'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Out Of My Skull

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. . not in the ‘pissed as a newt’ sense but as in ‘my brain has gone walk-about’! On a personal level the days drift gently by and my only worry is finding something to waffle on about.

It’s not that I’m unaware or uncaring about the crap that is being dished out by the monsters who lord it over the huddled masses of the world. I do know that I am able to live the life I have in the way I choose because of privilege. The privilege of being born where and when I was.

What if . . ? It’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about.

A couple of days ago my dear neighbour Ramazan was spied up a tree at the bottom of our plot up here in the mountains. Curious, I picked up my camera and wandered down to see what was going on.

Ramazan is a retired policeman on a very small pension. He grows vegetables on his plot and keeps bees, not as some hobby but because he needs to subsist at a reasonable level. He’s very good at bee-keeping and has about 16 active hives! This is what he was after . .

His wife passed up a stick and a bucket on a rope . .

A quick tap and before you know it, ‘Ramazan’s your uncle’, and the swarm is in the bucket and transferred to its new home.

Now, my point about privilege is this; J and I are hobby gardeners, we do all this cleaning, weeding and planting because we enjoy it and because we can. Our neighbours do it because they have to! I know for a fact (because it happened last year) that some of Ramazan’s wonderful honey will come our way together with some cream from his goats and he would be mortally offended if we offered to pay for it. Privilege is a barrier to hide behind for those who choose to. Human kindness on the other hand . .

Privilege lets me have a vanity pond for no better reason than that I love the wildlife that it attracts. My neighbours need to channel their energy towards that which is productive. I, on the other hand, can sit on my arse, beer in hand and delight in the arrival of the first damselflies and dragonflies of the season . .

Libellula depressa – Broad-bodied Chaser (male)

Ischnura pumilio – Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly

Whilst I sat around and communed with nature J was hard at it planting tobacco seeds in the nursery bed . .

. . and proselytising to our gorgeous İsparta roses.

actually labels for Goditia and Forget-Me-Not.

Privilege has its privileges but I hope I never lose sight of our commonalities or lose touch with our neighbours – whoever and wherever they are.

Alan, in a privileged place

Stuff

Hour By Hour

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We had a couple of friends pop up to visit for a couple of days. ‘L’ is a ‘Twitcher’ with a very expensive set of binos – I was a camera guy who left his kit back in Okçular. Well, not all of it, just the bloody camera – all the lenses arrived to sit useless in the bedroom!

Anyway, the weather has been variable and dramatic so we grabbed a window of opportunity and drove over to nearby Yarışlı Lake where around fifty Flamingos were reported. It was well worth the effort especially for ‘L’ as there were several hundreds of them and they staged a couple of flybys en-masse just for us!

There were also Avocets and Stilts around along with a bunch of Squacco Herons and Ruddy Shelducks.

Being sans camera I take no credit for these beautiful images. The herons in particular were very tolerant, probably because local shepherds graze their flocks along the shores of the lake, we were often within just a few metres of them.

As I said, the weather has been variable and we were soon heading for cover in the car and heading back to the cabin. Here’s how it changes hour by hour and even minute by minute . .

overcast and still

clouds building and still still!

it’s on its way!

And now it’s piddling down – again! Mind you, we gardening types are very happy with that. You have to admit, this blogging about our life here is brimming over with . . something!

Alan Fenn, holed up in the ark!

Stuff

Amazingly Chuffed!

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J reckons I use ‘Amazing!’, complete with exclamation mark, a lot. Maybe so! I see it as a positive because if I can still be amazed by the relatively normal at my age then that has got to be good – right?

So, what amazed me recently? Well, we were sitting by our pond enjoying a beer in the last of the evening sun when it started to ‘rain’. Except it wasn’t raining rain and the ‘raindrops’ spattering all over the pond were in fact little beetles arriving in their thousands and dive-bombing into the water. Having run the gauntlet of the many pond skaters intent on a bit of fast food and struggled through the surface tension they were off like little bonitos to explore their new home.

I’ve never seen this on such a scale before and I think it was amazing!

‘Wonderful!’ fits in just below ‘Amazing!’ and there is lots about the pond that sits in that category. It is alive with creatures that have made their own way to it and settled in.

Great Diving Beetle

Long Water Scorpion

European Green Toad

Water Boatman

There are also Common Black Diving Beetles, Whirligig Beetles, Pond Skaters and much more. There are also four young Grey Mullet that have survived over the winter and seem to be thriving. OK, they didn’t fly in or make their own way here, I netted them in a pond up in the mountains and carried them here in a bucket! All-in-all I’m delighted with the pond and can’t wait for the dragonflies and damselflies to emerge.

So, apart from sitting around and drinking beer, what else have we been doing? Well, J has been beavering away on the veggie patch. When you consider that just over a year ago this was a stony, compacted desert the transformation is ‘Amazing!’

