Sweat Shop

Exclusive!

Last week, undercover reporters from the Daily Male gained access to a sweat shop in south western Turkey. What they discovered and recorded with their secret cameras was shocking!

In one room they found an Old Age Pensioner is being held in conditions of absolute segregation and subjugation – forced to slave over a 1956 Husqvarna sewing machine in temperatures that could fry eggs!

sweat shop worker

Our reporter crept into the sweat shop unnoticed by the security personnel and managed to speak to the terrified worker on condition of anonymity. What she learned was heart-rending!

Q. Ali (not real name), how did you end up here?

A. Well, it was like this; one day I was at work in the UK when my back gave out. When I came to I was in this sweat shop in Okçular where I was forced to take things easy and get involved in projects and things I’ve always wanted to do. I was forced to take up photography and go swimming and walking and building radio-controlled planes and traveling around – it’s been terrible! I even had to drink the odd rakı when they knew that all I craved was good, English bitter beer. It’s been torture, the bastards! Then there’s the wonderful climate and waking up to those bloody birds chirruping in the trees – it’s so hard sometimes, I can’t tell you!

Q. So, what are they making you do now?

sweat shop (2)

A. Well, as you can see, the jeans of the overseer had got a bit tatty and in need of repair so rather than go out and get a new pair like any normal person she forces me to use my long-forgotten skills as a ‘Jack-of-all-trades’ to repair them. I tell you, it’s hell!

sweatshop (3)

Q. Do you want to get out of here? I could help.

A. Funny you should ask that because I’ve wondered and thought about that a lot just lately what with the UK election being in the news and the Tories getting a majority and all that. Truth to tell. I’ve been trapped here for so long now that I don’t feel that I belong back there (in UK) any more. So, thanks for the offer, but, no thanks. I’ll stay here and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – or words to that effect. Anyway, my residence permit is valid until 2099 – or will be when the post office delivers it!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Sweat Shop

Cereal Killer

quintus_horatius_flaccus‘Ille salubris aestates peraget, qui nigris prandia moris finiet.’ so says Quintus Horatius Flaccus, better known to us non-grammar school oiks, as Horace in his 35 BCE piece called Satires. It roughly translates (so I’m told) as ‘A man will pass his summers in health, who will finish his luncheon with black mulberries.’ Those Romans knew a thing or two about mulberries, I can tell you!

J and I scatter dried mulberries over our morning muesli, we love the chewy texture. This time of year we are able to gather the ripe berries of Morus nigra, the Black Mulberry, from the young tree right by our gate and add them to the dish. Not only are they finger-stainingly good they are delicious!

black mulberry

IMG_7687

IMG_7689

Move on to around 1649 and a chap by the name of Nicholas Culpeper produced his The Complete Herbal. Based on a combination of local lore, science and astrology and published in plain English the book has remained in use ever since.

culpeper

Here, according to my copy of Culpeper’s, are the medicinal virtues of mulberry: The ripe berries open the body. Unripe and dried they stay the fluxes, laxes and women’s courses. The bark of the root kills broad (tape) worms in the belly. The juice from the berries made into a syrup helps inflammations and sores of the mouth and throat. A decoction of the bark and leaves is good to wash the teeth when they ache. The leaves, bound in place, stay bleeding of the mouth or nose or the bleeding piles. Quite how one would bind stuff in place in the case of piles is not explained!

In modern times the bark is still used as a laxative and intestinal de-wormer and a syrup of fruit helps overcome fever. They are rich in ‘grape sugar’ which is easily assimilated and provides energy. The leaves contain compounds that help suppress high blood sugar and have long been used in the treatment of diabetes. Compounds in the leaves of Morus alba White Mulberry have proved to be effective in suppressing the progression of atherosclerosis, the buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in our arteries. It does this by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, the so-called bad cholesterol), which is a major factor in the development of atherosclerotic plaque.

round the mulberryChances are, like me, the only thing you knew about mulberries before today was the nursery rhyme from Mother Goose. But why go around a mulberry bush? Wouldn’t a myrtle be as good, or a honeysuckle? Not according to the ancient Celts, who believed that dancing around a mulberry bush at the time of the summer solstice would help protect them from fairies. (Not all fairies are nice, most are malicious, and they reach the height of their magic powers at the solstice.) History does not record how successful this strategy was for the Celts and the fact that there aren’t too many of them around begs the question!

