Edirnekapı Bird Market, Istanbul

Edirnekapı Kuş Pazarı (Edirnekapi Bird Market is held on Sundays

I recently spent a very interesting and edifying week at Thatcher Cook's Istanbul Photography Workshop. The focus of the workshop was to "Communicate your unique experience of the world by telling stories through your images".

Thatcher says that, "The telling of stories through images is an exciting and effective way for a photographer to communicate his or her unique experience of the world. The most profound picture stories are multi-layered. How a story is told is often more important than the narrative itself. Mood, color and composition are among the elements used to transform the narrative to the visually poetic."

So, armed with this philosophy, we ventured out on our first day to photograph the bird market in Edirnekapı, by the old city walls of Constantinople. Here men barter for the fastest racing pigeon, or the rarest breed of budgie or some other, to me anyway, unidentifiable bird.

Many of the birds are tethered with string so they can't fly away
when their owners show off their birds

Some of the men didn't want their photo take, but others didn't mind

This man was undoubtedly proud of his his beautiful bird

There was obviously lots of discussion before any sales were made

Drinking tea seemed an important part of the process...

...and food was never far away

I could see that this workshop was to present quite a challenge. This sort of street photography can be intimidating, especially for a woman among hundreds of men ...not to mention the pigeons! But, undaunted, I tried my best, and carried on to the next task!


Happy New Year from Istanbul

Mutlu Yillar means Happy New Year in Turkish

New Year celebrations here in Istanbul are over, and the decorations are coming down; although some shops, restaurants, and private houses are still festooned with typical decorations. To celebrate New Year, there are ornamental Christmas trees, street lights, and even Santa Claus, to be found all over the city. This is because Turkey uses all the trappings of Christmas to celebrate the New Year. ...even down to a turkey dinner, and presents from Noel Baba (Father Noel).

Noel Baba waves to passers-by on Bagdat Caddesi where I live

The presence of Santa Claus is not that surprising, considering he was born here, in Turkey. Saint Nicholas was born in Patara on Turkey's Mediterranean coast during the 3rd century, and became Bishop of Myra. He gained a reputation for secret gift-giving, and it was rumoured he had extra pockets sewn into his cloak that he filled with fruit and candy to give to children. This gave rise to the story of the kind Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus), who secretly leaves presents on Christmas Eve.

Many shops were beautifully decorated like this one...

...and this one

Christmas trees were everywhere...

...in different guises

...my local hairdresser had one in their salon.

All along the street were installations reminiscent of Christmas - like presents...

...and baubles...

...although I wasn't sure about the bear...

...or the elephant!

According to numerologists, 2015 is going to be a year of abundance and happiness, so here is wishing you everything you wish yourselves, and may this be the happiest of Happy New Years!

by Elizabeth Coughlan


Christmas in Italy

The view from Clare's apartment is stunning!

We had a wonderful Christmas in Italy with our daughter, Clare and family. It was such fun, although the time flew by so quickly that it seemed no time before we were back in Istanbul again!

We all wore Venetian masks while we opened our presents.
Clare and Jessica looked particularly fetching!

Reg kept us amused with his party popper...

...which Hugo found quite fascinating/

David wore his cashmere scarf (a present from Santa)...

...while Clare poured the champagne.

We had Christmas day lunch at Laguna Blu, our favourite restaurant,
where Santa was waiting to greet us.

As we entered the restaurant, we came across this Nativity Scene,
made entirely form pizza dough.

Our table was by the window...

,,,and this was the view outside. How wonderful was that?
It makes me smile just to see it again.

David and Jessica poured over the menu to see what delights we had in store.

The meal began with an aperitivo (non alcoholic for the young people)...

...and finished (after 5 more courses) with traditional pandoro and panettone with cream

There was definitely no room for supper that evening after such a gargantuan meal!

We have always enjoyed eating at Bistrot Laguna Blu, every time we visit Clare. Here is a video I made last summer, which shows the restaurant and its surroundings. Enjoy!

by Elizabeth Coughlan


Mary and Annette visit Istanbul

Mary and Annette next to the stunning view from the Topkapi Palace

It's very easy to show visitors a good time in Istanbul, as Mary and Annette discovered. Fortunately they were blessed with good weather, and were able to see the city at its best. Of course, we just had to do the tourist bit and see the major sights, like Topkapi, Hagia Sophia, Basilica Cistern and so on, but we managed to get in a fair bit of shopping too!

Scarves are a must-buy when you visit the Grand Bazaar. Mary and Annette also had a lesson
there in how to drape a scarf to the best effect

They took lots of photos of their trip. Here, Mary is photographing the Bosphorus
from the roof of the Buyuk Valide Han

Mary and Annette comparing photos as they ride in a ferry

We visited the Sali Pazar (Tuesday Bazaar), which is always a fun thing to do,
especially if you love shopping!

We just couldn't believe the size of these cabbages this man was selling!

One of our outings was to Buyukada (the Big Island). Annette loved these
typically Turkish covered benches in this cafe...

...and we thought Mary should have her picture taken here, too!

We took a drive in a carriage....

...and walked through the forest 

But Mary thought she needed an extra workout!

I had lots of fun showing Mary and Annette around Istanbul, and I am sure they had fun too! I do hope they get to visit again!

by Elizabeth Coughlan

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