There is an ‘Amazing!’, satisfying calmness to our life when we are up here. Not that Okçular is frantic or stressful you understand. But picking caterpillars off the leaves of fruit trees or watching, beer in hand, beetles plop by has a certain . . something. Add to that mix the ‘Loveliest Of Trees’ . .

. . cooking alfresco . .

. . completing the ‘Grand Entrance’ . .

. . and doing useful things like making an ashtray from recycled materials after J discovered yet another butt-end in the garden!

And now you are amazed that anyone could find any of this stuff ‘Amazing!’

Alan, off looking for beetles and caterpillars.

 

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Flushed!

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Yesterday, you may recall, ‘Shit Happened!‘ Today? Well, today is another day!

This morning we both felt a tad moribund. The need to go to the loo being counteracted by the chipped lip of the plastic paint bucket that was filling the toilet role (such a way with words). The garden beckoned but the prospect of no water for five days, and no rain forecast either, had us reluctant to plant seeds and, instead, wandering around the garden hacking viscously at baby thistles and the like!

Meanwhile, after the visit yesterday by the Forestry people and the Jandarma, all was quiet on the Western front. The monster was also moribund – but more so.

Five days was looking more like five months, five years or maybe never! The Forestry people were back in some force with much coming and going. Enveloped in our ever more dense cloud of pessimism a small miracle occurred. Our neighbour Sadık arrived in his battered old Tofaş (an old-style Lada by any other name) with a great coil of water pipe tied on the roof. Knowing our situation, and being our plumber, he had taken it upon himself to get us sorted one way or another. Within twenty minutes water was flowing!

Sadık, a true neighbour, a squire and a gentleman!

This wonderful fellow has sorted a temporary arrangement that will see us through until the situation at the source is finalised. And finalising it (to paraphrase Capt Oates) may be some time!

Once Sadık left, again refusing payment, ‘We can sort it all later.’ (you recall he repaired the ravages of winter on the watering system), the Big Nobs arrived in force. The Forestry Chief for our province arrived with various Deputy Chiefs in one of those very intimidating 4x4s. We haven’t seen him for over a year when he donated a wad of trees for our garden. It was great because he was so interested to see what we had achieved since his last visit. The pond was a smash hit as were all the trees and J’s garden and compost heaps got special attention. Then they were off to assess what our new neighbour had been up to with his hired digger. Such a site visit by such high-flyers does not auger well for him.

And so it proved. What he has ordered done is totally illegal and he must answer for it before a judge. The owner-driver of the digger machine has had his machine and low-loader impounded and it will be parked outside our village muhtar’s office until there is a resolution by the judge. I don’t know if the driver has been charged but the loss of income alone will be devastating. A clear warning to others to ensure that, before you half pull a mountain down and fill a ravine and water course, what you are doing is legal!

So, life is pretty much back to normal and our moribund has done a bunk!

Alan Fenn, flushed and showered too!

ps after 20 years and a lot of political upheaval folk still ask us what it is that binds us to Turkey – the answer is all around us – Turks!

pps the Forestry Dept has undertaken to gift us a bunch of lavender plants – special delivery expected some time soon.

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Shit Happens

. . to misquote Donald Rumsfeld.

We wandered back up here to the cabin today. The plan was to catch up on how the garden has been doing since we were last here two weeks ago when J planted a whole load of stuff. It’s been cold up here, here is a photo posted by our neighbour yesterday.

Not only has it been snowing but there was the ominous sound of a digger at work near where we source our spring water for the cabin. We should have gone to check what was going on right away, but we didn’t. An hour later and all that was coming out of the taps was a gurgle!

We girded our loins and set off to investigate. Seems some local has bought this particular bit of ravine and decided to pull the mountainsides down to create a flat area. In the process the digger has ripped out our pipe, ‘disappeared’ the filtration system and may well have done in the water supply to the beach cafe and another of our neighbours.

It’s ironic really because over-winter the garden watering system suffered some freeze damage and had only just been repaired!

I know, I know! This is not how it is and it’s just some ‘cock-up’ pic from the internet that I’m using for effect. But you know and I know that when people hire in blokes with diggers there is a disaster just waiting to happen. Guaranteed!

Anyway, when we pointed out the end of our ripped up pipe the patron said he was just as shocked as we were. He has assured us that it will all be sorted and we’ll be back in business within five days! Well, that’s what he said!

I’m not so sure because a short while ago the Forestry Technical Services people arrived together with a minibus full of Jandarma. Work has now stopped and the technical guys are remeasuring to ensure that all is as it should be. Our plumbing neighbour is well on top of the job and says he’ll get us fixed up with a temporary arrangement until things are sorted properly.

Meanwhile, we are stocking up on big bottles of water from the spring around the lake and an old bucket has been pressed in to service as we revert to the time honoured boating practice of ‘bucket and chuck it’! Always remembering, of course, to empty the contents down wind!

a finely crafted example of the basic shipboard item

As it says in the header of this blog ‘Burası Türkiye! This Is Turkey!’

Alan Fenn, re-enacting the life style pre-Thomas Crapper.