'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Oh, Bugger!

I really hate this getting older stuff, I really do! Well, not actually getting older, that’s alright. It’s the decrepitude. It’s the chickens of misspent youth, the years of abuse in the gym and playing at being a parachute soldier coming home to roost that are the pits.

you’d never guess we were categorised as fast moving light infantry

Carrying loads like this is what started the rot. Followed by years of macho denial as tears and sprains in the gym took their toll on knees and back. (I’m only showing this to remind myself that I was once a fine young specimen)

‘You’re stubborn and stupid,’ J used to say (and still does) ‘and I have no sympathy for you! You never know when to stop!’ Which is only her opinion and not exactly true. Anyway, J is from Yorkshire and everyone from Yorkshire is opinionated. I mean, look at Geoffrey Boycott for one. I don’t know why there hasn’t long ago been an independence campaign so that England can detach itself from that lot. At least then we wouldn’t have had to put up with his boring cricket commentaries and his even more boring batting!

Watching Boycott ‘chase’ runs was on a par with watching paint dry!

But enough of all that, I need to get back on topic. Where was I? Oh, yes! Decrepitude!

One knee in particular has been pretty troublesome for a long time. It has a history of falling apart, being operated on, generally fiddled about with and dishing out some eye-wateringly painful reminders of its existence in my life. About a year ago it also decided that a bit of gout would look good on its résumé. My excellent bone  surgeon sorted it out with medication and all seemed well. Then about couple of months ago it started to make a comeback and so I started back on the medication. It had no effect. Zilch! It was back to the bone doctor.

What he soon discovered was that along with the gouty crystals there were deposits as a side effect of one of the heart medications that decrepitude requires I consume on a daily basis. So, that prescription has been changed and there are even more pills and creams to add to the cocktail and for three weeks there will be ‘WD40‘ injections into the knee.

Oh, bugger! would seem a pretty appropriate response to all this except for one thing. In the space of just a few days the pain has been relieved and last night I got the first decent night’s sleep in quite some time. Living here in Turkey means instant treatment and being contributors to the social insurance scheme the bulk of the costs are defrayed by the state health-care system. Beats the hell out of the UK and most any place else in the world if your chickens are coming home to roost and crapping all over the place!

Roll on Spring, and let me get at that patch of stony ground up there in the mountains!

Alan Fenn, grinning like a Cheshire Cat here in Turkey.

Stuff

Do What You Do Do Well, Boy!

Well, here we are. Déjà vu all over again! We were feeling deprived and it was something J and I just couldn’t put up with. (and before you pendants begin to stir) No, being away from our mountain retreat any longer was something up with which we could not put!

I mean, look at the view – who wouldn’t want to be here?

It feels great to be here. Within minutes of arriving everything was checked out and working fine. The fire was lit, the solar systems were providing hot water and electric power and all was well with the world. One hour in and we were out in the garden doing what we do so well, picking over the veg plot, planting onions along with the odd, lonely little petunia and moving piles of rocks about!

this is ‘Happy’. ‘Grumpy’ is on the shovel!

Oak logs were sorted to keep the fire in overnight – temperatures will drop to minus or just below. The wheel barrow has a newish wheel. The pond looks great. The wild pigs have had a root about but have done no damage so all is well with the world.

Alan Fenn, up here.

ps ‘do what you do do’ got me thinking. How many times can ‘and’ be followed by ‘and’ in a sentence and still make perfect sense? Answers on a postcard (or in a comment).

Incredible Okçular!

Waste Not Want Not

 . . as my mother used to say! That was an observation generally associated with assorted bits of fat and gristle sitting uneaten amid congealed Bisto gravy on my plate as I stubbornly refused to answer or comply. Mother lacked my stamina and suffered from acute arthritis so a clout around the ear hurt her more than it hurt me! I’d get away with stuff as long as my father wasn’t around. He had a way of getting compliance that these days would see him locked up!

Anyway, enough of that! Waste not, want not sank in because my life is full of things that might come in useful some day and seeing a sight like this is irresistible.

One of our neighbours had dumped a load of green tomatoes in the corner of his field to rot down. J and I knew of a much pleasanter use for these toms than compost – Green Tomato Chutney! So it was that a good few kilos found their way in to the pan along with some apples, pears and an assortment of spices.

