Stuff

Things That Go Bump

”fae ghosties and ghoulies and lang-legged beasties and things that go bump in the nicht… guid lord, deliver us” – so goes and old Scottish prayer – no wonder they voted to stay in the EU!

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I mean, a body needs their sleep and so, in the event that these ‘things’ are disturbing and disrupting a good nights rest then one can call in the power of the EU and its amazing array of regulations in order to bring some peace and tranquillity. I mean, there is bound to be something that says the dead shouldn’t be up and about, especially after midnight when the discos have to close down!

My question is, ‘What about squirrels at dawn?’

Where’s the enforcement of regulations to curb the antics of Caucasian/Syrian/Persian Squirrel – Sciurus anomalus? The little sods are a bundle of energy and and they start their day with a game of rugby on the roof of our cabin. The fact that they were here before us, living in the big, old pine is neither here nor there!

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zoom in on those ‘pinkies’ – formidable!

Then there are other ‘ghoulies’ that prey in innocent, passing victims . .

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Small Pincertail/Green-eyed Hooktail – Onychogomphus forcipatus – female

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the male

. . long legged beasties and the things that go bump in the night?

J

Not true, actually, well she is certainly long-legged, but she sleeps gently and quietly, rises at a reasonable time and is mostly not scary at all!

Alan Fenn, back home in the mountains.

Stuff

Yes, We Cairn!

Those of you who loyally wade through these interminable whitterings about country life up here in the mountains might just have noted a recurring theme; Rocks!

We have rocks! More rocks than exist in the asteroid belt! Really! As we slave away to clear yet another few square metres more of the buggers seem to appear – or is it my imagination? It’s a bit like a stick of Margate Rock, you can never get to the end of it and no matter how hard you suck ‘Margate Rock’ will outlast you!

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It’s not that we haven’t used a bit of initiative for ways to use up the bloody things. We’ve filled in ruts in the track up here to the cabin; we’ve stacked them around the edges of the plot – it doesn’t look that pretty but give the weeds time!

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We’ve built little rock circles around the trees and vines we’ve planted. We think that painting them pastel shades will liven the garden up a bit!

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Then we’ve built a wall to retain a pathway and give the roses something to look classy against. And there’s a very nice terrace area under our magnificent old pine tree where we can collapse and swallow beer without tasting it after several more tons of rocks have been moved from A to B, or C, or bloody Z at this rate!

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I know it’s a mess, it’s another ‘work in progress’

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Then, of course there are some nice steps that we’ve made to meet health and safety regulations;

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Today saw us begin another bit of walling to tidy up the area in front of the great big retaining wall;

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OK, sometimes we need to get at the bottle before we finish for the day and collapse! Yesterday it lead to a moment of sheer, blindingly obvious inspiration – Leonardo would have been proud. Edward DeBono would know that we once read his books!

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A cairn! We’re building a cairn! Our neighbouring smallholders have been arriving to admire it as the word has got around – they are incredulous! They cannot believe what they are seeing with their own eyes.

There is one small, dark cloud that is floating about – as there is a limit to how far up I can chuck a shovel-full of stuff, and I do not intend to get into any scaffolding work, then it follows that there is maximum cubic capacity to what I can build and fill. So, it is at this point, dear reader, that you come in – as there are still tons of rocks to find a home for, what do you suggest?

Alan Fenn, (with Joe Brown up a pile of rocks)

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

The Sun Comes Up And The Sun Goes Down

. . . and the hands on the clock keep goin’ around, I no sooner get up than it’s time to lie down – but life is not ‘tejus’, not for J and for me, anyway! In fact, time is doing a bit of ‘fugiting’ these days and fitting stuff in is a bit of a struggle.

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Blogging has been one of the things to suffer from not enough hours (or inclination if I am honest). I am also aware that what has J and me fired up is of limited interest to others. I’m referring to life at our mountain hideaway and the ‘farming’ that goes with it. I mean, a bit here and there is OK but who wants to read about mud, rocks and greenfly day in and day out? Not me!

