'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Oh, Bugger!

I really hate this getting older stuff, I really do! Well, not actually getting older, that’s alright. It’s the decrepitude. It’s the chickens of misspent youth, the years of abuse in the gym and playing at being a parachute soldier coming home to roost that are the pits.

you’d never guess we were categorised as fast moving light infantry

Carrying loads like this is what started the rot. Followed by years of macho denial as tears and sprains in the gym took their toll on knees and back. (I’m only showing this to remind myself that I was once a fine young specimen)

‘You’re stubborn and stupid,’ J used to say (and still does) ‘and I have no sympathy for you! You never know when to stop!’ Which is only her opinion and not exactly true. Anyway, J is from Yorkshire and everyone from Yorkshire is opinionated. I mean, look at Geoffrey Boycott for one. I don’t know why there hasn’t long ago been an independence campaign so that England can detach itself from that lot. At least then we wouldn’t have had to put up with his boring cricket commentaries and his even more boring batting!

Watching Boycott ‘chase’ runs was on a par with watching paint dry!

But enough of all that, I need to get back on topic. Where was I? Oh, yes! Decrepitude!

One knee in particular has been pretty troublesome for a long time. It has a history of falling apart, being operated on, generally fiddled about with and dishing out some eye-wateringly painful reminders of its existence in my life. About a year ago it also decided that a bit of gout would look good on its résumé. My excellent bone  surgeon sorted it out with medication and all seemed well. Then about couple of months ago it started to make a comeback and so I started back on the medication. It had no effect. Zilch! It was back to the bone doctor.

What he soon discovered was that along with the gouty crystals there were deposits as a side effect of one of the heart medications that decrepitude requires I consume on a daily basis. So, that prescription has been changed and there are even more pills and creams to add to the cocktail and for three weeks there will be ‘WD40‘ injections into the knee.

Oh, bugger! would seem a pretty appropriate response to all this except for one thing. In the space of just a few days the pain has been relieved and last night I got the first decent night’s sleep in quite some time. Living here in Turkey means instant treatment and being contributors to the social insurance scheme the bulk of the costs are defrayed by the state health-care system. Beats the hell out of the UK and most any place else in the world if your chickens are coming home to roost and crapping all over the place!

Roll on Spring, and let me get at that patch of stony ground up there in the mountains!

Alan Fenn, grinning like a Cheshire Cat here in Turkey.

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Count Your Blessings

My mother used to say that a lot. ‘Count your blessings, you little sod!’ she would say, with the emphasis on the ‘little sod’. This was usually in response to my bemoaning the fact that my measly pocket money would never run to a sherbet fountain and a Matchbox toy.

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either, or

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The ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ where I pondered the imponderable and suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is no more. Felton’s News Agency in what passed for the High Street, Minster, Sheppey – news, fags and sweets to the left, toys to the right. Now it shares the same fate as the rest of the planet – ‘We’re doomed, Mannering! Doomed!’

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But I digress! Where was I? Oh, yes, blessings and the counting of said.

What got me thinking of ‘blessings’ was chance meetings (and believe me, they are ‘chance’) with various, mostly British, ex-pats. Conversations invariably run to what is wrong with the government; the new road between Ortaca and Dalyan or with the way things run here in Turkey compared with . . It can be eye-glazingly  depressing!

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Very occasionally someone will show that they have some understanding and concern for what is being perpetrated in our region by NATO/FUKUS and yes, Turkey. I find it amazing that there are people from the UK living here where they are called ‘ex-pats’ who are complaining bitterly about the, always ‘illegal immigrants’, getting into the UK and taking the jobs and scrounging benefits!

Me? I’m happy to describe myself as an economic migrant and thank you Turkey for taking me in!

Just over twenty years ago I was told I couldn’t work any more after being diagnosed with an incurable, inoperable spinal condition. I was told I’d be in a wheelchair within five years – a living death sentence (I don’t do pain/suffering very well).

J and I had long ago fallen in love with Turkey so we decided to burn our boats and grab a bit of paradise whilst we could. Seven years into our life here my back gave up the ghost. Unlike the UK, which gave up in advance, here I was found an eminent spinal surgeon who delivered a miracle! These days I grunt and groan when doing jobs but I can do them.

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Our life here is comfortable, interesting and filled to bursting with good stuff. I cannot influence what is going on in the world by very much. I can appreciate things like having a full service and preparation for the MOT on the car that included a new set of tyres for the Lira equivalent of £400! I can enjoy the company of good and dear friends who share our view of the world and enjoy lively debate on so many diverse subjects that do not include football or grandchildren! I love being up here in our mountain retreat by a lake even though it means I’ll be moving even more stones and rocks and groaning at the after-effects! I can appreciate every sunset and sunrise. Above all I can appreciate that, whatever ‘fate’ throws my way, I have a life that countless millions can only dream of. I don’t care very much that I have to drive half way to Dalyan or Ortaca to get on to the opposite carriageway on our new, improved ‘motorway’!

I just don’t care! Alan Fenn.

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Lazarus Rising

Six weeks! Is that all it’s been? Six weeks! It feels like six months – six years even! More like six episodes of the ‘Walking Dead’!

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I’m talking disease! Bubonic Plague and Necrotising Fasciitis (there’s a link for the morbidly inclined) all rolled in to one! Six episodes back J went down with it. Four days later I followed suit and we sank together into the realms of choking snot, blinding headaches and choking coughing. Then my sister arrived for a month-long visit and walked into the maelstrom – she did not resist for many days! Thank you god!

I don’t recall too much about how J and sis were, being a bloke I was totally focussed on my own misery and the endless stream of ‘ectoplasm’ emanating from my sinuses.

