I Wouldn’t Leave My Little Wooden Hut For You-oo

Some of you will recall that J and I have been searching for a quiet, mountain bolt-hole for some while. About a year ago we discovered a secluded, little gem of an area – you can see some photos here and here. As is often the case with these things, there are pot-holes and swampy bits along the pathway to paradise. In this instance, we are talking about an area under special protection and the fact that the people who ‘own’ the land don’t! Although families had farmed the area for generations there were no formal title deeds. Ho-hum!

Two weeks ago we got a phone call from our under-cover secret agents suggesting that we get ourselves up to paradise toot sweet! A plot was up for sale in a perfect location, at a fair price and the owner had spent a lot of time and money to acquire title deeds! ‘Ferrets up a drain-pipe’ does not adequately describe our reaction time!


Next morning we were on site with our ‘agents’, the owner and really nice guy we’d met previously who happened to own and farm a plot next door to the one we were looking at.

The location was indeed perfect! 1200+ square metres, terraced, with a beautiful, mature pine tree, forest behind and to one side and a great view once the scrub has been cleared. Water for irrigation is free and drinking water is available. We made an offer there and then and by 3pm the next day the title deeds were in our hands. I’m already dreaming of creamy almond blossom scenting the garden in Spring and balmy evenings on the terrace listening to Segovia as he does his thing!



our view towards the lake

Now, this being a protected area, it is not possible to build a permanent structure – a bit of a puzzle you might think. Not really! The provincial roads department has a graveyard of those mobile office things that used to be all the rage.


The chassis is a massive C-section and there are four close-coupled wheels. With the office structure removed one of these would suit our needs perfectly, so we are acquiring one. With the platform area extended, it will hold a 7×4 metre wooden cabin (sans terrace) and if it’s got wheels it can’t be a fixed structure, can it? A modern solar electric system will power LED lighting and a fridge and ‘Bob’s your uncle!’


Access to the plot is via a narrow track that you’d miss if you didn’t know it was there. Here is the digger arriving to do a job of levelling and scrub clearing.


This being the back of beyond, the machine arrived more than an hour late (normal) and, as soon became apparent, with an operator that hadn’t got a clue which lever did what! The real operator had gone to a funeral and didn’t want us to be disappointed! Never mind, another day will do, we don’t need much of a reason to be back here again asap.


he managed to extend the arm before admitting he hadn’t got a clue

– our neighbour was not impressed!

The locals are just as nice as our neighbours here in Okçular – salt-of-the-earth! Out of the blue J and I were told to make our way to our plot-neighbour’s house on the edge of the village.


our plot is way over the other side

The house has fabulous views across the lake and set out on the upstairs terrace was a feast to welcome us to the community. I know we are going to be very happy living part of our time here.



Finally, an interlude whilst we await developments . .

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü and ‘I’m-Not-Telling-You-Where-It-Is’ Köyü



. . as in disabled, handicapped, weakened, incapacitated – this getting older thing is really pissing me off! Before you jump in with, ‘Alan, mind your bloody language!’ I’d better explain.

When J and I got back into our early morning track-pounding routine a couple of weeks back, we had done barely four days before my knobbly knee felt utterly knackered! Days of rest made no difference – walking, standing, sitting, lying down, the discomfort got to be intolerable. Trust me, I do not do stoicism in the face of agony! This same knee had surgery five years ago when the cartilage split like sliced bread so I thought ‘Here we go again!’

Today it was an early appointment with my favourite bone surgeon before he sent me off to do the rounds of blood-suckers, radio-active ray gun wielders and resonating magnetic photographers. I have to admit that it is all pretty efficient and virtually instantaneous. Makes me glad I live in Turkey – (assuming it doesn’t get postponed, my sister will have waited 16 months for a second hip replacement in the UK!) By the afternoon we were back with ‘Bones’ for the prognosis – ‘I remember your knee. Look, it is still perfect!’ he proclaimed proudly. ‘No need for operation. You have crystals of uric acid in your knee joint – very painful!’

Now, uric acid was something that we ‘Toms’ in the British army used to good advantage for breaking in new boots.

urine in army boots

This from some obscure source: “The traditional method of ‘breaking in’ or softening boots was to apply polish without buffing, urinate in them just before lights out,  and leave them overnight. They were then worn the next day and the process worked wonders on the hardest leather. The routine was repeated until the leather was sufficiently softened.” The boots ponged for a bit and the flies could be a nuisance but the leather was like a baby’s bottom! I mean, in boots I get, but in my knee??


Don’t I bloody-well know that!

‘I forget English name’, continued ‘Bones’. Sounds like bloody gout I mumbled. ‘Yes! Yes!’ he exclaimed, ‘You have gout! I will write prescriptions and I want you to have complete, 100% protein-free diet and come back in one week. You will see, pain will be gone!’

Bloody hell! I mean, come on, gout is what old men get in their big toe for gawd’s sake! Gout! At my age!

Alan Fenn, (knackered)





Friend and fellow ‘bleeding heart’ Chrissy found this and posted it to social media. I find it so powerful in the face of all that is happening right now as refugees – people, human beings like you and me, flee conflict; and what’s more – all that has been happening ever since the ‘civilised’ Western world proved to be better gunsmiths and more murderous killers than everyone else.

There is so much compassion to be seen from extraordinary ordinary people who do what they can do to help alleviate the suffering caused by the politics of the indifferent supported by the bigotry of ‘our national interests’. People who open their hearts and their homes in the face of jingoistic government rhetoric.

These simple words scream out – ‘We, too, are human beings!’

“Home” – by Somalian poet Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than the journey.

no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten
no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

the –
go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off
or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child’s body
in pieces.

I want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hungry
forget pride
your survival is more important
no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
I don’t know what I’ve become
but I know that anywhere
is safer than here.

“HOME,” by Somalian poet Warsan Shire



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 . .


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.


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:


robber rhino0031

Ruby-tailed Wasp008



Syrian Squirrel (up close)

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü



(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!


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




not ghosting – trying to outrun the Townsend Thorenson ferry


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




the magic of the swatchways


le Crotoy, River Somme


emergency prop clearing mid-channel


stopping road and rail traffic – Kingsferry Bridge, Sheppey


pub-crawling gear


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!


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!!


Alan Fenn, somewhere down Memory Lane