Turkish winters can be harsh affairs. It is easy to forget that the beaches we all enjoy during the summer months can be hit by frosts down to -4 or less any time from the middle of December onward. With the chilling wind it can feel colder especially when you wake up and find the mountains topped with a frost so hard it reaps havoc with your delicate sub-tropical plants. Therefore, it will come as no surprise to learn that I fly south to warmer climes most years.

After a jungle adventure* in Sumatra, where I was fortunate enough to see one of only 400 wild Sumatran tigers left on the planet, I am recovering in a small coastal village in Thailand. It is my third visit here and I remembered why I come back within moments of my arrival. My little white bungalow is only 10 metres from the gently lapping waters of the Gulf of Thailand where I can just make out a couple of little Islands almost hidden in the heat haze. Looking north and then south I see nothing but a long strip of perfect white sandy beach, fringed by palm and tamarisk trees for at least 3 miles in both directions. Occasionally you may see a solitary figure in the distance, maybe even a couple of people but for most of the day it is empty and all mine.

sandy beachs and turqoise sea
Photo by Michael McCullough

The beach is so inviting it is hard to resist an impulse to embark on long thoughtful walks. I particularly enjoy the early mornings, when the sun is all but above the horizon. I wander and wonder, while occasionally collecting some of the abundant green lipped mussels that the sea has generously deposited on the sand overnight, which with a twist of lime makes a very pleasant lunch, perhaps with a cold bottle of beer.

By now I expect some of you may be quite curious about my exact location, maybe even one or two of you are now stood by ready to put the place on your short list for this years holiday? I don’t mean to tease but for you this blog post is going to end in disappointment because I have no intention of divulging the name of this place beyond saying that it begins with a B and is a long way from Bangkok. There are other foreigners here, in their own bungalows hidden back from the tree line. We may pass the time of day or simply smile on passing, or during the evening we may have a chat as we share a beer in the handful of bar-come-eateries. This is not a place to DO very much in particular beyond chilling out and taking frequent dips in the warm sea; it is simply a place that allows you to just BE for a change. This not only helps you rejuvenate after the difficulties and trials of the previous year but allows you to reach a stage where you can also replenish you creative juices. So for me this is my come to place when I need inspiration as I do now as I figure out what my next book will be about.

An Evening in the PacificPhoto by Hadi Zaher

There is something that feels almost illicit about holidaying in a ‘secret’ and one of the first things you are asked, although rhetorically, when you first arrive is: ‘You won’t tell anyone will you?’ I have heard it so many times I now find myself saying it, as if the victim of some strange virus, perhaps to someone gushing loudly in one of the bars – something along the lines of: ‘How on earth has this place not been discovered (and subsequently been destroyed) by mass tourism?’ So who am I to break that code. It will undoubtedly be broken at some point and I will arrive one year to find a load of beer swilling Europeans/ Americans/ Chinese crowding my beach and singing dreadful Karaoke. But until that happens this place will hopefully remain my secret hideaway for a little while longer.

*I must write about this in a later post because unfortunately there are currently a few hundred miles between me and the photo’s in my camera.



I know, I know Bandwagon and Jumping on but this week I don’t care: it’s my Blog and I’ll Bowie if I want to!

Bowie's Aladdin Sane LP
Photo by Piano Piano!

Just before New Year I was chatting to an old friend, whose morbid direction with a question about getting older prompted me to say something along the lines of “Nah we’re not so old yet – you will know you’re old when the people you grew up with and our hero’s of those days start popping off. You know people like Bowie, Sting or someone off the telly like Mr Spock.” Not living in the same Cultural and News black-hole as I, he obviously de-bunked some of that statement for me but neither of us expected Bowie to join Leonard Nimoy quite so soon.

Bowie with cat
Photo by Wowser

With his passing it felt as if part of that illusion of immortality he had created through his many re-births and transformation into his new performing characters has gone. Maybe even our own deluded fantasies of immortality that he in no small part helped feed also died with him. I guess it boils down to getting older. For many of us who saw David Bowie as a major influence, who helped consciously or unconsciously mould our attitudes and tastes during our formative years he will not just slip away, quite so quietly from our minds.

Bowie's Hunky Dory LP
Photo by badgreeb RECORDS

He reminds us of our youth and of a different time. I won’t say better – as always seems to be the curse of an older generation – not because my own youth wasn’t good, it was good, but because we sometimes forget just how different those times were compared to today. I listen to people looking back describing the freedoms and culture of then with rose tinted glasses. Somehow forgetting the all pervasive bigotry, fear of difference and demands for conformity that we were bombarded with on a daily basis. No matter how much we are immersed in political correctness nowadays we will probably never be as free and open minded as our children and grandchildren will be. The fact that we, dared to think beyond the ideas our parents were shackled to is in no small part, at least to me, because of what he taught us about life and about our right to be anything or anybody we want to be. So thank you Mr Bowie – some of us are already missing you a great deal.

Bowie's last picture