CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Dom Joly: Turkish Delights

PUBLISHED: 16:14 27 October 2015 | UPDATED: 16:23 27 October 2015

Dom Joly and family

Dom Joly and family


I nearly made the mistake of a ‘staycation’ in the Cotswolds…

I spent most of the summer running away from the Cotswolds. I nearly made the mistake of gambling on an Indian summer and doing the ‘staycation’ thing but I woke up with a hangover and realised that you should never make these kinds of important life decisions when you are drunk. So we headed off for a month-long family road trip around Turkey.

This looked very dodgy to some and there were several nervous inquiries as to whether we were actually headed for Syria to join ISIS? I assured everyone that this was not the case but I was nervous when we got near the Syrian border, as you really can’t trust a sat-nav. Mine gets freaked out when it has to go into Gloucester and starts screaming “Get out, make a U-Turn, DANGER, DANGER!” Admittedly, it’s a very neurotic machine but I assumed that this was good news, as it would keep us very much away from any trouble. It turned out to be quite the opposite and I now suspect it of harbouring extremist sympathies. Twice it plotted a route for us that would have taken us into a ‘hot zone’. In the end I was forced to take it aside and have a long chat. It never fully admitted where it stood politically and I briefly considered the waterboarding option, but in the end I simply left it to fend for itself in a small village near Iskanderun. As we drove off I swear I heard it say “Minaret One to base – the package is being delivered…” but I was getting pretty paranoid by then so I might have been mistaken.

From then on I used a good old-fashioned map. When I say old-fashioned I’m not exaggerating. I bought it in a little bookstore in Iskanderun and it appeared to have been published when Turkey was still the centre of the Ottoman Empire. On said map, modern nation states were non-existent and most of the roads indicated seemed to be trading routes. In the end I used a compass on my iPhone. I set our bearing for north-west and hoped for the best.

I have a particular affinity with Turkey as I have fabulous memories of it as a child. My family used to drive from Beirut to London and back at least once every other year. I remember these times as incredible adventures – swimming out to island castles, trampling over ruins, bathing in the hot springs of Pammukale…

My kids are less excited about road trips and loathe being stuck in a car for more than two hours. Maybe I also hated the whole thing and time has erased some of the worst memories and only kept a highlight reel? I know that when I went Inter-railing the experience was horrible – lots of hanging around on empty train stations, dodgy hostels and sleeping in corridors. My memory, however, only wants to hang onto the occasional snog and a lovely beach somewhere in the South of France.

My iPhone came up trumps and we eventually ended up back where we started – in Istanbul – the de facto capital of Turkey. I have a particular fondness for places that should be the capital but are snubbed due to competing political factions. Other great examples are Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Cheltenham. Everybody knows these conurbations are the most vibrant, interesting and popular in their respective zones but they have had to cede their political primacy to lesser cities that perhaps needed the kudos more? What I particularly love about them is that they are not chippy about their lack of official status. These are places comfortable in their own skin and relaxed in their place in the world.

Istanbul is a city very much on the up with the occasional car bomb or terrorist attack doing little to curb the visible signs of a city on its uppers. Even Soho House – the private members club that likes to be the barometer of all that is cool has just opened there. As it so happens they have also opened a branch in the Cotswolds, on the Great Tew Estate.

Rio, Istanbul, the Cotswolds… it’s where it’s at.

This article by Dom Joly is from the October 2015 issue of Cotswold Life.

For more from Dom, follow him on Twitter: @domjoly


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 12:23

Get out and enjoy seasonal celebrations with a Cotswold twist

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Hundreds of participating National Lottery-funded visitor attractions across the UK are saying ‘thanks’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket, including a number of venues in the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, December 3, 2018

“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

“Faringdon upholds old-fashioned values through its traditional shops, personal service and shop owners who go the extra mile to make their customers feel at home.”

Read more
Friday, November 23, 2018

Home to some of the country’s most breathtaking architecture and picturesque gardens, the Cotswolds boasts plenty of beautiful stately homes you need to visit. We pick eight special locations that are made even more magical during Christmas time

Read more
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Taking the classroom outdoors is fun, inspires fresh ideas, broadens horizons – and encourages a new generation to enjoy and care for the Cotswolds

Read more
Monday, November 19, 2018

Chipping Campden – once the meeting place for a council of Saxon kings – now offers the warmest of welcomes to all its visitors, from the humble shopper to the seasonal shin-kicker

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search