1934

Right next to the Ari Burnu Monument is the Beach Cemetery, an allied cemetery in perhaps the most beautiful setting of all.

Beach Cemetery

Although I have many more photographs of the weekend, I will finish with one of the Lone Pine Cemetery. The reason I am in Turkey is because I am a member of staff at the British International School Istanbul and the lone pine is our logo so it felt right to go and visit.

Lone Pine

I took several shots of it but I rather like this one taken directly into the sun using my wide angle lens.

As the weekend progressed, the weather got better and the drive home was really quite pleasant. We had a lovely weekend down there and we want to go again in the spring - apparently the peninsula is covered in wild flowers (and it isn't quite as cold as it was on this weekend).

Something to look forward to and, perhaps, the work on the section of wall that bears my Grandad's name might be finished!

Another walk in the forest

Mrs. Istanbilly and I took another walk in the forest this morning. This time I took my long lens with me - it has the advantage that it also doubles as a macro lens. Of course, a dedicated macro lens allows you to get even closer to the subject but I am happy with the photo's that I managed to get.

forest flower

Long time readers of the blog will know that I particularly enjoy taking macro photographs of flowers - on our 6 km walk today, this was one of very few flowers we saw, but how lovely to see such a beautiful flower growing when all around are the rich colours of autumnal decay!


But plants can be beautiful even in death - this teasel with its attendant shriveled leaves is certainly testament to that.

life and death

There were lots of trees whose leaves were in the process of changing from green to yellow and brown but it was difficult finding the right combination, but in the end I was pleased with this study with leaves which are completely dead, leaves which are completely alive and leaves which are somewhere between the two extremes.


It isn't holly, but I suspect that this prickly little bush with its bright red berries is a relative. A lot of people who walk round the forest take sprigs of this bush home with them - perhaps it is some kind of tradition at this time of year here in Turkey. To me, this is nature preparing to provide winter food for the forest creatures that live here all year round.

forest path

This is just a view of the path we were walking along. I really think that Belgrade Forest is going to be my favourite part of Istanbul. I wouldn't describe me as a 'tree-hugger', but I have missed seeing natural forests like this during the last decade and a half in the Middle East, and now I am so close to one I am determined to take advantage of it!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Belgrade Forest

Mrs Istanbilly and I took a drive down to Belgrade Forest today, it is a beautiful area a little way outside the village of Bahcekoy, about 10 to 15 kilometres from where we live.

We have been there before, it is a beautiful area where lots of people go to walk and have picnics. There is a reservoir in the middle and a 6 km walk around it. It really is a lovely walk and was made all the better today because it is so long since either of us have experienced autumn. It is at least 17 years since I have seen the leaves changing colour and falling as the trees prepare themselves for winter and it is even longer from Mrs I.

Of course this is nothing like New England, but I think it is beautiful.

a little bridge over a stream

Right at the start of the walk I spotted this little bridge over a little stream and thought it would make a lovely picture.

mushrooms or toadstools

I have to admit that I am not to well up on my fungi, so, mushrooms or toadstools? Either way they weren't going home with me - take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints. I'm quite pleased with the result of this one.

view through the trees

Looking at the reservoir through the trees.


I just love the colours in this photograph, the greens, reds, browns, yellows and the beautiful blue of the sky, what a gorgeous day!


I found this branch with frilly fungus growing on the end of it. I would normally have taken a macro photo of it but I didn't have my macro lens with me. This was taken with just my normal lens, so I am quite pleased with the result.


I've always liked taking photographs of reflections (probably something to do with me being a mathematician)and I couldn't resist the reflection of the trees in this stream.

nearly bare trees

This is Mrs I's favourite photo out of all the ones I took today - trees stretching back as far as the eye can see, all standing up like bare stalks (in her words).

I am looking forward to going back to Belgrade Forest again - we will probably go again this week but I think I will take my long lens (which doubles as a macro) with me. But more than that I am looking forward to going there when it has snowed (something else I haven't seen for a very long time). I can't wait to see the photo's that I take on that day.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Did the earth move for you?

