A Week of Celebrations in Istanbul.

We have had a very interesting week. Last Thursday we went to a lecture about the Crimean War victory celebrations of 31 January 1856, that were held in Pera House, Istanbul (the present British Consulate). The lecture was given by Dr Steven Richmond, of Istanbul Technical University, in the room next to the very same ballroom where the original celebrations took place. We learned that, to celebrate the ending of the Crimean War, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Lord Stratford de Redcliffe, gave a fancy dress costume ball for more than 800 guests.

Dr Steven Richmond who gave the lecture.

A very special guest at the victory celebrations was none other than Sultan Abdülmecit himself. This was reported widely throughout Europe, as this was the very first time an Ottoman leader had ever visited a foreign embassy. Other guests included Ottoman ministers, British, French and Sardinian officers, the Greek Patriarch, the Armenian Archbishop and the Jewish Chief Rabbi. It was a very splendid occasion, and no one failed to notice that the Sultan and his entourage all drank champagne, along with the other guests.

This is one of a pair of exquisite chandeliers in the ballroom at Pera House. The Chandeliers were originally meant as a gift to the Tsar of Russia from Queen Victoria, and were actually on their way when the Crimean war broke out. They were quickly diverted to the embassy in Istanbul, where they remain to this day.

We came across these Peruvians on our way to Pera House.

Last Saturday we went to David's pre-school Fun Day. Everyone had a great time, and there was lots of food and plenty of activities for the children.

All the little girls wanted their faces painted.

The parents made an wonderful selection of typically Turkish food

A magician entertained the children on Fun Day.

On Monday we attended the Queen's Birthday Party. In past years this has been held at the British Consulate, but no more, due to the parlous state of Britain's finances. This year it was held in the garden of the parsonage, thanks to our dear friend Canon Ian Sherwood. It was such a fun evening. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera, so sadly there are no photos, but I can assure you that the evening was a great success and the Queen would have been proud.

Today is Paddy and Irene's 45th Wedding Anniversary. We wish them well and may they have many more years together!


This week in Bağdat Caddesi, Istanbul

Tuncay Sanli of Stoke City.

We are often to be found eating at our favourite restaurant, Café Cadde. It's very popular and usually full to bursting, but because we are regulars we can usually get a table. We've heard that it is an IN place to be. We didn't realise just how IN, until we found ourselves sitting next to Tuncay Sanli, the Stoke City player. With his £5,000,000 transfer fee from Middlesbrough, he can afford to eat anywhere, and he chose our local. He came over to speak to us - such a nice man!

David with Tuncay Sanli

A great thing about living in Bağdat Street is that there is always something going on. We woke up one day last week to find a big hole in the pavement, where some workmen were replacing leaking pipes. Amazingly, it was all cleaned up by the evening, with the pavement completely restored.

On another day, hundreds of cyclists rode by, completely blocking the road and preventing the traffic from moving. I think they were making a statement that the roads are for cyclists too; although weaving in and out of traffic on a bicycle is not my idea of fun - especially in Istanbul - more like suicide!

Our summer series of concerts has begun again. Every Sunday evening throughout the summer, Mithat, a nearby menswear shop, hosts a free operatic concert. We have grandstand seats on our balcony. It's great fun, especially as we are far enough away to join in the singing.

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I couldn't resist this one!