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 . .

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. . 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.

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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.

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garden fruit

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

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

Stuff

On Gold ‘n’ Pond

Posting about our life here in Turkey is not like reporting from the front line. Our days flow by gently, filled (mostly) with little pleasures and small achievements. We are pretty contented as we survey our life together and the views around us, especially up here in the mountains.

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the view from just around the corner back to the cabin

Life may not be fast-flowing but, as I said, it does have its moments – here are just two:

The pond I’ve been rabbiting on about is sort of complete. There are always going to be new plants to add, new creatures to encourage and cosmetic touches here and there. J and I went off up the mountain to the source of all our water to collect reeds, other plants and mud.

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not very exciting, I know, but this is a good beginning

The other event was much more exciting especially for my grandson and his doting mum (aka Number 1 Daughter). Some of you will know that grandson is a considerable athlete and rows for the Great Britain Under 23s/Junior squad. With his graduation from UC Berkeley a short while ago his junior career has culminated with a gold medal at the European Universities Rowing Championship in Poznan, Poland. Eurosport was showing just one hour of rowing and by pure chance we were lucky enough to catch his race and the presentation on TV.  We were also surprised and delighted to see Number 1 Daughter three times as she bounced about at the finish line! Is that amazing, or what?

In the following photos grandson is the stroke at the ‘back’ of the boat.

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3/4 of a length – beautifully judged

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champions – grandson on right

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what does one do with a goat???

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congratulations chaps!

Now he moves on to full time rowing with the GB senior squad – he won’t get very rich but at least his mum is relieved from the pressure of pumping unbelievable levels of calories in to him on a daily basis (somewhere around 4700kcal per day – it’s a lot more complicated than just counting calories). Such is the saving that she can afford a holiday this year and is coming out to visit us – how great is that!

Alan Fenn, on gold ‘n’ pond – geddit!

Stuff

Life, The Pooliverse And Everything

Last post had me and my mate Big Al beavering away, as beavers do, making our home pool.

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Now, I was going to wait until I’d completed the building phase including the artfully placed tree trunks and rock features before inviting your gasps of admiration and incredulity. Trouble is we are now in the middle of a mighty thunder storm and I am not willing to work outside and risk getting struck by lightning for a second time! I am also at a loose end so here we go . .

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With the land sloping away it was necessary to construct strong retaining walls – seems a pity that they will be hidden by the liner

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the bottom was padded out with left over wall insulation boards before the liner was positioned

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an extra layer to aid plant growth was added by a retired kamikaze geezer

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the overflow checked out

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the progress so far – next will come the cosmetic bits on the outside and the various habitats on the inside for plants and creatures

To be continued . .

During the construction stage my mind ever wandered off back in time to the days of the ‘Perishers’ cartoon strip in the Daily Mirror. Dear old Boot was always fascinated by pools and their inhabitants, just like me.

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Alan Fenn, engrossed in the Pooliverse

ps in case you were wondering the first time I was struck by lightning was the day J walked in to my pub and asked for ‘A half of Guiness, please.’

Stuff

Ponderosa

Ponds! I’ve loved them ever since I fell in the Bomb Crater Pond behind the now defunct Sheppey Light Railway station at Minster where I grew up.

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Round and deep and full of scrap it was a haven for newts, frogs, sticklebacks and a myriad of exotic insects. The hours spent there as a kid are the bedrock of my passion for pretty much any sort of creature that spends part or all of its life in water.

So it will come as no surprise that, from the very start of our cabin project, I’ve wanted to develop a small pond that will offer a mix of habitats that should encourage a variety of wildlife. With help from friend Alan who travelled up from Okçular for a couple of days the project is now under way.

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Alan reminds me of Hoss Cartwright, he’s big, wields a mean shovel and likes a glass of Jack Daniel’s when the day’s work is done!

Now, knowing just how rocky the land is up here I had no illusions about how far we’d get in the couple of days he was due to be here. Not wanting to dampen the big fellow’s enthusiasm I kept shtum about what lay ahead. I needn’t have worried, in just four hours spread over two early morning starts the excavation was done and dusted! With me on the pick and Alan throwing the stuff around like a demented JCB it was amazing how the earth moved for us.

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the Big Fellah in action and below some of the rocks we dug out

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Now that the ‘muscle’ has gone back to sweat it out in Okçular (temperatures in the 40s), the task of putting the rocks back where they will serve a useful purpose has begun . .

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seems a pity that they will be hidden behind the pool liner

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To quote a certain Captain Oates, ‘I may be some time.’

Alan Fenn, ‘Ponderosa’, geddit? Oh, never mind! and thank you Alan for the graft.

Stuff

Breakfast At Tefenni’s

My little ‘Piece of Paradise’ is away in the realm of the Great Satan visiting family. I admire her intestinal fortitude since a number of countries around the world have issued clear ‘health’ warnings to their citizens to avoid the place like the plague!

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Let’s face it, apart from the places their armed forces are bombing the crap out of, the ‘Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’ is about the most dangerous place on the planet! (16200 intentional murders per year – 44 per day, excluding those murdered by the police)

So, whilst J has been in hell I have been in paradise up here at the cabin. With nothing to distract me I’ve been pottering around doing useful things. Things like servicing the shower taps; making compost bins;

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complete with its own watering supply

there’s been some new shelving put in the cupboards; the main door needed easing; an extra pot stand and a new, practical table top made and fitted for the balcony.

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halfway decent!

Then, following the current fad for photographing food and sending it to the person opposite, I thought you might like to see what I had for breakfast this morning.

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Home made muesli, home grown grapes, figs and melon – well, OK, the muesli was mixed up from different packets with a few additives and the grapes and figs were home grown by someone else. But the melon was ours grown from a seed planted by J’s green-fingered hand – honest, it was!

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I knew you wouldn’t believe me so here it is with the cairn in the background.

Anyway, I think I need to explain a couple of things. First is the title, ‘Breakfast at Tefenni’ – well, it’s the name of a small town about 30kms from here and just like the muesli, figs and grapes is stretching the truth a bit because I’m not there either.  Still, as J is much closer to Tiffanny’s than I am, I thought it was quite clever and gives this load of twaddle an arty feel! Second is this ‘little piece of paradise’ thing – Turks tend to call J ‘Cennet’ – (pronounced ‘Jennet’ and pretty close to the sound of her name in English) – Cennet means Paradise in Turkish and often leads to smiles and winks in my direction! Turks can also be a right lot of soppy romantics as a search of Google images for the same would show. To save you the trouble I’ll leave you with this:

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Alan Fenn, up those steps somewhere – not really, it’s back to the grindstone!