Most days up here kick-off at about 7.30 with a bit of rock gardening. Turning our rock-strewn plot from this:

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. . to this:

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. . is proving to be long and ‘tejus’ and not without a few tweaks and spasms. We must be getting close to the halfway point now despite the impression that the buggers are multiplying over night!

J goes off for a walk most days, exploring the tracks through the forest. The last couple of times she’s arrived back breathless with excitement having come across, at fairly close quarters, a Eurasian Golden Jackal. I went with her today in the hopes of getting a glimpse and a photo – no luck this time around.

Eurasian Golden Jackal

Canis aureus – Eurasian Golden Jackal

Odd projects keep cropping up to fill the time when I should be reading or taking a nap. The latest came about when workmen putting up new electricity poles discarded a couple of small crates that are used to transport those great big brown insulator things. Anyway, being an old soldier, I did the right thing by them and got J to stuff them into the back of the car. One has had a make-over and now serves as a very functional and ‘country chic’ saucepan stand. Here’s the before and after:

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There is also the joy of catering in the field . .

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Then, there are all the other distractions that seem to eat into blogging time:

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sharing the forest with birds and jackals

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. . and views with no one else

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. . and finally, for those with time on their hands:

Alan Fenn, out there – somewhere

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Weathering The Storms

So, back at the start of this month I told you about a visit J and I had made to a next-door village where the locals were praying for rain and feeding the multitude. Ever the sceptic, I came away with a smile on my face and a full belly. You can imagine my dismay when the heavens opened the next day!

A few days passed and then another nearby village held a similar ‘do’ and lo and behold the gods responded yet again! Then, last Friday, our village up here in the mountains threw their two pennyworth into the mix – why was I not surprised when it absolutely piddled down during Saturday and Sunday? It’s enough to shake my faith in science I can tell you!

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stormy weather and still beautiful

We also had an onset of cabin fever – let’s face it there is a limit to how much reading or travel scrabble one can cope with. That, plus the fact that the lack of light had the solar electric system screaming alarms at us as the charge ran down.

As luck would have it there was a break in the rain (but not in the cloud cover) that gave us a chance to get out and walk a bit first thing and enjoy the lovely flowers and then we drove a short distance to another lake to see if my trusty, 40 year-old manual 500mm reflex lens could capture anything worth keeping – you decide. No names, just enjoy the photos.

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earth star

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there were thousands of these strange, beautiful creatures

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. . and a few Black-winged Stilts . .

Blac-winged Stilt

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Alan Fenn – glad to see the sun today!

Stuff

Bewitched! A True Love Story

Many moons ago my dear friend Ahmet related a story to me – in very much his own words, it went something like this . .

‘My father was a judge and when I was a child we seemed to move around quite a bit. Traditions were strong in those days and we would always journey back to visit our elderly relatives whenever a Bayram (holiday) came around. Both my mother’s and my father’s parents came from Nazilli in Aydin Province and that is where the family homes were.

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There was a time when my father was based in Fethiye and so, when a holiday came around, we would hop on the bus and journey back to Nazilli to spend time with my Grandma at her house. I loved that house with its wonderful, mature gardens and its amazing method of heating that was modelled on the Roman system that allowed hot air to circulate under the floors. It was a perfect childhood playground.

Anyway, back then, one of my strongest memories was of this strange old woman who always seemed to be visiting with Granny. I met her during these trips to Nazilli – Nazik was her name. We were little kids, around four or five years old I suppose. Everybody called her Nazik, which means ‘polite, delicate, kind or gentle’ in Turkish. That was her name, rather unusual! Even then!

She used to talk with my grandmother mostly. They seemed more or less the same age but then everybody looks old to a child! I did not know where they were friends from, or how they met. I did not know if there was a relationship with our family. Maybe, at that age, I was not aware of relations at all!

Now, when I say her name, Nazik, you may think of an old Turkish lady with a scarf. And so she was but there was much more. Looking back (and if I may be very politically incorrect) she was proof positive of the theory of evolution! Truly! So she used to be very, very much something like an ape! Something in between – the missing link between the chimps and homo sapiens! You would really be surprised! Probably, the only difference was that her feet did not look like a hand, but she’d got real feet!

