Monday, 15 October 2012

Dolphins in the Bosphorus

It has to be said that the blog has not exactly been active lately, but this week I was lucky enough to stay in  Istanbul on the banks of the Bosphorus. In the early morning, with the water flat calm, the sun just coming up - before the heavy criss-crossing of ferries from the Asian to the European shore and the cavalcade of huge tankers to and from the Black Sea - I was rewarded with the sight of a line of dolphins arcing in and out of the water about twenty yards in front of me, in shallow curves, black fins cutting the surface, as I walked on the hotel terrace, a fantastic sight and a reminder of the wonderful wealth of this extraordinary waterway. So rich was the Bosphorus in marine life in ancient times that in the migration season, it was said that you could scoop bonito from the water with a net from the windows of water-side houses. The dolphin features deeply in the iconography of Constantinople, stamped on coins, carved on city walls - an emblem of grace, nobility and beauty - a sign of good luck, a reminder that this is a city garlanded in water, like a glimpse of the sea caught at the end of a street. And by association I remembered Patrick Leigh-Fermor, whose biography was published last week, for two astonishing pages in Mani on the transformative magic of dolphins: ''These creatures bring a blessing with them. No day in which they have played a part is like other days.' And it's true. I felt touched by some light enchantment. I thought about them all day.


  1. Bentornato Roger! I live in an area of Northern California where I had never seen dolphins. However two weeks ago they were there, frolicking in my little neighborhood cove. And yesterday again. Seeing these creatures I agree, you feel touched by magic and for that moment, you feel hope.

  2. I was unaware that the Leigh-Fermor bio had been published so will follow that up. Have only read a couple of his books although always intending to read more but never getting around to it.

    There are a number of interesting references to Leigh-Fermor to be found in the diaries of James Lees-Milne which give further insight into the man.

    1. I wasn't aware of James Lees-Milne but I'm looking forward to reading Paddy's biography in due course.