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In August 1981, a writer, a painter, a geographer and four donkeys set out on a 600-kilometre journey from the Sea of Marmara to the Mediterranean. Rural Anatolia was on the cusp of great change, but the remote villages they passed through were holding on firmly to their way of life. Drawing on the diary he kept en route and long-forgotten photographs, Christopher Trillo brings a poet’s eye and pen to his account of an epic journey’s moments of humour and humanity – and sheer poetry
It was August 1981 – not the most auspicious time for three Englishmen to embark upon a trek across Anatolia, from north to south, from Mustafakemelpaşa and the Sea of Marmara, to Serik and the Mediterranean.
Eleven months after the September coup, Turkey was still under military rule. The anarchy and violence were over, but, although 650,000 people had been arrested, suspects were still believed to be in hiding. It is really surprising, therefore, how little suspicion we encountered or how little the recent political traumas affected our reception. There was ample evidence of strong political affiliation among many of the people we met but we did not see signs of the intensity of violence, chaos and anger we had witnessed in Istanbul and the national media.
Our party numbered seven. The human contingent consisted of Simon, an artist; Stephen, geographer and photographer; and Christopher, writer, linguist and photographer. Along with us came four donkeys: Professor Plodder (stoical, obtuse, submissive), Dylan (wistful, poetic, a dreamer, rucksacks on his back); Mr (or Dr) Dobbs (cunning and vengeful), and King Trevor…
CAPTURING THE MOMENT Expressive Anatolian scenes by the artist Simon Nicholas, one of the three donketeers, now based in Oslo, feature in this article. His sketches would prove a rich resource for oil paintings. For exhibitions see simonnicholas.com. A page is also devoted to his early work in Turkey: Selected Works 1978–81
Fruit poached to perfection, the fragrant ‘hoşaf’, or compote, is a simple, soothing finale to any meal
Chris Gardner traverses a plant-hunter’s paradise in search of the flora of the Silk Road
Caroline Eden tells Ergun Çağatay’s remarkable story
John Hare on how the two-humped wild camel was saved from extinction
A newly discovered 16th-century painting of Süleyman the Magnificent, due to be sold by Sotheby’s London this spring, is arguably the most ‘immediate’ portrait of him until the last years of his life. This is Süleyman in his pomp
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