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Wednesday began early for me, I was beginning to return to my UK body clock regime and I was up at six o’clock sitting on a chilly balcony with a first cup of tea. Even the sun wasn’t up yet, Kim certainly wasn’t!
It was a crisp, clear morning with a faint orange glow crawling slowly over the hills to the east like a creeping red wine stain on a tablecloth and I sat outside and watched the sunrise just because I could and I knew that there wouldn’t be many more opportunities this year.
Suddenly the sunrise became rapid and considering how long it took to clear the mountains within an hour the sun was surprisingly high in the sky and was a reassuring ball of yellow flame. It was becoming warmer by the minute, I stopped shivering and had a third cup of tea.
The days were slipping away in the way that final moments of a holiday seem to accelerate at a disproportionate speed to the start but we weren’t in the mood to do anything dramatic because we were staying in an excellent apartment, there was a shop around the corner that sold cold beer and splendid beaches nearby.
The day after the dog walk we decided to go back to Paradise Beach and have a swim and a pancake lunch at the beachside bar/shack. We had already declared them to be the best food we had eaten in Turkey all fortnight so were happy to go back. This didn’t take an awful lot of planning so I had a fourth cup of tea and waited for sleepy Kim to make an appearance.
About mid-morning we left the apartment and before going to the beach we did the Yesilkent walk again, strolled along the road, stopped for a drink at a favourite bar and then walked back along the coastal path to Paradise Beach.
The brief period of indifferent weather had passed now, the winds had dropped, the temperatures had risen again and the beach and the sea was back to its very best. There were only a couple of other families on the sand so there was plenty of room to spread out so we left our things and went for a long refreshing swim.
After half an hour or so we dried ourselves off and made our way to the shoreline furniture which belonged to the shack. I really liked it there, the furniture was old and storm battered, faded, creaking and as dusty as an undisturbed library, it was shabby and worn and Kim said that it suited my style down to the ground. I think this was meant to be a compliment?
We sat for a while and waited for service but something didn’t seem quite right today. The owner seemed to be sulking and his wife had a bit of a face on. Eventually he came across and took the order and took it back to his wife. I don’t think she wanted to do the cooking today and snatched the order from his hand and passed it on to her daughter who set about it straight away.
We had stumbled across a domestic! At first we could hear them shouting at each other in whispers in the way people do in the hope of not attracting attention to themselves but as the minutes passed the volume was raised and they completely abandoned any attempt to keep the dispute in any way private. Soon they were yelling at each other, arms were waving and there was the dramatic posturing and gesturing that accompanies an argument such as this. We felt rather embarrassed but we had ordered now so we turned our chairs to face the sea and tried to ignore them.
I confess that I found this impossible so gradually turned my chair around again and watched the dispute play out. Finally he had had enough of the ear bashing that he was taking and tried to make a get away. He got into his car and started to reverse away. She heard the engine and chased after him wielding an empty beer bottle and threatened to smash it over the windscreen. He obviously thought better of his plan to escape and as he got out of the driver’s seat she threatened to smash it over his head if he tried it again. I was convinced that we were only seconds away from physical violence.
But then it seemed to suddenly calm down, she went off to sit in a shady corner, he went to the shoreline to rake up some sea weed and the daughter finished cooking our food and brought it to our table. It was delicious again and as we finished a second bottle of beer we agreed that we would come back here in a couple of day’s time for our final meal and perhaps some more entertainment.
On the first day we had walked to the busy seaside resort of Altinkum and the old town of Didum so today we decided to walk in the opposite direction to the more sedate seaside village of Yesilkent about three kilometres away.
It was a good day, a blue sky, a cooling breeze and a pleasant mid-morning temperature just about perfect for walking and we set off in the direction of the coast and the smoky blue hills far distant beyond the waters of the bay with silver-blue dragonflies buzzing around our heads. Turkey is apparently the place to go if you want to see dragonflies, I think these were called Southern Skimmers (Orthetrum brunneum).
We walked at a steady pace along a rural road next to dusty orchards of olive trees twisting and contorting as though in a Richard III lookalike competition and heavy with autumn fruit. Next to the olives were fields of hard stony ground impossible I imagine to cultivate and abandoned instead to the wild flowers and the thistles standing undisturbed and swaying like stately golden candelabra.
It was rather peaceful and almost serene but the one thing that spoiled the ambiance of the walk was the dreadful amount of litter because the road sides were strewn with a ribbon of human debris which made it look rather like an open landfill site. In Turkey it seems some people have seriously limited environmental awareness and clearly have a very disagreeable habit of dumping waste and litter at any scenic spot that they find convenient. This is such a shame because it will be impossible to ever clean up this environmental sabotage and no amount of boy scout campaigns or community litter-picks are ever going to remove this mess.
Closer to Yesilkent we walked through an estate of expensive houses and the litter stopped and then after stopping for a while at a bar we arrived at the beach. We didn’t stop for a swim just yet but kept on walking with the intention of walking back along the coastal route and we negotiated the rocks and the stony path passing on the way some women who were sitting in the water and applying generous amounts of mud to their sagging faces and bodies in a totally pointless anti-ageing rearguard action.
We were making steady progress until suddenly a jobsworth man in a blue uniform stood in our way and asked to see our wrist bands. What wrist bands? It seems that we had strayed into an all-inclusive resort area and there was no way that he would allow us through. We explained that we only wanted to pass by but it was like trying to negotiate with a mule so we were forced to retreat and make our way back to the road where instead of walking we caught a Dolmus (which isn’t a disease but a mini-bus public transport system) and made our way back to the apartment.
We sat for a while on the balcony and read our books and began the process of acquiring a sun tan. When I was younger I used to take this business rather seriously and apply all sorts of creams and oils steadily lowering the factor strength as the holiday progressed but I am beyond that now and I am a dedicated factor thirty maximum protection man. Sunbathing you see is so utterly pointless. It is a waste of good time, it is expensive, it is tedious, it is dangerous but above all the results are strictly temporary so on account of that I find that thirty minutes is just about as long as I can stand it before I have to find something more useful to do.
Something else that I don’t normally do while I am away is go to a bar and watch big-screen football but today, my team, Leicester City were playing Manchester United and although I was pessimistic about their chances I couldn’t resist going along for the last half an hour of the match.
When I arrived things were going badly, Leicester 1, Manchester 3, and some rowdy United fans were celebrating already and punching the air in ecstasy in anticipation of more goals. I sat down discreetly to watch the inevitable humiliation unfold. Suddenly, Leicester 2, Manchester 3 – Leicester 3, Manchester 3 – Leicester 4, Manchester 3 and finally Leicester 5, Manchester 3 – the very satisfying and completely unexpected final score.
The table of red shirts was stunned into silence and I thought I was going to explode with excitement, I could no longer disguise my pleasure so I drained my glass of Efes beer, glanced across at the silent table with as big a smile as I dare and as I left punched the air several times in celebration!
As the light faded and afternoon turned into early evening barbeques began to flare into life and cooking smells drifted in teasing waves across the balcony and so thoughts turned from beaches and football to food and wine and we prepared to walk into town for an evening meal. We didn’t get very far because restaurant owners and waiters in Altinkum can be very persistent in trying to gain custom so not in the mood for a debate at every place along the strip we stopped at one that we thought looked as though it might be quite nice and then enjoyed a very average meal and (by my benchmark) a shockingly expensive bottle of wine.
Later as we made an assessment of the day and on account of the disappointing evening meal we made a decision that tomorrow we would go shopping and then have a couple of nights of self catering.