Monday 17 February 2014

So here we are in my Spanish retreat once again, avoiding the winter in UK. I feel a little guilty being able to escape the rain and the floods, though I don't think we've had any in Suffolk to my knowledge. Last night Annette and I went to a small restaurant to celebrate her birthday and the flamenco guitarist was absolutely wonderful. Such talent in these guys who seem to have a small audience for their brilliance. When I feel like grumbling that my readership is not great I should think about these musicians and dancers along this coast, who are clearly geniuses in their art yet seem happy to play for an audience of small numbers. I admire them immensely. The singers in flamenco are also terrific. The songs are belted out at full volume in gravel tones - they call it 'Canto Jondo' - and to ears other than Andalucian might sound unmusical. I was raised in Aden and am used to Arabic music and the canto jondo singers definitely owe something to Moorish antecedents. I love it. It knocks me back in my chair with a great blast of sound and I often see other tourists looking at the exit wondering if they need to escape quickly before the place collapses under the singer's onslaught. 

Saturday 1 February 2014

Into Cappadocia

Just returned from a week in Cappadocia, Turkey. Great group of fellow travellers of mixed nationalities. We saw the tour advertised in Annette's 'Archaeology Monthly Magazine' for £195. 'A week in hotels, a guide, transport, flights - all for £195? Wow, we must do this,' we said, thinking, This is our reward for subscribing to an intellectual magazine which we scan while in the bath. Later we found out it was advertised in almost every other magazine, including 'Girl Guide' and 'Women's Institute Magazine'. Ho hum. When we arrived at Antalya Airport we did so with two plane-loads of passengers all going on the same cheap holiday. 400+ people scrambling for 20 to 30 coaches (I didn't count them). We were on number 2 coach and the friends we had booked with were on number 10 coach, both going to more or less the same places but not together and not at the same time. We managed to get that sorted out with a sympathetic guide (our man Can - pronounced 'Jan') who kept us together. In the end, it was fine. Thirty people on our coach, sharing meals and hiking over beautiful Turkish plains and mountains. The rock formations in Cappadocia are astonishing, including some cave-dwelling homes now vacant. It wasn't warm, but not that cold either, though there was some snow in the mountains. We saw lots of ancient monuments and buildings, some of us had Turkish baths, others wanted to go ballooning but failed because of the high winds. Food was good. Company excellent. And I won at gin rummy twice. Of course, we had to visit 'my brother's carpet shop' and a cousin's leather store, oh, and not forgetting the gold and diamond place either, but hey, you expect that in Turkey and there was no pressure to buy. The Japanese and Indians in our group made up for the rest of us and I'm sure they got some jolly good bargains. We bought four Turkish carpets in Hong Kong in 1990 and since they last 150 years we'll wait until AD 2140 to buy new ones.