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I mean, seriously, you don’t know what’s living in this stuff!

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A week into sis’ visit Number 1 Daughter arrived to join the party. At this point I should be saying ‘Poor sod!’ but by some miracle of the blessed-somebody-or-other she remained uncontaminated as those around her dissolved and putrefied!

We certainly did our best to give them some good times between the splutters.

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Number 1 looking disgustingly healthy!

We squeezed in a few days up here at the cabin as our visitors had been nothing short of desperate to see the place. Whilst they were here good friend and neighbour Ramazan did them a slightly frazzled chicken, jacket spuds and onions in a tin that was rapidly seen off with a few glasses of beer and wine under the big, old pine tree.

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country kitchen

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Sis and Number 1 have gone back home now – refreshed I hope. We needed a few more days recovery before we felt fit enough to drive back up here to the cabin. Once here we quickly learned that the mind may be willing but the flesh was decidedly weak! Just a few minutes work with a pick or shovel and we were gasping.

Anyway, after a few days of this sweet, mountain air we feel that we are almost back to our normal, energetic selves. The vegetable plot has been cleared and manured and we are half way through sorting the fruit/nut trees. The pool has its new aerator going and looks really healthy with new plants settled in. J has made some splendid green tomato chutney and we have harvested a load of melons and pumpkins. Life is steadily getting back to normal.

As for Lazarus, I’m in total empathy. I know how he felt when JC raised him up. As my dear old mother used to say, ‘Bloody ‘ell! You look like death warmed up!’

Alan Fenn, back in the land of the living!

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

Viewed Through A Different Lens

‘Good Lord!’ I hear you say, ‘I thought you’d shuffled off!’ I don’t know, a few weeks without some drivel about rocks or courgettes and you have me wrapped in a shroud and tickling the daisy roots!

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Life has been full. J and I flew out of Dalaman about an hour after the start of the attempted coup d’etat on the 15th July. You would never have guessed anything was afoot though as the tourists continued to come and go as usual. It was at about the same time as the president was flown out to Istanbul escorted by two F16 fighter planes piloted by non-coup supporting Dalaman-based crews. Interesting times but here is not the place to discuss them.

Our ten days in the UK to visit family and take in the SPGB Summer School just flew by and before we knew it we were back home in Turkey with just two days in hand to get the washing, ironing and other chores done before our dear friends from Istanbul, Mark and Jolee, arrived on the morning flight at Dalaman. As soon as they were collected we were all off – back up here to our cabin in the mountains. The rocks hadn’t multiplied whilst we were away but the courgettes had morphed into marrows and as for the sunflowers . .

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Anyway, what follows is a pictorial saunter through their visit as seen through their camera lens. It will be a change from flowers and insects which is all I ever seem to find! So, let’s begin with breakfast at our favourite lorry drivers’ café.

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Mark could really use a smart phone and a ‘selfie-stick’ because he spends a lot of time taking pictures of food!

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the courgettes are this big! Honestly!

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the perfect balance of protein, carbohydrate and fine red wine!

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sunrise from their hotel

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another ‘foodie’ pic

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a view from the top

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and the bottom

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the famous spicy rabbit casserole

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proof that it is organic!

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tour of Sagalassos with our own personal guide

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feeling the heat

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supervising the hired help

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a spread to die for – almost!

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snow sherbet and ice cream – mmmmmmm-mmm!

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chatting with Imam Ali inside the stunningly beautiful Hacı Ömer Ağa mosque

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the priceless alabaster windows

So, there you have it – our life in the mountains seen through the eyes of our friends. There were so many more photos to choose from and as Mark was usually behind the camera here is a shot of them from their last visit with us. Mark and Jolee, thank you for spending time in Paradise 2.0!

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Alan Fenn, in the mountains by a beautiful lake

'Burası Türkiye!' 'This is Turkey!'

The Sun Comes Up And The Sun Goes Down

. . . and the hands on the clock keep goin’ around, I no sooner get up than it’s time to lie down – but life is not ‘tejus’, not for J and for me, anyway! In fact, time is doing a bit of ‘fugiting’ these days and fitting stuff in is a bit of a struggle.

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Blogging has been one of the things to suffer from not enough hours (or inclination if I am honest). I am also aware that what has J and me fired up is of limited interest to others. I’m referring to life at our mountain hideaway and the ‘farming’ that goes with it. I mean, a bit here and there is OK but who wants to read about mud, rocks and greenfly day in and day out? Not me!

Most days up here kick-off at about 7.30 with a bit of rock gardening. Turning our rock-strewn plot from this:

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. . to this:

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. . is proving to be long and ‘tejus’ and not without a few tweaks and spasms. We must be getting close to the halfway point now despite the impression that the buggers are multiplying over night!

J goes off for a walk most days, exploring the tracks through the forest. The last couple of times she’s arrived back breathless with excitement having come across, at fairly close quarters, a Eurasian Golden Jackal. I went with her today in the hopes of getting a glimpse and a photo – no luck this time around.

Eurasian Golden Jackal

Canis aureus – Eurasian Golden Jackal

Odd projects keep cropping up to fill the time when I should be reading or taking a nap. The latest came about when workmen putting up new electricity poles discarded a couple of small crates that are used to transport those great big brown insulator things. Anyway, being an old soldier, I did the right thing by them and got J to stuff them into the back of the car. One has had a make-over and now serves as a very functional and ‘country chic’ saucepan stand. Here’s the before and after:

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There is also the joy of catering in the field . .

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Then, there are all the other distractions that seem to eat into blogging time:

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sharing the forest with birds and jackals

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. . and views with no one else

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. . and finally, for those with time on their hands:

Alan Fenn, out there – somewhere