Stuff

Amazing, Really!

The world, it seems, is going to hell in a basket! The trashing of the means of survival is a uniquely human trait – apart from lemmings we appear to be the only species that thinks there is a better world on Mars or in the afterlife!

Actually, that is not strictly true (or even true at all), there is no real evidence that lemmings are as stupid as humans! And despite our moronic, blinkered belief that we were granted this world and all that is in it to trash as we please by some imagined Abrahamic deity a  few thousand years ago, by and large, and unlike lemmings, we have failed to grow up into adults.

Meanwhile, Mother Earth-Toprakana-Gaia – struggles on and still manages to amaze us if we bother to notice. Yesterday she provided just such a display of the ‘Amazing! Just amazing, really!’ J and I were walking along the amazingly white beach of our amazingly (nearly) unique magnesium lake. It is my habit to dawdle and poke about in the undergrowth in the hopes of finding creatures and/or flowers that pique my interest.

this is the beach habitat/environment

There, in bunches of sedge scattered between fifty and two hundred metres from the water, were thousands, possibly millions of dragonflies bursting out from their larval stage into the full glory of adulthood. Truly ugly ducklings (for some) into beautiful, graceful swans!

Here is one of the ‘swans’ that has taken a fancy to J followed by images of the amazing transformational process. The species is Orthetrum cancellatum – Black-tailed Skimmer. They are common all over Europe and much of the UK which takes nothing from the spectacle of this mass emerging.

the process begins

everywhere, in countless numbers

meet the fragile, beautiful débutante

and a reminder of just how amazingly beautiful this creature is

Anyway, back to my opening gambit – I’ve discovered how, when the time comes, that I can actually go to hell in a basket – amazing really!

Alan, still being amazed after seventy two years!

Cabin Life

Off Piste!

Off Piste we are not! Our boule piste may not be up to league standard but they are good for a laugh – especially for me as J is on a losing streak these past few days. Comments of empathy/sympathy can be attached and I will enjoy responding!

But enough of all that ‘off piste’ stuff, off grid is what this is about. I mean, no mains electricity equals no electric ovens so what to do when you fancy roast chicken, jacket spuds and roast onions? The answer is in the can!

 

Forty five minutes later . .

Go on. Admit it, you’re impressed, aren’t you?

Alan, on the frontiers of technology!

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

My Gineration

Although I was a British Army soldier in my youth – a ‘Pongo’ to those Ratings of the so-called Senior Service, I was, non-the-less initiated into the delights of the daily rum ration. It happened in the Persian Gulf back in the 1960s as a guest aboard the ‘Ton’ Class minesweeper HMS Kemerton for a week or ten days. Kemerton was hardly part of the ‘Wooden Walls of England’ but she was knocked up out of marine ply and had all the speed and manoeuvrability of a back yard hot-tub!

‘Ton’ Class minesweeper

That said, the crew were a cheery lot and keen to initiate us into the pleasures of the daily  ‘Pusser’s‘ rum ration, the issue of which was preceded by the jolly call of the bosun’s pipe and the bellowing of ‘Up Spirits!’ We Pongos learned about the value of favours done and the currency of rum. A little favour would earn you ‘sippers‘ and progressed through ‘gulpers‘ to ‘three fingers‘ to a full ‘tot‘ for those favours best not discussed here! That operating expensive machinery, as opposed to pulling on bits of rope, and dishing out 1/8th of a pint (admittedly watered down 2:1) of 109 degree proof spirit per man per day were not conducive to steering a straight course was not lost on their Lordships and the ration was discontinued in 1970.

The end of a Royal Navy tradition, as the daily ration of rum is abolished due to safety concerns, 31st July 1970. Cook Thomas McKenzie drains the last drop from the barrel at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. (Photo by Leonard Burt/Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

 We also got swung about in a bosun’s chair and learned that any old Arab dhow can out-run (and probably out-gun) the Royal Navy any old time.

‘Tally-Ho, chaps!’

So, why is someone of my gineration rambling on about this stuff? Don’t know really except there is a rather loose connection between oil, spirits and the biggest of favours!

All these years later my joints are showing signs of wear and tear and despite some expensive treatments they persist in being a pain in the arse. Recently I was introduced to Juniper oil and have been mixing it 4:1 with Calendula oil and rubbing it into my joints. It works! Psychosomatic or real, I don’t care, it works!

Are you spotting the connections here? Ships run on oil – knees run on oil! Rum gets mixed with water – Juniper with Calendula! The final connection – spirits! For generations rum solved every problem ‘Jack Tar’ ever encountered, made every job easier. For my gineration it is Mulberry Gin – Cheers!

Just remember, you drink the gin and rub the oil! And before you raise your eyes to the heavens at getting to this point and realising it was all a waste of time you need to know that up here in the mountains it is nearly June, it is piddling down and we are still lighting a fire to keep warm. What else am I supposed to do?

Alan Fenn. ‘. . talkin’ ’bout my gineration’

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Stuff

Eye Of The Beholder

‘Beauty’, they say, ‘is in the eye of the beholder!’ Unless you happen to be Colonial Marine Private Hudson, (Aliens, 1986) that is, in which case when Sergeant Apone says ‘Look into my eye, Hudson’ is not an offer of affection or comfort!

Anyway, enough of Top Sarg Apone, back to the plot: there is a sort of link between the Alien stars of my all-time favourite movies and what has been going on around the pond at our plot up here in the mountains. A couple of weeks back this fellow arrived and began patrolling whilst grabbing the odd flying morsel – what you might call ‘not-quite-fast-enough-food’!

Libellula depressa – Broad-bodied Chaser (male)

He has a strategically placed stick that he uses as his OP (observation post) when he isn’t on the prowl. The species is well known for its practice of early colonisation of new ponds, ditches, etc. It is also renowned for its aggressive defence of its newly conquered territory. Chasers are not called ‘Chasers’ for nothing!

So, apart from acting the territorial control freak, what else might this splendid looking creature be doing? Correct first time – waiting to molest the fairer sex!

And in this instance, in my opinion, she really is the fairer of the two. Handsome and striking as the male is, the female is gorgeous – a golden streaking, twisting, hovering beauty. As she rockets across his territory the male surges out and seizes her behind the neck. He will have already transferred a sperm sack from his primary genitalia near the end of his abdomen to his secondary where the female will be able to access it.

pair from a different species ‘in tandem’

Many species oviposit together with the male assisting the female in getting her eggs where she wants them. Our Chasers do not. After coupling for about a minute or less, the female will begin laying eggs whilst the male patrols and protects her. She may spend several minutes doing this before vanishing off in to the wide-blue yonder! The male meanwhile settles back into his soldierly routine and awaits another passing fair maiden!

So, what, you might ask, has all this got to do with Alien film stars?  A lot actually – there are eggs and stages of development and startling ways of catching/killing prey. There are many family likenesses. Let’s make a start:

remember these culinary accessories?

I think Aliens evolved from dragonfly nymphs (the larvae) and anyone who thinks differently is a Flat-Earther! I mean, come on – look at this!

 

That said, Aliens have never got beyond the ‘bloody hell!’ stage whilst dragonflies have learned to ‘grow’ into the most amazing of creatures that will dazzle you with their beauty.

female Libellula depressa emerging from the larval stage – one of nature’s greatest wonders

Alan Fenn, out there with the Stars!

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'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Out Of My Skull

Looking for the Okçular walking and cycling guides? Then click here.

. . 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