Cold Nights and Notes from Sinop

I smell pretty terrible but I’ve got a fishing boat to sleep on tonight and I have just bought a new blanket which I hope will keep me warm as the nights have been uncomfortably chilly recently.

Normally camping is a perfectly fine option for our sleeping arrangements but I’ve been dubious recently as I’ve been cold in my thin sleeping bag, no matter what combination of clothing, headwear etc. that I adorn.

This is important because we don’t have the guarantee of a comfortable bed to sleep in each night but it is nice to know that I will be warm. Luckily the Turkish are living up to their reputation of hospitality; almost every day we have had a warm place to sleep, been fed incredibly tasty food and always offered chay. 

Many of the towns we come across along the Black Sea Coastline are busy with tourists in the summer but in the winter they are quieter and most hotels and restaurants are closed. The atmosphere is relaxed and people are genuinely interested and wonder why we didn't visit in the summer. I usually say; we started cycling in the summer, but it’s a long way and we didn't go fast enough.

Last week we cycled into a small village and took refuge from the bitter cold in a teashop. Darkness closed in, as it tends to rather quickly these days and we required somewhere to bed down for the night (hopefully warmer than the previous night); it had snowed and as a last resort we had slept in a bus shelter! 

It seemed a good idea to head to the beach to find a shelter to camp under. As we cycled along the sea front, we spoke to a man who was standing outside what looked like a closed restaurant. We told him what we were doing and he invited us in. With very little conversation exchanged, we were fed and given a free room for the night. We met his wife and they told us about their children who were at university in Istanbul and Cyprus.

We were relieved to have come across such wonderful people and incredibly grateful for their generosity. It was an excellent opportunity to recharge our batteries and have a well-earned hot shower!

We have been sheltering from the cold and wet weather in the ubiquitous teashops. Many old men we met have spoken German because they previously either visited or worked there. I have been using this opportunity to try and brush up on my language skills.

Earlier this week, after trying to cycle through relentless rain and getting utterly saturated, we sat by a zoba (stove) to dry off and I decided I would try to note down as many German words I could remember from when I studied it at school. I was quite impressed to be able to remember 200 words in one sitting. I have been employing these words on occasion, however my grammar needs improving immensely!

On the subject of technology, I bought a wonderful new camera before I started this trip. It is a Nikon D40x and a very shiny AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm 1:3.5 – 5.6 G ED lens to go with it. Yes, I have no idea what all those suffixes mean (yet) either. It wasn’t cheap, it was by far my biggest outlay on equipment for the trip, but I am glad I did and I’m really enjoying using it now. 

The long zoom range allows me a wider range of composition possibilities and means I can snap images that might be difficult without it. For example earlier today a fisherman was sorting out his net on a boat. It would have been difficult for me to get close enough to frame the composition, as I desired without needing a wetsuit.

I read recently in a Photography supplement that came with the Guardian newspaper that it is better to get closer to a subject rather than use the zoom if possible because it gives a more intimate image. I am inclined to agree.  In addition, if you have to get physically closer to the subject matter, this is likely to provoke a reaction and possibly an interesting meeting.

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