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.