Stuff

All Consuming

ouroborosOuroboros – a symbol that is almost as old as humanity. The depiction of a serpent devouring itself, despite the sinister look of the thing, is actually a symbol of hope and renewal. That the past may disappear from view but is still actually there, hidden away as the serpent ‘grows’ into the future. Personally, I interpret it somewhat differently. I see it as representative of the present political-economic-industrial system as it devours itself before it inevitably drowns in its own shit!

Do snakes actually do such a thing? Could it be possible? Actually, it is not unknown . .

real-ouroboros

a real live Boa Consumer – Boidae capitalisticae – seeing is believing

Anyway, back to this system that is consuming itself and destroying lives and the global environment in its greedy desire to own everything. In the midst of the horrific pictures of capitalist wars to control resources that have thousands of men, women and children blown to pieces,  maimed or drowned in their desperation to escape conflict, a reminder that there is so much beauty that is being lost along with the lives and dreams of the Innocents.

earthrise

The planet will not die. Mother Earth will change and evolve and a million years from now this Blue Sphere will still be blue and it will still be beautiful. If any humans succeed in surviving through what lies ahead then one can only hope that they show greater wisdom than we did.

Meanwhile, in the absence of much travelling about on my part, here are a few of my favourite photos of things I love. I hope they lift your spirits, too:

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robber rhino0031

Ruby-tailed Wasp008

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Syrian Squirrel (up close)

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Stuff

Eventide

(subtitle) Helen, after your comment on the last posting, this one is for you, and me, of course!

Last post, when talking about the experiences of revisiting old boating haunts, I mentioned the pleasure of finding our old Eventide yacht, Cosmic Wind, lying in a mud berth near one of our favorite pubs at Hollow Shore near Faversham. My pleasure was somewhat tempered by the rather, in my opinion, shabby paint-job.

YM Eventide Cosmic Wind

YM Eventide ‘Cosmic Wind

‘What business is it of yours?’ you might well ask. ‘This was my boat! How can you not understand!’ Boats, you see, are never viewed in an unemotional way. When we saw Cosmic we already owned a small 22′ cruiser and we certainly couldn’t afford the asking price for this Eventide, even if we managed to sell our existing boat quickly. And so we sighed as we stroked the beautiful varnish-work and gazed through the brass ports at the warm, glowing interior with its oil lamps, gleaming wood, solid-fuel stove, four berths and a very snazzy ‘Sailor’ vhf radio. Lordy, how I wanted that boat! So, we bought it!

sailor vhf

It was a decision that I never regretted for one moment and J only on those occasions when she was lying below in the grip of mal de mer and longing for death to take her! Designed by Maurice Griffiths, the Eventide is the perfect east-coast cruising boat – long-keeled with two massive bilge keels; they are comfortable at sea and able to take the bottom when the tide goes out. Especially as one of our favourite things was wandering up coastal creeks, chucking out the hook, usually near a pub, lazing away with a book or music, the fire warming a winter’s evening, sheltered by the creek embankments. Such wonderful times and memories that seem, now, like half a life-time away.

So many adventures and each one would fill a post so here’s peek at what was really a bit of a love-in! OK, I know this is being ‘geeky’ and has nothing whatever to do with ‘living, loving and travelling Turkey’, but let’s indulge in a bit of glowing nostalgia, just for Helen and me.

Eventide sail plan

Eventide 3

layout and sail plan

I had Cosmic set up for single-handing, everything was made as easy as possible and J and I would nearly always choose to sail on and off moorings without using the engine and handling everything from the cockpit. In the photos that follow you’ll notice un-yachty things like a ladder (useful when returning from the pub and the tide was out), and a huge oar that could double as a sweep or an emergency rudder. We regarded ourselves as ‘sea gypsies’, rough and ready with all sorts of paraphernalia  hanging from our gleaming mobile home. Those with their ‘plastic-fantastics’ might look askance but we knew we were usually better sailors and in light airs, with our massive sail area, we could out-ghost a J-class!

Here are a few old photos we’ve rediscovered and copied from a scanner, enjoy – I know Helen will!

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off Shipwright’s Arms, Hollow Shore waiting for opening time

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‘ghosting’

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not ghosting – trying to outrun the Townsend Thorenson ferry

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Mac – the very best old sea-dog, ever!

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Dieppe

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the magic of the swatchways

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le Crotoy, River Somme

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emergency prop clearing mid-channel

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stopping road and rail traffic – Kingsferry Bridge, Sheppey

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pub-crawling gear

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Cap Griz Nez

These are the fruits of the hours of labour – the rubbing, sanding, painting, varnishing, fixing. I especially recall the days spent lying underneath the boat with a ‘dolly’ as the shipwright and I painstakingly fastened every single plank with copper rivets – no doubt the reason Cosmic is still afloat to this day. It is said that a boat is ‘a hole in the water that you throw money into!’ Was it worth it? Oh, yes!