Who would have thought it? No wonder Silkworms are so healthy and full of life! Old Horace, the Celts and Nick Culpeper knew a good thing when they found it. The crazy thing is that, around here at this time of year, mulberries are to be had in bucket loads for free and nearly all the townies we see enjoying ‘the nature’ turn their noses up at the thought of eating them and getting ‘dirty’ fingers.

As for the ‘Cereal Killer’ on the title – well, I put mulberries on my cereal and they kill off any intestinal worms that may be lurking – I know it’s a bit ‘loose’ but then they cure that as well!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Cereal Killer

Holy Ground

old graveNot many days ago J and I were meeting some new friends and taking them up into the mountains in the hopes that we’d find that nature had been punctilious and there would be the astounding sight of three different species of tulip in bloom at the same time.

Being awfully English we were ready to roll much too early and so decided to stop off at various village cemeteries along the way to the rendezvous. Graveyards are fascinating places if you are not a spiritualist on their day off! They are seldom disturbed and flora and fauna flourish in the nutrient-rich environment – I love them and look forward to making my own ‘drop-in-the-bucket’ to Mother Nature in due course.

Here are some examples of the contributions people have made without even thinking about it – sort of bio-degradable legacy, if you will.

Viper's Bugloss

Viper’s Bugloss

Lupin

Lupinus micranthus – Hairy Lupin

Chinese Mallow

Chinese Mallow

Salsify

Salsify – Tragapogon hybridum

Orobanche alba

Orobanche alba

Serapias orientalis

Serapias orientalis – species of Tongue Orchid

Field Gladioli

Field Gladioli

Serapias politisii

Serapias politisii – species of Tongue Orchid

Serapias politisii - double tougued

and a most unusual double headed/tongued specimen

Iris pseudacorus

Iris pseudacorus – endemic

iris environment

and its environment

Tulipa armena ssp lycica

Tulipa armena ssp lycica – Armenian Tulip

Fritillaria sibthorpiana

Fritillaria sibthorpiana – endemic

Finally, a ‘holy grave’ connection:

Holy Orchid - Orchis sancta

Orchis sancta – Holy Orchid

Phlomis fruticosa – Jerusalem Sage

I was tempted to call this post ‘Holy Ground’ instead of ‘A Grave Matter’ or something similar. The idea being to plug in to the popularity of the drinking song of that name by the Dubliners and get a boost to the number of views from ‘Googlers’. I’m sure it would have been an effective but really cheap trick and I’m glad I didn’t do it in the end. So, to cheer me up for being so honest, I’ve included a clip of the lads giving it one to help the ‘Liffy Water’ go down!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Holy Ground

Silly Season

Silly Season – (noun)

  1. (British) a period, usually during the hot summer months, when journalists fill space reporting on frivolous events and activities

Alright, so it’s not really summer yet, but I’m busy (really) re-roofing the back balcony and covered area, and I’m worried that you’ll be thinking again that I’ve popped my clogs if I don’t stick something up. There’s been rainwater problems for some time and I kept promising to get around to the job one day. ‘One day’ arrived about a week ago and so it’s been days of steady toil with the odd one off to go market shopping – no scope for dossing about doing this sort of stuff!

Anyway, I’ve quite reasonably assumed that more posts about the exploits of Bob the Builder would be yawn inducing and so I’ve settled for a Picture Post edition (the link is to a brilliant Picture Post exhibition). The subject is J and her Yorkshire passion for cricket – on second thoughts, you may want to go and view the PP exhibition instead!

BushCricket210

J was quietly noshing her apple, when . .

BushCricket211

this fellow turned up demanding a little nibble

BushCricket204

he, for it is indeed a ‘he’, was quite demanding

BushCricket220

. . with impressive mandibles

BushCricket224

. . and fastidious manners

‘He’ is Saga pedo, a Predatory Bush Cricket and for those of you with little going on in your lives just now here’s a link where you can become better acquainted.

Alan Fenn, Fiddling On The Roof

ps I did think this was better than nothing, but on re-reading I’m not so sure – oh, well!

Silly Season

The Emperor’s New Clothes

emperors-new-clothesSometimes, being in the right place at the right time can have humiliating or even catastrophic consequences. The story by Hans Christian Andersen comes to mind about the two tailoring conmen who promised the vain-glorious emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that he doesn’t see any suit of clothes until an innocent child cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!