So Mrs Istanbilly and I are sat at the table in the lounge surfing the internet when we just experienced a smallish earthquake - not very far up the Richter scale to be sure but nevertheless it is a strange feeling when you are not used to that sort of thing!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

I'm sorry, I thought I lived in Istanbul!

The sound of cow bells reached my ears this morning - at least I thought it was cow bells, actually it was sheep bells and this is the sight that greeted my eyes when I looked out of the window:


And it wasn't just a few sheep, there were lots of them:

more sheep

The sheep were baa-ing, the goats were bleating, and the sheep bells were clanging, so who could blame the local domestic dogs for adding their voices to the overall cacophony?

domestic dogs

Though the local street dogs (and there are lots of them!) seemed to be a little more laid back about the entire event.

street dog

The sheep dog took no notice of the noise and just strolled about amongst his flock - most of which were smaller than him! So this then is the spot the dog competition!

sheep dog

Not to be outdone, the local population of crows cawed as they hitched lifts on the back of the sheep and, presumably, de-ticked them in the process.

sheep and crow

Since I moved here I have seen (wandering the streets of Zekeriyakoy) sheep, goats, cows, bulls, horses, donkeys, water buffalo (I kid you not) and more street dogs than you can shake a stick at!

Megacity Istanbul? Don't make me laugh, I live on a bloody farm!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

A Good Day

Today has been a good day!

This morning we went down to Dalia Beach for a breakfast organised by the PTA - pleasant conversation was had in a lovely setting overlooking Dalia Beach on the Black Sea.

When we left there we went through the village of Bahcekoy to the Belgrade Forest and had a lovely 6km forest walk. Unfortunately I didn't take my camera - never mind I will take it with me next time I go there.

When we got back I took a couple of photo's of the car as I had been promising you:

Wide angle view of the car from the front

Wide angle view of the car from the back

It is a lovely motor - beautiful to drive (as I can honestly state now that Mrs. Istanbilly has let me have a go).

Coming in from photographing the car I saw this beautiful little creature sat on the tiles on my porch:

Preying Mantis

He didn't stay long so I was pleased to get the pic.

Then we had dinner - Mrs I made a superb Thai green curry - she hasn't made one since before the summer and she really does do a good job of Thai green curry! It was fantastic!

To end the day we are going to go on line on our separate computers (yes, my laptop has finally arrived and it's working!) meet up with Janet and John (names changed etc as usual) and while the evening away playing bridge!

As I said, it has been a good day.

Friday, 17 September 2010

The new wheels have arrived!

It seems like it has been a very long wait but the new wheels finally arrived today! I haven't taken a photo of it yet but I will do that tomorrow and post it then.

Interesting, Mrs Istanbilly came with me to the dealers to pick the car up - I'll give you three guesses which one of us got the pleasure of driving it home... here's a clue for you, it wasn't me!

Not to worry, she says I can drive it the 5 or so kilometers to work and back each day but at weekends it is her turn! Something doesn't quite work there for me!

Under what thumb??????

Sunday, 5 September 2010


During the last 13 years in the Middle East, the one thing that I started to miss was weather. Wall-to-wall sunshine does become a little monotonous after a while. The joke is that you have two seasons - Hot and Hotter. Alright, as anyone who has lived there knows, that isn't strictly true. I have known very heavy rain in the Middle East - it is just very short-lived and very infrequent and is only notable because of the problems it causes. But, most of the time, the sun shines and there are very few clouds in the sky.

Here in Istanbul things are a little different:

The dramatic sky from my front window about half an hour ago

The equally dramatic sky looking towards the black sea a minute or so later

It had just started to rain when I took the second photo as you can tell by the wet roof, a few minutes later it was bucketing it down - I might get tired of it in time but at the moment...

I love it.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Time to get some wheels

So, Thursday afternoon saw us on a trip over the Bosphorus to the Asian side of Istanbul to go and visit a car showroom. We have made the decision to buy a set of wheels and have gone for a Suzuki Grand Vitara.

Should have it some time this coming week and I will post a pic when we get it!

Can't wait.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

The Basilica Cistern

Eldest son and his girlfriend have descended on us for a holiday - our first visitors in Istanbul. They arrived yesterday and today we took them out to do the tourist bit. Eldest son wanted to see the Basilica Cistern.