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Surely, she was a major attraction for us kids. We used to play outside, in the garden, and when we got tired, we would go in and peer secretly, we thought, around the door. Or, like glasses in a cupboard, sit in a row, leaning back to the wall and watch her speak with my grandmother. All the while fixing our eyes on her with curiosity! She used to be very interesting for us, so we really could not take our eyes off her. Surely, within some time, our grandma would get the point, and worrying that Nazik would understand the reason, would chase us out yelling, trying to scare us all. With our small meatball like puffy feet touching our backs, we would run away like kittens back to play in the garden. This used to be repeated until we grew tired of it!

Years passed. Years without ugly, old Nazik and soon enough the memory of her faded.

One day, when I was visiting Granny at her home I noticed an old faded photograph of a gentleman in a frame. White hair and moustache, a really nice face, smiling, handsome maybe. No, no, definitely handsome. Taken a long time in the past, and surely, you can tell.

Who is this man Grandma?

Oh, son! You haven’t met him, my brother. He died before you were born.

Really, what a nice looking man he was. Didn’t he have any other relatives, kids, wife?

Yes, sure he had. Nazik was his wife!

What? How come? Nazik, that old witch, and this fine, handsome brother of yours? How was that possible?

It was then that she started to tell the story:

Part of our family is from Afyon. Some kind of a landlord. Their surname was Kabaağaçlı there is a close relation with the famous Çevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı (Fisherman of Halicarnassus). There was another family in the town. They were very wealthy and they had a beautiful daughter.

This great uncle of mine, a handsome, young and wealthy man is mature enough to consider a marriage. He starts dreaming of marrying this beautiful young girl from a rich family. He decides to snatch her and elope, a common practice in those days.

eloping on horse

this is how he dreams it will be

He plots and tries to find a way to make an arrangement with the girl. The girl has a maid, a foster child of the family and our hero, having poured his heart into a letter asks the maid to deliver it to her mistress. Soon, the maid brings a reply. Reading it he thinks the girl is also in the mood, or hopes she is. The letters pass back and forth each more passionate than the last. Finally, he writes a letter to the girl, saying he will be waiting at the fountain, early in the morning on a particular day, to take her away.

Early in the morning of the fateful day, before anyone in the household is awake, she is waiting with her pack by the fountain her face covered by her peçe (veil). Soon enough, our handsome, proud hero comes by on his fine stallion, reaches down and sweeps the girl up onto the horse behind him.

After riding for several hours our couple arrive at a cottage that our hero has organised and prepared for them. Can you imagine the passions, the excitement, nerves a jangle from the vibrations and the motion of the horse?

They jump off the tired horse and go into the house. Two young persons consumed by passion stand in the defining moment of their lifetime. Hearts beating as if to break out of their chests they look at each other. So my great uncle moves to open the veil. Of course with a bişmillah! (‘In the name of God’ or ‘In the name of Allah’)

With the expectation that he will see the face of this beautiful girl, he opens it and there is the face of Nazik!

As his eyes open wide in shock, Nazik takes his hand. ‘What you see is not who I am.’ she says. ‘Who I am is what is hidden inside of me. Who I am is the one who poured out her heart to you in those letters for it was me who wrote them and not my mistress.’

What do you expect was his comment? ‘So this was my kismet!’ (my fate) he said.

Well, my grandma told me the story of an ever happy couple who really lived the happiest of lives of anyone she had ever known. How passionate they were for each other, and how they managed to get along so well all their lives.’

At this point Ahmet was crying – and so am I!

Now, Nazik and her husband Sabri Dayi were childless and so they adopted two orphans, a girl and a boy, and raised them as their own. Here is a photo of Nazik, Sabri and their adopted son and his bride on their wedding day.

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standing, back row left is my grandmother Sakibe – my grandfather Tevfik is standing, back row third from right. Nazik and Sabri, her dashing Prince Charming, are seated with children on their knees. Is it possible that these are the orphans they adopted?

So, there you have it! This is a love story – a true love story. I hope it has warmed the cockles of your heart in these difficult days and shown that ‘human nature’ is not always as it is painted and that a book should never be judged by its cover!

Alan Fenn, (somewhere in the mountains)