After a couple of hours of gently bubbling away the mix was ready to join the other jams and preserves that J makes. Some we give away to bemused neighbours but most we keep and enjoy ourselves. Waste not, want not! Well, not for a few more years anyway!

last year’s plus mummy’s home-made brown sauce

jams and marmalades and pickled onions

even curry paste and mincemeat!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps this is not a foodie blog so if you want to rummage around in dumpsters or on your neighbour’s compost heaps there are plenty of recipes on line to fire your imagination.

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Necessity Is The Mother Of Adventure

. . or words to that effect!

When J and I wandered back down here to Okçular we never dreamed that weeks later we would still be here feeling locked in by the bitterly cold weather that has hit the country. I mean, this time last year we were having a whale of a time playing the backwoods man (and woman) and building stone walls and then more stone walls! We were working outside in shirtsleeves and waking up at the crack of each beautiful dawn.

About the middle of January we made a run for it as a minor blizzard set in but we were soon back enjoying every moment of life in the mountains.

This year the polar north winds set in a couple of months ago and are showing no signs yet of moving on. We huddled around the fire in our centrally heated house and worried about how things would be up at the cabin – then we worried some more. With temperatures regularly in minus double figures up there we worried about what temperature wine, beer and home-made marmalade freezes at and the after-effects. Well, you would, wouldn’t you!

Photos appeared from friends who live up there in the mountains – photos that caused us to admire their toughness and fortitude but did nothing to stop us worrying about the wine and marmalade! Here are a few from friends Emine and Armağan . .

The days passed with little change and we remained huddled around our fire devoid of any spirit of adventure but well reinforced with spirits of a different kind! You could say that the spirits were willing but the flesh was weak!

More days passed until suddenly an ashen-faced J stood in the doorway, shoulders slumped. She had just been to the wine store only to find that ‘There are only a few bottles left!’ It was crunch time. The thought of running out of wine and having to pay retail was altogether too much. An emergency run to our favourite winery up in the mountains was a must. When push comes to shove (and it very well might do up there) there is only one thing an intrepid mountain man (and woman) can do – go for it!

With absolute faith in Turkey’s ability to keep its roads open we set off the next day just before 7am. Now Turkey, for some obscure reason decided to stay on summer time this winter so it was pitch-black and even down here we were seeing temperatures below -3C! Sensible and cautious driving was called for.

As usual, the roads were amazingly clear and despite a -7C at one point we made good time to our supplier in the back of beyond. By then the sun was shining in a clear blue sky and once loaded we decided to stick with the main roads and head to the cabin for a quick recce and damage control.

As we climbed over the last ridge that brings the lake in to view we were astonished – it had disappeared behind a grim layer of grey cloud and everywhere looked bleak.

Not the usual view we, or you, are used to seeing from the cabin

even the pine-needles are frozen solid

Sami’s pide (pizza) place on the beach

Now, as it turned out, everything was fine with the cabin and so feeling much relieved we set off back to Okçular with its central heating and un-chilled wine. The roads were clear, the sun was shining and all was well with the world! Until we got within a few miles of the climb up to the pass at Karabel on the Antalya-Fethiye road and it started to snow.

Karabel was a nightmare of stalled cars and trucks parked at all angles. Instinct took over, all I knew was that I needed to keep the bloody thing moving – if there was a gap then go for it – ‘Vorwärts Kameraden! Vorwärts!’ ‘Onwards and upwards!’ It felt like inches at a time but we made it to the top, the only car that did, due in no small part to the weight of a boot overloaded with boxes of wine and a wonderful truck driver on his way down who stopped and let me scrape by. As we drove sedately down towards Fethiye I vowed never to forget the snow-chains again!

What is amazing is that two days later a dear friend Türker decided to go for a driving adventure of his own up to the lake. These are his photos – Odin, you bastard!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü for the time being

ps thanks again to Türker, Emine and Armağan for the photos – a picture is worth a thousand words!

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Shall We Retire To The Lounge

We had a splendid lunch today – Spicy Rabbit Casserole, of course! We were joined by two dear friends and their children who are all part of our family really together with two of their friends. Now, I don’t do photos of food as I’m usually far too engrossed in eating and enjoying it. Suffice to say it was magnificent!

rabbit

so as not to disappoint the ‘foodies’ amongst you, here is one from earlier

Later, in the very best English tradition, we retired to the lounge to take tea, chat, admire the etchings, and ‘Sing-along-a-Bach (and Beatles)’.

sing-along-a-Bach

musical duo

thanks to our musical duo – if only we’d had a piano as well – or even a Casio!

Today the world felt a better place for a while, unless you were a rabbit, of course!

Alan Fenn.