And sometimes, being in the right place at the right time can leave one open-mouthed in wonder or delight! A couple of evenings ago, J and I arrived home from a delightful day hunting out orchids and tulips in village graveyards and mountain meadows with new friends and wound up with a very nice meal at one of our favourite riverside restaurants in the mountains. As I parked the car in the garage I spotted this:

giant viennese emperor moth1

giant viennese emperor moth2

A female Saturnia pyri the Giant or Viennese Emperor Moth aka Giant Peacock Moth. She had only just emerged from the pupae that had been fixed inside a nearby nest box and was in the process of ‘pumping-up’ her wings.

By next morning that part of the process was over. The female seldom flies at this pre-mating stage and so she hung there, under the overhang of the garage , conserving her energy and waiting for the night and the trysting hours. As twilight drew on she began emitting pheromones, a sort-of ‘Chanel No5′ on steroids and a real turn-on for any male Emperor Moth within a mile or so of this gorgeous creature.

giant viennese emperor moth3

The Saturniidae family are an interesting lot – adult females emerge with a complete set of mature ova and “call” males by emitting pheromones. Males can detect these chemical signals up to a mile away with help from sensitive receptors located on the tips of their feather-like antennae. The males fly several miles in one night to locate a female and mate with her; females generally will not fly until after they have mated.

The mouth-parts of adult saturniids are very small and basically useless and they lack digestive tracts so adults subsist on stored lipids acquired during the laval stage. Adult behaviour is devoted almost entirely to reproduction – life without food is short and sweet with a lifespan of a week or less after emergence.

Their distribution is across southern Europe and parts of Africa and Asia. In the UK you have the Lesser Emperor Saturnia pavonia which is smaller but a little more colourful.

So, from the egg there emerges a tiny, brownish caterpillar that then goes through a series of moults that transforms it from this:

Saturnia pyri hatchling

to this:

saturnia pyri caterpillar

After about five moults it then pupates inside a tough ‘box’ that it spins for protection. The connection with its close relative the silkworm is apparent.

Saturnia pyri5

S pyri pupae

. . from this the adult emerges and it starts all over again!

Anyway, back to our own story of romance and seduction! At some point during the hours of darkness, a knight in shining scales flew in, surfing the pheromonical airwaves that make Coco Chanel look a total amateur. There was, I’m sure a exchange of pleasantries before an exchange of a more compelling nature was mutually agreed upon. Come the morning light our amorous couple were oblivious to anything but each other.

giant viennese emperor moth4

giant viennese emperor moth5

. . let no man put asunder!

After the passion comes that suffused, floating feeling that every Emperor and Empress will only know once – unless they have genetic memory! Here they are, resting in the warm glow of a Westering sun.

giant viennese emperor moth7

  As I write this they have flown up into the lower branches of our Oriental Plane tree and will no doubt be about the business of depositing the eggs of another generation of these beautiful creatures.

giant viennese emperor moth8

the sun shines through the wings of the slightly battered male

giant viennese emperor moth9

the female – great with eggs

These beautiful moths are very amenable to gentle, cautious handling – just putting my finger close to the female had her stepping across for a photo-shoot.

giant viennese emperor moth10

Saturnia pyri to handa head-on with those amazing antennae (Wikimedia)giant viennese emperor moth11

some wing detailgiant viennese emperor moth12profile

So, there you have it – a new suit of clothes for the Emperors that, in just a few days, will be just a story tale . . until next year.

Alan Fenn, in Incredible Okçular

The Emperor’s New Clothes

Ambushed!

Okçular-Village-Guide_1This coming year will see the gradual winding down of the Okçular Book Project. It was started by way of giving something back to our village for all the love and support we have been given since we were fortunate enough to land in the lap of this farming community.

Originally conceived as a small booklet that would tell a few stories, that could be sold to raise a few lira that could be used for the benefit of the community, the project mushroomed into two guides that over the years has raised thousands upon thousands of lira. To say that our expectations were exceeded would be a gross understatement!

With the exception of two items, a playground in the village centre and a village photo archive, all other projects funded from the books have centred around the school. The creation of the beautiful murals and gardens with Gülay Çolak and Fiona MacRae that so transformed the formerly drab, utilitarian seat of learning came first.

gulay fiona

Fiona and Gülay

the old geezer

the Old Geezer bending his back . . again!

mural crewthe murals crew

This was followed by wi-fi for the whole school; bicycle racks; a library in every classroom; the restoration of a beautiful old wooden outdoor chess set and making a tiled board; the funding of a complete science cupboard.

chess

Ok school watering sys

Okcular school10

Recently the book money provided an agricultural-grade watering system that will keep the garden plants and young trees alive throughout the long, hot summer holidays. This was followed by steel railings to protect the the system and the plants from over exuberant ball games. And there is still plenty of cash in the kitty to do more as needs arise!