I will be honest and say that I didn't know about this but was keen to see it when I heard about it (interestingly I can't find any reference to it in the Rough Guide to Istanbul; might be wrong but I haven't found it and it isn't mentioned in the index).

Anyway, regular readers of this blog will know of my fondness for available light photography and the basilica proved to be an ideal place to practice. Here are some of the results

The Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern

The place is fantastic and well worth a visit next time you are in Istanbul.

Whilst I was in the area with my wide angle lens and in the mood for available light photography I went back to the New Mosque at Eminonu to take these:

The roof of the Eminonu New Mosque

I think the roof of this mosque is absolutely spectacular. And I love the way the lights have all starred in the photograph below - I promise you I didn't use a starburst filter for that effect either.

Inside the Eminonu New Mosque

The Princes' Islands

On Thursday the school organised a trip for all the new staff (yours truly included) to the Princes' Islands. These are located in the Sea of Marmaris about 15 km south of Istanbul. The incredible thing about these islands is that there is no motorised transport allowed on any of them! They are havens of peace and tranquility!

We took a nice slow ferry from Karikoy and relaxed for the 90 minute crossing.

The ferry to Buyukada

Eventually we arrived at our destination Buyukada where we took a phaeton (that is the name they used but I have always known them as landaus, but anyway, a horse and carriage) up the hill to our hotel. This was the only part of the two day trip that I didn't particularly like and that was because our phaeton driver was rather obnoxious to both his passengers and to his horses. I don't like to see horses being mistreated and this guy was rather too free and easy with his whip for my liking! Hence no photo of the phaeton.

The hotel garden

The hotel was a lovely if somewhat rustic place perched on top of the island and from the top we had great views of the next island in the chain, Heybeliada.

The view looking to Heybeliada

Our time there was delightful, very restful with good company and good wine and good food and a beautiful sunset.

Princes Island sunset

The next day we walked back to the port (a very pleasant stroll down hill that took about three-quarters of an hour) and caught the ferry back to Istanbul.

On the way back I took a series of photographs of the Asian side cityscape and stitched them together to make this panoramic view.

Asian Istanbul cityscape

The ferry calls in at Kadikoy on the Asian side on the way back and I managed to get a couple of photos of some famous sights of Istanbul. The first one is the Aya Sofia which is well over one thousand years old and for most of that time was the largest enclosed space in the world. The second is the Sultanahmet Camii, better known to the world at large as the Blue Mosque.

Aya Sofia

The Blue Mosque

All in all we had a delightful couple of days. On Monday work starts in earnest!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Another Tourist Day

So, after an early start this morning, we decided to head back into town again. So it was back on public transport for us. Dolmus into Sariyer, then we got the wrong bus from Sariyer - wrong in that it didn't go where we expected it to! What the hell. Where its route ends there will be a little bus station so we will try to get where we want from there. I guess it took us about two to two and a half hours to get where we wanted rather than an hour. By that time we were extremely hot and sweaty!

Anyway, we went to Eminonu to have a look at the Egyptian Bazaar - lots of ceramics, lots of Turkish Delight and lots of spice stalls. Lots of people as well. Saturday is not the best day to be doing this sort of thing - especially in the hottest and most humid summer anyone in Istanbul has ever known!

After the spice bazaar we visited here:

New Mosque

It is wonderful that the "New Mosque" in Eminonu should have been built between 1597 and 1663!

This is a beautiful mosque and visitors are allowed inside. This is a walled court yard containing the ablution fountain outside the main mosque.

The courtyard and Ablution Fountain outside the New Mosque

The mosque is as beautiful inside as it is outside. It quiet and it is peaceful and the faithful at their prayers are very patient with us tourists, even allowing us to use flash photography in there.

The roof of the New Mosque

Above is a view of the beautifully decorated multi-domed roof of the New Mosque and below is an interior view.

A view of the interior of the New Mosque

Well, there is only so much culture a person can take in one day so, after visiting the New Mosque we made our way over to the very flash Kanyon shopping centre and finally got home at about 10 past 5 in the afternoon... Knackered!!!