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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!

Stuff

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)’.

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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.

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Count Your Blessings

My mother used to say that a lot. ‘Count your blessings, you little sod!’ she would say, with the emphasis on the ‘little sod’. This was usually in response to my bemoaning the fact that my measly pocket money would never run to a sherbet fountain and a Matchbox toy.

sherbet

either, or

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The ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ where I pondered the imponderable and suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is no more. Felton’s News Agency in what passed for the High Street, Minster, Sheppey – news, fags and sweets to the left, toys to the right. Now it shares the same fate as the rest of the planet – ‘We’re doomed, Mannering! Doomed!’

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But I digress! Where was I? Oh, yes, blessings and the counting of said.

What got me thinking of ‘blessings’ was chance meetings (and believe me, they are ‘chance’) with various, mostly British, ex-pats. Conversations invariably run to what is wrong with the government; the new road between Ortaca and Dalyan or with the way things run here in Turkey compared with . . It can be eye-glazingly  depressing!

glaze

Very occasionally someone will show that they have some understanding and concern for what is being perpetrated in our region by NATO/FUKUS and yes, Turkey. I find it amazing that there are people from the UK living here where they are called ‘ex-pats’ who are complaining bitterly about the, always ‘illegal immigrants’, getting into the UK and taking the jobs and scrounging benefits!

Me? I’m happy to describe myself as an economic migrant and thank you Turkey for taking me in!

Just over twenty years ago I was told I couldn’t work any more after being diagnosed with an incurable, inoperable spinal condition. I was told I’d be in a wheelchair within five years – a living death sentence (I don’t do pain/suffering very well).

J and I had long ago fallen in love with Turkey so we decided to burn our boats and grab a bit of paradise whilst we could. Seven years into our life here my back gave up the ghost. Unlike the UK, which gave up in advance, here I was found an eminent spinal surgeon who delivered a miracle! These days I grunt and groan when doing jobs but I can do them.

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Our life here is comfortable, interesting and filled to bursting with good stuff. I cannot influence what is going on in the world by very much. I can appreciate things like having a full service and preparation for the MOT on the car that included a new set of tyres for the Lira equivalent of £400! I can enjoy the company of good and dear friends who share our view of the world and enjoy lively debate on so many diverse subjects that do not include football or grandchildren! I love being up here in our mountain retreat by a lake even though it means I’ll be moving even more stones and rocks and groaning at the after-effects! I can appreciate every sunset and sunrise. Above all I can appreciate that, whatever ‘fate’ throws my way, I have a life that countless millions can only dream of. I don’t care very much that I have to drive half way to Dalyan or Ortaca to get on to the opposite carriageway on our new, improved ‘motorway’!

I just don’t care! Alan Fenn.

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Lazarus Rising

Six weeks! Is that all it’s been? Six weeks! It feels like six months – six years even! More like six episodes of the ‘Walking Dead’!

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I’m talking disease! Bubonic Plague and Necrotising Fasciitis (there’s a link for the morbidly inclined) all rolled in to one! Six episodes back J went down with it. Four days later I followed suit and we sank together into the realms of choking snot, blinding headaches and choking coughing. Then my sister arrived for a month-long visit and walked into the maelstrom – she did not resist for many days! Thank you god!

I don’t recall too much about how J and sis were, being a bloke I was totally focussed on my own misery and the endless stream of ‘ectoplasm’ emanating from my sinuses.

ectoplasm 

I mean, seriously, you don’t know what’s living in this stuff!

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A week into sis’ visit Number 1 Daughter arrived to join the party. At this point I should be saying ‘Poor sod!’ but by some miracle of the blessed-somebody-or-other she remained uncontaminated as those around her dissolved and putrefied!

We certainly did our best to give them some good times between the splutters.

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Number 1 looking disgustingly healthy!

We squeezed in a few days up here at the cabin as our visitors had been nothing short of desperate to see the place. Whilst they were here good friend and neighbour Ramazan did them a slightly frazzled chicken, jacket spuds and onions in a tin that was rapidly seen off with a few glasses of beer and wine under the big, old pine tree.

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country kitchen

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Sis and Number 1 have gone back home now – refreshed I hope. We needed a few more days recovery before we felt fit enough to drive back up here to the cabin. Once here we quickly learned that the mind may be willing but the flesh was decidedly weak! Just a few minutes work with a pick or shovel and we were gasping.

Anyway, after a few days of this sweet, mountain air we feel that we are almost back to our normal, energetic selves. The vegetable plot has been cleared and manured and we are half way through sorting the fruit/nut trees. The pool has its new aerator going and looks really healthy with new plants settled in. J has made some splendid green tomato chutney and we have harvested a load of melons and pumpkins. Life is steadily getting back to normal.

As for Lazarus, I’m in total empathy. I know how he felt when JC raised him up. As my dear old mother used to say, ‘Bloody ‘ell! You look like death warmed up!’

Alan Fenn, back in the land of the living!

Stuff

Afterthoughts

In a few days time J and I will be returning back to Okçular. My abla (older sister) will arrive soon enough for a month-long stay and whilst she is here Number 1 Daughter will join us for about ten days. They are more like mother and daughter and having them around is going to be a joy.

We’ve hardly shown our faces at the ‘other house’ these past many months and there will be much dusting, mopping and ‘cobwebbing’ to be done. No doubt there will be the odd corpse . .

cobwebs

. . metaphorically speaking!

It will probably be at least a couple of weeks before we are back up here with both of our ‘guests’ in tow. The weather is on the turn – Autumn is arriving up here where night and day-time temperatures are at least ten degrees Celsius lower than Okçular. When we return it will be soba-time in the evenings!

With that in mind one of the jobs was to ensure that the supply of winter wood was stacked and covered.

winter wood pile

job jobbed!

It’s been fun and very satisfying these past months with so much more achieved than we thought was possible. We’ve feasted on fruit and vegetables from our own efforts and the generosity of our neighbouring smallholders.

melon

garden fruit

We have no idea what these fruits are, the locals call them ‘golden strawberries’ and they are delicious.

golden strawberry 2

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A dragonfly pool has been created and established – it can only get better with new creatures discovering it regularly. Enough well-aged goat manure to last a few years has been delivered and J has started preparing the veggie garden for winter sowing. The weather now is blue skies and distant horizons – it is beautiful and very comfortable to be around and about.

If Mother Nature is kind the rains will begin soon and our neighbours will breathe a sigh of relief and no doubt pray for more and a lot of snow. The village reservoir has been bone-dry these past two weeks for the first time that anyone can remember. We have been fortunate because we are tapped into a source that is fed from a huge marsh area way up the mountain.

Doganbaba baraj 2016

Okçular is much more bio-diverse than here but cannot compete with the dawns and moon-rises over the lake . .

moon over salda lake

or weird spiders . .

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Finally, we have been enjoying one of nature’s glories – Bee Eaters in their thousands are passing through on their way south. Unlike Okçular here almost everyone keeps bees and again, unlike Okçular, there is very little shooting of these beautiful birds. The locals prefer to clap their hands and shout out ‘Defol! at them in the hopes that they understand Turkish!

Bee eater

Please excuse the ‘softness’ of these images, they are taken at extreme range with an ancient, totally manual 500mm reflex lens.

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Alan Fenn, at the turning of the season!