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Is it Christmas? No it's Turkey!

It's November in Turkey and giant red baubles are hanging from the trees. Are they early Christmas decorations? No, this is the pomegranate season and if you taste one fresh from the tree it's an entirely new experience. There's no puckeringly sour after-taste, just sweetness. Though of course they're still pretty fiddly to eat...

I'm in rural Dalyan, South-West Turkey where the main industry is not tourism (unlike Bodrum not a million miles away) but agriculture. So there are not just pomegranates, but oranges, lemons, bananas, grapes and, of course, olives. There are fish, too. Dalyan means "fishing weir" in Turkish and for millennia, sea bream, bass and mullet have swum upstream from the sea to Koycegiz Lake to spawn and, on their way back, they're caught in the dalyans.

It's not just fish you get in the Dalyan, though. Loggerhead turtles come to the beach at the river mouth to lay their eggs and they can regularly be spotted swimming in the river. (I was hanging over the side of the boat to snap this one). Survival, though, isn't easy for turtles and the eggs (and the tiny young turtles as they scuttle to the comparative safety of the sea) are prey to cats, dogs, gulls, foxes and others for whom they make a tasty morsel. The beach is closed during the night when the female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs so they do have some protection, but it was a close-run thing. In 1987 a plan put forward for a huge hotel on the beach was eventually scuppered by David Bellamy and other conservationists who managed to secure a safe site for the endangered species. Quiet beaches around the Med are a rare thing.

I wouldn't have been the first to spot a loggerhead, though. A couple of millennia ago, the Lycians were here and have left a staggering number of remains around the area. They carved monumental tombs into cliff faces – the ones in this picture look down from the heights above the river but there are nearly 2000 more in the area along with around 20 cities, complete with temples, theatres and public baths. The Lycians were contemporaneous with the ancient Greeks, but were rather better at getting along with their neighbours – no constant warring for them. They had democratic government with elected representatives (pre-dating the Greeks) and the writers of the US constitution studied the ancient Lycian government as a potential model for their own. A lesson for Mr Trump, perhaps? There again he might have a problem with their deities – the Lycians' main one was a rather full-bodied mother goddess, Leto. Probably not to his taste at all.

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