Around the corner from my house there are two houses side by side: the first, which faces onto 13 Nisan Caddesi, one of the three main thoroughfares of the old town, is one of the grander stone houses of Ayvalik. It is three storeys high, tall and thin in the classic Ayvalik manner, with an enormous, elaborately carved stone doorway, and an overhanging top storey. Many of my neighbours, renting the smaller, more ramshackle houses in the narrower sokaks, are villagers from the impoverished south east of Turkey who have migrated to the more prosperous west in hope of a better life; the owner of this house, however, is more likely to be from Istanbul or Ankara, as are many of the owners of the larger restored Ottoman Greek houses in Ayvalik.
The house has been immaculately restored, and in the summer pink and red trailing pelargoniums cascade down from its wrought iron balconies:
The second house, nestled up against the side of the first around the corner in the side street, is a tiny two-up two-down cottage, with a small walled yard:
It is lived in by a jobbing builder, his Azerbaijani wife, and their little son, a delightful child of unusually angelic disposition in an area teeming with feral infants. Here, although the opportunities for floral display are more limited, my neighbour engages in some creative container gardening on top of the yard wall:
At the front of the house she only has room for a single window box, but it is quite beautiful, as is her enigmatic smile, glimpsed behind the flowers and wrought iron.