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hoarder that I am, I still have books, charts and navigation tools

Finally, a photo of the most self-contained dog ever to go to sea – he could and did hold it all in but when the hook dropped then a dog’s got to do what a dog’s got to do – and he did!!

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Alan Fenn, somewhere down Memory Lane

Stuff

The Pains and Pleasures of Foreign Travel

‘Thar she blows!’ Feeling a bit like Moby Dick, the great, white whale these days – much more comfortable well below the surface wrapped in the security blanket of ‘Home‘!

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We’ve been back from our trip to the UK nearly a week, during which time I’ve sat and gazed blankly at this post page on numerous occasions. The pleasures of being unconnected (mostly), whilst away, seem to have solidified into a ‘memory-foam mattress’ of blogging-Facebook-Googleless lethargy cum disconnect. Re-reading The Road To Wigan Pier and starting Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan/Gormenghast trilogy has proved a far more interesting occupation.

Our UK visit was timed around SPGB Summer School weekend at the very attractive and user-friendly Fircroft College. This is an event that always lifts our spirits along with many a glass of fine ale! This year felt special reconnecting with a number of old friends and getting to know some new faces.

Summer School was followed by the seriously enjoyable pleasures of spending time with family and dear friends and the mixed pleasures and pains of getting reacquainted with the land of our birth. Here, in no particular order are some of them:

Fine, English bitter beer . .

fine bitter beer

 J getting stuck into one

No1 daughter

(full credit belongs to No1 Daughter who understands perfectly how to please we crusty ‘boffers’)

. . and learning that it’s only most and not all of the traditional pubs that have closed down . .

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the-shipwright-s-arms

The Shipwright’s Arms, Hollow Shore, Faversham – once, the only way to get to it was across the fields or, our preferred method, using our boat – which we sold more than twenty years ago. Imagine our surprise and delight as we walked along the creek embankment to spot a familiar hull – and there she was . .

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. . albeit with all of her brass bits, ports and varnish-work buried under a very unflattering paint job. Cosmic Wind, for that is indeed her name, was built around 1959-60 in Oxford to a Maurice Griffiths  Eventide design and proved to be the perfect East Coast cruising boat. Looking at her still plucks a few strings!

Moving on and giving some balance to the pleasures above was the delight of getting infected by *&+% (no names, no pack-drill) who should have been wearing one of these . .

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. . as that cleared up it was followed by . .

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. . further demonstrating the need to protect oneself against foreign pathogens whilst in foreign lands!

Back to the good stuff – in Tankerton, again, thanks to No1 Daughter, we were introduced to this gem, little changed from days of childhood of the 1950’s – then . .

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. . and now . .

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. . with the best bacon sarnies in the world . .

Bacon sandwich

More ‘quintessentially English’ stuff . .

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Cricket on the village green – Bearstead CC founded in 1749

canal tow-path Birmingham

. . wandering along canal tow-paths around Birmingham . .

. . and reconnecting, after a very long time, with dear friends and two of the loveliest people on Planet Earth . .

dearest of friends

The ‘joy’ of taking four and half hours to drive 91 miles . .

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the M6 northbound

. . to get to a concert at the very impressive Manchester Central Library . .

manchester central library

. . to meet up with John Surman, Chris Lawrence and the Trans4mation string quartet led by Rita Manning. We also met up with old friend composer/arranger John Warren. JS is family and J has known Chris and JW from long before she and I teamed up. We last saw this line-up about three or four years ago when they played at the Hagia Irene in Istanbul – it was yet another memorable experience. Here’s a sample to finish off with . .

Alan Fenn, still somewhere out in the Wide, Blue Yonder!

Stuff

Let’s Get Out Here

Despair is a terrible thing! For example; J often despairs at my collecting stuff, or hoarding as she usually refers to it. ‘Slim your life down’, she tells me. ‘Get rid of the clutter!’ Secretly I think she despairs at the thought of me shuffling off and leaving the house-clearing to her!

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a few from the bottle collection – you can just make out the antique dust that I collect as well

dead insects

 tiny part of the ‘dead animal’ collection

glass eye collection

the ‘glass eye’ collection

Truth to tell, I only ever owned one glass eye and that I used to keep hidden in a handkerchief. It used to cause great merriment/alarm when I’d pretend to sneeze and send it rolling across the restaurant table or plop it into a beer glass at the pub. Anyway, I’m only showing you these to illustrate that my stuff is not ‘clutter’ and is, in fact, a source of great interest and enlightenment.

