Monday, 18 July 2011

A hidden gem

 On the northern shore of the Golden Horn in Istanbul there is a hidden gem, set in a park with rare magnolia and pine trees. Dating back some three hundred years, it was once a huge royal summer palace with balconies overhanging the water. Now there is just one pavilion left, which is still undergoing restoration. This is the Aynalikavak Kasri, the Pavilion of the Mirrored Poplars.

The dome over the main reception room indicates that it was used for official meetings. Step inside to discover an opulent and distinctly oriental magnificence. The overall effect is stunning and closer examination shows how much time and attention was lavished on the details, as in the wall panels and window decoration.


At the end of the Eighteenth century, Sultan Selim III liked to stay here. One room is called the Composition Room as he is thought to have worked on his music here.

He was a talented composer and in tribute to his contribution to Turkish music, this palace is now the State Music Museum, with a display of ancient instruments on the lower floor. There are occasionally open air concerts held here.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Refilling the well

At this time of year I slip away to Turkey to visit family and friends. The change of scene and the kind welcome is always very refreshing. It helps enormously to shake me out of a tired routine and doubts about the latest WIP.

My current WIP is set in Istanbul, when it was Constantinople. I wanted to write a story about Lady Hester Stanhope but not with her as heroine. Bit by bit the elements have come together and she plays an important role without in any way compromising her character or the events of her stay in Constantinople.

Staying with family and living in Turkish society is also providing material for background events and characters. And of course, there are the usual holiday pleasures of blue sea and sky, the fragrant pinewoods and the scent of the myrtle bushes that grow around my little house.

Time for a swim....and then tea - in a tulip glass - under the pine trees.