Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Year in an Aegean Village (1)

the ancient village of Assos which overlooks the Aegean

The last day of 2010 was a glorious day but it didn't feel that way at 6.45 on Friday morning. There I was seated on the fast ferry which skims across the Marmara Sea to a place called Bandırma on the way to Assos, when the realisation struck that I had left the laptop at home.

My blog, I wailed to myself. But there was nothing to be done. Absolutely nothing. We were off for a three-day weekend and it was destined to be laptopless.

But a joyful  unexpected reunion with favourite old teacher friends Alison and Charlotte who were on the same boat soon dispersed my gloom. Further joy when it transpired that they were headed to a village very close to ours and that we are now neighbours.

It was Friday and that means market day in nearby Ayvacık. I certainly didn't need to buy anything but thought I would just go and see. What a contrast with the abundance of summer and also with the city markets of Istanbul. Here, it was very much a concentration of winter basics: cabbages, pumpkins, but not much really. The greens looked the best and I succumbed and bought a kilo of vibrant spinach. I saw very few tomatoes and they were not good quality, and no cucumbers at all.

But what I did see was chickens, live ones tied together but very much for sale especially for that evening. The owner of these, a woman, asked me in all seriousness, if I wanted one. I must have looked dumbstruck as the man next to her threw back his head and laughed:

'She doesn't know how to kill it!'

My favourite stall is in the upper part of the market. It sells little felt carpets that I yearn for but can never think how to use plus all you need for your donkeys, sheep and goats in the way of tinkling bells and collars. The handmade glass beads are pretty irresistible.

My spirits were high so I decided to drive back on the very scenic old road. Here is Paşaköy,  home to Mehmet our gardener and handyman and family, perched high on the hills. I always love this particular view which looks like something out of National Geographic.


Later that evening, as we gathered with friends old and new in front of  roaring fires in stone fireplaces, it was very easy to say: Welcome 2011!