This time of year when we are hibernating away from the excessive heat and doing little else but reading, sleeping and eating I find that I despair of conjuring up anything remotely interesting to blog about.  So it was that I turned to one of my bits of bookshelf for inspiration and was reintroduced to two delightful little gems of pure ‘Englishness’ published by the Southern Railway in 1936. They hark back to the days when trains wandered along branch lines and stopped at places that have long ago fallen to Dr. Beeching’s Axe, and are full of warm reminders of carefree days of childhood for nostalgia buffs like me – I love stuff like this!

SPB Mais Southern Rambles

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‘the ancient village charms modern youth’ – so quaint

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as they wander from Oxted to Tubs Hill

southern rambles

gazing down from Toy’s Hilldolcis shoes ad

in their Dolcis suede walking shoes!

Where, you may wonder, is all this rambling leading us? Well, one of the books is titled ‘Let’s Get Out Here’ and that is almost exactly what J and I are doing for a couple of weeks. We are ‘Getting Out Of Here’ and heading for the UK for a good dose of positive at the Socialist Party Summer School followed by lots more positive enjoying time with family. So, ‘Hadi, bye-bye!’ as we say in Okçular, ‘I might be some time.’

Was that a sigh of relief I heard?

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Wanderings

Self Indulgence

There was a time, when vicars, elders and assorted priests had a role in society and pleasuring oneself was considered a sin, when a bit of self-indulgence was thought to lead to blindness and/or paralysis! Not true, folks! J and I are living proof that a little of what you fancy does you good. Repression leads to all sorts of strange hang-ups, as my mother could have confirmed were she not ‘bereft of life’! This chap has been caught early as his eyesight has only just started to dim!

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before you rush to order, this is a spoof ad – I know, I checked it out!

So, onwards and upwards – things can only get better! Having had a few weeks of feeling the need to be around because of the geothermal drilling business (see here, and here) in the overwhelming heat at this time of year plus dealing with some residence permit issues (who hasn’t had those!), we needed to indulge our inner and outer selves and escape to the tranquility of the mountains. There is something about being pretty much alone and surrounded by a world much bigger and wider than those irritations that tend to seem so large at the time – somehow, they just melt away – at least temporarily.

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We didn’t want to spend much time on the road and so we decided to head for Girdev Lake and spend a couple of days at the Girdev Camp owned by İlhan and İnci Kurt. Situated 1800mts above sea-level the lake is always beautiful and at this time of year the herders will be there with their sheep and the environment should be wild with life! We were not to be disappointed. Whilst there we also met a young woman named Raz who woke up one morning in her native Cornwall and said, ‘Raz, old girl! You are at a crossroads in your life – why not take a walk to Istanbul.’ (or words to that effect) So she did! Read her  intermittent blog. Then she bought a bike and cycled off and ended up at Girdev Camp for a while. Where next Raz?

Day one it rained cannonballs for a bit, but mostly the sun shone, the clouds were fluffy and the air was like champagne!

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raining . .

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. . cannonballs!

Girdev is a bit like the wilderness with the edges rubbed off – sufficiently off the beaten track to discourage the casual visitors and yet close enough for those willing to trash their tyres if needs must (of which more later)! How long it is going to remain free of mass tourism is open to question because the machines are out in force scraping and rolling in preparation for asphalt. Will they go all the way? It looks very likely. Add in the electricity that is now there and the hopefulless business ventures lining the side of the road won’t be far behind.

Anyway, whilst it lasts, let’s make the most of it and enjoy the wonders! Here’s one that left me amazed – countless billions (not a typo) of Erythromma viridulum – Small Red-Eyed Damselflies everywhere. I have never seen anything like it!

 Small Red-Eyed Damsefly011

 Erythromma viridulum – Small Red-Eyed Damselfly (female l. male r.)

Erythromma viridulum - Small Red-Eyed Damselflies

. . and then there were these:

Large Skipper Ochlodes venatus

Ochlodes venatus – Large Skipper

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Melanargia russiae Russian Marbled White

Melanargia russiae – Russian Marbled White

. . and then there are the mountains:

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ancient juniper Girdev

with ancient Junipers

mosque in the middle of nowhere Girdev

. . and a mosque in the middle of nowhere

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a lesson in cheese making from a local expert

lunch with goatherders

. . and lunch with delightful goatherders

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. . who live down there

Some random flower pics:

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girdev flowers 3

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final view of Girdev Lake

So, what do you think, folks – splendid, or what?

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

ps when we got back down from Girdev and on to a bit of tarmac we realised we’d probably been driving for miles on a flat rear tyre. It was utterly trashed! The inside and outside walls were ripped like this all around! In the nearby little town the ‘Lastikci’ dug-out a nearly new replacement for the spare, checked everything over – 100 TL/£25 – job jobbed!

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pps for those of you who have been totally enthralled by this scintillating post, here’s a link to an earlier expedition with a certain professor who shall remain nameless to protect his reputation!