So, you may well ask why we feel it is time to wind the Book Project down – it’s a good question. The answer has everything to do with need for complete rewrites and re-vamping of both guides which would entail a huge amount of time and work and the fact that neither of us is getting any younger and there are many other things/projects we want and need to find time for.

Anyway, moving on – 23rd of April is National Sovereignty and Children’s Day here in Turkey and each year we go down to our village school to show our support for the efforts of the children and teachers in their celebration. Here are a few photos to give you a taste:

Okcular school3

Okcular school4

Okcular school5

 

Okcular school6

Okcular school7

the pre-school class getting their ducks in a row – sort of!

Okcular school8

okcular school9

Part way through the proceedings J and I were startled to hear our names and a summoning over the audio system. Mystified and a tadge embarrassed in front of all the children and parents, we gathered at the rostrum where there followed a fulsome thank you from the head teacher for the support given by us through the Book Project over the years. As I shuffled my feet, J was presented with a wonderful armful of flowers and promptly burst into tears!

Okcular school1

Okcular school2

. . in the national colours of Turkey, too!

Alan Fenn, ‘Ambushed’ but very happy to be part of Okçular Köyü

Ambushed!

Knackered!

beer o'clockThere are few things more satisfying than completing a project! Unless, that is, it is the relief that it is well and truly done with and it is beer o’clock!

YGT aka ‘You Gorgeous Thing‘ has its new set of boots for its roots and pretty smart they look, too. Regular readers will know of whom and what I speak – casual browsers can click on the link for enlightenment. The work has been hard on these creaky knees and back with much cracking and groaning, especially in the morning when faced with the prospect of more of the same.

Like all great projects, the sun rarely shines on just one hero – full credit has to be given to young Samet who has manfully done all the heavy lifting and carrying for me, and to good mate Alan who gave up a day to mix mortar so that I could stay on my poor, old, long-suffering knees for longer pointing up all the new-laid stone! I couldn’t have managed without you guys – well, I s’pose I could but it might have taken one of those wonderful, Soviet era Five-Year Plans!

work mates1Samet

workmates4

the man with the ‘muck’

work mates2

Alan – behind bars where he belongs!

work mates3

look at his face – he’s enjoying the pain!

Anyway, for those who were upset that I hadn’t included a photo of YGT in the previous post, here’s a couple of it wearing ‘Wisteria‘ from the Spring Collection.

wisteria

wisteria2

precocious young thing

job jobbed

job jobbed!

Finally, about the title, for the benefit of our readers in foreign parts – a ‘knacker’ was not originally (and here I quote the Oxford English Dictionary) ‘n. vulgar slang for testicles’. No, it originally referred to a person who disposes of dead or fallen and unwanted animals that are not for human consumption. So, when an animal was worn out it was said to be ‘knackered’ and ready for the ‘knacker’s yard’, terms that readily lent themselves to the working classes after long hours or years at the grindstone. It has nothing at all to do with the ‘knack’ which is an aptitude for performing a skill or task or a ‘knackwurst’, which I am assured is a short, fat sausage!

knackered

this is knackered!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

Knackered!

Black and White

We had a treat here in Okçular today – a rather uncommon visitor dropped in on Black Lake for a quick bite before moving on. Ciconia nigra, Black Storks stopped by on their way from equatorial regions of Africa to their nesting grounds in northern Turkey and Europe

Ciconia nigra distribution

yellow – breeding range; blue – wintering range; green – year round

Relying, as they do, on thermals to assist their long passage-making, they tend to use three overland corridors – in the West they follow the coast and cross into Europe via Gibraltar; in the central Med they cross from Tunisia and then island-hop through Malta and Sicily into Italy. In the East they use the Red Sea, Sinai, Syrian shoreline before swinging a left along the Turkish coast and then north through the Bosphorus and then spreading out to their breeding grounds across Europe and Russia.

