The Road to Bodrum

The journey to our hotel – by which I mean the 250 kilometres from Izmir Airport to the Kempinski Hotel just outside of Bodrum – is a demanding one best tackled in daylight.

In our eagerness to get cracking with our fourteen days of sun and relaxation we opted to drive at night.

The journey took three hours and was quite a scary experience.

Should you be considering making the same journey you may way wish to take into consideration the many hazards facing the car driver and his or her passenger in eastern Turkey.

1. Motorways are signed in green, not blue.

2. There are vast stretches of road described as being dual carriageway which push the definition a little far.

3. On some parts of that dual carriageway there isn’t a definite sense of exactly where the road ends and the pavement begins. This perhaps explains why some other road users make arbitrary decisions when selecting places to stop and park up.

4. Some pedestrians have similar difficulty determining where the pavement ends and the roads begin, in addition to not understanding the safety advantages inherent in using a zebra crossing.

5. Dog owners in the region seem to adopt a laissez-faire attitude to looking after their pets, letting them roam free – often in the road.

6. Most roads are not lit.

7. Most roads have little or no road markings.

8. Where there are road markings , local drivers tend to take a cavalier approach to lane discipline thus making overtaking a risky business.

9. Contraflows tend not to be signposted. Reduced lane provision is uaully indicated by use of an apologetically positioned series of oil drums (with reflective stripes, if you’re lucky) every 50 metres or so. This assuming the oil drums haven’t already been knocked out of the way by a nervous tourist driving a hire car.

10. Strangely, no driver should ever be worried about running out of petrol. With a petrol station on both sides of the road nearly every five minutes drivers can be confident of only having to walk a maximum of five minutes in the worst case scenario and be guaranteed a competitive price when they fill up.

Fourteen days ahead

Twelve days ahead, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

I couldn’t quite (and still can’t) get my head around the fact that for the first time in years me and significant other Simon are holidaying for fourteen days this year.

It’s normally a week and it’s normally over in a flash. This time the impending annual holiday is stretching out ahead of us. What will it be like? Will we get bored? Will we actually read all the magazines and books we’ve bought each other? Will we listen to all the stuff we’ve recorded off the radio? Will we think we’ve made a mistake to stay for an additional week in a week’s time?

Somehow I doubt it. We’ve done our usual thing of booking ourselves into one of those oh-so-not-very-glamorous airport hotels and ended up marvelling at the attentive staff and their failsafe ability to make administrative errors to our advantage.

The night before the flight is always the overture to the main event. It’s always terribly important that the overture doesn’t eclipse the main event. I’m banking on the promise of an infinity pool, canoeing, a private beach and a daily high of 30C to make our hotel on the outskirts of Bodrum make the Crowne Plaza in Crawley a distant memory coming Monday morning.

Tonight’s evening meal was an even greater joy as a result, second only to our eyebrows rising as we tried to figure out exactly what “creamy herd mash” really was.

As far as the rest of our meal was concerned, I am happy to confirm that my meal of ceasar salad followed by king prawns in teryaki sauce rounded off by a lemon tart (with more apple than actual lemon) did fill a rather empty hole. The staff were hugely attentive too and if I was to use this evening to arbitrarily decide which country should win next year’s Eurovision it would be Spain.

Our waitress this evening did at least seem Spanish and was utterly adorable.

David Blaine & his latest stunt

Meeting David Blaine, originally uploaded by Moriartys.

David Blaine has begun his latest stunt involving him hanging upside-down 60 feet from the ground for almost three days.

In addition to finding myself now irreconcilably irritated by the man, I can’t help feeling a little peeved he didn’t approach me when he drew up plans for his latest effort.

If he had bothered to consult me I would have introduced a little bit more jeopardy into proceedings. I’m confident things would have been far more exciting if he had allowed me to judge exactly how long he remained upside down instead of the rather paltry 3 days he’s attempting at the moment.

And, if he really can withstand the regime I have in mind for him, then I would have nominated myself to cut the chord and insisted nothing broke his fall underneath.

Photography: Neutral Density

Neutral Density Sky, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

I’ve spent ages reading over photography magazines wondering how it is that other Flickr users I know manage to pull off a dramatic sky.

Apparently, the secret is fitting a neutral density filter to the lens and then firing the shutter release. I’ve assumed that perfect results are guaranteed with every shot.

Personally, I’m not absolutely convinced. First off, I know I could probably achieve the same results using Photoshop (although frankly, I can’t be arsed). But secondly, I want that horizon I see every single day when I trundle my way down the hill to my front door to be more far dramatic than it is in this shot. I figured that just adding a filter would do the job. Now it seems I have to fiddle with the exposure a bit more or – shudder – actually do a spot of post-production.

Who really thinks digital photography is easy?

Books: Kane & Abel (Jeffrey Archer)

Books: Filling the gaping hole, originally uploaded by Thoroughly Good.

Kane and Abel is the first book I’ve finished reading this year. This is something I’m quite proud of. Normally I’d have been distracted by something or other before I’d finished what ever it is I’m attempting to read. Not so on this ocassion. I actually finished the book ten days after I received it as a birthday present. That’s quite an achievement, let me tell you.

More of an achievement than the book itself, I might add. It might have been a bestseller for Archer – soon after it’s release it became the Number One on the New York Times bestseller list – but reading it now I find it difficult to understand exactly how.

At times the plot was breathtakingly unlikely, with coiincidences falling onto the page with increasing regularity. The first time Kane meets Abel is one of the most striking I recall. By half way through I was beginning to get really annoyed with them.

Maybe the surprises in the tale had been lessened because I remember the key points in the plot from the TV mini-series, but still there were moments which left me squirming as I read it to and from work. Jeffrey Archer may be successful at his novel-writing but the man can’t write sex scenes to save his life. Frankly, he’d have been better off bullet-pointing everything.

That said, it is a page-turner and one guaranteed to deliver a modicum of self-satisfaction if, like me, you’re looking for a sense of achievement. And, if I’m being fair there was a point when I was getting angry with Abel for being such an idiot to harbour such bitterness and resentment for so long. Was it really the author’s reliance on the unlikely to propel the novel or are there really those people around who are that blinkered? I hope for the former as much as I fear it could be the latter.

Reading the damn thing did do what I hoped it would. It’s helped get me into the reading thing ahead of a holiday when I’m hoping I’ll read even more. The fact that when I read Kane and Abel I often found myself sheepishly retrieving the book from my bag like I was sitting on public transport preparing to finger my way through some hard-core pornography, is open to interpretation. I’m happy to admit I’m a snob.