Most of us living here in Turkey are familiar with the Black Stork’s close cousin, the White Stork. The Whites are much more tolerant of us humans. Blacks, on the other hand are shy and wary creatures choosing to live away from human disturbances and so getting a chance to see them is a rare treat. In the past, on odd occasions, we have seen single Blacks and couple of  times there have been two of them feeding up on the lake before disappearing as quickly as they arrived. Today, J set off in the car only to rush back to let me know that there were black birds on the lake. The lens I had available is a 300mm and the birds were a long way off – this is the best I could do . .

Black and White Storks1a White arrives to keep the blacks company

Black and White Storks2

. . here are some pics from serious photographers . .

Black Stork1a couple of adults

Black Stork2

Black Stork juvanile

a juvenile

Such beautiful creatures . .

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

 

Black and White

This’n’That

Life has felt rather full of ‘doing stuff‘ these past 10 days or so. The old back and knee bones have most definitely been ‘connected’ and are feeling the pace and their age. This despite the fact that we have a very good and reliable young man in our occasional employ who does pretty much anything we ask of him whenever we ask. He’s a really good ‘Gopher’ and ‘Dopher’!

Moving on: Living with us we have very beautiful teenager by the name of Platanus orientalis, who also answers to the name of ‘You Gorgeous Thing’, YGT for short. One day, all things being equal, YGT will grow to over 30 metres in height and attain an age that Methuselah would have been proud of had he lived that long! Methuselah, of biblical fame, lived (so it says) for 969 years. He obviously got tired of swimming against the tidal wave of ageing because he popped his clogs just seven days before the start of the Great Flood. It’s likely that Mr Noah would have denied him passage anyway on the grounds that he was well over the reproductive hill . .

methuselah_syndrome-ianlome

. . and not very pretty, either! (artwork from Ian Lome)

The other Methuselah is a splendid old Grand Basin Bristlecone Pine aged around 4850 years and YGT, with its ‘live fast, love hard, die young’ mentality, does not expect to be around long enough to get that bored!

METHUSELAH bristle cone

trust me – this Methuselah fairly bristles with health

Dredging up these snippets of mostly useless information gives me great pleasure – especially when I find myself standing with creaking joints, gazing into cupboards and wondering why I’m there!

Anyway, getting back to YGT, like most teenagers these days it’s been getting a bit too big for its roots and causing some upset and cracks around the fabric of the family home! The very foundations of our life together were being disrupted. Something had to be done!

roots

Now, we love YGT and have no intention of giving it the ‘bonsai snip’ – no, we decided that the answer was more freedom because, as they say, with freedom comes responsibility. The responsibility not to be a bloody nuisance and cause any more upheavals for at least the next ten years! I mean, there was masses of concrete that had to be lifted and recycled into usable rubble for extra ‘blinding-off’ . .

rubble

. . a new retaining wall to be built, new concrete to lay followed by relaying of the stone paving.

brick terrace

Knowing how I feel right now, today I informed YGT that we now have a new social compact (as Old Labour liked to call any new bit of anti-union legislation) and if I’m faced with a repeat performance before I shuffle-off this mortal coil then YGT will become Fx4 – ‘Free Fuel For the Fire’ in very short order!

In between laying bricks and feeling knackered J and I were ‘hosting’ some 60 young students from the International School in Istanbul for part of a day. They have been coming to this corner of Turkey for about three years now and the organisers like to bring them to Okçular where we take them on a visit to our beautiful Kocadere Valley and give them some idea of the value of these places and the need to protect them . .

students in Kocadere

. . before they end up at our village primary school. There these children, usually from a privileged background, intermingle with the kids from our school who mostly come from a very different background. It is a formula that has proved to be very stimulating and very constructive. This year the visitors brought a gift of loads of footballs and basketballs bought with money raised from a cake bake and sale.

international students at Okcular primary school1

international student in Okcular2

international chess game Okcular

there was even an international chess match

Finally, adding to the ‘stress’ of fitting everything in, we went to our bolt-hole to check out a promising plot of land – it was pretty good, just didn’t quite light the blue touch-paper. This is what pushed all the right buttons . .

 the perfect place

. . the view from this relic of a bygone time. If it all comes together, and it is a big ‘if’, then this really is worthy of a proper restoration job – right down to the last cow pat and straw brick!

Dungroamin

For a name I thought ‘Dungroamin’ was as good as any!

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

This’n’That

Intestinal Fortitude – ‘Guts!’

However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
Stephen Hawking
How true! Attitude is everything –
‘Life is like a world made up of different windows where good and bad intermingle and everyone has their own perspective. In this world we each try to make a place for ourselves.
Some allow fate to cast a shadow over their future whilst others create positive outcomes from whatever life throws at them . . Our lives may not always be what we have hoped for, but seldom is it as bad as we sometimes allow ourselves to believe . . We each seek happiness and to achieve it we should choose to look at life through the ‘happiness window’.
As I look out from my self-created window I see the world filled with colour even though ‘fate’ painted a black picture for me some years ago . . From my small world I have managed to reach inwards to realise huge dreams and have trained my arms to drive my wheelchair towards hope.
Although I was paralysed 15 years ago I am thankful for having had the opportunity to live in this diverse and multi-coloured world because it is life itself that matters, and to be able to share the sunrise of another new day with those I love.

When I was forced to change my perspective on life I was never alone in my struggle . . . I am thankful to the rainbow of people who have given so much support on my journey of hope – how lucky I am that you are all there . . . ‘       Gülay Çolak

Over the few years that J and I have known Gülay we have watched her blossom as her self-confidence in her own creative ability has grown. Her positive attitude has drawn others to her and those people have, in turn, found their own lives enriched whilst, at the same time, enriching hers. People like Len who, when he realised Gülay’s need for a proper workshop, set about organising his mates and, using their former work-skills, they built one for her. Positivity is a very ‘attractive’ power and a force to be reckoned with.
Mutlu
Mutlu (which translates as happy, lucky or fortunate in Turkish) is well-named
 People like Mutlu Bengüler, a successful business owner from Izmir who so admires Gülay’s grit and determination to overcome her disability and provide for her family that he sent her boxes of stuff that she can turn into desirable items using her self-taught skills as an artist. He wrote to her of his admiration for her courage and attitude. He said he had a good life, a great family and a good business and wanted to help her in her endeavours – he has, quite unannounced, repeated this kindness on several occasions.
Recently she received a pallet-load of marble tiles of various sizes from the Denizli Marble and Stone Manufacturers’ Association with an commission to decorate some of them. The idea being that the association would give them away as gifts.
GB0068
11668_10205161520570377_2368407071131264823_n
This was followed up with an invitation to be an expenses-paid guest of one of the companies at the massive, annual Marble Fair in Izmir. The invitation included a commission to paint some eight portraits on marble of various ‘big-wigs’ such as Kemal Kılıçdağoğlu leader of the CHP (main political opposition party), İzmir and Denizli Valis (Provincial Governors), Commander of the 4th (Aegean) Army, the Economy Minister as well as several mayors and heads of chambers of commerce. She was also able to demonstrate her art to visitors and potential clients.
GB0047gulayplus2GB0064
B21T2521
 GB0050GB0051
GB0061Nihat Zeybekçi – Economy Minister
10320610_10205161520370372_342549180145473077_n
Gülay described the experience as one of joy, excitement and tears. Joy at the reception she and her work received; joy that the company paid most of the hotel expenses for her, her husband and daughter for the four days; the excitement of staying in a hotel for the first time in her life; the excitement of being interviewed by a television crew (see her interview here as long as the link stays up); the tears when she realised that their four-star hotel had put them on the third floor, had no toilet access for anyone in a wheelchair and a lift that was so small she had to be carried like a sack of coal up any stairs! Tears when she realised that the huge İzmir Fair site (the size of our local town, Ortaca) did have one toilet facility for disabled visitors but that access for a wheelchair was impossible because of a barrier! Legs crossed and whistle, then! Not only does she have a wonderful attitude, she proved she has some serious will-power, too! Mind over matter, as my old sergeant, Danny (The Beast) Haddon,  used to say!
GB0066
 Some of the beautiful stuff she took up with her has found its way to the US as well as into boardrooms, offices and living rooms around Turkey. She was handed photos and given commissions on the spot for collection the next day. This resulted in late night painting sessions in her hotel room ending in the early hours before she was off again the next morning to the fair for another day of smiling, working and (metaphorically) keeping her legs crossed!
How much her exposure at the fair will reflect in future commissions remains to be seen – what I can tell you is that the experience has been great for her, boosting her confidence and self-image no end. I would also add that if intestinal fortitude – guts to you and me – was worth its weight in gold then Gülay Çolak would be a multi-millionaire many times over!
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü (bathing in the reflected glory of a wonderful lady)
Intestinal Fortitude – ‘Guts!’